Showing posts with label Lucky Gunner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lucky Gunner. Show all posts

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Foundational Precious Metals Post 1 of 2

Our friends Peter formerly Bayou Renaissance Man and Jamie of My Adventures in Self Reliance have both recently mentioned precious metals. I got to looking and realized I did not have (or could not readily find) a good foundation post on precious metals. So my intent is to write one.

Before getting started it should be noted I am  not a doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial adviser or anything like that. I speak solely of my own experiences, observations and beliefs. You should check with whatever sort of people, officially licenses or otherwise, then make your own decisions. Consider yourself officially disclaimed.

First we should narrow the scope of this post. My intent is to talk about the purchase of physical precious metals. So immediately I am excluding ETF's and various places that offer to store PM's for you in terms of purchase options. Next I intend to focus on bullion metals. Bullion being various bars, coins, etc that are purchased for the value of their physical metal content. This is different from 'numismatic' or collectible type coins. Numismatic coins carry a value based on their age/ history and condition; a rare 300 year old coin in excellent condition might have a bullion/ melt value (the actual value of the precious metals in the coin) of $300 but a collectible value of $5k. Numismatic coins are a whole different ball of wax and outside the scope of this discussion. We are also not really talking about jewelry. The primary reason we are not talking about jewelry is that it tends not to be a good deal in terms of bullion value and a lot of stuff floating around is fake. The one exception I can think of is for countries where the purchase of non jewelry precious metals is heavily restricted. At that point I would buy simple jewelry like plain wedding bands, bracelets and necklaces but I digress. So we have narrowed the scope of this discussion. Also I guess to further narrow things down I am talking about silver and gold. I am not talking platinum, palladium, copper or my favorite precious metal lead.

As to buying precious metals you can primarily go to a local dealer or an online one. Both have advantages and disadvantages. That is a long conversation. I will note that it is important to consider the complete out the door cost of a given item. Online guys charge for shipping, etc sometimes at high rates. Brick and mortar guys can be a real asset, especially if you want to make a big purchase today. Also the local PM guy can be a pretty handy 'grey market' asset. Their downside is often these folks do not treat smaller, normal Joe Everyday purchasers, very well. The premiums some of them charge are ridiculous. As to putting my money where my mouth is on buying PM's. For the last 3 years or so I have been buying from Montana Rarities and have no complaints though if a local dealer would treat me square he could earn my business in short order.

The pricing of precious metals is a little weird. They are traded on the open market like any other commodity such as wheat or pork bellies. This is called 'spot price'. That being said spot price does not tell the whole story in terms of precious metals for physical delivery. This is called a premium. It is probably a touch more complicated with a wide array of fees, long term contracts, etc all but we will keep it simple.

Theoretically an ounce of gold is worth spot price when it is a bunch of little flakes in a tiny container. The folks at the South African mint making Krugerrands or any other coin have costs to turn those flakes into the shiny coin we covet. Also they have this crazy desire to make money. Those folks sell the coin along with a bunch of its friends to a dealer. That guy also has costs and a desire to make a profit. Depending on the size of the operation there may be a couple progressively smaller dealers between production and the point of sale to Joe Everyday. In fairness to the people involved in this chain they obviously should be compensated for their efforts and they operate on razor thin margins.

These costs generally represent the premium between spot and the real physical price of a given item. Generally premiums are pretty level. Say it is spot plus 5-10% depending on the item involved. This baseline part of the premium is theoretically static or at least pretty consistent.

However sometimes premiums go crazy. At times we can see significant gaps between spot prices and the actual price of a coin in your hand. Why does this happen?

In general I can see two real reasons. One I know and one I think I have seen some evidence of and tend to believe. They both tend to flow together.

One piece is good old economics 99. The reasons large institutional investors buy (largely paper/ electronic) gold is different than the reasons people buy physical precious metals. If the indicators for institutional investors are down and the indicators for buying physical PMs are up you can get a gap. Think of it like this. The Jim Beam factory had a fire so they are having a rough week but it is Friday night and bottles of the stuff are flying off the shelves inn your town. Also physical PM's are a surprisingly small market. A modest increase in demand will mean shortages. Pretty quickly this new demand will get built into the market, maybe within a week or two.

The other piece is that arguably there is considerable evidence that big banking interests, specifically Goldman Sachs manipulating gold and silver prices. With those resources it would not be hard to do but this manipulation would not necessarily cross over to the physical PM market.

Why would a person choose to buy precious metals? In my mind there are four readily apparent reasons.

-First is some sort of speculation. Buy low/ sell high, that sort of thing. Though most people do this with ETF's or such maybe a person might want to physically hold the metals because they are a contrarian investor, have some sort of worst case concerns or something. I am neutral about this sort of plan. It has worked out well for some folks so I am not against it per se, just that it is outside the scope of this discussion.

-Second is some sort of tangible investment but in a more buy and hold kind off way than the first option. I generally like this plan. PM's do not grow via compound interest the way some other investments might. On the other hand when you look at compound interest and factor in inflation the tale is a bit less favorable to those 3-4 percentage points a year. It is said in the time of Shakespeare an ounce of gold would buy a fine men's suit and it still does. If you wanted to stash say a few grand (or more) for ten or twenty years especially if the local currency is unstable or you see bad times coming PM's would be a good way to go.

-Third is as a hedge against inflation or a currency collapse. We will get to it later but I really like PM's in this context. A situation with high inflation or maybe even a currency collapsing but where the fabric of society doesn't entirely break is where I think PM's thrive.

-Fourth is for some sort of mad max type scenario. I do think silver and gold would be traded in this type of scenario but that their value would pale in comparison to say fishing hooks, AA batteries, condoms, etc or especially .22lr, various 12 gauge ammo or guns (purchased for good prices and thoughtfully sold with a decent holster/ sling a few boxes of ammo and if applicable a few mags). In this scenario a person would be most prudent to be thinking past the immediate event a year or two to the recovery which of course implies you have put considerable energy and resources into getting to that point, then put some money into a big ole bag of silver or 5 and as much gold as they can afford.

Maybe we could say there are some other reasons but one could probably generalize them under one of the ones I mentioned at least for the purpose of this conversation.

