Monday, June 29, 2015

Greece Revisited

Yesterday I talked about Greece. This morning I was listening to the radio and heard that Greece shut down their banks and is having a referendum on austerity, and by default whether to stay in the Euro, on the 6th. This is bad. Granted Ryan the Greek would have acted awhile back but in general I figured there was a bit more time. Well at this point it is too late for Joey behind the power curve Greek to get his money out of the bank.

I am not saying Greek people should be putting up punji stakes in their yards and turning empty wine bottles into Molotov cocktails but it  is going to be an interesting few weeks/ months.

Now the point SD3 brought up is valid. Leaving is worth considering. This was clearly a glaring omission in my post. Can't see how I missed that obvious point but I did. That part of the discussion is complicated. I sort of talked about the pro's and con's of this awhile back. Family stuff as well as opportunity both at home and elsewhere matter a lot. A person with a deep social network who is happy where they are and doing OK, if not amazing money wise might not want to move. On the other hand a young well educated professional who is not especially tied to a specific area would be well advised to move to Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg or maybe Northern Europe.

Of course the point to physically hold precious metals and or Euro's is totally valid. That is where Ryan the Greek would be. Ryan's pantry would be stocked, his safe would be full of PM's and Euro's and his bank account would be empty. 

Where I disagree with SD3 is that I do not believe the overall level of violence in Greece is going to be particularly high. I could be wrong but I just do not see it. Some rioting seems likely in Athens at this point but if I lived in a small town or village the odds of encountering a notably different level of violence seem minimal.

At the risk of generalizing I would say Europeans, and especially southern Europeans tend to be less economically oriented (cause or result of the countries being economic basket cases I can't say) and more family/ socially oriented. Many of these people are far less likely to immigrate if they are making it, even just barely.

So that is the update on yesterdays post and the current events in Greece.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scenario Discussion: Greece June 28 2015

When I solicited for input somebody mentioned doing scenario type posts. I thought Greece today (well more this general period not the specific day) would be a good one.

So what is the scenario. The Greece economy is a mess with high unemployment and a boat anchor of debt. It is clear in my mind Greece will never be able to pay their debts off. Whether they are written off by choice or when Greece simply does not pay is a separate discussion and not really relevant to this post.

Greece recently elected an anti austerity government. This government has the unenviable job of trying to placate their creditors/ neighbors and delivery some sort of a win to their people to get the economy moving.

This is significantly complicated because Greece is part of a common currency, the Euro. The good is that they have been able to exploit being linked to much stronger neighbors. The flip side of the coin this is bad (for the government) is they can not simply inflate the currency; lowering its value and making their goods/ services cheaper giving the country more competitive and giving it an economic boost.

Even more troubling the country is in what I call the 'IMF Death Spiral'.

My current working definition of the IMF Death Spiral is "The situation where a country is deeply in debt and continues to receive loans on the conditions that it will follow certain conditions set forth by the IMF or other national/ international organizations. The conditions of the loans typically include cutting government spending, laying off government employees, raising taxes across the board and various social policies that suit their agenda. The stated goal of these reforms is to improve the economy of the country. However at least in the short term it has exactly the opposite effect. High unemployment inevitably follows and the increase in taxation crushes what is left of the economy."

Now one could argue once countries reach the point of the IMF Death Spiral they are a lost cause anyway. On the other hand we could look at results and say the IMF intervention certainly does not help matters any. One could argue the IMF, etc all's goal in lending out huge sums to countries that cannot possibly pay it back is about extracting a profit, offloading the losses to the citizens of first world countries and having a measure of control over the debtor nations. The little I have read on the IMF was pretty eye opening.

I confess to be almost hopelessly stalled halfway through but this book is a good place to look at the business of big banking.

Anyway back to Greece.

There is a distinct possibility that Greece will A) default on it's debts by failing to make their payments. This would be bad. Another possibility is A) and B) Exit the Eurozone AKA Grexit. This would lead to Greece moving back to their own currency which would be valued on the merits of their economy AKA not worth very much.


Of course the basic preparedness stuff of long term shelf stable food, water filtration like a good Berkey, first aid gear, alternate cooking like a Coleman stove, etc apply.

Greece gun laws are fairly European (stupid and strict) so legal modern defensive weapons are out but shotguns are allowed for hunting. A double barreled shotgun and a case of buckshot or large game type shot that is legal and stored in your home would be darn handy if/ when things go sideways. Now on the less legal side I am sure there are plenty of AK's floating in from the Balkans and Romania. If a person had the connections, could afford and didn't care about the laws a concealable pistol and a AK with a dozen mags and a couple cases of 7.62x39 ($220 for 1k of Tula 122 gr FMJ at Lucky Gunner) in some hidey hole sure would be darn nice if things went worse than expected. However I would still want that legal shotgun. It will probably be sufficient and a self defense option on the right side of the law is a good thing to have.

