You see folks, when you think that you’re worth more to society than you are and then you act on that unmistakably idiotic thought with foolish advocacy for governmentally legislation requiring unreasonably high pay scales be applied to jobs specifically catering to your lack of a saleable skill set, you have sown the wind and you shall reap the whirlwind.
The “Fight for 15” campaign, which seeks to require a $15/hr minimum wage, had its desired effect and laws are being passed across the USA. Burger flipping and floor sweeping and trash can emptying and oodles of other jobs which have historically been manned by humans who were paid an admittedly low wage have historically only been left to being done by humans because the cost of the labor didn’t strip away the value proposition to consumers of those services. The notion that someone who has a demonstrable lack of salable skills and knowledge deserves a wage high enough that they can raise a family on the income from a single full time job that could just as easily be done by a machine is simply ridiculous on simple economic grounds.
Almost the second laws were passed requiring something like twice the economically feasible wage for mindless monkey work, people who do have salable skills which actually are worth a high wage started went to the drawing board and began inventing technology which would solve the problem of their overinflated opinions of their self-worth. They hadn’t bothered before because the labor market had very successfully kept the value proposition for that kind of technology rather speculative and so there was a barrier to that sort of technology entering anything like the level of mass adoption that’d be necessary for such an automation industry to thrive.
I recently wrote an article about how this exact change to automation of what I’ll call “idiot jobs” for just a moment would happen and I have to say it was spot on. If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to take a peek. It won’t hurt to not read it as it tends toward the technical side but I think you’ll probably find it interesting nonetheless. If you do want to read it, it’s totally fine to do that either before or after reading the balance of this article which focuses on more current events and on the real effects being felt in the real world.
I’m not a religious person as such, as everyone that reads my material well knows. That said, I am a student of religion generally and broadly an adherent to the of the Judeo-Christian ethic. As such I find much wisdom in the Christian Bible which is applicable to daily life. Among those verses that I’d always had trouble figuring out a way to sensibly apply within the spirit of the original context is Matthew 13:11-12; a set of verses which I find are even more clearly expressed in the English translation in Mark 4:24-25. The two gospels have extremely similar contextual accounts of this particular episode of Jesus preaching to the masses however with some significant differences in the specific verbiage. I find the version in Mark a little easier to digest but either is appropriate. Still, finding an application for what seemed like such a severe and almost caustic bit of the gospel has, I must admit, challenged me for a long time. It wasn’t until I found the first of the videos below and then I thought of it in the context of an enigmatic passage from one of Richard Dawkins’ books which quoted the gospel passage from Matthew that I finally understood it.
Both passages are talking about a positive feedback loop and being very careful to not caught up in one unaware. A positive feedback loop is something where the output of one generation of actions forms the input for the next generation. A positive feedback loop is a way to experience the spiraling out of control of a situation which is very difficult to escape once it’s started. A prime and common example is an arms race: One side arms up a little and the other side arms up even more in response causing the first side to arm up even more in a ruinous spiral of unceasingly more and more expensive equipping and aggressive posture which eventually can only lead to war and its products: devastation and ultimate doom for both sides. Any victory likely to be had will be a Pyrrhic victory by any objective definition.
On with the quotes. NOTE: Quotes are taken slightly out of context right here but I have tried to be very careful to try to preserve the original contextual meaning and will touch further on the general context later for greater clarity.
11 He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
24 He went on to say, “Pay attention to what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and even more will be added to you. 25 For whoever has will be given more. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
So to the long term zero-skill workers of the world: Behold the power of this fully operational, fully programmable and fully articulated replacement for you incipiently unemployed masses who are least deserving of our sympathies. You brought this on yourselves and you deserve what you’re getting. Choices have consequences. You had the choice to use your energies to build marketable skills and to improve your station in life. You all had the opportunity to deal with some hardship in the short term in exchange for long term professional/personal growth and subsequent financial and personal benefit. You could have just sucked it up but you were instead inclined to continue to be feckless, uneducated, unmarketable and so you have been and are going to continue to be compensated accordingly. You will lose completely everything that you had because you had to have it the easy way, by riding on someone else’s back. This robot doesn’t just make fries. Check out the Miso Robotics YouTube channel after watching the videos below.
And just in case you were thinking that this is just a flashy marketing video and it wouldn’t really amount to anything, please allow me pour a bucket full of salt in that wound. If you’re not ready to be a robotic commercial food production automation engineer, you’re boned. The robot is better than humans at this job and he’s going to get markedly better at it every day.
And in case you think that’s just a pre-production bit of wishy-thinky try this next bucket of salt for your wounded ego: Major chains are already actively pursuing this technology because low wage workers are a pain in the ass to deal with but robots are not.
Then this next one is particularly ominous for the future of french fry flinging fast food flunkies forgetful of Fate’s foreseeable future ferocity because it shows how robotics doesn’t care what kind of food it is and this is a real production store for a major international fast food chain which had long been thought to be difficult to automate and it’s still very young in their implementation of this kind of technology. Soon fast food restaurants will be torn down and rebuilt around the idea that there don’t need to be people inside them, making them smaller, faster, safer and more profitable.
I know one of the movers and shakers in this industry professionally; we’d worked together for almost a decade, and I gotta tell you that he’s a heartless little fucker and he’s beyond just smart and forward looking as all get out. He’s innately ruthless in the pursuit of financial success and he doesn’t give a single damn about the livelihood of anyone whose entire goal in life is to go through every day with literally zero instinct or effort to achieve in life. He seems to harbor a deep disrespect, as I also rightly do, for people who don’t make an effort to be greater every day regardless of what that level of greatness is. If your level of greatness is being the best fry cook in the world he’ll certainly admire your fry making ability and probably ask you to teach him but because your value to the world is objectively low he’s not going to respect you on anything like the level that he’d respect a fry cook that learned to program computer code or learned to be a mechanic or who took a pay cut to enter into an apprenticeship as a plumber or carpenter in order to better their position in life. From him you get exactly what you deserve based on your measurable contribution to the world and your measurable desire to better yourself.
If you think I’m a heartless prick (and if you know me well you know that I kind of am in a few respects), you should meet him. He’ll blow your mind. He’s one of the very few people that I know that thinks in a way very similar to the way I do. He (as I) looks objectively at the world around him and when he sees something that smacks even the littlest bit of inefficiency or imprecision he’s compelled by a deep inner force to squeeze that particular pimple as hard as he can and the more it’s going to hurt the harder he’s likely to squeeze.
Where I tend to look at the effect that my inventions will have on the world around me and decide if releasing my invention to the world is something I can have on my conscience, he does not. He’s like an intellectual terminator. He invents things and releases them onto an unsuspecting world and hang the cost and consequences. In his mind; and objectively in actual fact, someone somewhere in the world was going to do it anyway sooner or later and if he can make a little coin by doing it first then so much the better. Like Kyle Reese said in the movie Terminator, “It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” By “dead” I don’t remotely mean that he wants you to lose your life. He wants the world to lose your entire kind of person, to excise it from the genome of humanity. In this case, I can’t say that I blame him.
Burger flippers of the world, prepare for the day of your reckoning as it is now upon you.
This is where I should end with something appeasing like “May God, if there is a God (any God) have mercy on you.” but I won’t because I simply don’t agree with the sentiment in this case. In this case I agree with Jesus’s teaching as given in Mark 4:21-25.