Something The Money Changer said is worth mentioning here. I think he stays heavy on silver for longer than I would but still generally good advice to consider.

So we have talked a bit about precious metals and briefly described the reasons a person might choose to purchase them. Those reasons matter because different purposes are best suited by different kinds, or at least quantities of silver and gold.

Let us talk about the pro's and con's of silver and gold in general, before getting to specific products.

- Affordable. Right now spot is around $15 which puts a generic 1 ounce silver round a shade under $18 and pre 64 US Coinage 90% is at about 16x face. (This is slightly skipping ahead to specific products but my goal is to illustrate affordability here which necessitates it.) Assuming you are not a homeless junkie these are prices at much anyone can get into precious metals. Buy an ounce or two every payday and over time it will add up.

-Divisibility. The smaller dollar value per bar/ coin make silver the small bills of the PM world. If you wanted to trade for a weeks groceries either strait across or, more realistically, by selling some coins to a dealer then using the cash to buy the groceries a few ounces of silver are the ticket, not an ounce of gold.

-The small dollar amounts involved let you start off small. There is a reason a baseball player doesn't start with the NY Yankees, a lawyer doesn't argue his first case to the supreme court, etc. This way when you screw up, which you will (spending way too much on shipping, pay a silly premium to a local pawn shop, etc) the real dollar amounts involved are negligible. Ten percent screw up factor in a couple hundred bucks of silver purchased while you are learning is the cost of a pizza. 10% screw up on a 10k USD purchase after you unload those jet ski's hurts.

-Heavy/ bulky. You do not need to have too much money in silver for it to get heavy and to a lesser degree bulky in a hurry. A decent normal guy stash of 3-4 grand in silver is going to be heavy. Much more than that and it gets quickly into wheel barrow/ pick up truck territory. If your goal is to have a whole bunch of silver to trade for things over the long run this is a good thing. The downside is if you have to go somewhere.

I know a guy who has a lot of silver. He is well past wheel barrow territory and deeply into pickup truck territory. If he needed to move in a hurry, say to avoid a natural disaster or some sort of crime thing, a good chunk of the weight his truck could take would be silver. Obviously if he could only leave with a backpack the vast majority of that silver would have to be left behind. Now if he had half or two thirds of that value in gold it could fit in a small pouch in a day pack.

-Compact. An ounce of gold is worth about $1,200 bucks. A little tube holding 10 ounces of gold would be worth $12,000. You could fit that in a pants pocket.

-Recognizably.  Gold has a weird almost magical attraction. A fractional gold coin might just get you through a checkpoint you are not supposed to get through or convince a crooked official to look the other way.

-Compact. Think being in a store that only accepts bills under $20 with a hundred. In some scenarios making change could be very difficult so at a minimum your negotiating power is bad and at the worst the price of the thing could just become the coin in your hand.

You probably noted that the pros/ cons of silver and gold are polar opposites. Both have valid roles and they compliment each other well. For pretty much every scenario a person will end up with some mix of gold and silver.

As to the ratio between them.

On the lower end it favors silver. A guy who has a few hundred bucks to put into PM's should probably jut buy silver.

Long term trading favors silver.

If portability and extreme compactness are issues then gold is the way to go.

On the high end it favors gold. If a person had a bunch of money, either in one shot or over time, to put into PM's the compactness of gold is needed.

I am going to break this into a 2 part post because I am tired of writing and need to get something up since it has been a few days. In part 2 I am going to talk about specific types of gold and silver products and throw out some recommended ratios/ products that might fit different needs.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weapons Caches and Random Thoughts Theiron

In reply to a recent post smart prepared guy and frequent commenter Meister, who I just learned has a blog, left a comment that I have been mulling over.

"An operational Cache is the only way to defeat the man when they come for your guns. If all you first tier weapons and gear is available to them, your later efforts will be hamstrung by crappy gear or inadequate weapons. Your Cache is as important, or more important than the gear you keep in your "minuteman load out""

I should note that we sort of covered this general topic in the post about my operational cache and RE:When They Come For Your Guns. That being said.

There are a lot of reasons you could want to have guns cached away. Your house might burn down or there could be a break in. The point is to avoid having all your eggs in one basket. Many things could happen in life and it is prudent to have options.

Of course we need to weigh the trade off of access vs security. To loosely quote John Mosby in the conversation where I asked to cross post his seminal post on caches "if you bury a gun you can't shoot someone in the face with it." Guns you rely on for defense or hunting should not be cached as a general matter of principle. If you have a small battery of guns that meets your basic needs there isn't much, if anything, left to cache. That is what it is. Down the road as you pick up additional weapons over time the ability to cache some will present itself.

Meister justifiably criticized stashing less than optimal weapons. His point that you should put as much, if not more, thought into the gear that gets cached as the stuff in your home defense/ minute man load out is valid. If nothing else should a problem arise with the M4agery sitting in my house I can dig up a new part from my stash or get one at a local shop; on the other hand if/ when I dig up a buried rifle I need it to be as reliable as humanly possible. I am taking this into some serious consideration for the future. That comment could also be a reply to my point that you can stash whatever sort of guns you have on hand. This discussion deserves it's own reply.

People with multiple (certainly 3+)  fighting rifles and multiple handguns can afford to put away good fighting weapons. On the other end of the spectrum these are hard times. Lots of people are sacrificing deeply and working extra hours to buy 1 AR-15/ AK and 1 good fighting pistol. Telling these folks they have to get another set  or two to be prepared is going to send them into overload; not to mention they need food storage, plenty of 5.56 or 7.62x39 and 9mm ammo and other stuff.

I have said to cache the guns you have on hand to cache and stand by that. If you have a $1,500 Daniels Defense AR and a $900 Sig to put away then do that but if all you've got is a dusty Marlin 30-30 and a .22 revolver then put them away in a cache. Buy a couple hundred rounds of ammo for the 30-30 and some ammo for the .22 and put it all away. I am not saying they are the best guns but if they are the best guns you have not to put away then run with it. I would sure rather have a 30-30 and a .22 revolver than nothing.

