AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

Properly Understanding The Concept Of Risk And Gun Carry

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 5 days ago

Tom Nichols writing at L.A. Times:

Every disaster brings out human irrationality. When there’s a plane crash, we fear flying; when a rare disease emerges, we fear we will be infected. And when there’s a mass shooting in a church, we think we should bring more guns into churches. Or at least some people think so. This is a completely irrational response to the tragedy in Texas this week, but it’s being pushed by people for whom “more guns” is always the right answer to gun violence.

Sometimes, “more guns” is in fact the right answer. I am a conservative and a defender of the 2nd Amendment right to own weapons, and there are no doubt cases in which citizens who live and work in dangerous areas can make themselves safer through responsible gun ownership.

Packing in church, however, is not one of those cases. Despite wall-to-wall media coverage, mass shooting incidents are extremely rare: You are highly unlikely to die in one. Besides, civilians who think they’re going to be saviors at the next church shooting are more likely to get in the way of trained law enforcement personnel than they are to be of any help as a backup posse.

The “guns everywhere” reaction exposes two of the most pernicious maladies in modern America that undermine the making of sensible laws and policies: narcissism, and a general incompetence in assessing risk.

[ … ]

But even most well-intentioned people have no real sense of risk. They are plagued by the problem of “innumeracy,” as the mathematician John Allen Paulos memorably called it, which causes them to ignore or misunderstand statistical probabilities. They fear things like nuclear meltdowns and terrorist attacks and yet have no compunctions about texting while driving, engaging in risky sex, or, for that matter, jumping into swimming pools (which have killed a lot more people than terrorists).

[ … ]

Every action we take to protect ourselves involves some assessment of risk, and the uncomfortable truth is that there is very little people can do to prevent an attack from a lunatic or a terrorist. The good news is that most people — in fact, nearly everyone reading this right now — will never have to deal with those problems.

The desire to bring guns to churches is not about rights, but about risk. You have the right to carry a gun. But should you? If the main reason you’re holstering up in the morning is because it’s a family tradition where you live, or because you have a particular need to do so, or merely because you feel better with a gun, that is your right. But if you are doing so because you think you’re in danger from the next mass shooting, then you should ask yourself whether you’re nearly as capable, trained and judicious as you think you are — and why you are spending your days, including your day of worship — obsessing over one of the least likely things that could happen to you.

Incompetency in assessing risk is something displayed in the very article Nichols wrote, but more on that in a minute.

It’s amusing and even sad that he brought up the shooting in Walmart in Denver.  We’ve already discussed that, and in no way, shape or form did anyone interfere with anything except causing the need for the police to watch a few additional hours of video.  It’s as ridiculous to say that self defense is interfering as it was to say that the open carrier during the Dallas shooting caused police response to be delayed or impeded.  It did no such thing, as the Dallas Police Department chased the actual perpetrator until the end.  No one on scene was confused or misdirected – it was only cops watching videos hours after the event who were temporarily confused, and that was their own fault, not that of the open carrier.

Now back to the issue of risk.  Nichols conflates the concept of probability and risk.  They most certainly are not the same thing.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission explains risk as a product of probability and consequences, and this is usually determined using fault trees and Boolean Logic.  Sophomoric explanations where the likelihood of occurrence of an event is equated with risk are not helpful, and certainly don’t rise to the level of good engineering.

Similarly, the food and agricultural industries use the same model for risk.  Risk is the product of probability and consequences.  An event can be a high likelihood and yet low consequences, and involve moderate to high risk, depending upon the magnitude of the consequences.  An event can involve low likelihood and low consequences, and thus low risk.  See the risk matrix linked above.

In my line of work, we have argued upon being backfitted or told to implement some set of modifications that the risk is low.  When we argue in this manner we’ve always done our homework to substantiate those claims.  At times we’re told to implement those modifications anyway because of public perception.  But we never implement modifications without informing everyone of the cost.  For example, “Implementing that set of modifications and backfits will cost $600 million.”  Since we don’t grow money on trees, someone will pay for all of it.  The cost doesn’t disappear – it will be borne by someone.

In the case Nichols discusses above, i.e., carrying a weapon to a worship service, it might have been moderately more compelling if he had argued that probability of the event is low, consequences are low, thus risk is low, and besides, the cost is extremely high (e.g., weapons cost $100,000 each).  You always assess risk in terms of cost because if everything is free then there is no practical limit to the reduction of risk.

In his case he has argued for nothing.  He has argued that he believes risk to be low (while conflating probability with risk), and thus carrying to worship is apparently a bad thing (while ignoring the high consequences of said event).  But he hasn’t assessed the cost of this choice.  For gun owners and carriers such as myself and many of my readers, there is minimal cost to this endeavor.  Allow me to convey my personal observations.

