And a Thirty Aught Six

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Operator headspace error

I went to the Chantilly gun show today. I had planned to look for a .357 revolver or a pump 12 gauge with my buddy (he's not sure which he wants to buy first) and to try to sell the fraternal twin (slightly lighter wood color) of the mauser pictured a few posts below. Well, my buddy had a little run-in with a mexican food place last night and, well, the details aren't important, but let's just say he wasn't going to be very far from the toilet. So, I go to the show to sell the mauser. No takers. Well, one dealer was really interested, but he wanted to trade some of his knives and assorted crap and a little cash for it. I didn't need or want any of his assorted crap. He had a few decent hunting knives, but I'm all set on that front and would prefer the cash. So, I haven't sold it yet. I'm thinking I might just end up hanging on to two almost identical .30-06 mausers. My life is so hard.

Then, as I'm walking out, I see a guy selling lots of old black powder revolvers and rifles and go over to drool on the merchandise. On his table, quite out of place, I might add, are the headspace and timing gauges for an M2. (You know, the .50 caliber machine gun... designed by John Moses Browning himself) A little background: My boss is an old artillery officer who has two responses he uses whenever someone makes a stupid mistake: "Life's tough; it's tougher when you're stupid" (from The Flying Leathernecks) and "operator headspace error." An "operator headspace error" (or operator/user headspace and timing error) is the result of incorrectly adjusting the headspace and/or timing on a gun like the M2. Depending on the adjustment, the gun will either fire normally (fully automatically), fire semi-automatically, not fire, or blow up. So, that's where the phrase comes from, and blaming the error on "operator headspace" just sounds funnier than "user error."

I managed to buy the gauges pretty cheap, put them in my pocket, continue walking out, and drive home. However, now that I'm home, I can't find the gauges. Dagnabbit. They would been quite a laugh at the office. Oh well.

I did end up with 1000 150gr .308" bullets (FMJ, boat tailed, too) for $50 and 500 pieces of primed .30-06 brass for $40. And I picked up some dies, too. So, all told, not a bad show. And I've still got more than half the weekend left.

(Note: first paragraph edited for clarity and a few typos. I really need to proofread before I hit "publish.")

I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue...

I have lousy timing. I start my blog, then immediately head out for an almost two week business trip. So, I haven't posted in a few days. (I'm off to a great start, huh?) I'm back now, and about to head off to day 2 of the Chantilly gun show. Posting to follow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gas problems that aren't caused by beans for $200, Alex.

Jay Tea, over at Wizbang, discusses the current increases in gas prices. In it he expresses his wish that the oil traders (speculators), who neither consume nor produce oil but rather just buy and sell, take one in the shorts for driving up prices.

I left the following comment there (a couple of typos fixed from original comment):

Speculators perform a valuable service: They incur risk that other market participants don't want to bear. Many companies not in the oil/gas industry have oil or natural gas as a large portion of their costs. They want to have some kind of assurance that if the price spikes, they don't go out of business. So, they buy futures, often from speculators who bear the risk (I'll deliver X barrels of oil to you in Y months at Z price, regardless of the market price in Y months.) The company reduces its risk, and the speculator expects to make a profit. Both players in the market get something they want: the speculator a chance at a profit, the company reduces risk.

Full disclosure: I once worked at a division of a power company (electricity generation) that bought coal and sold electricity on (relatively) open markets in large part on the futures markets. Such markets would not exist without these speculators.

I don't mean to imply that there would be no long-term contracts without speculators. Rather, the market is more liquid with them and sellers and buyers are offered more choices in their methods to reduce their risk.

For interesting reading that I don't have the time to comment on: That 70s energy policy, a few articles from Tech Central Station on proposed oil policies that were tried in the 70s, and the effects of those polices.

Google has found me!

I for one welcome our new search engine overlords. I'm number 5 on google for: crosswind effect magnus. I hope the searcher from Florida found what he wanted to know about the Magnus effect.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ahh... blogger

Well, I think I've already discovered why so many folks hate blogger.

Testing to see if a post will go through...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

An old gun..

I had mentioned the Mosin Nagant in "the poor man's .30-06" earlier, and I intended to post a picture of one of my Mosins. However, the rifle I want to post about is a New England Westinghouse manufactured M1891 that was captured by the Finns, and I don't have a picture of the receiver stampings. So, I'll save that one for later. It'll be worth it, I promise.

