Wednesday, September 19, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff, Shooting industry
I was going to share this with you last week, but then the whole RECOIL mess came up and pre-empted my planned programming!
Over at the Vuurwapen blog is the entry "Why I Don't Care If Military Or Police Use Certain Items", and it's all about the silliness of picking a gun (or anything else for that matter) because a particular police or military group uses it. It's a good read.
There are a bunch of logic failures associated with that kind of aspirational marketing or consumption, but unfortunately people fall for them constantly:
- Let's say you've got one police agency using a specific gun (like, oh, the Kimber) and you make your decision based on that. What if another agency that picks, say, the HK P7? They can't both be "best", so how do you make your choice with such contradictory endorsements? What usually happens is that people actually end up arguing about which agency is the best/toughest/most respected, as if that somehow validates their choice - and therefore yours.
- Use of a specific product by any group isn't proof that it is superior to any other choice under all conditions. In fact, it isn't even proof that it's a superior choice for any specific conditions! The testing and procurement process is byzantine in complexity and subject to many kinds of coercion and meddling, from kickbacks by vendors to top brass intervening in the process to influence the selection of their personal favorites. That a product manages to survive that process isn't proof of any intrinsic superiority. Our cops and our troops often end up with inferior gear and supplies, but for some reason the private sector looks upon the failures as having the same stamp of quality as the successes. (CLP, anyone?)
- The presence of an NSN doesn't even mean the product is even being used by the people who are presumably using it. Lots of products that have an NSN aren't actually wanted or needed by the people on the front lines, but they're invariably sold to you as being "the choice of our brave men and women!" Look at the marketing of gun cleaning and lubrication products; when any product claims to be in use with Navy Seals, complete with the NSN, it's probably bunk. And even if it were true, that still doesn't mean it's the best choice for THEM, let alone you!
- Finally, remember that the procurement process (when it works) is designed to get a product that is minimally acceptable for its purpose at the lowest cost to the agency. It's useful to remember what the late, great Alan Shephard once said: "It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract." Not very reassuring, is it?
You need to make your purchasing decisions based on an honest assessment of your needs and the product's suitability for your purpose, not internet loudmouths going by names like Geck045 who drone on about how their gun "must" be the best because "LAPD don't buy junk!"
Yes, they do. Very often.
-=[ Grant ]=-
AN ADVENTURE: Spent some time last week working on a project with Rob Pincus. You'll have to wait a while to hear the details, but a good and educational time was had by all. (Yes, Rob, it's still raining here.)
LUBRIPLATE COMES THROUGH: Got an email from Alex Taylor, a District Manager at Lubriplate. They're now selling the superb SFL #0 grease in consumer quantities in their online store! Comes in a 14oz can for $23.01, plus shipping. Glad to see them recognizing the firearms market; now let's see if we can get them to sell their FMO-AW oil in small quantities too!
THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN EVERY DAY: Remington recently announced that they've produced their ten millionth 870 series shotgun. I knew they were popular, but ten freakin' million? I would never have guessed anything close to that. The shotgun, it appears, is alive and well in America.
THIS IS JUST WRONG: I'll take some of what I just said back: certain shotguns are alive, but not well. Apparently trying to out-silly the S&W TRR8, Stoeger recently announced the availability of the Double Defense - a tactical side-by-side shotgun. Yes, a SxS with a fore-end rail. Black, of course. (Folks, I couldn't possibly make up something like this. It takes a marketing department to do so.)
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW: A University of Alabama prof has claimed to have invented a revolutionary sighting system that promotes "intuitive aim." Knowledgeable readers will recognize the concept as being eerily reminiscent of the Steyr "trapezoid" sights as used on the 'M' and 'S' series pistols, which have been available for a decade now. Hmmm...
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, April 27, 2009 Filed in: General gun stuff, Self defense
Over the weekend I got a nice email from the shooter in last week's article. Sure enough, the screw had backed out and let the crane past. He's ordered a new screw, and plans to LocTite it in. Good plan!
(The sad thing was that he was shooting really well up until that happened...ruined a perfectly good stage.)
Those of you looking for Lubriplate SFL grease may be in luck - I got this interesting email last week:
Just for your info, I'll be offering the Lubriplate "SFL" NLGI #0 grease in 16 oz. cans starting in about two weeks.
The grease will come in screw-top metal cans with a brush attached to the inside of the lid, real handy for applying the grease without making a mess.
