Question of the day: Can the Swiss keep ammo at home?

A common meme going around the gun control circles these days is that, though the Swiss have lots of guns, they’re not allowed to keep ammunition at home, and that ammo is only available at authorized shooting ranges. The implication being that if the US restricted ammo in the same way, it’d be just as safe as Switzerland.
This claim is false, but there’s some subtleties involved that cause confusion. Hopefully I can clear things up a bit.

  • Up until 2012 the Swiss military required that soldiers (which is nearly all military-age men, due to their mandatory service) keep their military-issued rifle and a sealed box of military-issued ammo at home. This was intended to be used in case of invasion, so that soldiers could fight their way to a local armory to get more ammo, equipment, etc. In 2012, in light of the political and military stability in Europe, the military stopped issuing ammo for soldiers to keep at home and recalled the ammo that was previously issued.
  • The Swiss government encourages marksmanship by subsidizing ammunition sold at shooting ranges, even if that ammo is not used in the military-issued rifle. Subsidized ammo is intended only for training purposes, and it must be used at the range and cannot be taken home.
  • Similarly to the US, sporting goods stores and gun shops sell unsubsidized commercial ammo to gun owners for their own use. This ammo can be kept at home and used for any lawful purpose, such as self-defense, recreational or competitive shooting, hunting, etc.

Clear? Good. Now stop perpetuating falsehoods.

More memes: pseudoephedrine vs. ammo

I’ve recently seen an image meme making its rounds on the Book of Face. It consists of two pictures, each with their own text. However, for the life of me I can’t find it now, so you’ll have to deal with my description rather than an example.
The first picture is of a sweet, grandmotherly lady with text along the lines of “I have to show my ID and sign in the logbook to purchase medication with pseudoephedrine for legitimate medical purposes, and even then I’m limited in how much I can buy.”
The second is of James Holmes, who murdered numerous?people at the theater in Aurora, with text along the lines of “I was able to buy 6,000 rounds of ammo online with no background checks, no questions asked, and without the authorities knowing.”
The intended implication is that?since society has?restricted the sale of pseudoephedrine to reduce criminal misuse, it’s crazy that online ammo sales are essentially unregulated, and we should have similar restrictions on both.
I read it differently: the restrictions on pseudoephedrine present only the most minimal barrier to amateur criminals wishing to make illicit drugs (more serious criminal gangs get the precursors in industrial quantities and don’t bother extracting pseudoephedrine from over-the-counter drugs), and that restricting the sale of either over-the-counter drugs containing?pseudoephedrine or ammunition is absurd, misguided, and ultimately futile in preventing criminal misuse.
In short, the meme is a clear example of the?failure of such restrictions, not a good example for even more restrictions.

Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods

This is a paragraph I never thought I’d see in the academic literature:

“[W]e advocate the use of ballistic-assisted (i.e. projectile-based) random sampling methods because they are both easily accessible and parallelizable. In particular, shotgun-assisted random sampling seems very suitable becaues of the presumed abundance of shotguns in cataclysmic times and the speed at which they can generate samples.”

– Vincent Dumoulin, F?lix Thouin – “A Ballistic Monte Carlo Approximation of ?

Awesome. That’d make for an amazing grant application.
See here for a summary article that explains things for non-mathematicians.
Edit: Somehow I borked the initial post by forgetting the title and screwing up a link. I’ve now corrected these errors. If you’re still seeing those errors in your feed reader, please refresh the feed.

