Showing posts with label reader questions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reader questions. Show all posts

Monday, April 18, 2016

PTR-91 or Optics

Anonymous highdesertlivin said...
Sound advise. Ryan I too could use some different points of view, if you have the time and energy. Here's the deal: I just received my refund (915.00) for 2 eotech 512's I returned to the factory. My intention was to immediately purchase 2 aimpoint patrols to place on my primary and secondary. Now I've been lusting after a ptr GI at Atlantic firearms for 899.00. Part of me says, get those weapons up to speed post haste, another part says get the ptr now or maybe I won't get a chance to in the future. Thinking optics, is more important......but? Thanks in advance. HDL

 Ryan here: HDL, I have two questions:

First have you factored in the cost of all of the necessary stuff to go with that gun (mags, parts, ammo, etc)? Unless you already have it that stuff costs money.

Second what is your capacity to buy the thing you delay down the road in a month or 6? If the budget is real tight and you won't be able to put much cash into stuff later that leans towards the optics since they are important. On the other hand if you can buy the other thing down the road a bit grab that rifle now and the optics later.

Without getting into specifics I have had a similar situation. I can use a nice scope to finish up a project, it will cost $450ish. The rifle that needs the scope works now but is not optimal. I also want a back up rifle. Don't have cash to do both at once. My decision is to buy the rifle sooner and the scope later. Why? I am confident I will be able to buy a rifle scope in a year. The rifle, not so much.

Hope it helps, R

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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reader Questions: Meister on Appalachian Land Purchase or Beach Front Property

Meister said: Looking at a large property purchase. Having issues deciding on location. Appalachia or the coast with a boat. Tough decisions.

Meister asked a question that has a fairly complicated answer. Should he purchase land in the Appalachian Mountains (or that general region) or on the ocean with a boat. For background Meister lives (based on his google profile) in the greater Indianapolis IN area.  I will talk the general pro's and con's of each then hit the questions that would guide my answer if this was a conversation.

Mountain land:
Pro: Cheap
Pro: Low maintenance costs
Pro: Minimal population

Con: If that situation becomes untenable options are limited.
Con: Lots of poverty and drug issues. Of course this is a very local thing but the meth heads in town or a trailer nearby could be a real issue if things get ugly and EBT cards stop working.
Con: May not be the easiest culture to assimilate into. There could be a we/ they thing if stuff got ugly.

Beach land:
Pro: Vast resources readily available. Food storage could be greatly supplemented by shellfish, crab, fish, etc.
Pro: Being able to have either on a dock or a trailer in a shed, a boat capable of intercoastal waterway type travel gives a great supplementary option.
Pro: A little cabin on the ocean and a boat would be huge fun for the family and an anchor to get teen and adult kids to come out for the family vacation for years to come. This is something you could really enjoy.

Con: Population. Beaches tend to be relatively busy places as they are cool. Sure there are some more isolated areas but you have to really look for them. Without googling it I suspect the low population density of the Appalachians is difficult to find on the Eastern seaboard unless you look at extreme norther Maine.
Con: Cost. Your dollars will get a lot less land if it is on the water.
Con: In a worst case scenario being on the water puts a big ole high speed avenue of approach right on your back lawn. Not so long ago Pirates raided small towns and settlements in the American South East because it was easy to hit one and vanish into a maze of islands or get back to a safe haven.
Con: (Boat) Significant upkeep costs. A trailered boat costs money. A boat you have to keep in the water year round or dry dock costs real money to upkeep. I knew an accountant who had a very long conversation with a legitimately wealthy client that in fact no she could not comfortably afford a boat.
Con: (Boat) I would be worried about not having my eyes on such an expensive thing, especially if it was in the water.

Now the thoughts/ questions I have to guide the decision:

Q- Do you plan to keep living in the same area you currently do or relocate?

Thought. Distance- My rough math says the Appalachians (picked Cumberland, TN as an arbitrary mile marker) are fairly close to you, approximately 275 miles so a tank of gas or so. Also it is pretty open country so I wouldn't be TOO worried about making the drive if things got bad. Relatively un populated/ affordable beach front land would probably be in the Carolina's which are roughly 750+ miles (I used Mertyl beach as an arbitrary mile marker). That is a lot further any way you cut it. Also there are a lot of more built up areas in between. A further away place means you are less likely to use it get away (and be around/ check on your stuff) and it will be harder to get to in a worst case scenario.

This is probably the biggest issue in my mind. The ocean is pretty far from where you live. As such this favors land in the mountains. If it was not almost twice as far we might be able to argue for the ocean but......

Q- What sort of scenario do you see happening?

Thoughts: If your concerns run more towards a major financial collapse that runs short of full on grid down Mad Max I would go with the beach land and boat. Better economy (in general) and closer to population centers for work and such. Depending on the boat you have it has the added benefit that if the social/ political situation becomes intolerable you could easily sail down to the Caribbean or Central/ South America for a couple years. Your trade could be practiced underground for enough to keep the families bellies full and a reasonable boat running. The Appalachians are the white third world now, imagine if the EBT cards and government programs were cut off? On the other hand if you see things going full on Mad Max a cabin in a holler with a big garden 30 miles from a town of 3,000 people in BFE Kentucky/ TN would be a good place to be. If your immediate neighbors were solid and the terrain was good folks could do well up in those hills, it has been done before. For that scenario the openness of beach areas and the high speed avenue of approach of the ocean add risk.

This can go either way depending on your concerns.

Q- How much cash do you have for start up? How much for maintenance?

Thoughts: My very rough math says the beach land with boat is going to be a whole lot more expensive than some land in the mountains. Of course if you want a whole lot of acreage in the mountains (like 50+) but just an acre or two by the beach that starts to change things but it's gaming the scenario a bit. Bottom line a given amount of cash will get you a whole lot more real estate in the mountains than on the water.

