Thoughts on the AR-15

November 8, 2012

As some of you readers out there in Internet land may know, I am sadly firearms-free. I still live with my folks, and Mama and Papa Raptor have made it clear that if I buy a gun, I’m out of the house. Since I can’t afford a place of my own, firearms have been a no-go for me. But that might be changing soon. Sort of.

A few weeks back, We The Armed member FMJ bought a stripped AR-15 lower receiver and built it up into an almost-fully-functioning assembly. I say “almost” because FMJ is unfortunate enough to be stuck in California, so he had to install a Bullet Button on his receiver rather than a proper magazine release, but that’s a topic for another time. Anyway, I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I’d like to make a go at assembling a stripped lower of my own. It will be an interesting learning experience, and my folks cannot possibly object to me owning a stripped lower, since it is pretty much little more than a piece of aerospace-grade aluminum with a serial number. And I have asked about it: they haven’t said yes, but they haven’t said no either.

So, anyway, if I can actually make the stripped lower work… how would I build it up? Actually, “what configuration do I want my rifle to be?” would be more appropriate. See, the wonderful thing about the AR-15 is that it is an extremely versatile and customizable platform. You can build it into anything from a long-barreled, match-grade target/varmint/sniper rifle to an ultra-compact entry gun (provided you register it as an SBR, of course) and everything in between, and you can chamber it in pretty much any cartridge that can fit in the magazine, and even some that don’t.

So, with a near infinite number of choices, the question really is this: what do I want to do with this rifle?  Read the rest of this entry »


September 13, 2012

For Day II in Raptor’s EPIC WEEK OF AWESOME (TM), I went and did something that I’ve been planning on and dreaming of doing for years and years and years: I went shooting for the very first time!

Went to Clayton’s Hunting, Fishing & Indoor Range in Horsham PA. Great facility, really nice and professional employees; if you’re local, I highly recommend them (not that I have much in the way of comparison, but still…)

Anyway, Clayton’s offers a one-on-one personalized firearms safety course, which is what I signed up for. Spent maybe 30-45 minutes in a classroom going over safety, shooting and firearms mechanics, etc. Very informative, and a heck of a lot more involved than I expected. Whoever called shooting “a point-and-click interface” lied: it’s freakin’ complicated!

Anyway, after my instructor went over everything and decided I was ready, we hit the range. He “only” set the targets 5 yards out, but it was still plenty tough. First firearm he had me use was a Ruger Mk. III in .22 LR. Fired about… I dunno, 30-35ish shots through that. Recoil was much greater than I’d anticipated (i.e. it actually had kick), but I got the hang of it pretty quick. No s*** this is one of my targets:

Dunno if you can read the writing, but that was an 8-round string. That circled cluster in the center? 4 rounds, all overlapping. Group is smaller than a dime. Yes, it’s only a .22 at 5 yards, but considering it was my first time, I’ll take it in spades. My instructor couldn’t believe I shot a grouping like that (heck, I don’t believe I did it.

Anyway, after I’d gotten the hang of the Ruger, my instructor swapped it out for a Kimber Stainless Target II in 9mm. Let me tell you, that thing is a whole ‘nother animal from the .22. Took quite a while to get the hang of the trigger. I can see why target shooters love the 1911 so much: the trigger is really light and barely moves.

I only fired 15 or so rounds from the Kimber, all on one target, but again, I don’t think I did too bad:

I only fired 5-round strings at max (most were 3-rounders), so that “cluster” below the bulls-eye is the result of multiple strings and not a single grouping, but again, I’ll take it in spades.

What did I think overall? Much different from what I expected. Recoil, at least for the 9mm, was a lot less than I’d anticipated. Noise from both guns was about what I’d figured, but I hadn’t expected the heat or pressure at all. And like I said, shooting itself is tough. Forget point and shoot, you gotta worry about sight alignment, grip, stance, breathing, trigger control, follow through… all while trying to hold a two pound chunk of steel steady out at arm’s length. My lesson ended about 2.5 hours ago, and my shoulders are still aching!

