Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple to Fanbois: All your data are belong to us

If you use OS X Yosemite, your laptop sends data to Apple even if you disable this in System Preferences:
Having read DuckDuckGo's privacy statements, you might decide to switch Safari's default search to DuckDuckGo. If we enter a new search in Safari, we can then search the logged data to see who the search terms are actually sent to.

The logs show that a copy of your Safari searches are still sent to Apple, even when selecting DuckDuckGo as your search provider, and 'Spotlight Suggestions' are disabled in System Preferences > Spotlight.
It would be interesting to see what breaks if you put network Access Control Lists to block access to *  I'd think that it might effectively brick your laptop.

No mention at the article as to what (if anything) Apple does to fight National Security Letter snooping.  My guess is little or nothing.

Remember, Linux is free.

Buying Used

Buying used guns can be a joy. It can also be a good way to get a winter project box full of parts you will never use because you don't trust them. Tam wrote an article on the topic of buying used for Shooting Illustrated. It got me thinking about the ones I've bought used and what I wished I known before I got my wallet out. After you read what Tam has to say, here's a few more articles that offer good tips.

Here's advice from The Truth About Guns.
Don’t be afraid of used guns, but maintain a clear head while shopping. Depending on where you go, you’ll get to see and experience all sorts of nonsense. I’ve heard blatantly wrong information and occasionally dangerous advice. I’ve seen absolute junk marketed as new-in-the-box. I’ve also bought good pieces at good prices, so can you.

And another from, with advice that goes double for non-LEOs.
Buying a used firearm for duty or off-duty carry can present liability issues. If you have an accidental discharge or shoot someone in the line of duty, you will have to answer some very probing questions about the gun. Was the trigger worked on? Was the safety tinkered with to make it easier to use? You get the drift.
And from, which offers a great piece of modern advice and has some interesting comments below the article.
We live in the age of information. There’s no reason to start shopping for used guns without some idea of what a reasonable price looks like.
I'm also not afraid to get experienced help in assessing a possible purchase. Even someone who doesn't have an armorer's certification can put another set of eyes on a gun and help decide if you really want this particular example or you want to keep looking.

H/T to SayUncle.

Thank you

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things.  The discomfort is less than it was, based on how much I've been scaling back on the meds.  I'm back at work which is interesting since it's not easy to type with limited use of my right hand.  I find that I get tired very easily (still) which is very frustrating - this is the first time that I've had to convalesce for more than a day or two, and it's very annoying that I still need help getting dressed.  Bah.

But I'd like to thank all of you who left comments expressing encouragement - that's some powerful medicine right there.  I've been really quite dreadful about replying to emails, and will try to catch up.  Thanks to everyone who sent a note.

And a HUGE thank you to reader Tony, and also to Chris Byrne for offering to come down to Florida and trailer my bike back to the ATL.  I'm speechless at the generosity you showed.

Lastly, it's hard to express just what a relief it's been that this blog has been in the capable hands of ASM826 while the meds have had me orbiting Mars.  His daily dose of bloggy goodness has removed a real source of discomfort from me, letting me put down the keyboard for what's really been two full weeks (!) without letting things go dead here.  Thanks, brother.

And this is really, really funny.  Courtesy of Miguel:

Monday, October 20, 2014

The American War for Southern Independence*

It was not about what you think.

* The "Civil War" for those of you who went to public schools.

Tiffany Guns

Between 1880 and 1905, Tiffany did silver engraving on guns. Mostly for the manufacturers to take to shows, but also for wealthy individuals. Here's one.

Here's the link to the full article and more pictures. Some examples are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and can be viewed in the on-line collection.

Be that guy



Went to the movies and saw Fury on the big screen. A WWII tank movie done over the top, characterization is thin, some of the deaths you can see coming, there's no good guys, just "us and them", etc.

So, um, I liked it. It's well done. It's hard to watch, lacking even the hope that Saving Private Ryan offered. An in-your-face movie that takes place late in the war during the final push into Germany. I don't want to post spoilers, so here's the trailer.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bryco 380

Tony Tsquared inherited them. At least he didn't buy them...

I inherited 2 Bryco model 38 in 380ACP - one is black and the other is chromed. One will shoot it's mag all the way through. The other will FTF/stovepipe on every bullet. Switch magazines and I have the same results. On both guns if the target is more than 15 feet I cant get a bullet on the paper. They both will have a light strike with the firing pin once in a while. These are close up, Saturday night specials that may or may not fire when you squeeze the trigger.

