Friday, June 01, 2018

Improving the Heavy Cover USGI Canteen Cup Lid

Last year I bought a stainless steel lid for my USGI canteen cup from Heavy Cover, Inc. (It doesn't seem to be listed there currently.) I haven't gotten much use from it for two reasons:

  1. It's too heavy for what it is.
  2. It was a very snug fit in the cup.

Today I decided to improve it with the help of Mr. Dremel, but cutting away part of the lip that sits inside the cup.

First, here it is being held by its handle in my vise. I've already made one cut with my Dremel using a heavy duty cut-off wheel.

After making the cuts, I snapped the excess material off with pliers. Then I used a grinding stone in the Dremel to deburr where I made the cuts.

And finally, sitting on the cup. As you can see, it's the older L-handle style. IMNSHO, this is much better than butterfly handles. If you look closely you can see where I added graduation markings to the cup.

The lid is a bit lighter now but it would have been better had it been made from hard anodized aluminum, or at least a thinner gauge of stainless steel. It's noticeably easier to set on the cup or remove it to check how something is cooking.

DIY Adjustable Pot Bail

For cooking, or even just boiling water over an open fire, a pot with a bail is really handy. However, bails add weight and bulk and we often already have a good pot that just needs a bail sometimes. Over on Bushcraft USA, "Jerome" posted a great how-to thread here.

If video is more your style, Lonnie posted a video inspired by the above thread on his YouTube channel, Far North Bushcraft and Survival.

Most hardware stores should have the required materials. I bought 6 feet of 1/16" cable and the appropriate ferrules today at Home Depot for around $6. (That included an extra set of ferrules.)

I made up a couple bails this afternoon, each from a 3' piece of cable. After crimping the ferrules similarly to how Lonnie did in the above video for the first bail, I took a slightly different tack for the second bail. I hit each ferrule with a punch once to hold it in place on the end of the cable, I then used my bench vise to fully crimp it.

The advantage of using the vise is that you get a full-width crimp, not just where you hit it with the punch.

My plan is to keep one bail with my Keith Titanium canteen and cup set, and the other with my old USGI canteen cup.

Ten Medical Uses for a Triangular Bandage

This video discusses 10 medical uses for a triangular bandage.

{Hat tip to Greg Ellifrtiz.}

Aside from medical uses, triangular bandages can be used for many of the same things as a shemagh or bandana. For example:

  • Dust mask
  • Hankerchief
  • Head scarf
  • Sweat band
  • Scarf to keep your neck warm, or cool if you wet it.
  • Pre-filter for water, to keep your filter from getting clogged with chunky bits.
  • Pot holder
  • Pot scrubber
  • Wash cloth
  • Etc.
I always carried a couple USGI muslin triangular bandages when I was in a Civil Air Patrol ground search and rescue unit, as did my team members. 

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Turning Components Into Ammo

Over the past few weekends I have been busy turning components into ammunition. I dipped into my stash of empty .38 Special brass and loaded up several different varieties:

  • 50 rounds of 178 Keith semiwadcutters (SWC) on top of 3.8 grains of Unique.
  • 50 rounds of 178 Keith SWCs on top of 5.0 of Unique.
  • 100 rounds of 195 grain lead round nose bullets (LRNs) on top of a 5.0 grains of Unique.
  • 100 rounds of 148 grain Lee tumble lube wadcutters on top of a 2.7 grains of Bullseye.
  • 100 rounds of 148 grain Hornady hollow base wadcutters (HBWC) on top of 2.7 grains of Bullseye.
  • 100 rounds of Speer 158 grain lead SWC hollow points on top of a 4.5 grains of Universal Clays.


The Keith SWCs, 195 grain LRNs, and Lee TL WCs came from Matt's Bullets. I ordered 100 count sample packs of each and was impressed with the projectiles. They are sized to .359 and loaded with Carnauba Red lube, except for the 148 TL WCs, which appear to be lubed with Lee Liquid Alox.

I was quite pleased with the service from Matt's Bullets, BTW. My order shipped in about a day and a half and was sent in a USPS flat-rate box. I received 2 days after I got the shipping notice. The bullets all looked good.

The Hornady 148 grain HBWCs have been laying around since I bought 1250 of them at the end of 2016. I've had the 500 count box of the Speer LSWCHPs for years.

