Afghan miltary to be issued M16s, not AKs

From the Times Online:

[N]ew recruits to the Afghan National Army (ANA) are being asked to swap their beloved Kalashnikov AK47, probably the most famous weapon in the world, for the American M16.

This seemed quite unusual to me, as the AK-47 is quite common in that region of the world, and many of the Afghani soldiers have a degree of familiarity with the AK.
The reason is explained as follows:

Traditionally, the Afghan will fire his Kalashnikov from the hip as he advances, spraying the enemy in all directions on automatic mode until every bullet has been expended.
But that is not the way of the British or American soldier who uses his ammunition stocks with greater husbandry and fires to kill, rather than to deluge the enemy with a wall of bullets.

The M16s the Afghanis are to be issued are equipped with the three-shot-burst fire control group (justt like the US military M16s), rather than the full-auto group.
I know the Israelis use M16s (or at least I’ve seen cute female IDF soldiers with M16s), and the US military uses M16s to great effect in sandy, desert conditions (yes, there have been issues, mostly due to lack of proper maintenance, but overall the M16 has performed very well).
While equipping the Afghan military with modern, accurate, standardized weapons is an admirable goal, I can’t help but wonder what strings were pulled to make the sale. Couldn’t they equip existing AKs with three-shot-burst capability, or simply buy new burst-fire AKs, rather than completely changing to a new weapons platform?
As they say, follow the money.

Being a Jerk: A How-To Guide

One of the wonderful things about living in Arizona is the huge amount of public lands on which one can shoot — there’s no cost, no lawyer-inspired regulations, and a beautiful view.
One such place is the Coronado National Forest (it’s more of a “scrubby desert” than a “forest”, but oh well). I find myself going up Reddington Road to the forest most weekends and having a great time shooting with friends.
Normally, there’s a few things to shoot at lying around: a cardboard box or two, one of those reflective A-frame road barricades, a traffic cone, etc. One can tape paper targets to these, and they make decent makeshift target frames. There’s also usually a little bit of clutter lying around (plastic bags, cardboard ammo boxes, spent shotshells, etc.) but it’s not usually that bad. I make a point of cleaning up after myself, picking up brass, taking down my targets, etc. I also try to take at least a bag or two of trash out with me, so as to leave the range a bit cleaner than I found it.
I enjoy shooting aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and the like. They tend to burst dramatically, but don’t fragment, making it stupidly easy to clean up. Glass shatters and is next to impossible to clean. Shooting old fruit (oranges, apples, melons, etc.) is fun, and the critters on the range take care of the cleanup for me.
I recognize that most people try not to make too much of a mess, and occasionally are unable to locate every piece of brass, or little piece of trash they created. People don’t often think to bring trash bags, and so aren’t able to take out a lot of garbage at the range. It’s understandable, and I don’t fault them for it; I’ve had such days myself. I just try to make up for it when I head out the next time.
Then there are the real jerks. You know them…they folks who haul an old TV or dishwasher out to the National Forest, shoot it a bunch, then leave it there. People who drink a couple bottles of beer, then set the empty glass bottles on a rock and shoot them, leaving shards of glass everywhere. People who shoot a bunch of shotshells, but leave the hulls lying around. What really gets me are the people who deliberately shoot the signs posted by the National Forest Service asking them to not shoot the signs and please pick up after themselves. Jerks.
In the last year or so, I’ve bagged and hauled about 1,500 pounds of trash from the shooting spots at the National Forest near Tucson. That’s 3/4th of a ton, and it’s barely made a dent in the garbage there. There’s still gobs of litter out there, both big and small. This last weekend, my cousin and I removed about 150 pounds of trash, including a shot-up dishwasher that left fragmented plastic all around.
Is it that hard for people to clean up after themselves? Did their mothers teach them nothing? There are ample signs saying that the National Forest Service doesn’t clean up after people, and that it’s one’s own responsibility to make sure things are picked up.
These few jerks make the rest of us shooters look bad. Indeed, things have gotten so bad that the 4th shooting spot in the forest up on Reddington Road has been closed. There’s a new barbed wire fence blocking cars, and posts saying “Restoration Area”. According to the sign, foot traffic is permitted — it’d be nice to get some folks up to the area to clean it up sometime. Maybe if we can really clean up the place, the National Forest Service will see that some shooters care and will re-open it.
Here’s some pictures of the area:

In order, these are pictures of one of the non-closed shooting areas suggesting how badly littered it is, my cousin Patrick picking up some trash at the site (we rotated between bag-holding and trash-gathering), the newly-closed “Restoration Area” range, and a sign from the Forest Service.
In short, if you want to be a jerk, just trash the public lands where you can shoot for free. The National Forest Service will close those ranges when things get too bad.
Don’t be a jerk.
Update: I’ve started a thread at to coordinate a clean-up effort. If you’re in the area, please join in.

Lee Die Locking Rings

I was recently informed that Lee sells their die locking rings as a separate product, rather than only including them with their dies.
I ordered a three-pack of their rings (same price as a single RCBS ring) and installed two of them on my RCBS .223 Rem dies. I’m exceedingly happy: I’ve never liked the set-screw rings, as the set screw always seems to get stripped and the rings never stay put. The Lee rings have a rubber o-ring rather than a set screw, and maintain a solid grip on the dies. In my experience, they hold better than the set-screw rings.
So long as one inserts or removes the die from the press by turning the ring (rather than the die), the Lee rings won’t come out of adjustment. Additionally, the metal ring never touches the press itself, preventing any scratching of the finish of the press. Useful for people who like their presses looking nice.
I’ve always been a big fan of Lee products, as their products are inexpensive and high-quality, they’re a small/family run business, their decapping pins are all but impossible to break (even when a Berdan-primed case gets in the mix), and so on. Sure, I own some RCBS and other brand products, but I find myself buying more Lee stuff than anything else. (Great, now I’m going to spark a Red vs. Blue vs. Green vs. Red flamewar.)

Philadelphia goes a bit Nutty

As Snowflakes in Hell reports, the city of Philadelphia passed five new gun control laws today:

The five bills limit handgun purchases to one a month; require lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police within 24 hours; forbid individuals under protection from abuse orders from possessing guns if ordered by the court; allow removal of firearms from ?persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury? to themselves or others, as determined by a judge; and outlaw the possession and sale certain assault weapons.

Just one problem: PA state law preempts any city, country, or other entity from enacting gun control laws. The state legislature reserves that power to itself. There’s been a great deal of conflict between crime-ridden, urban Philadelphia (which is very anti-gun) and the rest of the state (which is very pro-gun) in regards to such laws. Rather than obey the state law, the Philadelphia city council enacted these laws and Mayor Nutter has signed them. He’s also ordered Police Chief Charles Ramsey – and by extension, all city police – to enforce these laws.
Snowflakes continues:

Because of preemption, and the Ortiz precedent upholding preemption, these laws passed by city council are essentially not law, so anyone enforcing them will be acting under color of law, and could possibly lose their qualified immunity.

In short: If the police do enforce these illegal laws (“illegal laws” seems contradictory, but oh well), they could stand to be held personally responsible.
This could get exciting. I suspect that the state legislature will slap Philadelphia, and that lawsuits may be filed. All of this paid for by taxpayer dollars.
This reminds me of a similar situation in San Francisco: California has a similar preemption law, and prohibits cities and counties from enacting their own gun control laws. San Francisco ignored this prohibition, enacted a ban on all handguns, got sued, lost in court, appealed, lost again, appealed to the State Supreme Court, and lost again. Lots of taxpayer money wasted for a stupid law that wouldn’t have any effect on crime. Philadelphia really needs to learn from the mistakes of others.

