Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do it for the children


The next time some social liberal wrings her hands and says "do it for the children," meaning the congress must pass some expensive do-gooder scheme for the sake of future generations, point to this article about the plight of Europe's young people. Unable to find jobs, in economies exhausted by government excesses, they are very frustrated.

What the children need and deserve is opportunity, not the endless nannying of a welfare state. They cannot have both; it is one or the other.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mossberg MVP bolt action rifle

Here's a review from Peterson's Rifle Shooter magazine. The MVP is a 7 1/2 pound bolt action rifle that fires 5.56 NATO / .223 and--get this--feeds from AR-15 magazines. The design magicians at Mossberg did something rather clever to make the rifle feed reliably. In the past it has been a troublesome thing to make a bolt rifle feed from autoloader magazines, so they rethought the problem. Details are in the review linked above.

The usefulness of a rifle of this sort is obvious: It's just the thing for the fellow who prefers a bolt action, but likes the convenience and extra firepower of box magazines. Because it fires the ubiquitous service cartridge and uses commonplace magazines, it will be fairly cheap to feed.

At present the only stock offered is a benchrest-styled and robustly proportioned one made of laminated wood. For some uses a synthetic stock of lighter weight and trimmer lines would be preferable. Perhaps that will be an option by and by.  It looks like at least a pound could be taken off the rifle's weight by use of a lightweight stock. Not everyone would like that, but it would be an improvement for some uses.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is the Pope Catholic?

The Pope's remarkable offer to Anglicans, to join the Roman Catholic church on a fast track, while keeping some distinctive aspects of our worship and ministry, has something wrong with it. I am sure the Pope was and is unaware of the defect. After all, he is not an Anglican, and you would have to be one to see it.

The people joining up under the Pope's offer are from the high church, and mainly the corner of it called Anglo-Catholic. The low church is not much interested.

The problem is, without those low church people, it isn't really Anglicanism. We need them, for they are a part of us, as surely as a thumb is necessary to a hand. The glory of the Anglican communion is our integration of all shades of orthodox* belief in one church. It looks to me as if Anglicanism's Roman branch will lack the very thing that makes Anglicanism great.

Links:

A news story about the American ordinariate
The Apostolic Constitution that frames the enterprise



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* Our habit of broad tolerance of people's views has been used against us, of late, to assert some things as acceptable that have no place in church tradition, except as things opposed by and to that tradition. Various strange ideas and enthusiasms have arisen in the church before, and we have gotten over them.

Nice, politically correct warfighting

This poor jarhead, Lt. Joshua Waddell, has gotten jacked up over nice, politically correct rules of engagement in Afghanistan. There are several things wrong with an elaborate rule book about fighting nice, not least of which is the other fellows don't have one.

At least there's no inflation

The good news, per the gummint in Washington, is there is little inflation, practically none--ain't that nice? The only significant increases are in food and fuel. Now, as it happens, those are the only things I'm buying these days. So the news that price increases are largely confined to those things is not real swell news. Obama should stop patting himself on the back about it before he tires out his arm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Personal defense: Further thoughts on the shotgun

Why a shotgun?

The fighting shotgun is the best match to the usual scenarios that fall under the heading of justifiable self defense shootings. You need heavy firepower at close range and the best hit probability you can get.

Almost all self defense shooting is at short range, and the shotgun, loaded with multi-projectile shells, is simply the best short range weapon. Its hit probability is twice that of a military rifle and nearly half again better than you get from a submachine gun. That is what was reported out of our military's JSSAP efforts and I see no reason to doubt it.  My informal range experiments show the shotgun is fast to address close targets because of the confidence factor. The shotgun's margin for error allows you to shoot quickly.

Slugs

As an expedient for longer range firing, the rifled slug, from a smoothbore shotgun, is effective at 75 yards, if the shotgun is equipped with rifle sights. When zeroed at 75 yards the typical slug's rise above the sight line is less than two inches, which is certainly manageable. The trajectory is 20 inches low at 175 or thereabouts, depending on the brand and style of the slug. Accuracy at such a long distances is, in any case, hit-or-miss, literally. At much beyond 100 yards, slugs are decidedly an iffy proposition. But they add versatility to the shotgun by turning it into a smoothbore musket that throws a large caliber projectile.

Some people, of the sort who like to devise training programs, have  come up with the 'select slug' drill, which works like this: You look at the distance to the target and if it is farther than is ideal for shooting with buckshot, meaning the shot will spread enough that some pellets may miss the assailant, you insert and chamber a slug and aim carefully. My  thought on the matter is this is a solution in search of a problem. In any likely scenario, you will not have time to select a slug  and there will be no need to do so, because the distance will be short. Carry some slugs if you wish, but the likelihood of needing them is slight.

