Why we win

As Uncle says, “No one grins like that at an anti-gun event“.

He’s right. The antis focus entirely around the negative: crime, violence, etc. There’s basically nothing positive for them except maybe laughing at fools on our side as they put their feet in their mouths.

On the other hand, the pro-gun folks have a bunch of fun shooting at the range (there’s not really an “anti-gun range”), engaging in competition, training, hunting outdoors, checking out stuff in catalogs or at the shop, asking questions and having discussions on forums, blogs, and other media, etc. We have multiple magazines and other publications dedicated to the shooting sports and related outdoor activities, all of which are funded by people who are interested in those topics and who contribute their own funds.

The antis? They’ve got the likes of the Brady Campaign, Shannon Watts, and Michael Bloomberg. There’s only a few funding sources, typically from the Joyce Foundation and Bloomberg, with very little actual grassroots support. It really must be quite depressing.

I’m famous!

Ok, no, not really famous…but one of my old photos has been making the rounds on Facebook.

To answer the inevitable questions:

  1. Yes, her reloading technique needed work. It was the first time she’d fired an AR. She’s improved in the intervening years.
  2. No, I’m not taking cover behind the side door/window. I’m bracing my arm against the A pillar, so I’m right where the windshield meets the hood. Should I be further forwards, and thus more protected by the engine? Probably, but I’m being a gentleman and yielding the best cover to the lady.
  3. Yes, I should probably be less exposed.
  4. The picture was intended to humorously illustrate Tamara‘s quote, “A true gentleman provides covering fire while a lady is reloading.” (I forgot the exact wording when I captioned the photo. My apologies to Tam.), not to be a serious demonstration of shooting skills.
  5. The point was not that she’s reloading the rifle for my use and that she remains under cover during the gunfight — I’m providing covering fire for her while she reloads her own rifle, after which she’ll engage the enemy.
  6. No, she’s not pointing the AR at my head. She’s about half a meter to my right and the rifle is pointing up and downrange.
  7. Yes, a full-size AR-15 is a bit too big for her. Since the photo was taken, we’ve purchased an “M4gery”-style AR with an adjustable stock and a shorter barrel for better balance.
  8. Yes, I’m left-handed. She’s not (hence why the reloading looks so awkward).
  9. I’m shooting an XD-45.
  10. That was one of our first dates, and we were out shooting in the Arizona desert with friends. I may be able to dig up the coordinates of where we were if anyone is interested.
  11. I married that woman, and am the luckiest guy in the world.
  12. Is a Camry ideal cover? No, but the big chunk of American1 steel aluminum under the hood is certainly better than nothing.
  13. Why is the Camry in the desert? What, you expect we’d walk way out there? The Camry can handle the road and suited my everyday driving purposes.
  1. The 2006 Toyota Camry was made in the US from more US-made parts than most of the vehicles made by “American” brands. []

New Shooter Report – New Zealand Edition

After much delay, I finally present the New Shooter Report – New Zealand Edition. My apologies for the significant delay and lack of pictures. We were mostly focused on shooting, and I’ve been focused on graduate school applications since then.

Introduction
My friend Ashley grew up in Texas, went to school for a few years in Arizona, and now lives in New Zealand. For some reason, she never once handled a firearm during her upbringing. While living in New Zealand, she met Amanda, a native New Zealander. Amanda had shot firearms before, but it’d been some time since she had.

Ashley was traveling to the US to visit friends and family, and had invited Amanda — who had never been to the US — along.

While visiting friends in Tucson, Ashley proposed the idea of going to the range, Amanda agreed, and a small group of people also decided to come along.

So, over Veteran’s Day, we went to the Tucson Rifle club.