A-MERC Considered Harmful

Avoid “American Ammunition”-brand ammo. It carries the headstamp “A-MERC”.
Don’t confuse it with “American Eagle” by Federal Cartridge, which is excellent.
I’ve shot a diverse selection of ammo brands over the years, including Federal, Winchester, Remington, Ultramax, Miwall, PMC, Wolf, CCI, Barnaul, Black Hills, American Ammunition, IMI, domestic and imported military surplus, my own reloads, and so on. Brass and steel cased, it makes no difference to me. Both new and commercial reloads (also my own personal reloads). Basically, I’ve made an effort to shoot just about everything I’ve been able to get my hands on.
The vast majority of what I’ve shot has been excellent, high-quality ammunition…with the exception of American Ammunition.
A-MERC ammo is inconsistently loaded from round to round (velocities are all over the place), has intermittent bright flashes (some rounds flash more than others), and major problems with primer retention (primers push out of the pocket during normal firing and get stuck in the gun’s operating mechanism, jamming it), and some of the absolute worst brass I’ve ever dealt with (huge splits starting at the neck and going down the entire length of the case are common, as are smaller splits confined only to the body of the case).
Splits in cases, particularly on cases that have been reloaded several times, occur occasionally and haven’t really caused many problems for me — I note the split when I inspect my spent brass and toss it into my “scrap brass” bucket. I’ve never once had a case split on a factory-new cartridge from any manufacturer…except A-MERC, which routinely splits in dramatic ways on a regular basis.
It is my opinion that A-MERC ammunition is not only low-quality ammo, but that it is unsafe and dangerous to shoot. I have no qualms with shooting steel-cased, military surplus ammo through any of my guns…but I absolutely forbid American Ammo. No exceptions.
Consider yourself warned.

Stay classy, Brady Campaign

The Brady Campaign wants to dance in the blood of slain students one year after the shooting at Virginia Tech by staging a protest and “lie-in” on-campus.
However, not everything has gone as planned for them:

To demonstrate on campus, protesters need to apply for an assembly permit. Tech doesn?t allow anyone not affiliated with the university to assemble on campus.

Brady’s reaction? Essentially, “we’ll do it anyway”.
Funny how the Brady Bunch want to require restrictions and permits for another basic right, but seem to have a problem with simply calling ahead, making a reservation, and getting permission from the university to use its property for their own purposes.
Also, I’m not really sure I follow the logic of the Brady Campaign and It seems to go like this: Guy buys guns from a dealer in a totally routine manner (background check, Form 4473, etc.), guy goes crazy and kills people, thus we must “close the gun show loophole” (which doesn’t exist) to stop such violence from occurring again! Er, what? What do private-party sales have anything to do with the shooting at VT? Heck, what do private sales have anything to do with violent crime, and how would restricting such sales have any effect whatsoever on crime?

Simple Pleasures

I’ve always thought that tumbling cases is a bit like alchemy: dirty, range-weary cases go into a machine, a few hours pass, and gleaming, golden metal emerges, still warm from friction with the crushed walnut shells.
The reloading process, including tumbling cases, is an intensely satisfying thing: I’m actually making something with my own hands – something that would not exist without my efforts.
The fact that most of the process involves handling a shiny yellow metal is not lost on that primal part of me that stirs at the sight of gold.

A Day At The Range

Yesterday, the range was without shooters, and quiet. It also happened to be a gorgeous, sunny day.
Being empty is not a naturally tenable position for a range on a day like that, so this shortcoming was corrected by myself and about 14 other people from the University of Arizona.
Quite a few of the attendees were previous shooters, but there were several people who had never fired any gun whatsoever: our Brazilian-born physics lab TA Regina, my astrophysicist friend Louis and his roommate Brody, fellow physics students Alex and Colin, and several friends of a few of the other attendees (I’m terrible with names). A photographer from the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the university newspaper (which has a greater circulation than many small-town papers), also attended.
One of the attendees, John, is a faculty member at the university and a stamp collector. That is, he possesses several NFA-regulated firearms (each of which requires a tax stamp, hence the name) including a full-auto M4, a full-auto MP5 and several other such items. I have but one stamp, and it’s for the suppressor for my Ruger 10/22.
While some pictures were taken, most of us were focused on shooting and having fun rather than taking pictures. I’ve included some of the pictures below. All the pictures from the event can be seen here.

