Back off! I’m armed, and I have really big hands!

Today at Rotary, our speaker was from FN Manufacturing — you know, the plant in the northeastern part of our community that makes the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (the weapon that replace the legendary BAR), the M240 medium machine gun, and the ubiquitous M16. Among other things.

And I learned quite a bit. I learned that FN owns Browning and Winchester, for instance. Interesting stuff.

Including stuff that I didn’t realize I was learning at the time, but which came in handy.

Before the meeting, I was hefting and examining some of the wares on a table in the back of the room. And when I say “heft,” with some of them I mean heft. Our speaker would tell later about how the steel version of the M240 — or was it the 249? — weighs 28 pounds (without ammunition), and when they came out with a lighter, titanium version, the Army essentially said, “Great! Now our soldiers can carry five pounds less!” and the Marines said “Great! Now our Marines can carry five pounds more ammo!”

Anyway, as I was holding and examining a SCAR adapted for sniper use with a scope almost as long as the weapon (it looked something like this, and reminded me of “Vera,” which if you’ll recall was Jayne Cobb‘s very favorite gun), Kathryn Fenner walked by and said, in a tone calculated to cool my enthusiasm, “They’re not giving free samples…”

Turns out she was wrong. At the end of the meeting, there were two door prizes — a scrimshaw knife, and this lovely charcoal lighter. To get them, you had to answer correctly a question based on the talk.

Apparently, I was the only one who was listening when the speaker said the Columbia plant is 188,000 square feet. No, I didn’t write it down. I just heard, and remembered. (I did write down that the M240 — or was it the M249 — bears a warranty up to 100,000 rounds. Of course, it can fire 1,100 rounds a minute.)

You just never know when an odd sort of memory is going to pay off.

20 thoughts on “Back off! I’m armed, and I have really big hands!

  1. Brad

    One small complaint: My new rifle could use a better flash suppressor. You get this huge, conspicuous flame out the barrel, relatively speaking, when you operate it…

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    The Minnie Pearl dangling bit takes away some of the cool factor, n’est ce pas?

  3. Brad

    If I take off the tag, it won’t be worth as much.

    This new toy presents me with a “cake and eat it too” dilemma. I think it’ll be great for lighting my grill — I’m a charcoal guy — but when it runs out of butane or whatever, how do I replenish it?

    I need training on how to take my lighter apart and put it back together blindfolded…

  4. Bernard M. Corbett

    Re: A Better Flash Suppressor for the newest acquisition to your collection: I bet Palmetto State Armory can fix you right up!

  5. Steven Davis

    Now they just need to issue one of each to each squad car in Columbia… they need it.

  6. Steven Davis

    If you wouldn’t have mentioned it, I would have guessed it was Howard Sprague from Mayberry RFD holding that lighter.

  7. Keith June

    I suspect that is not what the “Army” said and that the statement was taken completely out of context. Please make your remark to the thousands of Army Soldiers, to include, the last few medal of honor winners, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan about the Army raving about carrying less ammo.

  8. Brad

    Keith, I took that as a joke about how fanatical the Marines are. That is to say, the sort of remark where the Army can congratulate themselves on being sensible, and the Marines can congratulate themselves on being hardcases.

    I certainly don’t think the guy was trying to run down the Army.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    Oh, no–the guy most certainly was not running down the Army–he made us sit through an annoying You Tube music video of I’m Proud to Be an American,complete with a photo of a Bald Eagle head with Stars and Stripes superimposed on it (finger in back of throat) and generally deified the military –who happen to be his biggest customers, btw…

  10. Bryan Caskey

    Also, the speaker from FN had some very caustic remarks about what he thinks of the NLRB. Specifically, he said the NLFB’s document was a “pile of crap”. That was my second time ever attending a Rotary lunch, but I assume that most speakers aren’t quite as “colorful” as the rep from FN.

  11. Brad

    Yeah, I didn’t get into all that, because I wasn’t seriously taking notes — I had no intention of posting anything before the end, when I won the door prize.

    If I’m going to get into those kinds of details regarding a Rotary speaker — who doesn’t know I’m there — I want to have it all nailed down first. And I don’t.

