Showing posts with label Max Velocity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Max Velocity. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Communities, Retreats and Retreat Rules




-One Retreats Rules at Survival Blog

-Retreat Rules a discussion

Interesting points for starting a discussion.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rucking N Other Things

5 miles with 35 pounds in 70 minutes. 14 minute miles are not amazing but aren't too shabby either.

Next week I will be doing a speed ruck so it will be shorter but a faster per mile split will be the goal.

Also I picked up that stripped lower I have been wanting.

So now when things get silly, say this fall, I will have a viable option to build the budget(yet still serviceable) AR that is my next planned rifle acquisition. The concept of use will be a reasonably priced AR that can serve as a backup to my primary rifle, a 'truck gun' and such.

Tomorrow after running some math I will pick up more FAL mags. The planned purchase should put me into 'happy numbers' of mags. To round out that setup I will still need to buy a couple cases of good 7.62x51 surplus in due time. Ammo matters a lot but for a ban scenario ammo, which could feed Bubbas bolt action deer rifle, is a lot less likely to be targeted than say guns and military pattern rifles and the standard capacity mags that feed them.

The Max Velocity VERSA chest rig is almost ready for sale. I am excited and totally want one. My Costa Leg Rig it can rock FAL mags. That this setup can rock 5.56 and 7.62 in the same rig is a huge plus. I need to buy a chest rig for the big boy rifle and being able to swap out to AR stuff is a plus. I plan to purchase one of these to fill that role.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Link Dump

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Training #1: Barriers to Training

I have wanted to talk about this for awhile and today is as good of a day as any. I want to have a polite and respectful discussion about barriers, both real and perceived, that prevent people from going out and getting the quality training they need. Max Velocity has been talking about this for awhile now. Maybe in some way others can benefit from this. The format for each issue will be:

BarrierDiscussion
Recommendation

I will try to do this in some sort of logical flow of psychological, physical and financial/ logistical. So here we go.

Psychological
Barrier- "I don't need any fancy training, I've been shooting my whole life."
Discussion- Every red blooded American man who owns a gun thinks they are a legitimate gunfighter at a completely bad assed Raylan Givens or Kyle Lamb (CSM, RET) type of level. The problem with this idea is that people A) are so fundamentally ignorant on the topic(s) at hand that they are unable to assess their own ability and B) these people are universally failing to train to any worthwhile, measurable standards that factor in both time and accuracy. Saying it more seriously you should look up Cognative bias or just read John Mosby's post on it.

It is a huge ego thing.What I would submit to people is that being ignorant of a topic that involves violence does not make you a bad person or weak or anything like that. You are no less of a man (I say that because this is 100% a male issue) for not being able to clear a malfunction and reload an M4 in the dark, or execute an ambush which I can, than I am for not being able to wire a house or fix a car or something you know how to do. Fighting is just a skill and like any other one if you want a skill you lack the way to fix that is to go out and learn it.
Recommendation- Test yourself to a measurable standard. If a person gets a timer and shoots any decent combat based such as the CSAT Tactical Pistol Instructor standards they might eat a serious dose of humble pie.

Barrier- "I am/ was a Marine/ Soldier/ Cop so I know everything about everything."
Discussion- Experiences, in particular combat related ones are very powerful. To be honest without taking anything away from whatever you might have done unless you recently retired as an E8/E9 Tier 1 Jedi or as a senior SWAT Officer from a major city or Federal organization I would submit you might still have some things to learn. This will bleed slightly into the next planned post (What to train on) but I would say these folks might have valid experiences in one area (an Infantryman is probably pretty decent with rifles and a Cop should know how to shoot a handgun) but be entirely inexperienced in other areas. Reference the discussion of standards in the last piece.
Recommendation- First measure yourself against a quantifiable standards that factor in both time and accuracy. Second prioritize training in your weaker areas first.

Physical
Barrier- "I'm too old/ fat/ out of shape to go get training."
Discussion- Of course you have to be realistic. If you have some serious medical/ physical issues they may well prevent you from some more physical training. In Lost John Locke tried to do an Australian Walk About type survival thing in a wheel chair. Obviously that would not work. An 80 year old woman with a walker is not going to be able to do a 3 day patrolling class where you live out of a ruck that is carried on your back. That being said.....