I don't know your budget so it may or may not matter. However this favors land in the mountains for most budgets. The buy in for a place in the mountains could realistically be 20-30k with almost no maintenance. Beach land is probably going to cost more, then there is a boat to consider. In fairness a boat can mean a lot of things but I inferred more than a little row boat/ skiff. Boats are expensive to buy and have significant upkeep costs. From a family of boat owners I know the adage that they are a hole in the water you throw money into is true. If you had say 20-40 acres with a shed and a cabin and ran onto hard times all you would need is to scrape up cash for property taxes. On the other hand if you want them to stay operational boats cost money on a continual basis. Bottom line the up keep costs of a place on the coast with a boat will be higher.

Anyway if I had to boil this down to a suggestion. Both are fine options but that is a cop out. Unless there is some information I am unaware of I would lean to the mountains based primarily on distance.  The economics and what is better for which worst case scenario can be argued a lot of ways but the distance is very clear cut.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reader Questions: Unpapered Guns

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Swap guns purchased on a 4473 with someone else I know so they are one step removed or sell and buy at a gunshow as a private sale for more anonymity????

Ryan here: First of all one could debate how much of a concern the whole 4473 defacto registration through record keeping should be. I talked about this awhile back.  If you live in a state where it is legal stashing away a few guns for a rainy gun grabbing day is a sound idea. I hope to do the same myself in the near future.

Now as to private party firearms I would say they are not all equal. Lets say there is a color scheme between white being a papered gun you bought from a gun shop and black being a gun you bought with cash from a total stranger who you had never communicated with at a gun show 300 miles from home with no records kept then the stranger had a heart attack in the parking lot. A gun you bought from your neighbor the cop would be a very light shade of grey. A gun you bought from a friend of a friend a bit less so. You get the idea.

If your goal is to get a paperless gun the closer it is to black on the range the better off you are.

In general I would not worry too much about flipping the guns you have. If you like the guns you have and can afford (not today but over a reasonable time span) the cost to just keep what you have and get new guns for the rainy gun grabbing day stash. Have the guns you have be your normal training, home defense stuff then put a spare set away JIC.

Those are my thoughts on that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reader Question: Carry Permits

Anonymous Andy said...
What's your take on shall-issue states? I don't have my pistol permit because the state I live in has a permitting scheme about as invasive as an anal probing. Would you get it? Or stand on the principle?
April 8, 2016 at 7:22 AM

Ryan here: 
Shall issue vs may issue is an interesting thing. One single word in the state law matters a whole lot. Shall issue states work like this- meet the requirements and you get the permit. May issue states work like this- Meet the requirements and the approval authority (usually the County Sheriff) MAY issue you a permit, or not. They can give as many as they want out or none or just give them to their cronies and the well connected. They can deny a permit because they don't like a persons face or whatever. Instead of being limited by the requirements you are limited by some persons whim. 

To the second question get the damn permit. We could debate the principle and yes I think CCW permits are dumb. However in the real world CCW licenses are required in most states. Ignoring that on 'principle' leaves the bad options of not carrying or carrying illegally. The consequences of both can be significant. In my opinion the hassle of getting the permit pales when compared to the risks of getting caught carrying without one. You can mumble all about MAH CONSTITUTIONAL RAGHTS shelling out big money for a lawyer then in jail while trying to avoid forcible sodomy and maybe afterwords when you are banned from owning firearms. Why 'ride dirty' if you can do it legally? Get the permit.

You are way more likely to defend yourself with a concealed pistol then the safe full of rifles at home. Also if at all possible you want to legally carry a pistol. First it avoids a significant potential hassle if a cop spots your piece or whatever. Second should you end up in a lethal force scenario you start out as a law abiding responsible citizen instead of a criminal who disregards the states gun laws. Also the consequences of illegally carrying a concealed handgun can be significant. 

As a final thought if you hate the states permitting structure that much and or want to be able to LEGALLY carry without a permit then maybe you should consider moving to a place that allows that. 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Reader Questions: Red Dot CO Witness?

Morning Ryan, 

Do you know much about red dot optics?  I bought a Vortex SPARC II for an AK SBR. Im not sure if I should co-witness the dot to the front sight or use the higher mount so all I see through the optic is the dot.

The front quadrail also looks to be a few degrees off of a straight alignment with the rear and front sights. Will I be able to correct this with the windage and elevation or should I take the rail off and try to reinstall to get everything square?

Thank you for your time.


Ryan here: I have used Aimpoints plenty at work.  You want to co witness the red dot and the iron sights or at least aproximately so. Basically you need to be able to see the iron sights and the red dot at the same time. This article pretty much explains it. People talk about absolute co witness or 1/3rd co witness or whatever. I do not really care about that. For the sake of this discussion if you can see both the iron sights and the red dot it is co witness.

I believe in co witness for two reasons.

First is ergonomics and muscle memory (which they now say is not a thing but whatever). Rifle goes into the pocket of the shoulder then up to cheek to stock and the eye acquires the sights. I want to put my face on the same part of the stock and see the sights every time. If a scope was mounted high enough to clear the AK's front sight the whole thing would be off.

Second on the off chance the red dot fails (out of battery power or whatever) I want to be able to see my sights and thus just keep shooting. 

If the rail is way off I would mess with it but otherwise just adjust the red dot. It should have plenty of adjustment range to cancel out a few degrees of cant.

Hope that helps,

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Response to Reader Questions

(1)Blogger tpals said...
Showing my ignorance: what exactly is a stripped lower?
July 17, 2015 at 5:10 PM
(2)Blogger Matt LBS said...
Also, I've seen your thoughts on ammo quantities, but what is the number of mags per weapon that puts you in a happy place?

