Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In General, Really REALLY Cold!

Yeah, winter has a way of doing that to you. It has been slate gray and bitter cold, -3 degrees F, here at SHBII, and that means generator time. All in all, we're pretty pleased with the Generac EcoGen 6KW gennie. It doesn't exactly sip propane, but based on my own research no propane generator does. Generac now makes larger 15KW EcoGen generator, but I simply don't see the advantages. We're not running the house the house off the gennie…it's job is to recharge the batteries. A 1-hour run on the generator brings the batteries up to a charge that, under a light load, lasts between 8-10 hours.

In an ideal world (e.g., I win the lottery), I'd like to have a second generator, this one a diesel based on the slow-speed Lister engine, sort of like this.

Of course, what we're finding out now is that those expensive "options" on various systems that my Sweetie and I thought we could save a little money on come back to bite us in our collective butts. For example, a computerized monitoring system for the deep well…we thought, c'mon, you're just trying to separate us from what little money we have left! Wrong…when you have limited electricity, you must monitor everything…especially things you can't see, like a well pump.

We built a pretty bullet-proof water system, and not because we wanted to. The deep well, at 800 feet about 10 minutes from China, is low yield, even after fracking. So we decided to have the well feed 2 1250-gallon cisterns in the crawl space under the bunker, where the temperature is always above freezing. Water is drawn from Cistern A and pressurized, with Cistern B serving as a reserve. The pump and its depth in the well were chosen after consultation with both a groundwater specialist ("This guy knows everything about water in Colorado!" we were told…and he does) and a well service that has a lot of experience off-grid — most of the state is ranch land, and people who service the ranches have a lot of experience with wells in remote locations. Essentially, those experts helped us tailor the well for our usage and electrical system.

Because we don't use a lot of water and all appliances are low-water-use, the system works perfectly…but it could be ever more perfecter! For example (and take notes if you're doing this yourself), the ability to monitor/control the well so that it only kicks on during daylight hours, when the PV panels are pumping out the juice. Since right now we're running off a simple float switch, an untoward toilet flush in the middle of the night can be enough to trigger the well pump to replenish the cistern…which is hell on the batteries.

We're also going to be switching out the various other pumps, which are now pretty much the same jet pumps you'd buy at the hardware store, with ultrahigh efficiency pumps specifically designed for off-grid use...the difference is usually start-up "surge" voltage. If you're on the grid, you rarely — if ever — think about start-up surge, the fact that it takes more power for an electrical device when it starts up as opposed to when it's running. Start-ups hit the batteries darn hard, so when the compressor pumps kick on in the middle of the night, it's an issue.

So anyway, that's what I'm thinking about as the temperature crawls upward toward zero.

On other topics, here's a must-read piece from Variety (of all places) with an interview with sci-fi author David Brin. He famously wrote The Postman, a book I loved, that was fed into the Kevin Costner trash compactor (okay...I watched it again recently, and it wasn't as hellishly awful as I remembered...not compared to anything with Melissa McCarthy in it).  But Brin's also know for his non-fiction work, The Transparent Society...here's a bit from the Variety piece:
The first lesson for everyone out of the recent attack on Sony, Brin says, is “Never absolutely count on anything being secret. Always act as if there’s a chance what you’re doing will be revealed.” He says that when he meets with government agencies, as science fiction writers and futurists are sometimes asked to do, he tells them: “In the short term you can protect your secrets. Tactical secrecy is perfectly reasonable, either by governments or corporations. But if you count on anything staying secret for more than ten years, that’s delusional on the border of psychosis.”
Things to think about — the camera is always watching!

I got a notice from Laura Burgess that IWI is going to be showing the Uzi PRO 9mm pistol and it's Sig-braced brother, the Uzu PRO Pistol SB, will be rolled out at SHOT in a few weeks. This from the presser:
The custom adaptation of the Stabilizing Brace to the UZI PRO SB takes the application of large frame pistol control and stabilization to a new level. With the IWI brace’s unique side-folding feature, the UZI PRO SB can be fired with or without the brace extended depending on the shooters need. With the brace in the folded position, storage space required in your safe or range bag is minimized.
Tell me it's not cool!

Given the FLOOD of interest in 9mm carbines and (braced) 9mm pistols — to wit, the Sig Sauer MPX, CZ Scorpion Evo, the 9mm AR variants for Colt and Glock magazines, etc. — this gun is a rocket. I've shot the Uzi PRO submachine gun, and it is unequivocally the best tiny buzz gun I've ever fired. Period! Including my original favorites, the origin .32 ACP Czech Skorpion vz. 61 and the Micro UZI, the direct predecessor of the Uzi PRO. And yes, I shot a magazine of .32s from the Skorpion with the little wire stock on my chin...you'd do it, too!

