Monthly Archives: August 2012

Duffelblog: now we’ve seen everything (Updated x3)

Take a minute in your busy day to have some sympathy for poor Jack Tobin. The newly elected president of the Special Forces Association, the major association of Green Beret veterans, is dealing with a lot of outraged old-timers that are seeing the following story or excerpts therefrom, and haven’t figured out that the Duffel Blog is satire. 

It’s not serious, guys. It’s a joke.

President Obama To Receive Honorary Green Beret, Induction Into Special Forces Association | The Duffel Blog.

Fort Bragg, NC – The White House Press Office announced today that President Obama will soon be inducted into the Special Forces Association and receive an honorary Green Beret.
Officials have said the honor will be bestowed in an upcoming September 11th ceremony at Fort Bragg.

The honorary beret comes in recognition of the President’s decisive role in covert operations throughout the world during his term — including the killing of Osama bin Laden last year in Pakistan, and his combat action in Afghanistan months ago.

Army Public Affairs has confirmed that Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland will personally present Obama with his beret and a specially engraved Fairbairn-Sykes combat knife.

Now, like all the best Duffel Blog posts, there’s a germ of truth in there. For example, Senator Mean Jeane Shaheen (D-NH) told a local crowd that the President personally led the raid, making one wonder whether she knows it’s false (which would speak rather badly of her), or thinks it’s true (which would speak even worse of her), or has been in Washington long enough she can’t tell the difference (if we had to place a bet, that’s where we’d lay down our marker — and we’re not sure what that says about her, but she probably wouldn’t like it).

And the POTUS does seem to be second to none in the politician’s game of self-regard, although the rest of the DC gang seems to be, if lacking his all-star level of hubris, at least playing in the major leagues with him.

And meantime, when Jack Tobin’s phone rings, for the next few days and maybe from time to time for years to come, he knows he’ll be having to talk some outraged SF vet down from the ledge of imminent myocardial infarction.

It’s the Duffle Blog, people. It’s a freakin’ joke.

(It’s an almost perfect joke, but there is one dead give-away in there that would flag an actual SF guy to the lack of legitimacy of the post, if he read with care… we won’t mention it because there’s no reason to enable wannabes).

But the best reaction came to an SF vet who mischievously forwarded the link to a local busybody Democrat activist. She responded that she fact-checked the link and it was all true!


UPDATE: We’re still getting mail indicating that major luminaries in the Special Forces community — we mean, not guys like us but real major luminaries that books are deservedly written about — are missing the joke and getting furious. It’s the Duffle Blog, for crying out loud!

UPDATE II: And we were just joking about Tobin, but he’s issued a statement for the record denying that the SFA has any such plans.

UPDATE III: This is the statement from the Special Forces Association:

A recent satirical article on an internet blog called Duffleblog reported that President Obama was receiving an honorary membership in the Special Forces Association, this is not true, I do not find where the author of this article finds humor in his work, but I do not. Few honorary berets have been awarded they have gone to individuals have provided great support to our Regiment, Maggie, the Duke, Ross Perot, people who stood and have stood with the Regiment in good times and bad, and who have honored the Regiment with their support and contributions.

Colonel Tobin asks for the widest possible dissemination. Personally, we do see the humor in the article, but if we were getting heat from hundreds or thousands of retired SF guys, it would probably wear pretty thin.

Deaf Preschooler Meets a Buzzsaw of Hate

The kid’s only three, too young to be absorbing the lessons that could be learned from his school’s actions and reactions lately. He went to preschool, like most kids, not entirely sure what to expect. No matter how he’d been prepared, though, he wouldn’t have been ready for what he ran into from the Grand Island, Nebraska, Public Schools: a pretty good equivalent to Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate.

What’s to hate about a three-year-old kid? Now, if you ask that question, you’re probably not fit to be a Grand Island administrator. See, it’s the kid’s name, combined with his handicap. His name is Hunter Spanjer. Because he’s deaf, he signs, and the sign language his family uses. Signing Exact English, expresses “Hunter” with a modified finger-gun gesture (with the index and second fingers crossed). This ran afoul of the biens-pensants on the Grand Island School board, and their Policy No. 8470 (pdf file), which says:

Students are forbidden to knowingly and voluntarily possess, handle, transmit or use any instrument in school, on school grounds or at school functions that is a firearm, weapon, or looks like a weapon as defined by the State of Nebraska Criminal Statutes, the federal laws found in Section 18 USCS Section 921 and in the administrative procedures for this policy 8470.