Pictures

Ashley shooting the suppressed 10/22

Ian K, Amanda, and myself inspect a target

My suppressor on my friend's Ruger-clone .22, with my 22/45

Teresa shooting the 22/45 while Louis watches

Louis shooting the suppressed Ruger-clone

Chris shooting the suppressed Ruger-clone

Ian K and Chris

Ian L watches people shoot

Conclusion
Nothing like a fun day at the range with old friends, new friends, and new shooters. Everyone had a great time, and much ammo was turned into smiles.

New Shooter Ammo Fund Update

Thanks to generous donations to the New Shooter Ammo Fund, I have been able to purchase an additional 80 rounds of .223 ammo for teaching new shooters.

While 80 rounds might not seem like much, most new shooters I take to the range really seem to love the ARs, and so an extra few magazines worth is always useful.

I could have gotten quite a bit more .22LR than .223, but the local shop was short on .22, and didn’t have stuff that my 10/22 seems to prefer.

Many thanks to all those who’ve donated. The fall semester is off to a busy start, and I don’t have as much time as I’d like to take new shooters to the range (heck, I don’t know any more new shooters! Anyone in town want to send them my way?) right now, but hopefully that’ll become possible as grad school applications go out.

New Shooter Report

Rita and Teresa have been accompanying me to the range for some time. They are regulars at turning ammo into smiles.

Interestingly enough, Teresa happens to be dating Nolan, Rita’s brother. Now that Nolan has moved to Tucson for school and had never been shooting before, we all figured it’d be a good thing to take him out to go shooting. So we did…

Once again, it was a beautiful (albeit hot) day in Tucson. Thank goodness the Tucson Rifle Club has overhead shades for the firing line.

Rita, myself, and my med student friend Ian spent a few hours on Saturday reloading .223. Out of the 120 or so rounds we fired today, there were only three failures1, none of them dramatic2. It’s nice actually having some .223 ammo, as my ARs are quite voracious.

I had also dug about in my closet and found some .30-06 reloads, so we were able to shoot the M1 (Rita has a bit of a love affair with my M1, and really enjoys shooting it.) a bit. Shooting the M1 seems to be a family trait, as Nolan also greatly enjoyed shooting it. There’s something immensely satisfying about recoil, .30 caliber bullets, and large dust clouds behind one’s targets.

As usual, the suppressed Ruger 10/22 was a big hit, as were the Ruger MkIII and Glock 19 pistols. Fun was, as usual, had by all.

The fall semester starts up again in about a month, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find some new shooters to take to the range then. For now, I’m happy that I managed to get another new shooter out to the range. When Rita and Nolan’s parents are in town, I may have to take the whole family out shooting.

  1. Two were jams due to the out-of-round bullets we’re using. One was due to one of the rounds having some goopy black residue on it. []
  2. Note for reloaders: double-check your bullet weights against the load data tables. I foolishly assumed that we were using 55gr bullets as that was what I normally load and picked a middle-of-the-road load from the tables. Turns out we were using 62gr bullets and the powder charge we were using turned out to be rather near the never-exceed range for .223. Eep. Fortunately, we never actually crossed the never-exceed line, and even so the loads were several thousand PSI below the 5.56mm NATO pressure spec, which is what the rifle was rated for. Fortunately, we discovered this condition at the reloading bench after we loaded a few hundred rounds, so we were able to confirm that the loads would be safe by consulting the tables. The rifle did not explosively self-destruct, which is good. []

No Sporting or Civilian Use

That’s what the Brady Campaign says about common guns like the AR-15 and various other features associated with common arms. The full quote from their page is as follows:

The Brady Campaign supports banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. These dangerous weapons have no sporting or civilian use. Their combat features are appropriate to military, not civilian, contexts.

Of course, this position is demonstrably false: these guns and features have plenty of sporting and civilian uses. I present the following as an example:

This is Louis. Attentive readers will recognize him from previous posts as he is a regular attendee of trips to the range. The gun he is firing1 is a Glock 19, chambered in 9x19mm. It is equipped with a Glock 33-round extended magazine. One will note that Louis is demonstrating good shooting form and is displaying a smile of enjoyment. The extended magazine allows Louis to spend more time shooting and less time stopping to reload magazines.

