French MacLean

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This Date in History: March 2

Arthur Nebe

Arthur Nebe, Reichs Criminal Director, born November 13, 1894 in Berlin, Chief of the Criminal Police (Kripo), commander of Einsatzgruppe B – a Nazi mobile murder unit – in Russia, winner of the Iron Cross 1st Class, executed on March 2, 1945 in Berlin by the SS for complicity in the July 20, 1944 plot against Hitler, said to Heinrich Müller (chief of the Gestapo) on Army Field Marshal von Blomberg’s new wife (Erna Grühn), whom Nebe had just discovered was a convicted prostitute: “Good God, Müller, the Führer kissed that woman’s hand!”  (2,000 Quotes From Hitler’s 1,000-Year Reich)

Erna Grühn

Erna Grühn

Von Blomberg subsequently resigned.

This Date in History: March 22024-02-24T11:36:38-06:00

The Final Witness

I just read — for the Second time — The Final Witness: A Kennedy Secret Service Agent Breaks His Silence After Sixty Years, by Paul Landis, a Secret Service agent not interviewed by the Warren Commission, who quit the agency in 1964, and who kept silent until recently.

Maybe if the commission had interviewed him, future US Senator Arlen Specter wouldn’t have wasted everyone’s time on the “Magic Bullet Theory”, with its mystical properties of changing direction, that enabled the conclusion that the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole shooter of President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John B. Connally.

Let me cut right to the chase.  If you ever had, or have, a passing interest in the Kennedy Assassination or were/are a full-fledged “addict” of the most-significant crime of the 20th century, buy this book.  Read this book.  Underline significant passages in this book so you don’t have to waste time finding them when you read this book again; and maybe again after that.

The book had a one-month backlog on Amazon.  I now not only have a copy for myself, but have also bought the book for several friends.  You have a lot to read in life, but this is an easy read.  The first 130 pages are about Agent Landis’ life before November 22, 1963.  He writes well and you’ll blast through these so quickly it will seem like you’re skimming.

Then you are at the heart of the matter, lasting about 30 pages.  You will either believe Agent Landis, or ascribe that he is too old to remember details, or that he has an axe to grind why he did not remain in the Secret Service, or that he just wants to make money.

Let’s quickly examine all three potential beliefs.  As the author of over 15 published non-fiction works, I can tell you that Agent Landis didn’t make enough money as a first-time author to make up for the crap he is probably getting daily on social media for upsetting established “truths.”  Second, as an Army officer for over 30 years, I know PTSD when I see or hear it, and while I’m not a psychologist, I know that he never got over what he experienced that day, and his resignation a year later proved that.  He was right in the middle of the blood and the gore.  And he couldn’t prevent it.

As to the facts, he presents so much detailed information, to include visual, audio and actually holding an intact bullet, and several bullet fragments, WHILE THEY WERE STILL IN THE PREIDENT’S LIMOUSINE.

In his book, he writes of three observations, from his position as a Secret Service agent who guarded the President’s wife and children.  He started in a limo behind the President’s.  Heard two shots from the rear that sounded different from one another.  My take.  This observation of sounding different could be a faulty memory.  People remember songs well, but not exactly how individual instruments sound after the event.  Two different sounds could be two different rifles, but they could also be the same weapon at changing distances and angles as the motorcade kept moving.

When they got to Parkland Hospital, Paul got into the President’s limousine while Mrs. Kennedy was in the back seat and found two bullet fragments on the seat beside her.  Picked them up, looked at both quickly, and put them down where he had found them.  My take.  Happened as he said.

Now the last piece, and this is the big one.  He helped lift JFK’s body out of the limo and on to a gurney.  Then he helped Mrs. Kennedy stand up in the car, at which time he saw a completely intact bullet on top of the cushioning behind where she had been sitting.  In other words, at that instant it was between the First Lady’s back and the back of her seat.  My take.  He was accurate, primarily because of what happened next.

Believing that the increasing crowd of people might include a souvenir-hunter, he puts the bullet into his pocket.  However, he realizes in the examination room that he should not keep it, and places the bullet next to President Kennedy’s foot on the examination table.  My take.  Before writing this book, Paul Landis KNOWS that admitting that he took the bullet from the car will be critical of his conduct on that day.  All he has to do is keep quiet and no one will ever know that.  But he chooses the harder right and explains what he did and why he did it.  This account rings true and accurate.

Conclusion.  The intact bullet fell out of JFK’s back at some point during the shooting or the ride to Parkland.  It could not have been the same “magic bullet” that supposedly went through the President, caused multiple wounds to John Connally and ended up on John Connally’s stretcher, having fallen out of Connally’s body.

It had fallen out of the President’s body, and later someone moved it from the side of the President’s foot to Connally’s stretcher — either by mistake or with intent.

Not even Arlen Specter can make a bullet go backwards and undo all the wounds it “supposedly” caused to the governor.

It also means that Oswald would have had to fire an additional shot that wounded just Connally.  But he did not have time to do that.

Thank you, Paul Landis.

