Monthly Archives: June 2015

Resurrected Weapons: CBU-98/B

Here’s a new segment that’ll highlight some old weapons that never made it to the big time. I’ll also give my verdict of whether or not I approve of it as a possible system for Borgundy. Our first weapon is a runway denial cluster munition, the CBU-98/B. The idea here was to combine two other, proven effective systems in one cool bomb.

The first of those is the French Durandal bomb. This bomb was designed with a parachute to slow it’s fall as it oriented itself groundward. Then, a rocket motor would fire and drive the penetrator warhead into the runway surface before detonating, to maximize the destruction. It’s a pretty cool weapon designed to put really big holes in runways. Runways are great targets, because you can’t move them, you can’t hide them, and you can’t really armor them. Perfect! Except that runways, being a big strip of asphalt or concrete, aren’t all that hard to repair. The key is usually making lots of widespread destruction.

That’s where the second weapon comes in, the British HB 876 mine. Dropped from Hades cluster bombs (a BL755 variant) or from JP223 dispensers, these small mines are scattered about a runway. They have a nifty dual effect warhead: one part is a Misznay-Schardin Effect warhead that generates an explosively formed penetrator, and the other part is a pretty standard fragmentation jacket. So it combines antivehicle and antipersonnel effects into one cool mine. The bottom has a self-righting device to insure that it deploys appropriately.

The CBU-98/B was designed to put these two together in one bomb. First, for runway demolition, it contained eight BLU-109/B penetrator submunitions. They function exactly like the Durandal, except are significantly smaller, having 2.95 kg HE warheads instead of Durandal’s 115 kg (total) twin charges. But hey, you can put a bunch of them in one bomb. Additionally, the CBU-98/B also contained 24 HB 876 mines to cause problems for combat engineers trying to repair the runway. The whole package went in a standard SUU-64/B dispenser and weight about 385 kg or so.

So what do we think of this weapon? We really like it. Putting runways out of action is an important mission, and we do like penetrator weapons and cluster effects. They have the bonus effect of pissing off the hippies, which is good. Some questions of cost remain, as do whether or not the increased amount of damage when compared to a comparable sortie of more conventional bombs is significant enough to warrant the procurement. My instincts tell me this is probably the case. You could get more destruction with a bunch of bigger conventional bombs with unitary warheads, but a set of CBU-98s are going to take up fewer pylons and weigh less. It would also be a useful cruise missile warhead, saving aircraft the dangerous and difficult runway overflight mission.

Verdict: Approved by Borgundy War Department Procurement Board.

Resurrected Weapons: AGM-124 Wasp

The cold war ended before a lot of nifty weapons could get into production. Like many of them, the AGM-124 Wasp was intended to kill Soviet tank forces and reduce the margin of superiority that the Red Army enjoyed. In addition to never throwing anything away (like that crazy relative you have), the Soviets tended to attack in echelons. Since they had numerical superiority (admittedly, partially due to having a ton of old stuff lying around), they could attack in a broad front, and then have another broad front waiting to hit you again, and they still had reserves to throw at you. NATO’s plan was to counter asymmetrically, and they had a wide variety of projects under way in the 80s. The American ones were known under the umbrella “Assault breaker,” and one of them is going to get looked at here.

The AGM-124 Wasp was intended to be used in a swarm. Beat numbers with numbers. It was a small, lightweight missile, to be carried in big pods beneath ground attack aircraft and lobbed in an area en masse. From there, the Wasp’s millimeter wave radar seeker would take over, hunting down targets and destroying them. Data is spotty; I’m not sure if it had a tandem warhead or not, or if the idea was to hit the Russian tanks with enough missiles so as to not have to care about whatever ERA the Russians had mounted. Also, in the 80s, fewer Soviet tanks had ERA mounted.

What do we think of this weapon now? If anything, it’s an even better idea. Modern sensors being what they are, millimeter wave seekers and tandem shaped charges are a bit cheaper, and avionics have improved to where feeding data on a target area is a lot easier. Preprogrammed target data wouldn’t be needed to the extent that it would in the 80s. If made today, the Wasp would be a cheaper, spammable version of Brimstone, and that’d be awesome. I’d probably go for a tandem warhead, but don’t need to go too fancy with these. Keep it simple. Keep it cheap. Load them up in pods under your multirole aircraft of choice and let fly against staging areas. This is probably well beyond the usual “Yes, buy” sort of thing and into the “Shut up and take my money” realm. At least if you’re worried about enemy armor.

