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  • November 28, 2006

    The NYPD Needs Your Help!

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    When I was in the Army, there was a drill that we called the Mad Minute, in which an infantry company would shoot every weapon it had nonstop for 60 seconds. I’m not clear what the purpose was, but it was lots of fun, and the American taxpayer footed the bill.

    Apparently, the New York City Police Department has adopted the Mad Minute as tactical doctrine. This past Saturday, five officers emptied 50 rounds of 9mm ammo into a car that held three unarmed men, killing one and wounding the others. One intrepid cop cranked off 31 rounds, using up two full magazines.

    Now I am not here to judge whether or not this was right or wrong. I am only an unqualified civilian. But I do know this. If the NYPD starts shooting at people who actually shoot back, they are going to run out of ammunition.

    And so I call on you, my fellow gun enthusiasts, to lend a hand to New York’s Finest. If you have a spare box, or a case, of 9mm lying around, send it to people who need it more than you do. The address is:

    Commissioner Raymond Kelly
    New York City Police Department
    One Police Plaza
    New York, New York

    Thank you.

  • November 21, 2006

    Will It Work? Who The H*** Knows?

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    Before we get into this rant, I’m compelled to re-state one of the basic rules of this blog (in fact, the only one): No profanity. If you feel compelled to use any of the seven famous words that George Carlin says you can’t use on the air, employ asterisks. And if you don’t know what the f**k an asterisk is, ask someone who’s brighter than you are. Remember that this blog is the property of TimeWarner, a vast media conglomerate that has the power to destroy you, and if you p**s off TimeWarner, you will be shown no mercy.

    Anyway, this question goes: I have a such and such rifle in such and such caliber, and can you recommend a bullet/load that will shoot accurately in it?

    The answer is no, I can’t, and neither can anyone else. Each rifle, regardless of cost or make or caliber or pedigree, is a law unto itself, and does what it damn well pleases.

    A classic example of this is a .270 that was made for me in the late 1980s by Ultra Light Arms. I shot it and shot it and shot it and could get only assemblies rather than groups until I tried some of the original Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets. They turned it into a 1-inch gun. ULA rifles are made as carefully as it is possible to make a hunting rifle, so why is this gun weird? I dunno.

    I had exactly the same experience with a beautiful .270 sporter made by the great custom gunsmith Joe Balicikie. It sprayed bullets all over the paper until I tried a now-discontinued powder called H205. Is the .270 strange and quirky? Of course not.

    Kenny Jarrett once told me that about twice a year, he would build a rifle that could not be made to shoot. They’d change barrels, stocks, even triggers, but the gun would not cooperate. Finally, they’d say the hell with it and cut the receiver in half. Why would the gun not shoot? Kenny doesn’t know.

    This is part of the fascination of shooting. I hope the day never arrives when we understand everything about how a rifle works, and are able to alter it if need be. Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. Same with rifles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • November 20, 2006

    Is Bush Watching The Store For Gun Owners?

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    Last month, a gunmaker friend of mine was audited for two weeks by the BATFE, who found the usual number of small errors and omissions in 20 years’ worth of 4473s, and two rifles that couldn’t be accounted for. Then next week he was informed that his manufacturer’s license, which was up for renewal, would not be renewed. No reason given. His life’s work and his livelihood, and that of a dozen other people, down the toilet without a word why. Our government at work.

    I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is an elected official (Republican) and a Bush supporter (though rapidly running out of patience) and asked if this sort of thing wasn’t odd under an administration that is supposedly friendly toward gun owners. After all, smart bureaucrats take their direction from the top, and a high-handed BATFE was something that we expected to see from Bubba Clinton, not from W.

    His answer surprised me.

    “There’s a lot of that,” he said. “Not only the BATFE, but the Fish & Wildlife Service is refusing to grant CITES permits without giving a reason, and often in contradiction of their local offices. They’re screwing the hunters, too.”

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Because Bush isn’t watching the store. He’s so preoccupied with Iraq that these guys are running amok and no one’s stopping them.”

