Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Upcoming Antenna Upgrade

About a year ago I posted pics of the two antennas I have up on my roof. What I’ve found is that the Ultimax 100 that I’m using for HF is pretty directional for Tx when mounted as a sloper, as I currently have it. So, I’ve decided to remount it vertically.

Since the radiating element is a piece of wire, I’ll need a way to support it. This morning I ordered a Jackite 31’ telescoping fiberglass pole from Amazon. Jackite manufactures their telescoping poles for use in flying kites and windsocks, but a lot of amateur radio operators have adopted them for supporting antennas. Mounting the antenna vertically will give me an omnidirectional radiation pattern, and just as importantly, a lower takeoff angle. For my needs I think this will work better for me.

The pole should arrive Saturday. The weather forecast for Sunday looks good so I hope to have it up then.

Assuming it works out as expected I will probably buy a second pole and then another similar antenna for field use.

Updates to follow.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kovea Spider Canister Stove

I recently posted about an easy to make alcohol stove. Alcohol stoves are great in that they are cheap to make, easy to use, employ a relatively safe fuel, and work pretty well. However, if you need a stove that will boil water more quickly then there are better alternatives. One such type of stove is the canister stove, fueled by disposable canisters filled with liquified gas fuel. A nice overview of the different types of fuels used in these canisters is available at Zen Stoves.

I had some credit in my Amazon account, so I decided to add a Kovea Spider backpacking stove to my toolkit.  Here’s the stove, piezo electric igniter, instruction flier, and carry sack. It weighs less than 6 oz. sans fuel. I chose the Kovea after reading a couple reviews, here and here. Both reviews have some good detail pictures, along with performance data.


A closeup of the stove. The copper tube next to the burner is part of the fuel line. By running it close to the burner, it can be used to gasify liquid fuel before it gets to the burner itself. This is useful in very cold temperatures when you need to run the canister upside to get liquid fuel out.


Butane canister stoves are attached to the fuel canister in one of two ways. The most common is screwing directly to the top of the can. An example of this is the MSR Pocket Rocket. The other method, employed by the Kovea Spider, is a remote connection using a tube.

The direct connect stoves are a bit lighter and more compact. The remote connect stoves give you a lower center of gravity, allow you to place a windscreen tighter around the stove and pot when in use, and some can be used with the canister inverted, which may be necessary in cold weather. For these reasons I chose a remote connect design.

The butane/isobutane/propane canisters are widely available at sporting goods stores, Walmart, etc. I picked a few up at REI while I was waiting for the Kovea to arrive.

Along with the stove, I ordered a windscreen. Since it’s a remote unit and I don’t have to worry about overheating the canister, the I got a 12” tall windscreen by Solo. This screen can be used with canister, alcohol, or wood stoves. There are wire stakes on both ends which allow you to anchor it to the ground. It’s made from aluminum so it’s very light, and packs into a nice carry case.

To test the Kovea Spider I took it out back while the temperature was in the lower 30s F. I used it to boil 12 oz. of water to reconstitute a Mountain House Pro Pak freeze dried spaghetti and meat sauce dinner.

To use the stove, first make sure that the valve is completely closed by turning it clockwise. (The valve handle is the rectangular wire thing.) Then screw it to the canister. Unfold the stove and set it down away from the canister. Turn the stove on by opening the valve, then light the gas.

I first tried to light the stove using the supplied piezo electric igniter. Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t get the miniscule spark to light the stove. So, I turned off the gas flow and got a ferrocerium rod out of my bag, then tried again. After a couple strikes the stove lit.


Here’s my test setup, showing how closely you can wrap the windscreen around the stove and pot.


The 1.5 cups of water in my Walmart grease pot took about 3 minutes to come to a rolling boil on the Kovea. Impressive.


To extinguish the stove simply close the valve again. The canisters can be disconnected from the stove and reused until empty.

As for dinner, the Mountain House Pro Pak spaghetti and meat sauce was pretty good. The package was for a 16 oz. serving. After opening it and discarding the dessicant pack, add 1.5 cups (12 oz.) of boiling water, mix it up, and reseal the bag. Wait 8 or 9 minutes, mix it again, and dig in.

Kovea is a Korean company and fairly new to the US market. The reasonably-priced Spider is well made from good materials and as shown above, offers good performance. Because it can be used with the fuel canister inverted, it will be useful to lower temperatures than stove not supporting that mode of operation.  It’s lightweight and compact. In fact, it will nest inside a Walmart grease pot along with a fuel canister. The one item I wasn’t happy with was the piezo igniter, which doesn’t make much of a spark. So, I plan to keep a ferrocerium rod and striker, and/or some matches along with the stove.

The combination of a liquid fuel canister stove and dehydrated food is very convenient. It’s a good combination for day hikes, camping, or keeping in your bugout bag.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Swiss Surplus Sweater

As a fan of wool clothing I’ve been on the lookout for a good sweater to add to my wardrobe.  Wool, of course, is great because it still provides some insulation even if it gets wet, and is more fire resistant the synthetics.

I came across Swiss military surplus sweaters on a few sites, most of which had used sweaters. SwissLink had some new ones for $59.99, so I ordered one on November 27th. It arrived on December 5th. Not bad for shipping over a holiday weekend.

The sweater is in perfect, new condition as described on SwissLink’s site. It is a heavy 70% virgin wool / 30% polyester. It’s itchy against bare skin but I don’t plan on wearing it without a shirt underneath.

The collar and cuffs have a ribbed knit pattern. SwissLink describes it as having a quarter-zip, but it’s actually closer to a half-zip, which I like because it makes donning or doffing it easier, and allows for better ventilation.

The workmanship is top notch. There aren’t any loose threads and the plastic zipper operates smoothly. It actually looks nice enough that it wouldn’t appear out of place if you wore it into the office. That said, I bought it for field use.

The sweater I received is marked with the European size 56, which converts to American sizing as a 46 according to this site. SwissLink lists them using American sizing ( M, L, XL, and XXL).

I am 5’6” tall but carry my own survival rations around my waist, so I ordered the XL. It fits well although the sleeves a bit long. I can roll the cuffs over so that’s not a problem and would allow me to pull them down over my hands if I don’t have gloves.

Some measurements from the garment:

  • Height from top of collar to hem: 31”
  • Width at armpits: 26”
  • Sleeve length (along top edge): 26”

Unlike a lot of milsurp this didn’t come with a funky smell. In fact, it smells pretty much like my Land’s End lamb’s wool sweaters.

Hopefully I’ll have enough cool weather to wear it often.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Few Blogs of Note

While cruising the Interwebs I’ve come across a few notewrothy blogs worth perusing by preppers.

  • Mountain Guerilla. This is written by “John Mosby,” a SF veteran. One noteworthy post is Optics Options for the Fighting Rifle.
  • Max Velocity Tactical. This is the website of former British Para, now US citizen. From reading the blog, he appears more oriented towards training regular guys than most trainers, who are oriented more towards the military or LEO side of things. One of the pieces of gear that I’ve written about in the past is the SAS smock. Max has a couple good posts about the smock here and here.
  • Signal Corps. This blog appears to be pretty new. It’s written by a former SF commo guy and the blog has mostly covered radio communications. He’s a big proponent of getting your ham ticket.

Dirt Simple Alcohol Stove

I found this video via a link on BushcraftUSA.

How To Turn A Beer Can Into The Only Camping Stove You'll Ever Need from Tom Allen on Vimeo.

I made one from a soda can a week or two ago and finally had the chance to try it out today.


For lunch I had a Mountain House “Wraps” meal of scrambled eggs, sausage, onions, and hash browns. The bag says it’s for filling your own burritos, but I ate it right out of the bad using an MRE spoon.

