Mar 30, 2010

Got a brick handy?

It's not a window.

This story sent my blood pressure right into the stratosphere.

You have the right to say anything you want. The government can't stop you. The big dude wearing a leather jacket? The one with a tattoo that says "Guns don't kill people, I do"? That guy doesn't care about your first amendment right - except that it's probably even odds he swore an oath to defend that right and has seen blood spilled for it.

You want to say stuff about his brothers- and sons-in-arms? Expect to answer up.

If I can find contact information, I'll be dropping a few bucks in the mail to Mr. Snyder, along with a note of thanks - thanks for his son, who he raised the right way, and thanks for taking a stand against these hate-mongering bigots.

Edit 3:40pm: Uncle also posted this up, but he found the link to make a donation online. (It also has an address for snailmail donations.) Even a few bucks helps.

Mar 29, 2010

I fibbed

I said the next major gun purchase in the 'Cool house was going to be a new safe. I was mistaken.

Someone put one of my "I been wanting one o' dem!" guns on a forum classified. For a very attractive price.

It took some haggling (and pleading, and begging, and puppy dog eyes) but MrsZ acquiesced.

Hopefully in a week or two I'll have some pictures.

Any guesses what it is?

Marlin is dead, long live Marlin

The Gun Shots blog is reporting, "[W]hile the North Haven, Connecticut, plant is going to be shut down, they will continue to produce Marlin guns in the future."

Apparently looking for a new base of operations, and probably trimming some dead weight here and there. This is mostly-good news. Certainly not good for the 250+ employees who are still making Made In America guns there, although they will be allowed to re-apply for their jobs if they want to.

I am happy that they will be continuing to produce their guns, but I will be somewhat leery of the first few runs from the new plant, wherever that may be. Those will be the ones most likely to have issues, as minor bugs get worked out and new employees get up to speed on manufacturing. I'm still going to be looking for a .45-70 lever gun, though. For anyone who's shot a slug shotgun, many of these really are in the same ballpark as a stout 20ga slug - entirely manageable recoil, just stiff.

Currently investigating a possible trade deal with a fellow for a single-action wheelie. Nothing definite, but we're in the right ballpark.

Aside from that potential trade, I think the next major gun purchase in the 'Cool house will be a safe. Oh, don't worry, the guns are locked up already, but a fire safe is in order. When one runs down his inventory sheet and the sum at the bottom of the "value" column would buy a decent used car, it's a strong hint that upgraded security is a good idea.

That brings up a pet peeve of mine... people who won't blink at spending well north of a grand on a rifle or handgun or scope (!) will bitch endlessly about spending a thousand dollars on a large fire-water safe to protect that investment.

There's a few options for securing guns, and NONE of them are trigger/action locks. A trigger or action lock, or a decorative cabinet, only protects a gun from curious fingers.

The first step, for many of us, is the generic lightweight sheet-steel cabinet. Stack-On is one of the major makers for this type of cabinet, and for someone who only has a couple inexpensive guns in a low-risk area, they're a fine option. I know of some owners who will put one out as a "decoy" with a couple beater guns that may or may not work, in the hopes of distracting a burglar from the real meat. It can be bolted to the floor and/or wall fairly easily, but a few minutes with a crowbar will still get a motivated burglar in.

Step two is a real "safe". It probably weighs more than you do (maybe two or three times as much) and is probably fire rated. Someone in the industry will tell you it's a "residential security container", but the truth of the matter is it's going to deter all but the most determined thief. Again, make sure it's bolted to the floor (and properly supported underneath!).

The last option, which most of us can't afford but wish we could, is a vault. An honest-to-god walk-in vault. If you're building a house, this is absolutely the way to go. A vault door is a several-thousand-dollar investment, and the reinforced slab walls to put it in aren't cheap, but the only way someone is going get to your collection is with a demolition saw or dynamite - and a fair bit of time.

So, where to put this new safe? Clearly, the easiest way to keep your guns protected is to keep them from being found. There's a million ways to do this. I've seen safes put behind false walls or cabinets, tucked into the back of a closet, put in a garage with a few big wires and a "DANGER - HIGH VOLTAGE" sign... Anything to distract or mislead! A decoy safe/cabinet in an obvious place isn't a bad idea either. If none of these things are an option, the only thing to do is make sure it's well-secured. Bolted down into something solid, if at all possible.