Instead, let me present Edward Mueller's (I probably butchered the spelling) battle rifle:

It's a Schmidt Ruben k31 in 7.5x55 Swiss. The k31 is a straight-pull bolt action rifle. Instead of a normal turn bolt-- where the bolt handle is turned up, then pulled to the rear, pushed forward, then turned down to lock--the k31 bolt is simply pulled to the rear, then pushed forward. It cycles extremely quickly for a manual-action rifle. The craftsmanship is remarkable. It's got the best trigger I've ever tried on a military rifle. Since the Swiss never manufactured corrosive ammunition in 7.5swiss, the bores tend to be in great shape. Additionally, the Swiss army practices --most Swiss men must qualify with their rifles annually, giving them an incentive to keep them in good working order-- also help to keep the rifles in good shape.

Many k31 owners put a small card with their name and address on it under the butt plate, as mine did. This one was owned by an Edward Mueller, and when I get a chance, I plan on sending the man (or his family) a letter to thank him for keeping such good care of it.

For about 100 bucks you'd be hard pressed to find a better rifle.

(I'm posting this now without proof reading for time reasons. So, forgive the typos or sentences that don't make any sense. I'll fix them later. Edit: fixed typo in first sentence under the picture.)

The origin of this blog's title...

...comes from Jeff Cooper's commentaries. His son-in-law is the one who coined the phrase:

When our daughter Lindy married Joe Wisdom he brought to the alliance among other things six hundred dollars in hard cash and an old sporterized 1903 rifle. A phrase slipped out of the woodwork and into my ear that might fit into a Country Western-type ballad. To wit:
"Ain't many troubles that a man cain't fix with six hundred dollars and a 30-06."
Since the saying needs another syllable in order to make it bounce properly, I raised the six to seven and thought we might use it to start off something that Johnnie Cash might sing..

His daughter also added a poem based around the line.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Obscure ballistics force of the day...

In external ballistics a number of forces act on bullet flight, making for a royally nasty set of differential equations to solve. The basics, such as gravity and aerodynamic drag (including crosswinds), are conceptually pretty straightforward. One that I find interesting for some strange reason is the Magnus effect. The magnus effect is what makes curve balls curve. Topspin on a ball makes it fall faster than it otherwise would (provides "lift" downward), backspin makes it fall more slowly than it otherwise would (provides "lift" upward).

Things get interesting when dealing with bullets. Since they spin around the axis of travel, the aerodynamic forces caused by the spin cancel each other out. However, add in a crosswind, and things get interesting.

Take your standard bullet fired from a right-hand twist barrel. (Imagine a barrel, take your right thumb, point it along the direction of your imaginary barrel, and curl your fingers toward your palm. The bullet, which is traveling in the direction of your thumb, spins in the direction your fingers curl.) Looking from behind the bullet, the spin appears clockwise. (The right side is moving down, the left side is moving up.)

Now, add in a cross wind coming from the right.

The wind hitting the bullet from the right sees topspin. The right side of the bullet is spinning down, creating "lift" to push the bullet downwards. (like a curveball) This causes the bullet to fall faster than it otherwise would, causing the bullet to hit the target lower than it otherwise would.

A wind from the left sees the bullet as having backspin, which has the opposite effect. The spin creates lift, and the bullet falls more slowly than it otherwise would, causing the bullet to hit the target higher.

The magnus effect on a normal bullet is small, small enough that it is almost always disregarded in small arms ballistic calculations, (Field artillery is another mater.) but, for some horribly geeky reason, I find it rather interesting.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Meet the FNG

Since I'm not the FNG (Friendly New Guy) anymore, meet the new guy: Reason. A self-described "Christian libertarian." I thought I was the only one. And he's showing me up. Seven posts in less than 24 hours.

He hits on a pet peeve of mine. Words mean things. Irregardless, Could care less, i.e./e.g., will/shall, while/whereas, alot, me/myself/I, etc. I forsee a rant coming...

