Archive for the 'Guns' Category

Interview with Reed Knight on Eugene Stoner and the AR-15

BY Herschel Smith
2 days, 3 hours ago

My regular readers know that in these parts, we speak the names of John Moses Browning and Eugene Stoner with hushed reverence.  As an engineer, I have a special appreciation for fine engineering as was performed by both of these men, as well as by Jim Sullivan.

There have been indications in the past that Eugene Stoner’s family was opposed to civilian ownership of the very weapon he designed and built.  This article points to that.

“Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47,” the Stoner family told NBC News late Wednesday. “He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.”

But their comments add unprecedented context to their father’s creation, shedding new light on his intentions and adding firepower to the effort to ban weapons like the AR-15. The comments could also bolster a groundbreaking new lawsuit, which argues that the weapon is a tool of war — never intended for civilians.

Eugene Stoner would have agreed, his family said.

Of course, this is supposition and hearsay, with his family attempting to leverage the reputation of their father for their own political ends.  But you see why nerves are sometimes a bit on edge when someone like Reed Knight speaks about these issues.  Reed knew him better than virtually anyone else and worked with him at KAC before Stoner passed away.

Along with (on the same day as) the shooting in Tennessee, no less than four hit pieces came out in the legacy media on the AR-15.  It’s not my intent to rehearse the details of the shooting (nor to tackle every hit piece).  That has been done elsewhere, from the rapid response of the police (versus in Uvalde), to the need to harden schools, and finally to the fact that she chose this school because it was a soft location whereas other potential targets had too much security.

My intention is to fisk one of the hit pieces from The Washington Post.  In this piece, Mr. Knight is quoted.

Eugene Stoner, a World War II veteran who invented the AR-15 in the late 1950s while working at Armalite, a small engineering firm in Hollywood, had no interest in civilians using his invention, said C. Reed Knight, who owns a Florida gunmaking company and considers Stoner his mentor.

“He looked at this thing as only for the military side of the house,” Knight said. Stoner, who died in 1997, thought his invention was past its prime by the mid-1990s, Knight said. He added that Stoner would have been horrified by the idea that “he invented the tool of all this carnage in the schools.”

I figured that this was a response to a very specific chronological question, and so I contacted Mr. Knight for clarification.  He graciously allowed me to spend some time with him over the telephone.  Since there is no transcript (I didn’t do this interview via email), I’ll try faithfully to reproduce some of the things he conveyed to me.  You’ll have to trust that I got it right.

First of all, Reed began a rundown of the history of Eugene’s work on the AR platform.  I knew all of this anyway, but it was nice to here Mr. Knight reminisce about his relationship and Eugene’s work.  He began in the late 1950s on the design.  It is of course correct to say that Eugene didn’t design the rifle for civilian use, since his work was targeted towards the military, and it was a military contract under which he worked.  He was paid to work on a rifle for the military.

There is a great gulf between saying that his work was done for, and financially supported by, the U.S. military, and asserting that civilians shouldn’t own the rifle, or that Eugene would have been opposed to such ownership.  That’s what’s being implied in The Washington Post.  Both Mr. Knight and I agreed on this point, and Mr. Knight made it clear that he was answering a very specific question on chronology, not politics or liberty and rights.

As an editorial point, I’ll observe that what Mr. Reed stated to me and what I recalled as the next events dovetail together.  Eugene sold the patent for the AR platform rifle to Colt in the early to mid 1960s.  Reed said to me, “… and colt immediately wanted to market the rifle in the civilian community, which of course is their right.”

Also as an editorial point, for more evidence of both the timeline here, and ATF malfeasance, my friend and colleague David Codrea sent me this article (which I had read before but forgot), in which Len Savage worked with Stephen Stamboulieh to obtain original classification letters through FOIA.  The results are interesting.

“Colt sent a pilot model rifle (serial no. GX4968) to the BATF for civilian sale approval on Oct. 23, 1963. It was approved on Dec. 10, 1963, and sales of the ‘Model R6000 Colt AR-15 SP1 Sporter Rifle’ began on Jan 2, 1964,” one critic of the article contended. “The M16 wasn’t issued to infantry units until 1965 (as the XM16E1), wasn’t standardized as the M16A1 until 1967, and didn’t officially replace the M14 until 1969.”

Civilians had this rifle before the troops in the field did.

