Category Archives: Fun, Based Entirely on Fact

Ammo Mags Hidden on Alcatraz

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Archeologists using lasers and ground-penetrating radar have detected remnants of the Civil War fortification buried under California’s most notorious prison, but it’s the discovery of a different sort likely to catch the attention of gun-control activists—it’s the ammo mags hidden on Alcatraz. Results of the scientific study that were published in the Near Surface Journal earlier this month are described as, “…buried structures, ammunition magazines and tunnels,” according to an Associated Press report.

It’s unclear whether California officials will exhume the ammo mags hidden on Alcatraz to determine if they can hold more than10 cartridges, which would make them illegal in the state. Skeptics claim burial in ruins more than 100 years old indicates they are likely in compliance with the law, which was passed in 2000, but included a grandfather clause that allowed residents to keep any in their possession at the time the legislation took effect. At press time no one has stepped forward to claim the cache.

Lots of Suspects

Alcatraz Island is now one of the more than 400 facilities managed by the National Park Service and roughly one million tourists flock to the site annually. The shear volume of visitors could make it nearly impossible to identify suspects, although security video is likely being reviewed for anyone carrying a shovel. The island was the site of the first lighthouse on the left coast, Civil War fort, bird sanctuary and infamous high-security prison no one successfully escaped from until Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster breakout in 1979.

Alternate Ammo Mags Hidden on Alcatraz

There is the off-chance that the writer meant a library filled with the ’60’s popular “True Detective” magazines or ammo-storage bunkers. The fact that the later would require the National Park Service to allow the public to walk atop a century-old fermenting keg of gunpowder largely rules it out, though.

*Sturgeons Warning: If you took the bait on this fishy tale, you may also enjoy my alluring top-nine reasons the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have grenade launchers.

Japan Just Shot an Asteroid

Background photo courtesy of NASA, ghosted image by Guy J. Sagi

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully landed Hayabusa 2 on Ryugu—an asteroid only 1,000 yards in diameter and 186 million miles from Earth—and used its high-tech gun to shoot the surface, stirring up dust and debris collected by the probe. The spacecraft was launched in 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth with samples next year.

Details are scarce, but a number of sources that cover high-tech subjects report the bullet weight was 5 grams (15.4 grains) and that it was made from the element tantalum. Velocity was 300 meters per second (984 fps).

Artillery Opening Up Soon

Hayabusa 2 is also scheduled to launch a larger projectile in April to uncover material deep in the asteroid. The process requires the 5 1/2-pound copper “bullet” in the probe’s payload to be propelled by a “shaped charge” at a speed sufficient to create a crater (theoretically 2 meters in diameter). Debris from the impact will then be collected. We were unable to obtain information on the smaller projectile’s method of propulsion.

Upon initial intercept with the asteroid, JAXA scientists learned Ryugu’s surface was vastly different than anticipated. Concerns the first shot may not be effective in getting the unexpected gravel to surrender were put to rest after the Agency conducted experiments on Earth—reported in its blog, complete with video and photos of the barrel and “projector” that houses the entire “gun.” The results determined particles in the reduced gravity would remain suspended long enough and spread far enough for successful collection. The plan to launch the larger, artillery-sized projectile from an elevation of 500 meters have apparently not been modified.

Guns in Space Nothing New

The Russian Soyuz program was the first to acknowledge taking a firearm into space, although the always-on-board passenger has allegedly never been used for anything other than Earth-bound practice. NBC News reported on it back in 2008, explaining the gun is part of the standard survival pack on every flight and has nothing to do with Marvin the Martian [Editors Note: We added that last part]. The gun has three barrels, can digest shotshells, flares and rifle cartridges, features a folding stock, machete and carries ammo on its sling.

9 Reasons For RCMP Grenade Launchers

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently misplaced a bag containing a 40 mm grenade launcher and electronics gear—along with a box of ammo—when the stuff "bounced off a truck" at British Columbia's Golden Ears Bridge, near Vancouver. A law-abiding citizen found the RCMP grenade launcher and returned the items, but not before the agency issued a public plea for help in locating the items.

The incident, however, begs a question: Why does the RCMP need grenade launchers? We'll start with the official claim and provide nine lesser known, "Hokey Smokes" reasons cartoon and movie sex symbol Dudley Do•Right might provide, if he really existed.

  1. The official explanation—To launch less-lethal projectiles and tear gas at unruly mobs
  2. Dudley Do•Right, however, has been known to use his to clear icy roads in Frostbite Falls from time to time
  3. He's also learned damsels in distress prefer their men to make explosive entrances
  4. Breaching dangerous sawmills
  5. Snidely Whiplash is still at large
  6. Finally forcing rabbits out of Bullwinkle's hat
  7. Tactical response to flying squirrel squadrons
  8. Adding color to the Northern lights since 1957
  9. Runaway Zambonis

As you can tell by the photo I took while on assignment one winter while at the north end of Quebec, those explosive colors in the Northern Lights are hard to explain. It could be someone is on the trigger of RCMP grenade launchers on clear, cold winter nights in the Great White North.

*Sturgeons Warning: If you took the bait on this fishy tale, you may also enjoy my alluring Solar Eclipse Facts for Shooters.