I hate carrying things on my body.  I don’t wear jewelry (rings, etc.), watches, or anything else that weighs me down.  I even hate to carry a phone in my pocket.  So when I made the decision to carry a number of years ago, it had to become a discipline or else it wouldn’t obtain.  I had to consciously practice and rehearse the rules of gun safety, look for good belt support and holsters, spend time at the range, and on and on the carousel goes.  Many readers can identify with my travails.

Over time it becomes habit such that conducting yourself in a safe and efficient manner becomes second nature.  Now let’s suppose that I spend my whole life attending worship services carrying a weapon and no such awful event ever occurs.  I hope this is indeed the case.  If so, then I have lost nothing.  The cost to me has been minimal (the cost of a good firearm), and the time spend developing self discipline.  On the other hand, I have been prepared for an event of unknown probability but high consequence, with at least moderate and perhaps high risk.

It makes perfect sense to conduct myself in this manner.  But the strained argument Nichols put forward offers no compelling reason to adopt his approach.  One gains absolutely nothing by following his counsel, and you stand to lose big due to moderate to high risk.

Nichols is a professor at the Naval War College.  This makes the third article within one week from persons within the defense apparatus – or loosely affiliated with the defense apparatus – taking a gun controller viewpoint.  First it was Adam Routh with CNAS hyperventilating about North Korea getting night vision equipment (so we needed to put it on the prohibited list for American civilians).

Next, Phillip Carter weighed in with this formal fallacy: (1) Pistols are ineffective against vehicular attacks, (2) Vehicular attacks is terrorism, therefore, (3) Pistols are ineffective against terrorism.  It’s almost as if someone makes the call to the next Kamikaze pilot: “You’re next.  It doesn’t matter how stupid you look or how bad your case is, it’s your turn to be the controller of the day.”

Who does this?  Everytown?  Former president Obama?  Who makes these calls, and how does this go down?  There must be some sort of outside pressure to do this sort of thing in order to go public with such a knuckleheaded commentary as this.

We may never know, but for the future, Mr. Nichols, research your concepts, be precise in your definitions, and be a critic of your own work before it goes out in order to find and fix its weaknesses.  Obviously, the editors aren’t going to do it.

Ms. Lindsey Graham On Bump Stocks

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 5 days ago


“Right now everyone’s in a holding pattern, because some people around here have hope that A.T.F. will bail us out,” said Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who has co-sponsored a bipartisan measure to ban bump stocks.

[ … ]

“If you believe that automatic weapons should be highly regulated and limited, then why would you be against banning a device that makes a gun an automatic weapon?” Mr. Graham said.

That’s the problem, Ms. Graham.  I don’t believe that “automatic weapons should be highly regulated and limited.”  I consider that an infringement and thus abdication of your sworn duties and obligations and malfeasance in your office.  Ma’am.

Details Of The Sutherland Springs, Texas, Church Shooting

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago


About 20 other people were wounded. Investigators collected at least 15 empty magazines that held 30 rounds each at the scene, suggesting the assailant fired at least 450 rounds.

Many more details emerge from this report and others.  It’s easy to second guess people in time of distress, and we certainly must feel sympathy for those poor people and keep them in our prayers.

But I simply don’t understand why some of the men of the church didn’t attack the shooter when he stopped to reload.  Were there men in the congregation or was it all women and children?

This shooter should have been met with the barrels of 50 pistols in his face the minute he walked in with a rifle.  Thankfully, a good man was on the outside and exchanged fire with him immediately outside the church as he was retrieving a pistol from his running vehicle to continue the carnage.

If you haven’t spent the time to watch and listen to all of this video, you should.  It will be the most important 30 minutes you’ll spend this month.  He said he believes that the “Holy Spirit was on him.”  I have no doubt that is true, and Steve Willeford was used by God to stop the carnage that awful morning.  Christians need to make sure this doesn’t happen again by waking from their national coma.

Lawmaker Suggest Banning Open Carry Of Rifles

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago

DALLAS – A gun-owning Texas Democrat said banning the open carry of long guns or military style rifles might prevent another mass shooting like what happened at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.

“If the gentlemen had not been allowed to carry this weapon openly, maybe somebody calls. Maybe as he’s gearing up and crossing the street from the Valero [gas station], maybe somebody calls and says ‘Hey there’s a guy with an AR 15 [rifle] crossing the street. Send help,” said State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass.