Sierra Bullets: shutdown of the Doe Run lead smelter shouldn’t affect ammo supply

The recent shutdown of the Doe Run primary lead smelter has some people wondering what effect this might have on lead supply for bulletmakers. Sierra Bullets issued the following statement, which I’ve quoted in part:

First, Sierra buys lead from several different vendors to maintain constant supply.? Second, this facility only smelts primary lead or lead ore.? This is lead ore that has just been brought out of the earth.? Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has, so we use nothing directly from this facility.? The lead we buy from Doe Run comes from their recycling facility in Boss, MO that is about 90 miles away from the smelter that is closing.
The facility we buy from is still going strong and delivering to us as scheduled.? The lead from this facility is from recycled lead, mostly coming from car batteries.
Our supply should not be in jeopardy and we do not anticipate any changes in our supply chain at this time.? Could the lack of primary lead create a little more demand for recycled lead?? Sure, but how much is unknown.? Could this increase in demand also create an increase in price?? Sure, but again, by how much is unknown at this time.

Emphasis mine. Hat tip to No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money: Sierra Bullets On The Shutdown Of The Herculaneum MO Lead Smelter.
Edit (2013-06-11): I mis-spelled “Sierra” in the title. This has been corrected.

Ammoman’s open list gets spammed, subscribers lose their minds

Ammoman?uses a Yahoo Groups mailing list to announce the availability of various products, specials, etc.
Evidently the list manager failed to configure the list to be “announce only” for authorized senders. Instead, it was setup to be an unmoderated discussion list. This misconfiguration wasn’t noticed up until today when a spammer randomly decided to send a spam message to the list.
Evidently this caused the entire list to lose its mind, with hundreds of people replying to the list, first to inquire about the spam, then to wonder why they were getting copies of messages from others inquiring about the spam, followed immediately by people trolling the list, followed by hundreds more sending “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE ME” messages to the list (even though that merely sends that message to everyone and doesn’t unsubscribe one from the list — the list itself has very clear unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of every message but people can’t be assed to read it). All of this helps contribute to the chaos and amplifies the list traffic dramatically. (Fortunately, a simple filter redirects all the crazy list messages into the trash folder — in a day or two I’ll remove the filter so I can get the regular notifications from Ammoman.)
Also, some people evidently blame the government and, specifically, Obama for this incident.
It disturbs me that people too stupid to figure out how to unsubscribe from a mailing list or setup a filter and who blame the government for a relatively minor technical cock-up walk among us every day. (Again, The Onion is prophetic.)

Swiss no longer keep military ammo at home

It is well known that the Swiss are a prickly bunch: military service is mandatory for able-bodied males and those military members keep their army-issue rifles at home.
They also keep a sealed package of 50 rifle rounds to enable them to fight to the nearest armory if the need arises. Well, they kept ammo at home: during an enjoyable evening with a friendly Swiss couple in Z?rich the topic of military service came up. My friend mentioned that sometime last year, the military took back the sealed ammo box and soldiers no longer keep military-issue ammo at home.
Of course, privately owned ammo and firearms are allowed, and both recreational and competitive shooting is about as common here as baseball is in the US.
There’s been discussion in the legislature recently that military rifles should no longer be kept at home (for safety purposes, say advocates of the restriction), but not much progress has been made along those lines: keeping military rifles at home is widely felt to be a Swiss cultural institution.

Ammo Promo: Prvi Partizan

Normally I don’t mention commercial services (( I don’t accept advertising or get any money or perks from the few services I do mention. )), but I recently got an email from Ammoman about how Prvi Partizan is raising their prices on .223/5.56mm NATO ammo soon. Right now it’s for sale (pre-increase) for $299/1,000rds.
For those who haven’t tried Prvi, I highly recommend it. Their 55 and 62 grain ball ammo meets NATO spec, is brass cased, boxer primed and reloadable, shoots reasonably clean, and is about as accurate as one would expect for general purpose military ammo. The cases have visible annealing marks, as does most military ammo, but polish up nicely for reloading.
When I lived in the US, my ARs were fed a steady diet of Prvi and worked flawlessly. I actually prefer it over the Federal stuff, which never seemed as consistent
If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s well worth $299 to try a case.

