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Citizens Association for Responsible Gun Ownership = CARGO
Hello Fellow CARGO Members,
BEFORE I BEGIN: Scott Phillips is offering an Advanced Shooting Course. There is too much information to include in this email, so please click this link to download the pdf with his information.
The next meeting will be held at Napoli’s on Thursday, August 20th.
We will meet at Napoli's in Wylie.
701 N Highway 78 # A
Wylie, TX 75098
For the dinner portion of the meeting, we will be in the meeting room between 5:45 and 7:00 for food and fellowship. The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM and run until about 9:00.
Member Don Bridges has volunteered his shop for the meeting. There are a very limited number of chairs at the shop, so please bring a camp chair for the meeting. We will meet there from 7:00 (ish) until 9:00 (ish)
The address is:
2274 EAST Brown Street in Wylie
While heading east on Brown Street, it is 1/2 mile past stop sign that's at the intersection of Brown Street and Kreymer Lane on the right hand side.
The shop is behind a small white house with a picket fence around the front yard.
Meeting gun topics:
· What is the smallest caliber that you carry on a regular basis? Do you protect yourself with a .22, 5.7mm, .25, .32, .38, 9mm? Bring it to the meeting and share it with the rest of the club!
· Anything new, fun or interesting to share? Bring it with you!
Additional discussion topics / guests:
· Fall out of the South Carolina Church and the Chattanooga shootings.
If you have any suggestions for future speakers or topics please send your feedback to CARGO@att.net.
When was the last time you visited our web site? Please take some time to go to the CARGO website at www.cargogunclub.org
ATF Works With FBI And VA To Get Veterans’ Guns Taken Away
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is involved in a government effort to disarm America’s veterans and seniors who may lack the capacity to manage their finances.
And it’s not just veterans facing this scrutiny: now it’s anybody who gets Social Security.
New documents obtained by The Daily Caller reveal that ATF, a division of the Department of Justice, is working with the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter veterans who get VA benefits into the government’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
TheDC first reported on a government program in which the VA sends veterans’ medical information to the FBI to disarm them. VA uses sneaky criteria to get veterans on the list for “persons prohibited under federal law from receiving or possessing firearms.” (RELATED: Daily Caller Reveals Secret VA-FBI Coordination).
If a veteran is deemed incapable of managing his or her own finances, the VA sends his or her information to the FBI to be automatically added to the criminal background check system. For some injured veterans, their incompetence was determined merely because they signed up for auto-pay on their debit cards, because their wife gives them financial advice, or because they asked for an in-house assistant to help with chores. The VA sends this list to the FBI every month. At last count, there were more than 120,000 veterans in the government’s background check system.
Now we know that the enforcement agency ATF is working with the VA and FBI to suppress information about the program.
Michael Connelly, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, sent Freedom of Information Act requests about the program to four federal government agencies. But when it came to get a response, he got one from a fifth agency that he didn’t even request information from: ATF.
Connelly, whose research blew the lid off the program in our previous Daily Caller expose, learned that FBI sent his request to ATF, which stifled it.
The FBI sent ATF seven pages of documents pursuant to Connelly’s information request to check with them first. ATF denied Connelly’s request for information, telling him that the agency is “withholding deliberative materials” in a letter dated July 12.
ATF claims it can withhold “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.”
So, if different agencies swap memos around to each other, then you need to sue them to get the documents under public disclosure law?
And the story is getting bigger. The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend that the Obama administration is trying to get the Social Security Administration to provide information to the FBI on Social Security beneficiaries who can be prohibited from owning a firearm for some form of incompetence. The Times cited the VA’s strategy of using veterans’ financial records against them.
“As I predicted the assault on veterans’ 2nd Amendment rights was just the beginning,” Connelly said. “Social Security recipients would be next. The LA Times has confirmed it. Sometimes I hate it when I am right.”
Navy officer, Marine reportedly returned fire at Chattanooga gunman
Published July 22, 2015 ·FoxNews.com
A Navy officer and one of the Marines murdered in last week's attack on a military center in Chattanooga fired their personal weapons at the gunman, according to a report published Wednesday.
The Navy Times, citing multiple military officials familiar with internal reports on the tragedy, reported that Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, the commanding officer at the Navy Operational Support Center, fired his sidearm at Mohammed Abdulazeez during Thursday's attack.
The paper, citing a Navy official, also reported that one of the four Marines killed in the attack fired his 9mm Glock at the gunman. A Navy sailor also died in the shootout, as did the gunman. The possibility that the Marine had used his personal sidearm during the shooting was first reported by The Washington Post Monday.
A source close to the investigation told the Navy Times that while the details of the attack's final moments are unclear, authorities have uncovered no information that contradicts the Navy's own reporting.
Law enforcement sources told Fox News Tuesday that the FBI recovered the Glock at the scene and noted it did not belong to either the shooter or police. The sources said the weapon had been fired. Details about what type of weapon White used are unclear.
It is still unclear whether the shots that killed Abdulazeez were fired by White, the Marine, or local police. Fox News has learned that autopsies of the gunman and his victims have been completed and could be released later this week. The Navy Times reported that investigators won't know who fired the shots that stopped the rampage until a ballistics assessment is performed.
It is against Defense Department policy for anyone but military police or law enforcement to carry weapons on federal property. It was not immediately clear whether White would face disciplinary action.
The shooting at so-called “gun-free” military installations in Tennessee has prompted calls for a policy change.
Governors in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Florida have ordered National Guardsmen to be armed, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott relocated recruiters to armories.
U.S. military officials have said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but the Army's top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said it's too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection. He said there are concerns about accidental discharges and other security issues related to carrying loaded weapons.
However, Gen. Mark Milley, the man tapped as Odierno's replacement as Army chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that if legal issues could be resolved he thinks it would be appropriate, in some cases, to arm soldiers manning recruiting stations.
Tucked in strip malls in rural and suburban communities and in high-traffic city spots like New York's Times Square, military recruiting and reserve stations are designed to be open and welcoming to the public. The troops inside aren't allowed to carry weapons.
The ban is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don't routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. And Pentagon officials are sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Wednesday that the gunman, 24-year-old Abdulazeez, searched the Internet in the days leading up to the attack for information from Islamic sources about whether martyrdom would to forgiveness for his sins, such as drunkenness. The Hixson, Tenn. native was due in court after being arrested in April on a charge of driving under the influence
Fox News' John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Navy Considers Charging Officer Who Returned Fire at Chattanooga Shooter
The Navy has been denying reports that charges may be filed against Lt. Commander Timothy White, who returned fire against Chattanooga jihadi Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez with a weapon he was not supposed to have. However, several sources insist such charges have been seriously considered, including one of the contenders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Jim Webb, who formerly served as secretary of the Navy.
Webb insisted that his office “confirmed with a defense official that the Navy was seriously considering charging LCDR Timothy White” before posting his tweet. Webb said the charge would be “illegally discharging a firearm on federal property”–in other words, violating the “gun-free zone” that did absolutely nothing to thwart the Abdulazeez rampage.
Former Republican Congressman and military veteran Allen West has heard the same from his own sources, and said he was in the process of communicating with Lt. Commander White personally. West had strong words for the Navy brass:
What kind of freaking idiots are in charge of our Armed Forces–pardon me, our “unArmed Forces”? What would they prefer that Abdulazeez had been able to kill all the Marines and Sailors at the Naval Support Reserve Center? Let me draw an interesting contrast: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is more concerned about lifting the ban on transgendered Sailors. Mabus has a problem in that for the first time since 2007 the US Navy will not have a Carrier Battle Group operating in the Persian Gulf. But this knucklehead has no problem with the Navy seeking to destroy the career of a Sailor, a commander of an installation, returning fire against an Islamic jihadist attack. I do not care if it was his personal weapon, he deserves a medal for facing the enemy.
Folks, this has become the Obama military that will not implement policies for our men and women in uniform to be protected — but will punish them if they do protect themselves. What ever happened to the Navy of John Paul Jones, Farragut, Halsey, and Nimitz? What has happened in our America where we believe that our men and women in uniform — especially the commanders — are just targets for these damn Islamic jihadists?
The confused muddle of denials emanating from the Pentagon makes it painfully clear Webb and West are correct. Charges have not been filed yet, and a formal investigation has not been launched, but clearly, they are under serious consideration. The denials simply point out that no one has been charged yet.
For example, the Navy’s initial Facebook response was, “Stories of Navy personnel being charged with an offense are not true. There is still a long way to go in reviewing the facts of this tragic incident, but at this time we can confirm no service member has been charged with an offense.”
By Sunday, Fox News had the word of a Navy official that charges against Lt. Commander White could not be “completely ruled out.” Every other official response involves repeating the Facebook post that states “there is still a long way to go in reviewing the facts,” usually word-for-word.
A “senior defense official” also told Fox News that it was “extremely unlikely” White would face charges … but then the same official offered these thoughts on the investigation that still has such a long way to go: “Even if remote, is there a chance [White] contributed to the chaos and got people killed? Hurt police efforts? We are exploring that.”
Governors arm National Guard in wake of Chattanooga murders
This week’s attack by an alleged Islamic extremist on a military recruiting office in Chattanooga was not the first such attack on soldier on American soil. In spite of a string of attacks on military bases and recruiting offices in the past several years, the Obama Administration has not taken steps to allow military personnel to carry weapons for self-defense. Today a growing number of state governors are taking action to protect their state National Guardsmen from similar attacks.
According to CNN, there have been at least three successful attacks on military targets in the United States in recent years. In 2009, Carlos Bledsoe killed one soldier and wounded another outside an army recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark. Bledsoe was a convert to Islam who had been arrested in Yemen the year before in possession of a fake ID card, bomb making manuals and a phone that contained contacts with Islamic militants.
Also in 2009, Nidal Hasan, an army major and Muslim who opposed the war in Afghanistan, killed 13 soldiers and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, Tex.
In 2013, Aaron Alexis, a civilian contractor and former navy sailor, killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis had a history of mental health problems.
