Oct 31, 2012

Man-purse, two years later

I was digging through my archives looking for something and found the original review I'd written of my Maxpedition KISS bag. It struck me that it's been nearly two years and I should do some kind of an update.

When I wrote that first post, the bag was new. I hadn't really wrung out what I wanted in it. Now I mostly have. Sure, it changes based on what I'm doing, but the basics are always there.

Quick (current) junk on the bunk shot:
 Literally, I dumped everything out of it, quickly arranged, and snapped a picture. Camelbak bottle, spare glasses, Gorillapod, Galaxy Tab, spare batteries, Leatherman tool, whistle, pen, Sharpie, nail clippers, M&P40c, spare mags, spork, various meds, MagLite, knife, lighter, flint. Normally it contains the camera I used to take the picture, too.

All packed up. The large center pocket only has the tablet in it, leaving plenty of room for a book, lunch, snack, whatever.

You may also notice the heavy wear and tear on the bag... or perhaps more accurately, lack of. As in none. The only damage I can find on this bag after two years of daily carry and abuse is a few stitches that tore out of a piece of trim tape. Nothing else. The fabric is still intact, zippers still zip, and the velcro still velcs.

I've carried everything from a PM9 to a government 1911A1 in the holster with no issues. The 5" 1911 is the top end of fit for the bag, but it does go. The current selection - the M&P40c - has been the best combination of fit and weight for me. 31 rounds of Ranger riding along is a nice feeling.

Midway does a seasonal run of the colors above, or you can grab one over at Amazon for about $60, or direct from Maxpedition for $70.

If something happens to this one, I can pretty much guarantee I'll be reaching for the plastic that same day; I feel lost without this bag now.

What vote fraud?

A fellow over on AR15.com just got his daughter's voter registration card in the mail. It says she's eligible to vote in the general election on November 6, 2012.

His daughter is 17.

She won't turn 18 until next summer.

Nothing to see here; move along.

Movie quickie

Watched Tomorrow, When the War Began last night (it's on Netflix).

It's Red Dawn, set in Australia.

Kinda fun.

Oct 29, 2012

Off to work

Someone called in for the evening shift, and I decided to take the sweet, sweet, overtime. We're secure here and MrsZ knows how to run things without me.

Since no one seems to really know what's going to happen with the storm, I'm taking an overnight bag with a couple changes of clothes and a few meals worth of food. I swapped the hitch on the truck for a receiver shackle, and there's really not a lot left to do.

And yes, I'll be packing heavier than the .40 I normally carry.

Oct 28, 2012

Storm Prep - Part 2

Local friends are reporting that the grocery stores are already out of bottled water and gas stations are rationing.

I had been thinking about going in town to take care of a few things today, but you know what? I think not.

Oct 27, 2012

Finis, again

MrsZ has her Delicate Flower AR. I purchased a twin upper (Stag 3H) at the same time, with the intent of turning it into a truck/house gun. I think I've finally finished.

I picked up a YHM drop-in rail for a song (literally, a third of list) on ArfCom, and a GripPod-02 from another ArfCommer. The scope is a Nikon P-223 3x32, which was out of stock everywhere for quite some time. I stumbled across them at Primary Arms with a deal on the matching rings, and grabbed it immediately. (I'm VERY happy with that scope, by the by. Smacking head-size rocks on the 250yd berm at my range is a snap from the bench.)

The only thing it was missing was a light. I had a spare Surefire G2L floating around, and today I stopped at Dicks and got a Viking Tactics light mount. That's been mounted. End result:

Loaded with a full (pre-ban) magazine of 55gr VMax, it'll cure what ails ya. I'm pretty happy with it. I'd like to replace the A2 grip with an Ergo, and the pinned CAR stock with a MAGS EFX, but those are low-priority for the time being.

ETA: Just tossed it on the scale out of curiosity. With the magazine, it's 9lb4oz. Less the mag, 8lb5oz. The Delicate AR is 7lb10oz and the NM A2 is 9lb10oz (both unloaded). So - hanging all the extra crap on there really didn't add much weight.

Storm preps

I know a lot of my friends along the east coast are getting ready for Sandy. Most of them are already "ready" and are just laying in a little extra.

