Category Archives: Manly Arts

Rule Five Off-Road Friday

Here are a couple of tidbits from Ford, the automaker of choice here at the Casa de Animal; first, the 2020 Bronco is finally getting a tease, and the 2019 Ranger is on its way.  Excerpt (Bronco):

When Ford first announced in 2017 that it was bringing the famous 4×4 SUV back, it only confirmed the name. The image reveals the Bronco to have a boxy, upright shape, a short-ish wheelbase, and minimal overhangs. We do know that it’ll challenge the all-conquering Jeep Wrangler and that it’s based on the 2019 Ranger.

The return of this proud old name is exciting – we still recall with great fondness our two Broncos, a ’74 and a ’92.  The first, the Green Machine, was a great truck – manual everything, sheet metal and vinyl interior, and it would damn near go up and down trees.  The second, the Dark Horse (black Bronco, Dark Horse, you get the idea) was bigger, more comfortable, and had an automatic transmission and transfer case, was damn near as capable off-road and much more suited for highway travel; the Dark Horse took us on outdoor adventures from Wyoming to the Mexican border, from Utah to the Mississippi.

But, as Ford informs us, the new Bronco will be based on that new Ranger, and that’s the subject of a little concern, at least to yr. obdt.:

It’s a real truck. The Ranger sits on a fully boxed, high-strength steel frame with six cross members. Suspension components of note include a double A-arm front suspension and monotube front dampers. Traditional leaf springs and shock absorbers help control a solid rear axle. Power steering will be electronically-assisted.

This Ranger gets frame-mounted steel bumpers with steel bash-plates and tow hooks. Two cab and bed options are available, but only one wheelbase is offered. SuperCab Rangers will have the longer of the two beds, while SuperCrew (full two door) Rangers will only get the shorter bed. Metal trim pieces over the wheel wells can be color matched or accented with a handsome magnetic grey color. The tailgate, front fenders, and hood are all aluminum, in keeping with one of the F-Series major brand identifiers. Engineers say that the Ranger has been tested to the same durability standards as the F-Series trucks.

That’s all good, but:

The only engine offered for the North American Ranger will be a 2.3-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger. The crank and rods are forged steel. It will be mated to the 10-speed automatic with three overdrive gears co-developed with the folks at General Motors.

This isn’t an engine that will develop a lot of low-end torque.  It’s a car engine; a truck needs low-end torque.  But this is the real kicker:

The FX4 pack brings Ford’s Terrain Management system, a system first found on the ultra-capable Raptor. It has four modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand. Grass/gravel/snow simply numbs throttle response. Mud/ruts carries with it the throttle numbing, while also throwing the drivetrain into 4-Hi for truck stuff. Sand activates 4-Hi, tells the transmission to grab the lowest gear possible, and relaxes the traction control to allow some wheel slip.

In addition to the Terrain Management tech, a system Ford calls Trail Control will debut on Rangers outfitted with the FX4 Off-Road package. Think of this as cruise-control blended with a hill-descent control system. Trail Control will allow the driver to set and maintain a low vehicle speed (1-20 mph) while traveling through less-than perfect trails on the way to the next adventure.

Here’s my concern:  All these electronic gewgaws are not desirable, for two reasons:

  1. They allow the driver to get into touchy situations without first requiring the driver to develop any real knowledge of their vehicle’s capabilities, and without necessarily developing any real off-road skills.
  2. All that high-tech stuff will break, and it will break at the worst possible moment – say, when you’re up in the back end of Firebox Park south of Eagle, ten miles from the county road.

I’m not sure why someone can’t build a simple, tough utility with a manual transmission, manual hubs, crank windows, and a small-block V-8.  My first Bronco, the Green Machine, was great because of its light weight, short wheelbase, 302ci V-8 and manual everything.  It was simple, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and tough, tough, tough.  Build a truck like that today, sell it for around twenty grand, and I bet you’d have people lined up to buy them.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my Rojito for woods-bumming.  It’s a tad underpowered, but the 1999 Ranger was still available with damn near manual everything, and that’s the way I like it.  I’ll probably go look at the new Broncs when they come out, but I’m prepared to be disappointed.