I would look to stock up on normal easy to cook shelf stable foods my family ate. Pasta, canned soup, rice, crackers, PB&J, etc. If/ when the Grexit happens inflation and short term shortages would almost surely follow. About 3 months of normal food your family ate and some long term emergency type food/ big buckets of bulk staples would be a good place to be.

Also the possibility of a job being lost now, and especially if/ when things get worse is higher.


I would seek to get as much of my money out of the banks as possible. Might leave enough in the bank for convenience to pay a couple small bills with a card or order a thing from amazon, etc. Max $500.

Money in banks would almost surely be converted to Drachma at the official conversion rate which is laughably unrealistic. So hypothetically Greece moves to the Drachma with an official exchange rate of 1 Euro to 2 Drachma. A Greek persons 20,000 Euro's would turn into 40,000 Drachma. The problem is things that used to cost a Euro actually cost 4 Drachma which is functionally a 50% loss in purchasing power overnight. The Greek Government would take all the Euro's it stole and use them to buy things they need or to pay enough to their creditors to get a little but of breathing room.

So Joe Greek goes to the bank and pulls out all his Euro's. What to do with this money?

The basis that we mentioned earlier come to mind. As does the shelf stable food. If those bases are not already covered I would put some money towards them. However for the sake of discussion lets say those issues were already addressed.

If I had between one Euro and 20,000 Euro's (the exchange rate right now is 1 dollar to .91 Euro so for normal people amounts we can speak of them as about the same value) I would find a good place in my home, bolt down a compact but quality safe and put my money in it.

If I had more than 20,000E I would take the first 20k and put in a good safe in my residence. This would be my money to buy food, fuel, etc in the short term if/when things go downhill. I figure for most people 20k E is at least 3-4 months cash expenses (food, fuel, etc not rent/ mortgage, eating out, cable/ internet, car insurance, health insurance, taxes, etc) to ride through a rough time. If your family/ lifestyle is such that 20k E is not sufficient for 3-4 months cash expenses adjust the amount upwards accordingly. Maybe a multi millionaire with 7 kids would need 50 or 100K to ride out a few rough months.

For money beyond that 20k/ 3-4 month cash expense level up to say 200k. I would go to a different country for a long weekend of sight seeing and visit a bank. To the best of my knowledge a country defaulting has not been able to confiscate foreign held bank accounts in different (than the defaulting countries) currencies. I would probably go to Switzerland but Cyprus, England and Luxembourg might be good candidates also. Since I have never had enough money to need to look into it I can not say specifically which countries have the strongest protections of bank accounts for in Europe. If a person could get some interest then a savings account is worth thinking about. Then again if a bank in a stable country is going to pay less than 1% and I did not foresee needing the money soon (Say I have an income and am not retired relying on this money to pay my bills.) I might just toss it in a safe deposit box in a stable country like Switzerland.

Of course if I could swing stashing a bunch of alternate passports and a handgun in that safe deposit box that would be cool. The Jason Borne safe deposit box is to safe deposit boxes what the Sara Conner connex is to caches.
A safety deposit box to envy. Only way it would have been any cooler would be some sort of an SBR like an MP-5K and a black velvet bag full of diamonds.
Don't see any food but the Sara Conner Terminator Cache has guns and ammo covered.

As to cash beyond 200k. Honestly a person with over 200k in liquid assets is not going to be looking at some yahoo on the interwebz for advice on financial stuff. At this point you talk to an accountant and a lawyer then posture your financial situation accordingly. Best do it now as big moves take time and there might not be much time left.


-If I were Greek my biggest concern would be Euro denominated debt. If we look at different economic collapses the trend is that the government screws the people and the banks help, if just to come out OK. So it is government before banks and banks before the people. A scenario that has plaid out more than once is suddenly all accounts are in the new, less valuable currency at an artificially high exchange rate (say the official rate is 1 Euro to 3 new Drachma but the street price is 1 to 6) but euro denominated debt might still be in Euro's.

Honestly we have not seen this play out with a common currency. The best I can do for actual facts is to look at Argentina's collapse and the recent mess in Russia as their currency has gone down like a desperate aspiring actress on a casting couch with a big name producer. Loans in dollars (in Argentina) and Euro's (in Russia) were fine and dandy till the exchange rate went crazy. Put it like this. Say Joe Greek makes 90k a year and has a 3 year car loan for 30k.  Not the way my family handles money but still pretty reasonable. Lets say the Grexit happens. Now overnight Joe's $30k car loan in Euro's might functionally turn into 60 or 90k value since he is suddenly paid in Drachma which are significantly less valuable than Euro's, far beyond the official exchange rate. Joe's reasonable car is now eating up a quarter or more of his income.