If you look at the broader context of Mark 4:21-25 you see that Jesus is admonishing people to be aware of the world around them and to really think for just a second before they do something very stupid that ends in disaster. He ends on the cautionary note that if you fool yourself into thinking you’re paying attention when you’re really not then you will absolutely lose and lose big and that God’s justice is being delivered upon you in such case. So when you reap this particular whirlwind and you cry out to God for help, don’t expect an answer which comes to be anything much more than, “You made your bed. Sleep in it.” The God of the Bible is billed as a loving God but he’s also very clearly not billed as an entity that suffers either fools or willful sinners lightly. Putting on blinders to your situation and expecting others to do the same is a sin as you are asking people to be dishonest with themselves and with the world around them. God, as I gather, really hates that kind of shit. He seems to be ok with being honestly incorrect and genuinely repentant but not deliberately engaging in double-think. Even to the non-religious it’s a common notion that the Universe itself seems to deliver comeuppance very severely. It’s that way for a reason: Because by any rational measure that is how things actually work.
You don’t need to go to college or be a white collar worker but you can’t think that being essentially a parasite on society will not invoke a reaction that’s sudden and extremely unpleasant. There’s always time to change the road you’re on. The longer you wait, the longer the walk back to the fork in the road where you can get back on the right track. Best to do it now if you haven’t yet.
I’ve been a smoker for 35 years and have, in 2 separate phases of my life, drank a bit too much booze and in the past I have engaged in other bad habits with well deserved social stigmas. I’ve now quit smoking because I wanted to quit and I’m not ever going back to tobacco. As well, I’m never drinking alone again nor will I ever drink enough booze to feel it ever again nor shall I ever again engage in any of those other bad habits that I’d engaged in the past. I was for a long time caught up in a positive feedback loop of telling myself that I liked what I was doing and that that was enough justification to keep doing it. That was stupid and it took too long in hindsight but, I’ve walked back to the appropriate fork and changed the road I’m on. The first step was to understand Mark 4:21-25 still applies to me regardless of my beliefs on religious matters. You don’t have to be a believer to be a Christian (I’m sure it helps though). You simply can’t be a deliberate and willful sinner and claim the title of Christian. It’s a contradiction in terms and quick way to get caught up in a powerful and deadly positive feedback loop of negative value.
If you’ve never heard of Robot Operating System 2.0 then you’re probably behind the curve on getting a good place in line to mine the miners, so to speak, in the fast food industry. ROS2 is Robot Operating System 2.0 and it’s not actually an operating system as such but more of framework of tools designed to make robot-based automation easier and faster to develop. The reader is warned that this could get a little technical in places and you’re invited to put on your mental running shoes.
So far the actual machinery finding its way into the fast food industry is quite robust but it’s been largely just back porting machinery into a physical layout designed for humans to operate in. That’s not scalable and won’t be how things will go. It makes exactly zero sense to thoroughly automate a McDonald’s using an existing McDonald’s with all the walk ways and OSHA compliant layouts and since every McDonald’s has subtly different internal measurements in the building you couldn’t mass produce a robotic back-of-store automation platform. Worse yet, McDonald’s makes burgers and fries but if you want to make robots that will change the industry then you need the robots themselves to come in a standard footprint. When you start looking at the footprint that’s needed as you eliminate the humans from the mix you end up with something more like a kiosk or a vending machine. In order to make the vending machine platform viable, you need software to run it.
Software for robots is non-trivial. It’s not a problem for simple/stupid robots but those robots are dangerous to the public. For well designed robots that can do their job long term without constant human interference or man-in-the-middle operational requirements and without major risk to the user/public you need robust software that utilizes gobs of real-time sensors and it’s going to need governmental safety certifications. As soon as you do that, you’ve opened a complexity door which makes Pandora’s box look like a quibbling triviality with no impact on the future.
The solution that’ll need to be used is ROS2 (Robot Operating System 2) which is as stated before more of a framework of tools designed to make robot-based automation easier and faster to develop than an operating system and which is pretty darned complicated as it operates at very low levels. Programming robots of any complexity versus enabling your standard self-opening door to open before someone bumps their nose on it is akin to writing a complex software package in assembly language versus just using a physical tripwire. The complexity is huge and it requires a specialized skill set, even in the realms of technology and programming it’s a special skill set still.
Think of how you tell a computer to do anything with software code. Traditionally in the low complexity software world of something like a Windows or Mac computer, if you want to tell it to hide the cursor while you type, you write code which is more or less of the form:
The computer code libraries that have already been built and which are hugely more complicated are called by that simple text string and the computer hides the cursor while you type.
Robots use physical things and digital data about those things pulled in from lots of sensors is used to provide guardrails to those actions. You have to describe how the robot is supposed to actually work before you can even use it. In ROS2 if you wanted to describe to the software a gripper joint that was capable of picking something up it’d be something like like the below.
You have a world full of people who are able to do the [NSCursor hide]; sort of software development but not nearly as many that are able to work in something as low level as ROS2. The only thing that’s stopped McDonald’s from crushing their buildings and going with a fully automated kiosk footprint is staffing for the robotics companies that are going to end up building the machines that make the food. Up until recently there’s not been the kind of traction in automation that there is now. Fairly recently universities have started cranking out ROS2 capable engineers, if not in industrial scale then at least in sufficient quantity to allow the fast food industry to actually get on with changing to the hyper-converged ultra efficient model that it’s capable of becoming.
Soon enough you’ll see old fast food joints being literally demolished and rebuilt in such a way as to be able to take advantage of end-to-end automation built from the ground up to automate the fast food industry. You won’t recognize anything about what emerges to take the place of that old standard American designed drive-thru. The needs for maintenance will change very much from physical maintenance/repair of broken widgets to digital maintenance and electronic calibration. Where old kitchens used to be dominated by empty space, the kitchen of the fast food future will look more like the insides of a fancy Xerox copier or under the bonnet of a modern car with essentially zero room to spare, no parts which are readily identifiable to the layman and which cost fantastic amounts of money. These big machines will be fed supplies from large freezer hoppers and will need tending maybe once per day instead of non-stop.
Robotic automation of any complexity means they’ll need a ROS2-like solution. The need to solve the automation with ROS2 means either Mickey D’s is going to need a staff of people making 10x what a burger flipper makes or there will come up a new industry of ROS2 experts because, if you want to productize these robots ROS2 is going to be necessary. The reason that you haven’t seen them so far is, the software is being developed still to a usable state. Once that’s at a point it can lend itself as easily to fried chicken as to burgers as to tacos and the actual robot itself is created and refined enough to do fried chicken or burgers or tacos all from the same basic hardware chassis, you’ll see a LOT of unemployed former burger flippers essentially overnight and the idea of a fast food restaurant will evolve to something more like a kiosk.
A hundred and seventy years ago when the owner of a little mercantile shop in San Francisco decided against going to the Sierra Nevada mountains to mine placer gold with everyone else and instead decided to mine the miners (he bought every shovel for miles and promptly jacked up the prices on shovels that he now controlled the only supply of) it wasn’t a new tactic. It’s actually how business works. Some people don’t have the stomach or heart for it. Others do.