Keep the weight of a safe in mind when you're placing it. Empty, it may weight 500lb. Full, it will likely be 700-800lb or more. Most floors can handle that kind of load on a temporary basis (e.g., a bathtub or jacuzzi), but long-term stress can lead to bowing of joists. If you're putting it on the first floor, a cellar jack or two underneath it will keep the floor well-supported. Better yet, put it on a piece of floor that has no basement - right over dirt and slab.

So, gunnies... what do you have for safes? Pros/cons?

Aside: This entry is worth a read.
"News flash. I am not a Democrat.

Nor am I a Republican.

I am me. A single entity with a brain- a brain that allows ME to chose what I believe in."

Mar 26, 2010

Sad news

It's making the rounds today that Marlin Firearms will be closing in 2011.

This is truly sad news. Despite all the efforts of 2009's Gun Salesman of the Year, some companies just couldn't make it: CavArms (although that is arguably their own damn fault), AnvilArms (too big too soon, it sounds), and now Marlin. Last year's black rifle and handgun rush, of course, didn't do a whole lot for Marlin's bottom line, as they are traditionally a "Fudd" gunmaker...

I grabbed myself a 795 last week and would recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive rimfire range toy or a less-expensive alternative to the 10/22 for an Appleseed Liberty Training Rifle. Mine is light and comfortable, and the sights only need a tiny bit of drift to be dead-on. With a $25 mail-in-rebate, you're looking at a hair over a c-note out the door. A steal, I assure you.

The next trick is to figure out how to get the stainless guide gun .45-70 that I want; and sooner rather than later.

Post box, soap box, rocks, ballot box... rocks?

Jay wrote a post yesterday outlining why he's against the string of vandalism cropping up at Democrat offices around the country. He makes a good argument, as always. Many of the commenters argue against him, myself included.

For posterity and my own reference, here is my own reply:

I'm very much of two minds on this issue. I want to be the bigger man... hell, the gentleman.

"We tried reasoned discourse repeatedly, and it failed. We voted with our wallets, our phones, our computers, our pens and paper, and yes, we voted with our ballots ... and it failed. We tried everything a reasonable man could try - and it failed. We surrendered our rights, piecemeal and with a war of words alone - and WE failed."

Makes a hell of an epitaph when the birth announcement starts with, "When in the course of human events...," don't you think?

I know - and agree - that the break-ees will Godwin the ever-loving-fuck out of this and scream "Kristallnacht! FASCISTS!" ... because the party line is that of an underdog, nevermind that it is their own legislation, incognizance, and outright ignorance that has led things to this precipice. Nevermind that it was the reigning party that committed the crimes of Kristallnacht. How many people know their history well enough to know that? They'll hear a german word, and "fascists", and make the leap all on their own - as long as Idol is on that night.

I agree with Roberta's description of the person making noise, though. A self-described threeper, but instead of leading from the front, standing in the background yelling loudly.

Jay, I will readily admit it: I am terrified of the road we are on. We have more information available to us, much faster, than anyone in human history. We have witnessed the destruction of nearly every form of government known to man, many within the last century. The system we have (had) worked well - until it outgrew itself. Now someone is trying to figure out how to go back to where we were, based on the actions of men two hundred and fifty years ago.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - Gen. Geo. Santayana

I cannot sign my entries "III". Perhaps "X" is more appropriate. While I won't be out there throwing rocks, I cannot condemn and may well turn a blind eye to those who do.

"[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." - July 4, 1776

I find these words echoing in my mind and in my heart on a continuous basis. What debt do we owe our forebears, and what gift can we give our posterity?


I opened my email late last evening, and finally received a response to my email to Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) from a couple weeks ago. As expected, it's a form-letter response. Here it is, in part:

Thank you for writing to me about the current state of our healthcare system. I appreciate your point of view and share many of your concerns. I believe that it is vital that we act now to bring forth health care reform solutions that will lower costs for those currently covered by private insurance, strengthen Medicare for seniors and allow every American to access quality and affordable health care.

Our healthcare system is currently badly broken. Over the last ten years, health care premium increases have far outpaced earned wages and forty-seven million Americans, including three million New Yorkers, are currently uninsured and an additional 25 million are underinsured. With our current economic situation, many Americans are losing their insurance coverage when they are laid off from their jobs. Even people who thought they were adequately covered with the health insurance they purchased later learn that they are not when facing a catastrophic diagnosis. This is unacceptable. No family should be one health care emergency away from bankruptcy. Congress must act to provide stability in the health insurance industry.

(It continues with some addition platitudes about affordable coverage, choice, etc etc.)