Here is Rita, who also frequently accompanies me on trips to the range, fires the Glock 19 with the standard-capacity 15-round magazine that is one of two included with the purchase of a new pistol.

This magazine allows for 50% more capacity than the Brady-recommended 10-round low-capacity magazines while still fitting flush with the bottom of the pistol’s grip. At the range, having five fewer rounds means more changing magazines and more time spent reloading — less time having fun.

Next up, we have Danielle:

This was her first trip to the range. Here she’s firing a DPMS A-15, an AR-15 variant. It is equipped with all the standard features: a flash suppressor, bayonet lug, handguards which encircle the barrel, a 30-round standard-capacity magazine, a pistol grip, and a collapsible stock.

In this particular context, the bayonet lug is not being used, and so is no more dangerous than any other piece of metal2 on the rifle. The flash suppressor is not really relevant, as Danielle is shooting during the day and so does not need to worry about the flash from her muzzle affecting night vision — that said, the vents on the flash suppressor reduce the amount of dust kicked up from the ground, making her shooting experience a more enjoyable one.

The pistol grip and collapsible stock allow for comfortable shooting: she has adjusted the stock to a length which suits her. The ordinary fixed stock is too long and it is often uncomfortable for smaller shooters like Danielle.

The pistol grip allows for a firm, ergonomic, comfortable grip on the rifle. The forward handguards, which she is not using in this particular picture, prevent her from being burned by the hot barrel when she chooses to use her right hand to hold the gun rather than support her shooting hand.

The 30-round magazine is the standard size for AR-15 type rifles, and allows her to fire for a good period of time without needing to stand up or move around to fetch and load a new magazine. This also allows her to focus more on shooting rather than changing magazines. In this particular picture, she’s also using the magazine to support the rifle, allowing for more stable, accurate shooting.

The very features that the Brady Campaign claims are “combat features” that “facilitate the killing of human beings in battle” are being used by Danielle and tens of millions of other civilian shooters to enhance their safety (e.g. handguards that prevent burns) and comfort (e.g. ergonomic pistol grip and a stock that can adjust to be comfortable for both larger and smaller people).

Here Danielle is seen shooting a Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which is equipped with a threaded barrel and a Gem-Tech Outback II silencer.

The Brady Campaign states that silencers “allow an assassin to shoot without making noise” — while this is true3, I think they might be watching a few too many James Bond movies. Assassins are exceedingly uncommon outside of Hollywood films, and any actual assassin will not care about the legality of silencers. They also claim that, “silencers are illegal so there is no legitimate purpose for making it possible to put a silencer on a weapon,” a claim which is demonstrably false: the silencer on this gun is perfectly legal, and I have all the appropriate paperwork in order.

Though I’ve addressed the legality of silencers in a previous post, I want to reiterate that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to own and use a silencer: I use mine primarily for introducing new shooters to shooting, as the low recoil and noise of a silenced .22 rifle makes for a very pleasant learning experience. Additionally, the use of a silencer reduces the levels of noise produced by a gun, reducing noise pollution and hearing damage.

In conclusion, there are numerous, perfectly legitimate sporting reasons for the private ownership of “military-style semi-automatic” firearms4 and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. There are plenty of other, non-sporting reasons (such as self-defense, collecting, etc.) for owning such firearms and accessories.

In short, the Brady Campaign is full of crap.

On a more positive note, it was a glorious, sunny day here in Tucson, and I was pleased to spend the day in the company of good friends, fine guns, and delicious food and (after the guns were put away) beer.

  1. Note the brass ejecting. []
  2. The edges of the lug, however, are a bit sharp. []
  3. Partially, at least — silencers reduce the noise produced by the gun to a safe level, but do not completely eliminate it. []
  4. Which, I’d like to point out, are functionally no different than non-“military-style” semi-automatic firearms like the Ruger Mini-14. []

Thanks!