In at least two other cases, plots to attack US military bases were disrupted by authorities. In 2008, five Muslim immigrants were found guilty of plotting to attack Fort Dix, N.J. "to kill as many American soldiers as possible" according to the Washington Post. Earlier this year, an Illinois National Guardsman and his cousin were accused of plotting to join ISIS and attack a National Guard base in Joliet, Ill. reported the Chicago Sun Times.
In spite of this pattern of attacks, military leaders and the Obama Administration still prohibit the carrying of firearms on military bases, a policy that dates back to March 1993. While the perimeter of many military bases can be easily secured, military recruiting offices cannot. As Maj. Hasan and Alexis demonstrated, a person with access to the interior of a military base can do serious damage before defenders can respond.
Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Fox News yesterday that he would conduct a review of security procedures at recruiting offices, but thought that allowing recruiters to be armed might "cause more problems than it solves."
In a tweet, ABC News correspondent Luis Martinez said that “Marine Corps Recruiting Command has instructed Marine recruiters not to wear uniforms at work, part of force protection since Chattanooga.” This was unverified by other sources.
Some states are taking a stronger tack. The governors of Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas have issued orders to their state National Guard troops to take action to prevent a Chattanooga-style terrorist attack.
At least six state governors have announced plans to allow National Guard troops to carry weapons. Houston’s ABC 13 said today that Greg Abbott (R-Tex.) will arm Texas National Guard soldiers at their bases to “not only serve as a deterrent to anyone wishing to do harm to our service men and women, but will enable them to protect those living and working on the base.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) issued an Executive Order yesterday directing the state’s Adjutant General to arm “selected Guard personnel… to preserve the lives, property, and security” of Louisiana Guardsmen. Jindal is a Republican presidential candidate.
In Florida, Rick Scott (R) issued an Executive Order temporarily moving National Guard recruiting offices from commercial stores to armories until state officials can assess and enhance the security of the stores according to the Florida Times-Union. Scott’s order also armed the state’s Guardsmen.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) also ordered full-time Guardsmen to be armed as deemed necessary by the Arkansas National Guard’s commanding officer according to a press release.
The Hill reports that Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) also issued an order allowing full-time Guardsmen in Oklahoma to be armed.
This afternoon, Mike Pence (R-Ind.) became the most recent governor to issue such an order according to Fox 59.
Individual governors can arm their state’s National Guard because the Guard is under state control in normal circumstances with the governor as the commander-in-chief. The National Guard can also be federalized by the president for use with the regular army in combat operations or disasters.
As the death toll from attacks on military installations mounts, it seems likely that more governors will take steps to protect their state soldiers from attack. As Greg Abbott said, “After the recent shooting in Chattanooga, it has become clear that our military personnel must have the ability to defend themselves against these type of attacks on our own soil.”
Former Navy Seal says Obama asking military leaders if they'll disarm Americans
October 23, 2013
8:51 PM MST
During an interview on the Alex Jones radio program on Tuesday, former Navy Seal Benjamin Smith told Jones that the Obama administration has a “litmus test” for officers in the U.S. military, asking if they'll command their troops to confiscate firearms from Americans.
“Going back to the beginning of this administration, I’ve had friends within the community talking about how they were brought in and questioned with people from more towards the top side and the questioning….where it was pointing was do you feel comfortable disarming American citizens,” Smith said, adding that there are a lot of "funny things" happening in the military.
Earlier this month, Smith garnered attention when he said that the federal government was trying to get veterans to respond violently to police in order to enact martial law following the Million Vet March protest at the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. that was closed due to the government shutdown.
“They want us to do something,” Smith said during an interview on America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer on Fox News. “They either want to diminish our voice or our significance, or draw contact and they can crush us.
“I mean, you've got [Texas Democratic Rep.] Sheila Jackson Lee calling for martial law to end the shutdown. I mean, that's insane, that's getting rid of the Constitution of the United States, which is also what every service member has signed up to, and including their life for [sic], to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Smith further said that the government has been targeting veterans by going after their Second Amendment rights by not allowing veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to obtain firearms, as well as disenfranchising the veterans' voting rights during the 2012 presidential election.
“They want to discredit the military, and get us to do something stupid, so they can lock us down,” Smith continued.
During the interview with Jones on Tuesday, Smith also stated that military brass have been asked if they'll fire on Americans, which would seem to confirm what 2009 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jim Garrow revealed at the beginning of the year.
“I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new 'litmus test' in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders,” Garrow wrote on his Facebook page in January. “Get ready to explode folks. 'The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not'. Those who will not are being removed.”
Garrow has since claimed to have been a former agent for the CIA who was fired – or “outed” – by the Obama administration for revealing this information.
Over the last year, the Obama administration has removed 11 high ranking officers from their positions. The latest removal of commanders occurred earlier this month, when Brig. Gen. Bryan W. Wampler and Command Sgt. Maj. Don B. Jordan, both of the Army’s 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Kuwait, were removed from command without explanation. Many have speculated that refusal to go along with the litmus test alleged by Smith and Garrow is the reason why.
Obama pushes to extend gun background checks to Social Security
By Alan Zarembo
Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others..
The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.
A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."
There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.
If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."
The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.
Though such a ban would keep at least some people who pose a danger to themselves or others from owning guns, the strategy undoubtedly would also include numerous people who may just have a bad memory or difficulty balancing a checkbook, the critics argue.
"Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe," said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money. "They are very different determinations."
After his Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury that weakened his memory and cognitive ability.
The VA eventually deemed him 100% disabled and after reviewing his case in 2012 declared him incompetent, making his wife his fiduciary.
Upon being notified that he was being reported to the background check system, he gave his guns to his mother and began working with a lawyer to get them back.
Overman grew up hunting in Wisconsin. After his return from Iraq, he found solace in target shooting. "It's relaxing to me," he said. "It's a break from day-to-day life. It calms me down."
Though his wife had managed their financial affairs since his deployment, Overman said he has never felt like he was a danger to himself or others.
"I didn't know the VA could take away your guns," he said.
The background check system was created in 1993 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, named after White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was partially paralyzed after being shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.
The law requires gun stores to run the names of prospective buyers through the computerized system before every sale.
The system's databases contain more than 13 million records, which include the names of felons, immigrants in the U.S. illegally, fugitives, dishonorably discharged service members, drug addicts and domestic abusers.
State agencies, local police and federal agencies are required to enter names into the databases, but the system has been hampered by loopholes and inconsistent reporting since its launch.
The shortcomings became clear in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people. Cho had been declared mentally ill by a court and ordered to undergo outpatient treatment, but at the time the law did not require that he be added to the databases.
Congress expanded the reporting requirements, but Social Security determined it was not required to submit records, according to LaVenia LaVelle, an agency spokeswoman.
After 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, 20 children and six school staffers in Newtown in 2012, President Obama vowed to make gun control a central issue of his second term.
The effort fell flat. Congress ultimately rejected his proposals for new gun control legislation.
But among 23 executive orders on the issue was one to the Department of Justice to ensure that federal agencies were complying with the existing law on reporting to the background check system.
One baseline for other agencies is the VA, which has been entering names into the system since the beginning. About 177,000 veterans and survivors of veterans are in the system, according to VA figures.
The VA reports names under a category in gun control regulations known as "adjudicated as a mental defective," terminology that derives from decades-old laws. Its only criterion is whether somebody has been appointed a fiduciary.
More than half of the names on the VA list are of people 80 or older, often suffering from dementia, a reasonable criterion for prohibiting gun ownership.
But the category also includes anybody found by a "court, board, commission or other lawful authority" to be lacking "the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs" for a wide variety of reasons.
The agency's efforts have been criticized by a variety of groups.
Rosen, the Yale psychiatrist, said some veterans may avoid seeking help for mental health problems out of fear that they would be required to give up their guns.
Conservative groups have denounced the policy as an excuse to strip veterans of their gun rights.
Republicans have introduced legislation in the last several sessions of Congress to change the policy. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, now under consideration in the House, would require a court to determine that somebody poses a danger before being reported to the background check system.
Social Security would generally report names under the same "mental defective" category. The agency is still figuring out how that definition should be applied, LaVelle said.
About 2.7 million people are now receiving disability payments from Social Security for mental health problems, a potentially higher risk category for gun ownership. An addition 1.5 million have their finances handled by others for a variety of reasons.
The agency has been drafting its policy outside of public view. Even the National Rifle Assn. was unaware of it.
Told about the initiative, the NRA issued a statement from its chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox, saying: "If the Obama administration attempts to deny millions of law-abiding citizens their constitutional rights by executive fiat, the NRA stands ready to pursue all available avenues to stop them in their tracks."
Gun rights advocates are unlikely to be the only opponents.
Ari Ne'eman, a member of the National Council on Disability, said the independent federal agency would oppose any policy that used assignment of a representative payee as a basis to take any fundamental right from people with disabilities.
"The rep payee is an extraordinarily broad brush," he said.
Since 2008, VA beneficiaries have been able to get off the list by filing an appeal and demonstrating that they pose no danger to themselves or others.
But as of April, just nine of 298 appeals have been granted, according to data provided by the VA. Thirteen others were pending, and 44 were withdrawn after the VA overturned its determination of financial incompetence.
Overman is one of the few who decided to appeal.
He is irritable and antisocial, he said, but not dangerous. "I've never been suicidal," he said. "To me that solves nothing."
More than a year and a half after Overman filed his challenge; the VA lifted its incompetence ruling, allowing his removal from the background check system before the VA ever had to determine whether he should be trusted with a gun.
Overman, who hasn't worked since leaving the military, said he and a friend are now thinking of opening a gunsmith business.
In Texas, Better Protection for Class 3 Devices Is Coming
By Woody published on July 16, 2015 in Consumer Information
Texas Law Shield recently alerted gun owners about SB 437, a law slated to go into effect in September that extends protections for Class 3 devices such as short-barreled rifles (SBRs), suppressors, and “any other weapons,” as defined by the National Firearms Act.