 

 

The Final Witness2024-02-24T11:14:41-06:00

You Can Do This — The Girsan MC 14T

If you are 24-years old, you can skip reading this, because you can easily handle a 9mm, .45 ACP, or even a 10mm semi-auto, and also teach John Wick not to waste ammo.  But keep reading if you have grandparents who worked their fingers to the bone raising your father and your three wild uncles.  Because now, pawpaw’s fingers are wracked with arthritis and neuropathy and he truly cannot smoothly “rack” a semi-auto pistol (pull the slide back and then let it go forward chambering a round.)

Maybe memaw tried a Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ – “EZ” standing for easier to rack.  But she just couldn’t do it unless she held the pistol in her left hand and racked it with her dominant right hand and then switched the weapon from left to right hand to fire it.  And at the range, neither one could do that every time, without dropping it.  Then maybe they tried a revolver, but it kicked so much that it wasn’t accurate, and with just six rounds, that wouldn’t cut it.  This is not going to end well during a home invasion or being accosted walking their beloved Shih Tzu, Sparky, who hasn’t bitten anyone since Uncle Ted threw that firecracker in his general vicinity that one Fourth of July.

We reviewed several pistols concerning this topic and I promised I would get a Girsan MC 14T.  .380 Auto and see what’s up.  The answer is; the barrel.  Semi-auto; double action or single action; measured double action trigger pull north of 8.5-lb (it is smooth and feels like less); and single action at 4.5-lb.  Mag holds 13 rounds, but it’s easier to insert the magazine with 12 rounds in it.  4.5 inch barrel.  28.48 ounces loaded (including fourteen 95-grain Fiocchi rounds).  Turkish engineers probably used Italian Beretta Model 86 Cheetah as a template.

So what makes it unique?  And like pawpaw, I have arthritis and neuropathy in both hands.  To load, insert the magazine in magazine well.  Place right index fingertip on a lever just above the trigger on the right side and push lever downward.  I could do this with just my right hand; it did not require steadying with my left.  Rear of the barrel will pop up about half an inch.  Load one round in, reach over with your left hand and use your left thumb to push the barrel back down, producing an audible click.  Whenever you want to see if the pistol is loaded, just tip up the barrel and look, no racking required.  In fact, because of its design, I could not rack it unless I first cocked the hammer back.

I could get a good hold with all four fingers (my handspan is 8.5″); grips have ridges but are not sharp.  Beavertail keeps my thumb web low, so no slide “bite”.  Five inches tall, and 7.5 inches long, pistol fits in a purse,  if a lot of other stuff comes out.  Too bulky for pants pocket unless cargo size; some jacket pockets OK; great for a fanny-pack pulled around the front, or for a nightstand or a vehicle.  Accessory rail front underside of frame, but attaching anything might make it too bulky, plus it’s just another operating task to memorize.  Instead of the rail, should have come with more than one magazine; you’ll have to order more, because just one mag on the range is a pain in the rear.

Nice white dot sights, but in my opinion, this is a 21-30 foot range self-defense/home defense weapon.  Train to point, shoot, hit and repeat, and not waste time on long-range accuracy.  Initially firing 170 FMJ rounds at 21-30 feet, had one failure to feed and one failure to fire.  Opened tip-up barrel and found that round had distinct indent, so this was likely a bad primer.  Other 168 FMJ rounds, fired standing unsupported, struck center chest of the half-size silhouette.  Then fired seven rounds of each type of following self-defense ammo (84 rounds total) from sandbag support at 21 feet for basic group size.

Speer Gold Dot (90 grain) 1.125″ high; 1.125″ wide

Browning X-Point Defense (95 grain) 1.5″ high; 1.062″ wide

Remington HTP High Terminal Performance (88 grain) 2.125″ high; 0.875″ wide

Hornady American Gunner XTP (90 grain) 1.875″ high; 1.25″ wide

Winchester Silvertip (85 grain) 2.5″ high; 0.75″ wide

Winchester PDX 1 Defender (95 grain) 2.125″ high; 1.25″ wide

Underwood Maximum Expansion (68 grain) 2.125″ high; 1.25″ wide

Federal Punch Personal Defense (85 grain; 1000 fps) 2.25″ high; 1.875″ wide

Sig Sauer Elite Defense/Elite Performance (90 grain) 2.875″ high; 1.5″ wide

Norma MHP Home Defense (85 grain) 2.625″ high; 2.5″ wide; one failure to feed

Hornady Critical Defense (90 grain) 3.75″ high; 1.75″ wide

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics (90 grain) 5.25″ high; 2.25″ wide; one failure to fire

Nowhere on weapon or in owner’s manual is +P ammunition mentioned, so I don’t plan on firing any.  It is a blowback operating system, generally chambered for small-caliber, low pressure cartridges, that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.  No extractor; to unload a round in the chamber, tip up the barrel and pull it out, which probably eliminates putting on a red dot.

This is not an argument that .380 is a better defensive round than something larger: I assume you would need 2-3 good hits in a fight; you can train to that.  If your dexterity and strength do not allow you to fire more powerful rounds, your option may be this caliber, and maybe this weapon.

You Can Do This — The Girsan MC 14T2023-10-10T13:29:02-05:00

Forged in Fire

The 2nd Amendment: we mostly think about it as firearms, but in the American Revolution, swords were also important weapons.  American cavalrymen carried long sabers, frequently as shock troops who charged at great speeds.  Infantrymen were often armed with a short sword measuring around 25 inches in length, known as a “hanger” that served as a secondary weapon to the musket.  As a result, swords were plentiful when the Constitution was written.

