Monthly Archives: December 2012

Remember what we said about scams?

This auction was represented as a “pre-ban Romanian Underfolder” AK and ultimately sold for just under $1k.

It wasn’t that at all.(In response to comments, the auction seller did make some adjustments before the hammer fell, but the “pre-ban” nomenclature stood. If somebody bought this in a ban state, he will either be committing a felony or — if he’s lucky — will find it impossible to take delivery).

AK 47, Underfolder, Hi-Cap, semi-auto. Rifle is in Excellent condition, comes with two 30 round mags and one 40 round mag and Bayonet. Date stamped in receiver is 1968.

via Pre Ban Romanian AK47 Underfolder : Semi Auto Rifles at

It appears, from its undimpled receiver, to be a common-and-garden-variety Century WASR. These are indifferently slapped together by Century in Georgia, Vermont, from parts from scrapped military AKs and new el-cheapo receivers.

We’ve seen dozens of these, and we have yet to observe one without assembly or finish deficiencies. They generally do function, which is a credit to Kalashnikov, not the Century crowd.

Maybe the new market is so overheated that a Century AK is worth a grand. You’re better off buying a parts kit and bending your own receiver — while it’s still legal.

Why the police can’t protect you, Newtown edition

to protect and serve

To Protect and Serve — is the intent of the police. But how soon can they protect and serve you?

There are a number of reasons that you are mistaken to rely upon the police to protect your life and safety, and those of your loved ones. Those reasons include:

  • The police are not as interested in your safety as you are.
  • The police take time to get to you, and you are already there.
  • Even among carefully selected police officer, not all are good guys.

Each of these three factors is illustrated with reference to the Newtown, Connecticut PD and the Newtown shootings. We’ve seen no indication that the 44-officer Newtown force is anything but a good police department, so bear that in mind: these are limitations that exist in even the best of police forces. If you have a really bad one (Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC?) then there are many more reasons to take your safety into your own hands.

The police are not as interested in your safety as you are

This is not a calumny against the police, it’s the basic truth. Most POs will concentrate, first, on self-preservation. (We see this at the Columbine shooting, where an armed school resource officer bravely traded fire with the shooters, but then withdrew, and the SWAT/tactical team that came essentially cowered outside the building for a long period). To the extent there’s a mantra in modern police religion, it’s go home at the end of your shift, regardless. 

In the real world, a lot of cops step up beyond self-preservation, but self-preservation is what their training and duty demands of them, and it’s all you can really count on. Those cops that commit acts of selfless sacrifice, or risk same, are going above and beyond the call of their duty, and while they’re out there, that is more than you can ask of a man or woman as a matter of public policy. 

In Newtown, he police entered the building directly, but deliberately and cautiously. They did well, but they could have done better. In all honesty, though, their performance on this measure was moot, because of the next item:

The police take time to get to you, and you are already there.

Only an armed person at the scene of the shooting is a zero-dispatch response, and that’s true whether the armed person is a cop or a citizen. The police response to Newtown has been praised as rapid, but in fact it was slow and dilatory. It took then 20 minutes to respond to the scene. If you have a smartphone, set its timer function to 20:00 and start in now. In 20 minutes, a trained and experienced marksman can easily fire between one and two thousand carefully aimed shots. Even a nutcase with minimal training, like the wretch in Newtown, can work incredibly deadly execution at short range, with a disarmed and defenseless target set. (Yes, we’re saying it could have been far worse).

Because a criminal, insane shooter has the initiative — no one is expecting a nutcase to open fire in most everyday situations — he’s going to take his first couple of targets, regardless. Unless you’re guarded like the President, he’s going to get his first shots off. But he can only run up the body count if he’s not resisted quickly, as in Newtown, or if the resistance is ineffective, as in Columbine. Time he spends trading shots with or evading an armed resister, whether a police officer, private guard or armed citizen, is time he is not murdering more of his targets.

And, in most cases (Columbine being the glaring exception), initial resistance shatters the worldview of the shooter and he opts to take himself out. So since we can’t do any reasonable thing about nut cases — a 1950s commitment  policy might have institutionalized the Gabrielle Giffords shooter, who was bughouse crazy, but the ACLU and courts have made it impossible to institutionalize someone like the Newtown shooter, who was merely a little odd.