Ryan here:
1) A stripped lower is technically the serial numbered part of an AR-15. It is the metallic piece of the lower without the internals gut and such.
 This is all the parts for an AR-15 lower receiver (and a sight/ carry handle). Put this all together and you have an AR-15 lower. Note the trigger, hammer, springs, take down pins, receiver extension, butt stock, etc. All of these are put together to have a functional AR-15 lower.
The stripped lower is shown in the picture above this text. Saying it is 'stripped' just means it is without all the pieces (trigger, hammer, takedown pins, receiver extension, etc) attached or included. You need to order a lower parts kit, receiver extension, buffer and buffer spring to make this into a complete lower that you could attach an upper to and make a complete rifle.

I said before that the lower is the serialized part of the firearm. In the eyes of the law that little block of aluminum is the gun. You can buy the rest of the pieces anywhere and just walk out or order it online, then get it shipped right to your house.

Stripped lowers are quite affordable. They are regularly available under $50 and always under $100. I don't care about brands much though I do avoid polymer lowers. As Chris said "the most important part of a lower is the roll mark (that shows brand). Brands only really matter to brag to your friends that you have a Noveske, LaRue, Daniels Defense or whatever lower. If that matters to you and you have the extra cash then by all means do it. I would rather put that money into P mags, and start saving for a case of 5.56 ammunition.

The specific advantage a stripped lower has is that under most past US gun laws older pre existing stuff is grandfathered in. So if a gun ban were to happen which I think we are safe from for at least a few years that stripped lower is 'the gun' and is grandfathered in. You could order the stuff to finish it later when you can afford it.

This probable grandfathered status plus the affordability of stripped lowers makes them pretty handy. For a likely gun ban scenario a stripped lower is in effect a physical version of a stock option to have an AR in the future. Maybe you cannot afford to buy an AR today but want one down the road. Most folks can probably scrape up sixty or eights bucks to get a lower then just put it away. Case in point I would like to be able to have a rifle for each of my kids but right now I do not have 1,600-2,000 dollars to do that. On the other hand I could buy a pair of lowers and build the rifles in the future.

A person looking for profit who found a good deal on lowers and mags could do very well in the gun run I have tentatively scheduled for this fall/winter or even better than that if a ban happened. A 'AR party pack' of a stripped lower and 7 new in plastic PMAGs could probably triple their money.

(2)Matt LBS said...
Also, I've seen your thoughts on ammo quantities, but what is the number of mags per weapon that puts you in a happy place?

Yes my thoughts on ammo are on the record.

My thoughts on mags are also but to briefly recap:
 Core Defensive rifle-20
I stock AR-15 mags

Core Defensive pistol-10
I stock Glock 9mm magazines

That roughly correlate to 3x combat loads rounded out a bit. My general thinking is one set to use, one set to replace those when they are worn out/ damaged/ lost and one set for trade/ charity. Lots of people have a rifle and 2-3 mags or a pistol with two. I am happy with those numbers though more is of course merrier.

It is worth noting those numbers are PER WEAPON not per weapon type. So if you have 2 rifles it would be 40 mags. Buy a third rifle and get another 20 mags.

I hope that answers both questions. If not hit me up in the comments section.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

RE: Selling Stuff, Specifically my 30-30

The balance between keeping spam down and letting the conversation flow authentically is a touchy one. I have fiddled with different things. Right now we have the capcha on and I approve comments over 14 days old. This lets people talk but keeps the spam to a minimum. Aside from keeping spam down, which is the primary goal, I saw in time there was a secondary benefit of letting me see the comments. Usually I scan through the last week or so's posts pretty regularly but comments on older posts tend to get missed.

Today I saw a comment on my post about selling stuff
"Prepper Next Door said...Non standard? 30-30. I'm getting old. Eliminating a caliber is a good thing? My motto: Never let prepping get in the way of your gun collection. I understand. You want to sell some guns to buy some guns. In the future you'll look back and regret selling it. It won't happen today. It won't happen tomorrow. But it will happen."

Ryan here:

1- The 30-30 Winchester is certainly a plenty common caliber. It solidly passes the hardware store test. However relative to my collection it was not 'standard'. It was the outlier in my collection. For anything but a highly legislated nanny state the FAL will out perform the 30-30. Anything the 30-30 can do the FAL can do better. If/ when I get into hunting I will likely get a light general purpose .308 bolt gun like the Savage Hog Hunter and put a 1.5-6x Burris MTAC on it.

2- The thing about logistics is that I like them to be DEEP.  I have mumble mumble number of rifles in 5.56, 7.62x39 and 7.62x51/.308 with mumble mumble cases of ammo for those guns. When it comes to guns plus their mags and to a slightly lesser degree ammo I try to keep in mind Commander Zero's point (to paraphrase) "What if the stuff you have is all you are every going to get. Do you have enough guns/ mags/ ammo to last the rest of your life?" For core roles I like to have multiple guns of a given type with lots of magazines, spare parts and ammo. While it puts the fun in redundancy this type of deep supply has a considerable financial cost to it. This cost strongly incentivizes being vested in relatively few types of weapons. It also incentivizes ditching outliers. While a fine rifle my 30-30 was definitely an outlier in the battery.

3- Honestly I just didn't use it much. The particular 30-30 I sold had been in my collection for about 3 years. I purchased it and shot 20 rounds of Winchester 150 gr SP through it then oiled the gun up and put it in the safe. Every few months I took it out of the safe to fondle but that was about it.

4- As I have piveted into .308/7.62x51 the desire to remove the outlying 30-30 grew stronger.

5- As to collecting guns vs preparations. I think we all have to make choices about where to be sentimental and where to be calculated. Honestly I sort of transferred my sentimentality about the 30-30 into the FN-FAL. In doing research on battle rifles I just got a real desire to own one so that is the way I went. From a financial perspective a PTR-91 would have made more sense and from an ergonomics standpoint some kind of AR-10 would have really been ideal.