But even so, I had a freakin’ BLAST! Can’t wait to do it again!

Larry FREAKIN’ Correia!

September 11, 2012

Just got back from the book signing. Holy Cow. It. Was. Awesome!

First off, Larry is hands-down the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s real humble, down to earth, and always willing to chat it up with his fans (and pretty much anyone else too). He’s also hilarious. No lie, we spent half the time  laughing our heads off.

And it turns out it wasn’t just a signing, but actually a really big event. Larry filled us in on a lot of his upcoming work (cannot wait for MH Legion!) and took questions from the audience. And he answered every single one, and in great detail too. Didn’t brush anyone off, or give a quick-and-done-next answer. Even answered one of mine, which I gotta admit was pretty awesome.

Then the signing. He autographed every single thing that was requested, and yes I do mean thing: someone asked him to sign their Kindle. The whole time, everyone’s cracking jokes, telling wild stories, just generally having a good time.

And yes, I realize this post had devolved into rabid-fan-worship. I don’t care. I’m a rabid fan, and Larry is just that cool.

Speaking of Wild Stories, I met a fellow member at the signing, goes by the handle of RevDisk. Now RevDisk has a habit of posting some pretty crazy stories on the forum that were supposedly true. Let me tell you, there’s nothing “supposedly” about them. They’re all true. And incidentally, I think RevDisk might actually be Skippy of Skippy’s List, aka The 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to do in the US Army. I actually asked, as some of his stories sounded familiar. Now he won’t confirm or deny, but given his reaction.. Anyway, Skippy or no, RevDisk is another awesome guy, one who I’m glad to have finally met in person.

And finally, while I did take a camera, I completely forgot to even take it out of the bag, let alone get a picture of myself with Larry. Dangit! But, as proof that I did actually make it to the signing:

Larry, if you’re reading this, thank you so much. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you, sir. But please don’t wait three more years to do another East Coast book tour!

The Legion Has Landed!

September 3, 2012

Larry Correia‘s newest novel, Monster Hunter Legion, has officially landed on bookstore shelves today. Go. Buy. Read. Now. Or else Agent Franks will come and find you.

For those of you still not convinced (or else not sufficiently terrified by Agent Franks’ wrath), sample chapters are available here.

Way to Screw Things Up For EVERYBODY!!!!

August 28, 2012

First off, the blog lives again. Second, this wasn’t the post I was planning on doing, for reasons that should soon become obvious.

This is probably going to be a huge shocker to most of you, but I’ve never actually fired a gun before. Yeah, I know. In the past, I’ve made several attempts to go to a range that rents guns and shoot, but either life/work got in the way or I just didn’t get around to it. So over the weekend I decided “screw it, I’m going for real.” I know of a range near me that rents guns, which is the one I’d planned on shooting at before. I went on their website to double check their store hours and range rental rates & policies… and stumbled upon a little something I hadn’t noticed before:

To help ensure the safety of the staff and other patrons, the following policy is effective immediately:



  • If customer is in the possession of their own firearm that they will be shooting at the time of the rental
  • If customer is a member and it is not their first time on the range

How is this a problem for me? I don’t own a gun, my present living situation makes my buying a gun nigh impossible, none of my friends who shoot live local (college will do that), and since I’m the only one in my family who even likes guns, let alone has any desire to shoot one, no way I can get another member of the Raptor Clan to tag along. So that range is out.

A quick Google search turned up a few ranges fairly close to Casa del Raptor that rent guns… and every single one of them has a similar rental policy. You can’t rent a gun if you’re going to be shooting alone. The only exceptions are if you’re taking a firearms safety or basic pistol class. Now don’t get me wrong; I was planning on taking one anyway. Only problem is that those classes run about $100, which will add up pretty quick, and I really don’t want to waste my time or the instructor’s time re-learning the same basic stuff all over again.

