My wife and I were having dinner with another couple recently, and I made a casual joke about "chocolate cake for breakfast." My wife got the reference, but the others - somewhat younger than us - just stared. "Bill Cosby?" I said; they just shook their heads.
So, for those folks in the audience who are of an age where they don't recognize the significance of chocolate cake for breakfast, I give you this video from the days when Bill Cosby was actually funny.
Now, if you’re old enough to get chocolate cake for breakfast but don’t understand the significance of “who is this - really?”, I give you one of the classic comedy routines of all time:
Soon to be seen at all the better streetcorner vendors, no doubt.
Recently a county right here in Oregon produced a quality video that aims to reduce misconceptions about officer-involved shootings. Titled “Hollywood vs. Reality”, it counters many of the common misconceptions about shootings in the line of duty. When you remember that some of those misconceptions often persist in private sector self defense, the value of a myth-busting video like this one should be clear. Definitely worth watching!
WARNING: if you are humor impaired, or can't stand the Ugly, Ugly Truth (UUT), stop reading now! You won’t be happy, which means I won’t be happy. Well, that’s not exactly true, but one of us will not be happy. And it probably won’t be me. Which kinda narrows it down. And now, today’s blog:
The year 2011 was a pretty good one for me. I built some wonderful guns, met a lot of interesting people, got a clean bill of health, and saw my first book get published. All in all (and except for the political situation) I didn't find all that much to complain about.
Except for one thing.
This one thing makes me deliriously happy that 2011 is gone, because it made the year nearly unbearable at times. There was something I prevented myself from doing that often drove me mad with temptation.
You probably didn't notice, but I made a vow last New Year's to not mention the 1911, or its designer, in this blog for all of 2011. I knew that everyone would be making a Big Freaking Deal (BFD) about the centennial of The Thing, and that there would be special editions and articles and books and videos and special editions and more articles and more special editions and videos and still more special editions and plenty of 1911-only shooting classes for people who didn’t take Inspector Girard’s advice to lose their nickel-plated sissy pistols.
I didn't want to show up in any Google searches for '1911', lest it seem that I actually approved of (let alone participated in) such nonsense.
I thus endured an entire year of people expounding on the virtues of the inefficient and unreliable design, while I forced myself (sometimes with pliers and a staple gun) to keep my tongue still. It was actually painful at times (besides the pliers and staple gun, I mean.) The True Browning Believers (TBB) uttered nonsensical hyperbole and illogical statements all through the year, which actually led me to enlightenment as I began to understand Lloyd Bridges' character from "Airplane!":
Thus, on this first working day of glorious 2012, I finally do something I've waited to do for an entire year: talk about the 1911 pistol in the way that only I can. (Well, maybe me and one or two others. OK, basically everyone with a computer and time between commercials.)
Where to start? How about with one of my favorite inanities, one which surfaced time and again during the last year: "it must be the best pistol ever because so many companies make them." Good thing I never heard that in person, as I'd be forced to say "Hah! I spit in your mag pouch, you forty-five-caliber loon! Now go away, or I shall taunt you even more!"
You know why so many people have jumped into the 1911 building frenzy, Skippy? Because the engineering was long ago paid for by the American taxpayer, and is available FOR FREE from our government! That's right - the reason so many people make them is because it's the cheapest pistol they could possibly produce! The 1911 has a lower barrier to entry than a freakin' Hi-Point!
Don't believe me? If you want to build a gun that's never been made before, regardless of the quality (or lack thereof), you need an engineer to design the thing. You want to make a 1911? All you need is a microfiche reader and someone with his name embroidered on his shirt who knows how to push the power switch on an Okuma machining center. Reality bites, huh?
The makers of the Hi-Point did their work from scratch, which means they actually spent more money on designing their piece of dung than your favorite 1911 assembler ever will. Imagine that!
Reliable? It's rare to see Browning's baby make it through a two-day shooting course without failing. "It's never done this before!", the hapless owner inevitably exclaims to anyone within earshot. "It must be the ammunition..." Yes, because 230 grain round nosed ball ammunition is ever so difficult to feed from a magazine. Sure it is. Keep telling yourself that.
I suppose one could say that the malfunctions are due to over zealous accurizing, and that an unmolested example works best. The original design (did I mention you can get it FOR FREE?), they say, is the most reliable gun ever made. Not according to my Father, who was issued one as a B-29 crew member during WWII: he always told me that it "couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from inside", but that it really didn't matter since it "jammed so often we went looking for Smith & Wessons to carry with us while we looked for Jerry. Or a pub."
When my wife proudly showed him her new fully customized Government Model, he sniffed and allowed that it was very pretty, but that she shouldn't count on it to save her life or find a pub. That's experience for you!
