Jan 30, 2015

Most gun owners are...

"Most gun owners are cheap bastards."

*blink blink*

That was the statement I read in a forum recently regarding a new indoor range that opened nearby.

I don't know if or when I'll go try it out - it's not a cheap range. $25 for non-members (they say unlimited shooting "unless busy"), and annual memberships begin at $500. Life memberships exist too, and are well into four-figure prices - plus a monthly maintenance fee.

They spent a LOT of money on this place. 50-yard rifle range (three lanes), 25-yard pistol range (14 lanes) and a 25-yard "tactical" range (6 lanes) with moving/turning targets. The backstop is advertised as being rated to .50BMG (don't be in the lane either side!), and word on the street is "anything up to 4,000fps" - which means most common AR chamberings, anything rimfire, and ANY pistol. (Things that are out: .204Ruger, .220Swift, .22-250, and things of that ilk... and most folks shooting those want a lot more than 50 yards to play with.)

But back to that original statement. "Most gun owners are cheap bastards." He thinks the range isn't going to do so well because it is spendy. Of course ... how many of us have the box o' holsters? I do. Not as bad as some, but there are a dozen or two holsters of various flavors kicking around my house. I boxed up part of my reloading bench this morning in preparation for a move. At last count I had about 15 pounds of powder and 12-15k primers ... plus several thousand bullets of various calibers. And let's not even get into the sagging shelf of ammo cans in the garage.

Am I cheap? No. I'm frugal. I will absolutely buy quality; I know how hard I work for every dollar and I want to get the best value I can. If the best value is a $350 Eotech sight, that's what I'll buy. If I'm putting a sight on a range toy, maybe the $150 Primary Arms sight is a better value for me.

Meantime, "boutique" shooting ranges are springing up and catering to the new generation of shooters. The ones that don't want the dark wood, nicotine stains, and dead-animal mounts of a traditional gun club. That don't want the gruff retired guy behind the counter telling them, "The little lady needs a snubby."

This is a totally new breed of shooters. They're the ones buying the designer CCW clothes. And the semi-bespoke guns. And you know what? They're the future of shooting sports. They have disposable income and are spending it left and right on their hobby. We need to encourage it.

So ... I'll be making a trip down there when my schedule allows.

Jan 28, 2015


eForms Application Status Change Notification for Permit/Control No: 201512345

This is to advise you that the status of your eForms submission with the subject Permit/Control number has changed to APPROVED

This would be my 9" S&W 15-22. The barrel is still off at York Arms being shortened, threaded, and re-finished... but should be back here very soon.

I need to run the lower by the laser shop for engraving in the next few days.

Submission to approval time was 41 days.

Now? I need to get on the stick about finding some more 1/2-28 muzzle devices to protect threads when the can isn't mounted.

Jan 24, 2015

Range report

Ever leave the range wondering, "Why did I waste that time and ammo?"

I had that day today.

I swapped the sight from my torn-apart 15-22 upper to the new-used/spare 15-22 upper and took that for zeroing. Aside from a horrible flinch, it did fine. No major adjustments needed, but I'm starting to consider ditching the dot and getting a magnified optic. Or maybe just putting it on the SBR 15-22 when that's ready to assemble. In any case ... sixty rounds, one malfunction (light strike, near as I can tell; it went bang on a second run through), no real thrill.

I took the Savage .308 for some 100yd work ... and was horribly disappointed. 2-2.5" seemed to be the best I was doing today.

The tone for the range trip was set by one of the range staff when I got there - I uncased my guns and racked them, then sat back on the rear bench to wait for a cease-fire to go hang a target. I pulled a granola bar out of my pocket and started to unwrap it when she tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You really shouldn't eat that here, don't want to ingest lead, you're already breathing enough of it." I smiled and said, "Thanks, but I'll take my chances." (Note: I hadn't handled any ammo yet, it's friggin' granola bar, and I eat those from the wrapper, not with bare hands.) She scowled at me and said, "NO, you won't. If you want to eat that you have to go back to the patio." I stuffed it back in my pocket. I should have just left and demanded my range fee back.

I've had run-ins with this miserable wench before, and I'm sick of it. I'll be contacting the range management to complain during business hours.

While I had the .308 out I heard the loudspeaker call a few times, "Booth X, keep your muzzle downrange." Then the RO went to that booth and told him a couple more times to watch his muzzle. Then I started seeing puffs of concrete dust from in front of that booth, out around the 50-yard line... Bubba, if you can't (1) keep your muzzle pointed mostly downrange and (2) are knocking loose concrete at 50 yards (meaning striking either four feet low in the ground or six feet high into the baffles) ... I don't want to be anywhere near you.