Coming back to my own personal situation. I cached what I had. My operational cache has a J frame .38 revolver which isn't exactly my ideal do everything handgun. I wish I could have put a full sized Glock in there but I didn't have one to spare. Maybe in the next couple years I will stash some sort of a Glock there. The ideal situation for that would be a Glock 22 with a 9mm Lone Wolf conversion barrel. Also wish I was able to stash a military sleep system or two there. We do the best we can and then try to do better later.

My intent is to spur people into action. The reason I am pushing this so hard is to get people out of the problem admiration phase and to get them to actually do something. It is great to think of a time in the future where stashing a spare of your favorite fighting rifle and pistol will be painless. Set up an operational cache with what you can put in it now. Down the road if your collection grows replace the guns you put away with fancier ones or even better keep the old cache where it is and set up another one with the new guns.  Again my intent is that if you can realistically set away a gun or two then do it, soon. Things can happen and it is prudent to get squared away sooner instead of later.

As to the guns you keep on hand one could always stash some of them if needed. Say you had a feeling some sort of confiscation was coming. In a minimal amount of time you could set up a hasty cache with some of the guns you have on hand. I do believe you would be prudent to have something left to confiscate. Maybe it is your couple papered guns or a revolver and a shotgun or Mosin. Just be sure to stash the ancillary stuff like ammo and mags for the guns you put away.

It is my personal opinion a survivalist could do well to set up as many caches as they can afford to set up, keep track of and have use for. Just beware not to go too far and short yourself in other areas such as food storage, paying off debt, setting aside tools and gear, etc.

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reader Questions: Gun Stuff in the Election Cycle

          Hope things are going well in your new digs and that you are getting settled in to new life there.  I was out of town and missed open line Friday, so I thought I would drop you a line about a possible post topic.  If you can do so without giving away opsec too much I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans now that we're less than a year away from what is shaping up to be a very scary election cycle that could have major consequences on like minded individuals such as us.  Even if nothing happens to 2A as a result of the elections I'm still expecting panic buying as summer turns to fall.  I'd love to get your take on it and I'm sure it would spur discussions a,on some of your respected readers.   Anyway, have a good'un and thanks for doing what you do.  I don't always comment, but just know you're one of my 3 go to sites daily (and you introduced me to the other two).

Ryan here:  Honestly the quadrenial presidential election panic buying is a pretty normal event.  You can't predict event based stuff like Sandy Hook but there are elections every 2 and 4 years. It is like how stores are short on Guinness at 6 pm on St Patrick's Day. I am at a point where I do not really feel a need to rush based on it. Consistent purchases over time really add up, even on a fairly modest budget. Put it this way, say you bought a standard capacity PMAG (10.99 at Lucky Gunner) and Glock 17 or Glock 22 mag or whatever your rifle pistol are every month, which anyone can afford. Since the this point prior to the last Presidential election and associated panic you would have 48 of each and no worries. Sorry if that is harsh.

What am I personally going to do? Basically I have been trying to front load the years gun stuff. I plan to buy little to nothing that would be a shortage type item (AR/AK, mags, ammo, etc) for 4-6 months. I will use that time to acquire other things or get non ban type items like optics. My plan is as follows.

Good: A budget back up/ truck gun AR-15 with 20 mags.  Also a pair of stripped lowers.

Better: That plus 10 more Glock mags, 250 rounds of .380, 100rds .308 150 gr SP ammo, a case each of 5.56 and 9mm.

Best: All of that plus a case of 7.62x51, one of .380 and 10 more FAL mags.

Where will I realistically get to? Probably somewhere in the 'better' range.

For general advice to those who for whatever reason are late to the party. I would say to focus on full capacity (10+ rd) magazines first. Buy whatever your happy number is for all the weapons you own and plan to own in the next year or so.

Also I would look to training ammo. Having enough to train for at least 6 months is a good idea but 12 months is better.

If you have your eye on a spare military pattern rifle/ pistol then get that. If you can't afford complete rifles a stripped AR lower is a good way to go, unless current laws change you can buy an upper and build it as finances allow. Example I can not go out and buy an AR each for my kids to have in the future today but can swing a couple stripped lowers.

If the goal is to make money (vs individual preparation) I would be stashing PMAGs, full capacity G17/G22 and stripped lowers, plus maybe some brand name (S&W, DPMS, etc) basic AR-15's.

As always the comments section is open.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Polish Military Surplus AK-47 Magazines at AIM Surplus for 10.95, 9.95 for 10+

A smokin deal on these quality AK mags. I have never explicitly bought Polish AK mags. However I have squirreled away a decent stash of slightly more generic 'Eastern European MILSURP AK Mags' from AIM as well as a bunch of other sources over the years. This is a darn good price for these quality mags in today's world. If you do not have 20+ quality AK mags for every AK pattern rifle you own AND PLAN TO OWN and can afford it then get some of these guys.

I should also note having done more than a little business with AIM over the years. Their products are as good as described and often better and the service is excellent. My only incentive in mentioning this deal is to bring it to your attention.

Be sure to have enough 7.62x39 to keep that gun fed no matter what.

7.62x39mm - 122 Grain FMJ - Tula - 1000 Rounds for $229.95 at Lucky Gunner

Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Political Thoughts

1- I am seriously ashamed for our country that this is the best set of candidates we can field.


3- It is interesting that on both ends of the spectrum the candidates getting the most energy Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are very much anti status quo. They have vastly different goals and followings but they are both mad.

On the Democratic side it seems clear the party will (s)elect Hillary Clinton no matter what voters think. The PR machine and super delegates the lock seems to be in. I think this is good in a way as it shows the farce that is the primary process and we could argue elections in general. Hillary has so many negatives that I think she is a pretty weak candidate. All the scum of Bill Clinton but none of his personality. That is before Bengazi and Server Gate.

On the Republican side the establishment is eager for anyone but Trump. However his cult of personality and the establishment lacking super deligates in sufficient numbers to decide all but the widest elections it is not working. Short of Donald Trump being caught burning a bible wrapped in an American flag then going to Planned Parenthood for his teenage daughter's late term abortion and molesting a little boy in the lobby it is his race to lose.

4- So it looks like a Trump/ Clinton race. This makes me want to throw up.

5- What am I going to do specifically to prepare for the upcoming run on gun stuff? Probably not a whole lot. Another 20 PMAGs, 10 Glock mags, 6x 10/22 mags, 3 cases of 5.56, one of 9mm and a new AR would be nice. How much of that I will do is unclear.

