Friday, December 31, 2021

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Modern Scout Rifle: Lower Completed


I mentioned that I had picked up an AR-10 Armaspec lower parts kit with an FDE selector lever and magazine release button. I've now installed that in the lower receiver. I have to say that I really like the shorter throw--I think it is a 45 degree--on the safety selector lever.

    The trigger is a BCM PNT Trigger Assembly. I wanted a trigger that used mil-spec type parts for ease of locating parts or repair should something go wrong. Bravo Company has polished the trigger, applied a nickel plating and Teflon coating which makes the trigger very smooth.

    The backplate, castle nut and buffer tube are standard AR parts--I used the Aero Precision brands, but there is nothing special about them.

    I can't find the packaging, but the buffer is a shorter AR-10 buffer (you can't use an AR-15 buffer because they are too long) and a flat coil spring intended for the AR-10/AR 308 rifles.

    The stock is a Mission First Tactical Battlelink Minimalist Milspec Stock in their scorched FDE (which matches the Magpul FDE).

    Finally, the pistol grip is a basic Magpul MOE-K grip in FDE.

    Total weight of everything you see in the photograph, including the stripped upper, is 2 lbs 6.6 ounces according to my scale.

    I still have some parts to collect for the upper.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Fox News: "Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader, dead at 82"

 Article here. Even though he was ostensibly a co-religionist of mine, all I can think is "good riddance."

The Docent's Memo (Dec. 29, 2021)

VIDEO: "Setting up your plate carrier for real combat: Afghan Deployment"--Modern Tactical Shooting (25 min.)


  • "Should You Shoot? Self-Defense Tips You Don't Know" by Mike Boyle, The Armory Life. This is another article on the common law elements of self-defense. I know that this can seem to be repetitive, but these are things you need to re-read and revisit to make sure that it has sunk into your brain so you know what to do under stress. While we are (or should be) familiar with the basic elements of self-defense: ability, opportunity, and jeopardy (or some varient of these three), the author adds a fourth factor:
In my discussions on deadly force, I like to factor in a fourth element. Preclusion. This might be defined as the act of preventing something from happening. Before resorting to deadly force, consider other options you can take which may include fleeing the scene or using another, lower-force option (providing it would lead to safe control). I recognize that your back may be up against the proverbial wall and the only way out is to utilize deadly force, but if those other options are viable, they should be taken. For the responsible citizen, avoidance of conflict should be the guiding concept.
  • "5-Shot-Group Shapes: Here's What They're Telling You"--Rifleshooter Magazine. The author explains that your group may be telling you to bump up (or reduce) your powder load, and a lot more.
  • "The AR-10 and Big Game Cartridges" by Bryce M. Towsley, Range 365. The author briefly discusses several hunting cartridges for the AR-10 platform besides the ubiquitous .308 Winchester: the .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, .338 Federal, .358 Winchester, and .500 Auto Max for those of you interested in a dangerous game rifle.
  • "Running Spares- Keeping Your Weapon Going" by NC Scout, Brushbeater. A look at spare parts you want on hand for your combat or prepper rifle. The author notes that the part he has seen fail most often in an AR style rifle is the bolt; he recommends keeping one or two spares together with a go/no-go set of gauges. He also recommends using standard parts as much as possible to make it easier to find spares, and to keep extra trigger packs around. I would recommend making sure that you have extra springs, a spare firing pin, and extra gas and o-rings for the bolt. I keep an "oops" kit and a bolt rebuild kit on hand and probably will add an extra bolt or two. 
  • "Long Barrel, or Short? The Effectiveness Trade-Off Between 14.5″ and 20″ Barrels" by Nathanial Finch, The Firearm Blog. Comparing the effectiveness of M855 from 14.5″ and 20″ barrels, assuming a fragmentation threshold of 2500 ft/s, "the M4 Carbine with its 14.5″ barrel and 2,920 ft/s muzzle velocity meets our velocity threshold at 125 meters, while the M16A2 with its 20″ barrel and 3,150 ft/s muzzle velocity meets the threshold at 190 meters." 
In other words, the difference in velocity between the two rifles is enough to create a “gap” in performance of 65 meters, or put differently, the M16A2 has by this model a 52% fragmentation range advantage versus the M4.

Nathaniel points out that this is using idealized muzzle velocity. If the barrel is worn out or the ammunition is cold, it could result in lower muzzle velocities and decreased performance. Assuming a 200 f/s less muzzle velocity (which is realistic for cold conditions):

The M16A2 with a compromised muzzle velocity gives us just a shade more fragmentation range than the fresh M4 under ideal conditions – 133 meters – while the M4 with a compromised muzzle velocity gives a very disappointing fragmentation threshold of 66 meters. This means that in these less than ideal conditions, the M16A2 has a 67 meter – or 101% – advantage versus the M4. 

However, the lesson that Nathaniel takes from all this is not that it is necessarily better to have a longer barrel (and higher muzzle velocity) but to have a bullet with a lower fragmentation velocity, which is what the M855A1 is supposed to provide. 

  • "Shooting Lightweight Rifles: Tips & Techniques"--American Rifleman. Most of the article is about tips for accurately shooting a lightweight, slender barrel rifle. But the author also discusses why he prefers lightweight rifles for hunting:
Having hunted extensively with light rifles, I now prefer them in every case where the available caliber is appropriate. With a bit of practice, they’re staggeringly accurate and blessedly easier to carry afield. While it’s difficult to imagine, a couple of pounds at the gun counter can become the weight of the world by the time you climb to the top of a mountain. Carrying a light rifle will make just about any hunt even more enjoyable.

    The rifle comes with a HiViz optics rail for scope mounting that features a fully adjustable rear sight. Hunters who prefer iron sights will really appreciate the front sight, which is also from HiViz. It incorporates a green fiber-optic rod and a tritium ring, so it’s easy to pick up in any lighting condition and is particularly handy early and late in the day.