It is my general impression that potential students regularly abstain from training they would be fine in due to this concern. Most classes are set up to accommodate a reasonable range of fitness levels. Look, while the military and law enforcement are heavy on fairly fit 20 and 30 somethings the civilian training market is a decade older and 20-30 pounds heavier. Aside from some classes that are probably MIL/LEO exclusive you will likely see a broad range of fitness levels. Nobody gives a shit if you are fat so stop being so self conscious about it. If in doubt I would say to contact the instructor before signing up for the class an lay out your specific concerns.

My general observation is within practical limits most instructors will help find a way to accommodate whatever issues you may have. They might adjust some pieces of instruction to say have a person who can't run omit running pieces and walk or just start at the shooting point. Instructors do this because a) they are good people who genuinely want to train others and b) they are capitalists and your money is green.
Recommendation- Obviously don't sign up for a class that involves climbing a building and living out of a ruck if you are in a wheel chair. Beyond that if in doubt just ask the folks running the class. Instructors worth dealing with will work with you as much as they can.

Financial/ Logistical
Barrier- "I can't afford to train."
Discussion- Taking a step back. We live in a very consumerist society. This extends to firearms and training. People would rather go buy a shiny new widget or a really, really expensive gun than work on the fundamentals and get better with the guns they have. We are very hardware centric with minimal interest in software. If someone sold a widget that was supposed to make you shoot better for $500 (and many companies do) folks would line up around the block for it. On the other hand folks are far less likely to financially and emotionally suck it up and pay hard earned money to learn skills they need but do not possess. Look at any blog and compare comments/ views on a post about a new accessory for an AR-15 vs one about training.

To the specific question. Obviously if you make 25k a year and have 6 kids a training class with an all in cost of say $700 might well be entirely unfeasible or a multi year savings type goal. However if you have some disposable income and are using it to buy more stuff instead of training it is an issue of prioritization not economics.

There are certainly ways to minimize costs on training. Many places have some sort of lodging or allow camping. Taking classes within driving distance of your location helps to keep costs reasonable also. Maybe find a friend to split gas and hotel costs with.
Recommendation- Aside from real low income folks if you prioritize training the money situation will work out.

I hope this gives you something to think about. Comments are open as always.


Monday, June 1, 2015

From Around The Web

Lucky Gunner does an interesting post on mounting optics to the AK platform. An Ultimak rail with an Aimpoint micro is probably the way to go for a defensive rifle. Honestly around the range you would need a scope you probably have the wrong rifle in a ( a 7.62x39 chambered) AK. That being said I can see the utility of a low variable or fixed power scope on one for older eyes or hunting where target discrimination (2 point not OK but 3 are, etc). For that option I would either use one of the side mounted rails or replace the whole top cover with a purpose made one. I know Texas Weapons Systems makes one and think Midwest Industries does too.

John Mosby talks Escape and Evasion 1 and 2. While I certainly would not disagree with anything John said I wish to put some emphasis on two points from the articles. First is physical fitness. If you are going to make some sort of gaping burst to get out of the immediate area they could cordon then make a slow determined slog to wherever you are going you have to be able to physically cover many miles under stress over multiple days. Second is consistently having some useful tools on your person and a more robust fighting load or get home bag readily available will give you a fighting chance to have some gear if things go down.

Max Velocity talks about different gear he is producing in partnership with AMH Tactical Gear. I am starting to get a case of gear lust for that chest rig.

Tactical Professor, who runs an excellent blog, talks about a shooting case up in Maine. It is one of those messy family farm/ small business things. This situation should have been settled by people acting like adults over a cup of coffee or worst case gone to civil litigation but instead one guy ended up dead and another is probably going to spend the rest of their life in jail. 

Take away's
1- Don't shoot people over stuff! Aside from ethical considerations we could look at it strictly from a financial angle. Lawyers and trials are really expensive.
2- Know your local laws. This might have been a different case in a place with a less restrictive rule of retreat.
3- Having a less lethal weapons bears consideration. A can of mace might have stopped this incident but that is unlikely. It might ave given the guy enough space to get out of these.  More realistically it could have showed that the man was trying to use the smallest amount of force necessary and the much larger, younger man kept attacking.
4- This case was further muddled because while the family were probably in the wrong there was not a clear criminal act going on like say if one person owned or rented the shop and the other was trespassing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SA Defense Force Vets Fighting Islamic Terrorists in East Africa

Max Velocity and Peter both mentioned it. Whatever you might think of Apartheid South Africa some of those guys were kick ass fighters. After the move to majority rule a lot of very experienced fighters were suddenly unemployed. Some of them started a PMC called Executive Outcomes. If you are bored some Sunday go down the rabbit hole learning about them, very interesting stuff. They made Blackwater look like a mom and pop security guard operation.

