Sep 21, 2014

CCW Class: the rest of the story

Now that I've had a bit of sleep and some food, etc, I feel like tapping out the rest of it.

I'm not going to ID the instructor publicly, because I have zero doubt that he does regular searches and wouldn't hesitate to send me a lawsuit for defamation. If you're looking for a class in the Metro KC area, drop me a note privately and I'll explain further.

That said, here's the rundown on the day:
Class scheduled to start at 8. It did, plus or minus a few minutes. The instructors (four) were well-groomed, wearing the de facto gun instructor uniform of cargo shorts and epaulet shirts with various patches affixed.

Instructor intros. Ex-military. Ex-cop. Ex-cop. Etc.
Head instructor... medically-retired cop. "FBI-trained sniper" draws oohs and ahhs from the class and an eyeroll from me. (Average distance of a police "sniper" shot? 51 yards.) Department armorer. Firearms instructor.

Class begins. Four rules.
Four rules again.
Range rules.
Four rules again.
Class is asked for "experienced shooters" to volunteer to go shoot quals. I and four others raise our hands; three more are added to the group, we go shoot quals. Pistol is a S&W M&P22, at the previously-mentioned 7 yards. I rapid-fire a forty-round tennis-ball size group on the left edge of the X-ring. A quick glance across the other targets suggests that's a pretty standard grouping.

Back to the classroom.
I kind of zone out as the instructor spends more time yammering on about parts of a handgun, ways to carry a handgun, and the like. I started scribbling down the little tropes he was throwing out and getting angrier and angrier about this clown wasting my time and money. I had to get the piece of paper to get my CCW though, so calling him out on it during class wasn't going to do any good.

So, in no particular order, here's a few of those chestnuts he placed in front of 38 students yesterday, without comment from me:
- Hornady Critical Defense uses a polymer insert in the hollowpoint because polymer is harder and stronger than steel (you know, like the frames of Glocks and Springfield XD9) and it makes the bullet expand faster.
- You should only carry hollowpoints because they'll limit overpenetration.
- Never buy a "Magnum" handgun because the prosecutor will use it against you. If you insist on buying a Magnum, only load it with .38s.
- Never load Magnum rounds in a long-barrel handgun because the velocity is too great and it will overpenetrate.
- Dry-firing is terrible for guns, will damage your .22 beyond repair, and will wear out the firing pin springs on centerfires.
- A shotgun is the ideal home defense weapon because 1) the sound of the slide will scare off bad guys. 2) You don't have to aim, just kind of point. 3) You should saw off the barrel as short as you can (pause ... legally) so it's easier to use. 4) Ladies should use a 20ga semi-auto so they don't have to worry about working the slide under pressure.
- Birdshot is the best home defense round because it won't overpenetrate. Buckshot will go through your target, the wall, the exterior wall, the house next door...
- Every student he teaches needs to buy a NAA Mini Magnum, and load the first two in the cylinder with snakeshot. He tested this load himself, at 21 feet, and, "I pulled the trigger and suddenly it felt like my face was on fire. I had to squeeze out three or four pellets that had embedded themselves in my forehead and chin. They'd gone 21 feet down, bounced back, and still had enough energy to embed in my face."
- A revolver is the best defensive gun because it doesn't have malfunctions, you just pull the trigger again.
- Open carry is stupid, bad tactics, and if you're in line at 7-11 and it gets robbed you're going to be shot first and the robber is going to have two guns to kill people with.
- .22 is the deadliest bullet ever because it bounces around inside the body and destroys multiple organs. (Like the .50BMG tumbler rounds the military uses that bounce around inside enemy trucks and kill everyone inside.)
- Anyone wearing body armor while they're out and about is obviously up to no good.

At some point in the afternoon I tried to kill myself with the BlueGun on our group's table. It didn't work.

He has not maintained currency with MO law changes, and was giving advice in contradiction to just-passed state laws.

His case full of guns for show-and-tell? A dozen Taurii in various flavors (including a Judge), two NAA Minis, one Glock 36, an LCP, and an LCR. His taste in firearms is ... questionable at best. (He repeatedly talked up Taurus as quality guns.)

