Showing posts with label reader questions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reader questions. Show all posts

Friday, April 11, 2014

RE: 5.56 Duty Ammo

Prairie Patriot asked
"Do you consider green tip to be your stash for a SHTF scenario or do you look at it as quality training ammo?

I've been stashing away green tip for a while, but I also keep an eye out for Hornady TAP (usually the barrier blind variety) when there's a good deal on sale. I've heard Black Hills 50 grain TSX is a good round as well for barrier penetration.

I guess I've never been quite clear on how TAP/Black Hills barrier blind type loads would perform on something like Level III body armor. I'm pretty sure non-barrier blind like TAP FPD would not perform as well since it's designed to expand and fragment.

Or do you think it's not a huge enough difference to worry about between green tip vs. barrier blind commercial ammo when it comes down to slinging lead in a SHTF scenario firefight?"


Ryan here: I sort of touched on this awhile back with Reader Question: JHP Ammo for the Emergency Stash. Personally when it comes to centerfire rifles by and large ammo is ammo. Sure there are reliability and accuracy concerns but rifle rounds are so fast they are pretty effective with any reasonable load.

Specifically this ammo is for the ammo stash though if I wanted training ammo I'd have ordered the same stuff. Over time I'll probably train with other ammo purchased long ago till the stash is M855 or comparable ammo. Given the modest cost difference between it and cheaper XM193 or generic 55gr FMJ I don't see a reason not to train with what I'd fight with.

As to 'barrier blind' ammo I personally would have to see some pretty compelling evidence to justify the additional expense as well as potential POI/ Zero issues. 5.56 just isn't a great penetration of barriers any way you cut it. The answer is either to shoot more to punch a hole, get a better angle or pack a different gun, something .30 cal be it an AK or some sort of .308.

As to general ballistic effectiveness if yous hoot somebody with 5.56 in a spot that will kill them and they'll probably die. I say probably because no small arm is a true 100% sure thing. Folks have gotten shot (COL Charles Beckwith and somebody else specifically) with 14.5mm, AKA the red .50, in the chest and returned to active service.

To answer the armor question. Any centerfire rifle is going to penetrate soft body armor be it an AR, AK or Aunt May's .243 deer rifle. As to hard (Class III/ IV) body armor none of the stuff we've discussed is going to penetrate as it is rated to stop .308 and 30'06 M2AP ammo respectively.

I'm not passionately against TAP or any other type of comparable ammo but simply do not see the need. A more compelling argument can be made with 7.62x39 sheerly due to QA/ QC issues. I love me some Wolf but if I had to shoot the guy holding a knife to someones neck I'd rather be slinging TAP than risk Vladdy had a bit more Vodka than usual when he made that particular bullet.

I'm perfectly comfortable with M855 as my go to. Honestly if I was going to branch out from there it would be to something more like the Black Hills MK 262 Mod 0 but for my current situation I'm happy with what I have. 

Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reader Questions- Pulse on the Army

Riverrider asks "What was that silly survey we had to fill out....command environment or something? was wondering what changes you are seeing in your .mil environment/attitude. when i left morale was falling fast and good troops were bugging out to the civ market. what's the attitude toward the regime in your unit? that kind of thing, if you feel okay talking about it. otherwise, charlie mike."
This is a tough one as it invariably requires sweeping generalizations. 
Morale
-Many, if not most soldiers tend to be conservative. They feel the same frustrations with our current administration that other conservatives feel but it is amplified since their lives and livelihoods are far more directly affected by said administration.
-Aside from the R vs D vs everyone discussion many soldiers are very worried about the national debt. Hearing a 20 year old kid passionately say we have to stop borrowing money isn't something that happened a couple years back.
-The polar swing from 'can't get enough people' to significant reductions in force have a lot of folks really worried. The concern that any mistake or failure will mean the end of a career is permiating through our force. This trickles down from the E6 who is worried about not making the next rocker in a highly competitive enviornment to the E4 who has to make E5 to be able to reenlist. A competitive but collaborative enviornment is quickly becoming 'hang everybody out to dry so they can't potentially do something that could make you look bad'.
-Some older guys who lived through the Clinton are getting out before they otherwise might. One guy said he wasn't going to be the one who kicked all those folks out.
-We are transitioning from a wartime force to a garrison force which entails a lot of silliness. Some deployment dodging air thief types like that as it means their crisply folded hat matters more than their actual abilities. Other folks can't stand the stupidity of it.
-If the pension system is changed radically expect a lot of mid career officers and NCO's to get out. To make matters worse that flight will include many of the best and brightest.
-Gays being allowed to openly serve has been a seemless non event. Other than seeing a young lesbian couple at the PX once if I hadn't read about it I would not have noticed the change at all. 
[Note that I'm an Officer on active duty in the Army and have deployed multiple times, during which I have served with gay's. It is coming from this perspective that I don't really care about the opinions of your cousins brothers uncles friend who is a Marine's opinion, opinions of folks who have never served or those of any political commentator types. For those who've been out of service for 30 years I respect your input on that experience but am skeptical on how much it carries over to today.
Afghanistan
-Anybody who has read a little bit of history knows our goals, which honestly I cannot clearly define, are probably optomistic.
-Some new folks who've never deployed really want to go before Afghanistan winds down. This is understandable, I'm sure guys who joined the Army in 1945 felt the same way.
-Veterans (of war's not dudes who hung out on a boat or in Germany/ CONUS for a tour) are universally ambivalent about the prospect of deploying there at all or again. The fundamental issues with Afghanistan are abundantly clear to all who've been there.
-Nobody wants to be Afghanistan's equivalent of a getting killed in Nam in 1972.
Retention
-I think this reduction in force and decrease in funding (with readiness corresponding) will go a lot like the last one. The measures put in place will work at projected numbers while the economy sucks. However when the economy gets better the lack of training/ readiness/ cutthroat mentality/ low morale will lead to a flood of folks out of the force. 
As to a question Riverrider didn't ask that is inevitable here. No I do not see US military forces being used against civilians. Honestly for a variety of reasons I do not see that happening. Folks would be well advised to stop worrying about soldiers and pay a lot more attention to their local PD/ sheriff's who just got an MRAP and a bunch of M4's.

Hope that answers the questions.
Well that's about all I can think of.

Figured I'd mention that PMC 5.56 of the 62 grain M855 variety is running $410 at Lucky Gunner. I'd say that is a solid buy. Honestly I don't see it getting much cheaper and anyway the mid cycle elections might stir up anti gun junk. Going to look at the budget and see if I can get it done myself.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Open Line

I've got nothing and my brain is completely fried. Offer up a suggestion of what you'd like to see more of here and I'll consider it. Ask a question and presuming it doesn't compromise my personal opsec or slip into anything blatantly illegal I will answer it.

So fire away....

Edited to include Max Velocity linked to this funny video titled How to be an Operator

For whatever it's worth I think that whole dress like a cool SOF dude fashion thing is totally silly. If SOF types wear those clothes, which is a big IF, it is because they got the stuff for free at work. You are far more likely to see a SOF guy walking around in a random t shirt, jean/ cargo pants/ work out shorts and a beat up baseball hat from his favorite college team than looking like a catalog for "Urban Ninja Elite clothing'. Throw an ambiguous fleece plus a set or two of sterile uniforms into the mix and that guy's good to go for an actual deployment.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reader Question: Caches

MATTLBS said... Ryan, I have a question about your cache. Did you have caches at your old location(s) and if so, did you remove them before you made the move, or have you left them in place in case of a "if I'm ever back in the area and need them" scenario? I've been pondering a great deal about caches lately, and just wanting to know what your thought process is?

Ryan here: 
For a variety of reasons this is going to be a mix of things I have done and general thoughts on the topic.