This policy shall cover any object or item which could be used to injure another person or whose clear intent is to resemble an item which could cause injury and which has no school-related reason for being in a school or on school grounds. Such items will be considered “weapons” for the purposed of this policy. Students who are in possession of the aforementioned articles will be subject to mandatory suspension or expulsion procedures.

This retarded policy is founded in the general, inchoate  loathing that people of a certain cast of politics, intellect, and emotion have towards guns and the gun culture. Of course, those political, intellectual and emotional traits are vastly overrepresented in the work-light and accountability-free zone of public incarceration  Dewey concentration camp  schooling. The idiocy of applying Policy No. 8470 to a kid’s name never seems to have struck them. (Well, the general idiocy of Policy No. 8470 never struck them, either).

Someone at the school — they’re perhaps understandably not saying who — told the kid he’sgoing to have to change his name, or at least his sign. This created such a fur-ball that the entire school system hierarchy, superintendent, and school board have gone into hiding from the media, sending some chump named Jack Sheard whom the website identifies as a marketing spokesman to do what marketing people do — lie for them.

A man of great intellect and integrity would have found that a hard mission, and Grand Island doesn’t have one, just Jack Sheard. “We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child,” he repeated to media, like an old talking doll that had only one saying when you pulled the string.

After a local media aired the story, a petition demanding an end to Grand Island Public School’s Stalinist attempt to rename the kid to suit their politics got rolling. A local report:

Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.

Petition letter on addressed to GIPS asking officials to let Hunter Spanjer keep his sign name.

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.

Grand Island’s “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 forbids “any instrument…that looks like a weapon,” But a three year-old’s hands?

via Grand Island Preschooler Asked to Change the Sign for His Name in School.

Since then, Jack Sheard has plumbed new depths of dishonesty. He posted an online  denial, and fed the same atatement to the press, that was extremely cagily worded:

Grand Island Public Schools is not requiring any current student with a hearing impairment to change his or her sign language name.

How many weasel words has Jack (or the System attorneys, who probably drafted the statement) jammed into one sentence? They aren’t askingHunter to change his name, just his sign. By changing his sign language. Sheard insists that if the kid just used American Sign Language, which the State of Nebraska requires, his hand-sign for himself wouldn’t be the gunnish thing that has Sheard and his mates in the district bureaucracy filling their diapers.

But even that’s a lie. The local media learned:

The Nebraska Department of Education told Nebraska Central News, there are no state regulations for students using sign language.

Meanwhile, apart from Sheard, who recites the party line and diverges not, the district administrators might as well grace milk cartons for all the leadership they’ve shown in this shameful matter. (Note: we linked to the page so you can guess how far of 1000 IQ points that page is. We do not recommend you contact the administrators. Unless you live in and pay taxes in Grand Island, you’d be wasting your time, and even then — well, look at them. You’d still be wasting your time).

Two last comments:

  1. Maybe this is part of why Americans look down on public schools, according to a Gallup survey analyzed in the Washington Times. (Hat tip Glenn Reynolds).
  2. If all of the school district’s mistreatment of Hunter Spanjer wasn’t enough, they sign off their communiques with a Stalinist slogan: “Our mission remains: Every Student, Every Day, a Success!” One gets the impression that they don’t want Hunter Spanjer, but they fantasize about having Pavlik Morozov in their classrooms, and overfulfilling their Five-Year Plan.

Whack! AAC notes silencer-ready Remington .45 is shipping

Remington is always in the news these days, whether because it’s teetering on the brink of leaving its Ilion, New York home where well over a century’s gun history has been made, or shipping new and highly-coveted products.

At the NRA annual show this year, Remington showed a silencer-ready version of the R1 .45 Auto, , itself an updated 1911 design, mated to an AAC titanium-cased silencer.

AAC announced this week that the hush-ready Rem is shipping:



You may remember the R1 Enhanced Threaded 1911 I gave you a preview of from the NRA show earlier this year:

via Advanced Armament Corp. » New Remington R1 Enhanced Threaded is here.

The 1911 makes a great suppressor host for a number of reasons. The round’s naturally subsonic, so you don’t have a transonic crack to deal with. The weapon is reliable enough, and its design flexible enough, to function with several weights of suppressor. Gunsmithing the 1911 does not require arcane knowledge or risky experiments; what makes one run is well known and widely practiced. And plenty of good suppressors are available in the caliber.

