Showing posts with label Commander Zero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commander Zero. Show all posts

Sunday, November 30, 2014

AR-15 Build vs Buy: Unique AR Platform Characteristics, Quality, Economics, Value and Customization

Commander Zero wrote a post called Stripped Lower Deals that put this into motion. I was going to write a comment but that was not sufficient so it stewed in my head for awhile and turned into a post. In this post I am going to share some ideas about the benefits of building an AR-15 as well as the potential downsides where just buying a rifle turns out better.

Bottom Line Up Front: The unique characteristics of the AR-15 can let an individual looking to maintain privacy yet still own specific weapons, interested in a rifle configuration that is not currently available or looking to secure potential options/ profit do better by starting with a stripped lower than a complete rifle; provided they are able to make reasonable parts choices and stay on (or close to) budget.

Two specific traits of the AR platform make this conversation very different than most other weapons. First as I read someplace online AR's are not so much built as assembled. What I mean is  that assembly does not require lathes, presses, significant mechanical aptitude/ knowledge or fine fitting of components. A person with lower than average mechanical aptitude and a few basic hand tools can put together a totally functional AR-15 at the kitchen table. Sure they will lose a detent pin and a spring, plus there will be a couple tiny scratches by the roll pins but that's about all that will happen. Second the serialized part of the AR which is for all legal purposes the firearm is a small, cheap piece of aluminum. For reference I spent more on the muzzle device for my AR than the (stripped) lower receiver. These two reasons make the discussion very different than with say an AK or M1A.

Now we will talk about the specific areas that will be discussed: Quality, economics, value and customization.

Quality: Quality in an AR comes from using serviceable, or even good parts and putting them together properly. I'm sure there are some total AR guru's out there who do things with fit and small amounts of thoughtfully applied gunsmithing that can make an AR more accurate. However I will submit that unless a total guru or buffoon are putting together a gun the difference is going to be negligible. What I am getting at is that a complete rifle from whoever is not going to perform differently than if the owner put together the lower and slapped the manufacturers upper onto it.

Of course people can totally screw up AR builds. Zero's example of an AR built out of all of the cheapest random parts is manifested in more than a few rifles. Go figure some of them just don't work well. This is my surprised face. Then again companies totally screw up some rifles too, it just happens. An advantage of buying a complete rifle from a reputable company is that if a problem happens they are usually pretty good about making it right. Some guns just have phantom problems and often a company will just give you a new rifle. If your Franken AR has problems fixing them is on your dime, basically you are hosed.

In terms of quality I'd say Project AR is certainly as good as comparable (BCM, Colt, etc) complete rifles.

Economics: This is an interesting discussion. The way to get the cheapest possible AR would be to shop around and find the cheapest individual items. Thus a person could say you can save 60% by building your own. This is not accurate because to compare value we have to talk apples to apples.

Saying "I built a $524 AR so that is a 50% savings over a Colt 6920 LE" is stupid because your budget build is almost surely not in the same league as the Colt. The point I am trying to make is that you need to compare the total cost to build a given quality rifle with the cost to just go out and buy one.

The other problem is people who spend a ton of money buying all sorts of random parts. I regularly see 2K+ AR's up for sale where the guy spent that much or more on parts. These guys read all kinds of stuff and get their roll pins from one guy, their trigger spring from another, etc. They
 really do believe they are building great rifles. In reality they are spending Ferrari money on Fords because they do not have the experience to actually know what matters. These very expensive guns are nowhere near as good as a comparably priced rifle from Daniels Defense or LaRue. Heck, some of them aren't on par with Spikes or S&W.

The 'A La Carte' model of AR building can work in some situations but you definitely have to keep an eye on the bottom line and compare that bottom line to a similar quality complete rifle. Situations exist where you can save money building but there are also others where the numbers do not work. I would say you also have to consider shipping costs as part of the total cost. This makes ordering parts from fewer places advantageous.

Comparing sale items is problematic because it depends a lot on what is on sale today, not yesterday or tomorrow. Looking at normal prices is probably a fair indicator. It is often, though not always, possible to save ten or even twenty percent by getting a stripped lower, LPK, stock and upper vs getting a complete rifle. I did this once. The difference in that particular case was closer to 30% for getting all the parts vs a complete rifle. Exact same parts from the exact same company. Found an acquaintance who put the lower together and I was good to go. That was a good rifle.

Recently with Project AR I probably saved some money. It gets hard to really compare equitably because I upgraded some components and got a less expensive LPK.

Customization: This is really where building makes a lot of sense. The AR is really a grown up male lego set in that a normal guy can pretty much make one into whatever he wants. In general I would say that all other things being equal if you only want to change a superficial thing (furniture, charging handle, etc) there isn't a huge need to go out and build a rifle. On the other hand if you want a configuration not currently available or are otherwise going to change more than a couple things it might make sense to build your own. If you want a different barrel or whatnot the cost of buying all that stuff once then changing it out can get silly fast. When building your own you can avoid duplicate costs for stuff that's going to be thrown into the AR parts bin.

For people with specific tastes who like private party anonymity building is a good option. I say this because while you can (except in panic times and even then if you're willing to pay panic prices) buy AR's PP no problem finding a 16" BCM Middy with a certain barrel twist is going to be really hard. If you get a lower (complete or stripped) then it is easy to build what you want without the high expense of buying a complete rifle you do not want.

Various Thoughts:
Do you want to build a rifle for the fun and learning experience or do you just want to get a gun and be done with it? I wanted to build my rifle to have that experience and am glad I did it. Other people might not be interested in doing that for it's own sake and should probably just buy a rifle. Down the road if / when in the market for another carbine I will probably just do like Max Velocity and buy a Colt 6920 LE. As to other AR configurations I will run the numbers to see which makes the most economic sense.

In Closing:
Depending on your wants, needs and budget there are times when building a rifle makes the most sense. If you choose to build be sure to keep an eye on part quality while simultaneously staying within your budget.

Thoughts?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Honda EU2000?

I'm pretty much sure solid on the choice and have hinted at it earlier but figured I might as well run it by you all. We are looking at purchasing a generator, specifically a Honda EU2000. Commander Zero recently purchased one which carries a lot of weight with me. Anyway.

I know there are far cheaper generators out there so don't bother letting me know. Knowing and accepting my current limitations I can do some very basic maintenance but am not a mechanic or in any way skilled in small engine repair/ trouble shooting. As such the various $400 chinese made POS options are not appealing. Especially given that my concept of use is almost entirely emergency based (vs weekend camp out's, construction, etc) I need the damn thing to work when I go to start it up.  The Hyundai 2200 had some appeal but reviews are pretty mixed and when I dug into them nobody had seriously used theirs. Conversely the EU2000 has lots of folks in the RV and sailing communities quite convinced it is the way to go. Folks are reporting 10k hours on them which is crazy for a small gas powered generator.

My concept of use is as an emergency power source to allow us to keep the freezer going, charge batteries and my Goal 0 power source, maybe run a few lights and potentially a small tv for short periods to catch the local news. If we could keep the fridge going even moderately cool that would be a big bonus. Obviously I would not be doing all of that at once; conceptually it would probably be either the fridge or freezer and maybe a light or some batteries charging.

I tried looking up detailed information on the our fridge and freezer's power needs but either the data isn't available or I am not power smart enough to understand it. Based on general info (by appliance) I should be fine but should ain't for sure. Note if you can seriously provide help here drop me an email @ theotherryan@yahoo.com and I'll send you the specifics of my freezer and fridge.

