Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Categorized / firearms

  • Sep 01 / 2014
  • 0
firearms, hunting

Fiddly Things Fingers Do: A Cap-holder

This week deer season opens for archery and I am not ready. I may still go out but I also have to prepare for the next season, muzzle-loading. I shoot a cap-lock and the darned percussion caps are tiny for my fumbling fingers, especially in cold weather. They come in a tiny can and you have to fiddle them out one at a time to slide over a nipple on the rifle. Here is a handy tool I invented (?) to deal with the critters. It’s basically two grooves the right width cut in a piece of ¾” plywood. I can fit six of the little darlings in the grooves and then my fumbly fingers only have to grip a piece of wood instead of the tiny bit. See the cap in the groove to get an idea of the scale. The groove is 0.175″ made with two cuts of a table-saw. I used the calipers to eye-ball the position of the fence for the second cut. I cut both ends and then divided the unit into two to get two holders. I sanded the wood and dabbled it with linseed-oil cut with paint-thinner to make it water-proof and to give the grooves some wear-resistance. Cheap and serviceable. Enjoy.

  • Aug 09 / 2014
  • 3
firearms, technology

USA Effort In Iraq Is Too Little And Too Late

USA has launched supply by air and air combat patrols in Iraq to offset the crimes against humanity inflicted there. It’s too little and too late. By delaying intervention,“U.S. fighter jets and drones repeatedly bombed Sunni Islamic extremists in northern Iraq on Friday, targeting what officials described as ISIS artillery units and convoys advancing on the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.” the USA has allowed the insurgents to gain strength, numbers and USA-supplied money and arms. The insurgents have exhibited high levels of organization. If they want to avoid interference by USA’s warplanes from a single carrier in the Gulf, all they have to do is strike on a broad front and penetrate Irbil. The insurgents have many thousands of fighters, hundreds of armoured vehicles and they are not afraid to die. If they press an attack they will get in close and it will take “boots on the ground” to hold them back. Air cover is too sparse without a local airbase stocked with Warthogs. The Kurds are the only locals putting up any fight and they need arms and ammunition to take on the insurgents. Left-overs from Sadam won’t do it.

Let’s hope USA and its allies get serious real soon now or Iraq will explode in their faces. It’s clear the insurgents must be stopped and Iraq is unable to stop them without serious help. Remember the trouble the insurgents gave USA back in the day when USA had thousands of “boots on the ground”. Imagine ten times the trouble today…

See U.S. warplanes, drones strike ISIS in Iraq, again.

  • Feb 28 / 2014
  • 6
firearms, hunting

Making 12 Gauge Slug Rounds

What do you do with old shotguns with lead-only barrels? I intend to use one for killing deer with 1 ounce slugs and killing grouse with 1 ounce loads of shot. The latter is easy. There’s lots of data around. Slugs are a different matter. One can use the Lee 1 ounce slug in place of shot and do pretty well (~1250 ft/s for 1500ft-lb of energy), but with heavier charges of slower powders, one can do a lot better (~1600 ft/s for 2400 ft-lb of energy), 50% better. These slugs have a ballistic coefficient ~0.06 so they are devastating to about 50 yards and useful to ~100. Lee gives a bunch of loads:

How about that Blue Dot stuff? That’s a very stiff load. See it on YouTube:

I don’t have Blue Dot powder (tm Alliant) but I do have some old HS-7 which is the same as WW571 (Winchester) which has very similar data for heavy shot loads as Blue Dot in identical cases (WAA) with identical wads.

The Alliant data is for 1150 and 1200 ft/s going left to right. Likely the 1250 ft/s charge would not fit in the case because Blue Dot is more bulky than HS-7. The CB wad is a substitute for WAA12R. Lyman data for a 525 gr slug (1.2 ounce):

Hull Powder Charge Primer Wad Velocity Pressure
Federal Gold Medal Blue Dot 46.5 Win 209 WAA12R 1544 9,900
Federal Gold Medal 571 42.0 Fed 209A Fed 12S4 1429 10,700
Federal Plastic Hunting Blue Dot 44.0 Win 209 WAA12R 1408 7,300
Federal Plastic Hunting 571 42.0 Fed 209A Fed 12S4 1405 9,900
Winchester AA Blue Dot 44.0 Win 209 WAA12R 1474 9,200