I'm going to be contacting the county sheriff this week to see what the process is to file a complaint about a CCW instructor. I don't want this clown giving bad info to more people.

On the plus side of things, our class of 38 was fully 1/3 female. That was good to see.

MO CCW class

Missouri requires anyone applying for a CCW go through an 8-hour basic class, including a live-fire portion. Annoying, but it ensures anyone applying at least has a baseline knowledge and proof of ... well, competency is a strong word.

The "qualification" is 20 rounds at a B27 target, at seven yards.

Passing? 16 have to be in the black.

Not center mass, not inside the 7-ring, just IN BLACK INK.

(I just did the math ... that's maintaining around 330MOA of accuracy.)

The rest of the class was an absolute train wreck, and I'll tap that out when I'm a bit less pissed about it. If you know me on the facebook, you already got some of the highlights.

Sep 18, 2014

Ammo notes

I could show you a couple pictures of targets but... why?

Short form: I'm suitably impressed by the ZQI 5.56, especially at its price point. It shot tighter and more consistently than the M193 I also tried.

Zero malfunctions, although it was a limited test (one box of 30 in three sets of ten).

Handily kept to sub-5MOA with iron sights (blame shooter, not ammo) and 2MOA with a 3x scope.

I'll be buying more every time I'm at Walmart.

Sep 16, 2014

Ammo "warning"

I put "warning" in quotes because I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

I'm trying to stack up a bit of ammo again; my supply of .223/5.56 was getting uncomfortably low and it's starting to approach sane prices again. Accordingly, I picked up a few boxes of "ZQI" at WalMart yesterday. It's brass-cased, boxer-primed (and crimped), and sells in a box of 30 for $9.97. Even with sales tax pushing that closer to $11/30, it's still a hair cheaper than I can mail-order most other brass 5.56.

There's no specs on the box, and since this is intended to be stacked away for future use, it was worth buying a handful just to try. I did some digging into the actual specs when I got home, and found the ZQI info page.

Of particular interest:
Description 5.56 x 45 mm SS109
Bullet Weight (grains) ~62
Bullet Material:
   Jacket: Gilding Metal (Brass)
   Core: Steel and Lead-Antimony Alloy
Emphasis mine. What I had assumed was 55gr FMJ blasting ammo is instead NATO-spec 62gr penetrator. Curious, I decided to check it with a BuckyCube I somehow forgot to turn in to the CPSC:

Yep. It sticks.

Now, why does this matter?
One: 62gr ammo doesn't always stabilize well in 1/9 twist barrels, which many budget ARs have. (We're getting in to esoterica of bullet density, length, twist rates, and the like.) It might do fine in yours, so buy a box if you'd like to test. 1/8 or 1/7 should be absolutely OK.
Two: In regions with high risk of wildfire, steel-core ammo is often banned because it can spark on rocks or metal targets. Be aware.
Three: Many public ranges have restrictions on steel-core ammo because of damage to facilities. Some go so far as to check ammo brought in with a magnet. If it sticks, you're buying range ammo at range prices or not shooting that day.
Four: If you have your own gongs or plate targets, anything less than AR500 steel is probably going to be severely damaged (or simply punched through) by this. Even AR500 will take some damage from SS109 projectiles, as seen in this video from tnoutdoors9.

Is this Armor Piercing? Nope. AR500 steel or a Level IV SAPI plate will stop it. It'll go through a Level III/IIIA vest just like any other centerfire rifle round.

Box o' Truth tested it on an engine block: no significant difference between M193 (55gr ball) and M855 (62gr penetrator).

So which to get? Whichever is cheaper that your range/targets allow for AND your rifle will stabilize. I'm hoping to hit the range later this week, and I have ARs in both 1/9 and 1/7, so perhaps some comparison will be done.

Sep 14, 2014


Back in May I wrote about upheaval in life, not least of which was the announcement that I'd be out of a job in 90-120 days. Well, they came awful close to the 120 mark.

