Monthly Archives: May 2018

USPSA: What Comes Next?

In the near term, the answer to the title question is, “Get better in Limited through 2019.” Between live fire practice, living room drills, and matches, I hope to make a run at B (at least) by the end of next season.

That isn’t great fodder for an article, though, given that I’ve already answered the question and we’re not even one hundred words in. In 2020, though, I think I want to pick up a new division, and that’s more fertile ground for discussion. I have a few options.

Ghetto Open

Ghetto Open, like parvusimperator’s kit from last year, is any Open setup which doesn’t fit the traditional frame-mounted optic, 170mm magazine, hot .38-caliber with compensator mold. This appeals to me on several levels: bubblegum-and-shoestrings bodging, shoot-something-different hipsterism, and play-for-cheap budget-mindedness.

Or at least, it appeals to me until I sit down and start to make a list of what I’d need to do. Take, for instance, the CZ. At a minimum, I would need an optic of some kind. Call it $130 for one of the Primary Arms micro-tubes, and $100 for the only picatinny rail universal mount which doesn’t lose its zero according to Internet reviewers.

Of course, that hardly gets me to ‘competitive’. I would need a compensator, and that’s where things start getting hairy. As far as I know, there aren’t any threaded barrels for .40 P-09s, so I’d have to either have one entirely custom-made (not exactly cheap) or have one of the 9mm threaded barrels bored out and rechambered for .40. (Also not cheap.) I’d then have to buy a compensator.

That gets me a little closer, but then I’d want longer magazines. There are 170mm extensions for the Tac Sport series, but those mags don’t fit P-09s. Some of the EAA/Tanfoglio magazines do, but those are on the order of $100 to $150 each. Iffy. The best I could hope for, as far as capacity, is probably 25 or 26, several shy of the widebody 1911s.

The list is even longer for a Beretta, and probably involves buying a whole new gun as the base, so that’s definitely out. Based on what I’d have to do to the CZ, so is Ghetto Open altogether.

Less Ghetto Open

My remaining options for Open play a little closer to the norm. I could buy a used CZ Czechmate, along with a supply of spare slide stops. That way, I could stay in the CZ ecosystem.

I could try one of the competition-ready 2011 clones from Eagle Importers’ SPS or MAC brands, both of which tip the money-scale at right about $2000 if I include an optic, with affordable magazines relative to other 2011s.

Either way, though, I’d be looking at $2500 or $3000 to go from today to shooting-ready. Although that’s cheap by Not At All Ghetto Open standards, it’s still a lot of money, especially with children likely to be in the picture by that time, and double-especially for a division I’m not even all that interested in.

Less Ghetto Open is out.

Carry Optics

Carry Optics is an interesting division. According to USPSA classifier stats, it’s very slightly faster than Limited—maybe 10%—despite using minor scoring. I could use my equipment pretty much as-is; all I would have to do is come up with some way to mount an optic.

The thing is, that changes the rear dovetail, and I’m happy with my sights on the Limited gun. I’d want a second slide, and that means I’d need a second gun plus the Cajun firing pin and springs, on top of an optic and a slide cut. The gun for the slide comes to about $420. Springer Precision makes a multi-optic mount compatible with the budget Burris and Vortex options, which retails for $45. A Burris FastFire III or a Vortex Viper or Venom can be had for $200.

My existing magazines, carriers, holsters, and belt are legal, although I’d have to pull the magwell off for Carry Optics competition. That makes the cost of entry roughly $700 to $750, counting shipping and transfer fees.

Frankly, when I started this section, I was expecting to write off Carry Optics altogether. Now, it’s one of the front-runners. Low cost of entry, cheap ammunition, and equipment commonality go a long way in my book.

Let me invent a few reasons to bring it down a peg. First, it’s trendy. I hate trendy. Second, I’d want to put the decocker back into my P-09, and there’s a fiddly little spring to deal with. Third, optics are still kind of cheating, even if it’s cool cheating I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at.

Revolver

If you know me at all, you shouldn’t be too surprised that revolver is the second front-runner. It’s the ultimate hipster division. Revolver shooting is very nearly a different game altogether, much more focused on shooting perfectly. (Every missed shot means more reloading, which is slow.)