    The gray/black laminated stock has come in for attention as well. The fore-end is noticeably slimmer than older Marlins and feels better in the hands, and the checkering is sharper—without being too sharp—for a non-slip grip. The buttstock doesn’t have the black pistol grip cap found on older Marlins but rather a laser-engraved horse-and-rider logo. The famous Marlin “bullseye” on the bottom of the stock is rendered in red and white instead of black and white. A beefy black recoil pad soaks up kick.

The article reports other mechanical and finish changes that have improved the rifle and made it more accurate. And, of course, like other Ruger products, the rifle features a hammer forged barrel.

VIDEO: "THE Earth Disaster Documentary"--Suspicious Observers (1 hr 33 min).
This is a compilation of highlights from prior videos as well as some updated information on the coming magnetic excursion and super-flare event.


    If you want to be dazzled by a spectacular northern lights display, your best bet is to skywatch near the North Pole. But that wasn't the case 41,000 years ago, when a disruption of Earth's magnetic field sent auroras wandering toward the equator.

    During this geomagnetic disturbance, known as the Laschamp event or the Laschamp excursion, the planet's magnetic north and south weakened, and the magnetic field tilted on its axis and diminished to a fraction of its former strength.

    This lessened the magnetic pull that normally directs the flow of high-energy solar particles toward the north and south poles, where they interact with atmospheric gases to illuminate night skies as the northern and southern lights.

    It took about 1,300 years for the magnetic field to return to its original strength and tilt, and during that time the auroras strayed to near-equatorial latitudes where they are typically never seen, scientists reported on Thursday (Dec. 16) at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), held in New Orleans and online.

    This period of intense geomagnetic change may also have shaped changes in Earth's atmosphere that affected living conditions on parts of the planet, presenter Agnit Mukhopadhyay, a doctoral candidate in the Climate and Space Sciences Department at the University of Michigan, said at the AGU conference.

    From what I’ve seen, if you’re looking for the sharpest possible edge, pick a humble, low-tech steel that’s been around forever called 1095. It sharpens easily and rusts if a cloud passes over the sun. Everything in steel is a tradeoff. All of my knives are made of 1095, or W-2, or D-2, or 0-1, or 5016. They all rust if you don’t take care of them, but they all sharpen easily and take a terrific edge and acquire a nice blue color as they are exposed to blood, onions, or anything corrosive.

    Or you can choose it by make. I don’t know of a custom smith who will sell you a knife with a poor edge. Some manufacturers do especially well. Swedish Moras, Norwegian Helles, American DiamondBlades, and any Japanese knife all come very, very sharp, and are easy to maintain that way.

  • "Food Acquisition Methods That Just Don’t Work"--Organic Prepper. I think that anyone that believes that they are going to get most of their calories post-SHTF from hunting are in for a rude surprise. But those that rely on primitive hunting techniques will be in for an even ruder surprise according to this article. It specifically picks on those thinking of using throwing sticks (e.g., boomerangs), slings, and atlatls (spear throwers). The author instead suggests learning to use a bow, learn trapping, or use firearms for hunting.

VIDEO: "DECLINE & The Inevitable FATE of EMPIRE"--Felix Rex (15 min.)

News & Current Events:

"We believe racial justice is an urgent issue close to the heart of God," the event description states, "and therefore are eager to create opportunities to disciple our soldiers and stakeholders in ways that will encourage deeper holiness and to provide those in our ranks with the resources to help alleviate the pain of suffering humanity within our communities and institutions."

I'm willing to bet that God, being concerned with bringing people to salvation and thinking in terms of time scales of millions and billions of years, probably doesn't give a rat's fart about the social justice movement. The belief He would be concerned with social justice is much the same as the myopia that infected the Jews during Christ's ministry. Jesus was here to free them from spiritual death and slavery, but they were more concerned about whether He would free them from Roman rule. 

    Scanlon was approached by two black men who demanded the keys to her vehicle as she walked toward her parked vehicle after taking a tour of the park around 2:45 p.m., according to police and the congresswoman’s office.

    One suspect drove off in Scanlon’s vehicle while the other fled the scene in a dark-colored SUV, police said. The congresswoman, whose district covers parts of Philadelphia and its western suburbs, was unharmed, though she also lost multiple cell phones to the carjackers.

Bernstein observes that Scanlon "was one of 125 Democratic sponsors of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aimed to make it easier for states and localities to replace police officers with social workers and other first responders." 

Lovell as you likely know runs the Warrior Poet Society. In this video he explains how wokism and the hatred it teaches of the United States will undermine the morale of our troops.

Opinion & Analysis:

    Mike "Wompus" Nieznany is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane from the combat wounds he received during his service. That disability doesn't keep Nieznany from making a living selling custom motorcycle luggage racks from his home in Gainesville, Georgia. Neither will it slow him down when it's time to visit Washington, D.C.—heavily armed and ready to do his part in overthrowing the U.S. government.

    Millions of fellow would-be insurrectionists will be there, too, Nieznany says, "a ticking time-bomb" targeting the Capitol. "There are lots of fully armed people wondering what's happening to this country," he says. "Are we going to let Biden keep destroying it? Or do we need to get rid of him? We're only going to take so much before we fight back." The 2024 election, he adds, may well be the trigger.

    Nieznany is no loner. His political comments on the social-media site Quora received 44,000 views in the first two weeks of November and more than 4 million overall. He is one of many rank-and-file Republicans who own guns and in recent months have talked openly of the need to take down—by force if necessary—a federal government they see as illegitimate, overreaching and corrosive to American freedom.

    The phenomenon goes well beyond the growth of militias, which have been a feature of American life at least since the Ku Klux Klan rose to power after the Civil War. Groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, which took part in the January 6th riot at the Capitol and may have played organizational roles, have grown in membership. Law enforcement has long tracked and often infiltrated these groups. What Nieznany represents is something else entirely: a much larger and more diffuse movement of more-or-less ordinary people, stoked by misinformation, knitted together by social media and well-armed. In 2020, 17 million Americans bought 40 million guns and in 2021 were on track to add another 20 million. If historical trends hold, the buyers will be overwhelmingly white, Republican and southern or rural.