Some aspects of the Remington R1 don’t particularly please us. The deep engraving, which we know is required by ATF regulation, looks crude and cheap to us, but that’s obviously a matter of taste, and de gustibus non disputandum est. While we’re bagging on the gun, we also dislike the rough-ish slide serrations, compared to the high-style narrow serrations of 100-years-ago’s model.  But the Enhanced Threaded Barrel model comes suppressor ready, including tall sights and a number of currently trendy tacticool enhancements.

MSRP is $1140, and the complete press release is here.

You know, if Secret Service agents had these, they’d probably make an effort to hang on to them, unlike their dreadful DAO SIGs.

Hey, dude, where’s my gun?

At some time the title phrase must have crossed the mind, if not the lips, of a Secret Service slacker who did his or her business in the restroom on presidential candidate Mitt romney’s chartered Campaign jet –and departed, leaving his or her gun behind.

The weapon, presumably left behind in the bathroom by accident, was discovered by a CBS News/National Journal reporter, who alerted a flight attendant about the gun. A member of the Secret Service on board the plane was informed and retrieved the gun.Romney has traveled with Secret Service protection since early February and has an armed detail assigned to him at all times. His wife, Ann, was just assigned her own detail – albeit a smaller one – last Friday.

via Secret Service gun inadvertently left in Romney plane lavatory – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

The exact make and model of the pistol abandoned by the careless special agent is unknown; the CBS reporter wasn’t able to ID it beyond “black and scary.” The Secret Service once used Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers, but adopted SIG 226 (9mm) and later 229 (.357 SIG) pistols in the 1990s, and have been reported by credible sources, but not direct from the Secret Service anywhere we can find, to also use the FN FiveSeveN pistol and P90 PDW in the low-intermediate 5.7 x 28mm caliber. Currently, they are in the throes of exchanging the 229s for the 229 DAK variant, a less accurate double-action-only version of the pistol that is beloved by police managers with little confidence in their officers’ gun-handling, and no interest in training their way out of the problem.

Secret Service agents receive much more extensive firearms training than other Special Agents, at an add-on course after their basic Criminal Investigator training, but that hasn’t translated into a superior safety record. In April, 2007, a couple agents clowning around with guns at the White House wound up hospitalized when one of them had a negligent discharge. There were no lasting, career consequences to either agent.

in a well-run organization (for example, in a Tier 1 special-operations unit), these would be firing offenses, and in any organization, negligent discharges or loss of weapon should  be dismissal-for-cause offenses. But the Secret Service, just like all the other federal agencies, does not take gun safety or accountability seriously. The 2007 negligent shooter wasn’t fired, and the SS has already closed ranks around the individual, reportedly a supervisor, who abandoned a sidearm in the charter jet crapper:

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told CBS News/National Journal in a statement: “We are aware of the incident. We take the care and custody of our equipment, especially firearms, very seriously. We will deal with this matter internally and in an appropriate manner.”

Note: 1. they haven’t named the irresponsible agent; 2. they haven’t fired the irresponsible agent; 3. Donovan has issued a bunch of empty platitudes (“we take…[this] very seriously”) while 4. actually stonewalling the media. The agency’s action, or more accurately, inaction, contrasts sharply with Donovan’s empty words, and illustrates why newsmen come to distrust such official spokesmen. (In Donovan’s defense, he probably has been stonewalled himself and all he can do is sling platitudes and lie about the Service taking it seriously). The person in question will be removed from the Romney detail, a temporary awshit will go in his (her?) file, and if the person in question is a favorite of management, another plum assignment will be coming after a “decent interval.”

The Romney detail is reportedly not a happy place inside the US Secret Service, in part because agents and support personnel are being debriefed by polirical appointees for nuggets of information useful to the Obama campaign, driving a wedge of distrust between the detail agents and Romney’s staff. This latest bonehead stunt, and the Service’s failure to make an example of the miscreant, won’t help.

This certainly casts a new light on the Secret Service insisting on disarming local police and US military personnel in the presence of the New Nobility that they protect from the peasantry.

A rare class act from the media

It’s not often that we pen a sentence like the headline (Pen? -Ed. Well, what are we going to say? “not often that we WordPress a sentence?” Get real! OK, go with “pen.” -Ed.). But we have to do just that in response to a decision by the producers and staff of CBS’s 60 minutes.

