Saturday, October 30, 2004


is technically tomorrow, but tonight is the official trick-or-treat night here, and tonight's the party I was invited to.

What to do, what to do? Kilt with all the accessories, pirate, generally weird? At least I do know how to carry concealed in a kilt(no, not on my leg).

Now, off to the store for some stuff.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The grass is still growing

It's late October, it's 80 degrees, it's rained off & on for the last few days and the grass in the back yard is almost six inches tall. But I think it's dry enough to mow now. Which I'd better do, because there's a chance of more rain Sunday. Yuck.

But Saturday should be nice for the trick-or-treaters, so that's good.

Law enforcement and time factors

The gentleman at Free Market Fairy Tales has a post about the time required for police to arrive in many parts of Britain, and details of a really bad situation in which the police took more than an hour to enter a house where a shooting had occured; and this with someone inside calling for help and telling them the bad guy had left. The ambulance people didn't get in for about 1.5 hours.

These weren't bobbies with nightsticks, these were armed officers, but "Thames Valley police refused to allow their own officers or paramedics anywhere near the crime scene for over an hour , while they carried out a risk assessment of the area in order to "safeguard any members of the public who could be at risk, as well as officers & other emergency service personnel at the scene."

This reminds me of the mess at Colombine after the cops arrived. Multiple SWAT teams, tactical teams, whatever. All with heavy body armor, arms from sidearms to submachine guns to rifles, and after one attempt to enter the school- they got shot at, surprise surprise- they stayed outside making plans until it was over. From the information, some people died while they were making plans.

People, I've been around law enforcement a bit. I know they want to go home just as bad as everyone else at the end of the day, and good info as to what's going on is priceless. But if you take all that extra training and equipment, and refuse to act because you don't know everything and won't go in until you do, you're useless. And people die because of it.

Britain is even worse for most people. You are supposed to call the law and wait. If the bad guys come in and you fight them, you stand a fair chance of going to jail because you did. And God forbid you kill your attacker, because you are screwed. And if the police get there too late? Too bad, sorry 'bout that, now stop griping about it.

Not a good way to run a railroad.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cleaning on a rainy morning

Guns, that is. The ones I used last night. Far worse things to do on a rainy morning.

When I was a kid, I took a lot of instructions on products seriously, so when they said "run more patches through until they come out clean", I tried to do it. And discovered something; depending on what you're cleaning and what you're using, you can put a whole bloody t-shirt through the bore and STILL not come out 'clean'. Used to drive me nuts.

Now, I'm a bit more reasonable. In most stuff, the bore is shiny, no visible stuff left? That's good enough, especially since I found out how much wear excessive cleaning can cause. For .22's, I used to use Break-Free, now I'm trying Eezox. Run a damp patch through, then a dry to get loose stuff out, then a wet patch and let sit a few minutes, then a couple of dry and that's it. So far, so good. The bores gleam, it's faster, and I don't wear on the rifling.

Handguns & cast bullets often leave some leading in the bore, and the best stuff I've found for this is Blue Wonder. A man at a local range recommended it to me, and he was right. Not too good on copper fouling, but for lead and powder, it's wonderful stuff. It will also work amazingly to take surface rust off steel, but in normal use won't harm blueing.

For copper fouling that needs serious work, or a bad case of leading, I take out the Outers Foul-Out. It's an electrochemical cleaner; plug the bore at the breech, put the rod and appropriate solution in, hook it up and turn it on. For copper it can take hours for a bad case, and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS about changing solution & cleaning, but it works. Lead is considerably faster. In either case, it will leave a bore cleaned to bare steel without harming it. Now that I've found Blue Wonder I use the Foul-Out less than before, but it's still handy for those occasions I need it.

Time to wipe out barrels.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Range time

This being another in a row of cloudy, rainy days, and the ground being too wet- even if it wasn't dripping- to go to an outdoor range, I went to one of the indoor ranges in town tonight. Partly relaxation, partly testing.

There's one problem with old Martini target rifles; they leave you no excuse whatever.

