Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kershaw 1555ti CRYO

I'm going to speak to this new knife, by Kershaw, but before I do so, I want to apologize for this low quality picture.  The knife is so new that there are no good pictures of it yet.

This is the Kershaw 1555ti CRYO, and it looks awesome!  It is an all steel knife with a cool looking Titanium carbo-nitride coating all over it.  The black hardware give it a cool look, like it was the brainchild of the Terminator.  The steel on the blade is 8cr13MoV, which is an all around good steel, especially for the price I was able to land on a pre-order.  Kershaw's MSRP is $49, which means the street price will likely be $25-$30.  The knife utilizes the same speedsafe opening mechanism that came on my Needs Work knife.  Being an all steel knife, this one uses a frame to keep the knife from folding in on you when you are working it.  I like the belly on the blade, and it appears to have a hollow grind.  The gimping on the top of the blade is similar to my Needs Work, which is okay, but not great.  Still, I love the overall look of this one and look forward to getting mine in the mail soon.

-James

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Mythical Ruger SR45

I was browsing my local gun shop to see if they had a Ruger SR22 pistol I could fondle.  No luck.  We got to talking about Ruger pistols though, and the guy mentioned that a Ruger SR45 was in the works.  I did a little research and have found a lot of forums talking about this, but much of that talk are rumors at best.  Apparently, the CEO of Ruger sent someone on the internetz an email saying they were developing one, but it takes time.  Now, supposedly that email was sent in April of 2011.  It's almost March of 2012, and SHOT 2012 is long over.  With the debut of the SR22 and a few other guns, it seems they may not release the mythical SR45 this year.  But they might.  Ruger likes to mix things up a bit and release guns at odd times during the year.  I just hope they build a ton of them before the debut because I don't want to wait 4 months like I did for my LC9.

-James

Thursday, February 23, 2012

DO NOT Yell At My Wife and Child!


I was in an Alfy’s pizzeria with my family.  My son, who has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a form of Autism, was experiencing some difficulties that were beyond his control, or anyone’s for that matter.

I feel I should preface my experience with the following explanation.  As a three-year old who has social and communicative delays, my son cannot always articulate his needs, and many times, he cannot get past something being done in the proper order, according to his 3-year old mind.  As his father, I have learned to deal with his autistic behavior and roll with his meltdowns and rituals.  Once he has something figured out in his head, nothing may deviate from it.  Otherwise, he experiences what my wife and I call a boxing match in his head.  Until he can work through the problem in that insanely wired head of his, the world as he knows it comes to an abrupt end.  I don’t expect anyone without an autistic child to understand.  A good example of our daily meltdowns would be going through doors.  He must open the door himself.  If it is too heavy to open, he freaks out.  If you try to help him, he freaks out.  If you try to open the door and walk through first, he freaks out.  Oftentimes, it is a meltdown waiting to happen.  The irony is that the only way to get him over it is to get him out doing it as much as possible.  You don’t lock a socially deficient child away; you get them out amongst people.  Even if they melt down, it is something you have to deal with in order to socialize them.  The same goes with doors, drink cups, forks, knives, getting into and out of a car seat, taking him to the park, eating dinner, going to sleep, waking up, brushing teeth, reading a story, changing a diaper, and on and on.  Everything is a ritual, and everything must be narrated ad nauseam or you risk a meltdown.  It is difficult.  It is especially difficult in a dynamic environment, where things are happening around you that you have no control over.  Interacting with other people, going to restaurants, and even walking through a parking lot brings around a lot of variables that we, as parents of autistic children, just cannot account for.  We are especially in tune with our children, but we aren’t perfect.  You surely aren’t perfect, so you can’t expect us to be… except we are more aware of our child’s surroundings than 90% of parents with “normal” children are.  Still, we cannot always be on guard 100% of the time.

As my autistic son’s father, I’ve gotten used to the stares, glares, and occasional snide remarks made by people who don’t know or understand my son’s situation.  I’ve become accustomed to people telling me make my kid be quiet, or offer their uneducated advice (I’ve never received a piece of advice from anybody that would have had a favorable outcome – chances are I’ve already tried it before and it failed miserably).  You get used to people shooting you nasty looks or making comments just loud enough for you to hear, but not necessarily said for you to respond to.  I’ve learned to ignore most of it.

There are times when you can’t ignore it though.  A recent experience I had was in the parking lot of a big box hardware store.  My son was flipping out for some reason or another – I really don’t know nor do I care.  Everything for him was going wrong.  He was put in the cart in the wrong order, his blanket was on the wrong side, his cup was empty, or the sheer fact that I looked at him the wrong had set him off, and he was in a full meltdown.  He was in the cart screaming his head off; let me tell you, this boy has some pipes!  As I stood there, just outside the store, waiting for him to calm down, a woman came up to me and said, “It looks like you need some help.”  This wasn’t just a polite offering, oh no.  This was in that bitchy tone of voice that makes men’s skin crawl.  I told her to mind her fucking business.  In fact, I knew exactly what I was doing.  I was ignoring him because by doing so, I was giving him a chance to work out in his mind whatever needed to be worked out.  This woman came up and injected herself into the situation and made him melt down even worse.  If she had minded her business and walked away, he might have calmed down, but the fact that she entered into the situation by engaging me, made things worse.