    Just one more bit of good news to pass along. I’d be interested if anyone else out there knows anything about this.

  • November 17, 2006

    Why its OK to Be Outmoded

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    I might as well admit it. I use a Swarovski spotting scope that is one generation outmoded. It is not the latest Swarovski, because although the folks up there in Cranston, RI, were nice enough to loan me one, they wanted it back.

    When the shooters at my range see that I am using outmoded equipment, they are so embarrassed that many will not meet my eye, and some simply shrug sadly and turn away.

    But I am not ashamed, because I know better. The truth is that when you spend the money for a Swarovski scope, or any other hyper-expensive, top of the line optical instrument, it will never really be outmoded. The things are so good that they will make you happy for the rest of your natural life. Unless, of course, you are a pretentious equipment freak.

    Years ago at the SHOT Show, I got in an argument with a German engineer who worked for L***a, about why their binoculars weigh so much. Because, he pointed out, they build them strong enough to last for a long, long time.

    But, I pointed out, binoculars are improving so rapidly that they’re outmoded in half a decade. Why go to all the trouble?

    Because if we did not, he said, filled with Teutonic fervor, they would not be L****s.

    I rest my case.

  • November 15, 2006

    An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    A century or so ago, when I was a baby editor, the magazine for which I worked received a news release from an inventor who had devised a simple system for getting Mr. Happy clear of heavy hunting pants and longjohns. He pointed out that if your member had shriveled to an inch and you had to extend it past 2 inches of clothing, you were in a world of trouble. His idea, and the product, made sense, mostly. But the project never went anywhere…as it were.

    Now we have a similar proposal in the form of a product called Seasonshot. Its developers describe it as seasoning bound together by some sort of edible bonding agent and formed into shot pellets. So when you shoot a bird, you no longer have to worry either about seasoning or about chomping down on shot pellets and fracturing your fangs. Just pop the critter in the oven; the Seasonshot then melt as the bird cooks, suffusing the meat with whatever flavor you have chosen.

    The Seasonshot folks are a little vague about sizes, patterning, flavors, legality, etc., but it’s a proposal so sensible that it’s bound to succeed. Next: Barbecue-flavored bullets for shooting deer in the ribs? It’s a great world we live in.

  • November 14, 2006

    Take The Gun Nut Challenge

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    Editors Note: We think it's a safe bet that few people in this world know as much about guns, bullets, and shooting as our rifles columnist, Deputy Editor David E. Petzal. After all, he's covered the subject in our magazine for decades. But maybe you think you're a better man for the job? Then prove it, by taking his 20 question quiz.

    After answering each question you'll be able to see the percentage of quiz-takers that got the question right, as well as the number of people who've answered the question so far. And, of course, you'll find your score.

    Click here to begin.. And good luck.

  • November 8, 2006

    A Bold Political Forecast

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    Well, the election results are in and the Republicans have taken it on the ear. The House is firmly Democratic, and the best the GOP can hope for in the Senate is a tie. For a while, at least until mid-January, we are going to hear the obligatory noises about cooperation, reaching across the aisle, and working together. And if any of that stuff has a chance of actually happening, then I am Nicolette Sheridan.

    No, the next two years are going to be about payback. Old scores are going to be settled. Dubya is going to wish he was interned at Gitmo. And among the things you can expect to see are some really onerous gun-control bills.

    Whoa, you say. Haven’t the Democrats learned that backing gun control is bad for political longevity? Why yes, says I, but they don’t care. They have to do it. It’s in their genes. It’s been so long since the Democratic liberals have tried to pass a really stupid, futile piece of firearms legislation that they’ll fight to get their names on the very first one that comes along. It makes them feel good.

    And for you and me, the word to remember is the acronym BOHICA:

    “Bend over, here it comes again.”

  • November 8, 2006

    Why Rifle Makers Go Gray

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    Here’s another little jewel that came over the Internet, and it shows what happened when some hunyak neglected to remove his bore sighter before pulling the trigger. Neat split, huh?


