Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our New Puppy


Well, say hello to the newest member of our family.  This little guy is a 10 week old American Akita male.  He has beautiful coloration and he's very sweet.  He's already taken a big liking to the women of the house, especially my 2 year old daughter.

I swear, this dog is about the most chilled out puppy I have ever seen.  He's also very patient with the kids.  Even though he's only been home but a couple hours, he played with my son and daughter and whimpered a little when they had to go to bed.  He's a little cautious around me still, but that's okay.  I'm a really big and tall dude compared to all the other shorties in the house.  Besides, I'm the alpha.  As long as he understands that, no problemo!

We've been considering a dog for about a year now.  We wanted something that would be a good guard dog, but not be a constant barking SOB to piss off all our neighbors.  We also wanted something that would be good to grow up around our kids.  Lastly, I wanted a 4 legged companion for hiking around in the woods and for camping.  I think this dog will be perfect for us.

Unlike the Japanese Akita, the American variety is a larger boned, more muscular dog.  I met this pooch's father and mother, and they were both big dogs.  The dad, standing on the hind legs, is easily as tall as I am, and I'm 6'2".  They are sturdy dogs with deep bellowed barks and growls that seem to make the room rumble.  But as soon as they realized we were okay, they were sweethearts.  The dad was still a bit aloof to me, but I had only seen him for a few minutes.  The big dogs were very gentle toward our kids.

We chose this puppy because he was the most calm of the bunch.  He was also the most beautiful, in my opinion.  The others were almost irresistible as well, but this one's sort of auburn brown coat with the silver double made him too good to pass up.  It was tough though.  The breeder had some beautiful black ones and some others with cow spots and boots on their front paws.

Now, we just have to decide on a cool name for the little guy.  Until then, I'll just call him "dog."

-James

A Tale of Two Mag Pouches

I read a lot of stuff about holsters.  Most often, the discussion always leads to getting the proper holster for the gun.  I've been really lucky in that I don't have a dresser drawer full of junk holsters I don't use.  I feel that in my experience of wearing and purchasing holsters, I've made some really good choices that suit my style and preferred method of carry.  However, among all the talk about holsters, it seems that carriers for extra ammo are regarded as an afterthought.

Back in the day, when I bought my very first pistol, the venerable Beretta 92 FS, I needed a good holster.  I turned to a relatively new (at the time) company called Blade-Tech Industries.  I ended up buying an IWB kydex holster and an accompanying polymer dual magazine pouch.  This combination served me well, as I was able to carry no less than 45 rounds of ammunition on my person at all times; 46 rounds if you counted the cartridge in the pipe.  I preferred this method of carry for years.

After going back to school, I didn't carry for quite some time.  My employer didn't allow guns on the property and my school seemed to have a dim view of the prospect of its students carrying weapons on the campus.  My gun sat at home for the better part of 3 years while I chose not to carry a weapon.

After graduating college, and getting a better job elsewhere, I moved to a town that certainly had a higher crime rate than the place I previously called home.  While I have yet to experience a crime in my neighborhood, I decided that it was time to reapply for my CPL and get a new carry gun.  I am a bit thicker than I was 10 years ago.  Plus, I needed an excuse to buy a new gun.  If you read the blog, then you know I'm a fan of Ruger pistols and Crossbreed holsters.  My go-to carry gun by default is the Ruger SR9c, with the LC9 and the LCP coming up a very close second.  I've made sure that my holsters are perfect for these guns.

The problem, however, is what to do with the spare ammo.  I'm going to focus on the double stack magazine of the Ruger SR9.  I carry one spare 17rd magazine for my SR9c.  I don't carry two extras anymore because I'm confident that 28rds of 9mm are sufficient to do the job.  Besides, all that extra ammo can get tiresome after a long day, and after sustaining a lower back injury 5 years ago, I like to keep it light.

At first, I purchased a leather pouch from Tagua.  I thought the snap would be a good idea, but soon learned that it wasn't.  The weight of a loaded 17rd magazine made the snap unsnap within minutes of wearing it.  I replaced the snap with a screw and nut much like the hardware on the Crossbreed Supertuck, and converted it into a slide on belt pouch.  After a year of carry with this thing, I became sick of it.  The loop is much too large and with no way to adjust it, the dang thing always rode up on my side and slide around on my belt.  I needed a different option.

Completely forgetting about my dual mag pouch, I bought a kydex pouch from Uncle Mikes.  I like this one better, but the magazine retention is iffy and the clip doesn't seem very durable.  I carried this pouch for the last month or so to give it a chance.  While the magazine never fell out, the pouch has come off a few times, especially when getting into and out of a vehicle.  I can't have this.

I went into my favorite local gun shop, and purchased a Blade-tech single mag pouch with a tek-lok.  After initially setting the tek-lok up to my belt size, I inserted the magazine and adjusted the tensioning screws to my preferred retention.  After putting the pouch on my belt and inserting the magazine, I immediately noticed a night and day difference from the Uncle Mike's design.  This magazine pouch stays put!  The magazine retention is much better!  The tek-lok features a dual locking mechanism to keep it closed.  There is no way this puppy would come off my belt.  Polymer is tough stuff and I used the older style tek-lok for years without problems.

In the end, the Blade-Tech is the better choice.  Even if you are on a budget, you can easily justify spending a little more on the BT over the UM design.  I paid $12 plus tax for the UM design and was completely unhappy with it.  I paid $19 plus tax for the BT with the large tek-lok; money well spent in my opinion.  Superior retention and attachment to the belt make it worth every penny.

Pics and descriptions below:

Blade-Tech and Uncle Mikes side by side.  UM on the left, BT on the right.  Note the BT tension screws on it side.

Blade-Tech Tek-lok on the right with the Uncle Mike's clip on the left.

Notice the "fingers" that put tension on the magazine when inserted into the Uncle Mike's pouch.  I noted that they don't provide good retention, and seem to spring the magazine out a bit.  I was always re-seating the magazine when carrying.

Blade-Tech tension adjustment.  As you turn the screws, it presses the entire body of the pouch against the magazine.  The rubber bushings help maintain tension without the need for Loctite.

The Blade-Tech has a larger side profile, but it isn't much more.  Notice the Beretta magazine in the Uncle Mike's on the left.  If you turn the magazine pouch upside down, the Beretta magazine falls out.  Not good.

The tek-lok is much thicker than the Uncle Mike's clip.  Fortunately, the Blade-Tech only sticks out about 3/16" more because most of that tek-lok is behind your belt.  All in all, I'll take the extra 3/16" for the better retention.
-James

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Videos

These videos were made for our family to remember and enjoy.





-James

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Leatherman Wingman

Leatherman 14 Function Multi-tool
Every year, I am tasked with the difficult project of putting together a Christmas Wishlist.  It is an arduous task that normally takes me a couple of weeks to complete.  Indeed, I have a big list of wants, but how to convey that to someone else can be quite a chore.  This year, I came across a neat multi-tool from Leatherman called The Wingman.  At 7 ounces, it seems it would be a good tool to have around for most EDC work.  Two things that made me zero in on this particular design (amongst all the great offerings from Leatherman) were the closed shape and the pocket clip.  Clearly, Leatherman intended for this tool to be carried in the front pocket on a daily basis.

