Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bolt Barrel Breech Bullet... What?? Terms and Structures Guide For New Shooters Part I - Parts of The Gun

A guy in my office is looking to buy his first handgun. He went to talk to me and another guy who sits close by, about it. We started asking the standard questions, and we found that our terms and the terms that he was using were not at all the same, so if you are not around guns at all, I decided to work up a little guide.
Part I, Part II, Part III

How They Work

At their heart, guns are very simple devices. They are basically tubes with an explosive charge at the base. The tube must be strong enough to withstand the pressures of the explosion and force the projectile out of the open end of the gun.


What are the basic pieces that make up a firearm? They haven't changed since guns were first constructed. You need a breech, a Barrel, and some sort of trigger.

The barrel is what the projectile moves down. Why is it called a barrel? Back in the good old days people did not have the knowledge or teleology to cast metal in to a solid cylinder. They did know how to make many small curved staves of metal. So they would create these staves of metal, and put them all together with iron hoops, just like they did to make wooden barrels. Thus, the name. The ends of the barrel have special names. The front is called the muzzle, and the rear, the breech.
The inside of the barrel is called the bore. The bore is very important to the flight of the projectile. There are two types of bores that are used. The smooth bore, and the rifled bore. The smooth bore is just that. The bore is smooth all the way down to the breech. There is nothing in the bore to affect the flight of the bullet.
The rifled bore has spiral groves cut in to the bore to spin the bullet as it leaves the barrel. This stabilizes the flight of the bullet, and causes it to be more accurate.
Guns that have the rifled barrels are called "rifles."


The magazine is where ammunition is stored. With firearms it is where a firearm, capable of repeatable fire, keeps its ammunition. Shotguns typically use a tubular magazine underneath the barrel of the gun. Handguns have a removable magazine, or a revolving magazine, and rifles have a number of different types of magazines, from internal magazines to removable magazines, to tubular magazines.

This is a pistol magazine.

Never ever call a removable magazine a "clip." This is the wrong term. A "clip" is something that is used to aid in the loading of an internal fixed magazine.

This is a clip!


Firearms are loaded one of two ways, from the muzzle or from the breech. Obviously, those that are loaded from the muzzle are called "muzzle loaders." These types take considerable skill to operate, and are outside the scope of these descriptions.

Breech loading is the most common form in firearms these days. The problem with a breech loader is that you have a weakness at the point of explosion. To solve this you need something that will seal the breech so that the explosion only goes the way you want it to go. This is called the "block" or "breech block" or the "lock." With most firearms, the block exists as part of a more complex system called the "action."

Now we get in to where a lot of confusion occurs. The Action is typically defined as what manipulates the cartridges and seals the breech. This is a wide open term, because there a a number of ways to get this done. There are two types of actions, manually operated and, automatic. Automatic Actions are also called Auto-loading firearms. When you hear of an "automatic" handgun, it is because it is an Auto-loading hand gun.

The parts of the action very greatly depending on the type of gun. Repeating firearms have vastly more complex actions than the single shot variety. What you need to know is that the action is the part that opens or seals the breech.

Manual actions are, of course, the oldest types. That does not mean that the manual action is outdated. Indeed many new variations on the manual action are released every year. The only qualifier for an action to be a manual action is that the shooter has to do some step to enable the firearm to shoot. This can get confusing, as newer manual actions do so much mechanical work with a trigger pull that they are almost automatic.
A good example of a simple manual action firearm is the break action shotgun:

As you can see the action is manipulated by a leaver that breaks open the breech. Shells are then extracted and fresh ones inserted the action is again locked and the gun is ready to fire.

Automatic actions are newer and they, like their name implies, do all of the work for you. An automatic action typically uses the recoil or the gas of the exploding powder to run their cycle.
An example of automatic action is the Bretta 92:

Parts of the Action

Pieces parts!!
Parts of the action in a repeating firearm are remarkably similar. In a manual actions and automatic actions you are going to have something called the "bolt." The bolt is nothing more than a spring loaded piece of shaped metal. This piece acts as the breech block and housing for the firing pin (more on that guy later) and extractor.
In operation the bolt is moved backward, opening the breech. The extractor is a piece that grabs the spent casing and tosses it out of the chamber. A new round is brought up from the magazine and the bolt moves forward to put it in the chamber. The bolt then locks around the fresh round, and the firing pin is cocked backward.
Here is a bolt action rifle with the bolt open:

With pistols, the bolt is combined in a single piece called the "slide." Literally the entire top part of the pistol will move backward when firing. The back half of this is mostly all steel, the bolt.

