Showing posts with label rifles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rifles. Show all posts

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fiddling With The Problem Child Bolt Action Rifle

So a particular rifle isn't shooting like it should, even slinging Remington Premier Gold Match 168 grain ammo it is grouping like doo dooo. Sunday I sprayed it down with oil then put it away due to general irritation.

Did some reading about common problems n such during the week.

Today I pulled it out of the safe. First I cleaned it because that is just a good thing to do.

Next I checked every bolt that held the rail to the rifle and the rings to the rail. Tightened a couple up. Next I checked the action bolts and tightened them up a bit. It wasn't like they were finger loose or anything but I turned all three a bit tighter. Not a smoking gun but maybe between a variety of not entirely tight bolts it could explain things.

So hopefully a combination of small things fixed the problem. Or maybe I was just holding it wrong and there was not a problem at all and things will be fine next time.  Anyway this will probably be one of those things that gets resolved without a definite answer on what the problem was. Fine by me, just want the darn thing to shoot at least halfway up to its potential.

In 2 weeks I will be back at a range and may have the opportunity to shoot it again. My plan is to bring a variety of ammo such as some 150 grain soft points and maybe some other hunting type ammo and some American Eagle ball to see what shoots best in the gun.

Also I am going to rest the gun a lot closer to the action bolt as the front of the stock flexes like the morality of a liberal. 

Hopefully next time the gun will shoot more consistently. There are things I want to this rifle eventually (nice mil dot scope, upgrade the stock, etc) but don't want to throw money at a bolt gun which shoots like a 30-30 or an AK.

So that is that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Questions in My Head

1) 'Scout Mounting' a rifle scope. Presuming we are not talking about a weapon whose unique characteristics (utilizes stripper clips, Bolt gun with strait bolt you do not want to bend, M1 Garand, pre 'AE' Winchester 30-30, etc) what is the train of though behind forward mounting a magnified optic in this fashion? Pro's? Con's? Suitable for some element of precision at intermediate ranges (out to 600m or so)?

For goodness sake do not mention that Jeff Cooper liked it as a reason to do this. Sir Edmund Hillary was a heck of a mountaineer but times have changed and so has equipment. Let's stick to practical reasons and avoid dogmatic circular thinking. 

2) What are your thoughts on storing 5 gallon type buckets of food on their side? In my effort store our bulk type food within the climate controlled portion of our dwelling it occurred to me I would have a lot more options for buckets if they could be stored on their sides (vs standing up). Has anyone tried this?

Thanks in advance.

Friday, January 24, 2014

RE: Debate: The Handgun as the Primary Weapon

Max Velocity wrote  Debate: The Handgun as the Primary Weapon.

Personally I think the conversation got too bogged down in the term "primary". The comments section was disjointed with people talking apples and oranges because they were all using generic terms like SHTF to describe different scenarios. I do not plan to weigh in on whether a handgun can be "the primary weapon". Instead I plan to discuss the times and circumstances where one might choose, if only by process of elimination, a handgun vs when they might choose a rifle.

Before we go any further it is worth noting that any firearms battery that is smaller than a basic 4 of handgun, shotgun, .22 rifle and a centerfire rifle is a compromise that is inevitably missing some important capability. One could take that a level further and include the next logical 3guns (dedicated CCW pistol like a 642 (presuming the first pistol is larger) or a baby Glock, a bolt gun if your first rifle is a semi auto or opposite if rifle #1 is a bolt gun and a .22 pistol) in that argument. Anyway this isn't a what to buy first discussion though I am on the record about that. Also a lot of that sort of discussion is touched on in my basic guns series.

For a home defense gun Chris Costa makes an interesting case for the utility of handguns.  Personally in our Sentry Safe Home Defender I keep a Glock 9mm with a light and a Project AR which has a light as well as Wifey's .38. Next to the safe sits my plate carrier and battle belt. In any case for home defense use whatever you prefer.

So when does a handgun make sense? A handgun makes sense all the time. I carry one as much as I am functionally and more or less legally able to do so.

To further define that question. So in what SHTF/ disaster type situations does being armed solely with a handgun make sense? Basically being out and about in any sort of situation on the continuum between normal everyday and Mad Max thunder dome time. This could include riots, natural disasters including large regional ones, economic collapses, etc all.  While my default answer to most problems is to avoid them by staying home that is not quite realistic. Say the figurative drunk driver that is our current economy takes a turn a bit slow then over corrects and ends up in the ditch. I am almost surely still going to work and will be seeking to continue purchasing food, etc all. In this case I might upgrade from the S&W 642 to a Glock with a light. Might add a couple extra mags to my belt or even stash a couple of those big 33rder's in a cargo pocket. I might even choose to wear soft body armor or a stripped plate carrier. However I'm not going to get away with walking into the store to buy $20 milk and $5 banana's with an AR-15. I'll keep the AR handy at home and might even start keeping a long gun in our vehicle but when I part and go to do errand's it is going to be the pistol that I'm relying on to defend myself.

Conversely when is a rifle useful during a SHTF type scenario? Well they are always handy things to have around the house. For fun shooting as well as a handy capability to throw accurate hate down on somebody multiple football fields away nothing beats a rifle.

Having one at home is handy. Having one in a vehicle can be quite comforting. I like my odds against the EBT deprived hordes much better if my AR and battle belt are sitting under an old blanket in the floor of the back seat. 

When would a person carry a rifle around? I have heard of people doing it during various Hurricanes. Folks doing neighborhood watch type patrols armed with long guns during Katrina and the like. We all know the Korean grocers found rifles and shotguns pretty handy during the LA Riots.

Obviously in your Red Dawn/ Mad Max/ Civil War type scenarios rifles are pretty darn important. If you are in a fight with a person who has a rifle and have anything less capable you are at a real disadvantage. Also a rifles range is pretty darn handy. At this point the odds are you won't be going many places anyhow. The issue of taking my AR to the grocery store is moot if the store is empty and closed down if not burned. Also if things genuinely got that bad folks would probably carrying guns a lot more anyhow.

In conclusion.

1)You genuinely need a pistol. Right now the hard truth is that it is the weapon you are most likely to defend yourself with given that it can be readily carried outside of your home/ property.

2)There are many realistic situations where even though you might WANT to carry a rifle you will not be able to do so. One could argue these numerous realistic situations are more likely and more of a concern than the largely apocalypse porn fiction based  'Mad Max without rule of law shit hit the fan time'.

3) All of that being said you do need a rifle. Look at it like this. Most of us probably carry a folding type knife to do normal everyday tasks. However sometimes that knife will not cut it and we need a big butcher knife. The butcher knife is the rifle. You don't need it very often but when you need it you really need it. However while you do need to own the butcher knife you don't need to carry it around all the time to open envelopes and cut string, that is what your folder is for.