The shape of the tool is contoured at the ends, which makes the body index into the front right pocket of my jeans well.  The pocket clip (which isn't shown in the pic to the left, damn it) is positioned to make the tool ride perfectly.  It slips into my jeans easily and can be drawn quickly.  After drawing, it is quick to slide my fore finger down and get a two-handed grip and open the spring loaded needle nose pliers with ease.  The large blade can be easily opened one-handed with your thumb if you are careful.  The blade is partially serrated, and it is pretty sharp out of the box.  I was able to slice through some thick card stock with ease.  The knife sliced through normal printer paper like a hot knife through butter.  Made of 420HC stainless steel, it is strong enough and precise enough for the kind of normal chores you will put it to.

Tools aboard the Wingman include:

  1. Spring-loaded needle nose pliers
  2. Spring-loaded regular pliers
  3. Spring-loaded wire cutters
  4. 420HC combination knife (serrated and plain)
  5. Package opener
  6. Wood/metal file
  7. Scissors
  8. Small screwdriver
  9. Medium Screwdriver
  10. Phillips Screwdriver
  11. 1.5" ruler
  12. Bottle opener
  13. Can opener
  14. Wire stripper

The pocket clip is also removable, should you decide you don't want to use it.  But just know that if you remove it, the tool will either float around in your pocket or you will have to use a belt pouch.  I prefer the pocket clip because it's familiar to me.  From all my years carrying a knife in that location, the multi-tool is a shoe-in fit for me.

My wife went the extra mile and had my name engraved on the side of the tool body, above where it says Leatherman Wingman.  I like personalized stuff.  It makes it mine.  Besides, when you're working around a bunch of other people, having your name on the tool not only makes it easily identifiable as yours, but it helps to keep the honest people around you honest.

How I got this tool made me chuckle a bit.  On Christmas Eve, we normally open gifts at my parents house.  It's a tradition that we've had as far back as I can remember.  Christmas Eve was the night that the whole family was together to exchange gifts.  Then we got something really special that "Santa" left for Christmas morning.  It's a good tradition.  Anyway, I completely forgot about what I put on my Christmas Wishlist.  I mean, 5 weeks ago is so far in the past.  As I tore into some really thoughtful  and useful gifts, I looked over to see my father open a small box that said Leatherman on it.  As I'm a big leatherman fan, and owner (I have the original Leatherman Wave), I immediately stopped to see what he got.  He pulled out the Wingman.  In awe, I was able to get into my hot little hands and take a close look at it.  "Man, this would be so cool to have," was what I said as I fondled it.  I had completely forgotten that I put it on my wishlist.  On Christmas morning, I was at home with my wife and kids opening more gifts.  I picked up a small package that was not the right size to be a box of ammo, nor was it heavy enough to be a brick.  To my surprise, I opened the package to find the Wingman sitting inside it.  Apparently, my mother bought one for me, but my wife beat her to the punch because she ordered it with my name engraved on it.  So, my good mother, knowing my dad likes stuff like this too, decided to give the one she bought to him instead!  Now we both have one!

I already like this tool a lot.  Last night and today, I've found a lot of reasons to use many of the tools on this little bad boy.  Last night, I used my dad's to help set up his new Galco classic lite shoulder holster.  Today, I've used mine to assemble tools that I got for Christmas, remove the peksy battery covers on the kid's toys, cut open packages and tighten stuff with the pliers.  This tool really is handy for the do-it-yourselfer.

At first, I thought that the 7 ounces would be too heavy for EDC, but after carrying mine effortlessly in my pocket, I stand corrected.  7 ounces is definitely heavier than my lighter CRKT Pikes Peak knife, but I pretty much forget about the Wingman until I need it.  It is amazing how much easier it is to just whip this dude out to do a small repair or adjustment on something without having to search the house for the tool, only to find out that you've spend 30 minutes trying to find a tool you've lost somewhere.  If I had a dollar for every time I've had to stop everything and search for a tool I've lost, I'd be a rich man by now.  The irony is that I usually find it in some place that I put it so it wouldn't get lost!  With that said, the Wingman will be a great tool, and will report up on it some time from now, as I get a chance to know it better and use it.

-James

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scope Your Mosin Nagant

Back in 2006, I was browsing the local Big 5 sporting goods store and a funny looking rifle caught my eye.  I recognized it from the movie, "Enemy At The Gates," and immediately took interest.  There were two rifles, actually.  One of them was a Mosin Nagant 91/30.  The other was the one that I bought, which is the M-38.  This is the carbine version, and it is much shorter and handier than the longer 91/30.  For $89, it was a steal.  Fast forward a few years and I eventually purchased the longer 91/30 just because some guy was selling it for $100.  The Mosin Nagant is a stout rifle.  It's crude, but it is really inexpensive.  You can buy a full size centerfire rifle in the Mosin Nagant for about $100 less than some Ruger 10/22 carbines!  The ammo for the Mosin Nagant, the venerable 7.62x54R is very inexpensive to buy in bulk, so it doesn't sting the pocketbook to plink with as much as other guns with chamber offerings in .308 WIN or 30.06 calibers.

The only drawback to most Mosin Nagants that I've seen is that you can't mount a scope atop the receiver.  It would interfere with the bolt operation.  Additionally, considering you really have to slap the bolt around to cycle it after shooting, having a scope there would not be a good idea.  The only other option is to mount the scope forward of the receiver.  But how do you do it without permanently modifying the gun?  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not some Mosin snob that balks at even the notion of restoring something or bringing the gun up to at least the late 20th century, but I do enjoy the fine lines of this odd Russian work of art, and would hate to damage it by hacking it to pieces.

Enter the Brass Stacker scope mount!


As you can see from the picture above, the Brass Stacker mount is positioned above the rear iron sights of the rifle.  All you do is remove the two retaining pins and replace them with the provided screws to attach the mount to.  Simple.  And for you guys, like me, who do not wish to permanently modify the weapon, you can go back by removing the screws and driving the old pins back in... that is if you remembered to save them and not toss them.

The Brass Stacker scope mount is an all steel design.  There are no plastic or aluminum components anywhere, making this mount as strong as the proven weapon you know you want to mount it to.  The see-through design allows you to use your iron sights even with the mount and a scope attached.  That is great because should you find yourself too close for your scope, you can easily transition back to the irons.  Plus, if your scope is damaged or loses zero, you won't be totally screwed.  Field of view with the irons will be lost, but irons are better than no irons.

Total weight for this mount with hardware and the picatinny rail is 5 ounces.  That's not too shabby for something that will need to hold up to the hellacious recoil of the Mosin Nagant.  The picatinny rail is 8 inches long, which should accommodate any scope you'd want to put on top of this weapon.  Mind you, the gun itself is only $100 or $115... or in my case, $89 (for the M-38).  The scope mount is sold by Brass Stacker for $50.  The scope you put on top probably won't be too expensive since the whole idea behind having a Mosin Nagant is to have high power accuracy on the cheap.  I've heard the Mosin Nagant referred to as the "poor man's 30.06."  If that really is your reason for having the Mosin Nagant, then this scope mount is probably for you.  But if you collect Mosin Nagant rifles just because they are cool, like I do, then this mount is for you as well.


A closer shot of the mount is shown above.  You can see the screws and nuts that replace the pins used to hold the sights in place.  The screws stick out too much for my liking, so it is something I'd definitely take a cutoff wheel to and make them fit more flush.  Plus, blue Loctite is a must in this application.  Look at the gun it is mounted to!

Sometime early in 2012, I'll be getting one of these to put on my 91/30.  When I do, I'll definitely have some stuff to say about it.  Until then, buy it and enjoy it!

Scope your Mosin!

