Windows Phone app reviews

My two Windows Phone apps have some reviews now. All are five stars!

For As the Crow Flies:

  • by Antonio

    Thank you for this app. Useful for me as a firefighter because I can only live a certain distance from the firehouse “as the crow flies” so this app very useful. Simple but worked perfectly.

  • by Kevin

    Very accurate, easy to use.

For Field Ballistics:

  • by Bryan

    Seriously a cool app for shooters.

“Messin’ around shooting” with carry pistols

My friends and I, as a natural matter of course, sometimes try our carry or service pistols at 100 or even 200 yards. It’s always seemed to me an obvious thing to try. Why wouldn’t you?

And so when Oleg and I were out “messin’ around shooting” at various rocks, dirt clods, sticks and whatnot at various random distances, we did some 100 yard pistol shooting with our carry pistols (a 9 mmP and a 10 mm Auto).

I haven’t commented on this phenomenon before, but I’ve noticed that the point of hold for 100 yards with a Glock 20 isn’t much different from that at 25 yards. It was when Oleg, without any prompting, made the same observation regarding his 9 mm carry pistol that it occurred to me to say so in a post. Well here it is.

Oleg was striking a roughly 8″ square plate at 100 yards with successive shots from his 9mm Glock.

I don’t know what utility this sort of pistol shooting might have in defense, but it is good to know you can do it.

Cut lead bar verses round ball

I’d not heard of cut lead bar being used in lieu of ball. The use of “findings” in a fowling piece or a blunderbuss, sure, but not this. Interesting.

If you can melt lead or a similar metal or alloy (and who can’t?) and pour it into a slot between some boards, you have buckshot for your scattergun, or bullets for your “smooth rifle”.

I wouldn’t try it on the line at Boomershoot though. Well OK I might, but I wouldn’t expect any detonations, much less hits, from 400 yards.

1939 LA County sheriff’s revolver club

From an e-mail.

The PC police would of course disapprove of the cigarettes and cigar. OK they’d disapprove of everything.

Also they handle lead with their bare hands at the range, shoot stuff out of other people’s mouths and ears which our litigious society now largely prevents, and they still for some reason thought the human heart was all in the left side of the chest. It appears that the price of their cast lead bullet reloads was a penny per round (presumably with the deposit of your spent brass).

They had someone else to clean your gun for you. That I do not approve– It’s not only elitist, but dumb from the standpoint of being able to understand and monitor the condition your own hardware. You should clean your own gun as an integral part of the craft.

They did have rotary, progressive loading machines.

I understand the desire for efficiency at a range, and of having some kind of standards for evaluating the skills of your deputies, but the highly controlled (and therefore highly limited) nature of the training/practice experience at such a range leaves me somewhat cold. I suppose it makes me something of an outlier, but I think you should to get out and simply “play” at it now and then, making up your own scenarios, picking non-standard targets at un-measured distances and so on. I’ll call this “messin’ around shooting”.

I once had a retired LA cop (which means he should very well know better from more than a little personal experience) tell me that his 45 ACP could “shoot through an engine block”. When I got back into shooting after being a hippie for a while, one of the first things I did, of course, was to try various calibers on an old chainsaw at a friend’s house. A 9 mm Para would break the aluminum fins off the cylinder, a 10 mm would strip the fins down clean, and a 7.62 x 39 would punch through the light aluminum and severely dent or tear the steel parts. There’s no way your 45 is going to “shoot through an engine block”. The messin’ around shooter already knows this from direct experience.

So while the gelatin testers, the organized range shooters and the gun magazine readers are talking about the performance of this or that bullet or load, the hunter who does his own butchering, and the messin’ around shooter, are often scratching their heads laughing at them.

I know people who are far more concerned about keeping the grass at the range looking nice than having year-round access for shooters, and they hate people like me. If it’s your own private club and your dime, fine.

Man; I got a little distracted there, huh?

Ammo for 3-D printed guns

The plastic guns being made have been tested with conventional ammo intended to be fired in conventional guns. Why not load up some low pressure rounds specifically intended to work with the plastic guns?

Even if the bullets had muzzle velocities half that of conventional guns you aren’t going to get volunteers to be bullet backstops. Choose a common cartridge which already has a fairly low pressure then tweak the bullet weight and powder charge to get something that the plastic is much more capable of handling.

Here is a list of max pressure recommendations in PSI for various cartridges with the obvious high pressure cartridges removed:

380 Auto 21,500
25 Auto 25,000
32 S&W Long 15,000
38 Auto 26,500
38 S&W 14,500
38 Special 17,000
44 S&W Spl 15,500
45 Auto 21,000
45 Colt 14,000

I’m a “respected Idaho based shooter and author”

Apparently I’m now “a respected Idaho based shooter and author.”

The background story is that I and several other bloggers were asked by the folks at which of the three major calibers, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, was the best. I answered, via the blog post, and they just posted an article that incorporates some of my response.

