I finally bought a Powerful Assault Rifle (PAR), after years of looking at them and occasionally shooting them, because I started using the GPS in my car. If this sounds odd, permit me to explain.
Old people, who include myself, do not like change, and particularly don’t like new machinery. I got a car with GPS, because it didn’t come without GPS, but the GPS came with an instruction manual that was considerably larger than the manual for the vehicle, and more incomprehensible than Finnegan’s Wake*. So I said the hell with it and ignored the GPS.
Finally I accepted the fact that if I kept reading directions and driving simultaneously I was going to kill myself or someone else, so I went to the dealership and asked if there was anyone who was able to explain GPS to the elderly. A nice young salesman did so. It took maybe a minute. The GPS as it turns out, is dead simple, intuitive, brilliantly engineered for human beings, and damned near infallible.
Now I tool around listening to Miss GPS tell me where to go and feeling part of the 21st century. I knew it was time to crash through the next technology barrier and buy a PAR. However, there was the issue of Fuddhood (Fuddship? Fudd-dom?) to deal with. “Fudd” is what younger shooters who are devoted to ARs call people like me, who can take these guns or leave them. It comes from Elmer Fudd, who stumbles around the woods being f***ed over by Bugs Bunny, and occasionally blurting out, “You wicked wascal wabbit!”
(A side note: Elmer Fudd has a speech impediment, and when Bugs made his screen debut in 1940, we tended to make fun of such things. If Elmer had trouble with his “R”s today, his creator would be in trouble with several government agencies and the target of numerous whopping lawsuits. But I digress.)
Anyway, some people are born Fudds, some achieve Fudd-dom, and some have Fuddhood thrust upon them. In my case it’s all three, but I decided to go ahead anyway.
If you decide to buy a PAR, you have a number of basic decisions to make. First, new gun or used. There are racks and racks of used PARs hereabouts, but because the rifles are modular, and designed to be tinkered with by amateurs, who knows what you’ll get. So I decided on a new gun.
Second, obviously, is price. Some of these rifles are plain junk. You want a good one, be prepared to spend over $1,000, and sometimes, way over.
Third, you can choose either the 5.56, the 7.62, the 6.8 SPC, or one of the really obscure cartridges such as the 6.5 Grendel. I don’t buy rifles chambered for obscure rounds because you may want to sell them someday and people don’t want to buy them. This leaves the 5.56 or the 7.62.
It’s helpful at this point to recollect that the AR-15 entered military service courtesy of Air Force General Curtis Le May for his Security Forces who guarded airfields. These folks don’t get into gunfights on a regular basis, so for their purposes, the 5.56mm round, which was patterned on the .222 Remington Magnum, was fine, even if the .222 Magnum was designed to shoot woodchucks. But as they say in the SEALs, “Never shoot a large-caliber man with a small-caliber bullet.”
LeMay knew a lot about firebombing civilian populations; small arms were not his forte**, and the Army, which went mad with envy and adopted the AR-15 for its own use as the M-16, has spent the last 40 years devising ways to overcome the 5.56’s lack of power.
So, in my case the choice was simple—7.62mm.
*Finnegan’s Wake is James Joyce’s last book, and is regarded as gibberish by any sane person. English professors love it, however, because no one understands it and therefore one interpretation is as valid as another.
**Curtis LeMay was also a hunter, and a fan of Weatherby rifles. Roy Weatherby built him a gorgeous one with four enormous stars, made either of ivory or mother of pearl, inlet in the stock. This was done so Air Force personnel who happened to be hunting with General LeMay would know they were outranked, but good, unless they happened to be Hap Arnold, who had five stars.