You need a rifle to TRAIN now while you still have the chance. If the day comes when you need to grab a rifle and a chest rig/ battle belt to go protect home and hearth then no other gun will substitute and the pistol takes a much less important role.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

RE: Hoss USMC on the FBI Miami 86 Gunfight

This case is very interesting. I absolutely agree with Hoss on the importance of using cover. If nothing else like Max Velocity says Get LOW.

As to revolvers vs pistols. Double stack pistols offer an undeniable advantage in round count. A loaded Glock 17 is equal to an S&W model 19 PLUS TWO SPEEDLOADERS. You'd have to have a whole belt o speedloaders to equal the Glock plus 2 spare mags. Then again the power of the old Combat Masterpiece can come in handy sometimes.

Granted the whole thing was a total cluster F and agents carrying auto pistols didn't perform much better but to say this incident highlighted the long reload time under realistic combat conditions is an understatement. The revolvers slow reload time was unfortunately a big part of why some FBI agents did not come home that day. To the inevitable person who links to Jerry Miculek or Bob Munden reloading a revolver in .024 seconds 1) They are not using realistic duty gear. 2) The average decent shooter is not Jerry Miculek or Bob Munden. 3) The amount of manipulation required to reload a revolver is absolutely more than a mag fed auto. More manipulation means more time and more things to go wrong. If the death of the service revolver had to be attributed to a single incident it would without a doubt be the Miami 1986 gunfight.

Does this absolutely mean a magnum revolver as a duty/ go handgun is not a valid option? I don't think so. Just because there is a better option doesn't mean a revolver is not a viable tool. I'll get to the specific issues that I believe were more important in a minute.

I am hesitant to criticize the individual agents for their performance or lack thereof. Aside from the worst luck ever, which some could attribute to flaws in their training, a couple things worked against them.

First and foremost the FIBs faced trained and determined opponents, particularly Platt. The FBI agents failed to act as a group; training in contact drills would have helped a lot. This brings up the fact that lots of bad people do in fact have training and experience. IMO both Platt or Maddox were probably better trained for a full on gunfight than the FBI agents.  Also the bad guys were very focused and probably more willing to accept risk than the FBI agents. A trained person who doesn't really care if they die and wants to take as many people with them as possible is going to cause a lot of damage.

Why Maddox was not really a factor in the fight is unknown to this day. It is however good for the agents as if Maddox had pulled his share there would've been a lot more casualties.

Secondly Platt had a magazine fed RIFLE while the agents were armed primarily with various handguns and a couple shotguns. The round count, accuracy and lethality of rifles is such that anybody armed with a pistol is at a huge disadvantage. The results of the fight show this enough I do not need to belabor the point.

I consider the lack of rifles to be more of a critical gear problem for the FBI agents than the specific handguns they were carrying. Had every agent been carrying a Mini-14 or AR-15 variant this fight might have gone down differently, no matter the wheel guns on their hips.  Even the most antiquated rifle is better than just a pistol in a fight. A model 1894 30-30 in a FBI agents hand could have ended this fight a lot faster with fewer casualties.

This event, followed by the North Hollywood shoot out led to the swap out of shotguns in favor of rifles as the law enforcement back up long gun. For a variety of reasons that changeover was a lot slower than the move from wheel guns to pistols and there are still plenty of 870's riding around in cop cars today. Shotgun vs rifle is another discussion but from a strictly combative angle (excluding for a minute economics, legality in anti freedom areas and versatility) I will take a rifle every single time. There is nothing a fighting shotgun does that a fighting rifle cannot do better.

Lethality vs incapacitation:
It is critically important to understand the difference between these two things and why it matters. Obviously lethality means death. Incapacitation means a person is seriously degraded or outright incapable of being an active combatant. Incapacitation is not always lethality. Example, a bullet goes through a person's arm and another hits the hand on the other side. Dude can't manipulate a weapon and as such is incapacitated. Dude's odds of living are very high and he'll probably make a good recovery but for the sake of this fight he is no longer a factor. Lethality is a bit more problematic. A person dying eventually does not make them cease to be a threat right now.

Platt is the textbook example of this. The 9mm round to his chest early in the fight was probably an unsurvivable wound. He could have been on the table in Johns Hopkins and it would not have mattered. However in the time it took for Platt to die (during which he was shot several times) he extracted a fearsome toll.

Don't just expect to shoot somebody once and have them die immediately. The human body is a weird machine, a fraction of an inch can be the difference between immediate lethality and a drawn out death or even a totally survivable wound. If somebody is worth shooting they are worth shooting a lot. Continue shooting your enemy until they are incapacitated and no longer a threat.

Wrapping it up:
Use cover
Do not just be a bunch of individuals, work as a team with your compatriots
Double stack pistols beat auto's as a duty gun
Have a rifle handy for prolonged situations
Expect to shoot somebody a lot before they cease to be a viable threat

So those are my thoughts on that. What is your take?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

AK and AR Initial Entry Prices

I know you were an AK guy for awhile...  Aim has M70s for $529.

Of note, Palmetto State Armory has been running some deals that would let you assemble a sub-$500 AR.  Looks like the AK price advantage has finally been crushed.

Ryan here: We talked about the AK vs AR price situation awhile back. Prices have changed slightly upwards since then but the point is still valid. Since it's almost a wash just buy what you like.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

RE: Why The AK-47?

12:13 said "Don't understand you. If you got trained with the AR and your abilities are in that gun. Why then chose something that you can pick up after exercising all the muscle memory whit the AR? I believe you said before that the AR is more precise and of course got longer range.
Are you contradicting yourself, like when you dump the 30-06 and chose the 30-30?"

Ryan here.  This comment on yesterday's post seemed worth discussing here in a broader venue. Also it will take enough time/ energy that depending on how the rest of the day's packing and cleaning goes it might just be the post. So here we go.

Maybe there is some confusion. I own both guns. We could debate the need or utility of that but it's where I am. This isn't a purchase and a lifestyle choice; it's choosing a sweatshirt from the closet instead of a fleece.

The primary reason I  chose an AK for this trip are it's compact nature due to the folding stock. It can go in a normal duffel bag ready to go. Granted an AR can be broken down and get a bit smaller but then it has to be reassembled to fire. That I could discretely slip it into a bag to take into a hotel is an appealing idea. The second reason is that it is a weapon I am far more willing to risk being stolen/ whatever than an AR. AK's have come up in price considerably over the last few years but I don't have much cash into this gun.

I am better with an AR but still sufficiently capable with an AK. Like the quote from Lord of War "It's so easy a child can use it, and they do."

