Monday, October 29, 2012

Preview: Core 15 Rifle System's "CoreXXX"

Core15 Hardcore Lower Receiver for 5.56x45mm
Imagine this, slightly longer and
beefier to accommodate the .308.
(Photo courtesy of Core15 Rifle Systems)
That's XXX as in roman numeral 30. If you were hoping for porn, well, Core15's CoreXXX (say,"Core 30") is a new billet-machined AR platform .308, utilizing Core15's unique "Hardcore" lower receiver design (goes well with the XXX, right?); it is "gun porn" at its finest. Or at least it will be once I get pictures - and a promised video - of the completed first mock-up. I received a short video of the freshly machined lower this afternoon, but have agreed to not post it and instead wait for pictures and a video of the completed upper and lower, coming soon. I am told that I am the third person on the planet to lay eyes on the first prototype of the Core 30 lower; serial number 1. That makes me feel pretty special. But, what is the Core 30, and why is it so special? Thought you'd never ask ...

I have always wanted an AR-10. The swollen .308win (7.62x51mm NATO) version of the ubiquitous AR-15 .223rem (5.56x45mm) just seems a good idea. Same platform; same features; same method of operation. These all cut down on auto-pilot retraining when switching between a short-range carbine and a medium to long range high powered rifle. It allows for quick reloads and rapid fire, just as the AR-15, except firing the much more powerful .308, the standard sniper round. However, with every good idea you can typically find at least two bad problems. I've always found at least one with AR-10 type rifles: unless you're handling a prohibitively expensive custom shop rifle, they usually feel junky. It's kind of like a 15 year old kid who suddenly grew six inches over the summer; nothing fits right and his suddenly larger size makes him seem awkward and clunky. But this issue will hopefully be resolved with the Core 30. They certainly have a good start in concept.

Take a look at the picture of the Hardcore receiver, above. If you're familiar with the AR platform you'll notice one thing right away - the over-sized trigger guard is machined as part of the lower receiver. I've always wondered why this was never done. It seemed an obvious point of potential strengthening in the standard mil-spec lowers. Now, with the Hardcore line of lowers, Core15 has done it. But that's not all. They also incorporate Core15's standard beveled mag well, for quicker and smoother reloads, and every receiver is hard anodized for extra durability. But from the start, each Hardcore receiver is CNC machined out of a single billet of 7075-T6 aluminum that has been heat treated and stress relieved, making it inherently stronger.

The real trick with the Core 30's potential...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Growing Up With Guns

Nostalgic Good Times
I love guns.  I always have, for as long as I can remember.  I love to shoot guns.  The smell of the burned powder and singed brass after the shot; the curl of smoke from the barrel; the sound of it, deafening and exhilarating; these are all things I crave to experience, and relish in the moment.  I love to talk about guns, thus the blog, and can expound on many topics both within and beyond my expertise.  That said, you shall now receive my first of I'm sure many disclaimers on this blog:

I am not a "certified" expert of any sort, nor am I a gunsmith, firearms designer, professional marksman, or any other variation thereof that may lead you to believe I am the end-all of firearms knowledge.  Certainly not. 

What I am is a guy who grew up learning about and shooting guns.  Since the age of five, I have enjoyed shooting - whether BB guns, 22's, shotguns, lever actions, semi-autos, rifles, revolvers, pistols, or even rubber band shooters.  If it shoots, I've probably at some point had fun pulling its trigger.  My journey with firearms began with my dad. 

My dad grew up hunting and plinking in the '50s.  The shooting sports became a lifelong passion and hobby of his, and he passed it down to me.  I still remember the first few shots I made with a little Daisy BB gun at a pie plate hanging from a string in our garden.  I say "at," because the first few missed.  I was five.  The tiny BB rifle was so big to me then that I had to stretch to hold it up.  It was all I could do, with all my strength, to work the lever to cock it.  But nothing will ever replace that first "Ding!" when the BB finally met its mark on that pie plate. Instantly I felt tough, like a man; like I was Davy Crockett after just killing his first bear. I had dented that aluminum pie plate. Time to conquer the world.