    America's massive and mostly Republican gun-rights movement dovetails with a growing belief among many Republicans that the federal government is an illegitimate tyranny that must be overthrown by any means necessary. That combustible formula raises the threat of armed, large-scale attacks around the 2024 presidential election—attacks that could make the January 6 insurrection look like a toothless stunt by comparison. "The idea that people would take up arms against an American election has gone from completely farfetched to something we have to start planning for and preparing for," says University of California, Los Angeles law professor Adam Winkler, an expert on gun policy and constitutional law.

Another example of projection on the Left. If they had sufficient arms they would try to overthrow a populist president, so of course, they think, conservatives would do the same when faced with a Leftist president. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't" is probably the primary reason that I don't expect conservatives to try and overthrow the government. And, notwithstanding the Left's fevered dreams, January 6 was not an insurrection. It was a protest by a bunch of people saying "listen to us!" (Of course, when the Left has orchestrated protests inside the Capitol Building--or organized terrorist attacks using guns, or set off bombsand more bombs--it is something to be admired and praised).

    The American right must acknowledge the association of guns with violence, while rejecting the fallacy that all violence is evil. Like the hoplite with his shield and spear, gun owners who take their duty seriously become bulwarks against both tyranny and anarchy. Instead of pretending our guns are only for outdoor sportsmanship, a luxury graciously allowed us by a piece of paper in the National Archives, we should acknowledge what they represent and accept the violent responsibility they entail.

    Heavily armed men are a necessary but insufficient condition for the rule of law. The U.S. Constitution—a mere document subject to revision and manipulation—cannot alone protect the right to keep and bear arms. Rather, the inverse is true: keeping and bearing arms, as an act of political violence, is all that protects the Constitution.
    Before the closures, my district was already struggling with special education teacher vacancies, especially in schools serving high-poverty neighborhoods. Staffing shortages and the lack of experienced teachers had clear effects. It was common for me to get students in sixth grade who had only mild or moderate disabilities but who could not read at all. After a few months it would become obvious that these students were more than capable of educational growth but simply hadn’t received adequate instruction.

    Learning to read can change the trajectory of a child’s life, but the older children get, the more difficult it becomes for them to learn basic literacy skills. Having seen it first hand, I knew that the learning loss caused by school closures would be devastating. Even kids in general education who fall behind are rarely able to catch up. By the time students reach sixth grade, children in the poorest school districts are already four grade levels below children in the richest districts. Third grade students who are not proficient in reading are four times less likely to graduate from high school, and according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, as many as 21% of U.S. adults are illiterate or functionally illiterate.

    Because the academic and social progress of my students was at stake, I followed the COVID-19 data closely from the beginning. And I found that school closures were irrational and counterproductive. According to the most comprehensive studies to date, COVID’s survival rate among children and adolescents appears to be around 99.995%. The child mortality figures for COVID are similar to the respiratory syncytial virus (about 500 annual pediatric deaths), for which schools have never been closed. One Swedish analysis looked at COVID data from March to June 2020 when Swedish schools were open without masking. The analysis found that not a single child died with COVID during that time period. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that in California hospitals, COVID cases for children between May 2020 and February 2021 had been overcounted by 45%. Several other studies found that children were far less likely than adults to spread the virus, that the effectiveness of closures for containing spread was, at best, highly unclear, and that closing schools had no effect on community transmission. Nor were closed schools linked to lower COVID mortality.

    When it became clear that California public schools would stay closed despite the paucity of evidence that closures were effective, and the far greater amount of evidence that schools could safely reopen, I tried to volunteer to teach kids with severe disabilities in person. But my district and union would not allow it. I emailed other teachers I knew from my union and cited statements from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics that were urging schools to reopen. State and local leaders kept referring to rising cases and deaths to justify closures, but later our county would reveal that it had actually overcounted total COVID deaths by 25%. The county dropped hundreds of “incidental” COVID deaths (in the case of car accidents, for example) from its register, meaning the figures that had been used to rationalize school closures in my district were not even accurate.

    But I struggled to find other teachers who agreed with me. When I mentioned to colleagues that schools were open in Europe or Florida, they looked at me as though I was somehow a threat. Before school closures, I had nothing but respect for other teachers and for the leadership of the teachers union. But in my view the treatment of children during the COVID era has been a moral stain on the profession. During over a year of online learning, an unforgivable crime was committed against public school children and families. And as it unfolded, everyone around me said it was acceptable, necessary, and even good.

    If one takes the ideologues who rule over America at their word, then the governing principles of this country’s reigning regime are things like fairness, equality, diversity, or “anti-racism.”

    But of course, anybody with a brain today isn’t taking America’s rulers at their word. It is obvious, and has been for many years now, that there is no spirit of “fairness” or “anti-racism” in the heart of their ideology. Instead, the spirit at the heart of America’s leadership is bitter, envious, resentful, hateful.

    Who is it hateful toward? You know who. The modern American regime is built on explicit, institutionalized hostility to the people who most resemble the great Americans of the past. It is anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian, anti-rural, and anti-middle class. The more of these traits a person has, the more worthy of hate they become. The more the Globalist American Empire decays and squanders the inheritance it was given, the more bile and hatred it directs against those who symbolize what came before.

    But those on the receiving end of this new discriminatory regime may not appreciate its full scope or the ultimate fate that the Globalist American Empire has planned for them. They may see recent anti-white animus as a temporary spell, or a limited affair that can be waited out.

    They are wrong. America’s shrinking white middle class are the target of an ever-intensifying cycle, whose mechanics are ripped straight from another oppressive regime, the Soviet Union of the 1920s and 30s.

    The white American middle class have become America’s kulaks — Blamed for every problem, vilified for every success, and deserving of every punishment. Their destruction has become a fundamental goal of American political life. 