Tony apparently was feeling generous when he wrote this, other things I find are much more cruel.
Here's a review at and a quote that raises the snark level:
 Would I recommend this pistol to you? No. My local gun shop sells the Jimenez .380 for about $145 and though the gun ran fine for me, I would not recommend it unless you had no other options. And I mean, kitchen knives, baseball bats, or an angry housecat should be considered above this in terms of defensive weapons.

Red Flags Ignored

 Raptor ignores the warning signs on a Sig P232. A search for Sig P232 problems was interesting, but when it's your problem, there's nothing fun about it. After you read what he says about it now, I would like to direct you to Raptor's blog and the hopeful words he wrote when the gun first got back from the factory. It's that wanting to like a gun that makes these issues so painful.

SIG P232 that I bought used from my favorite gun shop. Red Flag #1 should have been that it was the only gun in the used case with "AS IS" written on the tag. Red Flag #2 should have been that it didn't want to field strip. But I ignored that uneasy feeling in my gut and bought it anyway.

Turns out that the takedown lever was busted, so the locking block wouldn't rotate down far enough for the slide to retract far enough to clear the guide rails. If I'd done due diligence and actually researched the gun before I bought it, I would have learned that busted takedown levers seem to be very common with modern P232s. Something about SIG switched making their small parts from forged steel to MIM components.

Oh, and the magazine it came with was buggered up too: the feed lips were cracked, so it would only feed FMJs, no HPs of any kind.

Anyways, brought it back to the shop, and they sent it back to SIG, covered all the costs too. Put less than 1000 rounds though it before the lever broke again. So I sent it to SIG myself and got it fixed again, than brought it back to the shop a few weeks ago, where I traded it towards a brand-new Springfield Range Officer Compact. The gave me $100 less than I'd initially paid for the gun.

Between repairs, new grips, three new mags, and a full holster/belt/mag pouch combo, I don't even want to think about how much money I wasted on that POS.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The National Anthem

Somewhere in America...

Jimmy Buffett - Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes
to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have already fled:
seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day. 

- Horace, Odes
Life is not what you plan, it's what you live.  Two weeks ago I rode off on a motorcycle adventure, one where the plans did not include a stay in the Intensive Care Unit.  The ancients knew what a fickle goddess Fortuna was, and how to mentally prepare for a fickle world.
Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a dream; our world is now. 
Carpe diem, seize the day.  Even now envious time has fled.

As someone who has spent much of my time on this good Earth living in either the past or the future, this has been a subject of much meditation  lately.  I've wondered if I've watched two thirds of my life pass by without actually living it.  Life, and love, and family - all make life worth living.  All can change in the blink of an eye.

Seize the day.  Life is now.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On (Songwriters: Jimmy Buffett, Matt Betton)
I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn't use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And If I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

And it rained, It was nothing really new
And it blew, we've seen all that before
And it poured, the Earth began to strain
Pontchartrain leaking through the door, tides at war

If a hurricane doesn't leave you dead
It will make you strong
Don't try to explain it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

And it rained, It was nothing really new
And it blew, seen all that before
And it poured, the Earth began to strain
Pontchartrain buried the 9th Ward to the 2nd floor

According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Don't try to shake it just bow your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remington 597

ZerCool starts us off hatin' on his:

Remington 597, which was the first gun I bought myself. It had an out-of-battery discharge and left its extractor/plunger combination somewhere in a cornfield and a handful of powder freckles on my hand. I had a 'smith fix it, but it never worked right again.

Failures to feed, failures to fire, on and on. I tried every tweak and tune I could find online (changing tension on guide rods, new magazines, thorough cleanings, etc) and it still refused to work right. I finally put the thing on a classified ad, cheap, with a full disclosure of what had happened and what it was doing, and sold it down the road to be someone else's problem.

This is Remington's alternative to the Ruger. A fairly popular little rifle in .22LR, it was offered in .17HMR but had to be recalled and discontinued. ZerCool doesn't mention the chambering of his gun, but .22 is the the common one. You can get one used for about $125.00.
Here's a video review. (nice range, btw)

Updated because it needed updatin'.

The Carcano

Reading through the comments on the junk gun post, I realize I will not be able to do separate posts for each one. I will be sharing the best of them, with pictures when possible. These stories are really about heartbreak and perseverance and would truly be best told around a campfire. As always, thanks for the comments, comments are The Precious to a blogger. Below the break is my junk gun.