-James

Merry Christmas


Always an adventure when it comes to my children.  I think Michael has figured out why Santa is so special, but my daughter... not so much.  Either way, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New!.

-James

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Planning The Next Phase

My wife and I were having a conversation about shooting, and as much as we both agree that shooting is fun, we hate the cost associated with shooting center-fire ammunition.  Let's face it, the cost of shooting is going up considerably.  We also agree that we both want to spend more time together at the range so we can improve our shooting skills and have fun.

Well, with family memberships at the local indoor range making attendance cheaper than paying as you go, we would be wise to invest in one.  We also want to be able to just go and pop off some rounds as often as every week instead of every couple of months.  However, we know that doing that with 9mm or even 38 special would bankrupt us really fast.  So, the solution is simple.

Get a .22 pistol.  Even better, get two of them.

I know that I may be going over ground I've already covered with this topic, but it bears repeating.  The ability to train with your handgun (or one similar to it) on the cheap will encourage more trigger time because the cost of shooting a 500rd brick of .22lr is about the same as a 50rd box of 38's or even a 20rd box of self-defense 9mm ammunition.

I took the family over to one of my local sporting goods stores and we looked at a few .22 pistols side by side.  I was interested in two particular guns: the Ruger LCR (now in .22lr) and the Ruger 22/45 target.

 First off, let's talk about the newest addition to the .22lr line up at Ruger.com.  This is the Ruger LCR.  It features a lot of go-fast technology, like a monolithic polymer frame, stainless steel barrel sleeve, stainless steel cylinder, friction reducing cam, fire controls that are completely contained, and Hogue Tamer grips.  I like all these features separately, but unfortunately, I just can't like the gun.  It's cool.  Don't get me wrong.  I really like how it looks, how lightweight it is, and I love the technological advances that went into it, but it just isn't for me.  The reason is because I can't naturally point it.  For some reason, when I punch it out, the front sight aims skyward in comparison to the other pistols I normally shoot.  I have to deliberately rotate my hands downward to get the front sight to line up in the notched rear sights.  I don't have this issue with my Ruger SP-101 with Hogue Monogrips, but I sort of did with the factory low profile setup.  I also don't think that the LCR would be appropriate as a training pistol for me because it does not emulate the feel of any other gun I own, including the SP-101.  Plus, for as much as they want for the .22lr LCR ($450), I could buy the 38spl version.  It doesn't make economical sense to me.

Enter the Ruger 22/45.  The model shown is the 22/45 Target Rimfire Pistol (TRP for short) with removable checkered cocobolo grip panels.  Since it is a target model, it features a bull barrel that is 5 1/2 inches long, adjustable sights, a smooth single action trigger, and it is an automatic - not a revolver.

So, what is so special about this gun that it steals the show when compared to the LCR?  Well, for one, it's got some heft to it.  I want something with weight.  It will not only absorb almost all the recoil from the diminutive .22lr, but it weighs almost as much as my Beretta M9A1.  Additionally, the sights are real.  There isn't a dumb notched channel and you can adjust the rear sight for windage and elevation.  As I said in my previous entry on the subject, the grip emulates the feel of more traditional semi auto pistols.  The grip angle is familiar, and when I punch this pistol out, that front sight naturally rests right between the blades on the rear sight.  I also like this version better than the models with integrated plastic grips.  This is thicker.  Oh yeah, that's better.  The fact that it is an automatic will also help training, as I can practice live magazine changes while shooting.  I can practice draws with it at the range, and just about anything I can do with my self defense or go to war (GTW) pistols.  The thing is that since it is a .22lr, I can do all my training for far less.  I do hate the magazine disconnect in this variation, but I can deal with it.  It's not a self defense gun so I'm not worried about the gun not firing without a magazine in a self defense situation.  This gun is a trainer.  It's good for me, my wife, and for my children when they get older.  Plus, at only $307, it makes economical sense.  500rds of .22lr is about $18, where 50rds of 9mm is about $15.  To shoot 500rds of 9mm, I'd have to spend $150 on ammo, which is half the cost of this gun.  Take this weapon out and dump 250rds a week and it will pay for itself in a couple months, including ammo.  That's value.

Of course, my wife doesn't want to shoot my gun.  And quite frankly, I don't want to take turns with her.  Heck, I want to shoot!  So, she is going to get something ideally suited for her little hands.

Since my wife's criteria for guns includes the cute factor, she's dead set on buying a pink pistol.  She knows it will cost more, but it's her money, and she can spend it how she feels.  While we were at the local store, she handled the Walther P22 and loved the feel in her hands.  It points naturally for her, and in her words, "It is like it was designed for my hands."

She is excited about this.  She's been wanting to really get into pistols, but her current lineup isn't conducive to shooting very often.  She does has a New Heritage Rough Rider in .22lr, and a Beretta 21a Inox, also chambered in .22lr.  Both are nice guns, but the NH revolver is an army style single action.  It's more of a novelty gun than a self defense gun or even a trainer for self defense.  The Beretta, as cool as it is, is sort of finicky and the sights really aren't ideal for a trainer.  She originally bought that gun because she wanted something that resembled my Beretta 92FS Inox, but in a smaller package.

Eventually, she may begin concealed carry, and even though the .22lr doesn't have a reputation for being able to kill or disable an attacker, there are a lot of dead people that have been killed by the .22lr that could debate that.  Plus, I'd rather she have 10rds that she could put down on target quickly and accurately rather than shooting something she can't handle.  And as her comfort with pistols grows, so will her confidence and skill.  Maybe, some time down the road, she will upgrade to something like a 9mm or even a 380 out of a medium gun, but for now, I'm satisfied to have her shoot .22lr and work on her proficiency rather than get into a contest of who can shoot the largest gun.  Clearly she can handle a large gun.  You ever see a 5ft tall, 100 lb woman shoot a 454?  Watch the video below and then you'll be able to say you have.



So, I know this entry is running long, but I had a lot of things to get out there so they don't bottle up in my brain anymore.  Stay tuned because I think this joint venture is going to happen very soon in 2012.

-James

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apocalypse Gear Knife Sheath

Back in February of 2011, I purchased a new survival knife for back country carry.  I wanted to treat myself, so I bought the very tough [and expensive] Fallkniven A1.  The knife itself is quite awesome.  It can baton wood as if it was going through a stick of butter, yet still shave the hairs off my forearm without irritation.  It's a workhorse of a knife.

The problem was the sheath that came with it.  It was a simple plastic thing with a piece of nylon webbing for a belt loop.  I've always been highly disappointed with the sheath that is normally shipped with the knife it is supposed to protect.  You would think that a company that retails their knife for $200 would invest some effort to putting together a sheath that would appropriately compliment the blade.

Well, after thinking about it, I decided I wanted to get a new sheath that would do the knife some justice.  I wanted something that would protect the knife, be easy to access and carry, and also look good.  After all, what's the point of having a really nice looking knife with a junky looking sheath?

After a little research, I found Apocalypse Gear, a local maker of high quality kydex sheaths.  Buying locally was important to me on this because there are so many makers out there that there really wasn't any reason not to.  

After a few email exchanges, I decided on what I was looking for, how I wanted it optioned, and had a price.  I paid $60 for my setup, but prices may vary due to the economy, so don't take my cost as gospel.  However, you can take the quality of this sheath to the bank!  What a fantastic piece!  