Working the action

Now comes some confusing stuff... With the advent of repeating firearms, there has been the concept of single shot, semi-automatic, and automatic fire. This has to do with what happens when the trigger is pulled. All manually operated firearms are considered "single shot." One trigger pull, one shot. The action has to be worked manually for another shot to occur. That said, the only guns ever called "single shot" are the ones that can only only shoot once. A pump action shotgun is not called a single shot, it is called a pump action.

Semi-Automatic means that you get a shot every time you pull the trigger. There is no manual action that needs to occur between shots, just pull the trigger, boom.

Automatic means that the gun fires as long as the trigger remains pressed. Pull the trigger, boomboomboomboomboom.


The trigger is where the magic happens. Unfortunately, this is also where a lot of confusion reigns. The trigger has essentially three pieces. The actual trigger, the thing you pull with your finger, the hammer, and the firing pin. What happens when that trigger is pulled, especially in pistols, is what is cause for much of the confusion.

A typical firing action happens like this: The shooter pulls the trigger. The trigger releases the hammer, which is under tension by a spring. The hammer falls upon the firing pin, which strikes the primer (more on this later) which fires the gun.
That would be pretty simple, but designers have found ways around the hammer. This means you can seal up the trigger completely enabling the gun to work much more efficiently, and making them easer to operate. These hammerless designs have revolutionized all guns.

Now, let's step back for a moment. Many firearms still have a visible hammer. It is the thing you always see people cocking backward in the movies. In the pistol world, guns are still designated by having that hammer involved in the mix, even if that hammer doesn't exist. Having fun yet?
Repeating pistols are separated in to two categories by what "happens" when the trigger is pulled. Happens is in quotes because designs have evolved to eliminate most of what used to make up the definitions. But here we go anyway:
In the pistol world you have double action pistols and single action pistols. Double action pistols have triggers that have very long trigger pulls, and can cock the hammer, then release it all with a single trigger pull. A single action pistol, only releases the trigger when the trigger is pulled.
An example of a single action pistol is the Colt 1911 pistol.

The 1911 will only fire if the hammer is cocked back. The good news is that it does this for you automatically every time you fire the pistol, but the first time you fire, you must have the hammer cocked.

Double action pistols are somewhat confusing. Your typical double action pistol can fire in single action, the hammer cocked, or in double action, hammer is cocked then released in the single action. An example of a double action pistol is the Colt Anaconda:

Fun time!! Coming back to what I said before about the hammerless designs. The hammerless designs many are designated Double Action Only. Wait, you say, How can they be double action with out a hammer??? Good question. When a traditional double action pistol is being shot in double action mode the trigger pull is long and heavy. You really have to want to shoot what you are aiming at for a double action to go off. The manufacturers like this thought, and they kept it when they introduced their DAO pistols. So, double action in the modern pistol sense has come to mean, really long trigger pull. Because of this really long trigger pull, companies have been able to reduce the amount of external safeties built in to their pistols. It is difficult to be just playing around with such a long heavy pull and have it go off, so why do you need an extra switch to manipulate? An example of a DAO pistol is the Glock 17.

Even more fun time! If single action and double action haven't completely blown your mind, there are also Double Action/Single Action pistols! What these contraptions are pistols that act as double action the first time they are fired, then single action after ever succeeding shot. So, you have a long hard trigger pull the first time as the hammer is cocked back and released, but after that first shot is off, the hammer remains cocked, and the trigger pull is short and light. Most modern pistols that have, visible hammers, are DA/SA. The afore mentioned Beretta 92 is a good example, and so is my very first handgun, the Smith and Wesson 5906:


The bane of all new shooters! The external safety!
Most firearms will have some sort of mechanical safety. We will get to this in the safety post, but, in my opinion, they are all crap. They lead the shooter in to a false sense of security. How many shooting accidents have you heard about where the shooter said he thought the gun was on safe?
Anyway, a safety is a device that will keep the gun from firing. These need to be put in to the fire position before a gun can be fired.
They range from the flip safety shown on the 5906 and Beretta 92 above, from a back strap safety show on the 1911 (that piece of metal protruding out beneath the slide.) to the button safety on many shotguns.