…are you not?

Verdict: Approved by Borgundy War Department Procurement Board

Terminated Weapons: Harpoon

At Fishbreath’s suggestion, I’ve decided to combine some of my resurrection posts with some terminations. Weapons that really should have been cancelled a long time ago, that are in desperate need of replacement. To use a sports metaphor, if I’m calling some up from the minors, I should relegate some others back from the majors. First on the chopping block: the Harpoon antiship missile.

Harpoon has been the western standard antiship missile since its introduction in 1977. It’s got submarine launched, ship launched, and air launched versions, a good active-radar seeker, and you can fit it on most anything. Great. And in the late 70s, it was a good weapon. It gave the warships of the USN some much needed anti-surface punch, and you could retrofit it onto almost any platform.

Looking at it right now, the harpoon sucks.

There are plenty of current market competitors that are better. The harpoon is subsonic; there are plenty of competitors (e.g. SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-N-27 Sizzler) that are supersonic at least for the terminal phase to reduce reaction time. Is it long ranged? No, the Harpoon is almost painfully short range. Again, the Russians have some really cool long range missiles like the SS-N-19 that have tons of range. Oh, and the Harpoon isn’t stealthy either. Nope.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. This isn’t me hating on weapons for not being new. There are plenty of weapon systems that I like that are rather long in the tooth, but have appropriate upgrades to stay current. The C-130, B-52, M-16, and AIM-9 have all received upgrades that keep them useful and competitive with more modern contemporaries. The B-52 and M-16 are particularly good examples of this, having beaten a number of attempts to replace them. There’s nothing wrong with an old weapon per se, but we have to keep it relevant and competitive with contemporaries. Upgrade or replace. Up or out. It’s not that hard.

Let’s look at some weapon systems that we could use to replace the harpoon. Two come to mind. One is the Brahmos, a joint Russian-indian antiship missile system. It’s launchable from surface ships, aircraft, trucks, and submarines. It has an operational range of 300-500 km. Even if we take the low end, that’s more than twice the quoted range of the Harpoon (“more than 124 km”). Oh, and it can go faster than Mach 2.8 terminally. Pretty awesome missile. It is, however, rather heavy at 2,500 kg for the air-launched version and 3,000 kg for the other versions. The Harpoon weighs a svelte 691 kg. So the Brahmos isn’t a perfect replacement; there are ships that we might want to give antiship capability to that can’t fit the big Russo-Indian missile. And Fishbreath will surely start complaining if I only choose a Russian system as a Harpoon replacement, and get upset if I demand bigger ships. Fishbreath likes his wee ships, you see.

An even better Harpoon replacement on a one-for-one basis is the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM to you acronym-loving cool kids). The NSM is lighter than Harpoon at 410 kg. It’s range of 185 km is better than Harpoon (at least as far as quoted range goes). It’s got GPS integration. There’s a version that fits in the internal bays of our F-35s, which gets even more range (about 290 km or so). Most importantly, it’s stealthy. So the enemy will have less warning to react to it. It’s also cleared for a bunch of aircraft, ships, and land based vehicles already. Big gain right here as far as stealth goes, since the Russians have finally wised up and mounted CIWS on their ships. This is important, as NATO ships don’t usually carry enough Harpoons to overwhelm point defense systems.

There are a couple of experimental weapon systems of note that might be worth pursuing, namely the Anglo-French Perseus and Lockheed Martin’s LRASM (an antiship variant of the AGM-158 JASSM-ER). Both of these are stealthy, have good range, and are vertical launch capable. I prefer the LRASM a bit more since it’s based on an existing missile platform. Neither is available yet, but we’re content to get some NSMs now and wait for the fancy new developments from MEADS and LockMart for VLS tubes or longer range aerial strike missions.

Oh, and if we needed VLS integration to give our DDGs a big punch, or needed a lot more range than NSM, we could always go buy some BGM-109Bs again. Tons of range, fits in a VLS Tube. Another good choice while you wait for the fancy new stuff, and you can at least fit enough of them on a DDG to have a decent chance of overwhelming the air defenses of an opposing battlegroup.

