Oct 31, 2011

VZ Grips - excellent!

I have to give credit to VZ Grips. I looked at their products at the NRA show but didn't feel like putting the cash down right then. Nice stuff, but not the right time.

Then someone posted a coupon code over the weekend - 20% off with code HALLOW11. That was enough to push me over the edge, and I whipped out the wallet and ordered a set ... except the order failed because there was an address mismatch.

So I tried my other address and it failed as well. I tried a few combinations. Every single one failed. I figured they were having a computer glitch and decided to try again this morning. Failure again.

I checked my credit card account and saw a stack of "Pending" from VZ Grips... uh-oh.

Their phone number is on their site, and their office hours are listed.

I called, pushed one menu option, and was answered by a real person. Who spoke English. American English.

I (briefly) explained what had happened and he transferred me to billing, who checked and confirmed that they had no pending orders in my name. Billing asked if I wanted to place the order still (yesplease) and transferred me back to sales - the same guy I'd originally talked to.

He took my order, checked inventory, applied the coupon code, took my billing and shipping information, and told me the grips would go to the shop for milling tomorrow and probably ship out tomorrow or Wednesday. I went back to my desk and there was already an email with the invoice sitting in my mailbox.

That is exactly how customer service is supposed to work.

(These are the grips on the way, plus a thumb notch, and a set of their Radiation II grip screws. I think they'll look quite good on the Kimber, which I still owe you pictures of...)

Oct 30, 2011

No ice cream

.. working.

FTOing a newbie at the Day Job, and filling holes from two missing full-timers at BBHIS.

I'm scheduled for a total of 148 hours in this pay period.

I'll see you in a week or two.

Oct 25, 2011

Vicious Circle

And here, the origins of the Vicious Circle... that is, pre-internet days.


(Click to embiggen.)

Oct 23, 2011

10/22, a day late

I don't have any pictures of the 10/22 MrsZ has in the safe - but it's an International, with the stainless barrel and grey laminate stock. Purty rifle, that one. It needs some attention soon. The trigger is mushy (but very light) after I put in a Volquartsen sear and spring kit, and it has been stovepiping a round or two every few magazines. Given that they are down to $175, a Timney drop-in is a likely candidate...

And since I'm on the topic, there is a special production run of the "International" style out again, through the Talo distribution network. I saw one at the fun show last week for $350ish, and they're running through Gunbroker in the high $200s. If you want a sharp looking plinker, they're tough to beat - but don't plan on much modification. Sure, you can play build-a-rifle with it, but you'll be taking it out of the beautiful Mannlicher stock you just spent the extra money on. ;-)

Oct 21, 2011

The Snark Runs Deep

We all have the right to pursue happiness, not have it spoon-fed to us on the taxpayer's dime.

Maybe my title is misleading. That's not snark - that's blunt truth.

Another gem I have run across recently:
America is the land of opportunity; guaranteed equal opportunity ... but not guaranteed equal outcome.

The formerly-great hunt 2011...

Last winter I proposed a group hunt for some of you bloggers... and got several takers. As life has a habit of doing, things moved around and circumstances changed, and the intended hunt of 6-7 people has been reduced to ... two.

I still intend to hunt the farm for the mentioned dates - specifically 11/30-12/3. The in-laws have notified the usual hunters that the farm is off-limits from the 30th to the 2nd.

As such, I'm re-opening the invite. If any of the usual suspects would like to join me for a hunt or learn how to hunt/kill/dress a deer, then ping me or reply here. I would gladly take 3-5 additional people for this fiasco. Lodging is intended to be a Country Inn & Suites, and pre-paid rooms are running about $80/night for that time range. Double up and save money.

For those unable to attend - please don't take this as a guilt trip. Best-laid plans of mice and men, etc; I completely understand how life can take us down unexpected paths. I was in the same boat with Northeast Blogshoot this summer and only made it up thanks to the generosity of Bubblehead Les.

Hoping to have at least a couple of you pipe up!