The stove worked well using denatured alcohol for the fuel. At first, I had it inside the hobo stove pictured, which I intended to be both a pot stand and windscreen for the stove. I put an ounce or two of alcohol in the soda can stove and after about five minutes, the 1.5 cups of water in the Walmart grease pot was just starting to boil. At that point it ran out of fuel. I waited for the stove to cool down, added more fuel, and lit it. After waiting about 30 seconds for it to begin burning well I put the pot right on top of the stove, as shown in the video. Within a few minutes the water was boiling.

The instructions for the Mountain House food are to add 1.5 cups of boiling water to the pouch, stir, then reseal and let it sit for 8 – 9 minutes. I did so, stirred it some more, then ate it. It was pretty good and not too salty. A little bit of hot sauce would’ve been good, though.

I’m impressed with the stove. Compared with other alcohol stoves made from soda cans it’s much simpler to make. I.e., you don’t need to make a series of holes around the outside. I do need to come up with some sort of lightweight windscreen. I’d like to come up with a kit consisting of the stove, fuel bottle, windscreen, and a box of matches, all fitting inside the Walmart grease pot. It would be a great lightweight cooking kit.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Double Barrel Shotguns

In recent posts I’ve discussed single shot shotguns as tools for your survival arsenal. The oldest way of making a multiple shot firearm was to add a second barrel. Double guns remain popular to this day. Side by side shotguns have experienced a revival with the advent of cowboy action shooting, while over/unders are very popular with trap, skeet, and sporting clay shooters, as well as hunters.

Over on Blog O’Stuff, I’ve posted recently about the Baikal MP-310 (IZH-27) over/under that I got a couple weeks ago. See here, here, and here.

The Baikal guns in particular offer a couple nice features for the prepper. First is chrome plated bores. That means easier maintenance and better weather resistance. The chromed bores will be especially handy if you shoot any shells loaded with black powder or Pyrodex.  The other is that they come with sling swivels. They are old fashioned Euro-style 3/4” swivels. I bought a suitable sling from Hastings Distribution which fit perfectly and was inexpensive.

A well-made double, whether it’s a side-by-side or over/under, is a good hunting tool and not a bad defensive weapon. Doubles offer redundant firing mechanisms and the ability to load a different kind of ammo in each barrel. For example, if you’re hunting you could load one barrel with birdshot and the other with a slug.

Doubles also allow you to shoot ammo that won’t feed well in a repeater, e.g., Aguila 1.5” mini shells.

A double barrel shotgun is a rather intimidating looking weapon. Having two ~3/4” holes pointed at your face says, “GTFO OR ELSE!” in pretty much every language. While you should not rely solely on intimidation, if it prevents you from having to drop the hammer on another person I’d say you’re coming out ahead. Most defensive gun use doesn’t require any shots being fired, so this shouldn’t be totally discounted.

Another nice feature of break open guns compared with most pumps or semiautos is that they are shorter, because there isn’t much action behind the breach. For example, a Remington 870 Express with a 28” barrel is 48.5” long. The Baikal O/U with the same barrel length is 3” shorter.

Most double guns take down easily without tools. My Stoeger SxS Coach Gun and the Baikal take down by removing the forearm by opening a retaining lever. You then break open the gun and pull the barrels off. With a little practice you can takedown or reassemble the gun in about 10 seconds.

Break open guns make it easy to use a sub-gauge adapter. Savage used to sell the “Four Tenner,” which allowed you to shoot .410 bore shells in a 12 gauge shotgun. There are a few vendors of similar products nowadays (search for “sub-gauge adapter”).

Break open singles and doubles have a very simple manual of arms. They don’t require learning how to use a magazine or a slide release. This is an advantage if you need to use one as a hand out gun.

If a single shot doesn’t provide enough firepower for you but a repeater is more complex than you’d like, check out a double gun.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Built a Compost Bin

This afternoon my 9 year old daughter gave me a hand and we made this compost bin. Most of the wood was salvaged from a friend’s old deck that he had torn down, although I did have to buy a couple of 1x3s to finish the job.

It’s about 50” wide, 3’ high, and 2’ front-to-back. The sides are surrounded by hardware cloth (1/2” galvanized steel mesh). I plan to add a hinged door to the front right, but ran out of time today.

We added 3 bags of leaves that were mulched by going through my Toro leaf blower/vac, and some of the vegetable scraps from tonight’s dinner prep.

I’m hoping we get some good compost out of it for next year’s garden. My girls really want to do a garden next year, so that should help motivate me. The soil in my yard is hard packed clay, so I’m planning on building raised beds and filling them with good topsoil.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Small Lathe Built in a Japanese Prison Camp

I’ve been doing some preliminary research into silencer designs prior to filing my first Form 1, and ran across this article about a small lathe made by a British POW being held in a WW2 Japanese prison camp. Link to ~1.1 meg PDF.

This lathe was quite a bit smaller than the modern Chinese lathes made by Sieg and Real Bull, and which are commonly derided as toys. Yet, the author of the article made good use of it, fabricating parts for artificial limbs, among other things.

There’s something to be said for picking up and learning how to use a lathe as part of your preps. It could come in useful in the event of an economic depression when manufactured items become hard to get and it’s a tool with which to earn some extra cash.

Sources for the modern mini lathes include Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Little Machine Shop, and Big Dog Metal Works. Also check out mini-lathe.com for more info.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

More Shotgun Stuff

I went camping with friends a couple weekends ago. On the way to the property, we stopped at Cabela’s and I picked up a box of the Herter’s Multi Defense load, which is a modern incarnation of buck and ball that was used by the US Army in its smoothbore muskets. The Herter’s load consists of one .650” caliber round ball and six No.1 buckshot, each of which is a .30” caliber ball.

As described on Wikipedia:

The intent of the buck and ball load was to combine the devastating impact of the full-size (normally .65 caliber) ball with the spreading pattern of a shotgun, and served to greatly improve the hit probability of the smoothbore musket used in combat, especially at closer ranges, where the buckshot would retain significant energy, and against closely packed troops where the spread of the buckshot would be advantageous

Obviously, the extra hit probability against massed troop formations is no longer of concern, but the Multi Defense load’s combination of a single large projectile with a half dozen smaller pellets may be advantageous in certain environments. I wouldn’t choose it for use in a city or suburban area due to the potential for stray pellets. But for rural or campsite defense it may be a viable option.

The Multi Defense loads may also be found marketed under the Centurion brand name, and I think also Nobel. They are made in Italy and appear to be well made, high quality ammo. I’d like to see a reduced recoil version.

I put a couple of them through my cut down H&R Topper. Thank G-d for the Pachmayr Decelerator slip on recoil pad, because the recoil of these high brass loads in the lightweight H&R was truly vicious.

I’m pleased to note that the Truglo fiber optic bead sight that I put on the H&R  stayed put after putting two of the Multi Defense loads plus two Federal reduced recoil Tactical OO buck through it.

Aside from the self abuse inflicted by shooting high brass shells through a 5.5 pound 12 gauge shotgun, we did some bird and small game hunting. This reinforced that yes, you can in fact miss with a shotgun. The four of us flushed about a dozen ruffed grouse, got off several shots, and wound up having the beef we brought along for dinner.

I got one shot off with my H&R 20 gauge Topper at a grouse but missed. I might have had better luck with a more open choke. The range when I fired was no more than 20 feet. It’s tempting to have the barrel sent off to get threaded for choke tubes and stick an IC tube in the gun.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Take on the Single Shot Survival Shotgun

{Army of Darkness}

This is my BOOM stick!