Along with heavily covered Open Carry and Campus Carry legislation, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott also signed into law SB 473, by Texas State Reps. John Frullo and Charles Perry. The measure amends Texas Penal Code section 46.05, which deals with Prohibited Weapons.
U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield President Kirk Evans said, “Formerly, it was a ‘defense to prosecution’ if a person was charged with possession of NFA items, such as a silencer or machine gun, and the item was properly registered pursuant to the National Firearms Act. Unfortunately, owners of such weapons could be forced deeply into the legal process before establishing legal ownership of certain items under Texas law.”
Evans said the amended language of the statute makes clear that possession of these devices is legal if the class 3 device is registered with BATFE, and removes the “defense to prosecution” language. SB 473 will take effect on Sept. 1, 2015.
Specifically, Sections 46.05(a) and (e), are amended to read that: A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells those items listed above “unless the item is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or classified as a curio or relic by the United States Department of Justice.”
Evans pointed out that while Texans who own NFA items are the biggest beneficiaries, he noted that gun owners from other states likewise will enjoy better legal protections if they want to bring their Class 3 items—such as suppressors—into the state to hunt.
Arkansas Governor orders ALL full-time National Guard members to be ARMED after Chattanooga massacre
Posted by soopermexican on Jul 17, 2015
In the wake of the terrible Chattanooga massacre of 4 marines by an ISIS-inspired Islamist maggot, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has called on General Berry to arm all full-time military personnel.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson
@AsaHutchinson In response to the Chattanooga shootings, I have directed General Berry to arm full-time military personnel.
I would hope other governors take his lead and follow suite.
Former Navy SEAL: Why I am no longer a Democrat
By Eric Greitens
·Published July 13, 2015
I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way.
I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that. I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.
There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas. Even worse, I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help.
After four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL officer, I came home from Iraq and watched the VA – the second-biggest bureaucracy in the country – fail my friends. The VA was broken and my friends were suffering. And yet, time and again, the only “solution” I heard from liberals was to spend more money. It made me angry.
It’s not that I doubted their intentions. But good intentions are easy. Even easier when you’re spending other people’s money. But they’re not enough. To actually achieve meaningful results, you have to have good ideas, discipline and accountability to go along with it. The problem is that most Democrats seem to think more money and bigger government are the solutions to virtually every single problem. They’re wrong.
It’s easy to give people food stamps; harder to get people into good-paying jobs. It’s easy to encourage dependency; harder to help people into a life of purpose and dignity. The worst are politicians who smugly talk about caring for the little guy, and then abandon the poorest, most vulnerable of our children to schools that give them little chance to succeed. That’s not just hypocrisy. It’s a tragedy.
I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.
I am not a career politician. I’ve never run for office, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, the political world is still a very foreign place to me. But I believe Missouri is heading the wrong direction, and I don’t trust the career politicians who created this mess to fix it.
So what would I do? I believe in limited but effective government. I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works. I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests. I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness. I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning. And I believe America’s public schools should be the best in the world.
In other words, I believe we have a lot of work to do.
I was raised to stand up for the little guy, for working families and the middle class. I am committed to that principle today more than ever. And if I thought the Democratic Party had the right ideas to do that, I’d still be one of them. But they don’t. And if I trusted career politicians to fix the problems they created, I’d still be standing on the sidelines. But I don’t.
As Americans, we deserve much better than what we’re getting from our government. We don’t need more rhetoric. We want results. And that means changing politics as usual, which won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is. You have to fight for what you believe in, and I, for one, have never backed down from that kind of fight.
Eric Greitens is a former Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian and decorated combat veteran. He is the author of the book "Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. He lives in St. Louis with his family. Greitens is a Missouri native and is currently considering running for governor of the state of Missouri.
Vince Vaughn is right about guns (and was brave to be so honest)
By Dr. John R. Lott Jr.
·Published June 02, 2015
Things are definitely changing when it comes to the gun debate in America. "True Detective" star Vince Vaughn’s recent comments on mass shootings and killers looking for places “to slaughter defenceless human beings” might be considered controversial coming from someone from Hollywood, but his ideas are becoming acceptable throughout the rest of the country.
In an interview with GQ's U.K. edition, he said:
"I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual. It's the same reason we have freedom of speech.
It's well known that the greatest defense against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenseless human beings. They do not want confrontation.
In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds."
Vaughn highlighted a simple notion in his interview: that mass public killers want to commit suicide in a way that will bring them attention. And they know that the more people they can kill, the more publicity they will get. They also know that if they launch their attack where people carry guns, they will quickly be stopped.
There is a long list of mass public shootings that have been stopped by citizens with permitted concealed handguns. Just this past Sunday, a permit holder stopped what surely would have been a mass murder at a liquor store in Rockdale County, Georgia. Two people were killed, but Sheriff Eric Levett declared: “I believe that if [the permit holder] did not return fire at the suspect then more of those customers would have hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So in my opinion he saved other lives in that store.”
In support of Vaughn’s point, killers often openly talk about their desire to attack where guns are banned. Last June, Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in Santa Barbara, Calif., explained his own choice. In his 141-page “Manifesto,” Rodger turned down alternate targets because he worried that someone with a gun would cut short his killing spree.
That same month, Justin Bourque shot to death three people in Canada. His Facebook page made fun of gun bans, with pictures of defenseless victims explaining to killers that they weren’t allowed to have guns.
The diary of the Aurora, Colorado, “Batman” movie theater killer, James Holmes, was finally released this past week. It was clear that he was considering both attacking an airport and a movie theater, but he turned down the airport option because he was concerned about their “substantial security.”
Of course, there are numerous other examples such as the Columbine killers opposing the concealed carry law that was then working its way through the state legislature. The bill would have allowed people to carry permitted concealed handguns on school property. The killers timed their attack for the very day that final passage of the law was planned for in the legislature.
Not surprisingly, Vaughn’s remarks quickly drew the ire of such outlets as the liberal Media Matters, which relied on error filled “research” from Michael Bloomberg’s gun control groups to assert that these killers don’t care about whether their victims can defend themselves.
Moreover, Bloomberg’s groups not only misread news articles, but they also count places where only police are allowed to carry guns or where only tenths of thousandths or hundredths of thousandths of one percent of citizens are allowed to carry guns as places where civilians are allowed to protect themselves.
For example, in Boston, while concealed carry permits are in theory issued, even retired police can’t get a permit to carry. in Los Angeles during 2012, there were only 240 concealed handgun permits out of 7.6 million adults and the adults that got the permits where hardly your average citizens, being very well connected friends of county Sheriff. Yet, Bloomberg’s groups want to declare that public areas in Boston or Los Angeles were not gun-free zones.
When Vaughn was asked about guns in schools he noted: “You think the politicians that run my country and your country don't have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights.” And here, too, things are changing. Just this last weekend, Texas moved to become the twelfth state to mandate that public universities allow permitted concealed handguns on campus. Twenty-two other states leave it up to the schools to decide.
Vince Vaughn isn’t alone in Hollywood. But for the actor to speak out so forcefully is surely a brave thing to do.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.
Claim: Walmart Background Checks Exceed Federal Requirements
by AWR Hawkins16 Jul 20158
Federal law allows gun dealers to sell a gun once a background check is passed or after a three-day extended check fails to turn up the information necessary to resolve a “delay” from the system. It was in the latter scenario that alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was able to purchase his gun.
But if he had walked into a Walmart to make his purchase and received a “delay,” the retail giant would have refused to hand a gun over to him. This is because Walmart’s background check policy exceeds federal requirements.
The retailer only sells a gun if the purchaser passes the check outright.
According to The Trace, Walmart adopted this more stringent policy in 2002 and now “refuses to sell a gun without a concrete all-clear from the federal system.”
Besides requiring an undisputed “pass” before a gun is sold, Walmart also requires associates who sell guns in stores to undergo special training and a background check themselves. They also record all sales and put a system in place “to trace guns sold by the company that are later linked to crimes.”
Ironically, although Walmart had nothing to do with the June 17 Charleston shooting, part of Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) post-Charleston gun control push included the random assertion that Walmart associates could not sell guns “responsibly.” He said, “I’m not terribly confident that a 21-year-old Walmart clerk is going to sell guns responsibly or be able to give customers the kind of advice they need on how to responsibly use that gun.”
However, it turns out Murphy was wrong, and someone like Roof would not have been able to buy a firearm at the Walmart gun counter.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.
Wesley Clark Calls for Internment Camps for "Radicalized" Americans
July 20 2015, 9:12 a.m.
Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in the wake of the mass shooting in Chatanooga, Tennessee, Clark said that during World War II, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”
He called for a revival of internment camps to help combat Muslim extremism, saying, “If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”
The comments were shockingly out of character for Clark, who after serving as supreme allied commander of NATO made a name for himself in progressive political circles. In 2004, his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was highly critical of the Bush administration’s excessive response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Since then, he has been a critic of policies that violate the Geneva Convention, saying in 2006 that policies such as torture violate “the very values that [we] espouse.”
In a memoir written the following year, he also famously alleged that the White House under Bush had developed a massively imperialistic plan for the Middle East, which would see the administration attempt to “take out seven countries in five years,” beginning with the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Earlier this year I spoke with Clark at the annual Lewis and Clark University Symposium on International Affairs in Portland, Oregon. The subject of our discussion was how to deal with the potential threat of foreign fighters returning from armed conflicts abroad. At the time, Clark spoke out strongly against “the politics of fear” and eroding democratic institutions and norms, while reiterating his criticism of the excesses committed by Bush-era neoconservatives under the banner of fighting terrorism.
But on Friday, he was advocating the revival of a policy widely considered to be among the most shameful chapters in American history: World War II domestic internment camps. Aside from the inherent problems in criminalizing people for their beliefs, Clark’s proposal (which his MSNBC interlocutor did not challenge him on) also appears to be based on the concept of targeting people for government scrutiny who are not even “radicalized,” but who the government decides may be subject to radicalization in the future. That radicalization itself is a highly amorphous and politically malleable concept only makes this proposal more troubling.
