Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Battle of Shilovo: 1942

Welcome to Shilovo. It’s July 4th, 1942, and the Wehrmacht has embarked on yet another ambitious offensive: Fall Blau. This time, the plan focuses on the south, pushing from last year’s front (very roughly, a line from Kursk due south to Dnepropetrovsk, then southeast to Rostov, about 800 kilometers in total) to the Baku oilfields and the city of Stalingrad.

It’s only just begun, though, and we concern ourselves with the fighting around Voronezh, and more specifically, a work settlement a bit to the west called Shilovo. (It doesn’t exist anymore—it’s just part of Voronezh.) Shilovo sits on a hill overlooking the Don river, a strategically-important barrier keeping the Nazis out of Voronezh proper. Historically, the Germans took it on July 5th and 6th.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to hold them off a little better than that.

Notice a few features about this map: first, the UI I forgot how to hide. It’s covering the place name for ‘Trushkino’, the town at the bottom center controlled by the Germans. It faces Shilovo across a deep valley. Roads run northwest from Shilovo and northeast from Trushkino, then split to the north and northwest to meet one of the two crossroads objectives. Besides the valley between the two towns, and the hillside south of Shilovo, the map is more or less flat, which presents a problem: I know the Nazis have some armored vehicles, and I don’t have much in the way of anti-tank weaponry. The sum total of my force is as follows: two rifle companies, the battalion machine gun company (ten or so Maxim guns, all told), the battalion mortar company (same deal), and the battalion AT company (armed with anti-tank rifles, which may as well be rocks for all the good they do).

From the Russian side, this is almost entirely a defensive effort, and that’s reflected in my chosen deployment. (We won’t talk about my first mission in this campaign, a defense to the northwest. It didn’t go well.) One rifle company, under Homenko, is deployed at the northern crossroads, reinforced by most of Beda’s platoon. Drobotov’s platoon holds the central crossroads, while Churginov’s platoon serves as a reserve between the two. Bits and pieces of the machine gun company and the anti-tank company are detached to strengthen the two crossroads strongpoints.

The remainder of Beda’s platoon, along with the battalion mortars and the bulk of the machine guns, are deployed on the forward slope on the western approach to Shilovo, commanding the valley. With good, overlapping fields of fire, and tons of ammunition to boot, I suspect the machine guns will serve to hold the valley approach to Shilovo without issue. I’m more concerned about the central crossroads. If the Germans bring tanks down the west road, I’ll have a bad time of things. Hopefully, the northern crossroads strongpoint will be sufficiently distracting.

Anyway. Let’s get this show on the road. I had hoped to provide some extra screenshots here beyond the few I took during the battle, but alas, my VLC screenshot button isn’t working correctly, so you’ll just have to rely on your war correspondent, me.

The Germans begin their attack with a push, oddly enough, across the valley. The machine guns deliver a murderous hail of fire into the advancing Wehrmacht troops, and in large part, the advance stalls about halfway to my line. German forces will rally and push up the hill somewhat, but never in any organized manner, and never any closer than about one hundred meters to the guns.

Gunners on the northeastern outskirts of Shilovo engage German forces in the trees near the Trushkino road.

The northern crossroads, as I thought might be the case, turn out to be more interesting. It takes the Germans about ten minutes longer to make it down the road toward the strongpoint, but they arrive in greater force, and I have fewer heavy weapons to spare. It quickly becomes clear that the main German advance is coming from the west along the main road, so I shift some of the defenders facing north—a second machine gun team, and one of Beda’s squads—to meet the threat.

The fire on my position intensifies. The Germans clearly want this crossroads. Mortar fire begins to land in town, and the piddly 50mm mortars attached to each of my companies can’t even begin to fire in reply. They stick to shooting at the oncoming Germans, which is admittedly more scary than effective. (Your average 50mm mortar bomb has about 100 grams of explosive, which is less than some hand grenades of the time.)

The situation worsens about 20 minutes into the mission. A halftrack comes down the road, and while its mounted machine gun is keeping my anti-tank gunners’ heads firmly below trench level, a pair of Panzer IIs roll up the road. This is no good. Time to bring in the reserves.

A machine gun team shoots past Russian trenches (at frame left) toward advancing German infantry, while a Panzer approaches from the right.

