Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guns, Firearms, Muskets, Rifles and Other Things Which Go BOOM!

Walther P-38
Yes, I Own One
No, This Is Not It
There are a lot of firearms enthusiasts who blog. I follow a number of those blogs. However, where you are at presently, is not a gun blog. I haven't been to the range since about 1994, and that was in pursuance of my military duties.

It's not that ammunition is scarce or expensive, though my colleagues assure me it is, it's just that I haven't had the urge to punch holes in paper targets for quite some time.

I don't see the need for me to lay down precision fire on a target in the near future. So my marksmanship does not need to be honed to a fine edge.

What happens if a random scumbag decides to break into my domicile? (You ask.) Well, as I don't have any really long range areas in my house, the need to hit a target at 100 yards isn't going to present itself. If some ne'er-do-well breaks into the house well I guess I'll just need to put him down at very close range.

I did have one "break" in trips to the range over the years. After I joined the Air Force, I had not fired a pistol in some 20 years, before having to do so in pursuance of my military duties. I found that even after a lag of two decades, I was pretty good at punching holes into a rampaging paper target at 20 yards. Which far exceeds the longest range I would need to shoot over inside Chez Sarge. Point being? At close range you don't need to be Daniel freaking Boone to hit a target. You just need the will to inflict grievous bodily harm on someone.

Of course, lots of folks talk about having a "shooting iron" in the home for self-defense. Most folks don't really think about the fact that those paper targets at the range don't shoot back. An intruder might.

I also don't foresee the need to hunt for my food in the near future either. So my marksmanship with a rifle also doesn't need to be honed to a fine edge.

Right now some of you are probably thinking "What happens if society breaks down and we have to hunt for our food?" Okay, there may still be enough game around (deer primarily I'm thinking) to support a small population. Those with firearms will have an advantage there. But shooting the animal is only step one Grizzly Adams. Then you have to field dress them. You know, cut the belly open and get all those nasty entrails and such out of the carcass. How many range shooters know how to do that?

I don't have anything against folks who like to go shooting. I used to enjoy the Hell out of it. But as I get older I've started to realize that all those things that go "BANG" really only have one purpose: killing something which is alive. Yes, yes, I know. There are firearms designed primarily for target shooting, typically in .22 caliber. Kind of small for self-defense and hunting. And again, I don't foresee a need to defend myself from paper targets. Nor do they make much of a meal.

In my collection of firearms, there is only one which was not designed specifically to kill human beings. Just one. That would be this fellow:

Model 1894 Winchester (with octagon barrel)

This one was designed for hunting. I "inherited" this rifle from my paternal grandfather. I put "inherited" in quotes because of the circumstances.

Now I had been using this as my hunting rifle throughout high school, my grandfather having loaned it to me as he didn't go hunting anymore. One day he and my grandmother came to visit and Gramp made the mistake of asking after his rifle. My beloved grandmother promptly tore into him with a vengeance. (Well, as much as a 4 foot 11 inch, 60-something Scottish grandmother can "tear" into someone. Oh wait, actually she was quite good at that. She normally didn't need to because everyone had learned to listen to her. Except poor Gramp. I don't think he ever learned. Must be a guy thing. The Missus Herself would no doubt tell you that I never listen to her either. All I'll say is "No comment".)

"Louis, you don't need that rifle anymore. Why are you asking about it?" she asked.

Gramp replied with, "But it is my rifle and I'd like to see it."

I'm halfway out of the room, on my way to get the rifle when my grandmother informs there would be no need. As "it's your rifle now, leave it be."

So that's how I got that rifle. The one non-military shooting iron in my whole collection. It's a sweet rifle too. As I recall she'll hold ten rounds in the magazine. Of course that also makes her a trifle nose heavy. Kind of throws one's aim off a bit!

One last thing before we go. I am a stickler for proper terminology. That whole "clip" versus "magazine" thing. Yup, I'll get pissy about that. I surely will.

Also, in my world a "gun" is a type of cannon. The other type of cannon is a howitzer. So don't say "gun" around me unless you have an artillery piece lying about. I'll let the red-legs brief you in full on that topic. My only experience with cannon is with the muzzle loading variety. The proper loading, firing, care and maintenance of such. (And yes, it was a gun, not a howitzer. I am very "1800's" when it comes to artillery, Gribeauval and that lot.)

A rifle has rifling (those lands and grooves inside the barrel), calling a musket a "rifle" irks me. Unless the barrel is indeed rifled, then, if you must, call it a "rifled musket". To me a musket is a smooth bore weapon (which have all the accuracy of a news report on MSNBC. Although not quite as grating on the ears. And nerves.)

