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A Note On “Privilege”

So this “privilege” thing is in the air and of course everyone has to comment on it, I guess me too. In case you haven’t run into it yet, it’s the annoyingly, increasingly common debate-ending tactic where the person losing the argument notes the relative success and/or race of the person winning the argument, and thus claims victory.

Of course, that’s not what it’s supposed to be. Originally intended as a polite request to reexamine the effects of your position and upbringing on your opinions and outlook, I have never seen it used that way. Instead, the “privilege check” is exclusively employed as a childish PLEASE STOP, a racist trump card to be thrown when facts and logic are inadequate to support a position. As an enshrinement of the Professional Victimhood movement, it’s a bullshit Kafkatrap where the accusation and attempts to deny “privilege” is part of the punishment, and the only way to win is to refuse to play.


I don’t, however, wish the idea would go away. Much like someone who defaces the flag, it’s a useful marker. Once I read someone unironically citing “privilege” in an argument, it’s a sure flag to stop taking that person seriously on that subject, because they’re no longer trying to argue a position, they’re demanding to be allowed to shout down their opposition.

Which is about as honest an admission of intellectual laziness as you could hope for.

Guns I Hate Part 2: The Springfield Inc. XD

nb: In the case of butthurts, please take a moment and reread this post. Also see Part 1: The Ruger SR. tldr: That your singular pistol works fine and you are happy with it is not a statistically relevant piece of information. Without the magnitude of numbers involved in police contracts or competitive pistol leagues, it’s impossible to make a judgement on how good a particular design is. If what I have to say hurts your feelings, I don’t care. But if you could demonstrate how I’m wrong, I’d appreciate it.

The pistol currently known as the Springfield Inc. XD was originally introduced to the US market as the HS-2000 in 1999, and was renamed the XD when Springfield Inc bought the rights to the design in 2002. The XD is a polymer framed double-stack Browning style short recoil autoloader that was designed in Croatia during the Yugoslavian Civil War. It is available in all common service pistol calibers and a variety of slide and frame sizes and finishes. It features a single action trigger, a grip safety lever and an internal key lock. It has not been issued by any major domestic police organization, but it is on the approved list for a few and has been sold to some undemanding foreign customers. It is not popular in competition, although Springfield Inc. does pay some shooters to say good things about it.

Derp within Derp.

Derp within Derp.

There are two main problems with the XD: It was designed wrong, and it is built wrong.

Apart from general sloppiness in manufacturing and spotty quality control, the XD has a number of design faults. The first deal-breaker is that the grip safety not only locks the trigger and prevents it from moving, but also locks the slide and prevents it from moving. This means that the shooter needs to maintain a perfect firing grip in order to clear malfunctions or perform remedial actions. An additional risk is that if the grip safety breaks or gets debris under it (both of which have been frequently documented), the gun is out of commission until it can be fixed.

Unique among modern service pistols, the XD can be assembled wrong. There are pins that can be inserted such that they need to be drilled out, the slide can become locked open hard enough that it needs to be hammered apart, and it’s even been observed to malfunction when loading.

The trigger is also a puzzle. Although it features a Glocklike trigger-on-a-trigger and has a long, mushy trigger pull, the only function of the trigger is to trip the sear and release the striker, which is held back under full spring tension. Unlike real designs, the XD offers the feel of a trigger-cocker with the lack of failsafes of a single action pistol. This is why IDPA classed the gun in ESP for many years.

All of these would make the pistol unacceptable even if it wasn’t assembled poorly, which it is. For many years, Springfield Inc. refused to sell replacement parts for the gun, requiring the pistols to be sent back to the importer for even small parts breakages. This is because the gun-to-gun variance in dimensions was so great, parts had to be selected and fitted to the individual gun. The Croatian geniuses at HS/Springfield hadn’t even managed to master early 20th century parts interchangeability, previously featured in the Colt 1903, 1911, and M1 Garand. This problem was somewhat improved in the XDm redesign, although lack of QC is still an issue and its design faults remain untouched. There are several other designs that retail for about the same price and do not have these faults, and are popular in competition and police service. Choose one of those instead.