In any case some of those guys are still out fighting for hire. They are killing terrorists, real asshole types, so I wish them good hunting.

On another note Max Velocity is offering a discount for summer training. Max's place has a nice canopy of trees that cuts the heat and the schoolhouse. I would certainly hydrate and (a thing I saw at CSAT) bring a cooler full of Gatorade. The point is people use weather as an excuse not to train just about all the time. The winter is cold, often in the spring it is rainy. Summer is hot and fall is full of holidays where we all do family stuff. Save your money, look at your calender and get the training you need as soon as possible.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pic Post

Had plans to do a real post today. There are some good ideas floating around in my head. The CSAT Tac Pistol post is in progress. It is about half done and sitting at 2 pages. I was pretty busy with Mothers Day today. Let Wifey sleep in real late (till she woke up) then did some stuff around here. Called the Mom's to say hi and thanks then cooked us some dinner.

Since I'm too tired and lazy to write a real post today you are going to get some pictures.
Kenny did well on this one. Honestly we could do well with these two rules.

The S&W Model 19. It was the most common man affordable service revolver for years. As TBF mentioned it was the preeminent policeman's revolver for a couple decades. Also as Bill Jordan mentioned you could do a lotworse than a Model 19 if SHTF. For whatever it is worth I trust an S&W .357 a lot and would have no isssue with it as a house gun or whatever.

The point I am getting at is that the .357mag is good to go and you could do a ton wors.



Sometimes you have got to bug out by water with your go geear whhick includes a rife. I would sling it around my neck and roll whih that.

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My dogs. 200 pounds of hassle nobody wants. Priincess (tan dog) bit a hog leg bone n half in 1 bite.








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?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Land Nav Training with Max Velocity

Max Velocity is offering land nav training.


MVT will offer practical Land Navigation classes. These will be 2 day classes.
Classes will include:
Theory
Practical Instruction
Day & Night Practical Land Navigation
(Night course optional)
Background Reading HERE.
Equipment:
Orienteering Compass
Map Case/ZipLock Bag (A4 sized)
Day Pack
Water Source
Whistle
Light Stick
Flashlight
(Lensatic Compass & Protractor use will be covered, equipment supplied).
A permanent orienteering course is set up at the MVT site, due to the MVT Rifleman Challenge.
Free basic camping is available at site. Motels are available in nearby Romney, WV.
Dates:
June 8/9 (Monday/Tuesday): This class will be offered immediately following the Combat Team Tactics (CTT) Class (space is available on that CTT class).
June 19/21 (Saturday/Sunday).
Cost: $250.

Land nav is not something you can learn watching youtube or reading a book. If you do not have these skills then best remedy the issue promptly. I urge you to do so while all it costs is a bit of money. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Max Velocity and Alexander Wolfe Talk Gear


Max Velocity is ditching his beloved battle belt for a much more modern setup of a lightweight battle belt with a couple rifle mags and a pistol plus his sweet new MVT CUTT chest rig by AMH Tactical. I think this sort of system brings a lot to the table.


As you may well know I have a heavy battle belt/ modern LBE a lot like what MAX used to run. 

Both Max Velocity and Alexander Wolfe pretty much lay down the same thinking on the pro's and cons of the heavy battle belt.

Pro's-  Probably the most comfortable way to carry a fair bit of weight in a fighting load. It also lets you go prone comfortably and open the belt for even more comfort if you are say lying in an position for hours.

Cons- Not so great for vehicles as it's lots of extra stuff around the mid line on your sides and back. This isn't a huge deal for me as I can't see too many situations where I would be driving for any distance and having it sitting by me would not be sufficient.

Not scalable. These are all or nothing and they are fairly heavy. Mine is (IIRC) almost 20 pounds with ten or so loaded AR mags and 2 Glock mags. This brings a couple of issues. First for most realistic civilian situations I am not going to need to be carrying a dozen AR mags. The option to have a couple reloads for my long gun is a handy one that fits a whole lot of realistic scenarios. If I was say, going a block over to check on a neighbor, even during the nastiest situations to hit the US is recent memory, the LA Riots and Hurricane Katrina, I would feel quite comfortable with my AR and 2 reloads.