Me? I'm feeling pretty OK with our current situation. I'll go fill the two empty gas cans and the kerosene can I emptied last week, run the generator to blow out the dust, and call it good. Our stove is gas, the temperatures aren't supposed to be too bad (so the kerosene heater is plenty), and the generator will handily run the freezer for an hour or two out of every six or eight. We've got plenty of water put up, and racks full of canned and dried stuff on top of what's in the freezer.

If the power goes out, we'll light an oil lamp and continue with life as (nearly) normal - but the little friends might be a touch closer to hand than otherwise.

wall: complete

We did finish the wall yesterday. An hour or two of getting the base course level and even, then a couple more hours of stacking block and backfilling with gravel.

End result:

A pallet plus two layers (that'd be 154) blocks, most of a yard of sand, and about 2.5 yards of #1 gravel. The corner stones on the top course have a layer of glue under them, the rest are just being held by gravity and friction - and not showing any signs of moving. (They were very thoroughly beaten into place.)

We still need to front-fill the wall with topsoil and seed it. Come springtime we'll re-check and adjust for level on the wall, then add a row of cap stones and either fill with another couple inches of gravel or some cobbles.

We found after it was built that my level base wasn't quite. The wall lost about 2" in the 35-foot run; I'm calling that close enough for gummint work.

And a word to the wise: those home-improvement shows that say this kind of thing is a weekend project? They're lying to you. Digging the trench and getting the sand base level took me the better part of two days of work in our rocky sticky soil. Laying the first course and getting it level and even was another 5-6 hours, and the rest of the wall took another 4 hours.

And I love Advil.

(Just for reference, each block is 27lb, and gravel is about 3,000lb/yd.)

Oct 26, 2012

Weather work...

I had a guy coming to work on our coal stove Wednesday. Since I was taking the morning off to do that, I scheduled the water softener guy for the same morning.

Tuesday afternoon the stove guy called and needed to reschedule to Friday. *sigh* Fine. MrsZ can be home without trouble.

I spent yesterday afternoon working on a landscaping project/retaining wall that's been on the to-do all summer. I looked at the forecast and see that Sandy is working back towards the coast, and starting tomorrow (Saturday) there's nothing but rain in one form or another (and perhaps some snow or ice for variety) for a week-plus.

I called in.

The stove guy has been and gone, I've had two cups of coffee. I'm about to make an egg and english muffin, and then I'm going out to FINISH this damn wall.

Oct 25, 2012


Wally couldn't walk away from the challenge, but ... well, it's not what I was hoping for.

FOR SALE: One barrel. It may or may not fit an AR-pattern rifle, and the caliber is anyone's guess. Finish is rough but functional. Fluting is ... legendary. Butt-stink included at no extra charge.

... all offers considered.

Oct 23, 2012

It's starting...

Had some email discussion with Wally the other night, and he sent me an in-progress picture of the Pale Horse barrel. It looks awesome. :)

Home again, Home again

We spent the weekend in Connecticut at the wedding of some very dear friends, and it was wonderful. The wedding was Sunday evening; we drove out Saturday and spent the afternoon exploring (and visiting a petting farm) before dinner at First & Last Tavern (Avon).

We stayed the night at a local B&B, the Linden House. (Their site is out of date; the guy who designed it fell off the planet and they're not sure how to fix that.) Beautiful house, and the owners - Julia and Myles - are first-generation Irish immigrants. Julia welcomed us (and she LOVES to talk) and has just a faint hint of a brogue left, most evident in the L's and R's. We met Myles at breakfast in the morning, and his accent is much more evident. Wonderfully sweet people and I'd not hesitate to recommend their house to anyone in the area.

Sunday was beautiful weather, and we decided to make the hike to Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park. The first quarter-mile of the hike was pretty steep, then it's gently rolling with spectacular views of the valley:

Also, no fences to protect you from yourself. Cool.

We finally reached the tower, and wandered through what little bit of it is open to the public. I'd love to see the rest of the inside, but that's not open... yet.