{/Army of Darness}

Inspired by this thread on Arfcom (among others), today I took my old H&R Topper that I got while I was in high school back in the early ‘80s, and cut the barrel to 22” from the original 27.5” length. To cut the barrel I used a cutoff wheel in my angle grinder, then dressed the end square on a belt sander. I used some more sandpaper to debur the inside of the crown.


I hunted with this gun and shot a fair amount of doves with it but it’s been unused for over 20 years at this point. At some point back in the ‘80s the lug on the bottom of the barrel that you screw the forearm to sheared off. This is a common problem with H&Rs of this era. Last weekend a friend TIG welded it back on.


Yes, it’s ugly, but it held on through a few rounds of low brass trap loads.

As you can see in the top pic I added a Truglo fiber optic bead sight and a Pachmayr Decellerator slip-on recoil pad. I also added a set of Allen quick detachable sling swivel studs.

I’m hoping that the fiber optic bead will stay on the barrel. It’s really tight. If not, I marked a spot for reinstalling the original bead.

The length of pull is a little too long for me now so I’m planning to shorten the butt.

My intended use for this is as a camp gun and maybe upland hunting in thick brush. It takes down into two short pieces by removing one screw, so it may also get used as a truck gun on road trips.

Obviously I need to pattern it. It should be OK to shoot with low brass loads and fun with Aguila mini shells, or even black powder handloads.

Reviving an H&R Model 1900 Shotgun

Over on Blog O’Stuff I have two posts (part one, part two) showing how I revitalized a century old H&R Model 1900 12 gauge, top break shotgun. If you’re on a tight budget and you run across one of these or something similar, you can clean it up with some elbow grease and time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life - Matt Bracken

This article is worth reading in full:

Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life
by Matt Bracken

Professional trappers don't catch fast-breeding and destructive feral pigs using hunting dogs and guns, or in little traps one or two at a time. The wily pigs quickly learn to evade humans after such fleeting contacts. So how do the pros trap entire feral pig herds, eliminating them all, from granddads to piglets, in one go? They feed them, most generously. They kill them with kindness.

First, in a clearing in the woods, the trappers build an enclosure about twenty feet on a side and four feet high, made of stout wire mesh. There is an opening on each of the four sides of the pen. The pen is loaded with corn and other pig favorites. At first, the suspicious hog honchos will send in a few of the little ones as scouts. The scouts come and go at will, eating to their piggy satisfaction, until eventually suspicions die and they are joined by every other member of the herd right up the chain of command. The pigs soon come to believe that if nothing bad has happened to them after entering the strange wire enclosure full of corn, then nothing bad will ever happen. Their "normalcy bias" kicks in very quickly.

Soon, the pigs can't imagine any other life. Rooting for tubers? An unpleasant task of the forgotten past. Nightly the herd eagerly trots to the free corn in the pen, and they fail to notice when one of the openings has been closed off with another panel of wire fencing during the day. Pigs are said to be as smart as dogs, but neither can count to four. Nor are the closings of the second or third openings much noticed. Finally, all that remains for the trapper to do is to install a powerful spring-driven trap door above the last opening. The entire tribe of formerly wary feral hogs once again enters the pen, and with a metallic clang their miraculous corn nirvana turns into a death trap.

The moral of the story: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don't go inside the "free corn" pen, not even when all the doors are open. Free food is as dangerous as the sirens' song to ancient mariners. It is all too easy to get used to being fed, and then to miss the exits closing one at a time.

2. The Turkeys and Farmer Brown

Pigs are Einsteins compared to turkeys. Turkeys are so stupid that care must be taken to prevent them from killing themselves by accident. For example, if incorrectly stimulated, they might stampede into a corner of a feeding lot and trample many of their brethren to death in their urgency to follow the herd.

If turkeys think at all, they think of Farmer Brown as "the food man" or "the food god." So you can imagine their simple and unreserved joy at seeing the food man arriving to dispense the daily manna. For 364 straight days they believe they are living in turkey heaven, and they worship the food man, until on day 365 he unexpectedly takes an ax to their necks. (Hat tip to Nassim Nicholas Taleb and his seminal book, "The Black Swan" If you have not yet read it, you are way behind the learning curve. It's waiting for you at your local library.)

The moral of the story: If somebody is feeding you every day and asking for nothing in return, give an occasional thought to his motives and his possible end plans. Not everybody that feeds you loves you. The normalcy bias can kill you.

3. The Buffalo Jump

Native American Indians hunted on foot before the arrival of Spanish horses in North America. Bows and arrows and spears were not showstoppers against stampeding herds of bison, each weighing up to a ton. The Indians understood bison much better than the bison understood the Indians, however, and so the bison repeatedly failed to discern that all the pesky humans waving flags and setting grass fires were funneling them into a narrow draw and then to a yawning cliff, with squaws and children waiting below to commence the butchery.

The moral of the story: If you are being stampeded and funneled, it might be toward disaster, not away from it. Take any exit and go another direction. Read about the then-Greek city of Smyrna in 1922 to see a human Buffalo Jump in action. Wiki link to the "Catstrophe of Smyrna"

4. The Lemmings

The lemmings we are interested in are the small furry rodents that live on islands around Norway. For most of history, their mass charges into the frigid waters were seen as some kind of group suicide. Today, they’re understood to be the result of the little rodent's rapid gestation period kicking into high gear during rare periods of abundance of seed grasses sprouting madly during particularly mild arctic summers. In a matter of months the lemming population explodes, but eventually every last seed is eaten, and not another seed will appear until after the passage of the long arctic winter. The starving rodents packing the small islands can either die in place or undertake a desperate swim to greener pastures on other islands beckoning in the distance.

The moral of the story: There doesn't need to be a pig trapper or a turkey farmer in the equation to cause a mass die-off event; nature can do it all on her own. And nature doesn't care about your schedule, or your personal problems.

5. The Land Crab Massacre

One day in Puerto Rico a platoon of Navy SEALs had to drive in a few trucks and vans to an isolated rifle range way out in some swampy corner of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, now sadly closed. A few miles of gravel road paralleled the Caribbean shore, with mangrove trees close on both sides of the narrow track. You had to access this rifle range at certain times during the daily tidal cycle, or the road might be under water. The frogmen spent the day shooting guns and blowing things up, then at sunset packed up the trucks for the quick run back to their beloved NavSpecWar Det Caribbean.

Truck headlights illuminated a moving sheet of land crabs, migrating from the ocean toward the land for the night. Land crabs have a body about the size of a fist, and one claw as big as a Maine lobster's. They were so tightly packed that you could not toss a hat into their midst without hitting two or three: a near solid mass of them covering a mile of gravel road and the mangrove swamps on both sides. All the SEALs could do was drive over them in their government trucks, pulverizing thousands of them, maybe millions, leaving two wide swaths of crushed crab, crackling and squishing beneath our tires for a mile.

On the return trip to the range the next day, not a sign remained of the land crab holocaust. The smashed crustaceans had been immediately devoured by their erstwhile kin, who were probably happy that the hard work of shell-cracking had already been done by Goodyear tires. A mile-long crab massacre was followed by a cannibal feast that left no trace, overnight.

The moral of the story: Don't be caught in the middle of a mass migration where you have no room to maneuver independently. Any outside force, or your neighbors, can smite you at will. Like Desert Storm's "Highway of Death," refugee columns attract warbird attention the way that honey attracts flies. History is full of refugee columns being strafed, on purpose or through mis-identification. Or like the bison, refugee columns can be herded into traps, and the individual refugee can do nothing to prevent it. This is a paradoxical case where the normally presumed “safety in numbers” is a deadly betrayer instead of a savior. Given a choice, going it alone beats The Buffalo Jump every time, but it’s very hard to bolt from the herd.