I have been accused of being an “elitist” (if encouraging people to spend the same — or less — money and get a better gun makes me an elitist, so be it), so perhaps my motivations aren’t clear. I honestly do not care what an individual shooter shoots. What I do care about, and offends me greatly, is when companies choose and are rewarded for a cynical marketing strategy that puts their customers lives at risk. Instead of putting their money into designing, building and shipping the very best pistol they can, a pistol that could be depended on to work right, the first time, out of the box, Springfield Inc. supports the XD series with a lavish, expensive advertising campaign. Their ads are in all the magazines, and they’ve bought more than a few awards for their derpy gun. Springfield Inc. thinks you’re dumb enough to prefer advertising over quality. I’d like you to prove them wrong.

There’s Always Free Cheese In A Mousetrap

Soooo, the SIG SB15 “Pistol” “Brace”.

Clever end run around stupid and anachronistic legal hassles or this generation’s SWD Striker-12?

Will the ATF demand we hand over the Pistol Brace units only or will they also take the gun it’s attached to?

Guns I Hate Part 1: The Ruger SR Series

As I alluded to months ago, there exists a tier of autoloading pistols between outright trash like Hi-Point and the various potmetal ring of fire companies, and actual decent pistols that are popular in police service and competition. Let’s call it the “Derp Tier”, because for about the same money you could have had a real pistol, but instead you saved $50 and got a piece of junk.

nb: In the case of butthurts, please take a moment and reread my above post. tldr: That your singular pistol works fine and you are happy with it is not a statistically relevant piece of information. Without the magnitude of numbers involved in police contracts or competitive pistol leagues, it’s impossible to make a judgement on how good a particular design is.

The Ruger SR series was introduced in 2007 chambered in 9mm, with compact and .40 S&W versions available a couple years later. Ruger then introduced a .45 ACP version, as well as a scaled down .22LR model that merits its own section. The centerfire SR guns are striker fired semiautomatics with a polymer frame and a stainless slide. They feature an ambidextrous safety and magazine release button, have adjustable sights, a slim grip and an accessory rail.

So where’s the beef?


The Ruger SR series is quite simply the most contemptuous pistol design I’ve ever seen. It’s festooned with unnecessary, condescending “safety features” that do nothing useful but add additional points of failure. They all come with a double sided safety (that is too small to reliably operate under any kind of pressure), a gigantic chamber loaded indicator, an integral key lock, and a magazine disconnect. None of these gimmicks do anything to make the pistol easier to use, but rather to fill out a checklist of arbitrary “safety” criteria invented by anti-gun jurisdictions in order to limit the selection of pistols available to people living within its borders. These criteria, oddly enough, do not apply to guns carried by police, which is why the SR series has never been a contender for any law enforcement contracts.

It is a pistol not designed to be shot, but to kowtow to Democrats.

I know it’s meaningless, but since people seem to be impressed with anecdotes, here’s two.

The first SR-9 I’ve seen in person showed up to a local USPSA match. It was a post-recall gun with a stainless slide, and stopped firing halfway through the first stage. The owner took it back to his truck to fiddle with it, and then returned in time to run it through the second stage. A pin sheared off three targets in and the pistol was down for the count.

The second one I met was purchased by my cousin, whom you may remember from my review of the Moore’s Machine Co. / Bear Creek AR-15, does not have the best luck in choosing his own firearms. He bought a SR-9c for about $325 at a gun show and we hit the range soon after. Trouble started early, as the gun would consistently fail to feed the first round from a magazine if the slide was released from slidelock or slingshotted vigorously. Only by easing the slide home could we get it to chamber a round. It also had a failure to feed about one round per magazine, and the observed accuracy was quite poor. (We had three varieties of ammo and this behavior was consistent between them). The polymer grip was also slippery and hard to keep a consistent grip, and I noticed my cousin having to readjust his grip after every couple of shots.

Oh, and when he pulled it out of the soft pistol rug he stored it in, a pin had drifted out of the frame from a 20 mile car ride over paved roads.

“Yeah, it does that sometimes,” he mentioned as he used a pen to push it back in.