It looked, somehow ... familiar. I scrolled down my inbox a bit, and found this bit, which came from the office of Sen. Schumer (D-NY):

Thank you for contacting me and expressing your opposition to health care reform in its current form.

Our country is facing a crisis in health care. The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing, and too many New York families are caught in the middle. Like you, I believe it is absolutely unacceptable that more than forty-six million Americans do not have health care coverage. Both the health of our citizens and the health of our nation are at stake, and we must act soon.

I strongly support the creation of new “Exchanges” through health care reform, in which insurance companies could sell affordable health insurance to individuals and small businesses. In these Exchanges, a not-for-profit health insurance company, which would compete on a level playing field with existing private health insurance plans, would help to lower premiums and exert downward pressure on the premiums of existing insurance plans. Adding competition to insurance markets will help consumers by providing New Yorkers and all Americans one more choice as they search for affordable and comprehensive health insurance.

(Additional platitudes removed.)

Similar? Party line? COMPLETELY ignoring the original email which I sent? (I don't have my original text handy, but it was, in short: NO F'ING GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE. With bigger and more polite words.)

If they cannot understand why We The People are utterly fed up...

Well, elections are coming. Use them wisely. Find a candidate who will actually listen to you, whose beliefs align with yours. Work for their campaign. Donate to their campaign. Vote them in. If they take their oath and suddenly stop listening, they can start looking for a new job in two or six years.

I'll say it again: I cannot sign my entries "III" in good conscience. Not yet. But I can't blame those who do.

Mar 25, 2010

New Shooter Report

I make no secret of my passion for guns, shooting, and hunting at work. There are a few who will happily discuss guns or hunting for an hour, and some who don't have much interest in it. One of those I'd figured for "not much interest" asked me last week if I would take her shooting sometime. Well, DUH.

We had originally set plans for Monday morning after work, but she was unexpectedly called out of town. A quick reset to Wednesday morning, and off we went to the range.

The range I shoot at has a 50-foot indoor range for .22s and subsonic lead which is available 24/7. The outdoor range is 9am-sunset. We got there around 8, so started on the indoor range. I'd covered the safety basics before, but went over them once more, then it was time to shoot!

We started small, with the 22/45 at about 7 yards. She did very well with it, keeping everything easily in the 8" black. Some tweaking of grip and stance tightened the groups up considerably. After seven or eight magazines through that (and one through the Marlin 795), she wanted to step up to something bigger, so I hauled out the Model 67 and a box of my target loads.

After explaining the difference between semi-autos and revolvers, I had her dry-fire it a few times to get a feel for the longer heavier trigger and grip. Filled up the cylinder and had her shoot the first six in double-action... and noticed that her hands were small enough to present a problem I'd never seen before: she needed to use BOTH index fingers - one from each side - to effectively pull the trigger. Made some grip adjustments and got to a one-finger trigger pull, but it was still difficult for her. We switched to shooting it single-action, which went much better.

After a few cylinders from the 67, she wanted to try my carry gun - the 642. I explained that it could only be shot double-action and had a heavy trigger, and would recoil significantly more than the 67 had. She was game, so we finished out the box of .38 in the snub. The target wasn't as pretty with the .38s as with the .22, but as most shooters will tell you, a DA revolver is one of the hardest guns to shoot well.

And then she wanted bigger. So out came the 1911. Explained the action, how everything worked, comparison of cartrdges, etc. Prepped a couple mags and set her up at 7 yards... and I'll be damned if she didn't chew the center out of the target with that gun, giggling the whole time. Oh, there were a couple fliers, but overall, a VERY impressive group, and she handled the recoil beautifully. No issue with grip size or heavy trigger, and I actually think she'd have done even better with "slim" grips instead of the Ahrend Tacticals I have on it (which fill my paws nicely).

By that time it was past 9, so we pulled targets and picked up brass, and headed outside to the rifle range. Put out the target stands and a spinner around 25yd and set her up with the MkII on a front rest. She turned in a couple-inch group the first time, then tightened it right up with a little bit of coaching on trigger control and grip. Again, hand size was an issue - she ended up simply ignoring the thumbhole grip in order to reach the trigger.

While she was plinking with that, I tried out the iron-sighted 795 on the spinner. I knew it was shooting a hair left from trying it inside, so guestimated a hold and started smacking the spinner off-hand repeatedly (4/10 on the first magazine and 8/10 on the second). That is a SWEET little gun. Next time I go to the range I'll take a drift hammer and punch and try to line things up a hair more, although I'm starting to lean heavily towards TechSights for it.