-Of course interest rates in Greece would go through the roof if any of this happened. I would run, not walk, away from any variable interest debt that you did not have the resources to pay off at any time.

Contingency Plans

-If I lived in Athens, and in particular it's downtown/ historic and or financial districts, I would find a friend or family member who lived elsewhere to stay with for a few days if things got weird. I would look to position some food, clothes, etc there. You probably would not need to leave forever but a place to lay low for a couple weeks could come in handy.

For the sake of full disclosure I have lived in Europe but never been in Greece, somewhat ironically because they started having all the money problems and riots. My general sense is that things could get pretty ugly in Athens but a person who lives in a medium sized town or little village is unlikely to have any contact with riots and such. I believe the general security situation would deteriorate if things went downhill but mostly the bad stuff would play out in larger cities. A village of 300 or town of 3,000 is going to fair better than a big city, let alone an urban center.

-I would look hard at what my financial situation would be after a significant loss in purchasing power, say two semi arbitrary numbers 30% and 50% respectively.  Could I pay my bills? Would it be prudent to sell the fancy car (with a loan to match) and downsize to a more modest but decent paid off car now, before other people are trying to do the same thing?

-What is my plan if I (or we in a dual income household) lose my job in an environment where there is very high (say over 30%) unemployment and many well qualified people are out of work? Do I have an in demand or easy to get into (family business, etc) back up gig? Maybe you are in sales but were the best bartender in town and still have a bunch of contacts that would give you a job tomorrow? Sure welding in one's parents or Uncle's shop is not what a mechanical engineer wants to do but if it pays the bills till a better job can be found it is what people do. A union plumber probably does not want to fix clogged toilets for $100 but that is a constantly in demand job. Point made.

-Presuming Joe Greek, like most people including yours truly, does not own his residence free and clear. Since t is very realistic that he could be unemployed for a long time Joe should be working hard on a back up plan. Say Joe loses his job and is unemployed for a year (not unrealistic, Greek youth [which might be a pretty wide group I can not recall actual ages to go with the stats.] unemployment is about 50%.) and thus are not going to be able to pay the mortgage/ rent. If Joe has some money a modest little cottage or just a piece of land would be great. Depending on where Joe is located camping after the collapse might be an option. However a much better option would be to stay with your parents or relatives in their paid off modest, avoiding high property taxes, home.

For this problem let us look at  a variety of options for different  financial situations:

'I have resources'-A little cottage on the coast in a small village/ town with enough room to put in a garden and host  a few relatives or friends  would be awesome. You could enjoy it for vacations during good times and be ready if bad times come.

'I have some money'- A piece of land that is paid for free and clear where you could put a travel trailer or at least set up some sort of decent camp would not be a bad setup at all. Things would be kind of rough but at least you could pre position supplies and nobody could hassle you for living there on your own land.

'I can scrap up a few bucks' - A travel trailer you could park at a relatives or move from place to place as needed. Living at a relatives is going to be a lot more palatable for everybody if you all have a self contained space to live, or at least sleep in.

'Resources are very limited'- A good 3 season tent with a tarp big enough to cover it, a Coleman stove, some sleeping bags and good sleeping pads. Maybe you can live or at least camp at a relative or friends place.

'Broke as a joke'- A cheap tent and a tarp.

 I feel the need to reiterate these are worst case back up plans. Obviously Joe Greek, and more importantly the Mrs Hellena Greek, would prefer to stay in their normal residence but having a plan in case that is not an option is prudent.

Well I hope this gives some insight on how I would handle the localized but really bad situation that might unfold in Greece.

As always I am eager to read your comments.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Selling Stuff

As you have likely noticed I have been doing some spring cleaning. Sold a couple of things this weekend (a brewing kit and a knife) then today sold my 30-30 Winchester and 200 rounds of ammo. Still have some ammo left, will likely sell some around hunting season and keep a couple hundred rounds because it is a pretty common caliber and that's a sunken cost anyway.

I do not have a lever action Winchester any more which kind of sucks but I eliminated a caliber which is cool. The only situation where that old 30-30 would out perform other rifles on inventory is if I needed a nanny state legal rifle.

What am I planning to spend these newfound gains on? Will see how my birthday cracks out then make a decision based on what I get. ? Probably a case of good surplus 7.62 ammo for the FAL.

At that point I'd probably look hard at some sort of mag fed bolt gun or maybe a .357 mag lever action rifle. Down the road I will get some sort of lever action .357 but that is pretty far down the road; like after another AR, 10-22, Glock 9mm and a Para FAL kind of down the road.

