Author Archives: Fishbreath

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 26, 2019)

It’s all Fishbreath all the time this week—I’m covering Thursday’s post, too.

In contrast with the competition shooting flavor of this week’s long-form posts, we have a delightfully defense-directed What We’re Reading.

As I wrap up writing all the summaries below, I would like to point out that I finished just in time for the 10:13 deadline.

Defense: China

Defense: FFG(X)

Defense: Other

Science and Technology

Guns etc.


  1. The RAF is unique in the British armed services for adopting a semi-modern phonetic alphabet in 1942, rather than sticking with the WW1-era alphabet straight through to 1956. 

Fishbreath Shoots: Glockblaster 2.0 – A Potential 2019/2020 Project Gun

Something that’s been rattling around the back of my mind, especially now that Parvusimperator’s admittedly sweet Open-division custom double-stack 1911 came in, is the segment sometimes called ‘Ghetto Open’. What is Ghetto Open? Well, let’s use a car analogy.

If you’re a fan of driving fast around tracks and money is no object, the obvious thing to do is to buy a proper track day car: something by Caterham, say, or an Ariel Atom. They’re street-legal in the technical sense, but they’re clearly designed with a particular purpose in mind, and that purpose is going fast around a track. This is your double-stack 1911.

If you’re fond of cars with pedigree, you might instead buy something used from BMW or Mercedes and carefully tune it, making something refined into something both refined and fast. Here you find your Czechmates, your Tanfoglio Gold Teams, and perhaps your carefully-smithed Beretta and CZ one-offs.

If you’re one step up from a mad scientist, you know you can find twin turbo kits for your 2009 Honda Accord online, and why not bolt ’em in? You aren’t going to beat the Atoms and Caterhams around a track on an average day, but maybe every now and then you’ll snatch a bit of implausible glory. And hey, even if not, you raced with the big boys on their terms, and were way closer than you had any right to be. This is Ghetto Open.

I’ve been thinking about Ghetto Open guns for a while. The problem is that most of the ones I’ve had in mind are too far outside the mainstream1. You need a big aftermarket for a Ghetto Open gun to work, because you need parts of all sorts. The 2009 Honda Accord of the firearms world is, then, the Glock: ubiquitous, reliable, predictable, a little boring, and not especially fast. We can change that2. First, though, we should define some goals for Ghetto Open.

Goal #1: it should be cheap. If it costs as much as buying the right tool, then there’s no point to it.

Goal #2: it should be easy. The less work you have to do to shoot Open, the more heartfelt your mocking can be on the rare occasions when you’re on par with the proper guns, and the more resistant you are to mocking when you come up short3.

Goal #3: it should be weird. Buying a worn-out 2011 on the cheap is not Ghetto Open, which is defined in part by being the unwise tinkerer’s choice.

Goal #4: it should be functional. This is distinct from competitive. We’re fond of saying that it’s the Indian, not the arrow, but between Indians of equal skill, arrows do matter. Happily, at my level of competition, the Indians are anything but equally skilled, and I think I can fulfill my USPSA goals—to be moderately competitive—anyway, even if my hardware isn’t up to the top-of-the-line standard.

So, let’s take a look at a possible shopping list.

Law Enforcement Trade-In Glock 22: $325

If you’re familiar with Glock’s ridiculous naming scheme, you’ll recognize ‘Glock 22’ as a .40 S&W Glock. Notably, that’s a bigger bullet than the traditional .38 Super[Comp] or the 9mm Major which make up the bulk of Open division. Why would I hamstring myself with a bullet which is harder to pack into those juicy 170mm magazines?

See Goal #2 above. 9mm Major is iffy in most off-the-rack guns, to say nothing of Glocks. If I buy a gun which was designed to run .40 S&W, which need not be loaded very hot to make major, I should hopefully avoid some of the durability problems you might run into shooting dramatically over-spec 9mm through the same model of gun4.

It also means I can buy factory ammo—165-grain, 1050fps .40S&W is not at all hard to find, and is no more expensive factory-bought than 9mm Major ammo is to make. This represents a huge cost savings, too. With 9mm Major, more or less every round you put through the gun has to be a reload. I save on not just the time it would take to get loads worked out and produced, but also on the money it would take to set up a reloading rig. Even if 9mm Major comes out cheaper per round than .40, which I doubt it would in the end, it would have to counteract a big initial outlay to be cost-competitive. I can also use the same ammo in my Limited gun for added multi-tasking.