If someone says the word Carcano junk gun, I can only think of this gun. It was given to me by a guy who said it was given to him. A roughly made Italian bolt action carbine with stamps that, when interpreted, told that it had been manufactured in the XVIIth year of Mussolini's reign. It looked like the one in the bottom of this picture, only more abused.

I looked it over. The bore looked okay. The front sight/bayonet lug was loose on the barrel. The trigger was set at about 15 pounds and was as smooth as a New England logging road in early spring. The sights were rudimentary, with the appearance of being an afterthought. Working the bolt took both strength and determination.

As you can see, the rounds had to be loaded in a clip (yes, a clip, I said clip, it is a clip). I had no such clip. Nor did I have any 6.5 Carcano ammo. Or dies and bullet moulds for 6.5 Carcano.

I took it, because free, and took it home. Put it in the safe. Looked at at, researched it, and decided to fill the barrel and hang it on the wall in the shop. I should have done that. It had been given away three times without anyone loading a round. That might have been a clue. Instead, after telling another friend about it, he said he wanted it, wanted to shoot it, because history and WWII. I gave it to him.

He hates me now and thinks me evil.

He bought ammo. Some WWII Italian surplus, some newer commercial. He bought dies and a bullet mould. Started reloading for it. Invited me to the range. At 25 yards, the purchased ammo would mostly stay on a paper plate. The reloaded stuff would tumble and keyhole. The trigger did not help, nor did the sights. Best effort by shooters that have some skill with rifles, bedded into sandbags and working at bringing the trigger back smoothly resulted in targets that made us laugh.

It sucked. As a test, I cut off some of the cast bullets, making them both lighter and shorter. At least they stopped keyholing. So he milled down the mould and reattached the sprue plate, so he could make a shorter bullet. Paper patching was tried. Different powders and recipes. We stopped before we got to moonlight sacrifices and runes.

Time was spent. The Carcano became one of the guns he kept taking to the range, always hoping that this time was the time, the problems would be solved. It wasn't hard to shoot, it was a lot like an M-1 carbine in size and recoil, so "one more try" became the mantra. In time and money, he could have bought a nice used rifle in some common caliber and been happily reloading and shooting. Instead, he was trapped, frustrated, but not quite willing to give up.

Finally he gave up. He still has it. It lurks. I think he thinks about what else he could try. Maybe he thinks about convincing me to take it back.

I had never really questioned the Warren Commission report until I shot this Carcano.

What a piece of junk.

History is destiny

Europeans think that 100 miles is a long way.  Americans think that 100 years is a long time.
- Unknown
This is the smartest thing I've read since, well, this.  Why is it impossible to heal the Red/Blue state divide?
Conflict wasn't baked in to the American experiment because one side wanted slaves and the other didn't. That's naive "I can look back 150 years; I'm a scholar!" thinking. Conflict was baked in to the American experiment because the continent was settled by two peoples who have despised each other for a thousand years and committed the worst atrocities imagineable on each other every time they got the chance.
Go read it all.  It's a millennium of ancestral hatreds pushing the current political landscape.  And since history is destiny, this is obligatory:

UPDATE 17 October 2014 15:43: There's a good discussion of in-group vs. out-group dynamics and 800 year hatreds here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


It's what we call cars that just won't function. Sometimes it's right off the lot, sometimes it's a used car that looks good and seems solid on the test drive. It might be just that one, or there may be design flaws, but whatever the cause, it's a perfect storm of problems. Sometimes you get out early, sometimes you double down. It's when you dig in and think you want it fixed that it really bites you.

American auto manufacturers went through a design flaw phase starting in the mid-seventies. Plastic parts where steel should have been, smog controls that gave you acceleration that could measured with a sundial, and reliability issues that defy belief.

My dad had been a Ford man. Fords as far back as I can remember, and Fords before that in pictures that I have seen. I remember a Galaxy with a 351, a '69 XL fastback with a 390 (0-60 in 9.7 sec), a station wagon that probably got 9 miles to the gallon, a gigantic LTD that must have weighed a couple of tons. Those cars all had something in common. They ran. They were running when he traded them.

I think it was the LTD he traded for the Grenada. Gas prices were up, we were in the first belt tightening as the USA headed into decline. He bought a brand new 1975 Grenada, six cylinder, smog control. It had 75 horsepower. When it ran.