Machine guns. Don't get me started. Typically it's a crew-served weapon, i.e. needs more than one guy. If it will keep shooting as long as you hold the trigger down, it's a fully automatic weapon. Machine guns are that.

A submachine gun (like the American Thompson or the German MP-40, never call it a Schmeisser around me, please!) fires pistol rounds. The Thompson in .45 caliber the MP-40 in 9mm Parabellum.

M1 Thompson Submachine Gun
MP-40 Submachine Gun

As for assault rifles, there is such a thing but here again, I'm a bit of a purist.

During World War Two the Germans were looking to replace the ubiquitous MP-40 with something with a bigger punch and a longer range. So they came up with this bad boy:

StG-44 Assault Rifle
"StG" is the German abbreviation for "Sturmgewehr". "Gewehr" is the German word for "rifle", "sturm" is the German word for "storm" or "assault". Not as in "thunder storm". But "storm" as in "they stormed the castle". For which you could also say "they assaulted the castle".

The StG-44 was designed to fire the 7.92×33mm Kurz round, essentially a shortened version of the 7.92mm round fired by the standard issue German infantry rifle, the K98k. So by definition, the StG-44 is an assault rifle. It's in the name. So as a "purist", if the manufacturer calls it an "assault rifle" then it might actually be an assault rifle. If a liberal twit or a member of the Lame Stream Media calls it an "assault rifle" then it's probably most assuredly not an assault rifle.

Firearms are tools, nothing more. I neither love them nor hate them. But you better believe I respect them. They're designed to kill.

Anyway, that's my two cents. YMMV. (And probably does!)


  1. Well said and we're pretty much on the same page.

    In re: going to the range. We (that would be all of us who wore the Blue Suit) used to go to the range every year for annual qualifying from the time I went in ('63) until about 1968 or so, when Vietnam heated up and ammo was required for other, more important things. So, no more annual qualification... unless you were issued firearms as part of your normal duties. It came to pass that much further down the road I became a designated "security police augmentee," life on small radar sites bein' what it was and what it was meant we all had additional duties... and bein' a rent-a-cop was mine. So, back to the range every year to fire the .38, the sidearm of choice back in the day. I looked forward to that!

    1. Ah yes, Rent-A-Cop. Once I had departed the aircraft maintenance ranks, it was considered that I did not have a (ahem) "wartime skill". In other words, if the balloon went up all of us software weenies would not need to build, fix or test software. That wasn't a big deal in the States. But in Germany I became a Security Force Augmentee. As we were in NATO, we used German weapons (I know, cool huh). So every year we went to the range for to fire the P-1 (modern version of the P-38) and the G-3 (a heavy-ass German semi-auto rifle). That was fun!

    2. A postscript: I never fired an M-16, the "weapon of choice" was the .30 cal M-1 carbine, back in the day. The rank and file were issued M-16s when I was a rent-a-cop (c. 1977 - 78), but bein' as how I was the NCOIC of the augmentee team I carried a pistol. Ergo, I never fired an M-16. People look at me funny when I tell 'em that, but it's true.

    3. Now that you mention Mattel's finest, true story time. (No bullsh!t GI.) I've put 150 of those 5.56mm rounds through an M-16 in one "sitting", now that sucker hardly kicks at all. But the next day it always looked like my shoulder had been kicked by a mule. Black and blue as Hell! But I've also put 150 rounds through the German G-3 (which comes in NATO 7.62mm) and that sucker did kick like a mule. But the next morning, not a mark on me. Go figure!

  2. Never owned a gun....never fired a gun...or a rifle or a smooth bore rifle or a pistol or even a bb smooth bore rifle and never will...unless I move to Montana or some place where your nearest neighbor is 2 miles away, then I will greet every visitor with a fire arm and a "Howdy-do."

    I have nothing against target shooting or hunting just not into it myself. As for self-defense, I would be more likely to shoot myself loading the damn thing than I would an intruder...I rely on a baseball bat at short range...or a cell phone while locked in a bathroom...either one.

    1. Both of those means of self-defense can be pretty effective.

  3. Rarely use the term "gun", unless it is a smoothbore. Weapon, rifle, pistol, revolver, crew served but not a "gun". Unless you already had the right terminology, the kindly Basic Training NCOs, circa 60's US Army, would gently teach you the correct terminology.

    1. Ah yes, the Army NCOs of the 60's were well known for their kindness and gentility.


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