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Archive for January, 2010

How to REALLY Get a Grenade Launcher

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

It is important that you watch the ABC News segment, “How to get a grenade launcher” before you read this so that you will be in the proper frame of reference.

Paul Harvey had it right with his famous tagline, “And now for the rest of the story.”

To begin with I have to say that I still am perplexed as to why they bothered with the story at all. Early last week a Sailor, Absent Without Leave from the Navy was apprehended by the Police while in the possession of two Bushmaster carbines with the serial numbers removed as well as a “grenade launcher” initially believed to be an M-203 but later determined to be a 37mm flare launcher by the ATF. It is my understanding that ABC News was told repeatedly that the item at issue was not a weapon at all but rather a novelty item, a flare gun built to resemble a military issue M203 grenade launcher. ATF does not classify the 37mm flare launcher as a weapon.

I spoke with the segment’s producer Lauren Pearl, and she was very polite but I could tell she was agitated that I had contacted her. Fair enough and I can appreciate that. No one wants to explain why they did things the way that they did and that is precisely what I asked of her. Her initial answer was that there was only one minute to present the data but after pressing her on the issue, she stated, “I don’t know why.”

At the crux of this issue is how the information was presented. After watching the piece I came away with the impression that you could do an internet search, pick up the phone and just buy one of these “killer weapons.” However, after doing some checking, I have found that this is hardly the case.

Ms Pearl did tell me that the information in the piece was correct and she is right. They did seek out the assistance of an expert. The Sportsman Channel’s “Ammunition Expert”, Larry Vickers is well known in the small arms industry and deals with far more than ammunition. In fact, he’s an internationally recognized expert and the host of two TV shows dealing with small arms. Unfortunately, after showing 12 seconds of expert testimony on how difficult it is to purchase a grenade launcher, the segment’s host, David Cuomo essentially refuted Vickers’ assertions by telling us that a vendor selling destructive devices said that “the only restrictions were that a buyer had to be a resident of a state that allows them to have a grenade launcher, and most states do, and they need a gun permit.”

So, in order to find out if the information presented to me was true, I did exactly the same thing the correspondent did in the segment. I googled “Grenade Launcher” and came up with well over one million hits. Then I googled “Grenade Launcher for sale” and only came up with 181,000 choices. Of those only a few were actually for the sale of real honest-to-goodness grenade launchers. The rest offered airsoft versions or the dreaded 37mm flare launchers that inspired the piece.

M203

After some checking, I was able to ascertain that Mr Cuomo was seeking information on the DD1-152 M203 Grenade launcher offered for sale by Autoweapons.com. What makes this story even more convoluted is that the model that he chose was built specifically to fit on a rare foreign weapon; the AK4 Swedish variant of the HK G3. This makes it even more useless to the casual buyer as one would then need to purchase the proper base weapon to mount the M203 to, in this case an AK4. Naturally, this means more red tape and rules.

And purchasing an actual M-203 40mm grenade launcher is hardly the end of it. To make it a “killer weapon” one would require ammunition. Each round requires exactly the same process to purchase as the launcher itself. That’s right, $200 tax stamp for each individual round, more fingerprints, more background checks, more waiting. This may be why you don’t see neighbors blowing each other up with 40mm grenades. The ATF does a great job of regulating the transfer of these devices. The reality is that they are far from easy to purchase, and you certainly can’t order one over the phone or internet.

If the problem with the segment was that there was only one minute to present the data, then perhaps the answer was to provide more time so that terms like “gun permit” could be adequately explained as an ATF Form 4, payment of a $200 transfer stamp, background check to include fingerprints, and a wait of several months while a national agency check is conducted and the application is processed. And, on top of all of this, you have to be in a state that allows the individual to possess a destructive device like a grenade launcher. Or, maybe if the one minute is not negotiable an alternative would be to perhaps let the expert speak rather than some talking head ask about color options like he is picking out a new scooter. Either one of these options would have resulted in more facts being presented.

In the end, the ABC piece is much ado about nothing. They were informed by experts that there was no story there yet they proceeded anyway. However, I will admit that they did do their research and they did tell us that in order to purchase a grenade launcher “the only restrictions were that a buyer had to be a resident of a state that allows them to have a grenade launcher, and most states do, and they need a gun permit.” They just failed to explain what that meant leading viewers to the false conclusion that grenade launchers are as simple to purchase as a pair of shoes. They also failed to mention that while most states allow private ownership of destructive devices, neither New York City, where ABC News is located, nor the state of New Jersey where the AWOL Sailor was apprehended do. Too bad they didn’t have more time to more accurately portray the issue.

So what is the verdict? Can individuals run out and purchase grenade launchers? No.

S.O.Tech Canine Mission System Panel Review

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

S.O.Tech K9 Mission PanelDesigned for working dogs but useful for any canine handler or dog enthusiast alike, we took the S.O.Tech Canine Mission System Panel (MSP-K9) through its paces.

The MSP-K9 is intended to cover all your K9 needs in a single pack. Use it as an on-site hanging organizer, stand-alone pack or mission module for S.O.Tech Mission packs. We used it as a stand-alone on a few single-day hikes in the mountains of Colorado this past fall to see if it could earn its mettle.

With five interior zippered compartments and stuff-sack compartments featuring exchangeable Velcro label patches, the pack allows for full customization so you can build out your pack as you wish.

Two of the zippered compartments are removable and one of those doubles as a convenient fanny pack, perfect for first aid use. On the exterior you’ll find a clear vinyl window and large pocket perfect for storing veterinary records, maps and other quick-access documents.