I like the idea of revolver division, because it features a whole new set of technical skills and emphasizes shooting mastery much more than the semi-auto divisions. Your loading has to be perfect, and your shooting should be; otherwise, you’re going to be up a creek.

Because I’m old-fashioned and find eight-round revolvers to be an abomination unto Colt, I’d be looking at a major power factor gun with a six-round cylinder. The newly-released Ruger GP100 Match Champion in 10mm/.40 seems like an obvious choice—I already stock .40 competition ammo.

Of course, the current state of the art in USPSA Revolver is eight-round guns, because the USPSA rules require that no single shooting position should require more than eight shots. An eight-round revolver fits perfectly, provided you don’t miss. A six-round revolver will require some standing reloads on some stages. Major scoring, unfortunately, isn’t enough to make up the difference.

It would be about $1000 to get into it: a $750 revolver, a $100 holster, a $150 moon clip belt rack, and a few bucks’ worth of moon clips. Any tuning would be extra.

One last thing to note is that revolver is a very infrequently-shot division. At most matches, I wouldn’t have anyone to measure myself against.

A Weird Revolver

Ordinary revolvers are cool, sure, but what about a weird, sci-fi revolver, like the Chiappa Rhino? That comes in .40 S&W, and has a range of barrel length options besides. I could go up to six inches, which gives me enough sight radius to really make those difficult distance shots. It would cost about $200 more than the Ruger option. The revolver is $100 to $150 more expensive, and I would need one of those trigger-guard-grab holsters, at a price of about $150 ($50 more than the Kydex jobber for the Ruger). Given that it’s basically a functioning Firefly prop, however, the Rhino has a dramatically higher cool factor, and the recent Chiappas have better triggers out of the box.

Conclusions

If you read through the 2017-2018 race gun shootout, the 2019-2020 shootout should sound a little familiar. I have a cooler option I started off with (the wheelgun), and a cheaper, more competitive option I hadn’t considered until I did the comparison. Revolver is nearer to my heart, but Carry Optics is nearer to competitive with the top dogs, and if last year’s project showed me anything, it’s that competitiveness is important to me.

At the same time, last year’s choice was between two raced-up semi-auto pistols. The Beretta is cooler than the CZ, but neither holds a candle to a revolver. The question before me is this: is a GP100 $200 cooler than a CZ with a dot? Is a Rhino $500 cooler?

I don’t think the GP100 is. The Rhino, however, just might be.

Fishbreath Shoots: CZ P-09 USPSA Limited Match No. 2

At the end of April, I shot a second match with the Limited CZ P-09 project gun.

How did it go?

It went pretty well, all in all. I shot a good classifier, which is one of my primary goals at every match. (Gotta get that C-for-competent classification!)

As an aside, I thought the structure of the match was excellent. Like most club matches, the round count was about 150, but unlike most matches, they spread out that count into seven stages (rather than five or six). Stages averaged between about 24 and 28 rounds each, which is a good number: it lets the Open pay-to-win types feel superior because they don’t have to reload, while still presenting interesting problems for the rest of us. Do I trust myself to make every shot for the first 20 rounds on the stage, which don’t take much moving, then load moving to the last array? Do I make a standing or semi-standing reload earlier on? Seven stages also leaves you a little more room to have a bad stage without blowing the match altogether.

At the match, someone had a camera on a gimbal rig and happened to record a full stage of mine, which you can watch here1.

How was the gear?

Still solid. I adjusted the holster a bit more, for even less positive retention, and I think it improves my draw time. The belt remains perfectly functional. I had the brilliant idea of moving things around so that the outer belt overlaps itself in the rear rather than the front, where the ends aren’t interfering with equipment hanging on the belt. This is notably easier to put on than the previous setup.

How was the gun?

Also still solid. I find myself liking the skinny fiber optic front sight and blacked-out wide-notch rear sight more the more I use it. It’s very fast to acquire, and can be just as accurate with a little attention paid to alignment. The more trigger time I get on it, the better I think the trigger is.