Ben Avery

Last weekend I went to the Ben Avery range, which is located a bit north of Phoenix.
For the price of $7, I was afforded access to one of the crown jewels of shooting ranges. The main rifle range has 67 firing positions, and allows any firearms (including full-auto, which several people were shooting that day) with caliber restrictions on the .416 Barrett, .50 BMG, tracers (fire risk), and AP. The main range has target positions from 5 yards to 200 yards, with other ranges including excellent shotgun facilities and a 1000 yard range, not to mention archery facilities.
Each firing position has a sturdy, stable concrete table and steel-and-wood seats that are well-maintained, sturdy, and comfortable. There’s a screen between each position that prevents shooters from being struck with brass from the neighboring positions. Every aspect of the main public range was well-maintained, in good repair, and modern.
There’s a substantial number of attentive, well-trained safety officers that routinely walk the line, check that guns are cleared during cease-fires, and answer questions. I was extremely impressed by the safety officer’s professionalism; in my experience it’s not uncommon for RSOs to be somewhat curmudgeonly, old-fashioned (“Why do you need an ‘assault rifle’?”), and the like, but the Ben Avery staff was excellent. Even the cashier (they take Visa and MasterCard, in addition to cash) was polite, cheery, and professional. There’s a hot dog and drink vendor in the parking lot, right near the grassy field and playground for children.
While I was there, I was also impressed by the extreme diversity of people there. The staff was a mix of men and women of all types, both old and young, and the shooters included a mix of just about every conceivable group: men and women of every skin color, age group, size, shape, and experience level were there. There were women in their 20s who were training with expensive match rifles, a grandfather teaching his grandson to shoot a .22 rifle, a middle-aged black couple shooting what looked like a matched pair of revolvers, a couple who looked to be in their early 30s shooting a suppressed .308 rifle, and some folks shooting full-auto at the extreme end of the range. I overheard several languages being spoken. In the parking lot, vehicles ranged from pickups to Priuses. Open carry was common, but by no means ubiquitous. Truly, a cross-section of humanity, all coming together for a fun, safe afternoon at the range.
I’ve written about a few ranges in the past, many of which were well-equipped and praiseworthy, but I’ve never been as impressed with a range than I was with Ben Avery. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish runs a fine range, and I’m glad such a place is not terribly far from where I live. Like the Swiss, Arizonans take shooting seriously.
One of the best experiences of the day was being (politely and cheerily) told to “please take a number and we’ll call you when a lane opens up” — even with the economy not doing so hot, there’s evidently enough people interested in shooting that they’ll take the time and resources to head out to the range that there’s a waiting list to get in, even with 67 public firing positions. Truly, this is why we win.
In addition to being so massively impressed with the range, I also got some shooting done. I re-zeroed one of my ARs for a new ammo and was shooting some targets at 25 and 100 yards. While the rifle is as accurate as ever, I’m woefully out of practice and my groups were embarrassingly large, especially considering I was shooting from a bench. I really should go to an Appleseed shoot at some time.
Anyone in the Phoenix area want to go shooting on a semi-regular basis?


As mentioned not too long ago, I purchased a case of Prvi Partizan M855. I haven’t taken it out to the range yet, but their M193 is outstanding, and I suspect the M855 will be excellent as well. Having all my AR mags filled and still have about half a case in the closet is a good feeling. Still, I think I may have misplaced a few mags in the move, so there might be more that need filling.
It’s good to see that some ammo prices are coming down and availability is going up…but the price differential between 9mm and .45 ACP is still absurd. As an apples-to-apples comparison, I picked the same brand and common bullet weight in each caliber: 115gr 9mm and 230gr .45 ACP, both with FMJ bullets, both by Magtech.
9mm: $199/1000
.45 ACP: $420/1000
I realize that .45 ACP does require a bit more resources (the bullets are twice as massive and the cases are a bit bigger) to manufacture, so I expect the .45 to cost a bit more, but they’re still both exceedingly popular (at least in the US; I don’t know about the global demand for .45) and you’d think that economies of scale could bring the difference in price down a bit.