Archive | February 2015

Death and Romance

I saw a story circulating online about a man and woman who’d been married for many decades and eventually died together holding hands in the most abjectly romantic way. People that I had thought of as logical and intelligent immediately started jumping up and down and holding this couple’s devotion and death up as the ideal and saying things like, “the wife and I talked and this is how we want to go.” Well that’s just fucking mean if you think about it. I mean this is some cold heart, ice in the veins shit.

I’ll put myself in this position as an intellectual exercise. My wife and I are very dedicated to each other. Just being close to her makes it all better and she seems to feel the same about me. If I’m 80 years old and in failing health, the last thing I want is for her to be in the same situation. I want only for me to hurry up and get dying over with so she can enjoy whatever life she has left without having to watch me suffer and waste away. If she were in the position of being ill and dying then I would not want to watch her suffer. All of the greed in me wouldn’t make me willing to trade a few more seconds of being with her for a few more seconds of watching her suffer. She doesn’t want me to watch her suffer. Hell she doesn’t like when I see her with the flu.

I’ve watched a number of people who were very special to me die slowly. They more or less got to hold my hand the whole time and I tell you what, it didn’t make them feel any better. They were uniformly crushed with guilt; misplaced as it might have been, that they were burdening me with their personal tragedy. They knew I cared and when they asked for space I gave it to them even though I wanted my time with them before they were gone. My greed for their time had to be put aside.

I want my wife to live a long and fruitful life after I die. I don’t want her to be there for it and I would rather neither of us know it was coming. We live every day together with utter gratitude to fate that we woke up side by side. There’s no need to be regretful or greedy or sad or ridiculously and over-zealously romantic. There’s nothing romantic about dying and there’s nothing romantic about suffering. That kind of shit sucks or we wouldn’t avoid it at all costs.

When you see stories of things that seem heart thumpingly touching and give you the idea that you could do with some of that in your life, think about it a little more. Think about what is happening around you and not to you. When it’s our turn we might or might not get a lot of time to bitch about what’s happening to us. How about resolving now to make choices from thought instead of emotion. The real question is, who would you prefer go first? You or your special one. I know the greedy side of me wishes that it would be me first. That only serves to push suffering and sadness upon my wife. It also silently acknowledges the fact that I don’t think I could deal with me being 2nd. I know there’s no good way for us to part because it will only happen at the end of our lives. At least I know that though and I’ve taken a minute to think about it dispassionately and with some consideration to the other people that are likely to be involved.

Yes, I still hold the preconceived notion in my head that dying holding hands would be utterly romantic. I know for a fact that it wouldn’t be as romantic as all that. If nothing else there would be a couple ladies that had to find out they lost both of their parents on the same day. How tragic is that for them? That must be like being abandoned to a child.

People put a lot of only very cursory thought into some of the notions that they hold to be righteous. Those actually righteous notions are so much rarer when the whole state of the situation is held in the mind and the rest were just fooling you. Don’t be fooled into thinking like a simpleton. It’s harder to think maturely and rationally and you often find that there is no option that is objectively good that’s available but at least you were honest with yourself and compassionate to others in your self-honesty.

Tacti-cool isn’t cool. Tactical means short sighted, vigorous and urgent which means things have already gone bad. Strategi-cool is cool but there’s not a slick way to make it sound cool. Probably because thinking isn’t currently cool. That’s uncool. We cool?

Project Homunculus Has Arrived

Homunculus has been added to the arsenal. This is a very custom Savage 110 in 7mm BR that I’ll be campaigning in highpower Metallic Silhouette competition.

Check out the Projects Page for complete details. As received the rifle looks like:
homunculus

It will change a little in the optic mounting and possibly in the optic itself, there’ll be a better trigger pretty soon as well. Other than trivial bits though it’ll continue to look just like that.

Here’s the abbreviated round that it fires. It’s basically a .308 Winchester case cut to 1.5″ and necked to 7mm.

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And some dimensions for the curious.

