Monthly Archives: February 2015

Saturday Matinee 2015 09: 49th Parallel (1941)

49th ParallelSome of the sites describing this video describe it as a propaganda film. It is that, in the sense that it was produced by a wartime combatant (Britain) and meant to stir emotions in the citizens of a noncombatant (the USA, at that time). Accordingly, the movie shows some of the things you’d expect an American to believe about Canada and Canadians — the happy Inuit, the voluble French trappers.

But it’s more than just propaganda. Because “propaganda film” brings to mind the mindless paeans to various dictators over the years, and has a connotation (often deserved) of dreadful quality. This movie does not deserve to be tarred with that same brush.

Fortunately, you do not need to take our word for it; you can decide for yourself, because the copyright for  has lapsed. Therefore, we have the opportunity to embed the whole movie for you here.

The story is essentially this: a German submarine, U-37, is operating off Newfoundland. Hunted by Canadian planes and ships after sinking a merchantman, the Germans choose to take refuge in Hudson’s Bay, where they are found and sunk by Canadian planes that are Lockheed Hudsons in some shots and ancient Douglas types in others (the RCAF did operate these aircraft during the war). But before U-37 went the way of all flesh, her skipper landed a foraging party of two officers and four men, who were supposed to raid a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post for food and fuel. Now, they must survive, a situation for which their preparation is inadequate. And they must try to evade their way from the Canadian near-arctic to neutral territory — presumably, across the border into the neutral USA.


In true Hollywood Nazi fashion, the Germans blow every chance to make friends and influence people.

Johnny, a trapper (played with verve and over-the-top Acadian diction by a young Laurence Olivier), doesn’t believe a word of the stories he’s told — after a year running his trapline, unaware there was a war on — about Germans having strafed Polish civilians.

“The German, he’s an ordinary man like us. I wouldn’t do that. You wouldn’t do that. So I’m not going to believe they would do that.” The Germans, of course, make him a believer before they’re done.

But the Germans move on, their ranks thinned by mishap and enemy action, trying to get to the United States, from which they may be able to get back home and back into the war.

Acting and Production

While it absolutely was made as a propaganda film, the movie was made by screen professionals and production values were not compromised for didactic value. 49th Parallel is well-shot and well-acted, and the cast is chockablock with British pros: Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard and Raymond Massey (actually a Canadian; this is the only movie in which he ever played a Canadian character!). The Hutterite leader Peter is played by Anton Walbrook; Walbrook donated half his fee to the IRC, and the three big-name stars simply worked for half pay, because they believed in the movie’s message — and the creatives’ ability to deliver it.

Arguably the best performance is the forgotten Irish actor Niall MacGinnis as the baker-turned Engine Room Artificer, Vogel.

The director, Michael Powell and the writer Emeric Pressburger would later be known as “The Archers” and make a series of memorable wartime and postwar films.

Pressburger’s Oscar-winning script is devilishly clever, with the Germans, a mixed bag of regular Joes and committed National Socialists, initially seeming a ruck of indistinguishable Nazi uniforms and gradually emerging as individuals, with individual motivations, beliefs — and fates. At one point, a Nazi officer regales a Christian religious community with parables of praise for his Savior — Adolf Hitler. The blasphemous parallel is done, but done subtly; it would have been much easier to overdo it, and neither Pressburger nor Eric Portman as the German lieutenant fall into that trap. Still, as you might imagine, the political harangue lays an Operation Barbarossa-size egg.

The Germans get their share of clever lines. At one point, one tells an expert on Indian tribes that the Nazis “choose to rely on ‘primitive, savage folkways,'” or words to that effect, mocking a passage in the author’s own manuscript — which the Nazis then destroy, along with his modern art. In case the message was lost on you, then they burn a Thomas Mann novel (Mann was proscribed in the Third Reich).

One thing that deserves some notice is the orchestral score, which is magnificent. The composer Ralph Vaughn Williams is responsible. The rest of the sound effects are variable in quality — one scene in a plummeting airplane is all wrong, but the sound of a plane running a fuel tank dry is all too correct (don’t ask us how we know that).