K9 Panel First Aid kit

Futhermore, you are supplied with a 32oz lexan bottle, collapsible food and water dish, belt mountable treats pouch, and reflective nylon webbing adjustable collar (16-24″), and dual-handle leash.

So how did it do?

Well we built it out exactly as S.O.Tech has it pictured on the product page in keeping with the intent of the manufacturer and we were more than pleased. One might expect it to be uncomfortable as a stand-alone pack with simple nylon webbing shoulder straps, but that was not the case at all.

S.O.Tech K9 Panel Worn

Sometimes wearing only a t-shirt, the straps were more than comfortable. The 2″ shoulder straps are plenty wide and somewhat flexible too, so you never feel the edge of a strap digging into your shoulder. Additionally, the oversized zippers and pulls were effortless even with gloved hands toward the summit.

The belt-mounted treat bag was perfect for occasional treats and rewards, and the food compartment is a convenient zippered bowl that we simply detached and unzipped next to the collapsible water bowl until our Doberman had her fill when we stopped for lunch. Luckily the training aids compartment had plenty of room to include some people food and water in there too.

Over the course of a several hour hike covering a few thousand vertical feet, the pack was never an encumbrance and proved to be a well-balanced and organized alternative to the standard top-loading single compartment pack for any dog handler or enthusiast.

What would we change about it?

The pack itself is quite nearly flawless for its simplicity. We would like to see the seemingly purposeless top and bottom buckles a little heavier duty to provide an impromptu litter in the case an injured dog needs to be packed out. Otherwise our only gripe stands with the five-foot leash.

Test K9

The leash seems too short for proper handling and training as compared to a standard six-footer. The 18-inch secondary grab handle is mighty convenient, but when not in use continually slapped our test case in the face leaving us no option but to tape it down with tape provided in the first-aid kit. We would love to see a Velcro or button-snap securing of this handle when not in use. Additionally, S.O. Tech may want to think about a scissor-style hook clasp providing a much faster and unencumbered release of a canine than the standard leash hook.

Editors Note: S.O.Tech now offers 6′ leashes and is considering the author’s feedback for future iterations of the system.

This report was prepared by Correspondent Dave Eyvazzadeh.

New from ITW Military Products

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Magboot

ITW Military Products Magboot

The new Magboot is a “Ghilletex IR Reduction Magazine Cover” but that name still doesn’t talk about all of the benefits it will provide you. In addition to reducing the signature of your metal magazines, the Magboot will also reduce noise, protect the magazine from damage, and give you solid purchase during magazine changes. Available in Black, Foliage, and Tan with Coyote coming soon.

Camo Dipped FastMag

ITW FastMag dipped in camo

ITW Military Products will be offering the Gen 3 FastMag in camouflage patterns directly out of the box. While they will come at a slightly higher premium, they will still be less expensive in time and money than undertaking the process yourself. MultiCam and digital camo patterns will be offered.

Gen 4 FastMag

While no prototypes were available for photographs ITW is on the cusp of releasing a new FastMag variant for 7.62 NATO magazines. The design is almost indistinguishable from the current Gen 3 version.

TAC Link

The ever popular TAC Link is now available in even more colors including Red and Pink. The latter proved extremely popular with my daughters as well as my distinguished colleague Rob.

More information will be forthcoming from ITWmilitaryproducts.com and all of the items listed will be available from Supply Captain.

“How to Get a Grenade Launcher”

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

According to this piece, aired recently on the ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer, Grenade Launchers are as simple to purchase as picking up a phone.

ABC News Story

Please watch this segment. I am sure it will raise a few eyebrows. Tomorrow, we will look at the rest of this story.

Let’s get these Tactical Chucks made!

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The crew at ITS Tactical have taken on a great cause. After seeing these “Tactical” Chucks at the Converse boot booth at SHOT Show they inquired as to whether they were available. What ensued was pure marketing comedy but has resulted in a grassroots campaign to get the things produced.

Tactical Chucks

Support the cause! Sign the petition.

Rumors of Their Impending Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have repeatedly heard rumors concerning three separate companies that are supposed to be going out of business. In one case, the rumor is unsubstantiated and in the other two partially true.

1. Specter Gear is going out of business – Not True. They displayed at SHOT Show, their website is still up and, they are answering the phone.

2. Brigade Quartermaster is bankrupt – Partially True. True, they didn’t show up at SHOT Show and their booth remained empty, and true they did settle outstanding bills a little short. Sold to Ira Green, long time producer of uniforms and insignia for military and law enforcement, their main strong points are a solid reputation with their customer base going back over 30 years and a presence in military exchanges and clothing sales stores including kiosks and actual store fronts on several bases. If they can get the vendors worked out, expect them to come back strong.

3. Command Arms Accessories – Partially True. Currently undergoing a rebranding and are now called EMA Tactical.

Read Us on Your Kindle

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Soldier Systems Daily subscriptions are now available for your Kindle. Visit us at Amazon.com to subscribe.

Magnum Boots USA Steps in to Lend Support to Haiti

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Magnum Boots USA is donating nine hundred pairs of boots and shoes to soles4souls.org, which will be distributed to victims of the earthquake so they are able to safely reconstruct their lives.

“Our hearts go out to our Haitian neighbors as we struggle to comprehend the magnitude of this disaster, and we cannot forget how important basic necessities – such as shoes – will be in the ongoing rescue and rebuilding efforts,” said Bill Berta, CEO of Magnum Boots USA. “We deeply appreciate the work of Soles 4 Souls and encourage everyone to look into their own closets in support of this tragedy.”

For ways to help those in need, please donate your gently used shoes to Souls4Souls. For more information please log into www.soles4souls.org for details.