If you want to be the one mining the miners then you should be getting your ass educated in software development and mechanical engineering and then you should learn ROS2 because all these whiny-ass, purple haired, emotionally retarded and intellectually crippled wastes of human skin that think a fast food job is something they can rely on as a way to not have to try very hard in life are not going to be options for burger flipping machine repair or calibration in the very near future. They’re, instead, going to add substantially to the population of the sector of society that’s been more heavily populated by drug addicts and mental defectives: The homeless.
How’d you like that. A post without a single picture. Thing is, I know a few people in the industry and they don’t want pictures taken of their toys because they’re doing exactly what I described above. If you’re a low end worker, you should be literally shaking with terror right now because there’s only going to be a decreasing need for your services as time goes by and society will begin to behave toward you exactly as they’d describe your financial situation: “Poor”.
This was made in the early part of the 20th century as a child’s toy. They were produced in respectable numbers for quite a number of years. It uses 110v electricity, water, and hot steam to get all kinds of little finger breaky/pinchy/choppy bits whirling around. The safety manual with this one was probably a postage stamp sized piece of paper printed with “You’ll learn.”
This unit has been lovingly restored by its original owner who is a friend of my gunsmith. He had to wind new heating wire in the boiler and fabricate a handful of small parts from scratch. It’s cool to see it working. It would have kept me entranced for hours as a child.
This would never pass safety muster today. When I was a kid someone invented a thing called “lawn darts”. Those weren’t a really great idea either. How have we as a species survived this long given the kinds of toys we create?
Every gun forum has it’s own culture but how do you explain to someone what any one is like versus any other one? I think I have a solution:
CalGuns.net: Is like an alcoholic 68 year old vietnam vet that got a dishonorable discharge after 2 days in country and never advanced his station in life any further than that. He’s an expert, you’re an idiot and if you don’t think exactly what he thinks then you’re not allowed to talk.
AR15.com: Is like a belligerent 17 year old boy with a foot fetish who claims to be an expert on everything but has never actually learned anything.
LongRangeHunting.com: Is like a sophisticated 35 year old woman in smart high heels and the kind of dress that tells you you can’t afford to even buy her a drink but, it turns out she likes Coors and is perfectly happy to accept a free one.
TheHighRoad.org: Is like an illiterate elderly rancher with advanced cirrhosis of the liver. It’s his way or the highway and no trespassing is allowed despite all the signs saying the exact opposite that are posted around the property.
SnipersHide.com: Is like Jack Nicholson. It runs up and laughs in your face in a very threatening and engaging way before suddenly clearly explaining the quantum chromo-dynamic model of the universe. Occasionally it bites you very hard and suddenly on the cheek for seemingly no reason and after a while you learn when to duck.
TheFiringLine.com: Is like a 5th grade classroom with a 3rd grader doing the teaching. Nobody is giving correct answers but since nobody is asking intelligent questions so it’s kind of a wash.
AccurateShooter.com: Is like a well read and unsociable special forces instructor. He recognizes expertise when he sees it yet he won’t hesitate to tell you you’re wrong but he also won’t waste a lot of time trying to convince you that you’re wrong if you won’t. He finds it more entertaining and a lot less hassle when you either take his word for it, reason it out for yourself or find out the hard way.
This article is all about recipes. Not just for food but for fun and for fellowship. It’s about the search for ingredients in a world of unsure availability. It’s about doing what you love with those you care about. It’s also about how even though no plan ever goes as planned, we still insist on making plans and will occasionally create a plan to make a plan. We even make plans for what to do when the initial plan fails. That’s like making a New Year’s resolution to make a certain-to-fail New Year’s resolution. This year I took another trip to South Africa. I explicitly did not plan it all out. I had a good (and tried and true) plan of what I wanted to do over 5 specific days where I would be expected to have a carefully timed plan ready but the plan I made also wasn’t inflexible so nearly any part of it could be pushed aside if needed without spoiling the whole thing. Plans and trying to stick rigidly to them are bad for just about anyone that might use one. Plans must be durable against reality in the way that crunchy tacos very specifically are not.
Having friends in South Africa gives one enough reason to go there. Having friends who like to hunt and shoot as much as you do and who also reside in South Africa means that it pulls on you somewhat vigorously. The pull is not just a little fond perusing of memories that distracts your attention from your day job now and then. It’s more like a soul spaghetti-fying, ripping, tearing, shredding of your attention span that you might expect if sensations of nostalgia were induced by being alone, naked and really really close to a hungry lion of unknown temperament.
I went back for my second trip this summer and had yet another amazing experience full of friends old and new, hunting, shooting, grilling meat over flame and enjoying a general sense of fellowship that I don’t get in the states much. It is also where the night sky is at its absolute best. It’s not that the ingredients for any of those kinds of good times aren’t available here but it seems that here they’re mixed in the proper proportions much more rarely and when they are it often requires reservations. Where in Africa you just turn on the bush TV (braai), crack open a cold one of whatever you like and enjoy as side conversations flow in and out of a main direction of discussion while that main discussion ebbs and flows in volume and participation to its own more complex rhythm.
My latest trip occupied the bulk of August which is late winter in SA. I left on a Saturday and arrived on a Monday whilst spending 23 hours in the air and enduring a 7 hour layover in Zurich (Zurich airport is insanely clean, insanely boring and full of the least helpful and least friendly staff I have encountered anywhere). You should know that I cannot sleep on airplanes or in cars to save my life. So, when I landed it was extremely late Sunday night by my own body clock and I had woken up very early Saturday morning and then had not a single a wink of sleep since.
Day 1 I arrived at O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg around 10am. Joburg isn’t very pretty from the air. Parts of it are quite interesting from the ground and other parts are places you simply do not go lest you find your day get overly interesting in a way you probably do not want it to. The freeway exits that get you to either option do not have the courtesy to tell you which option they’re taking you to. So it’s really best to have a guide. My guide (a friend actually) was/is a firearms and self-defense instructor who’d previously attended one of my long range rifle classes. A nicer and more welcoming or generous soul would be hard to find. He’s also a farmer and since he was spending a week with me in a different part of the country he decided to send his family to stay somewhere else other than the farm. The political situation on the ground being what it is this is a sensible move. Farm attacks are commonplace, with the attackers resorting to torture, rape, murder and all of the worst stuff humans can do to each other pretty much right out of the gate. Not even the courtesy to ramp things up or just kill people. Nope, they have to torture them too because, who knows. In any event, it’s a lot more stable there than you might pick up in the media or even in my writings. It’s so stable that you can find a bag of chips like those below at any gas and sip and it doesn’t matter who you are when you buy them, they’ll still sell them to you. Nobody riots over the chips. In the USA (P)Antifa would have the building that sold them burned down in minutes and the owners sent off to concentration camps.
A side note about the situation on the ground: In post-apartheid South Africa there’s a new racism which, if possible, is even stupider than you might think and vastly less helpful than the last version. Racism goes the normal way now with the majority black population taking on tones and rhetoric that even the most venomous KKK rally speakers don’t have the stones to approach. Actually, I suspect that black on white racism is how it’s always been there and certain widely hated policies like apartheid may have been logical seeming responses (at the time) to a bizarre reality. Certainly most people there do not seem to want their lives to improve. In fact, if you look at the behavior of the majority in South Africa you could be excused for starting to think that they want their lives to become more difficult if you base your assessment strictly on their actions. If you think that sounds racist, go there and take an honest look around without making excuses for people’s behavior and instead simply observe it and then tell me what you think. Walk around a small town like any town a bit, you’ll see. What you might expect of the country is what Google images shows:
What you actually get is something that actually resembles San Diego a great deal in weather, topography and flora, and which closely resembles Baltimore in almost every other way right down to the failed liberal policies that precipitate massive humanitarian catastrophes and economic collapses whilst never learning from past mistakes. South Africa is a microcosm of all of worst that a democratically elected representative government is capable of. It also shows that the government you have is usually a good approximation of the government that the people electing it might want, at least on a statistical level. So congratulations South Africa, you got what you wanted. I hope it hurts so that we can still say, “Stupidity hurts doesn’t it?”.