I'm sure to get nasty emails ("Dear Mouth-Breathing Troglodyte:") from people telling me how reliable their little pride and joy is, and how I'm a Bitter Old Man (BOM) who just hates John Moses Browning. That may be true, but I notice these guys are never around when it's betting time because they know in their hearts that The West Wasn’t Won With A Jammed Up Gun (TWWWWAJUG).
Speaking of Browning, what about him? As I've said before: it's pretty hard to get excited about a guy who wasn't talented enough to build a revolver! He's lucky that Colt (and Winchester and FN and Ithaca and everyone else who got suckered into buying his latest back-of-the-napkin doodle) had real engineers to clean up his designs and actually make them work. Unfortunately, like poor Dieudonné Joseph Saive (Browning wasn't the only gun guy with a biblical middle name, which makes me wonder if there's a union somewhere who insists on it in their contract), they never got the credit they deserved for making the hack look good in public.
I could go on, but I'm tired and the lady in the white coat says it’s time for my lithium pill. I will say, however, that it's good to be back in the saddle! Thank you, Father Time, for ending the 1911 Centennial and giving us this year, which I doubt anyone will celebrate until the elections are over. Or they find a pub.
Which they can't do with a 1911.
-=[ Grant ]=-
(Flame away, but do so with good taste and a dash of humor. This is what's called "a hint".)
I had several things about which I wanted to write, but frankly I just can't muster the enthusiasm today. Some of them involve idiots outside our ranks who want to restrict our freedoms, while a couple more involve idiots inside our ranks who want to argue because they want to argue.
Instead I've decided to look at the lighter side of shooting. Presenting, for your edification and amusement, a couple of satiric YouTube videos which are so close to reality that some are apparently finding it difficult to discern the difference. First is the "Most Tactical AR-15 EVER!:
But wait, there's more! He's also done the "Most Tactical Loadout EVER!”, where he captures on video -- for the first time -- the super-sekrit Gecko45 reload using crossed, duct-taped magazines.
A personal item: I hate this whole getting older thing. This last week I stacked our winter's firewood supply in the woodshed - all five cords - and managed to do some soft tissue damage to my right elbow. The last time I remember doing this was about five years ago, when I was doing a lot of hammering during a kitchen remodel. My wife, however, tells me I did the same thing last year when I stacked wood for the winter. That's another part of getting older I can't stand: the memory lapses!
Anyhow, my elbow is quite painful and I'm none too happy about it.
Last month a Colt Paterson revolver sold at auction, setting a new record for the price of a single American firearm: $977,500. Yes, you read that right - within spitting distance of a cool million. Somehow the S&W I'm carrying at the moment seems tawdry in comparison.
For those who have asked, the Kindle version of my book is available NOW!
Just as I was going to press with today's blog post, The Firearm Blog put up news of a new rifle: Advanced Armament Corporation's "Honey Badger", a subsonic .30 caliber rifle built on the AR platform. Tacticool rifles are getting common enough to bore me to tears, but I'm glad they named it what they did because it gives me the opportunity to link to one of my favorite YouTube vids: the (famous) "Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger"!
My wife and I trekked up to Firearms Academy of Seattle yesterday to spend a little time talking about revolvers, books, and assorted nonsense. Massad Ayoob and Gail Pepin were there, along with Marty and Gila Hayes, Jennie Van Tuyl, and several dogs. We recorded a rather raucous round-table edition of the ProArms Podcast (wherein I actually say some nice things about Taurus, and try to say some nice things about the Chiappa Rhino but fail miserably.)
Marty gave us a status report on the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network as well as a sneak peek of what's to come. As I pointed out last week, the ACLDN is unique in the field; it's the only place where the armed citizen can get high-level education and legal assistance in the event he or she is involved in a self defense incident. Glad to hear that they're growing and expanding their programs.
Jennie Van Tuyl and her husband Bill own Rivendell Sales, a rather unique gun store. Among other things they specialize in customizing the Remington 20 gauge autoloading shotgun for defensive use, an activity which I wholeheartedly applaud.
I'm a huge fan of the 20 gauge as a defensive tool. No matter how well you shoot a 12 gauge, you'll shoot a 20 gauge better simply because of the huge reduction in felt recoil. The only difference between them is the payload; they both throw their pellets at the same velocity, it's just that the 12 throws a few more. As Mas Ayoob is fond of saying, if you shoot a bad guy the only person who'll be able to tell whether it was a 12 or a 20 is the coroner, and only then by counting the white specks on the x-ray.
(One point I think is often overlooked: many 12 gauge owners use the lower-velocity "tactical" buckshot loads to help tame the recoil of their gun. It's my firm belief that those loads have less effectiveness than a full-power 20 gauge with the same recoil. Any way you slice it, the 20 gauge is the best balance of lethality and shootability that exists in the shotgun world.)
