Saturday, July 06, 2019

A Few Things to Improve My Get Home Bag

Since I took an internal transfer about two years ago, I now work in the 'burbs rather than commuting into center city Philadelphia. My office is about 25 miles away via vehicle but if I ever need to hoof it home, it would probably be longer. I therefore keep a get home bag in my truck.

I'll do a full post sometime, but in the interim thought I'd share a few things I've added recently:

First is a 1"x 10 yard roll of Gorilla tape. I keep a full size roll of duct tape in my truck's tool bag, but this will give more a more portable roll. Duct tape is useful in general for everything from repairs to a bandage cover to a fire starter, and Gorilla tape is the toughest.

Second is a travel sized bottle of Gold Bond Original Strength Body Powder. It weighs next to nothing but can add a great deal of comfort, whether it's for your feet or your dangly bits after you've been in the field for a day or two. As far as I can recall, I don't think I've ever seen some kind of body or foot powder mentioned in a get home bag.

A 25 oz. DZO brand stainless steel camping cup with lid. I keep a 40 oz. Kleen Canteen stainless steel water bottle in the bag but wanted a vessel for cooking in and a second vessel for boiling water. The DZO cup is well made with a nice fitting lid, and the price was reasonable.

A Sawyer Mini water filter.

An extra pair of socks, specifically these Särmä merino wool hiking socks from Varusteleka. I took advantage of their July 4th free DHL shipping promotion and bought two more pairs along with some other stuff. The socks are stored inside a Ziplock bag in my pack and a pre-loaded with some Gold Bond powder.

The get home bag itself is a Särmä Large Assault Pack from Varusteleka, in olive green. It's Maxpedition knock-off but seems well-made for the price. For something that's going to ride in the back of my truck 99+% of the time it will do fine. Before I decided on the Särmä pack, I used a German Alpine rucksack. The Särmä has much better shoulder straps and is a little larger, which gives me room to add more insulation in colder weather.

For what it's worth, I'm not worried about the pack's tactical appearance drawing unwanted attention. After 18 years of the never-ending Global War on Terror, seeing MOLLE even in urban areas isn't unusual. Heck, I've seen frumpy women in their 60s carrying similar packs in downtown Philly.

I'm going to be adding a USGI-style poncho that I've had to the GHB tomorrow. I decided to seam seal it before doing so, so that it doesn't leak whether I'm wearing it or using it as a shelter. For that I used Silnet Silicone sealant. Most ponchos, especially cheaper ones, will benefit from seam sealing.

Today I made up a quick-deploy ridgeline for use with the poncho or the USGI casualty blanket I keep in the bag. I used about 30 feet of OD 550 cord and three #36 bankline Prussik loops, as demonstrated in this video by Corporal's Corner:

I wound up using twisted bankline from a spool I ordered by mistake. I prefer the braided, which while not quite as strong doesn't fray as easily when you cut it.  The twisted stuff will be fine for this application.

One last thing that I have on order is a bottle Sawyer picaridin-based insect repellent. I'm not generally averse to DEET which IMHO is the gold standard for bug repellent, but picaridin has the advantage of not eating plastic. Like DEET, it repels mosquitoes and ticks, both of which would be a concern in a bugout or bug home scenario (if not during, afterwards if you catch Lyme disease or West Nile virus). I recently bought a bottle of this stuff and tried it out while sitting on my back patio after dark. It worked to keep the skeeters away. Otherwise I would have been eaten alive.

I'm planning to do a video on my get home bag, perhaps an overnighter with it.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

This piece from last year is well worth reading.

As gun policy discussions unfold in the wake of mass shooter incidents, they routinely end in three buckets. There’s the “tyranny can never happen here” bucket, which the left has mostly abdicated in the wake of Trump winning after they called (and still call) him a tyrant. There’s the “you can’t fight the army with small arms” bucket, which is increasingly unsound given our ongoing decade-and-a-half war with Afghani tribal goat herders. And there’s the “what the hell do you need an AR-15 for anyway?” bucket, which, by its very language, eschews a fundamental lack of understanding of what those people are thinking. I am not a prepper. But I know a few. Some of the ones I do know are smart. They may not be doing as deep an analysis as I present here, on a mathematical level, but the smart ones are definitely doing it at a subconscious level. If you want to understand the perspectives of others, as everyone in my opinion should strive to do, then you would do well to read to the end of this article. To get where we’re going, we will need to discuss the general framework of disaster mathematics.