Another instance was at a local sporting goods store.  My son was having a heck of a time with a door, as we always seem to have.  This woman, who works the register, came over and thought she was being helpful by attempting to hold the door open for him.  She wasn’t helpful at all.  Eventually, she gave up trying to help my son, and he got over it himself.  Now, I don’t fault this woman – she was trying to be nice.  But she had no business getting involved.

That’s the key.  When you see a kid having an uncontrollable meltdown, and their parent is just standing there administering what I call TTT (Temper Tantrum Therapy), just mind your own business.  I know it sucks listening to a kid scream, but chances are that if you are a parent, someone else had to hear your kid(s) scream at some point or another as well.  And if you aren’t a parent, then I submit that you stay very far away because karma is a mean bitch, and if you start lecturing me on how it’s my responsibility to get my kid in line, karma will bite you in the ass and bite down hard!  Don’t get involved.  It’s not your problem.  Stay away from it, don’t stare, and mind your own business.

Unfortunately, you cannot be told how it is.  Like The Matrix, you have to experience it for yourself.  But I hope that this short description helps to clue you in somewhat to the monumentally difficult task it is to be a parent to one of these children.  The sad thing is that as far as Autism goes, my son really isn’t that bad.  Imagine a kid with full blown non-verbal problem, no communication, strange self-stimulation gestures, no eye contact, etc.  Unless you have experienced this at length, you really can’t know.  It’s like combat, in a parental sort of way.

Getting back to the story, my son was in a full blown meltdown at the restaurant.  My wife knew that taking him outside would be an epic fail because she watched me try it twice without favorable results.  Since it is a family restaurant, and there were a ton of kids there anyway, she decided to take him over to a corner that was relatively secluded and quiet so she could give him time to regain his composure.

A man, who was sitting a few tables down, started to get annoyed at this, and motioned for my wife to take my son outside.  The only problem is that would not work because of the door he’d have to come back through.  She chose to ignore him; we’ve all seen people like him before and ignoring them usually works.  At this point, the man came up to my wife and told her she was being disrespectful to him by letting my son scream in his presence.  Lindsay tried to explain that our son has Autism and couldn’t help it, but the guy said that she needs to get my son outside and as far away from him as possible, or he’d talk to the manager and have us thrown out.  My wife looked him dead in the eyes and said, “DO IT!”

All this accosting had done to the situation was make it worse.  By coming up and yelling at my wife and yelling at my son, the man had frightened him and wound him up even worse, to the point where now instead of just pounding his fists on the floor and working his problem out, he was cowered in the corner underneath a candy dispenser, fearing for whatever it is that a 3 year old fears for.  I may not be 3 years old, but if some giant, 4 times my size came up and started yelling at me, I'd be fearing for my life.

Up until this point, I was at the table in our reserved room (we were attending a birthday party for a friend), oblivious to what had just taken place.  I was watching our daughter, who was already feeling a little anxious because my son was screaming and “Mom” wasn’t in the room with us.  Someone came in the room and told me that a guy was yelling at my wife and son.  At this point, I immediately stood up and looked across the establishment.  I could see my wife, but no one was talking to her.  I asked one of the mothers to watch my daughter for a minute, and walked over to assess the problem.  By the time I got there, the man, an older guy in his 60’s was complaining to the manager.  I looked over at Lindsay and asked her if that man was yelling at her and she said, “Yes.”

I immediately walked over and with my arms crossed, I announced myself as the boy’s father.  The manager acknowledged me, and the older man immediately started in about how I need to train my kid not to scream out in public.  I told him my son has a disability and cannot help himself and that my wife was handling the situation.  It was not good enough for the man because he told me it was disrespectful for me to allow my son to scream in public and that it is my fault that his dinner was interrupted.  He actually told me he came to this establishment for a “quiet dinner.”  That’s like going to Chuck-e-Cheese to get some peace and quiet!  You don’t come to a family restaurant where there are children aplenty and expect a quiet meal.  Again, I told him my son has Autism and we will take care of it.  He told me that I needed to leave.

At this point, I was starting to get extremely aggravated, but I remained calm.  I told him he sounds like he’s never been a parent before.  He said he was.  I cut him off at this point and asked him if he’s ever raised an Autistic child.  He told me that he didn’t even know what Autism was, but it still wasn’t an excuse to let my kid scream in public; it’s disrespectful to him, the establishment, and everyone around us.  I quickly looked around, only to see 3 or 4 other kids screaming and carrying on elsewhere in the place.  I looked back and him and said, “Fine, do you have a suggestion?”  He suggested taking him outside or into the bathroom.

WRONG!!!

Both would have ended in disaster.  We’ve already established my son’s door issues, so no need to beat that dead horse again.  My son also doesn’t like bathrooms.  I don’t know why.  He just doesn’t.  We avoid them like the Plague.  I quickly dismissed his suggestions as misguided and naive, and to that he told me I should leave.  I told him I have as much a right to be here as he does and I wasn’t about to leave, especially since our food was bought, paid for, and sitting at our table.  I also told him that since he admitted to not know what Autism was, he was not qualified to speak on the subject, and to leave my wife and son alone.