Fuel consumption is a concern for me in terms of finances tied up,  logistics of storage. and resupply. Based on our current situation my concerns (hurricanes and prolonged power outages thereon) are more about being able to stretch 3-4 5 gallon gas can's out to keep the freezer cold and batteries charged over two or maybe three weeks; by running the genny for short periods 2--3 times a day rather than a big 8-10k genny that could power the whole house but I'd have gas for 2-3 days.We will of course add fuel to run the generator. However if things got worse than planned I'm looking at the odds that I could purchase, if at a stiff free market price, fuel to keep our generator going at 2-3 gallons a day for a couple extra weeks.

Thoughts?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

RE: "You Win, Andy, I Registered my AR"

Captains Journal brought this to my attention. A radio personality named Bob Lonsberry who is a syndicated to be honest I've never heard of ultimately decided to register his AR-15 in the closing days of the NY "SAFE Act" registration period. He wrote a blog post about it. The main themes were upholding the constitution which he believes this law clearly violates and his belief that a citizen should obey all laws and work to change or remove the bad ones. He also mentioned a fear that since he is a fairly public person who has mentioned owning an AR-15 on multiple occasions over the years and is not well liked by some in local politics/ law enforcement the odds he would get SWAT'd a day after the registration period closes then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law are high (my words not his) . Mr Lonsberry he did go over some of the obvious available options to sell, move or alter his rifle. None of them were particularly appealing so he ended up just registering said rifle.

Now to my thoughts:

I feel for gun owners in these situations and am hesitant to criticize the personal decisions they make in regards to complying with various blatantly unconstitutional laws including the 'SAFE Act'.

The two options that were not covered are moving and hiding your newly banned guns, in the attic or a cache or whatever. Moving is a pretty hard sell for this one. Honestly the writing has been on the wall about New York for a long time. I'm not saying there aren't pro freedom folks there; just that legal adults willing to move to achieve more freedom probably did so awhile back.

As to just hiding the gun(s). That option has validity in some situations. If a guy bought an AK/ AR decades ago that he has little desire to shoot regularly and few people, none of whom are problematic, know he owns it's simple. Take the gun out of a safe, grease it up and put it into a cache along with some mags and ammo. You can't get at it daily or take it to the public range but you would have the rifle in case of some sort of SHTF type need. On the other hand for a person who is known to own said gun(s), especially if he is not in favor with local law enforcement that is probably not the best plan. These laws are ignored for well known liberals, vigorously enforced on well known conservatives and more or less universally if lethargically enforced on the common man. Also if you rely on a gun as part of your current (vs magical SHTF time) defensive setup having it greased up in a PVC pipe 3 feet under the ground in the woods 400m from your house is not a good plan.

An option for an individual who might have multiples of the same type of gun (specific such as 2x AK/AR or general such as an AR and a Mini 14) might be to register one and stash another. If some of the purchases were discrete private party transactions that would make this option a lot easier. This way there is a legal weapon in your home that can be used to train, enjoy and defend yourself and another stashed in case your state gets grabby. Something to think about anyway.

As to one thing Mr Lonsbury said I have to disagree.
"The fear is that registration leads to confiscation. We shouldn’t fear the consequences of that, Andy, you should. Because when you come for the guns it won’t be the Capitol in the dark of the night, it will be Lexington green in the full light of day. We won’t think of Abraham Lincoln, we’ll think of Charlton Heston.



So we’re clear, Andy, the next step is cold, dead hands."

That sounds really nice. Also I genuinely hope this terrible law is repealed in it's entirety. Hoping for New York to swing back to the conservative side is probably unrealistic, akin to hoping for Kentucky or Texas to go blue. 

It is not an absolute that registration always leads to confiscation. Then again I am not aware of any exceptions. It would probably be reasonable to say that most widespread registration schemes have led to at least some firearms being sold/ transferred/ confiscated/ destroyed.

In New York the question of what could happen is pretty clear. We can look at what happened to our friend Commander Zero, a New York native, way back in the 90's. They sent him a piece of paper and since he'd moved to Montana he scrawled Molon Labe on it then sent it back. Ya know what they did, sent cops to his old address in NY. The bottom line is that it's not going to be a field full of militiamen (unless you know a bunch of them willing to violently resist confiscation, unlikely in NY) awaiting the British; it is going to be a couple of cops showing up at your door. Instead of people you probably don't know and have never trained with at your side it will be the while the Mrs and your kids are sitting in the living room in the line of fire.

I have my own personal beliefs about gun confiscation in America. This is one of those places where states are seeing and I believe will continue to see increasingly divergent out comes. As a matter of fact New York has actually sent armed men to normal peoples homes to forcibly take their private property (in the form of newly verboten weapons). I think California has done the same thing. This is something I cannot see happening in Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, etc all. In many of these places I am unsure how much government and law enforcement would participate. I suspect such confiscation would be widely ignored in these sorts of places and in some cases maybe actively opposed.

Unlike some who talk a big game on the internet then do whatever the cops say if something actually happens I have never really been in this situation so I'm not a hundred percent on what I would do. Also if I did know and had plans to potentially violate a law it would be foolish to say so. One could look at my posts on private party firearms though the form 4473 isn't that huge of an issue really and caches, such as an operational cache and draw their own conclusions. The choice on what to do in a situation like this certainly has a lot of factors. At the end of the day it comes down to a choice everyone has to make for themselves.

Thoughts?

Edited to include: On the topic of gun confiscation in the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia. I am not entirely sure of the status as to whether that has really happened. Sort of hinted at that with the 'I think' in the first post but as Aesop noted for the sake of intellectual honesty that is sort of a question mark. As to a full on ' you are on the list' a la NYC thing baring compelling evidence from a legitimate source I've got to say I cannot confirm that sort of thing happened. That being said I have heard enough whisperings here or there to say there could be some truth to the matter. The shades of grey as to how much confiscation has been clouded in 'mental instability' or 'anonymous tips' or whatever I cannot say; there could be enough wiggle room there to pick the answer that fits your mood and purpose. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Project 870 Almost Complete!!!

This is where it all started. A Remington 870 Police Magnum wearing express furniture. Best I can tell this gun pulled Cruiser duty for the Kentucky state Police, was sold probably through Bud K then ended up in the Desert. That is where it ended up being saved from a life of neglect and generally not being owned by yours truly.

I was pretty annoyed with the guy that day. Drive for a ways to meet him and it turns out he was not entirely honest about the guns condition. Ended up leaving with the gun and a couple more 20's than I planned. A combination of cruiser duty and lack of maintenance in that guys care left the finish in terrible shape. It looks just fine at 15 feet but up close you can see significant discoloration and oxidization. The gun will almost surely rust if not slathered in oil. So after test firing it I kept the gun slathered in oil for awhile.

I thought about getting it professionally Keracoted or something. However the cost of that PLUS what I wanted to do to the gun was slightly prohibitive. Just more than I wanted to spend.

Once I got down here I wanted to get this project done so it could be our home defense long gun. The reason for that is largely legal in nature. Guns are common all over the South and non hippie parts of the West. However in particular shotguns are very common in Louisiana. The combination of duck hunting as well as short engagement ranges due to line of site for all game make them particularly handy guns down here. If I have to shoot somebody I would prefer to do it with a gun that is the same or very similar to ones in the prosecutor, judge and juries safe/ cabinet/ closet.

While I prefer an AR of the M4 flavor for close up work this advantage to the shotgun is considerable. Also while I like the M4 better a short barreled pump shotgun is amply capable of any home defense long gun task. There is the added benefit that if something happens I am, at least temporarily, losing a shotgun package worth $500 not an AR that all said and done I probably have 2k into.