“There are several things that are interesting,” Savage told AmmoLand News about the classification letter. “One, it shows pre-Gun Control Act ATF policy on the AR-15 system,” He noted. “It also shows why the most likely reason an AR lower is considered a ‘frame or receiver’ is that from 1962-1968 Colt marked the lower receivers with the information (flat surface as the upper is round). Meaning the regulatory scheme used by ATF  1968 to present is based on what Colt marked pre-1968 and not the statute. Willfully and knowingly.”

“Len hit the nail on the head,” Stamboulieh weighed in. “The current notice of proposed rule-making reads as if there was just no way the ATF could have known that the AR-15 split modular design was a thing. Back in 1968, the agency promulgated the definition of frame or receiver, post-dating the classification letter of the AR15, and that shows why they should have originally known what they were making a definition for.”

He and Savage also cleared up a point of potential confusion on why the classification letter refers to the AR-15 as an “automatic rifle.”

“It is because (my thoughts) that they sent two rifles,” Stamboulieh offered. “One was an automatic rifle, and the other was the modified rifle made to be not a machinegun (a semi-automatic version). So the ATF said, yes, this modified ‘automatic rifle’ is not a firearm under the NFA (therefore, not a machinegun and in other words, a semi-auto).”

“Bingo!” Savage replied. “They sent an ‘Unserviceable’ M16 so ATF could compare it and the new rifle and were told it was still considered an MG even if unserviceable since it was not properly destroyed. I laughed when Colt was told ‘file a Form 2’ in order to get it back… Wonder if it is still in National Firearms Collection?”

“In 1968 firearms industry terminology ‘automatic rifle’ means the same as ‘auto-loading rifle,’ i.e., a rifle that loads itself for the next shot,” he recalled. “Even in 1979-1980 when I took my hunters’ safety course the State of Michigan used the two terms interchangeably throughout the course.”

Thanks to David for reminding me of this article, and to Len and Stephen for the work on the FOIA.

Returning to Reed Knight, I continued with him on what Eugene thought about firearms ownership by civilians.  He told me that Eugene had a large collection of firearms and was a strong supporter of the second amendment.  Just to close the loop on all of this, I asked Reed if he believed that the rifle he currently builds at Knight’s Armament should be prohibited from civilian ownership?

I was met with an unequivocal ‘NO’.  He did opt to clarify that he firmly believes that, but most of the work they do at KAC is for the military since they focus their efforts on military contracts.  But that doesn’t change his beliefs about and support for the 2A.

Reed went on to discuss the current state of affairs concerning schools, shootings, etc.  We both believe in firmer security including armed resource officers and armed teachers, and he mentioned cultural changes that might have led to the situation we see today, including video games (I don’t happen to agree with that assessment concerning FPS gaming), unaddressed mental health issues, and other things.  I mentioned that my own readers might strongly add spiritual and moral problems as the primary cause, and he agreed with me that those issues play a role.

I’ll close my interview report by conveying two quotes by Reed: “I can’t blame the thieving that goes on in the jewelry store on the hammer that broke the glass.”  “It’s terrible to piss on Eugene’s grave because of what evil people do.”

That’s common sense, but not so common today.

I’ll also leave a few more editorial remarks.  If we’re going to consider chronology, it’s a fact that the Remington .223 was designed before the NATO 5.56mm, and in fact, Eugene based the 5.56mm on the .223, making a few minor changes to the casing before adoption as the standard NATO round.  So civilians had both the cartridge and the gun before the U.S. military did.  I won’t go into detail on the minor differences between the .223 and 5.56mm cartridge.  That’s not within the scope of this article.

I’m left wondering how writers like Philip Bump continue to be employed, who stated flatly that …

It is estimated that there are 20 million AR-15-style rifles in the United States at this point — a powerful, deadly type of weapon that didn’t exist as a consumer product two decades ago.

First, I think this estimate is quite low.  But note that he puts the commercial availability as 2023 – 20 = 2003.  How on earth do these writers get paid unless the pay master knows they’re writing pure bunk and wants it that way?

Now, one might criticize Mr. Knight for even agreeing to interviewed by The Washington Post.  But that’s his business, not mine.  But it must be noted that there are two ways to write things: truthfully and with the complete story, or twisted so that every remark, every comment, every [partial]fact, every half-truth, and every quote feeds a narrative, that narrative being the one the publisher wants to push.