Animal’s Daily Civil War News

Here are two takes on a possible second American civil war:

Why Democrats Would Lose the Second Civil War, Too

And:

Think They’ll Never ‘Come and Take’ Your Guns Without an Armed Revolt? Think Again

Here’s a relevant excerpt from the first:

There are two Civil War II scenarios, and the left is poorly positioned to prevail in either one. The first scenario is that the Democrats take power and violate the Constitution in order to use the apparatus of the federal government to suppress and oppress Normal Americans. In that scenario, red Americans are the insurgents. In the second scenario, which we can even now see the stirrings of in California’s campaign to nullify federal immigration law, it is the blue states that are the insurgents.

The Democrats lose both wars. Big time.

And the second:

So what will you do, dear AR-15 owner, when the ‘Cheka’ comes for your neighbor, and you know the laws are on the books to prosecute? Will a “buyback” and “amnesty” be enough to convince YOU to acquiesce? You’ve got a job, a wife, kids to raise. When they “come and take it,” is your family worth risking? 

No, when they take your guns there will be no civil war. There will be no large-scale revolution, because liberals are experts at pushing that Overton Window enough not to shock the system. Like frogs in water that’s about to boil, people won’t jump until it’s too late.

Of the two scenarios, I am (sadly) inclined to believe the latter.  Why?

Because I honestly don’t believe most American gun owners are quite ready to join an armed insurgency.  I’d like to think I’d be willing.  I know quite a few of my fellow veterans would be, enough to make things pretty hot for the would-be tyrants.  But in the end?

Fifty years ago we were a nation of outdoorsmen, farmers, tradesmen and woodsmen for whom strength was their stock in trade and for whom marksmanship and woodcraft were taken as a given.  Now?  We have a generation grown up on the Internet and game consoles, and while many of them are ardently pro-Second Amendment (yes, really) how many of these mall ninjas would give up their homes and all their possessions, taking the risk of being shot on sight, to go forth and join a cause where the odds are stacked against you?

I sure hope I’m wrong.  I sure hope we never have to find out.

Rule Five Love Hotel Friday

Note:  Another short stint in Japan beckons, beginning early next month.  Regular readers know how Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. enjoy our forays in to the Land of the Rising Sun, so look for some photos and travel commentary from those environs very soon.

With that said, and in spite of the tendency of young Japanese to eschew sexual relationships, the love hotel industry in Japan is still robust.  Excerpt:

Japan’s population is shrinking.

Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex. The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funneling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.

But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality. Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing.

Clandestine Encounters

True to their moniker, pay-by-the-hour love hotels cater to millions of Japanese couples every year, and increasingly, tourists. There are more than 30,000 love hotels in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone—a multibillion-dollar business that accounts for a quarter of the sex industry.

With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous. When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce.

Oddly, this isn’t a sign of any renewed fecundity:

Japan’s love hotel industry may be prospering, but the country is experiencing a paradoxical decline in marriage, childbirth, and sex.

More than 40 percent of men and women aged 18-34 in Japan have never had sex, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. If the current trend continues, it is projected that by 2060 Japan’s population will have shrunk by 30 percent—an impending economic disaster.

But in the midst of a stagnant economy, staying single has become an attractive choice.

Now, this next stint will have us in the Tokyo region for 2-3 weeks, where a visit to the Shibuya district is not only possible but likely.  Since our first visit to that country in 2009, I have (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade my own dear Mrs. Animal to undertake a visit to a love hotel, of course strictly in the name of research; you see, True Believers, how there are no lengths to which I will not go to bring you the best reporting on other cultures and the wonders to be found in exotic lands.

