Monday, December 25, 2023

Making Pemmican - 2

Today I finished up my first batch of pemmican. I let the dehydrator run overnight at around 115 degrees. Nowadays, it's generally recommended to make jerky at around 170 degrees but this will destroy more nutrients. I figure that a bit lower and slower will be safe. Jerky was originally made by drying for a few days in the wind over a low, smoky fire.

Then I shredded it in my food processor.

I probably would have gotten better results if I did it in smaller batches rather than all at once. I didn't get it as fine as I wanted.

Next I melted some beef tallow over a low heat, poured it into the bowl and mixed it thoroughly. After that I spooned it into the muffin tin to make pucks.

The tallow was fully melted in the pic. When it's melted it's a clear, slightly amber liquid.

In preparation for sealing the pucks I took them out of the muffin papers. They are pretty soft. I think I could have used a little less tallow.

Vacuum sealing:

And all done, ready for the freezer:

I decided to put two pucks in three of the packs to reduce waste.

Later this week I'll be heading upstate for Pennsylvania's late flintlock season. We'll try making a stew or rubaboo with one of the packages. I'll post a review after I get home.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Making Pemmican - 1

A survival food I've wanted to try is pemmican. I've watched several videos about it on YouTube and decided to give it a whirl. Wikipedia provides a good overview of what it is:

Pemmican (also pemican in older sources[1][2]) is a mixture of tallow, dried meat, and sometimes dried berries. A calorie-rich food, it can be used as a key component in prepared meals or eaten raw. Historically, it was an important part of indigenous cuisine in certain parts of North America and it is still prepared today.[3][4] The word comes from the Cree word ᐱᒦᐦᑳᓐ (pimîhkân), which is derived from the word ᐱᒥᕀ (pimî), "fat, grease".[5] The Lakota (or Sioux) word is wasná, originally meaning "grease derived from marrow bones", with the wa- creating a noun, and sná referring to small pieces that adhere to something.[6][7] It was invented by the Indigenous peoples of North America.[8][9]

Pemmican was widely adopted as a high-energy food by Europeans involved in the fur trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, such as Captain Robert Bartlett, Ernest Shackleton, Richard E. Byrd, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Falcon Scott, George W. DeLong, and Roald Amundsen.


I'm using the simplest recipe possible: meat and fat. I bought a couple packages of thinly sliced top round steaks and a couple jars of Epic beef tallow at my local supermarket.

The first step is to turn the beef into jerky:

I'm using my Nesco FD-75A dehydrator.

After the meat is dried to the point where I can crumble it with my fingers, I'll put it in a food processor to powder it.

Once the dried meat is powdered it will be combined with melted tallow, poured or scooped into a container, and allowed to set up.

Finally, I plan to vacuum seal each brick or puck of pemmican using my Foodsaver vacuum sealer. Thus prepared the pemmican should last for years if not decades, especially if I put the sealed packages in my freezer.

I will post follow-ups tomorrow showing the next steps.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Little Gunsmithing With My Table Top Mill

Back in October I picked up a Northwest Trade Gun put together from Caywood parts by Arizona gunsmith Mike Roby. The NWTG was one of the most important firearms in North American history, being made by the tens of thousands from the mid-18th to late 19th Centuries. It's basically a single barrel shotgun that was wildly popular with Indians and to a lesser extent, whites.

As a smoothbore, it's very versatile in that you can load it with shot for small game and birds, buckshot for larger animals or defense, or a single ball for large game.

The Caywood/Roby NTWG is a lefty, which made it impossible to resist.

It's a 20 gauge which translates to about .62 caliber.  My goal for it is to develop a round ball load that will allow me to hunt whitetail deer out to about 50 yards. That means I need to keep my shots on a paper dinner plate at that distance.

The first time I shot the gun I was getting pretty good groups at around 25 yards but they were about 10" low and a foot left. I decided the best way to correct this would be to add a rear sight, since as it came it only hand a front sight.

Last week I dismounted the barrel from the stock and used my Grizzly G8689 mill to cut a shallow dovetail.

The rear sight as it currently appears. After I settle on a load and get it zeroed, I'll narrow the blade to match the barrel.

I took it to the range yesterday and tried several different ball/patch combinations but failed to get what I consider an acceptable group, so more experimentation is necessary. One thing I'm going to try is 2Fg powder instead of 3Fg.