At this point, the manager stepped in and sort of broke us up.  Apparently, I was only a few inches from this guy’s face.  I didn’t even realize it.  My wife also said I never raised my voice, but boy was I ever being stern with this guy.  Well no shit!  Just get in my wife and son’s face and see how well I take it.  That’s my family!  That’s my wife!  That’s my son!  You don’t fuck with mine and expect me to react with political correctness and politeness!  You will get what is coming for you.  If that means I get in your face and tell you how it is without regard to your sensibilities, then that is it.

After the manager broke us up, he told the guy to go back to his table and ignore us.  The man, obviously upset and defeated, reluctantly went back to his table.  After that, the manager came up to me and told me it was quite alright, and that he had no intention of throwing us out.  He also said that he sees this all the time, and that a crying child is nothing new to him, especially in an establishment that caters to families with small children, birthday parties, baseball teams, and Cub Scout pack meetings.  I did apologize to the manager for the trouble, but he said it was okay and that I had every right to defend what was mine.  He was going to forget it ever happened.

Now, I didn’t get the manager’s name, but I give him big props because he did the right thing.  Nobody in the restaurant seemed to have an issue with my son crying – only this rigid old fart who was completely out of touch.  Even if the old guy was a parent at some point in his miserable life, he was probably one back in the 60s or 70s when father’s did not take a big part in the parental matters and just worked 40 hours a week, only to come home and read the paper; and deliver the occasional beating when the kid’s got to be more than Mother could handle.  That’s kind of how I was raised by my parents, and I was a child of the 80’s!

After all was said and done, I was getting ready to scoop up my son, who was now finally calmed down. (experience has taught my son that if he's scared, he no longer has to be when I'm around because the monsters are afraid of me - at least that's what I tell him) I was getting ready to take him back to our table when another dad stopped me and said, “Just so you know, none of us mind that your son was crying at all – all kids cry.”  I was glad to know that.  After I looked up, I could see the looks of approval from a lot of adults there, and felt vindicated for stepping in when I did.

There are two things in this world that you just do not do: 1, you don’t yell at a woman you do not know, especially a mother.  2, you don’t yell at a child with disabilities.  This asshole broke two cardinal rules of social ethics and paid the price in the form of the 6’3”, 250 lb father of said child lighting him up in public, and getting the restaurant manager on his side in the process.

I cannot even begin to describe the kind of restraint I had to put forth to keep from yelling his head off.  Fortunately, I kept my cool and point/counterpointed the argument with near perfect execution.  The smiles and nods from some of the other parents in the joint helped solidify my position in this matter.  I’m sure they also felt somewhat vindicated as well because all parents deal with the occasional asshole that won’t back down from time to time.

-James

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Customer Service - Or a Lack Thereof

HP Pavilion G6 Laptop (NIB)
Usually, I try to find something clever to say as the opening line in a blog entry, but I'm going to just get straight to the point.  Customer service is a joke these days.  I mean, really, why is it so difficult to have something made right when you paid good money to receive something that either broke within a warranty period or arrived broken or with missing pieces?!

The latest fiasco we have found ourselves in is this new computer that my wife had ordered from QVC - a HP Pavilion G6 laptop.  My wife opened up the box only to find a gnarly dent in the laptop lid and a huge crack that went from the side of the screen frame up to the screen.  It's totally useless.

Here's where the shit starts getting deep.  Lindsay originally contacted HP about this to see if she could get it replaced under warranty or have repair parts shipped to her so she could replace them; my wife is handy with a screw driver.  HP said that they consider it an accident and would not cover it under warranty.  She'd have to return it and put a $200 deposit down to get it repaired.  What the fuck?!  She didn't even break it, and HP expects her to pay to fix something that arrived broken?

So, she decided to contact QVC.  Since my wife didn't actually purchase the item (my mother did for her), the QVC rep didn't even want to talk about their return/replacement policy, and she cited that it was "proprietary information," as if it was some secret document that could end the world if it was leaked to the public.  After arguing with the "customer service" rep, they changed their mind and told her the policy.  Basically, she'd have to send it back and put a new on on hold because the pink one my wife ordered might not be in stock and they don't know when it will be... yadda yadda yadda.  So, instead of making it easy and just saying "Please return it and we will replace it," they made it into some convoluted mess of bullshit that it really didn't have to be.  Of course, my mother had to call to get this rectified because my wife didn't actually buy it.  It could take weeks.  So instead of doing the right thing and making an attempt at customer service, the person on the other end basically told my wife there was nothing that could be done.  Too bad, so sad.

It seems that this crap is happening more and more these days.  Last year, we ordered an Amana portable air conditioner on wheels.  It has a hose that gets put into a window to blow the hot air out while cooling the room inside.  The hose get mounted to a panel that gets installed in the window frame.  The only problem was our unit didn't come with the damned panel!  Useless!  After calling the customer "service" number on the back of the literature, I had to jump through a ton of hoops in order to get a freaking panel.  I could have gone out to my garage in that time and just cut a new one out of a sheet of aluminum that I had!  But I'm a snob like that.  When I pay over $250 for an item, I expect... no, I DEMAND that it comes to me intact and ready to go!

