France: The Real Tragedy or, No Free Lunch

It’s been a long time coming now.  For more than a decade, France has pushed an immigration policy that left, first, massive rifts in its social structure, and now – with much of the Levant destabilized after another decade of war and another massive refugee push outward toward Europe – the largest of what may be a series of structured, targeted attacks across not only the nation, but the continent.

And so today, while I flip across Facebook and the wave of French flags “waving” in support of the people, I’m pressed – the optimist I am – to not be merely indifferent.  I’ve been forced to delineate between the nation that has allowed themselves this – indeed, invited it to the table – and not only the innocent people who lost their lives, but the families that lost theirs too.  Between a government and a culture at-large that has weakened their domestic policy to the point of being an open international policy.

Still, I choose hope and love, knowing all the while that it is no mask for poor strategy.

Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde.


EDC: Glock 17

This Glock came to me in June 2013 as a standard 3rd Generation Glock 17 complete with the stock plastic sights, plain as they come.  Its exact birth date I can’t recall at the moment, but sometime in 2012 is a close enough guess.

ImageJust a plain-jane Gen3 Glock 17 9mm. (photo borrowed)

I knew before I purchased it that it would go for a Cerakote paint job – Patriot Brown the chosen flavor – and the week following its arrival at my door it took a trip to Washington.  In the meantime, I took the slide to get a pair of night sights put on.  I scooped the only pair I was familiar with – Meprolight TruDot – after having bought my first Glock (a Gen2 G19 that I still regret trading) with the same set attached.  I would later switch sights, but they served their purpose for the time.

A few weeks after sending it off (and more than a week after I was told it would be finished), the frame came back….Patriot Brown! OD Green.  Now, if you’re like me and have had poor eyesight your entire life – and sometimes just flat out don’t trust your eyes – perhaps you could convince yourself that this is brown, and I tried my damnedest (yes that’s a real word).  It wasn’t until the GF said “Ooooo I like the green!” that I had to sit down and do some investigating…apparently my eyes weren’t making this stuff up!

ImageThat’s brown…right?!

Still, it wasn’t until I met up several months later with a friend of mine who had done his own Glock frames in Patriot Brown that I had the chance for a direct comparison of the two colors.  Below: (Top) Patriot Brown G19, (Bottom) My OD Green G17.

ImageAs you can see, they are two distinct colors.  On the bottom is my OD G17, on top the Patriot Brown G19.

At this point, I had a some options.  The first was to contact the gentleman who had initially done the wrong work and see if there was a remedy or refund available.  I felt, however, that a refund was unlikely given I had waited several months to say anything (never mind not having had opportunity for a direct comparison during that time), and I really didn’t have the stomach to pay round-trip shipping again and not have my pistol for another 2-3 weeks, all the while hoping he understood me this time and I would have what I wanted.  That coupled with the fact that my friend has the necessary equipment and paint I needed and my creeping urge to begin custom work on the frame persuaded me to cut losses and move on.  I had things I wanted to do.

My first venture into Glock frame custom work (if you can call it that) began as a simple trigger guard undercut.  I had seen it before and felt I had no use for it, but after handling a friend’s Glock on which he had undercut the trigger guard I was sold and set to work on my own.  Still, I knew I wanted to avoid the straight-into-the-frame, block-cut that many amateurs do.  Whether they think it looks good or whether it just is easier, I don’t know, but I think it looks like hell. My undercut got rounded and beveled, blending as best I could the edges.

ImageImageProfile of the undercut.  Notice the pencil marking around the mag release where I had begun toying with an release scallop.

ImageThis is how it begins!  Ugly, and you can see the black showing after taking off the thin top layer of OD Green Cerakote.

