Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home Again Home Again Jiggity-Jig

Here's a shocker…my feet don't hurt! I would happily do commercials for Lowa Boots — I alternated between my two pair of Lowas, a GTX and a pair of the Desert Boots favored by U.S. Special Forces and the boot I used in Africa. So there's an unsolicited plug for a non-sponsor!

I would have loved to sit down with the execs at Lowa and waxed poetic, but this year at SHOT I achieved my own unfortunate "personal best"…except for transit to or between appointments, I did not set one foot on the Show floor. And I still did not management to speak to all the people I needed to sit down with. Or, more grammatically, with whom I wished to sit. Like Lowa, or Crimson Trace, or DoubleStar, etc. Sigh.

I do have some bullet points from SHOT 2015. Let's start with what I was right about…

Pistol caliber carbines were everywhere. Marshal and I pretty much hit this nail on the head. Both the  massive flood of AR-based carbines and various subsets of submachine guns were everywhere, and the buyer I'm gonna venture a few guesses on "why" — availability of low-cost East Bloc 9mm ammunition vs. 5.56 prices…the minimized blast of 9mm and the other pistol cartridges from 16-inch barrels as opposed to 5.56…and most importantly, the sheer "cool factor" of these guns. I would expect a lot of 3-Gunners to pick up one of the relatively inexpensive Stag 9T as a great practice rifle.

Pistol variants were perhaps a spec less visible than Marshal and I anticipated, probably because of fallout from the ATF's nonsensical "Open Letter" released in the Friday before SHOT. There were still a huge number of them, many, if not most, fitted with stabilizing braces, but they were less front and center than they would have been if that giant turd hadn't dropped on Friday.

I had a chance at Media Day to sit down for a few minutes with my good friend Mike McNett at DoubleTap Ammunition. I outlined my idea for a 9mm round optimized for 16-inch barrels. We disused several options, including his 77-gr pill going very fast and a heavy 147-gr bullet. McNett is going to start work on both a target and a self-defense version right away. I'm also going to have the same conversation with Peter Pi and Mike Shovel at Corbon as soon as I can. I want to get carbine-optimized pistol ammo on the shelves as soon as possible so the little guns can live up to their potential.

The "commoditization" of the AR platform is now complete…that is, new AR accessories, mods, versions, etc. are no longer about function, but rather the exclusive province of fashion. My mentor in manufacturing Dave Garwood once said to me that all industries, if they succeed, eventually evolve to fashion…I, of course, thought he was nuts. Upon reflection, it turned out that he was exactly right. I could go into a long dissertation about product development "S Curves,"how innovation in form and function takes place on the steep upward gradient of the curve while, at the almost horizontal line at the top of the curve charges tend toward fashion changes…but you'd probably fall asleep. Instead, think about AR triggers — when we first mod'ed them on SHOOTING GALLERY's first season 13 years ago, we did it exactly the same way we did 1911s…with stones on the original military triggers (which sucked). That evolved into jogs to make the stoning easier...drop in triggers...specialty, highly evolved drop-in triggers…colored, even more specialty triggers…etc. Maybe the ultimate vision of the fashion AR are the Unique AR hand guards.

BTW, during my frantic 10-minutes-until-closing-time Friday afternoon sprint to the finish, I made myself late by stopping by the Geissele Automatics booth to tell them that I pay MSRP for Geissele triggers because I believe they are the best out there. They asked me whether they could publicize I'd said that, and I of course said yes. I also ordered an ALG red dot mount, another Geissele-derived product, for my Glock 34…yes, I have finally decided to go "Open!" I also ordered an Aimpoint T2 on the fly for that mount. And yes, I agreed to pay MSRP! LOL!



Silencers hit the tipping point Big Time. My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that even the Boy Scouts of Maine are considering a pilot program of using suppressor on their firearm training program. There are now three massive "Poles of Power" in the suppressor industry…the Old Guard, including Gemtech, SureFire and several others…the new powerhouse of SilencerCo (best booth at SHOT 2015, BTW), whose Salvo shotgun suppressor and focus on suppressors for hunting is helping reshape the industry…and the emerging world-shaker of Sig Sauer Suppressors, introduced to the world at SHOT 2015 and powered by the intellectual team of my old friends Kevin Brittingham, Ethan Lessard and John Hollister, all formerly of AAC (Ethan worked at Sig before we went to AAC…and the world goes round and round). I'll be headed up to Sig in New Hampshire in April to go through the product line, including suppressors.

The key point is that all the silencer guys, new and old, are united in the push to move these fundamental safety devices off the $200 tax stamp to ether the AOW $5 stamp or off the NFA list completely — which is the logical, most intelligent outcome. I am more convinced than ever that the ATF's "Open Letter" will price to be a major misstep for that agency, shining the light on the inadequacies — and the often ridiculous — provisions of the NFA. It is not impossible that silencers will be one of the beneficiaries of shiny some light on the outmoded piece of panic legislation.

Finally, I bought this:

MasterPiece Arms Bolt Action Rifle in 6.5 Creedmore. I can't wait!!!


nj larry said...