An extremist, other-izing and overtly racist government which forces bad policies on the people. These bad policies are simple gimme-gimme socialism and are supported by liberals worldwide who have no idea what the reality of South Africa is. Those policies have brought internal discord to new levels of rancor while contributing greatly to corruption with restultant infrastructure decay and social disharmony. All of this has lead to murders of white farmers being celebrated by popular politicians in public speeches and encouraged. It’s not like the place is on fire or that everyone is attacking everyone else. It’s more like a growing internal level of stupidity having predictable cumulative effects. As long as you stay to the areas that don’t look like they were built by syphilitic idiots you’ll probably be ok. Also stay out of places that are crammed full of people. People are bad in large groups which is why I don’t like them that way anywhere.
Farms in South Africa are almost entirely white owned for a host of reasons. The dominant (and entirely black populated) political parties blame white farmers for every reality the South African society and government (as well as foreign powers sticking their noses in for their own reasons) has brought upon itself and they vocally encourage militant aggressive action and they do it with vile and hate filled rhetoric for which they never seem to take a rebuking. That’s just not good for a society, especially mixed society. It’s mixed in a weird way too. ~4% of the population is white and by-in-large the minority are the ones paying taxes and obeying laws. The minority doesn’t have a choice but to play by the rules. It’s very bad for a white person to go to jail there. Like the worst kind of bad you could think of. It’s also bad to have an encounter of any kind with the police. The great majority are certainly not on anyone’s side but their own and corruption is standard practice. The racial majority of the population more or less appears to have the option to do things legally. They seem to ignore the laws entirely and do whatever the hell they want when they want. The authorities almost totally ignore them because even if they didn’t ignore them, the arrest would merely cost money from the state and only pauses the committing of crimes by 1 person. Anyway since no fines, much less bribes, would ever be paid anyway they seem to think, “Why bother?”. If you do have an encounter with the police there it’s more likely than not that the “fine” you may be asked to pay is actually a “bribe”. Law and order has little meaning in South Africa unless you’re in the minority, then it means everything.
Back to the main story… So, we met up with another friend whom I’d hunted with last year who I’ll call Jack since it’s easier to spell than his actual name. Anyway, he and I hanged around the airport chugging cappuccinos and scarfing down iffy burgers for a few hours while my farmer friend dealt with the hassles of getting 3 small children and a wife onto an airplane. That took 3 hours thanks to inane and recent policy changes by an individual airline. Those matters dealt with my farmer friend and I made off for a little drive to a local gun shop and then a grocery store where I expected to be able to find things like chili powder, tortillas and the like. I wanted those things because I live in California where we make the best tacos in the world, which are minted by the millions daily. I wanted therefore to make tacos for my friends in SA and maybe teach them how to make them properly. One fast food joint I never saw was a Taco Bell. I was so so so wrong about ingredient availability and while it’s a very funny story, it’ll take a bit to explain so we’ll come to the taco story in a bit.
After the grocery and gun shop tour it was several hours of driving to the farm and where we mixed bourbon, beer and cigarettes in injudicious proportions before a quick dinner of meat with a side dish of some more meat and I think some kind of potato. After the bourbon bottle got satisfyingly low we finally we made it to our respective rooms somewhere around 11pm. I woke in the morning pretty well adjusted to the sleep schedule by virtue of not having slept at all in something around 50 hours and thus having slept very soundly except for the epic nightmares that plague me whenever I travel and the headache when I came to. I was only slightly hung over. That’s kind of how the next couple days went in general. Busy bees during daylight and busy boozers during the night time hours. So, day 2-4 are necessarily something of a blur except that for at least one of those days and possibly 2 we hunted pretty hard. It was also partly a blur because I was still unsure of what day it actually was and partly because I didn’t care what day it was and fully planned not to for at least 17 more days. My heart just wasn’t in “tracking time mode”.
Upon setting out on the hunt it was expected that my friend the farmer would be able to find the desired zebra herd quickly and we’d take one of those within an hour and then spend all day tromping around looking for an eland and then finish out the day if there was any of it left with an easy to find warthog. HA! Surely no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy and this was no exception. In short: zebra were almost impossible to find, eland were standing right there waiting for us and despite warthog presenting themselves at 100m distance all day long while we were walking, we passed on every opportunity up until the last minute because, well we’re prone to that sort of decision making.
We had walked literally less than 5 minutes out of the main house and come around a corner where there’s a very large eland standing there looking delicious not even 50 yards from me. My farmer friend was looking another way and I was the first to see the eland. I said, “Eland!” and hurriedly pointed. As my friend turned to see it I quietly deployed the bipod on the .375 Ruger chambered rifle and got very quietly prone, dialed back to minimum magnification and as quietly as I could jacked a round in. The eland didn’t seem to mind any of those things to any great degree but was clearly starting to get nervous. Just as it moved one front hoof a few inches off the ground I put a 250 grain monometal bullet made in SA into its left shoulder. That shattered the shoulder and blew a large hole in the lungs and some vitally important large blood vessels. The bullet went through to the other side and broke the off-side shoulder before halting in some shoulder meat below the skin. The eland took two collapsing steps into the bush and fell on its face. It didn’t seem very conscious as we approached. It was definitely going to be all the way dead any minute but we; being merciful humans, elected to put a .308 in the head to bring about a quick end to any suffering that might ensue. That eland was meat for a neighbor and so went meat, horns and hide to them directly but, I got a picture. I’m used to boy critters having horns/antlers and the girls not having them. Eland don’t play that game. This is a female eland. The horns of the female tend to be longer and more slender compared to a bull’s horns. Still it was a beast weighing something around 1000lbs on the hoof. It took 6 men to get it onto the tractor’s platform.
We then walked all bloody day looking for the zebra herd but it was nowhere to be found. Gone like a fart in the wind. We headed back for lunch and cold fluids before going out again to another herd of zebra that was less difficult to find but challenging to stalk into. There were only 3 of those monometal 250gr pills left and they were loaded in ammo that had for some reason been set aside. We quickly found out why they were set aside. The first shot on the eland was only 50m if that and hit right where I aimed. By the time we’d stalked in on the zebra we could only get to 184m which is a dead on 200 yards. I proned out and aimed carefully with the zebra facing me and the shot hit about a foot low of where it should have. WTF! It clearly hit the zebra as there was a nasty hole in its side just behind the liver but it wasn’t bleeding heavily and I couldn’t see the entry wound. We needed to follow that shot up and put it down before it suffered much. I tried jacking the final round into the chamber but it was out of dimensional spec somewhere and jammed so hard I couldn’t open or close the bolt. I set that rifle aside and grabbed the .308 by friend was carrying and as soon as the zebra turned its side to me I put the crosshairs just behind the shoulder bones and let fly. That shot hit about 9 inches right which put it too in the bloody liver. There was no wind to speak of and I’m a pretty good shot who doesn’t get buck fever (or pony fever) but I chalked it up to a bad shot on my part anyway. That shot didn’t help at all and now the zebra faced away from us for a good 20 minutes. As soon as it gave me a side profile of the neck I lined up on the ear and put the final shot in which hit about 8 inches rearward of where I’d planed on it hitting but it snapped its neck and blew the big blood vessels apart so the pony curled up its toes and joined the choir invisible directly. My farmer friend had been wanting a zebra skin so he got the skin (hey, it’s his animal after all) and we took the meat to a processing plant where I gather that they make salami out of it and I got a picture and a once in a lifetime experience. If I want a zebra skin, they’re cheap and plentiful at Cost Plus or over the intarwebs.
