Thoughts on the AR-15

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?  Continue reading



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!

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!

Way to Screw Things Up For EVERYBODY!!!!

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

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

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?