She got bored with the .22s pretty quick, so it was time to haul out the AR. The look on her face when I pulled it out of the case was a good start. Settled her in behind it on the bench, explained the function, and gave her a mag of 5. She punched out a respectable group on paper - nothing to write home about, but certainly good for a first time with a centerfire rifle. And, again, size was an issue. In order to get a decent cheek weld and use the sights, the heel of the stock was sitting nearly on her collarbone. Unfortunately, can't have those EVIL adjustable-length stocks here in NY...

After she'd run a few magazines through the AR, I swapped places and put a few rounds into paper, then decided to see how the sights would do at distance. I knew it was pretty close to zero, but hadn't really stretched out at all. My range has 12" steel at 150, 200, and 250yd. The 250 is hard to see, since it's in the treeline and shaded, so I stuck with 200yd - and was reward, five for five, with *CRACK*sproing*BONG*. Gratifying, I tell you! She gave it a go and managed 1/5, which is certainly not shameful for iron sights and a new shooter with an oversized gun.

After that, we hung up a Zombie Osama and moved up to about 20 yards with an 870 20ga. She was game, but after two rounds of buckshot and a slug, she'd had enough. I finished the box of buckshot and decided to try the slugs at long range. First shot was a hair high of the 200yd plate, the next one was low... I tried for the 150yd plate and was rewarded with a resounding TING as 7/8oz of lead impacted steel. One more try at 200 and another miss. For the record, these are the $3/box Remington "Sluggers", from a single-bead modified-choke smoothbore. Long-range accuracy isn't their strong point, but I was impressed!

By that time we were both chilly, so we picked up, packed up, and headed out. She took her pistol targets with her, and said she planned on displacing her kids' artwork from the fridge for a few weeks. :-D

Mar 23, 2010

Washington wouldn't listen...

So start small, start local. If you oppose this trillion-dollar fiasco, and the backroom dirty-pool shenanigans that were used to get it passed, then contact your state-level representatives. Here in New York that'd be your State Senator and Assemblyman. Even if they support health care reform, make your voice heard. Emails are free, phone calls are cheap, stamps are inexpensive.

I emailed my State Senator (George Winner, R-53rd) on Monday with the following:

Mr. Winner;

Washington chose not to listen to the American people and passed health
care reform. Maybe they'll listen to another elected representative. Please, do anything you can to pass along the message that the people DO NOT support
the health care reform bill. Speak to our State Attorney General regarding a
lawsuit to stop the bill - they are already in the works in many other

This bill has condemned current and future generations to debt and dole... it can not be allowed to continue!

I received a reply this morning. It is likely a form letter, but doesn't reek of "didn't even read your email" like the form letter I got from two-buck-Chuck... in any case:

Dear Mr. ZerCool:

Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning the new Federal Health Care
Reform Bill. I appreciate that you took the time to share your concerns
with me.

Please know that I wholeheartedly share your concern and I agree that New
York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should join the 37 states that
have files suits against the United States Government. In January, New York
State Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos wrote a letter to Governor
Paterson and Attorney General Cuomo urging them to join other states in any
legal challenge to a health care plan that could add to New York’s
horrendous tax burden and growing fiscal problems. I certainly stand behind
Senator Skelos’ statement and hope that both Governor Paterson and Attorney
General Cuomo heed his advice.

Thank you again for contacting me.


Senator George H. Winner, Jr.
53rd District

All is not lost, and he is clearly aware of the issue. I'll be making donations and volunteering where possible this year.

Healthcare, ZerCool-style

Rapid-release Cupric Plumbum. Fast-acting!
Good for what ails you. Use only as directed.
Take 2 as necessary, repeat as needed.


Of course, sometimes things are not as they seem...


(as always, click:big)

Mar 22, 2010

Quotes for the night

"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

"The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous."

"He was Edmond Dantés... and he was my father. And my mother... my brother... my friend. He was you... and me. He was all of us."

"People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people."
-- "V for Vendetta"

Somehow, "remember, remember, the 21st of March" doesn't quite ring right.

In seven and a half months, we can replace one third of the Senate and the whole House. Two years from there, we can replace another third, and the executive branch.

The two-party fiasco has to stop. Vote independent. Vote libertarian. Vote ANYTHING but incumbent.

Without Comment

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Mar 21, 2010

Gun deal

I've been thinking about a new .22 for a while. MrsZ has a beautiful 10/22 International that I don't really care for, and can't pry out of her hands at the range anyways. My Savage MkII remains phenomenally accurate and reliable, as expected from a Savage bolt gun. It's a great gun for punching paper or taking small game. It's earned me more Rifleman scores than I can count. It is also, however, heavy. It's not a plinker, or a range toy. Not a tin-can rifle.

