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This Date in History: October 6

German infantry advances at Stalingrad

North of Stalingrad on October 6, 1942, the 16th Panzer Division defended in sector, from Hill 139.7 to the Volga and from the Volga southwest to Hill 145.1, north of Orlovka against the 120th Rifle Division, the 84th Rifle Division, the 299th Rifle Division and the 64th Rifle Division.  To the west was the 3rd Infantry Division (Motorized); to the southwest was the 94th Infantry Division.  The division lost nine NCOs/enlisted killed in action; 32 NCOs/enlisted were wounded in action; one man was reported missing in action.  (Stalingrad: The Death of the German Sixth Army on the Volga, 1942-1943)


A U.S. Army general court-martial convened on October 6, 1944 at the Palais de Justice, Le Mans, France for Private Walter J. Baldwin.  Convicted or murder, on January 17, 1945 in the village of Beaufay in the Sarthe region of France, he was hanged by Master Sergeant John C. Woods, the Army’s hangman in Europe.  (American Hangman: MSgt. John C. Woods: The United States Army’s Notorious Executioner in World War II and Nürnberg)


This Date in History: October 62022-09-25T13:30:40-06:00

Red Dawn

Found a DVD in the value bin at Walmart – the classic 1984 version of Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayzy.  A fictional story, set in the early 1980s, in the mountains of Colorado, a group of teenagers defend their town from occupying Soviet and Cuban forces that have invaded the US.  The kids live in a village called Calumet; it could be almost anywhere, a small American township with deliberately vague landmarks.  Maybe your town.  The teens start a guerilla warfare movement, blowing up enemy equipment over a six-month period, but the movie has a dark side.  Not all the citizens are in for the cause; the mayor is a collaborator.  Occupying forces execute hostages in an attempt to quell the uprising; the teens shoot captured Russian prisoners.  I won’t spoil the ending.


Red Dawn got me thinking of a potential Civil War today, as a lot of pundits are saying that our country is headed for one; and a senior politician seemed to be goading his opposition into starting one.  So I started re-reading on the Civil War – the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and the “Gettysburg Address” and all that, but there is another side of that war – when Americans were fighting other Americans – a very dark side, that Abraham Lincoln could see, and if we didn’t watch out, the country would never heal.

Both sides, North and South, killed captured prisoners on more than one occasion – maybe a lot more, because if 100 are killed, that becomes news, but if 1-2 are killed, it probably doesn’t even get reported up the line.  One or two here, one or two there and at some point they add up to real numbers – real bad numbers.  Both sides, Union and Confederate, established terrible prisoner of war camps; an especially infamous one up north was Camp Douglas in Chicago – an equally infamous one down south was Andersonville in Georgia.  Make no mistake; those two hellholes were concentration camps and the only things missing were gas chambers.

Andersonville Prison Camp

I recall reading that Union Generals Grant and Sherman were discussing how many Confederate soldiers would have to die before the south would give up.  Grant reminded Sherman of all their southern classmates they had known at West Point, and how tough they were, and how many joined the Confederate Army – and then Grant reportedly said: “About a quarter million.”  That was pretty accurate, as some historical studies have posited that 258,000 Confederates and 360,000 Union troops died – 618,000 total.  Guerilla/criminal bands – Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson and others – slaughtered civilians; it wasn’t called “Bloody Kansas” for nothing.  The material cost was monumental too.  Sherman’s burn-it-to-the-ground March to the Sea hastened the end of the war, but it took Georgia decades to recover economically.

Civil War today?  There is one characteristic, that bears watching, common to many on both sides.  They view the other as evil.  It used to be in America that one viewed political opponents, as mis-guided or stupid, and you worked by peaceful ways to convince them to change.  But evil?  There is no compromise with the devil.  You exterminate evil or it will do the same to you.

If we have a Civil War, whether viewed as crushing an evil insurrection, or overthrowing an evil government, it will get ugly in a hurry.  In Civil Wars, many folks present at its start, are dead  before it ends.  Whoever is in power, Democrats or Republicans, might suspend habeas corpus – Abe Lincoln did, and some would argue it has been suspended for participants in January 6.  There will be targeted killings of folks supporting the other side; we’ve already had targeting of Supreme Court justices.  Civil War looting will dwarf pillaging in 2020, and looters will be shot on sight by enraged citizens who feel their government won’t protect them.