Of course I was not just handed a weapon and turned loose to wreak havoc on the yard squirrels.  No matter how weak or toyish the tiny BB gun was, it still fired a projectile and was therefore dangerous.  My dad took great care to explain gun safety to me, and to be sure I understood.  He also didn't let me shoot without him present, for a few years at least.  When I made the transition to actual firearms, it was several more years before I was allowed to walk down to our shooting range with a gun and shoot by myself.  I believe I was a teenager, actually. 

I was first and foremost taught respect for the weapon, and the responsibility that came with being its master. I was taught to always treat every gun as though it was loaded, whether I had just checked it or not. I was taught muzzle discipline, being mindful of where your gun in pointed, at all times, and to not point it at other people, whether loaded or not. I was taught the most important part, the part that younger children - and unfortunately some adults - sometimes have a problem understanding ... with a gun in your hand, you have the ability to end life, to kill, whether you mean to or not. You are the master of the weapon. It is your responsibility to treat it with respect, and understand what it can do.

One of the best ways to instill in a child the notion that shooting something with a gun can kill it is to take the child hunting. My first hunt with my dad was a simple walk in the woods. A trip around our property, along the old logging roads, with just him and me and my BB gun. I was six, I think. I only vaguely remember it now. I think I shot a lizard, and I remember shooting at a bird of some sort. I don't remember if I hit it or not. My next trip was a little more memorable.

Seven years old, dressed in my surplus-store tiny military camo, padded with long-underwear, and now experienced with the old Winchester single-shot .410 shotgun, I was ready to go hunting. My dad took me out on a long walk behind my grandparents' house, through the fields, into and through thickets, across a creek, and into a patch of hardwoods ... to find squirrels. Now, if you're not a hunter you may be thinking, "There are squirrels in my yard. Why'd you walk so far?" Well, it's not nice to kill yard squirrels, for one. For another, you don't want a seven-year-old shooting a gun into a tree in your front yard! My dad made sure there was no way I was hitting a house with an errant pellet from that shotgun.

I can still play back the video in my head.

"Shhh," Dad whispered. He had stopped moving, and I knew that meant I should freeze, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Glock 19: Simply Good (a.k.a. Favorite Firearms, Part 2)

My personal Glock 19. The perfect mid-size 9mm?
I won't use the old line of "if you can only have one handgun" about the Glock 19, because it's not the only one I own. While a good case could be made for it as the best all-around defensive pistol, many detractors would yell that it's a 9mm, and not a .45ACP or even a .40S&W, both of which have more stopping power. The Glock 23 is the same weapon chambered in .40, and I would likely own the 23 instead, but for three reasons.

  1. 9mm ammo is available in more configurations and is more readily available than any other centerfire pistol ammo that's powerful enough for defense of self and family. Every ammo manufacturer makes it; from slow moving full-metal-jacet (FMJ) plinkers for target practice, to 9mm+P+ firebreathing jacketed hollowpoints (JHP). Plus, it's currently standard issue to the U.S. military and a great majority of police departments, so if that zombie crap happens that I mentioned in the last post, you'll be able to find fresh 9mm lying around everywhere. Also, more than one of my shooting buddies have 9mm pistols, so ammo sharing and community reloading is another plus.
  2. It's cheaper to shoot. While .40S&W is similarly priced, 9mm is still cheaper. And it's way
    124gr 9mm Gold Dot ammo
    in aftermarket KCI 15rd mag
    cheaper than .45ACP. You can buy a box of plinker 9mm such as - my favorite - PMC's Blazer Brass for a reasonable $13-15 for a box of 50, and bulk quantities are even cheaper per shot. I can afford to have target practice with my actual defensive weapon, without converting it to a neutered .22LR like so many .45 shooters do with their 1911's.
  3. Remember that I used to work outdoor retail and sell guns? Yeah, well I got an incredible deal on this used piece that looked new but was already barely broke-in. I won't say how cheap...because you'd hate me...but trust me. It was cheap.
Those are some of the reasons I own this pistol. Other reasons? It's tough. As. Hell. Yes, it's polymer (plastic) framed, but this is no recycled soda bottle stuff. It's virtually indestructible. That durability has been well proved since Glock debuted in 1982, and the model 19 in 1988. These are the weapons of choice for many police departments, "agencies" and security forces around the world for a reason.