Ironically, the SR series is probably the least worst option in the Derp Tier. If I absolutely had to pick a carry pistol from this loser’s group, and was forbidden from getting a used Glock, S&W K-frame or 3rd gen S&W for about the same price, I’d probably, reluctantly, take an SR9. But it’s kind of like preferring the clap over herpes at that point.

The Ruger SR series is a piece of shit designed by lawyers to appease fascists by a company that thinks you’re stupid. Buy something else.

The Ruger SR-22

The SR-22 is a special case because while it sucks just as much as the centerfire SR series, it does so in a completely different way!


When it was introduced, everyone hoped for an equivalent of the Walther P22 that actually worked, but also didn’t have a cheap zinc slide. The aluminum slide of the SR-22 gave us hope, but in practice it turned out to be an unreliable turd just like the P22. But even if it worked, I still wouldn’t recommend it because of the way the safety lever functions.

It’s been customary for frame mounted safety levers to operate such that they are pressed DOWN to fire, and UP to block the hammer or striker. This is intuitive and consistent across dozens of manufacturers over the last century. However, for some inexplicable reason, the lever on the SR-22 operates in just the opposite manner! UP to fire and DOWN to safe!

“But pdb! What’s the big deal? It’s just a plinker!”

Yes, and most people spend more shooty time with their plinkers than their carry guns, it’s just economics. You might not care, but your brain will. And I’d rather not have any confusion in my thumbs when it comes to a lever that can make my gun not work.

There are plenty of decent .22 autoloaders on the market, and even in Ruger’s own lineup, that work the right way. Pick one of those instead.

Surely This Must Be Some Kind of Record

Lost in the hilarity of Democratic California State Senator Leland Yee getting hooked up for corruption, arms trafficking and money laundering, was that on the very same day, our own Mayor of Charlotte Patrick Cannon (D) got the stainless bracelet treatment for corruption and bribery.

Which brings me to this article by the Associated Press, which is a brief roundup of Mayors across the nation who have recently been arrested and charged with bribery and other scandals.

I’ll reproduce it here in case it gets memory holed:

Big city mayors caught up in recent scandals

By Associated Press, Published: March 26

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon is facing public corruption charges after prosecutors said he solicited $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment as bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Cannon is the latest mayor of a large city to face a scandal in recent years. Here is a look at some others:

— Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty in February of 20 counts of accepting bribes and other corruption charges for taking money to help business owners get millions of dollars in city work, including in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

— Former Trenton, N.J., Mayor Tony Mack was convicted in February of taking money in exchange for getting approval in 2012 to develop a downtown parking garage that only existed in a federal sting. He is awaiting sentencing. He is one of a long list of New Jersey mayors to face corruption charges since 2000, including the leaders of Newark, Camden, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Hoboken, Passaic, Asbury Park, Orange and Hamilton.

— Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned last August after a number of sexual harassment allegations. He pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery in October and was sentenced to three months of home confinement in December.

— Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is serving 28 years in prison after being convicted in October of extortion, bribery, conspiracy and other crimes. In October 2008, Kilpatrick spent 99 days in jail for his part in a sex-and-text scandal.

— Former Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Larry Langford took $235,000 in cash, loans and gifts while he was president of the Jefferson County Commission in the early- and mid-2000s. He was convicted of 60 counts in October 2009 and is serving 15 years in prison.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. [WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT, SUCKA? — pdb]

Well, that’s quite a list! Odd that party affiliation seems to be missing from this. It’s a running gag in my circles that not mentioning the party affiliation is mentioning the party affiliation, but because the AP seems to be lazy, I’ll do their homework for them:

Well, how about that? When a Democrat gets arrested for something, their party affiliation doesn’t seem to be a relevant part of the story. But when they catch a Republican, it’s in the lead paragraph:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once viewed as a rising star in the GOP, and his wife were indicted Tuesday on federal corruption charges accusing the couple of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in loans, shopping sprees, money for their daughter’s wedding — and even a joyride in a Ferrari — from the owner of a company that makes health supplements.

AP, are you in the business of reporting the news or not? The answer, it would seem, is not.

