Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Friday, October 04, 2019

Wheelguns and Cast Bullets

Most preppers nowadays favor semiautomatic pistols. However, medium frame revolvers in .38 or .357 remain excellent choices for home defense, concealed carry, or use as a general utility gun.

A friend of mine who is by necessity something of a prepper recently picked up a used Smith & Wesson Model 64-3. The Model 64 is the stainless version of the old police standard .38 Special blued steel Model 10, AKA the Military and Police. The M&P has been in continuous production since 1899. This is his first centerfire revolver and he immediately fell in love with it for the ease of use and accuracy.

At the same my friend was buying his Model 64 I picked up another revolver, this time a used fixed-sight Ruger GP100 chambered for .38 Special. Both our guns are security company trade-ins.

Ruger designed the GP100 in the 1980s to take advantage of more modern manufacturing methods including investment casting. They also designed it to be more user-serviceable. Disassembly is a lot easier than the Smith & Wessons (not to mention Colt double actions) and the "peg" to which the grip attaches allows a wider variety of shapes to be used.

The GP100  a very robust gun designed to handle shooting an unlimited number of full-power .357 Magnums.

The shop where we bought them also had a few nickel-plated Model 10s, and for someone on a really tight budget, two or three Taurus Model 82s.

I chose the Ruger this time since I already have a passel of Smith & Wessons and also because it came with the compact rubber grip, AKA the "short butt." This is probably the revolver grip that fits my hands best and also does an excellent job of absorbing recoil.

Aside from easy availability of ammunition, .38 Special and .357 Magnum are straightforward to reload. Revolvers are not dependent upon magazines and can function with any bullet shape. They are ideally suited for use with cast bullets.

Guns chambered in .357 Magnum can safely shoot .38 Special but the reverse is not true (the .357 case is 1/10th of an inch longer but otherwise the same). If i could have only one handgun it would be a medium frame .357 Magnum.

For example, I recently received an order from Matt's Bullets:

The small box is one hundred 250 grain .452 bullets that I'll use in .45 Colt cowboy loads for my Pietta Remington New Model Army fitted with a Kirst Konverter. Factory .45 Colt ammo is rather expensive but now that I have a few hundred pieces of empty Starline brass, it makes sense to roll my own.

The large box is five hundred 178 grain Keith-style bullets to be loaded in .38 Special and .357 Magnum. I tried 100 of them last year and they shot really well in my S&W Model 28 and Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk, loaded on top of 5.0 grains of Alliant Unique.

I'm looking at loading up some hotter rounds for use in the GP100. The 178 grain Keith bullets loaded to around 1000 to 1100 FPS will handle anything on two or four legs that needs shooting in Pennsylvania. They should perform similarly to the .38/44 round developed by Smith & Wesson in the late 1920s to improve the performance of the .38 Special against car bodies, and chambered in N-Frame "Heavy Duty" and "Outdoorsman" revolvers. They won't stress the GP100.

As I've mentioned in the past, the ability to cast your own is important for self reliance but I'll admit that buying them already made is a lot easier. That said, I need to get a Keith-style mold from Tom at Accurate Molds.

One of my favorite gun writers is Ed Harris (sometimes known as C.E. Harris). I recently discovered a web page with a collection of his articles, here. One in particular makes for good reading for preppers who might be interested in reloading for .38 Special and .357 Magnum in revolvers and lever actions, here. Another good piece of Ed's is Revisiting the Full Charge Wadcutter, hosted on Grant Cunningham's blog.

A lever action in .357 Magnum is an excellent companion to a .38 or .357 revolver that offers a lot of utility while not being on the immediate radar of gun banners. I got the chance to handle a new production Rossi 92 last weekend. The fit and finish looked good although the action was a bit stiff. That will improve as the gun is shot.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lithium Batteries

If you have many electronics or flashlights around the house and have been using alkaline batteries in them, you no doubt have experienced leaks. If you catch the leak soon enough you can generally clean out the device and restore it to service, but if the leaks goes undiscovered for too long there's a good chance your device will get ruined.

In my experience, Energizer alkaline are somewhat better than Duracell when it comes to leaking. However, other folks report the opposite. You pays your money and you makes your choice.

This is one reason I keep a spare can of CRC Quick Dry Electrical Contact Cleaner around the house.

However, you can prevent having to deal with the leaks by switching to a different battery chemistry, namely either NiMH rechargeable or lithium cells. In the past week I've changed out the batteries in several important flashlights, headlamps, and my Garmin 62stc GPS with Energizer lithium AA and AAA cells. I've bought some from Amazon and some from Battery Junction.

These devices don't see heavy use but when I need them, I need them. The lithium cells have a long shelf life -- advertised as up to 20 years, and don't leak. They also handle low temperatures better, which makes them a good choice for flashlights or headlamps that are kept in vehicles.

I've also decided to replace the Ziploc bags I've been using to carry my spare batteries with these plastic containers. They should protect the batteries better against impacts and short circuits.

From what I've read Panasonic Eneloops seem to be the gold standard in rechargeable AAs and AAAs. However, I haven't tried them out yet. I'd appreciate any feedback on them.

Bumblebee Canned Smoked Trout

I tried a tin of Bumblebee smoked boneless, skinless trout today for lunch.

More of these cans will be getting added to my larder. It'll make a good addition to my daypack or for overnighters. It was good right out of the can. I bet this would be really good on the FDF rye bread crisps from Varusteleka, but I like that it can be consumed with no preparation.

I'd picked this up at my local supermarket a few weeks ago. If you can't find it locally it -- along with other brands -- can be bought from Amazon. I'd like to find some packed in olive oil rather than canola but this will do for now.

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.