Now, I can (and probably will) spring for a membership at one of the ranges if it’ll get me around the no-shooting-alone rule, but still, it’s aggravating. Mostly because I figured out why these policies are in place.

Shooting Range Suicides.

Do a quick Google search for the above three words and you’ll find dozens of news stories of people who went to shooting ranges, rented a pistol, walked out onto the firing line to their assigned lane, and shot themselves in the head. In one particularly chilling incident, a mother brought her son to the range with her, rented a pistol, then shot her son in the back of the head before taking her own worthless life. As a result, because of insurance reasons and because we are a lawsuit-happy society, ranges that rent guns can no longer afford to operate unless they put the no-renting-if-you’re-alone rule in place.

While this may or may not have an affect on ending shooting range suicides (personally, I doubt it), I can  tell you for certain that it does affect something: new shooters, like me, who don’t/can’t own a gun of their own but want to be able to practice and develop their shooting skills, but don’t have anyone to go to the range with them, can no longer shoot.

Way to go, you thoughtless, selfish [CENSORED]s. I hope y’all are happy, ’cause you’ve royally screwed things up for the rest of us.

One Does Not Simply Shoot Their Way Into Mordor

May 6, 2012

The Ogre has posted an interesting thought exercise that, with his kind permission, I am passing on to y’all:

QUIZ: Shire to Mordor

Your backpack is full of all the essentials.  Your party is outside waiting for you.  You have a long walk ahead.  You open your Arms Locker… It is full of your life’s collection… all your favorites… with magazines and ammo to spare.  But you can only pick one, because you are going to have to carry it a very long way.

You don’t know what you will face… but you know that out there… outside the borders of The Shire… are dark horrible things and you could run into some or all of them.  Orcs, Trolls, Uruk-hai, Dunlendings, Goblins, Olog-hai, Easterlings, Wights, Wargs, Ring Wraiths, Nazgul, Skin-Changers, Giants, perhaps a Dragon and Balrog (with wings… because freaking Balrogs have wings, damnit), and if you are unlucky… a Tom Bombadil.

You reach in, grab the gun and head out.

What was it that you grabbed?

Personally, if I were joining up with the Fellowship, I’d roll with a Khyber Pass-style AKMS. 7.62x39mm with the side-folding stock of the AKS-74. IMO, it offers an ideal balance of light(er) weight, ammo capacity, firepower, and portability. The stock folds, making it easier to carry and maneuver around tight spaces with, but at the same time is solid enough to get a decent cheek weld so you can actually use the sights (unlike the famous underfolder stock or the East German wire stocks). And it’s an AK, so dead-nuts reliability is pretty much guaranteed.

Now, the original question stated one gun and one gun only, but I’m gonna expand on that to include one primary arm and one sidearm. For me, said sidearm would be a SIG-Sauer P228 in 9mm. The P228 fits my hand like a glove, and SIGs, at least the ones made in West Germany, are legendary for hell-and-back reliability and accuracy.

Oh, and I’d also carry a large knife of some sort, like an Urban Bone Machete 2011 from Zombie Tools.

Also, if at all possible, I’d want both firearms to be suppressed. Reason being that they’d be strictly defensive weapons; if we encountered any orcs, the primary goal of the group would be to break contact ASAP and evade. Given that the average combat load for a rifleman is 300-360 rounds,  there’s no way I’d be able to carry enough ammunition for a long-running firefight. Even if I convinced/bullied some of the hobbits to ditch some pots and pans in favor of extra magazines, that’d still only get me up to a total of maybe 550-ish rounds, not nearly enough to just shoot my way into Mordor. A suppressor would be useful for quietly eliminating any Orc sentries we may encounter or scouts who might pick up our trail without alerting the main force.

So, back to the main point of this post: You’re joining up with the Fellowship of the Ring. You can carry one long arm, one sidearm, and one (large) blade with you. And you can only bring as much ammunition as you can carry on your person, as you’ll be walking pretty much the whole way.

What do you choose?