The Lee one ounce slug is about 0.64″ long and 0.68″ in diameter so it will pass through a full choke in a plastic wad. Unfortunately, the HS-7 is much more dense than Blue Dot, so I have to improvise. I could just add a bit of wadding to take up the 0.32″ missing from the 1.5 ounce of lead shot but the pressure would likely be far too low. HS-7 and Blue Dot like higher pressures to burn reliably or they leave a lot in the barrel. For a semi-auto that’s very bad because it will rapidly gum up the breach or gas-system. So, I need to increase the charge above 36.5 grains by at least 10%. I have tried as low as 34 grains in a 1 ounce wad but get rather loopy trajectories and the occasional squib. With more than 34 grains of HS-7, I begin to have trouble crimping the cases. One guy solved the space problem by shortening the hulls… He found 42 grains HS-7 worked very well with WAA12R in Remington hulls. I don’t have any of those hulls but 42 grains should be good in my hulls using some corrugated cardboard wadding. More space, less pressure… With such a slow-burning powder this space should not affect the ultimate pressure versus distance relation but it may reduce the peak pressure.

In my digging on the web, I found an article about loading the Lee 1 ounce slug in a WAA12R wad with a 1/8″ nitro card over the powder with a mysterious “powder X” that occupied 3cc. No mention of the charge. Only that 3cc of powder made a good crimp in “Winchester AAHS 12 ga hulls”, two-piece hulls… I find plenty of those at the range. Folks recommend against using those because the base-wad may separate and cause an obstruction of the barrel. Oops! 3cc charges are not listed in Lee’s table, above, but it’s in the range of 44 grains of 571 powder (44 X 0.068 = 2.99) or 42grains of HS-6 (42 X 0.0712 = 2.99). He got decent accuracy. Something the size of Federal 12s3 wads might do. I have to experiment.

I conclude that the only wad I have that is usable with HS-7 for a heavy hunting load is WAA12R which is too short so I will have to add wadding. For safety, I will try crushable corrugated cardboard wads which give the powder more room to expand promptly. I tried to make a 20 gauge cutter by heating the head of a defective 20 gauge hull to soften the plastic for removal. Two or three discs cut from cardboard boxes should take up the slack until firing. That worked well but the tool was too fragile for punching with a hammer. Others have made similar cutters for turning in a drill-press. A brass head failed on the third wad. A copper head lasted about a dozen wads. I’ll have to buy a better wad-cutter ( less than $10 ) or buy some 20 gauge fibre wads. They are less than 1 per card. While I am at it, I could also buy some Blue Dot and WAA12 wads. Blue Dot is only $40/pound, here, and ~$20 in other places, which comes to about 12-23 per shot. The end result will save more than $0.50 per round compared to retail slug rounds.

Another possibility is to buy some Federal 12S4 wads (shorter wad and slug more powder than the Lyman 525) according to the data, but there does not seem to be a local source…

See also “Casting and Reloading 12 Gauge Slugs”

Some results: We went to the bush and checked out several loads with a Remington 1100 full-choke lead shot barrel. The “old” load we used of 34 grains HS-7 under Versatec wads broke clays at 40 yards. We then switched to heftier loads with WAA12F1 and 36 grains. Worked pretty well. We then used 40, 43 and 46 grains of HS-7 under WAA12R wads with hand-cut corrugated cardboard wads under the slug. Point of impact rose a few inches with the increasing charges. With 34 grains, we were aiming at the top of the clay, but with 40+ grains we had to aim for the bottom of the clay. Recoil improved significantly (sore shoulder + headache)… but only 1 petal fell off and most wads fell about halfway to the target close to the line of sight. Hulls were ejected firmly to about 10 ft from the standing shooter, showing that the Remington 1100 was comfortable. The hulls and recovered wads were in pretty good shape. We did serious damage to a bunch of clay targets resting in the snow so the group-size is <5 inches, good enough for deer at that range. Will break out the chronograph and a proper target next time. I will also try to use the proper wad-cutter instead of scissors…

  • Feb 23 / 2014
  • 0

Piers Morgan Leaving

USAians attempted to have Piers Morgan deported for his anti-firearm stance but it looks like that won’t be necessary. CNN is pulling his plug.“Morgan said he thought the audience may have grown weary of his focus on gun control — a major topic of conversation on the show in the wake of several mass shootings in the United States.”

