Last Model Army
Article 1 a rifle for the landowners' boys
Part 1 : General context (I'm trying something a bit more original in terms of post apocalypse, somewhere between The Rover and Zardoz)
In the 2020's the United States opened the way for a planet-wide civilisational change called the Great Leap Beyond.
Automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and bioengineering offered new possibilites of genuine self-fulfillment and a life free of stress and harm in general. No invasive programming, no heavy drugging, no adherence to a cult was necessary. Of course there were still problems, but life was all about solving these problems in optimal, and often creative and constructive ways.
Al this was made possible by seperating oneself from the vast multitudes of people who used to be necessary to create value before the technological Great Leap Beyond.
For all we knew, about 2% of the world population was finally reaching the next step in human civilisation. Among the multiple movements that opposed the Great Leap Beyond, it was understood that the actual figure was closer to 0.2%, but for most humans like me, it was the “same difference”.
The world entered a stage of deep turmoil. Vast parts of the “human-based” economy collapsed at various speeds.
Russia and China did not intervene since they were not threatened ; their elites were eager to make their own versions of the Great Leap Beyond, and the Westerners were actually helping them achieving just that. It was a jolly, international “Fraternity” of assholes, which children actually turned out to be quite decent fellows, much to the despair of the rest of us.
The Fraternity claimed vast swathes of land for themselves ; they already posessed a large part of it as private properties even before the Great Leap Beyond began.
No opposition movement ever managed to get traction since we quite rapidly slipped into the present-day “Warlord Era”. There are about 1,500 warlords in the United States now, some are actual state governors with the corresponding ressources, most are little more than successful highwaymen.
After the debacle and self-cannibalism of the Great Unification Campaign, it is covertly understood that the Fraternity will never allow us to leave this state of warlordism, perhaps forever.
Part 2 How do we live ?
After the “Three Sisters of Cyberdeath”, there are few modern computers left in working order. In some places primitive computer networks are known to exist, but for the common man we are practically stuck somewhere in the 1980's.
We have reverted to using bicycles, while there still are car tires left to recycle. Large industrial sites outside the Fraternity Zone are silent, most work is being done in small shops using muscle power ( http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/05/history-of-pedal-powered-machines.html )
In well-organised towns like this one we can find a mixture of micro-hydro, windmills and watermills. The overwhelming majority of these machines reuse parts of cars, appliances or infrastructure. These towns look a lot like booming slums of the Old Third World, and drawn a lot of capable young men to them.
Some motor cars are still running, they're using methane from bioreactors (we call them Shit Rockets), usually they operate for the merchants and the few manufactures.
Who are we ? Well 75% of the US population used to live in the cities. Once things stopped working, a lot of them died. Many were hooked on machines in hospitals, others needed some medicine or another, like insuline. All those people died almost overnight. A lot more committed suicide. Then of course, we had the appaling sanitary conditions, the starvation, the riots, the plunder and the despair.
We didn't exactly welcome the few that escaped these hellish places, there was already too little for us, and we already had to kill all the Welfare Queens, The Queers and the Niggers. Yeah, tough times, but what were we supposed to do ? First we look for our own.
At that time we had a few slave farms, before the Fraternity somehow messed these up as well. Nobody should ever become powerful in our country. So yeah, without anything to feed these losers we had to kill them. Many of us actually ate them, because there was nothing else to eat anyway. You weren't there, you can't judge us.
Now, after the die-off and the continuous fights, we are still 60 millions Americans, and half of us are below 25 years of age. We all have our patches of land to tend to and what we own is mostly what our families brought with them from the Old Times. We all wish we could have bought and kept more books, because we're bored all the time, but at least we're got roleplaying games.
Part 3 : armament
Now my job is gunsmith. I mostly do repairs, when I have enough the time and parts, I also refurbish guns, but my thing here is making barrels. More on that later.
The most common gun around is the shotgun. People reload these with anything they can get their hands on, mostly scraps of metal but sometimes even pebbles. You can get primers and shells at various places, a lot of traders always have small items like that to sell, you know, along with plastic lighters and sewing thread.
By the way, the primers I sell are made in town by a renown craftsmen, they are packaged airtight in glass jars. I sell them by the unit.