Today, probably no one would choose a sword over a firearm for most self-defense situations they might face, but it is incumbent that we force the opponents of our God-given right of self-defense to defend their entire foolish and naïve would-be bans or limitations on our right.  We must demand to own other self-defense weapons, including swords.

You may not have contemplated swords since you were a wee tike running around with a small wooden one playing pirate, so let’s quickly look at some characteristics of today’s long blades.  Swords changed over the last several millennia, primarily because the character and conduct of warfare (the type of enemy – such as mounted versus dismounted and what formations they used; tactics; metallurgy; the armor worn by your opponent, and so forth) constantly changes.

Today, the character and conduct of your fight could be combat inside your home, or outside.  The guy probably trying to kill you will likely have neither a sword of his own, nor wearing armor, most-likely be a single opponent, or at most a small group, but not part of a large, packed formation such as a Greek phalanx!  If outside your domicile, if he has a gun and you don’t, you have a problem – unless you can strike first, while inside the house, you know the terrain which is a huge advantage.  But again, this is not an argument to trade in your Browning 12 gauge for a Renaissance-era Zweihänder (two-handed) long sword – not that a blow from the latter won’t disable an attacker, but swinging that bad boy inside and you’ll find out what collateral damage is!

So here are some general types of swords you could own, and you aren’t limited to just one!  Just like with firearms, you have to practice, practice, practice: you and two other buddies just can’t saunter out in the back yard one afternoon, swinging your swords expecting to become the Three Musketeers.  And these are not wood or dull; they can will cut you if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Slasher.  The Japanese Katana (above; sometimes called a Samurai sword in modern culture) is one of the best, if not the best, slashing swords available due to the stability, flexibility, and precision provided by the handle and soft curvature of its single-edge blade.  The downside?  You’re looking at years to get good with it – which is true for many swords ! – and it’s pretty long for inside-the-house use!

Cutter/Chopper.  Cutting strikes are different from slashing, as they look to sever body parts (sword-fighting is bloody; get used to it).  The best cutter/choppers have broad, sturdy, blades with a forward center of gravity that focus all of their power on the single-edge blade.  A Chinese Dadao (above) is a good choice.

Thruster.  While it can slash, the whole point of the thruster is to bury the blade’s point deep into the chest/guts of the other guy.  Nothing did that better, for a longer period of time, than the Roman Gladius, the sword of the Roman legion.  Blade length is about 20 inches; inside the house is doable, because you aren’t swinging it, you’re stabbing.  Remember!  Since the blade can be 2.6″ in width, the wounds are often fatal.

Jack of All Trades.  The above three types were designed for fighting, but a machete can serve many other purposes, cutting bushes, small trees, ropes, and even digging the ground when necessary, and be a slasher if need be.  They love getting dirty.

StealthCane Swords provide you with that crucial 2 seconds of getting it into the fight – because your attacker has probably never encountered one before.  But laws concerning them are so nebulous, so often mis-quoted, that while I feel confident that used inside your house you might be OK, outside – well, we must push lawmakers allow them for self-defense anywhere.  Cold Steel makes several economic models, while Burger Custom Canes produces ones so exquisite that your kids will fight over it in your Will, and let their siblings have the lake house and your beloved 1966 GTO.

Intimidator.  Nope, not Dale Earnhardt.  It’s the Khukuri.  Think Gurkha.  Think “Ayo Gorkhali!” (“Here come the Gorkhas!”)  Yes, deterrence will not always work, but if it doesn’t, this bad mama-jama looks like it is going to hurt somebody really bad – because it will.  I can’t say enough about Himalayan Imports, that makes these over in Nepal.  I own a bunch.  Some are 30″ long, but you want one 15-20″ as its easier to control.  5160 Straight Carbon Spring Steel leaf-springs off of large cargo trucks, preferably Mercedes or Saabs, past their operational life, are retooled into blades.  The Ang Khola model is almost unbreakable; some can even serve as a prybar.  Does what a machete and ax can do.  When I bought mine, they provided the name/info of the smith (kami) who forged each; I hope they still do.  Even if you never want it as a weapon, you should consider owning one of these.

Throughout history, a quality-made sword spoke of the unique character of its owner; in some cultures, only the bravest could possess one.  Be that protector of your own house and family.  Find your Excalibur.

Forged in Fire2023-08-25T10:47:49-05:00

Getting the Right Boom for the Baby Boomers

It is a cruel irony that senior citizens, who have an even more pressing need for self-defense capability – because they are viewed by criminals as being easy targets – often find it ever harder to utilize those tools of self-defense in any fashion, from hand-to hand-skills to weapons of all kinds.

My heart breaks every time I go to a gun range and see a senior citizen couple (who are my age in the interest of full disclosure) who have decided, often after six-plus decades of not owning a firearm, to finally purchase a pistol for home defense or self-defense away from home.