When word of the book was announced last week, a few news organizations discovered Mark Owen’s real name and published it. As a result, he’s a marked man — in hiding — probably for the rest of his life. We will not reveal his true name.

via SEAL tells 60 Minutes book is for honor, not politics – CBS News.

We’re sure we don’t love you guys any more than we did last week, and we’re sure your regard for us hasn’t changed either. But that was the right decision. Thank you, CBS News, for acting like responsible adults.

By the way, CBS didn’t mention them by name, but the news agencies that fell all over themselves to out the guy were Fox News (!) and the Associated Press, or as we’ve called it since Bilal Hussein days, the Associated (with terrorists) Press.  (And this outing has had predictable consequences: various luminaries in the underworld of Islam have called for the SEAL author’s beheading). You might want to think about their demonstrated ethics when any of these news agencies come calling. (Don’t just no-comment them, though: send them on wild-goose chases with fanciful but plausible lies).

You might ask, why bother to keep a secret now, when the cat has been debagged on cable and wire already? This is why: the threat to “Mark Owen” is not just, and not principally, highly organized Al-Qaeda cels that will conduct thorough IPB and systematic net searches to learn facts about him. (Newsmen trying to do that, by the way, have descended on a completely unrelated family that have had the ill luck to buy  a house where “Owen’s”  family formerly dwelt. Oddly enough, the intrepid journalists didn’t write about that one, our frogman friend Brandon Webb over at Sofrep did — normally we’d link to the exact post, but, the name thing, you know?). The threat is primarily the single, radicalized, disorganized Moslem who seeks to advance himself in that faith by whacking somebody. This is the rationalization mechanism that leads to the attacks called “sudden jihad syndrome” (or “workplace violence” if you’re a DHS official failing to understand Nidal Hasan).

Along with Hasan’s murder spree, this same thought pattern led to a grenade attack by a traitorous Moslem soldier, Hassan Akbar, in Iraq in 2003 and the NC-Chapel Hill vehicular assault on March 3, 2006, This is, in fact, the rationalization mechanism behind some of the green–on-blue murders that have so dominated the news from Afghanistan lately.

The Sudden Jihad Syndrome terrorist is a disorganized and opportunistic attacker. Accordingly, mentioning the name of the SEAL author does increase his exposure to exactly the threat most likely to have an opportunistic shot at him.

That may not be why CBS didn’t mention his name, but it’s a why we don’t. And you shouldn’t, either.

Not the gun safety argument she intended

Susan Fleming wasn’t happy when her boyfriend brought his shotgun to their home. Somewhat the worse for drink, she taught him a gun safety lesson — by blowing a hole in the wall of their house. From the local boob-tube station (emphasis ours, though):

Officials say Susan Fleming argued with her 55-year-old boyfriend Friday night after learning he had brought his loaded 12 gauge shotgun into their Aloha home. Part of the argument included a discussion on gun safety, including how to properly handle a loaded firearm.

Police say Fleming intentionally fired the shotgun and blew out a hole in a wall about the size of a softball. They say she wasn’t trying to shoot her boyfriend, who was in the room.

Fleming was arrested and taken to the Washington County Jail. She faces charges of unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, recklessly endangering another person and criminal mischief.

via Woman fires shotgun blast during gun control argument | Offbeat | KLEW CBS 3 – News, Weather and Sports – Lewiston, ID.

We’ll spare you the mug shot of Ms Fleming, who looks like someone who’d be unpleasant to live with even if she wasn’t brandishing a loaded shotgun. If you must see the end product of a midnight dash through the ugly forest, with a solid impact on every trunk and branch, you can click through to the link.

It’s hard to say there’s any lesson to be learned from this. Just the same old lessons that didn’t sink in the first time, again. Well, and maybe one new aphorism: Impromptu live-fire gun-safety demonstrations are almost always a bad idea. Even sober.

W4: Steve’s Cartridge Pages (with a digression into PO Ackley)

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week is: Steve’s Pages cartridge information: diagrams and dimensons. We might have cited Steve Ricciardelli’s website before, but we’re pointing you at one page today: Steve’s Cartridge Dimension Page.

The need came up when we were recently handed an ancient Winchester Model 70 with an aftermarket barrel and an unusual marking: “.223 Ackley Improved.” The guy who owns the gun inherited it from a relative, who had in turn inherited it from somewhere. And the question was, what was it, and what could he shoot in it?