 For the reasons listed above I chose an AK for this trip. The AR is better at distance. I do not think anyone would argue that point. My AK is a roughly 3 MOA gun. Not precision accuracy by any measure but shooting faces at 100 meters and chests well past 200 is sufficient for my needs. For this particular trip my need for a compact package is higher than my need for accuracy at 300 plus meters.

As to the 30'06 and 30-30. That is a much longer discussion. To sum it up. I owned rifles in both calibers then ended up selling both rifles in 30'06 for different reasons. Ultimately my plan is to shift our "precision" caliber to .308. Probably with a bolt gun next year some time. While the '06's left and have yet to be replaced with a .308 the 30-30 stayed around. Why the 30-30 is in the collection is something I'm not fully able to express. The cowboy assault rifle is unlikely to be targeted by any sort of ban and ammunition is widely available, that it is a non "evil black rifle" caliber is an advantage there.

Guess I'm not entirely sure how I am contradicting myself. Is it that I've talked about X being nice yet own Y? While I have fewer guns than the average Montana Sportsmen (26) the collection is pretty decent. Everything has advantages and disadvantages. Since I got into the writing fairly early my opinions have changed over time. Also invariably if you write about different gun type stuff often enough, for long enough, one thing will not match with some other thing.

So I hope that explains my thinking.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yugo AK's?

Interested in peoples thoughts on Yugo AK's. Specifically what do you think of the Zastava PAP M70? In particular I am curious about peoples PERSONAL EXPERIENCES with these guns. If you happen to work in the gun industry that would be a special bonus. So please let me know,

Thanks Ryan

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Close Quarters Carbines, Square Ranges, CQB, Weapons Manipulation and Tactics

Max Velocity wrote an interesting post called The Great Tactical Training Con. I agree with him in some regards but disagree in others. This stumbles into something I have been thinking about for awhile.

Over the past few years or maybe the last decade the role of the rifle in close quarters fighting has changed.  What used to be considered almost solely shotgun territory has become dominated by AR's, AK's, etc all. These rifles hold 30 rounds and reload themselves which is pretty handy. Not taking anything away from shotguns but their primary benefits are low cost, legality in non permissive environments and versatility, not capacity or reloading. At the same time these rifles have come into prominence CQB (close quarters battle) has become the buzz word and all the rage. Though really SRM (short range marksmanship) is probably more accurate. There are all sorts of courses, classes, video's and such to teach you to be a super cool Sammy Seal type guy.

We need to realize that firearms training is a business. As a business the firearms training industry wants to sell people on paying money to take classes. They want to be able to offer classes in as many places as possible, with the lowest overhead possible, to as many customers as possible. Many of them are genuinely good people who want to train people to use weapons to defend their selves but they also like making money.

The average American range is probably a hundred meters wide and a couple hundred long. They have a safe backstop but limited capacity for movement and very little capacity for shooting in different directions. These ranges can support shooting from 0 to whatever meters strait downrange. People can move a bit left or right as long as they still shoot downrange. They can move forward and back also but still shooting must be in the same downrange direction.

Shooting in multiple directions while moving or static is significantly more complicated. Instead of needing a relatively safe backstop in one direction for a fairly narrow arc you need a lot of space. I'm talking roughly 2+ kilometers in any direction you will shoot in to support shooting rifles. Of course a backstop like a rock quarry or a cliff cuts that down a but but we are still talking a lot of space. Due to the lack of spaces that can readily support this type of training it is a lot easier to gravitate to what we call the square ranges. Folks do this because there are many more ranges that can be used for training that way.

CQB as the cool kids call it is simply using rifles to engage targets at close range, we'll say under 50 meters to keep things simple. Lots of ready up drills, turn and shoot, etc. Reloads are of course mixed into all of this. There is movement but it is usually limited to a few steps in whatever direction. This is good stuff. If you use a rifle for home defense you have to know this stuff (if you use a shotgun do the same thing with it).

A person who is not trained in this stuff can make huge strides in a day of instruction. Part of the business side of the firearms industry is that trainers can leave people feeling good about what they learned wanting to take another class. They can offer Cool Guy CQB Sammy Seal Classes 1-6 or whatever.

CQB is important. I have heard it described, I think by American Mercenary, as a survival skill set. That is true I think in that it's how civilians are going to realistically fight with a rifle. Joe the Engineer who lives in the Burbs or Frank the Farmer are not going to get into 300 meter gunfights. They are going to hear something that shouldn't be in the garage, grab their gun then check it out. People start moving and a 7 meter fight becomes a 50 meter fight but we are still within CQB ranges.

Like anything it is too easy to get overly focused in on one thing. The Tactical Tommy types can practice regularly andgo to 20 classes yet never shoot past 50 meters with a rifle capable of 400 meter accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum there are some high power types and sniper wanna be's who are hyper focused on long distance shooting.Which one of them is right? Neither of them are right. They are wrong on the opposite ends. The CQB Ninja needs to learn how to reach out and touch someone. Mr. High Power needs to learn to rapidly engage targets at close range.

There have been some interesting discussions by Mountain Guerilla and American Mercenary about how much of each skill set you need. In general I am a fan of balance. Instead of being great at either end of the spectrum focus on being competent engaging targets at close range quickly all the way out to putting accurate hate on folks a few football fields away. However if I had to get pegged into a more specific answer I would lean towards CQB for civilians whose rifle concept of use is defensive. The reason is that they are far more likely to fight up close than far away. Yes if you stand in the middle of the road in front of the house you can probably see pretty far, however the odds of you being there with somebody on the other end 400 meters away shooting at you are low. On the other hand getting in a gunfight with somebody in your house or trying to jack your car is considerably higher.

I agree with Max that most 'tactical training' is a bit square range  focused. However I look at it differently. This training is weapons manipulation. Teaching folks to engage targets, reload and clear malfunctions, etc. While some folks sell it as such this is not IMO tactics. It could be argued this is teaching you how to fight as a civilian in a close quarters situation to which I would agree. However if you want to remove some qualifiers, maybe add some friends and such you get into what I consider tactical training. How to move and engage targets, alone or as part of a team.

The two things are sort of different. Think of weapons manipulations as punching and tactics as boxing. Both are important. Weapons manipulations are essential but they sort of happen in a vacuum.  Tactics and small unit training like the stuff Mountain Guerilla and Max Velocity teach to be able to put use your weapons manipulation skills into the realistic environment of the two way range.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weatherby Vanguard Series 2?

Looking at trading into a Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 in .308. My concept of use would be as a potential hunting rifle as well as a basic 'precision' rifle. Not looking to build a 3k uuber sniper rifle, just looking for a good affordable gun that I can put decent glass on and shoot out to a few hundred meters.