The view from the top is magnificent:

And from the non-trail side of the building, this is what the tower looks like:

Hiked back down, checked in to our hotel, relaxed and cleaned up, and then it was off to the wedding. Our invite indicated "black tie optional", and I did rent a tux for the event. I was far from the only one. Very elegant event; the bride was (quite literally) bouncing with excitement as she said her vows and the groom seemed to have an allergy attack. ;-) The reception and dinner following was magnificent, and I'm VERY happy we got to help friends celebrate. There are (somewhere) pictures of us all dressed up; I'll have to see if I can get them from the appropriate folks.

Drove home yesterday, and it's back into life with a vengeance...

Oct 16, 2012

AR basics

I'm far from an expert, but Bob has a post up asking for AR advice. I threw in my nickel as follows; if you have any insight please feel free to put it in comments here or there or both.

1/7 and 1/9 are the most commonly found, although you’ll find some 1/8 and even as high as 1/12 in some applications. Roughly speaking, faster twist means heavier bullets stabilize better. That said, the 1/8 on my A2 shoots 45gr nicely. Every barrel has an ideal, but my rule of thumb is 1/9 for 50-62gr, 1/8 for 55-72gr, and 1/7 for 62+. If you’re planning to use 55-62gr surplus ammo, a 1/9 is just fine.
16″ is a good utility barrel length; handy enough to move with and long enough to keep blast down some. Chrome lining will be a good thing for your described purpose; it can degrade accuracy some but not enough to matter at home distances. We’re talking changing a 1.5MOA barrel to a 3MOA barrel.
The AR was designed as a DI rifle. Don’t bother fighting that. Gas length… on a 16″ barrel, a carbine gas system is standard. If you’re using a front-sight gas block, it’s a pretty short radius. Putting a rifle-length system on a carbine barrel ends up with what’s called a “dissipator”, which I think looks freaking stupid but does give you a rifle sight radius. If you’re going with optics, go carbine.
Matter of preference. I’ve got standard parkerized BCGs in all three of my current ARs, but I’m putting a Nickel-Boron plated group in my 300BLK build. If you intend to use it for hard use, it might be worth getting a MPI bolt group.
Yes, what upper you get defines the gas length. For optics, I’d put on a decent set of irons to start and save a few bucks for an AimpointPRO or Eotech 512; they both run $400ish new. The forward assist is part of the upper, not the lower, and most rifles in your budget will have one.
Get a mil-spec lower. Pick a rollmark you like and get that one. Avoid cast lowers. Spikes, Palmetto State, York Arms, (the list goes on) are good lowers. I’ve got one from Anvil Arms (since out of business), two from Territorial Arms (out of business), one from York Arms and another York on the way. They’re all solid. A generic lower parts kit includes a single-stage trigger that may or may not be decent. It’ll take you an hour and a few basic tools to assemble a lower. Worth doing just to understand how the rifle works. An upgraded trigger like a Timney or Geissele is a nice-to-have investment but not necessary. (And on a defensive rifle, I’m not sure a 3# match trigger is necessarily a good thing.)
In your budget, here’s my recommendation:
- pick a lower; any lower. Get a lower parts kit. Assemble. ($125 lower, $60 LPK)
- get a stock you like; a collapsible M4-style stock with buffer etc is a good bet. ($60)
- get an assembled upper from someplace like Stag Arms. I have this one on two rifles and love it. Spend the $75 for the “plus pack” for the 1/7 and MPI bolt if you want, but it’s fine without. ($465/540)
- buy an optic you like; start with a budget red dot (TruGlo is a good bet) if you can’t swing an Eotech yet. ($50-400)
- buy a pile of PMags ($15/ea)
Total: $760+ without magazines.

Oct 12, 2012


There aren't really any public-use areas devoted to shooting around here. No informal canyon ranges, sand pits, old quarries, whatever. There are, however, huge tracts of public-use land where hunting is a-ok. I checked out one of them last month; about fifteen minutes from my house. It's nearly a thousand acres of marshy potholes and tall grass. Should be awesome for geese if I can figure out the proper gear to get in there in winter.

Walking out, though, I came across this:
1: This sign is public property.
2: There is a road about 75 yards beyond this sign.
3: Doing this makes shooters and hunters look like the inbred yokels people try to make us out as.
4: Continuation of this kind of wanton destruction guarantees the closing of public-access hunting lands.

If you're doing this: fuck you.
If you see someone doing this, report them. Keep our land-use areas open.