We once bought a Coleman Northstar lantern from Fred Meyer.  We were on our way out to go camping, so we didn't unpackage it before taking it out.  When we got to the campsite and had everything else set up, it was starting to get dark, so I unboxed the lantern and assembled the propane tank onto the lantern portion.  I then noticed that the mantle in there looked burnt up and damaged.  Holy crap!  It doesn't work like that.  Fortunately, I was able to get by on another mantle that I had for an older lantern.  It worked in a pinch.  But that was the frigging problem!  I spent over $50 on that damned lantern!  I shouldn't have had to make it work in a pinch, especially brand new out of the box!  After our trip, we returned it to Fred Meyer and exchanged it for a new one.  Before taking the new one home, I unboxed it to make sure everything was there.  When I asked why Fred Meyer obviously doesn't inspect returned items, the lady said, "We implicitly trust our customers."  I told her that, "Perhaps it was time to modify that policy."  We didn't even get an apology for receiving damaged goods.

I know, white people problems.

This latest catastrophe had me thinking of a recent experience I had at a hardware store.  I couldn't remember at first, but as I was running on the treadmill at the gym, I had time to stew it over in my brain, and I remembered exactly what I was doing.  So, I was in a hardware store (Home Depot, if I recall correctly), and I was looking at a Milwaukee drill.  I took the box off the shelf and opened it up to inspect all the parts inside.  An employee came up to me and said, "Sir, you cannot open the box until you purchase it." I lit his ass up. "Do you know how many times I've bought something at the store and come home only to find it missing pieces or it was broken?!"  He had nothing to say and just walked away... probably to call security.  But in my mind, I was in the right.  You think that only mail order stuff comes to you damaged because UPS throws the parcels around in the distribution center before throwing them in the back of the big brown truck only to be bounced around and tossed on your doorstep by some 20-something wearing brown shorts and hiking boots?  Think again.  I've actually had more stuff broken or missing pieces from the store!  That makes sense since most of the stuff I buy is from a store.  The fact is that I didn't just want a damned drill; I needed that drill for a job I had to do that morning.  This was for work, and I was on the clock.  I wasn't about to take any chances of having a defective piece of equipment follow me to the jobsite.  Hell, if they had an outlet available, I would have plugged it in and function tested it too!

The only time I've actually had excellent customer service was when I returned my LCP to Ruger.  They not only emailed me a shipping label so I could ship it for free, but it was returned within 2 weeks with a full explanation of what they found and what they fixed.  When I called back to get some followup questions asked, the woman on the other end was very friendly, funny, and knowledgeable.  I never had as good a service experience prior, nor have I had one since.  Everyone else seems to suck.

-James

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shotgunnery Solutions

SOE Gear 12 Gauge Micro Rig
We live in an amazing time.  Quite often, if you have a problem, someone else has come up with a perfect solution to it, and you can buy it!  While thinking of my shotguns, it dawned on me that I don't really have an ideal solution to the biggest problem that a shotgun faces - capacity, or the ability to keep that puppy fed.  Now, if you only think that you will just need a few rounds in the tube and maybe some extras on the side saddle, then that is your prerogative; I like to think more into these things than the average Joe does.

My first thought was to get a dedicated shotgun rig, like the one above from S.O.E Gear.  This is their 12 gauge micro rig.  Quite simply, it's a small chest rig that places 24 rounds of shot shells at your fingertips, and also features a utility pouch to store other "essentials" in.  Having that much ammo on hand would give a fantastic advantage when it comes to keeping a shotgun fed.  It is much better than using a sling to hold shells in place.  Those things suck.  I speak from experience, as I have two of them.  They move around too much and the ammo is never in the same place, so you lose precious seconds swinging that thing around to find fresh rounds.  And forget about sectioning it off for buckshot, slugs, or bird shot.  Under stress, you'll never keep track of that.  The kit above will help with all that, but at $140, it's a little more than I'm willing to shell out right now.  Don't get me wrong - I still have it pinned to my wishlist at pinterest.com.  Maybe someday, when my tactical dollars aren't being stretched so thin, I will get one.  For now, I need a more economical solution.

TAG MOLLE Shotgun Shell Rack
  Along comes Tactical Assault Gear, and their newest offering for shotgunners like me.  This is the MOLLE Shotgun Shell Rack, and it is priced just right.  At $24.95 (okay okay, $25), this offers a low cost solution for my system.  I don't run my shotgun as a primary weapon.  The last time I checked, I only carried one long gun at a time anyway; my rifle or my shotgun.  That's fine though because this rack can be installed on my TAG Gladiator Chest Rig for when I want to train with my shotty, and then removed (or ignored) when I want to train with my rifle.  My chest rig has plenty of MOLLE webbing on the front of the AR15 magazine pockets, which will accommodate this shotgun shell rack.  Since my chest rig sits so flat to begin with, this rack won't stick out so obtrusively as to get in the way of me getting into and out of my truck, or going prone, or just moving around with my gear hung off my body.  The only interference issue I could encounter is from the TAG Universal Pistol Mag pouch that I just bought.  I haven't even received it yet, so I can't speak to its size, relative to the chest rig itself.  Conceivably, it should only take up 3 vertical slots on the webbing, but that's pure speculation at this point.  The chest rig has a lot of real estate on it, and I want my pistol magazines to be as far to the left as I can get without interfering with my knife.