My Top 5 Dream Guns

January 29, 2012

Normally I don’t do Internet/blog post memes (usually because I stumble across them long after they’ve keeled over and died) but this one’s still relatively fresh, so I think I’ll give it a shot. Pun intended.

First off, quick thanks to Borepatch, on whose blog I found the meme, and credit to Robb Allen over at Sharp as a Marble for creating the meme.

So, now for the meme: What guns would you purchase if money and practicality were not an issue. Well, for me, that’s tough. Mostly because I’d probably all of them (The Chauchat being probably the only exception). Fortunately (for y’all) Robb limits it to just your top 5.

So, after a whole lot of thought, my Top 5 Dream Guns are, in no particular order:

1. Detonics Combat Master. Specifically, a Seattle-manufacture Mk. III w/ Pachmayr grips. This is my Grail Gun, the one Dream Gun I want way more than all the others combined.

2.  Crusader Broadsword. For those of you unfamiliar with the weapon, it is an SR-25 pattern AR battle rifle, custom-built to buyer specs. Mine would look exactly like the one in the picture below, minus the vertical foregrip. Also, the furniture would be in Flat Dark Earth, and the receiver, barrel, and ELCAN optical sight would be Cerakoted Tungsten Gray.

3. Colt Model 1860 Army Richards Conversion. Getting into the more exotic/rare/expensive, the Colt Army Richards Conversion is, in my opinion, the most beautiful revolver ever made. Since the original Richards Conversion was only made for a very short time before Colt replaced it with the simpler, cheaper, and uglier (in my opinion, anyway) Richards-Mason Conversion, I’d either need a huge pile of cash or a time-traveling DeLorean (or both) to ever get one.

4. Colt Model 607. I confess: I’ve always loved the look of the original M16 and M16A1. And for some reason, this short barreled prototype has always fascinated me. Especially the collapsing stock. I love that stock.

5. Mannlicher-Shoenauer 1903 Carbine with full-length Mannlicher stock and double-set triggers. I first became aware of this rifle’s existence whilst watching the classic war film The Longest Day. Lord Lovat (portrayed in the film by Peter Lawford) carries one ashore onto Sword Beach and when reinforcing Major Howard’s commadoes at the Orne River Bridge. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful rifle, of any sort, ever made.

So, that’s my top 5 dream guns. What about you all? What five guns to you lust after the most?

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse Part 1b: Sidearms and Melee Weapons

December 1, 2011

As before, I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that I am not a trained professional. Do not take this advice into account for normal disaster preparedness and/or survival, except if said disaster and survival involves the undead. Your mileage may vary, call your doctor if the condition lasts more than four hours, and so on and so forth.

Okay, picking up from where we left of in StZA Part 1a, we now come to the second area of anti-zombie weaponry, the sidearm. Now, with the sidearm, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is my criteria for the ideal sidearm are not as specific as they were for the primary weapon. Bad news: the selection process is much more difficult as a result.

The ideal Z.A. sidearm, in my opinion, is a semi-automatic pistol in either 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP (9mm being preferable) with as large a magazine capacity as possible. I say go with an autoloader over a revolver for two reasons: a) you can reload an autoloader faster than a revolver with a minimum of practice, and b) autoloaders almost always hold more ammunition to a similarly-sized revolver. Yes, revolvers are theoretically more reliable, but a modern autoloader of decent quality that is in good working condition and fed decent ammo (basically, any non-junk gun that isn’t abused and fed crap cheapo ammo/overpowered or underpowered handloads) will function at near 100% reliability, and the majority of malfunctions can be cleared quickly and easily.