ASSuming I'm able to develop a good load it'll become a deer gun for me. It's under 8 lbs. and has a nice sling, making it nice to carry. Recoil is not bad at all with a hunting load. The large balls should drop deer nicely.

Many machinists turn their nose up at these small Chinese machines. Would I like to have a Bridgeport mill? Of course! But I don't have anywhere for it. This mill and my 7x14 lathe are quite capable of doing useful work as long as you confine yourself to their working environments. For making small parts or even modifying bigger ones, they've found a place in my toolkit.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

A Couple Winter Preps

Today I took care of a couple things that were overdue.

First, I test ran my generator using propane and a new regulator that I bought after I ran it last. That time, I couldn't get it running on propane, only on gasoline. While gas is more energy dense, propane is easier and safer to store in a suburban environment. I'm pleased to say that it fired right up and I ran it for about 15 minutes so that the battery would recharge. After I was done I disconnected the regulator and stored it inside a gallon Ziploc bag to keep it clean.

Second, I got my snow blower running again. We haven't needed one in a few years and it had been neglected. The engine froze at one point because I forgot to run it one year. I pulled the spark plug and hosed down the inside of the cylinder with Kroil and let it sit.

Today it turned over using the electric start but wouldn't run. I wound up changing the oil and replacing the spark plug. While changing the oil I actually drained it, refilled it with oil, drained it again, and then filled with 5W30. It then started up and ran with around a cup of Seafoam in the tank. I let it run dry.

After finishing up I ordered a new recoil starter assembly, shear pins, and a spark plug directly from Troy-Bilt, plus a new cover from Amazon.

The long range forecasts are calling for snow this winter so I really want the blower functional.

November 2023 Telecom Crash in Australia

I didn't see coverage of this in the US media. Instead, I saw it linked from Tactical Wisdom's X feed.

Read the whole thing, it has an excellent discussion of immediate effects along with secondary and tertiary effects of a major Internet/telecom outage.

Among the things that we take for granted that won't work if communication lines are down include:

  • Bank withdrawals or deposits, whether in-person or via an ATM.
  • Purchasing groceries, gas, or basically anything if the store's point of sale system requires a functional connection.
  • Cell phones, landlines, and Internet, obviously.
  • Uber / Lyft / GrubHub / Door Dash, etc.
  • Stuff that uses the Internet to augment other services. E.g., Google Maps or Waze, which use your phone's Internet to download maps in real time to work with its built-in GPS.
  • Government services including 911.
Now think of how much everything you do everyday is dependent on that telco/ISP connection.

Long-term readers may recall that I work for a very large ISP/telco. I started out supporting our optical transport network then transitioned into operations for our product development labs. This stuff is very complicated with a million spinning, intertwined parts. I've seen outages caused by things ranging from Bubba shooting up exposed cable nodes with a shotgun to router configuration foul ups.

Aside from all that much of the physical infrastructure (fiber lines, coaxial lines, etc.) is by necessity running through publicly accessible areas.

There's been a lot of speculating in the past couple of years that we'll eventually get into a war with China, or that if we attack Iran they would asymmetric attacks against targets in CONUS. IMO, they'd be foolish not to if either conflict went hot.

Cyber attacks are a real threat against all the large providers and something they deal with constantly. In the event of a shooting war they'd ramp up immeasurably. These would include range from physical attacks to hacking and denial of service.

Go read the article I linked above and do some prepping so you can weather at least a short term interruption of Internet and telco services.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Something that puzzles me is otherwise-capable outdoorsmen who can't sharpen a knife. Granted, sharpening a knife freehand can be challenging, especially if it's large, but being able to sharpen one's pocket knife should be considered a core skill.

There are a million different tools and gadgets for knife sharpening. One that I've used for several years and highly recommend is the Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener. It includes several useful features:

  • A coarse diamond plate (220 grit)
  • A fine diamond plate (600 grit)
  • A ceramic rod with grooves that can be used to sharped knives or fish hooks
  • A small ceramic rod for sharpening serrations
  • A leather strop
It weighs 5.6 oz. and is 6.75" long.

Side view, showing the fine diamond plate:

Top view, showing the ceramic rods:

And the bottom-mounted leather strop:

Ideally, you'll touch up the edge on your knife before it gets too dull, so that you only need to use the ceramic rod and then remove the burr using the strop.