6-  Continuing from 5 I am not really worried about anything getting banned. The house and senate are both held by Republicans. While I am not in love with their "we are pro gun because we hold the status quo" train of though I can't see them letting anything through. So we are safe for awhile until the house/ senate balance changes. My goals are more about front loading a year or so worth of gun related purchases before things get silly.

7- After they get silly, which I think they almost predictably will, I will focus on other areas. Also round out some non ban type items like a new scope for a rifle, some night sights, etc.

8- Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

An Email on Troubling Financial Times To Come

I saw you were talking about financials. My Redacted is working on a consulting gig with a too big to fail financial firm and they are in full junk sell off mode getting ready for the bottom to drop out. By the end of the year it will be ugly. Blood bath ugly. Any capital not invested in an appreciating item will lose 30-40% of it's value to inflation. Choose wisely. 

-A regular Reader

In this type of circle emails like this come up. The reason I am sharing this one with you is because of who it came from. The person is one I have known as an invisible friend for awhile now. A smart prepared individual who is almost always right. I'm not saying they know EVERYTHING but they keep their mouth shut about stuff they don't know about. They are also not prone to hysterics in a screaming The Sky Is Falling Alex Jones sort of way. It is complicated that I won't say who it is but they are frequently a positive presence here and in the larger blogosphere. For their personal OPSEC I am not sharing any of their info.

What COULD you do? Well you could relook your overall financial position. Think about getting your money a bit more accessible. Since interest rates are so low you might just keep cash in the gun safe at home. Maybe you want to put some money into precious metals. Right now prices are pretty good. Think about putting some money into tangibles you could barter or sell as needed. Turning a new in box Glock 19 into cash is easy, ditto a case of 5.56 ammo.

So what should you do with this? I cannot answer that for you. I am obviously not a financial advisor or an accountant and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Your own situation is unique and so are your tolerances for risk as well as your goals. The right answer for me might not be the right answer for you. If you start talking about 401k's and IRA's there could be significant tax implications. Of course the advice to keep a cool head and not make emotional decisions out of fear is always good.

Be sure to consider how a worst case scenario economically would affect you. Also be sure to consider what things, as they probably will, going on more or less normally would mean. Look at both of those for your current situation and the one you may decide to move to.

What am I going to do? I am still thinking about it. This is a situation where sleeping on it for a couple days is fine. I am moving money to a place it is easier to transfer/ spend. I am also thinking about putting a bit more money into precious metals, both silver/ gold and lead/ steel. Whether I do that by trading dollars for metals or just shift my ratio in time with new purchases remains to be seen. I need to think about it.

So those are my thoughts about that. What do you think?

Notes: Dry fire- FAL ready up's. Time stayed under 1 second for the most part. PT- Easy run then combatives tonight.

Monday, February 29, 2016

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

-Purchased the stabil for refilling my fuel cans. Need to find a gas station here with non ethanol gas.

-Purchased 100 rounds of .380 FMJ. Working towards my goal of 500 rounds stashed for the 380 JIC and 200 for training.

-Purchased regional maps. Need to get some smaller scale maps of my immediate area then I'll be good there.

-Did some dry fire. Good amount of sessions but I need to focus more.

-Window shopped for some land online.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 New Years Resolutions

Start hunting
Continue fishing
Organize/ refine food storage. Emphasis is less on sheer bulk but more on filling holes and putting it all together.

Better organize caches
Get another grinder (Corona?)
Pick up some additional rechargeable batteries to have 2 (3 is better) spare sets per new piece of commo gear
5gal kerosene
1x kero lantern w/ 4 wicks and spare globe
Various tools TBD maybe
1x brace and bit
1x buck saw or large bow saw
Chainsaw support gear (me thinks gloves, chaps, spare chain, file, plenty of 2 cycle oil, spark plugs, bar oil, etc)
Files for chainsaw and hand saws

Cordage: 1 spool of 550 cord, 5x 100 ft light rope

Organize a good household first aid kit
Beef up my vehicle first aid kit.

Inventory gear, spare parts and other moderately priced items
Better organize gear and such

Life (personal):

Fill my newfound spare time in useful ways.

Solidify existing relationshiips and put time/ energy/ money into that effort.

Build new relationships.

Have some fun.

Watch more live music.

Life (functional/ goals):

Establish a zero or near zero based budget to manage my current financial situation allowing me to save, have fun and pursue preparedness goals.

Go back to school.

Figure out 1/3/5 year goals for where I want to be and backwards plan from there.

Overall my goals are to work on my life, get/ stay healthy, and figure out what my life is going to look like. In terms of preparedness I want to work hard on skills, firm up communications, get better organized, get some ammo and another AR then work on smaller stuff to round out what I already have.

So those are my draft goals. I am interested in your thoughts. I will think on my thoughts some more, consider your input and then make the draft into a finished product.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Years Resolutions 2015 Review

Start hunting
Continue fishing
More food (that fills holes identified in inventory)

Better organize caches
Get another grinder (Corona?)
Pick up some additional rechargeable batteries to have 2 (3 is better) spare sets per new piece of commo gear
5gal kerosene
2x 5gal propane tanks. I have added 1 to the stash.
1x kero lantern w/ 4 wicks and spare globe
Various tools TBD maybe
1x brace and bit Got a drill for my birthday so that is something.
1x buck saw or large bow saw
Chainsaw support gear (me thinks gloves, chaps, spare chain, file, plenty of 2 cycle oil, spark plugs, bar oil, etc)
Files for chainsaw and hand saws
10 pounds various nails
Cordage: Big thing o twine, some bank line, 1 spool of 550 cord, 5x 100 ft light rope
Establish E&E caches as needed

Organize a good household first aid kit Going to say I am most of the way on this one. I need to put it into a container or some sort but the general setup is pretty good.

Full inventory of long term storage food
Inventory gear, spare parts and other moderately priced items
Better organize gear and such

Overall I am sucking at my goals.  Oh well. Some good things have happened, I went to a sweet pistol course, got some ammo bought a FAL and a cargo trailer. Also I got a case each of 5.56, 7.62x39 and .308. Honestly my time, money and energy have been elsewhere. I'll hit it with a vengeance next year.