That’s what you see when you read The Washington Post and similar publications.  Legacy media indeed.  I repeat: there is a world of difference between making observations and statements in response to questions of chronology (even if the writer is too stupid to know that’s what the question and answer is really about), and world and life views concerning liberties and rights.  It’s easy enough to string hearsay together with false implications of chronology and make a narrative.  It appears to be much harder to tell the truth.

I’ll say the same thing I did to Reed Knight.  Over these pages, we value the truth above all else.

The Copper Fouling Lie ~ Don’t Fall for It!

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 4 hours ago

Recall when I recently asked the question why anyone would work hard and put harsh solvents down his barrel to remove copper when the first shot after cleaning will simply refill the discontinuities and imperfections with copper all over again?  And I asked why it wasn’t better to leave it alone?

I can’t locate that post at the moment, but I know I posed those questions.

This experienced gunsmith is telling you not to worry about it.

That’s good enough for me.  I have never worried about copper fouling before, I don’t now, and I don’t intend to in the future.

7 Rifles I Wouldn’t Trust on a Hunt

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 4 hours ago

I think his list devolves a bit into 7 rifles he either wouldn’t trust or wouldn’t choose to carry again.  Anyway, his views are always interesting, and I know he carefully tests out his equipment. I’m not sure I would choose to carry a 13 pound rifle very far on a hunt either. I’m also not sure I’ll ever have a need for 28 Nosler.

History of Combat Shotguns: Military Shotguns Through the Ages

4 days, 4 hours ago


The military use of shotguns has always fascinated me. I love shotguns, like an absolute ton.

I shoot clays with a shotgun, I hunt with a shotgun, and I trust a shotgun for home defense. As a Marine, I was even issued a Mossberg due to my skill and experience with these firearms.

The military use of shotguns has always fascinated me. I love shotguns, like an absolute ton.

I shoot clays with a shotgun, I hunt with a shotgun, and I trust a shotgun for home defense. As a Marine, I was even issued a Mossberg due to my skill and experience with these firearms.

The Very Beginning

Firearms that fire a load of shot have been around since the earliest guns, but the most notable dedicated shotgun came in the form of the blunderbuss.

A flintlock blunderbuss, circa approximately 1780. (Photo: Catawiki)


The American Revolution

The blunderbuss was never superbly popular with Americans.

Pilgrims being armed with the blunderbuss at Plymouth rock seems to be more fiction than fact. Coming into the American Revolution, the Americans were armed with more traditional muskets.

These smoothbore long arms were not known for their accuracy. Colonial American soldiers recognized this and began using a special load called “buck and ball.” Soldiers would pack a normal musket ball but would also add a small load of buckshot pellets.

These buckshot pellets, followed by the musket round, improved the chance of scoring a hit on enemy soldiers.

In the Battle Of New Orleans, the buck and ball proved its merit. 5,700 Americans faced 8,000 British and routed them. The Americans suffered 62 casualties, and the British suffered 2,034.

Into the Civil War

The American Civil War saw the rapid rise of small arms technology, including metallic cartridges. But at the beginning of the war, the famed buck and ball loads were still being heavily used.

The South, in particular, utilized shotguns extensively, especially with their cavalry forces.

Shotguns at the time were muzzleloading designs and often featured shorter barrels to make them lighter and easier to handle, especially on horseback.

The Confederates also lacked the production capacity of the North, and this forced them to utilize common hunting implements in war.

During the Civil War, metallic cartridges, including brass-cased shotgun shells and repeating rifles, came to be. Like every other firearm, the brass-cased shells improved reliability and reloading speed.

However, the closest shotguns got to being repeaters at the time were double-barrel guns, also known as coach guns. These shorter barrel shotguns were known for being quite powerful and effective for quick engagements.

In the 1870s, paper shells were introduced.

These water-resistant paper shells lowered the price of shotgun shells significantly and were easier to manufacture than brass shells. However, they could not be easily reloaded.

Next, the article goes into the adoption of repeating shotguns, then the World Wars, and later Vietnam and the Modern Era.