“We have got to identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized. We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning,” Clark said. “I do think on a national policy level we need to look at what self-radicalization means because we are at war with this group of terrorists.” And he added that “not only the United States but our allied nations like Britain, Germany and France are going to have to look at their domestic law procedures.”
Despite an outcry about his comments on social media, Clark has not responded publicly. As of Monday morning, his latest tweet was from Friday, encouraging his followers to watch his interview.
Night Vision / Thermal Capability Comparison
The term "night vision” actually covers two technologies: Image Intensification and Thermal. These two technologies have undergone significant development over the past 25 years and made tremendous leaps in the past 15 throughout the Global War on Terror. They have provided unprecedented advantages to the warfighter on the battlefield and law enforcement professionals in their never ending struggles to keep this country safe. And like most technologies born on the battlefield, tactical eventually becomes practical. With the rising popularity of nighttime hog and predator hunting in the United States, more and more hunters are finding themselves shopping for night vision gear. Night Vision Hunting has become the fastest growing segment of the hunting market and many hunters are asking: "what type of device is best for me?” The law enforcement community is asking itself these same questions as many agencies are finding a need to better equip themselves at night in order to keep the streets safe.
With the sudden surge in night vision popularity among professional end users and sportsmen, it is important to understand the differences in the technologies offered on the market. Often times, the capability requirements of both end user groups overlap. To this end, we wanted to put forth an education primer on the general performance capabilities of image intensifiers and thermal devices. Please note that there are many different brands, makes, models, etc. available. We are well aware (and you should be too) that the performance range can vary greatly depending on the device. This article is not going to get into a brand vs. brand or model vs. model battle. The intent is to provide general information that can be extrapolated over most night vision devices on the capabilities of the various technologies. This discussion is aimed at providing end users with an idea of which type of device will be most beneficial for their mission.
Let’s begin by discussing the differences between the two types of night vision.
Image Intensifiers are more commonly referred to simply as "night vision.” For the remainder of the article, I will refer to image intensifiers as "night vision.” Night Vision uses a powered image intensifier tube to produce a light-amplified image to the user. The tube literally amplifies existing ambient light to produce a bright, detail-rich image. Traditional night vision produces a green image to the viewer. Green is the most visible color to the human eye. We can see more shades of green than any other color in the visible light spectrum. As such, the green phosphor screen in the image tube presents the most hues and shades to the user, allowing him/her to best resolve the image in detail and depth. This is an important positive capability in that night vision users can see into the dark and gain positive identification of their surroundings and targets. Since night vision is simply allowing you to see in the dark, it is completely possible to achieve positive identification of faces, clothing, animals, etc. This is perhaps the most important aspect of night vision. Since night vision devices are mostly used in conjunction with a firearm, the ability to achieve 100% Positive Identification (PID) is critical before taking a shot. Night vision will allow the user to read signs as well. Another important aspect of night vision is that it allows for easier depth perception while moving. Because the tube is amplifying existing ambient light, shadows and terrain undulation can be more easily identified. This helps night vision users to gauge distance using terrestrial association. The key benefit to night vision is its identification capability.
However, despite the benefits of night vision, it is not a perfect tool. Like our eyes, we are susceptible to being fooled by camouflage. Nature has the ability to camouflage people, animals, and objects simply by placing foliage in front of them. Sometimes, possible targets will go out of their way to camouflage themselves in the terrain. Bad guys can wear camouflage clothing and attach foliage to their person. Animals often have natural camouflage in their coats. The same camouflage that works for a person or animal during the day will work just as well, if not better, through night vision (after all, the image is the same as normal, but now being presented in a single color palette). Night vision may also be slightly harder to use during inclement weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, and smoke. Another, more obvious, deficiency in night vision is that it only works at night. However, we have to remember that night vision requires some amount of ambient light to function. Today’s Gen3 tubes can do much more with much less light, we still need to have some illumination to gather. If you take a brand new Gen3 device into an absolute pitch black environment, you will not have any image. At that point, an external infrared illuminator is required.
Thermal imagers work differently than night vision. Rather than amplifying the existing light in an image, thermal uses a special detector that senses infrared energy. Infrared energy is produced by everything in the world, whether natural or man-made, and increases as its heat rises or it produces friction. So essentially, thermal imagers detect heat, providing a starkly contrasted image where heat-producing targets and objects will light up against their cooler surroundings. This trait makes thermal imagers ideal for detecting targets in the user’s environment. The most obvious use for thermal devices is easy detection of targets in the field. The warmer an object is, the brighter it will appear in the thermal device. An animal or person that is hiding among foliage will more easily be spotted against the landscape since the user is not depending on the shading and tones of the target for detection. Detection is the most important aspect of thermal imagers. These devices will allow users to quickly detect the presence of a possible target against a wide range of landscapes. Thermal imagers can also be useful in tracking blood trails and, depending on the time lapse; foot prints. This can be useful in finding suspects or animals. Thermal is also capable of seeing through light rain, snow, fog, and smoke. Another positive trait for thermal devices is that they can be used during the day. Night vision will eventually become damaged when exposed to too much light for extended periods of time. Thermal devices can operate regardless of the ambient light present. This includes high noon or absolute pitch black. Though, thermal devices do tend to work better at night because the ambient environment will have cooled down, increasing target contrast.
While thermal devices excel at detection, they are not as useful for identification. It is possible to get a decent level of identification capability out of a thermal if it is a high resolution system (such as 640x480). However, facial recognition and PID is not generally possible. Thermal is also incapable of reading text printed on a flat surface. This is most easily demonstrated by looking at a sign or a garment. If the letters are raised or have a different finish than the rest of the surface, it may be possible to make out the graphic, but you will not get nearly the legibility of night vision. Positive Identification is perhaps the biggest drawback to using thermal. Obviously, the higher resolution systems will be able to resolve more detail in an image. However even they are going to be lacking in the ability to clearly identify someone’s face or one type of animal from the next. From a professional standpoint, this means that identifying an armed suspect from an armed officer is going to be more difficult. For hunters, it can make it more difficult to tell the difference between a coyote and dog. Though, we can surmise differences in our thermal targets by observing their movement and behavior, it is important to remember that we are most often dealing with firearms in conjunction with these devices. Once the trigger is squeezed, the possible outcome is the loss of a life. The consequences of mistaking a calf for a hog can be a $13,000 bill from the ranch owner. The consequences of mistaking a good guy for a bad guy can mean life in prison. And the consequences of mistaking someone’s dog for a coyote can mean the dog’s owner hunting you down. The issue is exacerbated at distance since electronic zoom cuts the image resolution every time. Thermal imagers are also incapable of seeing through glass. Because of this, their lenses are made from an expensive material called germanium. But this limitation can be detrimental to surveillance operations, or if a hunter wants to observe the field from his/her vehicle cab. One last thing to consider with thermal imagers is the video frame rate. Thermal imagers are active systems that provide the user a video on an OLED screen to view through the eyepiece. So unlike night vision, a user does not look "through” thermal and see the world. Real time video runs at 60 Hz and some thermal devices display at this frame rate. But, most thermal units run at 30 Hz. This means that the video image you observe can experience some slight clipping during fast movements.
Again, the above information is a simplistic overview or the characteristics and pros/cons of night vision and thermal imagers. Depending on the device you possess, some of the characteristics can vary. Now that we have established a baseline idea of the capabilities present in these devices, let’s take a look at how they are applied to some practical scenarios.
We chose to bias these videos towards the first-responder market. We felt they would best display the capabilities of the various night vision devices in different environments and could be easily juxtaposed across the hunting and military markets as well. No live firearms were used in the production of these videos. Also please note that filming through night vision devices is incredibly hard to do because the focus of the night vision device and the camera are not always in perfect sync. We did our best to provide as accurate a representation as possible.
Thermal V Night Vision Comparison- Episode 1 Recovery of Discarded Evidence
This video is shot through a law enforcement officer’s point of view. It represents the aftermath of a foot chase where the fleeing suspect would have thrown away evidence in hopes of not being caught with it on his person. The suspect is in custody and we must now search the area where the object was tossed in an effort to recover it for evidence.
In the first part of the video, we show the officer using a time-honored tool found on every peace officer’s duty belt: the flashlight. Most of the time, individual patrol officers are not going to have access to night vision equipment, so they have to make do. During the flashlight sweep, we can see a ton of detail. As the officer walks along the brush line, he sweeps the light over the foliage. But at this distance, the light splash is almost too bright against the leaves, causing a whiteout. This hinders the officer’s ability to see detail and the outer spill of the light beam must be used. In fact, the light almost shows too much detail, effectively camouflaging the object in question. If we were to extrapolate this scenario into a full-on search, it could easily be surmised that the officer(s) would be out there all night, searching a long stretch of brush to find whatever was discarded by the suspect.
The next part of the video shows the same scenario through a night vision monocular. In this case, the night vision helps the officer see a larger area lit up. But, the dense foliage still provides a challenge to the officer trying to find the discarded evidence. As mentioned earlier, the same camouflage that works during the day is going to be just as effective at night. Another issue we see is the focal length. Night vision devices focus on a fixed focal plane and must be manually adjusted to refocus up close. Users want to generally achieve a baseline focus where objects will be nice and crisp from about 10 yards out to infinity. But, night vision will not automatically refocus when trying to observe things up close and must be done manually. This can be challenging during a search like this where the focal plane constantly changes. A long sweep of the area yields little result and can be especially difficult it the officer is unsure of exactly what he is looking for.