Aside from durability, there's reliability. Durability means it doesn't break easily. Reliability means it works and usually keeps working. I've never spoken with anyone who's personally had an issue of any sort with a Glock. In fact, I've never even had a jam or feed issue. No "stove pipes," no mis-fires; nothing has ever gone wrong. Well, except one thing, and it's not really it's fault...

Glock 19 factory plastic sights, scarred from use.
The sights took some getting used to, for me anyway. First, I don't like them because they're plastic, but not of the same variety as the frame. They scratch and dent. Second, my first 50 shots seemed to all hit just off the pie plate. I'm fairly certain this was due to my trigger technique, as I can now hit reliably well, but I'll blame it on the sights because I can, and they bug me. I plan to change the factory plastic goal-post for steel night sites, but haven't yet decided on which particular set to get.

So we have durability and reliability. Pretty good so far. We also have shootability. It's simple. It's safe. It hits its mark - if you don't have trigger technique problems. I've nailed a few 10 yard bullseyes with it - not bad for a fixed sight combat pistol. But let's back up; simple and safe.

Simple to Use

The greatest thing about Glocks is they have no manual safeties to fiddle with - Glock invented the automatic safety. They have internal mechanisms, and I suppose you could call the trigger safety a "manual" safety since it is something you press with your finger, but it remains that if you need to fire this gun all you do is pull the trigger. If you don't want it to fire, don't pull the trigger. It will not fire if you don't actively pull the trigger to completion, releasing the striker to cycle into the chambered round. It just won't, and let's leave it at that before this gets way too long.

True, that is a preference. I'm used to the double action trigger pull and no manual safety lever  because ... wait for it ... my first handgun was a revolver! I got used to that Smith and Wesson Model 60 (Favorite Firearms, Part 1). This Glock operates almost the same way, except for the obvious differences between how you load and cock a pistol versus a revolver. So the learning curve and autopilot training on that front was minimal, and will be for almost anyone. I've always recommended revolvers to people new to guns who want a defensive piece, because they don't have to think much to defend themselves, and competency training (not considering accuracy) is minimal. Same here. If you can rack the slide you can operate this gun.

Slide locked open on Glock 19
Need to reload? No problem. When the slide locks back (shown: right) simply press the mag release button by the lower edge of the trigger guard to drop the spent mag, slam a full mag into the grip well, and pull down on the little lever located above your thumb. Smack! Live round chambered and ready to rock. My slide release is so well broken in (not worn out, mind you) that it barely requires any pressure to drop the slide. It's wonderful.

Simple to Own

Maintaining a gun can be a chore, depending on what it is. However, like an all stainless steel revolver, a Glock is basically maintenance free. Just clean it after you shoot it and you're done. You can thank it's rugged durability, mostly, but also another aspect that you can't see without taking it apart: it's easy to take apart.

Lots of pistols make use of convoluted levers and pins and make you spin things around and pull things out ... what a pain. And for someone new to firearms, it can be challenging remembering how to do it. Not so with Glocks. They have one of the easiest take-down mechanisms out there.

How-To-Tip: Field Stipping the Glock 19 for Cleaning

Step 1 - Be sure the gun is empty, the chamber is clear and there is no magazine inserted, empty or not. Safety First, always!

Step 2 - Decompress the striker spring. Translated: squeeze the trigger. The gun will not come apart if it is cocked. Dry firing won't hurt it any worse than dropping it from a cliff then running over it with a Mack truck, which is to say, it won't hurt it a bit.

Step 3 - Pressing the slide just enough...
Notice how far it passes the frame on
the rear edge. It's a small movement.
Step 3 - Place the palm of your hand on the muzzle and hook your thumb on the inside of the trigger guard. Squeeze. Barely. Your purpose here is to move the slide back about a 1/4 of an inch. Much more and the gun will cock the striker again and you'll have to go back to Step 2. The result of moving the slide the proper amount will look like this (shown: left). You should be holding the gun in one hand, with your other hand free.

Step 4 - With your free hand (surprise!) use your thumb and index finger to simultaneously grasp the little slider bars that are located just above the trigger guard, and on both sides of the gun. Pull them down toward the trigger simultaneously. Here's the closest thing to a hard part: hold them there while you perform ...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Zombie Preparedness: Part 1 - Water

Zombie hoard, from Wicked
Let's have some fun. It is the season for zombies, after all. So what do you do when you wake up one morning and the undead hoard are digging up the flowers in your planter because the cat got away when they tried to eat its brains? Do zombies like cat brains? I don't know. But regardless...

