Sunday, August 21, 2016

BlackDog Concealment holsters... a visit to the shop.



A few weeks ago (as I write this), I had the honor of visiting Carl Witt in his dungeon at BlackDog Concealment holsters.  There, I watched as he masterfully crafted my very own IWB hybrid holster.

I found BlackDog holsters through an ad placed in our local gun club's newsletter.  The usual ads, the size of a business card, which local business's use to support a local club and reach out to local customers.

In my case, I noticed just how close BlackDog is to my home (about 10 minutes), and thought to myself "Self... Maybe you can see how this Kydex holster making stuff actually works!"

Contacting Carl, he readily agreed to open the dungeon doors and show me how the magic is made. 

BlackDog is a 'Retirement' business for Carl, who spent his life making machines behave.  Now, he spends time with his son building holsters to, as he puts it, make money to buy beer and gas.  I have a feeling it's gone a bit beyond that at this point.  

I asked how he got started making holsters, and got exactly the answer I suspected.  Carl shoots competition, and just couldn't find a holster he was happy with... so he made his own.  And another.  And another.  And..... before long it just happened.  Asked if he advertises, Carl replied "No, pretty much just word of mouth".  Asked how many holsters he makes a day right now, he says about ten or twelve.   Doing the math on how long it took him to make mine (while I had to keep dancing to stay out of his efficient way), I gather Carl's 'retirement' business is more than a full time affair.

I chose the Hydrid IWB Minimalist holster for my Glock 30sf.  This holster has a leather backing where it touches the body, and a Kydex outer sheath which is molded to fit the pistol.  It attaches to the belt with a springy polymer clip, allowing the holster to be installed and removed easily while fully dressed.  Pistol retention is achieved by the shape of the molded Kydex, and is fairly stiff.



The process of making the holster is pretty straight forward, yet Carl's attention to detail is profound.  There are rows of identical machines, each set up to perform a specific function.  I believe the man orders presses and buffers by the six pack.

When I ordered the holster, I half expected to hear back the 30 'SF' was a no-go.  It has different dimensions than most compact Glocks, and many accessory makers don't work with it because demand is too low.

Silly me..... Carl has that covered.  He has wall full of 'Blue Guns', used to mold the Kedex.  All neatly arranged, classified, and marked.... just like everything else in the work shop.  There is also an impressive collection of lasers and weapon lights arranged in likewise fashion.  They can match up most combinations of pistol and attached light to build a perfectly fitting concealed  carry holster.  In fact, I am now considering mounting a light on my daily carry G-30sf, simply because now I know I can get a holster to fit it.



There is an equally impressive wall full of custom wood and metal dies used to mark off and form the leather and Kydex.   Most appear to be made in house, in separate wood and metal working shops.  Carl is pretty much a jack of all trades, and it shows in the custom jigs and fitting used around the workshops.



So... the real question.... what about the holster?

Like most people who carry for self defense, I have amassed the 'Big Box 'O Holsters'.  Bought at one time or another in efforts to find something better.  That said, I've been been carrying in the very same Galco JAK Slide daily for maybe 15 years.  It's simple, fits, and works well enough I'm willing to let the few down-checks pass. 

I've now been carrying with the BlackDog holster for a few weeks, and find it to be more comfortable than I imagined. It's the first IWB holster I've had that doesn't rub or irritate in any way at all.  It's also at least as secure as the Galco Slide, if not more so.  I like the idea of installing and removing the weapon and holster as a unit, giving me a few less chances each day of having an accidental discharge.

Like any holster, there are a few quibbly things I'd consider changing, and just might ask Carl's advice on.  Those aside, I believe this holster will not be destined for the 'Big Box', but will be worn in rotation with the Galco for quite a while to come.  It's *very* comfortable, quite secure, easy to install and remove, draws nicely, and re-holsters WAY better than the JAK Slide.

I'm happy with it.    

BlackDog holsters gets the Fat Man's approval.





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Well, I didn't shoot anyone this morning......


So I've got that going for me.  I mean, not shooting people is on my daily to-do list, and it's always good to get the big stuff out of the way bright and early.

On the other hand, I did put hand to weapon, and was quite ready to go the next step if pushed.

Let me 'splain.   I'll do this in 'bullet point fashion' as chronological order is best I think.