Personal Space

Uncle throws this one out as part of a HouseOfMouse experience:
And, often, they’ll get a bit too close and in the personal space of someone used to carrying a gun, who’s not a fan.
(Please note, no Brits or others were harmed in the writing of that blog post.)

I'm big on personal space. My own, and observing others' space. I hate having people close to me. Last week some lady in the checkout at the grocery store was literally bumping my arm with her elbow as she stood behind me. I wish I'd had a nice juicy fart on deck for her, but no such luck - so I had to make do with an exaggerated dig in my pocket for my keys, which just happened to dig my elbow into her shoulder on the way out. Oops.

Cartridge Comparison

Found this image while lurking the darker corners:

York Arms is building my upper in .300Blackout (#12) right now; I've heard of most of the others in one form or another... but I hadn't heard about the 7.62x40WT (#13). From Wilson's page:

The cartridge is designed for 110-150gr .308” diameter bullets loaded to supersonic velocities, but if chambered in a 1-8 twist barrel is also suitable for heavy bullet subsonic use also.
It's got just a hair more ass to it than the 300BLK; factory loads are showing 125gr at 2350fps (up from 2200 or so)... Aside from that last 100-200fps, I don't see much in the way of advantage over the 300. Doubly so since (to my knowledge), the WT isn't a SAAMI-spec round - so it's all subject to licensing from Wilson, and therefore more expensive.

Still - I'm glad to see people trying new things.

Oct 11, 2012

Slick compilation

GunSpec has compiled a one-stop-shop for comparing scope reticles. 21 makers are represented, from Aimpoint right through Zeiss. Good info to have.

Deal Alert

Lehman's (purveyors of lots of no-electricity-required stuff you never knew you needed) is having a one-day sale. Of particular note are some pretty good prices on Dietz oil lanterns:

Lil' Wizard for $12
Black Blizzard for $12
Original Hurricane for $11

They'll burn kerosene or liquid paraffin (I prefer the paraffin for indoor use; it's not quite as bright but doesn't have any odor) and are plenty of light to move around, cook, or eat. We've got a couple Juniors hanging in the kitchen that have seen more than a little use when the power is out or we just want a candlelit meal.

Coffee, Stingray-style

Look, you hopped up pretentious fuckskids of inferiority masquerading as trendy, there is one goddamn thing that has been utterly fucking pivotal to the advancement and continuance of human progress in the history of the fucking world, eclipsed in importance only by beer, and I am utterly fed the righteous fuck up with every half-wit with an art history degree and a pot of boiling water fucking it up.
Coffee is not this fucking hard, people.

Preach it, brother! MrsZ and I have been constantly struggling to find a roast that we can agree on. I like medium, she likes darker. I make the coffee most mornings though, so I get to choose. The blend lately has been Peet's "Cafe Solano". It's not bad. Not great, but not bad - and decent enough that we agree on it. Sometimes we'll grab a can of "Cuppa Joe" from the local beanery, which is also pretty good stuff. (We are at least agreed that Sumatras will never sully our cupboards; foul beans they are!)

We've been using a Melitta pour-over cone for about a year now, with generally good results. 1 tablespoon of beans per cup of coffee, ground just before brewing, and a quick grind of sea salt into the basket.

Oct 10, 2012

Oct 5, 2012

Birthday Wishes

Everyone's favorite smoulderer, RobbAllen, is turning 40 in a bit more than a week.

He's got a birthday wish.

I think I can handle that. Maybe you can too?

Oct 2, 2012

Modified Navy Qual

Saw this one over at The Drawn Cutlass, and I really like the concept. Kind of a rifle equivalent to El Presidente.

Place a target with an 8-inch center zone at 50 yards. (A paper plate stapled to the chest area of a silhouette target works great.) Load three magazines with five rounds each. At the firing line, assume a low-ready position with the rifle loaded. When the buzzer sounds, fire five rounds from the standing position. Reload, and fire five rounds from the kneeling position. Reload again, and fire your last five rounds from the prone position. The clock stops when you fire your final shot from prone.
There's more to it as far as scoring and such, but that's the essentials. With a .22 and an 8" steel plate this could be a HELL of a lot of fun, and cheap to do. Maybe it's time to invest in some new mags for the M&P15-22...