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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Power Outage at Casa De Zero

Commander Zero talked about his recent power outage.

Since his setup is pretty similar to mine (Honda EU 2000, some Goal 0 lights, LED lanterns and flash lights I was curious about how it went for him.
I use Energizer brand lanterns.
Got the first one for Christmas or something and liked it. Think we have 4 or so of them.The newer ones made in the last couple years can take AA batteries or D batteries. This is significant first because more options are always better. Second and most significantly I can charge AA's either off solar or the genny so for a longer term scenario that is the obvious way to go. I have a more expensive Goal 0 lantern but the little energizers are great. They are durable too. My kids haven't even broken one yet and that is saying something.

The Honda EU2000 rocks. It was hard to spend the money but it is well a Honda. Easy to use, boringly reliable, quiet and fuel efficient. It will run everything in the house except the dryer and heat/ AC and I presume water heater. Of course it won't run everything at once but using to for one large draw (Fridge or Freezer) and a couple of smaller ones like a radio, goal 0 lights, charging batteries, etc is very reasonable and goes a long way towards providing power outage creature comforts.

I agree with Zero's comment on extension cords. I probably need to go out and buy 2 more good cords and keep them with the generator. For light indoor use a surge protector with 3-4 outlets helps if the things are close to each other.

I definitely need to get a chain and  lock to secure the genny. Not a big concern where I live now but down the road it may well be.

In Zero's post the fact that you can connect a second Honda EU2000 and effectively have a 4k generator came up. I am personally ambivalent about this. To me the benefit of this size generator is it can provide a good bit (though admittedly not all) of my needs and a couple wants with a compact size and reasonable fuel consumption. This is important especially if you envision a situation like Katrina were you might be out of power for weeks or months.

If I ever get around to buying a second generator it would be big enough to run most of my house. Probably a large diesel setup (or a dual fuel propane/ diesel if such exists) that is wired to some circuits in the house. Who knows if that will ever happen. Oh yeah and a bunch of solar too. It's nice to dream.

Agree on Zeros comment about soda bottles. I also use them as ice cubes in a cooler.

Anyway I'm glad Zero got to test his gear, albeit in a less than ideal way, and make observations we might all benefit from.

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.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Semi Automatic .308 Rifle

I have been thinking about a semi automatic .308 for awhile. Now that I picked up the little .380 a semi automatic .308 is the only decent sized remaining hole in my battery.

The .308 rifles are expensive to purchase and more expensive to feed.  They are also heavy and none of them are especially common. That niche market has been split between the M1A, FN-FAL, HK G3/ PTR 91 and the AR-10.

I do not have the time or energy to discuss all of them. The M1A is stupidly expensive and one can argue the M14's legend is actually a myth.

The FAL is a fine rifle, at least the decent ones (Genuine FN, Springfield and DSA) are but they are expensive and so are their mags. Even a Century knock off runs a grand these days.

The PTR-91 is a solid rifle at a very aggressive price point often under a thousand dollars. Being honest aside from collector value they are probably as good as a genuine HK. Commander Zero favors the PTR-91. Even today the mags are around 4 bucks a pop.

The AR-10 has so much promise but it has been a train wreck off a platform. Many of them suck and there is a complete lack of standardization. The Army adopting the M110 SASS (Knight SR-25) may help in time. Some of them work but they are big time expensive. The new DPMS Hunter G2 shows a lot of promise but isn't really tested, might have proprietary parts (I don't know), and they don't really make a configuration I am in love with.

There is promise now that folks are generally moving to the M110 style and Magpul is making mags for them. However I do not think it is quite there yet.

Here is what Max Velocity think. Max Velocity talks about the semi automatic .308 rifle. 

American Mercenary has a Siaga .308 which he pairs (smartly) with a Savage Model 10. I have toyed with a similar rifle in 7.62x54R just because the ammo is about a quarter a shot but it would add another caliber which is a problem. Ultimately I decided I'll just stick with .308.

In general semi automatic .308's are big, heavy, low capacity and expensive. Also the ammo is heavy to carry so most people end up bringing less of it along. While not optimal they can be used for close quarters work.

On the plus side the .308 hits hard, especially at range, is good at going through cover/ vehicles and can be used to legally and ethically hunt medium to large game. Also since their ammo fits most 'precision' rifles you can have two rifles and only need to stock one type of ammo. The combination of semi auto mag fed anti personnel capability with hunting and long range capabilities make it, in my opinion, a useful rifle to have. Also if I was stuck in a 'one rifle' situation a .308 like a PTR-91 would bring a lot to the table.