6- If I decide that I want a lever gun down the road I can get one. Honestly I think in 2-3 years I will own a .357 mag lever gun, either a Winchester or a Marlin. That would give me the sentimentality of an old school lever gun without the hassle of a different cartridge. Being able to go into the woods with a revolver and a lever gun with 2 boxes of the same ammo would be awful convenient.

7- If I decide to get back into 30-30 Winchester there are plenty of rifles available. There are probably a couple million 30-30's floating around the US. As Aesop once said there is a running joke among firearm dealers that the difference between a 30-30 and an STD is eventually you can get rid of the STD.

Well I hope that shares my opinion on that. Thoughts are always welcome.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reader Question: Glock 43 vs 17

I tried your contact button but it did not work.

My question is: I have some spare cash laying around and I can pick up a Glock 17 that I have spare parts and mags for, or I can get a Glock 43.  I am wondering if there is a significant difference between the two.  I realize the size thing and the 17 versus 6 thing.  I handled a 43 today and it felt top heavy without a loaded mag, much more so than a 42.  I currently have a S&W 638 and model 10 with a 2 inch barrel, a Keltec P3AT, and a Ruger 101. So I have smaller "deep carry" guns.  I am thinking the money would be better spent on a 17 as my son has one so then I would be looking at a two is one situation, this is why I have the spare parts and mags for the 17.  I carry a 1911 so carrying the 17 would not be a problem.

That or I say piss on it all and buy the Savage A17 that I really don't need but want, or is there something else out there I should consider?

Maybe you can make this into a blog post, I am not expecting a direct answer.


Ryan here: I'll check out the contact button thing. Onto the question.

I suppose it depends a lot on what you want the gun for. Do you want a different CCW pistol (it doesn't sound like you do) or do you want to stash another Glock in case S hits the F?

In general I am really underwhelmed with single stack 9mm's. Tried it and the whole thing just didn't really work all that well. .j    b b l;lThey are (most would say) too big for pocket carry.They are really not that much smaller (.89-.95 width vs 1.2ish) than double stack semi auto's but hold a lot fewer bullets. Also since the butt is necessarily uniform throughout they are harder to conceal than a J frame even if the dimensions are comparable. When people, as they almost universally do get an extended mag so they have more grip these guns are as long as a compact (G19) sized pistol. Personally I carry the Ruger LCP in and around my little sleepy town and the Glock 19 when I venture further, carry a lot of cash, etc.

As to the Glock 43 in general. For the sake of full disclosure I have little to no experience with this gun, can't remember if I've even fondled one or not. I think it is a bit expensive since there are so many competitive guns at lower prices (Kahr CW series, Ruger LC9, S&W Shield, etc). Still it has value because it should bring Glock reliability to a market with some questionable guns (Kel Tech, Diamondback, etc). With the concealed carry market booming and people loving Glock 9mm's I'm sure they will sell a bunch; this guy just isn't interested. I find that with a decent belt and pants bought 2 inches larger with a pistol in mind I can conceal a similarly sized double stack pistol as easily as a single stack. Until technology advances to the point where we are getting single stack 9mm's in the Walther PPK size range I don't see that opinion changing.

One of the biggest benefits about Glocks is that so many parts are inner changeable. For Glocks in 9mm and 40 S&W I believe the only size specific parts are barrel, slide, recoil spring and frame. This means my parts box for the G19 could probably fix a friends full sized .40 cal G22. Magazines are downwards compatible (a G26 can take 19 and 17 mags, a 19 can take 17 mags).

Paul Howe uses a Glock 26 for CCW and a G19 with a light for a duty type setup. Aside from G26 mags they both take all the same ammo, mags, parts, etc.  I don't mention that entirely from a fan boy perspective but A) it bears on this discussion and B) it's interesting to see the gear/ firearm choices really experienced people make.

As to .17 honestly I don't get it. I guess it can theoretically be a bit more accurate but if my 10/22 won't do the job I'll grab Project AR. Sort of along these lines I once looked at getting a .22 mag rifle and decided against it.

To your specific question I would go with the Glock 17 especially since you have a few small CCW type pistols. However to better answer the question I would consider a smaller Glock like a 19 or 26. I would lean to a G19 since your bench is pretty deep on small guns. That would give you compatability with the G17 and a slightly smaller gun that has a lot of bullets yet is realistic to conceal in anything less than a jacket.

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Question: Plate Carriers and 7.62x39 JHP Ammo

Question in bold. My answer in italics.

Do you recommend any of the online plate carrier/steel plate dealers? Looking for good quality (350-500$) as the gear will be taken in and out of a truck daily. There is also a big blackberry problem in the area and the thorns can fray nice fibers easily. Do you know anything or have any recommendations about Special Operations Equipment ?

Ryan here: My steel plate setup is AR500 plates in an Exo Carrier from JRH Enterprises. It is more of a full body armor set up than a stripped down minimalist plate carrier but I am happy with it so far. If I was looking for a more PC type set up I would get a set of AR-500 plates and a Condor PC.

Honestly if I was worried about thorns tearing something up I would do the math on replacing it every 3-4 years if/ when it gets torn up enough to genuinely not function. IMO this lends itself to a more affordable set up like Condor than a more expensive set up.

I do not personally own any of their stuff but I have only heard good things about Original SOE gear. Lots of professional and semi professional hard use types swear by their stuff.

Also any personal experience with the 8m3- 7.62x39 round?

Ryan here: Honestly I had to google this one. From what I can tell it is a 124 gr JHP round imported by Wolf and maybe some other folks. Honestly exact sourcing and branding on com bloc stuff is kind of iffy but I'm doing my best.  

I have shot a fair bit of this ammo. My rifle really likes it and a 7.62x39 hollow point is going to be a heck of a man stopper or medium sized game round. My rifle shoots it with the same reliability and accuracy as normal 7.62x39 FMJ ammo. I prefer the HP stuff as it offers a significant ballistic advantage. My stash of AK ammo is probably 60% normal FMJ and 40%  8m3 or similar HP ammo. Honestly of the two I buy whatever is cheapest. With an AK if you put round(s) generally where they are supposed to go it will do it's job. If prices are the same I buy HP ammo.

