Nov 17, 2014

Thank you

Several of you reached out to lend an ear after my last post. It's appreciated.

And, inevitably, there have been some good moments to help outweigh the unpleasant ones.

Nov 14, 2014

A couple for the wish-list

My selection of actions and calibers is pretty well-rounded... but there are a couple holes I'd like to fill:
- a Glock 19 ... because good lord they're everywhere. And I can get Blue Label pricing.
- a bolt-action .223, leaning towards a Tikka T3 Lite stainless.
- a big-bore. This is WAY down the list, but I'd love to have a .338 or larger in the vault.

Nov 12, 2014

A month in... and a few thoughts

I've been working at the new job for almost a month. It has not been all sunshine and light.

My assigned trainer was there my first day, and then went on vacation. (He has since returned.)

I had a bit of a flap with my interim trainer.

I have (more than once) questioned my ability to do the job.

I have taken a significant pay cut (again).

I have come home from a shift absolutely braindead. I ate dinner by muscle memory and collapsed into bed until the alarm went off again the next morning.

I have had to work hard to break some really bad habits.

I have worked more fires in four weeks than in the preceding fourteen months.

I have received my complete uniform issue (A's, work, and accessories).

I will be released from my training period effective at 1800 Saturday.

All that said...

This department is an order of magnitude busier than anything I've ever dealt with before, and I have been warned that nights (where I'm heading) will see a lot of trauma and other unpleasantness. It's going to take some adjusting.

I have already had more than one call that's necessitated a fifteen-minute break and walk around the building while I say some quiet words. I can't go into specifics here for obvious reasons... but for those of you in the field, if you see me on IRC or FB and want to lend me an ear for a few minutes, I would kind of appreciate it.

Nov 3, 2014

WTF, silver?

Back in January, I wrote:
For the silverbugs who read, it has been on a pretty steady (albeit gradual) decline for several days and is now flirting with $19/oz. Can it go lower? Of course. Will it? Maybe a bit. I personally feel the days of $10 silver are long gone; $20 is my "buy what you comfortably can" price and if it went to $15 I'd be looking to load up at the expense of other things. 
Well, it has continued a generally down slope these intervening nine months, and spot is now around $16/oz (having dropped over $2 in the last six weeks). The end of Quantitative Easing 3 seems to have influenced the price, but I don't pretend to understand why.

Life changes lately (namely the job change and attendant pay cut) have made buying a lot of extra stuff less attractive. I did buy a few small pieces with my severance check, and I have another ATB set coming soon, but otherwise? Not likely to buy much. That said: if you can, it sure is a nice time to look at silver and gold, as both are awful close to a five-year low.

And it bears repeating:
If you're investing with plans to flip for a profit... One: do your own research. Past performance, future results, etc. I'm not an adviser. Two: the handling fees (shipping, insurance, etc) on flipping physical items can eat up any profits in a hell of a hurry unless the spot increase is huge. Three: investors do silver on paper (SLV options, and calls, and lots of other words I don't pretend to get).

If you're hedging with an eye towards a tangible asset with long-term stability, then physical precious metals are a great bet, and fitting them into your budget is a great way to build a nice nest egg. (Look up dollar-cost averaging. Buy a set dollar amount monthly, regardless of the spot price.) But only do this if the rest of your house is in order. Food, shelter, etc.

Oct 24, 2014

Isn't this a gun blog?

Occasionally I do write about guns here... like now.

One of my acquisitions over the last several months was an Atlas Bipod. I've had a couple of the "clamps to a swivel stud" over the years and they have always felt flimsy. I found a fair deal on a gently-used Atlas with the quick-mount for a Picatinny rail, and it was off to the races. (DaddyBear or FarmDad referred to these as "car payment bipods" in chat one night. Not far off the mark: my first car payment was about 60% of what I paid for this piece of kit.)

I've mounted it on an AR and ... truth be told ... it's worth every damn penny. Swivel, cant, adjustable legs, solid rubber feet - and those are easily replaced with skis or cleats or spikes if I so desire. No, it doesn't snap into place like the Harris-style 'pods. I'm OK with that, because I don't need that. It does lock the legs into position - and has 45-degree positions for them as well.

Unfortunately, two of the rifles I wanted to mount this bipod on - my Savage MkII and Savage Model 12 - are beautiful laminate wood stocks with not a hint of rail to be found. How to fix this? Add rails, of course.

I dug out a few spare sections of bolt-on rails from a Troy Alpha handguard, and found that the backing plates are threaded 10-32. A stop at Lowe's resulted in a package of 3/4" 10-32 stainless hex cap screws, and I started on the MkII.

It comes from the factory with two front swivel studs. I removed one and used that hole to start mounting the rail section, then drilled the second one and countersunk the outside. No inletting was needed, as the stock has a pretty good channel already. End result:

I made the stop at Lowe's again for a package of 1" screws for the Model 12, screwed up my courage, and clamped the stock into my vise:
(Yes, it's an old welding glove for padding. Works like a champ.) I measured, marked, measured, drilled pilot holes, then drilled through the stock with the correct diameter bit.

The Model 12 has no relief channel in the inletting, and putting the backer plate in the existing barrel channel would likely destroy the free-float and thus the accuracy. So ... I screwed up my courage and dug out my router. Fitted with a 1/2" straight-flute bit, I started cutting away an inlet in small sections. I ended up digging in deeper than I meant to on the last pass, but there was plenty of meat for "oops" and it didn't hurt anything beyond my pride. I chose not to countersink the rail offsets on this one, so there is a slight gap between the rail and the stock... but the final result is something I'm happy with:

There are plenty of gun projects to keep me occupied over the coming months, as funds allow. I need to pick up an adjustable gas block for an AR rifle, a standard for a pistol, a couple gas tubes and muzzle devices, a lower parts kit (and maybe a better trigger), handguard, optics...

I'm starting to toy with duracoating the current rifle build into brushy camo of some kind, but not sure yet.

Stay tuned. Once in a while we'll talk guns. :-)