To make it worthwhile to establish a cache you've got to have enough stuff to justify keeping some in a separate location that is not readily accessible.  This means a pistol, shotgun, knife, pair of boots, weeks worth of food or whatever above and beyond what you feel should be at your primary residence. Some level of accumulation typically needs to take place prior to getting to that point.

I've had caches in the past. The question in my mind about keeping or moving them is twofold. First am I realistically going to be back in that area? This is different than most for military folks because we move long distances fairly regularly. In the past few years I've lived 4 places in the US, none of which were closer than a five hundred miles to another, and in Germany. The second question is what sort of stuff can I afford to relegate to a cache that I may never be near again? Remember the point of caches is to stash stuff you intend to use again, otherwise what is the point.

If I moved around within the same region, more like normal people do, I would be inclined to just keep caches in place. Given the nomadic nature of my job and that it's quite likely I will never end up at some of these places again, leaving stuff buried/ stashed every year or two seems like an expensive hassle with a limited upside.

On the other hand if we are talking about an area where I may intend to live again, near family we visit frequently or potentially one we often travel through then it makes sense to have some stuff put away. Setting up caches in areas like this then just leaving them makes sense to me.

Sure it is possible I could be Munsoned some day just outside Fort Benning near where we lived years ago and really wish I'd stashed a change of clothes, some light camping/ survival stuff and a pistol with 100 rounds of ammo but that seems like a long shot. Far more likely would be finding myself wanting some guns/ ammo/ gear/ food at Granny's where we go 3x a year or whatever.

Maybe a middle of the road answer to make cheaper caches like a change of clothes, a set of boots, knife, lighter, flint, wool blanket, cheap backpack to haul it all and a bit of food. Those I could reasonably afford to stash all over the place. Something to think about there.

For me in the foreseeable future I envision caches getting set up where I go for work, most of which are dismantled when we leave. Caches in areas we will have a longer term presence in are and will continue to be set up then left in place.

Hope that answers your question.

So do you keep caches set up in places you used to live? What about areas you frequently visit? Areas you travel through?



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BOB Weight, Concept of Use and Bag Selection

Editors Note: I received a comment worth talking about here. Seemed easiest to answer it point by point in the letter. My answers will be in italics. End Note

@Ryan, out of curiousity, any idea what your bag weighs to give an idea?

My bag weighted 42 pounds wet (with water) and 38 dry when weighted a few weeks ago.


As well, I'm by no means new to this stuff, but one thing I definitely don't have right now is a BOB. I've got large kits in the car, weapons, and the skills to go with them all from hunting to bush living but I'm trying to understand the purpose of a BOB. Is it solely if you had to ditch somewhere on foot? Basically a dedicated emergency backpacking trip bag in stupid terms? Just trying to figure out the reason behind it so that way I can start building it to my specs!

When it comes to kits there is a serious lack of continuity in naming/ concept of use/ contents within the survivalist community. I talked about this and my thoughts on it as the 'tiers' of gear relate to military and civilian kits not too long ago. To briefly recap I think it is probably more important to talk concept of use and a brief description of the list of components than go by some arbitrary self imposed title. The primary reason I even call this a bug out bag here is because that is what the cool survivalist kids on the interwebz call them and thus what people like to read about. 

My 'BOB' AKA ruck is a 3rd line sustainment load. Concept of use varies person to person based on their own concerns and environment. Personally my primary concerns are 1) Getting Munsoned in the middle of nowhere. 2) A short notice evacuation type of situation like a chemical spill or something. 3) Last is as a ready to go "Grab the backpack and a rifle then run for the woods" type kit. 

My kit is set up so it is man portable for the long walk home or run to the woods scenario because it is possible to have that capability for those unlikely scenarios while covering all of the more likely ones. In reality of we ever "Bug Out" odds are very high all we will need is enough fuel to get clear of a regional disaster and a visa card to get a room in a hotel then order pizza when we get there. That being said things could be worse like a wider scenario, we could get stuck someplace, etc all. The way I look at it we can have a bunch of great survival gear sitting in the corner of a hotel room with the only downside being I need to carry it into the room. On the other hand if we leave with just a visa card and get stuck on the highway in the middle of nowhere we have big issues. Sort of like you said my bag is a dedicated sustainment load geared towards emergency situations.
 
Not to mention, how do you choose the pack, because if you're anything like me you've got some nice packs and a older one as well. I'd rather put it in one of my 2 nice 2500-3k in bags to ruck with rather than the large old, external aluminum frame one I bought from my dad. I use both my medium size good ones for school and mil but the big one is always empty. Anyone/Ryan, do you have this predicament? Thoughts? Thanks!

Choosing a pack is a complicated issue. A bag needs to be durable and in earth tones for sure. Other than that options are almost endless. Using a bag you already have that fits the bill is a fine option.

Between the bags you have I think we need to take a step back to look at concept of use. A kit designed to comfortably sustain a person during winter in rural North Dakota for 4 days is obviously going to be substantially larger than a 2 day kit for summer in the South. I figured out the list of stuff for my kit then put it together to see how much bag was really necessary. Basically if the stuff you want fits in a nice smaller bag, otherwise put it in the larger bag. If you are comfortable using the older bag just keep it, otherwise consider a more modern replacement when finances allow.

As to the bag vs bag dilemma I did have that in building my 'get home bag.' My Tactical Tailor assault pack could not simultaneously fill two roles. The way I solved it was to get a budget but quality (mine is a nicer model bough used but basic Jansport bags run $25ish and are just fine) to carry books, my lunch, etc all leaving the bombproof TT bag for my 'get home bag.'

Hope that helps,
-Ryan

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reader Questions: Getting into the AR-15 Game

Hey I am in the market for a rifle chambered in 556 preferrably semi-auto. I have been rocking the an AK variant for several years but would like to increase my range performance and enter a new tier of weapon performance. Ive been scouring armslist in Washington and there seems to be quite a bit of options out there. Would you recommend purchasing new or looking for quality used? Any info or tips will help! I am new to the AR game.
-G

Ryan here. As I see it we can break this down to 2 different questions.
1) Buying new vs used.
2) My thoughts on different types of AR-15's currently on the market. This will be broken down further to general configuration and make/ manufacturer. I will answer them in order.

New Guns- There are pro's and con's to buying guns new. The biggest advantage is that you can get exactly what you want. That is followed by the gun being new with which means there are fewer potential issues and manufacturer support for ones that do pop up. Lastly if you are a person who cares about getting a gun without any scratches, dings, wear marks, etc this is the best option.

The con's of buying new are the ATF form 4473 which some have called defacto registration through record keeping happens. Depending on where you stand with private party firearms that may not be an issue or could be a deal maker. Also you are going to pay retail price and tax.

Used Guns- Of course there are pro's and con's here also. For the sake of simplicity I am going to talk about used gun sales from private party's not via a shop. The biggest pro in my opinion is the lack of paperwork. A private party gun or two might be real handy some day. The second is that is the best place to find deals. This works best for the seller's also. Instead of selling a gun to a shop for $300 which they will immediately put on the shelf for $400 we can split the difference at $340 and both win. 

It is worth noting here that most gun owners do not shoot much so their weapons have very low round counts. They get a gun, test fire it with a couple mags then put it into the closet/ safe. It stays there till they decide on something else or run into money trouble. So you're more likely to face a few scratches and nicks from handling than actual wear on the parts that matter.

The biggest downside of used guns is the difficulty to find what you want. Instead of a local shop having it or ordering it you need to find an individual who owns one that wants to sell it. If you are looking for a Glock 17 or a Remington 870 that's not a big deal but if you want a Wizzbanger 900 X2L3 in Multicam or a limited edition 2 tone Sig .357 with night sights and short run factory grips it can be a big problem. 