I've eyeballed a few 10/22s over the years, nearly bought a couple, but either didn't have money available or the rifle disappeared before I'd decided. Last summer I looked at and shot a friend's Marlin 795. Nice little rifle. Lightweight, handles well, very accurate ... and CHEAP. Normal price for them at Dick's is $130. They have a sale now for $10 off... and Marlin has a mail-in rebate for $25.

I sold my bike this weekend, and decided that it was time to get a 795. After all's said and done, I'll have $105 into this rifle. HALF the price of a 10/22. I expect I'll put a set of Tech-Sights on it at some point, and pick up a few extra magazines - but for now, it's a perfectly acceptable range plinker. Shot one round when I got it home just to check function, and I'll be taking it to the range Monday morning for a bit more fun. Trigger seems a bit heavy and has a long take-up (but I'm also spoiled by the Accutrigger). I'll take it apart, scrub it, maybe stone the sear lightly, and hope for the best. It's not BAD as-is, just not great.

Spent some more time on the reloading bench. In the last week, I've knocked out 350 rounds of .38Spl 158gr LSWC, and 200 rounds of .45ACP 230gr LRN. I've got a range trip scheduled for Monday with a newer shooter, so some of that will get used up. I'm going to have to make it to the reloading shop soon to (try to) find some more primers.

Theoretically, tomorrow (today?) is the vote on health care. I'm still against it. I'm seeing/hearing rumblings in quarters that I hadn't expected. Remember, folks, we are still at "soap box". November is "ballot box". For now, use your phone, your email, even support the good old USPS with a couple stamps and send letters. Remember that scene from "Miracle on 34th Street" where the mailmen bring in sack after sack of mail for Santa? Make your representatives' offices look Just. Like. That.

I'll leave you with a quote from a speech...

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Know the speech? It ends with ten very famous words:

"[A]s for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

Mar 16, 2010

We won't vote on the bill...

... we'll vote for someone else's changes to the bill, thereby implying that we approved of the bill too - without ever voting on it.

Political shenanigans or Python-esque plot?

You read and decide.

Soap box (that includes the telephone box), ballot box ...

Mar 15, 2010


Some folks will tell you that reloading your own ammo will save you money.

These people are lying through their teeth.

What reloading WILL do is allow you to shoot more for the same amount of money, and a time investment. It will also allow you to tune loads for specific guns, if you so desire.

Reloading isn't for everyone. It requires 100% concentration, and close attention to detail. Steps should be done the same way every time. It can be dangerous. Think about it: you're putting together components that will generate 25,000-60,000psi about four inches from your eyes. Do you REALLY want to do this when you're not all there?

It requires a capital investment. Not a tremendous one, but enough to buy a case of good ammo.

It requires patience and a willingness to learn. Plan on lots of reading and note-taking.

It requires a little bit of space to work. Not a lot (my reloading table is 2'x2') but something sturdy that can be dedicated just to reloading. And a little space to store parts and pieces.

What do you need? A reloading press, a set of dies, a scale or balance, a manual, powder, primers, bullets, and brass. There are lots of other things out there that will make reloading more precise or easier, but these are the bare minimum. The capital items can be collected for well under $200. Plan on another $20 for a pound of powder and $30-40 for a thousand primers. Brass may be range pickups or once-fired from your own gun, but you should be able to find it cheap or free. Bullets vary tremendously in price, but for cast lead (my preference for reloading pistols), plan on $40-75/1000. All told, you should be able to load 1,000 rounds of a pistol caliber for about $120. (The cheapest manufactured ammo I know of is from Georgia Arms, who is currently listing 1,000 rounds of .38Spl 158gr LSWC for $210 in previously-enjoyed brass.)

One of these days I keep telling myself I'll make a nice little YouTube how-to for reloading - but that would require effort that I would much rather put into actually reloading. Maybe a few pictures as I work on the next batch. I've knocked out about 500 rounds in the past couple mornings, mostly of .38Spl, and a bit of .45ACP.

My secret? Do things in stages whenever possible. I'll clean and sort brass one day, then size/deprime/prime the next day, then charge/seat the following, then crimp all at one go on the last day. A standard batch for me to size and prime is 300-500 pieces of brass, then I may powder and seat bullets on 100-200 at a time, and do one big batch crimp after I've run out of primed brass to fill.