Accuracy and Weapons

For a wartime picture, guns are not as emphasized as you might think. The sailors go ashore with WWI vintage long Mausers with long bayonets, not entirely unbelievable for 1940 or so. By the time they go clandestine, the Mausers are a memory. The officers have Lugers (although in one scene, we swore we saw a Lahti!) in wrong holsters, but one assumes British prop houses weren’t flush with German WWII kit by that time. The Kriegsmarine uniforms are all wrong.


Conversely, the Canadians are armed with sporting arms and dressed in the outdoor clothing of the mid-20th Century. While the Canadians normally have their guns put away, the Nazis are very quick to use theirs.


One Eskimo gives the plot a nudge with a Savage Model 99, one of the most beautiful lever actions ever made:


And later, another lever action falls into the hands of the Nazi evaders — another classic, a Winchester Model 1895.


The German sub features one prominent anti-aircraft gun — a water-cooled Vickers. Nice try, but… it’s almost as funny as the bombing attack on the sub, in which all bombs either hit or strike within a couple of feet of the sub. Had Allied bombing been that good, the U-boats would have been out of business by January 1940.

The understanding of Nazi beliefs and politics is uneven, compared to that developed by postwar scholarship.

In one extremely effective scene, the gunshot you know is coming takes place off screen. What you see is, instead, the heartless German officer making the Nazi salute as bloody murder is done off stage.

The bottom line

49th Parallel is a period piece, a fossil from the mid-20th Century preserved in amber and now available to everyone through the magic of the Internet and the good fortune (albeit perhaps not for the Archers’ heirs) of the film’s copyright lapsing. Yes, it was made to sway minds, but it was made with a light hand by people who were very, very good at their job. It does not conform to the Save The Cat! template perfectly, and it runs just about 2 hours long — a modern audience wouldn’t sit still for it, perhaps. But if you sit still for it, you will be glad you did. It has the abovementioned great script, with a truly fiendish (and satisfying) twist at the end.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page (also on Prime instant video for free for Prime members. However, the YouTube version above is probably less compressed than the Prime version):

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

(Doesn’t exist).

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page (88% fresh):

  • Wikipedia  page:

Eh. From Jeh.

department-of-homeland-security-mrap-dhs-ndaa-hb347-totalita-politics-1334409716What kind of knucklehead names his or her kid “Jeh?” Must definitely be a knucklehead to reckon with, considering what a knucklehead Jeh himself is. Does he have kids? We hope it stops there, because, like Oliver Wendell Holmes’s 8-to-1 decision famously said, “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.”

Anyway, this came in over the transom from the Secretary of DHS, and we’ll post it unedited:

February 26, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

I write with the latest update on the efforts in Congress to pass an appropriations bill for our Department.

Yesterday the Senate agreed to proceed to debate on a clean appropriations bill, without any amendments to defund our executive actions.  This is good news.  We do not know when the Senate will actually vote on this bill and pass it over to the House.  Nor do we know what will happen to the bill once it reaches the House, but bipartisan support in the House for a clean appropriations bill seems to be building.  The timeline for these legislative actions is uncertain.

I remain optimistic that Congress will not let our funding lapse past midnight tomorrow night, though, as you know, we are planning and preparing for that possibility.

I continue to fight for our funding, and to inform the public and Congress about the consequences of a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.  Yesterday I spent much of the day on Capitol Hill.  Yesterday we were also honored that former Secretaries Ridge and Chertoff stood with me at a press conference to urge passage of a clean appropriations bill for the Department. Today we hold another press conference with representatives of law enforcement from across the Nation, to highlight the impact to public safety if we do not have funding.

Stay tuned for further updates. Again, I remain optimistic.

Jeh Charles Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security

So there’s the strategy: if they don’t get the money not to enforce the law, they’re gonna show us, by not enforcing the law.