Well that’ll fix the problem, won’t it?  Sure, the shooter will stop at the local gas station, “gear up,” and make sure everyone sees him while he’s doing it, enabling a caller to notify the potential victims or the police.  I’m sure it’ll happen like that.

The Texas church shooter got out of his vehicle right at the church, left the vehicle running, and there was no indication that he was open carrying because no one was around to see and report it.  But hey, as long as we make yet another law that affects only law abiding citizens, we can claim that we’re making the public safer.

How To Make The Gun Industry Pay

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago


Imagine this: You’re in a church, or a school, or a concert, or a movie theater, and you hear gunshots. The next thing you know, you wake up in a hospital bed. You learn that you’re a survivor of a mass shooting, and that doctors spent hours removing bullets from your body. Soon, you’ll discover that the health care you’ve received so far will cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket, and that you’ve incurred injuries that will require pricey lifetime treatment. You then hear the details of the shooting. The gun that nearly killed you was an assault weapon marketed to civilians for its military-grade performance, it was designed to shoot many people in a brief amount of time, and its manufacturer supplied the weapon to a dealer notorious for selling firearms illegally.

Under centuries-old theories of liability, you should be allowed to sue both the manufacturer and the dealer for torts like negligence and public nuisance. You could then use that money to pay your medical bills. If you are hurt by a car or a prescription drug, after all, you are typically allowed to sue for damages. But thanks to a law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, you have no legal remedy if you are hurt by a gun.

The author is lying to you.  There is a great gulf between a lawsuit for negligent manufacturing of a structure, system or component and the malicious use of said component.  For example, someone can sue a drunk driver, a sleepy driver, or someone who hits you with a baseball bat in the head (if the state doesn’t prosecute you for a felony, the victim can sue in civil court for damages plus awards).  No one sues the manufacturer of a baseball bat because a person who buys it decides to hit someone else in the head.  That’s all this law is preventing, i.e., the misuse of tort law.

Of course, it’s no surprise that a write for Slate lies to make his point.  Hey, I also cited Phillip Carter when he wrote for Slate not too many days ago.  Hey Philip – how does it feel to have gone on record having written for a worthless rag like Slate?  Does it embarrass you?  Don’t you feel that you’re above that?

Interview With Stephen Willeford

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks ago

Via reader Richard Fuher.  Watch it all.  There are real men left in America.

Followup To S&W 686: The Performance Center Model

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks ago

After discussing the S&W 686 several days ago, the thought occurred to me that there must be a newer Performance Center 686.  Sure enough, there is.  This one is a beautiful firearm, unfluted cylinders, 7-round capacity, and an interesting speed release thumbpiece for the cylinder.  Let me know if any readers happen to have this model.  I find it very interesting.  I’ll also remark that this isn’t a bad price for a Performance Center gun.

Firearms,Guns Tags:

Kevin Drum At Mother Jones: We Should Ban All Semi-Automatic Firearms

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks ago

Mother Jones:

Atrios says that if lefties want to fire people up about gun control, they need to get more passionate about it:

To inspire hardcore single issue voters you have to take an absolutist stance on things. I’m not saying this is good politics….Still, there is literally no politician who goes on teevee and says, “the courts won’t allow it right now, but if it were up to me I’d put the well-regulated back in the 2nd amendment and make it extremely difficult for people to own most kinds of guns, and we should work long term to appoint judges who have a more reasonable view of what our constitution plainly says.” Is this good politics? Probably some places it is. Many places not. But lack of voter intensity on issues can be explained by lack of intensity on issues from politicians.

Actually, that still sounds too milquetoast to me. My campaign slogan is simple: Ban all automatic and semi-automatic weapons. That basically leaves revolvers, pump-action shotguns, and bolt-action rifles. I’d probably have a few regulations around those too, but not many.

So Kevin, I expect you to kick my door in tonight to grab my guns.  Oh, I see, you’re a coward and won’t show up here.  Just as I guessed, you want to send other armed men to do it.  This only proves that you don’t really believe in gun control for everybody, just some people.

As long as the right people have guns, you’re okay with that.  Just like Hitler.  As I’ve said many times before, the sons and daughters of hippies are controllers and statists.  They’ve become everything their mothers and fathers hated.  As they say, when you believe in nothing, you’ll believe in anything.

The British On The Texas Church Shooting

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks ago

The Guardian:

Another year, another church. Another month, another mass killing. Another day, another political shrug about gun massacres across the United States.

There is still some shock left in this uniquely American series of mass killings. And with that shock, maybe a small glimmer of hope that the silent majority of Americans might demand something more than prayers from their lawmakers.

Prayers, sadly, did not save 26 churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Just as they didn’t save nine lives at the Bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina, two years ago.