The next biggest downside is guns hold their value really well. Part of it is that some folks pay a premium for non papered guns which drives up the marker. I definitely saw this phenomena in Arizona. In any case expect to pay more like 85-95% of the new price for a like new gun while other items tend to be in the 60-75% range. Of course guns do occasionally pop up cheaper when somebody needs cash fast but those cannot be defended on. 

The last downside is that the gun could have issues or be stolen/ linked to a crime. Some people cobble together and clean messed up guns then sell them used to unload the problem onto another person. [Don't be that guy, there is a special place in hell for these scumbags.] Also some guns were stolen previously or whatever. Even if you buy from a good person the guy who had that gun 10 years ago may have made a shady deal or whatever. A guy I know had a pistol taken by the cops because it was stolen a long time ago. Both of these happen rarely but they do happen.

To roll up this question. If you are not patient or want a really specific gun new is probably the way to go. On the other hand if a paperless gun matters to you that is the way to go. Occasionally a person who has cash handy can get some real deals in used guns.

As to different configurations as well as makes/ models of AR-15's. For a general use type rifle I favor a 14.5inch barrel of standard weight on a flat top AR with an adjustable butt stock. I favor chrome lined barrels and everything as mil spec as possible. As to rails I'd only bother with them if you plan to mount enough stuff to justify it. [Honestly in substantive ways I don't see myself varying from this much unless I build a pistol. You could go with a 20" barrel and a fixed stock to make it a SDM type gun but honestly for that role I'd probably get a .308.] 


To manufacturers. I'll break this down in 2 ways. We will talk guns by approximate price range and then I'll talk what of this is based on personal experiences and what is a general consensus of others. Please note that my discussion of manufacturers is not all encompassing. Part of the limitation is that I'm trying to stick as much as possible to stuff I know and part is due to time/ length limitations. Not saying those manufacturers are good or bad but there is only so much time in the day. Please don't get all butt hurt if I do not mention your favorite brand; let's stick to the big picture here.

First we will talk about what I would consider on the more expensive side. Probably closer to "a good job and some spare cash" than "assistant night manager with a young family barely getting by" territory. In this range you get professional grade guns. I hesitate to say an exact price but we are probably talking $1,100ish on the bottom end up to around 2k. The difference will be brand as well as specific features/ variants, obviously a gun with a $250 rail will cost more than an otherwise identical one with $40 hand guards.

Manufacturers in this price range include Colt, Knight Armament, Daniels Defense, LMT and Bravo Company. I have personal experience with Colt's at work and own a Bravo Company rifle that I love. John Mosby is running an LMT. Knight stuff I have anecdotal experiences with at work. DD is just a great company.

These are just great guns that can be used really hard. One can reasonably expect a genuine go to war gun right out of the box. The downside is that nothing is free. To some degree a customer is paying for better design, materials and workmanship which is worthwhile. Also to some degree they are paying for a name as well as the cool guy's they pay for endorsements. If you can afford the tab one of these rifles will suit you well. On the other hand if this sort of rifle is our of your reach do not despair as there are other options.

The second category of rifles I am going to talk about are closer to the "assistant night manager with a young family barely getting by" territory. This isn't ARF so I won't bash folks who can not or simply will not spend a mortgage payment or two on a rifle. The manufacturers in this category include Bushmaster, Olympic Arms, DPMS which I have varying degrees of personal experience with. Depending on exactly where the lines are drawn basic models from Stag Arms and in Smith and Wesson M&P series could fall in here also. While exact prices are fuzzy I'd say $600-900ish is about the right range.

As a general rule these are fine rifles, perfectly suitable for all needs average or even not so average Joe has. Fit and finish are less than the fancy brands but that is OK. To be blunt these companies do produce more lemon's than the professional grade manufacturers. However for every lemon there are a bunch of guns that work just fine. On this one the upside and downside are pretty obvious. You get a gun that is affordable but may potentially have some issues.

Personally I think we should consider option #3 which is to order the parts you want (complete upper, BCG, etc all) and put it onto a lower receiver purchased via private party. This way you circumvent the difficulty of finding specific stuff via private party basically get whatever rifle you want without the 4473 hassle. If this option doesn't appeal to you....

I recommend that you buy a gently used professional grade AR-15 from a private party. 

As always reader input to this discussion is welcome.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reader Question: JHP Ammo For The Emergency Stash

Ryan,
Just had a random question. As you build up ammo supplies, I was just curious as to whether you suggest trying to have your emergency (non-range) ammo be good quality HP's. I've got carry ammo of HP's but have been having my emergency ammo be regular FMJ's of good quality. What are your thoughts? No biggie if your busy with your move! Just was curious of your thoughts! Thanks!

JackintheBox
 
Ryan here,  Happen to have some time while the kids are taking an afternoon nap so here we go. I think it is worth seperating the answer between handguns and rifles. Handguns that are practical for defensive use are universally mediocre stoppers with anything but perfect shot placement. The saying that people shot with handguns run away while those shot with long guns die right there (DRT) has some truth to it. For rifles I am apathetic about HP ammo towards the goal of increased 'stopping power' but do like them for managing penetration. I buy them if the price difference is negligible but am just fine with FMJ. Case in point this Wolf 7.62x39 HP ammo is $285 a case which is basically the same price as ball. For rifle ammo we probably half 2/3rds FMJ and 1/3rd ball in the stash. The rest of the answer will be directed towards handgun ammunition.

Generally speaking I like hollow point type ammunition for defensive use. They stop people more effectively and have more controlled penetration which means lower chances of unintentionally hurting the wrong person. Obviously that is what I carry on a regular basis.
 
As to ammo stashed away just in case. Yes I think a person would be well advised to have some hollow points stashed away. If you can afford a case of Corbon DPX at a dollar a shot then good for you. Personally I cannot afford that but see the wisdom of keeping some HP ammo stashed, especially since my chosen handgun is a 9mm. For this task I opted for Federal Classic Personal Defense 115gr 9mm. Got a case of the stuff awhile back on sale for $375 if I recall correctly. Affordable and considerably superior to ball ammo. I would like to switch to CorBon or Speer Gold Dot's for my carry ammo but haven't gotten around to it yet. When times were good and ammo was readily available I would snag the Winchester white boxes of HP ammo in 9mm and .38 special so we have a few of those lying around.

As to putting my money where my mouth is I would guess a bit over half our operational stash of 9mm ammo is some sort of JHP. Probably 1/3rd of our .38 special is HP. The rest is ball ammo. Well anyway those are my thoughts on that. Hope it helps

Sunday, August 4, 2013

RE: Why The AK-47?

12:13 said "Don't understand you. If you got trained with the AR and your abilities are in that gun. Why then chose something that you can pick up after exercising all the muscle memory whit the AR? I believe you said before that the AR is more precise and of course got longer range.
Are you contradicting yourself, like when you dump the 30-06 and chose the 30-30?"

Ryan here.  This comment on yesterday's post seemed worth discussing here in a broader venue. Also it will take enough time/ energy that depending on how the rest of the day's packing and cleaning goes it might just be the post. So here we go.

Maybe there is some confusion. I own both guns. We could debate the need or utility of that but it's where I am. This isn't a purchase and a lifestyle choice; it's choosing a sweatshirt from the closet instead of a fleece.

The primary reason I  chose an AK for this trip are it's compact nature due to the folding stock. It can go in a normal duffel bag ready to go. Granted an AR can be broken down and get a bit smaller but then it has to be reassembled to fire. That I could discretely slip it into a bag to take into a hotel is an appealing idea. The second reason is that it is a weapon I am far more willing to risk being stolen/ whatever than an AR. AK's have come up in price considerably over the last few years but I don't have much cash into this gun.

I am better with an AR but still sufficiently capable with an AK. Like the quote from Lord of War "It's so easy a child can use it, and they do."