It’s nice to see Michael Chertoff is joining him. Chertoff, the vainest DHS secretary to date, spent his entire term empire building and setting up corrupt deals to line his pockets. For example, he mandated full-body scanners from the British Rapescan company for American airports, and after “retiring” from DHS turned into a complete shill for Rapescan. Why? Well, it turns out, he was working for Rapescan. Cha-chingg.

Tom Ridge has, likewise, made himself filthy rich with rewards and backscratching from the backs he scratched when head of DHS. He literally invested in companies that were before him asking for contracts.

What’s Jeh Johnson doing, playing the token black guy with these two blackguards? That’s an easy answer: lining up the cha-chingg and bling for his own post-DHS life. It might not be as spectacular as, say, Chertoff’s self-dealing, but then nobody thinks Johnson is as bright or cunning as Chertoff.

As crooked? That, yeah.


Since we (and Rasta Jeh-mon) penned these words, a Democrat-Republican food fight over amnesty funding was temporarily patched over with a one-week stopgap funding bill, letting Jeh and his army of Nebraska Avenue drones to still collect their $200k plus paychecks, and the TSA avoid interruption of their important duties: groping children and pilfering from luggage.

Update II

DHS has posted its “shutdown plan,” and it’s (inadvertent) comedy gold. For one thing, when it’s done “shutting down,” only 90% of its employees will still be working. Including almost all of those in the agencies that, under Johnson, have been largely forbidden to do their statutory jobs, like CBP and ICE. (The only LE org taking a big hit is the US Marshals Service, which has actually been allowed to arrest fugitives, as long as they’re not illegal aliens, up to now). While none of it is deliberate, there’s more entertainment value in this crap than anything we’re likely to write for the rest of the day:

Do You Tell the Family Everything?

Flag at Half StaffSometimes, men die in war. Sometimes, their deaths are fast and clean, like that of a character in a 1950s Western. He’s reached the end of his character arc, so, “Ah! They got me!” and he crosses over to the other side, chest clutched. Or he just tumbles off the livery-stable roof, dropping his Winchester. (And as fake as the deaths in those entertainments were, at least they don’t “respawn,” like the dead in today’s video games).

Sometimes, their death is not so clean and pure. Mortal wounds are sometimes instantaneous, and sometimes induce such shock as to be de facto painless, to be sure. But sometimes they’re excruciating, and sometimes the victim suffers for an extended period. It can be an hour on the field, or it can be a month in the burn unit at Ft. Sam, but both are unendurably long to the suffering individual.

The Question, and Some Cases

If you have knowledge about someone’s last minutes or hours, do you tell his family? Let’s make this idea concrete with some real-world cases.

Case 1: Epic toughness meets unsurvivable wound

A man of our acquaintance received such a massive wound that he had no prospects of survival, but instead, was expected to die in moments (we were not there).  The best combat medics on Earth despaired of any way to treat him, yet due largely to his personal toughness and will to live, this dead man endured over eight hours in the shadowlands between life and death, much of it conscious, and in unimaginable pain.

Case 2: A Tactical Risk is Exposed as Fatal Error

A small element did something daring and risky  — some, including the unit CO, would have said foolhardy, if there had been anyone left to say it to. A single massive explosion left all the Americans and the English-speaking interpreter dead or unconscious. The long delay in getting medevac for the surviving American may have contributed to his suffering. He died  weeks later as infection ravaged his weakened, burnt body in hospital.

Cases 3 & 4: An Embarrassing Death, and a Horrifying One

And then, there are the circumstances and manner of death. A story circulates from the Vietnam War of a young officer slain by the random fall of a short mortar round, who was attending to a bodily function at the time. Another man died at the enemy’s hands in such a bestial and inhumane manner that those who were there at the time have, over the years, told only a few. Whom they have sworn to secrecy.