Shooting .40 will, of course, limit my magazine capacity: ETS 170mm magazines claim 24 rounds of .40, while the SJC 170mm big stick or the Taylor Freelance 170mm extensions claim 25. Does that matter? Not really, at this level. 1911 drivers only steal a reload on me on stages with between 26 and 29-30 shots required, which don’t show up much. Typically, club matches here are either short stages of about 20 rounds or long stages of the maximum permissible 325.

Initial Competitive Capacity

SJC Open Gun In-A-Box Kit: $1070 (incl. frame weight and red dot)

SJC, purveyors of Glock Open supplies, have a kit which takes you from zero to more or less ready to rock and roll. This price includes a frame weight but not the thumb rest (cool, but not required) or the slide racker (see preceding parenthetical). You also get a compensator and threaded barrel, a frame-mounted sight mount, an extended magazine release, a brass magwell, springs, a guide rod, and some other miscellaneous gubbins.

The price also includes a C-More Slide Ride sight. Why a C-More rather than a standard micro-dot? For one, it and the mount weigh a little more, which is desirable given the lightness of the starting platform. For another, it’s simply the largest window available on a pistol sight at any price, and that price is within $30 or so of the price of a micro-dot.

Mounting them in the correct orientation on the Glock (that is, with the bottom facing down) requires extractor tuning to ensure that empties get flung clear of the sight. That sounds difficult, so I’ll opt instead for the sideways mount, which clears the ejection port altogether and has the added benefit of getting the dot closer to the slide.

A Trigger Kit: $130?

I’ll have to consult with Parvusimperator on which is best, but Austrian-pattern toaster parts can’t be that expensive.

Upon consultation, he suspects that $130 is probably high, especially if I’m fine with the base-model trigger shoe. We’ll leave it in to make the final tall look better.

Magazines: $125

Taylor Freelance makes 170mm extensions which claim to be +10 over the factory 15-rounders. Buying a pair of those, with the included springs, gets me two 170mm magazines with the hopefully-theoretical-maximum-25-round capacity for relatively cheap.

If I want a third magazine for a bit of extra cushion, I could throw in an ETS 170mm for $206.

A CR Speed Holster: $175

If I want to use the frame weight, and I do want to use the frame weight, I have to follow SJC’s recommendations on holsters. The CR Speed jobber is the only race holster which fits the bill.

Grand Total: $1825

Including shipping and transfer fees, where appropriate. A complete gun costs considerably less—more like $1350 (leaving out trigger work, magazines, and holster). That’s probably where I would start, so I could properly assess how well it works and what, if anything, I need to change before buying into the rest.

Future Upgrades

The nice thing about the Glock aftermarket is that it’s gigantic, and anything I don’t like I can replace. Leaving aside functional parts, here are some options.

Slide cuts

Reducing that reciprocating mass is a good thing for controllability and also looks sweet, but there’s likely a balance to be struck between slide lightening and light springs, given the strange push-pull nature of the Glock spring system.

Barrel porting

Parvusimperator described a double-inline-ported Glock he got a chance to play with at a class, and deemed it good. If the compensator isn’t enough on its own, some extra porting (following some slide cuts to support it) might be a thing to try.

One of those inertial shot counters

Radetec, the guys behind that smart Glock slide from SHOT a while back, make an inertial shot counter. It’s exactly the kind of silly frippery I can get behind for a gamer gun. It precludes use of a slide racker, but between a slide racker and a sci-fi bullet counter…

Sweet Cerakote color scheme

After everything’s squared away, the obvious thing to do is to make it look nifty. Options I’ve considered: blue and white (or white and blue) because I like that scheme, The Red Ones Go Faster, Nerf colors, NES colors, X-Box black and green.

Conclusions

No revolver?

You may recall that last year’s question was between Carry Optics and Revolver, and Carry Optics won. Now that the Ruger Super GP100 has hit the streets, and market price looks to be in the $1000 to $1200 range, it’s cost-competitive with a handicap Open gun, and I picked Carry Optics in part because it would be more competitive. So, why does it look like Open is a leading contender ahead of Revolver this year?