 For the reasons listed above I chose an AK for this trip. The AR is better at distance. I do not think anyone would argue that point. My AK is a roughly 3 MOA gun. Not precision accuracy by any measure but shooting faces at 100 meters and chests well past 200 is sufficient for my needs. For this particular trip my need for a compact package is higher than my need for accuracy at 300 plus meters.

As to the 30'06 and 30-30. That is a much longer discussion. To sum it up. I owned rifles in both calibers then ended up selling both rifles in 30'06 for different reasons. Ultimately my plan is to shift our "precision" caliber to .308. Probably with a bolt gun next year some time. While the '06's left and have yet to be replaced with a .308 the 30-30 stayed around. Why the 30-30 is in the collection is something I'm not fully able to express. The cowboy assault rifle is unlikely to be targeted by any sort of ban and ammunition is widely available, that it is a non "evil black rifle" caliber is an advantage there.

Guess I'm not entirely sure how I am contradicting myself. Is it that I've talked about X being nice yet own Y? While I have fewer guns than the average Montana Sportsmen (26) the collection is pretty decent. Everything has advantages and disadvantages. Since I got into the writing fairly early my opinions have changed over time. Also invariably if you write about different gun type stuff often enough, for long enough, one thing will not match with some other thing.

So I hope that explains my thinking.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reader Question: Budget AK Optics

Anonymous 10:24 asked "Anyone recommend reflex sight or an optic that wont break the bank for an AK?"

Ryan here: Without knowing what you consider "breaking the bank" I can only speak in generalities. Broadly speaking I am not a fan of low end optics for practical use in general and especially for fighting weapons.
With optics there is a certain price point where quality falls off a cliff.  You go from duty grade briefly touching hobby grade and landing strait in plinker/ Chinese made junk. A $30 Walmart red dot on a .22 pistol is a riot to shoot. Worst case if it breaks or fails or the zero wanders so what, it ends the .22 pistol shooting fun for the day.  Worst case if a hunting rifle's $120 scope fails it messes up a hunting trip. Though inconvenient and not ideal that is not actually the end of the world despite what some may think. An optic on a fighting gun fails and good people can die.

For fighting optics/ red dots I like Aimpoint/ Eotech/ Trijicon products. For red dot/ reflex sights you can get a basic Eotech or Aimpoint Pro for around $400. A bit cheaper if you find a sale or something. Now and then stolen surplus used M68 Aimpoints pop up on various sites at very reasonable prices. Since they are hell for stout I would be comfortable with a used one at the right price. Trijicon makes a smaller (reflexive) type red dot that you could look at. 

Could you fudge it a bit and maybe get a Burris Fastfire or something and be OK, probably. However cheaper red dot's generally do not work real well. They do not hold zero's, fail to turn on and just have issues. Putting it simply a $400ish quality red dot will cost the same if you try a $100-250 cheaper optic before or not. Buy nice or buy twice.

For magnified optics it is a bit more complicated. Leupold has some nice offerings in the $400 ish range. Personally wanting a variable power with a true (or very close) 1x bottom end I went with a Burris MTAC. So far it is hell for stout and a well designed easy to use optic. I like it a lot. There are some other quality optics in that general $400 ish price range. Note that price did not include a mount. In general I cannot see the real reason to put a magnified optic on an AK. About where you need the magnification they are falling off in terms of accuracy and ballistics so I do not get it though to each their own.

Mounting an optic/ red dot to an AK is an interesting proposition. There is the original intended side mount for a scope but you would need to take it off to clean the gun which is problematic. Some folks make dust covers with a rail attached but those probably do not mount securely/ stably enough to work very well. A company (Texas Weapons Systems?) makes a kit to swap out the dust cover to a secure one with a hinge on front. This is the only good option for mounting an optic in the conventional position where a normal scope would work.

You can put a rail on the gas tube (I think Ultimak) or a quad rail forend on it (Midwest Industries) both of which are solid options.

If I was going to mount an optic on an AK here is what I would do. I would purchase an Ultimak gas tube rail. I would then put an Aimpoint (new Pro or used M68) on that rail. Out the door that setup will run around $500. That might be getting into "break the bank territory'. However first as I noted before that quality setup will cost the same if you put time and energy into trying cheaper stuff (which usually fails) first or not. Second while they are very nice you do not NEED an optic. If money is an issue I would recommend that you rock iron sights for a few months while saving up tobuy a serviceable setup that will last and meet all your needs.

Well those are my thoughts on that. Hope they are helpful.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Highdesertlivin Asks: 30-30 for Match Grade .308 ammo

Highdesertlivin said... Im having the "price is right",  jitters, as I am trying to hammer out a deal that I am not sure is the smart move. My scenario: I have 3 308 rifles and 2 30-30, One 30-30 is a 336 marlin unfired. A individual has 500 rd cases of black hills 168 gr match for 700. I am negotiating the 336 (450. value) and 1500 .22 and perhaps a couple .45acp 50 rd boxes. I want the match grade as all my 308 is medium quality or mil. ball. But part of me is good rifle bird in the hand oriented. Ive looked up the availability of both on the market so I know whats available. I can be prone to tunnel vision. Feedback please fellas. Thanks for the read ryan.

Ryan here:  To use the longer range capability of the .308 rifle in a precision type way you want a decent stash of high quality match grade type .308 ammunition. I know trading a gun for ammo or a combination of stuff is mentally hard to do for some reason; did it recently myself. Especially considering you have two 30-30's I think it's an easy choice.

I would make the trade. Can see far more situations where you would benefit from having a decent stash of match grade .308 ammunition than needing two 30-30's especially since you have other rifles. You might find the second 30-30 isn't missed at all. If you do decide to replace it down the road getting another Marlin 336 will be easy as there are untold millions of them floating around the US. Anyway that's my .02 cents on that.

Anybody else have an opinion?

Friday, May 31, 2013

PPK/S Mags

Anybody know a vendor that currently has Walther PPK/S .380 mags in stock? Preferably factory but Mec-Gar are also fine.

Thanks
-Ryan

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reader Question: Why Hollow Points

9:41 said "With all due respect, hollow point ammo is only good for the knock down power if it hits correctly, it does not necessarily incapacitate more/better than regular FMJ. The internet is full of medical examiners and doctors that simply say penetration alone is what stops/kills, not the temporary cavity of a hollow point. Along with the medical professional's statements are pictures and stories of this and that ammo not penetrating bone and muscle tissue to reach vital organs.

The point is that yeah, a hollow point will "shock" someone slightly better than FMJ, but it also does not guarantee that the bullet will do its job, meaning penetrate bone and tissue to destroy vital organs. With that being said, why compound the gunfight with potentially inferior ammo (JHP) not feeding in ANY gun? I want my gun to go bang, and I want my bullet to have the best chance to put holes in the BG and drop the blood pressure to 0.

Just my two cents, but I only carry FMJ in my G19..
."

 Ryan here: Simply put I carry hollow point ammunition for two reasons. The first is lethality. I think it is because hollow points make larger holes in people which bleed more than smaller holes. I am not a physicist or an ER Doc but the bottom line is hollow point's kills people more better than ball ammo. Statistics support that clearly.

The second reason is managing penetration. I want the bullet to stop in the bad guy, not blow through him potentially hurting somebody else. Hollow point ammunition does a superior job of staying in the bad guy.

If there is any credible trainer or LEO organization who are carrying or recommend carrying ball ammo these days I am not aware of them. All of my defensive weapons feed JHP ammo equally as well as ball (probably 99%+) so to me the feeding issue is insignificant. In my meandering life experience professional grade handguns shoot JHP just as well as ball ammo. (If you want to send me a case of ball ammo and a case of JHP I would be more than happy to do a scientific study on it.)