Along one side, rivets provide not only retention and strength, but give a place to either wrap para-cord, or secure it to your pack or leg.  The material used is a thick kydex that provides strength and protection from the elements, and won't expand or contract, or dry out from getting wet.  At the top of the sheath, a thumb push off has been thoughtfully placed, allowing a good draw of the blade.  The sheath is formed so that there is positive retention of the knife, so it will not fall out, even if carried upside down.

I opted to get a leather belt loop on my sheath as well as a large tek-lok.  This gives me a few options for carry.  When out using the knife, I prefer the carry the knife higher on my torso with the tek-lok attached to my belt.  But for packpacking, using the leather belt loop at the top is ideal because the knife will ride lower on my thigh, thus not interfering with my pack's waist belt.  Both the tek-lok and the belt loop can easily be removed, but the sheath is well contoured and doesn't require this for carry.  You can also remove a component if it becomes damaged and replace just that piece at a nominal cost instead of replacing the entire sheath.  Smart!  

The bottom of the sheath has a small drain hole so it will not hold water; this is an important consideration in the Pacific Northwest.  The rest of the sheath, along the knife's edge is firmly held tight and the quality of the finish work is fantastic.  The sheath, with the belt loop and tek-lok, weigh only a few ounces, so it's not a ton of additional weight to carry around.

Apocalypse Gear can create any custom sheath for you in a vast array of colors, for seemingly any blade.  If they do not have the knife you need, you can send your knife to them and they will custom make the sheath for your blade.  I was lucky, and the owner was able to make mine without the need for me to send him mine.  

You can also get a holder to hold a fire starter, and a pouch to carry your whet stone.  I opted not for these options at the time of purchase, but will probably get the firesteel holder later on.

I've carried this knife in the sheath and it is very comfortable.  I'm used to carrying pistols that weigh a lot more than my knife/sheath combination, so the weight of my knife and sheath don't bother me at all.  I have no problems drawing when carrying and no problems putting the knife back into the sheath when I'm done using it.  It's all one-handed, leaving me a free hand for whatever I'm doing.  

If you have a good knife, but have been disappointed in the sheath, as I was, I'd suggest giving Apocalypse Gear a shot.  You won't be disappointed.


-James

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

300 AAC Blackout

Finally, this is the answer to my 30 caliber prayers for the AR15. The 300 AAC blackout. It seems that all you have to change is the barrel. Everything else, including the bolt carrier, handguards, buffer, upper, lower, and even the magazines (including the followers) stays the same as the 5.56 version! I will be watching this one to see if the price goes down and to see the longevity of the rifles with this.



-James

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Upstairs Bedroom Makeover

Ah, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, eat well, spend time with family, and... paint?!  Yeah, you guessed it then.  Four straight days off means that Lindsay and I had some opportunity to blast through a quick makeover upstairs.  We converted her dungeon... err, office into a bedroom for our children!

Our daughter is finally ready to sleep in her own toddler bed, and my son climbs into and out of his crib with impunity, so it has become rather pointless.  Additionally, this puts the kids right next door to us upstairs, which adds a layer of security since we will always be close by.  One thing that bothered my wife about us moving upstairs was that my son was alone downstairs and it oftentimes disturbed her to think about how vulnerable he'd be if someone broke in the house in the middle of the night.

Well, fear no more because for the last month, Lindsay has been buying all we needed to make the conversion and do the swap.  Her office is now downstairs in what used to be my son's nursery, and the kids will spend their first night upstairs in the cozy, freshly painted bedroom, custom done just for them.

4 years of this ugly walled nonsense, and it is finally over! 

Oh, the hideousness!  Notice the unpainted pony wall out the door.  It is next.

The new bedroom, bathed in sky blue.  Light, airy, and comfortable! 

Second view of the door and closet.  Kept it simple and nice.

-James

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"100 LBS to Rainier," My 2nd Blog

I intentionally waited until I had some content on my new Blog, titled "100 LBS to Rainier," which is a record of my weight loss, exercise, and life style change.  The end goal is to lose a bunch of weight (not necessarily 100 lbs - it just makes for good reading) and then hike the entire 93 mile loop of the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier.

Check it out here: http://100lbstorainier.blogspot.com/

-James

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank a Vet!


-James

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Mythical Magic Bullet Debunked Yet Again.

This article debunks the notion of the magic bullet through an exhaustive study of calibers used in shootings over the course of years.  Read it!

http://www.defensivefirearmstrainingofcolorado.com/featured/caliber/

Still believe that a 45 really outclasses a 9mm?  It may look really crazy when shooting water jugs, but in the end, what handgun or caliber you choose really doesn't matter.  What matters is can YOU do the job?

-James

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Son's First Day of School

Ah, they grow up so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was holding a small newborn son, and now he is off to school for the first time! I'm proud of this boy!



-James

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dismissed

Today, I took time off work to head in to traffic court.  Yes, they had finally sent me a court date, long after the ticket I received, which was July 5, 2011.  I had plenty of time to prepare and research, and discovered that the RCW cited by the police officer was the wrong one.  I don't recall the RCW number exactly, but it covered right of way at an uncontrolled intersection - not a u-turn.

After 45 minutes of sitting in the courtroom, watching moron after moron dispute violations like driving with no insurance, licenses, talking on cellphones, and even someone arguing that they admitted they were speeding, but that they were doing a legal maneuver to get over onto a freeway on ramp at the last minute... and plenty of face palms, it was my turn.

The judge called my name, rattled off the case number and the violation cited.  I gave the judge plenty of time to read the police report and so forth, and I could see he looked a little perplexed.  He looked at me and said, "Do you have a statement to make regarding this?"

"Yes sir, I do." was my reply.  I gave him the reader's digest version of what happened, (reference my entry titled My Ramcharger Has a Broken Leg).  I then pointed out that I researched the RCW in which the officer cited me for, and stated that it does not apply to this case.  The judge pulled out the big book of RCW's and took a look.  He then looked at me, stamped my docket, and said, "It appears the officer cited the wrong RCW for this ticket, and as a result, I am dismissing it."

"Thank you, your Honor" was my reply.

Dismissed!

Ha!

Suck it!

-James

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two New Items on the Testing Bench

I'm knee deep in the torture testing phase of my Streamlight Scorpion X.  I'll post all my findings in another entry, but my initial reason for buying the light was to use as a weapon light for my AR15.  At $50, it seems to beat an expensive Surefire any day, but the verdict is still out on whether or not it will stand up to the abuse of being mounted on a bullet hose like an AR15.

Well in order to do this, I needed to buy a weapon light mount.  I considered all my options, and since this is preliminary testing of this light, I didn't want to spend upwards of $100 on a light mount.  I'm not taking the gun to combat - I'm simply testing the light.  What chassis is used to fix the light to the gun is not important at this point.  However...

Viking Tactics produce a quality piece of gear here, and at $30 shipped, it's a good price.  Initially speaking, the mount is very stout, especially being that it is plastic.  I know a lot of guys out there will give me shit for buying a plastic mount instead of metal, and they'll toss out all kinds of cliches and stuff like "You pay more for a reason" and "if you want to trust your life with it, you'd better buy something of higher quality like [insert expensive brand name mount here]!"

The fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter how much an item costs.  What matters is: does it work?  If it works well, then who cares if it didn't cost a ton of money, or have Daniel Defense or Troy or whoever's name etched on the side?  The bad guy sure won't know, nor do I think he will care once I "light him up," if ya know what I mean.  Besides, if plastic is a deal breaker for you, then you'd better consider selling your AR15 all together.  Last time I checked, the stock, grip, PMAG's, and even some people's BUIS are plastic.