Well this has turned out to be a win win. I have cleaned out a good chunk of space in my garage and store areas and freed up resources to buy some things I can really use but can not afford to purchase outright. I am about out of stuff to sell but it has been a very positive experience.

Barter Town: Spring Cleaning 2015

Updated 6/26 No reasonable offers will be refused.

If I earn another hundred bucks I can get a case of 5.56 which sounds pretty darn good to me.

 I teased it before. Folks seemed to think my idea not to include shipping in costs as it would drag up the price of items but instead have a surcharge for smaller purchases. After deliberation I set the amount (under which a $10 surcharge will be added) as $60. The reason for that instead of $50 is that price would let someone buy an item, toss in a $10 pouch and avoid paying the surcharge. In effect I would be giving away the smaller item.

 As to procedures either leave a comment or email me at and include Barter Town in the subject line (both is the best approach). Obviously the first person to make a full price offer gets the item. If they want to bargain (which is totally fine) I will do one of four things: A) accept right away B) counter offer, C) tell them I'll see how much interest the item gets and maybe get back to them or D) outright reject their offer.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Payment can be done through paypal ( or USPS money order.

Anyway here we go.

British Sheffiield made OEM Survival Knife. It cost me $85 plus shipping. I received this knife and immediately just didn't like the way it handled. Too heavy for it's length in my opinion. I never used it as I planned to return it. For reasons lost to time the return got messed up and in frusteration I put it on a shelf and a few months went by. 

Safariland 6285 1.5in drop holster for a Glock 17 with TLR-1 light. I know they also fit a G19 just fine. Also I believe they fit the G22/23 as holsters are generally compatible between the two.
Decided to keep this.

Bianchi Model 7/7L pancake holster for a full sized 1911.Slightly used in excellent condition Asking $35.

Quality leather OWB holster for a Glock 26 though it will fit a G19 just fine. Got it in a complicated trade and don't need it. Manufacturer is unknown but it is a nice well made holster. Used in excellent condition. Asking $40.
Cross breed style holster (manufacturer unknown) for a Glock 9mm. Used in VG/G condition. Asking $30.

Bianchi (I'm pretty sure) leather IWB holster for a Walther PP/PPK. Would presumably fit similar sized guns like a Bersa .380 but again do your own research and take your own chances. It was barely used as I owned the PP for about a week but probably sat on the shelf at the gun shop for a minute so the leather is pretty stuff. A rub of saddle soap or leather conditioner should fix that minor problem. Asking $15.

Other Stuff:

Springfield leather (National Match?) sling. In very good condition. I purchased it because the Garand needed a sling. Took it off when I sold the rifle and do not have a use for it. Asking $25.

Side saddle for a Mossberg 500. Can't remember who made it and the bolts to mount it were lost who knows when. Asking $10.

Leather sling. Asking $20.

PUR hiker water filter. Asking $40. They don't make these anymore but they take Katadyn replacement filters.

PUR water filter. Asking $40. They don't make these anymore but they take Katadyn replacement filter.

My goal is to make enough cash to fund some projects. Honestly as such my primary goal is to turn this stuff into cash. Inevitably the topic of trades will come up. First of all valuing trades is hard, everyone wants to value their stuff close to new and the other guys at half the value. I tend to look at both sides stuff based on % of new price and factor in condition. If you have something else to trade I might be interested in I guess let me know. Worst case I will say no thanks.

Well that is what I have up for sale now. Please let me know if you have any questions. Barter Town is now officially open.

Edited to include:  I am going to start selling this stuff in other places so if you had an eye on something it would be smart to move sooner instead of later.

As to trades if I can use something I'll probably take it. Make me an offer.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Comings and Goings

The last few days I have been out of town. It was an interesting time that I will probably talk about soon but right now that doesn't matter. Am trying to catch up on the blogosphere.

 Weapons Man did a post on Appendix Carry that I am going to reply to tomorrow or the next day.

Awhile back I went through on something I'd been thinking about and  built an AR Pistol on an 11.5in BCM upper. Nice idea but iffy in reality. With the butt collapsed it was functionally the same size as Project AR. The negligible difference in overall length did not merit the lack of ability to extend the butt stock for more intentional shooting. It just didn't quite work out like I thought it might. Thankfully I got a good deal on the components and was able to get that value out in a trade.

Some discussion of defensive works is in order based on my recent travels. Maybe more on that later.

Hope all is well for you all. Will write a more substantive post tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Precision Rifle and General .308 Rifle Pair Discussion

Today I want to talk about 'precision rifles' a little bit.To avoid rehashing here is an old post on bolt action rifles and a follow up on precision rifles.