The Remington autoloaders are slim, trim, light shotguns that are a joy to heft after lugging around one of the same guns in 12 gauge. Many years ago my wife and I standardized on the 20 gauge and picked up a Remington 1100 LT-20 Youth Synthetic model. The youth guns had a shorter stock than the regular line, a feature which both of us appreciate. Since there was no one who really worked on the 20 gauges back then, I installed a 20" smoothbore barrel with rifle sights, reamed the forcing cone, and generally spruced it up as a home defense gun. Today the Van Tuyls can handle all that and more, giving you a superb handling, easy shooting shotgun without having to become your own gunsmith.
Check out their site. (I’m jealous of the wood in their stocks.)
I think, however, that both Tam and pdb wasted a lot of effort actually analyzing the video. They could have simply used my theorem: quality of instruction in a video is inversely proportional to the sound pressure level of the cheesy heavy metal music used on the soundtrack.
I haven't done a Wednesday Wanderings post for a while, but since I took the holiday off what would have been posted Monday got shuffled to today.
So, what's going on in the world? Well, Tam continues her slide to a greener lifestyle. She's almost to the point where she could move to Portland and lobby for more bike paths to further clog traffic. (I'll bet she's developed a taste for tofu, too.)
The Firearm Blog recently posted a great old television commercial for the Mattel "Tommy Burst" gun. Someone I knew as a kid had one of these, though for the life of me I can't remember who it was nor do I remember the commercial. I do, however, remember the sound the bolt made as it was pulled back. Fun toy that would cause apoplexy of sold today. (Readers of a certain vintage will recognize the voice of the narrator and the face of the bad guy as both belonging to Hal Smith, the great character actor and voice artist.)
Gabe Suarez recently posted an interesting article of the value of simplicity in training. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but his point about not having unlimited time to train is spot-on. That point alone deserves an entire article.
As if the Judge phenomenon couldn't get any sillier, I give you the Tactical Judge. Make of it what you will.
Rob Pincus recently returned from a teaching stint in South Africa, where he made this video of a Glock suppressor that he (and I) didn't even know existed. Square (of course), made of plastic (what else?), and disposable (!!), it fits on a special barrel that Glock also sells.
Cool stuff, but why in 'repressed' South Africa are these things freely available, but here in the 'free' United States are they demonized and heavily regulated?
A LITTLE RECOGNITION - Many people have asked about the site's redesign. The site is built in RapidWeaver; the theme is from Nick Cates Design. Last week I received an email from Nick, who said he was impressed how I'd used his template. He asked if he could feature grantcunningham.com in his Showcase, and of course I said yes! You can see it here.
HOUSEKEEPING - You may notice that the tag cloud has changed a bit. I wasn't happy with how I'd handled the tags, so I erased them and started over. Hopefully what you see now is an improvement in usability.
Uncle has resurrected, for the umpteenth time, the "Gospel of John Browning." Like a certain cult popular in Hollywood, fans of the bottom feeder keep trying to convince others to join their weird little group. Luckily, there is a Holy Book which you can use to defend yourself against their evil blandishments.
Many years ago I came across an obscure part of Scripture that deals with this subject. I was able to get it translated from the ancient Hebrew in which it was written, and here are some of the more relevant portions:
"In the beginning, the universe was without form; the Lord made the earth in the shape of the sphere, that is to be round, for the Lord looks upon roundness with great favor."
"The Lord said to Adam and Eve, lo I give you the cycle of seasons, so that you mayest understand that one thing must follow another, in their natural order. Do not doest in the Spring that which is meant for the Autumn, for nature which I hath given to you shall always complete a circle. The earth doth not shuttle back and forth, nor the moon travel to-and-fro, for reciprocation is an abomination before the Lord."
We learn of the birth of His Ballistic Holiness:
"...and she named her son Shmuel, that is Samuel, which means 'he would be destined a prophet'. And the Lord would listen to Samuel, and shower him with great favor. As the boy did grow he became known as Samuel the Colt, for he was exceedingly fast and lithe, with graceful manner and of great wisdom."
The people were in need of deliverance from the evil around them, and from that need sprang The Gift:
..."and the people, needing protection from their pursuers, looked to the Lord. The Lord said, I will give Shmuel, who you call Sam, the gift of invention and artistry. From him will come the means of your rescue, which you should never forget nor abandon; for the Lord wishes you to have only the best."
Of course, people never recognize a good thing even when it stares them in the face. From that flows what has become known as the Browning Apostasy, and the punishment which results:
"And Shmuel asked Yonaton, that is the same as John, how the detestable thing came to be, and Yonaton answered 'I threw these parts into the fire, and it sprang whole from the flames as you see it here, save for the grip safety which was added by the mob.' And the Lord knew that Yonaton was lying, and vowed to punish him."