New shooters were started out on the suppressed 10/22, which helped them get comfortable with the mechanics of shooting without having to worry about recoil or noise.

As they became more comfortable with each type of gun, they “graduated” to something new. Many enjoyed the AR (with collapsible stock M4-type rifles being very popular with people of smaller stature).
To those who question the necessity of collapsible/adjustable stocks on rifles, I urge you to look at this photograph. Doesn’t look very comfortable, does it? Regina’s not a very tall person at all (right around 5′ tall) and the fixed-stock, 20″ barrel AR is just too big for her to hold comfortably. An M4gery with a collapsible stock and a 16″ barrel fit her much more comfortably, and she enjoyed it much more.

The shotgun and the AK were also quite popular.

As was the M1 Garand. Alex is a big guy (he’s a former wrestler) and makes the M1 look small.

While many shooters enjoyed the larger-caliber pistols (in this photo, Regina shoots the XD-45), the Ruger MkIII .22 pistol was the clear winner in the popularity contest — a satisfying amount of “bang” and minimal recoil make it one of the most fun guns on the line. I had several people inquire about how they would go about purchasing such a pistol, as they had so much fun with it. I really should get it threaded for a suppressor, as I’d imagine it’d be extremely quiet indeed.

The best is saved for last — a full-auto MP5 (and later, M4) on a private “action shooting” range made for a exciting conclusion to the day. New shooters these days are lucky, getting to shoot machine guns on their first time out to the range. Maybe if more new shooters experience this, we’ll be able to get the 1986 ban repealed?
The only downside to the day was that the Daily Wildcat photographer got too close to the scope on a .308 rifle, got beaned right between the eyebrows, and needed six stitches. Even so, he says he had a great day.
In short: A beautiful day, an excellent range, and people having fun made for a most excellent outing. Top it off with two .50 cal ammo cans filled with brass (most of it .223) and an excursion to the local, non-chain pizza shop, and it ranks pretty highly on the list of “ideal days”.
Firearms Used
– Several Ruger 10/22s (.22LR)
– Ruger MkIII (.22LR)
– M1 Garand (.30-06)
– Several AR-15s (.22LR and .223)
– M4 (.223)
– HK MP5 (9mm)
– Marlin 336 (.30-30)
– Springfield XD-45 (.45 ACP)
– Several Glocks (9mm and .40 S&W)
– Several bolt-action rifles (.30-06, .308)
– Mossberg 500 (12ga)
– Taurus revolver (.38/.357)
– Jimenez J-22 (.22LR)
– AK variant (7.62x39mm)

Hitting the Ground Running

Well, I’m off to a fast start; I start a new blog, and already I have a shooting event tomorrow that I’ll have to write about. In keeping with the principles of Kim du Toit’s Nation of Riflemen, I arrange these events at various times to introduce new shooters to the shooting sports.
I organized a similar event last year — pictures are available here — and it was a resounding success. A variety of students from the University of Arizona, mostly from the Physics and Astronomy departments, attended and had a great time. Most of the attendees were new shooters, and so enjoyed their time at the range that they’ve been telling their friends at the university all about the event.
After a few informal, low-key sessions of “shooty goodness” out in the Coronado National Forest introduced a few more new shooters to the joys of recreational shooting, I figured that it was time for another event at the Tucson Rifle Club. I announced the event on Facebook last week, and invited several students (including the folks who attended the last trip), and now there’s 13 confirmed attendees.
We’ve reserved a private range at the TRC from 1pm-5pm, which should provide sufficient trigger-time for new shooters. There’ll be several .22 rifles and handguns (including my suppressed Ruger 10/22) present to instruct new shooters, as well as a variety of other firearms including an M1 Garand, an AR-15, a Marlin 336 lever gun, a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, and a full-auto MP5.
This event promises to be a fun one, and I’ll do a full After Action Review over the weekend.