To define a precision rifle " For the sake of this conversation I will define a 'precision rifle' as "A combination of rifle, optic and ammunition capable of achieving 2MOA accuracy out to 600 meters chambered in a cartridge that moderately resists the pressure of side winds and can penetrate moderate cover".  The specs to facilitate that are going to be a bolt action or semi automatic rifle chambered in a relatively high velocity cartridge over .26 caliber for which modern match grade type ammunition is reasonably available. We are talking .270, 7mm mag, .308, 30'06, etc."

From a lot of recent reading I should note this is being able to CONSISTENTLY perform under 2 MOA under a variety of conditions with a variety of ammunition. Sure it is great if you had eggs benedict for breakfast, it is 1045, the temperature is 68 degrees with  55% humidity and you are shooting one specific load like 168 grain Sierra Match Kings loaded by Cor Bon or 165 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP but with a variety of different decent ammo like Winchester 150 grain Powerpoint or 180 grain Remington Core-Lokt ammo.

For a precision rifle semi automatic's are an option. Most M1A's and many of the better AR-10's can meet the prescribed standard. As noted before the issue is cost. A $1,600 AR-10 might be able to perform like a $700 Savage. Both are great, it is just a question of what you want and your budget.

The topic of optics came up recently in a discussion. The US Military used 10X fixed scopes for a long time. Those have benefits but I would lean towards a variable power for general civilian use. The reason for this is the potential need to shoot at shorter ranges than military snipers. A civilian might use a very capable bolt gun to shoot a deer at 50 meters where a 10X scope would suck.

Something in the 3-9 or 4-12 range with a reticle that lends itself to measuring distance and wind (mil dots are optimal) would be really nice. Turrets to make adjustments on the fly, at least for distance, are handy but not absolutely necessary for most civilian applications.

We could discuss the .308/7.62x51 cartridge here. Certainly there are other options but I think the .308 is a pretty solid choice. They are chambered in about all of the common rifles out there which would fit this applications. One of the biggest benefits is they are chambered in a round that is also available in common (yes the BAR exists but they are rare and expensive) military pattern mag fed rifle. So you could have say a scoped bolt action rifle for long or very precise shots and a semi auto rifle for other work. If I was forced to own one caliber of rifle it would be .308. Also if a guy was setting up a cabin or retreat set up he could bring two rifles and just one type of ammo.

 Bearing in mind the .308 is an expensive cartridge, and a two gun setup like this is not going to be cheap any way you cut it, there is room for a fairly modest budget. A guy could get a used Savage 10 with an optic for a few hundred bucks and a PTR-91 for around $900. Sure he would need some good precision or hunting type ammo and a bunch of milsurp ball for the PTR. Still just for guns under 2k would give a guy a rifle that can reach out several hundred meters and another than can shred light cover and kick butt to 400-500 meters. For a bit more money a guy could get a nice Remington 700 and a DS Arms Voyager FN-FAL. Another bump up the socio economic ladder might be a CZ Varmit and a Sig 716. For those who are completely loaded a Steyr SSG or Accuracy International bolt gun combined with a real high end AR-10 like a LaRue, Knight Armament SR-25 or LWRC Repr would be a sweet set up.

For folks who really want to shoot LONG (say 500+ meters) something like Federal Premier Gold Match 168 gr or Lake City XM118 would make sense to feed the precision rifle. That being said many of us do not have enough range, enough rifle/ optic or enough skill to see the difference between that ammo and say Winchester 150 grain SP Power Point ammo that will certainly stop a man or animal out to 400 meters. I would try to find a pair of rounds that suited my needs and were more or less similar in drop and general performance. My gut says a 150 grain SP round and generic 147-149 gr ball ammo probably perform fairly close to each other. A handloader could probably do well by using the same brass, powder and primer but a 150 grain SP/HP round for precision and a generic 147-149 grain FMJ for the semi auto rifle.

I would use standard MILSURP or NATO spec type brass cased ammo to feed the semi auto rifle. I would have each rifle zeroed for it's ammo but know how they shoot with the other one. I would probably stock a ratio of about 1 match/ hunting bullet to 10 standard bullets. The reasons for this are 1) you are likely to shoot much more when firing the semi auto. 2) The precision gun should still get adequate performance with standard ammo. 3) Cost effectiveness. 4) For most realistic applications within the skill levels of people reading this blog normal decent ammo will do the job.Of course the guy shooting a Steyr SSG or Accuracy International in F Class Competitions every weekend and consistently placing can disregard this part but he isn't learning anything from me about distance shooting anyway.

If this discussion is really going anywhere I would say the theme is that a person could do well to own a pair of rifles in .308, one of which is set up to shoot long distance and the other of which is more suited to medium range work with a semi auto capacity to put rounds down range to break an attack or gain momentum for an attack. 