The stuff I have read online was generally good. If you have input based on personal experiences I am interested in hearing them.


Edited to include: Thanks everybody for the input. I decided against making this trade. It'll be (soon via trade or in several months by purchasing) a Savage 10FP or maybe a Rem 700. Probably the Savage.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Basic Guns Part 4: Rifles

So far we have a quality .38, a pump shotgun and a .22 rifle. The big boy comes last. A centerfire rifle is really the way to go for hunting medium to large game at anything but under 50 meter jungle/ brush distances. Yes I know you can sling slugs a bit further than that to 100m or so but lets not get distracted. Between it's ability to reach out and touch somebody and go through soft body armor/ walls/ cars a rifle is the best option for fighting people outside of CQB range.

The rifle is last because they are a pretty specific tool and tend to be fairly expensive to buy and equip. Also in most realistic situations you can get by fine with a shotgun. Anyway here we go.

The cheapest option is a Mosin Nagant. These are really the cheapest rifles out there. Pretty much the worst of the WWI-WWII bolt guns. Fit and finish is terrible and ergonomics equally so. While theoretically capable of decent accuracy their abysmal sights make turning that into reality an iffy proposition. Honestly the only strong point of the Mosin is availability at cheap prices because the Commies made approximately eleven billion of the things then went broke and sold them. To be fair these guns are pretty rugged and reasonably reliable. Guns made to be used by illiterate teenage conscripts need to be. Some spare parts are available and the guns are cheap enough to potentially have spares (though that leaves the point of this series a bit). In my area you can get a Mosin for $150. If I recall some online seller (Aim or J&G I can't recall) was selling them for $129 a couple weeks back which probably equates to $160 all said and done at your local FFL.

Though it's spiked recently in general 440 round spam cans of old commie ammo are available at good prices. Since it hasn't been made in forever I suspect that surplus ammo will eventually dry up. Granted some modern commercial ammo is available it just eliminates the ammo cost advantage of these guns.

The Mosin is definitely the cheapest option. For a person who wants a rifle in case something happens but doesn't do much with it in the meantime (granted not training is a bad plan but I'm being real here, some folks do this) has a good pump shotgun for home defense, as a Mosin is 5 feet long, weights 35 pounds and is bolt fed from a 5 round magazine, that's on a really tight budget a Mosin and a few spam cans of ammo is a valid option.

For not that much more money in the $300-400ish range you get a lot more options. Bolt action deer rifles (go .308 or 30'06) and lever action 30-30's are available in this range. As to specific models I would get one of the many common manufacturer/ common model rifles like the Winchester model 70, Remington model 700, Ruger model 77 or the Savage 110. Sure I missed some but you get the idea. For lever guns I will focus on the Winchester model 94 and Marlin 336 both chambered in 30-30 Winchester. Mossberg has stepped up to the plate with a good entry but it's too soon to tell and parts availability could be problematic. The Rossi/ Puma type lever guns are questionable when it comes to ruggedness/ reliability and long term support in my opinion.

(Note I lumped the various MILSURP rifles such as the Enfield, Springfield and various Mausers into this group as it better represents the cost to purchase and equip those weapons. )

Both have plus sides and minuses. I discussed these recently in another post. To recap: Both are good options. The first question I have would be about the range you are looking at taking game from. If you plan to take shots past 125-150 meters I would go with the '06. On the other hand if closer shots in the 30-100 meter range are the norm and you want a light fast brush gun a 30-30 is hard to beat. My second question would be about what this rifles secondary goal(s) are. If you want a long range/ 'precision' rifle the obvious answer is the '06. On the other side of the coin the 30-30 is a solid choice (for non mag fed military rifles) for up close defensive stuff and makes a great "truck gun". Third would be what other rifles do you own; sort of dovetailing with the last question if this gun needs to fill another niche that must be considered.

Personally if I had to get by with one gun that was not magazine fed (AK, AR, PTR-91, etc) it would be a lever action 30-30. That's just me. Many folks would say the same about a bolt action .308/ 30'06 which is fine too.  As to models the Marlin might arguably have some advantages and is cheaper than the Winchester. That being said I prefer the Winchester 94. They feel better in my hand and nothing says 'Merica like a Winchester lever action rifle.

While I prefer a good deer rifle or a lever gun to a Mosin the cost to feed your rifle is a consideration. One of the downsides of both these options is ammo is expensive. 30'06 ammo is available cheaper MILSURP if you jump through the CMP hoops but otherwise we're looking 75 cents to a buck a round.

As to equipping whatever rifle you decide to buy:
Cleaning Kit
Something to carry ammo
500 rounds of ammo *minimum*

I say this to be realistic for folks who go the deer rifle or lever gun routes. Somebody on a basic gun budget isn't going to buy 3,000 rounds of 30-30 ammo at .75c-$1 per round. Honestly I like a lot more ammo but this is really more of a regional disaster/ economic collapse type setup than Mad Max or fighting a war. If I had this setup in a bad scenario I would only use the rifle for defense or dangerous game. Hunting would be done predominantly with the .22 rifle. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reader Question: 30'06 or 30-30 Winchester

Since you mentioned 30'06, I was wondering what you've found to be the best "configuration" as you said you'd probably get one in a different configuration.
I've got a lot of basis covered firearms wise but a large caliber (i.e. .270 on up) is missing besides an old Pattern 14 .303 Enfield which I've been wanting to sell lately to get a Bolt '06 with open sights and also put a scope on it or a .30-30. I'm looking for a utility rifle that can drop just about anything up to an elk. I was also considering most compatible and common which led me to an old Winchester, Rem, or Ruger '06 with back up sights or an old .30-30.
$400 is my rough price range and I'm from Oregon/Northwest. Thoughts at all? What do you like? Thanks!

 Ryan: Hi Jack, I had a sporterized 1903 with peep sights. Fine gun or whatever but not quite what I want. Personally it will be replaced by a modern bolt action rifle designed to be scoped, probably a Savage 110 chambered in 30'06 or maybe .308. That's just me. My goal is to build a budget precision rifle that can be used for hunting if needed/ desired.

As to your question. Both are good options. The first question I have would be about the range you are looking at taking game from. If you plan to take shots past 125-150 meters I would go with the '06. On the other hand if closer shots in the 30-100 meter range are the norm and you want a light fast brush gun a 30-30 is hard to beat. My second question would be about what this rifles secondary goal(s) are. If you want a long range/ 'precision' rifle the obvious answer is the '06. On the other side of the coin the 30-30 is a solid choice (for non mag fed military rifles) for up close defensive stuff and makes a great "truck gun". Third would be what other rifles do you own; sort of dovetailing with the last question if this gun needs to fill another niche that must be considered.