We know that most self defense shootings are at less than 15 yards, often much less. If you have a justified self defense shooting situation the distance will nearly always be such that the rigmarole of estimating the range and deciding which shell to use (and taking up precious fractions of seconds to do so) is pointless in the first place. As I have indicated elsewhere, the usual problem isn't shot that spreads out too much, but that most guns and shells pattern too tightly at the very close ranges that are usual in self defense.

The Body Armor Problem

Nothing you can load into a shotgun will penetrate body armor reliably. But since the armor doesn't cover everything, you are not helpless. The targets ordinarily available on an armored assailant are hands and arms, neck and face, legs and pelvis. Smallish shot with good pattern density, such as #4 Buck, will help you hit what the armor does not cover. That will work at short range; I don't know of a long range solution, except to suggest you figure out how to hide from the bad guys.

Most criminals do not wear armor, but enough do that you need a plan. Criminals who have been in the ground force military are well briefed on the stuff, and might even have brought some home with them.

It is perhaps counter-intuitive that smaller shot is better than the mighty double-aught, if the opponent is armored, but it is true when you think it through. The ability to hit a certain structure of the body, that is, to assure a hit within a certain smallish area, depends on pattern density, and that means small shot. Ideally you use the smallest shot that will give adequate penetration, a rule of thumb well proven in sporting uses of the shotgun.

Summary:

Will you need your self defense weapon at 15 yards' range? Perhaps, and very likely not that far, if you need it at all. 30 yards? Not likely, but possible. At such distances the shotgun is the best small arm of all. 60 yards? Unlikely. 120? Very, very unlikely. Yet the shotgun, properly loaded and managed, can deal with all those distances. The problem with it is it is not very satisfactory for dealing with someone who is wearing a ballistic vest, beyond 20 or 30 yards. That is not a big problem because most hostile encounters, outside the battlefield setting, are at shorter ranges than that, and most criminals are unarmored.

It seems, to me at least, that it is sensible to think in terms of likely scenarios, instead of an unlikely worst case. If your armed encounter follows any likely scenario, the shotgun is the best thing you can have going for you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Big government: What is wrong with it



Our problem is simple. Government, at all levels, has grown too big. It commands too large a share of the economy. It enforces far too many laws, policies, rules and regulations.

Big government, the kind set up to solve everyone's problems, is at odds with two things I like very much, individual liberty and a robust economy.

Fortunately, mega-governments always implode. They micro-manage what the people are doing and spend themselves to death. These things are interrelated because freedom and prosperity are related. Unfreedom leads in turn to unprosperity. By simultaneously demanding your money and making it harder for you to get some, government creates its own biggest problem. It mars the prosperity it depends upon to generate government revenue.

If you, as a businessman, have to carefully tiptoe your way through thousands of pages of rules to make sure it is really okay to start that new business or project you have in mind, you may conclude that the regulatory overhead is too costly. You don't try the new idea.

Or you may decide to go ahead. If you make a go of it, a big chunk of your profit is vampired away to support government. Your hiring and business expansion plans are not dependent on profit, but upon profit minus taxes, fees and regulatory overhead. Government is a cost of doing business. I suppose that is always true everywhere, but when the burden becomes too great, business stagnates. Cash is always tight and it's somebody's full time job to make sure you are not transgressing any rules.

There are also risks of direct government interference. Let us say that what you developed and brought to the market is a new and wonderful way of preparing French fries. Your fries are the best on earth, customers are wolfing them down, restaurant chains are bidding to licence your special process, and then--it hardly stretches the imagination to suppose this, especially given the current administration--the government launches a campaign against French fry eating. You did not see that coming, or the special tax placed upon french fries or the excise tax on potatoes, all to save the people from themselves.

Of course, your more sensible customers knew all along that your French fries were greasy, and delicious, so ate them once a week instead of every day. The real beneficiary here is government. They get  more rules to administer (and they hire more administrators) and they get two new tax streams.

Better luck next time. Got any recipes for arugula?

What happens in the end is the government, in trying to have a finger in every pie and rule books for all occasions, strangles the economy that supports it. The idea is to meet every voting bloc's needs and desires out of the profits of the actually productive, which is self defeating, if you think about it. At some point it becomes tempting to drop out of the rat race and become a taker, not a maker.