After the Zebra we went out for warthog. I did manage to shoot one and it was gunna die any minute after I shot it but as warthog are wont to do, it promptly ran and dove into a hole from which it simply refused to be dislodged. We were disinclined to harass a mortally wounded warthog (it was pouring blood from an artery hit but was still pretty vocal and thrashing). So we elected to leave it be for the moment and have the workers dig it out in the morning after it’d had a little bit to die in peace, whereupon the workers would parcel out the meat and share it amongst themselves. For our part, we’d be hitting the road very early in the morning anyway so I didn’t get a chance for a picture. Sigh. The best laid plans of mice.
On the road we had a good long 8 hour drive ahead of us and only suffered one catastrophic failure on the way. Our trailer blew a wheel bearing and a tire and all we had was a spare tire. We had to use beer and soda and flecks of ice to keep the tire from overheating every 500m or so as it rubbed on the trailer chassis. We got to a little turd of a town and found a mechanic who could and would replace the wheel bearing and after another horrid South African cheeseburger (seriously, they cannot make a burger to save 10,000 lives anywhere in the whole country) we got back on the road arriving in the Karoo just about at sundown on Friday. This was handy as my friends place the sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and observe it rather strictly. We rested until sundown the next day and then Sunday a whole bunch of people arrived and we did some long range shooting for the next 5 days. We had endless fun characterizing guns and then doing drills to work on speed and accuracy and then experimented with different ways of dealing with wind and generally had a great time. That culminated in 3 of us, me included, attempting to and subsequently putting hits on a man size steel target at 1-mile. I made the shot with a .50BMG Steyr with A-Max’s after 1 shot to get the drop sorted and another to get the wind sorted. Another shooter made it with a 6.5CM from his RPR (we had to walk that in a bit). The last guy made it with 655gr South African ball .50BMG ammo from the same Steyr I was shooting. The Sus-Tec suppressor on the Steyr really tamed the recoil and cut the blast to levels that were, if not totally ear safe, at least not super uncomfortable. I still wore plugs because I only have 25% of my hearing left and I’m stingy about giving up any more of it. I should note that I generally detest firing .50BMG’s but that Sus-Tec suppressor on that Steyr made it about as not-unpleasant as such a thing can be.
After a week of long range plinking and general good times, it was time to hunt. This time we were going for my kudu. Another friend who I call Kudu van Klipspringer (because of his habit of literally running up and down mountains that would have olympians panting and spitting) owns this farm and they’d sort of set one of the kudu bulls aside for me. If anyone else spotted it they’d say, “No that’s meccastreisand’s bull.” It was a very old bull that had done its thing and now was just fighting with other bulls and not reproducing much. Its teeth were worn down and due to the drought it was getting pretty skinny in addition to its hide looking a bit ratty with numerous bare patches. In short, it was time to pull the guy from the herd and put it in the freezer. It would not make it through the next winter and it wouldn’t make it through the current one (our summer is their winter) if I had anything to say about it. I did have something to say about it as it happens.
We stalked in over fairly rugged country for a good 3 hours before taking position in some bushes on the edge of a rock outcropping that had solid views of the 2 hills that they seemed to like to use as bridges between feeding areas. No sooner had we tucked in to the bushes and proned out did we see the first set of 15-20 kudu cows coming around the ridge towing a couple nice middle-age bulls with them. While my friend is inspecting those ANOTHER herd of 15 or so comes around with a very grey, and very clearly old bull with nice curling horns strolling in the middle of the pack. It was over 400m away at that point and my buddy and I got our wires crossed and I pitched the shot just over its back. We were crushed but I cranked that bolt handle and got back on target just in time for it to crawl into a bush for a quick nap.
The shot sent the cows and calves trotting off but not truly spooked. The bull crawled into a bush and just laid there having a snooze. We went to, let’s say, interestingly outrageous methods to try to get the bugger to stand up which it eventually did… inside the bush. It just didn’t want to leave the bush. So, lacking a perfect shot I lined up for at least an effective shot at now 375m, held for wind by 1.5mils and took the shot. We thought the kudu was facing us inside that bush but it turned out that only its head was facing us and the “shoulder” I shot was actually front end of the thigh but, the hit was such that it didn’t really destroy any meat. Instead it went through the rumen, then through the liver, through the diaphragm and then through one lung and all kinds of important large blood vessels before coming to rest in a muscle that sits on the underside of the spine between the shoulders. The bullet jacket separated on the 225gr Hornady SST after about 18 inches of penetration which SST’s have shown a habit of doing for me. Otherwise bullet performance is fully acceptable and penetration was almost 1 meter. The beastie sure felt that hit and tried to run but only took 2 steps before hosing blood from the nose and crumpling up.
We did a little more tromping around the bush but at that point it was really time to get back to farm life so we put the guns away and did farm work for a few days. We sorted sheep, we made my kudu into driewors, we handled some building construction details. General farm work which I actually like. It’s not like computer work. When you’re done with computer work you can’t see anything different in the real world, at least if you did it right. Driewors? What’s that? Well, it is a kind of traditional South African boer (farmer) sausage with coriander, clove, salt, pepper, garlic and mutton meat and fat mixed in which is then hanged for weeks to dry. It’s a bit like a really fat Slim Jim with more texture to the meat and with an entirely different spice pack which is largely clove and coriander. It tastes like Christmas if you’re an Amercan.
Each year I set up my vacation time to spend a week longer in South Africa than I think I’ll need in order to get everything on the itinerary done. Every year I find I’m short about 5 days. The first year I did 2 weeks which was way too little to even get over jet lag. This year I did 3 weeks which was way too little to actually relax properly. Next year I have a lot more planned and so I’ve got a month set aside which will of course be entirely too little. Eventually I’ll have to move there just so I can get all the things I want to do while on vacation there done. I’ve actually given some serious thought to that and will continue to do so. It’s not for everyone but being an expat in South Africa is actually pretty common and not a bad way to go if you start out in an industrialized western European country or north American country that’s not Mexico. Your money goes a lot further there, largely because their economy sucks and has little hope of improving under the current system of government.
