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A useless new boresnake

The other day I posted about boresnakes.  Last weekend I went out to the range with a newly assembled upper. and I grab a new in package bore snake that I was going to run down the bores of the uppers I bought out so that I know they are clear of obstruction or debris before shooting.

That was an exercise in frustration.

This new boresnake was stamped with the caliber, very handy.  Except that this stamping bent the end enough that it would not feed down the bore.

Completely useless.

Damage Inc LLC QD End Plate sucks

So I have been playing around with these QD end plates for the AR15.  They are a replacement receiver end plate that had a QD socket built right into it.  It makes for a very convenient sling mount location.

I was researching a different potential problem with these, when one of my rifles dropped off the sling.

First, I found with any brand QD end plate, many stocks will press the QD release button if the stock is completely collapsed.  Extending the stock while the rifle is hanging from a sling will cause the QD to disconnect from the rifle with the majority of brands of QD swivels.

But then I found that the Damage Industries LLC. QD End plate allows the QD sling mount to come out if the QD sling mount is rotated.

For now, I would suggest that if you buy a QD receiver end plate, get one from brands like BCM, Noveske, Magpul, etc.  The Damage Industries one just doesn’t work.

The K.I.S.S. Fallacy.

I am a big fan of Keeping It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S.).  But I hate when the idea is used wrongly.  K.I.S.S. should be used to help prevent failure both in equipment and operator, not as an excuse to save money or reduce capability.
With regarding firearms, I often see the argument for K.I.S.S. used when a fighting long arm is set up with only iron sights, and no accessories.  Now if your gun is only a toy, set it up however you have the most fun with it.  But if you intend to fight with a firearm, wouldn’t it be foolish to not give your self every advantage you can get when your life is on the line?
A basic iron sighted AR is often shown when the term K.I.S.S. starts getting thrown around.
We know guns are expensive. It can hurt to have to open the checkbook again to cover the cost of an optic.  But are iron sights really a better choice for a fighting weapon?  I’ve seen people say that iron sights never fail.  I don’t know about you guys but I’ve bent several front sight posts.  To get to my main argument on sights, I think it is clear that optics are far simpler to use than iron sights.
When you put a gun into the hands of a complete novice, you will see that they are much quicker and more confident with an optic.  Especially something simple like a red dot or duplex reticle.  Many of us may say that it is better to start training someone with iron sights, but the benefit of any optic becomes extraordinarily clear when you put a firearm in the hands of a novice.  Those advantages don’t disappear when you put that same firearm in the hands of an experienced shooter.  Optics provide greater speed, target identification, and just general ease of use over iron sights.  Really, trying to argue otherwise is foolhardy.
Once I had someone tell me that scopes were only for people too lazy to shoot with iron sights.  I asked him if our U.S. Military Snipers were too lazy to use iron sights and he sorta hemmed and hawed with out giving me any sort of real response to that question.
It would be foolish to say that it is quicker and easier to “center a front sight in a rear sight while focusing on the front sight not the target or the rear sight” instead of just putting an optic’s reticle on a target.
Some extremely useful tools are very complicated. For example would be pairing night vision with an IR aiming laser. This is not only complicated but very expensive. It has many potential points of failure.  It would be easy to point out that both a Night Vision Device (NVD) and an IR laser each would need their own batteries.  Each have their own controls.  An IR laser would need to be zeroed.  A NVD would need to be focused.  It takes a great deal of work to run a setup like that, but it is what makes the difference between stumbling around blind in the dark or being an apex predator that owns the night.
A bicycle would be the K.I.S.S. alternative to an automobile.  I think most of us would gladly pay the additional cost and risk the additional points of failure just so we could have the much greater capability of the automobile.
Think about weapons the same way. Sure there are plenty of stuff we don’t need, but some are massive force multipliers should we need that capability.  Not ever gun needs a scope, bipod, light, or laser but there are some guns where you would be massively improving their capabilities and ease of use by adding some of these things.
Don’t try and set up the simplest/cheapest firearm, but make the firearm that excels at the job it needs to do.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

In addition to the other two posts so far today, I am sharing another one of Hognose’s posts from Weaponsman.com.  This is a repost in our ongoing commitment to honoring  our dead friend Kevin and his work.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

There are several kinds of safeties that are used on service weapons to ensure that only the proper and deserving people are shot. They generally interface in some way with the firing mechanism of the firearm. They may act on the trigger, the hammer or striker, or the sear, or (in some fiendishly clever arrangements) more than one of the above. It is generally thought better to positively lock the striker or firing pin than merely to lock the sear or trigger. If the mechanism fails due to parts breakage, it is easier to design a fail-safe mechanism if the striker or firing pin is immobilized.

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

Safeties can be classified based on the degree of volition required to use them. An applied safety must be consciously put on, in most cases. An automatic safety is unconsciously applied as the pistol is taken up. Examples of automatic safeties include:

  1. the Glock Safe Action trigger and its many copies and derivatives;
  2. the grip safeties characteristic of many Browning designs, such as the M1911 .45 and the FN M1910 pocket pistol;
  3. similar grip safeties on open-bolt submachine guns such as the Madsen and the Uzi. (An open-bolt SMG poses peculiar safety problems);
  4. transfer-bars and other means to ensure a weapon can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled;
  5. mechanisms that hold a firing pin back until a weapon with a locking breech is fully in battery (the disconnector often does double-duty as this part);
  6. Firing-pin immobilizers as in the Colt Series 80 and newer M1911s (an earlier firing pin safety, the Swartz Safety, was used in commercial Colt 1911s from circa 1937 to 1940, and is used by Kimber today);
  7. A heavy, smooth trigger pull such as that on a traditional Double Action revolver or a DA/SA autopistol can prevent unintentional discharges. However, some heavy triggers (like the Glock NY2) have a bad enough effect on accuracy as to threaten bystanders with unintentional shooting.
  8. Magazine safeties, an obsolete European concept;
  9. Half-cock notches (in British/European English usage, these may be called half-cock “bents.”)