The final section of the video shows the search while using a thermal device. The first thing you will notice is that the detail seems to be way less than the night vision and flashlight segments. This is because thermal will generally have a harder time differentiating between cooler objects. You can also see that the undulation in terrain as the officer walks up to the brush line, is more difficult to ascertain and can make land navigation more difficult when using a thermal device. But in terms of accomplishing the mission (finding the discarded evidence), the thermal device seems to win the night. As the officer walks up to the brush line, the heat signature of the discarded item is almost immediately visible through the dense foliage. The heat from the suspect’s body was transferred to the object and it is still warm enough to be visible to the thermal device after 15 minutes. The discarded evidence turns out to be a pistol. On a side note: thermal, like night vision, must be manually focused for up close detail during observation. While the point of this particular exercise was to find the evidence, you will notice that there is a distinct lack of detail up close when the gun was recovered because the thermal device was not refocused during the pick-up.
In the first scenario, thermal is the clear choice due to its awesome detection capability when compared to the other viewing methods.
Thermal V Night Vision Comparison- Episode 2 Urban Hostage Situation
This video shows the point of view of a SWAT marksman responding to a hostage situation at a local business park. The armed suspect is using a hostage as a human shield in the front atrium as he communicates with the on-scene hostage negotiator. The officer is given orders to hold on the target, but must be ready to take a crisis shot on the suspect if negotiations break down and the hostage is thought to be in immanent danger.
We first see the officer’s view through a standard day scope. As we can see, the darkened atrium presents an almost impossible view. Movement can be seen through the building’s glass door, but without lighting, it is impossible to decipher what we are looking at. The officer cannot determine who the hostage is from the suspect. Everything is in complete shadow making a crisis shot impossible and putting the hostage in danger. It’s not until the suspect makes the hostage open the door that the outside lights provide enough illumination to take a clear shot. However, if the suspect closes the door again, the officer will be back in the proverbial dark. Clearly, the use of a standard rifle scope in this situation would not only put the hostage’s life in jeopardy, but it perfectly illustrates the handicap created when a responding law enforcement agency lacks night vision capability.
In the second part of the video, we see the same situation played out through a dedicated 4X night vision weapon scope. Here, we can easily see into the darkened building and make out both the suspect and his hostage. We can see that the suspect has a semi-automatic pistol held to the hostage’s head and is standing behind him. In fact, the night vision image allows for clear identification of the suspect and his hostage. The officer not only knows where to shoot, if required, but he knows who the suspect is. We can easily determine that the suspect is an adult male with short hair and a larger build. We can see that the hostage is also an adult male with short hair, a beard, and an athletic build. We can even see when the suspect and hostage are speaking (or in the case of this role-play, we can see when they are laughing because the "suspect” is yelling out crazy stuff). When the door is opened, the outside lights create a slight bloom on the two individuals, but the level of detail and identification capability does not change. In a situation like this, night vision is giving the officer a commanding edge.
In the final segment of this video, we observe the same situation through a thermal weapon scope. While the building is clearly seen to include the columns, lights, paint on the parking lot, we are faced with a show-stopping problem: thermal does not see through glass. While the hostage negotiator is talking with the suspect, the marksman has absolutely no way of observing the situation, rendering him unable to take a critical shot should the need arise. It is not until the suspect forces the hostage to open the glass door that we can even see that anyone is there. When the pair are finally exposed, the officer is given enough data to see who is who and that there is a pistol to the hostage’s head. But, the thermal unit does not provide any facial detail. In this circumstance, the thermal scope is set to no magnification in an effort to retain as much resolution as possible. Resolution is critical in this situation because the officer may have to take a shot within a fraction of an inch. If he were to use the electronic zoom, he would lose resolution and hinder his ability to identify the critical shot.
The night vision weapon scope is the clear winner in this scenario. The standard day scope renders the marksman impotent to affect any type of resolution to the situation and the thermal scope was arguably a liability. Yes, the suspect and hostage became more clearly visible when the door was opened. But, without a green light to take the shot, the pair could just as easily go back inside the atrium, placing the officer in the same situation again.
Thermal V Night Vision Comparison- Episode 3 Urban Group Surveillance
The third scenario simulates recorded surveillance video of a known drug deal/bad-guy meet location behind a local strip mall. The officers have set up in a concealed location to film this corner where criminal activity is often committed by gang members according local residents. The hope is that the police department can identify the drug dealers/trouble-makers and start building cases against them. However, PID must be achieved in order for evidence to be admissible in court.
The video starts out through a thermal imager. We can clearly see four subjects gathered in conversation at the back corner of this L-shaped strip mall. The overall height and build of the subjects can be identified as well as their clothing type. It can be confirmed that we are observing four grown males. All are wearing short sleeve shirts while two are in shorts and flip-flops and two are in pants and shoes. Ball caps can be seen on all of them. We can clearly see the subjects loitering about, talking and interacting with small electronic devices. The detail level is quite good overall. We can see that the shortest subject has a beard that gets longer at the chin and the suspect facing the camera also has facial hair. However, it is impossible to identify the faces of the subjects or their ethnicity. We can certainly see other details such as the fact that the subject facing the camera is wearing cargo pants and seems to be chewing gum. When one of the subjects motions to something in the distance, causing the closest subject to turn around, we can clearly see that he is wearing glasses and has a beard.
The second half of the video shows the same group of subjects through night vision. Again, we can immediately recognize four grown males as well as their height and build. We can see that they are all light-skinned; possibly White or Hispanic. While the ethnicity cannot be clearly ascertained, it is possible to rule out that we are observing Black males or darker-skinned individuals. Clothing can be identified as two subjects wearing pants, two wearing shorts, and all wearing ball caps. Printed shirt graphics can also be seen as well as the overall brightness/tones of the shirts. This information could be useful if a crime is committed during the surveillance and the observing officers need to provide an immediate description of the suspects to other officers. One of the main things to note is that facial features can be recognized enough to identify individuals.
Both thermal and night vision provided a good nighttime surveillance tool. The location was quite dark with any surrounding light sources facing away from the scene. Regular video surveillance would have been impossible. Depending on the mission, thermal or night vision could make an effective tool for monitoring individuals or areas. For a business or personal security system, thermal will definitely provide good data and allow users to recognize prominent features on individuals. Night vision provided this same data, but allowed the individuals to be identified. For professional use, this is an important point. Law enforcement officers need to make a case and be able to prove everything in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Warfighters need to identify subjects while working up target packages. But, civilian property owners may just need to see that there are people who shouldn’t be there, doing things they shouldn’t be doing. In that case, either technology will suffice in the dark. This particular scenario showed a video from a good vantage point where the four subjects could be clearly seen. Obviously, this is not always going to be the case during a surveillance operation. The thermal device being used was a 19mm 640x480 1X monocular. The night vision device was a Gen3 monocular.
Thermal V Night Vision Comparison- Episode 4 Drug House Raid
In this scenario, we are put into the shoes of a law enforcement officer providing perimeter security at the back of a commercial business that is a front for selling drugs, during a raid. An undercover officer is inside. As the assault element makes entry at the front of the building, we see two individuals go running out the back. The inner perimeter officer has a few seconds to determine what to do. Are they both suspects? Is one a suspect and the other a cop? As the two subjects run, we jump to the point of view of one of the outer perimeter officers who witnesses the same two subjects run through a gate into a residential yard. These situations can develop rapidly and radio communications can sometimes become garbled or confused. Usually, officers have very little time to process the situation and make a decision when use of force is called for.
At the start of the video, we are looking through a thermal imager and we see the first subject burst through the door, turn, and run away from the camera. We can ascertain a decent amount of information. We can see that he is male, athletic build, wearing shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops. He appears to have some facial hair and is armed with a pistol. The subject appears to be trying to get away without regard to who or what may be in his immediate environment. The second subject follows close behind the first. We can see that he is male, larger build, does not have facial hair, and is wearing a short sleeve shirt and pants. This subject is also armed with a pistol. We can also see that his behavior is different than the first subject. While the first guy immediately came running out the door and took off away from the camera, the second guy has his gun at a low ready and takes a quick glance forward before running in the same direction as the first. What does this tell us? The inner perimeter officer has a couple seconds to decide whether or not to engage the first, second, or both subjects. Neither subject’s face can be clearly identified through thermal, nor can their clothing. The first subject is probably a fleeing suspect based on his behavior. But, is the second guy a fleeing suspect or a fellow officer giving chase? After all, the raid is being carried out by officers not in traditional uniform… The second guy seems to exhibit some more professional gun handling behavior. But at the same time, there are many bad guys out there with firearms and tactical training today. Either way, the inner perimeter officer does not have enough data to engage these subjects with force.
From here, we switch to the view of one of the outer perimeter officers. The two subjects ran down the alley, away from the first officer’s position, went through a gate, and entered a residential yard. The outer perimeter officer and his K9 observe the first subject running through the gate with the second right behind him. The first guy turns and both subjects draw down on each other. What do we do? At this point, it can be safely assumed that one of the subjects is a cop and the other is a bad guy. But the situation is more complex than we see on the surface. At first, we would think that the guy being chased is the bad guy. But, as an outer perimeter officer, we know that there was an undercover officer inside the building. At the onset of the raid, he was going to run so as to not blow his cover. But, was his cover compromised anyway and he is being chased by one of the suspects who knows he is going to get caught, but is intent on killing this "traitor” before he goes down? Everything is happening in a split second and the outer perimeter officer is about to watch two individuals, one of them cop, engage each other at close range. His heart is beating through his chest and the blood is rushing in his ears. The damn frogs in the pond behind him won’t shut up either. With the stress level through the roof, he doesn’t have 100% PID on either subject to make a shot.
In the second half of the video, we see the same scenario play out through night vision. The inner perimeter officer can immediately see the same details visible in the thermal video: grown male subject with facial hair in T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, and armed with a pistol comes bursting out the back and takes off down the alley. The second subject is following close on his heels. He wears a short sleeve shirt, pants, has no facial hair, and is also armed with a pistol. The differences start when we see that both subject’s facial details are visible and identifiable. The inner perimeter officer can get a quick glimpse of the faces and get an idea of who is who. But, as the second subject rounds the corner after the first, "POLICE” is clearly printed on the back of his shirt.