Because invariably, quite a few of us might buy something that will be (select all that apply): difficult to load; uncomfortable to shoot (too much recoil, not the right fit in the hand, too heavy to aim, too much muzzle blast, slide “biting” the web of your hand during recoil, etc.), inherently inaccurate, or too difficult – if it doesn’t fire as advertised – to apply immediate action to get it working again when a bad guy is trying to kill you.

The most fundamental problem is that a shooter must have a certain amount of strength to hold up their weapon at arm’s length, and to hold on to it throughout firing.  Depending on your strength, for a long gun (shotgun), that essentially might be impossible, and even lightweight handguns might be challenging.  This presents a two-pronged dilemma, because as weight of a weapon decreases, to make the firearm easier to lift and hold, recoil increases.  (Note: you can help with this by practicing every day holding a 2-3 pound small dumbbell with both hands, arms extended as you would a pistol and keeping that position for at least 10 seconds, working upward for longer times, and so you don’t shake while you are doing it.)  YOU CAN DO THIS!

Then there is the dreaded coordination, or manual dexterity, that seems to vanish with each passing year.  Fingers don’t work as readily or as smoothly as they used to, and manipulating tiny, detailed control levers, or loading a magazine into a semi-auto, or reloading the cylinder in a revolver, can be so challenging that not even John Wick could do it on his first take.  In short, here are the challenges:

  • Difficulty in inserting cartridges or magazines
  • Manipulation of controls (magazine release, safety, etc.)
  • Retracting slide to load or clear (known as racking the slide)
  • Holding pistol up at arm’s length
  • Maintaining adequate stability for the gun when firing

And these are often difficult to quantify, unlike weight, size, capacity, ballistics.  If I became a gun range owner with an FFL (so I could order you the exact model you want), I would have several pistols available for you to fire at the range BEFORE you make a decision on what to buy.  You have to feel the difference yourself in firing, not just take anyone’s advice as Gospel, not even mine.  I would urge you to fire enough ammunition (that you obviously pay for) through each weapon that is forces you to reload it twice, so you can check out the ease or difficulty in doing that.  We’re talking 30-40 rounds per pistol.  In 40 rounds, you’ll know if the gun is fun to shoot, or is painful, or too heavy to hold steady.  Normally, you would rent each pistol, which is money well spent, but I would suggest to range owners that if you subsequently buy a new one of these four models, the hour-long rental fee would be waived.

Here are a few pistols I would have available at the range: semi-autos and revolvers, because each type has certain advantages, which you will experience for yourself when you fire them.  Have tried to keep similar calibers: .380 for semi-autos and .38 for revolvers.  Longer barrels result in somewhat greater muzzle velocity which is a component of stopping power.  But the most-important component, in my opinion, is bullet placement on the bad guy.  And you can only do that through practice, practice, practice.  And you won’t practice, if firing the weapon is uncomfortable, let alone painful.

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ.  .380 Auto.  Semi-auto.  8-round magazine.  3.68″ barrel.  4.5-lb. trigger pull; single action only.  Weight 21.6 ounces loaded.  Easier-to-rack slide, easier-to-load magazine, and easier-to-clean design.  @$450.

Girsan MC 14T

Girsan MC 14T.  .380 Auto.  Semi-auto, double action or single action. 13-round magazine.  4.5″ barrel.  Double action trigger pull 7.5-lb; single action 4.7-lb.  Weight 30.6 ounces loaded.  No racking required; barrel tips up allowing for manual loading of first round as shown above.  Magazine functions better with 12 rounds instead of 13.  This weapon has just come out –@$498.

Smith & Wesson 637 Airweight.  .38 Special (+P rated).  Revolver: double action or single action.  Double action trigger pull 9-lb; single action 2-lb.  5-round capacity.  1.875″ barrel.  Weight 15.5 ounces loaded.

Charter Arms Undercover Lite

Charter Arms Undercover Lite.  .38 Special.  Revolver: double action or single action.  Double action trigger pull 10-lb; single action 3.6-lb.  5-round capacity.  2″ barrel.  Weight 12 ounces.  @$400.

I do not own any of these weapons, but use, instead, a Smith & Wesson 351 PD, .22 Magnum revolver.  It holds 7 rounds and fits my needs at my age.

But I am intrigued by the Girsan MC 14T .380 Auto.  The other three may have incremental improvements over my 351 PD, although five rounds is not a lot of room for misses.  But with the Girsan’s tip up barrel design, which can eliminate racking entirely, combined with a hefty capacity, the Girsan may prove to have revolutionary improvements, and I want to test those, so I know for myself – not having to rely on someone else’s opinion.

Getting the Right Boom for the Baby Boomers2023-10-08T15:35:20-05:00

Everyday Carry Knife

Back when my ancestors lived in caves and were scared of saber-tooth cats, I’m pretty sure that old gramps never left home without his trusty knife.  And while Mr. Saber-tooth is long gone, never leave your own “cave” without your own knife, commonly known today as an EDC – Every Day Carry.

Choices are many and can sometimes depend on your normal uses for it.  If you’re in an office and 90% of its use will be to slice open letters or delivery boxes, the knife you choose to carry every day may be far different than if you work on a farm.  Here are basic considerations.  Pick a knife you want to carry every day.  Choose a knife you don’t mind getting messy or dirty.  Choose a knife that is easy to carry, which basically revolves around size and weight; nobody wants a brick in their pocket, so the lighter and easier to carry the knife is, the more likely you are to carry it.  Choose a knife that is fun and practical to use.