Hopefully that answers your questions.

Apologies if these are answered on the blog. I don’t always have time to get on but send an email.

Thank you again Ryan!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Layer ECWCS System- My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Level V Soft Shell Cold Weather Jacket and Trousers
-These are a bit more packable, strechier and breathable than gore tex but not quite as water proof. This breakdown from the Arcteryx site explains the difference better than I can

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 2, 2015

Open Lines Friday 2 Jan

If you have a question fire away with it. Could be short and simple or long and complex, or anywhere in between. Preparedness stuff is probably the focus though random stuff is fine too. As to personal stuff it depends and my OPSEC is a big consideration. So I will not share stuff that involves some specific locations or dates but if you want to know whether I like Coors Light vs MGD, what I like on pizza or my favorite action movie that's fine.

Also if you have comments about stuff you want to see on the blog please let me know so I can help address your desires.

I will answer questions in the near future.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reader Questions on the HPG Serape

Hello, I stumbled across your review while doing some research and I had a couple of questions for you. First, let me say it was a great review. I was wondering if you knew what size the serape could be compressed to if I wanted to stuff into a sack or bag?  Also, you said the serape didn't zip up all the way when used as a sleeping bag.  Do you think it would be possible to attach another zipper (or maybe even velcro) so the serape would close all the way?

1) size the serape could be compressed to if I wanted to stuff into a sack or bag?
 I'd say slightly smaller than a 2 liter soda bottle. If forced to be more specific I'd guess about 1.75 liter but lets say two to have some safe room.
2) Do you think it would be possible to attach another zipper (or maybe even velcro) so the serape would close all the way?

The zipper arrangement on the Serapa for the 'sleeping bag mode'  comes about 40% of the way up the bag. For me it comes to about crotch level. It is a bit unorthodox but they use the one zipper for this and the 'greatcoat' mode so I am sure there is a balancing act there. The zipped foot box keeps you in the sleeping bag and the dimensions are generous enough to avoid the 'on the edge of the blanket so there is a gap' affect. I just sort of wrapped up in the top part like a burrito. For me it worked fine. The arrangement wouldn't work for an expedition weight bag designed for -20 temps but given that it is a fairly lightweight sleeping bag designed for light 3 season (probably 2.5 season to clip off the very early spring and latest part of fall) it worked fine.

Coming back to the question, while I do not see the need, if you are handy with a sewing machine one could certainly add a zipper. It would have to be one of the ones that come apart like on the front of a coat. Also that would mean there was a zipper on all but one side which could make for less than optimally comfortable blanket use. A couple pieces of velcro could have basically the same effect and be easier to put on. Either way you could certainly do this if you want. I'd recommend trying it as is for awhile before adding anything, those guys really test their products and you might find that while unorthodox it works for the intended use.

Hope that answers your questions

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Open Lines Friday 7 NOV PT 2: Preparedness Challenges in the Military

Open Lines Friday is sure making for some interesting blog fodder. Think it is a feature worth trying out with an eye towards becoming a regular thing. I'll play with frequency over time to see how many questions you are all interested in hearing my opinion on. A higher the numbers of questions/ comments/ links will push for it to be be more common, maybe even weekly, while less interest will make me lean towards less often. So if you like this feature chime in with questions next time it comes up and throw links to the posts up on your blogs/ sites/ forums.

Today's question is:

"Hi Ryan...been a regular follower of your blog for the past few years now. Great work, love your opinion/perspective. I'm glad you posed this topic. I'm a military officer of about 6 years now, and the issue I face with preparedness is PCS-ing every 3-4 years. I haven't been able to find a good blog or posting about the difficulties of a mandatory military move every couple of years. I would love to see a post or series about the constraints of having to relocate vice being permanently located at your retreat. What has your experience been with this as a member of the military?"

"Pineslayer replied: Jamison Vincent, think storage lockers, off base, if stateside. A bike that can set up quickly to haul 'stuff' shouldn't gather much attention. Maybe donate food stores when relocating. Any vehicle gives you an edge. Good luck and thank you. "

Ryan here: 
 I haven't specifically hit on this topic though some posts sort of danced around it. Some time ago Commander Zero asked about Preparedness and the Military but it does not specifically apply here.  Some time back I did a post on moving with guns and ammo which does cover part of the question so is worth touching on.I also did a post on Military Families when SHTF that one might want to read.

It is worth noting that while on average I do believe military members move more often, and further, than most other folks the issue of moving is not specifically a military problem. For example in recent years Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog has moved almost as often as I do.

Specific problems are going to be capitalized. After talking the problems I will touch on potential strategies for mitigation.

PHYSICALLY MOVING: Survivalism inherently leads to the accumulation of gear, tools, and guns as well as bulk/ heavy items like bulk ammo and food.  It doesn't take many cases of 62 grain M855 5.56 ammo (on sale for $359/1k at Lucky Gunner) to get heavy in a hurry. However at least ammo is fairly compact. Using the rough Pastor Joe Fox formula of a 5 gallon bucket full of food being enough for 1 person for 1 month even a 1 year supply for 2 people is a significant weight and bulk consideration. Moving all your stuff sucks and there is no way around it. However in my experience this is overall the least problematic of the issues we are going to discuss. This is because while it is a significant hassle it is over after you get to the other end and unpacked.

On the plus side you mentioned being an Officer so at least your weight allowance should be pretty decent. Get smart on what movers are required to transport so they don't bamboozle you. They have to move commercially packed food which is significant for a survivalist. On the other hand for ammo, fuel, etc you've got to haul it on your own. While you do not control how often or when you move from post to post you do control how often you move within a specific area so get there and figure out a good place to live then stay there. Movers will hold your stuff for (IIRC) up to 90 days then deliver it. That should give you time to learn the area a bit so you don't want to move ten minutes away in a few months.