I checked my email the other day and noted a donation to the New Shooter Ammo Fund from Carl (last name omitted for privacy).

Thanks Carl, I really appreciate it. While my schedule is hellishly busy right now, I’ll see about taking some new shooters to the range in the next month or two.

New Shooter Ammo Fund

The costs of running this blog are extremely minimal, about $20/year or so. Well within my meager student budget.

However, ammo costs a fair bit of money. While I wouldn’t think of asking readers to contribute money for my own personal ammo budget, I’d welcome any assistance that readers might be able to offer to help me provide ammo for new shooters that I take to the range. None of the ammo funded by such donations will be used for my personal use, though I may shoot a magazine or two so as to demonstrate things to new shooters.

I’ve put a small PayPal button in the right column where people can donate, if they wish. Of course, this is entirely voluntary, and nobody should feel the least bit compelled to donate. If you do donate, please let me know if you’d like your name (or pseudonym) and URL mentioned in posts, and I’ll gladly give you credit in the new shooter reports. Those who wish to stay anonymous will have their wishes respected.

I feel very awkward asking for donations of this type, and hope that nobody feels any less of me because of it. Unfortunately, donations to the New Shooter Ammo Fund are not tax deductible.

…..

Update: I also thought of a different option: if people would be more comfortable donating ammunition itself rather than money, please contact me and I can provide my shipping address. The top priorities are .22LR (both super- and subsonic, though subs are preferred; Winchester Dyanpoints work excellently with my suppressor, are subsonic out of a 16″ barrel, and are not nearly as expensive as purpose-made subsonic ammo) and .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO (62 or 55 grain bullets are fine — I’ll gladly take even “cheap” stuff like Wolf). For safety purposes, I’m only willing to accept factory-new or commercial reloads (like Ultramax or Miwall), not individual reloads or handloads. Cheap imports are fine, so long as they’re safe to use and meet relevant specs (e.g. SAAMI, NATO, etc.).

Lower priority but still important are .30-06 Springfield (M2 Ball spec only, as it’s being fired from an M1 Garand which has very specific pressure tolerances), 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP.

In certain quantities, I may be able to help pick up part of the UPS shipping. Contact me for details if you’re interested.

New Shooter Report

Over the winter break my friend Diego and I took his cousin from Brazil out to the local shooting range. The cousin had fired some BB guns as a kid, but otherwise hasn’t fired a gun in years.

After clearing up a few misconceptions about guns in the US that many foreigners seem to have (everyone has guns, machine guns are common, people need licenses to own guns, etc.) and going over the safety rules, we headed out to the excellent Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, California. Alas, I had left my guns in Arizona, so Diego brought his .45 Colt lever-action rifle, a .44 caliber blackpowder pistol, and Diego’s new Walther P99. We had also brought Diego’s 12ga double-barreled shotgun, but forgot to bring slugs. Since shotshells are not permitted on the rifle and pistol lines, we were unable to use it.

While I had some difficulty explaining the various techniques due to a language barrier — Diego’s cousin speaks Brazillian Portuguese and has an academic knowledge of English, he has not had much experience with native English speakers, and so his practical English is only moderate…I don’t speak any Portuguese at all — Diego, who speaks excellent English, Spanish, and Portuguese, helped translate some of the more troublesome parts and all went well.

Diego’s cousin (whose name I don’t recall, unfortunately) had an excellent time, and quickly improved his shooting skills. I’d post some pictures, but Diego’s cousin has all the pictures on his camera. I’ll have to talk to Diego to see if I can get copies, as the cousin is back in Brazil.

Someone remind me not to loan my car keys to Diego when he goes to get something out of the trunk — he ended up locking my keys in the trunk, and so I had to call my insurance company’s roadside assistance to come unlock the door so I could open the trunk. It turns out that the doors to my car are trivially opened using a small wedge to open a small gap between the door and the frame and a long metal rod with a small hook on the end to reach into the cabin and flip the locking tab near the door handle. Never again will I leave even remotely-valuable items inside my car.