One of the anti-tank gunners manages to get a shot off at the halftrack, which is enough to force its crew to bail out. By now, though, the Panzers have backed off, and are now working their way around to the north, where my defenses are lighter. One of them pushes into the town, about fifty yards behind the camera above, and begins shooting up my poor defenders. Fortunately, between the carnage west of Shilovo and the reserves arriving and bulking up the line south of the crossroads, the Germans realize they can’t hope to break through without further reinforcement. They call for a cease fire, and I gladly accept.

The casualty ratio favors me, as you might expect from a victory in a dug-in, defensive battle. I started with 400 men, of which about 250 were front-line combat troops, and lost 50, including a few machine guns lost and a few abandoned. (The abandoned ones will be recovered.) The Germans lost 150 out of 360, including one halftrack. I put some fire on both tanks, but neither appear to have been greatly inconvenienced by it, and undoubtedly, they’ll show up again.

Having survived this battle, I only had one more to play on the first turn, and it played out very similarly—the battle played out over Shilovo again, except shifted one grid square south. The same deployment, with machine guns covering open ground, served me well, and I’m into the second turn of the campaign now. I was able to bring some artillery up all along the line, along with anti-tank guns and air spotters. I expect the next few battles will feature much improved fireworks.

Reports From The Range: Light Rifle Trials

When last we left Parvusimperator’s Rifle Works, we had a rifle built to a concept. Perhaps a somewhat vague and nebulous hodgepodge of a concept, but a concept nonetheless. So let’s get her to the range and talk Trials, see how she fared, and how we liked her.

But first, a name! Because the name seems to suit her, and for a bunch of personal reasons I won’t go into here, I’m going to call my light rifle Bridget. Say hello, Bridget.

Second, Bridget needs an optic. As built, she has no sights at all. So I needed an optic. I have a bunch of nice optics sitting around, but not one really suited to competition. Plus, I really like optics on my pistols. I usually carry one, and I almost always take a red dot equipped pistol with me to the range if I’m going to be shooting pistols. And a red dot puts me firmly into the Open1 division of any two- or three-gun competition. So, I shouldn’t really compromise on my optic in terms of close-in performance or performance at range. Which made my choice obvious: the SpecterDR 1.5x/6x.

Let’s look at this optic. It’s made by Elcan, a division of Raytheon. And it’s huge. It’s also unique in that it has a mechanically-operated prism system internally, giving it exactly two magnification levels. This is the bigger SpecterDR model, so those two levels are 1.5x and 6x. There is nothing in between, and switching between the magnifications is super fast. The conceit here is that for variable power optics, nearly all of the time is spent at either the lowest available or the highest available magnification. The SpecterDR gets rid of the others. It also features a massive 42mm objective lens, which is great for low light, or just getting a really clear sight picture. And if you’re a glass snob, the engineers at Elcan have you covered with some phenomenally clear European-grade glass. The reticle is a lot like a TA01 Acog: a big crosshair with bullet drop compensation markings for useful ranges. You can get a reticle calibrated for 5.56 or 7.62 as is your preference. Mine is calibrated for 5.56. The reticle also has a range estimator scale. You can illuminate either the center dot of the reticle or the entire reticle. If you’re illuminating the center dot only, you can get Aimpoint-grade brightness out of the Elcan. You won’t have an issue with that washing out. It’s rated for an average battery life of 3,000 hours, which is really good for a variable-power optic. Or, really, anything not made by Aimpoint. Plus, this thing is built like a brick shithouse. It’s not gonna break on me. It’s probably good for anything short of getting shot or having C4 strapped to it. It satisfies the MIL-STD-810F standards for durability, in case you like looking up technical descriptions.

Now for the downsides. Remember how this thing is built stupid tough? And it has a giant, Illuminati-approved, all-seeing objective lens? Well, it’s also a heavy beast of an optic, tipping the scales at 700 g (1.54 lbs.). This is a lot, but bear in mind that it includes a mount. So if you’re comparing it to a more conventional optic design, add in the weight of a mount and then get back to me. It’s a bit lighter than the super popular Vortex Razor HD Gen II 1-6x on it’s own, and rather lighter once you add a mount to the Vortex. Downside two is the price. MSRP is painful. And, downside number three is that Elcan is a division of Raytheon. They are a military contractor. This optic has an NSN. Having a super good warranty isn’t high on their features list. Nor is having a customer service department that can be there to hold your hand and reassure you that you are a special snowflake. They don’t care. If you object, feel free to take your business elsewhere. I don’t really care, so I ponied up the cash and bought one.2 Oh, the one other thing to be aware of is that the integral mount uses ARMS levers. Some people don’t like those because they’re not adjustable and don’t work if the rails on your upper aren’t in spec. There are better clamping designs now, but these work. Plus, I can’t change them out. Hardly a dealbreaker.