Oct 19, 2011


Had some stuff happen at Day Job earlier this week. I can't get into specifics (of course) but suffice it to say everything was done right on my end of things, and the outcomes were still far less than desirable.

It's not the first time, it won't be the last, but for some reason it's just kind of tweaked my mood for the week.

I spent yesterday hunting the in-laws' farm with a regular hunting partner. Just about a perfect day. Took a very long walk in the woods after getting turned around in the creek, the weather was cool and slightly breezy but not cold, the sun was out...

I dozed off in the pasture waiting for Greg to make it out of the stand for lunch and enjoyed my short nap. The afternoon was a gentle push through some woods and then a few hours watching the sky get dark from a tree stand.

I reckon we both walked several miles in the process, and I can't wait to do it again. A much-needed respite from the staggering amount of crap that's been going on.

Oct 17, 2011

Hello, fall.

The Kimber-porn will be a few days out. I collapsed when I got home last night before taking any pictures, I'm working both jobs today, and tomorrow I will be sitting in a tree and waiting for the tricksy deers to walk by and get shot with arrows. (In other words, I will enjoy a day in the woods watching the world go by.)

The weather is definitely on the down-slide here. The weekend was classic autumn in upstate New York: windy, rainy, and moderately cool. The temperature isn't a problem so much as the pervasive dampness - and I'm too cheap/lazy to fire up the coal stove quite yet, so the house is cool in the mornings.

This morning, though, was the clearest sign yet of impending winter.

I got up to put the dog out at my usual time, and when I stepped on the deck I glanced up at a sky that was partly cloudy with a waning gibbous moon... and saw those three-stars-in-a-row that only appears in winter, as Orion's belt. It's still a late-rising constellation, since it was in the eastern sky, but it's up there.

And the air between the clouds? Crystal clear.

My seasons are here.

Oct 16, 2011

Why yes...

... That is a Kimber in my pocket. And I am happy to see it.

Gun pron forthcoming...

Oct 12, 2011

First Car

ASM826 started this one, as near as I can tell.

I'll definitely jump in on this one.

About 2/3 of the way through my freshman year of college, RIT announced they were closing one of the high-rise dorms for renovations, and the incoming freshman class was the largest ever. As such, all non-freshmen were being kicked out of the dorms. University-owned apartments were available by lottery, or we could take our chances on the local market. I opted for the campus apartments, and ended up in the only "on-campus" complex that was not part of campus - it was a solid 3 miles down the road with relatively regular bus service.

Mom and Dad talked over the summer and decided I needed a car. Who was I to argue? We went shopping on a couple consecutive weekends while I was home from the camp I worked at, and looked at a few options. Nothing was combining condition, price, and reliability the way we needed it to, until I glanced at the used-car listings for one of the local dealers.

We went down and looked at a 1990 Honda Prelude SI. We drove it. I loved it. It was at the top end of the price range my parents were willing to consider, but I had to go back to camp and left the decisions in their hands. They called me later that week and asked if I could come home after camp on Friday to pick up the car. Well, duh.

The car was awesome - black with a tan interior, sunroof, power windows, 5-speed stick, and more power than it knew what to do with. The little 2.1L I4 cranked out about 140hp but the car only weighed 2,400lb and was geared short. It would take off like a rocket if I put my foot down and could chirp second gear... Not that I'd do something like that.

That car was a dream - it handled well, cruised well, got good mileage, and was incredible in the snow. I wish it had stayed together better, but it reached the point of needing major mechanical work (both CV's were shot and would have been approaching the value of the car to replace, then my then-girlfriend's father backed into it and crunched the fender - that was the death knell) and was traded in on a newer car.

Adventures? Not many. I got punched in the face at a gas station the first night I had the car - adding a small bloodstain to the seatbelt where I bled on it. Trying to drive stickshift at night at moderately high speed while stopping a bloody nose with one hand? That's talent. ;-)

Another night coming home from college I had a jackwagon in a minivan trying to set the speed limit for the highway. I had the cruise set at about 71 (speed limit +10% is my norm on the highway) and some guy passed me, pulled in front of me, and promptly set his cruise at 67. I slowed down until I had an opening to pass and did so, then set my cruise back to 71 and kept going. A minute later he passed me again, pulled in front of me, and slowed down. Repeat a couple more times. About the third time I kept my foot down when I passed him and put a solid half-mile between us. A couple minutes go by and he repeated the act. I put more distance between us, and he did it again... or tried to.