A photo of the Remington 870 MCS showing the full modular kit. (Photo: Gunrunnerhell)

Jim Harmer Reviews the 450 Bushmaster

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 1 day ago

Amusing video.  I will remark that while I don’t have a strong opinion (or any opinion really) on Bear Creek Arsenal uppers, lowers or full rifles, he didn’t get great grouping with the heavier load.  One comment to the video indicates that one viewer got much better results with a 200 grain load.  But with such a lousy BC, I wonder why you would have the 450 Bushmaster and opt for a lighter load?

Anyway, if I was going to purchase a 450 Bushmaster rifle, I’d likely choose a Rock River Arms rifle in 450 Bushmaster.  They manufacture tight, close tolerance, well functioning rifles that usually group extremely close.  Of course, purchasing a RRA rifle will set you back more than buying a Bear Creek Arsenal rifle.  So the choice is up to you – if you make the choice at all.

If you have a rifle in 45-70, I would see this as overlap and maybe unnecessary.  But variety is the spice of life, and it’s always good to have more rifles.

Travelling With a Long Gun

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 3 days ago

For airline travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that guns be transported in hard-sided, lockable cases. One way to maximize luggage space is to buy one of the top-quality bulkier cases, like a Pelican or Explorer, then remove the foam interior and pack your hunting clothes in the case. The clothes serve as padding for your shotgun while freeing up room in your checked bag for waders and other items. Gun cases commonly come in one- and two-gun models. The best field repair kit is an extra gun, and if you’re going on a long-anticipated trip, consider packing two guns. To maximize luggage space, many traveling waterfowlers wear their hunting coats and use a field backpack or blind bag as a carry-on. That’s a practical idea, but make sure that you don’t have any loose shotgun shells in your pockets or bags before you pass through security.

Interesting tips.  The article is oriented towards water fowlers, but this could just as easily go for travelling to Kansas to shoot upland birds (in that case, Pheasants), or Minnesota (for Grouse).  I can carry a Beretta A400 in the truck to do Quail hunting in S.C. or N.C., but that brings up another point.

Reader xtphreak made these remarks not long ago on another article.

MrGunsandgear also made a statement about 6:04 re: a “rule” requiring FedEx & UPS to mark packages containing firearms for shipping.

I posted a comment there asking for specifics on this “Rule”.

Their “Rule” doesn’t override 18 U.S.C. § 922 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 922. Unlawful acts.

Specifically (e) which reads:

“…(e) It shall be unlawful for any person ….  No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm. …”.

Can you specify the Rules that require common carriers to mark packages that contain firearms?

I personally used this against airline policy (Piedmont Airlines) to tag luggage with a bright orange CONTAINS FIREARM tag prior to 911.

[ … ]

I listen to MrGunsandgear, but on this he is wrong.

I posted the following to his youtube under my previous comment:

the UPS site states: “The labeling and outer box markings on all Firearm Products shipments must not identify the contents as containing Firearm Products. Labeling, including the shipper’s and consignee’s abbreviated names on the shipping label or air shipping document, must be non-descriptive.”

FedEx site says: “Re-package the firearm case in an outer box with no identifying markers”

I think this is important because I think we need to know if carriers, including airlines, can legally put labels on our firearms cases?

On a final note, say you are carrying a shotgun for upland bird hunting on an airline.  Let’s say that it’s a really nice one, like a Beretta DT11.  What do you do?  Purchase travel insurance for $12,000 to cover the gun?  Perhaps the answer to this is don’t carry a DT11 on an airline.  But then, how do the competition shooters do it?  Maybe we can carry a cheaper gun on the airlines (good upland bird guns go for > $2000 though), but a competition shooter will carry his expensive weapon.

New Pistol and Shotgun Optics

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks ago

One pistol, the other shotgun.

The Defender CCW is made from 7075 aluminum. “We did a lot of different material selection tests to find the optimal material. We found 7075 has some better impact characteristics than 6061,” Morell says …

I immediately proceeded to bash the front of the optic against the bench a dozen times. I loaded the gun and rechecked zero—it held. At 500 rounds, I once again bashed the front of the optic a dozen times and checked zero. At 1,000 rounds, I went back to hitting the front of the optic, but I didn’t go straight to checking zero this time.

I dropped the unloaded M&P 2.0 All Metal, weighing 30 ounces, optic down onto a concrete paver from chest height. I picked up the gun, checked for damage, and then checked zero at 15 yards. Not only did the CCW have no damage, it also held zero.