I’m sure one last objection is coming from some of you. “But wait, Parvusimperator!” I hear you say. “What if I believe that I control the sea, and don’t really care about antiship missiles.” Well then. First, I would tell you that you’re an idiot. Even during the height of the British Empire, they maintained their position by having a navy stronger than the next two navies put together. You maintain your dominance by being able to crush all opposition, not by taking it for granted and going through some stupid hippie draw-down. But if you really didn’t care, no antiship missiles is lighter and cheaper than a battery of old crappy ones. Though, again, this is stupid. Antiship missiles are good.

Pistol Project Plan: Rock the Glock

I’m a Glock guy. The first handgun I ever got, after getting a stupidly-hard to get NY State pistol permit was a Glock 19 Gen4. And I love it. Since then, I’ve gotten a bunch of other Glocks. I’ve got a Glock 17 Gen4, and I wanted to make this my latest project gun. First, let’s talk a little Glock history, and why I like them so much.

Gaston Glock designed his pistol to meet the needs of the Austrian Army for a new service handgun to replace the Walther P38. Gaston brought in a number of pistol experts to help him with his design; he was not a pistolsmith by training but brought extensive experience in advanced synthetic polymers, which would go into the construction of the pistol. The fancy glass-reinforced plastics used in the frame of the Glock pistol helped drive costs down, and since there are only four small points of metal-on-metal contact between the slide and the frame, Glocks don’t require much lube. Gaston also introduced ferritic nitrocarburizing as an anticorrosion treatment. The result was a pistol whose reliability and durability would become legend. The Glock 17 (so called because it was the seventeenth design), beat out the HK P7M8, HK P7M13, HK P9S, SiG-Sauer P220, SiG-Sauer P226, Beretta 92SF-B, an updated FN Hi-Power, and the Steyr GB. The Glock 17 was also accepted into Norwegian and Sweedish service shortly after winning the Austrian competition. The US DoD was even interested in trialing the pistol in their competition, but the DoD requirements would have meant retooling production in a short timeframe, so Glock declined.

So that’s why everyone loves the Berreta 92, right? The US Army called that gun the M9, and it became the most popular 9mm semiautomatic in Ameri–oh, wait. No, it didn’t. How did Glock do it? Once they had a whole bunch of NATO member military contracts in the bag, they went after the American law enforcement market with gusto. And their timing couldn’t be better. See, it was the 80s, and it was starting to dawn on the police forces of America that six rounds of .38 in a wheelgun and another six in a speedloader in your pocket wasn’t quite enough firepower1. Officers were looking to trade up, and Glock was ready with a super reliable pistol that was tolerant of neglect and could be made way cheaper than the steel-framed competition. Plus, Glock (possibly to overcome the language barrier or something), set up a pretty savvy marketing department, sending plenty of friendly reps to departments. Many of their reps were former police officers, and they brought tons of new pistols to try out on the range, along with plenty of swag. They offered low cost guns and top dollar for trades to appease the accountants, and were easy to get in touch with. So they captured market share in a big way. Currently, something like 65% of US Law Enforcement uses Glocks, including the FBI. Glock pistols are also super popular among the competitive shooter crowd, being the most popular brand by far at USPSA matches.

Glock currently makes pistols in about any reasonable pistol caliber you could want, and a couple oddball ones like 10mm Auto, and they’ve updated their pistols to bring new features to the consumer. Their current models are the Gen4 line, and it brings a bunch of notable improvements. Let’s take a look, and I’ll compare the Glocks to my M&Ps where appropriate. The Gen4s have backstraps now, with two different sizes (medium and large, “small” is accomplished sans backstrap), and they also have two backstraps with a beavertail, in case you get slidebite. Or you may just find those suit you better. Some people (including Fishbreath) aren’t really a fan of Glock’s grip angle. I personally don’t really care, though I’ve actually found myself getting back on target faster with Glocks when compared to other polymer framed handguns, so maybe it helps me keep muscle tension or something. In any case, you can change it now. The backstraps aren’t quite as good at changing the gun size as the M&P ones are, as they do nothing about the girth of the grip. This is not a problem for me, as I have large hands (I use the ‘large’ size backstraps). Others may find this an issue.