So what prompted this binge reloading? First, the weather has been nice and it has been neither too hot nor too cold to work out in my backyard shop. Second, my gun interests go in phases and  something rekindled my interest in revolvers. It's been too long since I shot one of my K-Frames, S&W Model 28, or 50th Anniversary Ruger Blackhawk.

And frankly, the state of the political left in this country is really starting to worry me. As far as I'm concerned, they've been acting completely batshit crazy since Trump's election. I want to get in some more practice in case the left decides to take their attempt at a soft coup hot.

I was pleasantly surprised that the .38s loaded with the Keith SWCs feed well in my Rossi 92 .357 carbine. I'd figured the SWCs might hang up during feeding, but they seem to be held at just the right angle to slip right into the chamber. (Testing was done with 3 dummy rounds, not live ammo.)

I got the 195 grain bullets because I thought it would be neat to try and duplicate the old .38 Special Super Police load, which had a 200 grain LRN at mild velocity. I wound up loading them over enough Unique, though, that they will only be shot in my .357s. If nothing else, they should make steel plates jump around nicely.

The Speer 158 LSWCHP loads should run about 850 FPS from a 4" barrel, very similar to the old FBI load. I can bump the powder charge up a little to get over 900 FPS but at +P pressures. These would be good for defense from any of my K-Frames, and should also work well in my J-Frame S&W Model 640.

To measure the powder charges I used both my Redding Model 3 measure and my RCBS Little Dandy. I don't like how Unique meters in the Redding, although it seems to meter a little more smoothly in the Little Dandy. In contrast, Universal Clays seems to meter very nicely in the Little Dandy -- smooth and extremely consistent. I haven't tried it yet in the Redding but I expect it to behave similarly.

Of course, the proof will be in the shooting of this ammo. I'm hoping to get to the range in the next week or two to dirty up some wheelguns.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Korean Beef Bibim Bap MRE

While checking out foreign MREs on eBay, I ran across the vendor "magnetic1" selling dehydrated beef bibim bap entrees, which are supposed to be Korean-issue. Since I'm always interested in stuff to eat while camping, and I love Korean food, I ordered a 3-pack to try.

Here's the front and back of the package along with the included spoon.

Upon opening, you can see that it's mostly rice with some vegetables. The little brown nuggets are pieces of dehydrated beef. Also shown are the packet of sesame oil and gojang (Korean BBQ) sauce that were inside.

To cook it, you add hot water to the black line inside the bag, seal it, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Or, you can use cold water but you'll need to wait twice as long.

And here's what it looks like after rehydrating and mixing in the oil and sauce packets.

I liked it, it was damn tasty. I used all of the gojang sauce and while it was spicy, it wasn't mouth-burning. That said, I eat Korean food fairly often and eat it full strength, so YMMV. Compared with a couple different Mountain House meals that I've tried, this isn't nearly as salty.

For me, this entree would be enough for lunch but not dinner.

I have two more left that I'm going to save for the field.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Self Sufficiency

Today I cast up about 10 pounds worth of bullets for .44-40, using my Accurate Molds 43-215C mold. I got at least a couple hundred usable projectiles.

You damn well that the next time the Dems get into power, there will be another panic. How are you preparing against that inevitability?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Black Powder Shotgun Shells in Brass Cases

Note/Disclaimer: This post contains loading data believed to be safe in my guns. It may not be safe in yours. Do your own research before you try this. I'm not responsible if you get hurt or your gun gets damaged.

A couple of weeks ago on Survival Russia, Lars posted a video about loading brass 16 gauge cases using minimal tools. He followed up with a second video in which he shot his reload and got what I considered pretty good results.

In the past I have experimented with hot glue slugs* using minimal tools, and as I've posted about before, I have muzzleloading smoothbores. I also have a few break open shotguns that I've been wanting to try black powder loads in, since I have a good stock of black powder and you can reload brass cases with minimal tools that you can make at home.

So, I put in an order with Ballistic Products, Inc. for a few items, including:
  • Two boxes of Magtech empty 2.5" 12 gauge brass shotshell cases, and
  • A 500 count bag of 10 gauge over shot cards.
Magtech brass cases have a larger internal diameter than the equivalent gauge plastic hulls, so they recommend using 11 gauge nitro cards and fiber cushion wads, and 10 gauge over shot cards.

I use home made cards and felt wads in my 12 gauge Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun, cut with a 3/4" punch, which is about 11 gauge. So, I decided to save a few bucks and use these in the brass cases. As it turned out, I would have gotten a better fit with 10 gauge components all around.