Sorry that isn't a clean cut answer but the questions should give you a pretty good idea of which gun might best serve your needs. I will talk a bit more about these rifles on Friday with the next installment of the basic guns series.

Monday, March 25, 2013

RE: Basic Guns Part 3: Shotguns

My recent post on shotguns in the basic guns series drew a comment worth replying to. It already got a pretty good response but I'll take a shot at it also. Here it is, I will reply after each piece in italics.
"Let's see...
* Heavy, bulky ammo
How much ammo do you plan on carrying? For a normal home defense or siting on the porch after a Hurricane type scenario I'd be quite comfortable with what's in/ on the gun and 40-50 rounds which is not excessively heavy. True 150-250 rounds of buckshot or slugs would weight a lot but if you're trying to do that it's likely not a problem that can be solved with a shotgun anyway.
* Short range
Short range in comparison to what? [This is a systemic issue of the comment. Nothing is defined or compared to another alternative.]  Figure buckshot is good to 30 meters or so which covers probably 90% of home defense type situations. Slugs out of a standard open cylinder barrel with a bead sight are good to about 100m (if the operator does his part) which probably covers 99.9% of civilian defensive situations.
* Ineffective against even the cheapest armor
So are all but a few oddball pistols but you don't see folks running away from 9mm, .357mag, .40 and .45. The comment to use slugs is valid. Then again rifle plates that stop everything up to 30'06 AP are common place and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. So that thinking eliminates the advantage of .223, 7.62x39 and .308 also; you would really have to move to .338 Lapua or other anti materiel type rifle that will either blow through a plate or create so much energy it would do a person in through blunt force trauma. Honestly while Goblins wearing body armor is a valid worst case scenario for home defense the real odds of it happening are probably pretty low. If a round to the plate does not do somebody in (or you see vests) transition to 'hips and heads'. In plain English if you suspect folks might have vests shoot them in the hips and then in the face. Heck given the slim but reasonable likelihood that somebody has a vest these days starting with 'hips and heads' isn't a terrible idea.
* Crap sights
Honestly I have never really had an issue with the plain old single bead. Given the realistic ranges for employing a shotgun I find them sufficient. Rifle sights, ghost ring sights or a red dot are all better and valid options but they cost money.
* Crap accuracy
If a person cannot use a serviceable shotgun to accomplish realistic shotgun tasks the issue lie in the operator not the weapons system.
* Awkward, slow reloads
 In comparison to a modern magazine fed weapon that holds 20-30+ rounds reloads are slow and awkward. On the other hand if we are comparing it to a bolt or lever action rifle I would call it a wash.
So why would I want to buy a shotgun again?"

Further commentary:  The systemic problem with this comment is that it does not compare shotguns to another option by weak point or to propose another weapons system as an all around better option. Maybe I am being too hard on this but it has it's been pounded into my head that you bring up a problem AND A BETTER OPTION.

I am a pretty harsh critic of shotguns for home defense. This guy would take an AR/ AK/ Mini 14/ Whatever over a shotgun every day of the week and twice on Sunday. $1,500 Project AR with a $500 optic blows the old 870 out of the water in about every possible way. A Mercedes or Porche SUV blows my Asian SUV out of the water and $120 a bottle Scotch beats $18 a bottle stuff. The problem is that a comparison between them that does not consider economics is invalid. 

At the time of this writing AR's run $1,200 for low end guns. AK's are running almost a grand for low end ones.  A quality shotgun costs 1/4 to 1/3rd of either. Many people are priced out of modern defensive rifles these days but any semi functional adult can pull together $250-300ish to get a good pump shotgun. Also today they are still widely available both in stores and on the private market. Think I've beat the cost thing to death.

The other big benefit of a shotgun is versatility. A rifle can do some things better than a shotgun but there are many things a shotgun can do that a rifle fails completely at. As discussed before any sort of jack of all trades is not the master of any but in this scenario a gun that does a lot of things acceptably is very useful.

Instead of comparing a shotgun to rifles that cost 3-4x as much ones in the same range might be a more equitable comparison. We will get to rifles later but the playing field between bolt action deer rifles, lever guns and old milsurp Mosin Nagants and the shotgun is a whole lot more level.  A reasonable person could choose to go rifle first then shotgun down the road but it's still important to compare apples to apples.

Considering this is the Basic Guns series and we are talking about affordable but still reliable guns that will fill a lot of roles I consider the shotgun worthwhile. 


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas To All!

Our Christmas got off to a great start with Walker sleeping in until 8 o'clock in the morning. Kiddo was mad that Santa was in our house (he does not like the man after a bad mall experience) and after finding a couple matchbox cars in his stocking decided he was done opening gifts. We helped him with the rest and then had some breakfast.

Kiddo got a cowboy outfit for Christmas and somehow it ended up on the dog. Dog is not amused by this. Anyway the picture came out well and we had to share it. Don't worry Dog is being well rewarded with all manner of (dog safe) people food so his Christmas is still going well.

Wifey got a nice designer wallet, a wool coat and some end tables. I got a CMMG Conversion kit for the AR and an IPOD Nano.

After breakfast we have just been hanging out. Kiddo played with toys and generally was himself and is down for a nap. Dog is sleeping. We are relaxing before dinner and doing some light snacking.

I pulled out my rifle (calling it Project AR Upgrade is getting old) and fiddled with the conversion kit a bit. It is a nicely manufactured little piece of kit. "Installation" is stupidly easy. Just take out the bolt and put in the kit bolt then insert a .22 magazine. I'm looking forward to testing it out at the range later this week. Will check the darn schedule this time though.

To me there are two real roles for this kit. As a survival toon and for affordable short range training with the AR. For me being able to carry a little bolt with a mag or two and shoot .22 ammo through my rifle would be really nice. A great option if I have to travel light for whatever reason. Secondly I can't afford to shoot anywhere near as much .223 as would be ideal but a trip to the range with this sucker won't break the bank.

For me two criteria will determine if this bolt is a useful tool or a little gimmick decent accuracy and OK reliability. What I want to be able to do is shoot .22lr accurately at 25, or ideally 50 meters, sufficiently to do SRM, plink and if need put some meat into the pot. Don't need or expect it to win small bore competitions, just to be accurate enough to fill a legitimate role. As to reliability I am a bit less concerned. So long as it doesn't jam every third round or in complicated unpleasant ways that make the whole thing a hassle I am prepared for a few eccentricities. Absolute best case some duds are inevitable with rim fire ammo anyway. I'll share some more thoughts after it gets some range time.