The Gen4 Glocks also have introduced a new texture on the grip. It’s much more aggressive than the old texture, or than the texture on the M&P grip, and I find this a significant win for the Glock. I like grippy, aggressively textured guns, and Glocks currently oblige me. If I wanted, I could have the grip stippled, but the current Gen4 texture serves me fine. It’s also not so aggressive that it will tear your hands apart after a long day of shooting.

Glock sights are, frankly, awful. They’re the white-dot-in-a-U design, which I guess is popular in Europe. I do not like them. They are cheap, and are bad enough to make some kind of sight replacement almost a requirement. This might almost be a service to the consumer, as there are many far better sight options out there. In this case, I’ll be getting my slide milled for an RMR, because red dots are awesome, and my M&P proved how good the setup was. If I wanted something else, I could get it for a Glock.

Ubiquity is something that’s great about Glocks. Anything you want for them, you can get for them. Holsters and sights and other accessories come to Glock first, because they’re so common. And Glock magazines, being made of metal-lined plastic, are stupid cheap, and easy to find on sale. More mags is always good, because magazines are a disposable commodity item. Mags wear out. Stock up.

While Glock beats out the M&P in terms of ubiquity, the M&P still takes second place, and is by no means bad (Seriously, compare prices of M&P40 mags with those for, say, a PX4). However, the Glock soundly beats the M&P on the stock trigger front. The M&P stock trigger, as I’ve mentioned, is a mushy mess. The Glock trigger is perfectly reasonable, especially considering that it has to be safe. There’s takeup, which is decently smooth. There’s some mush here, but it’s not altogether bad. Break is somewhere between the crisp and rolling variety. Finally, the reset is crisp and offers both audible and tactile feedback. The Glock trigger is not as good as a 1911 trigger, full stop. On the other hand, it doesn’t have a manual safety like a 1911, and it’s a lot cheaper than any actually worthwhile 1911. Technically, it’s a very light double action only trigger, that’s about two-thirds of the way precocked. Some trigger weight and resistance comes from the fact that you’re still doing a little bit of the cocking work on the striker with your trigger pull. Despite the downsides, the Glock trigger is firmly in the ‘good enough’ camp, and is more or less the standard for comparison.

There are a ton of fancy light competition triggers out there, as well as some parts to make the pull heavier if you want it to feel like an old school double-action only revolver (like the NYPD). I don’t much like making my triggers worse, and I shoot the stock one fine. Since I like to carry most of my Glocks, I won’t switch to a lighter trigger. The stock one is safe. I may try one of the fancy competition kits on my Glock 34 though.

On the M&P, I ended up swapping out the mag release for an extended one. The Glock Gen4 comes with an extended magazine release which is about perfect. It’s long enough to be easily pushed without switching your grip, but short enough that you won’t accidentally trip it when it’s in the holster. It’s a good compromise between a giant competition button and the tiny things that usually come on handguns. I see no reason to change it.

The Glock slide stop is a touch smaller than the one on the M&P. It is not ambidextrous, which isn’t as nice. Not shooting lefty most of the time, I don’t care. And I can always trip it with my trigger finger or slingshot the slide if I’m shooting weak-side. I will say that despite the minor-looking change on the factory “extended” slide stop that comes on the Glock 34 (really, it’s more of a reshaping than anything else), it’s actually a big improvement over the stock one for manipulations. I’ll probably get that upgrade for the rest of my Glocks.

Okay, I know you’re dying to know: which do I like more? That’s tough, but I think the Glock wins out overall. The stock trigger is better, even after applying the upgrade kit to the M&P. There are a lot more possible trigger upgrades for the Glocks, even though that’s not really my thing. Plus, I like the grippier frame better.

1. See: the 1980 Norco shootout and the 1986 Miami shootout, which I’ll probably do a write-up of someday.

Parvusimperator reviews The Bureau Gun

It’s quite possibly the most tested 1911 ever. It’s certainly one of the most sought after ones. And, it’s even a bit of issued kit for the FBI’s legendary Hostage Rescue Team, 87 years after it was originally designed. It defies classification: it’s handmade by the Springfield Armory Custom Shop’s smiths, but comes with a very specific list of features. Want different ones? Then it’s not a Professional, and doesn’t get the cool serial number prefix. Or the knowledge that this pistol is built to pass one of the most ludicrous challenges ever presented to a modern handgun.