Of course who can visit South Africa without picking up some souvenirs? Not me and certainly not with my friends in the mix. One of them hooked me up with a Triggercam. This is super cool. It’s a camera that goes on your scope but doesn’t interfere with the normal operation of the scope and it records full motion HD video and sound. It’s really quite brilliant. Invented in South Africa and initially distributed only there, I’m showing it on in the USA and I think that that will cause them to revise their FAQ about where they will and will not ship to. They run about $500 but it’s really worth it if you need to make videos showing what’s going on in the optic and don’t want the hassle and poor usability of a phone-scope dealie (which suck by the way). It has wifi so you can connect your phone to its network and get live video streamed to your phone while you record video. It even fits my US Optics SN3’s which have a massive occular bell and it looks like it’ll go slightly larger than even that which I guess helps if you want to look down an actual wine barrel. For professional hunters this is liquid gold. They can see what their clients see and help to make them more successful and safer. For Americans, we like to show people all of our shit so we can humble-brag about it and especially we like to do that with video. What better humble-brag engine than cherry picked video taken from a $500 scope camera instead of some janky phone-scope adapter that just makes shooting harder anyway.
In addition to the Triggercam, I also picked up a new chassis stock. This has some cool features that I don’t want to discuss here until the intellectual property stuff is dealt with but it has features that no other chassis anywhere in the world has, it’s made of 7075 aluminum (much stronger than the 6061 that most chassis stocks are made of) and it’s cheaper than its competitors. Better materials, innovative features, ultra precision machining, lower price, cleaner lines. That’s what you call a better mousetrap. It’s got the obvious adjustable length of pull and adjustable cheek-rest height and adjustable butt pad height but none of those are innovative. The other thing that I’m keeping secret for now, that’s innovative. If you want one of these they’re $900 as an introductory price and they are made to fit Howa 1500 short actions. We’ll be adding Savage and Remington and Tikka actions and long and short action length options to the line as quickly as possible.
Finally, I brought home my trophies from Africa from last year. My eland (center) and my springbok (right) now share a wall with my 5×5 blacktail deer rack. The springbok skin is now draped elegantly over the back of my sofa and is not pictured. The size of that eland skull really gives some idea of the initial size of the animal. I plan to put the kudu skull up in a European mount below the eland so the horns come up on either side of the eland skull. There’s no other way it’ll fit. The horns are almost a meter long and with the skull it’s going to be well over a meter tall.
Now for the taco story. I had planned on making proper tacos for everyone in SA. The least I could do since they showed me all around their cuisine, several items of which are life changers. We stopped at a grocery store in Pretoria looking just for tortillas or even just flatbread and a few simple spices. No dice on that and especially no dice on the spices I needed, particularly chili powder. They have a thing they call peri-peri but if you don’t know what’s inside the package it might surprise you as to the level of spiciness or lack thereof. White South Africa is not a spicy food loving people from what I can see. Salt and pepper usually do them just right. So, we went to a grocery store in Bloomfontein. No dice there either. They had though thing I needed to buy in high quality and low quantity and right then: ground beef. I got a kilogram of ground beef which they call “mince”. I don’t like verbs being used for nouns so I called it ground beef or hamburger and translated each time I used the terms to anyone.
I also tried a grocery store in Edenburg. Well, if you can call it that. It had literally: piles of orange Fanta, 2 bags of wheat flour, a can of something illegible, a bunch of bags of cornmeal and some sad looking sandwiches which I hope to hell were for display only. It was also where I’d purchased the two singularly most hideous cheeseburgers I think I’ve ever stuck in my face hole. I think it’s to do with Dutch Calvinism… you can’t be a Dutch Calvinist and enjoy a truly good hamburger. At least that’s how it seems but, I digress. That grocery didn’t even have bread that was not already devoted to vomit inducing sandwiches and burgers so we decided to sally forth and forsake the orange Fanta and corn meal.
Finally we come to a little town called Willowmore where I have been before (it’s home to a coffee shop called Sophie’s Choice) and there was some kind of cycling competition in town that weekend meaning there were 50,000 brandy sozzled people in sun hats in town instead of the more normal <1000 people not in hats of any kind. I don’t like crowds. Crowds in Africa are a fantastic way for you to find out how bad of a day you can really have. I really don’t like crowds of pasty drunks in sun hats. Crowds in Africa give me a special kind of the heebie jeebies. Mix all three liberally together and I’m looking for an exit sign.
So as we dodged traffic and traded off leaving one person in the pickup whilst the other gathered supplies, I finally found my way in to the 3rd of the 3 grocery stores after the first two were beyond completely hopeless. Again, grocery store is a misleading term for Americans to see here. It implies certain levels of variety and availability which simply do not exist anywhere in Africa much less in Podunkville in the province of “Other”. Wouldn’t you know it, not only did I find 4 packages of crunchy taco shells with a convincingly Mexican sounding brand name but right bloody next to them was 4 packages of “Taco Seasoning” by the same vaguely Mexican sounding company. All I needed now was jalapenos, right. Ha! I hate jalapeños. What I needed was sour cream, shredded cheese, ripe avocados, ripe tomato, lime and shredded lettuce. I managed to source all but the lettuce from KVK’s wife and I eschewed the jalapeños because they’re disgusting. Besides, if folks there are skeered of a little spice packet such that anything outside salt and pepper is considered spicy, they’ll get downright negative about jalapeño peppers even in cooked form. The tacos were a 100% hit. KVK’s eldest daughter actually danced while eating them. Her siblings were equally as excited but a great deal less dancy about it. I made sure that my host’s family got first serving before telling the guy about it. Just to make sure they got some. The whole group of guys then piled in and trepidatiously tried what they came to find out was the food of the gods. I know it’s mean to introduce people to something delicious that they simply cannot even fabricate in their country due to lacking availability of ingredients. I really do. I also love the idea that one day each of those people will come visit me here in California and the first question they ask will be, “Is there anywhere good to get tacos around here?” to which I’ll be able to respond, “Well, it’s funny you should ask. I think the answer would be ‘literally anywhere’. Even Chinese food restaurants here have good tacos these days.” But I won’t take them out for tacos. We’ll drive the hour and a half to my place and then spend an hour making tacos. Crunchy tacos, soft tacos, corn flour tortilla tacos, wheat flour tortilla tacos, tacos al’ carbon, tacos guisado, tacos de carnitas, tacos de carne asada, tacos de pescado, tacos de lengua, tacos al pastor and of course, the magical Choco Taco.
Recipe for Tacos de Africa:
Find taco shells in Africa (One of 3 grocery stores in Willowmore, Western Cape, South Africa has these normally in stock.).
Find taco seasoning in Africa.
Find pico de gallo in Africa (this is optional because it’s actually impossible.).
Find ground beef in Africa.
Prepare as directed.
Place a large table spoon of prepared and seasoned taco meat into the bottom of a warmed taco shell. Add a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Just a sprinkle, a lot does not help. Add a dollop of pico de gallo. Then a dollop of sour cream. Then add a dollop of guacamole. Then top with a spoonful of chopped tomato.
WARNING: Lettuce has no place on a taco. If you put some on one then you are at fault for how it turns out. Also, you’ll burn in heck. Heck, I say.
But you know, you can’t have or do anything nice or someone will shit all over you for it. Look no further than Ford (of fucker only runs downhill fame) to find the assholes that don’t like freedom or constitutionally protected rights.
The motivation here was to test Modern Spartan Systems line of gun cleaning kit against established known quantities with proven performance. Their promise of no foul smell, lack of toxicity and some of the other claims they made caused me to get curious enough to do a Pepsi challenge for their whole cleaning system. This includes Accuracy Oil; which claims to increase velocity & cut group size & extend barrel life. It also includes their Carbon Destroyer and Copper/Lead Destroyer and their Carbon Destroyer.
