Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Legality of Eminent Domain

A friend was joking about Fenway Park in Boston and that "they" should envoke eminent domain and seize more land for the park.

She was totally joking, but it seemed odd to me that the thought would even cross her mind. The idea just seems wrong to me, but I don't know much about it.

In a case of first impression, a deeply divided panel of the Commonwealth Court ruled that the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia cannot take private property marked as blighted and give it to a private, religious organization.

“In short, nothing in the Constitution authorizes a taking of private property for a private use,” Smith-Ribner said.
Court: Future Developer Matters For Legality of Eminent Domain

Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Beth A. Myers today ruled the City of Norwood, Ohio, abused its discretion in finding the Edwards Road neighborhood “blighted,” but went on to find that the area could be called “deteriorating.” Thus the judge ruled that the City was justified in using eminent domain...
Ohio Judge Upholds Use of Eminent Domain In Nice Neighborhood

Eminent Domain Abuse Nationwide
This map plots instances of eminent domain abuse across the United States. Because many condemnations for private gain go entirely unreported, this resource represents only a fraction of the actual number of private takings nationwide.

In a close ruling announced on June 23, 2005 the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that state and local governments could use eminent domain to take private property against the owners' will for use in private development. The decision is expected to have major ramifications for redevelopment and property rights cases around the country.
Kelo v. New London

Property rights purists contend that the words eminent domain appear nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. However, eminent domain law is based on the Fifth Amendment: [no person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In 2004, the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Michigan branch of the ACLU asked the Michigan Supreme Court to "restore the constitutional protections which ensure that private property cannot be taken to benefit powerful interest groups at the expense of the less powerful." The Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn the Poletown eminent domain ruling — over 20 years after the neighborhood was razed.
Eminent Domain History

After reading a few of these articles, I'm a little more cautious about the issue. The only experience I've had with eminent domain was that my Grandmother's property was resized to allow for a sidewalk to be built. She lived in a small but developing town at the time of the construction. The town has now stabilized into a more active destination for tourists interested in art. I don't how that's benefitted the residents there directly, but I don't see any negatives from that seizure.

Most of these areas have been designated as "blighted" and that can go a long way to justifying the redevelopment of those properties. I doubt wheter those citizens are actually being compensated correctly. Perhaps they should be given cash up front and a percentage of the profits from future real estate assessments.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

7.62mm NATO Battle Rifle

What am I gonna do? I decided that the next purchase I need to look at to add to my collection is a pragmatic battle rifle that will be good for 0-600m distances. I'd like to pick it up this summer (August), so that rules out some newer Springfield Armory M1a's and the new models from Rock River Arms, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I guess there's basically three different formats to choose from the M1a, FAL, and finally the AR-10. I guess I'm just gonna have to break it on down for myself.

First my limiters,
It has to be available for purchase in August. It has to be easily available through my local shop, Parro's. It should be under $2000.

Historic look and feel, depending upon model

Loss of zero with successive stripping

The M14 and its Civilian Counterpart the M1a
To the end of its days, the Ml Garand had experienced mild problems. The M14's design seemed to have cured most of these. The basic action — expanded gas tapped from the barrel and bled through a port to strike a piston/operating rod which caused it to move backward, drawing the bolt with it remained the same. But the Ml's bulky gas cylinder hanging on the end of the barrel was reduced in size and moved back eight inches from the muzzle. The adjustable gas valve allowed the Ml 4 to provide better accuracy as the motion of the shorter operating rod and bolt was not so abrupt.

Then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara finally demanded a full investigation not only of the M14 versus the Ml6 tests but of the rifle's performance in combat. The Army's Inspector General did indeed find that several test had been rigged to show the AR15 in a poor light. In fact, the AR15 — soon to be the M16 — had outperformed the M14 in almost every category.

Interestingly enough, the M14 was characterized as an inherently inaccurate rifle by virtually every unbiased review board which had tested it. It was pointed out by experienced military armorers that it was impossible to develop an accurate rifle unless: 1) the receiver was solidly bedded in the stock, 2) the barrel was free-floated — did not touch any other part of the rifle at any time, 3) the barrel was specifically tuned for accurate shooting.

National match rifles differed from the standard issue service rifle in the following particulars:
1. The bore was held to half the tolerance as the service rifle and was not chrome plated.
2. The receiver was fiberglass-bedded in the stock.
3. Certain of the rifle's parts were hand-fitted and assembled.
4. An improved rear sight allowed elevation and windage adjustments in 1/2 minute of angle.

The Wonderful AR15
The M1A only lasted a few years before being replaced. It is essentially an M1 Garand with a 20 round magazine. 1930s technology at its best.