By now – after having hacked off a good bit of polymer from this thing, I began to get confident.  I also began to look a bit closer at what the pros were doing.  Ben at Boresight Solutions quickly became the standard I wanted and, while I wasn’t going to put $1000 into my Glock, I was going to analyze his work and try to emulate it.  From this, the idea was born to bevel the magazine release as well.  So, here I am, using a $10 rotary tool (my Dremel being 1200 miles away at the time; no fear!) hacking away at my $400 piece of plastic.  Despite my handicaps and that I had never done any of this before, I was somewhat pleased with the result.

ImageImageImageImageCut and polished.  As you can see, I got a little wrapped in the project and straightened the front edge of the trigger guard.  Hindsight finds me regretting it.

I had a pretty good idea what I liked and disliked by this time.  Having perused hundreds of Glock customizations, I knew that I didn’t like simple, flat-edge undercuts.  I wanted thin, clean, beveled edges and contours.  While the above work left me satisfied that I could do acceptable work with a rotary tool, it left me wanting more.  I wasn’t going to paint it again until I got it to finished form, and that meant diving in head first and completing the undercut along the length of the trigger guard, and even stippling the frame.  As it turns out, two more mistakes lay ahead for this project.

The first of the last two mistakes was not sanding the frame smooth prior to laying the iron on it.  This would require a bit of time and detail in removing the finger grooves (which I find all Glocks seriously wanting to do without) and making even the rest of the frame, and quite frankly I got lazy and/or in a hurry, neither of which generally being conducive to a job well done.  Still, I was happy enough with it to send if off to be painted real Patriot Brown.


ImageImageImageFinished product!  For a short time.  Alas, there was one mistake left to come.

So there she is, finished after a few months of tinkering.  But she would stay this time only a short while.  As with the start of this project, a friend’s work would push me a step beyond where I felt I could go.  He showed me his newest Gen4, from which he had removed the finger grooves and sanded smooth the entire frame prior to stippling.  That was it: the finger grooves which I had wavered about since the day I got the pistol had to go, as they should have from the first day.  And this is the second of the last two mistakes.

When you stipple polymer plastic, you essentially melt and raise the surface of the material, creating a raised, textured surface.  Keep applying the iron to it and the height gets compounded, and quite frankly begins to look really poor.  Still, after racing home after work and hacking off the grooves – revealing the base black polymer against the painted frame – I decided to make all the stipple black by applying the iron once more, if only lightly.  Turns out it doesn’t work that way.  In order to bring the black to the surface, a lot of heat has to be applied, creating an unsightly texture.  Thankfully, a light sanding was able to knock off some width/height and retain the texture decent enough.

ImageFinger grooves removed and re-stippled.  I nearly screwed the pooch on this part, but was able to salvage it enough to keep myself happy.

  Just the same, the whole thing received a media blast to clear the old color away in preparation for a new coat…that never came.  I came to like the beat-up gray that was left over following the blasting, leaving slight traces of Patriot Brown and, yes, even the OD Green that started this whole mess.  Hell, it’s a Glock: you can’t make ’em pretty, just less ugly.

ImageImageAs it stands now.  Undercut, beveled, stippled, hacked, beat, and blasted.  Great as ever.

ImageSenator DeLeon’s Original Ghost Gun

Following is a list of parts/mods/changes/add-ons not mentioned above:

  • Trijicon HD Night Sights – replaced the Meprolight TruDot sights I had put on when I first got the pistol.  The TruDots are a fine NS, but I found them lower than I wanted and quite frankly outmatched by the HD’s U-Notch rear sight and hi-viz front sight.
  • Replaced the full-size Glock smooth-faced trigger with a factory Glock grooved trigger.  No practical advantage, but I prefer both the look and feel of the grooved trigger, perhaps owing to my first Glock being the G19.  Glock is required by United States law to import pistols shorter than its full-size models with a grooved trigger.  There is no real sense to this, but the more hurdles to import a gun the happier the Ban Everything Committee.  And me, apparently.
  • Vickers Tactical extended magazine release (and slide release: now removed) – Vickers mag release is longer than stock, but shorter than the extended mag release Glock offers (which is, I believe, just their large frame model mag release – G20, G21, etc.) that tends to be too long and has a habit of inadvertently leaving your mag lying somewhere behind.  I also had a Vickers extended slide release lever installed, which is a great piece of gear, but found that my thumb kept resting on it during shooting, preventing the slide from locking open when the mag empties.  Not a good feeling when doing speed drills or – I can only imagine – in combat.
  • 3.5lb Connector and Extra Power Trigger Spring – ZevTech makes the spring, and I couldn’t tell you who makes the connector (perhaps Zev as well?).  I don’t generally like tinkering with the internals and I steer clear as much as can be helped, but the 3.5 connector and increased power spring as stand-alones have been a very nice improvement over factory internal settings, reducing the trigger pull to a comfortable, but not absurd, level.  Crisp, clean, but still strong, and not a problem yet with several thousand rounds on those parts.  In fact I have had less “grit” in the pull while shooting in the desert when things get dirty than with the factory connector.  Perhaps it’s placebo, but I’ll stick with it.
  • Lanyard Plug – I forget who makes it, but it’s the only one out there.  I enjoy having the lanyard option and having the rear closed up (the arguments for/against this go on for days, and I have no real opinion on the matter save that I like this way better…just because).  The downside with this particular part is that the stock screw supplied with it was considerably too short, and required me finding a specialized parts store and then cutting the screw down a bit, damn near cutting my finger in half with a pair of needle nose pliers.  Yikes!  Still, it hasn’t budged and I like it.
  • Surefire X300Ultra – 500 lumens, long life, clean light, great throw.  I had previously rocked a Streamlight TLR-1HL which, at 630 lumens and a strobe feature to boot, is a beast of a light.  Still, I found the X300U to have better throw and a cleaner light, and just better lines (I know: not a reason to rock a piece of gear that may save your life one day).  Is it worth nearly double the HL?  I can’t honestly say it is.  I would trust myself to either brand in a pinch.  I just prefer the X300U, simple as that.

That’s about it for this thing. I have done what I can to keep the pistol as simple as it comes from the factory – it only goes on if it serves a clear, demonstrable purpose.  Certainly I haven’t covered everything here, either because I have forgot or it’s unimportant, but there have been a ton of lessons learned with this pistol project.  I have done things that have worked well and even better than predicted, and some that I wouldn’t do again; I’ve shown what can be done with $30 in parts and untold hours of labor and thought (oftentimes in that order); and, importantly, I have set a framework for future projects.

Image12yds, standing.  One flyer.  Paper is nice, but steel and shot timers are where the work is.


Veneficium! or, Who Gets The House?

The Code of Hammurabi (18th c. BC) prescribes for sorcery that the person on whom the spell was cast should be made to walk into the river.  Should the river consume him and thus find him guilty, the man who cast the spell should acquire the guilty man’s house.  Should he live and be found not guilty, then the accused shall get the house, and the man who cast the spell put to death.

But that’s not to say the Babylonians had anything unique going on; in the twenty centuries succeeding the laws put forth by the king, tens of thousands more would be put to death for sorcery – or even the mere allegation of it.  Ancient Egypt followed close on the Babylonian style, and pagan Rome perhaps leads them all in executions on suspicion of sorcery, especially if the crops were bad.  The Middle Ages define for many of us the image of the witch hunt, if not the Salem Witch Trials of early America.

But for much of the civilized world, witch hunts largely ceased after the mid-18th century.  In England, the last executions for witchcraft occurred at Exeter in 1682 when three woman were put to death.  Nearly thirty years later, in 1711, Joseph Addison would publish an article in the highly respected The Spectator journal (No. 117) criticizing the irrationality and social injustice in treating elderly and feeble women as witches.

Still, not everybody gets The Spectator. (*NSFW Warning: May Be Graphic To Some Viewers)

Witch hunts still happen today, particularly in places where the belief in magic is prevalent – largely Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Papua New Guinea (though it should be noted that Saudi Arabia is the sole remaining country where witchcraft is legally punishable by death).  A 2010 estimate places the number of “witches” put to death annually in India at around 200; and the Simbu province of Papua New Guinea alone! accounts for nearly 150 deaths annually for acts and accusations of witchcraft.