Notes on Working From Home

So for the past few months my job has been to write posts for GunUp: The Magazine: The Blog, and one article a month for GunUp’s print magazine. This job also coincided with me becoming the primary daytime caretaker of my kids. Balancing these has been a bit of an adventure, and here’s some of the strategies that have worked out for me.

First, keep a real person schedule. It’s tempting to revert back to college life and sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry and work in between, but I find that I’m far more productive when I approach the day like an adult with responsibilities.

When I get up, I have a shower, shave, put on real clothes and eat a real breakfast (something that requires some level of preparation and cooking, not just gnawing on a slab of cold leftovers) before plonking down in front of the computer and getting creative, I find it’s far easier to maintain focus and not slip into the mind-off, slouch ‘n scroll zombie behavior that doesn’t make me money.

While my family always comes first, it’s been easier to work knowing that my family understands that this is a real job that requires real time and concentration from time to time. I’m always there and available for them, but they also know that I need to work in order to be there for them.

That said, you should get in the habit of writing when your schedule allows it, not setting your schedule by when you write. Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you need absolute silence and solitude or other environmental conditions to be perfect in order to write. If you use external factors as excuses, you’re really just admitting that you’re not going to write and you’re looking for something else to blame. Issac Asimov did some of his best writing fifteen minutes at a time when he worked as a clerk.

Above all, I think what’s made this work for me is quite literally to treat this like a real job. If you don’t take your work seriously, why should the people cutting your checks take it seriously either? Like famed philosopher Highway once said, if you start acting like a semi-professional writer, you’ll start to feel like a semi-professional writer, and then you’ll be a semi-professional writer.

And Now For Something Completely Different

So my reloading bench is currently occupied by Lionel 665 and Lionel 2046 Hudsons in various states of disassembly.

I had acquired both as basket cases, and decided they’d had enough time sitting around my garage and got around to getting them back into running condition. The 665 needs more attention, requiring a some new parts, polishing years of grime and corrosion off the rods, replacing the motor brushes, tuning the E-Unit, and a new paint job after gently squeezing a dent out of the cab roof. The 2046 so far just needs a new eccentric crank and some attention to its drive, but it’s a decent runner as is.

For information and reference, both the Postwar Lionel site and the collection of repair manual PDF’s at Olsen’s have been invaluable. So far my main sources for parts have been Olsen’s and Just Trains, but I note that the online Lionel parts market is in desperate need of some web 2.0. Or even 1.0.

One might reasonably ask why is a grown-ass man spending time playing with toy trains? The short answer is that I’m a grown-ass man and I do whatever the hell I want. I could say they’re “for the kids”, but neither of mine have displayed a lot of interest in them after a few minutes of running. I am, however, fortunate to have a couple of nephews who are entranced by the whole thing and now ask to see “Uncle pdb’s trains!” rather than “Uncle pdb’s house!” But the real answer is that I’ve always enjoyed model railroading, and for reasons of lack of money and a general finescale snobbishness missed out on the whole 3-rail experience. These models are crudely detailed and “wrong” in several nitpicky ways, but their charm lies in their heft and presence and kidproof ruggedness. And the racket they make as they race around the track captures the track side train watching experience a lot better than a rivet-counted correct model sitting on a shelf.

There’s also the appeal of working on a hefty mechanical device that not only can be repaired and serviced, but is worth the effort. Both the 665 and 2046 represent the happy years of Lionel’s postwar existence, when they shipped all-metal trains of high quality that were designed to take a beating, get some wear parts replaced, and come back for more. The current iteration of Lionel has lost its way, preferring to ship highly profitable, plastic trains full of cheap Chinese electronics that aren’t intended to be played with, broken, and repaired.

By contrast, I recently picked up an Athearn Genesis model of a recent prototype. It is, and I use this term deliberately, perfect. It was fairly expensive, but it’s a good value, as the detailing is both superb and accurate, right down to the locomotive specific details. This out of the box model would have been winning contests ten or fifteen years ago, and now anybody can get one.

But there’s nothing left to do to it. You put it on your shelf, or layout, and run it, and that’s it. It doesn’t need any work. It doesn’t need me. The 665 does. There may be an analogy in there about Glocks vs 1911s, but c’mon. It’s just toy trains.