We’re up against the fact that, even though these shooters are definitionally insane, a lot of people with the same pre-shooting symptoms are perfectly harmless. If you were to lock up every teen with the affect and behavior of the Newtown kid, pre-shooting, you’d have institutionalized 1o,00o potential computer programmers, insurance actuaries, and baseball statisticians for every potential murderer.

This takes us far beyond the framework our government is allotted under the Constitution or the common law, into totalitarian territory. And it still won’t get the clever whack-job who is self-aware enough to hide his symptoms.

So the pshrinks can’t save us because of the false-positive and the false-negative rates. The cops can’t save us because they’re not already there. If we put them there, already, would that help?

Maybe not. Because:

Even among carefully selected police officers, not all are good guys.

While most police are admirable people and selfless servants of the public, there are enough exceptions that you might want to think twice about giving them too much authority over you. The Newtown, PD, for example, has had more than its share of police decertified in recent years, including leaders of the police union decertified for felony fraud and embezzlement. While two cops lost their jobs when they were exposed as having looted the cops union’s health insurance fund of at least $100,000, two other cops who were involved seem to have dodged any consequences, and were presumably there  during the unfortunately, but inevitably, late arrival of the Newtown PD.

Now, it’s quite possible that a cop could be financially crooked and physically courageous at the same time. It’s quite possible the same man could be a grifting embezzler and a technically proficient law officer. Human beings, after all, are complicated creatures full of contradictions and puzzlements. But it’s more common for deficient character to show up in multiple channels of bad behavior than in a single narrow band or sort of misdeeds.

Cops are human, and some of them, like the bankrupt Newtown cops who avoided bankruptcy, foreclosure, and finally, financial inconvenience, by stealing, are not the role models we would like them to be.

And some cops are a different kind of criminal. Seldom mentioned in stories on shootings — in a media that calls each new crime the worst shooting ever without even bothering to Google their superlative — are that shootings by government-armed police officers, while not common, are, like mass shootings, nonzero events. (Google Michael Chapel, Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa and Stephanie Lazarus for a few examples from the last couple decades). In fact, the second worse mass shooting murder in history, with over 50 killed and 100+ more wounded by gunfire and grenades, was committed with service weapons by policeman Woo Bum-Kon (we’ve also seen him called Woo Bum-Suk). Legal civilian ownership of guns in Woo’s area of his country is functionally zero, but a mass shooting (and a terrible one) still occurred.

So… in a world where only the police were armed, even if such a world were practically possible, there would still be occasional mass shootings.

So what’s the take-away?

The police can protect you, but not all police, not always, and not everywhere.

Given those gaps, you’re taking a nonzero risk if you count on them exclusively for your safety.

The likelihood of you being swept into an active shooter event is very small, but the consequences are potentially enormous.

Therefore, if you love your life, protect yourself. If you love others, protect them. Think of the police — remembering that most cops are brave and committed and thoroughly honest — as your outer perimeter.

We live in a ridiculously safe small town in an incredibly safe state in a far-safer-than-average region of the country. But that’s what the families of Newtown, believed, also (may God have mercy on them in their hour of suffering).

We have more than just an outer perimeter. Your choices are your own, and may they never fail you.

A Mess of Accidents, No. 5

ND-shot-in-footWe wish we could have good news about gun safety. But generally, if it’s news, it isn’t good, and if it’s good, it isn’t news. Alas. But human nature (and newsman nature) being what it is, on to the news. Beginning with police officers behaving badly:

  • A police chief shot himself. Oh wait, it was the police chief in Fayetteville, NC, and she shot herself. Same difference. Our therory behind self-inflicted white shirt shootings: it’s all that elite Only Ones police training, especially the kind that ambitious chain-of-command-climbers tend to have. They’re not talking about how this happened, and stonewalling the press, which is proof positive it was something really stupid, as well as criminally negligent. But it’s OK ’cause she’s a cop.
  • This isn’t entirely accidental, but it’s unintentional. Three cops relying on their superior Only Ones training to subdue a domestic violence suspect in the station in nearly (legal) gun-free New Jersey wound up wounded when the suspect got hold of somebody’s service pistol. The cops will survive thanks to luck and vests, but mostly luck, although one’s wound is serious. The suspect is dead, which is only fair. It’s generally unwise to trust your life to luck, but shooting the moon paid off for these officers. Don’t you try it because about all the luck in the world has been used up.
  • One phrase that makes the hair on the back of one’s neck stand up is, “playing with a gun.” It all too often ends like this:

According to the Sheriff’s office investigation, Caleb Frisbey age 17, and Michael Johnson also 17, were playing around with an unloaded gun, when Caleb Frisbey picked up a another handgun that was holstered.