In Civil Wars, border areas are especially vicious as both sides lack legitimacy to police them, so both push war matériel through them to their supporters.  That lawless situation already exists in northern Mexico and many areas inside the US.  Both sides might well allow torture to gain information.  It may not be William Wallace variety in Braveheart, but it easily could be Hank Voight and “the cage” in Chicago PD, as lots of people just “disappear” in Civil Wars.  After many of these conflicts, bunches of people on the losing side get hanged by the neck until dead, while others have lifetime bans on voting, gun-ownership, military service, property ownership, or receiving social benefits.

War is subject to irrational factors, which gives each conflict a unique character.  Characteristic of Civil Wars is that they don’t end until BOTH sides decide to stop.  “When” is hard to predict, but it’s predicated on pain, lots and lots of pain.  That’s why Red Dawn is such a great movie – it gets you to think about what could happen after the sun comes up.


Red Dawn2022-09-25T19:47:15-06:00

If You Are…You Need a Gun

The Supreme Court has spoken.  You may have a firearm inside your home, and you may have one outside as well.  Typically, several states are moving to define where outside your home you may have one, and of course that’s almost no place, which is why New York, Illinois, California and other anti-self-defense states are hemorrhaging thousands upon thousands of taxpayers to better-run other states.  These obvious run-around limitations will be struck down as well, and are merely delaying actions — scorched earth in military parlance.

The “typical” gun owner is often characterized by non-gun-owners as a right-wing, red-neck, beer-guzzling, low-IQ Neanderthal (see below) who is just itchin’ to unleash his trigger finger.  But times have changed, and now a whole lot of those non-gun-owners – who used to be dismissive of guns — truly need a firearm, whether you are a Pabst or an Armand de Brignac Brut kind of person.

Because now, it might be a matter of life or death.  Recently in Decatur, Illinois — a state that allows violence in the streets on a daily basis (see below), a teen was arrested for allegedly breaking into his 60-year-old neighbor’s home and trying to kill him because that neighbor is gay.  So if you identify as LGBTQ…you need a gun for protection.  LGBTQ people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be victims of violent crime. You may never actually have to shoot to defend your life, but then again, why take a chance?

If you identify as a woman…you need a gun for protection.  19.3 million women in the U.S. have been stalked in their lifetime.  1 in 4 have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.  1 in 7 have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.  1 in 5 have been raped in their lifetime.  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If you live in a rough neighborhood… you need a gun for protection.  In 2021, 701 men and 90 women were murdered in the Windy City.  640 were black, 29 were white, 105 were Hispanic, and the major determinant was where they lived.  The City of Chicago is installing 426 “Bleeding Control Kits” (see above) in 269 buildings across the city.  Officials say the kits could help save lives in an emergency such as falls and penetrating injuries.  Let’s get real; the kits are there to treat gunshot wounds, a tacit admission that the powers that be cannot prevent you from being shot; they have RETREATED to a position where they “hope” that you will not die from a gunshot wound inflicted by a criminal who will be armed regardless of the law.

If you live in a rich, safe neighborhood…you need a gun for protection.  875 South Bundy Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles; case closed.

If you know one or more males in your neighborhood who have violent tempers… you need a gun for protection.  Almost half of all male killers are younger than 25.  Less than one-third of male killers rely on firearms as their weapon of choice.  That means that two-thirds of male murderers use some other means of killing – not firearms.  Why take a chance?

If you identify as male…you need a gun for protection.  Almost 80% of all murder victims in the U.S. are male.  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If you are an Asian-American…you need a gun for protection.  Hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent in the U.S. have skyrocketed, especially in large urban areas, where the legal gun ownership process can be especially onerous.  Determining motivation of a criminal – who is never apprehended – is almost impossible: did the perpetrator rob and kill a Chinese-American store owner because of race or because of the cash register?  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If the proponents of gun control ever get their way, it will not be the rich political elites who are murdered; they talk a good game, but live in gated communities, in exclusive neighborhoods, and either have personal security details, or flaunt the law and have their own firearms on the sly.  By denying the means to defend for everyone else, the anti-2nd Amendment mob expose themselves as homophobes, anti-woman, racists of all stripes, and whatever fancy term applies to setting up elderly people living alone to be victimized.

A society, country and culture can be measured, in part, by how well it protects the most vulnerable among them, whether they are unborn babies, children, or people who look different, think differently, believe differently or come from different backgrounds.  The right to life; the right to self-defense; are inherent rights of every human being.  No government can legitimately deny you that right.