Most references I've seen indicate that one should use FFg when loading 12 gauge black powder shotgun shells. However, Goex's load data specifies FFFg (PDF), so that's what I used. (Goex recommends FFg in muzzleloading shotguns.)

Yesterday, I took one box of the Magtech hulls and loaded a few different recipes, as follows:

  • 1 oz. #7.5 shot using sawdust in lieu of a fiber cushion wad (a la the Survival Russia video).
    1-1/8 oz. #7.5 shot using a sawdust "wad."
  • 1-1/8 oz. #7.5 shot using the same 1/8" thick lubricated felt wad that I use in my 12 gauge muzzleloader.1-1/4 oz. #5 shot with sawdust.
  • 1-1/4 oz. #5 shot with felt wad.
  • Patched .690 round ball.

All shot loads were primed with Federal No.150 large pistol primers and charged with 80 grains of FFFg Goex black powder, and a home made cardboard over powder wad.

The round balls have two over powder cards, a lubricated felt wad, and a lubricated 0.020" patch, and 90 grains of FFFg.

All shot loads are sealed in place using one of the BPI 10 gauge over shot cards held in place with silicone RTV sealant. I used Gorilla Glue gel super glue for the ball loads because I ran out of RTV.

Some pictures:

The 3/4" oak dowel I used for seating components. I drilled a hole in one end to fit over the primer pocket that protrudes into the case. Yes, the Magtech hulls are balloon head cases. I used my lathe to slightly turn down the dowel so it would go all the way into the case, and to drill the hole.

 Some cases waiting to be primed, a case with the dowel inserted, and a primer sitting on a 1/8" piece of aluminum. To prime the cases, I placed the primer down on the aluminum, centered the case with the dowel in it over the primer, and gave it a few good whacks to press the case down over the primer.

If this makes you cringe, consider that it is exactly how you prime cases in a Lee Loader.

A primed and unprimed case:


Make sure the primers are seated flush with the case head. You don't want to accidentally set off a high primer by closing your shotgun.

Next up I poured a powder charge into the case and topped it with a card. For the sawdust shells, I then filled each case to the top with sawdust. I have a No.10 can filled with it that I've been saving to make fire starters.

Then I used the flat end of the dowel to compress the sawdust.

This was topped with another card and then the load of shot poured in.

And here's one of the patched round balls in place:

By using the drilled end of the dowel I was able to keep the sprue centered, facing up.

Finally, it's topped off with an over shot card and glued in place. (This one hasn't been glued yet.)

Advantages of this method include that you don't need any tools you can't find or make at home, and the shells should be reloadable pretty much indefinitely, especially since the case mouths aren't being crimped. Because I'm using black powder, small variations in powder charge aren't dangerous the way they would be with smokeless powder, especially when shooting them through nitro-proofed shotguns.

The main downside compared with loading shotshells with modern components is inferior performance. Modern shotcup wads that protect the shot from deformation in the bore result in better, more even patterns.

Special safety note about the round balls: Before Foster slugs became widely available in the 1930s, "pumpkin balls" were the most common type of single projectile load in shotgun ammo in the US. After the introduction of choke barrels, they were generally loaded with balls significantly under bore size so that if they were fired through a choked barrel, the barrel would not be damaged. They don't compress as easily as Foster slugs. For this reason, I would not fire a patched .690 ball through anything tighter than improved cylinder.

For example, I have an H&R Model 1905 made sometime between 1906 and 1915 with the barrel marked "12 GUAGE CHOKED." I measured the muzzle last night with calipers and it came out at about .695, which is extra-full, or even a turkey choke. I'll shoot the balls through my chopped, cylinder bore H&R Topper.

Hopefully, I'll get to try out these loads in the next few weeks, and will post a follow up.

*Hot glue slug: A field-expedient slug which you cut the crimp off a bird shot load, pour out the shot, then add the shot back after mixing it with hot glue. When the glue hardens you have a slug that's useful at short range. Very similar to wax slugs. Do a lot of research before you make and shoot any, so you don't do anything dangerous.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Reaction to the NRA and NRA-ILA Joint Statement of October 5, 2017

Yesterday, Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox issued a joint statement, which contained, inter alia:

In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.  The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.