With all the gear you you buy/test I suspect that you have gone from using a safe or two or three to a dedicated safe room with vault door in the SHB 2. LOL

Overload in Colorado said...

There are many different shoes that Lowa adds GTX to. I'm assuming you wore a pair of Renegade GTX, as that seems to be their most popular hiking shoe.

I assume with the pistol-carbine ammo, it would use a slower burning powder to take advantage of the longer barrel to go faster without exceeding max pressure?

Wasn't 6.5 Creedmore one of the larger caliber AR challengers? Or am I thinking of 6.5 Grendel?

Michael Bane said...

Larry…LOL!!! Hell, I don;t know any other way to really learn a gun than to buy one and shoot it a bunch over a long period of time, That's why I talk about "first impressions" rather than my official review. I was actually going to build a vault room at the new SHB, but…guess what?

Overload, these guys:

I've used them in heavy snow for 2 winters and my feet have never gotten wet…can't say the same thing about a pair of "waterproof" Columbias I had.

The 6.5 Grendel was the AR Next Best Thing. The 6.5 Creedmore was developed by Hornady a while back as a competition cartridge…sort of a shorter 6.5 X 55. It's very flat shooting and a sweetheart on recoil. Here's a RIFLE SHOOTER article:

Creedmore…Creedmore…you say potato…


Michael Bane said...

Oh yeah, McNett and I ARE talking about a slower buying powder on the 9mm carbine round….


Michael Bane said...


I'm still really tired!


Sheepog1968 said...

Thanks Michael. Speaking of fashion, I think the rise of pistol caliber ARs is just a cycling of the major options. I think for self defense and law enforcement we basically have three major platforms semi auto rifles in rifle caliber, semiauto rifles in pistol caliber, and shotguns. It looks like bell bottoms, I mean semi auto rifles ala MP5 are coming back into style. What are your thoughts?

Completely unrelated, on SG at big bore challenge you had an individual who had over 20,000 rounds through his 45-70 Marlin 1895. Did you get a chance to talk to hime what kind of maintenance he's had to do? It's not often you run into individuals with that kind of round count in a big boomer lever action.

Michael Bane said...

Sheep..he replaced the original barrel at 12K rounds…he thinks the aftermarket barrel he is now using will be good for more than that. Obviously, the small parts have been replaced, mostly with Wild West replacements.

He has meticulous records, BTW…probably 90+ percent of his rounds are handloads with very hard cast lead bullets.


Sheepdog1968 said...

Thanks Michael. An episode that I would love to see on SG would be high mileage firearms and what folks have and haven't had to do for rifles pistols shotguns. As you visit places for other episodes I could see interviewing folks who have this info. It comes up so often on the internet it would be very nice to have a definitive piece on this. I know Sig has seen at least one customer pistol with 100,000 rounds. Scott Reitz actually had one of his. 870 shotguns wore out. John Jardine estimates a well made 1911 that has parts that aren't fighting each other should last 1,000,000 rounds. I am drawing a blank but one well known firearms author published an article on a glock that had I think 175k rounds through it.

Loui Awerbuck had 500,000 miles on his pickup before he passed. I definately picked his mind a bit. He did oil changes religiously at 3,000 miles. It was what his dad did. He was big on preventative maintenance when I problem started to appear. He changed the motor around 400,000 and still was using the original rear end.

Marshall N said...

If your Lowas are out of stock, I've been very happy with my Keen Voyager mid sized hikers. I average wearing them three days a weeks in a wood working shop and 12 hour days are no problem for comfort. I particularly like the full toe covering as I tend to run into stuff and it keep the boot usable longer.
Thanks for the introduction to the Lowa boot.

Anonymous said...

Given the political landscape, I don't think the NFA community is large enough yet to make a total repeal of the NFA a realistic short-term goal.

It's all about building a large enough constituency, which means increasing the percentage of the overall population that owns NFA items, while also growing the percentage that owns firearms.

To that end, while deregulating gun mufflers may be feasible in the short term, I firmly believe that it would be counter-productive in the long run: The only way we can successfully challenge the NFA politically is to have enough gun owners who have gone through the process to buy an NFA item. As it stands, suppressors are the gateway drug to the NFA world.

As it stands, I think we'd be far better off in the long run if our short-term strategy was a reduction in tax payment on suppressors, along with replacing the 80 year old mail-in background check system with a simple NICS check (thus eliminating the need for pictures/fingerprints/CLEO signoff, and the nonsensical 4-8 month wait). There's no reason why these shouldn't be over-the-counter at this point.


Anonymous said...

I'm big fan of the Keen boots too. Seem to fit my feet a bit better than the Lowas.

I wandered a lot of the SHOT floor and while there were some pistol caliber carbines, the big trend seemed to be dots-on-pistols to me.

Suppressors are cash-and-carry in so much of the world that they should get out from under NFA but I'm not seeing that happen anytime soon. Cui Bono from the political side?

Ryan said...

Maybe I missed it but what were your thoughts on the Sig 220 10mm? This is one that I will probably pick up.