As the chase continues into the residential yard, the outer perimeter officer can clearly the see the same details as the two subjects draw down on each other. Now, this split second decision is able to be made because it is clear who the suspect is. The outer perimeter officer can engage the suspect and help to save his buddy’s life.
While it is pretty obvious that officers equipped with night vision devices would be better off in this scenario, there are other factors we should acknowledge. These videos show great clarity and contrast of thermal devices. The subjects seem to literally pop out of their environments. It is incredibly easy for someone equipped with thermal to follow these subjects. The night vision devices allowed the officer to identify the subjects, but the detection limitations start to show. Notice how the first subject started to blend into the tree line as he ran away from the inner perimeter officer. While night vision provided more depth to the image, the light sources behind the tree line started to make it more difficult to follow the subjects. This can again be seen in the residential yard. When the first subject spins to engage the second, he is standing with a house and foliage behind him. This helps to conceal him slightly. While he can be seen, he is not popping out of the camera as he does when viewed through the thermal imager. This is a complex scenario that shows benefits and deficiencies of both technologies. Night vision edges out thermal in this case, due to its identification capability, but it is not without its shortcomings.
Thermal V Night Vision Comparison- Episode 5 Surveillance of Drug Buy
Here, we see another surveillance video that simulates a drug/contraband buy. We show two different takes on this scene. The first one has the suspect enter the truck on the driver’s side. Another subject approaches the driver’s side shortly after and some sort of transaction appears to take place. The second take on this scene shows a subject entering the truck on the passenger side. A transaction appears to take place, the subject exits the vehicle, and leaves.
As we saw earlier, thermal imagers do not see through glass. So, vehicle surveillance becomes almost impossible to conduct. The video starts out with the suspected dealer entering the truck. It is impossible to determine if he is alone in the vehicle. Once he enters the cab, he is completely obscured from view. We watch as the second subject approaches the vehicle. We can see that he is wearing a T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops and hat. His beard can be identified as well. Beyond that, there is no other facial recognition. A transaction of some sort appears to take place where the outside subject hands something to the guy inside the truck and takes something in return before leaving. As observers, we are completely blind as to what is happening inside the truck through the thermal device. In fact, we cannot even be sure that the first subject who initially entered the truck is the same one interacting with the second suspect who later approaches because we do not know if anyone else is in the vehicle.
Next, we see the same scene play out through night vision. As the suspected dealer approaches the truck, we are able to get clear facial recognition. However, one of the deficiencies in night vision becomes immediately apparent when he unlocks the truck and enters: halo bloom. The headlights and mirror lights are activated when the truck is unlocked and the scene is almost completely bloomed out for a few seconds. A lot of the bloom is actually exacerbated by the camera that is recording through the night vision goggle. If we were to be looking through the night vision device with a naked eye, we would still see some bloom, but not as bad as what a camera adds. Nonetheless, this issue with night vision must be taken into consideration when filming through night vision for evidence. Once the suspect is in the truck, the lights are turned off and we can clearly see into the cab. We know that he is alone in the vehicle and we can still clearly identify him. We watch as he talks on his cell phone. Later, we see the other subject approach the truck. His face is also identifiable, though there is some extra light from off camera, which is somewhat washing out his face. We are able to see the transaction take place as the driver reaches for something under the dash or in the center console. The object is handed to the outside subject and the exchange is complete. At this point, we have evidence that the original subject that entered the vehicle was the only one in the truck and carried out the exchange with the suspected buyer.
In the next take, we watch a subject approach the truck from the passenger side, through a thermal device. Again, we can make out his clothing and build, but we cannot get detail from his face. He enters the passenger side of the cab and completely disappears from view. The subject stays in the truck for a little while and then exits and walks away. He is not visible again until he is out of the truck. At this point, we have no idea what transpired in the truck, let alone have anything we can build a case on.
Next, we see the same scene play out through night vision. We watch the subject approach the truck which already is being occupied by a male driver, clearly seen through the windshield. As the subject enters the passenger side of the truck, we are again blinded in the video by the excess camera bloom created by white light sources. Again, this is not typical when viewing auto-gated Gen3 tubes with the naked eye, but is a factor you must contend with when filming. In the vehicle, we can clearly see interaction between the two subjects. An exchange appears to have been made and the first subject exits the vehicle with something in his hand and walks away.
This set of videos makes it quite apparent that thermal imagers are not ideal for vehicle surveillance. While filming through night vision has its drawbacks in bloom created by the camera from light sources, it is still the clear choice when one needs to see through glass.
Night vision and thermal imagers are incredible tools that offer undeniable advantages to professionals and amateurs alike when operating in the darkness. However, there is no magic device that will offer a perfect solution for every situation. Like everything else, you must choose the right tool for the right job. The scenarios above were designed to provide overall examples of situations that today’s professional could find himself in. The scenarios were meant to illustrate the capabilities and deficiencies found in these technologies to aid you determining which one is best for your mission. While these videos focused more on the professional end-user, it is easy to look at the data and juxtapose it over the civilian’s mission as well.
This is the first in a series of comparison videos between night vision and thermal that we will produce at TNVC. The next series will focus more on rural applications. We hope you found this data educational, relevant, and enjoyable. Stay tuned over the next few months for more.
Tactical Night Vision Company - TNVC
SIG SAUER P320 Grows up – to .45 ACP (Review)
by Justin Opinion on July 14, 2015
Check out the SIG P320: http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p320-full.aspx
Buy one on GunsAmerica: http://www.gunsamerica.com/SIG p320
When the SIG SAUER P320 was introduced, it was met with cautious optimism. After all, the P250 platform that first introduced the polymer framed, modular component concept at SIG didn’t exactly set the world on fire. But then few innovations really do take off on their first flight. The Wright brothers made several piles of scrap in their field before making history. The P320 is a striker-fired, rather than hammer-fired platform that uses an internal chassis or fire control group as the serialized gun (SIG calls this the “frame” to make things really confusing) – everything else is just “parts” and not a firearm. If this is all old news to you, then you’ve seen it before. The P320 series has been out for a while now – about a year. But not in .45 ACP – until now. Initially expected in the early spring of 2015, it has been slow in coming for those of us who love the P320 and love 230 grain projectiles.
I do admit without shame that I am a fan of the Sig Sauer P320. The consistency of the platform is very impressive, as is the ability to quickly re-purpose your firearm from a subcompact 9mm to a full sized .40 or .357 Sig in mere seconds. It’s like Transformers for gun geeks! But I remember thinking, as I lifted the first 9mm P320 that I fired, “boy, I really wish this was a .45!”. I don’t know why it is, among many gun-folk, that a handgun somehow becomes more legitimized when offered in .45 ACP. But as long as I’m confessing, I will also admit that I buy into it too.
Sig p320 45 acp 13 specs
One reason .45 ACP is not a mix-and-match with other calibers is the magazine size, and magwell difference.
One reason .45 ACP is not a mix-and-match with other calibers is the magazine size, and magwell difference.
Modularity and Compatibility
And then there is the issue of compatibility with other P320’s. It’s not. So let’s start right off with the disappointing part. By compatible I mean the ability to remove the chassis from a .45 and insert it into the kit (grip frame, side, barrel, etc.) of a 9mm, .40 S&W, or .357 Sig. With no official information that I could find, I was left scratching my head as to why that might be – and more importantly, why Sig would devalue the product line that way. After all, the pressures of the .40 and .357 are greater than the .45… so maybe it was a cartridge diameter issue.
The first thing I did when I got the P320 .45 on my work bench was pull a 9mm version apart and try mixing parts. Everything looks promising at first – but they do not interchange. The reasons, as I’m able to observe, are two: First and foremost it is a magazine size issue. 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig can all fit into a magazine of identical box dimensions. The .45 ACP cannot. The box of the .45 magazine is both wider and deeper to accommodate the bulky cartridge, and therefore requires a specially molded grip module. Reason two is the ejector.
The other reason is the ejector size and geometry, which is unique for the .45. A preventative tab is present on the smaller calibers to prevent use with .45 Auto.
The other reason is the ejector size and geometry, which is unique for the .45. A preventative tab is present on the smaller calibers to prevent use with .45 Auto.
The only functional difference I could see between the smaller caliber chassis and the .45 chassis is the fact that the latter uses a shorter ejector. Not surprising, once I realized it. I have no doubt that there would be malfunctions if that were not so. The chassis for non-.45 calibers also includes a metal tab to prevent the .45 magazine from being loaded in. For all intents and purposes then, the .45 Auto variety of the P320 family stands alone. There is still the good news that you can eventually have several sizes (four, if they follow the Full, Compact, Carry, and Subcompact offerings) in .45 ACP that use just one serialized chassis.
Like its smaller caliber siblings, the P320 .45 comes with two magazines and a convenient (and actually quite good) polymer paddle holster. The full sized magazine for the full sized grip panel (what we would call the ‘frame’ of any other pistol) holds 10 rounds. This puts it on par with the majority of .45 autos, but comes up short of several models offered by Glock, Springfield Armory, and others. Never is the “Size vs. Capacity” argument so relevant as with the massive .45 Auto cartridge. I don’t mind 10+1 and I think it allows for a “just right” sized pistol stock.
My copy of the P320 came equipped with the optional SIGLITE® night sights. The standard sights are 3-dot contrast. That is the only optional choice with the P320 line, except for some marketing driven color options for the grip modules such as flat dark earth (FDE). Night sights raise the price of the gun, but the various color offerings generally do not. Fit and finish is typical Sig Sauer. In other words, excellent. One may be tempted to poo-poo the look and feel of the dull poly lower on these guns, but remember – Sig does not consider these a permanent part of your firearm and replacements are $46 as of this writing.
That said, the design of the grip module is fantastic from an ergonomics and practical perspective. The look is pure Sig, and your hand feels right at home wrapped around it. The grips are available in three hand sizes for each module size for each caliber. Scratching your head yet? Okay, it works like this: For each caliber offered, the P320 is (or will be) available in Full size, Compact, Carry, and Subcompact. Then, each of those sizes can be had in small, medium, or large. That’s twelve permutations of each caliber P320! And that’s not considering the fancy colors like FDE. Essentially, the S,M,L sizing changes only the circumference and reach aspects of the grip surface, making them thinner or thicker in the handle. The length and height don’t change. Each grip module has molded-in grip texture that is very akin to the modern E2 style grips on newer Sig pistols. I like this texture and find it very effective.