I didn't buy the light mount with any intention of trusting my life with it.  It's just a vehicle to test various flash lights to see what one I want to run.  However, since I'm testing lights with this mount, I might as well evaluate this mount.


One thing I can say about the VTAC mount is I really like how close it keeps the flashlight body to the weapon.  It doesn't stick out a mile.  It looks really slick.  You'll have to pardon the use of tape to shim the flashlight.  Viking Tactics includes a shim that allows you to switch from 1" diameter flashlight bodies to .80" but the Scorpion's body is .90" in diameter.  Go figure.

Stay tuned.

-James

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 Pumpkin Patch

Today, we were fortunate to have a warm and somewhat dry day to get our children out to the pumpkin patch down at Spooner Farms, near Orting. Here's our kids doing what they do best - getting dirty!



-James

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maglite XL200 LED

Last August, I was cruising the Internet and just happened on a sale from CHIEF regarding a new flashlight offering from Maglite. It was their new XL200 LED light. It boasts 172 lumen's, and was on sale for $30, so I took interest. Noticing they had free shipping for this unit, I decided to click add-to-cart, and the rest was history. After waiting for what seemed like a long while (hey, it was free shipping after all), my light showed up to my doorstep. It was packaged in that usual sort of plastic packaging that seems to take way too much effort to open... that is until you remember to use a pair of scissors. The instruction manual was part of the packaging, so I did manage to snip a section of that off as I got into the package; no worries since the part I removed was written in French.

I took a good look at what came. The light itself has a nice sturdy aluminum body with Maglite's famous anodized coating on it. There was a battery tray that holds 3 AAA batteries. At first I thought it was a joke. How do you get 172 lumen's from just 3 AAA batteries? Most of my other lights use expensive CR123a batteries and they just suck the life out of them in no time! But Maglite insists that their new competitor can hang with the other guys.

Now, this light is not marketed as a "tactical light" per se. But I do think offers some features that all good flashlights ought to have standard these days. Before I go any further, I must put out the disclaimer that I'm by no means an expert on lights, nor can I verify the claim that this light can put out 172 lumen's. All I know is that when I click the switch on the tail cap, the light is very bright... well for a while anyway. That being said, I'm not going to bore you with technical specifics and a bunch of jargon. I won't whip out the light meter or a voltmeter to check current draw or any of that crap. That shit is all fine and well in the lab, but in the real world, what matter's is: does it work?!

Okay, let's talk about some of the stuff I think any flashlight coming out today should have:

1. Sturdy Housing. I hate plastic flashlights. For my money, nothing screams quality like something crafted out of aluminum. Aluminum doesn't rust, so even if the anodizing chips away and breaks off, the metal exposed beneath won't corrode as easily as steel would. Of course, aluminum does oxidize, but I've never seen it rust.

2. Water Resistant/Proof. Not all flashlights need be completely waterproof unless you plan on taking it diving, but at the very least, it should be able to withstand a quick dunk in a puddle or stream unaffected. It should, however, be weather proof, and by that I mean that you should be able to use it in all kinds of sloppy wet or snowy weather without it being affected in any way. The seals should be sufficient enough to protect it.

3. Chemical Resistant. Contact with everyday chemicals should not affect the flashlight negatively. With exception to the lens (which may fog if it comes in contact with something like Brakeleen), the seals and power switches should not be adversely affected by contact with skin, sweat, salt, motor oil, coolant, cleaners, etc. In my business, any light that would be affected by this is junk.

4. Good Battery Life. This is hard for high energy, high output lights to accomplish these days. Even the most expensive lights can burn through a set of CR123a batteries in just a few hours - even less if the brightness is at full power. On that note, any light that can operate brightly on less expensive, common batteries, like AA and AAA is at an advantage, even if that means sacrificing some light output.

5. Bright light/good reflector/good throw. Of course, any light can be bright, but I've noticed that some lights have really bad bulbs, reflectors, and on some LED lights, the LED light gets washed out further away. I've seen it with standard bulbs, krypton bulbs, LED's, etc. If your incredibly bright light can't throw it out where it is useful, what good is it?

6. Tail Stand. This is often overlooked, but it is so important to me. The ability for a light to tail stand makes it very useful for use when you can use the reflection of the light to help illuminate an area. As a wilderness light, or utility light, it is very important that it can stand on its tail and provide enough light for you to work hands free.

7. Stays Put. Round bodies make a flashlight roll. If you can add knurling, or machine in flats, or even add a rubberized cap over the bezel to keep the flashlight from rolling away, then that is a very good thing. Flashlights that don't stay put can get very annoying.

8. Size. Depending on the application, this may vary. But a good wilderness or utility flashlight should be pretty small. If I can put it in my chest pocket and forget about it until I need it, then that is compact. a flashlight I can stick in my back pants pocket and pretty much forget about until I need it is also compact enough to be useful. Of course, larger applications may call for a larger light. While my 4Sevens Micro123 blasts out over 170 lumen's and is the size of a film canister, my dim (by comparison) 4D Maglite LED lasts a lot longer, and can be used for self defense. Size matters, but size necessity is determined by how it will be used.

9. Ruggedness. I know this sounds like it should belong under the sturdy housing part of this list, and you are probably right. But I've seen some lights that look tough, but fall flat when it comes to internals. How much shock the internals can take is important because I don't know about you, but I do drop my flashlights from time to time.

10. Value. Value is going to ultimately be determined by the customer who bought the light. Paying an excessive amount of money for a light just because of the brand is not value - it's dumb. Getting something that works that doesn't cost an arm and a leg is value.

Okay, we have our list: 10 things that I use to see how well a light will measure up. Of course, your list may vary, but I use a flashlight everyday for my job, and I depend on them a great deal out in the woods and around the house. I may not be up on technical jargon, but I know what works and what doesn't. I also know that if a light doesn't get the job done, it gets relegated to becoming a teething toy for my son, or a baton to be tossed and twirled around by my baby girl. Well, on that note, some of my testing is done that way. Give it to a toddler. They will find its weakness soon enough.

There is only one gripe I have about the XL200; it's a roller. Yes, it has some knurling, which provides some traction while holding and operating, but if you lay it on its side, you will find out if your floor is level or not. This really sucks when you want to orientate the light to point at something you are working on when you need two hands to do the work. What Maglite needs to either do to fix this problem, or at least mitigate it, is to either machine in some flats so it doesn't roll, or do what Streamlight did and that is to have an optional rubber cap to put over the bezel that has flats built in to it. It just needs a little something to keep it from rolling away from you. Heck, even a pocket clip would be a vast improvement over the current design!

The light itself is exceptionally bright.  For something that operates on 3 AAA batteries, this is truly something special.  Maglite claims 2 1/2 hours of continuous light at maximum brightness.  For my work, with a lot of momentary usage, mixed with times where I need the light for 10-15 minutes at a time at varying output levels, I was able to get the batteries to last to acceptable levels of output for about 3 1/2 weeks of real world use.  That's not bad when you consider that my older Snap-On LED, which ran on two CR123a batteries lasted only a few days!  That light has since been retired due to the fact it went through batteries like a rabid wolverine in a hen house.  However, the endurance of this little Maglite is indeed impressive for the kind of work I do.  I suspect that continuous night usage, while camping or fixing your car on the side of the road, may yield different results.  In that case, extra batteries should be on hand - just in case (note: You should always have spare batteries, duh!).  But let's be honest here.  AAA batteries aren't exactly rare, nor are they very expensive.  I recently bought one of those large 40ct packs of Duracell AAA batteries at Costco for only about a tenth of a cent more per battery than the AA batteries turned out to be.  Now, if AA battery prices are your benchmark, then you can easily say that the AAA batteries compete pretty well.  The downside is that this unit requires 3 AAA batteries whereas other mini Maglites may need only two AA batteries.  But the cost benefit tips in favor of the XL200 in my opinion due to the better light quality of this powerhouse.  It throws a nice solid and consistent beam of light.

