Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear LawDog,

What is "primer wipe"?

Oh, boy. Got some time?

To explain primer wipe, first let me explain what the "firing cycle" is in a modern firearm.

The "firing cycle" is the series of operations involved in a modern weapon to fire a round. Generally speaking it goes something like this:

Feeding. This is the step in which a complete cartridge is introduced into the chamber of the firearm. It is followed by:

Locking. In this step the bolt or breech locks to the barrel, so as to contain the pressure generated by the next step, which is:

Firing. Sometimes this is called 'ignition', it is when the primer is ignited by the firing pin or striker, and the round is fired. Next is:

Unlocking. Once the pressure in the chamber of the firearm has dropped to a safe level, the bolt or breech unlocks from the barrel, which leads to:

Extraction. The empty case is removed from the chamber; and finally:

Ejection. The empty case is removed from the firearm.

And the cycle continues back with "Feeding".

Primer wipe is a condition in which the firing pin or striker impacts the primer during the "Firing" portion of the cycle, and remains embedded therein through "Unlocking", "Extraction", and "Ejection". As the empty case is kicked out of the firearm, it is dragged across that un-retracted firing pin, causing a characteristic oval or tear-drop gouge, and -- in extreme cases -- smearing the metal of the primer out of the primer pocket and onto the case itself.

There are many different causes of primer wipe, but they all boil down to one of two reasons.

The first of which is that the firing pin or striker is unable to retract after firing.

While, in and of itself, not a dangerous condition, the typical firing pin/striker assembly is a light-weight metal alloy designed to be driven hard enough by a relatively dinky mainspring to ignite a primer.

It is not designed for lateral stress. Sooner or later being yanked sideways every time the weapon fires is going to break, bend, spindle, mutilate or otherwise damage the needle-shaped firing pin or striker assembly to the point that it can no longer function.

Which, since the firing pin or striker is kind of necessary for the whole 'bang' part of your bang-stick, pretty much guarantees said bang-stick is going to be Paws-Up until fixed.

This can range from being Rather Annoying if it happens at the mid-point of the Palma match or as the trophy of a lifetime disappears over a ridge; all the way up to A Bloody Nuisance if it happens during the third shot at five critters trying to get up under your hat with you.

The second reason for primer wipe is when the firing pin simply doesn't have the time to retract.

In other words, the firing pin itself and the firing pin channel are clean and to spec, but the firearm unlocks, extracts and ejects before the firing pin spring has time to push the pin back to its' resting position.

Folks, this can be a Bad Thing.

There's a reason for the second and fourth segments of the firing cycle. When that pin hits the primer for a brief part of a second there is all sorts of nastiness going on inside that chamber. The locking and unlocking is to make sure all that nastiness stays in the chamber and does its' job: driving the bullet out the muzzle-end at velocities up to, and including, trans-sonic.

If the firearm unlocks too soon -- well, that afore-mentioned nastiness is all of sudden up under your nose, introducing itself to you.

I'll let the Gentle Reader ruminate on that for a moment.

Anyhoo, "primer wipe". Hope it was informative.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Meditations on Kel-Tec

The first gentleman who taught me combat with a firearm -- as opposed to shooting with a firearm -- had some squirrelly ideas about the subject.

As a "fer instance" he thought that each side of your brain could do one thing at a time under stress; so the obvious thing to do under stress was look at the threat with one side and kill the threat with the other side.

Anyhoo, he was of the opinion that the natural position of the human hand under stress was clenched into a fist. Based on this. he opined that the problem wasn't pulling the trigger, but rather relaxing your trigger finger out of the natural clenched fist enough to allow you to re-pull said trigger.

The solution? Pull the trigger, and keep the trigger pulled back through recoil, keep it pulled back until you reacquired the threat, then release your index finger and immediately pull it back. Rinse and repeat until the threat was gone, then relax your finger, remove it from the trigger-guard, safe your weapon and holster it.

When I got to the Panhandle Regional Law Enforcement Academy in the early '90's, Ken Ferrin and Mike Dunlap taught a similar method of shooting, called IIRC, "Trigger Reset". In this, we were taught on the first shot to pull the trigger until the pistol fired, then relax our trigger finger enough (about an eighth of an inch on the S&W 5900 series pistols we were training with) for the trigger to reset, then pull to the rear again.

When taught correctly, this is a fast and accurate way to shoot; but it can create a bit of a hullabaloo from newbie range-masters who see me transitioning to my second or third target with the trigger clamped all the way back*.