However, Mrs. Animal has been and remains of a conservative bent in such matters, and prefers to eschew any role in conducting such research.  Oh well.

Anyway:  I do love Japan and the Japanese people’s demographic trends has been a cause for concern.  As scribe Mark Steyn points out, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and the Japanese seem to have opted out.  What’s more, Japan has evidently decided to die Japanese.  While Europe has become a hotbed of Islamic activism thanks to their unchecked immigration policies – in no small part to attract younger workers to prop up their generous social welfare programs – Japan remains a difficult country to establish yourself in on a long-term basis.

But the love hotel industry gives one hope.  Maybe young Japanese people will rediscover the joys of sex.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Housekeeping note:  I’m finishing up this Silicon Valley project on this coming Friday. Mrs. Animal and I are taking the scenic route home to Colorado, so I’ll put up some gratuitous totty posts Monday through Wednesday of next week.  Expect travel reports on Thursday, probably with photos.

Moving on:  How Many Guns Are Too Many?  Several answers are possible.  Excerpt:

Guns are not “basically all the same,” and now that I am an instructor, a competitive shooter and a vocal 2nd Amendment supporter, my views on firearms — and the amounts that one should or should not have — are much different than they used to be. It seems that Americans’ views may have changed a bit, as well. A 2017 Harvard/Northwestern University joint study estimated that our country’s 319 million citizens currently own about 265 million guns. And while in 1994, the “typical gun-owning household” owned 4.2 guns, in 2015, The Washington Post revealed that this average number of firearms owned has nearly doubled to 8.1 guns per household. And that trend has only gone up since! (On a side note: How many of you are now thinking: “I guess I am not a typical gun-owning household!”?)

From 1911s and guns just for show to shotguns and ARs and guns on the go, there are so many different firearms out there … and just as many different reasons to have them. So when a friend recently posed the question: “How many firearms is considered ‘too many?,’” it reminded me of how far I’ve come. And it got me thinking about possible answers to this intriguing topic.

I’ve been asked this question a number of times.  As with many things, the manner in which the question is asked affects the answer.

Some people are genuinely curious, and my answer then is “I do not accept the premise that there is such a thing as too many guns.  If you ask how many I want to own, the answer is ‘all the ones I have now, the ones I still want, and maybe a few more.'”

Some people are fellow gun aficionados, and are more likely to ask how many more I want, likewise knowing as I do that there is no such thing as too many.  To them my answer may be fairly detailed, going into such things as how I have 12 and 16 gauge examples of both the pre-64 Winchester Model 12 and the Browning Auto-5 but still need 20-gauge examples of each.

Some people ask in an aggressive and petulant demand for justification of my hobby.  My answer to them is “fuck off.”

Your mileage may vary.  But it’s an interesting discussion point all the same.

Rule Five Manly Arts Friday

Manliness, as defined by strength, confidence, self-reliance, courage and honor, seems to be an increasingly rare trait in the Western nations today, our own republic among them.  I am inclined to think that this seeming lack is only an illusion, as the rise of PC culture has drowned out the actions and words of such men who, generally, see no need to blow their own horns.  The Old Man is one such; a man of few words but enormous presence, a small man physically but a giant in character, a man of great courage, honor, determination, confidence and self-reliance.  America has millions like him, and we’re better for it.

But while they may be men of few words, there are nonetheless quite a few relevant quotes on the meaning of manliness that are worth considering.  A while back I was perusing the site The Art of Manliness, and stumbled across an article presenting 80+ Quotes on Men and Manhood.   Some of my personal heroes are represented in that article, Winston Churchill, George Patton and Theodore Roosevelt among them, so I’ll produce some of my favorites here.  Hopefully the males among all you True Believers will find them inspiring, as I have.  For that matter, some of the ladies may as well.  Enjoy.