Next year (or sooner if I stumble into a wad of cash) I will probably purchase a semi auto .308. As of right now I feel like the best option is a PTR-91. Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not Jurassic Park Just Two Big Dogs

Commander Zero threw it out there but no, in fact we are not running Jurassic Park here. It came up in a recent post how much dog food we are going through. My initial estimate was a bit off (we had a 3rd dog for awhile and he skewed things) but we are going through around 2/3rds of a 50 pound bag of dog food a week. That actually works well as it means we have around a 90 day supply on hand which is a pretty reasonable place to be at for the beasts.

So these are our dogs. Regrettably Dog #1 is no longer with us. He was a good old boy and I'm sure he is lazily sitting in heaven being petted by a bunch of kids. Seriously that dog was awesome. He was truly kid proof, I do not believe a kid could have done anything to make Dog #1 hurt them. In Arizona we had a walkable convenience store. When I went there I took Dog #1 and tied him up to a rail outside while I shopped inside. Every time I came back to some kids petting him and Dog smiling. He was a good boy. He was my friend and I miss him.

Dog #2 is the big ole tan gal. She is short with her shoulders coming about to my knees but she is thick! That dogs chest, neck and head are just huge! She is built like a linebacker. Walker tried to tackle her once, like a full on running attack. He hit her neck, rolled over the top of it and fell down, she didn't move. Dog #2 is pretty darn strong. I found this out when we were camping last fall. Someone took a cat camping and let it walk around the place. Turns out she hates cats, like a lot. It is a good thing I was holding the leash not Wifey. I am not a weak guy and it took most of what I had to keep my hand on the leash. She really hates cats. Also Dog #2's jaw strength is ridiculous. I don't recall why but we had a big old bone floating around the house. It was at least as big as my fore arm, probably a hog thigh bone. For some reason the other dogs were fighting over it and she got annoyed. Dog #2 picked up that big ole bone in her mouth and bit it in half! Another fun moment with Dog #2 was when my daughter opened up the fridge looking for a cup of milk. There was a half eaten rotisserie chicken in the fridge. Dog #2 got that thing in one bite and ran off.

She is a good girl. Really patient with the kids and stuff. Maybe it's the fact that she's had pups but she seems to get the whole concept of little ones being ridiculous. Occasionally she nips at Walker but only when he really, really deserves it. She gives a ton of warnings beforehand so really it is our fault for not getting Walker to knock it off.

Dog #2 absolutely looks scary and as a matter of fact is scary. She is my dog and I trust her to be around my small children (which is the highest level of trust I could give a dog but) I really, really wouldn't want to make her angry.

Dog #3 is ridiculous. He is just a pup still. That boy is probably going to be 110ish when he is fully grown. He has a little (lab) head but is a big lanky boy. As best we can tell he is part great dane and probably part lab. His head is lab sized which is weird for his big old body. He was pretty skinny at about 65 pounds when we got him (and the pic was shot), probably after starving for awhile.  Also Dog #3 is still a pup at well under a year old. Pretty quickly he gained a bunch of weight and is up to about 90 pounds.

Dog #3 is smart. Also he has all the right instincts. He is super high energy but in no way aggressive to the kids. Oddly he is so hyper Walker doesn't try the stuff he does on Dog #2 with him. Dog #3 is very aware and does not like anything getting into our area or near the kids. He is viciously protective of them and his default reaction is to fight any decently sized dog that tries to get close to them. Dog #2 is genuinely scary, maybe more so than #3. However I am very confident if Dog #3 is around nothing short of a black bear is going to hurt my kids! If a good old doggie deterrent is needed Dog #3 is the answer. He is very protective of his people, especially the kids, and generally cautious to aggressive towards everyone else. That dog would definitely eat someone if he needed thought it was necessary. Woe betide anyone who messes with the kids or wife! Also maybe best of all Dog #3 gets Dog #2, who is a big ole beast, going. She might be too stupid to get the need to fight unless someone smacks her on the nose but she will follow dog #3 when he gets going.

Wifey had Dog #3 at a dog adoption thing, before (she) we decided to keep him. Whenever a decent sized dog got near the kids Dog #3 said hell no and flipped his shit. He will not let an other than midget sized dog near my kids. Dog #3 says screw it he will fight them all. Also he seems to hate German Sheppard's for some weird reason  I guess he is a doggie racist or something.

Those are our two dogs. Dog #2 weights about 104 and Dog #3 weights about 92 pounds. He is still growing and I'd guess he grows up to 110-115ish. He's going to be a big old boy.

They are a handful but we love them. I generally prefer big fairly non aggressive dogs to smaller more aggressive ones. Also they make a very good case as to why someone should pick another place to rob.