If we look at raw dialectic alone, we reach dismal conclusions. “Do you think the United States will exist forever and until the end of time?” Clearly any reasonable answer must be “no.” So at that point, we’re not talking “if,” but “when.” If you don’t believe my presumed probability, cook up your own, based on whatever givens and data pool you’d like, and plug it in. The equations are right up there. Steelman my argument in whatever way you like, and the answer will still probably scare you.


Read the whole thing.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

CZ Scorpion Improvements

Today I installed a few parts from HB Industries in my CZ Scorpion.

The first and easiest was an extended charging handle on the right side. Installation required drifting the handguard pin to the left, sliding in the new charging handle, and returning the pin to its original position.

As you can see, the new charging handle provides a much larger gripping surface.

The second part was an extended paddle magazine release. I'm really glad that HBI included a spring with it because I managed to drop and lose the OEM spring.

Finally, I installed HBI's reduced power trigger and disconnector spring kit. This required the most work but I had it done in under a half hour. While I had the trigger pack apart I took the time to polish the engagement surfaces with hard Arkansas stones. I also put a bit of Teflon-bearing Superlube grease on the contact points.

Incidentally, HBI has some very well done instructional videos on their YouTube channel.

As it came from the factory the trigger pull was at least 9 pounds. Now it's about 5.5 pounds and much smoother.

These are small changes but should make shooting the gun better.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S2 Micro

A gun I got interested in when it was first announced over a year ago is the CZ EVO 3 S2 Scorpion Micro with telescoping PDW-style brace*. This is a shorter, lighter version of the Scorpion carbine and pistol.

CZ's web page for the "pistol" is here.  A good video overview is here.

In light of ongoing leftist violence and especially after the recent Poway, CA Chabad shooting, I decided that having a PDW that'll fit in a laptop bag might be a good tool to have. The Scorpion Micros are still hard to find but I found some on Gunbroker and decided to get one. They are still selling for about MSRP and I don't expect that to change until supply catches up with demand. I took delivery from my FFL last Friday.

I have an old Dell laptop briefcase. The gun fits in it with a 32 round magazine inserted.

Fit and finish on it are excellent. Field stripping is easy. By pretty much all accounts, the larger Scorpions are extremely reliable guns. I'm expecting this one to be as good. What makes it a "Micro" is just a shorter barrel (4.12") and handguard. The action is the same as the larger models.

It came in a cardboard box with manual, warranty card, pull-through bore cleaner, gun lock, two 20-round mags, and an Allen key.

In reading up on the Scorpions, I found complaints about three things: the trigger pull, that the safety lever interferes with one's trigger finger when shooting, and the grip. The trigger pull on mine is creepy and over 8 lbs., so I've ordered an HB Industries spring kit and will do a trigger job. Maybe it's my small hands but the safety lever seems fine to me, as does the grip.

I also ordered from HBI a paddle mag release and extended charging handle, which will go on the right side, since I'm a lefty. I also plan to put a red dot sight on it.

When I ordered the Scorpion I also ordered two Manticore Arms 32-round magazines from Prepper Gun Shop. They arrived the day before the gun.

Today I got it to the range despite the rain. Thankfully, my range has a covered firing line. The crummy weather let me have the place to myself, which was really nice.

A pic of the gun with the factory and Manticore magazines:

Closeup of the feed lips of the Manticore (L) and factory (R) mags:

First 10 shots at 25 yards:

I moved the rear sight 13 clicks to the right to center the POI. After it was zeroed I used up the rest of the ammo banging steel on our 25 yard plate rack.

All told, I put 180 rounds of CCI 9mm 115 grain FMJ Blazer Brass through the CZ. There were no malfunctions. As a lefty, I find that a lot of straight blowback operated guns will send gun schmutz into my face and the CZ is no exception. It's not bad and something you get used to, but it reinforces the need for eye protection.

The sights are a bit low to come up naturally, and like my stocked Mauser C96, seeing the front sight can sometimes be difficult with 50 year old eyes. The gun will definitely get a red dot sight.

The outside of the faux suppressor got only slightly warm to the touch.

I ordered more of the steel-lipped Manticore magazines. Speaking of which, a Maglula is recommended for them unless you have strong thumbs. I found that once I got to about 22 rounds in them, it became very difficult to load more.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Scorpion Micro. It's going to be both a fun shooter and a serious defensive tool.