Second people who haven't done much field time fail to realize this stuff gets heavy. When people get back into camp after a long hard day of patrolling the first thing they want to do is take off all their heavy stuff! If people are going to be doing work around camp the first thing they want to do is take off all their heavy stuff! A big ole battle belt might get left behind under a bunk or in a shelter.

Personally despite the fact that I am selling stuff right now you note my battle belt is not for sale. I believe that system has a valid niche and plan to keep it. That being said...

I do have another 'prime time' (not to be confused with various ancillary backup stuff) system. That system is a 2 part tiered system. The first part is a Costa Leg Rig (reviewed at T Blog) with a good heavy duty belt and a holster. I currently have this set up for home defense so instead of rifle mags it is holding shotgun shell cards for my trusty 870P. A benefit of this system is I could swap it to use with my AR tomorrow, a PTR-91 the next day, whatever.

I could attach a fixed blade knife and a TQ to this system and it would be plenty for most scenarios. Certainly even in a nasty situation it would be enough to wear while doing chores around the house/ camp or relaxing after a tough day of fighting off Chinese hordes/ Zombies/ whatever. 

The second part is a chest rig, probably my MOLLE II TAP panel because it can easily be used with body armor or solo. That gets the mag count of this system to a respectable level and gives places to put necessary stuff.

Which system do I prefer? It is definitely situationaly dependent. The tiered system is a lot more versatile. Honestly I can see my battle belt ending up in a cache at some point. It would be great for going all Red Dawn but I can't see wearing it in a hurricane or riot where I can definitely see the pistol belt from the other system being a constant companion.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ammo Counts, Expending Ammo and Resupply plus 2k Down a Glock 19 with 1 Misfire

Max Velocity had a pretty interesting post on ammo and rates of fire.

According to the omnipotent US Army the M4 rate(s) of fire are:
  • Semiautomatic - 45 rounds per minute
  • Burst - 90 rounds per minute
  • Sustained - 12-15 rounds per minute
The first two are what you would use during an ambush or break contact drill. Yes that is 1.5-3 mags a minute. Since most of us do not have burst let's round up to 2 mags a minute. The significant thing to note is that people typically do not keep these rates of fire up for very long. Either the situation is resolved successfully (kill BG's or break contact), it is resolved unsuccessfully (death/ capture) or it stalls out into a slower scenario where people are firing a round every few seconds while trying to maneuver their elements or waiting for back up.

 Units in combat can quickly run very short on ammo even if they act reasonably. People can only reasonably carry so much of the stuff. The saving graces of this are 1) people within a unit will use ammo very unevenly. The guys on perimiter security will probably not shoot at all. If the left side of the patrol base takes contact the guys on the right are just waiting for the flank, etc. Guy with 8 mags gives 3 to the guy with 2 mags.

This is also why caliber and magazine interchangeability matters.  The AR-15 in 5.56/ .223 is the hands down obvious choice these days followed shortly by the AK-47 in 7.62x39. There are lots of valid options but pick one and stick with it. Hard to toss a PTR-91 mag to your buddy who is rocking an AK-47 or borrow from the guy with the AR in 6.8. Pistols matter a lot less because you won't honestly use them much. If things are that bad that you are widely cross leveling pistol mags in contact you are probably about to die anyway.

This is also why active combatants need a solid resupply plan for ammo. Maybe you keep a few spare mags in an assault pack, a couple bandoleers in a ruck and a bunch more in the truck. Maybe you go assault pack, pre positioned speed balls and a resupply cache. I do not know what the answer is for your scenario but if needed you better have a way to get ammo.

Lastly the issue of shooting your ammunition vs saving it is paradoxical. You are not (though different for a survivalist than a soldier) incentivized to bring ammo back from a fight but woe be the person who runs out before the fight is over. However people, especially survivalists, can worry too much about some 'one shot one kill' fantasy that does not accurately reflect the fundamental nature of modern small unit and insurgent combat. If it takes a mag of ammo to kill I guy I will call that a win. You lived and that guy died, now you have X amount of ammo remaining for your other problems.

This is not to say you should waste ammo but, especially in an environment where civilians are not a big concern, if you get a shot take it. I'll shoot a guy in his exposed foot because it will greatly hinder his movement. Even though it is an ifffy shot on a non vital part of the guy hitting him there makes my situation better. If I do not have time for perfect fundamentals I will still take the shot. Worst case I waste a 35 cent bullet, best case I hurt the enemy.


I hope this helps share this valuable discussion and bring my thoughts into the picture.