[ … ]

“I bet we have over 100,000 rounds of effective recoil testing on these. So, in addition to the drop durability, we have a lot of confidence in the entire electronics and mechanical design. We have some folks that we’ve given these out to for extended testing, and they have north of 40,000 rounds on them and they’re still running strong,” Morell says.

It appears to be rugged and it’s aesthetically relatively pleasing.

Here’s the catch.

The Defender CCW is made in China. Whether it’s American manufacturing pride, improved quality control, or avoiding supply chain issues, there are advantages to making a product on home soil. Of course, that would also come with a significant price increase.

It sells for $250.

Here’s an interesting idea for a shotgun optic if your gun isn’t designed for an optics attachment (most aren’t, although that’s changing).

If you’ve ever wanted to mount a red dot on your vent-ribbed shotgun but didn’t want to take the time to get it milled for a red dot, Burris has a new DIY solution for you. The new Burris SpeedBead Vent Rib Mount is an affordable solution for adapting your favorite shotgun for use with the Burris FastFire series of red dot sights without the need to permanently modify your shotgun.

It just attaches right to the rib.  The attachment device sells for $60 (no, not the Buris optic itself).  At Optics Planet that optic pictures sells for $380.



Brownells on Buffer (and other) Springs

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 2 days ago

Okay we’ve covered this before.

So there is yet another post about magazine springs and whether they should be replaced, and if so, when.  This is in the same theme I wrote about several years ago when there was another little flurry of articles and posts about this.  I’m going to cover this ground one time for everyone.

Metal creep is caused from slippage of crystalline structures along boundary planes, whether FCC, BCC, or whatever.  One reader writes that “springs don’t wear out from compression.”  This is along the same lines as most of the [mistaken and incorrect] articles I linked the last time I addressed this issue that claimed that stainless steel doesn’t creep below the yield limit.

Do you know any piano tuners?  I do.  Yea, they have to go back a few days later and retune because of metal creep.  But most piano wires are carbon steel under high stress.  What about stainless steel?

Do not make the claim that stainless steel (like SS304) doesn’t suffer creep below the yield limit and at low temperatures.  Yes … it … does  (“In all tests at applied stress/yield strength ratios above 0.73 some plastic deformation was recorded”).

No offense, but don’t try to be an engineer if you’re not one. If you make the claim that SS304 (I presume the material of most magazine springs) doesn’t suffer from metal creep, you’d be wrong, and then you’d also be answering the question the wrong way.

The right way to look at the question is one of whether the creep is significant.  It usually isn’t, and it is less significant than for carbon steel.  It’s also not significant for applied stress/yield strength ratios lower than what the authors tested.  Where your specific magazine spring falls in this data set is best determined by the designer, not me (I don’t have drawings or any other design information).

Stop saying that it’s only the compression / decompression cycle that puts wear on springs.  Stop it.  Just stop.  That’s not true.

It … is … not … true.

It’s true enough that the compression / decompression cycle is fatigue wear, but it’s also true that this means slippage of the crystalline structures just like metal creep.

Again, the question is whether this creep is important under the specific design circumstances or not, whether the specifications are challenged or not.  It’s not about whether creep will occur.  It does, and it will, even if undetectable by you.

I’m not saying here that it’s a bad idea to leave your buffer spring compressed.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to leave your magazines full of rounds.  Don’t misunderstand what I’m asserting.  I’m not even asserting that Brownells was wrong in their conclusions, even if they didn’t do all of the necessary analysis to properly arrive at their conclusions.

I am asserting that the justification for whether you do or don’t leave springs compressed has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the spring undergoes a compression / decompression cycle while it’s in the configuration it’s in.

It has to do with a materials and structural engineering analysis that most people don’t do (and probably don’t need to do), and which Brownells didn’t do for the video above.

This may sound like a nit, but not to an engineer.

Ryan Muckenhirn on Rifle Optics

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 3 days ago

As I’ve said before, I’d find Ryan interesting if he was talking about watching paint dry for 1.5 hours.  I didn’t intend to watch this entire video, but I did anyway because so many important questions were answered and so many salient issues were addressed.

Long Range with 45-70

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 4 days ago

First, he does a great job of shooting at that distance.

Second, as long as you get the holdovers rights, or otherwise adjust the scope for ballistics, the Marlin rifle is accurate and the cartridge looks like it would be effective.

I’d like to see ballistics gel evaluated at that range.

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