Well kiddo is up and it is almost time to start moving towards dinner so it is time to wrap this up.

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Recent Conversations

I have had a couple conversations with close family members lately. One about precious metals and another about rifles. We will talk about them as part of the need for a quarterly rehashing of all basic topics.

A relative asked what I thought about silver and gold as an investment:

For the sake of avoiding repetition check out this post on getting into precious metals. I told him that I do not like PM's AS AN INVESTMENT. Making money buying and selling commodities requires buying low and selling high. If you have those skills that is great. Personally if I knew how to do that reliably I would be doing it for a living. That makes it basically gambling which probably is not smart.

I do like PM's as a conservative piece of my overall financial situation. Sort of like insurance or an alternative savings plan. I like them for protection against high inflation, currency debasement and even an outright economic collapse. They generally move opposite to more modern instruments like stocks and such which is nice. For most people assuming they are halfway financially squared away (no huge credit card balances, etc) putting some money into PM's makes sense.

We talked the qualities of both silver and gold. To recap silver is affordable and valued appropriately for day to day type transactions but it gets heavy fast while gold is very compact for it's value which would be useful if you have to move it. For his situation I said it would not be a bad idea to buy a big bag of silver then put the balance into gold, mostly 1 ounce bars/ rounds.

As to total amounts I recommended not to go crazy but maybe to put a certain % of your liquid assets into PM's. Depending on your situation and where you think the doom thermometer is this could be lower like 5% or more like 25%. Like most things somewhere in the middle is probably the way to go.

Another relative asked if I would recommend that he purchase an AR-15 or an AK-47. I told him to go with an AR. This is for a variety of reasons. First the price gap between the two weapons, which was part of the AK's advantage has closed drastically in recent years. Second given his military experience muscle memory lies with the AR. Third the logistics of potential resupply are probably better for the AR. John Mosby makes a case that the AR is a better weapon which is hard to argue with. That being said (and this is how I closed the talk) both are good guns that should serve you well.

There was also a separate thread of the conversation about specific builds for AR's and barrel twist rates. The answer was that considering that his intended uses of casual plinking and potential SHTF I suggested not to bother. If so inclined he could do a lot of research and spend a bunch of money. However my recommendation was that a good basic carbine like a S&W MP would do everything he wants for a lot less money.

Maybe these questions give a bit of insight into what normal non whacko survivalist folks are thinking about these days.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Garand Kit

These new pouches are probably the best option to fit those en bloc clips I have seen to date. You could keep a two pouch one loose to put on a belt for casual plinking or hunting or whatever and take a half dozen or so and place them on a vest, chest rig or plate carrier for a full load out. Not suprisingly these are from the same folks who make a buttstock carrier and a contemporary bandaleer for the garand. If my Garand was a primary defensive weapon instead of a collectable/ shooter I would spend some money on kit from Olongaop Outfitters.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

"You can spend a lot of money on a knife, you can spend rifle money on a knife if you want to which I think is silly."
-Joe Fox of Viking preparedness

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is the Best Weapon for Home Defense?

Check out Box of Truth's recent post on the matter. In their typical fashion the BS is cut through using facts and real world experimentation/ analysis. Also they touch on a lot of myths.

Skipping to the conclusion for those who don't feel like reading: Rifles > Shotguns > Pistols.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bolt Action Rifles

Today we will do a sort of overview of bolt action rifles. I will discuss their strengths and weaknesses in general and also delve into some specific models. This will not be all encompassing in nature and will be relatively brief when discussing military surplus bolt action rifles. My knowledge and interests do not lend me to going into depth. Also I just don’t see a point in it considering there are multiple books written about different variations of specific rifles.

First of all we will look on the most basic level at what bolt action rifles are. Bolt action rifles are rifles where the bolt is manually cycled for each shot. Cycling the bolt is typically done by a small handle attached to the bolt. When the bolt is cycled it ejects the spent casing, grabs a new round from the magazine, loads the round and cocks the rifle. Magazines are usually a fixed, internal box though some are removable. Bolt action rifles are almost all very similar in nature and most use a Mauser design from the late 19th century.

There are two real roles I see bolt action rifles filling for modern defensive shooters (versus collectors or hobbyists) and survivalists. Those roles are as a precision mid to long distance rifle and as a low cost rifle. They are also useful for hunting in general and particularly as a platform for powerful dangerous game rounds but that outside of the scope of this post.

Bolt action rifles are inherently accurate due to a strong action with very minimal movements. More significantly they are the most affordable rifles for precision mid to long distance (lets say 300 meters plus though 400 might be more accurate as it is about when standard semi auto rifles without optics start to fade) rifles available.

Very accurate offerings based on mil spec semi auto rifles are now available but at a steep price. Sure a Knight Armament M-110 or EBR’ed out M1A can be incredibly accurate but those top end precision guns cost more than most used cars. If you can afford to drop 2k on a rifle and 1k plus on an optic then good for you but for most folks that is a non starter.

However don’t despair you can get a decent rifle and scope combination for a few hundred dollars and a pretty good one for several hundred. These rifles have been made by a variety of manufacturers in variations and calibers too numerous to list. For the sake of discussion let us limit things to that are amply powerful for ‘deer sized game’ and shoot flat and handle wind well enough to be useful at long distances. Being a common caliber guy the logical conclusion is either .308 or 30.06 though if you really want a .300 win mag or a .270 or something else reasonably common (don’t be that guy whose only rifle is a total oddball) then I suppose that is probably fine. The .308 is slightly more inherently accurate (than the 30.06) and available in more interesting bullet/ cartridge offerings which give it an edge; on the other hand in the real shooting world I would say 30.06 is more common and if you need versatility in heavy bullet weights it has an edge.

It is worth talking about accuracy a little bit. I think lots of folks dump a ton of money into a rifle and optic they never use to close to its full potential or put off buying a “precision rifle” because they do not have a couple thousand dollars lying around. For most folks a decent rifle with a decent optic costing $500-800 is all they need. Certainly it is enough to get started. Without starting a flame war or a ton of deliberate thought the consensus seems to be that a rifle/ optic combination needs to be capable of holding about 2moa to be a viable candidate for a “precision rifle”. Now that is not particularly amazing and many rifles can do it. Lots of custom high end jobs can do 1 moa or less. If your goal is to shoot paper or steel a kilometer out and you have thousands of dollars to spend then there are some amazing rifles out there. However for most people’s goals the cost is probably not warranted. Let us look at this; 2 moa would be an eye socket at 100 meters and a head at 250-300 and a center mass shot out to somewhere around 500-600 depending on the target. Most shooters can’t do better than that under ideal conditions, let alone inherently less than desirable field conditions. Given realistic conditions where you may take shots out to say 600 meters a decent rifle/ optic setup and a lot of experience are what you need. Beyond that and it starts being less practical and more for bragging rights by the meter anyway. One viable strategy would be to get a starter setup and down the road if you get serious about it start looking at a better one and sell your old gun or stash it someplace as a backup.
Gabe Suarez’s “Guerilla Sniper” idea/ courses are probably more useful to an average shooter than bench shooting from some super expensive and heavy custom gun. It emphasized mid range shooting under realistic field conditions with pretty normal and common gear.