We aren’t talking knife combat.  While almost any knife could provide some degree of defense, an EDC isn’t primarily that, except for, perhaps, if you are in our military and have “a very particular set of skills.”  Second, I personally buy American on these, as American makers often more fully-divulge key parameters like type of steel used for the blade.  But if you have something from a maker such as Boker (Böker), made in Solingen, Germany, you have a great knife so don’t worry.  In any case, you’ll need to start looking at knife qualities including: edge retention (ability to hold its sharpness during use); toughness (ability to resist chipping or complete failure [it snaps] during really hard use, like “batoning” using a baton-sized stick to strike the spine of a knife, to drive it through wood, something I would never try): hardness (ability to resist deforming); corrosion resistance (a steel’s capability to resist and prevent corrosion such as rusting, especially in humid conditions); ease of sharpening.  Read multiple sources, as its interesting.  The rub is that some of these characteristics work against each other!

Now to the blade’s steel.  You’ll start seeing terms like D2, M390, S30V, S35VN, S90V, Elmax, and so many more it will make your head swim.  But never fear, most discussions on the Internet also use diagrams that compare two sample steels.  Because it is the type of steel in your knife blade that will determine its cost and character.  So if you are looking at a knife and cannot find the type of steel used, you may want to move on, because without knowing the steel, you could be guessing how it will turn out.  Would you buy a firearm, without knowing its caliber?

Here is a diagram comparing S35VN steel to S90V with respect to toughness, edge retention, ease of sharpness, and corrosion resistance (VERY important if you live near bodies of water or in a humid climate.)  The further away from the center of the diamond, the higher that steel is rated in that particular category.  In this case, S35VN has higher ratings than S90V in everything but edge retention, but if edge retention is really important for you, you might end up wanting that.

 

Sometimes a diagram looks like this next one, which in this case presents just one category, corrosion resistance, and then shows five types of steel and how well they do in this.  Again, the further away from the center the rating is, the stronger the rating.  Vanax is the best of these five steels shown, but all five score high in this category.

Let’s get to five makers.  Benchmade (Oregon)  A premium company, all kinds of steel and products, known for their AXIS lock where the blade remains more secure.  Free LifeSharp maintenance (they’ll re-sharpen it!)  Downside?  The get expensive in a hurry.  But at least visit their website because it doesn’t cost to look.  Here’s the Osborne model.

Buck (Idaho).  Been around a long time.  BUCK Forever Warranty.  Extremely reasonable prices.  Downside?  Some can be a little heavy.

Case (Pennsylvania).  Also known for making small folding multi-blade knives, and if that fits your EDC needs, get one.  Lots of S35VN.  Kinzua line looks fascinating.  Mid-range prices.  Downside?  One variation is all camouflage, including blade.  If you drop it, will you be able to find it?

Emerson (California).  Lots of 154CM.  Known for fighting knives, but several models are EDC.  Downside?  Can be pricey.

Microtech (North Carolina).  AWESOME knives.  With almost every variety, its tough narrowing down what you want.  Downside?  Can be pricey.  Microtech does not commit to a specific steel type for a given model; rather, they constantly switch the steel from what they have available.  Sometimes it can just be labeled Premium Steel.  But with some research you can find out the particular steel that you are holding.

Then you’ll decide on blade length, type of opening such as manual or automatic (following legal requirements where you live).  OTF means the blade comes out the front in an auto knife.  Hold it, and try opening and closing it, BEFORE you buy it.

Finally, don’t do what I did.  No matter what you think you know, if you have ANY knife on you, or in a carry-on bag going through TSA at an airport, they will almost certainly confiscate it!  And if you bitch, they might go bad-ass and not let you board the plane.  Plan ahead or lose your EDC.  Because there’s nothing sadder than losing a faithful friend.

Everyday Carry Knife2023-08-25T10:49:44-05:00

Scrappers

General George S. Patton was a walking quotation machine. His colorful image, hard-driving personality, and success as a military commander were at times overshadowed by numerous controversial public statements. On top of that, he is often difficult to understand, in part, because he is almost a one-of-a-kind historical figure, and because a senior military officer in the United States, like Patton, could not exist today. In my over three decades of military service, the only officer I saw that possessed even a small Pattonesque persona was General Norm Schwarzkopf. And today? George Patton wasn’t “woke”; and the military establishment would have prevented him from even sniffing a promotion to flag rank, let alone ever achieving that.

Be that as it may, Patton made some remarkable observations, one of which would become true concerning Company B of the 39th Infantry Regiment. One evening, in a tent with other officers, during the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers, a pensive Patton shared his thoughts on the war he knew would surely come:

“I’m worried because I’m not sure this country can field a fighting army at this stage in our history. We’ve pampered and confused our youth. We’ve talked too much about rights and not enough about duties. Now we’ve got to try and make them attack and kill. A big percentage of our men won’t be worth a goddam to us. Many a brave soldier will lose his life unnecessarily because the man next to him turns yellow. We’re going to have to dig down deep to find our hard core of scrappers. That takes time and time is short.”