That said, there were two reliability problems which cropped up: failures to feed and, a little more concerning, hammer follow (where the hammer chases the slide forward). I suspected that the slide might be coming forward too quickly, not leaving the sear time to reset or the magazine time to get the next round into place, so I swapped the stock 20lb recoil spring for the 18lb Cajun Gun Works spring, plus a stainless steel guide rod.

75 rounds of practice calculated to reproduce the problems didn’t yield any new cases, so I’m willing to call it settled for now. At the range, I re-learned the lesson that consistency in grip is important, and that when picking the gun up off the table, I need to get my main hand further around to the strong side. If I don’t, when I tighten my grip, the muzzle swings around to the left, and so do all my shots.

Next steps?

I’m taking May off from matches to work on draw, movement, and transition technique. Also because I’m cheap, and I can do most of those things without live ammo. In late June, I plan to attend two matches—the next at what I consider my home club, and a local all-classifier match to see if I can get my Limited letter.

In July, parvusimperator and I will be using me as a test case for frame weights; we have some drills in mind which we can use to assess the importance of extra weight under the barrel for polymer pistols.

We will, of course, report on those when they happen.


  1. After the video ended, the RO made a crack about how I was shooting extra to get my money’s worth. My rejoinder: “I can’t afford to shoot this many extra!” 

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Jul. 3, 3052)

Introduction

The ComStar liaison is an odd, somber fellow, who assigned us a sector to patrol, wished us well, and sent us on our way.

June passes without much action. We’re called out of our forward positions a few times, but when we arrive, the the rebels have already fallen back. On June 30th, however, an intriguing message arrives at headquarters. A rebel commander challenges us to a duel.

The Clanners in our employ enthusiastically favor the idea. Drake is a little more cautious. He eventually decides to accept, if only to bring the rebels to action and get a kill on the board.

Who should be our champion? Rook, our deadliest pilot by far, seems like the obvious answer. With her Stalker in the shop, she borrows the Flashman from Carcer and heads out. Wizard and Hanzoku accompany her, playing bodyguard in the event the rebels try to get cute.

The Action of July 3, 3052

Waiting for us at the designated place of battle is… a Banshee. The Banshee, a 95-ton assault design dating to the dawn of the Star League era, is widely mocked as ineffective. Its armament totals a PPC, an AC/5, and a small laser, a piddling armament for a mech of that size. Most of the tonnage goes to an enormous GM 380 engine, which makes the Banshee about as fast as the Flashman facing off against it. In other words, not very fast.

Round 1

001-round1

Closing in. Rook, still outside of medium laser range, lands hits with both of her large lasers, but takes a PPC hit in response.

Round 2

002-round2

The Banshee closes in. Rook slows down, hitting again with a large laser and taking a hit from a PPC again.

Round 3

003-round3

Again, the mechs trade fire.

Round 4

004-round4

Sensing that the Banshee is trying to get around behind her, Rook backs up and lands more lasers on it.

She takes another hit to the center torso, and is nearly out of armor there; the Banshee’s been good at keeping its hits in the same place.

Round 5

005-flanked

Though Rook is hammering the Banshee, it gets into a semi-flanking position; she can only return fire with one large laser. In return, she takes still another PPC to the center torso; it eats through the armor and damages her engine.

The alarms don’t faze her.

Round 6

The Banshee steps back, into the optimal range of its weapons. It doesn’t matter. Rook calmly plugs it with one of her large lasers, and…

006-kaboom

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

None of the above.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

Obviously, Rook scores a kill.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (27, 8 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now July 3, 3052.

Contract Status

Despite Rook’s victory over the rebel leader, reports indicate that rebel morale is high.

Finances

We have 60.801 million C-bills in the bank.

Recruitment

A new face shows up at our camp, another Rasalhague citizen shows up looking to sign on.

007-farooqi

Newly-minted Private Elroy Farooqi was in the service of the Republic some time ago, but quit for reasons he refused to say, and spent some time as an independent operator in the coreward periphery. During the long retreat from the Clan invasions, he organized local militias and ad-hoc defenses; now, there’s no call for that, but he wants a piece of the fighting again.

Repairs and Refits

Both assault mechs are in the shop, refitting. The Awesome is 55 days from completion. The Stalker is 32 days from completion.