Case 5: The Urge to Open the Box

We had a situation where family members demanded to see their loved one, His casket was closed for good reason. The morticians at Dover did pretty good for government work, but they didn’t have a really good set of remains to work with. (At least this guy died instantly and was dead before the nerve impulses could have reached his brain, as a matter of physics).

Case 6: All a Senseless Screwup

And you have probably heard the story of former NFL starter Pat Tillman, where his unit initially concealed the fact that he died, not facing the foe, but trying to get an element of his own unit to stop shooting mistakenly at his element. The snap judgment and ace marksmanship of his own Ranger unit was a bad combination for Tillman.

So, What Do You Do?

Ultimately, the question for the living is: what do you tell the family?  The two extremes are: you always tell them everything, or, you never tell them anything that’s going to increase their pain. In our opinion, people who inhabit those extremes have not faced this actual decision. In our opinion, the answer is: you tell them as much of the truth as you think you need to, and take it case by case.

  • Case 1: There is no concealing this death from the family, as a reporter described it in some detail, and some day, the man’s children will have to face a description of their dad’s death (actually, it happened long enough ago that they have no doubt done so). Others who were there had given the family a story that elided some of the details (and in fairness to the reporter, he left out things he could have included had he had some prurient interest in the death).
  • Case 2: While the decisions of the men that day have been the subject of a good deal of tactical discussion (and motivated the CO to send a “don’t do stupid $#!+” rocket to his far-flung troops), nothing was committed to writing or communicated to the family that reflected ill on the dead.
  • Case 3: The officer was, according to legend, awarded the Silver Star. Several versions of this story appear in Vietnam novels, and it may have been the Army/Marine version of urban legend.
  • Case 4: The family remains unaware. The men with this knowledge are determined to die without passing it on any further (indeed, actuarial tables saying what they do, many of them already have).
  • Case 5: Unit members’ fear was that their friend’s closest family members would have their last memory be of his damaged face and body, not of the very different living man. But ultimately, the decedent’s relatives insisted. Steps were taken to make the viewing less traumatic, including dim lights, mortician work, judiciously placed silk cloth, and bringing the relatives in from the far corner of the room in hopes they’d change their minds before their retinas could resolve a true picture. Two burly soldiers, selected for size and reflexes, stood by each the two concerned ladies. Neither lady went more than a step into the room (and one did have to be caught by the two guys).
  • Case 6: We all know the outcome of the Tillman case. Measures taken by his unit to “spare” his family just alienated the family further, and drove their pre-existing dislike of the Army to a level of white-hot hatred. In this case, what looked like the best call to the people on the ground looked like a cover-up to the suspicious family.

Which of these cases were handled well, and which not? Your opinion may vary. Indeed, the family members and unit members had a wide variety of feelings about these cases at the time, and even today.

The culture says you must let the truth out, you must pick at the scab every time. But the people driving that cultural message, the Hollyweird types and the coastal elites,

We’re just glad to be far removed from making these sorts of decisions.

Is the HK 293 Really Coming?

H&K, having decided that we don’t suck and they don’t hate us after all, is trying to bring a semi-automatic version of their G 36 rifle to the United States and worldwide market. To do this they have to leap two regulatory hurdles: authority to export the firearm from the Bundeskriminalamt, the “Federal Criminal Office” that manages the Federal Republic’s stringent weapons export laws, and then authority to import the weapon to the US, from the payroll patriots at the ATF.

Recently-delivered HK 243 of an overseas customer shows its G36 roots.

Recently-delivered HK 243 of an overseas customer shows its G36 roots.

It gets better, if you define “better” as a bigger headache for H&K officials: the US and German laws were written with no consideration of each other, and impose confusing, arbitrary, and contradictory requirements on someone trying to send a rifle from one nation to the other. Meanwhile, H&K officers don’t want to respawn the Ernst Mauch “Because You Suck. And We Hate You” era: they’re determined to make a gun worthy of their company’s good name, not the bowdlerized crap of the 1990s.

These incompatible laws result in H&K’s having to divide the small worldwide market for oddball >$2,000 semi rifles into two separate model numbers, the HK 243 for the rest of the world and the HK 293 for America. (Not sure which model goes to Canuckistan, if any).