Read the whole thing here:


Friday, August 16, 2013

Hobo Stove and Walmart Grease Pot Test

Over the past few years I’ve read many discussions of the Walmart IMUSA grease pot for use as an inexpensive, lightweight cooking pot while camping. I was at Walmart earlier this week and decided to pick one up to try. For about $6, why not?

(For whatever reason, I can’t find the grease pot at walmart.com, here is the same pot at Amazon.)

The wife and kids were out tonight so I stopped at the local Asian grocer and bought a few different kinds of noodles to try, including the pack of udon that I cooked tonight. Here’s the udon pack, grease pot, hobo stove, and fuel that I used.


Not shown is the strainer included with the great pot, since I didn’t use it tonight.

For fueling the hobo stove I used a firestarter that I’d made up a few weeks ago. It’s part of a cardboard egg carton stuffed with oak shavings, then saturated with melted Gulf canning wax (paraffin). Once the melted wax hardens, you get a waterproof firestarter that lights easily and will burn hot for several minutes. They are great for starting campfires, and I wanted to see how it would work in lieu of sticks in the hobo stove.

The stove is one I made a couple years ago from a 1 pound coffee can. It has several ~1/2” holes around the bottom to allow for a draft, several more around the top, and a window at the top for adding fuel in the form of sticks or split wood.

I put 1.5 cups of tap water into the grease pot and placed it on the stove, then lit the fuel. After a couple minutes it looked like this.


Remember, that’s one of these firestarters.

I didn’t hear any boiling so after about 3 minutes I removed the lid, and found that I had a rolling boil.


So I put the udon in and let it cook for about 3 minutes. The firestarter burned out about 2 to 3 minutes after I added the noodles. I figure that it burned for about 6 to 7 minutes.



I did end up transferring the udon to a bowl, because the grease pot is too tall to conveniently eat from.


For six bucks, the IMUSA grease pot carried by Walmart is a great deal if you want a light, cheap cooking pot for camping. It’s even  big enough to hold one of those small butane powered stoves. It’s made from thin aluminum, so don’t expect it to withstand much abuse, but if you keep that in mind it’s a great deal.

The IMUSA grease pot would also make a good basis for a car survival kit. It can hold some survival supplies, e.g., tea bags, bullion cubes, a cup, space blanket, matches, firestarters, Esbit tabs or Trioxane fuel bars.

I was pleased with the performance of the firestarter when used as cooking fuel. If the pot had more than 1.5 cups of water in it I would have needed more fuel, however.

One caveat about using this kind of firestarter as a fuel bar is that it leaves a lot of thick, greasy soot on your cooking pot. If you plan on using this, better carry a plastic bag to put your pot in so everything else in your pack doesn’t turn black.

Performance of the hobo stove was good. It could probably be improved with something to hold the fuel closer to the bottom of the pot, such as a metal grate or the bottom of a smaller, empty can inverted and placed inside.

This goes to show you that you don’t always need to spend a lot of money on gear if you exercise a bit of creativity.

Friday, August 09, 2013

AR15 80% Lowers at Amazon.com

I think this pretty much cements the notion that AR15s are in "common use" per Heller.

80% AR15 lower receiver at Amazon.com.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

On The Value of the Single-Barrel Shotgun

Tonight in my meanderings on the web I ran across this post from last year by KE4SKY* on the Hill People Gear forum:

A break-open, single-shot, 12-gauge shotgun is the least expensive, most handy, versatile firearm that anyone can own. A subsistence farmer in the Third World or outdoorsman doesn’t want a heavy tactical shotgun. When on foot out doing chores you aren’t going to carry more than a pound or so of ammo. 
12-gauge shells weigh 9 rounds to the pound. A box of 25 shells weigh about 3 pounds. This limits how much ammunition you will carry, because playing Rambo with your shotgun gets in the way of carrying mission-essential kit like shelter, water, fire making, food, first aid, navigation, communication,..survival! So, you take what you need for camp meat opportunities which may occur during the day and a few for two- or four-leggged predator deterrent on the walk home. If backpacking, you will carefully make that three pound box of 25 shells last as long a time as possible, especially if re-supply is a great distance away.

This is a simple meat producer, predator deterrent and personal defense gun. Low cost, safety, simplicity, ruggedness, durability, ease of carry, fast handling and versatility are its attributes. What other firearm can you get for about $100 used or less than $200 new which does so much?
The break-open shotgun “always works,” is simplicity itself and is legal most places which don't permit people to carry a handgun or military rifle. Minimal training is needed. You can’t “short-shuck” one, as often happens to novice “pump gun” owners. It keeps going like the Energizer Bunny with minimal care, despite rain, sand, snow, ice, mud, dust or saltwater exposure AND it takes apart to fit in your pack. Nothing much breaks on them unless you are stupid enough to dry-fire one with the action open and slam the action closed, breaking the firing pin. 

I've been seeing a lot more interest in the single-barrel shotgun lately, which is a nice alternative to the tacticool stuff. Certainly a Remington 870 or other repeater is a better gun for defense, but single-shots can be picked up cheaper, are simpler to run, and work just fine as game getters.

*Since he posted under his call sign I won't name him here. If you know where to look it's easy to find, though. Let's just say that he's very knowledgeable about firearms.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Simple Shotgun Cleaning Kit

Back in March I wrote about my old H&R 158 Topper 20 gauge shotgun as a survival gun. Here's the gun as it looks now, with the added butt cuff for ammo and SKS sling:

Today I put together a simple, pull-through cleaning kit to go in the cavity I carved out of the butt.

The pull-through is made from a piece of tarred bank line about 8" longer than the barrel. I tied a loop with half hitches on one end to hold a cleaning patch, while the other end is tied to a Countycomm Peanut Lighter. This gives me a weight to drop the line through the bore and it has a secondary purpose. It has enough weight that it should be able to knock some snow or mud out of the muzzle in the event you drop the gun.

The Peanut Lighter is about a half inch in diameter so it'll fit in a 20 gauge or larger barrel. It might fit through a 28 gauge barrel, depending on the choke. If you want to make a pull-through for a .410 shotgun you'll need to use something else, such as a length of brass rod with a hole drilled in it for the line.

You could use paracord but it will take up more space. The storage cavity in my stock is small so the tarred bank line, or even mason's twine, work better for me.

A few cotton flannel cleaning patches, a sample tube of gun oil from Brownells, and a scraper from Countycomm complete the kit, which is enclosed in a small Ziploc bag. The kit is a snug fit in the stock cavity and held in place by the slip-on recoil pad.

This is far from a complete cleaning kit but it'll allow you to do some basic maintenance in the field.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Rambling Thoughts on the Ammo Situation

We are now about 8 months into the biggest and longest guns and ammunition buying panic ("Banic") that I can remember, and I've been following these things since the '80s.

Yesterday on Facebook, ammunition manufacturer Hornady posted a link to this statement on ammo and component availability. Additionally, they linked to this list of the ammo and components that they will be producing for the remainder of 2013.

So, I offer the following thoughts and observations. Please pardon the rambling.

First, if this hasn't brought home to you the necessity of keeping a significant supply of ammunition on hand for your firearms, I don't know what will.  The reelection of Barack Obama and the Sandy Hook school shooting, with the ensuing push for gun control by (primarily) the Democrats and their propaganda arm, AKA the mainstream media, has caused a panic the likes of which nobody has seen. As observed by Bob Owens back in December, the American public's response was to buy up every firearm of military utility designed in the past century, and the ammo to feed them. If the Dems' goal had been to cause the American populace to arm for war, they couldn't have done better.