“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.  – Winston Churchill

“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity, for he is not permitted to prove himself.”  – Seneca

“Private and public life are subject to the same rules—truth and manliness are two qualities that will carry you through this world much better than policy or tact of expediency or other words that were devised to conceal a deviation from a straight line.” –Robert E. Lee

“The way of a superior man is three-fold: virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.” –Confucius

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood.  We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shirking the rough work that must always be done.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

“The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the men who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down.  Personal independence is a virtue and it is the soul out of which comes the sturdiest manhood.  But there can be no independence without a large share of self-dependence, and this virtue cannot be bestowed.  It must be developed from within.”  – Frederick Douglass

“Duty is the essence of manhood.”  – George Patton

“Stand true to your calling to be a man. Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men.” –Elisabeth Elliott

“A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it confirmed only by other men. Manhood coerced into sensitivity is no manhood at all.” –Camille Paglia

“Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” –Patrick Henry

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a God.” – William Shakespeare

Which is your favorite?  Anyone have any to add?

Animal’s Daily Big-Bore News

A cartridge that is overkill in a handgun is perfectly manageable in a rifle, even a carbine; that brings us to the Ruger Gunsite Scout in .450 Bushmaster.  Excerpt:

The .450 Bushmaster is one of three “thumper” rounds most commonly chambered in the AR-15 platform (the .458 SOCOM and the .50 Beowulf complete the trio). The quest for the perfect AR-15 cartridge is ongoing, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from implementing these powerful rounds in other platforms.

Ruger currently offers two models chambered in .450 Bushmaster: an iteration of their American Ranch series and the one I tested, the Gunsite Scout.

If you’re unfamiliar with the .450 Bushmaster, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new cartridge, and not many companies manufacture the round or produce rifles that fire it. But as hog hunting grows in popularity, the .450 Bushmaster is well-positioned to grow right along with it.

I’ve been intrigued by the Ruger Scout concept for quite a while, and have been thinking of picking up one in .308.   But the idea of the thumpin’ .450 Bushmaster kicks my curiosity up a notch.

I can not, however, agree with the tag line of the article: If You Could Only Own One Rifle.  In the first place, I can’t see owning only one rifle, but I’m an inveterate pack rat, and could easily see how someone who would prefer to have a gun for all seasons – the Old Man harbors those sorts of tendencies.  But were I limited to one rifle, I’d happily hang on to my own Thunder Speaker; the .338 Win Mag is an order of magnitude more powerful than the .450 Bushmaster, and Thunder Speaker has killed game at greater ranges than the .450 will easily handle.

Thunder Speaker and a Colorado mulie, taken at 280 long paces

As for a short range bullwhacker, the Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 fills that bill pretty damned admirably.

But there’s a lot to be said for this new development from Ruger.  From the days when old Bill ran the show, Ruger has been an innovator.  From the original Standard Auto to the Gunsite Scout, Ruger has produced a constant stream of high-quality firearms, generally based on a good idea taken to the next level – like how the original Blackhawk took the ancient single-action revolver and filled it with late 20th century guts.

The Ruger .450 Scout is another neat idea.  I have other rifles that will do any of the things that this Scout was made for, but that’s neither here nor there; just because I don’t need another gun doesn’t need I don’t want another gun.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as usual to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller has an Outdoors section where they regularly review guns and gear, which is a nice feature; recently they reviewed the S&W X-frame .500 S&W.

Holy shit.  Excerpt:

A few short years ago one of my best friends and I were enjoying some incredible fishing on the Naknek River in Alaska. Those big king salmon could burn off line and give anglers some heart-pounding action. Steve, my fishing and deer hunting buddy and I were in the middle of some of the best fishing you could possibly find. There were only two annoying factors bothering us—black flies and brown bears.

We could deter the black flies with our cigars most of the time. The bears on the other hand were a different matter. Frequently bears would roam around camp so you had to constantly be on the lookout when cleaning fish or attending to other chores. We were continually looking over our shoulder when wading along a tributary dumping into the river. Tracks were everywhere and we weren’t the only ones fishing the area. We are headed back to Alaska this year, fishing the same waters as before, only this time I will be carrying a peace-of-mind insurance policy—the S&W 500.