    In previous posts we have talked about how an unelected cabal of bankers, technocrats, bureaucrats and their pet politicians are trying to seize control of our nation and subvert the principles on which it was founded. Michael Yon has termed them collectively as The Beast. They are ignoring the legal constraints placed on them by the US Constitution and the body of law that this nation is founded on. Some, including myself, believe that they have already succeeded in gaining control of the levers of government. We have also discussed how it is time to stand up and resist those tyrants.

    If we are to resist we need to prepare for what is ahead. We need to toughen up, be smarter and be more resilient. Because no matter whether we resist or not this nation is in for some tough times.

When Bishop Desmond Tutu passed away on Sunday, he was celebrated across the world as a man who led non-violent opposition to South Africa’s white minority rule called apartheid.  And he should be honored for that achievement.  But the media’s glowing praise of the Bishop left out something important, the hatred he displayed for the Jewish people.

Then, quoting Alan Dershowitz's comments that Tutu:

 “is no mere anti-Zionist …. He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the ‘Jewish’— not Israeli — lobby as too ‘powerful’ …. He has invoked classic antisemitic stereotypes … about Jewish ‘arrogance,’ ‘power’ and money …. [A]nd has accused ‘the Jews’ of causing many of the world’s problems” (“Bishop Tutu Is No Saint When it Comes to Jews,” Dec. 20, 2010, The Gatestone Institute). Tutu, impervious to facts, also has denied that Israel is a civilized democracy and unsuccessfully urged the Capetown Opera not to perform there.

But apparently the most grievous affront was that Tutu downplayed the Holocaust by telling Israeli Jews that they should forgive Nazi's for the Holocaust (Dunetz says that "Anyone who has ever gone through Yad Vashem and can make a call for forgiveness has no heart.") and by suggesting that black South Africans suffered as much or more under Apartheid. Dunetz explains:

Tutu has made some alarming statements about the Holocaust.  He has publicly complained about what he calls “the Jewish monopoly of the Holocaust.” (Jerusalem Post, July 26, 1985) Sorry Bishop, but Jews do own the copyright.  We paid for it with more than Six Million lives, one and a half million of those were little children.

Dunetz adds that Tutu "compared Judaism to Hitler, Stalin, and tyrants, along with bloviating the stereotype that the powerful Jewish lobby runs the U.S."

    The Jews are not the only ones that suffered under the Nazis. Although it is claimed that 6 million Jews died, even the Holocaust Museum concedes that it is merely an estimate and it is impossible to know how many Jews were killed, and there are other estimates that put the number at 5 to 5.5 million. Moreover, the Holocaust Museum acknowledges that many other groups also died in Nazi camps including Gypsies, the disabled, Poles, Soviet citizens and prisoners of war, and religious groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses. In fact, it generally acknowledged that at least 5 million non-Jews were murdered by the Nazis. So it is possible that the number of "others" equaled or exceeded the number of Jews murdered by Nazis. It is sick that Jews (speaking about them as a group and not individually) are so obsessed with victimhood that they don't even want to share the "spotlight" of being Holocaust victims.

I don't know Tutu's motivation for telling Israeli Jews to forgive the Nazis. Perhaps it was as simple as the New Testament admonition that God will choose whom He will forgive, but of us it is required to forgive all people. As I've noted before, God is a really smart guy. It is unhealthy to obsess over wrongs. I think this can apply as much to a people or nation as much as to an individual.

VIDEO: "The Mini-14 - The Royal Bermuda Regiment's Service Rifle"--The Armourer's Bench (4 min.)

And Now For Something Completely Different:

    The big reveal for year-end 2018: Citibank, the No. 1 institution on the roster, held 87.9 million New York Federal Reserve Bank shares – or 42.8 percent of the total. 

    The No. 2 holder stockholder was JPMorgan Chase Bank, with 60.6 million shares, equal to 29.5 percent of the total. In other words, the two banks together control nearly three-quarters of the regional bank’s capital shares.

    But does share ownership matter? 

    Each bank, after all, has only one vote when it comes to electing bank directors (their only shareholder responsibility) regardless of stock holdings. And New York Fed shares cannot be traded, shorted, or pledged as collateral. 

    Nobody is getting rich owning the New York Fed’s stock. The shares long paid a dividend of 6 percent. But that payout was amended in 2016; now, members with more than $10.7 billion in assets, like Citibank and JPMorgan, receive the lesser of the 6 percent dividend or the high yield of the most recent 10-year Treasury auction rate – 1.62 percent as of earlier this year.

    From Citibank and JPMorgan, there is a steep drop off in shareholdings. Bulge bracket rivals hold far fewer shares, with Morgan Stanley Bank owning 4.8 million and its affiliate Morgan Stanley Private Bank 2.8 million shares, for a combined 3.7 percent stake in the New York Fed. 

    Goldman Sachs Bank USA owned 8.3 million shares, equal to 4 percent of the total, and Bank of New York Mellon held 7.2 million shares, or 3.5 percent.

    It may surprise observers that some big holders are affiliates of foreign banks: HSBC Bank USA, part of London-based HSBC Holdings PLC, owned 12.6 million shares, or 6.1 percent, of the New York Fed’s total. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas was the owner of 1.7 million shares, and Deutsche Bank Trust Company 60,678 shares, for a combined 0.87 percent stake. 

    Mizuho Bank (USA), an affiliate of Tokyo-based Mizuho Financial Group, owned 819,344 shares. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China held 221,278 shares. 

    There are scores of smaller owners, from Bank of Cattaraugus, which held 180 shares, to Cayuga Lake National Bank, with 375. 

    Still, it serves as yet another red flag for those concerned with the power of too-big-to-fail banks that the top two banks hold nearly three-quarters of the New York Fed’s capital shares. 

    “It’s surprising to see how concentrated it is,” says Razza. That lopsided ownership hasn’t changed much since the financial crisis: In 2007 JPMorgan owned 41.7 percent of the New York Fed’s shares and Citibank 36.6 percent, a combined 78.3 percent.