I won’t miss his outlandish accent nor his stance on firearms. He always went on about how low the murder rate involving firearms was in UK/Australia where firearms are mostly banned yet he would never consider murder rates. They are not that much different in USA compared to UK. Angry, crazy or bad people will not be stopped by the absence of a firearm. They could be stopped by the presence of a firearm.

See CNN to end 'Piers Morgan Live'.

  • Jan 14 / 2014
  • 2
firearms, hunting, technology

Killing Badgers

This story further confirms that my ancestors were right to flee England more than a century ago. It’s a madhouse…

“The total cost of policing the badger cull pilot has been confirmed as nearly £2.5m – or about £1,311 per badger.”

Do the maths. Rational people would allow locals to roam the landscape with varmint rifles and knock badgers off for exercise. A decent calibre is 222 Remington. A 50 grain bullet costs about 10, powder, another 10, and a primer 3. The cartridge case can be reused dozens of times so it’s $free. That leaves a cost of 23 per badger. Perhaps you need to dig a hole to bury them. I could throw that in for $free, too.

So, the UK is getting the government crazy people deserve and demand, making nonsensical rules, implementing insane policies, and getting the job done in the most inefficient manner possible. Next they will require badgers be given appearances in court before execution… (SARCASM). Likely the government of UK does not trust locals with firearms and feels the taxpayers are slaves who can’t complain if the money was wasted.

See BBC News – Policing badger cull cost '£1,311 per badger'.

  • Dec 30 / 2013
  • 0
firearms, hunting

Diversity Is Good, Even In PBR

PBR (Point Blank Range) is a concept useful for hunters. It is the maximum range at which you “can’t miss” without adjusting sights for range. To the uninitiated, a bullet moves somewhat like a baseball, only faster. Despite great speed, a bullet does not travel in a straight line to a target but on a curved trajectory. The trajectory is not as simple as a parabola because the bullet slows down, losing energy to the air. The slower the bullet, the faster the bullet descends from the highest point on the trajectory. A hunter sends the bullet upwards a bit in order for it to reach the target at extended ranges. If you can hit the target at longer ranges, you are a more successful hunter, in theory.

The most common concept of PBR is that the hunter will take aim at the centre of the vital zone (hear/lungs/major vessels) and for part of the trajectory, the bullet will be above the line of sight and for part of the trajectory the bullet will descend to the bottom of the vital zone. The distance to the point where the bullet strikes at the bottom edge of the vital zone is considered the maximum PBR but it is not.

The reason is that at the middle ranges, the bullet is travelling parallel to Earth but later descends at an ever increasing rate. Using ranges after the bullet crosses the line of sight the second time (descending rather than ascending) greatly shortens the PBR. Look what happens if one sights at the bottom of the vital zone and calculates the range where the bullet descends back to the line of sight. For both curves, the bullet is staying within a 10 inch vital zone (say, 150 grain SP from a .308 Winchester and mature white-tailed deer).
See, the PBR with the 6 o’clock hold is ~40 yards further, about the distance it takes the bullet to drop 5 inches…

40 yards may not seem like much, but if you are out in some field, the area you can reach is \frac{364^2}{324^2} X 100 = 26\% more. That could mean 3 days of hunting instead of 4 or 4 deer in the freezer instead of 3. It matters.

Where does diversity come in? There are many ways of sighting in a rifle. Hunters who think about the game, the terrain, and the typical distances they encounter game should choose the method that will work best. For example, if you have a really long ranging rifle and a steady rest, you can zero for very long ranges and hold under the vital zone to exploit the flat part of the trajectory out a very long way. With a 7mm Remington Magnum or anything like .30-’06, it is possible to use a heavy pointed bullet to deliver lethal energy to an elk or moose to 500 yards. The large size of these animals gives a larger vital zone. You could hold one “vital zone” down and do the job. Here’s a trajectory for a zero at 573 yards with 175 grain SPBT at 2900 ft/s. Now the hold is useful from 100 to 500 yards with no particular knowledge of the range except that it’s far and greater than 100 yards. That’s 0.31 square miles covered by a single hunter from a single position, barring hills, rocks and trees…

This is a lot like FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software). By doing things this way, a hunter gets the best performance out of his hardware.