Contrasting with these automatic safeties, that do their work without conscious application by the operator, there are Applied or volitional safeties. Applied Safeties are usually classified by what part of the firing mechanism they work on, and so examples of Applied safeties break down into:

  1. Safeties that lock the trigger. The simplest of these are the crude trigger-blocking safeties on an SKS or Tokarev SVT. More complex trigger-locking safeties are found in the AR series of rifles and the FN-FAL;
  2. Safeties that lock the firing mechanism (which may be further divided into those that lock the firing pin, like the Walther P.38 or Beretta M92, and those that lock the hammer, like the US M1 Rifle, or
  3. The bolt holding notch in many 2nd-generation submachine guns. (These are reminiscent in a way of the safety of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which requires the cocking piece to be rotated and caught in a notch). The case can be made that this is a firing mechanism lock, because the bolt with its fixed firing pin is the firing mechanism.
  4. Safeties that lock the sear. Examples include the .45 M1911, its younger brother the BHP, many other auto pistols, and most general purpose machine guns. Some require the weapon to be cocked to lock the sear, others allow locking the bolt forward (the RPD LMG and the Sterling SMG are examples of this).
  5. Safeties that disconnect the trigger from the sear. This is found in the Bren gun and many other Czech designs, historically. The ZB 26 and its derivatives were quite cunning: in one position, the selector brings the trip lever to engage the semi notch, which is in the upper side of a window in the sear. In the other position, it engages the auto notch in the lower side. In the intermediate, “safe,” position, the  trip lever clears both notches and the weapon does not fire.

Note that automatic safeties, too, can be broken down as working on the trigger, the firing mechanism, and the sear, also. So safeties can also be Classified by Operation.

Safeties Classified by Operation

It is possible to classify safeties in the first place by their means of action:

  1. Trigger safeties
  2. Firing-mechanism (striker, hammer, firing pin) safeties
  3. Sear safeties
  4. Disconnecting safeties.

This is true, obviously, for both automatic and volitional safeties, and classifying them this way puts their mode of action forward as more important than their mode of engagement, which (applied/volitional or automatic) becomes a secondary trait.

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

It is only possible to engage many safeties when the weapon is cocked or ready to fire (presuming a chambered round). Familiar examples include the AR series rifles and the 1911 pistol and other Browning hammer designs. Other safeties engage regardless of the energy state of the striker or hammer, for example the AK, the Remington Model 8 (a Browning-designed trigger mechanism that was deeply influential on 20th and 21st Century firearms designers, including Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner), and the RPD light machine gun.

Combination Safeties

While a weapon may have multiple safeties that do different things (or multiple modes that engage the same safety, as in the safety lever and grip safety of early Lugers), it’s possible for a single cunningly-designed safety to disable multiple points of the firing chain at once. For instance, the Lee-Enfield safety is a model of versatility: it locks the striker, locks the bolt closed (preventing the chambering of a round), and disconnects the striker from the sear. The M1911 or Browning High-Power safety locks the slide closed as well as locks

It’s also possible for a volitional safety to be combined with other functions. The most common example of this is the combined safety/selector switch of most modern assault rifles, like the M16 or AK-47.

To Sum Up

There are a great but finite number of ways to design safety features on modern firearms. Careful study of prior art allows today’s designer truly to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field. John Browning left no memoir or technical book, nor did John Garand, John D. Pedersen, Gene Stoner; and the many memoirs of Mikhail Kalashnikov are disappointing to the technical reader. But each of these geniuses spoke to us in the art of his designs, and they are still available for us to study and to try to read what their art is trying to tell us.

We have not, in this limited post, attempted to discuss “best practices” or the pros and cons of any individual safety design. Very often, the designer will be limited by the customer’s instructions or specifications. (For example, the grip safety of the 1911, which 1970s and 80s custom smiths often pinned in engagement as a potential point of combat failure, was requested of John M. Browning by the US Cavalry. The other military branches didn’t feel such a need, but the horse soldiers did, and Browning first added it on his .38 caliber 1902 Military pursuant to a similar request). Thus, even as a designer, your safety design decisions may not be your own.

Notes and Sources

  • This post has been modified since it was first posted, to expand it.
  • This post will be added to The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech.

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

Allsop, DF, and Toomey, MA. Small Arms: General Design. London: Brassey’s, 1999.

Chapter 13 is an extensive review of trigger mechanisms, including safeties, and while their classification of safeties is different from ours, their explanations are clear and concise.

Thanks to the commenters who not only recommend this long out-of-print book, but also sent us a link to a bookstore that had it (it’s a copy withdrawn from a military library, as it turns out). This out-of-print work is less technical and deep, but considerably more modern, than Balleisen; its examples are primarily British.

Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified. He passed away early last year.

Why we are not currently taking guest posts from strangers.

As you know, we here at LooseRounds.com like to stay pretty informal. We previously encouraged people to send us guest posts, but almost every week now we get sent some absolute garbage.

One example, we had someone submit an article, “Glock 42 V.s Desert Eagle: Which Is Best Suited For Military“. This wasn’t even a parody.  The intro picture was of a blank firing Beretta clone.  Phrases like, “Stops power” and “Handguns continuous inventions fail to include distinctive features.” were used much like how we butcher the English language.

I contacted the writer and told them that if they had written that sober, they should go see a doctor in case they had suffered a stroke.  Hell, if we wanted something written that poorly, I’d write it myself.