Unless there is some sudden change I am about where I am going to get for this years goals. I will take a hard look at what to slide over to next year and what to scrap.

How are you doing on your goals for this year?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Patterning Your Shotgun

I do not currently own a shotgun  but a lot of people have a house gun or old hunting shotgun lying around so this is a worthwhile topic. 

It is important to know how your individual shotgun does with a given load of buckshot. Oddly enough we could both buy Remington 870's on the same day in the same store, shoot the same ammo and get different results. It's weird that way.

Inevitably we will have to discuss ammo type here. Keep it 2 3/4 and buckshot. #4, 1, 00 or OOO, whatever makes you happy. I like #1 though #4 is more common and 00 the most common of all. Have some slugs handy if you need to make a longer or more precise shot. 

The best piece of advice I have ever gotten in the area of shotgun ammo is to go to your local store and buy the little 5 round boxes of 3-4 common types of buckshot. Remington, Winchester, and federal or whatever. Shoot them all for patterns at say 5, 10 and 20 yards then see which your gun likes best. After you know load your gun with that and keep a few extra boxes put back. For economic reasons you will probably end up with a SHTF stash of Seller and Bellot buckshot or those 15rd packs Wally World sells at a good price. I would make sure your gun doesn't hate the bulk pack stuff but it doesn't have to be perfect. If God forbid you have burned through say 50 or a hundred rounds of whatever your gun likes best and all digging in the closet/ garage for that ammo can full of bulk pack stuff you prudently bought when it was still available a slightly less perfect pattern is the least of your concerns.

The topic of pattern comes up in the video. In my mind the biggest thing would be consistency and lack of 'fliers'. If a load is pretty close to or a bit under the general inch of spread a yard rule I would be happy.That would give me a nice vital zone pattern at in home distances and keep it inside the torso at across the yard distances.

Some people get all bent around the axel about keeping patterns super tight. It used to be defensive shotguns with chokes and stuff. Currently Federal's premium Flight Control Buckshot is the hot thing. This is a great load for an LEO with a cruiser gun who wants to push the range they can use buckshot effectively out more. Also if you are a citizen in a restrictive state (or with a restrictive budget) who is left with a shotgun as the only practical option I would look into this. However for a normal citizen's home defense shotgun I do not like it. The reason is that the spread is most of the power of the shotgun. It will probably be dark, they will be moving and so will you. Spread gives more chances of hitting something vital at close ranges.

While slugs have a role I like buckshot for close range defensive type work. That being said I do not own an HD shotgun and am using my AR-15 instead. At some point, probably during the next gun run when they are still widely available I will get another 870. I think my first project 870 (plane Jane with long and short barrels) was a lot closer to the truth than the more recent one with the ghost ring sights and all that stuff.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Food During Out of Town Moves and Fringe Benefits of Stocking Supplies

Someone asked about what I do with stored food during moves. The fridge/ freezer stuff is easy it gets eaten, given away or tossed. The long term shelf stable stuff like 5 gallon buckets are easy, it sucks but you move them. That might not work for an international move but the effort and cost to buy then sell a ton or two of food multiple times is unpleasant. The mid range pantry stuff (rice, canned goods, boxed stuff, etc) is a bit more complicated. I try to eat up as much as I can and move as much of the rest as I can.

Military movers will take unopened shelf stable stuff (CONUS). I wouldn't suggest taking anything fragile (glass jars, etc) but cans and buckets are fine.

[Do note that if you are pushing the limit this sort of food is heavy and busting your weight allowance is expensive. I would not be moving a dozen cases of canned food and a ton of rice n beans if we were anywhere close to the limit. For lower enlisted folks weight allowances are pretty low so this probably be a good plan. The amount of food I will move is probably a third or half a lower enlisted guys total weight allowance. One of the many places where the military is not fair.]

Right now I am in the eating it up phase. However since I had food for 4 and there is 1 of me it isn't going great. I'll probably end up taking some stuff to good will or giving it away. Losing a few hundred bucks of food every couple years is a cost of being a survivalist in the military. One of the many places where that is a hassle. Such is life.

Also moving my ammo stash sucks.  Get a bit of .308/7.62x51, decent stash of 5.56 and 9mm, a bunch of 7.62x39 and 12 gauge and it adds up fast. Ammo I have to haul myself which is a hassle.

I am open to input here but as I've done this a couple times so odds are high my plan is about solidified.

I am also trying to work through some other stores such as gasoline before the trip.

A fringe benefit of this stuff is for the last 2 weeks my grocery bill has been very low. Until I leave I will only be buying milk and fresh fruit/ veggies at the store so the bill will be even lower. Also started using up the gasoline. So my bills for fuel and food are going to be very low for awhile. A happy accident as finances are in a state of flux.

I also realized this could be a fringe benefit of preparedness. If you have a months food and gas stashed that means you could live off stores and put cash to stuff you definitely have to pay for like say rent and utilities. In a personal SHTF this would let you stretch existing cash reserves to keep things going longer. Of course you would be depleting stores which would either need to be replaced or your preparedness level would drop. Options are a good thing.

So stocking up on food, fuel, etc all has a variety of benefits. You should do that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From Around The Web

Massad Ayoob links to CSM Ret Zins talking about the benefits of using the distal joint of the trigger finger instead of the pad. These gentlemen deposit more handgun shooting knowledge into the urinal after too many beers than I possess. While relatively my opinion is meaningless I concur. I like the joint as a reference point and also think it makes for a smoother/ straighter pull than the pad.

Also no longer in the Bayou Rennaisance Man linked to a post by FerFal that discusses some commentary from the recent civil war in the Ukraine. The themes of food, water filtration, cash in a stable currency and or precious metals, communications and back up plans for heating, electricity, etc are consistent with most disaster preparedness thinking.

Our friend Displaced Louisiana Guy talks revolvers vs semi auto's. I semi inspired that post. The hard truth (and where I disagree with my buddy) is modern quality semi auto handguns are as reliable, if not more so than revolvers. Still revolvers have some advantages. First the failure drill for a revolver is just pulling the trigger again. Second the fixed barrel means you can execute repeated 'contact shots'. Third being thin at the barrel (AKA just barrel not slide frame) and butt (no mag) makes them more concealable than a similarly sized auto. Fourth for a worst case scenario revolvers can handle a lot wider range of ammo. All revolvers need is enough powder to move the bullet and do the job but not so much as to blow the gun up. Semi auto's need to cycle which is a bit more problematic. If folks are home brewing reloads I would take my chances with a steel .357 long before a Glock.