Guns and Hunting: SOCOM
Fast forward to the modern-day battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, where Special Forces personnel in theater brought stocks of the M14 out of mothballs in order to have a rifle better suited for long-range fire that is effective on targets.

While the military kept its on-again, off-again relationship in question with the M14, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Springfield Armory name was reborn, and the company began to acquire a reputation for its match-grade M1A.

To mitigate those forces, Springfield devised a proprietary muzzle brake that defies all expectations—you just can’t believe how well it works until you rack the bolt and send some rounds downrange. “The bottom portion of the unit—from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock—is solid, but the upper portion is pierced by six rows of ports, with a total of 34 holes,” said Wiley Clapp, in the August 2004 American Rifleman. “Gas vented up in this way tends to reduce the upward flip of the muzzle.” With a proper stance, leaning into the gun while pulling the rifle firmly into the shoulder pocket, a shooter can easily keep the sights within a man-sized target at extended range as he rapid-fires through a magazine of 7.62 mm NATO (.308 Winchester).

Beneath it all beats the heart of the original M14. The SOCOM 16 is a rotating-bolt, gas-operated, air-cooled rifle, and with all that steel, even with the chopped barrel, it still weighs in at 8.9 pounds. It’s also able to feed reliably from a multitude of detachable box magazines, from the ban-era five- and 10-round versions to the full-capacity, 20-rounders.

In our own “Gun Locker” review of the original SOCOM 16 in August 2004, I proposed the following: “Ultimately, the SOCOM does to the M14 what the M4 did to the M16—it delivers a smaller, lightweight version of its former self, capable of delivering effective fire at extended ranges, while maintaining its tactical maneuverability.

If that’s true, then the next generation of the SOCOM only further perpetuates the ideal. With the addition of the advanced Picatinny rail system, the SOCOM now has the potential to match the M4 in tactical versatility. Operators have the ability to take what is essentially an M14, hang every tactical tool they may have at their disposal, and arrange it in such a way that previously only the M4 has done at such a high level of flexibility.

Whether through the Aimpoint or with iron sights, the second generation SOCOM is indeed a different animal. This happens to bring up one of the few complaints, one shared by virtually all rifles of this type, which comes with gaining a proper cheek weld after the addition of an optic. Since the M14 was not originally designed to use an optic, it’s tough to gain the proper line of sight with the optic so high above the top line of the receiver. For many shooters, some type of aftermarket cheekpiece may be required.

But be prepared, because it’s chambered for the beefier cartridge, and with the addition of the huge Picatinny rail system, the second generation SOCOM 16 tips the scale at a whopping 10 pounds, 7 ounces—without any of the accessories or ammo. Adding a full, 20-round magazine piles on an additional 1 pound, 9 ounces, and lights, lasers and red-dot sights will keep the scale climbing as well. This is where the M4 still shines, with various flattop carbines coming in as much as three pounds lighter.

What's a Good M1A to Get?
When buying a used M1A, look for GI parts. At least check the trigger group, op rod, and bolt, all of which should carried GI parts numbers and maker's stamp - if you don't know what they look like, check a friend's M1A.

ar15 vs. socom 16
The SOCOM will cost more to shoot by far. And for range plinking etc, the 5.56 will do everything you want. The SOCOM has some advantages in actual combat, and you can hunt deer with it, but for basic defense, plinking and training, the AR will do everything you need a rifle for.

The muzzle report on the SOCOM is nothing to even think about. My 14.5 inch M4 is louder than the SOCOM. The comp on the SOCOM is so impressive. The muzzle is so stable, I can keep the reticle on target during double taps (with an ACOG Reflex). I'll go put a 100 or more rounds through it at a time and my shoulder doesn't hurt a bit.

For me I wouldn't get a 308 shorter than 18. At 16 that thing is just a little to short. I'll let all the ballistic guys chime in here but from my shooting skills I've learned over the years I think that 16'' tube would limit that thing to 500 yards or so.maybe a little more penatration than the 223 in close but if your gonna have a 308 why limit it to 500 yards.

M14 Type Rifles
There are three important factors in determining the quality of a M14 type rifle receiver. They are the material, heat treatment and dimensional geometry. American receivers are made of 8620 steel and the Chinese receivers made of 5100 steel. 8620 steel contains trace percentages of molybdenum, manganese, nickel and chromium. 5100 steel is a chromium alloy steel. Both are suitable for hardening using heat treatment. USGI, Chinese and Taiwanese receivers are forged. The U. S. Marine Corps found through competition shooting that the H&R, Springfield Armory and Winchester receivers would last 400,000 rounds and the TRW receivers were good for 450,000 rounds.