A Turd By Any Other Name: Moore’s Machine Co. Is Now Bear Creek Arsenal

A year ago, my cousin made the mistake of buying a Moore’s Machine Co. AR-15 clone at the peak of the 2013 Great Panic. Fortunately, the retailer was kind enough to take it back unfired and let him walk out with the S&W M&P-15 he should have bought in the first place (which has continued to be a fantastic buy. It came out of the box zeroed, and was capable of 3″ at 100 yards with inexpensive steel cased ammunition). Before he took it back, he let me have a look at it, and I documented my findings in this post. Cliff’s Notes: Critical parts were built wrong, from substandard materials, finished and assembled incorrectly and that was obvious from just a cursory look. It was literally the shittiest AR-15 you could buy, except for maybe an Olympic or Hesse / Vulcan. That review has been one of the most linked-to posts that I’ve done in the last few years, gathering new hits as “great deals” on the MMC AR pop up here and there.

And much like fellow purveyors of junk, Hesse / Vulcan, MMC has changed corporate identities and is now trying to distance themselves from the MMC reputation by going as “Bear Creek Arsenal“. They’ve already appeared on Slick Guns and Classic Arms is also selling them. I have yet to see any of their products, but this kind of shady behavior is not done by legitimate companies selling quality rifles.

Folks, an AR is not an AR. There’s absolutely no reason to take a risk on a low dollar piece of junk like this when you can get an S&W M&P-15 for just a few dollars more, or a Colt 6920 for a $1000 sure thing. If you have extensive experience with the type and know that the exact configuration you want isn’t available off the shelf, then rolling your own might be an economical alternative as long as you’re not tempted to cut corners.

Buy once, cry once. Even if it’s only a “range toy”, buy something that won’t make you hate yourself every time you hit the range.

Ask The Gunsmith Part 2: Ruger Mega Snubbie!

Mr CAMM1520 asks:

I have a 5 inch Ruger Redhawk that never gets any work. I have the crazy idea of getting the barrel shortened to the end of the extractor housing and using it for a giant snubby for home defense. I have seen a wide range of prices for this work.
Any idea of a fair market price to get a revolver barrel shortened, muzzle crowned and front sight reinstalled?

Joe sez:

I think it’s an awesome project, I really like big snubbies. I’ve seen the short Redhawk thing executed extremely well, and I’ve seen others that look like goat crap.

The trick there is shopping around for a smith that you like the look of the work. Some of Hamilton Bowens Redhawk stuff is dead sexy and the guy I’d send it to be done since I don’t have my own mill. Also a guy named Kent Kelly in Burwell Nebraska: Kelly Custom Gun Service. His pistols are amazing. I’ve had him do work for me. He’s a huge revolver smith, that’s pretty much his bread and butter. He smiths as a side gig so he’s inexpensive but it takes him a bit.

Where I work that job would cost 65 dollars for the cutting and crowning of the barrel. The installation of the front sight would be where the cost might bite you, depending on how the sight was installed, or what sight you wanted. Just cutting a dovetail and installing a bare bones basic front sight would likely be around another 65 dollars. Plus the sight, if you blend, or weld, or install the same type of front sight that’s on the gun now you’re looking at machine time. My shop runs 90 dollars an hour for that. So realistically I’d expect to spend somewhere between 200-350 to have it done exactly the way you want it, and the down and dirty cost would likely be around 150 bucks.

Parts not included in prices, of course.

Got a question for the ‘smith? Ask here or there or email it in!

Ask The Gunsmith Part 1: Dat Plunger Tube

Commenter Dave asks:

Best fix for a loose plunger tube?

“The best bet is to restake it if there is enough usable material and if not new ones are pretty inexpensive. They make a fixture for doing it that is the best bet as far as I know to do it.

It came loose because it wasn’t staked as well as it should have been from the factory, and recoil will gradually nudge it loose. Also full sized grips as designed for the 1911 are a failsafe that will hold the tube in place rather than let it run away like thin grips will.”

Got a question for the gunsmith? Comment here or there or email it in!