I appreciate the kind words but I’m not sure I have all that much respect as a shooter compared to a lot of other people and I’m a “software author”, blogger, and occasional magazine article writer. I’m not really an “author” in the most common sense.

Still, I think they did a good job on their article even if they did give me more credit than I think I’m due.

More on “Barrel Harmonics”

There is incontrovertible proof that those who talk about barrel harmonics do not know what they’re talking about, and that proof is in the very term they use to talk about it.

First; the term “harmonic” is a very specific term for an integral multiple of a fundamental vibration frequency. Since a barrel is (usually) a somewhat irregular object tethered at one end, I question whether most of them have a harmonic overtone series at all (like a guitar string or the air column inside a flute) or a primarily inharmonic one, like a bell or a cymbal. “You keep using that word…”

Second; the fundamental frequency of the “resonating” barrel is being ignored (by the language at least) yet the fundamental is often, or probably, more significant, i.e. it probably has a higher amplitude than the higher frequency vibrations. That’s usually very much the case with a vibrating body unless it’s being dampened at the fundamental. So why, particularly, are we discussing overtones (harmonic ones or inharmonic ones) and not the fundamental?

Third; don’t even talk to me about barrel harmonics, or barrel fundamental vibration, or inharmonic barrel overtones (A.K.A. “partials”) on an AK or a 30 Carbine, et al barrel. Just don’t.

I once had to do this with a class of music majors during a seminar I did at the U of Idaho. We were talking about advanced tweaks, the last one percent, of what goes into the design and structure of a musical instrument to make it a really fine one, and the students were responding as though I were talking about major issues. My fault. I should have been more clear at the outset.

So here it is; you don’t address the last one percent on your AK. It’s not a beanfield rifle. Please. There are several other factors that totally overwhelm the last one percent (like the previous 99 for example) and so if you address the last one percent as though it were “the issue” you’re ignoring the issues that matter.

Low-speed heavy bullet expansion

I was pondering my earlier experience with bullet performance, and got to wondering about the other end of things, with low-velocity rifle bullets. When shooting at very long ranges, or when using a subsonic cartridge like a 300 Blackout / Whisper, what heavy .30 cal bullets expand reliably at around 1000 fps? Obviously something like a 200 grain Nosler Partition will hold together, but will it mushroom at all at low velocity? They only brag about expansion down to 1800 fps on their Ballistic Tip, which only goes to 180 gr. Their “long range” Accubond recommends greater than 1300 FPS. Now, with a BC of .730 in a 210 gr Spitzer it’s still going to hurt what it hits, but if you want to maximize energy transfer, punching a neat hole isn’t the way to do it.

Any thoughts, experience, recommendations, or rumors?

Field Ballistics bug fix

I fixed a minor bug in Field Ballistics. The new version is It is available on the Windows Phone store now.

The bug was that under certain situations you could delete the last target. Other places in the app required that at least one target exist at all times. After deleting the last target the app would immediately crash.

As a side note: I submitted the changed version Sunday evening. It made it through Microsoft certification in less than three days.

Field Ballistics update

I released a new version of Field Ballistics for Windows Phone earlier this week and it made it through Microsoft’s test gauntlet this morning.

Here are the changes in version 1.1:

A crash that occurred when measuring inclines has been fixed.

Auto conditions retrieves air pressure from the weather service and allows manual input of air pressure independent from altitude for user defined conditions.

Target range can now be set in the range edit box in addition to moving the target push pin on the map.

Probable bug in Windows Phone 8

I found what appears to be a minor bug in some Windows Phone 8 devices.

It showed up in my Field Ballistics program. I have code that looks like this:

// Can we focus only on the target?
if (
{, 0.5);

On someone’s phone this raised a “System.InvalidOperationException” on the call to “FocusAtPoint”.

What appears to have happened is that the phone reports IsFocusAtPointSupported as “true” but doesn’t actually support it. It’s not all that big of deal but it does mean I’ll be releasing an update a little sooner than I had planned.

Hat tip; theBlaze

Happy Independence Day.

He probably complied too much, and should have stood his ground on the “Am I being detained” part. I don’t know what I will do when my time comes, but I have been through a similar incident before and it left a bad taste in my mouth. In that case I was in fact in violation, by having studded tires after the deadline for removing them. If I were totally innocent, who knows what would happen? I’ve seen the dog trick before too. It’s bullshit. I do know for sure that I will be asking the criminal posing as a cop to get out a pad and pencil and jot down “18 USC 241” and “18 USC 242” and informing him that he is putting himself at risk for prosecution.

A dashcam would be a good investment about now, to document the crimes committed by corrupt police, if for no other reason than posterity, so future generations can see how and when our republic fell into the shithole.

And you still use Android?