To the right, you can see a picture that I took of the hotel room I'm staying in for the next few days.  I know, it's kind of a dive, but I can't do anything about the accommodations that my company is willing to pay for.  That beam of light, reflecting off the door is approximately 25 feet away, and even though the camera doesn't pic it up, the room was actually pretty well lit; well enough that I had no trouble reading the words on the clipboard attached to the door.  A Maglite that takes 2 AA batteries would not stand a chance against this light.  In the pic, I used fresh AAA batteries out of the package that are good if used by 2017.  For a small light that fits in palm of your hand, I'd say that is exceptional.  At $50, I'd say that is a ton of value for the money.  When you factor in the low cost of usage from the small, readily available, and relatively inexpensive AAA batteries it uses, I'd say you have more than enough value to justify the up front expensive of this unit.

It's gets better too.  The tailcap switch is recessed into the back of the body so that while you can click it on and off with your thumb, it can still tail stand, which I find extremely important.  If say, for instance, the power goes out for a few hours.  You can turn this unit on and set it up on the coffee table and it will do an exceptional job of illuminating the entire room enough so that you can see and get around, even perform tasks in the dark, all without having to ever pick up the flashlight.  I would demonstrate this in a photograph, but unfortunately, the camera in my Samsung Galaxy Tab isn't that great.  Needless to say, if you doubt me, buy one for yourself and see how well it works.  It works the best when you have a nice high ceiling that is painted white; it illuminates a room like that very well.  Additionally, I never set a flashlight down on its lens.  I've accidentally left flashlights on and didn't notice until the lens melted away or cracked; that really sucks.  So, for me, it's either stored with the lens up or lying down on its side.

As for sturdiness, I can say this light is pretty tough.  Though I haven't dropped it from a building, or from a bridge, I have dropped it several times - some by accident and some on purpose.  I did toss it across a room a few times and it has even taken a dunk in a toilet bowl (by accident of course), and it seems to work just fine.  I've kicked it around, and have subjected it to chemicals like oil, grease, coolant, cleaners, diesel fuel, and other gases that I probably shouldn't have inhaled.  The seals look great; no problems there.  The lens has a good little scratch from something, but it doesn't distort the light beam at all.  Aside from a few small nicks and chips around the bezel and the tail cap, this light looks to be in good shape, appearance-wise.  Besides, a few nicks here and there add character to the light and give it a story to tell; that is, if it could tell a story.

I've saved the functionality of this light for last.  By now, if you are still reading, you are probably intrigued enough to go on.  While all these nifty features aren't as important, they are still cool, if you are into that sort of thing.  The light employs 5 functions and a lockout.  The lockout renders the light inoperable so that there is no chance of a negligent light discharge until it is unlocked.  I will list the other 5 functions in order of how many clicks it takes to select them:

1 click: Full power on.  However, the tailcap has an accelerometer built in, so if you hold the switch down, and then rotate the flashlight body in your hand, you can vary the brightness level from high to low.  It also remembers this setting until you remove the batteries.

2 clicks: Strobe.  As with the full power on mode, if you click it twice and then hold it, you can vary strobe speed.  This may come in handy if you need it to signal, but don't need it to cause the recipient to have a seizure.  Or you can keep it fast to disorientate an attacker or whatever.

3 clicks: Nightlight mode.  This causes the light to come on full strength (or whatever output you set it to when you turned it on originally) and then dim to an extremely low output when the light senses it is no longer moving.  Then, if it is moved suddenly, it goes back to full or preset power.

4 clicks: Signalling.  Simply click the button 4 times.  You don't need to hold it down.  When you rotate the body 90 degrees, it will either turn the light on or off for silent signalling.  Need to let the rebels know how the British are coming?  Easy, two flashes if by sea and one flash if by land.  Well, at least that's how they would have signalled Paul Revere if they had this Maglite then!

5 clicks: S-O-S.  Ah the good ole distress signal.  Three short flashes, followed by three long flashes, finished off with three more short flashes.  The signal repeats itself until the batteries die.  Add the fact that this light can tail stand, and you have a viable means of throwing a bright signal into the air that would be hard to miss at night.  Any wilderness light should have this function.

Will you need all this functionality with your flashlight?  Perhaps not.  I find myself using the on/off feature 99.9% of the time.  The other .1% was just function testing and showing it off to coworkers and friends.  Then again, I'm not lost in the woods, nor have I found the need to signal anyone, or use the nightlight in my tent.  But I have used functions similar to these with other flashlights, so I guess my experience with others translates over to this.  The Maglite XL200 isn't your daddy's old flashlight; it's better.

For more information on this light, check out the Maglite website.

-James

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hornady Zombie Max Ammunition!


Hornady has just introduced their new  ZOMBIE MAX ammunition... just in case.  There are seven caliber choices for this new green tipped ammunition: 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 223 Rem, 7.62x39mm, .308 Win, and of course 12 gauge.  And why not.  Those damned zombies aren't going to kill themselves!



-James

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Face Lift!

At the beginning of this year, I got a hold of a nice tall work bench to use as the centerpiece in my gun maintenance and reloading corner.  It is a section in my basement where an oil tank used to live.  Since getting rid of my old oil burning furnace and tank, the area in this section of the basement opened up quite a bit.  After careful consideration and a few "conversations" with my wife (more like "may I pretty please?"), I got the area cleaned up and ready to turn into a work station that I could use year-round.  This is a good thing because my garage gets terribly cold in the winter, and unbearably hot in the summer.  The basement remains about 65" year round.

The only problem was that I initially set it up all wrong.  I had this old wooden entertainment center down in the basement, and wanted to re-purpose it for storing my gun-related stuff.  Plus, a couple of the spaces are perfectly sized for storing plastic bins with which to keep fired brass for my future reloading venture.  I put the entertainment center in the corner with the work bench 90 degrees to it.  At first, it was okay, but it soon became apparent that I was going to hate the arrangement.  To keep the entire shelf available, I had to locate it approximately 20" away from the corner, creating a big wasted hole, and it drove me nuts.  Plus, I soon hated having all my junk just nagging at me from my left.  Plus, there is a large air duct that I was constantly hitting my head on; at first, I didn't think it would be an issue.  Lesson learned.  Things need to change drastically.

I was not happy with having to constantly turn around to get to my tools, located behind me and to my left.  The entertainment center, now converted gun crap storage, bothered me, the pipe sucked, and the whole thing just felt claustrophobic.  Now, I'm not really one to worry about such things.  I work in confined spaces all the time.  The only difference is I get paid to crawl into spaces that are clearly not intended for humans to be in - at all.  The reloading corner was supposed to be a place to relax and get away from it all.  Hunkered in the bunker, I was supposed to be able to beat the heat during summer because the basement remains cool all year long and get away from my wife's insatiable appetite for excessive heater use during the winter because it stays cooler than upstairs in the winter.  Alas, I needed a better option.  My solution came to me last Saturday when I decided to change things up a bit.