He reportedly pointed that pistol at Johnson and pulled the trigger. The gun was loaded and the .44 caliber bullet struck Johnson.

Two lives destroyed. Just like that.

  • And there’s always the old “a gun went off.” In this North Carolina case, another teen is dead and the guy whose hand the gun went off in is in jail.
  • A young man was showing off his gun to a friend in the kitchen, while a party was going on in a Spokane house. BANG. A young woman is in critical condition with a GSW of the head. The gun owner is not under arrest, yet, but the gun is.
  • Two brothers again, in Minnesota. Four-year-old shot two-year-old dead. Father is now on trial, doubly unfortunate to live in a city with an anti-gun and camera-happy, politically ambitious prosecutor.
  • We’ve mentioned this Virginia incident before, but the gun wielder is now on trial. He and the victim were doing drugs and playing Russian roulette… as if drugs weren’t Russian roulette enough.
  • And this one happened last month, in Mercer Island, Washington, but we’re throwing it in just so we can close on another cop shooting himself.

To our readers: don’t do that! To our police readers, this means you too. You’re sworn officers, not bulletproof ones.

Sunday on the brink of a new year

We are looking forward to New Year’s around here. There are many reasons, but one is that this blog opened on January 1st, 2012, so we’re completing a year of regular blogging, and getting ready to start a second. (This blog was a one-year experiment which we judge a success… mostly).

We look forward to seeing you this week as 2012 ends and 2013 begins. (And hey, if we go off the Fiscal Cliff as projected, we’ll have more time to blog, and more money to spend on tax-deductible stuff to keep it out of the clutches of the Forces of Evil).

World without Ammo


The empty ammo box… a familiar sight, as buyers have stripped the entire supply chain.

If you’ve been trying to buy ammunition lately, you know what we mean. This chart, prepared by the blogger/FFL Traction Control, tells the whole sad tale. American ammo stocks are at 7% or lower, and rifles are in the 20% region. But it’s actually worse than that for the most popular calibers of ammo, which are simply unavailable. Your dealer has none in stock because he can’t get it, and he can’t get it because his distributor can’t get it either, and the distributor can’t het it because big suppliers have put cash on the barrelhead for more than the whole year’s projected production. Manufacturers are in turn limited by several factors, including availability of components and raw materials. Also, if they ramp up in what is certainly a panic-buying bubble, they could wind up with a lot of excess inventory when the bubble pops.

The only way this level of production could be consumed, not stockpiled, is if we were in a shooting civil war. In that unlikely occurrence, ammo deliveries would stop and the factories would again be stuck with unsold and unsalable product.

You can see two discontinuities in the stock line -- one at the election, and one after the Newtown murders.

You can see two discontinuities in the stock line — one after the election, and one after the Newtown murders.

But for the time being buyers are stockpiling and hoarding, and so short supplies will continue as long as Democrats, media, and urban politicians continue to press radical disarmament. (And radical is indeed the word. Senator Feinstein’s bill includes a national handgun ban, and the rest of the bansters’ eternal wish list).

This poses a particularly sharp problem for users like ranges, training facilities, and police departments that require a steady supply of ammunition for operations and who depend on just-in-time sources of supply. Those sources are at the point of failure, or beyond, in the sight of unprecedented demand. If you shoot a lot, you have to be aware of this situation, and you’re probably shooting less in order

An economist would tell you what will happen next: prices will rise sharply. At some point, profit-taking, even by people who have no hope of replacing the cartridges in the new market, will draw the hoarded supply back into commerce. That’s because a large number of the hoarders are not planning to shoot the ammunition but are either speculators or simply stockpiling for an unpleasant future. The knowledge that a new equilibrium is likely to be established at a new, higher, price is just going to drive more speculators.