As the situation stands now, the BKA has approved the German export license, but the ATF is the logjam. (It is possible that the H&K application is mired in the ATF’s newfound commitment to political partisanship). The weapon has all the same parts as the G36, but military G36 parts including barrels, trigger mechanisms, bolts and carriers don’t interchange (this is required by German law).


The standard G36 magazine is not a NATO STANAG magazine; as you can see, it has a constant curve, better for feeding than the part-curved part-straight M16-derived NATO mag. But a clever interchangeable magwell converts the G36 (or its civilian equivalents, in the picture below an HK 243) to take the NATO magazine.

HK 243 in italy

The US model would probably hit the docks in an unsalable (but legal!) configuration and then be rebuilt for 922 (r) compliance at H&K’s Newington plant (or H&K’s partners, Wilcox) in much the way that the FN SCAR-S gets a makeover at FNH USA between its Belgian factory and its American customers. The US model is likely to be as much as $1,000 more expensive than the Euro-spec gun — think of it as a hidden §922 (r) tax.

A similarly high price has hindered the widespread adoption of the FN SCAR, an excellent weapon handicapped by having its manufacturing processes dictated by lawyers and politicians.


We were remiss not to link & credit an HK Pro thread from which we drew the pictures and distilled lots of the information this thread. It is here:

No slight to the forum or its members was intended. The thread is a rich source of information (and speculation) about the 243 and 293.

Friday Tour d’Horizon: Clearing the Spindle


Check this Out: 80% 1911 frames

stealth_arms_80_1911_and_jigFrames and jigs in aluminum alloy from Stealth Arms. Interesting to us, the Phantom jig uses a sliding cutter that comes with it, rather than require a milling machine. We may write more about this anon.

These are available at a discount from Sportsman’s Guide if you’re a member of their Buyers’ Club racket.

Sub-firearm 1911 frame blanks have been hard to come by in the last couple of years. Stealth Arms represents themselves as having several styles of “80%” receiver. Note that “80%” is a term commonly accepted in the gun world, but not in law or by ATF. ATF rules (sometimes arbitrarily) whether a given product is a firearm or “not a firearm;” they never, ever, validate anybody’s percentage claim.

Recommended by a Commenter:

They have a new CNC mill coming, and meanwhile, have an interesting set of Shapeoko (CNC router) kits, and an interesting online application, Easel. Personally, we wouldn’t trust a cloud app for firearms parts data. We’ve played with Easel and it’s pretty cool, but we just can’t get over the trust hump here.

SIG-based Guns from Chile coming here

TFB is reporting that Chile’s FAMAE, which makes the SIG 540 under license, and has derived many of its own guns from that weapon (including blowback 9mms), is planning to bring them into the USA, with the compact carbines coming in as pistols, with separate stocks available for those who want to put them on Form 1. How they plan to work around 922(r) is not really clear to us; do Read The Whole Thing™ from the good guys over at TFB.

Humongous BAR Training Aid

A BAR training aid at 2:1 scale. Ian references some of the other versions in the video (link only, we haven’t figured out how to embed from


We’ve seen the M1 he mentions and an M1 carbine, and they used M16A1s along these lines in our basic training in the 1970s.

This one appears to have been modified… the metal “handguard” wasn’t always there.  It’s available at the RIA online auction on 28 March 15.

Shooting an AR to Death

We seem to recall citing or posting this video before, but in it, Iraq Veteran 8888 fires 830 rounds on full-auto, until his barrel bursts (he says it’s the gas tube but it isn’t. Seems to gibe with what we alredy lerned about ARs and long-term results of cyclic firing.