    The amount of share ownership plays no explicit role in the complex electoral system that determines the make-up of the New York Fed’s board. 

    A refresher: The nine-person NYFRB board is divided into three classes of three members each. 

    Banks elect three class A directors to represent their own interests. The same banks also elect three class B directors to represent the interests of the public. The three class C directors, including the New York Fed’s chairperson and deputy chairperson, are also designated to represent the public interest and are selected by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington.

    One mystery is why the New York Fed would not freely disclose stock ownership to begin with, given that the information can be estimated with some accuracy using public data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other sources. 

    The peculiarity of these board elections may endow New York Fed stock ownership with more importance than is initially apparent, says economics professor Andrew Levin of Dartmouth College. 

    The member banks are divided into three categories – group one for banks with more than $2 billion in capital and surplus (like Citibank and Goldman Sachs Bank), group two for those with between $40 million and $2 billion (like Safra National Bank of New York and Bessemer Trust Company) and group three for banks with less than $40 million (like Tioga State Bank, and Brown Brothers Harriman National Trust). 

    Group one banks vote for one particular designated class A director as well as one class B director. The group two and group three banks similarly vote for one class A and class B director each.

    “Given that the ballot has invariably had only a single candidate for each director, there’s room for doubt about whether some big banks might be playing a key role behind the scenes in selecting those candidates,” says Levin, who has served as a special advisor to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. “There needs to be greater transparency about how that candidate is selected.” 

    Tuesday, December 28, 2021

    When Long Guns Are The Wrong Tool

     Greg Ellifritz's "Weekend Knowledge Dump" from this past Friday included an article from Reflex Handgun titled, "Long Guns: The Wrong Tool for the Job." Outside of hunting or recreation, the author noted that the use of long gun is rather limited for your typical civilian:

    What are the uses for the long gun in civilian life?  I can think of three primary ones:

        1. If barricaded in the home in the safe room during home invasion, the long gun is excellent.

        2. When the shit really hits the fan and society collapses, the rifle is your friend.

        3.  When you must protect your liberty from overreaching government (as is the entire premise of the 2nd Amendment even though many shy away from talking about that fact) the rifle is the tool.

    Outside of these uses, the long gun is limited in defensive use and the handgun is the primary. 

    I agree. Way back in 2014, I published a post with the title "The Top 5 Firearm Myths Among Preppers" in which Myth #4 was "Your Primary Weapon is Your Rifle." I wrote:

        There are a significant number of preppers that seem to believe that when whatever earth-rendering disaster, financial collapse, or alien invasion occurs, we will suddenly be launched into a full-blown, "Mad Max" situation of kill-or-be-killed. They envision picking off bandits (or U.N. Peacekeepers) at hundreds of yards as they advance toward the particular prepper's retreat, all the while safely ensconced in a concealed location beyond the reach of the bandits' weapons. This is their focus for self-defense.

        Even moving into the mainstream of the prepper movement, there is an emphasis on tactics and weapons for post-SHTF/without rule of law tactics and weapons. For instance, there was this post earlier today at the Survivalist Blog, stating:

    ... Distance ALWAYS equals two things. Time and safety. The time aspect of this is quite simple. The further away an enemy is from a target the longer it will take to achieve their objective. The further away from your loved ones that you can engage a threat provides reaction time for your and your loved ones to initiate whatever pre arranged defense protocols you have established. This in and of itself provides an added level of safety. If you are trying to protect your family, and they are going to be in the home, than the defense should be started as far away from the house as is possible. A good shot with an AR style rifle can ruin your day from five hundred meters in. I am aware that it may not be possible to establish a perimeter at that distance, but that would be best. I suggest possibly establishing a forward outpost at this distance if possible. A forward placed rifle and a few well placed shots may well be all it takes to persuade someone that its better to go somewhere else.

    I'm not criticizing the author of that post because the tactics, and reliance on a rifle, are sound ... when considering warfare, insurgency, defending against raiders, or other situations where you expect to be in combat.

        But when we prepare, we aren't only, or even necessarily, preparing for the end of civilization, but other disasters, big and small and in-between. We cannot overlook the here and now and focus on the post-SHTF to the exclusion of everyday preps. And this applies equally to weapons and our training. As Fernando "FerFal" Aguirre explains in his book, Surviving the Economic Collapse:

        Rifles are terrific but they are not your main weapon. Again, here's the difference between a soldier or a SWAT member and you. 

        A soldier carries his rifle because it's his job to do so while at war. SWAT guy has his rifle when doing his thing as well but both soldier guy and SWAT guy do NOT carry their rifles when they go pick up the kids at a friend's birthday party. And yes, the bad guys will attack you at that birthday party, or some other ridiculously unlikely circumstance. 

        That's the way it is my friend. Understand that while I'm writing this tonight there are thousands staying awake in their beds thinking about possible plans and ideas to rob people like you and me.

    (Surviving the Economic Collapse, p. 155). Massad Ayoob similarly wrote:

        For you, it won't happen on a battlefield where the nearest Soviet soldier is 600 meters away behind a French hedgerow. For you, it will happen at point-blank range. Studies by the FBI show that the great majority of shoot-outs occur at a range of 7 yards or less, and more commonly at about 7 feet. And this is among police, whose statistics include running gunfights on the highway and long-distance gunfire exchanges with snipers and barricaded felons. 

        The civilian, almost always, will fight his opponent face-to-face. In that close space he won't be able to bring a rifle or shotgun up before the attacker can take two steps forward and stab, club, or disarm him, or fire his own illegal gun. ...

    (The Truth About Self Protection, p. 346). Ayoob also discusses the downsides to using a rifle at close quarters, such as the lack of mobility, the overpowering flash and stunning noise, and the need for two hands.

        This is not to discount obtaining a rifle or shotgun. They have their place and, as I said earlier, I believe that this nation--the United States--will see another civil war. But I don't know when. It could be tomorrow, or 100 years from now. The burglar or mugger, though, is always with us.

