Monday, December 31, 2018

New Rear Sight for my Hawken Rifle

Several years ago I bought a Cabela's Traditional Hawken rifle in .50 caliber. It isn't a faithful copy of the real Hawken rifles of the 19th Century, but nevertheless, it's a well made and nice shooting gun. It's more or less a variant of the Lyman Trade Rifle, but fitted with a cap box on the stock and double set trigger. Also, unlike the Lyman, it was available with a left handed stock and lock. Both the Lyman and Cabela's rifles were made by Investarms in Italy.

One thing I did not like about the rifle was the sights. The rear sight, in particular, was a poor design. The adjustable rear notch was a wide open "V". IIRC, the Lymans's have rear sights that are dovetailed in, which makes replacement with a fixed but better sight easy. Unfortunately, the Cabela's rear sight was held on with two screws and nobody made a good replacement.

So, I decided to install a Lyman Model 66SML aperture sight, made for the Lyman Great Plains Rifle, Trade Rifle, sidelock Thompson-Centers, and similar rifles.

The Model 66SML is mounted on the tang with two screws. It uses the rear wood screw which goes through the tang into the stock, plus an 8-32 screw into the metal of the tang. The tang on my rifle wasn't drilled and tapped so I did that today.

Using a #29 drill on the tang:

Before drilling the hole, I located it by mounting the sight on the tang and marking the spot with a transfer punch. I then dismounted the tang from the rifle and used a pilot drill to ensure the #29 drill wouldn't skip. Only then did I put the twist bit in the chuck.

I then tapped the hole with 8-32 threads. I used #3 Morse taper lathe center held in the mill's head to guide the tap so it started off straight:

I used a little Tap Magic on the tap, but I could probably have done it dry with no problems. OTH, there's no reason not to use a lube and save a little wear on the tap.

A closeup of the newly mounted sight:

And finally, the whole rifle:

This rifle has a 1:48 twist, so it can shoot either patched round balls or conicals like a Hornady Great Plains Bullet or T/C Maxi balls. So far, I've just shot it with PRB and it did well.

Simple work like this is a main reason I bought a small lathe and mill back in 2013. It took me about 45 minutes to do this, which included digging out the rifle and rear sight, schlepping them out to my shop, and doing the work. In contrast, to have a gunsmith mount the sight it would require locating a 'smith locally or shipping the rifle, getting onto his wait list, and probably paying about $75 to $100. Since shooting is my hobby, I will eventually do enough jobs like this to largely offset the cost of the tools.

Of course, that doesn't even account for the satisfaction of doing it myself.

Friday, December 28, 2018

H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk and a Neck Knife

Today I took a spin up to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop and came home with these:

The tomahawk is an H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk while the knife one made by a local 'smith from an old trap spring. There are usually several of them on the shelf at Dixon's.

The Medium Camp Hawk's head weighs about a pound and has a hardened hammer poll, which should be useful for hammering in tent stakes. The edge is about 3.5" wide and the handled measures 19" long. The handle is stained but doesn't appear to be sealed so I'll give it a coat or two of some oil.

It came with a usable edge but I'm going to sharpen it some more. I'm also planning to make a mask for it since it came without any cover.

The knife blade is about 3.75" long and measured 0.055" or 1.4mm thick with my calipers. It's stamped with the maker's initials, "JBG." The scales are curly maple, secured with four brass pins. Wood to metal fit is excellent.

The leather neck sheath reminds me a bit of a center seam moccasin and is nicely stitched. The thong doesn't have a quick release but if it got snagged on something I'd expect it to let go. The knife and sheath together weigh only a few ounces and hang comfortably.

They should make nice additions to my bushcraft kit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

What Really Happens in a Gunfight

This post by Dave Spaulding is from 2010 but I only saw it recently. In my opinion it's worth reading.


Over the last 25 I have made it a point to talk with every gunfight survivor that I could find. Last count, I had spoken with almost 200 individuals. These people include men and women, military (including war veterans), law enforcement and legally armed citizens. These confrontations include battlefield situations, back alley struggles, attempted muggins, attempted rapes (and successful rapes) and the like.