The bottom line is that JHP ammunition kills people better and manages penetration to decrease the risk of harm to innocents who might be caught up in the situation. That is why I carry it.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reader Question- Silver and Gold 101

Ryan,
Didn't know where to post but I've seen on a few different posts lately you've brought up Gold and Silver. That is something I don't know much about between prices, where to go, what to get (rounds, coins, etc.), whats a safe amount, the works. If you have any knowledge, I'd love to hear about it! Of course, IF you have time! Thanks! I appreciate it!

Jack
 Jack, I will do my best. Please do not take this as gospel and do anything extreme solely because of something written here but I will try to answer your questions based on my experiences and observations.
First let's get a foundation on my thoughts about precious metals in general. I do not like PM's AS AN INVESTMENT. Making money buying and selling commodities requires buying low and selling high. If you have those skills that is great. Personally if I knew how to do that reliably I would be doing it for a living. That makes it basically gambling which probably is not smart.

I do like PM's as a conservative piece of my overall financial situation. Sort of like insurance or an alternative savings plan. I like them for protection against high inflation, currency debasement and even an outright economic collapse. They generally move opposite to more modern instruments like stocks and such which is nice. For most people assuming they are halfway financially squared away (no huge credit card balances, etc) putting some money into PM's makes sense.

1) Prices. Gold and silver (as well as other traded metals) prices go up and down based on the market and are tracked by so called "spot price". The closest thing to compare it to for an average lay person would be gas prices in that they change regularly and sometimes wildly.

The base for gold and silver prices is the day's "spot price" and above that there are various premiums. Spot is theoretically what a dirty lump of metal is worth fresh out of the mine. This premium represents the costs of refining the metal into whatever coin/ bar/ ingot it ends up in as well as the costs and profit of the distributor who sells it to the vendor and the vendor 's costs and profit also.To make it more complicated for different products the premium varies example Gold Eagles tend to always cost a little bit more than Canadian Maple Leafs. This is one of those things where you can either try to figure it out or just know this is a bit more expensive than that. 
When comparing products it is important to consider your total end cost. Saving a buck on a coin then paying $20 for delivery is not a win. You get the idea.
2) Reputable local brick and mortar stores or reputable online dealers like our advertiser JM Bullion.  I have also done business with Montana Rarities and APMEX (neither are advertisers though I wish they were). I talked a lot more about different options in a previous post. (Edited for brevity and clarity)
To recap from that post. Fundamentally there are three options. Brick and mortar dealers, online dealers and private  individuals. I will discuss the first two at length and then briefly hit the last.

Brick and mortar dealers are often coin shops that deal numismatic stuff and have bullion as a sort of side effort. Also pawn shops and some jewelry stores deal in bullion. Brick and mortar stores have some advantages. The first advantage is that they are convenient. Hard to beat picking up a silver round or a small gold coin every payday on the way home. Also if you decide to pay cash they have the factor of discretion. Personally I just can't see Cops kicking in the doors of everybody who bought a few silver rounds or a gold coin so this is not much of a concern for me. Another advantage is that some of these folks can help you learn about PM's. The old guy hanging out in his coin shop might be willing to help you learn about different types of coins and maybe eventesting silver and gold or grading coins. Also if it is a small shop and you are a good customer they may give you a call when products you like come in. Furthermore the coin/ pawn shop guy can be a good "grey world" contact who knows how to get stuff.

This is not to say that brick and mortar shops don't have disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of brick and mortar dealers is often price. Some of them for whatever reason charge crazy prices. I once laughed in a coin shop guys face when he wanted $10 OVER SPOT for beaten up no name 1 ounce silver rounds. It varies shop to shop based on their business model, competition and how informed their customers seem to be. Heck it may even change based on how much they think they can get away with on a given customer. The next disadvantage is often availability. Especially with the folks who have bullion as a side business like numismatic coin or collectibles dealers and pawn shops they predominantly sell what they have bought. This means they may have 90% silver one week, 1 ounce rounds the next, a couple 1/4 ounce Eagles here and some Krudgerrands there. Since brick and mortar stores are a local thing I can't make any meaningful recommendations but I have had good dealings with a few in the past.

Online dealers like JM Bullion tend to have the best prices and greatest availability which are their biggest advantages. Also comparison shopping is easy and you can do it on a Sunday morning in a bathrobe. The first downside is that you have to pay shipping. One absolutely must consider this in their "is this a good deal" calculation. It also makes frequent small purchases cost prohibitive. Paying $5 or 8 to ship something worth $35 or $40 is cost prohibitive for sure. That it is difficult to impossible to be anonymous could be a disadvantage or turn off for some folks. Also if for whatever reason you needed to turn cash into metals TODAY an online dealer would not be a wise route.

One of the biggest benefits of established dealers who make their living selling metals is that their livelihood rests on their reputation. If through bad intentions or neglect they sell some fake stuff they are totally hosed. Due to this they are as a rule honest and above board in their dealings. This doesn't mean they they will always have competitive prices just that the products will be what they are sold as.

Personal transactions vary from boringly easy to the wide open wild west. I have purchased silver from a family member. I had some cash and they had some silver and we swapped. Online type purchases of PM's from private folks have, at least IMO an uncomfortably high likelihood of fraud. I have been burned in a small way on Ebay and will not make that mistake again. Also there is just so much fake gold floating around. In the last few years some really legit looking stuff has came out of China.

3) As to what to get. Again a selected and edited repost. 
"The Moneylender" said "Buy silver before gold, buy small gold before large gold." I think that is pretty darn good advice. Silver is a good way to start for a lot of reasons. First it is affordable. Right now spot is about $27 which puts a one ounce round probably at $30-32ish. Pretty much anybody can afford to pick one up a paycheck. If you can't free up a bit over $30 a paycheck I suggest seriously looking at your overall situation. Also you can make a mistake and overpay by a bit and it won't kill you.

Silver

Silver can be purchased in two basic products, pre '64 90% silver and 99% bullion. There are other options but we are keeping it simple here.Pre '64 90% silver is dimes, quarters, 50 cent pieces and silver dollars made before 1964. Yes our change was made of silver. The stuff I am talking about has no real numismatic (collector) value and typically dates from the early 1900's to 1964. The advantage of this stuff is that it is in small pieces. A dollars worth of silver is right about .77 of a troy ounce of silver. Thus a dime is about .07, etc. I am too lazy to look up and type all the exact weights but you can look them up here. The other option is  99% silver bullion. This is rounds or bars or ingotts made of as close to pure silver as one can easily get. Some like Eagles or Canadian Maple Leafs are minted by a country and many others are made by numerous private mints.These are made in all sorts of weights but 1, 5, 10 and 100 ounce are the most common.

Both have advantages and disadvantages. 90% silver is in small denominations. At today's prices even one ounce rounds are too large to make small transactions like a few groceries. Also they are readily recognizable at least to folks who know our change used to be made of silver. The biggest disadvantage is that many dealers charge almost crazy premiums if you buy this stuff in small (under $100 face value which is 70 some odd ounces and costs about $2,300 bucks) amounts. Montana Rarities treats small 90% silver customers well.

Bullion is generally a bit cheaper per ounce [Remember for these purposes you are buying METAL, not a coin or whatever. Thus the goal is to get as much METAL as possible for your dollars.] than 90% silver. Also it is typically in convenient weights. If the going trade is an ounce of silver for 5 pounds of beef or 20 pounds of wheat (or whatever) it is a lot easier to have nice round denominations. Also some folks say that it is good for a coin/ ingot to say it's content and purity ie "One ounce of .999 pure silver". These folks thing people who are less than knowledgeable about PM's may be more inclined to accept their value.

Whatever you decide to go with silver is a great place to start. First of all it is reasonably affordable. Second of all it is in small enough denominations to sell a coint or two to a dealer and buy groceries or a tank of gas or to barter a little bit at a time to get whatever. I would recommend purchasing a pretty good amount of silver before thinking about gold. If you are into round numbers maybe $100 face (70 some odd ounces) or 100 ounces of bullion could work but it all varies based on your situation.