On the other hand, something like the Feinstein bill could pass, and the house-to-house searches begin. That is unlikely to end well.

They’re Dicks all right

dicks-sporting-goods-logoBy now, unless you were doing hard time or getting your chakras checked at Guru Pitka’s Los Angeles ashram, you’ve heard about the sanctimonious exit from the, er, sporting goods market by the national chain, Dick’s Sporting Goods.

A week before Christmas, Dick’s announced it was suspending sales of modern sporting rifles in all stores, out of respect for the victims of the Connecticut massacre.

via Dick’s Sporting Goods Customers Complain About Guns Paid For, But Not Delivered « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth.

The reaction to the announcement has been about what you might expect: sallow, sunken-chested chess club lettermen across the nation have applauded, whilst former Dick’s customers shrugged and moved on to retailers who wanted their business.

A 13-year-0ld of our acquaintance, a kid who’s bored by politics of any kind, perked up when he heard the news on the radio. He asked what it meant. We told him.

“They’re dicks all right,” he said. “They’re dead to me. What are the alternatives?”

Now, losing a few middle-aged sporting goods customers for life is a risk Dick’s was clearly willing to take. But they’ve also lost a 13-year-old customer for life, and his buying of basketballs, ski jackets, fishing tackle, and, yes, guns, is mostly ahead. And he’s not the only one.

That’s probably why Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media wrote, “This is how a company commits suicide.”

Our local Dick’s is an experimental set with an n of 1 and no control group, but we did observe that on December 22, 23 and 24 it was the only store at the mall with nearly empty parking. Most of the people parking at Dick’s were overflow from the adjacent Trader Joe’s. If this result is replicated across the USA they had a very, very bad holiday season. Couldn’t happen to a nicer gang of Dicks.

And it gets worse. They not only stopped selling new rifles, but according to the CBS report linked above, they stopped delivering ones that were already paid for. Customers who laid down cash are being fobbed off with Dick’s gift cards, possibly because the company’s cash position doesn’t allow it to refund cash, and possibly to force mistreated customers to return to the stores that did them wrong. The injured customers have the bare bones of a class action suit, and plaintiff’s attorneys want to get in before any bankruptcy filing.

TroyCarbineSlide5cBut wait, as Ron Popeil might say. It gets worse yet! Dick’s not only, well, dicked its customers, it dicked its suppliers too, including Troy Industries, which had an exclusive deal to sell through the Dicks at Dick’s. In Troy’s statement (below, in full) they give you a sense of how Dick’s does business. There’s a strong implication that (1) Dick’s set the price of Troy’s rifle below actual cost, trashing Troy’s carefully-built brand; (2) Dick’s happily sold some quantity of rifles that they not only did not have in stock, that they didn’t even have on order; and (3) nobody at Dick’s even bothered to tell anyone at Troy when they pulled the plug.

Troy Defense (Troy), a division a Troy Industries, Inc., was deeply dismayed and shocked to hear through national media outlets that Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) made the decision to stop selling the Troy Carbine along with other modern sporting rifles. DSG did not contact or inform Troy of this decision prior to notifying the public. Nor was Troy informed by DSG that cancellation letters were being sent to customers, set to arrive on Christmas Eve (a day Troy was closed).

Troy has invested millions of dollars in its facility and operations to bring its first ever modern sporting rifle to the market under an exclusive contract with DSG. In selecting DSG as the sole distributor of the Troy Carbine, Troy relied on DSG’s high sales forecasts and sales potential prior to undertaking the significant financial and corporate commitment necessary to design, develop, manufacture and bring a new modern sporting rifle to the marketplace. Based on DSG’s press release, DSG’s anti-gun stance is clear – DSG will not continue modern sporting rifle sales and Troy will sadly not see its Carbine readily available — despite the outlay of millions of dollars by Troy and its commitment to support DSG in its distribution efforts.