If you're concerned that buying online or paying for guns or ammo with a credit card will land you on a list, join the rest of us already there. Frankly, if you're not on a list, you've been slacking in speaking up in defense of the rights that both major parties have been so eager to trample upon. If you can't find ammo locally or at a gun show, there's a good chance you can find it online. The website gunbot.net will help you find ammo in stock.

I am starting to see some kinds of ammo come back in stock, e.g, 9mm, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39, etc. .22 rimfire remains in short supply with only expensive, match grade stuff remaining in stock for more than a few hours.

.22 rimfire is essentially a commodity, and IMO, what we're seeing with the.22 LR shortage is a feedback loop. I.e., more people own .22s than any other gun, but they've been used to being able to pick up a box or two whenever they want to go shooting. Now, people are buying .22 LR any time they see it in stock somewhere, even if they don't plan on shooting it immediately. This in turn furthers the shortage. We've seen the same effect with other commodities like gasoline.

12 gauge birdshot seems to have been readily available even during the Banic, but slugs and buckshot have been scarce. Birdshot/trap loads are relatively cheap, and with some ingenuity can be remade into ammo more suitable for defense or hunting medium game. (Also Google "cut shells" and "wax slugs," neither of which are ideal but under certain circumstances may become necessary.)

As supplies catch up with demand I'd urge you to lay in a good stock of ammo for your most important guns. If you can afford it you should have enough ammo so that you can go out and practice even if you can't buy ammo that day. So, having 500 or more rounds per gun on hand at any given time is far from unreasonable.

I've seen online that many preppers prefer to keep only guns in common calibers, thinking that they would be most easily available if the SHTF. This panic has given the lie to that train of thought. The most popular calibers -- 9mm, .38, .223, etc. -- were the first to disappear from shelves. If you think about it, this makes sense. Thus, even if your primary guns are a 9mm Glock and a 5.56mm AR15, you should have guns in other calibers in case you need to fall back on them. Over consolidation in calibers limits your options for resupply.

One caliber that has remained available has been 7.62x54R, as used in Russian surplus Mosin-Nagant rifles. Most Americans regard Mosins as crude but they are solid, dependable rifles capable of good accuracy, and available even now at low cost.

Likewise, if your primary handgun is a semiauto, there are a wide variety of police surplus revolvers in .38 Special and .357 Magnum available at moderate cost. A well maintained wheelgun is still a formidable arm even in this day of semiautos, and is not dependent on the quality of ammo for reliable functioning.

Reloaders haven't been immune to the effects of the panic. The supply of primers became tight months ago. Not only are reloaders buying them up, I suspect that a lot of production that would normally go to the reloading market is instead going into commercially loaded ammo. Aside from primers, projectiles have been in short supply. It's going to be time for me to get into bullet casting.

A serious prepper should have on hand guns suitable for reloading with scrounged or self-fabricated components. Older large bore cartridges have an advantage in this regards because they can more effectively use cast, non-expanding bullets, and may even be able to efficiently use black powder. For example, the .44 Special and .45 Colt were originally loaded with black powder. The .44 Magnum case is the same as the .44 Special, lengthened by 1/10". Large bore rifle rounds like .444 Marlin and .45-70 (originally a BP cartridge) can be reloaded with it. Even in 2013, a competent man armed with a lever action carbine and a single action revolver is not someone to be trifled with.

Speaking of black powder, it's one area that's been relatively unscathed by the panic. However, at a couple times I noticed that Cabela's had their Remington 1858 percussion revolvers and round balls on back order. A black powder revolver would be far from my first choice in 2013 for a defensive gun but it beats any non-firearm for defense. They were effective weapons in the 19th Century and remain so today, especially given the advances in metallurgy. They  provide a way to practice your marksmanship without cutting into your supplies of modern ammunition, and in extremis ammunition can be fabricated from scratch (with percussion caps being the most difficult).

Likewise, airguns have flown under the panic radar. Modern high quality airguns offer a way to practice marksmanship at low cost, the ammo is low cost and low volume, and many of them are powerful enough for small game and varmint control. These are not the BB guns we all used as kids. A good primer on what air rifle to buy is available here, on Arfcom.

A nice bonus is that in most states, airguns and black powder guns can be obtained with no paperwork or background check, on a cash and carry basis.

So, what's my point? I guess what I'm trying to get across is that if you're serious about remaining an armed citizen, you need to:

(a) Maintain a good supply of ammunition during "normal" times. By "good supply" I mean one that will allow you to go out and practice even if commercial supplies are short.

(b) Do not over consolidate. Rather, keep guns in a few different calibers, including some that are less common, in case you need to resupply during the next panic or extended shortage.

(c) Look into reloading and stocking up on components when they are available.

(d) Look beyond modern firearms to those that are considered obsolete, because having something like a black powder revolver and/or precision airgun as part of your armory increases your ability to be self reliant.

As for myself, I'd been stocking up for awhile before the panic hit, so I was in good shape ammo-wise. I was caught short when it came to reloading components and dies for a couple calibers I want to reload. Additionally, I need to get setup for bullet casting. As funds and supplies permit I plan to rectify these gaps in my preps.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Machine Shop Update

On Saturday I completed the installation of digital read outs (DROs) on my Grizzly G8689 mini mill. Previously, I'd installed a belt drive conversion from Little Machine Shop. The DROs will enable me to make much more precise cuts, while the belt drive conversion made the mill a lot quieter, smoother running, and increased the top RPM to 4300 should I ever need it. Both are worthwhile mods, IMO.

However, a lathe is still the basic machine tool to have in a machine shop. After much additional online research today I ordered a Big Dog 7x14 benchtop lathe. Unlike most of the benchtop hobby lathes on the US market, this one is made by Yangzhou Real Bull, rather than Sieg. Included feature and accessories are a digital RPM display, lever lock tail stock, a steady rest, a follow rest, tail stock chuck and a live center, 4" four-jaw chuck, and metal transmission gears. I still have the lathe tool kit that I ordered when I placed my original order with Grizzly, so I should be able to get up and running with it immediately.

Delivery should take 5 - 10 days, after which I'll post a review.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remington 550-1 .22 Semiauto Rifle and a Day at the Range

I picked up another classic .22 autoloader today at Surplus City. It's a Remington 550-1. AFAIK, the 550 was made from the 1940s up until the early 1970s.  It has the floating chamber designed by Carbine Williams so it can shoot .22 S, L, or LR. I tried some CB Longs and while it will eject the empties, the bolt didn''t come far back enough to pick up the next round. The floating chamber may need to be pulled and cleaned. The tube mag will hold 15 .22 LRs.

The rifle was made before 1968 and has no serial number (shotguns and rimfire rifles weren't required to have serial numbers before 1968). The date code on the barrel indicates that it was made in March 1948. I'd rate it as NRA Very Good with an excellent bore. I put over 200 rounds through it today with only a couple failures to feed. One was with a CCI Mini Mag and one was with a Federal Champion. Incidentally, comparing the two types of ammo side by side they look identical except for the headstamp. They sound the same and shoot to the same POI at 25 yards. So, AFAIC, the Federal Champion is the equal of CCI Mini Mags. I also shot a bunch of Federal 550 bulk pack and it ran fine with them, too. (ATK owns both CCI and Federal.)

I ran a couple patches through the bore and applied a generous amount of FP10 to the bolt before shooting it. It hasn't been cleaned in a long time. For all I know there's four decades' worth of gunk inside the receiver. Fouling started working its way out of the action and some funk actually fell out the trigger slot. I took the stock off and removed the bolt, tonight and hosed the action out with Kroil, letting it soak for a couple hours. A fair amount of yucky stuff came out.