Retail will be $19.95 plus actual shipping, without any inflated "handling" charges.
Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network recently reviewed a book that I had to buy: "Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" by Rory Miller. Miller's treatise is about violent criminal behavior - how it happens, why it happens, and what does and doesn't work to counter it. It's written from the perspective of empty hand martial arts (as opposed to the martial art of the firearm), but everything in it is applicable to the person who carries a firearm for protection.
He goes to great lengths to dispel both our romanticized notions of what violent acts are really like, and our belief in our own ability to deal with them. Early in the book, he says "you are what you are, not what you think you are." (Emphasis added.) The rest of the book shows us what why that's true, and why what we believe is not always reality. His perspectives on training, of what is/is not valuable, follow the same hard-nosed refusal to buckle under to fantasy.
This book has earned a permanent place in my library, which is not something I can say of many works. I highly recommend it to anyone who carries a gun for self defense, and perhaps even more to those who don't. (One warning: this book may be unsettling to those who've become attached to their images of how a predator interacts with his/her prey. As Miller reminds us, reality is rarely pretty - and his work is chock-full of reality.)
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, March 09, 2009 Filed in: General gun stuff
Coffee is one of those vices in which I do not indulge. Not from any religious objection, mind you - it's just that I can't stand the taste of the stuff. I admit to loving the smell of brewing java, but coffee is one of those things that smells a whole lot better than it tastes!
Stay with me, I'll get to the point.
A number of years ago I knew a district sales manager for one of the major coffee companies. (Coincidentally, his first name was also Grant. Obviously a man of superior intellect, charm, and modesty.) Grant told me that the coffee brand with the largest market share at that time was Folgers, due largely to their "mountain grown" ad campaign.
He commented that the campaign was so much hot air, as all coffee was grown in the mountains - but people had been conditioned to believe that since a) the mountain environment was desirable, and b) only Folgers was grown in the mountains, therefore c) Folgers was the only coffee to buy.
Yes, the mountain environment was desirable, because without it there would essentially be no coffee, but no - Folgers wasn't the only coffee which was grown there!
His story came back to me this week when I received yet another email from what was obviously a salesman for one of those multilevel marketing (MLM) "miracle lubricant" scams. One of the consistent claims by all such snake oil concerns is that their product "bonds with the metal at the molecular level", that it is a very desirable thing to do, and only their product does so.
Reality time: all oils bond with metal at a molecular level, because that's what oils do. Were there no molecular attraction between oil and metal, the oil would simply slide off of the surface to which it was applied. Not drip off, not ooze off, not pour off - slide off with absolutely no trace of itself left behind. No film or residue, not a single atom of the oil would remain. Absolutely nothing.
Of course, that doesn't happen. Apply any oil to a piece of metal, then turn the metal upside down; the excess oil may drip off, but a layer of slippery liquid is always left stuck to the surface. That is molecular attraction - bonding, if you will - at work.
Those who wear glasses know how difficult it can be to completely rid lenses of even a drop of oil; there always seems to be some that stubbornly refuses efforts at removal. This is because there is a molecular bond between the oil and the material from which the lens is made, and the same thing happens when oil is applied to metal.
Molecular attraction is why the water in your coffee is in liquid form, rather than the elemental hydrogen and oxygen from which it is made. It makes metal alloys possible, and is why lubricants - all of them - work. The companies which claim their product "bonds with the metal at the molecular level" are simply saying that their oil does the same thing that all other oils do.
Admitting that fact wouldn't sell much oil (or coffee), would it?
-=[ Grant ]=-
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Filed in: General gun stuff, Gunsmithing
If you've read my Lubrication 101 article, you know that I'm a big fan of the Lubriplate SFL series of greases. Unfortunately, they are hard to get; there are no consumer-quantity online sources that I know of, and even the company that once supplied me is no longer.
There is another good choice: the Lubriplate FGL line of greases, which are available in more consumer-friendly packaging - but still hard to find in anything less than case quantity. I remain amazed that Lubriplate makes such terrific products, then makes it so hard to buy them!
Reader Chris S. sent me an email regarding an alternative: Dow-Corning G-0050. It looks good; while technically not quite as robust as the SFL or FGL products, it's a close second - and is still head and shoulders above any lithium-based product that you'll find on the shelves at your local gun store. It's available in single tubes from McMaster-Carr - who have one of those annoying sites that won't let you link directly to an item, but their catalog number is 1445K41.
-=[ Grant ]=-