    But since y’all have brought it up — obviously, I don’t react to the military stuff the same way Kathryn does. Nor do I lavish any love on the NLRB.

    But it was all just all rather… eccentric. How to describe it without detailed notes? Let’s see…

    This guy was probably THE most colorful HR guy in the history of the world. In fact, I didn’t really focus on the fact that he WAS HR (as I said, I wasn’t intending to write anything, so my attention was spotty — missed the HR thing during the intro, but remembered the 188,000 square feet) until the first question, when John Denise said just that — that he’d never run into such a colorful HR guy before. And when he said that, I about fell out of my chair.

    In my experience, HR people are the most careful, most politically correct, the most “you can say this but you can’t say that” kind of people in the corporate universe. I’ve certainly been called down and read the riot act by HR directors at The State during my days as a VP there. Because, you know, I tend to say what I’m thinking.

    What was surprising about this gentleman was that he acted like he was the sole owner of a business that really didn’t care about its public image. To better explain what I mean… I went to a bourbon-tasting event at the Cap City Club a few months ago, and the speaker was the great-grandson of Jim Beam. Which was pretty cool. He didn’t care WHAT he said, and we learned a lot of fun stuff about the bourbon bidness. Which you would expect from a guy with such rock-solid job security.

    Most people who are in ANY kind of a business are extremely careful about expressing their political views or anything else when speaking in public. If they work for a multinational corporation (such as, say, FN), they are 10 times as careful. And then, if they happen to be the HR people, they are 10 times as careful as THAT.

    Also, if you’re in a business that basically doesn’t deal with the public that much, a manufacturing business, one in which you deal with precision to 1/10,000th of an inch or whatever (don’t have the notes), it seems you would be an even less colorful type.

    Not this fellow. It was very interesting. FN has always maintained a pretty low profile in the community. But it must be a fascinating place to work.

  12. Keith June

    Okay, no foul. Love my old Army! Great site. Thoroughly enjoy reading your stuff. Currently deployed in Iraq so perhaps I’m a bit more sensitive than I should be. Thanks, Keith

  13. bud

    These armament manufacturers are in business to make money so they have to lay it on thick when it comes to their only customer, the military. But the civilian policy makers shouldn’t be taken in by all their ultra-patriotic BS. We should be cutting way back on the number of machine guns we manufacture. That would certainly help with the budget deficit. Will we do it? Not so long as companies like FN hold sway over congress.

  14. j

    Brad, is Moody’s holding a gun to SC’s head?

    AP just reported, “Moody’s Investors Service says it will likely lower the credit rating on five states should the ratings firm downgrade the U.S. government’s credit rating.

    The credit rating agency said Tuesday that it has placed on review for possible downgrade the triple-A bond ratings of Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.”

  15. Steven Davis

    The problem with most corporations these days is that the HR department has more of a say of how the company runs than the managers and executives. They’re worried more about the one person who’s feelings are bruised than the good of the company. They’re so fearful of a potential lawsuit they’ll run people out rather than tell a whiny punk, who ran to HR, to shut up and get back to work. I’ve seen it happen more than once and the bigger the company the worse the problem is. I put HR people up there with lawyers on the list of people I don’t trust any further than I can throw them.

  16. Steven Davis

    bud, the way the economy is going, less guns for the military is not the solution. In fact, they might want to add another shift at the plant. The word in the gun world is that people are preparing for things to get MUCH worse before they start getting better.

    Besides, if they’d allow sales to civilians who don’t have a Class III gun stamp they’d sell a lot more of these weapons. But most people aren’t comfortable with the ATF showing up unannounced to do an inventory of their collection.

  17. Steven Davis

    Brad, a few years ago… back when I was a subscriber of The State, FN had a job listing for various jobs including a “weapons tester”. The job duties were to do quality control and shoot their weapons all day. Rumor had it that there was a line hundreds deep on Monday morning filling out applications.

  18. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Bryan- I hope you will come back. The speakers are not usually so, uh, gung ho or politically out there as our last two….I’m working on it…

Comments are closed.