Now, caliber: There are other rounds out there besides the 9mm, .40, and .45, many of which are arguably as effective or more effective than those cartridges, but the 9, 40, and 45 are the three most common pistol rounds out there, which means ammo will be widely available and relatively cheap pre-Z.A. (though .45 has gotten pretty expensive) and will be easier to scrounge up post-Z.A. I mentioned that the 9mm is preferable because, while it is the least powerful of the three, it also has the least recoil, and pistols chambered in 9mm have a higher ammo capacity than either .40 or .45. And going back to stopping power for a moment, while it is true that the 9mm is inferior to the .40 and .45 when loaded with Full Metal Jacket bullets (AKA ball rounds) all three rounds perform about the same when loaded with modern hollowpoints, so IMO, you aren’t losing a whole heck of a lot by opting for greater mag capacity. Read the rest of this entry »

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse Part 1: Weapons

December 1, 2011

As promised, here’s Part 1 of what will hopefully be a series of posts detailing my thoughts and ideas on how to best prepare for and survive the zombie apocalypse. Please bear in mind that I am neither an expert nor a trained professional, do not take this advice to be the be-all-end-all of disaster preparedness and/or survival, your mileage may vary, call your doctor if the condition lasts more than four hours, etc. and so forth.

All right, now that that’s out of the way, we’re going to start off with what is probably everyone’s favorite topic of discussion when prepping for the Z.A.: weapons. Let’s be honest, pretty much all zombie preparedness plan discussions eventually devolve into an argument over the ideal anti-zombie gun/sword/club/whatever. So, this seems like a logical place to start. I’m going to cover three ‘main’ weapons: the primary weapon, sidearm, and melee weapon.

First off, the primary weapon. This will probably be one of the few times I name a specific weapon or tool, but it is my belief that an AR-15 rifle or carbine chambered in 5.56mm NATO is the ideal zombie-apocalypse weapon. Now this isn’t just some arbitrary I-like-this-gun-the-best decision, I do have some logic behind this choice:

  • 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington ammunition is relatively lightweight and nearly universally available, and despite what you read on the Internet, has more than adequate stopping power, particularly when loaded with non-FMJ rounds.
  • The AR-15 itself is a very light and handy weapon, provided you don’t go overboard and put a ton of accessories on it, with very moderate recoil, allowing for rapid follow-up shots.
  • Again, despite what you read on the web, the AR is a very reliable weapon.
  • It is a nearly-universal weapon, so finding accessories, magazines, ammo, parts, etc. pre-Z.A. is stupid simple. Similarly, because the M16, is issused by all branches of the military and most of the country’s police departments, so scrounging replacement parts, magazines, accessories, and ammunition should not prove terribly difficult.

Yes, I know Max Brooks says that the M1 Carbine is ideal, but take a look at his ‘research.’ He appears to base his support for the M1 off of a single incidents, which occured in the 1950s. Back then, the Carbine and it’s ammunition, the .30 Carbine round were readily available. Today, not so much. When was the last time you saw either an M1 or a box of .30 Carbine on the shelf of your local gun store, let alone at Wal-Mart? I rest my case.

Back to the AR now: there are some caveats. First, make sure the rifle is chambered in 5.56mm NATO rather than .223 Remington. The rounds are nearly identical, but there are some slight differences in casing and chamber specifications which cause the rounds to not be 100% interchangeable. Basically, you can safely chamber and fire .223 Remington in a 5.56mm NATO weapon, but while 5.56mm will chamber in a .223 weapon, it can cause the weapon to jam or even fail catastrophically (i.e. blow up in your face). Ammo you scavenge from an overrun military checkpoint will be 5.56mm NATO, and you’ll want to be able use that ammo in your rifle safely.

Second, don’t go overboard on accessorizing the rifle. Yes, there is a buttload of tacti-cool stuff you can slap on an AR, but too many accessories means too much weight, which compromises the AR’s advantage of being lightweight and handy. Two must-have accessories, in my opinion, are a good flashlight and an optical sight of some kind. There are literally hundreds of weaponlights  out there, and which one you pick is ultimately up to you, but I’d recommend either a new-generation Aimpoint red-dot sight or a Trijicon sight. The new Aimpoints have a battery life that lasts, depending on the model, anywhere from 3 to 8 years of continuous use (i.e. not ever turning the optic off), and the Trijicons don’t need battereis at all as they are powered by tritium, which will stay luminous for about ten years.