Good, bad or indifferent, under stress I default to this. Once the shooting starts, my trigger stays clamped to the rear more often than it's released. I do this with my pistol, with an AR15‡, and with my Mossberg.

Yes, under stress, I pull the trigger, work the pump, release the trigger, pull the trigger, work the pump, so-on and so forth.

I mention this, because by way of Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media we discover that this decades-old habit of mine renders the new Kel-Tec shotgun useless to me under stress.


I'm trying to like Kel-Tec's newest stuff -- really, I am -- but the last two of their guns I've played with have been problematical.

Oleg Volk brought his PMR-30 and his RFB to Blogarado, and I wasn't impressed by either one.

The first time I fired the PMR-30 -- and, granted, several other people had been playing with it before I got my paws on it -- it was pulling the rims loose from the case walls and failing to feed. I fired a couple of rounds through it and passed it off.

Later that day, Farmdad handed it to me after he had dunked it in CLP, and it went through a magazine fairly well -- only had to tap it into battery once -- but to my mind a pistol shouldn't have lube literally dripping out of it to get it to work.

The RFB was worse. Oh, it fired like a champ and ran everything we put into it ... but every case it chucked out had one of the most beautiful examples of primer wipe I have ever seen. To the point that OldNFO pulled the trigger once, looked at the case and then refused to shoot it again.

Vine, Farmdad, and I dinked around with that rifle for a while, trying to isolate the cause of the primer wipe, but only managed to launch the gas regulator knob across the Colorado high desert.

I understand that the Kel-Tecs that Oleg brought were early models -- if not prototypes -- but between the PMR-30 and RFB I've personally handled, and the news about the trigger bug feature on the new KSG ...

... folks, I've got to give the new Kel-Tec stuff a thumbs down.


*No, I don't move with the trigger held back, unless I'm shooting as I move.

‡No, auto-fire isn't a problem. Unless the weapon is belt-fed, crew-served and/or involves an electric motor, auto-fire is a fantastic way to convert money into noise, and is significantly less-efficient than rapid single-fire at punting critters in front of the Pearly Gates.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some changes

Tightened up the place some. Added some long-overdue links to my blogroll, with some more coming -- probably.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Regarding Arizona

Six people died in the Tucson, AZ shooting:

Christina Taylor Green
Dorothy Morris
John Roll
Phyllis Schneck
Dorwin Stoddard
Gabriel Zimmerman

Fourteen others were wounded, but these people -- each some mother's child -- died.

These people were killed and injured by a deranged dungheap rat, who probably should have been taken out behind the barn and Ol' Yeller'd a long time ago.

I do not name this pile of walking fungus-scrapings, as I have seen his smirking face repeatedly on the National Media, and it is clear from his expression that he is enjoying his moment of fame and glory -- he shall have none of that from me.

Also notice, do, that I make no mention of his political leanings, aspirations or alleged beliefs. This is intentional, as rabid dogs have no politics -- only a disease.

I notice that others have made no such distinction. To these people I have two things to say:

One: have the common decency to stop dancing in the blood and making political hay with their dead bodies long enough for their kith and kin to lay their loved ones to rest. There will be more than time enough for your hypocrisies and your political agendas once the mourning is done.

Two: have a care to remember that when you point a finger at me, you're pointing the other three at yourself. When you're running your sanctimonious mouth about the "violent tone of political discord", you'd better take a good, long look at your side -- it wasn't Republicans who filmed an "art movie" about assassinating President Bush.

And where the hell was your outrage when someone (hint: not a Tea Party member, not a conservative, and not a Republican) shot and destroyed his television because the daughter of Sarah Palin happened to be on a popular dance show? Where was your concern with "civil political discourse"?

Have members of the Tea Party and other conservatives stepped up to, if not over, the courteous line in politics? Oh, yes.

But before you go flapping your sanctimonious, hypocritical cake-holes in our direction, I strongly suggest you take a broom to your own damned side. The lovely Michelle Malkin has a list where you can start.


Monday, January 10, 2011


I carry two pens at at work. One of which is a fine-point gel rollerball for the (frequent) occasions when I'm writing or signing something that has carbons.

The other is a fountain pen with a medium nib. This is the pen that I use for everything else, and is the one I use the most. To the point where I have to refill the converter about every three days or so.

Somebody forgot to remind me that a promotion comes with an exponentially-expanding increase in paperwork. The bastards.

Anyhoo, part of the reason I'm going through rivers of ink is that when an Inmate Request Form (colloquially referred to as a "kite") crosses my desk I answer it properly.