  • I was up at 3am, for a 4:30 alarm.  Blasted leg cramps... so lots of time for coffee, reading, and getting ready for my day.  Towards that end, I was dressed and ready to boogie by 5am. although Herself was not ready till 5:30.... sigh.   By dressed, I mean dressed, and that includes a G-30 in a belt holster and fully charged Fenix flame-throwing flashlight (Which I use all day at work).
  • 5:30, we go out the front door.  My car is parked directly in front of the house. Herself is in a foot cast, and I make that commute to the car as short as possible, both coming and going. Thus the car is 10 feet from the house, along our sidewalk.
  • I 'Chirp' my car unlocked, and open the passenger rear door to toss in a spare uniform for this hot and sultry day.  In the light of the interior courtesy light, a dark lump is on my front seat.
  • First thought.... "What did I leave on my seat?".  Second thought.... "I left NOTHING on my seat".  Third thought.... "I recall not locking my car last night".  Fourth thought.... "Someone put something on my seat".    Now, all these thoughts took place in less than a second.
  • The Dark Lump Moved.
  • .0002 seconds later, the dark something has resolved itself into a white male with a beard, buzzed short hair, a black shirt/jacket/whatever.  Facing rearward, curled up, his face buried into my headrest.
  • I reacted .0003 seconds later.  I stepped back, creating distance, and said the obligatory 'Oh Shit' at the same time one hand went to my weapon and the other to my light. There I froze, waiting movement from the Mr. Dark Lump Dude.  The car interior light was enough to see him by, now that I knew what he was.
  • Thoughts:  "Do I know this guy?" NO.   "Is that one of my sons?"  NO.   "Is that a former student?"  Always a chance.   This took another .0002 seconds.
  • Herself reacts by asking "What's the matter?"
  • I respond with "THERE IS A GUY IN MY CAR AND I'M ABOUT TO SHOOT HIM!".   The thought..... if this guy is conscious that may provoke response.  I've had experience rousting drunks and bums in a former life, and sometimes it takes a real push to get a reaction. They will often play dead just to be left alone.
  • No response from Mr. Dark Lump Dude... except some twitching.
  • I shut the door, backed up to the porch, and engaged my light while keeping a hand close to my weapon.  A few moments looking, and it's pretty clear what I am facing. A scruffy guy who was stumbling down the road, and took shelter in the car to sleep off whatever he's on.  My guess, only slightly educated, would be heroin, alcohol, and weed.
  • Breath, and back down from Defcon 1 to Defcon 2. 
  • Call 911, but first... use my phone to take a few pictures of the guy. I know calling 911 will lock my phone all to hell up and disable every other function.   Mr. Dark Lump Dude never even moves as the flash goes off. 
  • Give a concise description to the operator, get transferred a few times, end up with our State Police who cover this area.  I describe it all again, say thank you, hang up, and begin waiting.
  • Response time was about 15 minutes, as I was quite clear we were in no fear of harm.
  • The nice officers arrived, each took a side of the car, and there was a little bit of 'point the guns' and "Show me your hands!".  Lump Dude had no idea what was happening, where he was, or probably who he is.  To be purely honest, my foremost thought was "Man, please don't shoot him in my car!  That will be a bitch to clean!"  I MAY have said that out loud.  Not sure on that.
  • 6am.... we wiped down the interior with bleach wipes and hit the road to work.
 One lesson learned:  I have grown very complacent on home security. Especially with the passive stuff.  My car should not have been there, should not have been unlocked, and the motion lights should have been working. I should have checked that car before ever getting near it.

Other lessons are coming to light, as I think about it. One is that I should clean my car out more than once a week..... sheesh.




 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cuz I think weird... okay?


There was a super ball lodged in a shelf below a machine in the shop one day.  It had probably been there for months, casually tossed as a joke after being found in a vehicle fresh from the sale.  Just stuck there..... just a little rubber ball.


My eyes tell my brain, and said brain goes FLASH!  Ah HA!  Chortling like Renfield, I snatched up the ball and scampered.. scampered I say... to my tool box, where I opened a fresh razor blade and sliced that ball clean in two.

Why?  Because it looks like EXACTLY what I need to create a pressure point against the force sensor I bought.  One step closer to a recoil sensing rig for measuring and graphing recoil pulse on rifles!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Amongst my other flaws.....



I may have fallen victim to an entirely human flaw.  That of believing wishful thinking will become reality, given enough strident wishing.

When I assembled a Franken-AR to be an 'accurate' rifle, I made the false assumption it should BE accurate, just because that was my intention.   Thus, I was sorely disappointed on it's first range debut, finding it had at best only average accuracy.

Right out of the box, I expected flights of singing angels, and tight groups, from an untried assembly of components and cheap ammunition.

Wow.  Just bloody.... wow.  Self realization with a blasted big stick.  I'm an idiot.

At the age of 14, I was glass bedding a marlin .22 bolty and polishing it's muzzle in the search for better accuracy as a squirrel rifle.

Decades ago, I was still on that search with big bore rifle.  Bedding, action work, bore polishing, better triggers, better optics, different muzzle cuts, and above all else.... building superior ammunition matched to the rifle.

I have a $79 Turkish Mauser with $200 worth of new parts and untold hours of labor, just to make it accurate enough to suit me.

