Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Emergency Ration Taste Test

The August 2007 cover story in Popular Mechanics is about disaster preparedness. Meanwhile, PM has posted a comparison of three different emergency ration bars on their website, here.

{H/T InstaPundit.}

Saturday, July 07, 2007

IOR Valdada 3x25mm CQB Scope Review

I formerly had a Hakko 4x21 scope mounted on my Colt AR-15A3 Tactical Carbine. I was considering replacing it with a Trijicon ACOG, in order to get a truly SHTF-worthy piece of glass. After doing a lot of online research and some comparison shopping, I got an IOR Valdada 3x25MM CQB scope instead.

I chose the IOR scope over the ACOG for two primary reasons: (1) cost and (2) the IOR's longer eye relief, which makes eye position much less critical.

IOR Valdada is a Romanian company which has been making scopes and binoculars since the 1930s. They use German-made Schott glass. The lenses are multi-coated to reduce glare, and the scope itself is sealed and filled with nitrogen. This should prevent any interior fogging. The optics are very clear with good resolution.

The IOR scope is compact but weighs in at one pound. It feels very solid. The adjustment clicks for windage and elevation are well-defined. The glass is very clear, definitely better than the Hakko's. The IOR CQB reticle is interesting and incorporates ranging features. The center dot subtends 2 minutes of angle (MOA, or about 2" at 100 yards), so it'll be more precise than the ~4 MOA dot in the Hakko.

The scope's reticle is etched on glass and can be illuminated using a battery powered built-in light, which uses CR2032 lithium coin cells. Without illum, the reticle is black. When illuminated, it's red, except for the horseshoe-shaped thingy in the reticle, which remains black. The illumination is not bright enough to be useful in full daylight. Even at its highest setting, the reticle just barely turns red. The illum works well at dusk and after, however.

The scope has a removable Picatinny rail sleeve around the objective lens side, intended for mounting tacticool stuff like a red dot sight, laser, or light. I have no plans to use the rails, but intend to leave the sleeve on as protection for the main body of the scope. The scope itself mounts to a Picatinny rail using a built-in mount secured by two captive nuts. This is not a quick-release design. The scope feels very rugged, but in the hopefully unlikely event that it goes TU, I'll need pliers or a wrench to remove it so I can use a back up iron sight (which I need to acquire).

After receiving the IOR scope, I bore sighted it at about 25 - 30 yards using a laser boresighter. (A toy house in my backyard stood in for a target.) Yesterday I got it out to the range and zeroed it on an SR-1 target at 100 yards. The laser bore sight got me on the paper but about 6" high and 6" left. It was short work to get POA to equal POI.

Adjustment of the scope is a bit different than most American hunting scopes. The windage and elevation knobs have hand adjustable turrets. Elevation goes from "0" up, while windage has a "0" with adjustments in both direction. If you reach the limits of adjustment, you loosen two Allen screws on the turret knobs and turn the turret independently of the outer ring that has the markings on it. Once you're zeroed, place the outer rings at the zero position and then retighten the Allen screws. An Allen key is provided with the scope for this purpose. The elevation wheel on my Hakko worked similarly.

IMO, the following areas could be improved:

1. Make the illumination brighter so it's useful in daylight.
2. Illuminate the horsesho part of the reticle, so that it can be used as a quick, coarse aiming point at "oh dammit" distances.
3. Replace the mounting nuts with thumb nuts similar to those seen on removable AR-15 carry handles. Or make a quick-release mount.
4. Improve the operator's manual. It's a couple of sheets that look like they came out of in inkjet printer. A better explanation of the scope's range finding reticle would be helpful.

Overall, I am pleased with my choice. The IOR Valdada 3x35mm CQB scope is rugged, has clear optics, a good reticle, and its compact size matches my carbine well.

Technical specs for the IOR Valdada 3x25mm CQB Scope:

Magnification 3x
Objective diameter 25mm
Field of view at 100 yards 31 feet
Exit pupil diameter 8.25mm
Eye relief 3.50 inches
Diopter adjustment -4 to +4 dpt.
Click adjustment 1/4 min.
Tube diameter 30mm
Length 5.65 inches
Weight 16 oz

Sunday, July 01, 2007

REI is selling Mountain House freeze dried food at 20% off in conjunction with their Fourth of July sale. I haven't had any freeze dried food in many years and wanted to try it out as potential food for my emergency stash. I live about 5 minutes from the Conshohocken, PA REI, so today I went over and bought three of their single-serving Pro-Pak meals. The Pro-Paks are vacuum-packed so that they don't take up too much room in a pack. Between the freeze drying and vacuum packing, they should last years.

I bought one each of the beef stroganoff, spaghetti with meat sauce, and scrambled eggs with ham and green and red peppers. I tried the beef stroganoff for lunch. To prepare it, you add 1.5 cups of boiling water to the Pro-Pak pouch, stir well, seal it, let sit for for about 8 - 9 minutes. You can then open it up, stir again, and eat it right from the pouch.

It was quite good. Surprisingly good for food that just got reconstituted. I am impressed. The 16 oz. size was perfect for me, enough to be filling but I'm not overstuffed. This particular meal has a total of 520 calories, 190 of which are from fat. It also has 1920mg of sodium, so people on special diets need to take note.

I see a few advantages of freeze dried meals:

1. LONG shelf life. I've seen some advertised with a 30 year shelf life. The beef stroganoff's pouch is stamped "best used by December 2013." AFAIK it'll be safe beyond that but the taste may deteriorate.
2. Lighter in weight than food which hasn't been dehydrated, e.g., cans or MREs.
3. Easy to prepare. Just add boiling water to the pouch, and wait about 10 minutes.
4. The pouch that it's packed in can be used to reconstitute and serve the food, then discarded. No need to wash dishes.

There are some cons:

1. High sodium content.
2. You have to provide water to reconstitute them.
3. Said water needs to be hot, preferably boiling, for the food to reconstitute in a reasonable amount of time. This means you need something to boil the water in, and something to heat it.

I am planning to pick up some more while it's still on sale.