Another consideration is that I am far more willing to carry said $500 shotgun as a "truck gun" than a semi automatic rifle. Even if it's an AR/ AK/ FAL you got a great deal on back when those were available it is still important to consider replacement cost. The pump gun is about the bar of value I am willing to risk potential theft of on a trip during normal times.

So my philosophy of use for this project is a home defense shotgun that can also serve as a 'truck gun'. I want to use quality components and do it right but budget is a consideration. First as Alexander Wolfe noted if you get much above the $600 range you are pushing hard on decent entry level AR-15's. Of course those would need ancillary gear like a sling, mags and lights too so upping it to $800 is probably more realistic.

Depending on your budget it is entirely possible to make a $2,500+ fighting shotgun. We are a consumerist society and there is nothing wrong with that. However as American Mercenary noted you can pay Ferrari money for a Fiat in projects or gun builds.

In my mind one of the biggest benefits of the pump shotgun is that they are realistically affordable for anybody but homeless drug addicts. I'm not saying everybody can afford to spend $300ish on a used Remington 870/ Mossberg 500 today but with a little planning and some saving they can afford one in a reasonable amount of time.

We could have a hearty discussion about the benefits of both Rem and Moss platforms. Both are very rugged. The plane Jane Mossberg 500's and their off brand Maverick 88's are cheaper than Remingtons so they offer more value. Then again you have a lot more parts and accessory support with the Remington. I'll close this phase of the discussion by saying they are both fine. Pick one type and buy 10 of them.

As I got to dreaming/ window shopping for this project TEOTWAWKI Blog's excellent Project 590A1. Alexander Wolfe does a great job on research and testing to find the best gear and setup for a particular gun. I like to take all that information and shamelessly steal it; just like for the S&W 642.

So anyway I wanted to get this done in 2014. Running the math if I did the finish myself it wouldn't really cost that much money. Thankfully 'H' recommended Alumahyde II vs plain old spray paint. So I figured out my plan. Some money came in and I ordered the stuff. It showed up in a few days.
The biggest piece of this project was the refinishing for sure. Thankfully Brownells has a series of videos 1, 2, 3, etc. After some reading it seems that preparation is at least as important as the spraying.

First I disassembled the gun. Since I was putting on a sling mount I had to take the stock off anyway so I just did it then instead of covering up the stock with tape and a plastic bag or something.
I cleaned the gun and degreased it. Since I'd been using the 'wetter the better' theory of gun maintenance that took some doing.


Next I used masking tape to cover up the parts I didn't want to paint. No pics of this but I covered the trigger guard and the front sight as well as both ends of the barrel. Filled the receiver with used paper towels from the cleaning then taped them into place.
It was too cold to paint in the garage but since I had the place to myself there were options. It was also a happy accident that I had a bunch of scrap carpet lying around. Laid 2 big pieces down on the kitchen floor (the easiest to clean worst case) as a ground cloth. Brought in a lawn/ patio chair that already had a bit of paint on it from another project to lean the pieces on.

I did the sling mount so it would match.

Then I painted. Overall it went pretty well. The only real sad face was a run on the barrel I foolishly tried to wipe off with a paper towel. It smeared and was really unattractive.
I tried painting over it but that didn't work. Ended up just sanding that part down and repainting. That time went better. At least enough so that I decided not to try my luck messing with it anymore.

This brings us to a point of discussion. I simply was not in a hurry to put the amount of cash into this gun to get it professionally refinished. That meant doing it myself. Do it yourself projects well, have do it yourself results. I'd say the shotgun looks fine but you will not mistake it for being professionally finished. Honestly I am OK with this. After some deliberation on the matter I figured worst case if I hate the paint job I can get it redone professionally later or try again myself. The advantage of destroying a gun's original finish (or getting one that is rough anyway) is that you can't do it twice. Sort of like murder after the first one the rest are free. 

I let the parts dry overnight then put it back together. In doing so I installed the GG&G sling mount and Elzetta light mount with a streamlight light I was using as my handheld tactical type light. Got to replace that now I guess.

After some consideration I decided to replace the old generic 5 shot neoprene shotshell holder with an Essetac card. Just pulled it off, slapped some velcro tape on and then a card on top. Not 100% how durable the velcro I got from the hardware store will be. Worst case I'll order a bigger heavier duty piece later if needed.
When I went to put a card on the side of the receiver I noticed the standard 870 Express forend goes too far back onto the receiver for a card to fit. That led to a Bleg on where to find another oneCommander Zero, the great American survivalist he is had a spare black plastic one lying around. He sent it my way along with a few other goodies gratis. So sometime in the near future I'll be swapping that out and hopefully getting the sidesaddle card put on. I really want both because there is a decent chance if I grab this gun it'll be 3am and I'll be wearing running shorts so all the rounds I'll have will be on the gun. Sure it sits by my cobbled together shotgun fighting load, which I will discuss in a future post but I might not have time for that so more rounds on the gun the better.

I took it out for a quick test fire to make sure it still goes bang. It still does. So now it is loaded up and in the Sentry Safe Home Defender with the Glock.

Pleased to say that Project 870 is finally done or at least within spitting distance of done after the forend swap and sidesaddle card installation. Total expenditure was roughly $500. Would like to get an SOE shotgun micro rig to go with it but am not in any particular hurry to do so. As I get a bit more experience with the different new pieces I may write about them individually.

Thoughts?

Edited to include: I went to swap out the forend this afternoon. Before taking off the Essetac light mount, the extension and barrel I decided on a lark to lay the new plastic forend Zero sent me on top of the old one. They look identical in size. So now I'm looking at just taking a finish saw to the wood forend to cut it down. Worst case on that the 870 Express wood furniture is dirt cheap so if I ruin it that is fine. Thanks to Zero I'd have a functional forend for the duration. It's either that or just buy a shorty plastic forend like the Magpul, Hogue or whatever. Do have a couple ebay auctions pending for dirty cheap 870P furniture but I'm not too optimistic about any of them. Going to sleep on it before doing anything I cannot take back. So finishing this project is slightly stalled. Story of my life.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Crystal Ball 2014 Edition

This is the time of year where I talk about what I see coming down the pike. First I will say that I do not have a crystal ball, yadda yadda yadda; then I will immediately follow that with some predictions. Of course it is worth noting that I am not a doctor, lawyer or financial advisory and I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Basically my thoughts are my own so if you choose to follow them all of the risk is on you; the only good part is that I don't take 5% off the top and a third of your growth plus monthly fees.

Indicators will be polarized as to whether our economy is recovering. Some indicators will keep growing because eventually folks will come out of their shells; ex people will buy homes, folks move and families reach the time where buying a house is right for them regardless of the market. The biggest single divide between them will be how easily a number can be inflated or manipulated. Example the stock market will probably do well but the number of people out of the work force will increase and the number in crap jobs (low wage, permanent part time, no bennies high turnover) will increase even more.

I fear that rule of law will continue to diminish on many fronts. Example if a young white thug punches an old black person for no reason it is a hate crime but if a poor disadvantaged urban youth does the exact same thing to a cracker it's somehow not a hate crime, barely a misdemeanor.

If a liberal breaks a firearms law it will not be prosecuted but if a conservative does they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Crime will generally rise but it will be kept quiet in the media and obscured in official reports. I see larger organized robberies including the home invasion type to increase as more people, some of whom have a military background, are unable to gain easy legitimate income and may even be pushed to desperate measures.