“I could google it, or I could ask you,”our friend said. (We’re flattered, but we know what he means. Not everything on the web is, shall we say, canonical doctrine).

P.O. Ackley was a gunsmith, gunwriter and serial cartridge wildcatter. His signature mark was to take a sporting or military cartridge and make it an “Ackley Improved,” by reducing the taper in the main body of the case, and steepening the angle of the shoulder. This increased case volume and, often, achievable velocities and energies. (It’s worth noting that Ackley himself often just named the cartridge “Improved,” but it became customary to add “Ackley” to give him credit).

The Ackley Improved cartridges (of which there are a great many) are improved from a hunter’s standpoint, perhaps, but there’s a reason the original cases were made with a less abrupt shoulder and more case taper in the first place: for best function in repeating, automatic, and semi-auto weapons. Therefore, Ackley’s ideas have been less influential in military than in civilian gunsmithery.

Gun Digest has a set of four articles on and by Ackley that will tell you a great deal about these interesting wildcat cartridges, that you can download by giving up your email address (and consenting for them to spam you with gun news, mostly new product press releases. You can always unsubscribe if the inbox clutter bugs you). Two W4 links for the price of one today! Enjoy.

Now, to our old Model 70. Reloading data for some of the Ackley Improved cartridges is in the major reloading manuals, and the cases can usually be fireformed from the source case — in this case (no pun intended), .223 or even 5.56 NATO brass (quality 5.56 cases might last longer after fire forming).  You should be timid about using el cheapo surplus ammo for reloading, however, and you should give a particularly hairy eyeball to Russian-sourced ammo.

But the .223 AI is not in any of the major manuals. It has about 13% more case capacity than the SAAMI .223, and with light bullets is capable of some amazing speeds: 35 grain bullets can come out of the muzzle at over 4500 feet per second (and spinning at hundreds of thousands of RPM, making it a pretty good test of your bullet-maker’s core-jacket adhesion). Start with .223 data — not maximum loads — and work up to the .223 max load. Beyond that you’re on your own. Here are some .223 AI loads on Reloader’s Nest.

One should exercise care loading the .223 AI, for while SAAMI .223 is not loaded to high pressures, loads which reach the velocities of the military 5.56 round with equivalent bullet weights (i.e. your 3,000-fps-plus loads) may be creeping towards overpressure. This next caution is a bit of moot boilerplate, without any loads in the major (Speer, etc) manuals, but NEVER exceed the loads in the reloading manual, unless you’re prepared to experiment with an instrumented test weapon, strain gages, etc.

We’ve heard some scary things from chuckleheads who assume there’s some percentage of safety margin in published loading data. There isn’t. The stuff in the manual is the load that was tested and found safe. Exceed that, and you’re experimenting with something that can kill you.

While many have died to advance science over the centuries, you would be quite dead and most likely whatever data survived you would be incomplete and no use to anybody. So you will have died so as not to advance science. This is tantamount to the various death sequences that begin, “Hold my beer and watch this.”

If you have a use for a .223 AI rifle — prairie dogs, for example — that’s one thing. For the casual shooter the lack of available fixed ammunition makes it a bit of a curiosity (you can shoot commercial .223 ammo in it, which will probably be accurate, and will yield fireformed .223 AI brass). That poor Model 70 is worth less at resale now than it would have been with its original barrel, whatever it was; as a rule of thumb, you can’t sell something you customized extensively for what you paid for it. That would require you to find someone with the exact same tastes as yours.

A Ghillie Suit never struck us the same way

This clown suit is a typical store-bought ghillie suit. It’s made for a lazy hunter who does not plan to low crawl. Or a Sasquatch wannabe.

Starting in the 1980s, Ghillie Suits (named for the Scottish word for gamekeeper, as Scots gamekeepers presumably invented the thing) have been trendy for military snipers. Especially the Hollywood kind –in the real world, they’re usually more of a pain in the neck than they’re worth.

An effective one really needs to be made, or at least customized, on scene, but trend-seeking people often demand instant gratification, and so commercial “Ghillie suits” are for sale out there. One supposes that there are guys crawling around stalking Bambi’s dad in terrain-inappropriate store-bought ghillies, misunderstanding the difference between hding from humans and hiding from the very different visual systems of game animals, but whatever blows their skirt up, you know? It’s a free country.