Silvers biggest advantage is that it's affordable. The biggest disadvantage of silver is that at some point it gets HEAVY. I know a guy who needs to use a truck to move his silver, while that is a nice problem to have he would face some hard choices if he needed to evacuate in a hurry. This brings us to gold.

Gold

Gold is a lot more expensive than silver and could be a bit overpriced right now, at least in relation to silver which is probably a better deal at this time. It is sitting somewhere around $1,560 an ounce. Gold comes in two basic varieties. Old coins and bullion. Old coins are just that, old coins from back when Gold was money. Bullion and new coins such as Eagles, Maple Leafs and Krudgerrand's pretty much fall into the same group. Sometimes you can get good deals on the old coins, particularly European coins from aprox 1890-1917. Just be sure to stick to ones folks will recognize like Swiss and French Francs, British Sovereigns and the like. New coins/ bars are convenient because they are typically in nice round (1/10th, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 ounce) sizes and have the weight and purity clearly written on the coin. I don't find one vastly superior to the other. Even weights are nice but old coins are kind of cool too. One notable advantage of old coins (not numismatic/ collectable, just old very common coins in ok condition) is that they are typically the lowest premium way to buy small gold.

As we said before buy small gold before large gold. Small gold would be gold coins that are part of an ounce, typically 1/10th and 1/4 ounce and are also called fractional coins. As to how much of this stuff to buy before going to large gold (one ounce coins/ bars) I would say at least a couple ounces, maybe a few. For large gold I would purchase one ounce coins or ingots. I don't see a reason to get anything bigger than that. For large gold I would just be sure to get something common like Eagles, Maple Leafs, Krudgerrands or Credit Swiss ingots.

As we talked about Golds biggest advantage (already considering that it is durable, recognizable, divisible and there is consistent demand for it) is that it is a very compact store of value. For the price of a one ounce gold coin you could get a nice bag of silver or a lot of other stuff. One could toss 50k in gold into a daypack and evacuate or into a ruck to GOOD but silver would be problematically heavy. Also gold has a certain allure and enough folks have been able to use it to bribe/ buy their way out of a warzone or terrible situation that it bears considerations. 
To wrap up what to buy I would purchase 90% silver and a few one ounce rounds and then some small gold in the form of 1/10th and 1/4oz coins or common old European coins of comparable size like British Sovereigns or Swiss Francs. As to which type of gold it depends on what you find the best deals on.  Maybe buy silver when it dips, then gold when it's down, you get the idea.

4) What is a safe amount? It is best to look at this in terms of total amount in relation to your liquid net worth. I would say 10-30% (of your liquid worth) is probably a good range. To provide an alternative perspective if I recall correctly FerFal says 50%.

I hope this helps. As always input, questions or thoughts are welcome.  


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reader Question: 30'06 or 30-30 Winchester

Ryan,
Since you mentioned 30'06, I was wondering what you've found to be the best "configuration" as you said you'd probably get one in a different configuration.
I've got a lot of basis covered firearms wise but a large caliber (i.e. .270 on up) is missing besides an old Pattern 14 .303 Enfield which I've been wanting to sell lately to get a Bolt '06 with open sights and also put a scope on it or a .30-30. I'm looking for a utility rifle that can drop just about anything up to an elk. I was also considering most compatible and common which led me to an old Winchester, Rem, or Ruger '06 with back up sights or an old .30-30.
$400 is my rough price range and I'm from Oregon/Northwest. Thoughts at all? What do you like? Thanks!
-Jack


 Ryan: Hi Jack, I had a sporterized 1903 with peep sights. Fine gun or whatever but not quite what I want. Personally it will be replaced by a modern bolt action rifle designed to be scoped, probably a Savage 110 chambered in 30'06 or maybe .308. That's just me. My goal is to build a budget precision rifle that can be used for hunting if needed/ desired.

As to your question. Both are good options. The first question I have would be about the range you are looking at taking game from. If you plan to take shots past 125-150 meters I would go with the '06. On the other hand if closer shots in the 30-100 meter range are the norm and you want a light fast brush gun a 30-30 is hard to beat. My second question would be about what this rifles secondary goal(s) are. If you want a long range/ 'precision' rifle the obvious answer is the '06. On the other side of the coin the 30-30 is a solid choice (for non mag fed military rifles) for up close defensive stuff and makes a great "truck gun". Third would be what other rifles do you own; sort of dovetailing with the last question if this gun needs to fill another niche that must be considered.

Sorry that isn't a clean cut answer but the questions should give you a pretty good idea of which gun might best serve your needs. I will talk a bit more about these rifles on Friday with the next installment of the basic guns series.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reader Question: Goal 0 Yetti 150 Solar Charger

Anybody have personal experience with Goal 0 equipment? What about the new Yetti 150 Solar charger? If so please chine in with your thoughts. Thanks,
R

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reader question II- M1 Garand Sale


Hey Guys,

Long time reader and huge fan of the blog, it's literally been part of my daily read for several years now. I referenced this great blog since the very beginning of my personal preparedness journey. Quite a bit has changed for me as my life and preparedness goals and life skills have developed.  One of my earliest consultations I had with you guys was regarding my initial choice of a battle rifle in the M-1 garand, and your opinion on some accessories for the kit I would put together for it.


Since that time,  I graduated from College and my wife and I moved home to Texas where I became a Police Officer. My wife finished nursing school and now we live a comfortable life in the City's suburbs. Like yourselves my values over the years became less focused on gear and the pending  choose-your-own adventure apocalypse scenario, and more on financial security and adjusting my immediate family's paradigm towards preparedness.

My profession has given opportunities to me for more training and skill development  and real world experience(this being the most valuable) than I could have ever afforded on my own.  I have access to gear and weapons that are far more in line with practical real world preparedness. Having rifle vests and gas masks and city issued M4s round out my personal survival arsenal of .22s, Remington 870 police magnum which goes with me everywhere at work, baby glocks for my BUG and wife's concealed carry, P226 with TRL-1 light on my gun belt at all times.. the point is, I discovered that as I placed myself on a career path that helped focus myself on personal development of skills, physical fitness and financial independence all the great gear and gadgets and everything else fell into place on their own. As I continued to grow, I realized that all the gear and panic buying in the beginning was simply an attempt to fill my own insecurities with a cheap, rushed sense of peace of mind.

So all this time, I have this beautiful hardly-used M1 sitting in my gun locker. I have purchased a wonderfully made grab-and-go pouch, butt-stock pouches, and hundreds of dollars worth of surplus 30-06 rounds and enbloc clips. However since the '08 election and the great ammo dust-bowl that it brought, I have always been hesitant to bring it out to the range with me. As my combat training became more focused on pistol and CQB shotgun techniques, I focused my spending and ammo purchases towards my 9MM and 00buck, and now with the acquisition of my city issued M4,  .223 rounds.  It became obvious that the M1 because of its gas system is limited to the type of 30-06 rounds you can fire, which directly impacts the amount practice and range time with the weapon, which is the most important aspect.

I was inspired by Ryan's quest to simplify his collection and refocus it towards functionality and redundancy.  The historical allure and once rock solid devotion to the rifle slowly began to fade as I realized that its' cons outweighed its' pros. However, I'm not sure if I'm at the same point as Ryan was and wish to sell the rifle, accessories and ammo that took such a large investment of time and money outright and refocus the funds towards other endeavors. The other day a friend sent me this link.


I really like the idea of bringing the Garand into the world of the carbine in terms of handling and capabilities, which seemingly fixes many of its' current short-falls. Plus with the modification, the rifle's gas system will be able to shoot modern loads of 30-06. This process also opens up the weapon for more Texas focused hunting scenarios…boar/deer hunting.