I have a Bolt action 30-06 Interarms Mauser that's a supremely accurate hunting rifle..... after weeks and weeks of careful load development.

Now I spend a few hours assembling an AR, one from column A and two from column B, and expect it to be a laser from the first shot.     Yes, proof positive I am an idiot, or at least human.

Okay, got it.  Mea Culpa.  I'll get my head straight and get on process to make it work right.  I've a pretty good idea what it takes, and it will happen given enough solid work and careful thought.  The rifle has shown signs it *can* shoot straight, if I do my part.

Let the load development begin, and the unreasonable expectations... end.

Sheesh.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hmm.... well...... so it goes.


Lately, since I have started writing for this blog again, readership has plummeted.   While I took a nearly two year hiatus, roughly 1000 people a day still wandered into this tiny little nook on the interwebs.   Now that I am putting up a bit of new stuff, that's dropped to a few hundred a day.

Hmm...... do I have bad breath?  Am I offending people?  Are my topics lately scoring a new low on the boring scale?

Meh.  Curiosity only goes so far.  I'll not worry about it.  The coffee is fresh and good, I made blueberry pancakes for the clan, and they turned out perfect.  The bacon is crispy just so.

This blog always was little more than a journal of my shooting misadventures. That's a good thing for it to remain being.

MMmm....... Coffeeeee.........


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Measuring felt recoil.....


I have a desire to measure rifle recoil as felt by the shooter.   Yeah.... It's a mad scientist kind of moment.

I was thinking I may be able to use this force sensor, and my Vantage graphing multi-meter to make this happen.  Fix a thin steel plate to the rifle butt, tape the sensor in place, and fire the rifle with the butt against a fixed and firm sandbag.  Perhaps a thin plastic strip will need to be applied over the sensor to better relay the firce of the recoil.

If it works, I should be able to read both peak and duration of the recoil event graphed out.

My goal is to accurately measure the changes in rifle recoil as related to different muzzle brake designs, and other changes in the weapon.

Thoughts?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Last night....




In the rural area I live, gunfire is common.  Many a summer evening I can hear automatic weapons fire coming from three distinct directions, and all it means is people are having more fun than I am.  

Come this Fourth of July weekend, and we add in a host of fireworks; Enough to frighten the horses and drive the dogs insane.

As we relaxed in our living room, listening to the neighbors cute little firecrackers, and the AK and AR fire from over the hills..... resolve set in.  Herself and I shared a look, and the same thought passed wordlessly.

I took myself to the car for hearing protection, and she put something over the nightgown.  The safe opened,  Liberty was retrieved and readied.    Liberty, my M1 Garand rifle, a gift from a good man.  Two clips... enough.

Out back, to the round bale I had dropped there to absorb bullets.  In the dark, Liberty loaded by muscle memory and feel.  Aim taken at the center of the huge white bale...

Blam!  Blam! Blam!  Blam! Blam!  Blam! Blam!  Blam! PING!

Reload by feel in the dark, thoughts on our nations warriors and soldiers who made those same motions in battle, fighting for their lives, their buddies, and in the end our freedom.

BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM... PING!  As fast as I could.  Fire belching from the barrel, shell casings raining down, the 30 caliber rifle roaring in the darkness.

In the distance, silence.  All other firing and fireworks had ceased.

As the last clip fell to the concrete, it rang with the clarity and long song of a bell in the clear air of the night.  Herself asked  "What is that ringing?"

Freedom, I replied.  That's the sound of freedom.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Muzzle devices designed and built by Chuck Bogardus (The Bogie)



So, there's this guy. His name is Chuck Bogardus, he's a curmudgeonly old coot, and some kind of magical machinist type person. We walks out into his insanely hot machine shop in St Luis, and dreams up things we can screw onto the muzzles of our rifles.  Flash suppressors, muzzle brakes, hybrids, 'compliance' devices (Pointy things).... you name it, he carves metal til it appears.


Here's the thing now.... the mad Santa Claus machinist could use some sales right about now. There's rent to be paid, electricity is kinda nice, and a powerful need to eat sometime this month.

If you have a hankering for something pretty darn good on the end of your barrel, or think you might want something like that in the future, or hell... Christmas is coming.... I'd consider it a favor if you'd drop a line to Chuck and consider buying some of his products.  I've got three so far, and I'm very pleased with them indeed.

Contact Chuck at bogiestl@gmail.com, or friend him on Facebook (facebook.com/thebogie).



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Re-cutting a muzzle crown by hand....


The AR-15 accuracy project rifle displayed a wonky pattern on the muzzle crown after a disappointing first day at the range. Perhaps it was part of the issue with this rifle throwing patterns instead of groups, or perhaps not.  In either case, It's no longer an issue.