As George would later see first-hand, the 39th Infantry Regiment on a large scale, and Company B within it, would be a key part of “our hard core of scrappers.”

 

Scrappers2023-07-10T09:17:14-05:00

Walther WMP .22 Magnum

Loading Them Up and Putting Them Out – The Walther WMP

Been shooting a new Walther WMP (Walther Magnum Pistol) a lot lately. It’s a .22 Magnum semi-auto, full-size, easy-to-shoot, lightweight, 15-round magazine capacity weapon; and since it is made by Walther headquartered in Ulm, Germany, you know it’s high quality.

Many weapons perhaps do one thing exceedingly well, and the WMP is no exception. And in this case, it’s this: the WMP can lay down a wall of suppressive fire. There are several reasons for this ability: large magazine capacity, minimal recoil of the .22 magnum cartridge, sensitivity of the trigger pull, the ergonomic fit of its full-size (more surface area to grip,) and it’s 46 ounces with a full 15-round magazine, so the weight and semi-auto action “eat up” some of the felt recoil – remember that is small anyway with a .22 magnum – so you can keep the weapon on target and rapidly fire again, and again, and again.

To put down a base of fire, the weapon has to fire reliably, and sometimes rimfire cartridges do not, even when struck by the firing pin. They can also be finicky cycling in semi-automatic weapons. Walter understands this and has tested probably every make of .22 magnum ammunition, along with their various muzzle velocities, and bullet grain weight – in this case weights of between 30 grain and 50 grain. With every new weapon (and online at their website) they include a list of several dozen different .22 magnum rounds and rate them as follows: “works OK,” “works well,” “works very well,” “works best,” and the two dreaded categories “inconsistent,” and “not recommended.”

Every individual firearm has a unique ability to fire some rounds more reliably and more accurately than other rounds. Some of that ability is driven by the ammunition, but there are often other factors. How do you hold the firearm? How do you squeeze the trigger? How often do you clean the weapon? When you do clean it, how thorough is that process? How much lubricant do you keep on the weapon? With semi-autos, how much detail do you spend loading the magazine with rounds? And last, I believe that almost every weapon has its own tiny variations making it unique. Some come during the manufacturing process, but others include how many rounds have already been fired through it in its operational life, and how rough it has been handled, so maybe it is tighter or looser than even the next firearm originally made on the assembly line years ago.

Walther understands all that, and they probably fired more rounds of every type of ammunition through the prototypes to finished products than you or I could ever fire in a lifetime of shooting. And yet, some reviewers – who may or may not know what they are doing, what their motivation is, or even if they are on the payroll of a competitor, fire some number rounds (under conditions that the reader does not fully know) and proclaim that a weapon is not reliable. If the manufacturer tells you that ammunition Type A is “inconsistent,” or “not recommended,” believe them.

For the particular Walther I have shot, the most reliable rounds have been (first) Hornady Critical Defense .22 WMR, 45 grain FTX (classified by Walther as “works very well”) and (second) Federal Small Game 50 grain JHP (which Walther says works well.) Probably have put a couple hundred rounds of each through it, with no failures, no jams, didn’t fire, didn’t chamber. There are a couple of types of ammunition that Walther rates even higher: Fiocchi, Shooting Dynamics, 40 grain, JHP; and CCI MaxiMag 40 grain JHP and MaxiMag 40 grain Target.

Why would someone even consider suppressive fire as an attribute for a civilian firearm? Certainly that is a good quality for a military small arm – and even artillery fire is used to suppress targets – but what circumstances in a civilian environment would require that? First, rule out a zombie attack; that makes for great TV and movies. And, if zombies ever do attack, looks to me like you have to blow their heads off with well-aimed shots, as they don’t worry about being suppressed!

Let’s examine two environments present in non-military events in which you might find yourself. Out in the wild, you might be treated to an unplanned encounter with a few feral dogs, wild pigs with babies, something that might be rabid running at you – in short, unprovoked, quick-developing, potentially deadly, shocking situations where your goal is to get out of there by deterring the pack and getting to your car PDQ (pretty damn quick.) You aren’t concerned about humane kills; this isn’t hunting, but self-defense. Granted, a single .22 magnum round probably won’t drop porky or a rapid dog. But fifteen “hornets” stinging everything they hit, coming from something spitting flame out the front presents the animal with its own decision to avoid more pain and leave PDQ. And since Walther gives you an additional 15-round magazine, the hornets have more buddies.

Now for the two-legged threats, and here it gets more complicated. First, let me get a personnel peccadillo off my chest. In the over fifty years researching various military armies, and participating in two wars (not as a hero mind you) I believe that most human beings will not attack you in kamikaze-style attacks, or drug-fueled charges, where they feel no pain and keep coming after multiple rounds hit them. Bullet wounds hurt. Few things control human behavior like pain. If the aggressor is hurt badly enough he or she will usually stop. The reason that kamikazes in the Pacific were effective to the degree they were is that they went against almost all previous military tactics and thus gained surprise, which gave the Japanese a temporary psychological edge, until the US figured out how to combat them. Even the vaunted Waffen-SS hunkered down at Kursk under heavy Russian fire, and those boys were as fanatical as they get.