Also Tam shot 2k rounds through a Glock 19 without cleaning or lubing it and had 1 misfire.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Storm and Max Velociity Talks M855 Alternatives

Down here in Louisiana we are finally getting a shot of winter. It is cold (35 when I got  home) and there is an 80% chance of rain. School was canceled today and is also for tomorrow. We had a late call today and have a later one tomorrow. Paw Paw shared a picture that pretty much sums up the situation.

 Max Velocity talks alternatives to M855.  Putting my money where my mouth is that case of 55gr M193 5.56 I just ordered showed up today. I need to get a 50 cal ammo can to store it in. Also need one for that case of 7.62x39 I bought when the Ukraine really kicked off. I probably need to order about 4 ammo cans.

500 rounds of Remington 110gr SJHP for $250. Fifty cents a round for any .357 mag ammo is a good deal. For Remington hollow points it is a darn good deal.

500 rounds of Independence 55gr M193 for $164.99 (.33 a rd). With the nature of 5.56 right now this is a good deal. If you are short, or just want a few months of training ammo this is a good way to get squared away.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Internet Preparedness Studying Trap

A conversation with our buddy Meister got me thinking about something. There is a serious risk of getting too caught up in blogs and videos and great reading material like Patriot Dawn by Max Velocity that you are too distracted to actually do anything to prepare! Don't get me wrong, I love blogs by folks like Commander Zero, Harry Flashman (in the mountains of Georgia who previously went by another name), Jamie of My Adventures in Self Reliance, Bayou Renaissance Man, TEOTWAWKI Blog and too many more to list. Heck I am a blogger myself. I also enjoy watching various youtube channels.

The problem is we need to actually do things to prepare and while we can occasionally get some really good hints and ideas from such entertainment they have to actually be acted on. I will confess to at times falling into this trap myself. Between reading other peoples blogs and my own blogging a fair bit of time is spent. While it is a fair bit of my entertainment and as such takes that time, often instead of watching tv or reading some junk fiction, it does take time. While my general trajectory in preparedness is forward it is often not as fast as I would like.

The way I plan to push myself out of this is to try doing something tangible, beyond physical fitness efforts, to improve my preparedness fox hole every single day. Do something every single day.... It doesn't have to be a big thing. I intentionally did not define the amount of time or effort beyond something tangible. It might be 5 or ten minutes working to finish up this or put some time into that. The point is that 1) regularly doing something is quickly habit building and 2) putting consistent time, even a little bit, into something with high regularity quickly adds up into a lot of movement.

So those are my thoughts on that.

Are you actually preparing or just studying preparedness?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review: 299 Days Books 1 and 2

Today I am going to be discussing the book series 299 Days By Glen Tate . I will be discussing the first two books in this post. Really I think the line between them is artificial so for the rest of this discussion they will be treated as one book.

Overview: This series of 10 books follows a man named Grant Madsen, his wife, family and friends living in the PNW through a partial collapse. It starts with the main character’s youth then goes through his childhood through college. His childhood was in a rural town in coastal Washington. He learned lots of skills but it was pretty bad growing up poor with an abusive alcoholic father. From different things I have heard that roughly mirrors the authors childhood which is unfortunate and I feel for the guy.

In college the author meets a girl and falls in love with her. They end up getting married. He becomes a lawyer and she becomes a doctor. They get jobs and settle into a comfortable upper middle class to kind of rich type life. Some years go by and he becomes a fat comfortable suburban guy. He refers to this period as ‘the Docker years.’

At some point the conservative lawyer realizes our system is quite vulnerable and decides to start preparing. He does so without the knowledge of his wife. The main character continues preparing for bad times. He is stashing food and buys a gun. He ends up becoming a regular at a local gun shop and buys a decent stash of guns and plenty of ammunition for them. Eventually after getting close with some of those guys he ends up meeting a group of people who shoot regularly together. He becomes friends with them and ‘the team’ shoots together regularly. The team also gets some training and advice from ‘SF Ted’ a Special Forces soldier stationed at nearby Fort Lewis.

At some point in his preparedness journey the main character ends up basically having a cabin fall into his lap through an early inheritance. He purchases a small but nice cabin with an unfinished basement on the water in a small inlet on the Puget Sound. His cabin is about 45 minutes from town.
The collapse happened very slowly at first over a few years. It started with economic problems. Eventually the stock market crashed, debt ratings were downgraded and the government couldn’t borrow any more money. They actually had to make cuts. Not trimming growth by 2% or vague cuts in the future but actual tangible cuts now. The unions got pissed and so did people on various benefit programs. There were large protests. The economy went into a death spiral. States started having diverging outcomes. California got particularly ugly but Texas was managing some of the same issues with much better outcomes. As fuel became more expensive goods were not moving so stores became empty. That part was pretty standard but it stopped there, short of a full on collapse. Things were bad though the power stayed on and some businesses were still open. Overall I think this is a very realistic scenario.