The 550-1 is a tackdriver. I shot it from the bench at 25 yards where it would keep the Mini Mags and Champions inside ~1.5" which is about as good as I can do with an open rear sight and a front bead. The receiver is neither grooved nor drilled and tapped for a scope. I plan to drill and tap the receiver with my milling machine. I have an extra Nikon 4x32mm Prostaff rimfire scope that will go on it.

The varnish on the stock shows some dings and chips, so I'll probably strip and refinish it. It's also missing the brass/gas deflector that Remington shipped with the rifles. Numrich has spares and the mounting screw, so I'll definitely get one. It does spit a little out the ejection port. I'll also probably swap out the recoil spring for a new one.

Compared with more recent .22 autoloading rifles the Remington feels a lot nicer. It's definitely a product of a bygone era when American gunmakers shipped rifles made from high quality blued steel with nice wood stocks. It feels a lot more solid than my Ruger 10/22 or the Marlin Model 60s I've handled.

I also shot my Remington Nylon 77 with the extra mags that I had to modify. (The 4 spare mags that I got from Remington would not lock into the rifle. I had to grind away part of the locking lug. Worse, 3 of the 4 needed the metal reinforcing clip bent out so I could load them.) They worked well today, so now I'm happy with them.

Here's a pic of the two Remington .22 autoloaders:

Older blued steel and walnut .22s like the 550-1 make excellent additions to any prepper's battery. They were made very well and in many cases are extremely accurate. Older Remingtons in particular have a reputation for being very, very accurate. The tubular magazine is much less likely to be lost than a detachable box, although if you aren't careful you can damage it.

Finally, I also put a box of WWB .45 ACP through my Springfield M1911A1 using two new Chip McCormick magazines, which worked perfectly.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Some Data on the Current State of the Panic

Surplus City Guns in Feasterville, PA is the shop that I've bought most of my guns over the past 10 - 15 years. Yesterday afternoon, they put this on their Facebook timeline:

This is got to be a record for our store for one caliber ( 5.56/.223 )
13,360 rds in bulk in under an hour today
50,000 rds in bulk in under 3 hours Wednesday
21,000 rds in bulk in under 2 1/2hrs Tuesday
and another 2000rds sold by the 20 rd box sprinkled thru-out the week
The crazy part is we could have easily sold 2 to 3 times that amount if we had it......Thank you for your patronage and we will do our best to keep you supplied at a reasonable price . Keep an eye on Facebook for any upcoming announcements .

Surplus City isn't some huge store. It's your average sized gun shop. Now imagine this going on at every gun shop in the country. This points out a few things, IMO:

  1. DHS contracts are not solely to blame for the ammo shortage.
  2. This is just 5.56/.223. Other calibers like 9mm, .45 ACP, and .22 LR are flying off the shelves as fast or faster. Ditto for reloading components and magazines.
  3. A large part of the American people are arming themselves to the teeth. They are stocking up on guns and ammunition. Kind of like 1775 or 1860.

Anyone with two neurons to rub together knows that the current crop of politicians in Washington -- whether Republican or Democrat -- is incapable of or unwilling to address the problems rending this country in two. In fact, they and their willing accomplices in the mainstream media are doing everything in their power to feed the divisions.

This will not end well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

H&R 158 Topper 20 gauge / .22 Hornet

About five years ago noted firearms instructor Clint Smith posted a trailer for his Defensive Shotgun DVD on Youtube. In the video, Smith effectively makes the point that you can defend yourself even if all you have a single shot shotgun.


Clint Smith–Defensive Shotgun

This video has sparked a lot of interest online in non-tactical shotguns for defense, spawning forum threads such as this one on AR15.com.

I own a couple old Harrington & Richardson Toppers, one in 12 gauge and the other came as a combination gun in 20 gauge with a .22 Hornet rifle barrel, which wears a Weaver K-4 scope.

The 12 bore suffers from a malady common to 1980s production Toppers – the lug that the forearm is screwed to broke off under recoil. It’s safe to shoot this way because the lug does not serve to hold the gun closed, only as an anchor point for the forearm. The gun is currently held together with duct tape, something I hope to remedy in the near future by having the lug TIG welded back on.

With the 12 gauge currently in disrepair, I turned my attention to the 20. The factory finish had some wear and the original factory recoil pad was both ugly – red with a white line spacer – but also hard. My first step in the project was to remove the old pad.

After removing the forearm and barrel, I stripped off the old finish with sandpaper. I’ll give H&R credit, that took some elbow grease. After sanding to 100 grit I used a shop towel with mineral spirits on it to clean off dust, then stained the wood with Minwax cherry stain. This did not come out as dark as I wanted, so I gave it a coat of Fiebing’s dark brown leather dye. This gave it a nice, reddish brown tint. After letting the leather dye dry I wiped it down with a dry shop towel, then gave it a couple coats of a spray-on polyurethane finish. It came out pretty nice, I think.

Instead of another recoil pad attached with screws, I bought a small slip-on Pachmayr Decellerator pad from Amazon. It fits the stock perfectly, and allows me to access the cavity I made inside the buttstock:

I should have enough room inside for a pull-through and some cleaning patches, plus a small bottle of oil. I might put a spare forearm screw in there, too.

You can also see that I added quick-detach sling swivels. Rummaging around in my gun stuff I found a Chicom SKS sling, which will serve nicely as a carrying strap.

If you want to weather proof a single shot shotgun better, you can replace the wood furniture with a set of plastic from Choate. They sell replacement stocks for H&Rs in a few different styles, including one forend that’s easily detatchable with a thumbscrew and which has space for storage within.

One thing you’ll notice that I did not do, but is common among the folks making single shot “survival” shotguns is chop the barrel. Shortening the barrel has some disadvantages, even if it does make the gun a bit handier.

First, and most importantly, you lose whatever choke the barrel had. If you are limiting yourself to slugs or very short range, a cylinder bore will work. But for most use with shot you should have some choke to extend the useful range. This one has a modified choke, although I’d prefer improved cylinder with modern ammo using hardened, buffered pellets.

Another disadvantage of a too-short barrel on a shotgun is that it hinders follow-through when you are shooting at a moving target. As a single shot, break open design, the Topper is already shorter than a pump or semiauto with the same barrel length.

Most people making these survival single shots are using 12 gauge guns. 12 gauge has the advantage of ubiquity. It’s the most common shotgun ammo in the US and even during the current panic, hunting ammo has remained available.

However, 20 gauge ammo is also widely available and because it’s lighter, you can carry more for the same amount of weight. It’s worth noting that during the 18th and 19th Centuries when smoothbore muzzleloading tradeguns were popular, many were in 24 gauge, which is even smaller than 20 gauge. The reasons for this were that the ammo was cheaper (no longer true when comparing 12 vs. 20), and using less powder and shot when far from resupply was critical.

Recoil was also much less with the small bores. Nowadays, you have to go to a 28 gauge or .410 bore to get light recoil in a single shot. Even the 20s can be brisk, hence my use of a good recoil pad. That said, 12s are worse. Once I get my 12 gauge H&R back together I’d like to try out some Aguila Mini Shells, which load reduced payloads into a 1.75” long shell.