1:10 twist barrels are better suited to the 168 and 175 grain bullets.

A.R.M.S., Brookfield Precision Tool, Smith Enterprise, B-Square, S&K, Leatherwood and Springfield Armory, Inc. have made scope mounts for M14 type rifles. The B-Square and Springfield Armory 1st Generation mounts do not require removal of the stripper guide while the others listed do. Removal of the stripper guide allows an additional point of contact between the mount and the receiver. Scope mounts that have three points of contact with the receiver are the most reliable for keeping the scope zeroed.

The most common failures of the M14 rifles while in service were cracked stocks and rear sight pinions, missing rear sight nut, and misaligned flash suppressor. Less common failures were broken safety, broken firing pin, and out of specification gas cylinder. The least common problems were broken extractor and bolt stop.

Semiautomatic .308s
Unquestionably, self-loading .308s are coveted by nearly everybody, mainly because they can do so much. They can compete, they can plink, they can hunt, and, of course, they’re made for self-defense, should such a situation arise.

The L1A1, equipped as we’ve described it below, is a very good alternative to the M1A Springfield, and may be less costly. The only problem is that your may not find one, and the SUIT scopes are starting to get rare too. We’d rate it just behind the Springfield M1A on today’s market.

The original pistol grip of the L1A1 permits very easy access to the safety. This rifle will generally weigh less than a comparable M1A. Our test version weighs a half-pound less than our M14 custom, which itself is lighter than the average Springfield M1A.

The FAL rifle was just barely beat out by the M14 to become our nation’s battle rifle. Much of the rest of the world adopted the FAL as a standard rifle and used it until the .223 became common. FAL’s are still used in many corners of the world, and have a reputation second to none for strength and reliability.

The standard Springfield MIA will set you back around $1,400. It's our first choice. It is probably the easiest of all "battle rifles" to assimilate by the rifleman who has never held a pistol-grip.

The M1A is the most comfortable and practical .308 semi-auto available, in our view. It doesn't need any modifications to make it usable. All of the M1As we've examined had decent trigger pulls. If you want to put a better trigger pull on yours, that work is both easy and inexpensive to farm out.

Concerning scope mounts for this able rifle type, the costly I Brookfield used to be U.S. issue, and is extremely durable. It mounts through the use of a half-inch 1 wrench... no sissy screwdrivers, thank you. If the rifle were run over 1 by a truck, the scope mount would I survive.

Iron sights on the M14-type rifles are superior to iron sights on any other battle rifle we've seen, of any era. The sight radius is very long. The rear unit is fully and easily adjustable. If you want finer adjustments, which you probably don't need unless you plan to shoot in competition, you can install a match rear sight. A thinner front post is available if you want one. We can easily place all shots into a 6-inch marker at near-rapid-fire rate at a full 200 yards with these sights. You don't really need a scope with the M1A/M14.

While you're looking for the L1Al, buy a Springfield M1A and see if you can live without a pistol-gripped rifle. We suspect you'll be extremely happy with the M1iA. You can sell it easily if you don't like it, but we think you won't let your M1A go anytime soon. The purpose of a rifle is hitting targets, and this type, with its long sight radius and good trigger, make that task the easiest of all three rifle types tested. This is our first choice in a .308 rifle.

Adjustable stock
Holds zero better than an M1a?

No classic styling
Difficult to acquire complete rifle setup

Defense Review - Sage Intl.
Apparently, the M14 EBR/M1A EBR was developed to win a five-year Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (Crane NSWC) contract to supply the U.S. Naval Special Warfare (SPECWAR) and Marine Corps communities (perhaps MCSOCOM and Force Recon units) with a SPECOPS-ready SOPMOD accessory-compatible M14 rifle/carbine. The M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (or M1A Enhanced Battle Rifle) should prove particularly effective in the CQB (Close Quarters Battle) and short-to-medium range interdiction (sniping) roles in urban warfare/combat environments.

The Sage-developed EBR has to be considered a prime contender for the Crane contract. With an M14 barrel, receiver and trigger group as its core, Sage's EBR sports a totally new look, from the flash suppressor/compensator on its working end to a retractable buttstock (with graduated stop adjustments) and an adjustable cheek piece.

Completely outfitted (without scope or other devices), the EBR weighs 11 pounds, 10 ounces with a 22-inch M14 barrel. The optional, quick-release mount weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

Another found the EBR to be "an excellent platform. It seemed to reduce recoil and made mounting of various mission-required accessories much easier. The soft mount reduced recoil even further and made it much easier to engage targets from a fixed point. The mount is quick to engage and disengage, as well."