You can tell if someone shoots a lot or not from how they manipulate the safety. Good shooters will get in to their firing position and will switch the safety to fire. They then settle in and take their first shot. After they are done shooting they will switch the gun to safe before relaxing from their shooting position.
New and inexperienced shooters will settle in then pull the trigger, nothing will happen, they then remember the safety, switch it off, resettle then shoot. The safety is then put back on as an after thought after they have relaxed from their shooting position.

Next post... Ammo!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Government Worker Unions are Dangerous

Money and politics. Politics and money. Government worker unions are the complete marriage of money and politics. Unfortunately it is the people's money that is being spent.

Let's take the example of a private sector business first, then expand that in to the public. The differences are what will make my argument for me.

I start a business building airplanes. If I wish to keep my business running I have to turn a profit. I can not just break even, because I must have some money on hand to buy new equipment and other capital expenditures and to increase salaries, etc. If I do not turn a profit, I have to close my doors, and sell all of my assets to pay all of my creditors. The management and staff of my company know that the money for the company is made by a quality product. If the business is run correctly, they work hard to produce just such a product. They have "skin" in the game. This is the way of the privateer.
If a government agency decides that they want to build airplanes, they do not need to turn a profit. They simply start making airplanes, asking for their budget from the congress, via their parent agency. Even if the airplane building division is run horribly, with many problems, it can still operate at a massive loss. They don't get their money from a good product, they get their money from the congress. The money will still be there even if the product is substandard.

Now we enter in unions. First I will qualify this by saying, I believe that unions have a place in the workforce. When business takes advantage of its workers, and puts them in unsafe conditions, unions are needed so that the individual labors can stand together to stop the unsafe practice. However, it is also the mandate of the State to ensure that the rights of the individual are not infringed upon by the company. Thus, the State, by force of law, should and and ought enact legislation to protect worker's rights. Such as a safe workplace. When the State steps in and does this, what is the role of the union? Collective bargaining.

So, the workers in my airplane factory unionize and come to the bargaining table. As the union represents all workers in my factory, I only need to negotiate once. If a deal is struck, everyone in the plant has the same deal. I know how well my company is doing and how much I can spend on each employee. I am only beholden to the company bottom line, thus there is a finite amount of money I can deal with. The union and I come to a deal with this bottom line in mind.

When the government worker union comes to the bargaining table, they deal with someone who is not beholden to the company, but to elected officials. The elected official, post 17th Amendment, is beholden to the people in his district. The elected official knows that if he gets the endorsement from the union, lots and lots of people in his district will vote for him. As he also has no skin it the game, and there is no mandate to turn a profit, the bottom line that the privateer has does not exist in the public sector. Unions are given nearly everything they ask for, as they essentially hold the elected official hostage with their endorsement.

This is why government unions are so powerful, and so dangerous. Government, post US vs Darby Lumber, essentially has a blank check to write. The unions know this and go after that brass ring. Ironically, the man who made this a reality, FDR, was staunchly anti union because of this very reason. His later successor, JFK, was the one who let the fox in the hen house.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Diamond DA 40

Great Shot!!

DA 40 TDI at dusk.

Cars Worth Buying

I will not be buying a car for several years. Mainly because my cars are paid off and I want to save some money... That and there are not a whole lot of cars out there today that are worth buying. I really really REALLY don't want any part of an American car company right now. They all took untold amounts of money from the tax payer, in one form or another (loans or outright buyouts). Not only that, but all American car companies are staffed by members of the United Auto Workers Union. I do not with to support an entity that is grievously outdated and responsible for much of the loss of manufacturing jobs to other countries. It wouldn't be so bad if the union would work with the management of the company to foster innovation, as well as make concessions when times are tough (see German Unions), but the UAW actively works to kill innovation, and, in the case of General Motors, caused the company's demise.

So, you will not see one car from an American company on my list. However, most of the cars appearing on the list are made in the good old USA. By non-union workers. So... Fuck you Detroit!!