  • Dec 06 / 2013
  • 0
firearms, hunting

Production And Consumption

I’ve been playing around with my database of reloaded ammunition and generated this chart with the latest release of phpMyAdmin:
It tells a story. Rifles in 308 Winchester are superbly accurate and good hunting tools. 222 Remington is good for lighter game like rabbits and coyotes and similarly accurate. The others to the right are decent but meant for the heavy lifting of hunting big game. We did have plenty of good groups from the 7mm Remington Magnum however but it’s expensive to shoot… My conclusion: We need to do more shooting if that’s all the production I’ve made in two years and some has yet to be fired! In the Good Old Days, I would fire ~100 rounds of 222 in a day or ~50 rounds of the heavier stuff. At this rate, I might forget how.

  • Nov 22 / 2013
  • 6

Just When We Thought The Canadian Firearms Registry Was Dead…

Like a zombie in a “B” movie, the Canadian registry of long firearms (mostly rifles and shotguns) is back in the news.

LaPresse, a newspaper in Quebec, obtained a recent copy of the actual registry, which I am examining. It contains partial postal codes and no personal information, just information about the entry in the registry. Interestingly, LaPresse doesn’t seem to use that other OS and a CSV and .sql file show PostgreSQL was used in their analysis.

It’s laughable. Length of barrel is an integer… Perhaps that’s OK in millimetres, but machinists work in much smaller units. Is a firearm with 0.01mm more barrel identical? Can you see some criminal getting off on this technicality?

select calibre from registre_armes where calibre ilike '22%' group by calibre limit 20;
22 BR REM.
22LR/44-40 SHOT
22-250 SALVAGE
22 65 55 AND 6/6.5 MIM
22 LONG & 20GA
(20 rows)

Yep. There’s a unique identifier…

select shots from registre_armes limit 8;
Multi shots
Multi shots
Multi shots

There’s another…

How about “barrel_length”?
select count(barrel_length) as nulls from registre_armes where barrel_length=0 group by barrel_length;

Yep, 9294 firearms in there have no barrel-length. That could be because a firearm in Canada is legally just the receiver…

select calibre,type,shots from registre_armes where barrel_length=0 limit 10;
calibre | type | shots
| Rifle | 0
| Rifle | 0
| Rifle | 0
| Shotgun | 0
| Handgun | 0
| Handgun | 0
| Rifle | 0
0 | Handgun | 0
| Shotgun | 0
| Rifle | 0

Yep! There are some unique identifiers.

Strangely, Canada has engulfed the USA and I didn’t even know…
select province,count(province) as howmany from registre_armes group by province;
province | howmany
PA | 739
FL | 430
AZ | 154
MT | 428
LA | 74
AS | 1
AB | 1073768
NM | 184
AK | 651
NC | 569
BC | 984074

Anyway, if we restrict the dump to Canadian provinces and territories…
select province,count(province) as howmany from registre_armes where ('BC' like province) OR ('AB' like province) OR ('SK' like province) OR ('MB' like province) OR ('ON' like province) OR ('QC' like province) OR ('NB' like province) OR ('NS' like province) OR ('PE' like province) OR ('NS' like province) OR ('NF' like province) OR ('YT' like province) OR ('NT' like province) OR ('NU' like province) group by province;
province | howmany
QC | 1727171
ON | 2398800
NT | 20787
MB | 381318
PE | 24853
YT | 27122
AB | 1073768
SK | 460190
BC | 984074
NF | 214216
NU | 12902
NB | 293669
NS | 310791

select count(province) as total from registre_armes ... ;

Can we at least answer the age-old question, “What is the most popular calibre of firearm in Canada?”
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where ('BC' like province) ... group by calibre order by popularity DESC;
calibre | popularity
22 LR | 742570
22 | 599728
12 | 516942
12 GA X 3" | 317282
12 GA | 207216
30-06 SPRG | 204668
12 GA X 2 3/4" | 194396
303 | 175496
12 GAUGE | 169725
410 | 151480
30-30 WIN | 136231
12 GA X 3 1/2" | 128211
410 GA X 3" | 126224
308 WIN | 123006
303 BRITISH | 122176
50 PERCUSSION | 104292
308 | 98754
9MM LUGER | 98207
30-30 | 95891
270 WIN | 95107
30-06 | 89411
.22 | 88561
20 | 81741
20 GA X 3" | 74159
300 WIN MAG | 71416
7.62X39 RUSSIAN | 71112
357 MAG | 68040
22 CAL | 66617
7MM REM MAG | 65987
45 AUTO | 61072
22 CALIBRE | 58036

Nope, because “calibre” is vague/ambiguous/uncertain to these guys. Is it the diameter of the bullet? the bore? or is it the chambering? Who knows? Who cares? This thing is almost useless except to employ clerks and waste everyone’s time.