Increasingly economic winners and losers will not be decided by good business sense or keen competition but government connections deciding winners and losers.

Generally your job prospects are good in government and get better at higher levels (.gov, .state, .county, .city) with the exception of the military.

We are facing a downsizing not seen since the Clinton era. Lots of soldiers and NCO's as well as company and field grade officers, myself  and American Mercenary included, face the risk of being involuntarily separated. They may cut up to 20% of these officers, of that population probably 6% have derogatory stuff (disciplinary, really bad evaluations, etc) and will be easy pickings but the rest are going to be fully qualified Officers who are probably combat veterans. I'm not too worried largely because there isn't a huge point in worrying about it. I'll get my records strait and if they say I'm fired well I'll be sad then move along n do something else. It would be a weird/ rough/ poor year or so but we'll figure it out. It helps that we've made choices (college, saving, low debt load) that would help if need be.

I think inflation is going to keep eating away at our real purchasing power. Say we call real inflation 6% (to choose a number) well if you let that roll for 3-4 years it hurts a lot. Eventually in the next few years, or maybe sooner, it will reach a point that the government can't keep the proverbial car between the lines on the road. The best case I see is the late 70's and early 80's stagflation, the worst is pretty bad.

The whole health care mess is going to continue. I suspect the more we see of this law the worse it will be for average Americans. As it becomes clear the middle class, specifically it's younger members are subsidizing the working and not working poor to benefit the medical insurance industry many normal people are not going to be happy. This could be sadly entertaining to watch.

I don't think our "representatives" are going to get any better at working together to solve actual problems.

What could we pull from these predictions in terms of actionable ideas? (Again noting I'm just a guy with a blog, don't bet the farm on something I think.)

It would be prudent to get yourself medically squared away, especially if you currently have decent insurance. Get that surgery you've been putting off, get that knee fixed, fix that crown that is about to go, get lasic or family planning type surgeries if you want them. Simply put I do not think health care is going to get more accessible, cheaper or better in the near future so it would be prudent to catch up on whatever you need now.

Along those lines if you have been planning a major purchase such as a home or some land that will require credit I would look hard at getting that done. Rates are climbing and in the mid term (say 3-5 years) I can't see them getting better.

Replacing things large and small that are on the verge of going out while you still have an income so it is a minor inconvenience vs a major problem would be prudent. It could be the daily driver that you know is about to go out or a pair of boots from the 80's held together with shoe glue. Right now if these things break replacing them is unpleasant to some degree, on the high end you might have to put off a vacation. On the other hand if in 9 months you've been out of work for 6 months and are barely keeping a roof over your head replacement could be impossible.

Inflation both hidden (smaller servings, 10 cans in a case instead of 12, etc) and not so hidden will keep pushing food prices up. Stuff like coffee, rice and wheat , canned food or long term emergency kits are simply not going to get cheaper.You might want to reread or read The Alpha Strategy, the PDF is all over the net, for some ideas here.

If there is gun stuff on your annual list I would recommend pushing it towards the front. When we get close to the mid term elections the situation could get ugly. Maybe you want a new carry gun or Momma needs a 20 gauge, whatever. Ammo isn't exactly where I'd love it to be but with 7.62x39 in the $230/1k range and good 62 grain 5.56 in the low 40 (42) cent range it's probably time to weigh the chance of prices dropping another 5-10% with the risk of things going nuts. Personally I've been buying 7.62x39 for a couple months and am going to get some 5.56 soon. Prices on shotgun and hunting rifle (30-30, 30'06, etc ammo have stayed more or less flat so that is a no brainer to buy now. Anyway I would look to be done buying guns, ammo and mags for the year around the middle of summer at the latest.

What to do with money these days is a fun question. If you are smart you save, period. The old saying that if you always save 10% you'll never be broke has a lot of merit. Personally I think the stock market is inflated, dependent on continual federal government crap bond purchases and generally a bad place to put your money. Savings accounts are paying interest that is effectively (when you count inflation) negative. Sure you need at least some of the Emergency Fund in the bank in case you get munsoned in the Philadelphia Airport for 4 days or drop the transmission from the family hauler 2 states away but beyond that it's a bad place to park cash. So what to do with it. Here are a combination of my thoughts and things we are actually doing.

Pay down debt. The conventional wisdom is that paying down debt in an inflationary situation is foolish because you can pay it off later with cheaper dollars. The problems with that idea are 1) it presumes you are making more money to keep up with inflation. If paying off the debt is unpleasant now imagine when the grocery and fuel bills double but you make the same amount? Also 2) Looking at ways to make money or at least save money if you put cash towards a loan with a 5% interest rate you are saving and in effect making back 5%. Also 3) the pay it back in cheaper dollars plan presumes you keep your job/ income. High inflation makes for ruinous economic circumstances. Even if the $1,000 mortgage paying is worth $600 in real dollars it's hard to pay when you are unemployed.

For goodness sakes pay off any adjustable rate debts. Look, rates are going to rise, I cannot say when but they will. To people whose vehicles or homes are dependent on paying a loan whose interest rate will likely increase significantly it will be ruinous.  If you listen to nothing else I say get those debts paid off or turn them into fixed rate loans. The only exception I see is a loan/ card/ line of credit that is at an advantageous rate WHICH YOU CAN PAY OFF AT THE END OF THIS MONTH OR ANY GIVEN ONE IF NEEDED.

-Buy food and ammo. Get all you may possibly need (obviously considering the shelf life of food) and maybe some more. During firearmagedon a guy with a case of 5.56 and a case of 9mm set aside to sell could have done really well for himself. In coming potential events a guy with a couple hundred new in the package PMAGs could double, triple or even quadrupole his money.

-Put money into yourself. Take a class to learn to use a combat rifle by a pro like Max Velocity, get a certification to prove to a stranger you know how to do something like weld, work on engines or whatever. Get a degree or a second degree to improve your competitiveness at the current job or get a better one. Remember nobody can take away what is in your head.

-Put money into things that will let you earn money/ barter. If you are a welder get a genny and a setup to do small jobs on your own. If you are a mechanic buy tools and spare parts. If you are a carpenter buy tools, nails, hardware and lumber. If you can reload any type of ammo stock deep in powder, primers, lead and all manner of casings. If you can garden stock seeds deep for your own use and trade.

-If you have big money there are some bargains out there in real estate. A person could buy a couple duplexes or 3 small houses that are in reasonable shape in decent neighborhoods and get a modest reliable income out of them. When said person eventually sold those homes they would also benefit from appreciation of the property.

Along the big money lines I would look at relatively low upkeep businesses: trailer parks, storage facilities and stuff like that with a proven track record of earning money. In this situation do consider the necessity to have the time to do it yourself or cost to have a competent manager in place. If you don't have managerial desires consider the possibility of buying a share of an existing business. Say Bob's storage is a productive profit earning business but they can use a cash influx to buy 5 acres next door that are for sale and expand, you put up the cash and Bob gives you 25% of the business, win/ win.

-Put money into things that will improve your situation. Build a chicken coup and get chickens, put up a fence you need to use part of your land that has been fallow, buy a milk cow, build some raised beds to grow a bigger garden, put in a good road on the back 40, etc. You get the idea.

-Purchase bargains on useful items. If Joe 6 pack is going to sell Daddy's .357 mag, his mall ninja AR, a good generator or a toy 4 wheel drive truck that screams Bug Out Vehicle fast to make bills somebody is going to show up on short notice with cash offering 70 cents on the dollar, it might as well be you. Either you can flip the stuff to make a quick buck (since you can wait 30 days for a buyer willing to pay 95 cents on the dollar) or you use the stuff for awhile and keep it to sell on a rainy broke day.