Do you think I'm making this up, painting my own fears atop the current scene? To the contrary; it is an old story.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ruger American Rifle


Ruger is on a roll, introducing new guns faster than I can keep up. The Ruger American is a bolt action rifle with closed top receiver, interchangeable magazines, synthetic stock and a  short bolt-lift of seventy degrees. The trigger has a safety blade on its face; the trigger's pull weight is said to be adjustable from three to five pounds. Weight of the rifle is listed as 6.12 to 6.25 pounds.

I haven't seen an example of this rifle yet. I remark at this time because the rifle reflects an industry trend toward the closed top, and because it is quite a departure for Ruger. Their high powered bolt actions have heretofore been based on the Mauser 98, a conservative approach.

The Model 77 series (son of Mauser) continues in production, including the nifty Gunsite Scout Rifle.

Some previous designs that followed the closed top, interchangeable magazine approach are the Steyr SBS and the Tikka T3. These are successful and well liked rifles. Perhaps Ruger called their new model the American to fend off the observation that it owes a certain amount of its design thinking to Europe.

No word yet on the price of spare magazines for the new Ruger American.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: The Euro Zone


S&P downgraded the credit of nine countries; story here. In my estimate this is only the beginning. The dynamic is in place, and has been for a long time, for governments to grow and spend, but no one thought the matter through, and thought they might one day need to shrink and save.

The humanist dream of government solving everyone's problems has proven to be a golden calf. Moses is coming down the mountain. Stay tuned for details.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The handbasket we are in, and where it is going


Allow me to vent. Thank you. Sometimes I need to.

The government continues to grow in expense and intrusiveness. The economy continues to splutter along, like an engine missing on several cylinders. It now appears the gummint is cooking the books* on the unemployment rate. I suppose there are nicer ways to say it; what is reported out of a formula depends on the inputs and assumptions, but this is looking like a case of garbage in, garbage out. As it happens, the reporting bias just happens to make the administration look better than it would if the numbers were reported more on the square.

The public is being habituated to more and more government intrusions into daily life. The founding principle of America, that of limited government, seems to have been thrown away in efforts to. . .run things. If you begin with the assumption that government ought to run things, to assure everything works out right--well, you are in for a disappointment.

For starters, we have to remember that government is by nature parasitic. It produces no increase in wealth. It can only take and spend. When it attempts to get into the venture funding business it makes mistakes, because government decisions make political sense, not business sense. Tax money is apportioned by fiat--to failed auto makers, to 'green energy' companies offering dreams not reality, to Wall Street firms that should have sunk into well deserved bankruptcy--skewing markets and subtracting needed cash from the real economy that works and grows wealth by responding to market demand, not political whims.

Government 'stimulus' efforts are a bad joke. Keynes was a very bright man and right about a lot of things, but not about this. The Keynesian theory about government spending stimulating an economy simply does not match the way things work out in practice. The rationale has been retained, though, in public rhetoric. It amounts now to self-serving fraud, a convenient pretext, on the parts of those who feel government should always grow, grow, grow. Stimulus didn't work in the 1930's and it does not work now. It drains vitality from the real economy into the shadow economy of government spending.

In short, the government in Washington operates on beliefs and assumptions, or maybe just pretexts, that are divorced from reality. This is quite a problem: The people calling the shots do not know, or cannot admit, what is really going on. They act instead upon a fantasy they have built for themselves, one that says all that is separating us from nirvana is the need for one more law, one more program, or a new government department.

That will be our undoing. The government is incapable of ever saying, we now have enough government in place, enough governing is now going on: It is a monster that does not know how to stop growing.

At this writing, the federal government's indebtedness is 100.3% of the entire output of the economy for a year. This is a horrible number, like those seen in the socialist pseudo-economies of Europe. What is happening there will shortly happen here.

Watch Europe! There we can see our own future, for they are several years farther down the road to ruin than we are. The whole sorry fraud of meeting the people's needs with money the government takes from the people is coming unraveled.

I don't know just what will happen as the situation deteriorates. I will have to wait and see. Since this is a gun column, when I don't get sidetracked into politics, I probably ought to mention something to do with guns. Good news: we may not need them. Unrest in Europe has so far been slight. Its perpetrators are those who don't understand the situation, and feel government spending should continue unabated. Since the troublemakers are drawn from the small subset of citizens who do not understand arithmetic, we can expect a less than apocalyptic reaction there, or here, to the dawning realization the nanny state was a fraud all along, and the people have been had.


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Here is an update, 3 Feb. 2012, about the government adjusting downward the labor force participation rate number. Of course when they do that it looks like there is less unemployment.