Troy is currently researching other channels to ensure continuous and consistent distribution for its rifles. But please note, Troy’s pricing to DSG was based upon volume sales. It is unlikely that pricing to any other outlet in the future will support the pricing granted to DSG. Troy understands the anger of certain DSG customers whose purchases have been cancelled – you got a great price from DSG. However, Troy, itself, cannot come anywhere close to offering the Carbine at the price DSG was offering it. DSG devalued and diluted Troy’s brand when it offered for sale the Carbine at a steeply discounted price during Thanksgiving week. As a result of the sale price set by DSG, DSG oversold and overpromised its inventory. Nonetheless, the current ill-will could have been avoided had DSG not terminated modern sporting rifle sales, promptly canceled overpromised orders, and forthrightly communicated with Troy.

Troy is hopeful that it will soon identify a new distribution channel for its Carbine. We ask for your patience and support during this difficult and transitory time.

Best regards,

Stephen Troy
CEO & Founder
The Troy Group


The decision taken by Dick’s to dick Dick’s customers and Dick’s suppliers (and not coincidentally, dick Dick’s shareholders)  was taken by the head Dick, who’s strictly an honorary Dick as his name is Edward Stack.

We need train control

In New York City, where no one has guns except for every criminal and Mayor Bloomberg’s schutzstaffel, the subway trains are emerging — thanks, in part, to the media’s relentless publicity — as the weapon of choice for homicidal maniacs.

The current suspect, presently uncaught, is a short, fat Hispanic woman who was muttering to herself before she threw an apparent stranger in front of a rushing train. The victim, Indian immigrant Sunado Sen, died instantly. The suspect was stopped by bystanders — just kidding. This is New York City. The bystanders stood by, in classic New York style, as the murderer sauntered out of the station in Queens, and then broke into a run.

Der Bloomführer was defensive and dismissive in an interview with the press. “It’s the safest big transit system in the world….It’s a rare occurrence… you are so much safer here than anyway [sic] else.” Asked about the absence of security or even cameras on the platform, he snapped, “Cameras wouldn’t prevent what happened yesterday.”

Then rushed off somewhere, behind a phalanx and in a scrum of armed guards.

"You're safer here than anyway [sic]" -- Mayor Bloomberg

“You’re safer here than anyway [sic]” — Mayor Bloomberg

New York? It may be a hard place, but take heart. At least one man is safe.

The Great Wingate

Orde Wingate -- this sketch, from a contemporary photograph, is from this site.

Orde Wingate — this sketch, from a contemporary photograph, is from this excellent site which discusses the Chindit controversies.

Max Boot has a massive, but not ponderous, article on the early Special Operations genius Orde Wingate in the Weekly Standard today. Wingate, Boot writes, is forgotten today, except in Israel where his Christian-tinged Zionism made him a friend for life and beyond. This is not exactly true, because Wingate is still remembered,loved, and studied in the Special Forces and SOF world. In Boot’s conventional military, men like Wingate are not merely ignored and forgotten, but actively opposed and undermined. It’s easy to see why:

“Popularity,” Wingate believed, “is a sign of weakness.” Considered by his peers to be either a “military genius or a mountebank” (opinions differed), he had been locked in an unceasing war against his superiors from his earliest days.

Even as a young cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he “had the power,” recalled his best friend, “to create violent antagonisms against himself by his attitude towards authority.” Later, as a junior officer, Wingate was known to begin meetings with generals by placing his alarm clock on the table. After it went off, he would leave, announcing, “Well, gentlemen, you have talked for one hour and achieved absolutely nothing. I can’t spend any more time with you!”

Wingate’s first rebellion was against the stifling religious atmosphere in which he was raised. He was born in 1903 to a father who was a retired Indian Army colonel with a devotion to a fundamentalist Protestant sect called the Plymouth Brethren. He and his wife brought up their seven children, including “Ordey” (his family nickname), in what one of his brothers called a “temple of gloom,” with prayer mandatory, frivolity forbidden, and “fears of eternal damnation” ever present. By the time Orde arrived at Woolwich, to train as an artillery officer, he had left the Plymouth Brethren, but he never lost his religious outlook. For the rest of his life he would be deeply influenced by the Bible, on which he had been “suckled” and which a friend said “was his guide in all his ways.” Another legacy of his childhood was that he developed a violent aversion to being regimented. At Woolwich he was in constant trouble, and he formed a low opinion of the “military apes” who tried to discipline him.