Apart from the shotguns, the most common rifle still is the .30-30 lever action rifle. .30-30 is the standard cartridge around. Most rifle owners have between ten and twenty rounds for their rifle. In any neighbourhood there is somebody who can cast bullets and reload the brass, but the powder is the key element. Too many people lost their hands, their eyes and their rifle because of homemade, dubious powder. What is good enough for the shotgun ain't good enough for the rifle, as they say. This is why serious folks come to my place to get the powder they need.
Then we have .30-caliber hunting rifles, mainly .308 and .30-06. There are still enough cartridge cases around for our needs, but I can order newly made ones, they're very nice but very expensive. A good friend of mine once bought me ten of them as a gift for the wedding of his nephew.
Pistols are no good, revolvers are much prefered, again for reloading reasons, but also reliability, and wasteful practices. In semi-auto you just can't stop popping them, and who can afford that ? For the same reasons, the few semi-auto rifles that weren't sent overseas to fight the Genocidal Wars are not really used anymore.
Here's where I come in, you see. I set up a venture with different land owners and shop owners in town. We managed to get the machines necessary to rebore barrels and cut new rifling. These machines were already in town, so somebody would have used them anyway. I'm the lucky guy, because I am a trained mechanic. You see, these flywheels are connected through those belts to the main shaft, which in turn is connected to this water mill, we have constant flow from the dam just behind. Thrity-two slaves died building that dam, but it's a good, sturdy one.
Most of the time, I make new barrels for non-.30 caliber rifles. Short actions I convert to .300 Blackout, most others to .30-30. Customers are afraid that a barrel rebored in .308 might explode. I know my barrels don't, but people don't take the chance.
We still have some AR-15s and M-16s around – the Old Army confiscated the privately owned ones but left its really shitty ones in the US. These were the ones that were really worn out, you see. These are the most common weapon platforms outside of hunting rifles, and so we make Warboys Rifles out of them.
If the landowner is really serious about the guns he's going to lend to his boys, he asks me to make new barrels from scratch, in .300 Blackout. It's in .30 like every other rifle and you can cut down the 5,56x45 brass, of which we can many from the scavengers when they return from the cities.
If the landowner is of the stingy type, I take the thicker 5,56x45 barrels and rebore them to .30 diameter. Then, I have to cut down some length of the breech, where the screw thread is, actually. I bore through that part too, and then insert the machined new breech into it. It saves me some time and energy but the difference is not that great. But hey, stingy is stingy, right ?
All this trouble is because you can't chamber .300 Blackout on top of 5,56x45 chambering. Well, most people do just that, because it's so much easier, but I say it's dangerous, and I live by my name. If my reputation gets rotten I don't get to eat, there are plenty of other good craftsmen out there in need of my job.
Anyway, in these old barrels I plug the vent hole shut, in the new barrels there is no hole either. The new barrels are extra thick, they're supposed to last a lifetime now. This way the rifle becomes a straight-pull rifle, like they used to make in England in the Old Days ( http://www.lannertactical.com/AR15-UK-Straight-Pull-Rifles.html )
I do barrels for all the towns around, mostly I do new ones, because people don't like my way of reboring the old ones. Now I don't do the stocks, there are other people for that, I don't even have the tooling for wood, you see.
Nowadays stocks are usually made at home anyway, craftsmen are expensive. Yeah, but then we all know how homemade stocks warp and split : hey, you got what you paid for, right ?
Yeah about tooling : once a year a Shit Rocket leaves our town for Little Rock, we get all out cut bits and chamber reaming tools from the annual Great Fair there. We buy them from merchants coming from la Republica de Texas, that tells you how much we care for quality.
By the way, in Little Rock there is a guy who refurbishes or cuts down damaged metal magazines for these rifles. Nowadays they prefer having 10-round magazines than those large ones that snag everywhere. The Warboys usually have never more than eight rounds on themselves anyway.
The cartridge can't reach too far, but besides fighting that's OK to shoot coyotes and vagrants. Beyond 200 yards you can't see shit anyway, and everybody is a bad shot. Everybody, don't let nobody fool you. 200 yards is more than enough.
Right, it's getting dark now, let's call this a day. Another day, I'll tell you about our troops, or our wagons.END