You need to have a plan for when all hell breaks loose. The plan in its entirety would take a book, not just an article. Despite some detail differences, all of the apocalyptic possibilities yield basically the same issues for survivors, whether it's zombies, werewolves, EMP, viral outbreak, or nuclear winter that kills 92% of the world's population. That said, this is Part 1 of a series that will cover equipment, supplies, weapons, and survival thinking for pretty much any end-of-civilization scenario you can think up. However, I will only be covering initial survival and general preparedness that is intended to keep us alive long enough to begin restructuring a new civilization. If you want a more long-term survival plan, for sustainable living if the rest of the world was eaten by zombies, you should read my cousin's blog, Crowsonshire: Homesteading in the South. Jason is a rather prolific blogger since 2007, and has tons of excellent information on sustainable living, along with his humorous accounts of living the mini-farm homestead dream.  But how do you make it to long-term sustainability? First, survive day 1.

Man, I'm Thirsty...

Water is the centerpiece of all life on this planet. As much as air, if you run out of water, you die. Here's something most people haven't thought about: If you get your water from anywhere other than a well on your own property, you will not have a water supply if the power grid goes away. Pumps and filtration systems used by city and county water authorities run on, guess what, electricity!

Step one in preparing for this issue is to have an emergency supply on hand. I regularly rinse out any two-liter bottles my family of four empties and store tap water in them, squirreled away throughout the house. Figure on at minimum a liter per day per person. That's just to barely survive. If you plan on drinking it, cooking with it, washing anything at all ... the numbers quickly add up. If you're in a static location, store as much as possible, but shoot for at least four liter per day per person, and you'll want at least a month's worth.

Katadyn Combi
Now, taking it a step further, prepare for not only if you run out of stores, but also in case you have to travel. You'll need a portable filtration and purification system. There are many on the market. Some better than others in quality, reliability, and price. Way too many details of specifications exist for these for me to go into here, so I'll just give a few of my favorite examples.

The Katadyn Combi is one of the best you can get that's not godawful expensive. Rugged and dependable with a high volume output and long lasting, cleanable filter, it's a good bet to have on hand. One of these takes residence in my dad's bug out vehicle (a topic for later).

MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter
Another fine example that I've sold a ton of over the years, is the
 MSR Miniworks EX. This thing is probably bomb-proof. If it did take some damage though, it holds a reputation as one of the easiest filters to repair in the field, on the fly. I was once told by an Army Spec Ops, uh, operative, that this is the filter his squad used when they were in Africa. His guys were fine, the rest of the platoon, using a different system, all wound up with the trots. Good enough for me. Also, after once drinking water from a mud hole after it went through one of these, I can attest to its effectiveness. Tasted better than tap water.
I could continue for pages, but these are my two favorites. There are many more good options out there. Talk to a salesperson in your local camping store to tell you about their offerings. If it isn't one of these, though, ask them to compare these to it. If he stammers, you don't want his filter.

One additional consideration about water is that even having gone through these filters, there is still a possibility of some microscopic virus having infiltrated. You should still boil your water if possible and you have time. As a backup, cheap and plentiful iodine tablets kill many things, but they taste funny. The filters listed above remove all of the same critters that iodine kills.

Also, a few drops of chlorine (unscented Clorox bleach) w
ill take care of tiny critters. Use special care with bleach, however, as too much can be harmful and

The All-Arounder

"What are you *snort* lookin' at? *snort*"
Hog Hunting in the South
After watching my team, the Auburn Tigers, lose yet again today, I went outside to enjoy the cool fall weather. Naturally, I got to thinking about hunting.

I haven't been a big hunter in many years, as I've said before. But there's a type of hunting I've been wanting to try for several years but not gotten around to. Hogs. Seems appropriate today, as the Arkansas Razorbacks just bloodied my Tigers, right? However, I might like to bag some venison this year, too; something I haven't needed to do in many years since I was typically given at least one deer by customers every year while working outdoor retail. All of the benefits with none of the effort. Why bother hunting?