My requirements... Manual transmission. Over 200 HP. That is it. I like "fun" cars, but there has to be a degree of practicality in them. I have to think of the car's primary mission, getting my fat ass to work and back, so I don't want something that only gets 10 MPG. Yet I don't want it to bore me to death.
I want a moon roof. I had one on a Celica that I owned a long time ago, and I have always missed it.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

305 HP 2.5-liter turbocharged SUBARU BOXER 4-cylinder
17/23 MPG

A take off of their Rally Sport car the Impreza WRX STI is something special. All wheel drive, 6 speed manual... Everything a boy wants.

Volvo C30 R-Design

227 HP 2.5-liter turbocharged Five-cylinder Engine
21/30 MPG
Better gas mileage, but not as many ponies the Volvo C30 is a unique design. The wife hates it... Says it has an ugly ass. I wouldn't say ugly, just interesting.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Sky Is Crying... Garry Moore is Gone


Business and the Liberal Mind Set

I like to think, that I can understand most people's points of view. I try to keep an open mind, and attempt to understand the multiple sides to a story. That story, though has to make some sort of logical sense. Things that don't make logical sense to me, I try to study to see if there is some sort of sense that I can not make out. If it does not make sense after study, I reject the idea as nonsense. Such is the case with Liberals and business.

From what I can gather... Liberals, I am talking about pretty much anybody involved in Government for more than a year or so, seem to believe that jobs, along with everything else, can simply be legislated in to existence. I have a very hard time with this. It makes no sense to me. Here is my confusion:

I have a business that produces something. I make cupcakes or wedding cakes or those boobie cakes that I see on TV... bobbies.... wait... what was I saying? Oh yeah, so I produce something. It doesn't matter what I produce, just that something is produced. I find that there are not enough hours in the day for me to get all of my work done, and I realize that if I had someone else working with me, I could expand my bobbie cake making. So, I work out how much money I can pay this new person so that with the minimal amount of expansion I can make back the costs of the employment. I do interviews and negotiate a salary with the candidate that I think will work with me the best. We work together and are able to produce more, take on more customers and make more money.

Simplistically, this is how business works. This is how jobs are created. The only obligation that the business has is to make its owner money. That is what it is there for. Money. Quality of product, customer service, clean bathrooms, all of that noise is there to increase the volume of customers coming in my door.

The business has expenses as well. The business needs to have a certain number of paying customers in order to remain in business. The utility bills need to be paid, the rent, or mortgage on my premises needs to be paid, the salary of my worker needs to be paid, and any taxes levied against the business needs to be paid. Yes, taxes are an expense of the business. I need to offset their cost by selling product. The more taxes the business pays, the more I have to charge per item to make up the cost. So, in the end, it is the consumer, not the business, who pays the business taxes.

So, it seems obvious to most people that when Government intervenes in business, it drives up the cost of business. Thus, the minimum amount of intervention seems prudent. It also seems obvious, to me anyway, that the only intervention of government in to business should be local government. Local government knows better how to handle the unique issues of its area. How can a federal government official, born in New York City, best know what is good for a boobie cake business in rural Wyoming? They can't. What's more they shouldn't try. Only an arrogant, pompous, douche bag would think they could do that.

However... Some things that have been said, recently, by prominent liberals have made me scratch my head. I don't get it. Yesterday in front of the Chamber of Commerce, President Obama stated:
If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America. They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future of this nation. That’s their obligation.
What? Really? No, that is not their obligation. Not at all. Who decides what is "decent wages"? The boobie cake business pays its workers as little as it can. Why? Not because it is evil, but because it only has so much that it can pay the workers and still turn a profit. If it does not turn a profit, then nobody is employed. If Government forces a certain wage on the business, the business will either go out of business, or not hire any more workers.
As the President, Mr. Obama makes statements that the Federal Government will act on. Again, how can someone born in Hawaii, raised all over the world, resides in Chicago, and works in Washington D.C. possibly decide what is decent wages in rural Wyoming? See previous statement.