Okay, short rant. Two sentences:
  • Bob likes golf more than she.
  • Bob likes golf more than her.
Any difference? Actually, yes. Both sentences leave off words.
  • Bob likes golf more than she does. (or "...than she likes golf.)
  • Bob likes golf more than he likes her.
So, in two sentences, one using the subjective case pronoun (she), one with the objective case pronoun (her), the choice of case makes meaning quite different.

An example of the other pronoun pet peeve of mine is "give the ball to myself." Folks must remember their parents and teachers telling them that it's incorrect to say "it is me." So, they don't like ending sentences with "me." But, "give the ball to I" doesn't sound right, either. So, by golly, they pick the one that's left. Myself. And don't get me started on "functionality." A nice pretty noun: function. But we want an adjective. Okay, functional. But, now we want a noun again. Rather than removing the adjective suffix, let's add another suffix to make a noun. Hmm... how about functionality? (At least it's better than functionalness, I guess.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The joys of local news

After watching 24 on Monday night my wife and I watched the first few minutes of the local Fox affiliate's 10 o'clock news. They opened with a story on two (possibly connected) crime sprees in Prince George's County, Maryland and in DC. The reporters and cops they interviewed kept mentioning that the criminals had "automatic weapons." However, in each crime they mentioned, no shots were fired. I don't know about you, but if someone were pointing an AR/AK/M14(M1A) at me, I seriously doubt I would care or could tell if the selector switch had a third setting. And, barring shots being fired, would have no way of knowing if it were automatic or not. But, the guns probably looked scawwy so that made them automatics.

Then, they started talking about the crimes in DC. The robbers had "machine guns." Not "assualt weapons." Not "assault rifles." Machine guns. I had visions of someone driving around DC in an Escalade with an M2 mounted on the roof. I had to laugh.

Then, well, I remembered something about DC. In DC, any gun that can fire more thn 12 rounds semi-automatically without reloading is a "machine gun."

From ยง 7-2501.01:
(10) "Machine gun" means any firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily converted or restored to shoot:
(A) Automatically, more than 1 shot by a single function of the trigger;
(B) Semiautomatically, more than 12 shots without manual reloading.

So, that GLOCK 17 you have? It's a machine gun. My 1911? It's a machine gun. (It's semi-auto, and they make magazines larger than 12.) Your 10/22? machine gun.

"Machine gun" they keep using that word, I do not think it means what they think it means.

Pictures, pictures!

As promised, here's a picture of my as yet unnamed mauser. (My wife names our guns, not I.) Click for bigger.

And she shoots rather well. Front supported, mainly playing around, I'm quite confident this thing can shoot better than this... The shots at the bottom are a four or five shot group (looks like four, I vaguely remember five). The four at the top are adjusting the (cheap tasco) scope. I'm going to have to replace that one before this fall. (suggestions welcome)

And here's the mauser's twin:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Well, I finally had to do it...

I love the .30-06. There isn't much of anything the '06 can't do. And most of those things it can't do (like cheap plinking or squirrel and rabbit hunting) can be done by a little .22LR. Sure, there are cartridges that do a particular thing better than it does; however, none has the versitility of the aught six. But the problem is, I didn't have a .30-06. Just a couple of 7.62x54R mosin nagants, the "poor man's .30-06."

I had been meaning to pick up a .30-06 some time this year, on account of the greatest cartridge's centennial. However, I planned on getting a Garand. Well, funny thing happened on Friday at the gun store. I was out running some errands, and swung by the gun store, just to check out the bid wall. (A silent auction for guns, auctions expire on Saturdays, so I have to check them out each week. Oh, and the store has free snacks)

Well, a while back they bought about 30 sporter mausers from an estate. Most were vz24s, with a few swedes thrown in. Well, I've spent the past few months drooling over them. So, this Friday, I see that all used rifles are buy one, get 10% off; buy two or more, get 25% the total. Since I went at closing, I drove home and thought about it. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to spend the money right then, so I mentioned it to my wife. Who, instead of convincing me to save my money, suggested that I get two of 'em. So we went back first thing in the morning and bought two lovely .30-06 rifles.

So, BAG day was celebrated, as was the centennial of my favorite cartridge.

Note: first paragraph edited for clarity--I had deleted a sentence or two while writing it, and as a result it didn't make any sense.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Ain't many troubles that a man can't fix
With seven hundred dollars and a thirty aught six