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Any Game Is Improved When You Keep Score

Imagine playing poker without chips. There’s a saying in poker, you are playing against the other players, not their cards. That goes directly out the window the moment you take the chips away. There’s nothing to be gained or lost and so the players aren’t going to approach it with the same level of motivation to win. It’s no different to consider playing a quick pick-up game of basketball without keeping score. There’s no chest thumping victory that’s going to come out of either.

Shooting sports are the same. For people that haven’t had an occupational need to track and improve their performance behind the trigger there’s little in the way of score keeping outside competitive scenarios. Trap shooting is one possible exception. When I go trap shooting I eject the hulls from hits onto the ground and I keep the hulls from misses in my pocket. It’s an easy and effective system of score keeping and I can tell if I’m having an on or off day.

Early on I would track how many hits from each of the 5 positions on the trap line and which shots (away, right, left) specifically I was having trouble with. I found where I was having trouble and practiced a bit on those stations. I now shoot a very consistent score each time I go out. My standard score (the baseline that I compare each outing to) is 23 of 25. I usually drop 2 birds. If I get a 22 I’m likely to know why. Losing focus for a moment is usually the problem. If I get a 24 I have reason to be happy with myself.

The pistol disciplines have an abundance of representation in the competitive shooting world. You can get into pistol competition with almost any factory centerfire handgun. Similarly trap shooting can be done with just about any off the shelf bird shooter.

Rifle sports are currently dominated by tactical style competition and the equipment used spans from mild to wild. F/TR is one of those where the equipment leans toward wild but there are precision tactical rifle competitions all over the place both sanctioned and unsanctioned. Some of those can be done with a deer rifle. In such cases it usually has to be a special deer rifle and the scope tends to be pretty special. You should be pulling sub-1-inch groups at 100m with it or you just won’t be able to play well.

High Power Metallic Silhouette (there are several Silhouette sub-classes, Hipower is centerfire rifles of 24 cal or larger, non-magnum) can be entered into with almost any scoped deer rifle. It doesn’t have to shoot one-hole groups (that helps though). If it’ll hold 1.5 inches at 100m it’ll do. It was started with that kind of pedestrian gear and there are frequently guys on the line with stock retail rifles with a modest scope upgrade. You really do want a scope with target turrets to play the game because you have to dial adjustments repeatedly unless you are really good at doing consistent holdovers. Most deer rifle scopes don’t take adjustments repeatedly and accurately so target scopes are preferred. I’ve done it with a $300 SWFA 16×42 Super Sniper and a 10x US Optics tactical scope. Neither are perfect but they did the trick.

One sport that people should definitely check out and that you can get into with pretty pedestrian gear is rimfire rifle silhouette. You probably won’t be winning matches right away but it’s a great way to improve your skills and you can do it with a pretty run of the mill .22lr bolt action rifle. Semi-auto can work too. Nobody is going to judge you and it’s just fun and challenging as all get out.

Remember, you don’t compete against the other players guns. You don’t even compete with the other players. You only compete with yourself and your own goals. This means you can and should enter into shooting competitions as often as possible if you really want to fancy yourself as a good shot. There are few other ways to objectively measure your performance in the shooting sports. Without an objective measurement any claims that you’re a really great shot are simply unsupported assertions. It’s not to say that you couldn’t go out and provide evidence of the assertion being true upon being challenged on your claims but, if you’re going to make a claim you should really already have the supporting evidence. It makes being right so much more satisfying.

The best thing I ever did was enter a competition I had no hope of doing better than last place in. It was immensely relaxing to not care at all about how I placed. All I had to care about was doing my best. The setting being a competition meant that time and performance were tracked by an independent party and so there is no chance of doing the old stereotypical self-kidding golfer routine of taking 8 swings on a par-3 and saying, “Put me down for a birdie.” I got an honest assessment of my performance from an honestly kept score and plenty of points of comparison if I felt like I needed some more humility.

I have another high power silhouette match in 2 weeks and I hope to do better than tying for last place but I don’t expect to. I’ll be campaigning a new rifle custom built for the sport so the next several days are going to hopefully be spent practicing and deciding if I’ll switch to shooting left handed for this sport. It feels more stable to me. We’ll see. In any event I’m still new to it and so I don’t have to care if I do nail last again. I’ll be happy to hit 1 more target than I did last time.