Single shot break open shotguns have been made in the millions over the past 140 years or so.  Certainly, something like a Remington 870 or a Benelli M4 is a better defensive weapon. But, a single shot shotgun if it’s all you can afford or are allowed to own leaves you far from unarmed. Additionally, the break down into two halves easily so that can be stored in confined spaces like a boat or airplane, and are dirt simple to operate. As a survival gun that can serve for defense or procuring food in the wilderness, a single shot break open shotgun is a viable choice.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Legacy Arms Gen 2 Scramasax

Once again I got the wants for a big knife. This time I wanted something historical. After looking at various daggers I came upon the Legacy Arms Generation 2 Anglo-Saxon Scramasax at Kult of Athena. Depending on which web page you look at, it's also called a 6th Century Lombard Scramasax. Not being an expert on knives from the Dark Ages but knowing a neat knife when I see one, I ordered one from KOA on Sunday. UPS dropped it off today.

From my reading about scramasaxes, AKA seaxes, they were single edged knives used by the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe, used as both tools and weapons. They ranged in size from a few inches long to blades the size of swords, known as a langseax. Unlike the "broken back" sax which has a blade tip that angles down towards a straight edge, this scramasax is closer to a spear point, but still authentic.

This is a big knife. Here are a couple pics showing just how big. Top-to-bottom, it's shown with my Valiant Large Survival Golok, the Scramasax, Ontario SP-48, and Camillus Becker BK-7.

Did I mention this is a big knife? Compared to the Scramasax, the SP-48 and BK-7 feel like toys.

Per Kult of Athena, the Scramasax has a 12.5" long blade that's 1.625" wide (by my measure), weighs 1 lb. 2 oz., varies from 4.5mm to 3.7mm thick, has a 6" long grip, and is 19.125" long.

Here are closer views of the knife and sheath:

The pommel is peened:

The back of the sheath, showing the belt loop:

IMO the overall workmanship looks good. The 5160 steel blade, steel band at the end of the haft, and the pommel are well polished. The wood handle feels good, although a few of the diamonds formed by the cross hatching did have points break off. The edge is sharp enough to cut paper. The leather sheath is solid although not especially authentic. I.e., it can be hung vertically from a belt but there's no way to suspend it horizontally as the originals were (despite the description on KOA's page).

This Scramasax should make a pretty good camp knife. It's a bit handier than the golok but should chop very effectively. If needed as a weapon it has a blade design suitable for hacking, slashing, or stabbing.

I'm looking forward to giving it a good workout and will post a follow up when I do so. It'll probably be a couple weeks, though.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dyna Glo Kerosene Heater

I had to take off from work today to help care for my wife and two daughters, who've come down with the creeping crud that's been going around. During my morning errands I stopped off at Lowes and bought a Dyna Glo model RMC-95C6B kerosene heater. We've wanted an auxiliary heater for awhile and today seemed like a good time to pick it up along with a 5 gallon can of Klean-Strip K-1 dye-free kerosene.

The Dyna Glo model we got is a cylindrical convection style heater putting out 23000 BTU. We have it in the middle of our living/dining room, which is the middle level of our split level home. Our den downstairs has a gas fireplace to keep it warm, while the forced air heat from our gas furnace manages to heat the upper level where our bedrooms are. The living and dining room tend to be cold, partially due to the ductwork, but also because they have a cathedral ceiling.

The heater required minimal assembly - basically I needed to put on the top piece and the protective grill. There are two Phillips head screws holding it together. The heater can be lit with a match, but the primary way to light it is via the built in electric start that is powered by two C cells.

For safety's sake I filled the heater outside. It came with a siphon which made filling it easy. The tank has a fuel gauge on it so you know when it's almost full. Using the siphon instead of a funnel allowed me to fill the tank without spilling any fuel.

Before lighting the heater I brought it inside and let the wick soak up the fuel for a little more than an hour. Doing so with a new wick is key to preventing poor burning and making fumes.

So far it's burning nicely and has made the middle level of my house very comfortable. The Klean-Strip K-1 seems to burn cleanly without smoke or much odor. It's definitely not as stinky as the K-1 we used when I was a kid. I just wish it wasn't over $8 per gallon (due primarily to taxes).

Overall it seems decently made but the handle connection could be better. I'm going to see about getting a couple hitch pins to better secure the handle to the heater body. I do not plan on moving it while lit so this isn't an immediate concern.

Anytime you are burning fuel indoors you need to be aware of the possibility that you could be producing poisonous carbon monoxide (CO). Because it's odorless, it can be difficult to detect until it's too late. Our primary heating system is forced air natural gas, so we already have to CO detectors. One is downstairs right outside the furnace closet. The other is in our upstairs hallway. So far neither has chirped but I'm getting a third to have in the living room with the kero heater just to be on the safe side.

Back in the early/mid 1980s when energy prices were relatively high, but kerosene was relatively cheap, kerosene heaters were more common in American homes. My parents used one to help keep their house warm. It never failed that ever winter there would be at least one news story about a house fire started by someone putting gasoline in a kero heater. NEVER do this. You'll be lucky if it only catches fire. There's a good chance that putting gas into a kero heater will cause an explosion.

If you use them properly kerosene heaters are a good, safe way to provide supplemental heating for your home. Read the directions that came with your heater, use only the correct fuel, and have a carbon monoxide detector.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tiananmen Square Activist Turned American Second Amendment Activist

Watch this and share it. This needs to go viral.

Here’s a transcript (the cameraman missed the first paragraph).

The past Monday I decided to visit the Minuteman Park in Lexington and pay tribute to Captain John Parker and his fellow minutemen. A thought came to my mind, that the founding fathers of the United States and Chairman Mao had one thing in common: they all realized that guns are important political instruments. Their similarities, however, ended there:

Chairman Mao wrote: ‘Political power grows out of barrel of a gun’, and he dictated: ‘The party shall command the gun’. James Madison and his compatriots, however, believing that the power of the state is derived from the consent of the governed, ratified that ‘the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’.

23 years ago, I was a college freshman exercising my freedom of speech and assembly in Tian’anmen Square, much like we are doing here today. We grew frustrated by the restriction of personal freedoms and the corrupted Chinese government, and we thought peaceful protest would make the country better. Our young passion and patriotism was crushed by hails of full metal jackets out of AK47’s. (Some AK purists here would argue they were really type 56’s). We could not fight back, because we did not have an inch of iron in our hands, to borrow a Chinese expression: we were unarmed.

Gun owners like us often say: the Second Amendment is the protector against a tyrannical government. Some may argument that a man with a rifle is no match to the military machines of today, so such beliefs are no longer relevant. However, 20 million peaceful Beijing citizens in 1989, sure wished that they had a few million rifles in their hands!

Freedom is not free. Liberty has costs. We recognize that in this free society, criminals or mentally deranged could get weapons and murder the innocents. The answer, however, is not to disarm the law abiding citizens. Not only criminals and the deranged will violate the laws anyway, but more importantly, when a government turns criminal, when a government turns deranged, the body count will not be five, ten or twenty, but hundreds, like in Tian’anmen Square, or millions, counted in the 90-year history of the Chinese Communist Party.

Our constitutional republic may look fuzzy and loving today (if you think so, I’ve got a TSA agent you should meet), but keep in mind that absolute power corrupts absolutely! And when a government has monopoly on guns, it has absolute power!

Do you know that the Chinese Constitution guarantees almost all the nice things we have here? It is written that Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of speech and religion, they have human and property rights, and that such rights cannot be taken away without due process of the law. And do you know what? Chinese people do not have the right to keep and bear arms. I assure you all those nice guarantees, are not worth the paper they are printed on, because when the government has all the guns, they have all the rights.
I was not born a citizen of the United States, I was naturalized in 2007. In 2008, I became a proud gun owner. To me, a rifle is not for sporting or hunting, it is an instrument of freedom. It guarantees that I cannot be coerced, that I have free will, and that I am a free man.