Using a chamfer kit purchased from Brownells a lifetime ago,  the first step after cleaning the muzzle was to square the face of the barrel at 90 degrees.




With the .22 pilot fitted to the cutting head, and a bit of lube applied, the cutter was turned by hand while applying light pressure.  Stopping to clean every few turns, it took only minutes to get what I was looking for.

The next step, after cleaning the bore once again, was to set up the 11 degree cutter and repeat the job till the rifling ended cleanly at the muzzle.



Once again, the barrel was scrubbed, and then a thread protector screwed on to.. well.... protect the threads.

The next step is a range test, to see if this work has any effect at all on the fliers and lack of accuracy.

Easy peasy, if this was all it was!





Monday, June 20, 2016

Okay you schmart peoples..... put your thinking cap on for this one.....


The PSA 18" Wylde upper was.... disappointing.... in the accuracy department.  Shoot five rounds at 100 yards, find three holes within an inch, and the other two wandering around within four inches or so.

62 grain Federal green tip made four inch patterns, as it does from every AR I own.  PMC and Federal 55 grain FMJ, as described.  A few exactly on point of aim, the rest go walking away from the party.

This afternoon after work, I began the process.  I pulled the free float tube and checked the barrel nut for being loose.  It's massive, and SO tight I'll need a bench block and a big wrench to loosen it.  That will be happening, but not tonight.

Moving on, I pulled the flash suppressor to look at the barrel crown.  Loosening the cage took hammer blows on the wrench till I got 1/2 of a turn.  After that, finger tight.  Yes, I am not comfortable with what that tension may be doing to the last 3/4" inch of the stainless barrel.

Looking at the crown, I found this:



What am I seeing here?  It LOOKS like the muzzle was crowned at 45 degrees, and then the barrel rifled.  Or..... am I seeing bullet jacket fouling from the 50 or so rounds I fired yesterday?

I'll be scrubbing the barrel, and re-crowning this muzzle before I shoot it again. It won't have a flash suppressor or break on it when I shoot it next.

Thoughts?


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lego rifles...... mix and match AR-15 Frankenrifles.



What we have here is big 'ol pile of AR-15 parts, gathered over a few years.  What we also have is a graphic example of one reason why the AR-15 has become the most popular American rifle ever.  Used for home defense, target shooting, hunting, plinking, and tyranny ending, Eugene Stoner's  60 year old design still has a lot to offer.

Accumulated over the last few years, this pile *was* two working rifles, and a bunch of parts.  Not even two months ago, it would have been one working rifle, and assorted parts.  Now it seems to be snowballing.

The thing that makes this fun is the design.  A person with minimal technical skill can work on these rifles with a few inexpensive tools and a little help from easy to find expert sources.  From an AR barky pistol up to a full sized long range precision rifle, they can all be 'assembled' by an average person working on a kitchen table over the morning coffee.  Yes, there are certainly levels of quality one can expect from an experienced gunsmith that make their services worthwhile, but with an AR-15 even the common Joe or Joe'ette can do a serviceable job.

To be honest, when it comes to entry level AR-15's, one doesn't really save much moola by building it yo'self.  Even with cheaper parts, $500 seems about the bottom price point to build one.  Right now, a decent quality completely built entry level rifle runs less than $600 out the door when bought right.


The fun comes in making the rifle YOURS, and that's why I call them Lego rifles.  You can swap out furniture with only a couple cheap hand tools.  You can change an entire trigger assembly with nothing but a pin punch, an allen wrench, and an on-line video in only 15 minutes.  You can go so far as to turn a box full of unattached pieces into a complete, safe, and ready to fire rifle in an hour using less than $100 in tools.

Swap out a bolt or barrel, change calibers, make it a shorty carbine or a longish bench rifle... none of it is difficult or daunting for someone with even a little technical skill.

On THIS team are parts and assemblies from:
  • Rock River
  • Palmetto State Armory
  • AIM Surplus
  • CMMG
  • Spikes Tactical
  • Mako stocks
  • Midwest Industries
  • Nikon
  • Warne
  • Anderson
  • Eotech
  • Magpul
  • Hogue
  • Chuck Bogardus (custom muzzle devices)
  • Timney 
  • Ptac
(If ya'll want these linked, let me know)

Of the original two, one was my personal AR-15 with a Spikes heavy barrel 16" upper, a Rock River lower, Timney trigger, and Nikon 3x scope.  The other, a Rock River lower with CMMG guts and a Ptac upper from PSA.  It was an experiment in a cheap slickside upper that Herself liked so much, she declared it hers.  The Eotech is on that upper.


The newest upper is a PSA 18" stainless barrel with a .223 Wylde chamber, NiB bolt, tactical charging handle, and 3.5x14 Nikon telescope on a Nikon P223 base.  I expect this to be accurate.... or I'll damn well know why (shooting it tomorrow).

