Monday, January 25, 2021

The Average Joe’s Homemade Submachine Gun Prop to Deter Tyranny

The front cover, and an Amazon Associates link:

I should know better than to put certain books in my reviewing queue. They clog things up.
And yet, I do it. 
This is one of those books. I bought it back at the beginning of December, and read through it in less than a day. So, why has it taken me so long to write a review?

In the first place, I had to decide exactly how I was going to treat the content of the book: go surface, or go deep. I guess I’ll find out now what my decision was.
In the second place, since this is a “how-to-build-it” book, I had to decide whether I was going to actually build the item. That is NOT a trivial choice! In the end, I decided NOT to attempt the build, because I don’t have some of the equipment called for. 

Very clearly, this is a book on which very small resources were devoted to design choices. The front cover is actually nicely restrained, in my opinion. The title and author’s name are legible white type on a black background; I think I would have preferred larger, or at least thicker, type. For some reason, the words “gun prop” are not capitalized in the title. 
The other feature on the front cover is a nice, clear sepia-toned picture of the components of the submachine gun prop.
In my opinion, the back cover is: a mess. A wall of reddish text is placed on a tan/khaki/light brown background, and the combination makes the letters blur. I don’t know how that makes sense. Shouldn’t the covers be an advertisement, a tease? Well, the back cover is more in the line of a treatise. I would scrap the red-text-on-brown approach, and delete 90% of the text. 

Other observations on the structure of the book:
  • While divided into chapters, the book is NOT paginated. 
  • Other than the sepia-tone front cover pic, all of the other graphics are either black and white, or grayscale. Thus, it’s merely adequate detail; some extra attention might be necessary to truly comprehend what is depicted. 
  • This is complicated by the fact that almost NONE of the photographs are adequately labeled, with directional arrows linking text to the detail in the pic. By way of contrast, the design of the solvent trap is perfectly labeled.
  • No one will ever buy this book as a manual for correct usage of the English language. It doesn’t matter; language is primarily to communicate, not to be graded in a classroom setting. This manual effectively communicates via the text. However, labeling the photographs as described above would vastly improve the product. 
  • Included in the first chapter is a list of the tools and materials needed. Of the tools, the only item that might not be found in a reasonably well-equipped home shop is a welder, although an angle grinder might also be absent. Helpfully, the author includes price estimates for these items. However, I think he’s over-optimistic on the price of the MIG welder. He has one sample listed at just under $100; the least expensive unit I found in my area ran $135. 

I am FAITHFULLY going to adhere to the author’s practice of referring to the item as a gun prop, and not a firearm. A person who follows the instructions given, to the letter, will not have committed a felony, but will have an amusing non-functional display item. 
Were this a functional device, it would be prohibited by a number of laws and regulations. For example, since 1986, it has been illegal to manufacture a fully-automatic firearm for use by civilians. In addition, the solvent trap, if placed on a functional firearm, would significantly reduce the sound of firing. These devices, for some bizarre reason, were proscribed in 1934 unless the owner received a tax stamp. 
Fortunately, in “Chapter 4: Bolt/Bolt carrier,” the author EXPLICITLY describes how to avoid accidentally turning this inert device into a functional fully-automatic machine gun. That’s a critical issue, because a felony is the alternative.

So: what is the value of this book?

Clearly, the value cannot be found as a guide to making a functional machine gun. Not only would that be a felony, the plans for this simple design are available for download from any number of websites. This is, after all, the most common design that turns up in police raids in Australia, which has one of the most restrictive firearms policies around.

On the other hand, the relative cheapness of the materials used to make the gun prop suggests to me that it might make a really nice project for learning techniques. At the end of the attempt, even a bungled assembly would still make an eye-catching display; after all, the item is inert, so what difference does it make if the movable parts don’t move?

It also makes for a nice addition to the library for people who like bizarre things.

Final note: the title page says that this is Title #1 in the series of “The Average Joe’s Tyranny Deterrents.” A search for subsequent titles found nothing pertinent.

Peace be on your household.