Unfortunately, Work Sharp does not include a case with the unit. I bought the case separately. I don't see the specific one I bought but here's an assortment of cases that are currently available.

You'll also need to get some stropping compound for the leather. I am using some green stropping compound from Eastwood, or pick one of these.

For the past year my EDC pocketknife most days has been a Spyderco Endura 4 with a pretty hard VG-10 blade. It has excellent edge retention but if you let it get too dull can be a bitch to resharpen. It needed attention because while it still cut well it no longer was shaving sharp. After about 5 minutes of work on the ceramic rod and strop it was back to shaving sharp.

If you don't know how learn to sharpen a knife and get sharpening tools you like. I'm a big fan of the Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Israeli Battle Dressing Demo Video

This short video clearly demonstrates how to use an Israeli battle dressing. I keep several around, and so should you.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Galco Draw-Ez Solution for Leather Holsters

Recently I've posted about M3 Tanker Holsters, of which I have three variants. The no-name copy that I wanted to use with my Beretta M9 was very snug, so I did a couple things to make it usable.

First, the leather was very dry, so I worked in some 100% neatsfoot oil. This softened it a bit and will preserve the leather. At some point I'll also rub some Sno-Seal dressing into the outside, to provide some water repellency.

After treating it with neatsfoot oil, I wrapped the Berretta in Saran wrap and forced it into the holster for about a week. This loosened it a little and the I added a plastic bag over the Saran wrap, then let it sit in the holster for another week or so. By this point it was getting there. However, the gun still dragged when drawing it.

So, the final step was to rub some Galco Draw-Ez Solution into the inside of the holster where the gun rubbed against it. I let it sit for about 10 minutes, put the naked gun back in, and tried drawing. It made a noticeable improvement.

Draw-Ez comes in 1/2 oz. (15ml) bottle. It's not cheap but a little goes a long way. If you have a leather holster that is hard to draw from it's worth trying.


Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Guns for Jews

I've put together a primer on gun ownership for fellow Jewish-Americans who are new to it, in the wake of the October 7th pogrom. It's in the form on an article I'm hosting on my Google Drive.

Guns for Jews.

Please share it to anyone who you think might find it useful.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Tire Changing Tools

Yesterday I had to change a flat tire for the first time in about 20 years.

The last time I had to change a flat was on my 2000 Ford E-150 work van, back in late 2003/early 2004. That sucked.

At about 4:00 PM, my daughter called and told me that she'd hit a curb and that she had a flat. She was down near her college and it took me about 45 minutes to get there.

When I arrived I saw that it was her right front tire and the rim was pretty banged up. I was able to change it using the OEM tire iron and jack from her 2013 Toyota Corolla. The lug nuts were pretty tight so they took a good bit of effort using the tire iron.

I do keep a 4-way lug nut wrench in my Xterra which would have provided more leverage but I didn't need it.

However, the experience got me to thinking that keeping a breaker bar in my truck along with the correct size deep sockets would be a good idea.

So later on today I plan to go over to Harbor Freight and pick up:

The long breaker bar will give me a lot more leverage if needed to remove lug nuts while the socket set should cover any vehicle I need to use it on.

Sort of like having an umbrella with me, I figure having them will also prevent me from needing them frequently. 

Afterwards, I told her that if this happens again to call AAA and see how long the wait will be. That said, it's always good when a dad can rescue his little girl.

(As for why she couldn't change it herself, she's on the small side and there's no way she would have been able to get those lug nuts off the studs.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The M3 "Tanker" Shoulder Holster

Sometime around 1939 - 1940, the US Army adopted a shoulder holster as an option for carrying the M1911A1 pistol. A similar version was adopted during WW2 for the S&W Victory Model and Colt Commando revolvers. These holsters remained in service at least until the 1990s, AFAIK. After the 1911 was replaced with the Beretta M9, it was used for the new pistol.

Several years ago I picked up a copy of the USGI M3 shoulder holster for the S&W Victory Model from the now-defunct Pacific Canvas and Leather. I like it a lot for carrying my Model 15 or Ruger Police Service Six, but of course it's too small for an N-Frame.

I recently replaced the grips on my S&W Model 28-2 Highway Patrolman, which made the gun much easier to shoot with my small hands. It previously wore a set of Herrett's Shooting Stars. I replaced them with a set of Thai Magnas + a BK Grips adapter. With it now fitting me better I started thinking about packing it as a woods gun.