What about the most popular length of barrel?
select to_char(barrel_length/25.4, '99.99') as inches,count(barrel_length) as popularity from registre_armes where (barrel_length > 300) group by barrel_length order by popularity DESC ;

inches | popularity
22.01 | 504108
27.99 | 473379
24.02 | 407491
20.00 | 304897
25.98 | 296042
30.00 | 237902
18.50 | 155264
20.98 | 117983
17.99 | 70745
20.47 | 68790
22.99 | 58662

At last! Something useful. Rifles with 22 inch barrels are popular, just ahead of those 24 inchers. Was that information worth $2billion? ROFL! Gasp! …

Maybe it’s all some kind of bad joke. Just for fun, I looked for 8×57 in there…
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where calibre ilike '%8X57%' group by calibre order by popularity DESC;

calibre | popularity
8X57 | 569
8X57J MAUSER | 151
8X57MM | 130
8X57R MAUSER | 128
8X57JS | 121
8X57 MAUSER | 85
8X57 MM | 72
8X57 JS | 39
8X57JRS/16 GA X 2 3/4" | 35
8X57S | 35
8X57MM MAUSER | 29
8X57JRS | 24
8X57RJS | 23
8X57RJS/16 GA X 2 3/4" | 23
8X57JR/16 GA X 2 1/2" | 17
8X57 IS | 10
8X57 MM MAUSER | 10
8X57. | 9
8X575 | 9
8X57JRS/12 GA X 2 3/4" | 9

That goes on for 231 variations and misses the 8mm stuff. Want to read something to bring you to tears?
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where calibre ilike '%7%mm%rem%mag%' group by calibre order by popularity DESC;
Finds 545 unique and differing representations… %6.5%55% finds 710 variations on 6.5X55. Is any court in the land going to send a man to jail for the data that’s in this database? Does this little tour make you feel safer? See how it works? If there is ever a hit on this database it still takes hundreds of hours of work to verify stuff for any legal purpose. Any decent lawyer could find hundreds of avenues whereby real criminals could get off based on the rate of errors here.

Remember the powers that be telling firearms owners that registration was good for them so that lost/stolen firearms could be returned to them? Check this out:
select count(id) as howmany from registre_armes where (recovered_date < '2013-11-22') AND ((lost_date < '2013-11-22') OR (stolen_date < '2013-11-22')) ;

Out of 8 million firearms only 4928 were "recovered" (different from returned to owner...). Meanwhile 48969 were recorded as stolen and 22828 were recorded as lost. So much for that argument...

8 million entries and the province of Quebec wants to keep it alive...

UPDATE Doing some further research for the most popular cartridges for deer:

Calibre popularity
.30-’06 402102
.303 British 393696
.308 Winchester 268471
6.5X55 Swedish Mauser 24119
8X57 Mauser 15365

That’s about right. Anything available as military surplus either in firearms or ammunition is likely to be popular as a deer-cartridge. Some even use .223 Remington these days as marginal as it is. It is sad that Canadians neglect the 8X57 Mauser. Properly loaded it is a superior deer-cartridge to either .30-’06 or .308 simply because of the larger diameter bullet. It takes less powder to do the same damage and deer are rarely encountered at very long ranges needing higher velocities to reach. Lower velocity is desirable for close encounters to reduce damage to meat. Certainly lots of 8mm rifles were available after WWII but many were rebarreled to .30-’06. The Swede is just rare because only a few were ever made for military use. It works too. New rifles can be purchased in any of these calibres, carrying on the tradition of the cartridges if not the rifles.

  • Nov 12 / 2013
  • 0

Opening Day of My Deer-hunt

The first day was forecast bitterly cold weather in a wind. As it turned out the wind was mild and I barely survived. My feet were the only warm part of me, buried in wool socks and felt boot-liners. It’s just hard to dress for -12C temperatures. Hunters have to be able to lie in wait and to walk around while being able to operate a rifle. I’m still shivering.

Today I will stay home and warm up. The rest of the week is much warmer so I will go again.

The place we usually hunt turned fruitless. There were day-old tracks and few of them. In the evening “prime-time” we heard a lot of gunfire from another location. Evidently the deer have moved further back into the forest, probably because of the weather. We will adjust. Yesterday there were a lot of hunters because it was a long weekend. Tomorrow we should have the bush mostly to ourselves.