TAG Universal Pistol Mag Pouch (Enhanced)
I have two solutions to this possible issue, should it become an issue.  I could either mount the shot shell rack on the right hand side, or play the swapping game whenever I want to play with my shotgun.  Because of how I used to carry my shot shell sling, mounting the rack on my right would not be an issue because my hand naturally gravitates to that direction for reloading.  It's all about consistency.  If the thing is in the same place every time, and I can get to it quickly, where it is placed really doesn't matter as long as it is there when I reach for it.  It's the same story for my holster, which I mounted on the rig.  It's rather high, compared to where I was used to carrying it, but I wanted the holster there instead of requiring myself to use a belt or a drop down thigh rig.  I wanted it all compact and there to just "grab and go" for emergencies.  Instead of being burdened by a ton of different pieces of gear, I need only one.  Long story short, after putting it there and wearing it around for long periods of time, and practicing draws and reholster drills, it became second nature for me to have the holster tucked up high on my right side.  Just for kicks, I wore my chest rig to a Halloween party with my Beretta M9A1 sitting inside the holster, and it didn't bother me one bit.

You'll have to forgive my size in the picture.  I was 50 lbs heavier when that picture was taken.  If you can't already tell, I was a zombie hunter for Halloween.  If there was a contest for the most expensive costume at the party, I would have taken first place easily.  The $600 Beretta alone would have put me well ahead of the pack.  I've only got 4 magazines sitting in the rig in that picture, but if you can imagine one more on either side, you can see how well distributed and balanced the rig is.  As I'm 50 lbs lighter and a lot skinnier, the entire rig comes in and hugs my body much better than when I first bought it.  Placement of a shot shell rack on the right hand side would put my arm at a perfect 90 degree angle for reach.  If my upper arm was pointed straight down and held tight to my body, my forearm comes right across the middle of where that chest rig sits and I can touch just above where my appendix is located.  Either way I choose to go, I will need to first see if it works in a controlled environment, and then get out and train with it in the real world to identify flaws in my theories and iron out the kinks.

I don't plan on getting into a combat situation anytime soon, so I have time to figure out what works for me.  As long as I can afford to feed this system and get it working for me, then I'm happy with figuring it all out.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

-James

Sunday, February 19, 2012

XS Shotgun BIG DOT

Last summer, I threw down some money and bought some cheap insurance.  No, I didn't switch to Geico; I purchased the venerable Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun.  This is a weapon I highly recommend to new shooters and those interested in a no-nonsense, easy to operate, simple to maintain, and intimidating as hell weapon.  As far as value for your dollar goes, a simple shotgun like this will stretch your tactical dollars a long way, and you can have a very effective weapon system for very little initial investment.  When it comes to home defense, I have my pistol in my bedside safe, but if I have time, I will go for my shotgun in the cabinet across the bedroom.  Loaded with nothing more than bird shot, this shotgun is powerful enough to get the job done at in-home distances, but won't over penetrate if I miss; this is especially handy because I don't want to kill my kids sleeping in the room next to mine.

I've already added some functionality to the weapon in the form of the Mesa Tactical 8-shot receiver-mounted shell carrier.  I'm actually surprised I haven't written a review on it.  Guess I will soon enough.  I also have plans on replacing the stock, which I think sucks.  Indeed, plans are in the works to make this weapon more ergonomic to fit my shooting tastes.

Another important issue that I intend to address is the bead sight up front.  No, I don't plan on installing a ghost ring on the rear, or any big sighting system with protective ears.  That's not how I shoot.  I'm effective out to good ranges with nothing more than a bead sight.  So why change?  Well, the bead sight is small, and it is impossible to see at night.  Now, even though the shotgun is very forgiving, you still need to aim and fire this weapon, like any other.  A shotgun is not a point and shoot gun.  People may think it is, but to them I say watch fewer movies and shoot more clay pigeons at 25 yards.

After some research, I found an economical solution, which requires no modification to the weapon itself.  I'm not a huge fan of modifying weapons to work.  If something can be bolted on, stuck on, epoxied in some way, then I'm going to go for it.  I can always go back later if I don't like it.  The sights on the right are made my XS Sight Systems.  They are the Big Dot shotgun sights.  These are front sights that simply adhere over the bead sight.  They come in three varieties, shown left to right: pedestal bead sight, vent rib, and plain barrel.  In particular, the one that I'd go for is the pedestal mounted sight.  As you can see in the first picture above, my shotgun has a pedestal mount for the bead.  These sights feature a big white ring that surrounds a tritium insert.  This makes the sight highly visible in the daytime for faster target acquisition than the bead, and it's bigger.  The bigger, better contrasting sight will make it easier to get on target and make the shot.  The tritium insert is a glass vial that makes the sight glow in the dark.  Tritium gas glows naturally and does not need to be charged up by holding it to light, like some stick on sights do.  Thus, you can store the gun in a dark safe, and when you take it out at night, it's ready to go.