So to get to the point of this super long email, I would very much like to hear your opinions on the modification process, whether you believe it's worth the $525 and change price tag. Or should I sell the weapon and kit and move the funds towards purchasing and building my own m4.

Also, one final element to my decision process, over the past year and a half I have interviewed, tested and accepted a conditional letter of appointment to joint a federal law enforcement agency. Which is why I was hesitant to purchase and carry my own personal m4 in the field like I do now with my 870. It is my understanding that during training I will become familiarized with a whole new set of weapons and training, which includes the M4 and MP5. So with my work providing the necessary tools of my trade, I can’t quite make up my mind on what to do with the Garand. Sell it, customize it, or leave it as is which is an occasional shooter/heirloom.

Well, thanks again for the patience it took to read this manuscript of an email. I do very much appreciate the blog and yalls' opinion on the matter.

Happy Thanksgiving from Texas-

 TOR here: Putting my money where my mouth is my Garand has been sold (actually sitting in my safe while the guy makes payments). I sold it because the rifle, while cool, didn't really have a purpose. It is not high on my list for defensive weapons, is relatively expensive to shoot so plinking is out, and is worth enough money that at this time I cannot justify it being a collectible safe queen.
 I would not go with that conversion for a host of reasons. We buy common guns from major manufacturers for very good reasons. I just envision an endless problem with the thing. If you want to own a semi auto .30 caliber then sell the Garand and use that money to start an FN-FAL or PTR-91 fund. FWIW I have heard of folks hunting with a Garand using those Hornady TAP rounds.  Heck the old school FMJ will probably work just fine.
 If I were you the Garand would get sold and the proceeds would go towards a more modern practical defensive rifle. Probably as you said building an M4. Along these lines you should check out the Project AR Upgrade series we did recently.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reader Question- Night Vision

C sent me a note asking about night vision. "I am not ready to spend the coin on PVS-14s like you did but was wondering if you have any thoughts on gen 1 stuff.  My goals are modest-- (1) get familiar with the stuff, (2) check out activity in the back yard up to 50 meters or so, (3) move through terrain without visible light.  The ability to use with a weapon would be a plus.  Yukon has some positively rated gen 1 weapon sights for $400 (http://www.amazon.com/Yukon-Titanium-1-5x42-Night-Vision/dp/B001C74GM8/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) but I don't love flagging everything I want to look at.  I also have an AIMPOINT PRO which is NVG compatible; in that case would a helmet-rig make more sense?"

TOR here: Sorry Man but to be honest I do not know. There is a picture comparison of the generations of night vision put out by a big manufacturer that you can see by going here and scrolling down about halfway. Somebody made a video comparing Gen 1 and Gen 3 that you can see here. I cannot personally vouch for these but they seem legit to me.

As to Gen 1 stuff. Broadly speaking you definitely get what you pay for. This is a great "buy once, cry once" candidate. That being said some folks are not able (or willing) to spend the equivalent of an OK used car on a NOD. Both the spend more and the 'but I can't' rabbit holes can be followed if you want. Personally I decided to suck it up and make the purchase of a NOD. I use them at work and know what they can do. The massive advantage they bring is worth the cost to me. What was right for me might not be right for others. I have used some older stuff on the .mil side, can't remember what exactly, it was a long time ago, but it was complete junk. I wish I could spend a night testing a dozen common models all the way from Gen 1-3 but the opportunity has not presented itself. It is almost certainly better than nothing but how much better and if it is worth the money I cannot say.

 You can probably get some or most of what you want done with the kind of model you mentioned, which I thought about getting myself but decided against it for reasons I cannot remember, though they will be degraded in relation to a more expensive set. I am trying my best to help but really don't know. [If anybody with experience using modern Gen 3 stuff also has experience with commercial off the shelf Gen 1 stuff like the model mentioned and is interested in writing about it please leave a comment or contact me at theotherryan@yahoo.com.]

Now we can go to something I know more about. Unless you are using night vision as a dedicated sniper setup for varmit hunting the right answer is to mount the night vision on your head, probably using some sort of helmet. The reason for this is that you are going to do a whole bunch of stuff with night vision that requires your eyes but doesn't need a gun pointed at it. Stuff from walking around to turning back to make sure a buddy is behind you or whatever.

When an optic is said to be "NVG compatible" what (I believe) they mean you will be able to use it in line with a NOD (by mounting the NOD behind the optic on the rifle). In plain English it means you can see the reticle/ dot through a NOD. If the NOD is on one eye and you try to aim the rifle with the other you would see with the night vision through one eye and with the other a lit optic on the ambient light surface. I have never done this but I suspect it would work badly.  The way to use a weapon in conjunction with a NOD is to have it on your face and aim the weapon via an IR laser. To do this you need a legit IR laser that is able to be zeroed and can hold said zero. A DBAL which is basically a civilian legal equivalent to a PEQ-15 costs about a grand. Yeah this sucks, I am knee deep in said suck right now. If anybody knows of a legitimately viable alternative I am interested. (Rednecking the cheapest IR laser you can find onto a gun won't cut it. It won't be able to get or hold a zero and thus will not be able to hit #*$* with it, sorry.)

Anyway I hope this helps our friend C and maybe a few other folks.  As always input is appreciated.
















Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reader Questions: M1 Garand Sale

To yesterday's post and the ongoing discussion about selling guns " Anonymous said...You *really* want to sell an M1 Garand at this particular point in history? With BHO about to be re-elected with a new 'mandate' from the Aurora shootings to permanently ban semi-autos once and for all? 
 
No offence, but give yourself an early Christmas present and wait for the new year to consider sell that 7.62x51 piece of awesomeness."
 
TOR here: Yes  I do, otherwise I wouldn't be selling it. Maybe more accurately I don't totally want to sell it but I want other stuff more than I want to keep it. As to a potential ban. There is a solid chance President Obama will be reelected. I don't think any sort of ban is imminent or even likely due to a variety of factors such as people's opinions and our current political climate. That being said my prioritization of potentially targeted items has gone up a bit, maybe from gun hording condition yellow to gun hoarding condition amber if you will.
 
One could argue that selling a gun in a time where there is an uncertain political climate might not be smart. Then again, as the case is, I am selling off weapons that are in (to me) redundant/ unnecessary calibers, or otherwise do not really have a solid place in my defensive battery. I am not saying the Garand is a bad gun or whatever, just that the resources currently sitting in said Garand could better serve me elsewhere. Keeping a gun that doesn't have  a solid place in your plan doesn't make much sense.
 
The more pertinent question might be "Ryan, what do you plan to do with the money from selling an M1 Garand?" If my plan was to sell a couple guns and spend the money on internet poker or a years supply of frozen pizzas it probably wouldn't be a good choice. However if the plan is to use that money to either acquire gun(s) or ancillary stuff thereon  that fit better into my defensive battery or food storage/ etc I would say it makes pretty good sense.  As to specifically what I plan to purchase that is still kind of up in the air. It depends on what I happens between now and any potential sale and on when and how much cash I get. If some rifle plates haven't come home with my by then I will take care of that. Ditto for a few more Pmag's. Half of whatever I get will probably go towards whatever ancillary stuff like mags or night sights is next on the list and the other half toward the purchase of some sort of firearm. I kind of have an urge to get a pretty nice AR-15. The whole landscape of the AR-15 market has really changed in the last few years. A lot of nice rifles have come out at real nice price points. When funds allow I will probably order a complete upper from Spikes Tactical or BCM then shop around for a lower.

Hopefully that answers your question.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reader Question: Gear and Tools for Women

Awhile back I asked readers an open question about blog content. That lead to a question I have kind of sat on. Wasn't sure exactly how to answer it and then it slipped out of my mind for awhile. Anyway here we are.

The question was "I notice you like to discuss and review equipment. I would like to see an article on equipment addressing my needs. I am a woman and would like to see opinions of high quality, practical tools addressing a woman's normal physical traits--less upper body strength, smaller hand size, less powerful hand grip, etc."