…..

Today my friend Alex (who has accompanied me on several range trips) and I invited Alex’s girlfriend Ayla to accompany us to the Tucson Rifle Club.

She was eager to come, as she’s been looking at getting a gun or two of her own in the next year or so after she gets out of college and will be living on her own. Without having handled any in the past, she expressed an interest in a relatively simple and reliable handgun like a GLOCK, but found that the mainspring in such a gun to be difficult to manipulate, and has ruled out such guns for the time being. I have no revolvers for her to try, but she enjoyed my Ruger MkIII .22LR pistol, even if she found holding the gun out at arm’s length to be somewhat tiring. We’ll no doubt find her some handguns she likes, but for the time being, she’s much more comfortable with rifles.

As usual, the suppressed Ruger 10/22 was a hit for starting out, particularly when shooting at a set of steel swinger targets (given to me by my lovely fiancée for Christmas). Ayla rapidly moved up through the MkIII, through both of my AR-15s (though, as I expected, she preferred the adjustable-stock M4gery as she could adjust it to fit her comfortably), and finally to the M1 Garand (Rita, who has been a long-time range companion, called Ayla and insisted that she try the M1). While Ayla developed a bit of a sore shoulder from the M1, she really enjoyed it.

Here’s some pictures from the day:

As always, clicking on the image will enlarge it.

The spinner targets are supposedly rated for 9mm-.30-06 softpoint ammo, but I started out by shooting .22LR at it. The .22s made the spinners bounce back and forth, but didn’t actually spin around and lock in the up position. I fired a few 9mm Speer Gold Dot JHPs at the spinners (I don’t have any SPs), but had difficulty hitting it 30 yards away (each target is only about 4″ in diameter), but eventually did to great effect. While the manual says not to shoot FMJ ammo at it, I risked a few rounds of 9mm FMJ with no damage (not even any dents) to the targets. I even went so far as to shoot .223 FMJs at it, which rather soundly flipped the spinners around and didn’t have any deleterious effect on the free-moving spinners, but which left a small divot in the reset target which is very nearly fixed. I’ll avoid FMJs on the reset target, but it looks like the spinners will handle .223 FMJ without any problems…I certainly won’t toss .30-06 FMJ at it anytime soon, though.

I’m impressed at how bullet-resistant steel is, even against rather pointy .223 FMJs moving rather quickly. I may have to see about welding or clamping on heavier steel plates, at least on the reset target, so I can shoot FMJs at it with confidence.

Unfortunately, the trip suffered from an acute ammo shortage: I thought I had an extra 250-round can of Lake City M2 Ball .30-06 ammo, but it turns out I had only a few clips left. I’m also down to the last three magazines of .223 (turns out my goal of loading ammo for one magazine a day didn’t pan out), though I have components for a few thousand more rounds. Even my supplies of .22LR (~2,000 rounds) and 9mm (~600 rounds) are running low. Don’t even ask about 12ga or .30-30. Fortunately, while money is tight, ammo supplies at most vendors are also low due to high demand, so even if I had the money to buy more ammo, it wouldn’t be there to buy. Hopefully supply catches up with demand about the same time I get more money. :)

New Shooter Report

My friend Teresa was complaining that she hadn’t been shooting in about a year, and that this state of affairs was intolerable. She also wanted to bring her boyfriend Chad, a stringer for a local news company (alas, I forget the details), who had never been shooting before. We decided on going to the range on Saturday, December 6th.

Rita, a fellow student of science and friend of Teresa and I, seems to have a long-running love affair with my M1 Garand, and so insisted on coming. BeMasher, a friend, co-worker, and amatuer photographer came as well. My girlfriend Sarah, also came to the range, but had various work from her students that she needed to grade, and so didn’t shoot. Everyone reviewed (or learned for the first time, in Chad’s case) the four basic safety rules prior to arriving at the range, and again before we started shooting.