Onto the usual format

The Good:
A very realistic scenario is laid out. In fact one could argue some of the things mentioned in the book are already happening. In fact I heard in an interview with the author he had to slightly change some parts of the book because events he talked about did in fact occur. In particular the author highlighted the different outcomes rural and urban areas as well as different states will face. This is extremely valid because a collapse would have very uneven outcomes in this regard.

The characters were very plausible. First of all their skills, finances and the percentage of income they put into preps is realistic. They did not have a Special Forces medic or a master machinist whose hobby was running an organic hobby farm. 30 year old couples are not buying 40 acres with a nice house and a barn in cash then somehow making 100k a year out in the hinter boonies. Second of all they are flawed, Grant Madsen is preparing in secret because his wife wants nothing to do with any of that, one guy is really fat, older people cannot quite perform like younger ones. People have feelings and emotions and tempers.

Stepping away from characters but staying along the lines of realism I think the characters levels of preparation were far more representative of the overall preparedness/ survivalist community than many other fiction books. In books it seems that people are either super prepared or just normal folks who might happen to have some useful items around. It’s like all survivalists have a years worth of food, lots of guns and all this other cool stuff. In reality many people’s preparations are uneven as their resources were spent in areas they enjoy the most. It is not uncommon to see guys with a few grand in guns n ammo but not a month worth of food or women with huge stocks of buckets full of food but no way to protect their selves (of course these are stereotypes’ and don’t apply to all).

Relationships are also portrayed realistically including the honest fact that some spouses are not on board.

Every survivalist fiction book has to balance putting out some meaningful lessons through the story with the risk of turning into a disjointed half nonfiction ‘how to’ book. In the worst of these I have seen several pages of various military survival manuals and or standard ‘100 items to survive’ or ‘food storage guidelines’ stuff put in word for word. This book did a good job of straddling the line by giving some good core points yet not letting it detract from the book or break up the story.

The Bad

There was cheesy use of words like ‘gunfighter’ and ‘military contractor’ to describe members of ‘the team.’ I found it a bit cheesy and tacticool. Maybe it is me being a military guy and being long over those sort of things but it just irked me.

The break between books one and two was pretty artificial. It is almost like the author was writing one big book and said ‘We’ll split it at page 350’ with little thought to a logical breaking point. As such a person would get a weird impression if they only read book one not like a cliff hanger per se but of the book just ending.

Every character in the book seemed far more worried about other people’s feelings than I think folks are in real life.

It concerns me a bit that the impression was given that somehow a bunch of guys who don't know what they are doing going out to the range and shooting a bunch somehow means they are trained. They referenced getting a bit of help from 'Special Forces Ted' but unless it was pretty organized I am uncomfortable saying that replaces quality training by someone like Max Velocity or another organized type class.

Coming back to the preps the characters in the book had made. I hesitate to critique this too hard because Glen Tate the author did what I think was an accurate and honest portrayal of many prepared folks. That being said there were some significant holes in their plans.

First almost nobody had body armor. The characters had ‘tactical vests’ though I’m not sure if they really meant the cheese vests of late 90’s and early 2000 vintage or plate carriers or chest rigs. Anyway if I recall only one character Bill ‘Pow” had any actual armor. These characters, especially ‘the team’ spent a bunch of money on guns, lots of gear and ammo cans full of 5.56, 9mm, 12 gauge and 7.62x39 but couldn’t drop a few bills on plates. Guys on ‘the team’ had spare rifles and a couple had expensive shotguns like Benelli’s. The thing is rifle plates are simply not that expensive any more. For $450 or so you can get a setof AR500 plates in a plate carrier. At that price point with a bit of planning they are solidly in a normal middle class guy’s budget.

Their lack of plates was inexcusable. To illustrate the point Grant had 2 AR's, 1 AK-47, 2 AK 74's, a Remington 870, 2 .40 Glocks, a .38, a .380 and a 10/22. For the cost of one redundant rifle or pistol he could have had plates.  The characters were also universally without night vision capability. Given the much higher price point of anything better than Gen I this hole is still understandable but a couple characters seem like people who might have that sort of gear.