Right after I started my law enforcement career, a local police officer was involved in a shooting incident. I had the opportunity to speak with him and found myself fascinated with his accounting of what transpired. Afterward, I thought that what had happened to him could happen to me and I needed to be better prepared than he had.


Link to full article.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Jämä Blanket Shirt from Varusteleka

A clothing item you see on a lot of bushcraft-oriented sites is a blanket shirt. Basically, they are hoodies made from old wool blankets. They are favored for a few reasons: wool retains warmth even when wet, wool is safer around an open campfire than synthetic fabric, when hunting it's very quiet if it brushes up against something, and if in muted colors blends in with the woods well. And let's face it, blanket shirts fit the bushcraft aesthetic well.

Blanket shirts can be homemade or purchased. YouTube has numerous videos on making your own.

Perhaps the best known commercially available blanket shirt is the Boreal Shirt from Empire Canvas Works or Lester River Bushcraft. They are premium pieces of clothing and priced accordingly.

If your budget doesn't permit spending the money for a Boreal Shirt, or if you want to try out a less expensive factory-sewn option check out the Jämä Blanket Shirt from Varusteleka. They are sewn in Varusteleka's factory in Helsinki, Finland.

Varusteleka currently lists two variants, one made from H.R. Co. blankets, while the other is made from Finnish suplus wool cloth that was used for their M/65 uniforms.

A couple weeks ago I bought one in the Finnish wool, and I used it for the first time on my recent deer hunting trip while hanging out in our cold cabin. I wore it over a Hill People Gear long sleeve base layer, a flannel shirt, and an Orvis fleece and wool vest. I was warm in the cabin where the temps were in the low 30s. It wasn't very windy outside and the Jämä shirt kept me warm when I stepped outside for a few minutes to take a leak. If you're going to wear this in windy conditions, you're going to want a shell over top of it, however. A suitably sized windproof smock would be just the ticket.

For size reference, I am about 5'5" with an 18" neck, 32" sleeves, a 45" chest, 48" gut (ugh), and normally wear an XL or 2XL, depending on the item of clothing or a brand's sizing. The Jämä Blanket Shirt that I bought is a 3XL. (Pay attention to Varusteleka's sizing guidelines.) Since the garment does not stretch and you need to pull it on, it needs to be big, especially if you have any layers on.

The sleeves are 35" long, so they cover up my hands. I can roll them up if I am working.

Obviously, this is not something I'd wear about town. If I'm out in the woods I don't care if I look like a wannabe Jedi or I'm on my way to Mordor.

The hood is a bit floppy. In the picture I am wearing a ball cap under it, which keeps it out of my eyes. It's deep enough to provide protection against wind from the side and to help create a warm air bubble in front of your face.

As shown in the pictures, it has a kangaroo pocket, hood, and the back is longer than the front. I like the vertical placement of the front pocket, which is large enough to comfortably hold my keys, a pair of rag wool gloves, and my iPhone 7 Plus.

There is a smaller pocket inside the kangaroo pocket. You could put a folding knife in there but I don't see myself getting much use out of it. It's not large enough for the iPhone 7 Plus.

The stitching is good quality. There were no loose threads. The wool fabric is a bit nicer than an old military surplus blanket, which makes sense since it was actually intended for use in making clothing. It's about the same weight as the old USGI M-1951 wool field shirts but not as scratchy.

It's a good, basic hoodie. Compared with the Boreal Shirt it lacks some features. E.g., a draw cord on the hood, an adjustable collar, and snaps or straps to cinch down the wrists. However, the Jämä shirt also about 1/3 the cost. If you have moderate tailoring skills you could customize it.

Do I recommend the Jämä wool blanket shirt? Yes, if the sizing and feature set work for you. IMO it would be great for bow hunting with temps in the 30s or 40s.

Cold Weather Camping and Equipment Failure

Last weekend my daughter and I, along with a friend went up to Tioga County to catch the last two days of Pennsylvania's rifle deer hunting season. My friend's land is about 12 miles south of the New York line. Our plan was to go up Friday, get a couple hours of hunting in that afternoon, then hunt Saturday, and then come home Sunday. For shelter we'd be using my friend's primitive cabin.