The newest lower was built from the Anderson receiver and a PSA kit in about 10 minutes while I sipped my morning coffee. It seemed a useful way to spend a lazy Saturday morning before everyone else got out of bed.

Looking at all these bits and pieces, it seems obvious the Lego rifle assemblies needed to hit the blender.

Out came a RR lower with Mako stock and Timney trigger, supporting the PSA 18" Wylde upper and big 'ol Nikon scope.  I'll be mounting a Harris bipod on this rifle, and working up an accuracy load.  Nothing over one MOA will be accepted.... and I expect better.

The Spikes 16" upper, decked out with the 3x fixed Nikon on Warne QD rings, and rail mounted flame thrower flashlight got fitted to the other RR lower with CMMG insides and basic M4 stock. It also has Magpul BUIS that are sighted at 100 yards. My 'house' gun, and just plain fun shooting rifle.  It will do 1.5 at 100 yards all day, and has never once missed a beat in thousands of rounds.

The Ptac upper (With the dangerous Bogardus 'Compliance' muzzle device and Eotech holo sight) was setup on the Anderson lower with PSA innards and M4 stock.  This is still Herself's rifle, and lives where she can grab it if needed.

There are still a few stray parts in the pile, and another stripped receiver to be built up one day.  I've had thoughts of building one for each son, and maybe another as a spare..... but at this point which one would I give up? 

These are MINE!





Assembling an AR-15 Lower Group..... over morning coffee.


Yes.... exactly that.  This morning, over my *second* cup of coffee (because I am not a complete idiot), I assembled an AR-15 lower unit.  The receiver, an Anderson bought from AIM, and the lower kit being a PSA house-made budget ensemble.

Using a video instruction put out by Larry Potter of MidwayUSA, as I always do:



My tools?  Minimal.  I'm comfortable doing the work over a towel spread on the living room floor, while sipping coffee and half listening to the parrot singing at me from her perch.

A decent screw driver set, since I'm not above using such as a pin punch in a panicked pinch. An AR multi tool, to install the stock nut. A small hammer, to tap in pins. Forceps, to hold said pins till started. A tiny tap, with matching threaded plugs to install behind the take-down pin detent spring. Finally, a needle applicator of CLP to apply a drop here and there as I go.  Masking tape is optional, but a good idea.  The video explains why.

Following the handy video, pausing at each step and replaying as needed to be 100% sure I've got it correct, it took me approximately .5 cups of coffee to get the job done.


The towel on the floor is *supposed* to keep parts in order, and prevent the tiny detents and springs from going too far.  In actuality it becomes the ONE PLACE we can be ASSURED that we won't have to look when a Tiny little %$@!&# detent goes flying.  The parrot laughed.  Ha ha.... very funny.

In other news, MidwayUSA sells a very nice essential small parts kit for AR builders, which has several spare detents and springs in it.  

After what seemed like only a few minutes, a box of parts became a fully assembled and functioning AR-15 lower receiver group.   Next step...... Lego rifles!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I believe it is beginning.....


Friends, I have been watching for an election season rush to purchase firearms and ammunition.  

I suspect the heinous actions of that sick coward in Orlando has spurred the crazy season.

Just my thought, for what it's worth.

 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rimworld, Stranded, by Jim Curtis (OldNFO). Ya'll go get this, ya hear?


Jim Curtis (OldNFO), Author and all round good guy, is expanding his repertoire into Mil-Sci-Fi, and I say it's bloody well about time!

His first toe-dip into the genre is Rimworld, Stranded. It's available on Amazon right now as a short story, which we Kindle Unlimited readers get for 'free' as part of our deal.

Jim's 'Grey Man' series reveals his vast and deep knowledge of firearms and shooting.  Now this move to Mil-Sci-Fi will let him combine that with his military experience, and I expect GREAT THINGS from this.

Ya here that Jim?  GREAT THINGS.

No pressure, my friend.


Raining.... Again. (Deep sigh)


The grass is tall enough that I'm researching the purchase of sheep instead of a new mower.  The back yard has already been turned over to pasture for the neighbors rescue horses. 

I really wished to go stretch out Liberty, the Garand, in a match today.... But hell, shooting a high power match in a thunderstorm?  Grumble grumble......



Friday, June 3, 2016

Palmetto State Armory, and a Mea Culpa





Yesterday I posted a rant-ish piece regarding PSA, shipping policies, and my disappointment.  Shortly after posting it, I had second thoughts and pulled it down.  My conscious was whispering at me  "Hey fathead.... it's only been a few days..... what kind of twit are you that expects instant gratification??"

In this case, the voice in my head was right.  The problem was *not* with Palmetto State Armory, if there could even be said to have been a real problem.