This picture shows the sights mounted on different barrel profiles.  You can use any type of epoxy to mount it.  Brownells advertises that these can be installed with their Acraglas, but there are folks on shotgunworld.com that have used J-B Weld epoxy with satisfactory results.  So, if you don't want to spend $200 on epoxy to mount a $60 sight, then you might consider spending $6 and get a small tube of J-B Weld.  It will do the job you want for a lot less money.  You could also have the sight soldered on by a gunsmith, but again, you'll be spending more money, and it may or may not hold as well as epoxy.  Modern epoxies are very durable.  I've used J-B Weld on many applications.  From fixing slats on a futon bed, sealing a ruptured fuel tank, mending delicate porcelain, to joining two pieces of metal in order to stop squeaks and rattles, J-B Weld has never let me down.  I highly recommend this cost-effective solution.

Credit: M24shooter on SGW.com
Here is an example of the sight mounted on a plain barrel with J-B Weld.  The user mixed up a small batch of epoxy and adhered the sight to the shotgun barrel over the bead.  He then used a clamp to hold it all down until the epoxy cured.  Before hardening, he wiped the excess epoxy that squeezed out from under the sight.  Another shooter did the same thing to his gun and the sight has stayed put after hundreds of rounds fired.  That's an important note because 12 gauge shotguns are punishing weapons.  If the epoxy can hold up to hundreds of rounds of shot, then it's a strong bond that you can count on to stay put and not shoot off or break.

So, you may ask, "Why not a rear sight?"  Well, I just don't need one for my shooting.  Depending on how high the sight will sit on my shotgun, I may invest in a picatinny rail with an integrated ghost ring, but that would only be to bring my point of impact (POI) in relation to my point of aim up (POA).  As it is right now, I haven't noticed my POI being lower than my POA.  If the gun does start shooting really low at 25 yards, then the addition of a rear sight will help that because it will allow me to increase the rear sight elevation and bring up that POI.  For my shooting needs, 25 yards is a good distance.  That's 75 feet away.  The longest distance in my house (from the front of the living room to the back of the dining room) is only 45 feet, or 15 yards.  That's still well within my comfortable pistol distances, so a shotgun at that range is a slam dunk.

Another reason I don't feel I need a rear sight (opinion subject to change) is that a bead sight is fast by itself. You can easily acquire a target with a bead sight (or in this case, a big dot sight) without the need for a rear sight.  The receiver on my shotgun has grooves machined into it, which help me align the sight if I need to.  If I wanted to start driving slugs into an 8" steel plate at 100 yards, I imagine a rear sight would help out a lot, but in 31 years, I've never had to shoot a slug at that distance.  Again, my opinions can, and do change with experience.  As my shooting evolves, I remain open-minded to things that I experience today that I wouldn't have considered yesterday.  But for now, for what I do and how I shoot, adding a big dot in lieu of the bead offers advantages I currently don't enjoy with my shotgun: higher contrast, bigger sight, and night sight capability.  For $60, it's hard to pass this up.

-James

Monday, February 13, 2012

Shootin' Steel

It seems that everyone is shooting at steel these days.  I can't spend 5 minutes on youtube before finding somebody shooting at a steel plate with a rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc.  Seeing the videos makes me want a steel target so badly.  The instant feedback of that bullet pinging off the steel plate excites me, and I'm only watching it on a 4 1/2" screen!

I made up my mind to go looking for a steel target.  I soon discovered that a lot of people are wanting a lot of money for their targets, and even more for the stands to put them on.  After being very disappointed, I decided that I would just shoot paper and clay pigeons until the price of the targets come down considerably.  Steel targets, like anything else popular, are experiencing a price bubble, and many vendors are cashing in on the popularity of this shooting phenomenon.

To my surprise, I was able to find a local guy who is putting together steel target stands with an 8"x8" square sheet of 3/8" thick AR500 steel, which is the more common steel being used by shooters all over.  This man, like myself, wanted to shoot something with more immediate feedback and fun, but didn't want to pay outrageous prices in order to get a target to shoot at.  Armed with a welder and some steel he acquired, he set about making his own target stands and targets to shoot at.  After hitting the range a few times, he realized that there may be a market for high quality, low priced targets like this, and he decided to make some more and put them on a local classified forum called Seattleguns.net.  As I was browsing the board, I came upon the targets he was offering.

The price was right at $60, which includes a stand and the target square.  The target is held up by a simple, but effective 2x4, which is anchored in place with set screws that he provides.  The wooden 2x4 makes the stand rebuildable by replacing the wooden section, should you shoot it out.  The target area, which measures 8"x8", is  ideal for the kind of shooting that I do, which is a balance of speed and accuracy.  Of course, with the right gun, I can put one ragged hole in the middle of any target at a given range, but for self defense shooting, I prefer to shoot for a balance of speed and accuracy, ensuring as many accurate hits in a given amount of time.  I plan on purchasing a couple more of these targets, and after speaking with the gentleman who made them, we came up with an idea for another stand that will hold clay pigeons.  My days of shooting clay pigeons on the ground may be over.

This is the target stand as you buy it.  It includes the stand and the target square, all of which are durably welded up to withstand the shock of repeated shots from any weapon.  The seller claims that he can shoot the plate with a 300 Win Mag at 75 yards without damaging the steel, which he did provide pictures of with a test sample he acquired.

This is a stake pocket that the 2x4 fits into.  Notice it is welded and a drilled and tapped hole accepts a set screw to hold the wood in place.

On the back side of the target, another stake pocket is welded with another set screw to hold the target on the stand.