It wouldn't start, I think from the first week we had it. It spent more time behind the tow truck than it did moving on it's own. And it accelerated faster while being towed. My girlfriend at the time had a Chevy Vega, It would do 0-60 in about 15 seconds , the Grenada took 21. (I looked all the numbers up)

I drove this car. It was so slow it was scary.  Highway ramps were a challenge because you needed to be going merge speed at the bottom of the ramp, you were not speeding up later. Pressing the pedal down made things noisier, it did not influence your velocity in real time.

It drove like a pick-up, noisy and mushy, transmitting the road to the steering wheel like a feature.

The front end wouldn't stay true, so it pulled, and wore the tires. 

I was in school so sometimes I would go with the tow truck to the dealer. The dealer would get it started, replace some part, tinker with the carburetor, and give it back. After the first dozen times, no one thought it was fixed, just that it was running. Once while I was sitting around the shop waiting, I went out and looked at used cars. I tried to talk my dad into trading it for a 5 year old Torino. I still believe to this day he'd have been much happier.

In the end, it broke him on Fords. He traded it for a Chevy Monza, which was worse on the front end and tires, but better because it started reliably in the morning and it would do 0-60 in 12 sec (he bought the V-8).

My first car was Japanese.

I thought of this car as I looked at the comments on the previous post, and began to think about what I would say about them. There were things about that Grenada that were design flaws, the lack of power, the front end issues, the way it drove. There was something extra wrong with that particular car, the underlying problem was that kept it from starting, and it ruined the car completely.

The Next Campfire Question

Okay, so we've all shared our stories about the grail guns, Glen Filthie has brought us back to reality with his observations. The fire starting to die down. The bottle gets passed around again. Borepatch shifts his arm in the sling a bit and winces.

Someone pokes the fire with a stick then looks up and offers, "Okay, here's another gun question. What the biggest piece of junk gun you ever owned? Or fired? Or tried to fix? What was it and what did you do with it?"

As before, I'll look them up the best I can and you'll see them featured in the coming days. Just give me your worst one and don't be shy. I have one and I'll share mine as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No surgery for now

Hurts like crazy but the collar bone looks like it might heal in a sling.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Glen Filthie's Observations on the Grail Guns

To close out the Grail Gun series, I want to post Glen Filthie's observations:
"I spent my life as a gun slave in search of the grail. Unlike most I found it. Several, actually.

Springfield M1A match gun
A Uberti 1876 in .45-75
A Uberti 1860 .44 Percussion
His & Hers CZ .22's.
A 20 bore SxS by El Cheapo in Spain

Probably got about 20 others that are all grails too. I ain't buying anymore guns. Except maybe another AR... But that's the last one, I swear!!!!

The best gun, boys, is the one you have. Get out and use it. Take the family. Have fun.

There's a Youtubing Texan out there who shoots up his back yard with new and vintage guns and then proudly proclaims 'Life Is Good!'. The man is a philosopher king. Wish I could recall his name."
"The best gun, boys, is the one you have. Get out and use it." That's my Zen for the day.

The UN Weighs In

From SkyNEWS comes this report from the UN commissioner for ebola. The UN is predicting we have 60 days to get on top of this outbreak or it will cascade beyond any hope of control.

It isn't just the disease. It's the chaos, the disruption of food and fuel delivery, and in the end, the mob. A couple of cases Three cases in Dallas have already cost millions. How many ebola infected patients can the system care for before there aren't enough trained health care workers to care for them? What happens after that? Just tell them to go home and stay there?

As an single example, Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman is an American physician, author, and broadcast journalist. She served as a medical correspondent for ABC News for 15 years, and since 2006 she has been the chief medical editor for NBC News. She accepted a voluntary quarantine after one of the news crew she had been working with in Liberia came down with ebola. A smart, educated physician, capable of understanding the risks and maintaining a high standard of isolation to protect the community? Not so much. Now her quarantine is mandatory because she decided to go get take-out at her favorite restaurant.
But forget about the nominally smart, first-world  U.S. for a moment. What happens if when it reaches Mumbai, Hong Kong, Rio, Manila, Mexico City or any and all the other overcrowded cities in the world?

Here's what Dallas is saying about what they have done so far. Can they keep it up? Can they afford to? Can they afford not to? Meanwhile flights are arriving. Here's what the worldwide flight map looks like every day.