Instead of scrawling a single word ("Approved", "Denied", "No", or the like), I address the response to "Mr (or Ms.) [Insert Critters Name Here] and write a -- usually -- short paragraph explaining why I am not going to authorize the inmate to receive a My First Meth Lab in the mail; or opining that if Ms. Critter didn't want to get stripped and placed on Suicide Watch in Solitary then she shouldn't have tried to hang herself with a bed sheet on video.


I hadn't realized that this would get as ... distinctive ... as it has, until the other day, when an officer brought me a kite from an inmate in the last ten minutes of shift. It had been a long shift, I was tired, out of ink, out of sorts, running low on patience and the request was a calculated attempt to game the system.

So I grabbed the kite and my rollerball, wrote a quick "Denied, see Inmate Handbook", signed it, and handed it back to the officer for return.

Lord have mercy.

I get back to work next shift and the first thing I hear is that a certain inmate has twisted off. He's raising hell, flooded his cell, filing grievance after grievance and generally acting the ass.

Huh. I trundle back to Solitary to ask him just what the hell his major malfunction was, and to impress upon him the advantages to a nice, quiet night; when -- upon seeing me -- he practically bursts into tears.

"Mr 'Dawg! They's fraudulating a superior officer! They can't do that!"

I blink, feel my eyebrow slide up, and the Smartarse Gnome takes the opportunity to grab my tongue, "I'm pretty sure that fraudulating violates the laws of physics, if not the laws of the State of Texas, Anthony, but which particular case of flagrant fraudulating are you referring to?"

He waves a stack of kite forms in my general direction for emphasis: "You, Mr 'Dawg! They is impressonating and fraudulating you! And I won't stands for it!"

I look at the on-coming tier officer, "I am? Why was I not told? Did I at least hold out for dinner?" That worthy gives a puzzled shrug (which is a normal response from my minions, come to think), and I turn back to the passionately declaiming Anthony.

He promptly shoves a stack of kite forms into my paws, each one with a paragraph or three on the back in Noodler's Blue/Black from a medium nib, "That's you."


He waves a single sheet of paper upon which four words are written. With a fine-nibbed black-ink G2.


"They said this is you -- but I know better! I know better! I knows your writing, and this ain't it! They wrote it, and said it was you! That's fraudulating! If someone writes something and says that someone else writes it, and that someone didn't write it, and that someone is a superior officer, that's impressonating a superior officer! I won't stands for it! It's fraudulating!"


Why me?


Dear Mr Critter

When you are beating the stuffing out of the woman whom you swore before your God to love, honour and cherish, I'm sure that quoting musical lyrics is just as dramatic as all hell.

Unfortunately, I literally have scars older than you are, and screaming at me that you "wrote the book on pain" doesn't impress me all that much. To the contrary, it tends to make you look a bit of a git.

I am willing to believe, however, that you can be taught. As a fer-instance, I'm betting that you don't ever grab an officer's shirt in the future.

Won't be smacking anyone around with that arm for a while, I'll wager. And -- for the record -- you do shriek like a little girl. Cry like one, too, come to think.



Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Years

There I was, standing over a Trustee of Modern Recreational Pharmacology, observing the fact that he's going into his fifth seizure in half-an-hour, when what spews forth but a mighty projectile burst of blood and stomach acid on a bee-yoo-ti-ful ballistic arch ... which neatly intersects my trouser legs.

About that time, my radio crackles, "County, all units ... Happy New Year."

A long pause, and then my faithful minion clears her throat, and apropos of nothing, opines, "I'd say that it's well-known fact that what you're doing at the stroke of midnight portends what the next year will be like, but I don't want to get beaten to death with a portable suction device."

This one chose ... wisely.

2010 was, while not an outstanding year, was not a bad one -- all things considered.

There have been some medical issues, but those are well-in-paw. And while I don't love my job as much as I used to, it's still worth getting out of bed, suiting up and clocking in.

I have good friends, kith and kin are close, I have a roof over my head and food on the table; and I have the love of a beautiful woman.

Everything after that is just gravy.

Here's looking back at 2010; and here's looking forward to 2011: may we all remember what is important and not let what is not trouble us.

Wishing you always walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
And the love and laughter of those you hold dear.




And to prove that I'm not the only one with a low and bawdy sense of humour in the family, I give you Chris' version of gnomish flight, parts one and two.

Considering the amount of giggling those posts engendered in Herself, we'll go ahead and announce that there's a Class II Beverage Alert for those posts.