Via a Tweet from Ry we have still more info on the security issues with Android (emphasis in the original):

The Bluebox Security research team – Bluebox Labs – recently discovered a vulnerability in Android’s security model that allows a hacker to modify APK code without breaking an application’s cryptographic signature, to turn any legitimate application into a malicious Trojan, completely unnoticed by the app store, the phone, or the end user. The implications are huge! This vulnerability, around at least since the release of Android 1.6 (codename: “Donut” ), could affect any Android phone released in the last 4 years1 – or nearly 900 million devices2– and depending on the type of application, a hacker can exploit the vulnerability for anything from data theft to creation of a mobile botnet.

While the risk to the individual and the enterprise is great (a malicious app can access individual data, or gain entry into an enterprise), this risk is compounded when you consider applications developed by the device manufacturers (e.g. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG) or third-parties that work in cooperation with the device manufacturer (e.g. Cisco with AnyConnect VPN) – that are granted special elevated privileges within Android – specifically System UID access.

Installation of a Trojan application from the device manufacturer can grant the application full access to Android system and all applications (and their data) currently installed. The application then not only has the ability to read arbitrary application data on the device (email, SMS messages, documents, etc.), retrieve all stored account & service passwords, it can essentially take over the normal functioning of the phone and control any function thereof (make arbitrary phone calls, send arbitrary SMS messages, turn on the camera, and record calls). Finally, and most unsettling, is the potential for a hacker to take advantage of the always-on, always-connected, and always-moving (therefore hard-to-detect) nature of these “zombie” mobile devices to create a botnet.

I’ve known there were lots of security issues with Android but this is much bigger than I imagined. If you were concerned about various three letter agencies sucking up data about you (or even your snail mail) then you should be even more concerned that just about anyone that is technologically competent can take complete control of your Android phone.

A little over two years ago I purchased a Android phone with thought of developing apps for it. I never got around to it and after releasing Field Ballistics for Windows Phone I gave it further consideration. I decided not do pursue Android as an alternate platform. I’m glad I made that decision. Would you want everyone and their brother looking at the map on your phone showing your location and the location of your next target? At Boomershoot that would be an invitation to have “your” target poached.

What’s the best caliber?

It happened again. Someone asked me what I thought the best caliber is. Granted they didn’t ask it quite that ambiguous. But it did raise the “insufficient information hackles” when I got the email.

The actual question was:

Tell me which caliber you think is best and why:  9mm, 40 S&W, or 45 ACP.

Had the question been, “Which caliber has the best stopping power?” I would have replied, “It’s tough to beat something chambered in 200 mm XM422 with the 40 kiloton yield option”.

The question isn’t quite that unbounded but still it’s insufficiently bounded to give an answer that is credible for even a fraction of the possible values of the unconstrained variables. One must really have more information about the use cases of the firearm before you can give an answer that someone couldn’t drive a Euclid truck through.

When someone asks a question like this what you really need to do is get the person asking the question to answer it for themselves. For all intents and purposes they already know the answer they just don’t know the proper questions to ask themselves. You can help them with this.

The top level question is, “What are you going to use this gun for? Recreation, self-defense, competition, all of the above?” One could drill down to a depth of three or more in the specifics for any of the answers given but here are few of the possibilities:

  • What is your ammo budget?
  • Self-defense against two legged varmints or four?
  • What is the body mass of the varmint you need to defend against?
  • One attacker or a mob?
  • Which sport?

Everything is a tradeoff. The smaller calibers tend toward higher capacities, higher velocities, lower costs, and, obviously, smaller holes. With the larger calibers the opposite is true. Once you figure out your application then the caliber question should pretty much answer itself.

If you are interested in self-defense “stopping power” then I answered that question nearly 15 years ago and I don’t see any reason to update the conclusion where I agree with Greg Hamilton who says:

The entire discussion of “stopping power” is both stupid and irrelevant.   Statistics cannot be applied to individuals. People that need to be shot need to be shot soon and often. They need to be shot until they run out of fluid, brains, or balls.

If during the time you were reading the latest “stopping power” article you were instead practicing to save your life you would be far, far ahead.

Greg Hamilton
May 08, 1998

Of potential interest is what caliber gun(s) do I own and use and why.

I have guns in all three of the calibers in question. I almost never use the 9mm or the .45. The reason has nothing to do with the caliber themselves. It is because a .40 with 17 or 18 round magazines is the best choice for Limited class USPSA matches which I compete in. I can compete in USPSA and Steel Challenge with it and I can carry it for self-defense. I figure the odds of me using it in self-defense are pretty low but the probability of me using it in competition are near 1.0. And even supposing that some other caliber/gun would be better for self-defense the fact that I am going to be practicing with the competition gun is probably going to make up for the (questionable) fact that I wasn’t shooting the optimal caliber.

Field Ballistics is “Top Paid”

I found this surprising*. Very pleasing, but surprising:


Field Ballistics on Windows Phone is in the list of “Top paid” sports apps after being out for only a week.

See my announcement here. Purchase it (or get a free trial version) here.

*Assuming no inflation, sales remain constant, and I saved and invested every penny then in another 1000 years I might be able to retire on the proceeds.