I walked out of work at 0700 after turning in my uniforms, ID, etc.

I haven't felt this good in a long time. I laughed all the way home, at absolutely nothing in particular. I had a Manhattan made with good rye when I got home, then slept for six hours, and feel like a new person.

I will be starting with another agency in the area soon (exact date is pending background check and drug screen), and I have a fair severance check in hand.

Most of it will be going in the bank with an eye towards house-buying in the near future... but part of it will likely turn into a bit of shop time for some barrels that need threading. :-)

I'd be lying if I said I was pleased with how the last year and a half has gone, at least on a day-to-day basis. The last four months of uncertainty and dead-man-walking mentality were miserable. Now I'm looking at what the future holds and things suddenly look a whole lot better.

Yes, I'm taking a pay cut for a year or two. Doesn't matter. New agency has a lot of opportunities for professional growth that look exciting.

I've got at least a week and probably three off now. I foresee some sleeping, a few range trips, and at least a few nights of backpacking.

Hunting beg

It's not often I'll beg to hunt... But now?

I walked out of work at 7 yesterday morning to crystal clear skies and the sun just starting to peek over the horizon, with my breath clouding in absolutely still 38-degree air. The leaves are still a little green but you couldn't ask for better hunting weather.

And then I read Brigid's latest hunting post.

I'm begging.

If anyone in the midwest - within a reasonable day's drive of Kansas City - has and is willing to share some private hunting land ... I'd be eternally grateful. Just a day worth of hunting is all I need. If timing was right, an evening, a day, and a morning. But I need to hunt. I'll bring good coffee. Or good beer. Or whatever bribes are needed.

Yes, there are public conservation areas around here.

The greater KC Metro area has 2 million residents. Public hunting grounds sound like Mogadishu on opening day. Not my cuppa.

Thanks in advance.

Sep 12, 2014

Blue collar community

Following up on "I built that barn", comes this time-lapse video of an Amish barn-raising. Incredible work, and as someone quipped, an OSHA inspector probably had a coronary seeing it:

(It's worth clicking through to watch full-screen.)

Put on the stupid hat...

From the land of flakes and nuts, a court has fined Lowe's $1.6 Million for false advertising.

The reason?

A piece of lumber advertised as a "2x4" is ... not. It's actually 1.5x3.5". And that's apparently misleading, because, "[M]isinformation could adversely affect building projects that more often than not rely on precise measurements."

I have never met a contractor (or most weekend warriors) that doesn't know a 2x4 is the nominal dimension of the lumber. And the few people who didn't know that (when I was stacking boards for some pocket money) learned why. (Shrinkage and mill finishing from the actual two-inch-by-four-inch green rough cut.)

So now apparently Lowe's in CA has to start re-labeling their lumber, with both nominal and actual dimensions... and the state has added $1.6 million in fines to its coffers.


Thought for the day

With a nod to DaddyBear and his movie quotes of the day, here's my literature quote for the day:
“Good God, Kellogg!—haven’t you understood? I’d give you any job you name!”“All right. Track walker.”“What?”“Section hand. Engine wiper.” He smiled at the look on her face.“No? You see, I said you wouldn’t.”“Do you mean that you’d take a day laborer’s job?”“Any time you offered it.”“But nothing better?”“That’s right, nothing better.”“Don’t you understand that I have too many men who’re able to do those jobs, but nothing better?”“I understand it, Miss Taggart. Do you?”“What I need is your—”“—mind, Miss Taggart? My mind is not on the market any longer.”
-- "Atlas Shrugged", Ayn Rand
I've been working "white collar" jobs for most of my life. Tech support. More tech support. Dispatch. More dispatch. Dispatch and tech support at one time. "Mind" jobs. I enjoy most of the challenges that entails, most of the time.

But you know something? Perhaps the highest compliment I've ever been paid was from a friend, who made an off-hand remark one day:

"You just present this blue-collar can-do attitude."