A Winchester 1894 Lever Action Carbine.
Anyway, I'd like to have a gun that's good for both deer and hogs. Being that my AR (.223) is a little light for either, even though it's now legal in Alabama, that means gun shopping. Yea! What to look at, though? In rifles, there are lots of options. Too many, in fact. So let's narrow it down. Alabama mostly means dense brush with short range shots at hogs, and likewise for deer, unless you know someone with a huge field that'll let you hunt it. Let's assume that I'll be hunting the dangerous wild hogs just as much or more than the complacent deer, so a slow to re-chamber, high-power-scoped common deer rifle is not the single weapon of choice to cover both scenarios.

A big-bore heavy thumper that won't change trajectory easily if it nips a branch would seem the way to go. Even if it keyholes, it's still more likely to make it's mark than something like a .243win. A chambering in the .44mag or .45colt realm might be nice. Especially since I have the .45colt six-gun already. These aren't very good for shots beyond about 100-150 yards, though, if the need arises. 200 yards is doable, but is a big arc. There's .45-70, but those are expensive trigger pulls. And all of those are typically lever action, which have skyrocketed in price for good, sturdy examples since the cowboy action craze came about.  I still want something that'll hit hard though.  Ah, wait...slugs.

This may be the answer. A combo shotgun. I need a defensive shotgun anyway. Being that I can't afford most of the semi-auto shotguns on the market, and the ones that I possibly could afford aren't really that good, I should probably look to pump action.  I could go with a

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Favorite Firearms, Part 1: the Model 60

In more than 30 years as a firearms fanatic, I have run across several weapons that I must list as favorites.  Some are attainable, many are not.  I'll do a series of posts about them, scattered amongst other posts about who knows what.  The first I'll discuss is one I'll likely own until I no longer reside in this world:

Smith and Wesson Model 60

Photo from Smith and Wesson's website.
The venerable double action revolver.  In this example it's a pocketable, 5-shot .357 magnum.  This was the first handgun I bought.  I still have it, and still enjoy shooting it.  It's the only handgun of my collection that has ever actually served duty to dispatch something of the living. It performs admirably every time.

While the 2 1/8" barrel with fixed sights may not seem like an optimal setup to most, you must understand that this gun - mine at least - hits its mark at point of aim, as long as you do your part and don't wobble. 

At 24 ounces empty, it's no ballerina.  The new scandium frame models from Smith make this old stainless-steel 60 seem absolutely obese.  But I guarantee you'll be done shooting one of those ultralights after a cylinder of trigger pulls, if not before.  The marginal heft of this piece makes it comfortable and fun when shooting .38 special, and manageable with .357 magnum.  (For those unaware: revolvers chambered for .357 magnum can also shoot .38 special, but not vice-versa, as .357 is a longer casing than the .38 special.)  It's not too heavy, however, to stick in your front pocket during walks around the back 40, in case of snakes.  It has never failed or had any issues whatsoever, and makes a beautiful perfect pattern with CCI .38/.357 shotshells (ratshot or snakeshot as it's commonly called).

You'll also notice in the picture that it has an extended grip, to accommodate the pinkie finger.  This helps manage recoil when shooting hard-thumping .357 magnum loads as well.  Plus, it's just a more comfortable, natural feeling grip than the stubby two finger grips most of the J-frame and other compact revolvers use. 

The last obvious advantage of this revolver I've already mentioned: it's all stainless steel.  Very little maintenance and easy cleaning are the cherry on top of a near perfect all around handgun.  For shooters with little experience, who perhaps are intimidated by manual safeties and slide release levers of semi-auto pistols, or for shooters who value simplicity and efficiency and want something that can be concealed for self defense, or easily toted for protection against snakes and other vermin in the wild, the Model 60 remains an excellent choice, as it has been since 1965.


For plinking and practice, I prefer to shoot .38 special for reduced recoil and less of a dent in the wallet.  My favorite, consistently reliable and reasonably accurate .38 plinking loads are:

American Eagle FMJ 130 gr which are a Federal Ammunition product, or its direct competition, Winchester USA ("white box") FMJ 130 gr.