By this time traffic was nil and the road was wide-open. When I saw him coming up beside me, I shot him the bird and blipped the gas whenever his front bumper came into view in the corner of my eye. I kept this up as we continued down the interstate, and he never got past me. I saw the sign for my exit coming up and glanced down - we were going at a speed a bit short of plaid. Whoops...

Oct 11, 2011

Kilted to Kick Cancer

The boys put together a hell of an effort and brought it some incredible prizes.

Jay is turning it up to 11 and auctioning off his prizes.

My bid is in... is yours?

Oct 10, 2011

Flinch, a case study

One of the things that I've found VERY helpful with shooting is taking video of the process and examining key parts frame-by-frame. A $100-150 point-n-shoot digital camera from Walmart can now record 720 or 1080 HD video and dump right into your laptop for immediate review. 30fps isn't quite stop motion, but it's a whole lot faster than your eye can process an entire image.

I took some video of Kay and Karl this weekend with the AR, and they both have a pretty standard flinch. Most of us have it to one degree or another, but it can be controlled with a lot of repetition and a good dose of ball'n'dummy drill.

We'll start with Karl. These four frames are from the same shot sequence, and we'll go through one by one. As always, click to embiggen:
Karl has a pretty good shooting position here. Nose is not-quite to charging handle, not dragging wood, good cheek weld, buttstock is tucked well into the shoulder... I'm not a fan of the magwell grip, but for bench shooting there's nothing terribly wrong with it.

The trigger is back, the bolt is mid-recoil (on the back-stroke), and Karl's just been tapped in the nose by the charging handle. And his eyes are closing/closed.

The rifle is at the back of its recoil stroke, the brass is ejected and the bolt is closed on the next cartridge - but Karl hasn't finished his recoil stroke yet. Full-on face-squinch... but wait, there's more!

That pop in the nose from the CH was enough to break his cheek weld. His eyes are coming back open here but his cheek is off the stock still. In any kind of precision shooting, consistency from shot to shot is the key. Losing your cheek weld (and getting smacked in the nose by your rifle) is not a consistent shooting platform.

Looks like some ball'n'dummy is in Karl's immediate future!

On to Kay:
Due to vision issues, Kay doesn't sit her nose right on the charging handle. Aside from that, this isn't a bad arrangement. An A2 stock is a hair long for her - note the position of the buttstock relative to her shoulder - but that's not something I can readily fix. (An A1 stock would be a big improvement, I think. Sadly, a carbine stock isn't legal on this rifle.)

Kay has just started the trigger pull, and her eyes are already closed...

Brass ejected, bolt is back forward, and Kay's eyes are still closed. She did, however, keep her trigger back like I taught her - so it's not all bad. It's also worth noting that the stock has slipped *up* on her shoulder by a fraction of an inch, which would have the lovely effect of throwing shots low.

Also to her credit, Kay didn't lose her cheek weld through this whole process, meaning she was riding the recoil perfectly.

If you have new shooters - or are just curious about your own form - a video camera and tripod can be a great teaching tool. It's easy to say, "You flinched." ... it's MUCH more impressive to SHOW them their flinch.

Busy Weekend

The weather flipped to Indian Summer late last week, and the weekend was fantastic - the kind of days that change this area from "generally ok" to "wonderful". Nights in the 40s and 50s, days in the 70s without a cloud in the sky. The trees have all started to change, and while we're not at peak color, it's not far off. With the wet summer we had and a couple nights of hard cold I'm optimistic for a banner year on foliage...

Given the weather forecast, and a weekend roughly aligning with MrsZ's, we took advantage of the weather.

Saturday morning I met my new shooter Kay and her son Karl at the range for a bit of playtime. Since it was finally nice out we were able to use the outdoor range, and set up zombie targets at 25m and 100m along with a couple water bottles at 100m.