"The Lord said to Yonaton, 'you hath committed an abomination unto the Lord, and from now on you will be cursed. Your followers, though they be many, will fight amongst themselves in vain; they will revile each other, none of them seeing the truth, for their eyes will be blinded by their lust for their own kind. Your devices will be functional but not accurate, or accurate but not functional, but never both at the same time, thus always serving to you and your followers as a sign of your transgression. Some will try to bring peace to your camps, that is to marry function and accuracy, but their attempts will be thwarted by my wrath, which will become known in latter days as 'KahBoom'."
"And the Lord said to Shmuel, yours too will be many, and they will be entrusted with serving as a light unto the world. They will be mocked and ridiculed by those whose devices are either functional or accurate, but never both at the same time, whilst yours will continue to be functional and accurate, each at the same time, and fairer to look upon as well. Whilst I made man and woman, you will make them equal; for the world is not flat, neither should your gun be."
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
Last weekend I was assisting at a Defensive Shotgun course taught by Georges Rahbani ("The Best Rifle Instructor You've Never Heard Of"). A couple of the participants were discussing a problem with a ParaOrdnance pistol when I walked up. "Well, it's not like you should be surprised", I said, "when the brand's name tells you everything you need to know."
They stared at me blankly.
"Para- is a prefix meaning 'similar to' or 'resembling' ", I continued. "So, Para-Ordnance means that it's only 'sort of a gun' ."
I'm here to tell you that some people are seriously humor impaired.
A number of years back my wife and I served as coordinators for the defensive pistol matches at our gun club. Our matches were somewhat similar to IDPA, but without the endless rules to make everything "fair." We enjoyed a cadre of participants that were very involved, and loved to build sets for stages.
(Some of them got a little carried away; one particular gentleman once designed a stage that featured cardboard cows. Yes, cows, complete with udders. He's a very creative sort.)
We held our matches on our club's metallic silhouette range, so we had only a large open field in which to set up stages. We'd usually set up four "open" stages (you could see the entire thing), but also liked to set up one secret stage - the participants couldn't see anything until they were actually in it. The way we usually accomplished this was to hang large tarps on portable stakes to block the view, but there were other approaches.
One particular match several guys got together and constructed a dark tunnel. The premise was that you were walking down an alley at night, and targets would swing out or come charging toward you. It was a technical marvel, and all contained in a narrow structure made of wood and black plastic ("visqueen.") As I recall, it was about 8 feet wide, 8 feet tall, and perhaps 30 feet long.
Since the premise was darkness, the entire thing was sheathed in that black plastic - including the roof. It took quite some time to build, so the guys had been on the range the day before to do the construction. When we arrived the next morning to start the match, we found that it had rained overnight. That wasn't a problem, because the black plastic roof had kept everything dry. What we didn't think about were the large puddles of water on that plastic.
Since I was the match director, I got to shoot first. I was using a Ruger SP101 with the 2-1/8" barrel and fire-breathing 125grain JHP magnums. The range officer and I entered the structure, closed the door, and the buzzer went off.
I saw the first target and put two rounds into it, and immediately heard peals of laughter behind me. Outside of the enclosure, the other shooters were becoming hysterical.
I finished the stage (as I recall, there were three more targets) and exited the enclosure to find the laughter had diminished only slightly. People in the crowd told me that my first shot had created such a large amount of pressure in the enclosure that the sides were pushed out and the pooled water on the roof had been thrown twenty feet into the air. The effect, they said, looked like a Looney Toons cartoon of a stick of dynamite exploding in a barrel.
In the heat of the moment I didn't really notice the concussion, but the range officer mentioned that he didn't want to follow me so closely any more!
I know you've always wondered: how does a jet-setting gunsmith work with all of those adoring fans hanging around? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but unless you count an overindulged rabbit, no one is hanging around waiting for me to pay them any attention!
Tyler, the spoiled rabbit
Since my shop isn't open to the public, I get to dress and arrange my environment as suits me. I usually work in sweatpants and a sweatshirt (rarely matching), over which goes my little green grocer's apron.
(You read that correctly; I have two old-fasioned green cotton grocer's aprons, which I acquired when I worked in a grocery store during high school. How long ago was that? Well, let's just say the White House refrigerators were stocked with Billy Beer!)
My shop has no windows, so I'm forced to entertain myself as best I can. I usually do so by playing music at somewhat louder-than-normal volume. One might think this would be a rock-n-roll custom, but not usually - I've been known to play Scottish dance reels, Aaron Copland, Baroque trumpet concertos, and Red Rodney at the same transducer-destroying level. (Eclectic? Hey, I was a music performance minor in college - I'm allowed!)
So if you call and I don't answer the phone, it's because I can't hear it over the noise of the shop equipment. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! -=[ Grant ]=-