For starters, I got the entertainment center out of the way.  Now, it lives further to the left of my work bench, which was relocated to the wall that the entertainment was living at.  I also moved the tool chest to the corner to utilize that otherwise wasted space, and create a better flow for tool access.  While I was at it, I added more daylight style lighting via 6500K heat shop lights and painted the wall behind the work bench white so the lights could work better.  Now, feeling overwhelmed with so much white, I added a little color and flair with my Spencer's Gifts "Do not feed the zombies" artwork mounted in a Wal Mart poster frame. 

As you can see in the picture to your left, I still have some more work to do.  For starters, I need to complete the paint job on the wall and perhaps pull everything away to add a final coat.  The blue Sterilite containers will be replaced with a shelf that comes up to about the level of the window above them so I can keep the work space clear of things I'm not using (like the rifle cleaning rest you see hogging up a bunch of real estate).  The floor will remain the same, but will have anti-fatigue mats where I stand, and perhaps a tall enough stool so I don't have to stand all the time while working.  That Ikea chair isn't high enough to allow me to work at the bench.  Plus, a radio of some kind might help out too.  I need to run some wires with junction boxes and a couple of light switches to tie it all in together as well.  The nice thing about that is that the extra circuit used with allow me to rewire the lighting in the entire basement, as it is only one large room.  A few more pieces of art hanging on the white walls won't hurt either (and believe me, I've got a lot of cool stuff to hang up). 

Overall, I like this arrangement much better.  The entire space opened up and I'm utilizing another otherwise useless space behind my furnace, which you can't see in the pictures.  I intend to get a metal cabinet which to store powder and stuff safely.  Since the furnace is a new model, and totally contained, it is safe.  I also have to get a carbon monoxide detector to mount in this space since it is now totally usable.  I've been spending a great deal of time down here now that I feel like I have a much bigger space.  My wife likes it too because it is streamlined and not so busy.

Anyhow, as I've said, I still have some work to do, but this is a lot of good progress in a short time.

-James

Monday, October 3, 2011

Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News

From Fox News.com.

Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News


By John Lott
Published September 30, 2011
FoxNews.com

Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Politicians predicted disaster. "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence," Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty warned the day the court made its decision.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley predicted that we would "go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets . . . ."
The New York Times even editorialized this month about the Supreme Court's "unwise" decision that there is a right for people "to keep guns in the home."

But Armageddon never happened. Newly released data for Chicago shows that, as in Washington, murder and gun crime rates didn't rise after the bans were eliminated -- they plummeted. They have fallen much more than the national crime rate.
Not surprisingly, the national media have been completely silent about this news.

One can only imagine the coverage if crime rates had risen. In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year – back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago’s murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.
Meanwhile, the other four most populous cities saw a total drop at the same time of only 6 percent.
Similarly, in the year after the 2008 "Heller" decision, the murder rate fell two-and-a-half times faster in
Washington than in the rest of the country.
It also fell more than three as fast as in other cities that are close to Washington's size. And murders in
Washington have continued to fall.
If you compare the first six months of this year to the first six months of 2008, the same time immediately preceding the Supreme Court's late June "Heller" decision, murders have now fallen by thirty-four percent.

Gun crimes also fell more than non-gun crimes.
Robberies with guns fell by 25%, while robberies without guns have fallen by eight percent. Assaults with guns fell by 37%, while assaults without guns fell by 12%.

Just as with right-to-carry laws, when law-abiding citizens have guns some criminals stop carrying theirs.
The benefit could have been even greater. Getting a handgun permit in Chicago and Washington is an expensive and difficult process, meaning only the relatively wealthy go through it.

Through the end of May only 2,144 people had handguns registered in Chicago. That limits the benefits from the Supreme Court decisions since it is the poor who are the most likely victims of crime and who benefit the most from being able to protect themselves.
The biggest change for Washington was the Supreme Court striking down the law making it illegal to have a loaded gun. Over 70,000 people have permits for long guns that they can now legally used to protect themselves.

Lower crime rates in Chicago and Washington, by themselves, don’t prove that gun control increases murders, even when combined with the quite familiar story of how their murder rates soared and stayed high after the gun bans were imposed.

But these aren’t isolated examples. Around the world, whenever guns are banned, murder rates rise.
Gun control advocates explained the huge increases in murder and violent crime rates Chicago and Washington by saying that those bans weren’t fair tests unless the entire country adopted a ban.

Yet, even island nations, such as Ireland and the U.K. -- with no neighbors to blame -- have seen increases in murder rates. The same horror stories about blood in the streets have surrounded the debate over concealed handguns.
Some said it was necessary to ban guns in public places. The horror stories never came true and the data is now so obvious that as of November, only one state, Illinois, will still completely ban law-abiding from carrying concealed handguns.

Forty-one states will have either permissive right-to-carry laws or no longer even require a permit.
The regulations that still exist in Chicago and Washington primarily disarm the most likely victims of crime.
Hopefully, even the poor in these areas will soon also have more of an opportunity to defend themselves, too.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a Fox News.com contributor and the author of the revised third edition of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010)."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

NRA Plans Appeal in Federal Age Limit Case

I've always believed that if you are old enough to join the military, then you are old enough to buy a handgun. Responsibility has nothing to do with age. I've known some pretty mature 18 year olds in my life. On the flipside, I still know some 30+ year old people who shouldn't be allowed to have as much as a driver's license - nevermind the handgun.

NRA-ILA :: NRA Plans Appeal in Federal Age Limit Case


Friday, September 30, 2011

Yesterday, a federal judge in
the Northern District of Texas ruled that the federal ban on dealer sales of
handguns to adults from the ages of 18 to 20 does not violate the Second
Amendment. The National Rifle Association plans to file a prompt appeal of the
court's ruling to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.


"We strongly disagree with this ruling," said Chris W. Cox,
Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. "As we
said when we filed this case, adults 18 and up have fought and died for
American freedom throughout our country's history
. They are adults for
virtually every legal purpose under federal and state law, and that should
include the ability to buy handguns from licensed dealers to defend themselves,
their homes and their families. Our fellow plaintiffs in this case are
law-abiding and responsible young adults. We plan to defend their rights
to the very end."


The case is Jennings v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives. A related case challenging Texas' ban on issuance of concealed
handgun licenses to adults in the same age group is still pending before the
same court.


-James

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cold Steel Heaven


Here's a little knife viewing droolification for you.  Cold Steel's Recon 1 knife in all it's fantastic blade configurations.  From the top, you have the good ole clip point, 50/50 clip point with serrations, the tanto point (my personal favorite), and the 50/50 tanto with serrations.

Now, rather than handwrite out all the information on this fantastic little tactical folder, I will link Cold Steel's website and quote them here: http://www.coldsteel.com/recon-i.html

RECON 1® SERIES


"Cold Steel is famous for raising the bar in the knife industry and our Recon 1® tactical folders are setting a standard that's hard to beat. Why? Because they are as tough as nails and will cut like a chain saw! Every facet of their construction has been over engineered to make them as strong, durable and effective as humanly possible. The blades are made out of imported Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel that's been vacuum heat treated and sub-zero quenched and the handles feature G-10 laminate scales artfully contoured and scalloped for a terrific non slip grip. Plus, they are held together by the latest in high strength mechanical fasteners and further anchored by a 6061 heat-treated spacer. To complement their super tough blades and handles they are equipped with our revolutionary Tri Ad lock® (see page 4), which practically precludes lock failure.
To complement their tactical mission we have given each blade a tough, black, Teflon® finish. Our testing has shown this coating offers three major advantages for tactical blades. First, it helps the blade to resist rust. Second, it eliminates glare and light reflections, which may give its user away. And third, it's a superior lubricant, which causes the blade to slip through even tough material with markedly less friction. This means you can cut deeper and far longer than with a non-Teflon® coated blade. To make the Recon 1® as easy to open and carry as possible we have equipped each knife with a thumb disc and small extra strong pocket clip. This clip is completely ambidextrous so lefties please take note. What's more its small size doesn't abrade or irritate the palm under protracted use."