        Looking at it another way, consider this. A soldier or a SWAT officer, or similar, relies on his rifle as his primary weapon as he deploys on a mission or operation. If something goes wrong with his rifle, he transitions to his pistol. For you, at least while we still have rule of law, may not have any warning of danger, and you most likely will not be carrying a rifle--even if you typically have one as a "trunk gun." You will have your handgun first, and then if you have time and ability and need, will transition to your rifle. Exactly the opposite of the soldier.

        Your primary weapon should be, where available, a good quality handgun, extra magazines (or speed loaders if you choose to use a revolver), a good supply of ammunition, and practice. Your rifle is least for now. With that mind, if you are just starting out with putting together a battery of defensive weapons, my general suggestion is to first obtain a handgun and some ammo, and start practicing and learning to use it for self-defense. Then, as you expand your preps, look to get a defensive rifle.

        And for those of you that already have a small battery of firearms, don't neglect the handgun. To paraphrase one commenter, focusing on the rifle while ignoring the handgun is like skipping the first aid kit because there is a hospital nearby. Until the SHTF, loss of rule of law, the handgun is your primary weapon.

    I still stand by those comments. 

    Bombs & Bants (Streamed 12/22/2021)


    Monday, December 27, 2021

    The Modern Scout Rifle: ROAM Magnesium Receivers

    Back in September of this year I decided to revisit the idea of Jeff Cooper's scout rifle ("The Scout Rifle - Another Look") after seeing a Springfield M1A SOCOM rifle sporting a 16-inch barrel. I've since been reading more about the topic and most recently came across an early article from Cooper outlining his ideas.

        Cooper's idea of a scout rifle was firmly attached in the late 19th and early 20th Century idea of a military scout. In fact, he begins his early article on the subject by quoting an Army definition of scout as "a man trained in the use of ground and cover, movement from cover to cover, rifle marksmanship, map reading, observation, and accurately reporting the results of his observation." Cooper than added that the scout "acted alone, not as a member of a team," and "[b]y choice he did not fight but he had to be an expert at the hit-and-run art of single combat." Such a person--the scout--would be best served by a general purpose rifle. That is, a rifle you would choose if you could only have one rifle. Cooper acknowledged that times had changed and the military no longer made use of true scouts, but believed that a general purpose rifle might still benefit the hunter-rifleman.

        Cooper initially dismissed the semi-auto rifle because, as he put it, they are "overly long, heavy, and bulky, and the volume of fire they afford is of little consequence to a true scout." One can disagree over whether a military scout might need more firepower than afforded by a bolt-action rifle, but it is no longer true that a semi-auto rifle needs to be "overly long, heavy, and bulky." The argument today is one largely advanced by author Richard Mann that the scout rifle is a universal hunting arm that can legally be used in any part of the United States or Africa or (with a change in caliber) anywhere in Europe. Of course, even that isn't true as there are areas of the United States that prohibit the use of bottle-necked cartridges such as the .308 favored by Cooper. And I see the ability to use the rifle in Africa as rather specious since the .308 is not large enough to legally be used to hunt Africa's dangerous game, and, perhaps more importantly, anyone that can afford to go on safari in Africa is not going to be someone limited to just one rifle.

        I do see Cooper's concept has having relevance to the prepper--especially one in a rural area that might legitimately want a hunting weapon that can be pressed into double duty as a defensive rifle. And so as I set out to build a modern scout rifle, I decided on the AR-10/308 style weapon (AR 308 is generally used to refer to the DPMS pattern weapons while AR-10 is generally used for the Armalite .308 rifles, so I will be using AR 308 for the rest of this article). 

        The primary difficulty is that Cooper believed that such a rifle should be approximately 6.5 pounds with sights and sling, but unloaded. As it was clear that 6.5 pounds was probably too restrictive, this requirement became a bit mushy, with the weight limit going up to 7.5 lbs, then settling around 7 lbs.

        Even using aluminum receivers, most AR 308 rifles weigh more than 7.5 lbs., so I would still need to put the rifle on a "diet." The easiest place to shed weight is the barrel. Since Cooper insisted on a barrel less than 19-inches, and this is a weapon intended to be carried much but shot little, selecting a short, thin profile barrel was a no-brainer. I originally was going to get the Faxon 16-inch pencil profile barrel in .308, but wound up getting Faxon's "Big Gunner" 16-inch barrel. My reasoning was that the "Big Gunner" was only a few ounces more but had slightly thicker material around the base of the barrel which would help with heat dispersion. I decided the trade-off was worth it.

        But beyond the barrel, loosing weight generally involves using exotic materials and/or special machining or cuts to reduce weight. And much of it costs. 

        I decided on a couple of requirements when selecting components. First, I did not want a rifle that was excessively expensive, so I decided that I would try to stick to components that cost no more than 150% or so of "normal" or "standard" components. Second, I did not want to sacrifice strength and reliability. 

        So, after selecting and purchasing a barrel, I decided to look at what I could do in the receiver department. Unfortunately, there is not the selection of lightweight receivers for the AR 308 as there are for the AR 15 style rifles. For instance, I was not able to locate skeletonized receivers. Not that I would have chosen one because it would have bumped up against my second criteria of not wanting to sacrifice strength and reliability. I found a company selling a polymer lower, but could not find enough information on its long term durability. Another company sold receivers that had lots of lightening cuts to lighten the receiver, but the price was above my 150% of standard components (using Aero Precision as a guide) and they were out of stock. 

        Then I stumbled across ROAM Rifles which not only sells light-weight AR 308 rifles but also sells receivers for the home builder. ROAM makes their receivers out of magnesium which makes them lighter than aluminum but largely retaining the strength of aluminum. The prices were also within my 150% criteria. 

        For instance, the ROAM lower receiver (which comes in Cerakoted black, flat dark earth, or tungsten gray) retails for $299.95 and weighs in at 7.3 ounces versus $204.99 ($224.99 for flat dark earth) and 12 ounces for the Aero Precision M-5 .308 receiver.