So I packed up my stuff and headed home. And I'm still grouchy about it.

I want a range where I can shoot what I want, when I want, from the positions I want (i.e., prone or seated, not off a concrete slab), at targets more exciting than a piece of paper.

Jan 20, 2015

ATF eForms update

Everyone is focused on SHOT right now, and understandably so... but the ATF emailed me an update on NFA processing and eForms this morning, and I think it's worth sharing... so here it is, copy-pasta'd, and some followup thoughts below.

In follow-up to ATF’s letter dated April 16, 2014, regarding the status of the eForms system; this update is being provided to inform the industry of ATF’s progress in addressing eForms and paper NFA applications. To accommodate the substantial increase in application volume that has recently occurred, ATF is working diligently to decrease processing times while continuing to enhance the eForms platform. 

What is our progress to date?
From a peak of over 81,000 pending NFA applications at the end of February 2014, as of  January 14, 2015, ATF has reduced the number to less than 38,000 applications pending (54% reduction in pending applications). In the last four weeks, although the NFA Branch received over 19,500 applications, the Branch processed more than 22,300 applications.
- The authorized staffing level of 25 Legal Instrument Examiner (LIE) positions for the
NFA Branch has been reached.
- ATF continues to expend overtime for those employees processing NFA applications.
- ATF has cross-trained and utilized LIEs from various other ATF branches to support
NFA application processing. This is an ongoing process and has already beneficially
impacted application processing.
- ATF has trained and utilized 23 Industry Operations Investigators (IOIs) in the
processing of NFA forms and utilized these IOIs for a 3-week period to help reduce the
- ATF has dedicated additional data entry contract resources to continue to reduce the
time it takes for an application to be entered into the National Firearms Registration and
Transfer Record (NFRTR) and to keep it reduced in light of the volume of submissions.
- For paper submissions, the processing times for NFA forms have been reduced to:
o Forms 1 and 4 – 6 months
o Forms 3 and 5 – 2 months
o Forms 2 and 9 – 1 month
- ATF Forms 1, 2, 5, 9, 10 and 5300.11 have been returned to service in the eForms
- While eForms 3 and 4 have not yet been restored to service, there has been progress.
ATF has engaged a new vendor to create a more robust platform for the processing of
the eForms 3 and 4.
The new platform will be designed to eliminate the issues that caused the removal of the
eForms 3 and 4 from service. The new eForms will also provide enhanced functionality
such as batch processing and possibly some automated approval functionality for certain
forms. The vendor has recently been cleared and has already started to work with ATF
in engaging the industry for system requirements on certain processes. Once the
requirements have been finalized, we will begin the design and review of the new
eForms platform. We hope to have eForms 3 and 4 returned to service by late 2015.
- ATF met in July in a roundtable discussion with some of the larger users of the eForms
system to exchange information about the development of the new system. There have
been additional information sharing meetings since July with the goal of additional
industry input to the design and review of the process.

Look, I think the whole NFA tax-stamp nonsense is stupid too. The backlog on processing is obscene. Hell, I'd even grind my teeth and continue to pay the $200 stamp if I could do it at the same time my NICS check is done when I buy an item ... as in "cash and carry".

That said, the ATF  has made huge strides in their processing. My suppressor was turned around in five months (paper form  4), and my first SBR was done in five weeks (e-filed form 1). I'm right at five weeks on the second SBR and expecting the magic email anytime now. Knocking down half of an 80,000-item backlog in eight months is damn impressive, because they are still getting applications at record rates.

If they can get e-filed form 4 processing down to a consistent 4-6 weeks, and don't get stupid about trust/corporations and NFA items ... I can see a rather rapidly-expanding stamp collection. I'd really like to add a couple more suppressors (primarily in rifle calibers), and there are some other wants on the list in the AOW category... but I don't want to deal with 6-month waits to get them out of limbo. Will I? Probably. Eventually. Still don't want to.

Jan 9, 2015

BX-25 trigger

GfZ got a BX-25 trigger for Christmas. It finally arrived today. We haven't installed it yet (a five-minute job of two screws and two pins) but it's in a "try me!" plastic package. So we did.

Not bad at all. VERY clean break, and definitely lighter than a factory 10/22 trigger. I'm impressed. And since it's drop-in, it doesn't have the fiddly line-up-the-parts game of a Volquartsen trigger kit.

(And at a third the price of a Timney set, it's a great deal!)