Now suppose the 20 million Beijing citizens had had a few million rifles, how many rounds should they have been ALLOWED to load into their magazines? 10? 7? How about 3?

Never, never, never give up the fight, my friends. It may be a small step that you give up your rifle, or a 30-round magazine, but it will be a giant leap in the destruction of this great republic.

In closing I will quote the words of Captain John Parker: "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they want to have a war, let it begin here."

(Link to transcript of this and other speeches from yesterday’s rally in Boston.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DIY Speedloader for .22 Rifles with Tubular Magazines

Having recently bought a Norinco ATD semiautomatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine, I wanted a way to load it more quickly than dropping in single rounds. The commercially made Spee-D-Loader is available from several vendors, e.g. MidwayUSA and Cablea’s, and by most accounts works well.

I was interested in a DIY-solution, however, and did some googling to see what other people have come up with. Basically, you need a tube with the right internal diameter plus a couple end caps. Several folks mentioned using old aluminum arrows. I didn’t have laying around that I wanted to sacrifice, though. Eventually, I came across this post at the Marlin Owners Forum. “O1Sporty” described making his own speedloaders from lengths of 4’ long by 0.28” internal diameter clear polyethylene tubing and push on vinyl caps obtained from McMaster-Carr. The tubing was only $0.86 for each piece, while the caps were $3.76 for a bag of 100. After shipping my order was about $14.00.

I got my order of 6 tubes and a bag of caps today and made up a few speedloaders for the Norinco ATD tonight. Each one holds 11 rounds of .22 LR. I measured by capping one end of the full-length tube, dropping in 11 Remington Golden Bullet .22s, and marking it with a Sharpie. I then used the first cut piece as a template. You can cut this tubing with scissors.


I made the tubes a little longer than needed for the Golden Bullets, in case I used them with other .22 LR ammo with a slightly longer overall length.

I had a piece about 5” long leftover. I capped it and filled it with BBs for my daughter’s Red Ryder.

My Winchester 9422 holds up to 18 .22 LRs, if I remember correctly. I plan to make up some longer speedloaders to with it.

These should work well. They are cheap and easy to make, and are water resistant. I can have several of them loaded up ahead of time and then spend less time loading at the range.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Norinco ATD .22 Rifle Pictures

I took the ATD out to my shop tonight to clean it and took some pictures.


Looking into the underside of the action, you can see the cartridge-shaped magazine follow up against the top of the receiver. The latch at the rear of the forearm keeps the barrel indexed when the rifle is assembled.


Here’s the magazine tube insert partially withdrawn for loading. You can also see the funnel-shaped port on the right side of the butt. That’s where you drop cartridges into.


Here’s the buttplate and the end of the magazine tube insert. Norinco left some wood unfinished there. I need to seal it.


Here’s the mag tube insert pulled out of the gun, along with the trigger guard/bolt group.


Norinco ATD .22 Semiauto Rifle

Recently I came to the conclusion that having a takedown .22 autoloading rifle that uses a tube magazine could come in handy. Most .22s with tubular magazines have them mounted under the barrel, with a few notable exceptions such as the Remington Nylon 66, some older Winchesters, and the Browning Semi Auto .22, all of which have the magazine concealed within the butt stock.

The Browning SA-22 was introduced in 1914 and produced by FN in Belgium until 1976, when production was moved to Miroku in Japan. It was also produced in the United States by Remington, as the Model 24 and Model 241. Finally, it's also been made by Norinco in China as the ATD and JW-20. Interarms imported the ATD into the US in the late 1980s/early 1990s, until all Norinco imports were banned by Clinton in 1994. Canadian shooters can still buy the JW-20 (see Marstar.ca).

Having researched a number of the older tube-fed .22 takedowns over the past week, today I picked up a NIB Norinco ATD at Sarco in Easton, PA.

Apparently, Sarco found a bunch of Norinco ATDs in their warehouse last Fall. I found about them from a link to Sarco's website on Slickguns.com. I called Sarco Friday afternoon and they had one left in the showroom. The salesman I spoke with agreed to set it aside for me. Yesterday morning I drove up to Easton and bought it. After getting it home, I field stripped, cleaned, and oiled it. It was pretty clean, without too much oil or grease.

The Norinco is a very close copy of the FN and Miroku-made guns. From what I've read, most Browning parts are interchangeable, although some fitting may be required. Compared with a Browning, the Norinco's fit and finish is much cruder, but by most accounts they work well. My rifle's blueing is well done and the wood is decent, if not up to Browning's standards.

Aside from the tubular magazine which is protected within the butt stock, the Browning/Norinco has a few features which made it desireable for me:

First, the bottom ejection means that as a lefty, I don't need to worry about getting empty cases or gas in my face. My daughter and wife are also left eye dominant, so even though they are right handed they shoot portside. Last weekend my daughter shot my Remington Apache 77 and called it quits after getting hit on the cheek by an unburned powder granule. (This is one reason why we all wear safety glasses when shooting.) Also, the crossbolt safety is reversible for left handed operation. I'm still figuring out exactly how to do this, since the manual merely states that you can have a gunsmith perform the switch.

The gun takes down into two halves less than 20" long in just a few seconds, with no tools. I may pick up a cheap camera tripod case to hold the rifle when broken down. I got one for my Stoeger coach gun and it's great for holding the gun, a Boresnake, and some ammo.

Likewise, field stripping the rifle requires no tools. Finally, it weighs less than five pounds, which makes it easy to pack, and easy for my daughter to hold up.

To load the rifle, you twist the end of the magazine tube insert (accessible via a hole in the buttplate) and pull it out until it stops. Then, with the rifle pointing muzzle down, drop up to 11 .22 LR rounds into the funnel-shaped port on the right side of the butt. Then push in the mag insert and twist about a quarter turn to lock it in place. Finally, charge the rifle by pulling back the bolt handle and letting it go.

Last night I was able to shoot the Norinco on an indoor range. I put about 245 rounds through it, with a few malfunctions. So far it seems to prefer CCI Mini Mag solids over Federal 550 pack HPs. There was one failure to eject with the CCIs between the 40 and 50 round marks, but several with the Federals. .22s in general can be finicky when it comes to ammo, and semiautos in particular may have a strong preference for one kind or another, so this came as no surprise. I'm also hoping that once I get a few hundred more rounds through the gun it breaks in better, and functions better with the Federal ammo.

I also tried some CCI CB Longs, to see if the Norinco would handle them if manually cycled. No joy. With any of the CB Longs in the mag you cannot pull back the bolt. OAL must be jamming the feed mechanism. Once the first round gets into the chamber it'll fire and eject though, which surprised me. Last week I tried the CB Longs in my Remington Apache 77. They fed and ejected fine from the Remington's box magazine when manually cycled.

One thing you need to be careful of with these bottom ejectors is having hot brass eject out of the gun and go into your sleeve. Move your hand forward on the forearm to avoid this. I'd also avoid shooting one of these while wearing sandals. Hot brass between your toes will leave a scar.

The Norinco's trigger is good. There's little takeup, no grittiness, and the weight is probably 4 to 5 pounds.

The Browning and Norinco copies lack any kind of a bolt hold open device. So, if you're on a range that requires actions to be locked open during ceasefires or when the rifle is benched, you'll need to either use a chamber flag or stick and empty case in the ejection port so as to hold it open.

The bead front sight + rear open sights weren't working so great with my middle aged eyes, so I'm going to look into a barrel mounted red dot. Something like a Bushnell TRS-25, Primary Arms Micro Dot, or a Burris Fast Fire would greatly improve the sighting arrangement without messing up the svelte gun's balance.

I like the Norinco a lot. Once I improve the sights, I'll like it even more.