        ROAM offers uppers in both a slick sided and one that can accept a forward assist. I decided on the slick sided one which runs $259.95 and 6.8 ounces, versus $149.99 ($164.99 in flat dark earth) and 12.7 ounces for the Aero Precision. The ROAM receiver also came with an ejection port door included, so the price difference wasn't much more than the 150% price difference when including the extra cost for an ejection port door for the Aero Precision receiver.

        So, I spent about $200 extra for the ROAM parts over the Aero Precision, but saved (24.7 - 14.1) or 10.6 ounces. 

        Obviously, I haven't finished my project, so I can't speak yet as to how the ROAM receivers work in an assembled firearm, but the quality appears to be good. The two fit together tightly, but, like the Aero Precision receivers, there is a set screw underneath where the pistol grip fits that allows you to fine tune the fit between the upper and lower. 

        I purchased an AR-10 Armaspec lower parts kit, so I should have these put together shortly.

    Saturday, December 25, 2021

    Joe Harold's "Prepare Today Survive Tomorrow"


    Years ago, I posted a short review of Joe Harold's book, Prepare Today - Survive Tomorrow. This was the book that really introduced me to the world of prepping (or survivalism as it was generally termed at that time).  Although the type of prepping espoused by Harold would now be termed Rawlesian  (after James Wesley Rawles), Harold's book was published over a decade before Rawles started making a name for himself. 

           The hard cover version of the book, shown on the left, was published in 1984 by a company in Utah called Horizon Publishers & Distributors, and that was the version of the book I was given in the mid-1980s and read and read again. It's a great book and I wish there were a PDF version floating around the internet to which I could direct you. 

        I occasionally look around to see if I can find a PDF version, however. No luck yet, but as I did so this last time I came across several Amazon links to used copies, including some that mentioned it coming out in paperback. That puzzled me since I thought that there was only ever the hard cover version. I found a place selling a paperback copy for around $6 and ordered it out of curiosity, and the book on the right in the photograph is what came. 

        The major difference, besides the binding, is the cover. The 1984 version sported a dust jacket showing a nuclear burst over a cityscape with a man in a military style uniform carrying an SKS (a weapon that, ironically, is not discussed anywhere in the book). The same illustration, but in black and white, is on the cover underneath the dust jacket. The newer version was printed in 1999, also by Horizon Publishers. The cover is a reproduction of a painting that appears to show the Wasatch Front down in Utah. Although the 1999 cover is certainly more visually appealing, I think it was an unfortunate choice because it doesn't communicate what the book is about. That is, the older cover at least informs you that it has something to do with a nuclear attack. Just looking at the cover of the second book, you could not be blamed if you thought it was the cover of a novel.

        The back cover on the 1984 version advertises three other books put out by Horizon Publishers on survivalism topics. The back cover of the 1999 version has a summary of the book, reproducing the summary on the inside front flap of the 1984 copy. 

        The 1984 version runs 182 pages while the 1999 version runs 192 pages. The extra pages appear to be largely the result of the publisher switching to a slightly larger font which apparently required that the whole book be re-typeset.  There is a also a short publisher's note on why they hadn't updated the text to reflect the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and the biography of the author had been moved from the back flap of the dust cover on the 1984 version to the end of the book in the 1999 version. Finally, the publisher had corrected an embarrassing error in the original book where two captions had been switched around on the chapter about weapons. I would assume that the publisher probably took the opportunity to correct any other typographical errors in the 1984 version. Finally, a forward and dedication in the earlier volume that were given their own pages were crammed together in the later copy. Thus, the table of contents starts on page 11 of the 1984 version, but begins on page 9 in the later printing.

        Based on the table of contents and quickly flipping through the paperback printing, it does not appear that there are any substantive changes between the books. The topics covered remain the same: 

    1. Our Crisis Today
    2. Needs for Retreat Living
    3. What's for Supper?
    4. Shelter from the Storm
    5. The Three "Rs"
    6. Weapons for Defense
    7. Defense Philosophies
    And, of course, a bibliography and index. 

       Having been published during the height of the Cold War, it is only natural to compare Harold's book to Bruce Clayton's classic, Life After Doomsday. They both were early books on survival and prepping with heavy emphasis on surviving a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and rebuilding afterward. The books are certainly not copies of each other, but rather complimentary. Although Clayton discusses other disasters, he was very much focused on surviving a nuclear war. Harold, notwithstanding the extensive material on surviving a nuclear attack, gave me the impression that he was actually more concerned about an economic collapse and surviving the "golden horde" that would inevitably flow out of the cities. He certainly devotes more space to weapons, making booby traps, and basic tactics than does Clayton. This may simply reflect Harold's law enforcement background and exposure to criminal gangs.

        I also believe that Harold's writing style is a bit more friendly and approachable than Clayton's. Harold's book is a good introduction to the topic for that reason. And that is the final point: Harold's book is intended as a starting point and not as the end-all-be-all on the subject.

        There are plenty of books on prepping today, but far fewer that discuss surviving a nuclear war. And even those that consider a nuclear attack focus primarily on a high altitude blast intended to produce an EMP blast to kill our electrical system rather than an attack involving hundreds or even thousands of warheads being launched to destroy cities, military bases, and missile silos, with the resultant fallout. This is where a book such as Harold's Prepare Today Survive Tomorrow would be a good addition to your library.  It is also a good book for those interested in the history of the survival movement because it gives a peek into what were the main concerns of preppers in the 1980s.

        As a final note, I would also point out that there is a recent prepping book with the title Prepare Today Survive Tomorrow by L.G. Wellington. This is not Harold's book. I'm currently reading Wellington's book and hope to have a review up shortly.

    Merry Christmas


    Thursday, December 23, 2021

    Jeff Cooper's "Scout Rifle Idea"

    Click on each picture to enlarge it, or download it for perusal: 

    There Will Be Two Legal Systems

    Source: "Who Is Rogel Aguilera-Mederos? Truck Driver Sentenced
    To 110 Years For Deadly Crash On I-70
    "--Denver CBS Local

    The news today seems to be dominated by articles concerning a 110 year sentence handed down to a truck driver, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who was involved in a fiery crash that killed 4 completely innocent people: Stanley Politano, 69, William Bailey, 67, Doyle Harrison, 61, and Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24.