Also, if they’re legal in your area, you’ll want a sound suppressor. While this will prevent the zombies from honing in on your position, it will also mask your location from other survivors (not all of whom will be friendly, I guarantee it. Remember the bikers from Dawn of the Dead?) and most importantly, they’ll protect your hearing. Gunfire, particularly rapid semi- or full-auto gunfire, can permanently damage your ears, and you’re almost guaranteed to suffer at least temporary hearing loss if you fire a gun without ear protection on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gun Show AAR

September 16, 2011

Went to the Valley Forge Gun Show again tonight. Once again, I had a great time.

The show was a lot smaller this time; it was down on the lower level of the convention center, which is smaller than the main concourse. So there were fewer retailers this time. Took 40 minutes to go through all the tables instead of the hour and a half plus to took back in April.

Didn’t handle as many firearms this time, either. No handguns at all. Long guns; a whole mess of AR-15s including a pre-ban Colt SP1, some AR-10s, a few AKs, some Mossberg 500/590 shotguns, a Remington ACR, an FN FS2000, and an FAL of some kind.

I actually ran into a few friends from school, which surprised me because I thought they weren’t coming. It was great to catch up with them, especially since we haven’t seen each other since I graduated in May. My one friend is doomed, though; he brought his girlfriend to the show, and while she’s kinda into guns, she got pretty bored after a while, and he was having her hold rifle after rifle to find one that would be a good fit for her. So, anyway, the point of that story is that when they were leaving, one of the other guys in our group said as a joke that he should take his girlfriend to DSW and buy her some shoes. Girlfriend perked up and said “I love DSW!” Last I saw of them, the rest of the guys were helping her make a list of all the shoes she wanted/needed.

Yeah, like I said, he’s doomed.

Anyway, I actually bought something at the show this year! No, I didn’t get a gun (Mama Raptor told me straight up, “If you buy a gun, don’t come home. We will throw you out of the house.) but I did get a pocket knife. Specifically, a Benchmade Mini-Griptilian, Model 556 (modified drop-point, satin stainless blade, black handles). It’s a sweet little knife, I really like it. And I got a great deal on it too; MSRP is $95, but the seller had them marked at $62 and change. Came to about $68 after taxes. Of course, he was selling the real cheapo knives for $25+, so he could afford to sell the expensive knives at a loss.

Joined the NRA while I was there too. Got myself a one-year membership. I know some people dont’ think too highly of the NRA, but when it comes down to it, they are the 800 pound gorilla in the pro-gun rights lobby, so I figure it was worth it. Got myself a nice had and a subscription to American Rifleman out of it too.

Anyway, thoughts:

  • The FS2000 and ACR are surprisingly solid-feeling guns.
  • The PS-90 would probably be the ideal anti-zombie rifle if the ammo was more common.
  • If I ever custom-build myself an AR-15, I’m going to put the old A1 style stock and triangular handguards on it. I love the look and feel of them, and that Colt AR-15 SP1 I handled was really light, handy, and maneuverable.
  • On the same topic, I want an AR-15 with at least mid-length handguards. And polymer ones, too: the railed guards are really heavy!
  • Seattle-manufactured Detonics Combat Masters = Sexiest looking handgun ever. And I will own one someday!

I was kind of sad when I left the show, as this will be the last Valley Forge Gun Show ever. The show itself isn’t going away, but the venue is: the Valley Forge Convention Center is closing down, and a casino is being constructed in its place. The show itself is relocating to Lancaster County, which means my chances of going decrease tremendously. Not that Lancaster County is very far away from me, but I live literally ten minutes from the soon-to-be-a-casino Convention Center, so it was incredibly convenient for me. Alas, no more.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. I’ll see about getting a review of my Benchmade up in a few days. Oh, and I’ll do one of my NOOK too. Got one of thoss on Wednesday as a much-belated graduation gift.


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