I will size/prime, or crimp, when I'm tired - at slight risk to my fingers. I pinched one rather badly the other morning, between the mouth of a .38 case and the die. No blood, but it did hurt like heck. Sizing and priming doesn't tend to be a super detail-oriented process, just monotonous labor. I will not work with powder when I'm tired, or distracted, or have had a drink. I'm sure some folks do, but I have to set SOME standards for myself. No TV - but I'll put the radio on in the background.

So why reload? It's just one more step in the shooting process for me. Instead of spending two hours in front of the TV at night, I'll spend an hour or two reloading and making sure I've got plenty of ammo for the range and the IDPA season. MrsZ can often be found in the same area of the house, working on her own projects, whether that's gardening or sewing or classwork. It's inexpensive quality time doing something I enjoy... can't beat that.

Mar 14, 2010

Census, the Reply

As mentioned a few days ago, I used the Census Bureau's web form to ask why they're wasting my money on mailings. I received a form-letter response the next day. Here we go! (My comments in italics, any emphasis also mine.)

Thank you for using the US Census Bureau's Question & Answer Center. Thank you for your email. We here at the Census Bureau certainly understand your concern, and I want to assure you we care a great deal about being good stewards of the taxpayer's money.

Because it pays our salaries, and by gum, we want to make sure you get your fair share - just like all those ads are suggesting!

The short answer to your question is that even on the eve of census forms arriving next week, as many as 45% of Americans are unaware that this month is when the Census starts. That's probably due to the fact we only do a Census once every ten years. Based on historical response rates, we expect roughly two thirds of households will mail back their form. The rest we will have to send an enumerator to collect the data required by the Constitution. You can imagine that follow-up is an expensive proposition. In fact, every one percent increase in the number of households who mail back the form saves the taxpayers about $85 million in expensive door-to-door follow up. That's why we advertise and promote, to increase the mail back response rate and help save on expensive labor to follow up.

And we'd love to do it annually, if we could just get some more of those tax dollars to steward! Here's a thought: put something as essential as "Civics" back into school curriculum. Teach the actual Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. Not just as vague concepts, but take it apart and discuss what it really means. Parents, if your school won't do this, do it yourself with your kids! Make sure they understand civic duty: voting, census, jury duty, and public office if they are so inclined.

We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.

So my $60mil estimate was actually on the low side. What do they base their research on? Do they have a legitimate control group? Ask any scientist: "research" without a control group is JUNK SCIENCE. (Side note: how much did this research cost?) Also, please note, "potential increase ... could result". Possibilities, not definitive statements.

After the 2000 Census we returned to the Treasury some $305 million in savings. Then Secretary of Commerce Don Evans testified in 2001 to the U.S. Senate that those savings came about from our advertising, promotion and PR efforts encouraging households to mail back their forms, increasing response rates over the prior census for the first time in three decades.

And they then did what with the savings? I guarantee they didn't get mailed back to the taxpayers, so it was not money "saved", it was money "reassigned". Mr. Evans can testify to whatever he wants; as many are aware, the cloud of lies hovering around Capitol Hill would make a bad smog day in Los Angeles look tempting.

The total we spend on all promotion and advertising is about one dollar per person in the U.S. It costs just 42 cents to mail back the form. But it costs $57 for follow up with non-responding households, many of which we must visit several times to reach someone at home. We wish we did not have to advertise, and that 100% of households mailed their form back, but that is just not the case. Not everyone is as active and engaged as yourself.

So please, be nice and leave us alone! We're spending $300,000,000.00 on advertising (does that include the SuperBowl spot? The radio ads on EVERY DAMN CHANNEL? $85mil in mailings?) - but that's not the cost of the census. There's forms to count, people to hire, non-compliant non-responding households to visit...

We appreciate your civic minded spirit, and your concern for our current fiscal situation. I hope this information helps explain the steps we are taking to reduce the burden on taxpayers of meeting our Constitutional mandate to count every person in the country.

Your Constitutional mandate is to enumerate the population once every ten years, "in such manner as [Congress] shall by law direct". Not seeing anything about asking about income, race, housing situation...

Our form will be received, filled out, and mailed back. It will say "Residents: 2. Resident 1 is male. Resident 2 is female." They can send anyone they want to the house, who will be given the same information.

I need to put up that flagpole yet, and it's going to have the Star Spangled hanging right above Gadsden.

Mar 11, 2010

More guns for sale!