Background: The Challenge
When the HRT went looking for a sidearm, they put a ridiculous set of requirements in the RFP. They asked for a Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911. They wanted a 4.5 lb trigger pull (originally 5-6.5, later revised down). They wanted a warranty for 50,000 rounds. They demanded that the pistol be capable of firing three consecutive ten-shot groups from a Ransom rest no larger than 1.5 inches at 25 yards using the FBI’s .45 round of choice, Remington Golden Saber. The pistol then had to be fired for 20,000 rounds and undergo a reduction of not more than 15%. The pistol could not have a stoppage in 2,500 rounds. Only one manufacturer could make this happen–the Springfield Armory Custom Shop.

The Pistol
So what are the other features the FBI got in it’s pistol sans pareil? A classy matte black finish. A GI-type guide rod, none of that silly full length stuff. A skeletonized, commander-style hammer, made from hard, tool-steel. A skeletonized trigger. 20 lpi checkering on the front- and backstrap. A 5″ match grade barrel. An 18.5 lb. recoil spring. And the sort of supertight hand fitting that would make Les Baer proud. Also, the expected Novak three-dot tritium night sights.

Picking up the pistol, the first thing one notices is the 20 lpi checkering. It is sharp. It does not let go. You grip the gun, and she grips you right back. Some might not like this. Some might say they don’t need a pistol that may as well have a barbed grip. Those people are not me. I like a very aggressive texture on my grips, but if you prefer your hands not be heavily callused, you may wish to use gloves. The beavertail grip safety works as intended, and I haven’t been able to get it to not engage with any sort of weird, half-assed grip that I’ve tried. The thumb safety goes on and off crisply, and is small. Small so you won’t bump it accidentally. Small so it won’t dig into your side when you carry the gun. I’m fine with this.

The trigger. Oh, the trigger. This was made for insufferable trigger snobs like me. This is why people say that the 1911 is ‘God’s gift to gunnies’. It is so wonderful. It has the tiniest bit of takeup, and then a crisp break. Insert metaphors about breaking a glass rod here. It’s fantastic–and this from a guy who’s spent many hours with the finely-tuned hair-trigger of an olympic-grade air pistol. Unlike that, this pistol does not have a hair trigger. It will not go off if you brush your finger on it. But it will go off with just a little bit of pressure, so don’t be thinking about shooting until you want to be shooting.

Fit and Finish
Tight. Really tight. Between a lockup tighter than a bank vault and that 18.5 pound recoil spring, the first time racking the slide will make you question your manhood. It’s okay. Grunt. Curse. Breathe. You’ll get it. And no, you’re not getting the Pro apart without the use of that bushing wrench. That’s why they gave you one. It’ll loosen up some with use. It’s okay. That’s the point. It’s supposed to be like that. Go run your new gun. Your hands will thank you, and you’ll enjoy it.

The Black-T finish on the gun is classy. It’s subtle. It’s not inherently gorgeous like the carbonic blue on my old Model 29, but it’s very nice. It doesn’t really have imperfections, just a smooth matte finish that is designed to take some abuse. So what are we waiting for, let’s go shoot it!

Shooting the Professional
A crisp 4 pound trigger on gun that weighs somewhat north of two pounds loaded? Yeah, this gun makes you look good. This gun makes you look like you know what you’re doing, even if you suck. It’s all steel construction means that it soaks up recoil from the big, beefy .45 rounds. And one of the few benefits of the single stack design is that it fits everybody’s hands. And that trigger makes you want to keep shooting. It does however expect and demand that you have good trigger control. Try to live up to the Professional rollmark on the slide. Breathe. Fundamentals. It will magnify any errors you have in your technique, and put them on display for all to see. And you’ll come to appreciate that 20 lpi checkering, since it means the gun goes absolutely nowhere, despite firing big .45 rounds downrange. Before long, you’ll wish the magazines held more.

The Professional comes with six magazines, made by Metalform. 1911s being what they are, there are many different magazine designs out there for them. They only hold seven rounds, because seven round 1911 magazines are more reliable than the alternatives in general. This is as good a time as any to bring up a few annoyances of modern 1911s. Many different magazine variations means you need to find the one(s) your gun likes. And you need to keep an eye on them, because they do wear out. Being steel framed, 1911s run best with lubrication.