Just the same, it’s hard from where I sit to imagine such a thing.  We read about it in old books and forget about it as quick as it came upon us.  Hell, the idea of witches and witch hunting is more foreign to most of us than walking on the moon.  Think about that.

Still, don’t think I have looked beyond the evil that swells upon our own shores; everyday callous people rape and torture and murder other human beings for nothing more than sport; they target strangers in a now-popularized “game”; they shoot up schools and malls and public places because they are unhappy.  Or perhaps because they’ll become famous.

Considering that, perhaps it isn’t the action that still shocks me so much as the inaction.  That people would walk themselves to their death, never giving back the fight.  It’s sad, really, that a person can be made to be that way.

Lord help the men who come to take me to the pyre.

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

– General Sir Charles Napier


Calum Hayes Wants To Talk About Gun Control

(Note: This post is a carry over from December, 2012)

But resorts to begging, instead.

He first fails to show any positive correlation between a concealed carry applications boom and rising violence, for Colorado in particular and nationwide in general (I suspect with the intent to create a bit of undue alarm, given his failure to link concealed carry to this specific act at all). In fact, Colorado’s 2011 crime rates show marked improvements through preceding decades, with the Aggravated Assault rate at it’s lowest since 1971 and Murder Rate at its lowest since prior to 1960, when the FBI began gathering statistics. The state also improved in Vehicle Theft from the 8th highest rate to 24th between 2005-2008, 19th to 29th and 11th to 31st in Burglary and Larceny-Theft, respectively, during the same period. Colorado became a Shall-Issue permit state in 2003.

But all that is neither here nor there. As much as anything, he fails to understand criminal behavior. He fails to understand (perhaps willfully) that criminals are labeled as such for a reason, often because they refuse to follow the laws as they are. The answer is not more legislation. In fact, I invite him to present statistics showing mass killings by concealed carry permit holders (again with no indication that a carry permit is at all even pertinent to this story). Certainly it has happened, but it is not endemic.

And most importantly, he blatantly disregards the reason for the Second Amendment, rather making it an asylum for crazed gun-toters. It is not merely a convenience provided the citizenry to defend against the mean man on the corner, to be removed when elected officials feel it no longer politically beneficial or fitting with their idea of reasonable or useful. It is a natural right afforded all free men (and women, if we are to follow the courtesies of the day, which we certainly are) to guarantee freedom from tyranny of government (I’ll refer you to John Locke, “An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government”, 1690). It is cliché by this point, yes. But it happens the world over, time and again. (Here I’ll refer you to the 800,000 Tutsi people of Rwanda in 1994; the 2 million dead at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 1975-1979; the 1.5 million Armenians of Ottoman Turkey; the roughly 40 million Chinese killed between 1927-1976; 20 million at the hands of Nazi Germany; tens of millions more in the Soviet Union.)

There are perhaps a dozen more examples, each of which nearly impossible to wrap a sane mind around. Hayes’ OpEd, while emotionally effective, misses the greater reasoning behind firearms access in America. This nation, as a matter of foundation, is built on the principle not of security but of freedom. I believe freedom is more important than security, and if the only way to make things more secure is to reduce freedom, I’m not interested. Human nature being what it is, security will have to be enforced, while freedom will have to be defended. I’d rather be a defender than an enforcer.

All that said, I believe that people of good will may disagree. I also believe that rational analysis will always hold advantage in an argument with passionate beliefs. The murder of even one child is senseless and begs for eternity in hell. But the unfortunate truth is that senseless cannot be legislated away. Nonetheless, I would invite Mr. Hayes to move beyond the passionate, sensational plugs, and to provide instead a course of reason.

Losing 20 children is enough senselessness for one day.