Downsides are the guns are considerably more fragile. More than a casual bump to the cylinder will put one out of action. Also they don't hold many bullets and the reload times suck.

I prefer auto's but do not feel under gunned for most normal civilian type situations packing a wheel gun. Some of them are very easy to shoot well. With one particular revolver I basically stopped shooting inside 50 meters because it was boringly predictable. Might just have 6 but if I can put those 6 in a pie pan at 75 yards the odds they will count are very high. Also a 158gr JSP .357 mag is no joke in terms of ballistics. I'll carry it for anything less than Grizzly bears. If I ever move to serious Grizzly country well I will buy a .44 mag and load it with 240 grain SP ammo.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

REPOST Sort of Repost- Southern Prepper 1 Scenario Video and Ammo Discussion

I have posted this video before, twice if I recall. Anyway it brings up a very good point. Ammo matters a lot and it is prudent to consider A) stocking it deep and B) the opportunity for resupply in your chosen caliber during some sort of event.This is a point I like to occasionally revisit.

After watching this video I opened the safe and pulled  out my ammo and mag records. I am very pleased to say we are finally above my desired ratio of 5.56 ammo. 3,000 rounds per military pattern rifle is not a bad place to be. You can always use more ammo but I am happy with my 5.56 situation. I have spent a lot of money to get here but the blissful calm that came over me when I saw that the stash exceeded my desired ratio was worth it.

This video is, for me, a sort of gut check that I occasionally revisit. Buying the FAL sort of complicated my situation but then again I sold a 30-30 so it is a wash on logistics and a capability upgrade. This gut check sits well with my goals for the rest of the year which are (roughly in order):
An AR stripped lower receiver (more of a gun ban insurance thing than a SHTF thing)
10-20 more FN-FAL mags
Some more FAL spare parts. Specifically springs.
Another case of 5.56
A case of 7.62x51

maybe some Glock mags if I get to it.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Reader Question- Armed Roadtrip

Reading your posts, watching the situation around here. Trying to hold on for a little longer. Some questions about your road trip?

How have you checked the state, local laws concerning weapons along your route? This interests me for we have a cross country trip planned for late next year. I know laws can change, and do. So tell us please how have you checked the laws, are there some states, areas you plan to avoid even if it adds a few hours to your trip?
thank you
Annie Mouse

Ryan here:  First and foremost I am not a lawyer and do not constitute anything I say as legal advice. Consult your trusted legal advisor, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Yes one should be aware of state laws concerning traveling with firearms. For my trip from LA to the PNW, which will likely move in a generally north and west fashion there are pretty much just pro gun states in the middle.

States to avoid? California, Mass, NY, NJ, MD and Conn.

Colorado's AWB is to put it mildly problematic. To my knowledge magazines posessed before  July 1, 2013 date are fine but ones acquired after July 1, 2013 are verboden. Picking up the nearest standard evil high capacity magazine to me, which happens to be a 30 round 'European' surplus AK-47 magazine probably older than I am it does not have a date stamped on it. It also does not have a serial number or something. These mags are readily available for sale (though not in new unissued condition for $6.99 like they used) in most of the US. Of course new models of magazines (say Magpul makes a new generation of AR mags, etc) would be readily identifiable but how can we prove (or disprove) whether the specific AK mag on my side table was owned by me on 1 July 2013? Being a guy with a pretty decent memory I know I haven't bought those specific mags in years but I couldn't prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. How that will play out in the courts is an open question as far as I know. The hard on the ground truth is if you are sober, law abiding and probably white the 17 round mag in your Glock or the 30 round mag in your AK/AR is probably not going to get a second look from a cop. On the other hand if you are not sober, law abiding and white or the cop is having a bad day or is a jack boot thug you might get arrested, jailed, etc.

Most good states have a state level preemption on adding silly gun laws. This is why hippy dippy zones in states like AZ, WA, and OR can't decide to do  something ridiculous that the rest of the state doesn't want. It gets more complicated in states that do not have that preemption. That is why a gun which is legal on Daddy's farm in Ill might not be legal in the Chicago area (where you really need it!).

I have done road trips where it would have been convenient to go through California. Instead I chose to go further east and avoid California. I did that primarily due to the gun issue. Somehow I always seem to have one of those evil semi automatic 'assault rifles' and a few 30 round magazines with me!

I would say if you have a gun (or magazines) that should not be in a specific place and can reasonably avoid that place it would be prudent to do so. Another hour or two on a multi day road trip to avoid a potential hassle is a good move to make. To add to that I believe in speaking with my wallet. Areas that are really anti gun usually do other things I do not agree with. I would rather spend money in areas that are more in line with my beliefs.

If I was going to a place with problematic gun laws I would comply with them. Revolvers and pump shotguns are legal pretty much everywhere and work just fine for self defense. Also I tend not to regularly go to anti gun places so it isn't a huge issue.

Situations where you can not conveniently bypass anti gun areas located between A and B are problematic. Say for some reason you have a need (moving, etc) to have a verboden weapon with you? This is a very personal decision. Realistically you could probably just have that gun wherever you would normally keep it, roll the dice, drive through and nothing would happen. Say you are understandably hesitant to take that risk but are stuck and want to be safer. A weapon in a locked innocuous (think tuff box not gun case) not stored in the passenger compartment would be pretty safe. Unless they get a search warrant or your vehicle is impounded (and they have to do an 'inventory') not much could be done. Presuming you do not do stupid things in stupid places with stupid people the odds of that are low.  Place that locked container with a whole bunch of other stuff, ideally with that secured (think cargo trailer or moving van full of stuff) and the odds drop even more. If the cops have gone to the effort to dig through your Uhaul full of stuff, found and opened the one locked box in the middle that has a folding stock AK with a few mags you are probably screwed anyway. Like any other big boy rules type thing you make your choices and accept the consequences.