We should know by now that when gun banners say, "We want a conversation about gun control," they mean we should shut up while they lecture us. We should also know that when they say we should compromise, they mean for us to give them something while we get nothing in return.

It is not acceptable conduct to this NRA Endowment Life Member for the organization to preemptively surrender any part of our rights by endorsing any new gun regulation. The NRA needs to protect all of our right to bear arms. 

Suggesting that the corrupt and incompetent BATFE get another chance to evaluate the legality of bumpfire stocks is particularly galling. Including a sentence in the press release calling for Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity doesn't balance giving in on one iota of other elements of the RKBA.

NRA, withdraw this statement. Do your damn job.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Use of the Emtech ZM-2 Antenna Tuner

HF propagation conditions currently suck, but I wanted to try out the Emtech ZM-2 anyway. My first use would be with a random length antenna.

Earlier today I stopped at Harbor Freight and picked up a one pound spool of aluminum welding wire for ten bucks before the 20% off coupon. We've used such welding wire on our camping trips upstate with good results. In fact, my friend who owns the property we camp on built an 80M dipole with it and strung it about 5 feet off the ground, supporting it with fence insulators. Reception on that antenna is excellent and he's made some contacts as well. It's been there over a year and is still usable.

To support my random wire antenna today I used my 31 foot Jackite kite pole with about 50 feet of the welding wire. I also ran a ground line about 25 to 30 feet and held it down with a big screwdriver as a stake.

The wire was so light that the tip of the mast didn't noticeably droop. The antenna was running approximately East-West, and the ground ran out towards the NE.

Aluminum welding wire is light and easy to work with. As seen with my friend's 80M dipole, it'll last long if its not under much strain. It's cheap enough that if you needed to abandon a random wire antenna made from it, that wouldn't cause concern.

My back patio station today was my 2013 MacBook Pro running FLDIGI and WSJT-X, the ZM-2, Yaesu FT-817ND, and Signalink USB digital interface. I also had a CAT cable for rig control.

I followed the instructions in this video to work the tuner. I found it difficult to see the red LED even though it was overcast, so I need to verify that it's in fact working. Maybe it was luck, but by tuning for maximum noise I really didn't have to tweak anything. When I hit transmit, the rig didn't complain about high SWR.

I briefly tried 40M but had issues getting the antenna to tune on that band. It might be the length of the wire, but again I had issues seeing the LED SWR indicator light up.

As I mentioned, HF propagation is really in the crapper. Before setting up out back, I'd done some work inside using my Icom 7200 and the Ultimax 100 end fed on my roof. The random wire seemed more sensitive, based on the number of PSK31 stations that I saw. However, 20M was mostly dead.

After spotting a number of other stations on 20M PSK31 I closed out FLDIGI and fired up WSJT-X to do some WSPR. On 5 watts, I was in fact getting out.

The screenshot is from WSPR Watch running on my iPhone

This table shows the WSPR stations I received in about 10 minutes of listening.

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2017-09-17 19:28   8P9HA   14.097165   -17   0   GK03fb   0.1   KB3MNK   FN20ic   3378   336 
 2017-09-17 19:28   K7POF   14.097124   -8   0   DM34sr   10   KB3MNK   FN20ic   3312   68 
 2017-09-17 19:28   W6WGF   14.097119   -7   1   EM12rw   5   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2053   61 
 2017-09-17 19:28   VE4WSC   14.097103   -12   3   EN19ku   5   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2019   114 
 2017-09-17 19:26   WA5IWB   14.097094   -14   0   EM10qh   1   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2215   55 
 2017-09-17 19:26   K7RE   14.097146   -10   0   DN84am   1   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2395   92 
 2017-09-17 19:26   K5FRT   14.097012   -21   0   EM10td   0.2   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2206   54 
 2017-09-17 19:24   8P9HA   14.097137   -19   0   GK03fb   0.1   KB3MNK   FN20ic   3378   336 
 2017-09-17 19:24   K6KWI   14.097060   -21   0   DM13cu   20   KB3MNK   FN20ic   3802   67 
 2017-09-17 19:24   N0IJK   14.097052   -19   0   EL19ao   5   KB3MNK   FN20ic   2365   54

I am cautiously optimistic about the Emtech ZM-2 tuner but I need to figure out why I'm not seeing the LED SWR indicator light. My next experiment with it will be with a dipole to be constructed using some 450 Ohm window line that I bought yesterday at Ham Radio Outlet.