It looks like UPS registered the address label as being made, and then never updated tracking again till the Upper was practically at my door.  It went from "Label made, but we ain't got nuttin yet" straight to  "The truck is pulling up to your house now".

So there it is... the major component to my next AR assemblage.  It lacks a bolt group, and I expect to be ordering a Nickle Boron unit from AIM for this.   Then, optics.  I'm not putting on opens, but just staying with a Nikon scope.  I have several already, and can't pick a single nit regarding their product.  Rings will be the Warne ultra high QD steel, as I have those on another AR and they are bulletproof.  The lower it will go on is my Rock River unit which I've already installed a 3.5lb Timney trigger in.  On the muzzle, a Beehive brake from Chuck Bogardus at Ozark precision.

This upper has an 18" stainless A2 profile barrel with a .223 Wylde chamber.  It's light, but has a free floating tube and is noted for decent accuracy.

If I do this right, and haven't goofed up anyplace, it should be fairly straight shooting.  

I hope. 

Now, on the topic of muzzle devices..... I seem to be starting a collection.  I hadn't planned that, but sort of like kittens.... they just happened.

This has given me a bright idea (Insert light bulb flashing here).  Once I get this Frankenrifle shooting decently, why don't I run an experiment in regards to muzzle devices and accuracy?  The question in my mind... how much does accuracy change between a bare muzzle, an A2 style flash hider, and an actual muzzle brake?  I have a few other muzzle gadgets to toss into the mix... and now that I'm thinking about it I'm really very curious.






Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Labeling for hand loaders..... cheap, easy, lifesaving.





Reloaders label stuff.  Or... they should.  In fact, they should label just about everything they have, once it's not in it's factory container.  It's more than just important.... it's a life saver.

Long ago, I used to make paper labels on the computer and glue them on boxes.  It was so much neater than the 'Masking tape and a marker' method, and made it easier to be accurate.  That said, it was cumbersome and time consuming, and led to many things not getting labeled as they should.

Eventually, I was given a real honest to God Brother Label Machine .... which turned out to be something any OCD individuals such as myself should definitely have. My first official act was to label the givers dog..... with 'DOG', naturally.

No... I'm serious.  I labeled the dog.  Someone had to do it. Otherwise, it might have been mistaken for a large rat.  It was a pretty small dog.

In regards to reloading, a gadget such as this has become necessary.  Not only to label boxes or packages of ammo, but also tools and supplies.  Handloaders tend to become gadgeteers, and often create their own tools.  I'm no stranger to that, and have bullet seating dies that I've modified for my own cast lead bullets.  They are useless now for normal jacketed bullets.  So.... one will reside in a case that's been labeled such as '8x57mm cast seating die'.  Likewise Speer bullet boxes now retasked to holding shell holders and cleaning brushes.

As I put together my own loads, each is boxed or bagged and then labeled, as the label maker resides on a shelf directly over my bench.  Costing only a few pennies per label, one of these stuck on a ziplock food bag becomes a great way to keep a short run under control. No more do I stumble across a stray dozen rounds of 30-06, with no idea what I put in them.


With my cased loads, the label goes on the inside of the box. Included are caliber, bullet, powder and charge, and primer.  On loads destined to fill an ammo can, the can itself gets a label making clear what's inside.  Bullet boxes.... whenever the contents differ from standard, it gets a label.  The same with powder.

For less than $20, having the ability to clearly and easily label ammo, supplies, and tools... that's priceless!




Monday, May 30, 2016

Wild about Wylde?


I'm curious..... any friends out there with experience on the Wylde .223 chamber design?

Care to share?


Sunday, May 29, 2016

I suspect there will be load development for this..... (PSA Upper and Timney Trigger)


PSA has been sending me 'Memorial Weekend Sale' e-mails two or three times a day since last week.

Finally... FINALLY..... I succumbed.

The above, with a decent optic on Warne rings, and swapped onto my RRA lower as wished.  That lower has a decent 3.5 lb Timney trigger now, instead of it's original 8 lb two stage fire control unit.  Add in a muzzle device designed by Chuck Bogardus, and it will have the makings of darn nice accuracy rig.

Speaking of the Timney Drop-In Trigger..... The Fat Man likes it.  Now, I have a few Timney Triggers on other rifles, but this is my first non-stock AR trigger.

I ordered this from MidwayUSA while it was on sale, with Free Shipping yet.   Lets talk about the 'Free Shipping'.

MidwayUSA uses UPS 'Mail Innovations'.  This bastardized mix of shipping methods has the package handed over to the Post Office at some point in route.  In my case, The nice folks at the Post Office gave my new trigger a grand tour of several counties in my area, only 'Finding' it when I called in frustration a week after ordering it.

My advice?  If it's coming via UPS 'Mail Innovations', DON'T look at tracking for a week or so.  It will only serve to raise your blood pressure.