Anyway I hope that gives you some things to think about.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break? Part 2

I had planned on When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break? being a stand alone post. Then a couple things happened.

First our friend Meister did a good post on the subject and I thought you should check it out.

Second after reading Meisters post then looking back at mine there were some glaring omissions in my first post. So I intend to address those.

Iron sights. This is really only a discussion with AR pattern rifles as the current fad is flat top rails on the receiver (a good idea) and low pro gas blocks to allow the full length rails (a questionable idea IMO) which everyone seems to like today.

Fundamentally I start with iron sights then potentially add an optic. So the end is that I have a set of redundant ZEROED sights for my rifle. Why do I do this?

The first reason is cost. Lets say a budget AR costs $650ish and a baseline professional grade (BCM, Colt, LMT) is $950-1,200ish. After digging deep to buy a rifle you might need to save for awhile to get an optic. Presuming you have an A2 style front sight/ gas block the only cost to a BUIS is the $40-100 for the rear sight.

Note: You do need to make a decision here to go with a fixed site or a folding one. The decision is made based on the type of optic you plan to eventually use. In general magnified optics necessitate a folding site while red dot type sights let you go either way.

Second is redundancy. With sights a rifle is effective to a quarter mile or so with the biggest limiting factor being the shooter. Without sights a rifle might be good to 25 yards or so. If there was a convenient affordable option to have a second extractor and ejector for just $50 I would!

Third to look at the other side; why not have iron sights? To save $50-100 cost and an ounce or two of weight? Pshaw. New topic.

Magazines. I made a critical error in not touching the topic of magazines.

In magazine fed weapons most feeding issues are caused by magazines. Before going any further my immediate test is always to try another magazine. The vast majority of the time it solves the problem.

Mag issues come from crap mags and wear n tear. Don't buy crap mags. Get either OEM or military contract mags. The only exceptions that come to mind are Magpul rifle mags (I am not sure their Glock mags are ready for prime time yet) and various quality brands of 1911 mags. Removing crap mags from the equation we are left with wear and tear.

Magazines really need to be thought of as a semi disposable item like say tires for a car or socks. They just plain wear out. Once they hit the end of their life span feeding issues pop up and get worse over time until you either totally rebuild it or toss it.

Meisters point about feed lips, etc is valid. That being said unless you have an oddball special snowflake rifle (Valumet .308, etc) or are in one of those states where mags have to be pre ban mags are cheap enough one might consider what their time is worth and just replace bad mags.

Right now PMAGs are well under $15 a piece (10 or more PMAGS @13.25 per at Lucky Gunner). You can consistently find military contract type aluminum (C products, etc) under $10 per, as low as 6-7 is not uncommon.

I believe in stocking mags pretty deep. 10+ per pistol and 20+ per rifle. The biggest reason for this is the darn things wear out. Since I can not say 100% replacement mags will always be available at today's very affordable prices I have some spares factored in to my stocking levels.

Anyway I think that hits the points I really wanted to add to the conversation.

Friday, October 16, 2015

When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break?

John Mosby wrote When You Break Your Optic which is a very good article discussing the ruggedness of quality modern optics. He brings up some excellent points. Modern quality optics designed for combat use (vs deer hunting, airsoft, etc) are pretty darn rugged. I hesitate to name brands and get too deep into that debate but brands like Trijicon, Aimpoint, Eotech and the Leupold LEO/mil line come to mind. Also the Burris MTAC is hell for stout (albeit with a weight to match).

Before going on I should talk about my background because it applies to this conversation. I have over a decade of service in the Army. Some reserve and some active. Split among various types of units but all people who use their weapons for hard realistic training on a regular basis and in ground combat. I have been to so many ranges, live fires and field problems it would take too long to list. I have also deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The point is not to brag or some junk but to illustrate that I have used/shot a whole bunch of AR type rifles and been around a metric shit ton off them being used/shot. Ditto for optics.

Based on personal experiences and direct observations on combat optics:

-I have seen a handful of Eotech's and a couple of Aimpoint's fail. The Eotech's half strait up failed and half failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. The Aimpoints all kept functioning but failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. These optics were just plain worn out. They all had at least 2 deployments (aprox 27 months of combat time in Baghdad) as well as lots of training and range time. The use these optics took exceeds what any civilian user would do in a lifetime. Except just maybe John who trains a lot and likes to throw his rifle all over the place.

-The screws that hold the batteries in Aimpoint's tend to occasionally get mis threaded or lost. A couple spares (with the spring etc) per optic in the safe and maybe one per every several rifles in say a squad rifle repair kit would address the problem. They are about the size of a small gumball and I suspect fairly affordable.

-Eotech's. While I would agree with the consensus that they are the weakest of the big 3 (Aimpoint, Eotech, ACOG) they do not seem to have a single weak point. I should note being the weakest of those 3 is like being the #3 heavyweight power lifter at a major regional meet. Yes you are weaker than the two who placed higher but you are still ridiculously strong.

-ACOG's are damn near bombproof.

I also got to thinking about the AR-15 platform of rifles. Mostly this is based on military experience but I have a fair bit of experience on the civilian side as well.

Based on personal experiences and direct observations on the AR-15 platform:

-The receiver extension AKA buffer tube on adjustable stock (M4) type rifles is a weakest link of the chain. I have seen several break. They can take very little pressure at an angle before breaking. That IMT junk where you use the butt to break your fall does not work with this setup. Note if you want to whack someone with your M4 buttstock do it in a strait thrust.

-Lots of ejectors and buffer tube springs causing problems. We could debate whether this is a direct failure or a lack of adequate preentative maintenance but all the same. Stock spares of these parts.

-Tons of little pins getting lost during cleaning. So many pins, springs, extractors, etc. Even a few firing pins. My advice is that unless you have a decent place inside with an honest to goodness floor AND access to spare parts in a combat/ survival situation I would only strip an AR-15 down to the complete bolt carrier group, charging handle and the receiver. Clean the barrel with a rod or boresnake, wipe down the inside of the receiver and the BCG to get the crud off, relube and you are good to go.