Chad started out, as all new shooters who come with me do, with the suppressed Ruger 10/22. After getting the feel for it, he moved up to the Ruger MkIII .22 pistol, then the Sig Mosquito belonging to BeMasher’s brother, and then to the Glock 19. With the extended 33-round magazines, the Glock seemed to go over well with everyone.

Everyone else had a good deal of experience with the different guns I have, and so got started shooting the other guns I brought while I instructed Chad. He’s a quick learner, and rapidly got the hang of things.

Teresa really enjoyed the suppressed 10/22, and spent quite some time draining my subsonic .22LR supply.

The stock on the 10/22 seems to be a great compromise in size — people both large and small seem to be able to shoot it comfortably without any issues. The Trijicon Reflex II red dot sight is also excellent (“put the dot where you want to shoot, then pull the trigger”). The fact that it requires no batteries to illuminate the red dot is a major plus.

Even though BeMasher spent a lot of time photographing, we managed to steal the camera from him from time to time, and got a few pictures of him shooting.

Whenever there’s a group at the range, I seem to assume a sort of supervisory role, and don’t get to shoot much (terrible, I know!). Everyone insisted that I get some trigger time, so I did some shooting with my new DPMS 16″ M4gery.

As expected, it’s accurate and pleasant to shoot. The adjustable stock made shooting from the prone much more comfortable than a fixed stock, particularly for those of smaller stature.

Unfortunately, some of my reloads caused some problems (the bullets weren’t entirely round, a side effect of being pulled from de-milled military ammo), so I substituted my 20″ Bushmaster AR in while I was clearing the 16″. This worked out surprisingly well — at the relatively short (25-50 yards) distances we were shooting, the points of aim of both rifles were close enough to be indistinguishable.

Unsatisfied with the light recoil of the AR, Rita decided that she’d be satisfied only in shooting the M1.

For being such a tiny person (she’s only 5’2″), she handles the recoil of the M1 far better than many of the larger people I know. Shooting the M1 prone is a pain, as it seems to recoil directly into one’s collarbone, yet she was able to handle it extremely well. I suspect that if there was ever a zombie attack, one could give Rita an M1, a few bandoleers of ammo, and some high ground, and she’d take care of the problem.

I observed a rather amusing quirk to her shooting style: whenever she’d fire from the prone, her legs would flex rapidly at the knees, and her feet would jump about a foot in the air. This didn’t seem to affect her accuracy, but was quite amusing to watch.

Teresa also fired the M1, but preferred to shoot it standing.

Upon seeing his girlfriend shoot the M1 (and exclaiming that the muzzle blast was quite a bit louder than the ARs), Chad decided that he too would have to shoot it.

My lovely girlfriend was listening to her iPod headphones underneath a set of earmuffs, and so graded all her documents without being troubled by the gunshots occuring nearby. She had a secondary duty as Keeper of the Ammo, and frequently provided fresh AR magazines, M1 clips, and boxes of .22LR as needed. Between that and her love of tasty beer and football, I must be the luckiest guy in the world.

I bet her students have no idea what was going on while their papers were being graded.

Once again, a beautiful December day in Tucson, and a great day at the range. My record of “everyone leaves the range with a smile” continues unbroken.

The only problem I’m running into is that I don’t know many non-shooters, and so I’m not able to take more to the range.

If you’re a non-shooter (or know some) in the Tucson area and want to learn to shoot with a bunch of physicist-astronomer types, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d like to particulary encourage (in no particular order) women, minorities, journalists, and politicians to learn to shoot with us in a fun, safe, and encouraging environment.

Legal Stuff
All photos are copyright BeMasher and are available in their original form at his album. Photos are mirrored by me for consistent hosting, so as to avoid dead links and images in the future, and are displayed here in accordance with BeMasher’s licensing of the pictures under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

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