Yeah, the video’s longish. But several things are interesting. A full magazine before the ultimate failure at 830 rounds, you can see the muzzle brake unscrewing itself (on the next mag you can see it depart, but not where it goes — probably 6-10 feet downrange. This is a good reason to have a magnet like the ones roofing contractors use for cleanup in your range truck). The burst is in an interesting place, further forward than it comes on a GI barrel. (Lack of chrome plating may account for that). Note that long before the failure, the barrel is no good in terms of accuracy, and he observes that it’s completely shot out when he looks at the damaged barrel afterward. (Pity he didn’t borescope it).

Note also that he pauses between mags, sizes things up, looks around. In a fight you might not do that. And if he were not pausing (sometimes a minute or more) before locking a new mag in, the weapon would have failed sooner. Our guess is that it would be in the 400-500 range where Colt and US Army tests have shown the M4 vulnerable.

Note that, just as it took more rounds for this cyclic-rate experiment to fail tge barrel than the Colt and Army experiments, it would probably take more rounds for near-cyclic semi-auto fire to produce this kind of failure.

Still sure you want a Shrike or other beltfed AR?

Click “More” to continue to Part 2: Unconventional Warfare, Part 3: Cops and Robbers; and Part 4: Poly-Ticks. (Because this is looooong).

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When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws have Large Ruminants

The yout’ is recovering from a bout of senseless gun violence in a Hispanic section of … Spain? Oh, wait, and it wasn’t gun violence. He actually got injured running with the bulls in Ciudad Rodrigo.

Thing is, they call it running with the bulls, but it really needs to be running well ahead of the bulls. Or, well, the bulls get their licks in, and you wind up like this guy.

Benjamin MillerThe technical term for what he’s experiencing is: “Sucks to be him.” On the plus side, he’s gonna live, and despite Ferdinand’s best intentions, he does not seem to be neutered.

A 20-year-old American man who was badly gored during a bull-running festival is out of intensive care and improving, a spokesman for the Clinic Hospital in western Salamanca said Monday.

The hospital spokesman identified the man as Benjamin Miller and said he was out of danger and not likely to have to undergo any further operations. He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with hospital rules.

However, Tom Eppes, a spokesman for the University of Mississippi, confirmed Monday that Benjamin Milley, originally from Marietta, Georgia, and a sophomore at the school, is the injured man.

For some people, “sophomoric” isn’t just a word. It’s a way of life.

The man suffered several wounds, including a 40-cm (16-inch) goring in the thigh, when he was caught by a fighting bull during a festival in the nearby town of Ciudad Rodrigo on Saturday.

Images showed the 20-year-old being repeatedly tossed by the bull and in obvious pain at being gored and pushed along the ground. Helpers eventually managed to pull him up from the street to safety.

via American man gored by bull in Spain out of intensive care | National & World News | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO News.

More images of the bull having his way with this poor fellow after the jump. No real blood, though.

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Where’s Daesh Cannon Fodder From?

Daesh, or ISIL (ISIS if you’re one of the media guys egging them on sotto voce), only looks invincible when it’s up against the tissue-thin and cracker-brittle (and abandoned by its American mentors) Iraqi army, or when it’s shooting, slicing, or beheading women, children and other helpless captives. These inbreds, product of generation after generation of first-cousin marriage, seek not victory but death, and when their opponents, like the Kurdish YPG, are granted arms and reasonable competence, the performance of ISIL as combatants is pathetic in the field.

Being pathetic in the field means: you take a lot of casualties. Yet if anything, the numbers of Daesh troopies seem to be increasing. So where do the replacements come from? This graphic, lifted from the Washington Post’s story on the identity of “Jihadi John”1, shows some of the flows.


There are some interesting details here: ISIL is drawing, if those numbers be true, more Belgians than Egyptians, as many Germans or Britons as Turks, more Swedes than Yemenis, three times as many Russians than Pakistanis. More than 100 have come from the US and Canada each, 300 from China, and 250 from Australia.

Of course, these clowns pursuing the high status of shaheed tourist are not really Canadians or Russians or Swedes. They’re members of the unassimilated, uncivilized Moslem diaspora who have been called to their Holy Land on their own Crusade for their own values, which include the beheading of children, rape of women, and pedophilia.