-Put money into things you are going to need at some point. Maybe your kids will need AR's to go play with Dad on the weekends or sooner or later your farm/ business is going to grow and you will need a larger generator, another vehicle, a piece of equipment or something. Maybe you've been putting off buying a .338 Lapua for awhile. I don't know what applies to your situation. The point is to look towards future purchases and make them with today's available dollars ideally hiding them from inflation and thus saving money over the future cost of said item(s).

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. What do you think is coming in 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Quote of the Day and Discussion

"I don’t (necessarily) have a safe full of handguns because I'm awaiting the end of the world, I have them because I’m awaiting the end of my ability to acquire them."
-Commander Zero

Something Zero said awhile back has stuck with me. "What if the stuff (specifically guns/ mags/ ammo/ parts but I guess it could be whatever) I have now IS ALL I AM EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET?"

Honestly the need to stock guns uuber deep for some SHTF scenario is in my mind iffy. Aside from the ability to have weapons cached or in different kits multiple redundant guns do not play much of a role in my SHTF preps. That I could dig out rifle #3 to defend my home is a moot point (beyond arming another person) in my mind. More likely than not I'm coming home with rifle #1 Project AR, plus maybe some other guys stuff or on my back.

However lets say life went on without some Max Max collapse but for whatever reason I was unable to acquire more guns (etc) in the future. Could be a ban or an economic collapse that made a used Glock worth 2 months wages at a good job or whatever.

Unlike some end of the world scenario there is a distinct possibility I could be alive and kicking but suddenly without a gun/ magazine/ etc. Things happen. A gun falls in a creek, your truck gets broken into, the cabin where you store your hunting guns burns down, etc all. Say I'm that guy who has ONE mag for their gun. Mags can be lost or misplaced and even with the best accountability and maintenance they are a product designed to wear out and be replaced. That single mag for my sweet 1911 is now gone and I am screwed. I'm either going to live without one or pay dearly for another potentially dealing with shady characters or taking legal risks to get a replacement.

I bought my first firearms during the 1994-2004 AWB. I chose a Glock because I'm a smart guy. Ended up disregarding the 9mm because full capacity mags were unobtanium unless you had em prior to the ban. A friend of mine had ONE full cap factory mag that he paid $160 or something silly for. The full sized .45 model 21 was a bit big for my hand (they didn't make the SF model yet, which are nice) so I got a .40. Figured with a limit of 10 I might as well get bigger bullets. In hindsight I could have bought a Beretta 92 and got reasonably priced milsurp mags but I digress.

The years went by and thankfully that silly ban went away. I picked up some mags.

More time went by and I became a full fledged survivalist. I got to working an adult job and had some cash to spare. Around that time President Obama became the President elect and the last round of gun ban madness happened. I swore to myself that I would not let myself be in the position I was in 2004 again. I didn't control when I was born so nothing I could do about the first AWB but if I got caught in a second one it was really just my fault. So over time I spent some cash. A spare mag here, a dozen there, a Glock for my birthday, a case of ammo there, Project AR, etc all. While I'm not where I want to be the odds I will find myself without any sort of handgun, shotgun, .22 or rifle are very low.

My wife stays at home with our kids and while I make a decent living it is nothing amazing. If I can put some mags, ammo and even extra guns away over time with some sacrifice and planning the odds are most of you can too. Note that empowering sentence included the words sacrifice and planning.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

California Gun Registration Pending

Zero linked to it. If you live in the beautiful but overpopulated and totally messed up state of California this would be a very good time to pick up an extra pump shotgun, a rifle and a .22 rifle. If you can afford it do the same for your spouse. If you still have cash get them for your kids.

To the best of my knowledge the defacto registration via record keeping of form 4473 has never been used to disarm law abiding citizens, at least en mass. If the proverbial eye of Mordor shifted to you a team of cops could theoretically track down all legally purchased guns via this system but it would be a significant effort. Like more of a Unabomber, Ted Bundy type thing than a Joe Patriot who posts at WSRA type thing.

On the other hand state registration systems have in fact been used to confiscate firearms, as far as I know just in California and New York.

You can believe they only want the info or you can go to a local store NOW and get what you need, or spares of everything. I do not know California law but suspect private party sales are heavily restricted. That being said if you can find a loophole (typically family or "gifts" that may be entirely unrelated to a loan which may never be paid back) or just don't care no paperwork is even better.

Of course the standard advice that if you buy an AK and a Glock 9mm both with a bunch of standard capacity mags from Uncle Earl who got em before the ban I would keep that stuff well hidden in some sort of cache. I strongly recommend that you have entirely legal (local, state AND federal laws) weapons for self defense and recreational/ sporting needs right now. If things go all Max Max nobody is going to be checking the features of your old greased up Norico AK and old school Gen I Glock. That being said right now why shoot a burglar with that Norico and get in a bunch of trouble when a Remington 870 or Cowboy Assault Rifle a la 30-30 will do just fine and not get you in hot water.




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Books From Commander Zero and Dave Ramseys Total Money Makeover

Every once in awhile I get a package from somebody on the interwebz. They want to pass on book or a piece of gear for me to test, whatever. I also do the same thing to other folks.

Anyway one of these packages arrived from Commander Zero the other day. It included a copy of Starship Troopers and Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I read Starship Troopers years ago as a teen. May already have a copy of it on inventory, honestly I'm not sure. We discovered Dave Ramsey right after college via the TV show. In true Dave Ramsey fashion we got one of his books at the local library.

Our overall financial plan does not exactly follow every tenant of the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps plan. We use credit and debit cards instead of the cash envelope thing. We saved a full emergency fund before paying off debt in part because the debt was at a low interest rate. Anyway despite the differences our low debt reasonable living lifestyle is probably one Dave would approve of.

Thanks for the books Zero!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good Gas Cans At A Considerable Discount

Metal Gas can's for $28. About half price. They put a limit of 3 on there which made the inevitable how many to order question a bit easier. I really want some of the metal NATO cans but $50ish is a hard price to swallow. These cans are just a couple bucks more than the plastic EPA Kalifornia *#(@*# cans sold at Wally World.

HT to Commander Zero for the find.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Revolver Discussion Revisited

I wrote a post about revolvers before realizing that it said the same thing as A Discusion of Revolvers from a bit more than a year ago. So instead of finishing the new post I just linked to the old one. Commander Zero's points are also valid. Since writing the previous post I spent a fair bit of time carrying a J frame in the blast furnace that is Arizona and discussed it here: Living with my J Frame and Living with my J Frame 2 .

Thoughts on revolvers for practical use?


Saturday, August 10, 2013

How Out Are You As A Survivalist?

First off I have to credit Commander Zero for inspiring this post.  When it comes to preparedness and survivalism there is a consideration of how much to expose to others. Zero has previously compared this with being gay or some other not widely accepted and arguably deviant behavior.

Giving our more conservative readers a second to adjust to the comparison it is very valid. Compare the normal "prepper" to someone who is totally in the closet and the dude who wears BDU's all the time, has a custom camo painted surplus truck full of political/ gun bumper stickers, etc to the assless chaps (though really by definition chaps are assless, that's what makes em chaps instead of pants) shirtless with leather vest dude at the gay pride parade.

[Look if there is any confusion I genuinely do not care who anyone has sex with so long as they are consenting adults. Be gay, strait, or change it up on Tuesdays, whatever. That's not what this blog is about.]