Got .308?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Budget Preparedness: Twenty Bucks at The Dollar Store

Today we went to the dollar store. Wifey goes there semi regularly. They have little art projects that suit my kids age bracket's short attention span and destructive nature. Also they have a smoking deal on frozen fruit my kids love.

I wanted to see what sort of preparedness stuff a person could get at the dollar store for twenty bucks. Well it was twenty items and there was tax so I guess 21 or 22 depending on your area but close enough. Other than spending twenty bucks I didn't really have a plan. I used criteria pretty heavily channeled from Glenn Tate of 299 Days: The Preparation (Volume 1) (books 1 and 2 reviewed here) by choosing food that can be cooked by boiling water or just heated up. I also got some spices because we can probably use more of those.

What I bought:
A 5 pack (for $1) of top ramen
3 things of pasta
3 cans of pasta sauce
3 things of just add water pancake mix
2 things of syrup
2 things of instant mashed potatoes
2 things of garlic sale
1 bottle of hot sauce
1 can opener
1 bottle of bleach
1 bottle of vegetable oil

As you can see I pretty much went for food. Tossed in a can opener because everyone can use a spare. Also tossed in a can of bleach because you can always use some extra disinfectant in bad times.

Part of this little experiment was my own curiosity. The other part was to show people what you can do with twenty bucks. That semi  arbitrary number was chosen because anybody but a hobo could put into food storage say every other week or so. For my twenty bucks we got a lot of easy to prepare food that will store for awhile.

Say a person spent twenty dollars every other week on food. Granted this is just food storage, you need water filtration, ammo, fuel, medical and all sorts of other stuff.  I hesitate to lay out a plan off the cuff here but maybe on the non food weeks a person spends $20 on the other stuff in some sort of rotation (ammo, water filtration [till you have at least a good water filter with a spare element], fuel, medical/ hygiene, misc). There would be some build up time while a person had money stashed in envelopes or something saving up for bigger ticket items but a dozen cans of food and some spaghetti one week, a box of bullets for the family deer rifle the next, more food then hygiene stuff, food, fuel, etc).

What I am driving at is that even on a pretty modest budget ($20 a week) you can really get somewhere over time. Of course if you can add a little more things will add up even faster.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And The Winner of the Semi Auto .308 Selection Is.....

DS Arms 'Voyager' FN-FAL with a 21 inch barrel.

Why, Well that is a complicated question. Let us look at the common available semi auto .308's.

Fairly unbiased process of elimination knocked out:

AR-10-  The onees in my budget are of pretty questionable quality. The whole market is a mess with a serious lack of standardization. There are weird proprietary parts all up in pretty much every AR-10. To further complicate things none of these rifles (excluding the way too rich for my blood Knight SR-25) are really battle tested. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of promise and I do believe these are the way of the future for the semi auto .308 but it might be a few years till the previously listed issues get unscrewed.

M1A- Honestly these rifles should have never been made. Also the rifles are silly expensive and accessories are even worse.

Completely biased process of elimination knocks out:

The PTR-91. It is the cheapest semi auto .308 made by a reputable manufacturer. Accessories, and in particular mags are quite affordable. Why did it get eliminated? Honestly I am just really ambivalent about the PTR-91. Even if it doesn't make sense paying a grand for a rifle I am not at all excited about is kind of silly.

So we have spoken about the problems (real or perceived) with other platforms. Now specifically why the FN-FAL.

Unbiased Points.
-Proven design. The FN-FAL was to the free world what the AK was to the communist world. Sure the US (and I believe Taiwan) had the M14 and Germany/ Portugal plus some others had the G3 but the FAL was the service rifle for 90 countries.
-Wide parts base. Sort of like say, the Winchester 30-30, so many were made for so long that parts are always going to be out there. Being dispassionate about this was hard for me. I have owned a Winchester 30-30 for my entire adult life and love them. They are beautiful rifles. Commander Zero and Peter of Bayou Renaissance Man brought up a point that really helped with this. Honestly the only situation where a 30-30 would beat a FN-FAL is in a serious nanny state situation. Thankfully as of now I am not in one of those and I hope to stay out of one.
-Away from the FAL in general and specifically to the Voyager. If possible I prefer the budget gun from a quality company (The Kahr CW9 is an example of this) than the supposedly nicer guns from a lower tier manufacturer like say a DPMS LR-308.
-While there is probably a temptation to keep messing with it the adjustable gas flow might be handy for shooting different ammunition or getting a dirty rifle running again in an emergency.