Some heavy mech refits are also in the pipeline—switching Wizard‘s Guillotine over to the -4L model, or perhaps the Clan ER Large Laser+Double Heat Sink model, and adding double heat sinks to some of our other heat-limited mechs, like the Thunderbolt, Flashman, and new Ostroc. (Obviously, we don’t want to be exactly heat-neutral. Building up a little heat over the course of a few alpha strikes is healthy.)

Otherwise, we’re in good shape.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C (en route)
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Elroy Farooqi – n/a
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Super Multihit Body Armor from RMA Defense

Those of you who have a good memory for the history of body armor will recall the issues that the now-defunct Pinnacle Armor ran into with its Dragon Skin product. Dragon Skin body armor was supposed to be a revolution in personal protection. The concept was to replace the monolithic plate of regular body armor plates with an array of overlapping ceramic discs. Having multiple discs would prevent the propagation of cracks across the whole plate. In 2006, the US military found Dragon Skin to be unsatisfactory as a replacement for the hard plates used in the Interceptor body armor system. Pinnacle claimed the tests were biased, and sued. The lawsuit found in favor of the US Government. The arguments continued, especially on various internet forums, but Pinnacle Armor eventually went out of business in 2010.

The goal of trying to gain resistance to more hits by stopping the propagation of cracks lingered, and I’ve recently found someone else who is tackling the basic concept.

Enter RMA Defense’s Model 1189 Level IV plate.

RMA Defense is claiming, and has the all-important third-party tests to back up, that their plate will stop 5-7 rounds of .30-06 M2AP. This is pretty impressive when you consider that all that’s required for a Level IV rating is to stop one round of M2AP. “Multi-hit” generally means three rounds of M2AP. Having a third party lab verify that you stopped six rounds is awesome.

We can get some notion of how the armor works from their patent. The key bit is a series of tiles, joined with structural adhesive. Think of a set of bathroom tiles, only made of silicon carbide. Then, cracks from a hit on one of the tiles will only propagate as far as the joints, leaving most of the rest of the array intact. This ceramic array is mounted over a plate of UHMWPE and wrapped in a fancy aramid. It’s pretty cool.

Price per plate is pretty reasonable for ceramics at $299 a piece. Weight of 6.9 lbs is on the heavy side for ceramics, and is similar to that of the similarly-sized, high-end steel TAC3S plate. Also, the 1189s are single-curve plates, and that’s pretty old school. Triple curve is the current standard, and will fit you a lot better. That said, it’s still an innovative product. Personally, we’d wait for the future generation model.

Soldiers’ Gadgets: Geissele High Speed Selector

The AR-15 selector is a pretty standard component. There are a few variations on the lever shape, some including an ambi part for lefties, but it’s worked the same way since the 1960s: Point the lever forward (“0 degrees”) for Safe, point the lever straight up (90 degrees) for semiautomatic, and point the lever back (180 degrees) for full automatic. Or burst. Pretty simple.

One innovation seen occasionally on competition guns is the ‘short-throw’ safety lever. This is a safety lever where semiauto requires less than a quarter-turn of the lever. Usually it’s about a 45-55 degree range of travel that will switch the rifle to semiautomatic.

Something like this has also been seen on some military rifles, including the FN SCAR. On the SCAR’s safety lever, the 45 degree position is semiautomatic and 90 degrees is fully automatic. It’s definitely easier and faster than the standard AR lever, but it’s not really worth fussing about. Unless you’re a competition shooter where every tenth of a second counts, in which case, you can mod your heart out. That said, it’s not a super popular mod on the competition circuit. Usually money gets spent elsewhere.

It becomes a little more interesting when combined with a recent Marine Corps study. The Corps appears to have (re)discovered that fully automatic fire is more effective on moving targets than semiautomatic fire. This is no surprise. We’ve known this for a while now. Recall that the original demand for the rate of fire on the MG-42 came from wanting to maximize hit probability for a target moving from cover to cover at range. And Project SALVO and SPIW were all about increasing hit probability by getting more bullets downrange.