Got Dogs?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ATF 'Arm Brace' Gate

 Edited to include additional picture:


 Link to the ATF Open Letter on the Redesign of the Sig Arm brace here. I especially liked the "every time we said this is OK we were wrong so ignore those" part.

 This whole thing is so silly. Zero mentions that it is utterly baffling. How you can 'redesign' a piece of a weapon by holding it differently is baffling to me. Is my Glock 19 suddenly something else if I hold it upside down in my weak hand? What if I use a Sig Brace to attach the pistol to my leg for super tactical under the vehicle tactical shooting at tactical threats? What if I brace it against my hip or groin? What in the shit does any of that actually mean?

Honestly I don't really care much about this but it is painful to watch. This is more baffling than if they were just banned. The darn things are being regularly used as butt stocks to essential make a paperless short barreled rifle. It was at best a very grey area but they were legal. Heck the ATF said in mutiple letters the brace is still legal even if you shoulder it. Why was shouldering an AR pistol with a Sig Brace deemed legal a few months ago now it is not? I simply do not understand how this mess could have happened.

Tblog's hope that the industry pushes back is one I have also. Even if the Sig brace, and I expect similar setups like the Thordsen tactical thingie, is dead in the water we need a better system for making these decisions, evenly and clearly disseminating them and sticking with them. Maybe with the movement of AR's and as of late AR pistols into the mainstream with big companies involved better outcomes might be reached.

The drama should be fun to watch anyway.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Layer ECWCS System- My Thoughts


The 7 layer ECWCS system is the Armies newest answer to cold weather clothing. It was first fielded in 2007. It consists of a light 'silk weight' set of long underwear, a 'medium' weight set of long underwear known for one side having ridges like a waffle, a fleece top, a light wind jacket, a set of 'soft shell' top and bottom, a gore tex top and bottom and a cold weather top and bottom referred to as the marshmallow suit.

These systems seem to be making their way onto the surplus market and Commander Zero asked about my thoughts on them. For background I have used various components of this system over several years in Central Europe, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. I have used it in a variety of weather from 40 degrees and rainy to 0 degrees (ambient not including wind chill) with snow, sleet and hail during training and deployment

Taking a step back we should briefly discuss the fundamentals of dressingfor cold weather. You need to layer with moisture wicking fabrics that stay (relatively) warm when wet and during precipitation have an outer layer that repels moisture from the outside yet lets moisture escape from the inside. Start with a good set of long underwear that are synthetic or wool on the inside, have gore tex (or non patented equivalent) for when it rains and put insulating layers in the middle as needed. Also you need hats (at least 1x sun like a ball cap or boonie and 1x cold like a fleece beanie) and gloves. More on that can be covered in previous posts (insert links)

Also we should compare, in generalities, this system with various civilian offerings from the outdoor community. Military stuff is going to take abuse and be more durable than most general use civilian offerings. Military gear will (and this relates to the wear) usually be a tiny bit heavier though this stuff is pretty good about that. To get a corresponding level of durability in civilian gear you would probably need to look at legitimate expedition weight stuff from serious use companies like North Face. Generally speaking civilian gear tends to put a higher premium on comfort and ergonomics though this stuff is pretty good and largely an exception.

I will talk through the layers of the system sharing my thoughts on each.

Level I Lightweight Undershirt and Drawers
-I love these. The basic design has been around for awhile (I have some from ’04) and was originally black and made by Polartech. These very thin long underwear are suprisingly warm for their weight. They have handy little thumb holes you can slip your thumb through to keep this underlayer in place while sliding into other layers. It also prevents the cold skin gap between your gloves, which are another article entirely, and the end of your sleeve. I wear these consistently when outside at temperatures below 40 or so. These are also suprisingly durable, especially considering they are so light. I have a couple sets of the old black ones that were used hard for several years and show no noticable wear. Often I wear only the top but if I will be doing moderate to low intensity activity the bottoms will be added also. These compact small enough there isn’t a reason not to keep a set handy.

Level II Mid Weight shirt and Drawers
-These are good for when it is pretty cold. They are nowhere near as compact as the lightweight set but are significantly warmer. They have a waffle like appearance on the inside and are refered to as ‘waffle tops’. They zip up which is nice for venting or if it is quite cold you can zip them up and they cover the bottom half of the neck. I often use the top(s) and consider them very valuable. I wear them consistently when it is below 30 degrees outside. The bottom’s I do not use so much as it is easy to overheat in them; they would be good for moderate activity in very cold weather or light activity in under 30 degree weather. Often I wear the mid weight top and the light bottoms.