Enough of me babbling about the optic. Let’s mount it up! Even with the Elcan beast mounted on the rail, Bridget weights in at 7.53 lbs., which is lighter than Kat without her optic. It’s also about as much as Maryanne, my SCAR 16S, weighs without her optic.

Range trials proceeded without too much drama. That gas system runs great. No problems in rifle operation were found. Though, I didn’t run a ton of rounds through Bridget yet at this stage. In terms of handling though, I’m super impressed. Bridget isn’t front-heavy like most other ARs, and she’s not rear-heavy like a bullpup. The vast majority of the weight is concentrated right around the magwell, where your strong hand is. So she’s not tiring to hold up and maneuvers super easy. That long handguard is actually quite nice with the weight distributed this way. It makes transitions really easy.

What else did we notice? Bridget is loud. Very loud. And the blast is obnoxious. How obnoxious? Well, two lanes over, Fishbreath remarked “Holy cow that’s obnoxious!” And he’s not one given to profanity. Translating to something a bit more colloquial gives us “Fucking ow!” Fishbreath has also mentioned the sensation of getting blasted in the face with the particles that come out of the business end of a rifle is a lot like getting pepper sprayed.

That said, after understanding that Bridget is going to helpfully try to get you some extra shooting space so that you both can get comfortable, she’s a remarkably flat shooting gun. I’m no expert in recoil control, but that little M4-72 brake is amazing at keeping the muzzle where you pointed it. No jumping, no nonsense. Plus, even less recoil than you’d expect from a 5.56. Bridget feels like shooting a .22 that someone made heavy, but somehow is being magically supported. Oh, and you’re right behind a cannon that’s synchronized to you. Because roar.

In case it’s not obvious from the above, I like Bridget very much. She’s lots of fun to shoot. Having a light, well-balanced rifle is pretty awesome, and it’s a solid validation of my part selection. I’m quite happy with her as is. I was a little concerned that the heavy Elcan would ruin everything, but because of the balance, I don’t have any complaints. I might swap to something else in the future, but I’m happy with the Elcan for the time being. I’m also quite happy with my choice of stock and handguard. Thanks, BCM! I do need to remember a glove for sustained shooting, since the handguard heats up quick. The Geissele SSA-E is a good trigger, but I might like to try something different given my expected uses. We’ll see–I’ve got a match coming up on the 10th, and I’ll take note if any conclusions shake out of that match, other than I need more practice.

1.) Or “Un-Limit-ed” now, I guess. Name changes, ugh. Maybe I’ll call it Ultd. Anyway, same great nearly-no limits as Open, brand new name.
2.) I got mine from CS Tactical. They do have great customer service.

Parvusimperator’s Light Rifle

As per usual, I wanted to do another AR-15 build, which of course, needed a concept. I decided to try for a Light-ish rifle. I’m gonna pick some parts on the lighter side of things and see how I like the result. There are some exceptions, which I’ll get into below. Also, if possible, I wanted to give one of those long handguard things a try, see why everybody likes them. And I’m going to make this a nice, generally high-end race-ish build. So let’s cue the music.

Receivers: Mega Arms NiB-coated billet set
Well, that ended quick. Just kidding. Really though, I bought these because they look freaking cool. NiB (Nickel Boron) finish is pretty, and Mega Arms makes nice receivers. Billet receivers are heavier than forged, in general. Oh darn. Let’s look at the receivers themselves in detail:

Upper Receiver:
Well, it’s NiB coated, which looks cool. Internally, this should be pretty slick. Otherwise, it’s mostly adding a bit of bling that we can pretend is something vaguely resembling practical. This is a pretty typical billet upper, with some details particular to the manufacturer to make it look cool, and provision for a forward assist and dust cover.