Your 2x4 goes in and gets secured in place.  I painted my 2x4 black using Duplicolor VHT black header paint.  For lack of better reasons, it is more visually striking for the camera.  As for the paint itself, it's what I had in my garage at the time.  Looks good!

The top of the stake pocket.  Notice the metal strap going across to keep the target from falling down, should the set screw shoot loose.

Please forgive the look on my face.  I wasn't exactly prepared for the camera to shoot so soon.  This picture is for reference to actual size.  I'm 6'2" tall and my SR9c is in front of the target square.  My 2x4 is 5ft tall.  You could get multiple targets and set them up at different ranges with different height 2x4's to serve the needs of your shooting setup any given day. Again, the 2x4 allows maximum versatility for shooters with different heights, damage from hitting the wood, and for travel by disassembling, making the target very compact.

Since I did not have an opportunity to take it out shooting with real guns yet, I took some pot shots at it with my BB gun from across the yard.  As you shoot it, you can easily reset it by repainting the target area or changing out stick on Shoot-n-see style targets.  Nevermind that really low shot.  The gun was only pumped 3 times for that one.  The rest were 5 pumps.

As more targets become available, and my friend's hobby becomes more of a business, I will have more information on how you can get one of these bad boys for yourself.

-James

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Evil Black Rifle


I was browsing youtube today, and came upon a 5 year old video of a news report on the AR15, or "black rifle," as they said continually.  It was a report on the popularity of this gun and how some groups are "concerned" that it could be a problem in America.  The DC Sniper was talked about briefly, as they showed a representation of the Bushmaster AR used by him, and of course there was some bitch talking about how these are battle rifles and were designed to be used that way.  Already on the verge of wanting to punch the computer screen, the news reporter talked about some of the evil features that opponents of this so-called "assault rifle" has that make it more deadly than, say a Ruger Mini 14 ranch rifle.  I know that this subject has been talked about ad nauseam, but I want to go over some of these evil features and speak to them from my point of view.

I'm going to start from the business end and work my way back, as that is the order in which a bad guy might find himself staring at my rifle.

Flash hider: Some might call it a flash suppressor.  It is designed to lower the visual signature of the weapon as it is firing.  Somehow, a device like this makes the gun more deadly than without.  Opponents of such a device say that it will make it easier to shoot the gun at night or make it so police can't see you shooting, as if the loud report of the weapon wasn't enough to clue them in.  For me, having a flash suppressor isn't about making me invisible to authorities.  It is a training aid.  The bright flash of a weapon can scare new shooters.  When I'm teaching someone how to shoot the rifle, I don't want them to be scared off by a bright muzzle flash.  Lowering the visual signature of the weapon can also make a difference in a home defense situation, where a bright muzzle flash could momentarily blind me.

Vertical Front Grip: This isn't always talked about, as some owners may not opt for this device, but it has a home on the front of my weapon.  Apparently, this is to give me much more control of the weapon than if I didn't have it.  In reality, I simply use it as an index point for my hand.  Not shown in this picture is a flashlight that I have mounted to the weapon.  The VFG is placed so I can simply place my hand in the same spot every time, and helps me manipulate the UI on my flashlight without changing my grip.  For home defense, this is a good thing because instead of fumbling around trying to find my flashlight button, I can quickly tap the button with my thumb and illuminate any potential threats or identify family members.  I call the VFG a safety feature.

High Capacity Magazine: Often mistakenly called a "clip" by those who are complete morons (yes including some gun owners), the 30 round magazine is what I consider a "normal capacity" magazine.  The magazine was designed to hold 30 rounds.  If I was able to cram 31 rounds in there, that would be "high capacity."  The crux of the issue is that opponents feel this gives the shooter the ability to accurately "spray" an area with a lot of bullets without the need to reload.  Well, I will admit they are right about one thing.  The gun can fire 30 rounds without reloading.  But let's not kid ourselves here.  Anyone with half a brain and a little training can reload this weapon fast.  It wouldn't matter if I only had a 10 round magazine.  I could reload it and keep shooting and lay down a significant amount of fire with even that.  Every car manufactured after 1925 has the ability to go over 60 miles per hour.  A lot more people are killed in automobile accidents every year than are killed with guns sporting "high capacity" magazines.  Maybe cars should be governed to go slower.

Semi-automatic Operation: How the AR15's semi-automatic action makes it more deadly than a gun with a wooden stock is beyond me.  In all honesty, if you were an intruder in my house, you'd be faced with a pump action 12 gauge shotgun.

Pistol Grip: Oh, this is the part of the video that prompted my blog entry in the first place!  The reporter said that this part of the gun allows it to be easily fired from the hip.  WHAT?!!!  I highly doubt the DC Sniper fired his gun from the hip!  This weapon was designed to be fired from the shoulder!  Pardon my French, but you stupid fucking anti-gun dip shits have a warped sense of reality!  Nobody fires from the hip unless they want to miss!  This isn't the movies!  Rambo could never have shot so many people shooting from the hip if it was reality!  As for the grip itself, yes it does give the gun some control, and is part of the weapon's interface.  The magazine release is located so that the magazine can be dropped without the shooter changing his grip.  The rest of the weapon is designed so that all other actions can be accomplished without removing your hand from the grip.  But that really doesn't matter.  My AR15 could have a stick for a grip and I could still use it.  I'm just as accurate with my Ruger 10-22, and it has a traditional wood stock.  With a little training, it doesn't matter if your gun has a pistol grip or not.  Any competent shooter knows his weapon.