There’s still some shock left from the faces of the Texas death toll, which included a pregnant woman, a five-year-old child, and the pastor’s teenage daughter. But there was also shock at the toll inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME church, which included the pastor himself. And we have yet to process the shock of the carnage in Las Vegas, that left 58 country music fans dead just last month.

There’s also some shock left from the pathetic excuses for inaction that tumble out at times like this. This isn’t just a failure of leadership at the very top: members of Congress and statehouses on both sides of the aisle and across the country have proved themselves to be delusional cowards. Either they act like nothing can be done to stop gun violence, or they pretend guns make America safer.

Then there’s the special podium of delusional cowardice occupied by Donald Trump. “I think that mental health is your problem here,” he told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. “This was a very – based on preliminary reports – very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation.”

Let us all sigh for the souls whom we have yet to lose, in part because of this stupidity. Of course these are mental health issues. Of course we need to treat mental health like any other health challenge. Of course other countries have the same issues.

But other countries are not awash with guns. So it’s that much harder for people suffering from mental health issues to gun down large numbers of their fellow citizens in church, or at school, or at an open-air concert. Or take their own lives, which is by far the bigger killer with guns.

“Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction,” continued Trump, speaking without any factual basis, “otherwise it would have been – as bad as it was, it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

Yes, this is a mental health problem at the highest level. Just not the one you think it is, Mr President.

According to the local sheriff, the gunman was only confronted by an armed civilian once he emerged from the church, after the massacre was completed. The mass murderer died by killing himself.

So along with the victims, let’s please bury once and for all the storyline pushed so hard by the National Rifle Association, and echoed by Donald Trump. The only thing that stopped the bad guy with a gun was the bad guy with his own gun. The good guys were shot dead in their church pews.

So Mr. Wolffe, the only thing you manage to argue is for more armed congregants in the pews of American churches, and I am in wholehearted agreement with you.  It took a man with an AR-15 to stop the killer, and had congregants been armed like they should have been, he may not have even been successful at all.

As for your preening superiority, I’m not impressed.  This is said from the perch of a man who undoubtedly knew that a scandal was going on, and didn’t say anything at all.  And your own government – as well as the only armed people in your lousy country, the police – helped to cover it all up.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

My readers do, so you may as well admit it.  You let Pakistani nationals hold child slaves for their ring of prostitution under your own nose, and said and did nothing.  I’m talking about the Rotherham scandal, and you know it.  So spare me the morality play.  Go fix your own problems and leave us alone.

Shooting At First Baptist Church Of Sutherland Springs, Texas

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 1 day ago

By now you’ve heard of the horrible shooting at the small church in Texas.  Take careful note that the perpetrator was done in by an armed citizen.

Another local resident, Johnnie Langendorff, who had witnessed the gun battle, said both he and the unnamed neighbor had jumped in his truck and gave chase.

In a Facebook post, Langendorff’s girlfriend Summer Caddel described how the pair had ‘jumped in my boyfriend’s truck and they chased that sick b*****d down in pursuit until the cops could catch up. He was able to run the shooter off of the road on 539!’

Langendorff told ABC 12 that he’d been speeding at 95mph, while on the phone to dispatch, while the neighbor kept his rifle trained on the gunman’s car.

As they approached a sharp curve in the road, near the 307 and 539, he said Kelley appeared to lose control and his car swerved off the road.

‘That’s when I put the truck in park,’ he said. ‘The other gentleman jumped out, and had his rifle on him. He didn’t move after that.’

Within minutes of the reports of this hitting the air, I had two questions: (1) Why are the FBI and ATF involved, and (2) Why haven’t we heard of a motive?

There is this report discussing the shooter being a member of Antifa, and how according to his own words he intended to start a civil war by “targeting white conservative churches.”  If this report is true – and you likely won’t ever hear that in the MSM nor will the FBI or even local law enforcement ever tell you this – it would answer both of my questions.

But let’s assume for the moment that it’s not true.  It doesn’t matter why he did it for purposes of my point.  It could have been Antifa, Muslim fascists or a belligerent worker who had been fired.

I heard over the national news how some churches had even gotten “permission” to allow a concealed carrier into the facilities.  What?  Permission?  To carry a weapon for self defense?  Permission?

Listen to me, Christians everywhere.  I’ve harped on this and will continue to until Christians wake up.  If you don’t emerge from your slumber, you’ll be run over like a train hit you.  You’d better arm up and prepared to defend yourselves.  No matter what you have been taught, you are not safe in your places of worship.  Make it so.  Make it safe for yourselves, your families and your congregants.  God expects you to.  He demands it.

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