“Combat in cities” is what thousands of Americans face every day across the country. Chicago, Detroit and St Louis all seem to be vying for the worst murder rates in the country year after year. What do we know about urban killings? Many are gang-related, conducted by dangerous, but tactically inept marksmen and cowards who go after those who cannot defend themselves – often children and senior citizens. They beat women smaller than they are. These killers are not brave, and certainly not willing to die for the honor of the gang. They are not going to charge you while their homies are dropping around them. They are frequently alcohol or drug impaired.

Their biggest tactical asset is that they are familiar with the terrain in which they prey like hyenas, but like hyenas, they run from lions, whom they call pigs, the police who fight back. Their other characteristic is that they have intimidated their peaceful neighbors into remaining silent; snitches get stitches. Often it is more than stitches. His own gang, the Black Disciples, killed eleven-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer because it feared he might become a police informant.

“Yummy” Sandifer’s grave

“Gangstas” (street gangs, often known as nations,) often use a pistol sideways just because in their world it looks cool. They usually don’t worry about holsters in concealment; they often shove their pieces in their coats or pants pockets, or pull their pants up and “Mexican carry” (carry in the front or back without a holster).

So what can you do? Most effectively, stay out of danger zones. Each individual gang is divided into sets which are territories spanning blocks or neighborhoods that may be divided further into subsets. The police in every city and town will tell you what areas to avoid. If you live in a bad one, try and do whatever it takes to move out, and never come back. If you do not live there, there is no reason for you to take a chance and visit. Do not, sightsee, shop, dine, or do any other voluntary activity. Do not drive through them; they are the home of stray shots that may never have been targeted at you, but you were there at the wrong place at the wrong time. Concerning your profession, refuse to work in these areas, or even drive a delivery truck into them, but rather seek employment in safer areas. This isn’t an issue of race. Violent criminals come in every stripe, color, gender and every other characteristic.

If you must reside or work in these areas, you need to be armed, and maybe the characteristics of the Walther WMP may be right for your situation, although it is a bit large for easy concealed carry on your body. You do not want to kill one of these punks, even though in the scheme of life they are pretty worthless. You just want to wound your attacker and cause him to flee, which may be 3-4 attackers, all of whom may be armed. Hitting an attacker with a .44 magnum, .357 magnum, 10mm, or other big “manstopper” round is probably going to kill him if you hit him with a round center of his chest, which is what you train to do (Remember, head shots are for Hollywood.)

With the WMP’s barrel length, Hornady Critical Defense .22 WMR, 45 grain FTX will penetrate a human 13-14 inches, as tested by the FBI, and often expand to .40 inches. That means that many rounds will not penetrate all the way through the bad guy, which translates to a lower probability that someone behind them, and thus not involved, will be hit.

But a couple of .22 magnums in the arm and maybe 1-2 in the leg? His attack on you is very likely over, and the police have better things to do then find out which gang-banger shot another gang-banger, especially if no one gets killed. Cook County, Illinois, States Attorney Kim Foxx has even refused to bring charges over shootings involving “mutual combat” arguments – even when one person was killed! These gang members are not going to go to the police and admit that they were trying to rob someone, and got shot in the process. That makes them look weak; and weak street gang members are often eliminated by their own bosses, because there’s no real retirement plan.

Suppressive fire may be just the key, especially in situations where it is unlikely that there are innocent bystanders who might be hit by your fire. But if you practice, something the gangs in Illinois cannot truly do, because they have criminal records and cannot own a firearm legally, or buy ammo, or visit a range, you can control the situation, not just fire wildly, but a controlled suppression fire that can turn the tables on them. They are not well-versed to determine what type of weapon they are facing. Hearing multiple shots fired leads many people to believe they are facing multiple opponents. They are not seeking that.

But remember; you cannot talk your way out of many, if not most, attacks. Your attackers do not care about you. You are prey. Unless you are a rival gang member, they may have nothing against you. You might even just be an initiation target that a new gang member has to kill to get full membership in the gang. And ditch that sentimental gentleman in you if you are male; a recent study found that in Chicago, 8 percent of female students reported they were in a gang at some point between sixth and tenth grades, compared with 13 percent of boys. In either case, if they are trying to hurt you, you are in danger of losing your life, so turn the hornets loose on them.

Walther WMP .22 Magnum2023-06-21T11:08:52-05:00

Dead Man Walking

There have been a great number of recent articles about the future of Vladimir Putin, but as Winston Churchill once described Russia as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” who really knows what is going on?

“Any fool can commit a murder, but it takes a true artist to stage a natural death or suicide,” said KGB defector Walter Krivitsky in 1941.  A recent drone-attack supposedly against Vladimir Putin raises questions on the gentleman’s future.  He says the Ukrainians did it, but maybe it was the Russian military or someone close to him.  The Russians seem pretty clumsy in many walks of life, but whacking their own has long been a fine art.

Joe Stalin had a real thorn in his side with Leon Trotsky.  Once, thick as thieves in the old days of Marxist intrigues in Mother Russia, after the successful revolution against the Tsar, Bolshevik takeover, and death of Lenin, Leon ran afoul of Joe and was exiled.  He continued to yap against Stalin, who finally decided Leon had to go away permanently.  By 1940, Leon was in Mexico City and in bad health, fearing that he would suffer a cerebral hemorrhage.  Would he ever!  One day, Spanish-born NKVD agent Ramón Mercader, approached Leon from behind in his study with a mountain-climbing ice axe and planted it a couple inches into his brain.  Adios Leon.