The cabin has no utilities and the off-grid solar project is not yet complete. For heat, we planned to rely on my Dyna-Glo 23,000 BTU kerosene heater and my friend's propane-fired patio heater. We've used the latter in the past and it's worked well.

My previous use of the kerosene heater was at home for space heating and for that it worked great. We haven't used it in a few years so I made sure to replace the two C batteries that power the igniter before we left. After we got onsite I filled the tank and let it sit for about an hour for the wick to soak up some fuel. It fired right up on the first try. Note that the K-1 kerosene I had was a few years old but still in the original, sealed 4 gallon can. When stored properly, K-1 has a long shelf life.

Unfortunately, this time the propane heater was not working, due to a failed or clogged regulator. My friend is a mechanical engineer by profession and no matter how we tried to clean, defrost, or clear it, we could not get sufficient gas to flow to the burner element of the heater.

The cabin is 16' x 24' with an uninsulated metal roof with a ridge vent. The kerosene heater was able to take the edge off but inside it still hovered around freezing, even before dark.

Friday night the temp was forecast to get down to about 20F (-6.7C). We all had sleeping bags up to the task but being out and about in the shelter wasn't so great.

We borrowed a Big Buddy propane heater from a neighbor, which we used while sleeping.

Overnight, the temp inside the cabin got down to about 30F (-1C). I was warm enough in my Kelty Cosmic Down 20 bag, which was inside my Jerven Thermo Hunter, but I couldn't get a good night's sleep. I found the Kelty mummy bag too constraining.

The forecast for Saturday night was 15F (-9.4C). We decided to hunt Saturday morning but pack up and head home after lunch. These temps may seem mild to my more Northern readers, but when you live in Southeast PA and are not acclimated, they are draining when you can't get inside and warm up.

Lessons learned:

  • The kerosene heater was awesome, easy to use, and took off the edge. Unfortunately, it was not enough to make the cabin comfortable.
  • The regulator on the patio heater may have been clogged. It may have helped had it been wrapped in a plastic bag and taped shut to keep bugs out.
  • It would have been a good idea to test it the last time someone was upstate, in warmer weather.
  • We really need to get a wood stove installed. My friend has one but it's not there, it's still at his house downstate.
  • We need to work on sealing up some of the drafts in the cabin and maybe rigging a tarp across it inside, to keep warm air lower, instead of escaping through the ridge vent.
  • I need a different cold weather sleeping bag. The Kelty is warm enough but to constricting. My daughter used my USGI MSS and was happy as a clam with it. I may pick up another one but I am also considering something like a 0-degree down backpacking quilt from Enlightened Equipment. I could throw it on top of my Hill People Gear Mountain Serape or Wilderness Innovation Osni Cloak, either of which can be used as a quilt or rectangular bag. Reader input is welcome.

What's in Your Parka

Over at American Grouch, Cro has an interesting article on what he carries in his parka pockets when out and about in extremely cold weather (i.e., sub-zero Fahrenheit).

Check it out.

15 Uses for a Triangular Bandage

A nice article over at Primal Survivor about medical and non-medical uses for triangular bandages:

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Polymer 80 Range Report

I shot the Polymer 80 "Glock 19" last night. My dad and I put about 150 rounds through it, mostly Herter's 115 grain ball (made by Sellier & Bellot), along with around 25 rounds of my handloads. They were 115 grain Berry's plated bullets on top of 4.5 grains of Universal Clays in mixed brass.

The gun had one malfunction, a failure to fully go into battery with one of the handloads. Previously, I had some issues with this batch in my CZ P-09. AFAIC it was an ammo issue, not a gun issue.

Accuracy was OK, nothing to crow about. Most of the rounds went into a palm-sized group at 7 yards. The limiting factor for me was the trigger. Even with my fluff and buff job it is still pretty bad -- heavy and creepy. I'll see what it feels like after 500 rounds but if there isn't a marked improvement I'll look into getting something like an Apex trigger.

The other mod I have tentatively planned is a set of Heinie Straight Eight night sights.

After I finished shooting I field stripped it and saw no signs of unusual wear.