Big test was some Aguila IQ in .45acp. My dad had asked about it, I found him some, and got a box for myself. It's odd-looking stuff: the bullet has a silvery colored jacket and a very deep hollow cavity, weight is 117 grains for the .45. Profile is like a slightly long ball bullet with a flat nose. I shot half a box tonight, all functioned flawlessly in my pistol. Accuracy seemed good, though all were fired offhand, I was most interested tonight in 'do they work?' and real accuracy testing will be done off a rest later. I don't know if the 9mm and .40S&W is the same, but be prepared for the muzzle flash with .45, it's friggin huge in a somewhat dim range lane, and the report is sharp and loud. Recoil wasn't bad, I'd describe it as 'softer' than a standard hollow point round. This bullet design is supposed to stay in shape and penetrate hard targets, but mushroom out in soft; I'm not sure how to test this, so I'll try to find some tests from someone with the stuff to check that point out. So far, performs quite well.
I do wonder about the 'hard-target penetration' factor for a home- or self-defense round. In most houses, if you hit a wall you want the bullet to either lost most of its energy or break up some to cut down on the chance of hitting someone in another room or the house next door. This light a bullet may shed a lot of velocity even if it retains shape passing through a wall; I'm too lazy and it's too wet to build a section of wall to try it on. Maybe someday.

Cleaning tomorrow, in honor of Halloween approaching I'm going to watch 'The Legend of Hell House' tonight.


The Geek with a .45 had a post a while back about Surefire flashlights. I dug it back up because I couldn't remember which brand he had mentioned. They are indeed fine lights. Being the cheap bas-, uh, fiscally-prudent sort I am, I'd never bought one. I did, a few months back, get a similar light from Cheaper Than Dirt, a pretty good catalog business. I can't remember the brand name /and yes, I did throw the package away/, and it's not marked on the body. It's a black aluminum body with tailswitch. So far, the thing is great. It's not quite as clean a beam as a Surefire gives, but at the time it was a fair bit cheaper than any Surefire I was aware of; had I known of the model the Geek writes of, I'd have ordered it. However, it is bright; hitting yourself in the eyes with it in a bright room hurts, so hitting a burgler with it in a dark room should be downright stunning.

That subject brought up, have you ever actually practiced carrying a handgun and flashlight together? And shooting? I've tried with the left hand light-wrists crossed method, and it seems to work well. I've found if I tilt my left hand up against the back of my right, it helps align the beam and sights together.

I also tried going through the house a few times that way /piece unloaded, of course/, as if I had to check the place out. I know, the proper thing is stay in your room, call the police and stay ready in case bad guy comes in. But if you had, for some reason, to search your home, how would you do it? Try this with your mind fixed on "there may be a bad guy in here somewhere", it's an interesting experience.

Scary as hell, too. If you really concentrate on possible threat, checking corners takes on a tension much unlike "Am I about to step on the cat?", and makes you really think about what you're doing and how.

That's enough for now. It's raining outside- again- and I'm going to start a pot of jambalaya for dinner.

Old ammo cans

Day after the Tulsa show, went to a local flea market with my son. He found an old jerry can for his truck, I found two WWII-era .30 caliber ammo cans, the ones marked 'Caliber .30M1' on the side.

After a little time on a wire brush all the rust was gone, and a trip to the ONLY store around here that sells OD Green spray paint now has them looking good. Real problem is seals. Any can this age, the rubber seal in the lid is shot(in one of these, it's gone completely), so to be really usable, need new seals. And I cannot find them anywhere.

I found that if you lay a bead of silicone sealant in the groove, once it cures it does a pretty good job, but I'd really like to put in the proper rubber. And so far, no one has any idea where to find any. Oddly enough, I've found several of the side-opening .50-caliber cans in the past, and in all those the seals were in pretty good shape; maybe less used or better stored over the years.

Maybe someday.

"John, this is Elvis calling"

Oh my, this is wonderful

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Self-defense and 'reasonable force'

Smallest Minority has a post listing something of the problems in Britain with defending yourself in your own home.
Basically, under their law you can use 'reasonable force', but there's no standard for it. And if you act in self-defense, and even for a moment intend to cause serious bodily harm, you're screwed. That makes you a criminal, and if the bad guy dies you go to jail for life.

Think about that. If someone attacks you in your home, and you fight back, OF COURSE you intend them harm! You're scared, you're mad, you're trying to protect your home and yourself, and this is why defending yourself in Britain makes you as or more likely to go to jail than the criminal is, at least for a long length of time. Which is insane. And if you're out in the street and defend yourself from attack, my understanding is that it's even worse.

A while back someone wrote, "Stick a fork in Britain, they're done", and if this doesn't change drastically, he's right. When you are not allowed, by your own government, to protect yourself from attack by any means necessary, not even in your own home, you're not a free citazen any more. You're a good halfway to being a slave.

Why does anyone give a rat's behind what the New York Times says?

On all the screaming about the missing RDX and HMX, both Roger Simon and the Belmont Club have posts showing that a: the stuff went missing a long time ago, most likely before our guys got there, and b: considering everything else, it's not significant.