Water filtration/ purification was only mentioned briefly, IIRC Grant purchased a Big Berkey at some point. There was no mention of water storage in the books.

The medical preps they made were quite light. In the book it was excused as Grant Madsen (the main character) ‘Didn’t know how to use that stuff so he didn’t buy it.’ The explanation made a lot of sense to me till I put that together with the fact that HIS WIFE IS AN ER DOCTOR! He could and should have stashed all sorts of stuff. That is one of the few situations where the ’32 piece Czech surplus Stainless Surgical kit’ from Sportsmens Guide actually makes sense.

The biggest single hole I identified was ‘the team’ showed up with basically no food. On one hand this is accurate as a lot of tactical (or tactical wanna be) folks aren’t really survivalists/ preppers so they would not store food. However not even having enough food for an ice storm or power outage is just silly. It also seems the group had no stored fuel (except 2x 5 gallon cans Grant stashed at the cabin) or and very few gas cans.

Overall impression: I enjoyed these books and think you will too. They definitely spurred some thoughts that might lead me down productive roads. I will review book 3 as soon as I get around to it.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reflections on My 14.5in BCM Mid Length Carbine "Project AR"

Alexander Wolfe of T Blog is thinking about upgrading his AR-15 to a BCM upper. I started a comment at his place then decided it was going to turn into a post of it's own. I built a BCM 14.5in mid length a couple years back. It's a great rifle and I love it. Some reflections on the overall experience of setting up and using this rifle might help my buddy out, plus also everyone, myself included, loves to talk about their cool toys.

What worked out well:

-The choice of a BCM upper and bolt carrier group. It's great. BCM is IMO a producer of legitimate professional grade rifles on par with Colt. That being said they hit that mark without getting into the stratospherically expensive boutique semi custom range of Daniels Defense, Knight, Noveske and Larue with 2-3k plus price tags.

-Standard weight 14.5in barrel. I toyed with the lightweight barrel idea but decided against it after a couple very experienced people (former SOF NCO's) said to go with a standard weight. Upon reflection after a couple years with the gun I am glad I did it. I can shoot all day long in 100 degree temps without barrel heat being an issue. There are lots of places to shave weight on an AR but A) the barrel is not the place to do it and B) fundamentally it's a light rifle anyway.

As to length 14.5in is as short as you can get without  treading into the (now especially nebulous) AR pistol territory. This is good for moving in and around vehicles as well as structures. Before the barrel length and velocity argument starts our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed enough bad guys out past 400m with M4's that, at least as far as this guy is concerned, any debate about this not being an effective fighting rifle is moot.

-Upgrading the muzzle device. Call it a flash hider, call it a comp, call it a break, whatever. There are a lot of really good options out there at a variety of price points. The BCM comps look good and come in at a wallet friendly price. The only reason I can see not to upgrade the muzzle device for a pinned/ welded barrel, where it is a lot harder to do it later, would be for a really budget conscious build.

What I have mixed feelings about:

-Mid length gas system. It's a bit softer but not like these things are shoulder busters anyway. It makes replacing parts a bit more complicated. I like it but from both the accessorizing and scavenging parts angles a standard carbine length has advantages. My half hearted current answer to this problem is that I'm keeping the one I have but do not plan to get another mid length system on a future rifle.

-Battlecomp. Don't get me wrong I like it a lot but it is worth noting my concept of use for this rifle was 'build it so I won't go back and do it again in a couple years' so budget was not a primary driver. Also looking back I'm not sure those funds wouldn't have been better spent going towards an upgraded trigger or a rail (we'll get to that). Then again I wanted the BCM comp but they were between versions or something so it was perpetually out of stock at the time.

What I'm not so sure about:

-Not buying a rail right away. I was trying to keep the price sane and the fixed front sight of a normal A2 style gas block appealed to me. That combined with a pinned receiver made putting a rail on it down the road a problem. Combining that with my rail preference (free floating and not a quad rail) made it a downright hassle. I ended up with a nice and surprisingly affordable free floating MIDWEST INDUSTRIES S S G/2BLACK 12rail but it was a big hassle that could have been easily avoided. 

To the specifics of Alexander's situation:
- You can't go wrong with a BCM build though I do recommend a standard weight barrel.

-If you choose to run with this plan I would build a whole rifle. The upper is at least 75% of the cost, more if you factor in rails, optics, lights, etc. Would you have two trucks and swap a set of rims and tires between them.