* PDW = Personal Defense Weapon.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Beretta Cx4 Storm and Holosun RDS Range Report

 Last week I bought a Holosun HS515C red dot sight to replace the Bushnell TRS-25 that I used to have on my Beretta Cx4 Storm 9mm carbine. The Bushnell is a good budget optic  Today I zeroed it.

Out of the box the sight was very close to being on at 50 yards, with elevation right on and the mean POI about 3 - 4" to the right with 115 grain CCI Blazer Brass 9mm.

A neat touch with the sight is that the turret caps are actually adjustment tools. The little ridge on them is sized the same as the screwdriver slots on the actual adjustment knobs. This is a brilliant idea, IMO.

Top of the sight showing the screwdriver built into the caps, and the solar cell:

Accuracy at 50 yards was OK but nothing to crow about. Here's a 10 shot target fired from the bench. As you can see I yanked one low. The Storm's trigger is worse than I'd remembered. I am definitely going to try doing a trigger job on it.

I also shot a bit offhand but the target definitely isn't worth sharing. ;) The gun is so light with a neutral balance that offhand shooting is a challenge.

I put a total of 100 rounds through the gun today and as expected, it ran perfectly. However, when I went to clean the gun after I was finished I noticed that the rail was a bit loose. It'll be Loctited and then I'll recheck the zero.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Running Ball

(In this post, I used the word "balls" a lot. Huh, huh.)

This past weekend I'd planned to shoot my Rogers & Spencer percussion revolver but couldn't. When getting my shooting gear together, I found that I had only two .454 balls left. I wound up shooting my Pedersoli Brown Bess and Polymer 80 Not-A-Glock, which I'll write up in a separate post.

Something I've preached about on my blogs has been bullet casting for self sufficiency, resistance to government guns bans, and panics induced by fear of them. I recently picked up Lee molds for .454 and .490 balls, and a Lyman cast iron lead pot. This weekend I ordered a Lee .690 ball mold for use in the Brown Bess and my Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun.

I took a long weekend to decompress from bullshit at work, so with today's weather being decent I setup one of my Coleman stoves out in my shop to run some .454 balls.

Here I have the mold warming while the lead pot comes up to temp. The foil trays are for me to dump the sprues and dross when I flux.

It took awhile for the pot to come up to temperature. I'm finding that keeping a good constant casting temp is an acquired skill that I've yet to master. My balls were coming out either wrinkled or frosted. Wrinkly balls mean that the cast was too cold while frosty balls are a sign that it's too hot. I put the wrinkliest balls back into the pot but I'm keeping some that aren't too bad. These will be fired at a maximum of 25 yards at targets the size of a paper plate or larger, so minor imperfections won't be an issue.

I haven't counted yet, but I should have at least 50 shooters here. I called it quits when I ran out of gas in the stove.

Aside from the Rogers & Spencer, these will also work in my 1858 Remingtons. One could load them into .45 Colt cartridges, as well.

It is possible to keep even percussion guns going without buying factory supplies. Aside from casting your own bullets, it's possible to make black powder and even percussion caps at home. The latter especially is potentially extremely dangerous, so proceed with caution. My plan to deal with future shortages is to stock up ahead of time.

Edit: I wound up with 97 shootable balls from my first batch. After the stove cooled and I was able to refuel it, I ran another batch and came out with another 126 usable balls. That's a decent run and will last me awhile.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tap and Die Sets

In my quest for self reliance, one category of things I've tried to acquire has been a variety of tools. On the top end are my mini-mill and mini-lathe. Tonight I used something a little further down the scale, a set of taps and dies. I have this inexpensive SAE and Metric set from Harbor Freight.

Yesterday when I shot my Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine for the first time, I wanted to use the ramrod for cleaning. One end has male M8-0.5 threads. However, I found that although I was able to thread on my worm, I could not thread on the adapter (part number SA-10-BESS) that allows me to use regular 10-32 rod tips, like a cleaning jag. So, I had to bring a separate range rod.

After work tonight I gathered up the ramrod, worm, and adapter and went out to my workshop. I first chased the threads in the coupler with an M5-0.8 tap and tried to thread it on the rod. No dice. Then I chased the threads on the rod itself with a die. That fixed the problem.

The total elapsed time was about ten minutes.

Think about how many threaded fasteners and parts you have in your life. A tap and die set may not get used frequently, but when threads on something get damaged, having such a set can allow you to fix it quickly.