In short, tinkering. If I get into Revolver, granted, I get to cowboy it up, but there’s very little to change on the gun. I buy (most likely) a .357/.38 revolver, put some reduced springs in it, and maybe send it away to get a trigger job. There are very few choices involved, and so also it was with the CZ race gun. With a Glock project, on the other hand, I have at least two options for almost everything, and the parts aren’t so expensive that I can’t experiment.

So am I going to do it?

Maybe.

The tinkering potential is through the roof. I’m told that even a working Open Glock will occasionally require some workbench-based TLC. Second, at the nearly-$1800 total, it gets me into Open with all the non-cosmetic Open accoutrements for less half the cost of an STI Open gun on its own. Even a used Open gun will run you north of $3000 most of the time and require you to hand-load either .38 Super/Super Comp or 9mm Major. I’m willing to accept some limitations for that kind of savings in time and money.

On the other hand, Revolver forces me to develop some skills I can get away with ignoring in high-capacity divisions—namely, good planning and good hits. The Super GP100 presents a compelling value proposition, given that it’s a top-of-the-line competition revolver at a lower price than the decidedly less top-of-the-line Open Glock. The project as a whole is a few hundred dollars cheaper, too, and gives me a second go-slow division (next to Production).

It comes down to how important I find fielding competitive equipment (important, but not critical), how much I like going fast (yes), how much I want to do revolver competition eventually (also yes), and how much Ruger’s new entrant is going for at the end of the summer. We’ll update you then.


  1. Parvusimperator thinks the gun described in this article is a bad idea. My other proposals are not merely bad but also ridiculous. 
  2. All of it, including the reliable part. 
  3. “Sure, I was slower, but I also have never pulled a reloading machine lever in my life.” 
  4. Parvusimperator notes that Gen3 Glock 22s don’t have a great reputation for long-term reliability unmodified, though. 
  5. Major matches, I understand, can feature longer stages. That adds a second plausible window where the 1911 drivers can get ahead by a reload, at 51 to 60 rounds. 
  6. Parvusimperator dislikes them for dust intrusion reasons. For a rarely-used magazine, I’m willing to take that risk. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 19, 2019)

Here we are at the leading edge of the summer doldrums. Parvusimperator’s low on things to write about, and I’m in at-home productivity mode. So it goes. Happily, there’s a ton going on in the world, so we do have links for you. Lots of links.

Defense

Hong Kong Protests

Science and Technology

Grab Bag


  1. Yes, I’m enamored with the idea, and I should probably write about it in depth. 
  2. According to the Internet, that’s the demonym. 
  3. I thought at first that my only comment should have been ‘organleggers’, but that’s maybe a bit esoteric. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 12, 2019)

It’s rare that I get the What We’re Reading story filed prior to our traditional 10:13 a.m. Eastern post publication time, but today, I’ve been more diligent than usual.

Defense

Science and Technology

Culture

History

Commodities

A new heading! It was originally ‘Finance’, but then I realized that every finance-related story I had was also commodities-related in one way or another.

Grab Bag

Lots of headings today.

A more accurate concealed carry map, 2019 update

In 2017, we ran the first version of this map, which purports to show the carry situation in the US a little more accurately than the standard permitless/shall-issue/may-issue trichotomy1. That fails to capture some of the nuance—a may-issue state may nevertheless issue permits to just about anyone, and some shall-issue states may be worse than others2.

Here’s the map. You’ll find notes below, along with exact definitions of the colors.

Notes

  • Onerous shall-issue means states with a waiting period in excess of two weeks, a training requirement which requires leaving your house, or an application fee of greater than $100.
  • Permissive shall-issue states impose lesser requirements.
  • De facto shall-issue states are statutorily may-issue, but shall-issue in practice.
  • Onerous may-issue states deny carry permits as a matter of course.

  • MA and NY: rural sheriffs likely to issue permits, but urban-dwellers basically out of luck.

  • PA: processing time of up to 45 days allowed, but most counties, including Allegheny (i.e. Pittsburgh), issue permits immediately.
  • WI: average processing time of about one week.
  • WA: average processing time appears to be under one week, except in the Seattle area.
  • SD: temporary permit issued within five days.

2019 update notes

  • KY: Constitutional carry legislation passed, effective June 26, 2019.
  • OK: Constitutional carry legislation passed, effective November 1, 2019.
  • SD: Constitutional carry legislation passed, effective July 1, 2019.