Biased Points.
-The rife has a cool history. The era of the 'battle rifle' was pretty cool. Since they were a post Korea, pre gulf war weapon they mostly saw action in Africa. I stumbled into an interesting post on the history of the FN-FAL and G3 in Africa that is good for a coffee break.
-I sort of made a bargain with myself to sell the 30-30, eliminating a caliber, and pony up for a FAL. Since I am realistically going to have one (or just maybe two, a para FAL would be sweet, gosh I am starting an expensive hobby) or maybe two the price difference over a PTR-91 is not a deal maker.
-I really wanted one. They are a cool, classy rifle. The Voyager put a DS Arms rifle into my realistic price range.
-I love the way a FAL with a wood stock looks.

So anyway I ordered a FAL and some mags. I'd like 50 but 20 is not a bad place to be at. Going to get some ammo and hopefully a parts kit to provide spares soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Hey Folks, As part of a discussion we had awhile back an idea popped into my head. Would you all be interested in some sort of podcast type feature? I am uncomfortable doing a youtube thing since it would really mess up the whole Batman/ Bruce Wayne thing but some sort of a spoken word type setup would not have that issue. Also if I could do it in the right program (any advice here would be great) I would be able to post it on youtube and maybe even make it something you could download and listen to in the car, at the gym, etc.

I would have to figure out the details but enough folks seem to be doing that type of thing that it can't be too hard.

Does that interest you?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Keeping an Edge- A Review of the Lansky 3- Stone System

DTG did a review of the  Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit not so long ago.
It genuinely looks like a really cool system. Flash back to 18 months ago. I remember having a serious gear crush on this system after seeing a NUTNFANCY video on it. The downside is they are expensive starting at $165 for the Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit and going up to almost 255 for the Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpener depending on the range of stone grit and other various accessories. I was saving up for one and actually had the cash to do it but was not quite ready to pull the trigger.

On one lazy Saturday my family was casually shopping/ looking around in a local outdoor store. This particular store is pretty cool because it has outdoor stuff for the guys (and girls who like that too) and type stuff for women, kind of country/ redneck lifestyle stuff and the pink shirts with a tiny bit of cammo women here like. Anyway we were just looking around and I saw a Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones in the store for (IIRC) $25. It looked like a pretty nice piece of kit. Lanksy is a good company and I have a couple of their diamond sharpening rods which, within the limitations of that system, are good pieces of kit. With a price point around a case of cheap beer I figured why not give it a shot. Now 18 months later it is the only sharpening system I use and our household knives are sharper than ever before. I did not see a need to shell out big money for an edge pro and am pretty darn happy with this little system and need to get a second to put in our camping/ heavy bug out stuff.

The Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones comes in a nice little compact box. Inside the box there is a big clamp on thing that ensures you sharpen at a consistent angle, which is very important. Here is the manufacturers description:
- Alumina Oxide & Ceramic

Key Features:

-Easy to Use, Precision-Engineered, Multi-Angle Clamp to hold the blade

-Guide Rods are provided: One for every hone

-Coarse Red Hone (120 grit) for edge reconditioning

-Medium Green Hone (280 grit) for sharpening and less frequent touch-ups

-Fine Blue Hone (600 grit) for most frequent touch-ups to keep your blade
paper-slicing sharp

-Honing Oil Specially Formulated for Sharpening (not recommended for use
with diamond sharpeners, use water instead)

The Ultimate in Knife Sharpening Systems Technology! Safe, Easy and Convenient to Use; The Lansky Controlled Angle Sharpening System.  Designed to give your blade a professional, razor sharp edge, every time. All systems include:
•Color-coated, finger-grooved safety holders mounted to every stone
•One guide rod for each honing stone
•Extra long knife clamp screws for thicker blades
•Custom molded storage/carrying case to hold all system components

Onto the usual format:

The Good:
-Affordable. Everyone reading this can pay about $25 (the site says $35 but street price is more like $25) for a system to keep your knives sharp. It is also priced so you could have a backup or even a backup and one in your bug out location.
-It works. I use it to sharpen steak knives, butcher knives, my EDC knife, and camping/ field knives.
-It is easy to use. Took about a minute to figure it out. You might need to play with the angles on longer knives or ones with a pronounced sweep (like a butcher knife) the first time you sharpen it but after that it's easy to get to work.
-Compact. Small enough to keep in a drawer in the kitchen or slip into a tuff box you take car camping.
-Durable. I've been using mine for 18 months and aside from mild discoloration on the stones it looks brand new. I expect to get at least another year out of it, which is pretty good for what it is. I am still on the original little bottle of oil.
-The three stones really work and the grits are well thought out. The 120 grain is plenty to reprofile a blade or fix an edge and the 600 is good for finishing an edge. They make a 1k stone I keep meaning to get but haven't ever remembered to follow through with.
-Quick. Touching up an edge after normal use takes maybe 15 min of leisurely semi focused effort. I do this while watching tv or youtube videos.