Part of the issue with being in the closet is that it is difficult to meet like minded people for friendship, to work together and of course for mutual support. You'll miss out on a lot by not getting involved with like minded people. That sucks.

Of course the other side has it's issues also. Part of your life can make the rest difficult. Just like the guys from golf might not approve of Man Disco Friday they might not be a huge fan of Crazy Bunker everyday. You get the point.

Most people tend to choose something between the two extremes.

First of all it is my general belief that people can, for lack of a better way of saying it, smell their own. Be it sexual lifestyle choices, drugs, survivalism or whatever folks can usually pick others with similar choices out from the pack. This is darn near unavoidable if you spend more than a little bit of time around eachother.

It is worth considering that a persons environment largely guides what is 'normal' and thus what is abnormal. For example in many parts of the western US it is common for people to carry handguns for a variety of reasons and a rifle in a rack is not uncommon. Folks who are in certain trades may tend to carry different tools or fixed blade knives. Conversely some professional jobs in big cities dictate suits and terribly impractical shoes. Personally being in the Army and thus living around bases I can carry a fairly aggressive tactical type knife like a Benchmade auto and wear a rigger belt without undue attention.

In preparedness we gain or sacrifice capabilities depending on how out we choose to be. A tiny swiss army knife with a 1/2 inch blade beats no knife but a 4" folder would be a lot better. Boots or comfortable shoes sure beat dress shoes in a disaster. You get the point.

I think we all have to consider how much is gained or sacrificed by our level of overt survivalism.

Personally I carry a fairly large tactical type knife and wear a gun manufacturer hat albeit a discrete one. In Arizona I open carried about half the time. How out that is I'm not sure. For my area I'm fairly out in terms of dress but for others it would be pretty shocking.

Also how much we do or do not talk about survivalism with others is a consideration. Talking can help you convert people or gain like minded allies but it can also alientate you from others who find the whole thing shocking and put you at risk. A neighbor who thinks preparedness is whacky might come knocking when a disaster strikes. 

In this area I play it pretty safe. Very good friends and close family are tracking the broad strokes of what I do but strangers, neighbors, folks at work, etc do not need to know. The rewards do not even out the various risks. Every once in awhile you stumble into somebody who just seems to think the same way so maybe you talk more with them when others are not around.

Both being out and being discrete have pluses and minuses. It is worth noting that it's easy to go from being discrete to a bit more overt and short of moving a long distance and dealing with totally new people almost impossible to do the opposite. Once the genie is out of the bottle it's out. It is really about what is right for your goals and lifestyle.

So how out are you?






Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Evening Firearm Ramblings

Commander Zero's post on the MonoVault is definitely interesting. Seems like a good way to stash an AR or two, with mags and ammo plus a Glock, 9mm ammo, mags n ancillary stuff, a change of clothes, a sleep system, some food and a flexible framed pack to hold it all. Perfect for a heavy individual E and E cache or a resupply cache. Sure it is a bit more expensive than the home depot PVC solution but it also lets you readily stick a long gun with a pistol grip in there and have everything in one (outer) container. Probably wouldn't appeal to the Mosin Nagant and Mora knife burying crowd but if you are putting something a bit pricier away it seems like a good move.

The Entire Gunternet in One Page is pretty hilarious.

Your gun sucks. An you’re holding it wrong.

Been doing some hard thinking about my gun collection. There are a few nice to have type items but I am short a scoped (.308) bolt gun. Part of me says to sell a thing or two and get one. Another part says I would eventually look to replace those relatively difficult to find items later anyway so it would just be easier to save for a bolt gun.

On the plus side as I look at the stash there are important things being squared away. Being able to say "I do not need any more X" is pretty cool. Granted I will be stashing AR's and Glock's Zero style as long as they are available and finances allow. However the niche categories like shotguns and revolvers are getting filled up.

Am going to think on it for awhile but will probably just wait to buy the bolt gun.

Max Velocity talks the 100 meter zero

Interestingly along the firearmagedon front ammo is popping up at better prices albeit for short periods of time. Maybe this is a sign things are getting better albeit slowly. Who knows.

I'm bored of writing so it's time to end this. Got something good planned for tomorrow.












Saturday, June 22, 2013

How Much Is Enough?

Survivalism seems to be all about accumulating meaningful skills and massive amounts of stuff. Been thinking about how much stuff we really need. Came to some conclusions.

First is the obvious reply (to "how much stuff do we need?") of "For What?" The sort of scenarios a person is worried about matter greatly here. The amount of food, water, gear, weapons, money, etc that are needed for a 3 day power outage are very different than for a month long Hurricane Katrina type disaster which is still a lot less than some sort of SHTF/ TEOTWAWKI type event. The amount of food, precious metals, knives, gear, ammo, etc needed vary hugely.

Some scenarios make different stuff important. Commander Zero who is stashing Glocks and AR's like crazy might be worried about a different scenario than another person. That other person might be more worried about an economic collapse. The other person might have a a few guns to suit their basic needs plus a couple stashed away just in case then call it good and shove money into silver and gold. A third person might live way in the middle of nowhere, have a few guns and be big into gardening. They would be stashing seeds and canning stuff.

The next question that pops into my mind is about proportion. You need some balance. Obviously all guns and no food, or no guns and all food is real dumb. You get the point. Furthermore I think we need to consider the rest of life. Having a gazillion buckets of food but no savings account is foolish. Getting all this survival stuff but not the curtains and couch the Mrs wants is probably a good way to get divorced. Spending all your money on survival gear you may never need but kicking the bucket never taking that trip to wherever you always wanted to make is real dumb. Having tens of thousands of dollars in survival gear but paying on a car loan probably is not smart. As you progress in life hopefully making more money and saving more progressing towards a lot of lines of effort makes sense.

Lastly I think there is the question of how much stuff you can realistically use. A dozen rifles and handguns in the safe at home probably is not smart. Odds are way higher you will need a gun someplace else than a whole bunch of guns at home. A cache with a few of those guns and the rest stashed at a family member or friend's house where you frequently travel to makes more sense. Having a whole bunch of stuff you can't possibly use does not make sense.

Anyway I hope that gives you all something to think about.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Swack Shack Product Review

I have been asked to review the Swack Shack. Several folks including Commander Zero have been on the fence about getting one so it's only fair to give my impressions on it to help with their decision making.

The Swack Shack is basically a huge (9'X7') rectangular ripstop nylon tarp with a bunch of attachments to tie off from. There are grommets on the corners and two sets of them equally spread on the long sides. The middle of the short sides have nylon web loops as does the center point. According to the site it weights 1 1/4 pounds which is pretty darn light.

The concept of use is definitely as a shelter. However I suppose you could use it for anything a huge piece of waterproof cloth could do. It could certainly be used as sort of impromptu piece of raingear or as the water proof piece of a bedroll type setup. Onto the usual format.

The Good: This thing is huge! The description that it can cover you, your gear and firewood is not an exaggeration. The size and numerous well thought out attachment points give you all sorts of options for setting it up. Granted anybody who has been in the field a time or two can rig up some crazy poncho hooches but this makes it easier. I put roughly 8' pieces of paracord on the corners to cover my standard tie off needs. If you live in a place with little to no vegetation a tent pole/ hiking pole/ whatever or two would bring plenty of options back into play.

It seems like a very well made piece of kit. Solid construction and very well thought out in terms of size and all of the attachment options. Also though they made a mistake in shipping they were cool about it. The problem was fixed quickly, cost me nothing and they tossed in some swag.