But they try to.  So if you own a firearm, great.  Make sure you keep it secured.  And help everyone you know learn how to shoot and how to legally obtain a firearm.  Because: man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American, atheist, religious, young adult or senior citizen …you need a gun for protection.


If You Are…You Need a Gun2022-07-30T09:43:43-06:00

Piss-Ant, Potentate Politicians

In regione caecorum rex est luscus

In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King

Piss-Ant, Potentate Politicians

In the 1930s between Belgium and Poland, a piss-ant, potentate politician decided that he was going to get rid of an entire group of people upon whom he blamed his country’s ills, calling them vermin (Ungeziefer) and deplorables (bedauernswerten).  He was devious enough, however, to know the populace would not accept that in one bite, so he used an incremental approach.  First the deplorables were not allowed to sit on the same park benches as “regular” people.  Different benches?  No big deal.  Later, they could not be treated by regular physicians, attend regular schools, own their own businesses, retain their citizenship and on it went.

Then the piss-ant, potentate politician said that the bedauernswerten must live in their own communities apart from regular people, and were transported to overcrowded urban ghettos in eastern Europe, where they were confined and worked, unpaid, for the government.

Because they were out of sight and out of mind of regular people, the piss-ant, potentate politician finally ordered that the deplorables be murdered.  And so they were.  But in Warsaw, the doomed people fought back.  Or actually a few did; of the 56,065 people there about 1,000 younger people fought.  The rest decided it was better to pray on your knees than die on your feet, and told the fighters that resistance would only make the piss-ant, potentate politician angry.  But the youngsters – being youngsters – told those who would not fight, Shtup es in toches and fought anyway, until all of them were killed in combat by the piss-ant, potentate politician’s special troops that wore skulls on their uniforms.  But at least they went out on their own terms.

Meanwhile, those who would not fight believed that they had avoided the piss-ant, potentate politician’s ire, only to be loaded onto railway cattle cars, transported to Vernichtungslager (extermination camps), and marched into gas chambers, where carbon monoxide from large diesel engines did its gruesome work.  The choking-to-death took about twenty minutes, after which the piss-ant, potentate politician’s henchmen yanked out the victims’ gold teeth and searched the bodies for any hidden jewelry.

Decades later, in a country located between Canada and Mexico, piss-ant, potentate politicians – unfortunately, not only the usual suspects, but also some from the other side of the aisle – concluded that their nation’s Constitution gave way too much power to the unwashed common citizens – termed deplorables by many of the elites – upon whom they blamed their country’s ills and that their “rights” had to be swiftly and ruthlessness curtailed.  So the piss-ant, potentate politicians got their lackies in social media – such as YouTube and Facebook among others – to attack freedom of speech, banning recalcitrants.  Using a pandemic from China, they also banned public gatherings including religious services, and continued to go after more firearms, which the Constitution had allowed as a basic right, but many piss-ant, potentate politicians had their own security guards, lived in gated communities, and couldn’t care less about crime in your neighborhood.

Then the teachers’ unions, renowned lapdogs and sycophants of piss-ant, potentate politicians, got into the act, refusing to conduct actual classes in many public schools.  They conducted virtual classes using technology, all the while knowing that some students had no access to such technology.  End of year comprehension tests meant nothing and the vast majority of students in 2020, 2021, and counting, were bumped up to higher grades, regardless of how ill-prepared they were.  What the union leaders did not mention was that nationally, more than 20% of public school teachers with school-age children enroll them in private schools, almost twice the 11% rate for the general public.  Talk about a chef who won’t eat what he cooks.

Then the piss-ant, potentate politicians enlisted the help of some members of the medical community – including the omnipotent Center for Disease Control – to opine on pandemic vaccines, effectiveness of paper and cloth masks, efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and zinc, and the actual lethality of the virus and its variants, as well as issue orders that they are not legally allowed to do under the Constitution.

Finally, many of the piss-ant, potentate politicians decided that it would be a good thing for people who had received the vaccination to publicly show “proof” of that before being allowed in public places, which only goes to show you that modern piss-ant, potentate politicians really do study the past, as the piss-ant, potentate politician back in the day had a similar tactic – making his deplorables wear a yellow Star of David.