Anyway, the trigger....

It took less time to install than I spent on the phone with the Post Office. 

Drop off the grip, without losing the spring and detent that live underneath it.  Cock the lower, and remove the safety. Drift the pins on the trigger and hammer out.... and the old parts are out.  

This happened WAY faster than it took me to put it together a few years ago.

To install the Timney... Drop it into place (get it?), and re-install the old pins. Once the trigger pins are in place, the Timney has set screws to keep one of them firmly in place, and eliminate any play in the unit.  These are located under the hammer spring, and a tool is included to tighten them. In a nice touch, threaded plugs are also included to lock the screws into place.

There are videos on YouTube available to show how all this is done, which is comforting.  Though.... it really does take minutes and is over before you know it.

The factory RRA trigger measured 8 lbs on an RCBS trigger scale.  The Timney, a consistent 3.5 lbs in single stage.

Yeah.... I expect to shoot this rifle better now.







Friday, May 27, 2016

Buying ammo on-line..... the industry speaks.


In this piece from a short time back, I openly wondered what sets one on-line ammo supplier apart from another.  Yes, there is price, and that is a primary concern.  That said, there are a number of suppliers whose prices fall within the average, or not far off.  Once we get into that pack, what sets a dealer apart?

I addressed this question to Anne at Widener's Reloading and Shooting Supply.  Her reply is interesting, and wraps it up pretty well.

Why.... it's almost as if they have given this some thought!

*************************************************

Hello Art,

Widener's offers several different aspects that we think differentiate us from the competition while still offering very competitive prices. We have friendly customer service, ship the same day you order and most of our employees are, themselves, shooters and reloader. You'll find we have a great staff that care about all our customer’s needs along with a website that's thorough and secure for any personal information that is exchanged.

Reputation:
Widener’s got its start in the late 70’s and has been supplying ammo and reloading supplies to shooters for decades. To have the opportunity to serve shooters that long in the competitive world of ammunition and shooting supplies, you need to do what you’ll say you’ll do and treat people right. There may be no better barometer than a decades-long track record to indicate the type of experience you’ll have with a retailer. Widener’s has been shipping packages for decades and we know how to get your ammo or reloading gear to your door in great condition.

No Backorders - Fast Shipping:
We don’t list products on our website that we don’t have in our physical inventory. That means no backorders and no questions about when your order will ship. In fact, the vast majority of our orders are in FedEx or UPS’ hands within 24-hours of the time you place your order. The past few years especially we’ve seen shooters place a premium on shipping speed and we’ve made our warehouse more efficient and brought on additional staff to ensure even when things are busy, orders get to our customers fast.

Customer Service:
When you call Widener’s, there’s a very strong chance you’ll get someone that picks up the phone right away. Plus, that person answering the phone has likely used the product you’re asking about. We don’t have temporary workers or non-English speaking folks answer the phone because we know the majority of our customers want to speak with someone who is knowledgeable about ammo and reloading, friendly, and easy to understand.

If you email us during business hours, our goal is a friendly, complete response to you within 15 minutes. We meet that goal on the majority of customer emails in and we think that has value. There’s peace of mind knowing the people you do business with are receptive and will do all they can to make sure you’re not stuck waiting.

Convenient Site Navigation and Customer Empowerment:
Even for customers that see ammo and reloading gear as a commodity, they value their time. If you have to navigate around a site with poor layout or struggle to understand the SKU of the product you’re looking at, you’re wasting time. We know that time is valuable and we’ve invested in Wideners.com to make it as easy to use as possible to save you time. We know we can’t foresee every question but you’ll find descriptions on all our products spelling out each product’s ideal use situation and all should be new-shooter friendly in terms of jargon.

Now, I'm not saying everyone should rush over to Widener's and buy up all their stuff.  I'm just saying Anne makes some good points, and thinking back on years of buying ammo on-line, she has pretty much nailed every point that either irritated me, or caused satisfaction.

Monday, May 23, 2016

GRRRrrrrr.......


When you check package tracking, and find the USPS has shipped your new trigger assembly from a post office only miles from your door, all the way across the county for NO GOOD REASON.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Emergency first aid kit..... revisited.

It was roughly four years ago that I discussed building this first aid kit. 

That link will take you to the primary post back then, where all the why's and wherefore's are batted around.

Since then, the kit has mostly lived in my vehicle, that being the one place I know will be near me 'most' of the time.  Anyplace else, and I'd be too far away to access the emergency kit at least half of every day.

So far, this home built emergency med kit has survived three different vehicles, and quite a few (Decidedly minor) events.

Today was time to de-pack, evaluate, replace, and RE-pack the bag.  Needful things were found here or ordered from Amazon, and the kit goes back to it's home.  Fresh batteries in the flashlight, and swap out all the self-adhesive band-aids.  Dates were checked on medicines and anything close is being replaced.