Lower Receiver:
It’s also NiB coated. Plus, matched billet set, so the design is supposed to flow nicely. Blending and all that. Woo. There are a couple other things of note here that are nonstandard. First, there’s a small setscrew at the back to control fit of the upper and the lower and remove any wobble. Not that the wobble matters, but it’s nice to be able to take it out, get that custom gun feel. We also have an extra bit on the right side–a southpaw bolt release! There’s a button on the right and a longer guide rod so that a southpaw shooter can release the bolt easily with his support hand when he reloads. Cool. Note that there’s no way for him to lock the bolt back with this particular gubbin, but that’s okay. Bolt lockback is nearly always an administrative thing; it doesn’t matter if it’s awkward. Also, the bolt catch is to be held in place with an included setscrew, not a roll pin. Great! Roll pins are of the devil anyway, especially that one, which is about the most awkward thing to install.

Barrel: Daniel Defense 16″ Lightweight Profile CL
That’s more like it. It even says lightweight in the name. Anyway, I went with Daniel Defense because they have a good history of making quality AR barrels, 16″ because I don’t want to bother with pinning the muzzle device or NFA paperwork, and chrome lining (“CL”) because duh, chrome line that barrel for best barrel life results. The lightweight profile is what was originally called for by Stoner in the basic AR-15/M-16A1 design, so we’re in good stead here. Plus, I’m not a benchrest shooter, so I don’t want a barrel that weighs as much as a Camaro. Light rifle, lightweight barrel profile. Perfect for the Run ‘n’ gun.

Handguard: BCM KMR 13″
Oughta make up for all those places I opted not to cut weight. Note that this is not the KMR-Alpha. This is Original KMR, made with BCM’s fancy, proprietary, and apparently hard-to-find aluminum-magnesium alloy. Just like a fancy racing engine block. And it’s laughably light. Holding the handguard in your hand is like holding nothing at all. It’s stupid light. There’s basically nothing to it given that it’s over a foot long. Why 13″? Because I wanted to have a long handguard to see what all the fuss was about. But I still wanted a bit of barrel at the end for the narrow firing port drills you sometimes see at matches. This fits the bill for both. Plus, it’s got the modular keymod interface. Is keymod better than Mlok? I have no idea. I just like this handguard design. I figure both will be around for a long time, because people hang on to guns for a while.

Muzzle Device: Precision Armaments M4-72
I could probably have gotten a lighter muzzle device. I don’t care.1 The M4-72 is universally acclaimed as a super effective muzzle device, coming in at or near the top in several effectiveness tests. It is also apparently horrifically loud. I do not care about this either. Ridiculous race gun comps are always something I’ve been interested in trying. So here it is. One of the baddest of the bad, if you can take the abuse. Or, I guess if people around you can take the abuse.

Gas Block: BCM low profile .625″
Not much to say here. It’s a gas block. It attaches via setscrew, mostly because I lack a drill press to pin it properly. Oh well. .625″ because that’s the diameter of my barrel at the gas port. It is not adjustable, because I don’t really want to fiddle with gas systems too much. I don’t tweak rifles to shoot as light as possible for some custom load. I like my rifle to run with any reasonable factory load.

Gas tube: BCM midlength
Yes, I bought a gas tube. No, there’s nothing special about it. Makes rifle do that autoloader thing.

Bolt Carrier Group: WMD Guns NiB-X coated M16 BCG
Here’s another place where I could have saved some weight, but didn’t. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of low-mass components in the operating system, because I like unfussy, reliable rifles. This is one of the few places where there is mass in an AR-15, so of course someone is gonna try to cut weight here. If you go with a reduced-mass BCG, you nearly always need to tune your gas system for correct functioning. Since I’m not the biggest fan of fiddle-farting around with the gas system, and I have no capacity to do so on this rifle as designed, I kept the stock-dimensioned BCG for reliability. I don’t like fussy, high maintenance guns. NiB coated because my upper is NiB coated, and NiB on NiB is going to give me maximum lubricity. Plus, it looks really cool.

Buffer system: BCM milspec buffer tube, castle nut, receiver end plate, carbine buffer, carbine buffer spring
Not much interesting here. I need a buffer system to make the rifle one correctly. So I got one. It’s all pretty standard stuff. Milspec buffer tube, though it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s consistent with your stock. Castle nut and receiver end plate are also needed, and stock parts, and boring. Nothing fancy here. The buffer is carbine weight, mostly because that’s what came in the kit. I may tinker with that a bit, but Obsessive Buffer Tweaking Syndrome has screwed up many perfectly good guns. So…maybe not.