[As an aside I have often wondered how long I could use an AR-15 with only this method of cleaning. Unless Lucky Gunner decides to send me a few dozen cases of M193 ball we are unlikely to find out but I suspect a very long time. Certainly long enough that a survivalist/ G would rotate back to some permissive area where a detailed cleaning would be safe and prudent.]

-Occasionally extractors strait up break. Again we could debate if preventative maintenance should catch it but I have seen it enough I would say the part is a fairly weak link.

-Once in a blue moon a bolt breaks.

Anyway I hope that my ramblings give you some things to think about and just maybe use to feed your stock spare parts, etc.

The comments section is open as always.

Monday, October 12, 2015

AR-15 Twist Rate Breakdown

This article on AR-15 barrel twist rate over at Stag is excellent. For the less initiated who are only going to shoot the most common 55 grain M193  and  62 grain M855 (or similar wt bullets) just get whatever twist rate is cheapest for a given brand of chrome lined barrel.

It is only at the margins where things start to matter. To briefly summarize faster twist rate favors heavier bullets and slower twist lighter ones. If you want to shoot the newly popular 77 grain open tip match ammo which are well reputed for both long range accuracy and terminal ballistics you want a 1/7 or 1/8 barrel. If you are a varmit shooter always using those light 50 grain bullets go 1/9.

Good info to have.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Prepping Through Dry Stretches

There are certainly different levels of preparedness. Some folks are happy with a case of buckshot for the family shotgun, a good water filter,  a stash of emergency food sufficient for a regional disaster (say 30-60 days) and a shoe box full of batteries for flashlights and radios. Aside from rotating canned food if you go that way (which is a good idea it has a lot of pro's and limited downsides specifically weight and occasional need to rotate them) and batteries, which with some organization can be done through normal use this guy is done.

Other folks want higher levels of preparedness, some much higher. For folks on the longer end of the spectrum of preparedness goals it is a long journey. It is years or most of a lifetime of work. A marathon not a sprint if you will. In any multi year effort there are going to inevitably be times where you loose focus or life's demands creep up. Medical issues can come up and money gets tight. Sometimes we just plain get bored or lose interest. Now it is easy to do nothing about preparedness for a week or a month but when a month turns to 2 or 3 it can be an issue.

So what can we do to minimize the down sides of these inevitable events?

-Hold what you have got! This means keeping up on needed maintenance for small engines (or going all the way and draining fluids, etc), rotating fuel and mid term type food, occasionally cleaning some guns, etc. If we can do this at least we should be able to maintain the levels of preparedness we worked so hard to get to.

-Automate whenever possible. Metals Pimp does a regular monthly plan for silver and gold. Set it up on a CC or transfer from your bank and forget it. [As soon as I get a better picture of what my post divorce money situation will be I will set one of these up.] I think there are similar plans for food storage out there.

-If the reason you are slowing down/ distracted only affects one area (space, time, money, physical stuff, etc) then focus on the other areas. If you are broke you can still do PT and dry fire. If you are short of space you can still train. If you are short on time you can still accumulate supplies. Work on what you can work on. You get the idea.

So those are my general ideas about how to manage the inevitable dry stretches. Now here are a couple thoughts on how to get out of them.

-Shift focus. Start a new preparedness related hobby. If you are a big radio guy get into shooting. If you are a big shooter get into canning. If you are a big time gardener work on pt.

-Do something useful but a touch indulgent. Splurge on a cool new radio then play with it. Build that precision rifle or get licensed and pick up that Enduro bike you have wanted. Dig deep to find the money for that class. You get the idea. [Incidentally I am going to try hard to make ECQC happen in 2016 as a present to me. Also an Appleseed.]

-Reevaluate and set new goals. Look at where you are and where you want to go. Find some goals to be excited about and get back to work.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What Have You Done To Prepare Lately

I picked up a couple of budget chest rigs to fill some gaping holes in my gear stash.

The FAL needs a chest rig so I got this
I want an MVT Versa Chest Rig but right now the tactical nylon budget is tight and while I do love the FAL it is kind of an ancillary rifle. I'll probably pick one up this fall/ winter when the fairly predictable run on politically incorrect guns as well as the mags/ ammo that feed them happens.

For the old Commie Warhorse I got a

Also bought some silver a week or so back when it was under $15. These days I would say silver is a deal under $20, under 16 and fugetaboutit. The rest of my discretionary funds are getting stashed for another ammo purchase. Probably a case of 7.62x51 but if I get impatient might just get more 5.56.

Other than that there has been a renewed effort on diet and physical fitness plus some dry fire.

So that is what I have been up to. What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lucky Gunner Lounge: Choosing the Best Ammo For Your Rifle by Oleg Volk

A very good article. 

My thoughts:

1- Use appropriate ammunition for the weapon. For most this is easy and just a matter of choosing the right caliber. For older guns however this can be more complicated. As a general rule shoot the kind of ammo the gun was designed to use. A sixty year old 1911 or High Power was made to shoot ball ammo so don't get surprised if it has issues with modern defensive ammo. For some older weapons, particularly those converted 7.62x51 Mausers, be careful about pressure. You could probably get away with a few rounds of umbiguous Winchester PP 150 grain SP hunting ammo for hunting season but more is probably pushing your luck. Low recoil loads or a moderately powered hand load might work as well. If you do much additional shooting I would stick to NATO spec FMJ or better yet; give that rifle designed as a stop gap for rear guard troops an easy retirement of a box of ammo or two a year and the place on your wall it deserves.

2- Use appropriate ammunition for the task.

A- Some rounds are more value targeted than others but accuracy costs money. Expecting budget priced com blog ammo to perform like US made match grade ammo is fooling yourself. Tula is fine ammo for a day at the range or a moderately accurate rifle planned to be used inside a couple football fields but I wouldn't want it for a hunting trip where 400 meter shots are common. Accurate ammo costs more.

B- Also more potent bullet offerings cost more. Depending on how much gun you are using and what you are shooting at this might matter. If you are shooting animals at the upper end of (or arguably beyond) your guns capability then buy good bullets.

Sometimes you need to stash a couple hundred rounds of the good stuff then back it up with a case of less good but decent stuff.

3- Oleg's approach to finding the right ammo for your rifle is sold. Once you find it then stock up! We could argue about how much ammo, my thoughts on how much ammo are on the record, but whatever your happy number is get there.
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