In that time, what has been most used?

Surprisingly, the one thing most often used and restocked so far?  Benadryl Gels. Not only is the girlfriend allergic to some common things, but others have hit that hard as well.  Being deep in a forest of New York state late at night, and hearing "It's getting hard to breath" can really focus a man's attention.

Next most used, besides common bandaids?  The Steri strips.  These things magically bridge the gap between 'Put A Band-Aid On It!' and 'Awe crap.... that really needs stitches'.   I recall a 2 O'clock knock on the bedroom door.... "I was doing an avocado, and cut my hand really bad".  Yes.... stabbing a knife into your hand counts as cutting it I suppose.  After cleaning it up, I steri-stitched it closed. The next day it didn't look bad at all, and I don't think she ever did see the doc about it.

The duct tape was removed some time ago.  Far too useful to leave in the bag, I suppose. I also didn't like sending someone into the bag every time they wanted tape for something.  Too often, I worried the whole kit would get moved or raided.

Added in at the suggestion of knowledgeable people, a CPR resuscitator.  I was SUPPOSED to get the training I need to properly use this widget, but that slipped by the wayside as so many things do. Not only is it difficult to find such training around here, any first aid training at all can be a chore to round up.   Yeah, I know.... get off my ass and find it!  In the meantime, here's a handy YouTube video that lends a clue. 

Something overlooked before, but added now.  Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and antacids. While all these are well represented in my home, my work, and the girlfriends purse (larger on the inside than the outside), having them in this kit as backup can't hurt.

Something I'm damn grateful to have never needed yet, the Israeli blowout bandages. It's comforting to know they are there, but with luck they'll never be called to duty.  Again, a handy video on their use.

As always, I'm happy to hear good ideas from all the shmart people in the tribe.  Any thoughts? Suggestions?   Pointed barbs of sarcasm aimed at my ignorance?   All are welcome!






Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hmm.... Mossberg acting badly?


I'll link this story to where I read it (The Firearms Blog), but beware they are a linkfest site, with heavy advertising.

It seems Mossberg bought up the old Chip McCormick patent for drop in triggers a while back, and has now decided to go after a bunch of small fry companies making such gadgets.

I'm afraid things like this DO color my buying decisions.  The firearms community is not particularly huge, with most companies we deal with being quite small.  A relatively big company in the business that's attacking small entrepreneurs strictly for financial gain,. and limiting our buying choices by doing so.....   that's a company I will avoid doing business with.

It's not the first time Mossberg has pulled this stunt.  I understand it as a business move, but understanding does not equal agreement.  Just because the law says you CAN do something doesn't mean it's the RIGHT thing to do.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Buying ammo on-line........


Is commercial ammunition a commodity?   A box or two... we all trot down to our local shooting emporium.... but what about larger quantities? 

When I wish a case or two of ammo, I don't buy it at a local gun shop.  The markup is just too stiff. I believe in supporting the good folks who have local stores, but I simply can't afford to throw cash away like that.

So, the question stands.  Is bulk ammunition a commodity?  Do we shop solely by price, like we were buying heating oil?

Personally, I have dealt with SGAmmo and Widener's, and found both to be excellent to deal with. I understand Tam deals with Lucky Gunner... and that has to be a solid endorsement.  MidwayUSA is a Go-To for all sorts of gear, components, and parts.... but I have never brought myself to pay their ammo prices.

Out of curiosity, I picked a staple ammunition and checked a number of sites for pricing including shipping. A 1000 round case of Blazer Brass 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ.  The results:


  • Ammo.com        214.99/20.41       $235.40
  • Ammotogo         214.95/19.92       $234.87
  • BulkAmmo        209.99/20.43       $230.42
  • MidwayUSA      259.99/17.74       $277.48
  • Lucky Gunner    214.99/20.41       $235.40
  • Widener's           229.85/19.93       $249.78 
  • SGAmmo           199.80/16.00       $215.80
Looking at that, I know where I'm going to order from, (If I needed more just now).

That said, I have to wonder if there isn't something more to consider here.  What value added is there to on-line ammunition sales? 

(After comments begin rolling in :-)

 So, issues besides price include shipping costs (which I lump into price), speed of service, and delivery concerns. What can an on-line supplier do to earn our business?

I'll use an example.  In my real life job, I work on cars.  Personally, I order and use about 100K a year in parts and supplies.  When I choose a supplier, price is part of the equation, but it's not the sole deciding factor.  Getting the right parts, of decent quality, and in a timely manner..... these things are important and will cause me to spend a bit more.   All these factors are under the control of my suppliers, and easily balance out the cost issue.  I choose to spend money accordingly.

Now, how does this translate when choosing an on-line bulk ammo supplier?