All that said, let’s look at the specific formulation, since we have it for this study. Numbers are always good. To simulate an enemy soldier moving from cover to cover, the marines looked at a man-size target moving at a speed of about 10 miles per hour, at a range of 50-150 yards, and assumed a 2.2 second exposure. They worked out that if a soldier was firing on semi-automatic, the hit probability was about 0.4. This hit probability went up to 0.6 simply by switching over to full automatic.

Anyway, the Marines were a little concerned that by the time the soldier saw the moving target, flipped the selector to automatic, took aim, and fired, the target would be gone. Remember, there’s only a 2.2 second exposure time. So they reached out to Geissele to help. While they were wishing, they also wanted the transition in and out of full-auto to be as easy as possible.

Geissele’s high speed selector starts with a 45-degree position for semi-automatic, and a 90-degree position for fully automatic. Just like the SCAR. What’s new is that the selector is spring loaded. So the marine holds the selector in the 90-degree position with his thumb to fire on full-automatic and lets go when he wants to go back to semi-automatic.

I like the shorter throw, but I’m not entirely sold on the spring-loading. It seems to me like this is the sort of thing that one ought to be able to handle with doctrine and drill. A technological solution in search of a problem. And I really don’t think the short throw is worth the bother.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Jun. 1, 3052)

Tukayyid from the Sidelines

The Opinionated Bastards spend the month of May engaged in the typical activities of warriors removed from the fighting. Some work on maintenance. Others hit the simulators. Still more poke around the small city where the Bastards are ostensibly guarding evacuees from the combat zone, looking for leisure and finding little of it. Drake spends some time with MechTech Endo, learning the ins and outs of his Awesome’s guts. Between the new double heat sinks, the new power conduits and mounting points for the Clan PPCs, and the general rebuild-it-from-scratch thing, it’s a serious project, and is going to be a serious project for some time longer.

News reaches the Bastards both by radio intercepts and by our Free Rasalhague Republic liaison, who is a little more plugged into happenings than we are. The general impression is that things are going well. As mid-May passes, the news turns a bit more sour, but Hanzoku points out that Clan Wolf’s victories are largely symbolic. The Com Guards have already won the balance of the fighting, and that’s enough.

On the 20th, the fighting stops. The distant rumble of heavy weapons fire falls silent. News filters out: the Truce of Tukayyid is now in force. The Clans may not advance past Tukayyid for fifteen years.

With that, our purpose in the remains of the Free Rasalhague Republic is moot. Our liaison informs us that he’ll be paying us the rest of our fee, and that we’re free to stay for a while, but there’s no more combat against the Clans to be had in his government’s employ.

The Bastards stick around through the end of May, at least. Few of the planet’s residents join them; most of the large population centers were ruined during the fighting, and despite its newfound historical importance, Tukayyid is still a backwater. Our mechs keep an eye on the loading process, as DropShips arrive to carry off the portion of the population which doesn’t want to stay.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

Nothing much going on this month.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (26, 7 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now June 1, 3052, and a very different world awaits.

The Bastards are not currently under contract.

Finances

We have 47.259 million C-bills in the bank.

Repairs and Refits

The Awesome is still three months away from combat readiness. Otherwise, we’re in top fighting shape. An Ostroc is on the way for Blinky.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C (en route)
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

The whole of the Inner Sphere is our oyster, as the saying goes.

  • In the short term, we’re in excellent shape. Our war chest is large enough to absorb a long wait while we refit most of our mechs to be more Clan-competitive. Alternately, we could take an easy contract while we’re refitting, taking it a bit more slowly and getting our greener pilots some experience against an easy opponent.
  • As it happens, there’s just such a contract available: ComStar offers us a job fighting rebels right here on Tukayyid. Since some of Tukayyid’s residents aren’t happy about the devastation or the ComStar takeover and the Com Guards are seriously battered after the battle against the Clans, our services command a premium. ComStar would be paying us better than the Free Rasalhague Republic did.
  • Do we take the ComStar contract while refitting, refit without taking a contract, or go looking for more opportunities to get stuck in against the Clans? (Although there was a truce, the Clans are a long way from the truce line across most of the coreward Inner Sphere.)
  • On that note, what do we want to refit? I think it’s probably a good time to get the Stalker done, at a minimum, but most of our heavy mechs would benefit from a double heat sink refit. We’re a pretty energy-heavy company at present.