Find a match in your area and go to it!
For more info about Silhouette: http://www.riflesilhouette.com and http://www.steelchickens.com
For more info about Glock competition: http://gssfonline.com/

Both of the above are very easy to get into with out much exotic equipment.

TiborasaurusRex: Could He Be The Huygens Of Our Time

I know, that’s a bold question but, one must acknowledge that there are few people in the world capable of acquitting themselves so thoroughly and so completely in so many areas of science, philosophy, religion, mathematics and a ton of other areas of intellectual and spiritual thought. Fewer yet who maintain the humility and singularity of purpose without becoming single minded. How can one man be so open minded as to accept that which is nearly antithetical to his beliefs while holding on to himself? How can a man be so generous of body and spirit that he might dedicate his very life to the service of his country and then after he’s paid that bill in full go on to submit a compendium of experience gained knowledge of the physical world to the masses for no other apparent purpose than to add to the sum of human knowledge?

Rex; as his people call him, is a leader in spirit and thought. This is a profound dichotomy because he maintains an unshakable belief in the Abrahamic God; itself an expression of belief beyond the observable or demonstrable. Yet his visible life is an expression of the practical and unbiased application of reason. This ability to hold matters of faith and matters of reality in the same universe; in the same mind, is one of those things that makes those of us who have trouble with such things ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions.

I raise a glass to Rex. I wish him in this trying time of life the rewards of an infinitely disinterested and amazingly well balanced universe. To the victor go the spoils. Rex has been a victor in the pursuit of an amazingly productive and valuable life and I personally wish him comfort and reward for all he’s done.

If there were more people going out in the world and experiencing and documenting it and fewer (by far) sitting behind their preconceived notions of what the world should be like, the world would be a dramatically better place.

Thanks Rex. We owe you one.

If you don’t know who TiborasaurusRex is, go to Youtube.com and search. It shouldn’t be hard to find.

Black Hole Weaponry Bolt-Action Pre-Fit Barrels

If you want 5 completely different (and probably wrong) opinions about what the best rifling profile or the best type of barrel steel or the best anything to do with guns all you’d have to do is ask 3 shooters. If you want to get 20 more or less ridiculously under-considered opinions about what the best company to get a gun part from is just ask 2 gun enthusiasts. The worst part is, usually when you ask either of those types of question the answerer will conflate the answers. You see, people often think (fallaciously) that companies with excellent customer service delivered by well staffed customer service departments defines a quality product and that quality products require finely tuned and well staffed customer service centers. Apart from demonstrating the severely lacking educational standards of the USA it also does not help at all when you decide you need some quality bits and bobs.

What I think of as a quality product is one that works precisely as designed and is designed to work precisely as advertised. Simple enough. If those 3 elements are in order then the customer service department might as well be an answering machine with no tape in it because I’ll never need them. Quality means executing on a specification and hitting that nail on the head. It does not mean being able to re-deliver a part and hope that this one makes spec. It is certainly not being able to let customers that had no understanding of what they were buying to bully the company about for what they see as fair treatment. Caveat emptor is a righteous principle but so is praestare quod promisit (roughly: perform the promised).

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A year ago or so I had to get a new barrel for one of my meat guns. My 7mm Rem Mag chambered Winchester M70 was wearing an aftermarket barrel that had a sewer pipe of a sloppy chamber on it, wasn’t headspaced correctly and wouldn’t group to save its life with anything but Sierra MatchKing bullets which I have a profound dislike for. It ruined all of my brass and I didn’t find that out until I got back to the beginning of the pile to reload some and found them all with incipient case head separation starting because the headspace was so screwed up. The rifle was obtained as part of a trade and I knew what I was getting. I wanted the action. After saving up a bit and shopping around I decided on a polygonal rifled barrel from Black Hole Weaponry because they were then just starting Savage pre-fits and I had a few of their barrels on AR-15’s which were all bug-hole shooters. The barrels were easy as hell to clean and gave higher than expected velocities and were inexpensive as these things go. When they said “No problem” to doing my push-feed Winchester I was elated. It was also the first one that they would be doing and they didn’t charge any differently. That’s generosity.