I’ve already started long term testing of their Accuracy Oil’s claims at longer barrel life and improvements in velocity, group size and consistency. Those experiments are continuing and I’ve built an impressive data set so far with more coming in every week. In the meantime, the fundamental ability of the fouling removal products to perform like they say it will had not recently been established by any kind of controlled experiment I could find. So, I’m doing it. I’ve already put the Carbon Destroyer up to the Pepsi challenge and it flat works. It’s pleasant enough to use and worked like a charm on everything from revolvers to pistols to high power modern rifles to black powder cartridge rifles. The way it worked on our set of Trapdoor Springfield rifles was terrific. What about the big one though…COPPER!?! Let’s git’er done.
I’ve got enough barrels around with sufficient fouling, including some I’m entirely willing to destroy, to give a good test of effectiveness and side-effects. In the spirit of experimentation I set up the first round of testing with 3 barrels:
Stock Glock 21 barrel. 1000’s of rounds since being cleaned.
Savage 10 .308 24″ heavy barrel, >500 rounds since cleaning.
Black Hole Weapons 26″ .223 barrel > 200 rounds since cleaning.
Cliff’s Notes: In short, MSS’s Copper/Lead Destroyer is effective. Zero question about that. It’s pretty gentle though, so it’s not for when you’re in a hurry.
More detailed findings and experimental procedure:
I already knew that C/L-D was gentle and would require more soak time than the more aggressive stuff like Sweet’s. I knew this because I’d done some testing using solid copper bullets in test tubes filled with various copper solvents. After prescribed amounts of time each bullet was pulled, cleaned and weighed. After a while I was able to build up a curve which represented the aggressiveness of each chemical.
Sweet’s was hugely aggressive and caused deep pitting in the bullets inside very short amounts of time. WipeOut was not that aggresssive but turned the polished finish of the bullets into what looked like a brushed finish with odd spots of light pitting. The C/L-D did not do that. It actually looked tarnished. Sweets got an aggressivness score of 3, WipeOut got a 2 and C/L-D got more like .25. Those numbers tell you the relative amount of soak time. So if you were to use Sweet’s and let it soak for 1 minutes then you’d do 1.6 minutes with WipeOut and 12 minutes with C/L-D.
As you can see, C/L-D not as strong as Sweet’s by a mile nor is it as strong as Wipe-Out as a copper remover but it’s a lot more pleasant to use than Sweet’s and marginally less messy than Wipe-Out. This is about removing copper and copper fouling is impossible to remove mechanically without damaging the barrel steel so you have to go chemical. Mechanical action is, by definition, damaging to the bore. Chemical action may or may not be damaging to the bore but it can be very difficult to know until it’s too late. Bore damage can be dependent on the length of time of exposure to chemical agents and some of them are really nasty for everyone involved.
To start I took a G21 barrel that had been belled just in front of the chamber by a squib. It had previously had Carbon Destroyer run through it and then was soaked overnight (26 hours) in Copper/Lead Destroyer, hosed out and stored. I ran some Wipe-Out into it and gave it 15 minutes to soak and pushed a patch through. Zero color change on the patch. Then I ran some Sweet’s in it and let that soak for 5 minutes and pushed a patch through. Zero color change on the patch. This glock barrel had had a mix of jacketed and hard cast lead pushed down it. What’s impressive is it seems to have been cleaned of both fouling metals.
Ok, yes, you’re right. That test’s result is a null result. The absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence. Still, it’s a null result I was expecting so we’re still on track. The barrel was clearly clean of copper to begin with but you don’t know the state of fouling before the 26 hour soak. Could have been a lot, could have been a little, could have been none for all you know, right?
Now to find the more interesting results. I took a factory Savage .308 Win barrel that I’d abused and not cleaned in literally years. It had at least 1000 rounds put through it before it got yanked and set aside and at least the last half of that without any cleaning. I started by running patch of Sweet’s through the barrel without running a brush through it, hoping that the carbon that stayed behind would protect some of the copper from the Sweet’s to serve as an indicator later. It came out with gooey gobs of blue on the patch with no soak at all, just applied and patched out. I immediately took the barrel outside and hosed it out for a solid couple minutes to keep the Sweet’s from finishing the job. I plugged the breech with a .45acp case and filled the bore with Copper/Lead Destroyer and gave it 2 hours to soak. After the soak I ran a patch through it a couple times (remember, no color change on the patches, C/L-D doesn’t do that) and then went and hosed it out. Now I needed to see if there was any copper still in there so I took the Wipe-Out and ran that in the barrel and gave it a 20 minute soak. After pushing a patch through what I found were traces of blue streaking on the patch and plenty of black and brown. Not much blue but enough to tell me that the carbon was in fact protecting the copper. There wasn’t enough copper coming out to make a good finish up to the experiment on that barrel so I reset the experiment by virtue of moving on to the .223 barrel.
The .223 barrel started with at least 200 rounds since the last even partial cleaning so it got a thorough carbon removal with Carbon Destroyer. When patches wrapped around a bore brush came out without any black or brown on them, I called that done. I put a fired case in the breech and closed the bolt to seal the bore. Then I filled the bore with Copper/Lead Destroyer and let it soak for 2 hours. Then I pushed a pair of patches through which came out not much different than they went in. Now to see if the C/L-D worked I ran a patch of sweet’s down the bore, gave it a solid 3 minutes to soak and pushed another patch though looking for color change and got NONE AT ALL. That was a null result I did not honestly expect. I expected to find some copper remaining, I mean Sweet’s is almost as aggressive as it gets. But no.
What’s that all mean? Leave the Copper/Lead Destroyer to soak a while and it works as thoroughly as Sweet’s or Wipe-Out. I really like using C/L-D way more than Sweet’s. I can’t even stand opening the bottle on that cat piss smelling Sweet’s. I actually really like WipeOut too and will continue to use it at the range or in the field because it’s super easy to deal with there. At home though, I think I’ve found my new cleaning product suite. All the chemicals I need are now finally not unpleasant.
Modern Spartan Systems – Copper/Lead Destroyer: No bad smell. A detergent-y, almost acid smell similar to cold bluing solution is what it reminds me of most. The directions say you can leave in barrel safely for many hours, even overnight. I left it in a G21 barrel for 26 hours with no adverse affect noted. MUST use a carbon solvent and a brush of some kind prior to applying for it to be properly effective. Modern Spartan’s carbon remover works great for that.
Getting C/L-D to stay wet in the barrel was another story. It dried quickly in my low humidity area. I eventually stuffed a fired case in the breech, stood the barrel up and filled the bore on rifles. On pistols it was easier to soak a narrow strip of paper towel in it and thread that down the bore and let it sit that way overnight. Directions say 3-5 minutes of soak. I got best results on heavy fouling after >2 hours. Downside: No color change on the patch so it’s a little hard to “know” when you’re done, thus the long soak kinda gives you the all done threshold without any color indicator.
Wipe-Out: It’s got a smell but nothing like Sweet’s. Can reportedly leave in barrel overnight, no ammonia. It’s a foam that expands so some will end up in your action and it’ll probably drip out of the muzzle so, it’s a little messy to use. Patch’s change color to blue if copper is present. Works on carbon and copper. Usually 15 minutes is more than sufficient as a soak time.