Which gets to our question of the day: when are you going to tell the piss-ant, potentate politicians and their flunkies to Shtup es in toches!  Because all roads can lead to Warsaw

Piss-Ant, Potentate Politicians2022-07-30T08:21:29-06:00

The “88”

Every day self-proclaimed “experts” in the media spout off about the evils of semi-automatic rifles, termed “war guns”, “full automatics”, “Assault Rifles”, seeking to ban them once and for all.  Then Congress gets involved and away we go.  Neither group have any truly pure motives; mostly they just want to control every facet of everyone’s life, whether that violates the Constitution or not.

They are also swimming upstream against history.  For example, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles by the victorious Allies after World War I (then called the Great War) placed sole blame for the war on Germany.  It sounded like a good thing at the time (which is what many high school boys later claim was their reason for doing something stupid) but was such a monstrosity that almost single-handedly it ensured that the “War to End All Wars” was merely a prequel to an even more-destructive world war twenty years later – World War II.

A group called the IMKK, Inter-Allied Military Control Commission (sort of an international BATF)  was established to enforce the provisions of the treaty on German soil.  Among other things this commission ensured the following: the German Army could have no more than 100,000 personnel of which only 4,000 could be commissioned officers; the German Navy could have no submarines and no more than 36 surface ships (destroyers, cruisers, etc.); Germany could have no Air Force, could not import weapons of any kind; and have no tanks or heavy artillery.

88mm Flak Gun

So the Weimar Republic (the German democracy that replaced the Kaiser) came to the conclusion that when life deals you Zitronen (lemons), you start making Limonade (lemonade).  And the boys from the Krupp company, who never saw a weapon they didn’t love, went to neutral Sweden and worked with Bofers, some Swedish arms-builders, and developed a dual purpose 88-mm cannon, which was permitted under the treaty.  Actually it would have multiple purposes: anti-aircraft, anti-tank, general artillery, deck guns on naval vessels, and the main gun on deadly armored vehicles named after powerful animals – Tiger, Elephant, Rhinoceros and Hunting Panther.

Today, as in the past, adapt, be flexible, think out of the box.  Defense of the 2nd Amendment includes fighting to retain semi-automatic rifles, because banning those will just lead to banning semi-automatic shotguns and semi-automatic pistols.  And if those are ever prohibited, next up, pump-style weapons – the list will go on and on until nothing remains.

So, we need to ask ourselves the following question: what will I do if I am unable to own a semi-auto rifle?  You probably have already started your evaluation: almost no one I know has only semi-automatic rifles, because if all you have are these, and they are banned, you are now in the “Land of the Blind” with respect to self-defense.  And we know that in any uncertain, difficult situation the “One-eyed Man is King”.

Let’s start with rifles for today.  What could replace my semi-auto?  The closest type of rifle in terms of capability is probably lever-action or pump.  Bolt action often exceeds semi-auto in terms of accuracy and range, but is slow-firing in comparison.  Pump and lever-actions have a tube on the underside that stores the ammunition.  With either, you can probably fire several rounds quick enough to take down an animal during hunting, or a bad guy.  Or two, maybe three.  Situational awareness is a sense you can develop; it generally will keep you out of a situation where a pack of wolves, or bad guys, are simultaneously attacking you.

Lever Guns

A lever action is named appropriately enough, for a lever in front of the trigger guard.  Rotating  that lever about 90 degrees downward and then back up again, loads a new cartridge into the chamber.  Downsides?  Yes; it is harder to fire prone.  It’s slower to reload (but some calibers hold 10 rounds) and tubular magazines don’t use spire point (sharp-pointed) bullets.  You’ll be firing round-nose or flat-tipped.  Few self-defense courses cover lever actions.

Lever-action calibers?  There are dozens; from .22 long rifle to some humdinger called a 50-110 Winchester.  Other upsides?  They are proven, having been around a long time.  Many calibers are also pistol calibers – easing supply.  They often cost less than semi-autos.  Henry is a great brand as are Marlin, Winchester and Browning.  You can put a scope or red dot on most.

Reportedly Pat Garrett’s Rifle

Folks who swore by the lever-actions of their day?  Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Pat Garrett, Butch Cassidy, William Bonney, and Wyatt Earp.  So ask yourself.  What did they know that I don’t?  Make a lever action, maybe a .357 or .44, a flexible option in your gun safe.  Make it your own “88” that can do many things well.