The Bad: It is a bit pricey at $88, once you seam seal it and pay for shipping it's probably a bit under $100 at your door. We will revisit this in the discussion portion.

The Ugly: For reasons I do not understand this product does not come seam sealed. A piece of gear in this price range it should come ready to go, not need more time and money put into it just to function at a basic level. Seam seal isn't expensive and it didn't take long to do but really they should send the product ready to go.

Discussion: I want to talk more about the cost. The sticker price is certainly a bit steep if you compare it to a $10 surplus poncho or a China Mart 8x10 tarp. On the other hand if you compare it to ripstop nylon products by quality manufacturers it is fairly in line with the various competitors. USGI Poncho's seem to be going for $50, the Go Light product (which is 2 feet narrower) is $60,  Dave Canterbury has options from $60-150, Kirafu products cost 2-4X as much. We could certainly debate the benefits of all these systems but at first glance only the Kirafu stuff is better set up to use as a shelter (attachments, etc).

Obviously if you compare the Swack Shack to a $10 poncho or China Mart tarp with an emphasis on cost those options are far cheaper. Heck, When I was a teen we probably did a dozen camping trips with a piece of clear plastic sheeting as our shelter. On the other hand if you are looking for a shelter that covers a lot of space, folds up small and is very light the Swack Shack brings a lot to the table.

I would say this is probably not a 'putting together your first BOB/ backpacking setup on a budget' piece of gear simply due to cost. You can make something else work just fine, however it will probably be bigger/ heavier to carry and cover less area. For me the Swack Shack came into play once I had most, if not all, of the basic stuff I needed and was looking to upgrade to lighter/ better stuff. Baring a huge buy the best right away budget the upgrading once the basics are covered approach is probably where the purchase of a Swack Shack fits best.

Based on my limited experience I recommend the Swack Shack, it's a fine piece of gear. I'm certainly pleased with the purchase. As always questions or thoughts are welcome.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Night Vision Prioritization

Anonymous Commander_Zero said...
First off, congrats on what is probably the most expensive preparedness acquisition short of a dedicated BOV or retreat.

This is kind of interesting from a philosophical, logistics, and mathematical standpoint.

Keep in mind, Im not being critical, Im just curious about your reasoning: you say that the laser/NVD combo is handy but if a person doesnt have one they arent doomed to failure. But you also say that they arent cheap...so here's my question - this kit *seems* like it is a nice-to-have-but-not-essential bit of gear; how did you rationalize its purchase when there might have been other items that were likely to see more usage in a crisis? (Although I admit that I have no idea what your level of preparedness is, for all I know you may have everything else and this was the cherry on the top.)

I'd love to have a laser/NVD combo but I'd probably wind up sinking the money into something else that *I* think is more likely to be necessary for my particular situation...more food, more metals, more armour, BOV, generator & fuel, etc, etc.

Keep in mind, please...Im not being judgemental, I'm just wondering how you arrived at this big-ticket purchase vs. other, less expensive, preps that may have been on your list.


Ryan here:  Thanks. This is a complicated and worthwhile question so I will address it here on the main page.

I mentioned that folks should not feel bad if this sort of setup is out of their reach for a couple reasons. First there isn't any point in worrying about things you cannot make happen. I do not have a super duper John Rourke retreat, cannot afford it now and probably never will, so there is no point in stressing it. In the unlikely event I need said super retreat I'm hosed so no point in stressing it. Along these lines I try to keep things here suited to folks of all income/ preparedness funding levels so unless it is absolutely the case I avoid the "you are doomed without this gear" discussion. Second A person does not NEED night vision, there are many scenarios where it would not even come up. However at the same time one does not really NEED an AR-15, a Glock 17, a high end precision rifle, a solar setup, a generator, etc, etc. All we NEED is food, potable water and enough shelter to not die of exposure. Like a lot of things night vision falls into the 'nice to have' category.
So here's my question - this kit *seems* like it is a nice-to-have-but-not-essential bit of gear; how did you rationalize its purchase when there might have been other items that were likely to see more usage in a crisis? 

To answer this first I will talk about how things worked in this particular situation. As to how I ended up with a PVS-14. I spent a year in Afghanistan. During that time my personal money and preparedness money accumulated in the bank leaving me with a wad of cash. I wanted to make a preparedness purchase of some type. It came down to a NOD, a long list of $100-$400 items or a whole bunch of long term storage food.

I liked the idea of a NOD for the obvious advantages it offers. The long list of stuff would be nice but I can make those sort of purchases over time while large amounts of cash are hard to come by. A major food purchase all at once didn't make a ton of sense to me as it would (albeit a long time from now) go bad all at once. On the other hand if I made the same purchases over 3-4 years I would have a better chance at orderly rotation and replacement with fresh stock. Also like the list of various stuff I can buy food in smaller increments that better fit into our normal budget. Right or wrong that is how I ended up with the NOD.

As to the laser I sold a rifle and my ACOG (which was replaced by a much more affordable yet still very nice Burris MTAC) to pay for it. So it was more of a shifting of resources within the greater defense/ gun arena than an influx of new money.

As to the philosophy and prioritization. In no particular order I will give some circumstances and thoughts that guided my decision:

-I intentionally prioritized items that could potentially be targeted by some sort of legislation or administrative fiat. Buckets of rice/ wheat/ beans, solar panels and 1978 F250 4x4's are not getting restricted any time soon but stuff like body armor and night vision very well could. Really it is more vulnerable than firearms as there is not any Constitutional protection for these items.

-We move a lot and not across town. This makes compact items that are easy to move imminently more practical for us. A whole lot easier to stick a NOD in a bag then make an additional cross country trip driving 55 in our old F250 13 mpg 'BOV'.

-It is easy to go down the dozen $100-$300 items vs one big one (in this case NOD+laser) rabbit hole. I thought about it a lot. Two things came to mind. First it is easier for me to work those various smaller items into our normal budget. (I've been knocking them off the list) Second when I really thought about it honestly the vast majority of them did not actually offer a new capability. Maybe something a bit lighter, more comfortable, newer, shinier, more tacticool, etc which is all great but those are IMO lower priorities than new capabilities.

 - I think it is important to consider if you are building a system to fight, giving yourself the maximum advantage possible, or collecting guns. A person who is building a fighting setup will get a good set of personal weapons as well as a chest rig/ battle belt/ whatever, body armor and night vision if they can afford it and maybe pick up some more guns later. A person collecting guns will probably have a whole bunch of guns and various gear but quite possibly no body armor and certainly no night vision. I am not saying either approach is right or wrong; what I am saying is to think honestly about your goals and if your actions makes sense to support said goals.

-As John Mosby said "NVGs, or to use the older term with which I am far more comfortable, NODs, are a force multiplier of equal or greater value than two or three extra riflemen, when used properly. If you have six rifles of your own, but no NODs, you’re &@cking yourself and your team. Remedy the situation.
 
- A lot of the cost issue is about perspective. I personally know a guy who has between 75 and 100k in guns (at pre panic prices) and that's not including mags, ammo or parts all of which he has a lot of too. This guy described body armor which runs $500 a pop as ruinously expensive. He also did not have any night vision. By selling a few guns guns he could get body armor for all 4 members of the family and 2 NODs with IR lasers to match. He probably would not even notice the few guns that would need to be sold to pay for this stuff if they were missing. However they would be in a much better place if something actually happened. 