I ordered one today, because...FREEDOM!

I do have a larger question on the whole concept of braced handguns and where that's going. This article from Shooting Sports Retailer just before Christmas suggests that BATFE is trying to "walk back" their approval of the Sig SG-15 brace and its imitators:
In a response to Martin Ewer who submitted his design for the “Blade” AR Pistol Stabilizer, the Firearms Technology Branch told Ewer the Blade would not change the classification of the pistol to an NFA “firearm” as long as it “was used as originally designed and not as a shoulder stock.”
But the letter to Ewer seems to indicate the ATF plans to make certain uses of pistol stabilizing braces illegal, forecasting a tough fight for gun rights proponents and a major shock to an industry revolutionized by the SB15 brace.
That would be a major shock. I am at a loss to understand how use can change category. That is a very nasty swamp to wade into! The fundamental problem is that the SBR/SBS rules are simply nonsensical in the first place. As we all know (I think), the original 1934 Firearms Act was going to control all handguns as well as full auto guns. My understanding is that the concept of "short-barreled rifle" and "short barreled shotguns," that is, long guns that were concealable, were added almost as an afterthought. The thinking (insofar as anyone in the government actually thinks) was that with all handguns controlled through the same taxing system as machine guns, regulators wanted to lump in other concealable weapons. 

When it became obvious that there was no political way to push the Firearm Act through with handguns included, pistols and revolvers were stripped out of the Act. SBR/SBS, however, remained in place. The definitions of a "short-barreled" anything were purely arbitrary (you can find the definitions here). There was nothing magical about the 16-inch limitation on rifle barrels of the 18-inch barrel length on shotguns (or the 26-inch overall length) — both rifles and shotguns had been routinely cataloged with shorter barrels and shorter overall lengths.

Changing firearms technology and modern modular weapons systems have rendered the entire SBR/SBS/AOW system both untenable and,  as I said earlier, nonsensical. Tell me with a straight face that my totally legal, imminently concealable Ruger Alaskan .454 is "less lethal" than a short-barreled .22 rifle. A vertical foregrip on an AR pistol makes it an illegal weapon (without the Stamp, of course) but a MagPul hand stop is a handy accessory? A shotgun must have an 18-inch barrel unless you add first a bird's head pistol grip to a smoothbore pistol that has never had a stock attached, like the Mossberg, then add 14-inch barrel, which brings the overall length to more than 26 inches, thus changing what is apparently a shotgun into a "firearm," now not an NFA controlled weapon.

Also remember that in the Supreme Court "Miller" case, repeatedly cited as a validation that the 1934 Act did not trample on the Second Amendment, hinged on the idea that Miller's short-barreled shotgun was not a weapon in common use by the military (not true, but hey). How does that argument apply today with the standard issue U.S. military rifle has a 14-inch barrel?

So the Sig brace threw a massive steaming turd in Ye Old Punchbowl, and we still have no idea how it's going to settle out. In truth, the necessary (with exceptions, e.g. the Rock River piston gun) buffer tube on AR pistols allow the gun to be shouldered if necessary. I refer you to this excellent article by Gabe Suarez.

I have no idea how this is going to play out. I know how it should play out — SBR/SBS should be removed from the NFA (preferably at the same time suppressors mov ed down to AOW or are removed as well). The likelihood of that actually happening is somewhere between "nil" and "nonexistent."


clark myers said...

Seem to recall you bought yourself an IWI Tavor in some configuration lately. Is there anyplace posted how you configured the piece you bought?

Might be that pistols as the legal variation on SBR won't be as nice next year as this year.

Michael Bane said...

This one:


I added the following:

Lucid Red Dot Sight

Gear Head Works Razorback Rail

Geissele Triggers Super Sabra Trigger

Not sure where I got the single point sling, but that's what I use.

One HECK of a rifle!!! I love the Tavor. I'd love an X-95 more, but you get what you can get…


nj larry said...

I don't get it. Here we are years after Heller. Yet I haven't read a single coherent treatment of how we unwind ourselves from all this gun control crap. Is there a united team on our side or just a bunch of lawyers going after what they want? I mean even Gura or Koppel don't say "hey here are points 1thru 12 of regulations that make no sense and we will work on repealing with legislatures and Congess or challenge in court." I sure don't hear any Reps or Senators on the Fderal level saying ANYTHING about repealing stupid gun laws or regulations. Oh well maybe next year!

Michael Bane said...


I agree with you 100%!!!!!!

Look at this last election. We turned out for the damned Republicans, and have you heard ONE SINGLE WORD about gun rights???? NOT ONE WORD!

We are the crazy uncles and aunts in the closet, and this needs to end.

