The Committee of Safety Musket of 2002
The Committee of Safety of Massachusetts was a governing body formed to regulate the general Militia in 1774. To put this Militia in good working order (as the verb "regulate" was meant in English of that time), the Committee determined that the Militia needed to be armed with a long gun of the type in common use by the legitimate army of the time---the English Army.

The Committee of Safety directed local manufacture of a long arm that was identical to the Short Land Musket (New Pattern) carried by the English regulars. The Committee clearly intended the militiamen to be armed competitively to the regulars, whether the fight would be side-by-side, or toe-to-toe. Note well, it had a bayonet. A big one.

The original Committee of Safety musket was smoothbore, not rifled. Its range and accuracy were intentionally traded away for an arm that was cheaper and easier to manufacture, and faster to reload, because those specifications agreed with how armies of that day fought. Rifles existed then, and were common among the colonists, but hadn't been adopted broadly by any military at that time.

American militiamen, once our Independence was declared and rebellion was open, shifted away from smoothbore muskets to rifles as their doctrine and tactics evolved from attrition to maneuver. They needed the accuracy and range to use tactics that reduced the exposure of their own forces to fire. Our militiamen traded up from their smoothbore, giving up high volume of fire and commonality with the regulars, to a more-expensive smaller-caliber hunting gun that offered greater range and finer accuracy, but demanded more of its shooter in skill and planning.

Today's regular soldier carries a third-generation sturmgewehr, black gun, or "conscript weapon," a selective fire carbine with detachable box magazines that feed big stacks of small cartridges, each throwing a light bullet with diminished power. The lower-power cartridges allow the carbine to be smaller, lighter, and easier to control (go look at this post on StrategyPage and scroll down to the 14 July item.) This is the poodle-shooter.

The military tactic that calls for this kind of long arm could sacrifice range (from 1000 meters plus to, say, 300) and power (difficult to quantify without geeking out and starting gunnie arguments, so bear with me) in exchange for reduced weight and size of one round of ammunition, reduced recoil, and the ability to discharge multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger.

Colonel Cooper predicted it, and news from SFTT has confirmed it: the tradeoff towards intermediate-cartridge sturmgewehrs has not yielded the expected results. The light 5.56mm bullet don't deliver the same blow to the target as the older, heavier .30 cals do. American soldiers need to place several bullets of 5.56mm to drop a soldier that would have been felled by one bullet from the World War II calibers. The Soviet tradeoff from big-bottle 7.62mm to intermediate 7.62mm was hardly any better. Having to fire more rounds to achieve the same effect negates the logistical advantages of the intermediate cartridge, actually leaving the soldier worse off, because he may have had the opportunity to fire only one round. So if we have truly awakened and are smelling the coffee, our GIs need to trade up, as Kim du Toit recommends.

The principal reason I write this post is to echo numerous eloquent sentiments in the blogosphere, that the war on terrorism will eventually come to us, directly or indirectly, and affect us as individuals otherwise going about our own business. Each of us must examine our vulnerabilities and take such realistic countermeasures as are within reach, rather than let it catch us fat, dumb, and vaguely dissatisfied.

If you agree with that concept, don't hold your breath waiting for the Congress to put the militia in good order. They are preoccupied with erecting Maginot Lines, and hiring people to maintain them.

So you're on your own. You'll have to fit yourself out, with your own money and on whatever guidance you can collect. What would you get, or have you gotten already? If applicable, what would you get first? Please choose better than Uncle Sugar did the last time around.

Constant across all possible solutions, there are competing schools of thought, represented by tradeoff positions in 3-space:

  • money. It must be allocated among capital equipment, versus expendables, versus professional services, such as training and modifications. Prepackaged solutions cost more at small scale, but save on time and commonality.

  • time. How much will you invest in practice, skill and planning? How long you will look for that ideal component, and wait a professional to integrate it? Will you learn to build, modify, or fix your own? Will you roll your own cartridges?

  • network effects, otherwise known as commonality with friend or foe. Can you, or must you, trade with the guy down the block? Can you use what you steal from the opponent? Will liberated gear compel you to fight the way he did?

Like buying a car or a computer, your kit will express your personality, good, bad and indifferent. It will represent your doctrine (or whether you have one). Will you go for the main battle rifles suggested by Kim duToit? Or a Farnam rifle? Or clean up a WWII turn-bolt rifle, become one with it, brew the perfect round for it and so forth, like a Jedi building his own lightsaber?

Choose your requirements and doctrine realistically, and engineer your system to them. And deduct the costs of your system from your adjusted gross income.

(I've been saving this post for some weeks now, chose to publish now while there is even a shred of currency to it.)


Full upright and locked position
Nude flight attendants are suggested at Harrumph!. Found via The Fat Guy.

Update: After careful consideration, I must turn the thumb down on this idea. It interferes with the concept of discreetly arming flight attendants, discussed here.
Now you funny too . . . everybody funny
Clueless took his down. Now Bill Quick too. Just as I put mine up.

If comments take the fun out of this blog, they come down.

Update: I read the Clueless post where Mr. Den Beste announced that comments weren't fun anymore, and figured that the shutdown was imminent. Bill Quick too. But damned if the comments aren't back up, or never left, at both blogs.
Oh, all right
Since the Webmistress at Spleenville put hers up . . .
B1 d- t- k+ s u f i o x- e- l c+

Generate your own Bloggercode. Follow this link for translators too.

What I'm really waiting for, though, is a personality quiz asking which King of the Hilltm character I am. As long as I come up "Boomhauer."


The soundtracks of our lives
Bigwig's idea of songs that are impressed on his memory reminds me of my blessing/curse. A song is constantly playing in my head, and it usually pertains in some way to what is going on in the real world outside the head. If the same song plays over and over, trouble is brewing.

Ain't talkin bout love---Van Halen. When I was turned down for a date one time too many.

Good Times, Bad Times---Led Zeppelin. When I had my apartment to myself again.

That's the way it oughta be---another LZ. Motoring with Steve around Wisconsin in summer, canoeing down the Kickapoo River from Sparta.

Nature's Way---don't know the artist. When the ex announced she was moving out, and I agreed that it was a good idea.

Kissing with Confidence---Will Powers. When I Finally Met Hertm.

Karn Evil Nine---Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Reading about the recently released motion picture, The Exorcist.
Rethinking the wondernine
William Thomas Quick's post on dissatisfaction with the Beretta 92 as the standard US military sidearm continues a long-running debate over its adoption.

For the record, I vote to go back to the .45, or try the .40 S&W. NATO standardization here is less important than for service-rifle cartridges. To observe the Geneva prohibitions against expanding bullets, heed Jeff Cooper's recommendation for the jacketed truncated-cone design.

For those who oppose changing pistols or calibers because of the cost, allow me to offer this fiscally responsible solution:
Let commissioned officers buy their own, and give NCOs an allowance toward theirs. Give them a list, however short or long the DoD wants to make it, of models which are allowed (better yet, which models are prohibited). Whatever sidearm they pick must use Uncle Sam's chosen caliber and loading. Allow them to deduct the cost of purchase, modification, and accessories on their Federal income taxes. Require them to qualify with it every 60 days, or they can't wear it or deploy with it. Require them to wear it once a week, including designated PT runs, reveilles, and retreats.

What is reliable and what is not will get sorted out quickly and communicated efficiently through the ranks. Fitting the sidearm to the hand of the user becomes the user's responsibility, facilitated by a free market---if the Beretta doesn't fit the hand of the 5'0" 95-pound female, she has several single-stack alternatives.

Objections along the lines of "but you'll put an eye out" will not be entertained.