What made me fall in love with the P320 though, was the trigger. I was pleased to see that Sig did not follow the crowd when it comes to striker-fired triggers, but instead made the P320’s bang switch out of steel and left it smooth faced and thick. It has a Sig shape and feel. But most of all what it has is an incredibly crisp break and reset. I was hoping that the .45 version would be just as good as the 9mm and .40 that I’m accustomed to. Sig specs the trigger pull at between 5.5 and 7.5 lbs. My measured average tipped the scale at just under 7 lbs. But I have often opined that the weight of the trigger is far less important to a good shooting experience than the cleanness of travel and crispness of break. And because both those elements are superb on the P320, the feel of the trigger is much lighter than those numbers suggest.
Sig Sauer supplies the P320 pistols with two magazines and a polymer paddle holster. Before you scoff at the “free holster”, I’ll tell you that it’s a pretty good one. Of course it fits your new Sig perfectly, and it’s sturdy and very practical. I’d be happy to wear it out before I felt the need for a new one – even if this were to be a competition gun. The magazines hold 10 rounds, and are manufactured by Mec-Gar in Italy. They functioned flawlessly in all my testing – as did the pistol. Not a single malfunction of any kind after nearly a half-case of Remington UMC, some Winchester, Federal, Freedom Munitions, and steel cased Tul Ammo. I even fed it a whole box of my handloads for good measure. Everything feeds, fires, and ejects without a hitch.
Sig Sauer P320 .45 ACP Fullsize
25 Yard Results – Rested
Ammunition Brand Ammunition Type 5-Shot Group 3-Shot Group
Winchester White Box 230 gr. FMJ 2.382 1.050
Remington UMC 230 gr. FMJ 2.319 0.978
Federal American Eagle 230 gr. FMJ 4.535 1.997
Freedom Munitions 230 gr. FMJ 4.113 2.082
TulAmmo 230 gr. FMJ 4.264 1.660
I did some 25-yard accuracy tests, rested on a bag. The results were good overall, with a pretty wide spread between best and worst. The P320 seemed to like the Remington UMC the best, followed closely by Winchester white box.
Looks like we’ve got a blue collar gun here that likes to shoot what you can find at the local discount store. I shot five-shot groups, and then from those I also chose a “Best Three” subgroup. The best performance was a three shot group from Remington at just under 1 inch.
Form and Function
If you like Sigs, you’ll find the feel of this gun in your hand to be a familiar one. Yet, though both are double-stack .45’s, it is thinner than the Sig Sauer P227 because it is a one-piece molded grip body that needn’t be any larger than necessary. On this molded grip, Sig has placed texturing very nearly identical to the E2 grips on their new handguns. I like this texture and feel it does a great job of providing superior grip without the discomfort of some more aggressive styles. You’ll understand just how good that grip texture is, when you see the skin embedded in it after a shooting session. I hear it’s great for removing callouses, too. The beavertail on the P320 full sized frame is a generous one. It gives the web of the hand a comfortable and secure place to wedge itself and aids in the stability of the pistol during recoil. Opposite that is a nicely undercut trigger guard. My smallish hands find the reach to the trigger to be just about ideal with the medium module (which is the most common one shipped for stock orders).
Controls are sparse, well placed, and function very well. The slide stop/release levers appear on both sides of the pistol for all P320’s. It’s not as high quality as you may be accustomed to on a Sig, but it’s part of the removable chassis and had to be designed for universal fit. Easy to reach without altering one’s grip, it operates just fine. The triangular and aggressively grooved magazine release is one of the best I’ve used. The button is large and easy to depress. You don’t feel like there is an automobile suspension spring behind it. Magazine ejection is clean, fast, and very positive. The control is reversible for lefties. The only remaining control you’ll find out the outside of the pistol is the one that bugs me. It’s the takedown lever, and in my opinion it is far too large – mainly in the thickness department. It adds about 1/8” to the thickness of the pistol. Not a big deal maybe on the full sized frame – but a very big deal on a subcompact. The takedown lever is part of the serialized chassis – and moves with it from module to module if you buy kits. It also interferes with the thumbs forward shooting grip – sitting right where your thumb wants to be. Sure, I can move my thumb under it, and I do (or it takes a beating), but I have to think about it every time I grip the pistol. Maybe there is an engineering reason for the mass of this lever, but if not I would like to see that thing put on a serious diet. Someone at Sig needs to talk to someone at Springfield Armory – they’ve got this figured out.
The trigger guard is square and large with serrations on its flat front for those who use that as a finger-hold. The magazine fits flush to the grip frame and does not protrude on any side. There is a tabbed area on either side of the grip to allow grabbing and assisting the magazine’s exit, should that ever be necessary. The grip is finished off with a lanyard ring at the heel.
The Gun Parts
The important parts of the P320, aside from the removable chassis (or FCU) are all up top. The slide is stainless steel coated with Sig’s impervious Nitron® finish. The 4.7” barrel is typical Sig Sauer and its coating is nearly impossible to mar or scratch with normal use. It sits atop a dual captured recoil spring and guide rod assembly made of steel. A nicely milled and polished breech face and short external extractor finish it off. Taking its design cues from the X-Five series of pistols, the side presents a ruggedly beautiful aesthetic, with its geometric angles and cuts, and large forward serrations.
The entire line of P320’s is just a year old, and the .45 ACP is still so new that Sig Sauer still lists it as “coming soon” on their website. How it will fare over the long haul is still a question to be answered. Whether or not LE agencies will adopt it as a duty gun or full service platform remains to be seen. But as I said up front, I’m a fan of the design concept and I think can become a proven warrior. Where I think Sig stands to hurt itself with the P320 line is in the accessories and kits department. Exchange kits are still hard to obtain, and Sig has recently raised the price of them significantly (about one third!). If you cannot get a grip module or caliber conversion you want, or have to pay nearly the price of a whole new pistol for it, there isn’t a lot of value in the concept. Let’s hope that they find a price point that works for them and us – and that they fill the shelves soon.
The 100% American Made AK: The Ras-47
by Dave Higginbotham on July 16, 2015
Made in America
Recently, American consumers have been clamoring for American-made goods. From baby toys to dog food, few things have escaped the ire of these patriotic purchasers. Once exception is Mikhail Kalashnikov’s namesake, the AK-47. For years AK elitists have considered anything not made behind the Iron Curtain to be cut rate; and in many cases they’re correct. However, Century Arms, the largest importer of AKM carbines, has decided in light of recent importation sanctions to shatter the myth with their own all-American AKM, the RAS-47. How does it stack up against decades of AK-manufacturing experience of overseas builders? Better than anyone could have guessed.
Though it begs the question why. Why would Century undergo the tremendous cost, time and effort to produce a 100 percent American-made AK when countless countries fielded hundreds of millions of the rifles that can be parts kitted out, saving them millions of dollar?
In a word, sanctions. In two: import restrictions.
In response to the aggressive military actions of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, President Obama issued punitive economic sanctions against them. One of these actions was the restriction on imports of Russian-made firearms into the United States. While some manufacturers were spared, the largest Russian manufacturer of AK rifles, Izhmash, was not. This lead to increased fear that all AK rifles would face importation restrictions VIA executive order. This, combined with the huge time delay on imported firearms stuck in US Customs and so-called sporting clause limitations caused by section 922r, created an unstable AK resource market.
Rather than be subject the whims of a notoriously anti-firearms president or the trepedacious nature of hawkish Eastern European oligarchies and their country’s seemingly nebulous borders, Century decided to create their own parts source market.
RED ARMY STANDARD (RAS) 47 Semi-Auto Rifle
◾Capacity: 30 rds.
◾Barrel: 16.5″ with a 1:10 twist, 14×1 LH
◾Weight: 7.8 lbs
A note on Century
Before we continue, it’s important to address the concerns of gun forum-goers everywhere. Yes, Century Arms made some mistakes in the past with their builds. Given the volume of their products, this is unavoidable. Also, given the company’s prolific nature, the reports of these issues are often overstated. How many times do shooters buy a gun from any maker, and excitedly post online that it runs as advertised?
Additionally, the majority of issues with Century’s most problematic rifle, the Romanian WASR, had nothing to do with Century’s mechanical or manufacturing capabilities. Since the most prominent issue were canted iron sights and these are a result of poor build quality by the Romanian armory where they were made. In that case, the alterations Century made had nothing to do with the front sight. Still, there’s no denying that Century should have caught these issues with their quality assurance team.
Previously Century was known as the economical (read: cheap) way to get into the AK game. Their new approach centers on building the best, without having a cost-prohibitive price point. Though their approach is sure to aggravate purists and collectors alike.
The new Century?
Instead of simply checking off every box on an AKM build checklist for what it takes to make a mil-spec AK, the new RAS-47 seeks to surpass it. While many of said improvements are obvious upgrades, some of the areas where Century made alterations offer questionable benefits. Such as the lightening cuts made to the bolt carrier to reduce lockup time and the omissions on the bayonet lug. Neither of these bother the overwhelming majority of prospective buyers, but the remaining five percent malcontents are disproportionately vocal. Other deviations include the lower handguard interface which is made to Russian standards, so Romanian-type furniture will require minor fitting, and the addition of their own proprietary polymer, finger-grooved pistol grip. The latter of which is precisely what Century ships on their N-PAP series of rifles – though more traditional replacements can be purchased online for as little as $10.