The Bad:
-Fixed to 4 angle options. Company description:
17° Angle - A severe angle recommended for razor blades, scalpels or similar tools. Provides an extremely sharp but delicate edge.
20° Angle - A commonly used angle for higher quality blades and provides an excellent edge for kitchen cutlery and filet knives.
25° Angle - The recommended angle for most knives that need a durable, sharp edge. Ideal for hunting and outdoor knives.
30° Angle - An outstanding angle for knives that see the heavy use of cutting cardboard, wire or carpets. Recommended for heavy duty use.

Not that these angles are bad but it is kind of a hassle as many knives seem to have 19 or 22 degree angles. Instead of fighting that I've re profiled all my kitchen knives to 20 deg duty knives to 25. The one exception is, if just due to blade width, my big camp knife at 30 degrees. It takes 15-20 minutes to re profile the blade and get it sharpened up.
-The edge guide (big clamp thingie) attachment is a bit of an awkward affair with two bolts. It needs to be adjustable (I use it for thin steak knives all the way up to my camp knife with a 1/4 inch (or a touch more) thick blade. Generally it works OK but if for some reason one gets messed up it can throw the whole thing off and you could waste a couple minutes figuring it out. Not a deal maker, just occasionally annoying.

The Ugly:
-I struggled trying to make due with hand angling the knife on a stone, or overly relying on those little pull through sharpeners (great for what they ( a quick tuning up) are but not a full solution) for far too long.

Is this enough of a system for your needs? Maybe a professional butcher or someone else who uses lots of knives all the time and needs them very sharp might benefit from a more robust system such as the edge pro. If a dozen people needed to use a system this one might not be up to the task. However
for a normal family with the standard kitchen type knives and a person or two using EDC or field knives this system is plenty.

Recommendation: Buy a Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones then either use it as a primary or if you have a better system stash it as a back up.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Still Alive- Just Busy

Hey Folks, I am not dead. The weekend was split between wheeling n dealing and doing family things. Today got stolen by stupid work shit, such that I walked in the door at 10:40 PM, a shade under 7 hours from when I have to leave to go back. There is a good post in the cue for tomorrow though. Also in the medium run all the wheeling n dealing is going to bring up some fund some exciting gun and gear discussions.

Talk to you later.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Life's Annoyances and Semi Auto .3088's

Things just have not gone my way this week. Work has been totally ridiculous, not actual real life problems but stupid organizationally imposed stuff. Have been wheeling and dealing to get a mag fed semi auto .308.

 I had a deal set up for a S&W M&P 10, hence the bleg,  but that fell apart. The guy pulled the rifle out of his safe then checked it out and it failed to (manually) cycle rounds. It had problems so he held onto it and said the trade was a no go since he wouldn't pass on a gun with issues. Dude was a complete class act as many people would have done the trade knowing someone would not find that issue on a  quick inspection. I am very happy this guy did not dump a problem on me but still it was a big let down and a pretty sucky situation. I was really excited about this and it fell through.

I am not sure exactly how things are going to crack out but am pretty sure I will have some sort of a mag fed semi auto .308 in the next month or two. Really want to be able to rain down some hate that goes through cars and most other light cover at 400m or so. I am going to sell some stuff to facilitate this general effort.

Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I can be the windshield.

I think stuff is going to click and I will end up buying a DSA Voyager and some mags. The AR-10 market is a mess and I am thinking it is best to wait out the Betamax/ VSA fight. I like their controls and ergonomics being the same as the AR-15 I am used to but the darn market is a mess.

So that is what's annoying me today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

S&W M&P 10 Parts/ Info Bleg

So the Smith and Wesson M&P 10 .308 AR Pattern. I have heard a lot of good things about it. The only downsides I have read about were about proprietary parts (which is pretty much a systemic AR-10 issue till the VHS/ Betamax issue is settled) and lack of said parts being readily available.

The 18" barrel for an AR pattern rifle seems like a good set up for a general purpose/ SAPR .308. Also S&W generally makes pretty good guns.

As far as I can tell the lower parts are basically AR-15. The bolt is M110/SR25/DPMS pattern though the BCG is proprietary. The firing pin seems proprietary with some sort of spring attached to it. I wish everyone could get on the same page like with AR-15's....

So question 1) Do you thing the S&W M&P 10 is a decent option for a semi auto .308?

2) What do you know about M&P small parts (say a guy wanted an extractor. ejector, ejector spring, gas rings, firing pin, firing pin retaining pin,  etc) and where an end user can purchase them?

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