One thing I saw yesterday was a couple of very rude and illegal hunters. They drove their truck right past our stand during the evening prime-time. In that place, motor-vehicles are not permitted for any purpose connected with hunting except retrieval. These guys were hunting and they messed up the last 15 minutes of our day when we had the best opportunity to bag a deer. Scum!

We met a hunter who was hunting deer with an SKS carbine. He reloaded with 150 grain bullets but the thing definitely is not a modern deer rifle, being more like the ancient 30-30. Still he claimed to be able to kill deer at 350 yards with such a loopy trajectory and with a bullet that probably would not expand at that distance. Most deer are encountered within 100 yards, and the rifle is OK for that. The 30-30 takes deer to 200 yards with special soft, blunt bullets. The .308 delivers more energy to 250 yards than the SKS has at its muzzle. It’s energy that kills deer. You want at least 1000 ft-lb of it at impact. The .308 can deliver that to 440 yards while the SKS is done by that measure at 200 yards.

I prefer firearms like the 8X57 Mauser which will fire bullets that will penetrate and expand past 300 yards. I did test my latest batch of ammunition. The bullets were dead on for accuracy and did not over-expand on close targets nor fail to expand on distant targets. I was using a very old batch of powder measured out using a new scale.

All seems well for tomorrow.

  • Oct 27 / 2013
  • 146
firearms, technology

Progress Report On Translation Of GEBC To Pascal

I decided to use GTK2 to write the GUI for my translation. Unfortunately, after hours of study, I could not decipher how to write the GUI in Pascal. I was in a mode where I could get a menu but no buttons or buttons but no menu, for hours… Then I discovered a shortcut. Check out qGTK.pas, a unit that allows a few simple calls in sequence to draw the menus and input fields and buttons, with no detailed knowledge of GTK…

This is just a few minutes work poking around in some examples:
My code?
program mybc;
uses qgtk2;
procedure Reset;
procedure Solve;
procedure save;
procedure RangeTable;
procedure graph;
procedure Memory1;
procedure Memory2;
qstart('My Ballistics Calculator',nil,nil );
qsubmnu('Memory 1',@Memory1);qsubmnu('Memory 2',@Memory2);
qNextRow; qButton('Solve', @Solve); qButton('Reset',@Reset);

Of course it doesn’t do much now, but it’s easy to see how to code the rest. It’s just some arrays and number-crunching that I’ve been doing for ages… This should be a much more reliable package after I’m done with it. GEBC can crash on a few clicks in the “right” order… I haven’t been able to sort out all the C-code in there.


Status Update 2013-11-01: The engine checks out in Pascal. I was getting a division by zero due to an off-by-one error. I am not sure where that came from but I might have made an error in the looping. Perhaps C just ignores that… The largest deviations are about 0.25% in some paths. Since I may tune up the calculations I won’t worry about that yet. There seems to be an off-by-one problem in the data-structure and some items were displayed in reverse order but I can produce a decent range table and it does respond to input values and the programme can save and load parameters to a file.
Next, I will change the PBR (Point-Blank Range) calculation because it works from the centre of the target. It’s much more effective to hold lower on the target because the path drops more steeply after the second zero. I could make that hold a parameter but I normally just take the 6 o’clock position on the “vital zone” or target.

Remaining to be done are the graphing and file-export options. GEBC has a rather wide and useful array of file-formats, one of it’s best features.

  • Oct 06 / 2013
  • 0
firearms, hunting

Some Days Are Just Better Than Others

Nearly 40 years ago a rifle was purchased, brand new. It was a 7mm Remington Magnum Winchester Model 70. It was topped with a Weaver T16 target scope and 1000 Sierra MatchKing bullets were bought to do some semi-serious target-shooting.

The thing never shot better than 2 minute groups, what you could have obtained from some run of the mill military surplus rifle with iron sights… That scope fell apart under the recoil. The objective lens stayed in place while the rifle recoiled, breaking the objective retaining ring. Another scope, a RedField, was bought and it developed a rattle. All kinds of ammunition was tried from expensive factory-loads to tenderly made handloads. The barreled action was carefully bedded in the stock with epoxy to make a perfect fit… Nothing worked. The thing was put in storage for decades…

Today, a third scope was attached, a store-brand-made-in-China scope. This is one of two very tight groups obtained at 100 yards with Sierra 168 HP MatchKing atop 56 grains of Vihtavuori N-160. target_2013-10-6_S168BTHP