This was difficult for me to respond to. On one hand it is absolutely true that women are physically different than men. They tend to be smaller and have less physical strength (particularly upper body) and endurance. Not saying all women are small or weaker than men but on average most are. On the other hand this can lead us down the "women need X because they are small/ weak/ whatever" rabbit hole. I will address relatively gender neutral issues first then gender specific ones afterwords.

In terms of physical size and strength for an individual it is about just that, height/weight/composition and strength as measured against a broad group of yardsticks (squat, deadlift, bench press, press, pullups, pushups, etc). The situation for a gal who is 5'7" #135lbs with a strength of X and a guy who has comparable stats are not magically different. It does not matter that she has boobs and and he doesn't. Everybody, even big strong people can have tasks they need to do that they cannot physically complete without friends or tools. It is just for some people that their breaking point is past most normal occuring tasks so it isn't really much of an issue.

[It doesn't quite fit anywhere in the rest of the post but I would be doing a disservice by failing to mention that getting stronger is a good answer to the problem of not being able to complete various tasks. If you can't pick things up then start squating and deadlifting. If grip strength is an issue do some flexed arm hangs, pullups or farmers walks. However I would recommend just starting a basic weight training program like 531 as part of your overall fitness plan. Too many people think they are somehow special and need a customized program they are invariably not capable of setting up. I hate to say it but you don't have a "weak spot" if you are just weak.]

My general observation is that strength lets you 'cheat' or 'cut corners' while those with less strength need to have the right tools for the job. If you can't open a jar or turn something with your hands then use a strap wrench, an oil filter wrench or the right set of pliers depending on the task at hand. For turning tough bolts some WD-40 is a good start. If that doesn't do it a wrench with a longer handle will create more torque or you can slip a metal bar over it for additional leverage. Before doing this I would make sure the thing is actually supposed to move the way you want it to. Though bolts do rust or get stuck brute force usually isn't the right answer in mechanical stuff.

For lifting things an old school lever and fulcrum is a solid option. For lifting and moving stuff I would look hard at getting a hand truck to do in the house/ garage stuff and some sort of garden cart for outdoor stuff or to aid in the dreaded on foot bug out. Also when it comes to lifting things the saying "many friends make for light work" is absolutely true. I am used to friends and neighbors helping eachother with a variety of tasks. Typically for small quick ones there is no compensation aside from a beer and a thanks. Dad and I helped the neighbor take the hard top off his jeep every spring and put it on every winter for years. We also helped friends drag a huge christmas tree into the house and put it up. A neighbor man helps my Grandmother move things now and then. If you have a bigger job like a couple yards of gravel to get spread or a pallet of brick pavers that need to become a path that is what unemployed young men and teenaged neighbor boys are for.

As to gear and guns I think there is a lot of profiling in terms of gender. One certainly doesn't need to get a certain gun just because of their plumbing. Depending on your training and hand size/ strength a variety of models might suit your needs. Thankfully adjustable backstraps and the Glock SF (short frame, they basically trimmed up the backstrap) made a lot of compact and full sized service type pistols a viable option to those with smaller hands. Broadly speaking frame mounted controls work better than slide mounted ones as they work with smaller hands. It is worth rehashing that if weapons will be 'pool guns' ie the guns with multiple users you have got to size them to the smallest user. A big guy can shoot the Glock 19SF and M4agery his small wife is able to use however she probably couldn't shoot a big double stack .45 and FN-FAL very comfortably.

As to gear  women will often do better with commercial backpacking/ camping stuff then the military surplus that survivalists love. While military stuff is getting more adjustable (MOLLE packs for example) it is designed for average sized men. A jacket that is a bit big can be overcome but if your boots don't fit things are not going to go well. Backpack/ rucksack's that really fit are probably also a worthwhile consideration. While it isn't cheap REI and other big outdoor companies have a lot of good stuff designed to fit women that is seriously worth considering. Boots and packs that fit are pretty darn important while a jacket or sleeping bag can be a bit big.

I can't really speak to concealed carry issues for women. Brigid and Tam have almost surely written some great stuff on it. Limalife's youtube channel is also worth checking out. Really the fundamentals of buying gun(s) that fits your body and lifestyle, getting the equipment to use them like a good belt and holster, slings and whatnot then seeking out some training are the same for guys and gal's. Really if you don't know what you are doing it is probably best to seek out the training (most places worth training at have a few rental/ loaner guns available if you talk with them in advance) then get the stuff.

Anyway I am sorry to the lady who left the comment for the excessive delay. Also I hope somebody gets a thing or two out of this.







Monday, May 14, 2012

Reader Question: SHTF Hygiene and Clothes Washing

Hi,
I have an idea for a blog article-or several- that I think you may be uniquely qualified to expound on. There are a vast majority of us that have never, or are unable to, serve in the military.
You're active duty military; what I and many others would like to know, is how you do your day to day maintenance while out in the field, away from all the comforts of home.
I think it would make a good read if you could tell us the necessities of our life if TSHTF and we are suddenly without water, electricity or heat. We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent? How do you clean yourself, and with what?
So please give this some thought and see if it is an idea you would be willing to tackle.
Thanks,
Iron Tom Flint
TOR here, I wrote a couple posts that give us a place to start. This post on field hygiene covers part of the topic pretty decently. Also this post on Dysentery, while a bit light hearted is worth checking out. Also here is one on primative laundry.  Now onto the specific questions.
Q: We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
A: Staying out of the field of fire is easy, if people are shooting at you or immenently going to shoot at you it is not the time to do laundry. Sorry if that was a bit short, from here forth I will try to answer the questions as I believe they are intended, not word for word.
For short term stuff I would use my field hygiene advice from above. Typically military operations are short enough in duration that laundry isn't a huge issue; though that is a relative term as I have worn a single uniform for a month without washing it. Another option is that things are so crazy that you have bigger stuff to worry about. Delaying washing is easier when weather is relatively cold. You would be pretty nasty after wearing the same clothes in the South or Middle East in the summer.
As to avoiding being discovered. If I was really worried about someone discovering me I wouldn't be doing laundry. I definitely wouldn't do laundry in some sort of escape and evasion situation, a hide or a patrol base.  That being said a really small fire made of dry wood (especially in the woods or down in some micro terrain) is pretty hard to see from beyond 50-100 meters. All you would really need is enough to heat up some water which doesn't take a bonfire.
However to make it easier lets say you are in a fairly quiet but non permissive enviornment. Maybe you and the spouse are trying to get somewhere on foot or using forest service roads and obviously don't want any attention. Maybe you are some sort of G and folks are sort of passively patroling your area, doing recon patrols to check out movement, signs of people like fires, etc. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. The point is that you aren't imminently worried about people trying to kill you but do want to keep a low profile.
One simple and old school option is to take a bar of soap and your clothes into a body of water and wash them. This has the benefit of washing your body. Obviously your situation would have to be reasonably secure and this is a lot more fun in 80 degree sunshine than 30 degree snow. I have seen socks washed in canteen cups, I suppose the same could be done with underoos. Also the good old bucket or a dedicated water jug (the military ones have pretty big mouths) works.
Q:How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
A: Often the answer is to stash the dirty stuff and wash in after the operation is over. Other times we scrounge up some big tubs or whatnot. I have seen organizations where leaders bought some old school type laundry stuff to fill urgent needs.
Q: If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent?
A: I have seen and used normal commercial detergent and plain old bar soap.
Q:How do you clean yourself, and with what?
A: Baby wipes are a great way to go. If heating up water is practical a washcloth and a bar of soap is nice and makes you feel a bit more human. As to how it is pretty much laid out here.
Anyway I hope that is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you remember one thing take care of your feet.
-Ryan

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