Which is great, because personally, I detest grooved pistol grips. This is because these grips are meant for someone who perfectly fits them. Nine times out of ten, I’m not that guy. While less of an issue with Hogue rubber grips that have some give, these hard plastic grips are pretty uncomfortable especially when holding the rifle with one hand during tactical reloads. That said, many of my larger-handed compadres found the Century grip to be much more comfortable than factory ones. The best solution would be to try and handle one yourself before buying, but again it’s only a $10 fix if a shooter determines they aren’t correct for them. Though this isn’t the only furniture option available on the carbine.
Shooters have their pick of the more traditional wood-stocked version or the tactical Magpul one. The Magpul version features the wildly popular new series of polymer AK furniture announced just prior to SHOT Show 2015. The handguard of which features Magpul’s proprietary accessory-mounting system known as M-Lok. This is great news for both tactical gear-lovers and pragmatists alike since most other mounting options add considerable weight forward of the magazine well. Anyone who has ever carried an AK or fired one extensively can attest that the gun is sufficiently weighty as it comes, and the added forward weight shifts the balance towards the muzzle, making the carbine feel sluggish and needless heavy.
Shooting the RAS-47
All groups in the data below were fired from the prone position and are 5-round groups achieved at 100 yards. Each shot was taken approx 10 seconds apart to allow proper barrel cooling. Loads were measured 10 feet from muzzle with RCBS AmmoMaster Chronograph and are the rounded average of 3 five-shot groups.
◾Red Army Copper-jacketed 123gr FMJ–1.74″ – 2411 FPS
◾Hornady 123gr SST–1.12″ – 2306 FPS
◾Prvi Partisan 123gr FMJ–1.91″ – 2403 FPS
◾Silverbear 125gr SP–2.24″ – 2367 FPS
◾Tulammo 123gr FMJ–1.44″ – 2321 FPS
Though it’s what’s beneath this handguards that really sets the Century RAS-47 apart from competitors. Whereas military specification AK carbines feature a chrome-lined steel barrel to better resist corrosion, Century’s new carbine uses a stainless barrel coated in black nitride. The result is a remarkably accurate rifle that defies the AK’s reputation as a crudely-made, inaccurate leadslinger. In testing, the RAS-47 proved more accurate than many off-the-shelves AR-15 carbines; achieving five-round groups just over one MOA at 100 yards with Hornady SST ammunition–a feat I deemed impossible for the platform prior to shooting this rifle.
Unfortunately, the rifle’s iron sights do little to assist shooters in obtaining this sort of accuracy. Which is why it’s great that Century decided to add a side rail mount to the RAS-47. Shooters looking to achieve similar levels of precision from the carbine, should invest in a quality mount and clear optic. Russian-made optics mounts are either prohibitively expensive, or simply mount too far above the receiver for shooters to effectively use without having to rest their chin on the buttstock. The two companies I found to best address this issue are Midwest Industries and market-newcomer, RS Regulate.
Both offer great mounts that were utilized in this review, and drastically increased the carbine’s usability, while assisting it in reaching its potential. This is especially true when paired with a high-quality magnified optic; shooters can’t hit what they can’t see.
Below this mount is another non-traditional addition to the AKM, an extended magazine release – Though referring to it as such is misleading. The release isn’t simply extended, but also widened so shooters can more easily release empty magazines. In testing, this upgrade offered little time savings to more experienced AK-runners, but newer shooters appreciated the wider controls. In my experience they are greatly helpful for shooters using alternative reloading techniques, such as dislodging the spent magazine with the middle finger of the firing hand, without leaving the pistol grip. Not simply because it’s easier to reach, but also because the extended portion offers greater mechanical advantage, thus reducing the amount of force required to do so. Again, mostly unimportant for traditional shooters, but those running an AK under the clock will appreciate the precious milliseconds saved.
Even though the RAS-47 has a myriad of atypical features for an AK, it still retains many iconoclastic details that function well and maintain the traditional AK aesthetic. For instance, unlike Century’s first attempt at an domestic AK clone, the C39, the RAS-47 uses a standard AKM post and notch iron sights. The rear leaf sight is adjustable for drop and has pre-measured distances notched out for rapid target engagement.
Another classic feature is the slant muzzle brake topping the RAS-47’s barrel. It features AKM-standard 14X1mm LH threading, so shooters can purchase alternatives designed to fit any AKM carbine that doesn’t use the larger mount on AK-74 or AK-100 series rifles. Although this addition is aesthetically pleasing and functional, I feel Century would have been better served introducing their own brake, but only if it wouldn’t have affected the rifle’s price point.
Prices range from $669.99 to $859.99 depending on furniture. This model regularly sells for less than $600. Given the high price of the optional Magpul furniture, shooters are getting what they pay for in both instances. So whether a shooter is looking for their first AK rifle, a remarkable accurate carbine in an inexpensive caliber or simply an attractive, ultra-reliable plinker – the Century Arms RAS-47 won’t disappoint.
Advanced Mil-Dot: Estimating Distance Using Your Scope
by Tom McHale on July 16, 2015
Recently we introduced the whole concept of the mil-dot (or milliradian) system for rifle scopes in Mil-Dot Made Easy. In that article, we got into the practical application of how mil-dot scopes can be used to figure out how to aim at a distant target. With simple math, you can figure out how much adjustment to make to your optic to account for bullet drop at longer ranges. The same system can be used to calculate windage adjustment to account for crosswinds and figuring out how much to lead a moving target.
That’s all fine and cool, but what I like most about the mil-dot system is that it can be used to figure out the distance to a target, just by looking through your optic. Hey, when the Zombies come, batteries are going to be in short supply, and those fancy laser rangefinders will only work for so long.
In fact, one of the earliest uses of the mil-dot ranging system allowed submarine commanders to figure out how far away an enemy ship was. This knowledge, used with some basic math that factored in the speed of their torpedoes, told them where to aim in order to intersect the path of the ship. If you’re ancient enough (like me) to have played that old arcade game Sea Wolf, you’ll know the concept. Except back then, you had to guess when to launch the torpedo, and it took a lot of quarters to nail the timing consistently. If you don’t know what an “arcade game” is, count me as envious of your youth.
Likewise, mil-dot markings in your scope can easily be used to figure out how far away a person, animal, or object is from your current position. It’s a matter of proportion. For example, have you ever tried to help someone spot a planet in the night sky by telling them something like, “Look two thumb widths over from the moon and you’ll see it?” Obviously, Mercury is somewhat farther than two thumbs away from the moon. Your thumb width is just represents a proportional distance relationship. The width of your thumb two feet from your eyes represents some millions or billions of miles of distance far out in space.
The concept of determining how far away something is using mil-dots is similar. Because the proportional size of an object is constant with distance, you can use some basic algebra principles to figure out the range. Don’t freak out because I used the word “Algebra!” I hated that class too, but there is one important thing we all learned that applies here. Remember “solving for X?” All that really boiled down to was knowing that if there are three pieces of information, and you know two of them, you can usually solve for the missing third one. In this case, you can always solve for the missing piece of info at the relationships are proportional.
At risk of grossly oversimplifying math and ticking off my 8th-grade algebra teacher, it works like this. With a mil-dot scope, we know that the measurements between dots on the scope reticle equate to 1 yard at 1,000 yards distance. If we also know the actual size of a distant object, like a person standing, fence post, or copy of the New York Times, then we have two pieces of known information. The only thing missing is the distance between our scope and the known size object.
Let’s use a real-world example to illustrate the idea.
Suppose we want to shoot a copy of The New York Times. Yes, that brings me joy, but that story is for another day. Someone has placed it down range at an unknown distance. As hardly anyone knows, the width of The New York Times is about 12 inches. When folded, as it would be in a newspaper rack, it’s about 11 inches tall. Now, if someone put our example entirely objective content newspaper at close range, say 5 feet, it would look pretty big through a scope. However, if they placed it 300 yards down range, it would appear to be a puny little thing, even less worthy of a read than normal. That’s the whole proportion thing in action. They farther away it is, the smaller it appears.
Using a mil-dot scope to figure out how far away an object is requires only a little simple math.
Here’s where the magic of mil-dot comes into play. What if we “measured” the size of our downrange newspaper using the mil-dot markings in the scope? Using the scope marks like a ruler, we can look at the paper through the scope and see how many “mil-dots” in the scope reticle it covers. At close range, say 10 yards, the paper might appear to be 20 mil-dots tall. At long range, it might only be one or two mil-dots tall. Here’s where we can use our two “known” pieces of information to figure out how far away it is. We know the length of a mil-dot at a fixed range of 1,000 yards. We also know that the New York Times, when folded, is about 11 inches tall. The only piece of missing information is the distance between us and the formerly-epic example of investigative journalism.
Here’s where the proportions come into play. Remember from the previous discussion that one milliradian (mil) equates to one yard at a distance of 1,000 yards. For illustration’s sake, imagine standing a yardstick upright 1,000 yards down range. When we look at that through a mil-dot scope reticle, it will appear to be exactly one mil tall.
That’s the basis of the proportion relationship. If a one-yard tall object appears to be one mil tall through the scope, it must be 1,000 yards away. If it appears to be two mils tall, then it’s only 500 yards away. If the object is not exactly one yard tall, then you need to adjust accordingly.
Let’s say that The New York Times appears to be two mils tall through our scope. But we know that it’s only .305 yards tall. We also know that a one-yard tall object that appears to be two mils tall through the scope is 500 yards away, so a smaller object that appears two mils tall must be closer, since it appears larger.
Rather than get all wrapped up in the words, there’s a simple formula to figure out the range. It relies on knowing the actual size of the object your are ranging and the number of mils that it appears to be through your scope.
Plugging these values into the formula, we get:
The same formula works with meters too, as long as you’re consistent.
It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it, you can use this system almost anywhere, because there are almost always objects of known size nearby. For example:
The idea is to find an object near your target of known size, and use that as your range estimation input. There are plenty of every day objects of known size: cars, trash cans, telephone poles, whitetail deer, fire hydrants, or gun free zone protest signs, just to name a few. If you know the sizes of common objects in your area, you can easily use your mil-dot scope to reliably estimate range. Because some math is actually valuable later in life, just like your high school teacher said.
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President - CARGO
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