Enter, and too soon, exit, one Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana. Mr Tenley had observed a certain resemblance between the dull, imitation-vegetation appearance of a ghillie suit, and some (certainly fake) Sasquatch photos. Wouldn’t have been the first phony Sasquatch, but he was the first one, we think, who tried to do it by dressing like a shrub and walking down a highway. Late at night. Illustrating why people don’t do that.

“Alcohol may have been a factor,” [Montana Highway Patol Trooper] Schneider said. “Impairment is up in the air.”

You think?

If “impairment was up in the air,” well, so was Mr Tenley, at least briefly between the first vehicle which struck him and the second which ran his well-concealed but prone carcass over.

Both of the vehicles which struck Mr Tenley at about 10:30 PM Sunday night were driven by teenage girls from Somers, Montana. Trooper Schneider again:

“He was trying to make people think he was Sasquatch so people would call in a Sasquatch sighting. You can’t make it up. I haven’t seen or heard of anything like this before. Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”

Our source for this story was the local paper, the Daily Inter Lake, which observed: “Ghillie suits are commonly used by military snipers and some that are advertised on the Internet have a Bigfoot-like appearance.”

We’ve seen a few ghillie suits and even made a couple, and we have to say the resemblance never struck us the way it struck poor Mr Tenley.

Source: Sasquatch stunt takes a tragic turn on highway – Daily Inter Lake: Local/Montana.

Update: apparently using a ghillie suit to fake a bigfoot sighting wasn’t a brainstorm unique to the late Mr Tenley. Here’s a couple chuckleheads discussing just that (YouTube link) some months ago, at least according to the video description (we didn’t watch more than enough to be glad we’re not gonna watch the rest. Life is short and duty calls).

Come for the Shovels, stay for the Swords

Swords and sword-fighting are a long time issue of ours, and once we’ve gotten past our amusement with the Russian and Russophile fascination with shovel fighting, we know that the art of sword fighting was once the peak of combat effect, and it seems obvious that the best guides to that art would be found in historical materials from that period.

Of course, sword-fighting never went away from popular culture, and it’s been a staple of Hollywood for nearly a century. But one has an instinctive feeling that Hollywood’s choreographed swordfights are as phony as their fist- and gun-fights; and that they’re doing it wrong. Sword expert J. Clements of the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts agrees in a long essay:

It is the stuff of Hollywood sword-fights and renaissance-faire fight shows: a swordsman cuts with his or her blade and in defense the opponent lifts their own sword to directly receive the blow at 90-degrees on the center of their blade. The two blades clash in the middle edge-on-edge with a loud “clang!”  There is just one problem. No two cutting-swords—historical or replica, authentic or modern, Asian or European —would withstand such abuse without their edges being severely gouged in the process. This is a problematic issue of historical fencing exploration that can be addressed reasonably and factually.

When it comes to historical swordsmanship, such a description stands in direct contrast to how edged weapons were actually handled and employed. It contradicts the very dynamic of effective and efficient fighting and resembles little in the way of sword combat described in Medieval and Renaissance fencing literature.

via Edge Damage on Swords.

He goes on at rather great length about the historical sources, so it’s worth reading the whole thing. But here’s another taste:

In the chronicle of the deeds of the 15th century knight, Don Pero Niño, we read how in a fight against the Moors, “the blows fell upon good armour, though not so good but that it was broken and bent in many places.  The sword he used was like a saw, toothed in great notches, the hilt twisted by dint of striking mighty blows, and all dyed in blood.”  At the end of the siege of the City of Tuy in 1397, we are also told again how Niño’s sword “blade was toothed like a saw and dyed with blood.”  Later, Pero Niño sent this sword by a page to France, “with other presents to my Lady of Serifontaine.” (De Gamez, p. 196.)  Given the context of this description, where Nino’s shield, armor, and sword are all damaged from especially heavy fighting, it would not seem unreasonable that he then gives his ruined sword away as a token of his chivalric courage. Certainly, we have no way of knowing if his sword edge was damaged from striking armor and shield rims or from striking other blades, let alone from parrying cuts (something less likely if he had a shield and full armor as described).  Regardless, the recognition that Nino’s sword edge had sustained heavy damaged so that it looked “like a saw” and was “toothed in great notches” from use is indicative that such a condition was certainly not a good thing for a functional blade. Above all, he did not enter combat with his prized weapon in such a condition.

