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July 29, 2010

Alleged Russian Spy-Chick Arrested Smuggling "Super Scopes" and Another Item, Described as "Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40-Watt Range"*

(* I may have bamboozled you just a smidge on that headline)

I don't ask for much competence from the media. All I ask is that once they finish writing a story, they look it over one last time and ask themselves "Does this seem like bullshit?"

With those low expectations, you'd think that I wouldn't be showered with ignorance every damn time I opened a paper, watched TV, or even logged onto Hot Air......but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Even the blogosphere is full of drooling fanboys, eager to believe the fairy tales they're being told. Case in Point: Anna Fermanova, Double-Nought Bimbo.

What's my beef with this story? Wait a minute honey, gonna add it up...


Let's start with the claims that the night vision scopes in question are Super Scary Technology, that will enable snipers to pick off targets at a mile & a half in pitch black conditions. Yeah, I saw this movie...and when Ah-nold Schwarzeneger killed that alligator with his pistol, you could just tell that the gator was pure CGI.

The Raptor 4x Night Vision Sight referenced in the story may or may not be worth the $7,000 price tag, but I'm pretty damn sure that they could NEVER live up to the hype given to them in this story. Bo Dietl, noted security consultant and regular Fox News contributor, states that "These are used specifically for an assassination......You could take someone out with one of these scopes in the dead of night from up to a mile-and-a-half-away."

Mmmmmmmkay. Here's the thing: Marksmen who can keep all their shots in a "minute of angle" (a full circle is divided into 360 degrees, and each degree is further subdivided into 60 minutes - a good rule of thumb is that a "minute of angle" is approximately 1" in diameter at 100 yards and the circle increases proportionately as the distance to the target increases) are considered to be very good shots. Guys/gals who can put all their lead in a half-M.O.A at reasonable ranges are considered to be "scary good shots".

A mile consists of 1,760 yards, which means that 1.5 miles would be 2,640 yards. Using the conversion ratio shown above tells us that a crackerjack marksman who shoots a half-MOA could spread all his shots out across 13 inches at that range, and that's before you figure in the variables involved with wind, humidity, the movement of the target, et cetera. Wind can push a bullet one hell of a long ways off target over 2,640 yards, and even a hot round like the 338 Lapua Magnum (muzzle velocity 2855 feet per second) is going to take upwards of three seconds to get to the target. That's three seconds of wind acting on a moving projectile, and even a boattail bullet can drift FEET off course if you don't judge the wind correctly. And don't forget that you're shooting at a MOBILE target. Remember flag football? Ever play where the refs enforce a "two second rule" on rushing the QB? That always seemed like forever to me when I was playing defense, but that's a little more than half of the time that a bullet would take to travel 1.5 miles. Think about how far a person can move, and how many times they could change direction or velocity during that period of time. Then think about the fact that bullets don't have heat-seeking technology or any steering mechanisms; They're strictly "fire and forget" technology. You can do all the same dancing around you do at the bowling alley, but the bullet won't "bite" in the lane and curve around to give you that 7-10 split on the target. It's just a piece of lead and copper jacketing.

I'm not saying that long shots can't be made. What I'm saying is that as your range increases, the probability of a missed shot increases no matter how good the shooter or their gear. Plus, there's the little detail of these "MurderScopes" only having 4x magnification. Ever observed something from over a mile with run-of-the-mill 7x binoculars? Well, this scope has about HALF of their magnification. At 2,600 yards, the crosshairs on even the best 4x rifle scopes would damn near cover anyone smaller than Oliver Willis and prevent you from taking careful aim.

And night vision scopes? I've got a first-generation pair of night vision binoculars, and you sure as hell couldn't make a 2,600 yard shot using that level of technology. You'd be lucky to hit a target at 150 yards, and any shots you took at extended range might as well be fired "ghetto style" with the weapon sitting 90 to the side, because any hits you get would be pure luck anyway. Admittedly, third and fourth generation NV gear has a much more clarity than a muddy old 1stGen scope, but I still insist that glare and distortion of the picture would make these sorts of super-shots impossible.

At least the article in question cites an employee of Jane's International Defense Review, but they fail to identify his area of expertise. Google tells me that he's Jane's US Land Forces Reporter, and he wisely limits his statements to indisputable facts. A $7,000 night vision scope is "so advanced the average U.S. soldier wouldn't use one". Why not? Maybe because there's a lot better things to spend $7,000 on....things that won't merely increase their hit probability by 0.0001%. And he states that these scopes are "used for automatic assault weapons, not hunting rifles". Ever seen a sniper hunched over an AK47 or a FN/FAL? No? Me neither. They're mostly using......bolt action HUNTING RIFLES.

Is this a major story? Well, she IS hot. And it's another example of Third-World businessmen wanting to get their hands on First-World technology. Were the scopes meant for terrorist snipers, or were they destined to be dismantled on a workbench in the Urals so that local technology could take a great leap forward? Who cares? It's another hot Russian spy chick (allegedly).

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 11:19 PM

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