During the Super Bowl, Will.I.Am of The Black Eyed Peas said in his song:
Obama, let’s get these kids educated, create jobs so the country stays stimulated.
What can the President do to create jobs? By our previous study, he can get out of business' way. Was that what Will.I.Am wants the President to do? Judging by Will.I.Am's previous statements, I very much doubt it. The Community Reinvestment Act was an attempt by Government to stimulate the economy and create jobs on a massive (Trillion dollar) scale. What happened? Nothing but more red ink. I am reminded of a story told of Milton Freedman when he was in China:
Prof. Friedman visited China in the early 1960s and was taken by a government official to see a public works project. Chinese workers were building a canal. Friedman was struck by seeing everyone digging the canal with shovels. Friedman asked the official, "why no heavy earth-moving equipment?" The official said, "oh, this is a jobs program." So Friedman then says to the official, "then why don't you just give them spoons instead of shovels to create even more jobs?
This seems to be the ultimate policy of the liberals. They want to "invest" in infrastructure by handing out spoons so that more people have a job. It makes no sense.

It seems that the liberal wants to fundamentally change the obligation of business. This is an impossible task. That would be akin to fundamentally changing the obligation of the heart from pumping blood to filtering toxins. Just as the heart is not the liver, business can not change what it is. You can, however, change the focus of business from the individual to the state. If business is owned by the state, then the business' obligation is to enrich or "invest" in, to use the nomenclature of the day, the state.

So we come back to the same tired conclusion. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has the internal organs of a duck, and the DNA of a duck, it is most likely not a monkey. Why do we persist in calling the liberal a monkey, when they are, in fact, a duck?

**Corrected for wrong name***

Friday, February 4, 2011

My REAL List

Christmas is over,and my birthday is fast approaching. So I think it is a great time to look within myself for some real greed.

This is what is really on my I want it really bad list:

Everything on my previous post about full size pistols. That takes care of that...

Springfield M1A1

This was the main battle rifle for a short time before the plastic M16 replaced it. A 7.62 round makes it a little hot, but it is much better than the stupidly light 5.56.
Accurate and dependable it is the ultimate hunting/Zombie killing weapon.

Keltek KSG

Sweet fancy Moses... A bullpup (gun with the grip in front of the breech) 12 gauge shotgun. 14 rounds. Semiautomatic. Such an awesome design. It has no real possible use other than to be super awesome.

Heckler & Koch G36K

I know, I know. I hate the 5.56 round. It sucks. It is a high powered .22 that the military only uses because people no longer knew how to shoot, and were afraid of the recoil of the larger round. BUT lots of cool designs have come of it and the HK G36K is super cool.
A bullpup design with all kinds of accessories and neat stuff. HK is known for quality... but crappy customer service.

Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

Wow... I wish they were not owned by the AWU, and the Government... This might be the only new car out there that would be worth the payments.
GM built this thing as kind of a marketing goof. I can't imagine any soccer moms wanting to buy it. Why?
It has a 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine. The same engine found in Corvette. That beast has 556 horsepower and 551 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history. It will go 0-60 in four seconds.
It has a Magnetic Ride Control that automatically senses if you need the ride of a Cadillac or if you need the ride of a Formula 1 race car. Rumor is that it will be priced at about $62K. A laughably low price. There is no possible way that GM will make money on the car. To add to this theory, the silly thing is available with a manual transmission. Really GM?? Who is going to buy this thing? ME!!!!

Ducati 848

Fast, sexy, full of awesome. It is the ultimate super bike.

Yamaha Star Raider S

Yamaha's new cruiser design. It is supposed to replace the Road Star Warrior, I don't think it does, but it is still super cool.

Cessna Corvalis TT

What used to be the Columbia 400 is now the Cessna Corvalis TT. Slippery as all get out, it is the fastest conventionally powered, fixed gear production airplane in the world. I recently had a flight instructor tell me that it was too slippery. It was too fast. What a cool problem to have!

Mooney Acclaim Type S

The fastest single engine production aircraft in the world. It also has a range of 1400NM. I could fly nonstop from Dumbfuckville to New York, or Los Angeles. It is the ultimate single engine long distance cruiser.

Cirrus Vision Jet

Not much range, but wow what a design. It is sex in the air.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Blame Al Gore...

Notice how Tampa and Miami had nice warm sunny days, while the rest of the country was in the deep freeze.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What the...

It's a test right Chuck? You were just seeing if we knew? Right??? You scare me just the way you are, but this is just you having a laugh, right?? RIGHT?????????