So far I'm very pleased with the gun.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Polymer 80 Build Complete

I finished up the Polymer 80 "Glock 19" today. Impressions:

  1. "Milling" the frame is easy. I used end nippers to remove most of the excess rail material, then filed and sanded them smooth.
  2. Assembly gave me some issues but mainly because this is my first "Glock." In particular, I had issues getting the slide stop in correctly so that it would either turn the gun into a single shot, or fail to raise at all. But I got it squared away.
  3. The "$0.25 Glock trigger job" is worth it. Before I polished several parts in the mechanism, the trigger pull was really heavy and gritty. Now it's a lot better and should smooth up with use.
  4. The Polymer 80 grip is an improvement for me over the stock Glock 19 grip.

I am left handed and found that the magazine catch rubbed on my middle finger uncomfortable, so I beveled the offending corner.

Not being a fan of the hole in the bottom of the grip behind the magazine well, I added a Strike Industries grip plug, which holds a combo flat head screw driver/punch, and a small oil vial. It had to be sanded a bit to allow magazines to drop free. Speaking of which, I bought four MagPul P-Mags from MidwayUSA to go with the gun.

I'm hoping to shoot it tonight on an indoor range. Range report to follow.

Monday, September 03, 2018

80% Glock Build

We've done 80% AR15s, so now it's time to build a Glock 19 from an 80% lower. Like with AR15s, this isn't about saving any money, it's more about flipping the bird to the man. You can pick up a perfectly serviceable used Glock for the same or less money.

I'm on a zillion lists already so blogging about this isn't going to make a difference for me.

Aside from that, it will be a great learning process so I know how Glocks work from the inside out. Glocks are among the most common handguns available so that's a good thing.

What's really neat about this is that because the receiver is plastic, it can be done entirely with hand tools. I've read of guys completing one of these in a half hour. That said, I plan to take my time and get it right.

Another nice thing from my perspective is that the Polymer 80 frames fix the uncomfortable-to-me Glock grip angle (the main reason I don't own a Glock).

The frames are compatible with OEM Gen 3 Glock parts, or aftermarket Gen 3 Glock parts. Gen 4 or 5 parts do not fit. Gen 1 or 2 may fit but Gen 3 is specified for these frames.


The Polymer 80 kits and assorted parts are available from various online vendors including MidwayUSA and Brownells. However, I didn't want to have to source all the parts to complete the build separately, so I went to 80P Builder and ordered a "Ruiz Package" which includes the 80% frame, lower parts kit, and an assembled barrel/slide assembly. This package was a special and is now out of stock. (Fred Ruiz is a pro shooter/ex-SEAL sponsored by 80P Builder.)

Pic of the kit I ordered:

(Picture borrowed from 80P Builder.)

The kit does not include a magazine and 80P Builder only has ETS mags in stock, so I ordered 4 MagPul Glock 19 P-Mags from MidwayUSA. (I don't know how good the ETS mags are. They may be just fine.)

Note: The frame has a metal plate molded in so that if you want or need to add a serial number, you can do so. E.g., California builders can request a serial number from the CA DOJ for their gun to stay within the bounds of state law. This is not required on a Federal level. In my opinion, putting some kind of serial number on the gun is a good idea if for no other reason than identification if you need to file a police report for a stolen gun.

Polymer 80 also sells frame kits for Glock 17 and 26 size guns. While mine will be in 9mm, AFAIK you could build one in .40 S&W or .357 SIG as long as you get the correct parts. They also work with Advantage Arms .22LR conversion kits. Polymer 80 is supposed to be introducting G20 / G21 sized frames later this year, for those interested in a 10mm or .45 ACP build.

I got a shipping notice from 80P Builder this morning. They are located in Charlotte, NC, so I expect to have it by the end of the week.

Updates to follow.

Monday, July 23, 2018

New Sights for the Rossi 92

My 14 y/o daughter wants to join me deer hunting this year so I needed something she could shoot well with mild recoil. The Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum I bought several years ago fits the bill, but I wanted to improve her hit probability, which meant mounting an optic.

As a copy of the Winchester 1892, the Rossi 92 is a top-eject design, which complicates optic mounting. You need to either find some kind of a mount offset to the side or use something with long eye relief mounted on the barrel.

Rossi drilled and tapped the barrel for a scope mount. The holes are covered up by the open rear sight, which must be removed to use them.