Level III High Loft Fleece Jacket
-Not a whole ton to say about this, it’s a fleece. I would describe it as a light to mid weight fleece as compared to all of the different commercial offerings. It is noticeably less warm than the older Army fleece (the black one) which was thick and heavy but it also compacts significantly smaller so that’s something. This is pretty warm, especially when combined with other layers but it is not especially windproof.

Level IV Wind Jacket
-This is a thin, light jacket that squishes down to be quite small. It is wind proof (otherwise the name would be kind of awkward) and water resistant. I say water resistant intentionally. This will not keep you dry standing around all day in a torrential downpour but is good for a drizzle or short trips out in all but the heaviest rain. It does not have a hood so you really need to pair it with a brimmed hat. Due to being adequate for most decent weather conditions (especially spring/ summer) and being quite compact this is a coat I carry/ use a lot.

Level V Soft Shell Cold Weather Jacket and Trousers
-These are a bit more packable, strechier and breathable than gore tex but not quite as water proof. This breakdown from the Arcteryx site explains the difference better than I can http://arcteryx.com/HardshellvsSoftshell.aspx?language=EN.

The jackets are nice but I have never really used the pants. I have some doubts about how durable they will be for real use but can’t say for sure. The jackets will take a pretty good downpour so long as you are not out in it too long. They are probably not sufficient for longer durations outside in moderate to heavy rain. That being said since they breathe better than goretex they are nice for spring rainstorms and the like where it is not cold but is wet. I like these but between the wind jacket and the gore tex they are kind of a mushy middle ground.

Level VI Extreme Wet/ Cold Weather Jacket and Trousers
-This is an updated version of the military gore tex top and bottom. They are gore tex so they are basically impermiable to water. Also like their older cousins these are really heavy duty coats and pants as far as gore tex goes. Obviously you would not want to run headlong through an acre of blackberry bushes but this isn’t some thin flimly gear that will tear the first time you bump into a branch. The downside is they retain heat to some degree. I don’t see people wearing them much while active when it is over 60 degrees because they would sweat a lot. Good kit.

Level VII Extreme Cold Weather Parka and Trousers
-AKA the Marshmallow Man Suit. These are very warm. Assuming proper layering they are really only something people use when the temp is below 20 or so and they are going to be pretty sedentary (guard duty, etc). These are bulky items though they compact smaller than one would imagine. Often folks will use just the coat to stay warm in cold temps for short periods (instead of putting on 4 layers they will take off after walking from A to B). These are wind proof. Moisture isn’t an issue as I can’t imagine someone wanting to wear them unless it is well below freezing. As to criticism I wish the jacket was 6 inches longer. They have a hood that folds into the collar which is decent but not a real heavy hood. Honestly maybe I’m being too picky and if those are needed regularly a person should just go buy a real parka. As to the pants they really should be more of a an overall/bib, I stand by that criticism.


Overall Thoughts:
This system has a lot of good components. For whatever reason in the Armies view it is easier to give everyone all the pieces and let them figure out what to use for their situation than give some folks this and some that. Depending on a person’s environment and needs different components of this system could give someone a big start towards having a pretty darn good cold/ wet weather wardrobe.

To the rubber meets the road question of whether you should buy this system. Obviously price matters significantly. Military Surplus is definitely a feast or famine deal so depending on what your local area prices are (the net is helping with this) and the current supply/ demand prices vary wildly. Generally speaking if you can get these items at 65% or less than the price of a comparable civilian offering this stuff is a good deal. If it is over say 80% of the same price I would carefully weigh the individual item in question against earth tone civilian offerings. 
 
Do you need to buy the whole system? I would say that unless you got it at a substantial discount (over buying all the items individually) there is not a need to have the whole thing. The soft shell and gore tex suits (top/ bottom) are largely redundant and likely to be the two most expensive parts of the system. The fleece is fine (and you really should have a fleece or 5) but fleece is so cheap you could probably beat it for quality to price ratio at Ross or a local outlet. The the Marshmallow Man Suit is good for places with truly cold weather but not needed in the South or other warmer areas.

Assuming reasonable prices across the board for everything if I was going out of pocket for this stuff I would buy: 2x lightweight drawers, 1x medium weight drawers, a fleece; unless I had a green/ brown one already, the wind jacket (I love that thing) and the gore tex. If I was in a cold weather area and didn’t have that well below zero gear squared away I would also purchase the marshmallow suit.

Those are my thoughts on that. Hope they help in deciding what gear is right for you. As always the comments section is open.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Evening Chaos and Random Thoughts

Our darn dishwasher kicked the bucket about 2 weeks back. It's a Kenmoore and was installed in '03 so certainly doesn't owe any money but if we could keep it running for awhile that would certainly be nice as it's the most expensive time of the year and all.