-I am solidly in the 'keep the old rifle for a rainy day' camp. Use the older cheaper rifle as a 'truck gun' or make an operational cache.

-As an outside of the box idea if the only thing that really bothers you about the current rifle is the carbine length handguard why now just change/ cut down the gas block then put on whatever length rail you want?

Don't get me wrong, the last thing I'm trying to do is talk him out of buying a great AR. I have a very similar rifle and love it. If there are other reasons, including just wanting something shinier, to purchase the new rifle then roll with it. However if the hand guard is the only problem with the current rifle that is an easy fix. Instead of being a several hundred dollar project it would be 2 or 3 bills.

Anyway I hope it helps Alexander with his project.

What do you all think?

From our sponsors:
500 rounds of Brown Bear 7.62x39 for $109
An update on the MVT Shield from Max Velocity
Camping Survival has sandbags starting at 35 cents a piece going down to 27 in bulk
At LPC survival they have a Mountain House classic assortment on sale for $71.99

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Around The Web

Euro at 9 year low vs the dollar.  I wish it would have been 1.19 to a dollar when I was in Germany.
Deflation in Europe
The Greeks elected a leftist government that is anti austerity which could lead to them breaking the current agreement. The problem is once a country enters the IMF death spiral there really isn't a way out. Some smart people have argued that is intentional.

From Weapons Man
Some predictions for 2015
The Big Lie about Wanat (AKA why M4's aren't jamming and getting soldiers killed)
Wars to Study, to Study UW

From American Mercenary
Fake cell towers, IMSI grabbers, and how to secure communications through an unsecure medium

From Max Velocity
Max Velocity Riflemen training plan
1978 Nuclear Holocaust: March or Die 40 miles with 40 pounds in 24 hours is a darn good goal yet, for a healthy adult who is willing to do an extensive and deliberate train up, a reasonable goal.

From Sheriff Jim Winson
If You Can Shoot AKA why the gun famed border patrolman, shooter and writer would bury for bad times is an S&W Model 19 with a box of shells.
 
Also

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eureka!!! Potential Battle Belt and Sustainment Load Solution

I was about at the end of my battle belt journey. Was looking at transitioning to a pistol belt with my Costa Leg Rig (review coming whenever I get to it) and a chest rig like the Blackhawk one I got some time back in order to transition away from the ALICE pack. My two biggest issues with the battle belt concept were that I wanted to carry a modern reasonably comfortable ruck and the whole vehicle problem.

For some reason this weekend I got to thinking "I wonder if just maybe my battle belt will work with an issue MOLLE ruck?" Since there was one in my garage I figured it wouldn't cost anything to try. TURNS OUT IT DID!!! The ruck was just squat enough to work and the hip belt/ pad (the problem I had with more modern civilian type bags) was thin enough not to get in the way. This had potential.

Yesterday I took the combination out for a quick little ruck and it worked fine. It wasn't conclusive because my ruck wasn't really loaded, it just had whatever happened to be in there.

Fast forward to today and I put all of my gear into the issue Multicam ruck that was just sitting in the garage. Took it out and did an easy little 20 minute ruck and the combination worked good. My battle belt and the ruck worked well for the most part.

The issue of vehicle use is still present but I can't see too many situations in a civilian emergency context where I would want to wear a battle belt and be driving around.

That means the battle belt is going to stick around. Since I am wearing it low (to clear a ruck and or PC) and relying on suspenders I might as well up the mag count. Also my Safariland 6285 holster doesn't really work in this context. It really needs a tighter belt to be able to get a decent draw out of. So the holster isn't really working well and it monopolizes a ton of MOLLE space. Also the suspenders are not really working for this (heavier than originally planned) concept.

I went back and looked at Max Velocities battle belt for inspiration. Think I am going to change my belt over to be a lot more like his. I will transition to a Condor Tactical H- Harness and add a 4-6 m mags worth of 2 mag shingles (or maybe 3 mag ones) to boost the mag count to about 10. Also plan to change to a basic Condor holster. The sacrifice is I'll have to ditch the light on the pistol to make this work.

[Note the reason  I am leaning towards Condor is it's servicable and affordable enough to experiment and maybe end up tossing items in the 'random gear' box without going broke. I've probably bought too much expensive high end gear for the project without getting my hands on it first. Might just do a garage sale.]

Anyway that is where I stand with things today.
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