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After a couple months the pipe came in and a week or so later my free and completely custom made barrel nut came in. Now my Winchester is a switch-barrel rifle. After installation and headspacing and having to replace a busted extractor (unrelated) I finally got to do some load workups. Install was simple and the threads that were cut were very precise. I had sent them my old barrel so they could make sure to get the major and minor sizes right and to serve as a rough template for how it was set up. The barrel was Cerakoted, the muzzle threaded and the crown properly attended to.

I started some handload testing with a randomly selected load at .5grains under max with a 168gn Berger hybrid VLD, loaded up 10 rounds and headed out. At the range I quickly sat at a bench, got a rough zero at 200m with 2 quick shots and decided to stretch the legs on the old girl. I dialed up 4 mils and quickly sent 3 more shots at the 500m plate. The resulting group was right at 3″ which was pretty good for a first group. Vertical spread was less than one inch and winds were 0-10 shifting directions like a headless chicken.

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You have to understand that this whole deal was a first. The first time BHW had cut a M70-post barrel. The first barrel nut they ever made for a Winchester. The first group from the rifle. The first everything. BHW delivered to me a quality product that operated within the design specification, they did it right the first time even without practice and the communication was top notch. The guy that was actually cutting my barrel was the one communicating with me for Pete’s sake.

So far I have 4 barrels from BHW in the safe. Every one of them has been a shooter right away. They’ve not been really sensitive about which load I feed them and they’re everything BHW said they were going to be. The only other area that’s not been discussed is price. BHW bolt action barrels start at $300. Add 35 bones for Cerakote and then if you want pop for their admittedly not cheap ($100-215) but high quality, diverse, unique and creative fluting options. If you overlook the fluting options then a completely custom ordered barrel with whatever taper you want to invent and whatever Cerakote color you want and whatever length (up to their limit of 24″) and whatever crown type or muzzle threading you want and you’re still well under $350. That’s with the chamber pre-cut and ready to set up. Add $40 if you need a new stainless and super pretty barrel nut and you’re still under $400 for a really awesome and very much match grade barrel.

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One note, they don’t list a “match” grade anywhere. As far as I can tell they do not produce anything but match grade barrels.

If you’re thinking it’s time to get a new barrel or you want to try a new calibre without buying a whole new gun, check em’ out. I’ve got 2 more barrels to get from them this year.

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What Calibre Do You Use For Long Range

What calibre is your long range precision rifle chambered in? The author uses several and I expect that you do to. So, which one do you use most often while engaged in precision long range or extreme long range shooting? For the author it would end up being .223 Remington by round count but that’s followed pretty closely by .308 Winchester. I like my 7mm Remington Magnum but shoot it about 5% as much by round count and about 50% by whether or not I bring it on the average excursion.

You might think of .223 as not suited to long range work but that depends really on what you’re trying to do with it. If all you want to do is ring a gong then it works just fine. If you need to defeat a target then it’s best to limit ranges to those where energy is sufficient and where the bullet will act on the target as designed.

Modern .223 bullets in moderate weights are able to be pushed extremely fast with modest powder charges. There are also a number of high BC (well, relatively high) bullets available. Berger, Hornady, Nosler, Sierra and others all make respectable long range suitable .223 calibre target bullets. I’ve had fantastic results with Hornady 75gn HPBT. With an impressive .395 G1 B.C. and long boat tail they have a modest size bearing surface and seem to love being pushed really hard but don’t generate the high pressures you might expect. I find that they perform really well with a slight jump to the lands rather than being jammed in. Berger 70gn VLD’s have a similarly high BC (a little lower but not a lot) and with their slightly lighter weight and preference for long loading so that they are jammed into the lands a bit they can be pushed a bit faster. Both have 1000yrd capability when pushed with near max powder charges from 1:9 twist barrels. Since a near max load for a .223 is a tiny bit more than half the necessary load for a .308 size case you end up with a very efficient long range training round without the cost, blast or recoil of larger rounds.

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