NOE Bullet Molds makes a very nice Picatanny rail that fits the Rossi. I ordered one and received it in a few days. Before installing it, I degreased the mounting holes in the barrel using denatured alcohol, and put a drop of thread locker on each screw.

The optic I chose was a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. Since my Rossi is in .357 I view it as a 75 yard deer rifle. A non-magnified optic is fine for such ranges.

I have a few other TRS-25s and they've all been very good, with clear lenses, a well-defined dot, and rugged. As a micro-dot sight the TRS-25 hardly affects how a rifle feels. Finally, they are low-priced. I got this one for $45 shipped on Amazon Prime. (I just checked Amazon and it's now listed for $43.24.)

Because the NOE rail required removal of the rear sight the gun is left without backup irons if your optic tanks. So, I ordered a bolt-mounted peep from Steve's Guns. When I first bought the carbine I installed one of his safety replacement plugs. I wish I'd just gone straight to his very slick peep sight.

The resulting package is still light and handy with plenty of firepower, but vastly improved low-light shootability.

Last weekend I took my kids camping and my daughter got to put 50 rounds of Fiochi .357 Magnum 158 grain JHPs through the Rossi. Without zeroing the RDS on paper, she was easily able to keep her shots on a 10" gong, shooting rapidly offhand at 25 - 30 yards.

We're hoping to get to the range next weekend so she can get some more practice in and so we can zero the Bushnell.

The final touch to ready the Rossi for hunting season will be to add quick-detach sling swivel studs and a sling.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Homemade Apple Chips and Beef Jerky

We've had a Nesco food dehydrator gathering dust in the kitchen since last year. Yesterday, Amanda and I finally put it to use.

We first made a batch of apple chips. To make them, we cored a half dozen apples, sliced them about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and then dipped them in lemon juice to prevent browning. Then they went into the dehydrator at about 140 degrees F. for 4.5 hours.

I should have gotten picture of the apple chips, but they lasted all of 10 minutes after coming out of the machine. They were awesome.

While the apples were drying we sliced up 6 chuck steaks and marinated them with seasoning that came with the dehydrator. After the apples were done we put the beef in and let it run overnight, about 12 hours at about 160 degrees F.

I took it out this morning. It's really damn good and a lot cheaper than store-bought beef jerky. For around $16 worth of beef I probably got about $50 worth of jerky, had I bought it at the supermarket.

The dehydrator came with 5 trays and will work with up to 12. This morning I ordered two more trays along with a package of the Nesco jerky seasoning.

As an aside, the dehydrator is not too noisy. It was audible from the next room but was basically a low-level white noise.

Making the apple chips and jerky was time-consuming but worth it. I'd like to see us get into using the machine a lot more because the home made dehydrated items are a lot cheaper than those bought in the store.

Homemade Bug Repellent

There are plenty of over-the-counter insect repellents that work well. Most of them used DEET (PDF file from the US Centers for Disease Control) as the active ingredient. I've used various DEET-based repellents for years with good results.

You do have to be careful with DEET, however, since it will dissolve plastics. For example, it can damage watch faces and poly-based gun stock finishes. If you use a spray, make sure you do it where overspray won't hit plastics, including those on vehicles. Further, some people may be sensitive to it and it is toxic if ingested.

Permethrin treatments for clothing are also very useful but you should not use them directly on your skin.

I've had positive results by using Granpa's Pine Tar soap before heading out to the woods. Pine tar has long been used in insect repellents. In his classic tome from 1884, Woodcraft and Camping, Nessmuk described his formula for bug dope as:

  • 3 ounces of pine tar
  • 2 ounces of castor oil
  • 1 ounce of pennyroyal oil
His directions were to mix them together over a low fire and bottle for use. Pennyroyal oil can have some nasty side effects, so use with care.

More recently, Lars at Survival Russia posted this video:

Lars' formula is:
  • 3 parts of beeswax
  • 1 part of pine tar
  • A little cooking oil, e.g., olive oil or canola oil (to make it more spreadable)

Last week, I decided to give Lars' recipe a try. I melted the ingredients together in a Pyrex measuring cup on a hot plate, and poured the resulting mixture into Sho-Ka-Kola tins.