The European and Western Hemisphere nations try to arrest these movements and keep their own human pathogens from emigrating and joining up. Why? Why not let them go? And then when they’re all in Raqqa, the civilized Powers ought to use it as a neutron bomb test site. We think nothing about using WMD on equivalent threats: we spray haldane on mosquitos, and set coumadin baits for mice and rats. Why not a brief dose of non-survivable radiation for jihadis?

Why not nuke ISIL? It’s not like anybody would miss them. They want martyrdom, we have the means, the motive, and the opportunity to fulfill that wish.

Just so long as we give our own jihad wannabees every possible opportunity to be under Ground Zero at flash hour.


  1. Quelle surprise for our State Department: he’s a well-off, well-educated kid, just like bin Laden, Zarqawi, and Zawahiri; in other words, “Poverty, my @$$”

The Future of Army Small Arms Ammunition

small_caliber_ammo_presentationHere’s a recent (2013) presentation (.pdf) from an Armaments and Munitions Conference conducted under the auspices of the National Defense Industrial Association, which used to, in the shadows of time, be the American Defense Preparedness Association, and which was before that the Ordnance Association. NDIA conducts regular conferences on many subjects of interest to readers, and their briefing slides — the military being, for good or for ill, a PowerPoint culture — are generally available to the public at the Defense Technical Information Center. Small Arms and SOF conferences may be of greatest interest, but there are gems in some of the others, like this Armament Conference.

In the presentation, LTC Philip R. Clark, who was then the PM for Small Caliber Ammunition describes what the status of today’s ammo is, and what’s coming next. You can read Clark’s slides as well as we can, so we’ll blithely skip the present ammo inventory, except to slap one slide up here showing the 67 ammo products Clark was managing: eight 5.56mm rounds,  nine 7.62mm rounds, the single Mk248 .300 Win Mag round, ten .50 caliber rounds, and various odd jobs: .22 ammo, three pistol calibers, shotgun shells, training/marking, and dummy ammunition. (You get to 67 products from the 40-some illustrated below because of different ways they ship. For instance, M855 can be shipped bulk, in strippers, or linked).

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.58.52


The military acquired and distributed about 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition in Fiscal Year 2013 (Oct 2012-Sep 2013). To put that in perspective, Lake City’s total production was over 2 billion rounds, with the overage going to non-FMS exports and the sporting market.

Future: Fighting at Night

One fact implied in the presentation is that the future will see more fighting at night. Several rounds that offer dim-trace, IR-trace or “one way luminescence” are in development or in production. These rounds are meant to work with night-vision equipment, but also the OWL rounds (fortuitous acronym, that) are meant to upturn the old Murphy’s Law of Combat, the one that reads: “Tracers work both ways.” A world where you don’t see your enemy’s tracers coming is a more dangerous world. A world where the enemy doesn’t see your tracers coming is less dangerous, though — for you, not for him.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 09.37.33OWL isn’t actually a “tracer” as we’ve come to know them, as it’s not pyrotechnic in nature.

OWL is in R&D now in 7.62, and it’s projected to come in during calendar 2016 in 5.56 mm. A future hope (pipe-dream?) is to provide OWL in ball ammo; it will be nearly 2020 before that’s a reality, if ever. OWL is coming to .50, too.

Right now, the Mk301 dim trace round (not an OWL, but a needs-NV tracer) is in inventory for 5.56, in addition to the standard M856A1, the “green” version of the tracer equivalent to Green Tip. Outside of military night shooting, there’s limited demand for tracers, but they’d look cool hog hunting and we still know guys who put a couple in the bottom of every mag so they’re cued to be ready to change.

No tracer ammo is in production or in planning for the .300 Win Mag or .338 Lapua Mag rounds, which shows you how serious the Army really isn’t about an intermediate or light-heavyweight machine gun.