Recharging in the Field

Here at the Soapbox, I try to talk logistics when I can. While it’s not as sexy as a cool new fighter jet or carbine optic, logistics is a vitally important part of keeping an army going. Today we’re going to look at a few different ways to provide power to all of the electronic devices of the modern soldier.

SPM-622
The SPM-622 is an army-issue battery pack. It weighs one pound, and measures 1.2″ x 3.4″ x 3.2″. It has six bidirectional ports for charging devices or charing the SPM itself. It can be used to charge a wide variety of commercial and military batteries, and it can also directly charge a variety of military radios. As you might expect, it’s also weatherproof and rugged. The SPM even comes with an LCD display to show the status of its battery, plus those of any connected devices.

REPPS
REPPS (Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System) is a 62 watt solar cell “blanket” that folds up into a convenient backpack. It weighs about ten pounds and is a good choice for light infantry units. In hostile terrain, moving fuel for generators is expensive, difficult, and dangerous. REPPS reduces the need for fuel convoys.

GREEN
The Marines wanted something a little bigger than the backpack-mounted REPPS, and developed GREEN: the Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy Network. It consists of rigid solar cells, stored in protective cases; a power controller; and an array of batteries. With batteries and solar power, GREEN provides a continuous 300 watts. Each solar cell is stored in a 67″ x 36″ x 12″ case, and the cell and case together weigh 145 lbs. The power controller is 23″ x 17″ x 8.5″ and weighs 60 lbs. The batteries weigh 38 lbs. each and measure 13″ x 16″ x 7″. Interestingly, this bigger system is more suited to vehicular carry, and for setup in a more permanent sort of base.

RGW 90 LRMP

Despite their original design as antitank weapons, most unguided rocket launchers get pressed into service for battlefield demolition work, targeting bunkers and buildings that are used as firing positions. The RGW 90 LRMP was designed to handle a lot more of this sort of demolition work, while keeping some anti-armor capability for moderately armored targets. Which is fine by me; a 90mm HEAT warhead is going to be pretty marginal against most modern MBTs.

The RGW 90 LRMP is a derivative of MATADOR, also known as RGW 90, which is itself a derivative of Armbrust. Armbrust is a contemporary of the American M72 LAW, and like the LAW, it is a single-shot antitank weapon. It’s even about the same caliber. A significant difference is in the operation. The Armbrust puts a propellant charge between two pistons. The front piston pushes the projectile out the front, and the rear piston pushes a bunch of shredded plastic bits. The mass of the projectile matches that of the plastic bits, and the pistons don’t leave the launch tube. This removes the danger of backblast. RGW 90 offers a few different warhead options in a larger 90 mm caliber.

The RGW 90 LRMP (a.k.a Wirkmittel 90) uses a unique, programmable, tandem-HESH warhead with a fragmentation jacket. It’s optimized for blowing up battlefield obstructions and ruining a bunker’s day. It’ll be great in a city, and while it’s going to do plenty of damage to moderately armored vehicles, it’s not the best choice for engaging MBTs. Which is fine. Those tend to be equipped with lots of composite and reactive armor these days. Plus, there are lots of other weapons that look to take down tanks. Few are optimized for demolition.

An electronic sighting unit, made by Hensoldt, is paired with the RGW 90 LRMP. It can be detached and moved from launcher to launcher. The sighting unit handles rangefinding and airburst settings, if desired, as well as elevation adjustments for range. With the electronic sighting unit, Dynamit Nobel claims the RGW 90 LRMP has an effective range of 1,200 meters, which is outstanding. I suspect but can’t confirm that the round uses some kind of rocket assist to reach that range.

The RGW 90 LRMP weighs a bit less than twenty pounds, making it two pounds heavier than the AT4-CS (which is safe to fire in confined spaces) and about five pounds heavier than the regular AT4. However, the AT4 does not feature a programmable warhead, and the AT4 does not have an electronic sighting unit to assist in making accurate long range shots.

Overall, I think the RGW 90 LRMP is a pretty compelling light antitank weapon, with an unusual (and welcome) specialization.