-If one can't afford the rough price tag of modern (Gen3) type night vision and a laser that is one thing but continuing gun collecting instead of buying the other fighting gear that one should have is IMO a high degree of foolishness if the goal is defending them self and their loved ones. At best one should consider whether they want to collect guns or prepare to fight people.

I think this gives some insight to why I have made the decision to get into the NOD game. If we were in a fixed normal guy who lives in one place type situation I might have chosen differently but probably not. Anyway I cannot think of anything else to say so it's time to wrap this up.

As always your thoughts are appreciated.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

World Band Radio Setup

Commander Zero asked so I will answer.  It is worth noting that I am a total newbie at this. Can only say what I have done and how it has worked.

My radio is a Grundig 350DL. They are pretty unambiguous and probably represent one of the better options within the basic radio line up. Not super fancy per se but not junk either. When I got mine the street price was around $100 though they can be found for less sometimes. There are certainly other viable radios but I went with this one. Anyway. I have talked about it a bit in the past. While not all things to all people I am pretty happy with it. 

Along with the radio I would strongly suggest purchasing a shortwave antenna and the newest copy of Passport to World Band you can find for a decent price.

Strictly speaking you do not need an external antenna. Last night I was listening to broadcasts out of Cuba, New Zealand and Lebanon with just the normal extendable antenna on the radio. However it really helps a lot and for $10 why not. Though I have not tried I think a wire can work just the same.

Once you get the antenna hooked up then get your ground set. You take a piece of wire and run it to the biggest metal thing that is convenient. My ground at our last house was the pipe to the heater.

Now if everything is hooked up right (it's really pretty easy) you are ready to use the radio.

You can either tune in to find something specific or just cruise the channels to see what is out there. If you want to listen to specific things out of specific places Passport to World Band is a good starting point. There is lots of stuff out there free online but a comprehensive list for $10ish is an easy decision to me. If you want to listen to something specific tune into the right channel at the right time and go to it.

The other option is to just spin the dial to see what is out there. I think this is a lot of fun. Not a very efficient use of time or energy but a good way to kill an hour or two. Listening to the Lebanese take on reconciliation after their civil war was pretty interesting yesterday.

I was a bit lazy and did not take any pictures to go along with this post. Please excuse me, I will be fiddling around with the Grundig.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Colors like FDE…..flat dark earth, or as I learned it before kindergarten, brown.:
 -Flight-ER-Doc in reply to Zero's Subaru of War post

My comment on the matter. "I’ve seen quite a few rattle can camo’ed vehicles down here in fairly rural Southern Arizona. I think varmit/ small game hunting rules here are pretty liberal so that might be the reason. Not entirely sure though. To me for a vehicle that’s going to be driven around regularly the OPSEC cost to custom camouflage painting your daily driver vastly outweigh the marginal benefits. Enough vehicles are available in green/ tan that fairly discrete options are out there which will not raise any eyebrows."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

RE: When They Come For Your Guns



I enjoyed this Hoss USMC video. Like most things his perspective is well thought out and logical. Dude just makes sense.

Here are my thoughts on the video:
1) It should have been titled "IF They Come For Your Guns". Personally gun confiscation is pretty low on my list of concerns. Though if I lived in Kalifornia, New York, Chicago, etc I might feel differently. Simply cannot see that happening in most of the US. Anyway moving on.

2) People are more important than things. I can get another gun much easier than I can recover from lethal wounds. This is made much easier conceptually if you have backups, in this case guns with ancillary stuff, stored someplace other than your home. That brings us to Caches.

3) Caches. Like I talked about before you have to consider the context of a cache. In this case I would look at the type of people you might store things with first. Like John Mosby said more or less "Hiding crates of Mosin Nagant's in the basement of the Gun Club's President is not a sound plan". An ideal candidate to cache some stuff with would be either for your cause but very quietly so or relatively neutral about it but very pro you and thus willing to help you out.

In terms of proximity a cache would need to be far enough away from you to be unaffected by the event that concerns you but close enough for you to get to if that event happens. Obviously a cache of guns buried 5 feet from your house or stored with the next door neighbor is a bad plan. On the other hand a gun 2,300 miles away isn't very helpful either. Somewhere between a mile and a hundred miles is probably a good way to go. Of course that is just a rough idea. Obviously a quarter mile from home buried in the state park would be fine. Political boundaries are also a consideration. If you live in California a buddy in Oregon/ Nevada/ Arizona would have some real benefits. Ditto for Cook County, Ill and Pop's Farm in Cornville.

Of course like any other cache appropriate planning and preparation is required.

4) Bait Guns. While I have my doubts about how unwinding all the the NCIS and ATFE 4473 mess for all guns on a national scale but lets just say that happened with some degree of effectiveness. In any case unless they are literally going block by block, door to door searching homes the folks knocking at the door probably know you have some guns. It would probably be a hard sell to convince them you do not have a single firearm. At a minimum that would likely garner unwanted attention. Since you want them to leave, not get deeper into your life, that is bad.

Awhile back Maine Prepper had the excellent point not to try giving them a broken rusty BB Gun and saying it is your only gun. A more realistic option might be a handgun as well as a shotgun / .22/ rifle. The first advantage of this plan would be you have these guns in the home prior to this hypothetical confiscation. A rifle to go hunting, a pistol and shotgun to defend your castle, whatever. If these are basic guns they can be very functional but had purchased at modest costs; particularly if you can buy them when opportunities arise. An old .38 and a Mosin Nagant or pump shotgun could be had for under $500. Aside from the benefit of having more quality guns now you can show them what they expected (which is to find some guns) getting them out of your hair. The second benefit would be that you are meeting their expectations which will get them out your door faster.

As to the rest of your guns? If folks are just doing a door to door search they came and found (or you handed over, whatever) your bait guns then I'd keep my mouth shut. Talking as little as possible around Cops is not a bad idea anyway. On the other hand maybe somehow they unwound all or part of the NCIS/ 4473 mess. At this point they are asking about the Glock 19 SN 12345 I purchased on 9 June 2008 at Shooters in Columbus GA. This rather unlikely scenario is one of the biggest reasons to buy paperless guns.

Well in most of the US private sales are currently legal with no requirements for documentation or going through an FFL. A plausible lie that would be very difficult to disprove might be the order of the day. I sold a bunch of guns a few years back: when I was getting stationed in Germany, was out of work for a few months, needed money when the Mrs got pregnant, had to fund a move from Ohio to Kansas, realized I hadn't hunted in years, swapped it for auto repair on a car that's since been sold etc or something else plausible like it fell out of the boat on a fighting trip, was stolen and you mindlessly forgot to report it, lost it in a poker game or whatever. The point would be to choose something that would be plausible and generally matches with some known facts from your life, yet would be just about impossible to disprove. I like events years in the past that occurred in other areas. Sure if the proverbial federal 'eye of mordor' shifted onto me they could try to track down an older shade tree mechanic from Kansas circa 2009 but in a mass confiscation scenario that would not get run down. I suppose this would be easiest for somebody who hasn't bought a papered gun in years that has also made a big move or two. If you've always lived in the same town and bought an AR-15 last summer it might be a bit harder to be convincing and vague at the same time.

It is also worth noting that you would want to rid the home of ammunition, accessories, etc for guns you are hypothetically claiming are no longer in your possession.  I expect a mag or box of ammo in the back of a closet could be explained away. However huge stacks of ammo cans and dozens of AR-15 magazines  and Glock 17 magazines for the guns you claim to have sold/ whatever would be a hard sell.

So anyway those are my thoughts on that. As always your input is welcome.
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