Here’s the part that caught my attention:

The revolver tips the scales a shade over 56 ounces when empty and the weight comes in handy when shooting high-octane loads.

The 25-5, in the middle.

That’s three and a half pounds, True Believers, for a five-shot revolver.  That’s a full pound heavier than my N-frame 25-5, which carries six rounds of .45 Colt.  My favored load for my Smith, as noted the other day, will blast a fist-sized chunk of wood chips out of the far side of  railroad tie – that’s plenty of power for most handgun work.

I don’t get this whole mega-handgun craze.  A sidearm should be just that, a sidearm, something that can be conveniently and unobtrusively packed around all day through the normal range of outdoor activities.  Monster handguns don’t really fit that bill, at least for someone of my not-inconsiderable stature.  Some years back I had a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle and played around with it for a while, but I didn’t much care for it; too much flash and bang for the added power over the .45 Colt, and it was far too heavy to be easily packed around.  I haven’t fired one of the mega-Smiths, but I suspect the same would prove true.

If you are in big bear country and need the kind of power one of the major-league Alaska bruins merits, carry a rifle or a pump shotgun stoked with hard-cast slugs.  You’ll be a lot better protected, and if you’re going to carry a firearm that will be inconvenient and in your way while fishing, you may as well go all the way.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Let’s talk about gunbelts and holsters for outdoor work.  No concealed-carry stuff here – let’s discuss rigs for carrying a heavy, powerful belt gun for serious work.

But before we do that, let’s talk about the gun.

While I favor my Glock 36 for everyday concealed carry, for outdoor work I like a big-bore wheelgun.  When woods-bumming, I usually have either my S&W 25-5 or my Ruger Vaquero, both in .45 Colt.  If I take it in my head to carry a semi-auto, it’s either the 1911 or the Glock 21, both (obviously) .45 ACPs.  In the revolvers I like 8 grains of Unique behind a Lasercast 250-grain hard-cast flat point.  That load will blow through a railroad tie and knock a big handful of splinters out the far side, and will easily lengthwise a big mulie or a cow elk.

For the .45 ACP I like the 200 grain Lasercast semi-wadcutter.  Like most Glocks, my 21 will feed almost anything; the 1911 is a little fussier but will feed SWCs fine with a good magazine.  I use Kimber magazines, and the 1911 will feed empty cases with those.

The gun belt and holster should be comfortable and solid.  Choice of material is up to the shooter; some like nylon web belts and holsters, and there is certainly nothing wrong with such a rig; I’ve used many myself.  But it’s hard to beat good leather.  Heavy harness leather should be used in the belt, and good stout bullhide in the holster.  A heavy leather rig will start out very stiff, but wear and the application of a softening oil, like neatsfoot oil,  will soon make the rig softer and more wearable.

For my belt guns, I like the America’s Gun Store #110 Wyoming Drop belt with the #114 Cheyenne holster, which rig hangs the but of the gun at about wrist height when your arms are hanging naturally.  I find this near perfect for being able to get the gun into action quickly; as long as you use the leg tie down to hold the holster in place, you can wipe off the holster’s hammer loop with the shooting hand’s thumb just as your fingers wrap around the grip.  Train yourself to keep your finger off the trigger while drawing; cock the single-action or start the double-action pull after you have cleared leather and are already pushing the muzzle of the piece towards the target.

Lots of folks like the Threepersons holster as well, and the same statements apply.

If your stomping grounds tend to be wet and snowy/rainy, like the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, Great America’s also makes their very nice K #17 flap holster, which keeps weather off the gun but makes it take longer to bring the piece to bear.

Whichever rig you choose, keep it clean (saddle soap and water) and softened, and it will give many, many years of solid service.