"An excellent update for an old, proven system," noted another. "It's a well-designed, well-executed improvement to the M14. Its ergonomics are very good; the system allows myriad attachment options."

"It's a low-cost, effective platform that turns existing surplus M14s into modern battle rifles," a third evaluator wrote. "It's lightweight and adaptable. The innovative cheek piece readily fits a wide range of shooters."

The AnarchAngel - Enhanced Battle Rifle

Enhanced Battle Rifle Chassis
Several iterations of improvements have occurred since and have resulted in two models currently being fielded. The first is what Sage describes as their Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR). The second is their Chop-Mod EBR, essentially the same thing as the EBR with the exception that it forend is 1.60 inches shorter. In discussion with John Klein at SAGE, the primary reason behind the Chop-Mod's reduced length is weight reduction.

Unlike the cosmetically similar ROCK SOPMOD M14/M1A which requires significant modification to the weapon's gas system, the Sage EBR utilizes the M14/M1A's original gas system. In our minds, this is a significant advantage in favor of the Sage system as when eventual re-barreling of the host weapon is required or if repair/maintenance work is required on the gas system, standard M14/M1A parts can be utilized and the work need not required specialized equipment, parts, or training.

Currently an 18 inch barreled M14 set in SAGE's most recent EBR chassis weighs in at approximately 11.2lbs. The chop-mod variety reduces this to 10.8lbs and at the time of writing Sage is in the process of producing a M4 style telescoping stock version that is will shave another 1.1lbs off the total mass of the system.

Of of the most difficult things to do is to try and find a rifle that can fill both the CQB and the longer distance role. While we feel the SAGE M14/M1A significantly addresses this conundrum from the perspective of caliber, there are still some difficult decisions to be made from the perspective of what optics are best suited across the complete spectrum of CQB through to the longer distance type engagements.

While many speculate that the recent renaissance of the M14 is merely a stopgap measure taken by the various branches of the American military while they further the development of a semi-auto medium range 300 to 700 yards) rifle, it's been written that in 2004 the US Navy contracted to upgrade approximately 3000 of their in-arsenal M14s with the Sage EBR Chop Mod chassis.


May not easily be ordered through my gunshop?

FAL or M1A?
I dont think you can go wrong with either one. I went for the M1A and have not been disappointed in any aspect of it. The customer service is most excellant at SA, also.
I went for the M1A because of reputation, and parts and mags will be plentiful for (hopefully), a long time.

Pros-cheap mags...sometimes as cheap as $5 each. Cheap and readily available spare parts and accessories. Many good manufacturers to choose from, and even the low-end parts guns can be improved to an acceptable quality by a good FALsmith for not that much money. Very ergonomic (at least if you get a light-barrelled one), very reliable, good combat accuracy (groups aren't as tight as a comparable M1A but I can sit out at 150 yards or so and toss aluminum cans in the air with iron sights). I prefer battle rifles with a pistol grip, YMMV. Field strips more easily than any other combat rifle I've ever seen, very simple to disassemble and reassemble. Has a bolt release catch.

Cons-Most scope mounts are not very stable due to mounting on the dust cover. Heavier than the M1A. Iron sights are not optimal, although I think they are good enough for combat. Trigger pull is a bit heavy. Prebans are very expensive.

Pros-Very accurate and reliable, well-balanced and fairly ergonomic. Lighter than most FALs. The best iron sights on any combat rifle made IMHO. Mounts a scope fairly solidly. Trigger pull is very nice. You can have a flash supressor on a postban, and you can buy a preban without breaking the bank.

Cons-Very complicated to break down, especially if you take out the op rod. Mags are much more expensive than FAL mags---usually $32-40 for used, $50 for new. Accessories are a bit more expensive than FALs. Doesn't have a bolt release catch, so M1 thumb is a danger. Doesn't have a pistol grip, but that is a personal thing, YMMV. Newer M1As use more cast parts than older ones, so you have to watch that.

Of the two choices, as battle (not match) rifles I think they are both excellent. I prefer the FAL but it is primarily because of cheap parts and mags. I like the two leaf rear sight with large and small apatures. I also like the adjustable gas system. You don't have to fidddle with it while using your normal ammunition. If you want to shoot either very soft or very stout loads, change the gas port to match the load and function will be normal. M1 types tend to pull case heads with very stout loads and not cycle with soft loads.

FAL versus M-14/M-1A versus AR-10/SR-25
I have the M14/M1A and it outshoots my FAL but I feel the FAL is the superior rifle/design and if I were offered two "hand inspected" FAL's I'd trade the M14 in a heartbeat.