The “88”2022-07-20T19:00:18-06:00

Private First Class Paul M. Kluxdal

In many World War II death penalty cases, military psychiatrists, using intelligence tests, found that the accused were substantially below average.  Such was not the case with Private First Class Paul M. Kluxdal.

Paul Kluxdal

Born on July 17, 1907 in Merrill, Wisconsin, Kluxdal was a radio operator in his unit, an occupation that required some real skill.  From November 19, 1924 to July 14, 1927, he had served in the Wisconsin National Guard; he also attended the University of Wisconsin for two years.  Prior to enlisting, Kluxdal, who was white, was married and lived in Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois; he was a construction foreman, building commercial chimneys.  His wife worked for the War Department in Chicago; the couple had no children.  Then Private First Class Paul Kluxdal did two stupid things.  For several months, he made threatening statements against his first sergeant.  Then, on August 12, 1944, he shot and killed his first sergeant.  Despite his intelligence, that combination of events would get him hanged.

Master Sergeant John C Woods, US Army Hangman

Master Sergeant John C. Woods hanged Paul Kluxdal at the Seine Disciplinary Training Center on October 31, 1944, Halloween.  And just like some of the scary visions of that holiday, the hanging was botched and it appears that it took eighteen minutes for the condemned man to die.

The Fifth Field analyzes the entire Kluxdal case and its contradictory evidence, as well as the execution (which is also discussed in American Hangman) and you can come to your own conclusion as to what should have happened in this case.

British historian Paul Johnson kindly found this photograph of Paul Kluxdal and sent it to me, so now you can put a face to a name.

Private First Class Paul M. Kluxdal2022-07-30T09:38:40-06:00

This Date in History: June 11

Werner Schmiedel

Werner Schmiedel

On Monday, June 11, 1945, U.S. Army official executioners hanged U.S. Army Private Werner Schmiedel, of Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, at the Peninsular Base Section Stockade in Aversa, Italy for the crime of murder.  The Army buried Schmiedel at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Naples, in the General Prisoner plot, in Grave 2-17.  Exhumed in 1949, the remains of Werner Schmiedel are buried at the American Military Cemetery at Oise-Aisne in Plot E, specifically in Row 3, Grave 53.  (The Fifth Field: The Story of the 96 American Soldiers Sentenced to Death and Executed in Europe and North Africa in World War II)


John David Cooper and J.P. Wilson committed one of the worst crime sprees of the war, a two-night assault violently raping two 14-year-old girls, one 18-year-old girl and one 40-year-old woman.  Two of the rapes took place on September 19, 1944 at Lérouville, France; the second two rapes happened two days later at Ferme de Marville, France.  The men also assaulted and wrongfully imprisoned several Frenchmen in a cellar.  Born in Dover, Georgia on June 11, 1922, John David Cooper was inducted at Fort Benning, Georgia on December 26, 1942.  As a civilian, he was a coal truck driver, earning $25 a week.  The Third U.S. Army convened a general court-martial at Nancy, France on October 25, 1944.  The two men, assigned to the 3966th Quartermaster Truck Company, were tried together; they pled not guilty, but the court convicted them and sentenced them to death by hanging.  (The Fifth Field: The Story of the 96 American Soldiers Sentenced to Death and Executed in Europe and North Africa in World War II)

This Date in History: June 112022-05-31T18:26:50-06:00

This Date in History: June 10


Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein

Erich von Lewinski, genannt von Manstein, Army Field Marshal, born in Berlin on November 24, 1887, winner of the Iron Cross 1st Class in World War I, commander of the 11th Army, commander Army Group South, winner of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, dismissed by Hitler in 1944, author of memoirs, Lost Victories, died on June 10, 1973 in Ebenhausen, said about field commanders: “Intelligence, knowledge and experience are telling prerequisites.  Lack of these may, if necessary, be compensated for by good general staff officers.  Strength of character and inner fortitude, however, are decisive factors.  The confidence of the men in the ranks rests upon a man’s strength of character.”  (2,000 Quotes From Hitler’s 1,000-Year Reich)


Colonel General Heinz Guderian, chief of the panzer forces, recorded in his notes that as of May 3, 1943, Army Group South had fifty-three Tiger tanks, while Army Group Center had twenty.  By May 9 sixteen more Tigers were enroute to Army Group South.  By June 10, a further twenty-eight Tiger tanks were on trains headed to von Manstein, while thirty-one Tigers were enroute to Army Group Center.  Therefore, according to Guderian’s calculations, by the start of the Kursk Offensive, Army Group South would have ninety-seven Tiger tanks on hand while Army Group Center would have just fifty-one.  (Waffen-SS Tiger Crews at Kursk: The Men of SS Panzer Regiments 1, 2 & 3 in Operation Citadel, July 5-15, 1943)