Sweet’s 7.62: Super, unpleasantly strong ammonia smell. Do not leave in barrel longer than necessary, clean residue off skin and gun thoroughly immediately after use. Known to be hard on steel. Must use carbon remover prior for full effectiveness.
I have video and all that jazz but it’s not very interesting TV. It’s just me slowly, methodically and painfully boringly working out the surprisingly obvious. On the upside, MSS’s stuff works like a dream so far. I can officially endorse the Copper and Lead Destroyer and the Carbon Destroyer because I have proven beyond any doubt that they work. I can’t say that they’re any faster but if you’re a lazy bitch like me and prefer to let time do what our hands don’t want to, it’s a nice solution.
So we have initial results. I’d like to thank you all for the views on my video.
We will be testing this die set more over the next year. This is out of my pocket and out of my own curiosity. I have the credit card bills and had the arguments with my wife to show for it. I must caution, because of some things people seem to have in their heads, that this isn’t ever going to make a 1″ gun into a .5″ gun. Anyone suggesting such a thing is either a fool or a liar. What you should be expecting is to reduce variability in your ammo which reduces things like flyers & SD’s. Effects on group size, maybe small ones should be expected as a normal effect of better consistency but because barrel harmonics are involved there so heavily it’s best to keep your hopes in check and out of the land of silliness.
I set up a partially blinded experiment with unfired, 2x fired and >5x fired cases. We (Coach and I) sized up 50rds of each from my Exact die and 50 of each from Coach’s Redding die and tested that in Coach’s rifle. Coach’s rifle has somewhere over 1900rds down the pipe now which is a concern as you’ll see soon. We set the ammo up identically in everything from components to neck tension. We ran 10 shot groups which were composed of 2 non-consecutive 5-shot groups fired at the same aim point. Coach loaded, packed and labelled the ammo boxes (labels are “1” and “2”) and didn’t tell me till after the shooting was done which was which. I pulled the rounds from the boxes, logged data and called the target to engage while coach did the shooting. That way neither of us knew during shooting which ammo was being fired at any given time. That was the best way I could think of for me to pull out experimenter induced bias with a research team of 2.
The result of the first accuracy test was null. That is to say that the numbers difference in average group size was not outside the level of statistical noise. The exception was with brand new brass. It always shot more consistently than reloaded brass and so I removed those results from the full data set due to the noise they introduced. We also weren’t meant to be testing new brass as that would not apply anyway but I wanted that data for another experiment I’ve been running. This is all precisely what was expected. I expected no big result (but certainly hoped for one) in accuracy simply by going to full length resizing and having extremely consistent neck tension and headspace.
Because the result is null though, we’ll re-run the experiment on that rifle just before we replace the barrel, just to verify the results reproduce reliably. We also did some velocity testing as part of that and there was no statistical change in average velocities or SD’s except that in the new brass loads but it was more consistent set to set. Why pull the barrel? The rifle used for that run of the experiment now has ~1900 rounds through it in 6XC with a single load spec (38.5gr H4350, F210M, Norma brass, 115gr HBN coated DTAC). The load is mild; generating only 2800fps, but we know that that barrel is within a few hundred of being pulled on principle; if not actual need, as far as match work goes and it may not be capable of the repeatable accuracy that might show up with the Exact die. So, we’ll try another barrel. A new one. Actually, a new two! So stay tuned, there’s more to come.
In September I purchased 2x new barrels which I got as blanks from the same production run (from Black Hole Weapons). I purchased a new custom reamer in 6XC that produces a chamber that is very tight to the dimensions of the Exact die. Thankfully you can order a reamer with any number of customizations and it’s still the same price as a custom reamer with just 1 custom dimension. Unfortunately it takes weeks for such a reamer to be made. Over the winter I handed the whole works over to a gunsmith friend of mine that also makes ultra-precise gauges as a business. So, he has the equipment and skills to set up barrels that are truly as identical as we could make them and identical enough for a useful experiment to come out of it despite a sample size that’s extremely small.
Anyway, I got both barrels cut, profiled and chambered identically. It was at great cost too. The cost to set each one up was double what I normally pay him to set up a barrel for me for each barrel with over 15 hours of work on each one. These are our new match barrels for the next 2 seasons too. Coach and I will be shooting from the same ammo box so we can share data. Maybe we’ll pick up a few points on same-day wind calls.
We did have a non-null result and from a different direction, which I also predicted. That was that with loads that were sized with my ExactShooting.com die we never had trouble closing the bolt. It was, in fact, always exactly the same effort. On the cases that we sized on the Redding neck die that Coach uses bolt close effort was either not much or a TON. Some post-facto testing later on with coach’s FL die showed the same random bolt close effort. This is obviously due to random headspacing which means that Coach’s FL die probably needs a thou or two buzzed off the bottom. Irrelevant though because we’re testing what’s available out of the box and his FL die out of the box didn’t cut it so I suspect that a lot of FL dies out there may be a little long or short and aren’t sizing things like people think they are.
That is only the results from a well used barrel. We will be running this exact same test using the 2 newly set up barrels. One will be on the same gun (Coach’s match rifle) while its twin which now has just under 400 rounds on it is on a different my “Hot Dog Gun” match rifle. I don’t expect any difference but I could wind up being surprised. The new barrel on Hot Dog Gun is extremely accurate so far, better than Coach’s rifle on its first day. We’ve already developed a load for the new barrel that runs things a bit faster (2980fps) so hopefully with more pressure more differences might start to manifest.
One of the cool things about the ES die is you can pull the body/shoulder portion out and still use the neck sizing portion which itself is easily adjustable for neck tension and neck sizing depth. When you start getting hard bolt close you can dial in .0005″ or .001″ or .0015″ or whatever amount of push-back on the shoulder with an easy click adjustment and know it’ll give that to you exactly. We’ll be running a neck tension accuracy test here real soon. We’ll see if .0005″ increments makes real differences on paper. First though, I’m ordering some brand new brass for that test.
Cost is fairly high for these dies but not unprecedented. That’s true but, beside the point. If you have the money then that’s not an issue anyway. Functionality is THE issue. It’s perfectly functional and makes it super easy to dial in neck tension at .0005″ increments for those really finicky loads, to dial neck sizing depth at .020″ increments and to dial how far back you actually push your shoulders in .0005″ increments. They’ll make one to a reamer print too. How precise are the dies? Well I had my machinist do some gauging to see if they were that precise and he was pretty darned impressed.
For benchrest guys and F-class guys, I think this is really packing the potential to up their game a bit but only because those guys tend toward having done everything else already. BR and F-class are the only places I can think of of offhand where neck tension and headspacing are tightly controlled by the shooters both routinely and with an obsession rarely seen.
Is it going to help joe sixpack? Well no, to be honest. Joe doesn’t know enough to get the potential benefit to begin with. Owners of this die will 100% want to keep their brass sorted by number of firings. They’ll know about what spring back is and why it’s important to them and a lot more. They will be the type that can’t deal with unexpected 5’s instead of 0’s or 1’s in the 4th decimal place of a measurement. The right owner for this die is someone very much like me in the respect that they are prone to setting up narrowly defined experiments and to analyze the statistical data that results before forming opinions. They’re nerds.
For Coach and I the benefit is being able to share ammo and ballistics data in a match, not running out of time anymore on match stages due to bolt cycling problems, not overworking or insufficiently sizing the brass and being able to make subtle adjustments with truly minimal effort as precisely as adjusting a tactical rifle scope.