"Blue collar" work is honorable work. It's not always - not even often - glamorous. But it's good work. It's good to be able to do that work. It may be dirty. Hot. Cold. Wet. Dangerous. But it's the work that makes the world go 'round.

Business makes the world go 'round, you say? International trading? Commodities?
Who laid the sub-ocean cables that allow instantaneous communications between continents?
Who built the launch pads that put Ariane, Titan, and N1 rockets and communications satellites into orbit?
Who welds the pipelines that move crude oil from wellhead to seaport?
Who rivets the hulls that move that oil from seaport to refinery?
Who paved the roads that trucks use to move gas and diesel from refinery to service station?
Who maintains those trucks?

See my point?

My "day job" makes a difference in lives... but it's a little silly to point to a radio console and say, "I pushed that button right." There's a different kind of pride in saying, "I built that barn."

Sep 9, 2014

Adventures in reloading

This happened the other night and I forgot to post it up at the time.

I bought a case-lot of brass for the 300BLK - converted Lake City 5.56 brass. It was advertised as "trimmed, swaged, chamfered, ready to load". Well ... it was trimmed, at least.

It was decidedly not swaged, and this was clearly evident the first time I tried to prime one. It didn't. The crimp was very present. Fortunately, I already had a Dillon SuperSwage on the way for a pile of milsurp 5.56 I have, so I set aside the 300BLK for a while and fiddled with other gun stuff.

The swage arrived and I started swaging in batches of a hundred or so. If you haven't used a SuperSwage, there's a caliber-specific spindle that goes in the case mouth and supports the case head as the swager is cammed into the primer hole. Flip the lever back down, flip the brass out ... it takes a few seconds per piece and is super-consistent. I was chugging along at the bench, music playing and a beer nearby*, when I hit a case that wouldn't slip on to the spindle.

I pulled it off and shook it, assuming it had a few pieces of tumbling media stuck inside or something. Nothing came out, I tried the spindle again ... no luck. I got out a penlight and looked closer, and found that a .22 case was lodged inside the brass.

Now, this is deprimed brass, so I figured the case had slipped in during the final polishing tumble before this was shipped to me... and then I looked closer.

The machine-decapping process had punched right through the .22 and removed the primer. If this actually had been "ready to prime" I would have primed it and stuck it in the tray to load, never realizing there was a problem until I tried to dump *mumble*-teen grains of IMR powder in and overflowed the case. (The oval-ish shape is because I had started to crush this with pliers before thinking to snap a picture.) If I was mass-reloading on a progressive press, I might never have caught that little oops.

Lesson: Inspect your brass!

* - Yes, I know there are lots of people screaming about music and beer at the bench. Music is background noise to me, not a distraction. And beer? NEVER when I'm dealing with powder, or primers, or other sensitive stuff. Swaging (and de-priming, and resizing) are just mindless repetition. For me, a (ONE) beer is an acceptable risk during this process.

Sep 3, 2014

What caliber for...?

A future build?

I have a sufficiency (MrsZ might say a surfeit) of 5.56/.223 AR-pattern rifles. A brace of 300BLK. A lone .22.

So, of all the oddball calibers out there available in the -15 frame, what to choose and why?


What else?

Sep 2, 2014

Tuna Croquettes

Dinner tonight was, as the topic suggests, tuna croquettes. They were ... pretty good, needed a slight tweak (less vinegar than what I used).

3 5oz cans tuna, drained
2 eggs
dash lemon juice
dash rice vinegar
1/4c. minced onion
tablespoon minced garlic
tablespoon coarse ground mustard
1/2c. italian bread crumbs
1/4c. italian bread crumbs
olive oil to coat skillet

An hour ahead of time, combine the garlic, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Stir thoroughly. Cover and let it cuddle.

Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tuna, onion mixture, and egg mixture. Stir well. Add 1/2c bread crumbs and combine thoroughly.

In a skillet over medium heat, bring oil to shimmering.

Form the tuna mix into patties (1/4c. measure works well for sizing), press firmly together, coat in remaining 1/4c bread crumbs, and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve with whatever pleases you.