This Date in History: June 102022-05-31T18:23:43-06:00

This Date in History: June 9

Kurt Zeitzler

Kurt Zeitzler, Army Colonel General, born on June 9, 1895 in Cossmar-Luckau, chief of staff for XXII Motorized Corps, the First Panzer Army, and Army Group D, Chief of the General Staff of the Army (on September 24, 1942,) winner of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, died on September 25, 1963 in Hohenaschau-Chiemsee; on commanders: “If the troops are bad, the commander is either dead or he’s a bad commander.”  (2,000 Quotes From Hitler’s 1,000-Year Reich)


American Hangman: MSgt. John C. Woods, The United States Army’s Notorious Executioner in World War II and Nürnberg

Sergeant Thomas J. Ward served as the Supply Sergeant of the Loire Disciplinary Training Center.  Born on June 9, 1925 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he enlisted on September 2, 1943 and was assigned to Company I, 23rd Infantry Regiment in the Second U.S. Infantry Division.  Wounded in action four times, he fought in France, Belgium and the Siegfried Line before transferring to the Loire DTC in February 1945.  Ward subsequently witnessed twelve executions at the DTC.  At Le Mans, he was John Woods’ closest friend, often going downtown in the evening for a beer together.  He recalled that the day before each execution, Woods would walk to the supply room to get the rope and black hood that would be used in the upcoming event; a new rope was used for each hanging, although Woods would use each black hood several times.

On the first occasion before a hanging, Woods openly carried the rope from the supply room through the stockade and the observant prisoners ascertained what was happening and began to throw rocks at the hangman; in the future, Woods wore a trench coat, rain or shine, and concealed the rope and hood under it.  Ward later recalled that concerning the trap door, Woods had both a lever and a backup rope that could be cut to release the trap door.  Tom Ward remembered that many of the executions occurred just before noon, when many of the men in the stockade – not involved in the execution – were standing in line outside the mess hall for lunch, and when the trap door opened, the motion was so violent and unique that the loud noise could be heard throughout the DTC and this distinctive sound spoiled many a man’s appetite.  (American Hangman: MSgt. John C. Woods, The United States Army’s Notorious Executioner in World War II and Nürnberg)

This Date in History: June 92022-05-31T18:20:57-06:00

Henry U.S. Survival AR-7

In an iconic scene in From Russia with Love, James Bond assembles an ArmaLite AR-7 takedown rifle, removing the barrel and receiver from their storage slots in the weapon’s buttstock.  Attaching a small scope, he scans for his quarry, the dastardly Krilencu, a Bulgarian assassin who works for SMERSH.  Bond is about to take the shot when his ally, Kerim Bey, whom Krilencu had recently wounded in the shoulder, asks to pull the trigger, which he does with success.  The scene ends with Kerim Bey remarking, “That pays many debts.”

Good enough for Bond, James Bond

Today, the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 has replaced the older ArmaLite model, and while the .22 rifle may not repay the type of debts Kerim Bey was referring to, it will accomplish many tasks and just might keep you alive in the process.  Henry says, “Don’t Leave Civilization Without One”, and while that is excellent advice, you may also need it when some elements in your day-to-day life become positively  “uncivil”.  It is a deadly rat gun.

Since 1959, when it was designed for U.S. Air Force flight crews that might have to bail out over rugged terrain, the AR-7’s reputation for portability, ease of operation and reliability has carried over to the civilian world, around the world.  It is a favorite of bush pilots, backpackers and backcountry adventurers around the world who, like their Air Force counterparts, need a rifle that’s easy to carry, but also has the accuracy to reliably take down small game as food sources.

An eight-shot semi-automatic, it is lightweight (3.5 lbs.) and highly portable.  At just 16.5″ long, when all the components are stowed, it easily fits into the cargo area of a plane, boat or in a backpack.  Younger generations call some of these a “Bug Out Bag”, but whatever your term, an AR-7 should really be in there.  And stowed in your backpack, no one would ever have a clue that you are carrying a rifle.  It’s almost as if you can make a rifle appear out of nowhere. Chambered in .22 LR, you can also carry a large quantity of ammunition without adding much weight to your gear.