Adjustable stock: Because the gun is so much more deadly with the stock collapsed.  NOT!  I personally feel comfortable with the stock out two positions.  My wife likes it out one position.  The ability to shorten the stock to make it comfortable for my 5 ft tall wife to shoot makes the gun more valuable to me.  In one minute, I can be shooting at my preferred length, and then hand he gun to my wife, who can instantly make the gun fit her as well.  What's wrong with that?  Nothing.

I'm pretty sure I covered all the major issues, aside from the fact that opponents of the AR15 are opponents of guns in general, and for that I say suck it!  As dog owners say, "hate the deed, not the breed."  Don't punish me for a couple of nut jobs that should have been spotted and locked away to begin with.  Most of the people who commit the kinds of crimes with these guns already had a history of criminal activity and violence.  They could have been spotted and put away long ago, but your government decided that letting them out into civilization was a better plan.

I'm a law-abiding gun owner, who chooses to remain safe in my house, and wherever I can lawfully be.  I choose not to be a victim.  Just remember that when you are working hard at disarming good people like me, you are only helping criminals, and you are making yourself a victim.  Ever stop and think the reason why your house hasn't been broken into is because a burglar might think there is a gun in there?  Or did really think it was because the police would catch him?  Police arrive just in time to draw chalk outlines around the victims of violent crimes and theft.  Ironically, the vast majority of these crimes are committed with cheap guns, knives, and improvised bludgeoning instruments - not the evil assault rifles you are trying to get off the streets.

-James

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stinger Scorpion X

I know what you're thinking.  "Another flashlight review?"  Yep!  I've had this one for just under a year.  It is the Streamlight Scorpion X.  What an incredible little flashlight this is!  And what a value! 

I paid about $50 for this 200 lumen LED powerhouse.  At first, I thought it might make a good EDC light, but was mistaken; it's a bit large.  The main body itself is narrow, but that giant head, with that anti-roll piece machined into it, make it a bit large for pockets.  Plus, it's a bit on the heavy side for EDC work: 5 ounces.  If you want an EDC light, I'd look elsewhere, but for a utility light, tactical light, or weapon light, it's hard to go wrong with the Scorpion X.

The body is machined out of aluminum and as mentioned, features an integrated anti-roll head to keep it in place.  NICE!  The handle portion is then covered with a rubber sleeve to give this light tons of traction in your hand.  The lens is scratch resistant and the beam is wide with a bright focal point.

At night, I can light up vehicles and people over two blocks away with this little thing and could easily make out license plate numbers and signs from over 4 blocks when used with my monocular.  For close in work, you can lower the light output to 10 lumens, so it is not blinding to you.  The two CR123 batteries will last 50 hours in low mode.  In high mode, they last about 2 1/2 hours.  There is also a strobe feature on the light, for those who wish to have it.

One gripe about this light is the rubber sleeve on the body.  It also covers the button, and I was concerned that with use, the sleeve might rip or get punctured and allow water to get in.  Well, I put it to the test.  I took it out on a rainy night and conducted a series of drop tests from 4 feet, 6 feet, and by throwing it up in the air over 10 feet.  How it landed was purely up to chance.  It took a beating as I tossed it across the yard, let it sit on a flooded drain completely submerged for 10 minutes.  It's also been mounted to my AR15, which was shot hundreds of times.  So, how'd it fair?

The rubber sleeve did tear in a spot on the back of the light.  This allowed some water to seep in, but it did not hurt the light because there are o-rings at the head, which protected it.  I was able to find a retailer that sells replacement sleeves, so I purchased about 4 of them.  I removed the damaged sleeve and installed a new one.  After it was installed, I tested it in my bath tub under about 18 inches of water.  Dry as a bone inside.  As long as the sleeve is intact, this thing is highly water resistant and weatherproof.

Due to it's small size and light weight, I now have this mounted to my AR15 with a VTAC light mount.  The narrow body required me to shim it in order to fit the VTAC.  Instead of using electrical tape or something like that, I utilized the old sleeve.  I cut it to the size needed and wrapped it around the light.  After that, it was a matter of getting it into the mount and tightening the screws.  It looks good there and is solid.  You can't even tell I shimmed it. 

The only other thing I can fault with this light is that it does not tail stand.  The rubber sleeve and the button make it impossible for it to do so.  For that, I don't consider this light a very effective wilderness light, but it makes a good tactical light.

I'm not going to say that this light is as good as something much more expensive like my Stinger LED or a Surefire weapon light, but the Scorpion is a good handheld, or weapon mounted tactical light.  At $50, it is a huge value because you get a lot of light for not a lot of money.  I like to consider this more of a practical light because it will fill a lot of roles nicely and does so at a low price point.  I'd only suggest buying a few extra sleeves and keeping them around.  At about $2 a piece, there isn't any reason not to.  One last thing about the rubber sleeve is that it doesn't transfer heat or cold like metal does.  This makes it very comfortable to hold in cold weather, as well as hot weather.  That's something to think about. 

-James