It wouldn't cycle or drain. We fiddled with it and through process of elimination realized it was probably the timer. Wifey ordered a new (used) timer off the web for $22. We got the door open and found a chopstick shoved in there and a couple of random loose parts. In Wifey replacing the timer the whole thing was disassembled further than intended. We got it back together except a couple pieces (which are almost surely the issue but we can't find them in the parts lists or diagrams so heck if we know how they fit).  It cycles but won't drain.

About this time we got infested with drain flies. Haven't been able to kill the darn things. Fly strips and spray to catch/ kill them didn't help noticeably and certainly did not interrupt the breeding cycle. Read you are supposed to clean out the pipes real good but the one that doesn't have the garbage disposal has an attached grait so you can't get in there. I could take the pipes under the sink apart and clean them but the odds of that going bad somehow; since I have little experience with that (and IME the first time doing anything often goes bad) are not insignificant and the whole darn sink being down would really suck.

It seems quite odd these two problems popped up together so most likely they are related.

Christmas was coming so we sort of put these issues on hold since we were going out of town and had so much going on. We did bug bomb before leaving though it did little noticeable good. Well now we are back. Got some IG stuff to try and prevent them from breeding but am not exactly confident it will work.

Tomorrow we are going to give fixing the dishwasher one last shot. Given that it's rather old getting a repair man doesn't make any sense so if this doesn't work I suppose we will have to replace it. [We have savings to do so but would prefer not to shell out the $$$] As to the flies heck if I know a good way forward.

Any advice on either front would be appreciated.

Wifey noticed today that Dog #2 is probably pregnant. She is gaining weight and starting to produce milk. We got her and shortly therafter (NOV) found out she was not fixed when she went into heat. Despite our efforts to the contrary that big ole gal might have found the Doggy Mr Right Now. We need her to have puppies like I need another hole in my head. If Dog is preggers I guess she'll have the puppies and we'll find them homes.

There have been some interesting things around the web:

Bayou Renaissance Man is looking to swap some stuff to help himself and his disabled students get squared away.  Knowing the guy a tiny bit I suspect a lot of the cost of helping these folks out comes right out of his pockets. Anyway for sale or trade they have:
  • Two (2) Jarvis drop-in match barrels for Glock 19, caliber 9mm Parabellum:  regular price (as per Jarvis' Web site) $200 apiece.  Brand new and unfired - never installed.
  • One (1) Jarvis drop-in match barrel for Glock 23, caliber .40 Smith & Wesson;  regular price (as per Jarvis' Web site) $200.  Brand new and unfired - never installed.
[It is worth noting that aside from being quality match grade barrels these have conventional rifling so you can shoot lead reloads through them. If I had spare cash lying around I would buy one of the G19 barrels.]
 
 They would be interested in trading for:
  • Good-quality weapon-mounted lights, although (for obvious reasons) not the more expensive brands.  The Streamlight TLR-1 series are particularly desirable (or equivalents).  A specific model that would be very useful is the Streamlight 69217 TLR-1 HP (High Performance) long-range light for mounting on rifles and carbines.
  • Vertical or angled fore-end grips for the AR-15, possibly incorporating a light and/or laser sight, to fit a Picatinny rail or Magpul MOE handguard with the appropriate adapter.  I don't want the cheap Airsoft-type 'toys', but serious-use hardware.
  • Two caliber conversion barrels for the Glock 22, to convert it from .40 S&W to 9mm Parabellum.  These are available from Lone Wolf, KKM Precision (select the G22, then the 'Conversion Barrel' option) and Storm Lake.  I'd particularly like to get one of the longer threaded conversion barrels, if anyone has one lying around.
If you need what Peter is trading and or have what he is looking for leave a comment or contact him via blogger. On general principle since Peter is trying to help our folks on very limited budgets I ask that you take it a bit easy on the negotiating. Not saying you should lose your shirt on the deal but this is for a good cause so please be reasonable.

Commander Zero did a 2014 review. Dude bought a whole lot of guns this year. Lucky for him the guy is in a position, between career choices and building a network, in a place to have a higher than average amount of good deals come across his lap.

Weapons Man mentioned the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. Great stuff. It is possible that a person might end up in a place where they wanted to resist a regime but had few good options on how to do so. Instead of simply getting killed and maybe taking a low level thug along to the afterlife a person in the right place might be able to make a reliable power grid to the regime base become unreliable,  decrease a plants efficiency by 30% or decrease enemy patrols by 50% due to dead lining vehicles.


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.

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.




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