Okay, with a blade length of about 4" and a thickness of 3.5mm (1/7"), it is lighweight and thin enough to be maneuverable, but the Japanese Aus 8A stainless steel will be very strong for years.  The overall length is just over 9" long, and 5 3/8" handle is made of G-10 laminate.  Additionally, the entire knife is a shade over 5 ounces, which isn't bad for tactical use. 

The triad locking mechanism is something else.  When you click the link above, you will see a video of the Cold Steel guys putting 200 lbs of weight on the lock, and the knife didn't fail.  Awesome!  Cold Steel has a reputation for strong locking folders, and this Recon 1 is a great example of that.  Of course, you can also watch them hack through a 1" thick manila rope, which never seems to get old. 

All in all, at $104 MSRP, I might start trying to locate sources to get this knife a little cheaper.  This knife just looks plain cool and would look really nice tucked away in a MOLLE pouch.

-James

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blowing Crap Up and Jamming a Glock



A few coworkers and I had some spare time, some tannerite, a couple propane bottles, and guns. That's a recipe for fun.

Also, we managed to make a Glock 19 jam. Oh yeah, I'm diggin' that!

-James

20th Anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind


Today, I'm dedicating this blog entry to the memory of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana's epic release of "Nevermind," which sold more than 50 million copies, 25 million in the US alone.  This album was the quintessential grunge rock album of my entire teenage life.  While many others came and went throughout the 90's Nirvana's music stood the test of time and is still going strong today.

Here is a youtube video of the entire Nevermind album.  Enjoy! 



-James

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birthday Present For Me?

On the 22nd, I'll be turning 31 years old.  That's pretty much over the hill.  So, to celebrate my midlife crisis, I think I'm going to buy the rig you see on the left.  It's a chest rig manufactured by Tactical Assault Gear (TAG).  They call it the Marine Gladiator Chest Rig.  As you can see, it holds AR15 magazines; a lot of them.  The Ranger Green rig you see here is holding six of them.  That's 180 rounds of ammo around my waist!  That's a lot of firepower.  It takes home defense to a whole new level.

You can also see that it has MOLLE style loops sewn all over it so that I can add pouches if I want to.  A fold down bib over the magazines allows me to put something there too.  It has loops at the bottom for attaching crap as well.  Basically, this rig is built to keep me shooting without having to go back to the safe or the truck every time I need a new magazine.  The thick shoulder pads ought to help out in the weight distribution of the rig.

Another cool thing about this rig is that it also has an integrated hydration system, as shown in the image below.  Water is as essential to survival as anything else, and having 2-3 liters on your back should help distribute the load better by offsetting some of the weight of the magazines.  Of course, you can always add more pouches there if you want to.


The thing I like about this chest rig is that it is only a chest rig - not a full on plate carrier or vest.  Being that this rig is large, it can fit over everything from my snow parka to my Buddha belly down below.  TAG advertises the versatility of this rig being able to fit over body armor and such, while still maintaining a good tactical load out.  Okay, well that's fine.  I like it because I won't be tempted to OVERLOAD it with stuff like extra pouches full of unnecessary crap.  Just give me some AR magazines, a pistol, some pistol mags, and a good knife, and I'm set.  That's all I really need this for.  If the shit hits the fan, I want to grab this and go.  I don't want to be wasting time trying to figure out how to store magazines in a Jansport backpack or in the cargo pockets of my khakis.  No!  I want it all close to my torso because cargo pockets suck for storing stuff and my torso moves around the least when I'm walking, running, or moving around. 

Now, this rig is a bit pricey.  Coming in at a shade under $150 on Amazon.com and Opticsplanet.com, it's no small investment.  But in reality, a good modular vest will cost anywhere between $80-$120, and that's for a cheaper one.  Then you have to add pouches to it, and that costs more money right there.  Heck, a shingle that holds only 3 AR 15 magazines can run you $30-$40 by itself.  And to get the six magazines that the rig above carries, you'd have to buy two of them.  And then add them to your $100 vest.  That's $160-$180, and you don't even have the hydration pouch yet!  So, this rig is a good deal in the long run, and will suite my pseudo tactical needs perfectly.  I'm not looking for style points.  I'm looking for something that works.  TAG has received nothing but good reviews from people who actually make a living wearing this stuff and shooting bad guys - not some dumbass airsoft kid blogging from his mommy's basement somewhere in suburbia.

Anyhow, we'll see if I can get this puppy.  It really looks like a good deal.  Here is a video of this chest rig in action during a run and gun situation.  Enjoy!



-James

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blackhawk Rapid Adjust Two-Point Rifle Sling

I have spent the better part of a year trying to find a sling that would meet my needs for the AR15.  There are a lot of sling options out there, ranging in price and complexity.  What I wanted was a no-frills, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive sling for my weapon. 

I have used, and still have a good single point sling for my AR, and it has its place in my kit, but for general use, I don't like having my weapon dangle as freely as a single point option does.  I know the advantages a single point sling gives you, especially for reactive side shoulder firing and ease of maneuverability, but I'm not always in combat, and don't always have a need for those so-called "advantages." 

What I found at the local store is the Blackhawk Rapid Adjust Two-Point sling.  It's not just for the AR15, though that is a popular weapon for it.  The design of this sling means it could be used on any rifle or shotgun I own.  However, I wasn't shopping for any weapon I have - I was shopping for the AR.  This sling went on fairly easy.  There are no instructions that come with the sling, but the loops are straightforward.  After a little fitting, I was able to get it mounted how I wanted it and sliced the tails off and melted the ends so it would not fray. 

Wanting to utilize the quick detachment point on the Daniel Defense Omega Rail, I ran the front of the sling through a QD swivel and attached it to the fore end.  I like it here because the sling doesn't interfere with the grip or flashlight mount locations.  Plus, it allows the sling to have similar handling characteristics of a single point, while offering shooting stability that you get from a 2-pt sling.  When I drop the weapon from my hands, the rifle rests at an angle right across my torso in an ideal position.  For carrying and whatnot, the webbing on the sling is wider to help hold the load.  Even though I maintain a strong hold on my weapon when holding it, I still like having that extra width on the strap.

The part about this sling that I really like is the rapid adjust mechanism.  The picture of this is below:

Tug on the little draw cord, and the sling tightens up to help stabilize you for long range shooting.  Pull on the metal tab, and the sling extends for carry or to get around gear or to dismount.  It's a very easy system to use, and I found it coming in handy quite a bit.  However, it seems to me that as soon as I found my sweet spot, I stopped messing with the adjustment and kept on shooting.  The sling is very fast to use and is ergonomic.  About the only thing I need to change is how it mounts to the butt stock.  I plan on getting a QD attachment clamp so that the rear of the sling can quickly detach without losing final adjustment.  So, if I do want to use a single point for whatever reason, it's not a PITA to accomplish.  Overall, the quality is nice, the price is unbeatable (about $30) and the ease of installation seals the deal for me.

-James