Thousands of other significant figures in the bloody last one-hundred years of Russian/Soviet history were murdered as well, such as: Yevhen Konovalets (Ukrainian,) 1938, explosive hidden in a box of chocolates; Lavrentiy Beria, 1953, shot through forehead; Sergei Kirov, 1934, shot back of the head; Grigori Rasputin, 1916, a combination of cyanide-laced cupcakes, poisoned wine, three gunshots, and drowning.

So how might Vladimir Putin meet his end sometime soon, thus is already a dead man walking?

Vlad, stay away from windows in tall buildings.  It is amazing how many Russians have recently died “committing suicide” or “accidentally” falling out of high windows.  Marina Yankina (high-level Russian defense ministry official,) St. Petersburg; “law enforcement agencies haven’t ruled out that she took her own life.” Ravil Maganov, (chairman of Russian oil giant Lukoil,) 6th floor, Central Clinical Hospital of Moscow; “It’s unclear why Maganov was in the hospital in the first place.”

I don’t know if you have any one-story ranch-type houses over there, Vlad, but if so, they’re pretty nice and you don’t have to climb stairs.

Vlad & Alina

Vlad, get rid of every rope.  In your office, the house, dacha, or love nest with Alina in your penthouse at Korolevskiy Park in that resort city Sochi on the Black Sea.  (Hey, Vlad, if I know, everybody knows.)  Hanging seems to be the demise of numerous oligarchs lately, and if there aren’t any ropes around, you are halfway to safety.

Vlad, don’t accept any statuettes as gifts.  You know what happened to pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky at a St. Petersburg café, where he had been attending a patriotic meeting with supporters as a guest speaker.  Kaboom!  Vlad, you probably aren’t getting an Oscar anytime soon.  Have people who want to give you trophies or other gifts, leave them on a big table about 100 yards from where you are sitting or speaking – further away if you think it might be a suitcase nuke.

Snaiperskaya Vintovka Chukavin sniper rifle

Vlad, get really familiar with that Snaiperskaya Vintovka Chukavin sniper rifle.  You know, the SVCh, that you all replaced your old Dragunov SVD with, and that you personally took a peek through, and maybe even fired.  That bad boy has a maximum range of more than 1,600 yards.  The Chukavin, mostly chambered in 7.62x54R, also comes in .308 Winchester and the high-powered .338 Lapua Magnum.  The Lapua version has an estimated effective range of 1,640 yards.  Why is that important?  Because the Russian sniper that bags you is going to try to throw off suspicion.  Lapua ammunition is made in Finland.  Finland just joined NATO and they hate Russians.  You feeling me, Vlad?

The shooter, who will bag you from almost a mile away, is based at the 161st Special Purpose Specialist Training Center in eastern Moscow.  You’ve probably already met him; he knows you – your size, your gait, the bench you sit down to rest for a moment while walking, all your routines.  You should have paid attention to him; steely eyes that don’t blink much is my guess.  He belongs to Unit 29155; you know, Andrei Vladimirovich Averyanov’s boys.  Andrei has direct communications with both the chief of the GRU (military intelligence, which has its own spetsnaz [special ops]) and to the Kremlin.  Wonder who Andrei talks to, Vlad?  He drives a 1996 VAZ 21053, a rattletrap Russia-made sedan.  Maybe you ought to buy him a new car.  Just sayin’.

That rifle may have an American scope on it, or even a thermal sight that you all bought from the Taliban after the Americans unassed Kabul and left a few thousand.  It’s probably already been used in Syria, and has a ten-round magazine, but the shooter won’t need more than one.  Good news is he won’t target Alina and the kids, because the Finns wouldn’t do that (see above, Vlad.)

Your successor will just say that you shot yourself.  Or it was an accident when you were cleaning your own personal SVCh.

Do svidanya (до свидания)

 

Dead Man Walking2023-08-08T12:34:56-05:00

Air Janes

While researching Dying Hard, I came across some history that I had been unaware.  In World War II, thirty-eight ladies of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) perished in service to their nation piloting military aircraft, flying almost everything their brothers did including B-17 Flying Fortresses, one of which sported the feisty name of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” because the “Air Janes” were just as saucy as the guys.

Air Crew Pistol Packin’ Mama

The organization was a civilian pilots’ outfit, whose members were actually US federal service employees who became  trained pilots who tested aircraft, ferried aircraft, and trained other pilots so as to free male pilots for combat roles.  Some 800 completed all training.  Here are some period illustrations relating to Air Janes:

Fifinella, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) mascot, created by The Walt Disney Company

Air Jane in a P-51 Mustang

Air Janes belonged to the Air Transport Command and wore this insignia

In 2009, members of the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  There aren’t many left, so if you get to meet one, tell her thanks and see if she has a story to share with you.  It’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet a real live hero.

Air Jane in the cockpit

Air Janes2023-06-05T21:47:10-05:00
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