The best deals are not on tacticool urban swat sniper rifles but on good old generic deer rifles. Pretty much every decent gun shop has a used rack full of these guns often at great deals. I hesitate to get mired in specific manufacturers or models because it really just gets dumb. I will however give the standard advice to stick with common models from major manufacturers. This is for two reasons. First they are much easier to get parts and accessories (like scope mounts or sling swivels or whatever) for and second because they are major manufacturers and common models for a very good reason. Companies don’t stay around for several decades and make hundreds of thousands or millions of a specific model because they suck. I am talking about manufacturers like Winchester, Remington, Ruger, Savage, Weatherby and the like. There are a lot of good viable offerings in used guns and if money is a concern that is a good way to go.

If I was going to buy a new rifle it would be a Savage 110. They are good gun at an affordable price. I don’t mean to boo hoo Remington or Ruger or anybody else as lots of manufacturers make fine guns. It is just that the new Savages offer a lot of good features without frills and fluff at a very competitive price.

As my last thought on “precision rifles” don’t be that guy who buys a nice new rifle and then immediately gets the cheapest piece of junk scope Walmart sells. Personally for distance shooting I have found that optics are at least as important, if not more than, the rifle. Decent rifles are sufficiently mechanically accurate but a scope limits how much of that accuracy the shooter can readily use. In any case buy at least a decent scope like a Bushnell or Nikon. Of course you can always get more by paying more but it is worth it to at least price/ consider some higher end manufacturers like Leupold.

This brings us back to the theme that it is important to consider the cost of fully equipping a weapon. Not just the gun but the gun, optic and ammunition. Caliber comes back around here because some rounds like 300 win mag are pretty expensive. For a typical hunter who shoots maybe 40 rounds a year an extra 5 bucks per box of 20 is not a huge deal. However for a survivalist who wants to stash several hundred  rounds or more or a serious shooter who wants to shoot a few cases of ammo a year cost is a significant factor. Remember to consider the cost of an optic in your overall budget. Unlike a defensive rifle where an optic is a luxury that can be purchased later it is pretty much a necessity here.  Many of these guns either entirely omit sights or give a crude semi buckhorn which is good out to about 100 meters. I heard once that you should plan to spend about the cost of the gun again on a scope.  Personally if given the choice I would rather have a $700 scope on top of a $200 rifle than the opposite.

So in conclusion lots of readily available bolt action rifles will do just fine for “precision work”. If you already have a bolt action rifle in a reasonably flat shooting caliber (not like 45-70 or something else with shotput ballistics) then I would seriously consider just using it. If you want to buy a new rifle the Savage 110 offers a lot of value.

The other real role bolt action rifles have is in the form of old WWI-II era surplus rifles as a low cost budget rifle. To be blunt I have never been a fan of this strategy. If I have to shoot a rifle at somebody I want it to be military pattern and self loading with a detachable box magazine at least until something better is invented then I will try to get one of those. Any argument that a bolt action rifle from 65+ years ago is comparable or in any way equal  to an AK or an AR (or whatever) for fighting is a load of hog wash, sorry but it is true.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a deal, Wifey and I are some of the cheapest people you will meet. It is just that to me this is sort of like looking for a bargain on factory second fire extinguishers direct from China or buying a used and beat up looking car seat for kiddo. It is my opinion that there are many places to cut corners but safety and defensive gear are not on the list. [As a general statement I would do some prioritization and maybe sell some unneeded stuff or work more to get the cash to acquire quality gear and weapons. I have done it before and will likely do it again.] However I have a real job that earns a decent income and we live pretty simply so we can put money into things that are important to us now and then. I do recognize it is a lot easier to say “it is worth it” if you have the money. 

Between the stagnant wages and rising costs of food, fuel, insurance and about everything else lots of folks are barely treading water. Also if we are being honest lots of folks prioritize other things above getting their selves prepared. Regardless there are certainly some folks who are on permanent disability or who make 23 grand a year and have 6 kids or whatever the situation is. For these folks $300 or whatever is what they can scrape together for a rifle, some ammo and accessories after digging deep and saving.

Enter the military surplus rifle.
These old warhorses are big, heavy and shoot pretty powerful cartridges. Most are about 5 feet long, weight 25 pounds or so (an exaggeration), hold 5 or in the case of the Enfield 10 bullets which are very comparable to the 30.06 and are accurate to as far as you can see and shoot with their iron sights. There are too many variations to discuss fully in a book, let alone a blog post so I am going to zero in on the ones that really fit this specific need.

The most viable option is a Russian Mosin Nagant in 7.62x54R with various Mauser, Enfield and Springfield rifles lurking in the potentially viable category. The reason I have immediately eliminated so many other rifles is that you cannot get widely available affordable ammunition for them, or in some cases ammo period. The pattern seems to be that rifles and ammo are available dirt cheap and everywhere then the cheap ammo is gone and rifles come up piece mil, but more expensively and in lower quality. Ammo is then either entirely unavailable or is darn expensive. A $79 rifle for which ammo is brutally expensive (I have seen a dollar plus a shot in some cases) is OK for a collector but for a person that is seriously short on cash, is relying on that rifle and  likes to keep a lot of ammo around / practice regularly that situation obviously will not work.
The reason the Mosin Nagant is the obvious choice is that the rifles are readily affordable and ammunition is available and cheap. Without being up on the latest prices you can probably get a Mosin Nagant for something around $110-140 delivered and spam cans of 440 rounds of ammo probably run $60ish. Certainly you could have a gun with basic accessories and a reasonable stash of ammo for about $300-400. There is still cheap ammo available and commercially manufactured new ammo to fill gaps which may appear in time albeit at new commercial ammo prices.