  • OR: Cost and wait time are the disqualifiers; training requirement can be done online.

  • VA: Wait time is the disqualifier; training can be done online.
  • RI: Local authorities must either issue or deny an application on a shall-issue basis as of 2015, but I can’t verify how open the process actually is.
  • WA: Downgraded to onerous shall-issue on the basis of wait time, which is ‘up to 30 days’, and in practice appears to be ‘around 30 days’ even outside of Seattle.
  • WI: Downgraded to onerous shall-issue on the basis of training requirements, which do not appear to be online-friendly.

If you see an inaccuracy or a point in need of clarification, leave us a comment!


  1. I stand by my word choice. 
  2. Looking at the final product, however, I’m pretty sure I need a third shall-issue category, given that only PA remains in the permissive shall-issue group. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 5, 2019)

It’s almost but not quite the anniversary of D-Day, and is precisely the anniversary of my marriage1.

Between that, travel, finishing Britain’s Future Navy (depressing) and starting Massie’s Dreadnought (exciting), it’s a short one this week2.

Defense

Science and Technology

  • Another open-source project switches to a license which excludes resellers – An interesting problem. The norm in the software industry used to be this: if you develop an open-source project, you have dibs on selling that project as a service. The Big Three cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) broke that norm, reselling open-source-projects-as-a-service. The open source projects have now fired back with a new breed of open-source licenses that permit users to do everything but that.

Grab Bag


  1. Rather than send flowers on the day, I sent them a day early. That way it’s surprising. 
  2. These are affiliate links. This will serve as a temporary disclaimer/etc. until I get the actual disclaimer/privacy policy written up. 
  3. Mr. Alexander says that this is the second article in a sequence. Idle speculation in the comments wonders where he’s going with it. One commenter put forward the idea that it might be a literal come to Jesus moment, which would be a victory for Christendom on par with the conversion of C.S. Lewis, but I don’t put much stock in that one. I lean more toward a shift in politics. 
  4. That is, I enjoy them, and he doesn’t. 
  5. Do you know what else did a good job at this, hard as it is to believe? The Star Wars prequels. Can you picture a single Lucas-era lightsaber duel with quick cuts? Of course you can’t, because none of them were shot that way, despite the fast pace and acrobatics involved in most of them. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (May. 29, 2019)

Defense

Science and Technology

  • Artificial general intelligence is hard to define, much less build – The key insight is that when people talk about machines driving The Singularity, they’re talking about artificial general creativity. We have an awful lot of non-artificial general intelligence already, and much of it goes unused.
  • Used IBM mainframe buyer’s guide – In case you’re looking for a fun hardware project. All you have to do is spend about as much as you would on a cheap new car, and be prepared for an extra $170-some per month in electricity1.
  • Arm2 is the latest to suspend business with Huawei – That’s terrible for Huawei, given that they do a lot of ARM-architecture processors.
  • Google stored unhashed G-Suite passwords for over a decade – It’s fixed now, but this is your weekly reminder that even the big players in tech are actually terrible at their jobs.
  • Offset graphene sheets superconduct at -25C – Also, about a million times atmospheric pressure, but what’s a megabar or two among friends?
  • SpaceX succeeds on another launch – This one to deploy the first 60 satellites in their proposed, uh, 12,000-strong Starlink constellation. They stuck the landing, which means they’re up to 40 of 47 on landing attempts.
  • No link for this one, because I forgot to pop it into our chat, but given how many Starlink satellites are planned, the FCC’s standard satellite-hits-someone-or-something calculation suggests that it’s even odds after six years that reentering debris will bonk something more important than dirt.

Baseball

Grab Bag


  1. At Western PA market rates. Fun fact: the bargain-basement VPS that Many Words runs on costs about $170 per year. 
  2. No longer ARM, evidently. 

Range Report: Dot Torture with the C-Zed

The range nearest Many Words Press Keep-The-Lights-On Day-Job HQ is the sportsman’s1 club to which I belong. When parvusimperator’s Open gun came in, we therefore decided that waiting for a weekend was silly, and instead took a long lunch to drive up to the range and see how it went.

Of course, while he was doing that, I had to entertain myself some other way. Enter the Dot Torture drill, which I believe I’ve mentioned previously. It’s a great way to spend a box of ammo, and also to work on fundamentals of marksmanship. We’ll come back to that in a bit, because the real highlight was putting the C-Zed through its modular paces.