We HAVE an agenda:

1) CCW national reciprocity…PERIOD! Long past due. Hell, even Harry Reid thinks it's a good idea...
2) Gun Owner protection — no more felonies for entering a state that is not part of America…worst case a ticket and a minor fine ($500 or less)...
3) NFA Overhaul — suppressors to the $5 transfer AOW list; SBS/SBR completely off the list…no more felonies for not understanding a byzantine, obtuse law!
4) Nationwide Castle Doctrine…

We gotta stand!


Joe said...

Michael, have you looked into perhaps putting a timer on the circuit for your well pump so it disconnected during certain hours of the day (i.e. night)?

Home on the Range said...

Stay safe and warm Michael - going to hit the range this weekend with a new 1911 and try and shoot glove free to get some practice in with cold hands.

Michael Bane said...

Brigid…congrats on new 1911! My Sweetie got a new STI 9mm 2011 to further her 3-Gun career. Bitterly cold here..about -10 or so…off-grid system struggling, but will be okay…winter is hard, to be sure. Hoping I don't strangle Newt before she grows out of Puppyhood!!!Although, as they say, puppyhood last forever…and not long enough. Our thoughts and prayer are with you this holiday season…stay warm…


Unknown said...

How many HP is your well water pump?

Publicola said...

-10? Pffft. You see, most blokes, you know, will be freezing at negative ten. You're on negative ten there, all the way down, all the way down, all the way down, you're on negative ten on your thermometer. Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere. Exactly. What we do, if we need that extra push into hypothermia, you know what we do? Pull it down to negative eleven. :) (well someone had to rip Nigel off, best you heard it coming from me)

But nj larry - you make the mistake of assuming we're all on the same team & have the same goals. We ain't & we don't. That's why there isn't any big talk from the republicans or folks we consider the upper echelon of the pro gunowner community, calling for repeal of anything. They're comfy with some level of gunowner control. They like it. Hell, mention "Right to carry" & half of those suckers start talking about supporting Shall Issue permits! (It's a Right, what the hell does a permit have to do with it? lol). We can all fall into that trap by thinking that X is impossible, therefore we have to settle for W. As an example, take Mr. Bane's list...

CCW reciprocity should be a simple repeal of all prohibitions on carrying without a license.

Gun owner protection should be ending the prohibited persons list & the absurdities (& danger) it creates. Owning & possessing weapons is a Right & not subject to being on or off any government created list, or paying a tax, or bowing down to the state for permission.

In short the first 2 can be taken care of by asserting that no one should be punished, arrested, charged a fee or even discouraged merely for owning or possessing a weapon.

NFA overhaul should be NFA repeal, in line with the assertion above.

Nationwide castle doctrine (& stand your ground while we're at it) should be the default, if we assert that there is a Right to self defense.

Now I'm sure Mr. Bane agrees with me on all those points, but doesn't see them as being achievable at the moment. Perhaps they're not & I'd argue that's why we have to shout for them louder than we have been.

Point is though, most Republicans & quite a few allegedly pro-gun folks would balk if you suggested anything too radical, like not requiring permits or background checks. Remember, incrementalism works for the other side because government naturally wants us disarmed, so few if any members of government want to take away governments ability to disarm the undesirables when they feel it's time to disarm them.

Hell, even Heller was flawed in that way, as Guru didn't push for anything absolute & Scalia took that as a way to keep the door open on some types of gun owner control.

But all this is perhaps too involved, or I'm just too verbose, for a comment on a blog. Bottom line is that we're not all working towards the same goals, which is why some of the folks you look too are disappointing ya.

How to get them on board with what we want... well that's an interesting question & I wish I had a more concrete answer other than just reminding them a Right and a permit are two different things.

Publicola said...

Oh & Michael - that Uzi Pro does look interesting. Does it come in 10mm? :D

Will said...


What do you see as advantages of the Micro Uzis vs the Glock 18? It's been some years now since I fired both on the same day. My take on them was the Uzi would be good, if the Glock didn't exist. BTW, that was the original Mod 18, no porting.

The Beretta 93R would have been ok, if not for that stupid folding handle under the dust cover. Whoever came up with that should have been taken behind the woodshed! That took it right out of the Glock's class.

clark myers said...

FWIW I have a Tavor coming - rationalized for gym bag carry after CharlieHebdo.

I nearly said expletive deleted and gave up on the process when invited to pay for the magazines which the distributor would keep. I had thought maybe the local FFL could strip the magazines out and mail them out of state but no and the source said no discount for keeping them and added not sure they wanted the business anyway with the hassle may just embargo Colorado at least for some purposes. I think I worked things out by ordering additional non FFL items for shipment to a free state I pay for that shipment and the normal capacity magazines go along while just the Tavor goes to my LGS "survival and protection gear to prepare for life's unexpected surprises" nice people.

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