Rearranging my desires and such, figuring out what I want... I hate the idea of selling guns, so I trade them instead. :)

Satin nickel Bersa Thunder .380
Round count is just over 100, no failures of any kind.
Includes original box and papers, two magazines (one stainless, one blue), and two holsters (DeSantis "Tuck This" and a JMG Holsters 7.0 tuckable leather). Great CCW piece without the punishing recoil of the micro .380s. Also includes one 100-round box of 95gr Winchester FMJ for a FTF deal!

$325 FTF NY with ammo, or shipped without ammo.


S&W 647
6-shot K-frame, 8-3/8" .17HMR. Purchased used, I've put less than 200 rounds through it. Excellent condition. I very gently buffed with Flitz when I purchased it. Includes a non-numbered blue briefcase. Has IL, of course - but only one key included. No papers. It's a great shooter, perfect if you want to chase vermin with a pistol at long distance. $750 shipped, $725 FTF in NY. FTF I'll include two boxes of ammo.


Trades considered:
- S&W 617 (pref 10-shot)
- Ruger LCP
- Springfield XD9 (NY mags needed)
- S&W M&P9 (NY mags needed)
- Kahr 9mm
- ban-compliant ARs - complete rifle or complete uppers
- 1911s - commander or micro, .45 or 9mm

Mar 10, 2010


Like so many other bloggers, I received the form letter from the census bureau today, telling me I'd be receiving my census in the mail next week. That's in addition to the post card we got a couple weeks ago telling us that it's a census year and please fill it out.

I sent the following to the census bureau and both my senators (Schumer and Gillibrand, both worthless downstate dems):

I understand that the census is a constitutional mandate, every ten years. That's good.

What I fail to understand is why I have already received two separate mailings telling me that I will be getting a census form in the mail. A couple weeks ago, a postcard asking me to make sure I return my census form; and today, a letter telling me that in about a week, my census form will arrive in the mail.

At a time when budgets are strained at every level of government, the fiscal irresponsibility of wasting millions of dollars on unnecessary mailings is mind-blowing. While I'm sure the government gets a great price for printing up a hundred million post cards, or form letters with window envelopes, and pre-sort first class isn't $0.44 apiece, I'd love to know just how much of my tax money has been wasted - because the rough number I'm coming up with is probably on the order of sixty million dollars.

Your response is appreciated.
ZerCool, NY
cc: Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Yeah, I know, it's another piece of email that'll get skimmed and chucked, but if the reps don't hear from us at all, they think they're doing things right. I'd have emailed my representative as well, but the schmuck went and resigned. I think phone calls to both senator's offices will be in order tomorrow, though.

Mar 9, 2010

Sure, I'll play too...

This one is making the rounds:
One Handgun, One Rifle, One Shotgun. You are able to choose just one of each for self defense with NO modifications.

Presuming this is in the "SHTF" vein...

GI 1911A1, Mini-14/30, 870x12ga.

1911 should be pretty clear. 8+1, big round, and at GI specs, it's a damn reliable pistol. Detail strip can be accomplished with a minimum of tools, ball ammo is both effective and easy to handload. Plenty accurate to 25yd and beyond with a bit of practice.

Mini-14/30. Why not an AR? Because while an AR is much more accurate rifle, it's also much harder to maintain. A Mini will turn in 3-4MOA without trouble using the factory ring sights, and in my experience, will feed anything you can fit in the magazine. Brass, steel, whatever. Don't count on finding your brass easily, though.

870 (or 887) 12ga. Ditch the 26- or 28-inch bird barrel and put on a 18.5-inch cylinder bore with dual beads. It'll shoot foster slugs beautifully to 50-75yd, and any kind of shot load will work fine. No gas system to maintain, and most 870s will run on minimal maintenance of any kind.

Mar 8, 2010

Is there a message here?

I listen to a lot of music. All types. My CD rack (yes, I still buy CDs occasionally) starts with Abba and ends around ZZ Top, making swings past the Highwaymen, Billy Joel, and Tupac along the way.

Here in the hill country, though, there's only four or five radio channels strong enough to listen to regularly. One classic rock. One country. One college modern/alt-rock. One rock with some other stuff. And the obligatory NPR. Since cancelling satellite radio last year, I mostly switch between country and classic rock, channel-surfing as ads get played.

Sunday mornings, the country station does a "classic country" show - older stuff, Highwaymen era and before, mostly. This morning as I was driving home, they punched up one I hadn't heard before: Marty Robbins' "Big Iron". (Link pops up short clip.) I enjoyed it. Good tune, solid traditional country story (Old west gun fights!), good voice. Filed away under "might buy an MP3 at some point".