Mauser’s are fairly cheap but can have ammunition availability and cost issues. Since they were made and used in numerous calibers by so many countries it is hard to speak about them in generalities. The issue with the other two is cost to equip and or purchase them. Enfield’s are probably the best rifle of the bunch, especially since they have a 10 round detachable magazine. They can still be had at sane ( I would say 200ish on up depending on make/ model/ condition) and .303 ammo is available though it is mostly new commercial manufacture stuff at new commercial manufacture prices. There are some Enfields around in .308 and I am hopefully going to buy one someday, though not really for practical reasons. The Springfield 03 is probably the most expensive of the bunch to purchase and is thus really more of a collector’s item. You will have a hard time touching one for under $350-400 and those are probably going to be “sporterized” which depending on who did it, what they did, and your tastes may or may not be a bad thing. They shoot 30.06 which is still sometimes available surplus and readily available commercially and are very accurate rifles. However the cost of the rifle and ammunition puts it out of the budget of most that choose to go the surplus rifle route.
A Mosin Nagant and a few spam cans of ammo are far better than no rifle or a couple hundred bucks in small bills sitting in a dusty envelope that says FN-FAL (or whatever). If I had to go this route I would put a lot of energy into practicing rapidly cycling the bolt from my shoulder and engaging multiple targets at close to moderate ranges. I would be sure to practice reloading it from stripper clips. Basically you would be taking the CQB lessons that have permeated from .mil to .gov to everybody else in the past decade and apply them as best you can to an old war horse. Also I would want a big old sword bayonet on the thing and a handgun ready as a backup. I would also look hard at getting a pump shotgun to fill in for CQB ranges.

[Despite my strong reservations for these warhorses as a primary defensive tool there are some interesting possibilities here. A rifle you could loan a neighbor or family member or a spare long gun to bury/ hide in the rafters of your cabin set aside for a rainy day. Is it not the rifle I would want to go to war with but as a backup it would be far better than no rifle at all. It would be hard on the budget to go stashing AR’s and AK’s all over the place but at $300 for a Mosin, bare bones accessories and a few spam cans it could be viable. Given the low price point for a Mosin Nagant rifle and some ammo you could easily set aside a couple over time.]

So in closing bolt action rifles can have a legitimate place in a practical shooter or survivalist’s firearms battery for harvesting game, precision shooting or as a budget all around rifle. Also they are fun.

Monday, December 5, 2011


It is about time to talk this subject again in my rotating semi repetitive foundational posts. Magazines are important because well magazine fed firearms suck without them. Seriously for want of a magazine a quality defensive firearm becomes a slow to reload single shot weapon.

Quality- I strongly recommend that you buy only factory original magazines for practical defensive use. Buying junk aftermarket magazines is penny smart and dollar foolish, I can’t think of many other ways to invite more grief into your shooting life. If you really want to have “range mags” that are junk then I guess that is fine but keep them separate. Personally I don’t see the point in this as I train with what I would fight with and even if that was not the case I still hate bad mags, even at the range.

The one exception to this is for military pattern weapons. Surplus/ government magazines are typically comparable to factory originals. Also for these military pattern weapons sometimes a magazine is so ambiguous that many companies have quality offerings, this is the case with the AR and 1911 and maybe to a lesser degree the AK given the new US Palm offerings.

Cost- When most reasonable people buy a car they consider the cost to insure and repair it. Sometimes you might be looking at two similar cars and one may (usually because it is foreign or rare) have much higher costs. I recommend you do the same with guns in terms of spare parts, ammo (both separate topics) and magazines. I’m not saying to absolutely avoid guns like Sig’s and HK’s with high magazine costs in favor of ones with much lower cost magazines like Glocks or 1911’s or the Browning HP or whatever. My point is to consider the costs and make sure you can afford them.

Spending all the money to have a defensive pistol or rifle and having less than a handful of mags because of their cost is flat out stupid. I read something on line about a guy who used a rare and from all I have heard very nice Valumet .308 as his rifle. He had one twenty round mag, which a friend lost but that brings us to a whole different topic, for the thing. Seriously he could swap it for a good G3 clone and have a combat load of magazines for the price of lunch at a casual dining restaurant.

Quantity- This is certainly a subject for debate. Personally my happy levels are 10 for a pistol and 20 for a rifle. My standard load would be 3 pistol magazines and about 7 rifle magazines, though of course it depends on the situation. This gives me a full load of magazines, a spare set (maybe at another location) and a few for replacement/trade/friends. Note that this is PER GUN. So if you have three pistols it would be 30 magazines, for two AR’s would be 40 magazines, etc. Also this is for core type defensive weapons. For .22’s, a .380 pocket pistol, etc I keep somewhere around 5. Admittedly my appreciation of nice round numbers could be a factor.

Some folks might be comfortable with less and that is probably reasonable. Two full loads of magazines is probably a good bottom point. For a pretty conventional setup would be about 6 per pistol and more than a dozen per rifle. This is enough that if a magazine is lost or damaged and you can’t replace it immediately it will not be a critical loss.

Some folks like more magazines and that is just fine too. Our friend Commander Zero brings up the point that magazines are the easiest and most likely piece of gun stuff to be targeted by a ban, heck we had one for a miserable decade. It is entirely possible that almost overnight % or that what you have could be ALL YOU WILL EVER GET.  I came of gun buying age during that ban and it sucked. When I started making decent money and had taken care of a few more pressing matters I put some money into magazines. If what I have now is all I am ever going to get that wouldn’t be ideal but I would not be completely hosed either. Think about that for awhile and skipping a couple dinners out (make your spouse dinner or do something else nice instead) to have a few magazines put away just in case might not seem like a bad idea.

Replacement-Magazines are a disposable item that have a finite lifespan and require periodic replacement. In this regard they are sort of like a Timex digital watch. They last a long time but they do inevitable break or get worn out and the easiest course of action is to replace them when that happens.

 If there was a list of things that cause shooters unnecessary problems using magazines that are worn out, damaged or otherwise unserviceable; comes  after buying bad mags in the first place, and would be followed by using cheap ammo in a gun that can’t handle it.

Why go through the hassle. Seriously it isn’t that big of an expense to buy quality magazines and periodically replace them. If springs are worn out replace the spring. If the magazine body is worn out then toss it.
Maintenance-Inspect magazines to make sure they are free of rust and that the inside is not all gummed up with crud. Oiling magazines in not recommended as it attracts gunk which causes issues. Just take them apart and wipe them down now and then.

Rotating- This is a hotly debated topic to which I am not sure there is a right answer. Springs can get ‘set’ and that causes the magazine to jam and have feeding issues or completely lock up or in some cases just puke out bullets. This is bad for obvious reasons. My observation is that functional magazines can stay loaded for months at a time with no noticeable issues. I don’t know what the right answer is. One clear benefit of rotating magazines is that it CONFIRMS that the magazine is still functional and that it will work. Best case it gives you an opportunity to confirm the mags are good and do a quick cleaning. Worst case it could show you that a magazine may need some TLC or new springs. The best time to find out you need to do this is when you are maintaining/ rotating magazines, not when you need the darn gun to work.

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