At this price point, those are about all the annoyances that there are. The price sucks, but if ever you got what you paid for, this is it. It ran great from the moment it left the box. The Professional is a joy to shoot.

Parvusimperator reviews the Det. Harry Callahan Special

As mentioned elsewhere, my first gun was a Glock 19 Gen4. When I went back to the gun store to pick it up after completing the necessary paperwork to appease the fascists, I saw the clerk checking out something that had been brought in and sold. An old Smith & Wesson revolver. A famous one. A Model 29, complete with original wooden box, original papers, and a basketweave, thumb-break, police-type holster. Probably had given some police officer loyal service for many a year. Whoever it was, he had good taste. I have a weakness for iconic weapons, and this one is near the top of that list. Plus it’s got some police history (and I like old police guns). Most importantly, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I held it, felt the weight, and spoke those famous words:

“I know what you’re thinking, punk. Did he fire six shots, or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question: ‘do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?

Then I put money down on it. Couldn’t resist. It would be mine. Evildoers beware!

I know I felt lucky to find this one. According to the serial, and some obsessive research, it was made around 1976 or so. It’s a three-screw frame, like most post-1960 Smith & Wessons. It was made long before S&W made their stupid pact with Satan–er, the Clinton Administration, so the frame doesn’t have a dumb lock that will break and render the gun unusable. Also, those frame locks are hideous. My Model 29 has a proper pinned an recessed barrel, which is another nice old feature that they did away with. It looks good, and its preferred by collectors. It was, of course, removed by Smith and Wesson as a cost cutting measure in 1982. Most importantly though, my Model 29 is absolutely gorgeous, primarily due to the legendary Carbonia bluing.

Carbonia bluing is the name for a process used by Smith and Wesson (and only Smith and Wesson) on their non-budget revolvers prior to 1978. It was a complicated and labor intensive process requiring careful heat control and polishing. It was based on an oil mixture from the American Gas Furnace Company, who sent Smith & Wesson the oil as a base, and S&W later added a whole bunch of other stuff to make it work. The story goes that there was only one guy at Smith & Wesson who knew the formula, and he kept it written in a notebook. When he died, his widow wanted $50,000 for it. By this point, Smith and Wesson had changed their bluing method to something less labor intensive, so they declined. She destroyed the notebook shortly afterwards. Now, American Gas Furnace Co. will happily provide you with an ingredient list if you ask, but the proportions aren’t on there. They don’t make the oil needed for the base anymore either. Several other ingredients are now discontinued, because they’re awfully carcinogenic. Oh, and one of them’s sperm whale oil–good luck getting that. And then you’d have to mess around until you got the process right. It might just be worth it though, because the Carbonia treatment gives a blue-black color that will have different color highlights as the light hits it. I might describe it as vaguely oil-like, but I’m no artist, so the technical term is lost on me.

Now that we’ve established the gun’s pedigree and gorgeous looks, you’re probably wondering how it handles. It’s heavy. It’s got a six inch barrel, wooden grips, and is all steel. It points reasonably well in the hand, but really needs two to be held comfortably. Once you fire the .44 magnum loads, however, you will appreciate every ounce of weight that it has. The trigger is a revolver trigger, but it’s an old, reasonably well used revolver trigger. So it’s been polished the slow and expensive way: by being fired a lot. Firing double action is heavy, of course, because you have to cock that hammer and rotate the cylinder. It is a textbook rolling break, and once you’ve fired it a few times you can stage it and get some wonderful results. Single action is a perfect glass-rod break. In fact, it might almost be too perfect. It’s very light, and there’s no takeup, so pressure will make it go with little warning that it is about to go. In any case, the trigger is wonderful in either mode.

Interestingly, I’ve left this gun completely stock. It has the sights that came on it: the front blade has a red plastic insert for high visibility, and the rear sight is adjustable with a white U-notch. Not that I could really do much about the sights without sending them off to a smith. The grips are the wooden ones that came with it. I could get something else, but somehow, that just doesn’t seem right. Maybe a set of vintage Pachmayr grips–I’ve heard those are better than the new ones. Still, somehow I don’t really want to mess with it–this is the Dirty Harry gun. It’s iconic the way it is.

No, it’s not the most powerful handgun in the world anymore. I don’t care. It’s a blast to shoot.