After graduation he learned Arabic, and in 1928 he joined the British-run Sudan Defense Force as an officer overseeing local enlisted men. He battled elusive gangs of slave traders and poachers within Sudan, learning the hit-and-run tactics he would employ throughout his career. He also developed many of his unconventional habits, such as wearing scruffy clothing (“his socks were very smelly and all in holes,” a subordinate later noticed), subjecting himself to great danger and discomfort, and receiving visitors in the nude. (He would become notorious for briefing reporters in his hotel room while “brushing his lower anatomy with his hairbrush.”) Other Wingate trademarks: a pith helmet, which he wore in the manner of a nineteenth-century explorer; an alarm clock, which he carried (he claimed “wrist watches are no damned good”); raw onions, which he munched like apples because of their supposedly salubrious properties; and a beard, which he grew from time to time in contravention of the King’s Regulations, which permitted only a mustache.

While returning home on a steamship from the Sudan in 1933, he met an Englishwoman, Ivy Paterson, and her 16-year-old daughter, Lorna. Ivy noted Wingate’s “medium height” (he was five feet six inches tall), the “forward thrust” of his head, and his “beautiful hands.” But his most impressive feature was his eyes: “Rather deep set, and of a periwinkle blue, they were the eyes of a prophet and a visionary. .  .  . [I]n their fire and intensity, one was aware of the unusual force of his personality.” That impression was reinforced when she heard Wingate hold forth in what another listener described as a “sandpaper voice” (“like the grating of stone against stone”) on almost every “subject under the sun”​—​including his love of Beethoven and his dislike of “the wireless,” as radio was then known. “He spoke brilliantly. But he could also be very quiet and silent for long periods.”

Ivy’s daughter, Lorna, was instantly smitten. Orde was 30 years old and already engaged, but he, too, fell in love with this winsome schoolgirl. They married two years later shortly after her graduation from high school. His former fiancée was devastated but remained so devoted to Orde that she never married, because she felt no other man could match him. This was evidence of the strong devotion that Wingate could instill to counterbalance the antipathy he so often engendered.

via What Wingate Wrought | The Weekly Standard.

While Boot writes pungently and succeeds well in giving you something of the man in that excerpt, you have to read the whole profile to get a sense of the man, and his unconventional career. Rather than commanding conventional units, Wingate spent his career commanding natives in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan; organizing the Special Night Squads, a company-sized Anglo-Jewish element that operated in small patrols (and not coincidentally, trained a generation of early Haganah and IDF leaders); the Gideon Force, an Anglo-Ethiopian adventure that overthrew Mussolini’s empire in Abyssinia; and the unit for which he is most well-remembered in the US, the Chindits of Burma.

In each of these operations, natives adequately trained, organized and stiffened by British support were able to self-protect and in most cases self-liberate. (In the case of the Special Night Squads, they even did this while opposed by the British government and most of the British Army in Palestine, who supported the Arabs and disparaged the Jews). Each of these was, and is, a model of Special Forces unconventional warfare, and probably deserves book-length treatment (in some cases, like the Chindits and the SNS, they have had it).

In fact, Special Forces, which share the ethos and largely the heritage of Wingate’s various unconventional forces, is a unique place where the soldier who excels in the conventional army can excel further (not coincidentally, its first founders came from the “strac” Airborne Infantry of the fifties), but more often, the high-functioning misfit and loner can be redeemed. Some SF men would be great in a line unit, but the greatest SF men would be disruptive over there.

Like Orde Wingate. This is absolutely a Read The Whole Thing™ profile. Boot (who we daresay has read as many books about Wingate as we have) simply nails the guy and his importance in the SF/SOF firmament.

Watch out for gun-seller scams

When you need the Feds to investigate this dodgy character...

When you need the Feds to investigate this dodgy character…

We got disturbing news about the rare Connecticut State Police Remington 81 that we wrote about yesterday. While the GunBroker auction that we linked to was legitimate, criminals took the pictures and description from that auction listing and listed the gun for a lower price at another sales site, Armslist. Contacted by the actual owner of the rifle, the S&S Hunt Club, Armslist promptly removed the listing and left in its place a note that it was a scam.

So, well done to Armslist, good catch by the Remington 8 community, and it looks like no one was harmed. This time.