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS/ COST AMORTIZATION: Folks who stay in one place can build a nice garden with raised beds and call it good. Every few years they might need some more soil but their setup is there and ready to go. Ditto fences, chicken coops, rainwater catchment, etc all. Additionally since they do not need to redo these costs over time those areas cost per output (cents per egg, dollar a bushel of produce, etc) go down. If you move frequently a lot of efforts will need to be duplicated and there are costs associated with that.

I really don't have many answers for this. Honestly I'm struggling with the problems myself.

SYSTEM REINVENTION. It is not too hard to have four different awesome routes all planned out for each of your three potential bug out locations for a person who is settled in one area with a solid network of friends and family (we'll hit that next). However redoing all of that work every couple years (say 1ish for a PCS school and 3-4 for a duty station) would be downright difficult. Around the time you put up the last alternate cache in your last location it would be time to move. That is to say nothing of the expense involved in redoing these efforts every couple years. This could also be said about gardening, bartering, getting into the gun crowd, etc at your new location. Basically you have to hit reset on a bunch of stuff every couple years.

Putting effort into systems that can be moved easily is the best idea I have to offer. No huge answers here. In many ways our efforts are far less developed than they would be if we hadn't moved several times in the last few years. My system of caches and potential locations would be far better developed if I was able to put money and effort in knowing it would solve problems over the long term instead of just for a couple years. Honestly the best way forward I can see is setting up a fixed location near home and shifting some efforts to that location.

SOCIAL NETWORKS: Since I do not live near home I am not working on relationships or contingency/ MAG stuff there. Also contacts I develop in a location are potentially nice to have for the future but only really good for that location. It is a potential advantage that I am developing contacts, albeit shallow ones, in different places.

The best mitigation here is that I am currently part of the biggest baddest gang in the world, the US Army.

Anyway this post is a bit shy on solutions and for that I am sorry.  My intent is not just to admire the problem. Hopefully I have at least partially helped frame out the problem and offered some solutions to think about.

I'm open to other peoples thoughts, especially if they have struggled with survivalism while living the military life.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Open Lines Friday 7 NOV Answers PT 1

Note my answers are bold and in italics

wildbillb said...sure, lots of questions.

plans for long-term food production and storage. no store food for 2-4 months.

As to production we have 6 chickens and do our best at gardening. Not going to make a huge dent in caloric needs but we are producing something and learning. The goal is sort of a gradual increase in production each year towards the end of production being a decent percentage of consumption.

As to storage. We TRY to keep a good bit of normal shelf stable stuff we eat around. Peanut butter and jelly, canned stuff, rice, flour, mac n cheese, cereal, oatmeal, oil, etc all.  For the longer term we have a decent bit of long term food stashed in mylar sacks in buckets. Given my lack of real dedicated focus on the details of X jars of this and Y cans of that I'm sure we would have some gaping holes but we would definitely still be eating at the 4 month mark.

short-term: what if property tax goes up to 10x or even just 5x.

This is an interesting point. Generally speaking I do not see property taxes exploding. However I do see them rapidly adjusting up when values rise and failing to drop when they go down. If suddenly your place goes from being valued at 150k to 250k taxes almost double. Add in the economy going to hell and maybe losing your job and that is a real problem.

In the great depression a lot of people lost very valuable land because they couldn't pay the taxes on it. They sold good productive land for nothing to pay the taxes on the plot with the house. I would submit on general principle this means it is worthwhile to consider not only the cost of a home/ ranch/ retreat but the taxes. It is better to buy a smaller place you know you can pay the taxes on no matter what then a bigger place where the taxes would be a stretch.

I would rather have a normal house on 20 acres I could pay the tax on by working part time as a greeter at Wally World than a 250 acre ranch with a huge house and 2 guest houses that had taxes equivalent to an average salary in the county. The reason is I could figure a lot of ways to come up with say 3k a year in property taxes but 30k would be a lot even if things go OK.

short-term: what if banks freeze savings, or charge interest? cash storage options.

I generally suggest keeping a month's worth of cash expenses (food, fuel, medicine, etc) in mixed bills at home. A month's INCOME is even better. If your situation is high risk for a banking freeze, running, etc more money makes sense. If you have a lot of cash just siting around by all means keep some more. Keeping cash covers you for a power outage or a hurricane or a banking holiday.

As to storage options. Commander Zero made a great point awhile back that your biggest enemy in storing cash is generally yourself raiding it for pizza or to buy a new shiny gun, etc. Your scenario matters a lot as does the amount of money we are talking about. If you live alone in a safe place putting $500 in an envelope in your desk drawer is just fine. If you want to keep several thousand dollars at home and have a lifestyle where a variety of people are often in your home it would be smart to get a decent safe and bolt it down. Various cache options are also worth considering. It is worth considering complication here. Say you stash the first $500 in mixed bills in the desk then a couple grand in the gun safe. Go beyond that and you stash the balance in 2 ziplock bags inside a coffee can buried someplace.

short-term: level of crime increases, how to ensure wife/kids are safe during errands, in the home, etc. concealed carry vs escort.

This covers a lot of ground so I will do my best.

You can do some analysis within the general area you live in about crime. With all the databases and information available these days it is not too hard to do a pattern analysis and threat wheel on crime in your AO.

Pattern analysis simply looks at given activities and locations. For the sake of this conversation say we look at vehicle theft, home break in's (no occupants), armed robbery, assault, home invasion, kidnapping and murder. We would then plot the occurrence of these events within the area we are looking at, say maybe a city and greater suburban area or a couple counties.   In the most simple way red pins on the map would be vehicle theft, brown assault, black murder, etc. Obviously more pins in an area is bad.