(While I had the hot plate out, I decided to finish pan lubing my last batch of .44-40 bullets.)

I'm interested to see how well the pine tar-based bug dope works. By the smell, it should repel people just fine. Pew!

It can also be used as a leather dressing, making it multi-use. I have a camping trip coming up and plan to test out this bug dope. I'll post a report afterwards.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Made a Stropping Block

Today one of my friends on Facebook posted a link to an article on the A.G. Russell Knives website,
How to Make a Finishing Paddle.

Coincidentally, yesterday I put together my first stropping block/finishing paddle with a piece of leather glued to a piece of wood. Even though I've been sharpening knives for close to four decades, I only started using a strop in the last couple of weeks. I immediately noticed a difference in my knife edges.

That's been a real oversight on my part, because a strop can help you get a really sharp edge on a knife, and polish the bevel, which has a couple benefits. First, it reduces drag in the cut, and second, it makes the edge a little more corrosion-resistant because the smooth surface is less prone to retaining moisture.

Some pictures. First, the stropping block before I applied any compound.

Second, after applying the green compound from Eastwood. As you can see, it didn't go on evenly. I should probably have sanded the block to ensure it was as level as possible, and then sanded the leather also. Oh well, it's a learning process.

Finally, what it looks like after a little use. The dark spots are where it removed metal from the knife.

It may not look like much but it helped get a few of my knives really sharp. E.g., my Cold Steel Bushman feels like a razor now.

I made this one from some cowhide I had laying around that was about 1/8" thick, and a piece of a scrap 2x4. The thick base helps provide clearance so you don't hit your knuckles on your workbench.

I may go back and tweak it by scraping off most of the compound, adding some mineral oil to the leather, slightly roughing the leather so it takes the compound better, and then reapplying the compound.

My brother requested that I make him one and I'll use the lessons learned with this one in doing so.

If you don't have the materials for making one yourself laying around like I did, and want to try using a stropping block, you can get one off Amazon, here.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Camillus TL-29 Electrician's Knife

I picked up this old Camillus electrician's knife off eBay for a whopping $11.50 shipped.

Generations of American servicemen have known this style of knife as the "TL-29." They were typically paired with a set of linesman's pliers and leather belt pouch to hold both items. Below is a picture I found on Pinterest, apparently scanned from a US military manual.

Used TL-29s can be found on eBay for little money and newly-made ones are available from Klein and other manufacturers.

According to the tang stamp guide found here, the knife was made between 1960 and the late 1970s.

It showed signs of use and some neglect, but no outright abuse. E.g., it was dull, dirty, and had some rust which I removed by an overnight soak in Evaporust. The blades snap into position nicely with positive half-stops and no side-to-side wiggle. The brass liner lock positively keeps the screwdriver in the open position.

As I received the knife it was very dull but now it's shaving sharp. It took about an hour's worth of work on my DMT fine diamond bench stone and Worksharp Field Sharpener combined to put a good edge on it.

I plan to keep the edge on the screwdriver blade relatively dull for use as a scraper; it was originally intended as such and as a wire stripper. I expect it to throw sparks from a ferro rod rather well.

Worksharp Field Sharpener

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cutlery buying binge. I received a nice Amazon gift card for my birthday at the end of May, and among the items I bought was a Work Sharp Field Sharpener.

The Worksharp Field Sharpener is an impressive little piece of gear for maintaining knives in the field or at home. It comes with coarse and fine diamond plates, a ceramic stick for honing, a small ceramic stick for working on serrations, and a leather strop. Built into the unit are guides to help you set the correct angle when using all of the sharpening bits.

Since receiving the Worksharp I’ve used it to touch up several pocketknives both old and new, and it’s enabled me to put shaving-sharp edges on them while sitting in my recliner.

The overall length is a bit under 7 inches, so it’s best used on smaller knives. Of course, you can use it on larger blades but you’ll need to work on shorter sections of the edge at a time. For scale, here it is next to an old Camillus TL-29 electrician's knife:

I plan to take the Worksharp with me on camping trips as my field edge maintenance solution. I might even get a second one to leave in my camping toolbox.

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