Why do these scammers persist? Well, one reason is that law enforcement couldn’t really be bothered to track these guys down. S&S contacted ATF, but they’re unlikely to do anything — they’re working flat out just to army Mexican drug lords, and coordinating with Democratic members of Congress to nullify the 2nd Amendment. They’re much more into manufacturing than fighting crime, these days.

..instead they're cracking down on this character.

..instead they’re cracking down on this character.

Local cops might be willing to fight fraud, and eager to collar a crook that the Feds consider beneath arrest by their auguste personages, but with the scammers working across state and national borders, a Federal agency would have to get interested to properly resource the case and follow the leads where they go. In the end, it’s not sexy crime, just routine crime, so it falls between the cracks.

So the lesson to you is: be careful out there. The crazed panic buying has brought a lot of stuff off the shelves as investors take profits and collectors reduce their exposure to political risk, but there are a lot of very suspicious listings on the auction sites, too. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. It’s a real good time to deal face-to-face — in a public, busy place with surveillance cameras, if it’s a cash deal. Use your head.

An interesting oddity on the block

Remington Model 81, CSP

Remington Model 81, CSP

It’s a documented Remington Model 81 Special Police Rifle, ex-Connecticut State Police, on the block at GunBroker.  The sellers are asking a metric crapton of money for it, but it’s that rare a gun that they just might get it.

The Model 81 was an outgrowth of John Browning’s Model 8, and a close cousin to his autoloading long-recoil shotgun. It was also, reportedly, one of the weapons that Mikhail Kalashnikov (who is, incidentally, reported to be unwell) had for a reference when he was designing his AK in the 1940s. The selector lever-cum-dust-guard, the magazine release (which is, to be sure, similar to the 1930s Tokarev or Simonov semi-auto mag release, so Kalashnikov’s borrowing could easily have been indirect), and the general arrangement of the weapon are among the several areas that show either Remington 8 DNA or convergent evolution in the Kalashnikov automatic weapons. The factory 15-round-mag, which it’s unclear whether Connecticut State Police ever used, has a profile view much like an AK; the .30 Remington has a similar taper, but the early gun’s mag is single-column.

Catalog page from the Collector Grade Publications book on the Model 8 and 81.

Catalog page from the Collector Grade Publications book on the Model 8 and 81.

Under the nation’s earliest assault weapon ban, the auction weapon apparently had a short magazine when discharged from the CSP, if not on its acquisition, but a catalog photo shows that these weapons originally had the curved magazine.

There are other parts of the Remington 8/81 that went on to inspire other designers. The bolt handle with its unusual two holes for a spanner wrench should be familiar to Johnson fans, for instance. As an early example of a successful centerfire semi-auto rifle, the Remington birthed a worldwide revolution that’s still ongoing.

This particular instance was one of the earliest and bears a low serial number (10003). It was shipped to Connecticut in 1940 and disposed of in 1950 (the disposal bill of sale is one of the hundreds of photos at the link).

The Remington Model 81 had attractive lines and an effective cartridge.

The Remington Model 81 had attractive lines and an effective cartridge.

The Special Police models were available only to police departments as departmental weapons. The factory engraved them with “Police Weapon: Property of ” on manufacture, and added the department name when the weapons were sold.

In the days before Police Tactical Teams or SWAT, rifles were used more to dispatch injured animals than to engage barricaded criminals, so buys tended to be few and small. Some police departments never dispose weapons to the public, and the Remington Rimless cartridges (.30, .32, and .35) for which these guns were chambered, once very popular with big-game hunters, have fallen out of fashion — and production, rendering them a handloading project for anyone looking to fire these weapons. When factory-loaded cartridges ceased to be regularly available, treasured old 8s and 81s became much less treasured, which has cut down on their survival rates.

This example is also in remarkably good condition inside and out, as the photos document conclusively. That’s a beautiful rust blue on there, even in the photographs (we’d wager the blue is deeper and more beautiful in person than Nikon or Canon can show us). We want it for its historical significance and its pristine condition, but Model 8 and 81 guns change hands all the time for under $1k. But this would be a nice centerpiece for a Model 8 collection, for an early-semiautos collection, or for a police-rifles collection.

Update: Gee, that was quick. The auction was one-day only and has ended with no bids before our post could even go up. For the moment, the link still works, if you want to see scores and scores of Model 81 Special Police pictures.