For defense, I used to carry .38 special +P loads, as they seemed nearly as powerful as most .357 but kicked much less.  Now, however, I decided it's silly to own a .357 and not keep .357 in it, as long as you can handle the recoil.  There are circumstances where recoil is a real issue, and I will discuss that in a later post.  For now, my favorite .357 magnum defensive loads are:

 Speer Gold Dot 125 gr JHP is a time tested man-stopper that isn't as expensive as some others, and in its 125 grain configuration is not too bad in the recoil department.  Remington's Golden Saber (brass jacketed hollow point) also in 125 grain is a sure-kill with proper aim.  Recoil will be similar to the Gold Dot, but Remington's Sabers can be a little more expensive.

The beast of loads, that I used to always carry if I had .357 loaded, is Federal Premium Hydra-shok 158 grain JHP.  These hurt.  I started shooting them years ago after asking a cop who was still sporting a .357 revolver what ammo he used.  This, he said, was what most departments across the country issued.  Good enough for me, I thought.  Turned out, good enough to turn my palm red and give me a headache from the sonic blast across my forehead, a side-effect of the short barrel as well.  I'm still convinced that nothing, at least not human, could remain standing if it took a hit in the chest from one of these bad boys.  They just hurt too bad to be fun to practice with, so I've moved to the lighter, 125 grain loads mentioned above.  If I had a 686 Plus or a GP100 as a nightstand gun, however, I'd probably still be shooting the 158 Hydra-shoks.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weaponlight Primer: Nightstand Pistols

Pistol-mounted flashlights are a curious thing.  They look really cool, for one. Yet they aren't always practical.  If your pistol is your primary home defense weapon, a weaponlight may be a good investment.  If your pistol is a tiny pocketgun that's carried for defense while out and about, then a mounted light is likely not a good idea.  They're bulky, only fit in very specialized holsters, and really not practical for situations other than "clearing" a room or scouting that curious noise that your wife heard at 2:00 a.m.  I actually do not use a weapon mounted light myself, but instead employ the offhand (or weakhand) flashlight method show here.  However, a mounted light can be a real asset at times, freeing the off-hand to other tasks, like calling 911.

If you were living in a movie, the typical home invader would cut the power before he came in, rendering your room lights useless.  This isn't likely to happen in real life, but it is likely that if you're sweeping your house for a burglar, you'll either not want to take a hand from your pistol, or often you would be exposing yourself to the room in order to turn a light on. Not a good tactical maneuver. So having a weapon mounted flashlight that's super bright and focused generally in the same direction as the muzzle, or point of aim, can be a very good thing in that situation.

Some things to look for in a weaponlight are brightness, ease of use, battery type, and reliability.  Being that you shouldn't be carrying your weapon holstered with the light mounted unless you're a member of a tactical ops entry/assault team means that for the typical home user, bulk and weight are not critical issues, in general.  Obviously you don't want a brick strapped to the front of your pistol, but a little extra weight out front isn't a bad thing for a night-stand gun.  It helps steady your aim and control recoil for a quick follow-up shot.

Brightness covers two aspects of the light for me: Is it bright enough to see everything I want to see for the distance I can effectively shoot this weapon? And is it bright enough to blind an attacker temporarily, giving me tactical advantage?  Most any weaponlight will cover the first for a pistol. The second is another matter.  What is bright enough to blind someone?  Look for a light over 100 lumens.  My handheld Surefire G2 with the upgrade bulb head is 120 lumens.  At close range, it will easily temporarily blind someone.  However, there is another way to blind someone that's much more effective.  Strobe.  You can't achieve the type of strobe that will do this by simply tapping the switch quickly with your thumb, either. 

A rapid, super-bright strobe in someone's face will not only render them temporarily blinded, but will keep them that way longer because their eyes don't know what to do.  Is it bright or is it dark? This confusion of the pupil conveys straight into the brain and addles the person, confusing them cognitively, and possibly even inducing nausea (I speak from experience after testing it on myself).  It's a highly effective initial layer of defense, before a shot is fired.  If you tell the person you have a firearm while they are staggering about, they may surrender, keeping you from having to fire a shot.  Have them lay face down like a starfish until the cops arrive.

Ease of use in a pistol weaponlight means basically one that's easy to mount, and easy to remove when you need to carry your weapon concealed in a holster.  It also means a switch that's easy to get to and manipulate in a panic, adrenalin ridden situation.  When adrenalin is up, fine motor skills diminish.  Imagine you're wearing a set of thick winter gloves, and then consider if you could effectively manipulate the switch on the weaponlight you're considering purchasing.