Stock BCM Gunfighter FDE
This stock is a good balance between weight, comfort, and durability. It’s one of the lighter stocks on the market, among the strongest in abuse/drop tests, and is pretty comfortable as far as cheek weld goes. There’s a rubber pad on it too, not that a 5.56 AR is abusive at all. There are lighter stocks, but most of them are less comfortable. Or I could have just gotten a backplate for the buffer, but that wouldn’t be adjustable. And I refuse to be that silly. Plus I like having features that were on the ban list for the ’94 “assault weapons” ban. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Oh, and I picked Flat Dark Earth (FDE to the cool kids, tan to everyone else) because it looks cool, and I’ve got a sort of two-tone look going on.

Various Upper and Lower Parts:
I’m going to list these out, grouped by function, because a bunch are decidedly not standard parts. I rolled my own lower parts kit for this one.

Forward assist: BCM forward assist and spring
Well, the upper receiver has a slot for one, so I got one. It’s a stock part. Moving on.

Dust Cover: Strike Industries Enhanced Ultimate Dust Cover
I got this because installing a dust cover is really annoying. This one is much less so.

Charging handle: Mega Arms Grip Charging Handle
This one came with my upper. It’s got some more grippiness, and it’s a billet part, but otherwise it’s a stock design. I’m fine with that for now. I haven’t had one of my guns jam up real bad, so I haven’t had to really abuse a charging handle. Maybe in the future I’ll get a fancy one.

Mag Release: Colt mag release spring, colt mag button, Norgon ambi mag catch
I got the Norgon ambi mag catch because I figured it’d be pretty silly to have an ambi bolt release but no ambi mag release. I got the Norgon one because it’s well made, puts the mag release in the same place for southpaws and even has an NSN. Other small parts are Colt because I like Colt stuff. They make good small parts.

Bolt release: Colt spring, Seekins Bolt Release Catch
These are added to the already-supplied extended guide rod to enable the southpaw-friendly release functionality. Colt spring because I still like Colt. Seekins catch because it’s a little bigger, and I like the look. Plus bigger is easier to smack when you’re in a hurry.

Safety: Battle Arms Development Ambi Safety
Again, ambi makes more sense as an all-or-nothing thing. Plus, I like ambi safeties in general, and I’m not sacrificing anything. Battle arms makes a really nice one that lets you choose from several different shapes of lever that they make. They come with a safety detent and safety detent spring.

Grip: TangoDown BG-17 FDE
FDE because two-tone. TangoDown BG-17 because it’s a really comfortable grip. It’s my favorite from testing several. And no, I don’t like the ‘more verticaler’ grips they have now. TangoDown’s grip is also shaped to keep your hand high, and a high grip is a better grip. Also, TangoDown actually makes grips in sizes for people who have big, manly hands. The BG-17 is the larger size, the BG-16 is the smaller size. Same great comfortable shape. Since I have relatively large hands, I went BG-17. Interestingly, all the goofy vertical grips seem to be made tiny. No idea why, but it’s another reason for me to not like them

Buffer retainer: Colt buffer retainer detent, Colt buffer retainer spring
Really, there’s nothing to see here. These parts are required so your gun works right. There’s nothing special about them. I like Colt, so I got ones made by Colt.

Receiver Pins: Battle Arms Development Enhanced Pin Set
These hold your receivers together. You need some pins, and the corresponding pin retaining detents and pin retaining springs. I like the Battle Arms set because they shape the pins a bit more to make them easier to push and pull with your fingers. It’s the little things. They also include a little magnet to hold the detents while you install the pins. It’s the little things.

Trigger: Geissele SSA-E
If you thought I was going to put a stock trigger in this gun, you should go play in traffic. I like Bill Geissele’s triggers, and his SSA is pretty much my go-to trigger. I went with the SSA-E for a little bit of match-ness. I might go with a more competition trigger once I get a feel for this one and run it. That trigger might be the Geissele SD-E trigger, or maybe the Hiperfire 24C that I’ve heard so much about. I’ll keep you posted.

There she is, though she still needs a name and an optic. And then it’s off to the range! Watch this space for more details.