The C-Zed, as you may recall, is a CZ P-09 frame with slides for both USPSA Carry Optics and Limited competition. The P-09 is a perfect choice for this, because it 1) comes in Limited-preferred .40 and Carry Optics-preferred 9mm, 2) has enough factory and aftermarket support to have 140mm magazine base pads, Limited-standard fiber optic front/black rear sights, and a sight dovetail red dot mounting plate, and 3) can be swapped from a Limited-preferred cocked-and-locked safety to a Carry Optics-required decocker. Very few other guns hit all the requirements2.

The dream, then, is to be able to toss two slides and some magazine bodies into my range bag, and shoot two different divisions morning and afternoon at local matches with the same gun (at least as far as the ATF is concerned). Is it plausible to do so?

Yes! In between my 9mm dot torture target and my .40 dot torture target, I did the full swap between divisions on the clock: pop off one slide, swap the safety to the decocker or vice versa, put the new slide on, change the magazine bodies, attach or remove the magazine well. On the clock, the changes to the gun proper took about two and a half minutes, and the magazine swap took two minutes more for three magazines3. I may not end up making the swap and shooting two divisions at this weekend’s match, but the option is there, tested, and eminently practical.

Back to Dot Torture. Having both a .40 pistol and a 9mm-with-dot pistol at the range made it easy to compare my accuracy performance with dots against irons. Obviously, I was more accurate with the softer-shooting dot-equipped pistol, but it wasn’t as big a difference as I expected it might. One thing to try next time I go out is moving the target closer. The Dot Torture target packs ten circles onto an 8.5×11 page, and is designed for use at three yards (to start with). I’ve done it at five yards so far, which accounts for part of my poor performance4.

And finally, it’s time for some bonus content. Parvusimperator gave me ten-or-so shots out of the Open gun. It really is something else. It was sufficiently soft-shooting that I kept forgetting to actually grip it, so the dot moved as the slide went back and forth. Had I done a little better with my fundamentals, I doubt it would have moved at all. There’s no real point to discussing the trigger profile, because it doesn’t have one—both the pull and the reset are so short as to seem instant. It was a good get, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

It also got me thinking about a project gun for the upcoming offseason. Look for a post on that coming soon.


  1. It’s actually a sportsmen’s club, in the sense that it belongs to a number of sportsmen but not the entire category of sportsmen (sportsmens’), but plural possessives are just the worst, so I won’t hassle them too much. 
  2. Striker guns can, but I prefer a hammer where it’s a viable option, and with minimal work besides replacing the hammer and disconnector with Cajun Gun Works parts, the P-09 has a better trigger than any striker-fired gun. 
  3. I have four in total, but only three 9mm bodies, so the last one is a perma-.40. It feeds 9mm well enough for what it is, which is to say a magazine I should never need to touch, given that the other ones contain 72 rounds. 
  4. The rest is that offhand shooting is terrible. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (May. 22, 2019)

WWRW falls on a Thursday again, because I was working from home yesterday, and that always throws off my groove.

This is the 32nd one of these. Yay, powers of two!

Defense

Games

  • Rule the Waves 2 is out – Rule the Waves, the 1900-1925 naval arms race/tactical battle simulator, is a Soapbox favorite. Does the sequel, which expands the scope to 1955 and adds aircraft carriers, stack up? The short answer is yes, and I’m very much enjoying trying some oddball ideas in my Japan game2. The long answer is you’ll have to wait until I get through a game or two and can write a full review.

Grab Bag


  1. We have a Patreon, if you want to fund more advanced journalisming. 
  2. Hmm, it’s 1925 and I have a good fleet-size carrier design. Rather than build huge dreadnoughts, I’ll just build a bunch of carriers and some 30,000-ton 30-knot 6-gun battlecruisers packed with AA to go with them. Is it working? Well, not exactly. At any rate, RtW2 is very, very likely to be this year’s Winter Wargaming AAR/Let’s Play. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (May. 15, 2019)

WWRW falls on a Thursday this week. Yesterday was busy at work, then Avengers night at home, and today featured some dental work in the morning, so here we are, at last, with a somewhat lighter post than usual.

Defense

Science and Technology

Grab Bag

Interdisciplinary Stories


  1. Names changed, of course.