        This wasn't your typical auto accident due to simple negligence. Aguilera-Mederos was driving an 18-wheeler apparently with inoperative and/or defective brakes, down a steep slope, dangerously weaved between vehicles, while driving past several runaway truck ramps which he didn't use, before crashing into vehicles, killing four and injuring others. The crash damaged or destroyed 28 vehicles

    On Oct. 15, a jury convicted Aguilera-Mederos, on many of the 42 counts he faced, including vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, reckless driving and careless driving. On Dec. 13, Judge A. Bruce Jones sentenced him to 110 years in prison, which is the minimum allowed by Colorado’s minimum sentencing laws pertaining to the specific charges of which he was convicted.

    I've seen these types of crashes before. One really bad one involved a trucker that had, as best I can remember at this point, only 4 or 5 wheels with operative breaks on the entire rig: tractor and trailer. He was hauling a load of gravel. He started braking over 1 mile from the site of the crash, but still struck an RV with enough force to push it into a canal, drowning an elderly couple inside. The husband had only retired two days earlier, and the trip to Idaho had been to celebrate his retirement. Another involved a collision with a school bus that killed one of the kids on board. In the latter case, less than half of the brakes on the truck were operative (and the truck driver was under the influence of marijuana).

        The braking issues are the result of the owner/operator trying to save money by not maintaining brakes (and generally a lot of other problems as well). Aguilera-Mederos was required to check his brakes frequently, so there was no excuse for his not knowing the condition of his brakes. The fact that Aguilera-Mederos skipped a runaway truck ramp supports my supposition that the whole incident was due to him deciding to save money since running your truck into such an escape ramp can be an expensive proposition. Even if you are not charged for having to use the ramp, there is the cost of towing the trailer and tractor out of the escape ramp. 

        (If you are not familiar with such ramps, they are located on the side of a highway or similar where the slope of the road is long and/or steep enough that a truck might burn out its brakes on the descent; the ramp is typically covered with several feet of loose gravel or sand designed to catch and slow down a semi-truck rig--see the video below which describes the ramp that Aguilera-Mederos passed by without using).

        In short, Aguilera-Mederos is not an innocent caught up in a bad situation. Those people died because Aguilera-Mederos was greedy, not because he made a mistake or had a sudden and unexpected mechanical failure. 

        But there are a lot of people upset over the 110 year sentence. The judge presiding over the case has stated that he didn't have discretion under mandatory sentencing laws to do anything but order the defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. Mandatory sentencing laws were enacted to prevent soft-on-crime judges from giving criminals the proverbial slap on the hand. If the judge had been given discretion, it is likely that the sentence would have been a lot shorter--probably 20 years with the possibility of parole after half of that. 

         But people aren't attacking the mandatory sentencing laws, but the specific sentence given to this one man, with a petition that has garnered millions of signatures seeking for the governor to intervene to commute the sentence or even pardon Aguilera-Mederos. The petition statement reads, in part:

    Rogel is not a criminal, the company he was working for knew the federal laws that go into truck driving but they failed to follow those laws. Rogel has said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day, this tragic accident wasn’t done with Intent, it wasnt a criminal act, it was an accident. Since he has been sentenced, i have changed this to granting Rogel clemency or commutation-as time served. 

        I wouldn't have even bothered writing this post except for the effort to basically let Aguilera-Mederos walk. One of the organizations behind the petition is the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Hispanic civil rights organization. One article reports:

        Domingo GarcĂ­a, the national representative of LULAC, said the civil rights group had sent a letter to Colorado Governor Jared Polis on behalf of Aguilera Mederos asking for an amnesty or a reduction in the sentence.

        “It was a terrible false charge,” Garcia said.

        The online petition has won millions of signatures urging police to amnesty.

        “When it was clearly an accident, he was put in jail for 110 years for his first crime,” Garcia said. “It can happen to anyone. Your break [sic] disappears. It wasn’t intentional. That’s not what he was trying to do.”

    LULAC has met with Colorado's governor to discuss clemency or a pardon, while also organizing a protest over the sentence. The call for clemency wants the sentence reduced to time served

    Another view of the crash scene. Source: "Millions sign petition to change 110 year sentence of trucker who caused deadly 28-car pileup"--East Bay Times.

        Here's the problem. First, LULAC's characterization of the incident as a simple accident caused by brake failure was obviously rejected by the jury. The jury basically would have had to find that Aguilera-Mederos knew about the condition of his brakes and nevertheless drove anyway while disregarding the risk of serious injury or death that it posed. Sort of the equivalent of skipping down a street with a loaded gun in hand, round chambered, and finger on the trigger, singing "la, la, la ...". 

        The statement that Aguilera-Mederos wishes that he'd had the courage to crash and take his own life instead of letting the collision occur is laughable because he passed at least one runaway truck ramp where he could have "crashed" without anyone, including Aguilera-Mederos, having to be injured.

        Second, and the whole reason I even bothered with this post, is that the petition, the intervention of LULAC, isn't because the organizers think there was a miscarriage of justice or that the mandatory sentencing laws are unfair, but because it involves a person of color (POC). LULAC's  statement included this comment: "Rogel is facing this fate because our courts have historically treated blacks and Latinos more harshly than whites. He represents the ‘other .’" If it had been a mistake of law, LULAC would have raised money for an appeal and let the state appellate courts decide the matter. But they want this guy to skate because he is Latino.

        This is how you end up with two legal systems. One for whites, and one for POC who everyone is afraid to offend because it will result in lots of media attention, petitions, protests, or worse.

    POTD: Abandoned Ski Resort In Switzerland

    Source: " The abandoned ski resorts that really did go downhill: 'Eyesore' facilities litter the Swiss Alps after Covid and glo...