Oh, and in case your curious, she weighs 5.975 lbs unloaded, with no optic. A hair under six pounds is pretty good, I thought. Especially because I didn’t get too obsessive.

1.) Technically, I could also have gone with no muzzle device. But that’s just silly. If you seriously considered this, then you’re dumb. Or too weight obsessed. Possibly both.

OpenTafl v0.3.2.1b released

A new version of OpenTafl is out. Happily, this one doesn’t break network compatibility! As usual, the README has full details, but here are the highlights.

First off, performance improvements! The micro-optimizations I wrote about are now in the release. This brings OpenTafl’s speed up to the standard set by v0.2.5.3b. You may also notice enhanced responsiveness from the UI, which comes from updates to the Lanterna UI library.

Speaking of which, updates to said library have also resolved issues with OpenTafl drawing in native terminals. Use the –fallback switch to run OpenTafl in pure ANSI terminal mode. Handy if you’re on a server or something. Changes in Lanterna also required a little bit of rewriting on the Swing front; the upshot is that font size is now configurable.

Finally, I took care of a few large-board issues: the row indices now print correctly for boards larger than 9×9. In the same vein, alea evangelii (19×19 tafl) is now available, and I can feel a 19×19 tafl theory post coming soon, I think.

Until then, happy gaming.

The FBI Selects Glock!

The FBI has announced the results of their 9mm handgun solicitation a few days ago. Their choice is Glock!

Let’s look at some history, and see how we got here. The last time the FBI issued 9mm handguns, they were S&W 459s. These were issued to FBI SWAT men; regular agents got revolvers. J. Edgar Hoover liked revolvers. Revolvers were what cops carried. But let’s talk about the semiautomatics. The 459 had a 15 round, double-stack magazine, aluminum frame, adjustable sights, and a frame mounted safety/decocker. Trigger was a double action trigger, and it also came with a magazine disconnect, which was popular with police forces. Pretty typical 1970s-designed wondernine.

Of course, then came the 1986 Miami shootout, and the FBI decided that 9mm semiautomatics1 didn’t have enough stopping power. So they upgraded to the big 10mm Auto cartridge, in a new gun, the S&W 1076. This gun was another double action semiautomatic, again with a frame-mounted safety/decocker. But because the 10mm was much bigger, it only held nine rounds in a single-stack magazine.

The big 10mm round had no complaints about stopping power to speak of, but agents who weren’t very experienced, especially those of smaller stature, had trouble shooting the brisk-recoiling 10mm load. So the FBI went from the original Norma loading2 to the “FBI lite” load. Less recoil, more hits. And it’s the hits that count. Then someone realized that if you were happy with less powder in the cartridge, you could shorten the 10mm Auto round a bit and get something with a similar case length as a 9x19mm Luger round. Which would help a lot with having smaller agents, especially women, get a good grip on the gun. Plus, you could get back to that double-stack magazine goodness.

The result was the .40 S&W cartridge. You get double-stack magazines with slightly reduced capacity when compared to 9mm Luger, but still way better than guns chambered for 10mm Auto or .45 ACP. Great! Plus, you get a pretty hot round that’s got plenty of stopping power. So the FBI adopted this new round in a new S&W semiautomatic.

Or, you might like to think that. It would make sense. .40 S&W. They’re name’s in the cartridge designation! But no, they had their thunder stolen by that great new Austrian gunmaker, Glock, specifically the Glock 22 (full size) and Glock 23 (compact).

See, Glock actually managed to beat S&W to market with a .40. And polymer-frame Glocks are cheaper to make than S&Ws, and the guys at Glock are very effective marketers. Plus, the striker-fired trigger on a Glock only has one kind of pull, rather than the two of a double action3. So that’s what FBI agents carried.

Until now. See, bullet design was improving too, and by 2014, 9x19mm Luger hollow points weren’t giving very much up to .40 S&W or .45 ACP hollowpoints. A well designed 9mm hollowpoint4 actually performs about the same as a .40 or .45 hollowpoint in ballistics gel testing. And several police departments5 have had great results for years with well-designed 9mm hollowpoints in officer-involved shootings. And switching to 9mm means a couple more rounds in a magazine, plus less felt recoil. Less recoil means better qual scores. Everybody shoots a 9mm better than a .40, all else equal.