Battery type is another crucial piece of the puzzle.  Never, I repeat, never rely on a weaponlight that uses a standard alkaline battery.  AA or AAA batteries are cheap and plentiful for a reason.  They go dead.  Imagine grabbing your gun from the bedside safe and the battery is dead in your light.  Why bother?  Be sure your weaponlight uses lithium batteries.  These have very good shelf life (typically ten years or so) and are only significantly drained while being used.  You should still check the light once a month or so to be sure it comes on.

Now for some examples before this post gets too long.  ;)

My Favorite:

Streamlight TLR-1s (the "s" is for strobe), in my book the best close range weaponlight. While a approaching the large side for a pistol light, it throws out 160 lumens and has a strobe setting that is the most effective I've seen. At $116 (on Opticsplanet), it's a worthy investment, and very high quality.  There are a few varieties of this light as well.  The TLR-1 doesn't have a strobe feature, is only 135 lumens and is $5 cheaper.  Trust me, the strobe is well worth the $5.  I really don't know why Streamlight bothers making the non-"s" version.  There is also the TLR-2 which incorporates a laser sight onto the bottom of the light.  It's a little pricier, at almost $250 typically.  My dad loves his.  It's a little rich for my wallet, though.

Excellent Choices:

TLR-4 on Springfield Armory XD-9 Compact
Streamlight TLR-3, more compact, still very bright at 90 lumens, but no strobe feature.  For $87 it's maybe a little high for what it is, and to me the price difference to the TLR-1s is worth the upgrade.  But if you want Streamlight quality, and the cheapest "top brand" weaponlight out there, this is it.
In addition, the Streamlight TLR-4 is the same light but 110 lumens, and with a lower mounted laser, similar to the TLR-2. The TLR-4 laser/light combo rings in as a relative bargain at only $129. Now if Streamlight would just give it a strobe feature for another $5, this would take my top choice spot!

A Bargain Hunter's Light:

Firefield Tactical Pistol Flashlight.  Having not had one of these hand-on, I cannot attest to it's quality myself, but products from the manufacturer consistently get good reviews by consumers and professionals alike.  They seem to make good products at incredibly good prices.  This light puts out 120 lumes and costs only $39! The old standby method of a riflescope ring with a Surefire G2 stuck in it is now more expensive than this weapon mounted light!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Flashlights a Plenty

I own Surefire flashlights, Streamlights, Maglites, Rayovacs, and even an iNova.  Each has its purpose and is good at what it does, reliably.  Having sold outdoor gear for so long, I've had plenty of opportunity to play with various ingeniously designed and expensive flashlights, including weapon-lights.  I've determined a few generalities about my favorite brands:

Maglite: Tough, reliable, easily fixable. For head-knockers, they can't be beat. They do the beating. Keep one 3 D-cell LED model in your car, easily reachable. Keep another by the nightstand as a combination flashlight and billy club.

Rayovac: These excel as camping lights and kid lights, as they are reliable, reasonably tough, and cheap! If your kid exits the woods without it, or you drop it in the river ... oh well. Get another one. They're available almost everywhere.

Streamlight: Probably the best overall brand of flashlight, in my book. These lights get the job done and then some, for much less mu la than the competition. There are so many models of Streamlight that it's hard to know where to begin looking.  Luckily, they have an excellent product filter on their website to help you pick the perfect light for your needs.

Surefire: The big dogs of the tactical light world. Indeed, they make fantastic products that are super bright and tough as anvils. They also charge like they were selling the last piece of bread on earth. A $400 handheld flashlight? Yes, I've sold two of them over the years. The M6 Guardian is capable of putting the Bat Signal on a cloud with a light the size of a cucumber. Truly amazing. Their more "reasonable" priced offering are the Nitrolon line, which are the same thing as their standard aluminum bodied lights but made from high grade plastic. Parts are interchangeable.

Surefire weaponlights are almost works of art. Brutally tough, battle tested works of art. There is a famous story of a soldier walking down a roadside at night in Iraq, who was hit by an IED. He lost part of his leg. His M4 Carbine was found shattered, non-functioning, and lying in the ditch nearby. They found the black rifle, at night, because the Surefire light mounted to the quadrail forend was still on.