But, the New York Times says it is! So it Must Be!

I've never had any great reverence for the NYT. By the time I really started paying attention to such things, whenever the NYT had some big article/commentary/whatever on something I heard about, it tended to show bias. In an editorial, fine. In a 'news' article, not fine. And I never paid attention to their book reviews, either. So I have no emotional load in their fall into trashhood. Despite that, this really ticks me off. Between Jason Blair and company, and the revelations of how editors and reporters deliberately slanted information they were 'reporting', I lost any respect I had for them. And over the past year, the way they have deliberately worked their coverage to push one candidate over another is inexcusable.

This is a load of crap piled on top of the previous pile of crap that's come from this newspaper. So why does anyone take what they put out as fact, or even accurate, anymore?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Blade shape part 2

The other part of blade design that really affects how it works is the cross-section. How thick, how tapered, and so forth.

I'm going to try to put some drawings or pictures in to illustrate this, until I can scan or save some I'll just have to describe them.

Generally speaking, a thick edge is tougher, but harder to cut with. A thin edge much less tough, but cuts more easily. There are a lot of ways to work this, but they break down fairly simply. For a thin edge on a blade that should not see heavy cutting work, many companies and makers use a hollow-grind. The body of the blade, down to where the bevel starts, is flat or parellel sides. Then the bevel is ground on a round grinding wheel or belt wheel, so the bevel is convex, thus hollow-ground. Advantages, it cuts easily, even when it's getting dull, which is why so many inexpensive /and many cheap/ kitchen knives use it. Unless used with really good steel and heat treatment, it dulls quickly, and the edge can be bent or chipped fairly easily if used for heavy work.

Next up is flat grind. From the point the bevel begins to the edge, it is flat. This can start as little as 1/4 of the way back from the edge, or be flat all the way to the back of the blade. Many, maybe most, commercial hunting knives, and some kitchen knives, are made this way; most of the good kitchen knives are. This is, generally speaking, not as heavy as a hollow-ground, but much tougher, and it cuts fairly easily. Remember, the wider the blade just behind the edge itself, the harder it is for it to cut smoothly. This is the way I do most of my blades.

I've done some hollow-ground. The trick for a working blade is to start the grind a fair ways back from the edge, and not grind it too thin. Done right, this works quite well. Long ago Buck Knives started semi-hollow grinding; the hollow cut out metal from a little behind the edge up to the flats. This left a thicker, stronger edge with enough relief behind it to make cutting easier.

Last is convex. In this the bevel is ground in a smooth curve from the back to the edge; think of a properly made & sharpened axe. Not for delicate work generally, but a very strong edge profile. Cleavers, heavy chopping knives, etc.

Personally, for general-use blades, I like to flat-grind, but use a convex edge; instead of sharpening at a flat angle, use give it a convex profile. Done right, it will be wonderfully sharp and yet tough enough for most all use. I've used this on almost everything, always on the big dirks, bowies, etc. Small knives for precise cutting I'll often use a thin flat grind.

Swords use variations of all the above, with the edge best shaped convex. One of the only truly flat-to-the-edge swords I know of is the Japanese styles; as someone once pointed out they had to go through armor much more rarely than European blades, so could get away with it.

So there are the basic blade cross-sections. And yes, you can combine them in a single blade if you have need.
Which leads to some wierd shapes, but that's for another day.

Further joys of home ownership

After two redo's on things, the city inspector finally approved all of my new furnace. This meant spending a chunk of the day rebuilding the closet wall I had to open up to give enough space to move the old stuff out and the new stuff in. Put in the two studs- one aligned to the door I put in a while back- and put on the sheetrock, then use some sheetrock mud to texture that panel to match, and when that's dry I'll paint it.

All this meant buying the mud and some 2" screws, I already had the 2x4 and some 1x2 for trim. When it's done, if I ever need to open it up again, ten screws will take the sheetrock panel off, about ten will allow the two studs to come out, and it'll go back on when things are done.

Now I can have that door open without worrying about the cat getting into the attic. And when real cold comes, I've got a heater I can trust.

I planted a pecan tree in the front when I moved in. I measured a 4' diameter circle around it, dug that up, and set a bunch of pieces of shale in the edge as a border, and it came out pretty well. After that I pulled up the border I had put in around the roses and reworked it; that border was leaning way over, now it's vertical. Much better.

I hate the mess and disturbance of something like the heater work, but better now than in, oh, January.
Or carbon monoxide poisoning.