Yes, that’s one single dense paragraph in the original.

Now, perhaps some of this is the well-known tendency for martial arts entrepreneurs to see no merit in, and consequently trash-talk, their competitors. An example which seems to be Clements doing just that is here.  But Clements’s approach of going back to period sources is to be commended. There is a great deal more information on the site.

HURSTWIC is an organization which takes a similar approach, not to the combat of the 13th through 15th centuries but to the earlier Viking era. Theirs, too, is an approach that combines archival research (in this case, in Norse sagas, mostly) with athletics. Compared to Renaissance and even medieval European sources, of course, Viking primary sources are few and this gives rise to some problems of interpretation. A page on Sword and Shield Combat Technique is one of many restatements of this problem on the Hurstwic site:

[W]e don’t really know how weapons were used in the Viking age. We don’t have any material that teaches us how Vikings used their weapons. The best we can do is to make some educated guesses based on a number of sources, as described in an earlier article.

This article summarizes some of the fighting moves we believe were used by Vikings when fighting with sword and shield. Not surprisingly, as we continue our research, my opinions on the nature of Viking-age combat have changed. Our interpretation of the moves is always in flux. So, please be aware that the techniques illustrated in these web articles may not always represent our most current interpretation. Notably, in the past, we have depended more heavily on the later combat treatises than we currently do. That bias remains in this and other articles on the Hurstwic site. We plan to edit the articles to reduce those biases as time permits and as our research unfolds.

Our most current interpretation is outlined in the article on the “shape” of Viking combat and illustrated by several videos on that page showing fighting moves from the sagas.

That article s found here and it is fascinating to watch the Hurstwic team grapple with these mysteries, to understand ancient armed combat, as they have only a few sources. Even these few have their limits: the sparse descriptions in the sagas, the known characteristics of Viking weapons, and their own powers of logic. Their own opinions have changed as their knowledge has grown, which is inevitable in a scientific approach to almost anything. They are keenly aware that their scientific approach rests on a foundation of assumptions, but what they’re doing is extremely interesting.



Lord Love Giduck

Last time we spent any time on phony SF / Ranger / HE-ro / Legend-in-his-own-mind John Giduck, we were having a belly laugh at his pathetic display of “authentic Spetsnaz shovel fighting” on YouTube.

Now, a shovel has been used as an infantry combat weapon (we once knew a man who’d won the Medal of Honor, in part, with the stout old Korean War entrenching tool) and more than a handful of unfortunates have been murdered with one. But thanks to Ian at Forgotten Weapons and translator Boris Karpa we have an English translation of A. A. Tarasov’s 1941 manual, Destroy the Enemy in Hand-to-Hand Combat, which contains a small chapter of real no-kidding Soviet shovel doctrine.

The book not only provides some instruction in shovel combatives, it even distinguishes between the large shovel (like the one in your engineer kit) and the small shovel (the Russian e-tool, a copy of the German type). It even illustrates the shovel moves (they seem completely unrelated to Giduck’s spastic shovel opera, which needs to be performed to the Benny Hill Theme).

An experienced fighter can defeat the enemy in hand-to-hand combat using not only a rifle with a bayonet, but one without a bayonet, or even a shovel. The ready position for a rifle without a bayonet or a large shovel is shown in Fig. 52-53.

In the hands of an experienced fighter, the small infantry shovel also becomes an awe-inspiring weapon. Learn to fight with the small shovel. Carry out all deflections and blows with the shovel rapidly,

Tarasov, A. A. (2012-08-13). Destroy the Enemy in Hand-to-Hand Combat (An Authentic Field Manual of the Red Army) (Kindle Locations 237-243). Di Lernia Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Kindle edition’s cheap and easy (if you don’t have a Kindle, you can get an app that mimics one on Mac, Windows and iPad/Phone etc). Because we aren’t affiliated with Amazon, why don’t you go through Forgotten Weapons to check out, and if you’re interested, buy, this book? Buying through Ian’s link doesn’t cost you a dime more, and provides a small commission to Forgotten Weapons so that they can keep bringing us good and interesting content.

And it’s interesting to see, that in 1941 as the Russians prepared this manual, they still had a partnership with their then-ally, Adolf. And their “bad guy” in illustrations, even though he’s nought but a silhouette, is dressed in what appears to be a British helmet, gaiters, and pack.