The image was rotated and scaled with GIMP and centres of bullet-holes were located by mouse:

There, this is the best group this rifle has ever fired and we had three like that in one day. We tried several batches of ammunition. One commercial batch from Winchester produced a good group and the load listed above gave two more. To understand the significance of this if you are not a shooter, consider a deer standing 400 yards away. We could fire five shots in a row into its heart without a miss. With the worst group of the day, about two inches diameter at 100 yards, we could put every bullet into the vitals, the heart and lungs. With a bit more testing, we should be ready for hunting in open country next month. We still have to choose a hunting bullet between 140 and 175 grains in weight. The Sierra 175 grain GameKings are the likely choice. The 140 SP bullets we tested were not as accurate and tend to over-expand on close shots. We expect to see deer over 300 yards away by guarding a long opening. For stalking, we can use a much more flexible firearm like 8X57 Mauser with 170 RN bullets.

It’s a great day when real progress is made and things work as they should.

  • Sep 25 / 2013
  • 14
firearms, Uncategorized

Defending Soft Targets

The recent attack by terrorists on a shopping mall in Nairobi shows why soft targets are important. Once inside, the terrorists have numerous defenceless high-value targets. The bad guys, having automatic weapons and explosives can do a lot of damage in a short time. Being unafraid of dying for their cause, they can then use the high ground and prepared fire-zones to hold even military forces at bay for hours or days to maximize the propaganda value of their effort.

There have been suggestions that the attackers had hidden supplies in the mall and infiltrated fighters to use them when the time came. That could well be true, so, how does one defend a large soft target from enemies without and within? A few security guards at the gates and wandering around won’t do it. The mall in Nairobi apparently had a layered defence outside but the attackers had plenty of time to design a plan to overwhelm the defence. Once inside, the terrorists had hours to do great harm and to prepare a defence of their position in the building. The police and military had to run gauntlets of fire to gain entry being in the open with snipers able to fire on them from concealment. Only the large size of the mall and the small numbers of terrorists enabled the government to eventually regain control after days of fighting.

This is not good enough. Terrorists will always have opportunities. They have the advantage of knowing where they will strike, blending in with crowds and planning effectively whereas the good guys, the ordinary citizens will always be unsure where safety lies and where treachery lies. Either society has to trade lives and money for business as usual, treating safety as a cost of doing business or society has to build defence in depth everywhere.

What would have made a difference in Nairobi was a few strong points where well-armed guards could have clear lines of site in the high traffic areas. A single guard can easily hold off a dozen attackers flooding through a choke-point like a doorway if he has a long-range automatic rifle, plenty of ammunition and a bit of armour. In Nairobi, a few guards well-positioned could have prevented all but a few terrorists from entering and the event would have involved much less asymmetry in body-counts for the police could have flooded the building before as many civilians were slaughtered. Considering the number of guards involved and the value of the building, this is affordable. We need to do this for all public buildings: schools, government offices, shopping centres, sports arenas, theatres, etc. At the very least it would force the terrorists to pick smaller soft targets where the expense of better defence might be seen as excessive.

Above all, we should stop creating “gun-free zones” where terrorists and ordinary criminals can operate with impunity knowing there will be no defence. Having a significant fraction of citizens well vetted, armed and trained is a cost-effective solution to providing defence in depth around our big soft targets. Ask the survivors of Nairobi whether or not they could have dealt with the terrorists in short order had they been properly prepared and equipped. There was plenty of courage and daring exhibited by citizens but without proper means of defence many were slaughtered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or not being able to demonstrate the right beliefs when confronted by murderous bastards.

Kenya, in fact, is better prepared than Canada to deal with such attacks. They at least did have multiple layers of defence but they crumbled, not being mutually supportive. The attackers had only to peel the onion’s outer layers to get inside. Meanwhile malls and schools where I live are naked, utterly defenceless except by 911 and a few locked doors. Terrorism, as demonstrated in Nairobi, can devastate a school and escape before police could even appear on the scene. A typical school is ~100m in size. It would take only a few minutes to distribute bombs in such a building and depart. The fastest 911 response here is 3 minutes on a good day, with a tail-wind. What happens if the terrorists create diversions or the weather is bad or traffic is heavy? What happens if a few guards armed with rifles defend each corridor and the schoolyard? We wear seat-belts for a reason. They work most of the time. So do armed guards.