After that we would take those same occurences and look at time. First would be the day with a 24 hour clock. Next we would look at the week and month. After that we could focus in on other potential variables such as pay checks (1st and 15th for many people), welfare payments, lunar cycles, sporting events, etc.

When you put the two of these together it becomes apparent that while anything can happen anywhere a very high percentage of crime happens in certain areas during fairly predictable time periods.Obviously you do not want to go to those areas much at all, especially at those times.

 In terms of crime where you live matters a lot. If you live in a dangerous place then it is prudent to make financial choices that allow you to move to a safer one. This is especially true in a slow slide scenario where every neighborhood takes a step down the ladder of safety. Live in a slightly less posh place in a safe neighborhood instead of a nicer place where bad stuff happens.

As to keeping the fam safe above what I already said.

 When it comes to homes like anything real estate, location, location, location. Also avoiding displays of compact wealth is prudent.

Even way back when she was my GF I strongly recommended Wifey didn't go to certain places alone, based on an informal threat assessment. If she needed to go there or just wanted to I would tag along.

Also I tend to handle riskier business such as moving around decent amounts of cash or buying and selling stuff.

Wifey has a valid CCW and owns a revolver though she does not carry it regularly. At least she has the LEGAL option and a piece so if she wants to it is doable. Obviously if we had just one reasonable CCW pistol and were going different places that would be an issue.

This last section lacked focus and got to rambling but I hope it gave you some things to think about. Please leave any and all comments for me to respond to.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Open Lines Friday

If you have a question fire away with it. Could be short and simple or long and complex, or anywhere in between. Preparedness stuff is probably the focus though random stuff is fine too. As to personal stuff it depends and my OPSEC is a big consideration. So I will not share stuff that involves some specific locations or dates but if you want to know whether I like Coors Light vs MGD, what I like on pizza or my favorite action movie that's fine.

Also if you have comments about stuff you want to see on the blog please let me know so I can help address your desires.

I will answer questions at some point over the long weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

RE: 5.56 Duty Ammo

Prairie Patriot asked
"Do you consider green tip to be your stash for a SHTF scenario or do you look at it as quality training ammo?

I've been stashing away green tip for a while, but I also keep an eye out for Hornady TAP (usually the barrier blind variety) when there's a good deal on sale. I've heard Black Hills 50 grain TSX is a good round as well for barrier penetration.

I guess I've never been quite clear on how TAP/Black Hills barrier blind type loads would perform on something like Level III body armor. I'm pretty sure non-barrier blind like TAP FPD would not perform as well since it's designed to expand and fragment.

Or do you think it's not a huge enough difference to worry about between green tip vs. barrier blind commercial ammo when it comes down to slinging lead in a SHTF scenario firefight?"

Ryan here: I sort of touched on this awhile back with Reader Question: JHP Ammo for the Emergency Stash. Personally when it comes to centerfire rifles by and large ammo is ammo. Sure there are reliability and accuracy concerns but rifle rounds are so fast they are pretty effective with any reasonable load.

Specifically this ammo is for the ammo stash though if I wanted training ammo I'd have ordered the same stuff. Over time I'll probably train with other ammo purchased long ago till the stash is M855 or comparable ammo. Given the modest cost difference between it and cheaper XM193 or generic 55gr FMJ I don't see a reason not to train with what I'd fight with.

As to 'barrier blind' ammo I personally would have to see some pretty compelling evidence to justify the additional expense as well as potential POI/ Zero issues. 5.56 just isn't a great penetration of barriers any way you cut it. The answer is either to shoot more to punch a hole, get a better angle or pack a different gun, something .30 cal be it an AK or some sort of .308.

As to general ballistic effectiveness if yous hoot somebody with 5.56 in a spot that will kill them and they'll probably die. I say probably because no small arm is a true 100% sure thing. Folks have gotten shot (COL Charles Beckwith and somebody else specifically) with 14.5mm, AKA the red .50, in the chest and returned to active service.

To answer the armor question. Any centerfire rifle is going to penetrate soft body armor be it an AR, AK or Aunt May's .243 deer rifle. As to hard (Class III/ IV) body armor none of the stuff we've discussed is going to penetrate as it is rated to stop .308 and 30'06 M2AP ammo respectively.

I'm not passionately against TAP or any other type of comparable ammo but simply do not see the need. A more compelling argument can be made with 7.62x39 sheerly due to QA/ QC issues. I love me some Wolf but if I had to shoot the guy holding a knife to someones neck I'd rather be slinging TAP than risk Vladdy had a bit more Vodka than usual when he made that particular bullet.

I'm perfectly comfortable with M855 as my go to. Honestly if I was going to branch out from there it would be to something more like the Black Hills MK 262 Mod 0 but for my current situation I'm happy with what I have. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reader Questions- Pulse on the Army