A whole lot of people worldwide seem to think the FAL is pretty workable design and I couldn't disagree. I think if I had to have one of those listed as my bet-my-life-on-it rifle, the FAL would be the one.

I personally like the FAL, although the M1A is next on my list of "must haves". I really like the ease of filed stripping by shotgunning the weapon and easy gas regulation for different loads and weapon conditions. Couple that with easy to obtain spare parts and you have a winner. Best of all you can get a DSA product and have a lifetime warranty.

The FAL is the worst of the lot accuracy wise, but fine within reasonable ranges. Personally, I'd take the M1A over the others, it truly is ambidextrious, and is easier to snap shoot than the others. All in all, its really just a matter of preference and practice.

The M14 stock design far supassed the awkward straight designed stock of the FAL. This type of stock is only needed for full auto rifles and being that both guns were total failures in full auto the convention stock of the M14 allowed quick snap shooting v/s the akward stock of the FN FAL that actually had to be carried but up over the shoulder to allow soldier even half a chance to snap the gun to their shoulders.

Again a failure in the FN FAL. The gas system in both the short tube and long tube FN FALs has given the gun nothing but touble. The short tube versions have a really bad habit of of coming loose due to recoil or just plain rusting away of the ultra thin tube that is only silver soldered on to keep it from leaking. The long tube version has no soldier and leaks even when new. Once it gets loose and starts to leak the weapon will malfunction. The troublesome adjustable gas system at first glance would seem to be an advantage over the M14's non-ajustable gas system but one of lifes great surpises is that the M14's non-ajustable gas system would work with under as well as full power ammo with no problem while the FN's system is so finicky that if it is not ajusted just right to the ammo used it will either not eject the cases strongly enough to prevent jamming or it will eject them so violently that it will start to batter the weapon to death. As a matter of fact the ejection pattern of the FN is also very poor. It will throw one emty close to the weapon giving rather weak ejection and then the next case will be thrown almost 20 feet away. The M14 does not have this design problem.

Once again the FN FAL fails compared to the M14. In tests conducted by the U.S. army the M14 proved the superior weapon when used in extremely cold environments. The British had so much trouble with their FN's in the desert that they had to put sand cuts in the bolt of the FN to get it to work somewhat more realiably in the sand of the desert and one of the main complaints of the Israilies is that they to could not get the weapon to work when it got sand in it. The M14 worked 100 per cent better when contaiminated with sand because of its rotating bolt that actually threw off sand rather than trap it like the bolt of the FN Fal.

Although the FN looks like a dream to strip down it is anything but a dream to strip. The stock if broken must be removed with a special tool and even using this tool can be a nightmare to the person who has seldom done this job. Contrast this to the instant take down of the M14. The trigger group on the FN must be taken out piece by piece for cleaning if the rifle is really full of mud or sand compared to the instant modular drop out trigger of the M14.

The FN being a hard gun to scope and it provides a less than stable plantform when the thin sheet metal dust cover is used as a base for the scope mount. A mount could be designed that would be attached to the side of the reciever like the M14 for quicker and more stable mounting but it seems that most of the popular military mounts were on the unstable and loose fitting top dust cover. Screws have been installed on some civilain mounts buy they are a pain to loosen up to remove the scope and once this is done the rifle may loose zero.

Realisticly, for a "battle rifle", none of these can really compare to the lighter gun/caliber combos out there now. All the 7.62x51 guns are heavy and dont lend themselves well to CQB type shooting. The AK and AR/M16 series guns win out here. If all your shooting would be 200 yards plus, then yes, they have an advantage, but 150 and under, I really dont see it. In this realm, I think the 7.62x39 actually has it over all the rest, mostly because it will penetrate cover the 5.56 wont and still have enough "oommph" to get whats on the other side. With faster recovery from recoil, and higher capacity mags, they leave the 7.62x51 lacking.

In my opinion the basic design of the FN proved that over the years its rectangular, tipping and horizontally moving bolt had a lot more contact with the reciever rails than the small contact area of the rotating M14 bolt. What all this boiled down to is that it was just too easy for dirt and frozen moisture to get trapped between the FN's bolt and its reciever. This is exactly why the British put grooves called sand cuts in their bolts. It was a desperate attempt to keep the gun functioning a little longer in sandy environments.

As far as scopes go, why, if you want a tack driver set one up as a long range dinger! Get a bolt action, cheaper and more accurate with a greater range of ammo. If you are thinking along the lines of red dot, go with a M1A scout rifle from Springfield with with the rail set up forward of the reciever and shortened barrel. Can also place a scout scope also.

More accurate for the money compared to the other two formats
Maintains zero better than M1a