We started small, after a quick review of safety rules, with my Savage MkII. As always, it performed like a champ and both Kay and Karl were knocking out quarter-size groups at 25m. We switched to 100m, which is well inside the capabilities of the rifle, and they both put a couple magazines worth of headshots into poor Zombie Bob. (For those curious, the come-up for Federal 550 bulk pack .22 is about 6MOA between 25m and 100m.)

Both of them were pretty bored with .22 by that point, so I brought out the AR. We went over the function of the rifle and then they settled right in with it. A couple boxes of .223 later, Bob was well-ventilated and Kay had knocked over the half-gallon milk jug. A few tries on the half-liter bottles were unsuccessful, though...

Last but not least, I got out my .270, showed them the difference in cartridges (with a note about the trope of "high power assault rifles") and let them have at it. My .270 is nothing to write home about; it's a budget rifle with budget glass but it can turn in respectable groups and has a not-bad trigger. Each of them put a few rounds in to Bob, then I showed them the 250m plate we have at the range. Waaaaay back there in the treeline... I smacked it one for three, then let Karl take a crack at it - that young man knocked it two out of four. One of the nice things about those mid-bore rifles is a pretty forgiving maximum point-blank; a 150m zero will give me a 4" MPBR of about 280-300m, with plenty of power for a deer anywhere in that range.

Range trip over, I dumped the guns back in the safe and grabbed lunch with MrsZ and my folks, then it was on to work at BBHIS. Nothing of note there.

Sunday morning we slept in, then wandered over to the "gun" show in a nearby county. Talk about disappointing. The web site listed it as a 350-table show, which would have been well worth the trip. It was on an indoor soccer field, and they used perhaps 1/3 of the available space for perhaps 80-100 tables. Fewer than half the tables had guns of any kind, and those were mostly field guns... bolt- and lever-action rifles, double shotguns, etc. There was one display with modern pistols; all over-priced, and a half-dozen black rifles of various flavors. ($950 for a "Delaware Machine" no-name AR, MSRP for a S&W M&P15-22, and no interest in negotiating.) Lots of milsurp of various flavors, and a LOT of Nazi-ish stuff. (MrsZ came to me after about 15-20 minutes of wandering and asked why there were so many swastikas on display.) A few tables of ammo at ridiculous prices ($10/20 Silver Bear .223). Overall, very disappointing. I'll save some pennies for the spring show in Syracuse, I think.

Sunday late afternoon I put the gable walls into the barn, so that's nearly done. It needs a few more pieces of trim work and such done, but it's weather-proofed and will stay dry for the winter. We watched a movie with dinner and headed for bed early...

And today it's back to work. I'll be working on things outside this afternoon and as many afternoons as possible while the weather holds. There's plenty of cleaning and organizing to get done; bow season starts this coming Saturday, and and and...

On the plus side, we've got a good start on getting things put up:


Oct 6, 2011

Vague ideas

After my discussions with my new shooter - particularly about not knowing where to turn for "this is how to start" instructions - there is a vague idea floating around in my head of trying to start something at the range. I suppose getting NRA RSO/Instructor creds would be a good start...

Somewhere down the road ... my own range?

Let me put on my bus drivin' hat

... and watch as the Wall Street Journal tosses the pres_ent under the bus.

What is it that Mr. Obama doesn't like about the United States—a country that sent him hurtling like an American Idol contestant from the obscurity of an Illinois Senate seat to the presidency in a mere four years?

Read the whole thing. And note that through the whole article he is referred to as "Mr. Obama," not "President O" ... interesting.

Oct 4, 2011

Damn, kids

Ambulance Driver went and started a contest/fund drive to raise money for cancers last month. And they kicked some major ass... Over eight thousand dollars. Unbelievable, and incredibly generous of all of you: the contributors, the prize donors, and the men who were confident enough in their masculinity to wander around in a kilt. (Thus called because that's what happened to the last man who called it a skirt.)

My hat is off to all of you.