But the FBI could not simply ask for a different model Glock. Other companies would get upset. There would be legal challenges. So the FBI wrote a solicitation for a new 9mm handgun. And asked for a couple things they didn’t have in their current Glocks, specifically no finger grooves and an ambidextrous slide release.

The full RFP was for a Full Size gun (at least 16 round capacity, 4.26-5.2″ barrel) and a Compact gun (at least 14 round capacity, barrel length 3.75-4.25″), plus simunition and dummy training models. They wanted a beveled magwell and a lip on the front of the magazine baseplate to assist in forcibly removing a magazine from a jammed gun. Trigger pull weight between 4.5 and 6 lbs. Only striker-fired pistols were permitted.6 No grip safeties were permitted. A trigger safety was only permitted if it was in the trigger bow. Magazine catch was explicitly requested to be the pushbutton, 1911 type. No HK-style paddle releases were acceptable. No external manual safeties were permitted.7 Trijicon HD sights were preferred.

Out of the box, the SiG P320 met all of these requirements. S&W would have to change their trigger design, and probably tighten up the QC on their 9mm models. HK would need a longslide version of the VP9, longer grip for 16 or 17 round magazines, and a new mag release. Glock would have to add an ambidextrous slide release and get rid of the finger grooves. Not really insurmountable for anyone.

Of course, the 800 lb. gorilla in the room was Glock. Glock had the previous contract. And this contract wasn’t just for the FBI. A number of other government agencies would be allowed to purchase the new pistol under the new contract. Plus, a bunch of other, smaller agencies would inevitably follow the FBI’s lead. Why do a whole bunch of expensive testing yourself when the FBI has done some pretty elaborate testing of their own?

And here we are, eight months later. Not a bad turnaround time for a federal evaluation. And Glock has kept the contract. Good for them. Well, more than good for them. Great for them. I’m a huge Glock fan, so I’m thrilled in that totally irrational, ape-brain pleasing way. Someone with elaborate testing protocols has validated my purchasing decisions. Not that I had anything to do with the gun design or the testing, but yay all the same.

Cheerleading aside, what does it mean? Well, the FBI was pretty darn sensible for once. They’ve been happy with their Glocks, have plenty of armorer training for Glocks, and in general just wanted some in 9mm. And they even got a bunch of minor changes they wanted. Glock gets the big fat FBI contract, and tons of agencies will keep buying Glock.

As for you, the shooter, well if you remember my Striker-Fired Pistol Battle Royale, I told you to wait for the FBI to choose which one they liked best. Why? Because that one would get more accessories and holsters developed for it, since there’d be a guaranteed significant market share. And they chose Glock.

Of course, 65% of law enforcement agencies already carry Glocks. Glocks are already super popular. The only gun that has more accessories and things available for it than a Glock is a 1911. And none of that is changing any time soon with this contract. Glocks are still going to have giant market share, tons of accessories, and all the weird, wacky, and sometimes wonderful new things first. Glocks are still the right decision for striker-fired pistols, despite all of the new ones that have come out in the past couple of years. Here’s the one that made them popular. It’s got a phenomenal track record for reliability, and the trigger is pretty good.

So yeah. Pistol Roundup? To hell with that. I’ll have what Mr. Foxtrot, Mr. Bravo, and Mr. India are having: a Glock with Trijicon HDs. Make mine a 19.

Of course, I did pick it from the lineup first.

1.) And .38 caliber revolvers.
2.) 200 grains at a speed of 1,260 feet per second from a 5″ test barrel. Real magnum stuff.
3.) One heavy double action pull and one light single action pull. If you’ll notice, I’m not writing DA/SA, or double-action/single-action. Because it’s self-evident to any idiot who knows what double-action is that if I’m not saying double-action only then there’s a single-action mode of operation as well. DUH.
4.) If you’re looking for recommendations, my two favorite hollowpoint loads are the Speer 124 grain +P Gold Dots and the Federal 147 grain HSTs. Yes, they both pass all FBI gel tests, including the very important four-layer-denim test.
5.) The NYPD and the LAPD are two such examples. Both issue the 124 grain +P Gold Dot.
6.) Sorry Fishbreath.
7.) Sorry, again, Fishbreath. Maybe you should come over to the dark side. Join the 21st century. We have cheap magazines, plentiful sights, and slide-mounted red dots.