    A friend of mine who lacks my nearly limitless wisdom asked why, in such cases, the obstruction isn’t simply blown out of the bore. That’s because pressure builds so quickly that the barrel is at the limits of its strength and beyond before the pesky collimator can be blown clear.

    I don’t know if the owner of the rifle was hurt or not. Maybe he just had the hell scared out of him. But I do know of one case, years ago, where the consequences of a plugged bore were dire. A range officer whom I knew got a surplus P-17 Enfield service rifle, a .30/06, and shot it for the first time with some handloads a friend gave him. The action came apart, and the ejector took out his right eye. In order to save the other eye, the doctors had to give him massive doses of cortisone, which destroyed the lining of both hip sockets. And so this poor man is now on crutches, with one eye.

    No one knows precisely why the gun blew. The barrel may have been clogged with Cosmoline, or the handload may have been too hot, or both; it really doesn’t matter. The point is that if you are not careful, things can get out of hand in less than a heartbeat—and the results will be permanent.




  • November 6, 2006

    Why Pennsylvania Hunters Can’t Shoot

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    There are two reasons I have a song in my heart and a spring in my step this morning. First, I don’t have to fly anywhere for 9 weeks. Second, on the way to work, I saw a non-functioning Bentley about to be lifted aboard a flat truck. A quarter of a million dollars worth of automobile broken down at the side of the road, with Fords and Toyotas zipping by. Wonderful.

    But I digress. I have nothing against Pennsylvania hunters. I know a number of very capable ones, and we have three right here in the office who know what they’re doing. But for years, whenever I hunted in Wyoming, I’d hear stories about Pennsylvania hunters—guys who came out where the coyote howls and the wind blows free dressed in checkered red and black wool, carrying a .30/06 autoloader. And, of course, they couldn’t shoot worth a damn.

    So I let it go at that. Pennsylvanians don’t do well in Wyoming. However, this past week, I was hunting in South Carolina, and heard exactly the same thing. One evening, as a dozen Secessionists and a couple of misplaced Yankees gathered around a fire to watch deer being weighed and skinned, one of the Confederates said:

    “Y’all heah ‘bout the Pennsylvania hunter?”

    And everyone smiled, because they knew what was coming.

    Apparently, in this particular plantation, one hunter missed a record number of shots at deer, and another blew a dead-easy shot at the local LEGENDARY MONSTER BUCK who was standing in an open field, 60 yards away, broadside, looking at him. Both people were from Pennsylvania.

    And what I want to know is, how far does this go? Are there Pennsylvania hunter stories in Kansas? Oregon? San Francisco? Well, no, not San Francisco. Is Hillary involved somehow? Is there a coverup? Who knows?

  • November 1, 2006

    A Call to Action

    By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

    This is addressed to Mss. Brady, Pelosi, Clinton, and Mssrs. Schumer, Waxman, Bloomberg, and all those who wish to rid our country of illegal guns that are killing American citizens. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a real job for you.

    It turns out that the foremost American supplier of illegal guns is—the Pentagon! Since 2003, our military has been sending small arms to equip what we optimistically call the Iraqi Army and police, but since the program began, 14,030 of these weapons have gone missing. And these are not deer rifles we’re talking about; the actual numbers are 13,180 pistols, 751 assault rifles (ooops, I meant to say “powerful” assault rifles), and 99 machine guns.

    It gets better. Of the 30,251 firearms shipped, the military has bothered to record the serial numbers of fewer than 3 percent, so there’s almost no way to trace what’s gone.

    And what are these missing firearms being used for? Not deer hunting or target shooting or even robbery. They are being used to kill Americans. And so I call upon the forces of gun control to do the right thing: We need lawsuits, investigations, raids by the BATFE and scathing public condemnations of…the American military. I would give a year’s pay to see the guys and gals in the BATFE jackets go crashing into the Pentagon and demanding to see their books.

    The hour is upon us. The ball is in your court. Now is the time to act. The guilty must be punished.