When disassembled the pieces fit inside the impact-resistant, water resistant stock, which can float for a while, but get it out fairly quickly in case the back cap leaks; one reviewer tested that and the package remained waterproof for six minutes.  Henry says, “Assembly is as easy as attaching the receiver to the stock, inserting the barrel, and screwing on the nut. In a few seconds, without any tools, the Henry AR-7 is ready for action.”  That’s not quite accurate.  It is easy, but it will take at least a minute, not just a few seconds.  But, remember, no tools are needed!  The weapon comes with two eight-round magazines; order two more as the buttstock storage area will accommodate three loaded magazines.

To fire, you first attach the receiver to the stock by fitting it into the slot and turning a fixed little bolt until the two are tightly mated.  This bolt is in the bottom of the handle and cannot come out when you unfasten the receiver, so it can’t get lost.  Then you line up the barrel, and tighten the screw collar.  Put in a magazine (and since you can store it with a magazine already in the receiver, you may want to consider that), pull the bolt back using the little charging handle, and release it; the bolt assembly slams forward, loading a round in the chamber.  Unlike most other rifles, there is no bolt assembly stop to hold it to the rear, so after you fire your last round the bolt remains forward.  You must pull the charging handle to the rear a bit to visually inspect the chamber to ensure there is no live round there, because it is blowback-operated.  Fully assembled, it’s 35 inches long.  With fifteen minutes of practice, maybe less, you can assemble it fully in the dark.  The safety is a simple thumb lever that flips on and off easily.

The Henry AR-7 is available in three finishes; Black, True Timber Kanati Camo Pattern, and True Timber Viper Western Camo Pattern.  There are two schools of thought on camo; one is you may want the rifle to hide along with you, but in the dark, if things go awry, you want to be able to find it quickly and easily.  Either way, all models are equipped with an elevation-adjustable rear sight and a blade front sight that is windage-adjustable.  The steel barrel covered in tough ABS plastic with a protective coating for complete corrosion resistance.  Trigger pull is six-pounds and breaks cleanly.  It’s made in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

I’m 70 and wear bifocals. If I can do this at 50 feet, you can do even better!

MSRP is about $290; for one of the two camouflage models, add another $60.  I have tested one in black.  The receiver has a narrow 3/8-inch groove design for rimfire rings.  So I got a small, 4-power scope and rings, thinking I could increase accuracy.  I shouldn’t have bothered.  Since a scope-mounted receiver will not fit inside the butt compartment, you have to removed the scope before packing, and mount it again later for firing.  This causes you to have to confirm the zero, which is often needed.  The rabbit, rat or other target will not simply sit there waiting while you reconfirm the zero with a few shots, so clearly that won’t do.  However, at fifty feet the front sight blade is easy to see through as it is orange.  And the rear aperture peep sight is remarkably accurate; you should be able to hit the head of a squirrel, rabbit, duck or goose on the ground, to put in the cook-pot.  That’s what the weapon is designed to do.

But the AR-7 can do much more.  There is almost no recoil.  You can fire all eight rounds in under four seconds and keep all eight on target.  Sure, that won’t stop a bear, but it will drop or deter most mean-ass dogs.  And in a pinch, my guess is that a two-legged predator isn’t going to like a face-full, or neck-full of CCi Stinger 32-grain hollow points.  The advertised velocity is 1640 fps, but the AR-7, with its 16.125″ barrel gets 1496 fps, which is about 159 foot-pounds of energy.  That’s not much as self-defense rounds go, but remember, the average shooter will be far more accurate with the AR-7 at fifty feet than they are with almost any pistol.  At least that’s true in my case.  And with that extra magazine you can stow, you’ve got 24 rounds for the fight.  The AR-7 magazine release is located along the trigger guard, on the left side of the weapon.  The shooter can use their trigger finger to push it forward to release the magazine, or your non-firing-hand thumb.

Mean-ass dog

Even without a silencer, the AR-7 doesn’t make that much noise, and sometimes you don’t want every Tom, Dick or Harry to know you’re around, or blowing out your eardrums if you fire an emergency shot without hearing protection (although if at all possible, have some protection.)  The Henry AR-7 isn’t a death ray.  However, does a lot of things well-enough to get you by, and that’s exactly what this rifle is intended to do; get you by until you are back home to safety.

Henry U.S. Survival AR-72022-07-20T18:48:03-06:00
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