Safer, Greener Training Ammo

Other major Army fixation is on “green” ammunition. In addition to that, they’re pursuing safer ammunition for short ranges, ammunition that will allow them to reduce range fans (for which the current buzz acronym is SDZ, Surface Danger Zone).

One objective for RRTA,  Reduced Range Training Ammo, is to enable collective training (that’s training of units, not individuals) in scenarios on live-fire 360º ranges. It’s quite an engineering challenge to conceive and design a 5.56 round that is ballistically similar to a ball round at close ranges but that has lost all its oomph in 500 yards (460m).

RRTA depends on funding being available and research going well; it is years from being fielded. The Army seems to have scheduled an invention here.

Simunitions for All?

Special Operations Forces have long used Simunitions, marking ammunition for short range/close-quarters force-on-force training. The Army clearly desires to make use of such marking ammunition more widely in training, and doesn’t want to buy proprietary stuff (like Sims) from industry.

Further Out:

Polymer cases offer a serious logistic benefit compared to existing case materials, for US small arms ammunition, mostly brass. There are still some problems (obturation is inferior to brass, and environmental impact greater). Development continues under the name LSCA, Lightweight Small Caliber Ammunition. Barring some unimaginable breakthrough, polymer cases are a better bet for the future than caseless.

Fighting is Human. Everybody Does It.

And we’re not joking when we say everybody:

OK. Maybe we were joking. The fight’s a snowball fight; the fighters, Franciscan friars (monks) at a monastery in Jerusalem.

There’s been a lot of fights in Jerusalem, but this is one that could entertain anybody.

When Guns are Outlawed, Outlaws Will Have Their Own Bodies


We’ve all seen this before: the Look. The Look of Bat Guano Crazy!

Turns out there are some social problems you just can’t solve with a gun ban. Case in point:

Amber Ellis was arrested for maiming and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Relatively uncommon, a woman busted for violent crime, but it happens. Was it the ready accessibility of handguns in our trigger-happy society? Read on:

According to the police report, the victim said he and his girlfriend were out drinking and began arguing while walking home “about how needy she had become.”  The couple verbally fought in the apartment until the victim told police Ellis stormed off, slamming the bedroom door.

So far this doesn’t sound that unfamiliar. Most couples have had arguments. But most arguments don’t go here: 

Police say the victim fell asleep on the couch only to wake up to find Ellis “biting his (penis) off.”

jawsIIEven with the implication that Judgment Juice was a factor, this is pretty outrageous. We’ve treated women badly enough (or pushed their buttons badly enough, perhaps) to really irritate them, but the closest we got was a redhead throwing things — a rolling pin (that was a 50’s-sitcom moment); a rosewood Telecaster (she was a strong girl).

But in the War Between the Sexes, it seems like there ought to be some convention analogous to the Customary International Humanitarian Law proceeding from the 1868 St. Petersburg Declaration, about “the employment of arms which uselessly aggravate the sufferings of… men,” or the 1899 and subsequent Hague prohibitions on “methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.”

The victim told police he fought Ellis off but she hit him in the head with a laptop computer.

That sounds more like our redhead. But even she’d agree that an incisor-applied sex change is some kind of Geneva Relationship Convention violation.

Once hospitalized, the victim received several stitches to the base of his penis and was treated for injuries to his head, face, neck, fingers and knee.

Our guess is that, as word of this gets around, being beaten up and nearly Bradley Manning’d by  his last girl is not going to make him more appealing to the female of the species. For that, he’d have to have beaten her up.

Ellis was taken into custody for an interview and ultimately booked into the Tulsa County Jail.

At that point, about the only thing she could have done that would have done her any good was to clam up and lawyer up. Regardless of what the friendly policeman says, a trip to the station and a chance to tell “your side of the story” is not what it sounds like, it’s your opportunity to increase the solidity of their case against you. But we get the impression that Amber was not operating entirely on a solidly rational basis during this misadventure.

Some more details and a video report are available at KRJH, Channel 2, Tulsa, for those inclined to Read The Whole Thing™.