Riverrider asks "What was that silly survey we had to fill out....command environment or something? was wondering what changes you are seeing in your .mil environment/attitude. when i left morale was falling fast and good troops were bugging out to the civ market. what's the attitude toward the regime in your unit? that kind of thing, if you feel okay talking about it. otherwise, charlie mike."
This is a tough one as it invariably requires sweeping generalizations. 
-Many, if not most soldiers tend to be conservative. They feel the same frustrations with our current administration that other conservatives feel but it is amplified since their lives and livelihoods are far more directly affected by said administration.
-Aside from the R vs D vs everyone discussion many soldiers are very worried about the national debt. Hearing a 20 year old kid passionately say we have to stop borrowing money isn't something that happened a couple years back.
-The polar swing from 'can't get enough people' to significant reductions in force have a lot of folks really worried. The concern that any mistake or failure will mean the end of a career is permiating through our force. This trickles down from the E6 who is worried about not making the next rocker in a highly competitive enviornment to the E4 who has to make E5 to be able to reenlist. A competitive but collaborative enviornment is quickly becoming 'hang everybody out to dry so they can't potentially do something that could make you look bad'.
-Some older guys who lived through the Clinton are getting out before they otherwise might. One guy said he wasn't going to be the one who kicked all those folks out.
-We are transitioning from a wartime force to a garrison force which entails a lot of silliness. Some deployment dodging air thief types like that as it means their crisply folded hat matters more than their actual abilities. Other folks can't stand the stupidity of it.
-If the pension system is changed radically expect a lot of mid career officers and NCO's to get out. To make matters worse that flight will include many of the best and brightest.
-Gays being allowed to openly serve has been a seemless non event. Other than seeing a young lesbian couple at the PX once if I hadn't read about it I would not have noticed the change at all. 
[Note that I'm an Officer on active duty in the Army and have deployed multiple times, during which I have served with gay's. It is coming from this perspective that I don't really care about the opinions of your cousins brothers uncles friend who is a Marine's opinion, opinions of folks who have never served or those of any political commentator types. For those who've been out of service for 30 years I respect your input on that experience but am skeptical on how much it carries over to today.
-Anybody who has read a little bit of history knows our goals, which honestly I cannot clearly define, are probably optomistic.
-Some new folks who've never deployed really want to go before Afghanistan winds down. This is understandable, I'm sure guys who joined the Army in 1945 felt the same way.
-Veterans (of war's not dudes who hung out on a boat or in Germany/ CONUS for a tour) are universally ambivalent about the prospect of deploying there at all or again. The fundamental issues with Afghanistan are abundantly clear to all who've been there.
-Nobody wants to be Afghanistan's equivalent of a getting killed in Nam in 1972.
-I think this reduction in force and decrease in funding (with readiness corresponding) will go a lot like the last one. The measures put in place will work at projected numbers while the economy sucks. However when the economy gets better the lack of training/ readiness/ cutthroat mentality/ low morale will lead to a flood of folks out of the force. 
As to a question Riverrider didn't ask that is inevitable here. No I do not see US military forces being used against civilians. Honestly for a variety of reasons I do not see that happening. Folks would be well advised to stop worrying about soldiers and pay a lot more attention to their local PD/ sheriff's who just got an MRAP and a bunch of M4's.

Hope that answers the questions.
Well that's about all I can think of.

Figured I'd mention that PMC 5.56 of the 62 grain M855 variety is running $410 at Lucky Gunner. I'd say that is a solid buy. Honestly I don't see it getting much cheaper and anyway the mid cycle elections might stir up anti gun junk. Going to look at the budget and see if I can get it done myself.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Open Line

I've got nothing and my brain is completely fried. Offer up a suggestion of what you'd like to see more of here and I'll consider it. Ask a question and presuming it doesn't compromise my personal opsec or slip into anything blatantly illegal I will answer it.

So fire away....

Edited to include Max Velocity linked to this funny video titled How to be an Operator

For whatever it's worth I think that whole dress like a cool SOF dude fashion thing is totally silly. If SOF types wear those clothes, which is a big IF, it is because they got the stuff for free at work. You are far more likely to see a SOF guy walking around in a random t shirt, jean/ cargo pants/ work out shorts and a beat up baseball hat from his favorite college team than looking like a catalog for "Urban Ninja Elite clothing'. Throw an ambiguous fleece plus a set or two of sterile uniforms into the mix and that guy's good to go for an actual deployment.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reader Question: Caches

MATTLBS said... Ryan, I have a question about your cache. Did you have caches at your old location(s) and if so, did you remove them before you made the move, or have you left them in place in case of a "if I'm ever back in the area and need them" scenario? I've been pondering a great deal about caches lately, and just wanting to know what your thought process is?

Ryan here: 
For a variety of reasons this is going to be a mix of things I have done and general thoughts on the topic.

To make it worthwhile to establish a cache you've got to have enough stuff to justify keeping some in a separate location that is not readily accessible.  This means a pistol, shotgun, knife, pair of boots, weeks worth of food or whatever above and beyond what you feel should be at your primary residence. Some level of accumulation typically needs to take place prior to getting to that point.

I've had caches in the past. The question in my mind about keeping or moving them is twofold. First am I realistically going to be back in that area? This is different than most for military folks because we move long distances fairly regularly. In the past few years I've lived 4 places in the US, none of which were closer than a five hundred miles to another, and in Germany. The second question is what sort of stuff can I afford to relegate to a cache that I may never be near again? Remember the point of caches is to stash stuff you intend to use again, otherwise what is the point.

If I moved around within the same region, more like normal people do, I would be inclined to just keep caches in place. Given the nomadic nature of my job and that it's quite likely I will never end up at some of these places again, leaving stuff buried/ stashed every year or two seems like an expensive hassle with a limited upside.

On the other hand if we are talking about an area where I may intend to live again, near family we visit frequently or potentially one we often travel through then it makes sense to have some stuff put away. Setting up caches in areas like this then just leaving them makes sense to me.

Sure it is possible I could be Munsoned some day just outside Fort Benning near where we lived years ago and really wish I'd stashed a change of clothes, some light camping/ survival stuff and a pistol with 100 rounds of ammo but that seems like a long shot. Far more likely would be finding myself wanting some guns/ ammo/ gear/ food at Granny's where we go 3x a year or whatever.

Maybe a middle of the road answer to make cheaper caches like a change of clothes, a set of boots, knife, lighter, flint, wool blanket, cheap backpack to haul it all and a bit of food. Those I could reasonably afford to stash all over the place. Something to think about there.

For me in the foreseeable future I envision caches getting set up where I go for work, most of which are dismantled when we leave. Caches in areas we will have a longer term presence in are and will continue to be set up then left in place.

Hope that answers your question.

So do you keep caches set up in places you used to live? What about areas you frequently visit? Areas you travel through?

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