Briefly on Politics

You may notice the flag with eagle flying to the right. Hard to miss, I know.  You may also notice the "Protect the 2nd Amendment" and "Support our Troops" logos farther down the page border.  These things are, I assure you, as in depth as I will take this site into politics.  It has always annoyed me when gun magazines used their platform to push parts of their ideology that didn't relate directly to firearms, and I refuse to do it here. 

To be sure, keeping the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in tact is a critical part of a gun lover's political thought process.  If it goes, so do our firearms.  Several more of our liberties would follow shortly after, I'm sure.  Disarming a free, law-abiding citizenry is something never done for the right reasons.  Frankly the thought of it scares the hell out of me, and not because I would miss target practice.

The yellow ribbon to support our troops? Well, who doesn't agree with that, honestly? Even if you don't agree with the battle currently being fought, wherever it may be, the yellow ribbon simply shows our nation's soldiers that you think of them, and hope they return safely.

As far as patriotism and the flag goes... I am about as American as an individual can get.  My family tree grows in American soil since the late 1600's, and that's not counting the several branches of Native American that are untraceable.  More than one of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.  More than one also fought in the Civil War, but we won't go there.  My 5th (I should look it up, but I think that's correct) Great Grandfather was the first "Sheriff" stationed in Alabama.  His territory was a gigantic swath of wilderness covering all of Alabama from somewhere near Montgomery all the way to Tennessee.  This was prior to Alabama becoming a state, as it did in 1819.  The sturdy log cabin that he built for himself and family as Sheriff still stands today in Shelby County as a historic landmark. 

I am very proud of my heritage as an American.  I may come from genetic stock of hard-headed, freedom-loving Scots-Irish, quirky Welsh mariners, and even a royal guard to the English monarchy thrown in, but what I really am in my core is American.  All of those people from those backgrounds came together and helped build this nation.  I for one am glad that they did.

And here lies the end of what will hopefully be my only political commentary of any sort on this blog.  Hope you enjoyed it.  As Forest Gump would say, "...that's all I have to say about that."

That New Gun Smell

Here's quick tip for anyone buying a new firearm, especially one of semi-auto action.  To ensure a more enjoyable first trip to the firing range, and less likelihood of buyer's remorse, be sure and break in your new gun before ever firing the first shot.  How, you say?

If your new gun is a semi-automatic pistol, for example, you should:
  1. Be sure it is not loaded and the chamber is clear. Never assume, visually inspect the weapon!
  2. Put in your favorite movie of guys blowing stuff up and shooting at each other, and get comfy in your favorite chair to watch it. Be sure you also have your favorite beverage handy.  Avoid stout libations.
  3. Press "play"
  4. Begin working the action of your new firearm.  Rack the slide back and forth.  Snap the trigger every 20 or so repetitions (Unless it is a rimfire. Then do NOT dry fire it.).  If your gun has a manual safety, also work the safety through its motions every 20 or so repetitions of slide action.
  5. Continue this mindless action for the length of the movie or until your arm is about to fall off. By the time you are done, several rough edges of manufacturing will be beginning to wear down, and the weapon will cycle smoother.
  6. Even if your new gun is a revolver or pump action shotgun, you should still follow this process.  Simply work whatever action your new gun has, in the same steps as above.
Advantages of doing this? It can greatly help in smoothing a "crunchy" trigger (Springfield XD, anyone?), and reduce or avoid double-feeds, stove-pipes (spent cartridge ejection jam), and general pain-in-the-assedness.  It will also generally help the firearm feel better in hand quicker, which will not only make you feel good about your purchase, but drive you to get back to the range sooner than later so you can shoot your new gun again.  The more you shoot, the better shot you become, the more proficient and efficient you become in operating the weapon, and the more these actions become autopilot, which is critical in a panic, life or death situation.

So, to sum up: Watch a movie and break in your new gun.  It could save your life!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The First Blog: The Blogger's Creed

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My blog is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my blog is useless. Without my blog I am useless. I must blog my blog true. I must blog straighter than my enemy, who is trying to out blog me. I must blog him before he blogs me. I will. Before God, I swear this creed: my blog and myself are defenders of my country, we are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.

If anyone wonders, I stole this directly from my friend Chuck's blog, Groovy Marmalade.  It's okay though.  He probably stole from someone else, besides Full Metal Jacket and R. Lee Ermey.  ;-)


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