Tonight, driving to work, whatever channel I was listening to started babbling crap advertisements so I punched over to the "rock and some other stuff" which plays a live-from-a-local-cafe folk music show on Sunday nights. Sometimes enjoyable, sometimes less. Tonight's act was Seamus Kennedy, a good Irish lad who tours the world with his music. He was just introducing his set in a thick Irish brogue, so I kept listening - I have yet to run across an Irish or Scottish act that isn't worth listening to for at least a few songs.

He started right in with "Big Iron".

Hang on. Obscure song, from someone I'd never heard before, played on two different radio stations (of two different genres!) from two different singers ... within sixteen hours? Weird, man. Maybe I should grab a lotto ticket on the way home... (Side note: the rest of the set that I heard was great, next time he swings through town, I'll try to go listen to him live.)

But, speaking of Big Iron, the last issue of "American Rifleman" has a cover story about the new Savage Model 10 in .338LM. It's not a cheap rifle, clocking in just shy of 2k without any optics or accessories to speak of, but that's still a bargain price for a 1,000-meter platform. I skimmed the article, and looked over the shooting results - and was stunned. They were talking about this thing being accurate, but were showing groups (perhaps "patterns" is more accurate?) of 3-4 inches, with one ammo (a 250gr match load, IIRC) turning in a "smallest" of 1.3 inches or so. I couldn't believe that this 1,000m-capable rifle, from a company known for accuracy, chambered for an accurate cartridge, was turning in such lousy groups.

Until I read closer. The standard distance for testing a rifle for accuracy is 100m(yd). The NRA tested this one at 300yd.

A 1.3" group at 300yd works out to a hair over 1/3MOA. From a $2000 rifle. You can spend five times that much on a custom-made target rifle that won't shoot as well.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: for the dollar, it's almost impossible to beat a Savage rifle for accuracy. Whether it's a Model (1)14 or (1)11 for hunting, or a 10 or 12 for precision shooting, or a MkII for plinking and small game, you can't beat the price, and they are competitive.

I'd put another Savage (114 American Classic in .270) in my safe before another Remington 7-series.

Mar 6, 2010

Range Report

Having had a distinct lack of boomy recently, and having missed the AD Dinner/Blogshoot, I finally made it to the range this morning, new shootin' iron in tow.

My range only allows cast lead and .22s on the indoor range (something about not-quite-strong-enough plate in the traps), which I only had a partial box of. Even so, I got to wring out the 67 and refresh myself on the 642.

I hung my target, loaded the 67, paced off about seven yards, and lined up the sights. Decided to challenge myself and shoot double-action. Squeezed through the traditional S&W trigger, *bang* ... lowered the gun, and blinked ... and looked again. One quarter of an inch low and dead-f'ing-center. I shot through the rest of the cylinder, checked my target, and only found five holes... closer examination revealed one of them to be a hair wider than it should be.

I backed off to 16 yards (we've a 50-foot range) and shot another five rounds double-action (one empty chamber to check for flinch). Another beautiful group, a little high-left with one flyer. Reloaded with six and shot those single-action... and the group more than doubled in size. Obviously, this is a DA gun!


Then I brought out the 642 for a quick check. Nine rounds (5, 4) at 7 yards, as quick as I could bring sights back on target. Then five rounds at 16 yards with a bit more care in aiming. The nine rounds in the center square were the quick-fire at close range. The five scattered along the right outside the orange were the longer shots.


A snubby is NOT an easy gun to shoot well, but this certainly qualifies as "minute of bad guy".

Also of note - these are my own mouse-fart target loads, 3.5gr of Trail Boss behind a 158gr LRN. They are not tuned for any particular gun, but seem to shoot reasonably well in everything. I'd recommend the load to anyone looking for a nice easy target load, or for new shooters trying centerfire for the first time.

Mar 3, 2010

The curse of...

The curse of good dreams and a bad memory. I woke up early this morning (as you can see by the post time) and while I lay in bed in that half-awake state, my brain started putting together some interesting phrases. No imagery, just words. It took a moment for the conscious brain to figure out what was going on and for me to think, "Hey, this is worth jotting down!" I'm not much of a writer, but sometimes I come up with something.

By the time I was awake enough to find pen and paper (and out of bed to another room to turn on a light so I could write without bothering MrsZ), it was gone. Oh, I remember - vaguely - the first fractional sentence. But it's not what I was half-dreaming, just a passing similarity.