So back on 9/3 I placed and order with El Paso Saddlery for one of their “1942 Tanker” holster, which is their version of the USGI M3 shoulder holster. It arrived 9/15, much sooner than expected based on what the EPS website says.

If it looks backwards it's because I'm a southpaw.

It’s very nicely made with nice leather, stitching, and hardware. They also threw in a key fob.

Out of curiosity I put my Colt Shooting Master in it and except for the fact that it’s too short for a 6” barrel, the holster fits the gun well. So, if I ever pick up a 4” Colt New Service this holster is usable with it.

A S&W Heavy Duty would look right in this rig.

I'm looking forward to using it in the woods.

I also have a copy of the M3 for 1911s. I don't have a 1911 anymore but I do have an M9, so tonight I tried it in the holster.

(I don't recall where I got this one from. Maybe Amazon. I'm pretty sure it was made in India.)

It's very snug and takes quite a bit of force to insert. So, since the leather was dry I gave it a good coat of neatsfoot oil and plan to leave the Beretta in it for several days in the hopes it'll stretch out.

As-is, my Browning High Power and Beretta 81 Cheetah fit OK. The CZ P-09 won't fit at all.

I've recently run across variants of the Tanker holster cut like the leather ones but made from canvas. The Amazon link above has some. I've never tried them and they are a bit less expensive, but I've no experience with them. They might work well, might not.

I also ran across this blog post extolling the merits of the M7 shoulder holster. The M7 differs from the M3 in that it includes a chest strap to help keep it from flopping around. That post also lists a variety of pistols that will fit, which makes it close to being a universal holster.

As to why to use one, as noted above I find it comfortable. It also makes the gun available if you're sitting in a vehicle. The strap can be adjusted so you can wear it over your clothes or concealed under a coat. Also, if you can't normally carry a gun but want one that you can quickly throw on, it's an option.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

PSA Rock Range Report

Last night I took the PSA Rock to an indoor range along with 100 rounds of ammunition, one box each of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ and AAC 40 grain VMAX.

Out of deference to range rules each magazine was loaded to only 10 rounds. The cartridges loaded easily into the magazines without the use of a loader. Loading them to full capacity may be easier with one, however.

It's worth noting that the magazines are of the double-stack, double-feed type, like AR15 magazines. To load you simply press the rounds straight down into the mag.

I shot the American Eagle ammunition first, and experienced no malfunctions. The AAC ammo was loaded noticeably hotter with a bit more muzzle flash.

Speaking of which, the gun was not as loud as I was expecting. Certainly, it has more blast and flash than a .22 or the .32 S&W Long ammo I shot in my Colt Police Positive afterwards, but it wasn't objectionable. I found it less obnoxious on the indoor range than some .40 S&W and .45 ACP I've been exposed to.

As expected, recoil was extremely light even with the hotter AAC ammunition.

There were two malfunctions with the AAC ammunition. In both cases the slide locked back prematurely with one round left in the magazine. It's possible that this was shooter-induced. I need to shoot it some more and pay more attention to which magazine I was using when the malfunctions occurred.

All cases ejected vigorously to about 4 or 5 o'clock.

I was shooting at 7 yards and kept my rounds within a few inches. The gun's heavy trigger pull makes shooting tight groups challenging. I am hoping that with another couple hundred rounds it will improve somewhat but it may need a trigger job.

I won't make a final judgement on the pistol until I have 500 rounds through it, but my initial impression remains favorable.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Got a PSA Rock 5.7 Pistol

After doing a lot of research, last Sunday I ordered a Palmetto State Armory Rock 5.7 pistol, and I was able to pick it up from my local FFL on Wednesday.

A picture with my Beretta M9 for scale:

(The Beretta has slimline grip panels from LOK Grips, which I can't recommend highly enough. They really improved the feel of the gun for me.)

5.7x28 is a bit controversial among shooters but I decided to try it for a few reasons:

  • The ballistics from a handgun should be similar to .22 Magnum from a rifle. Obviously, from 10+" barrel 5.7 will have significantly better ballistics. Based on what I've seen on YouTube, the AAC 40 grain loads should give me around 1800 FPS from this pistol's 5.2" barrel.
  • Mild recoil.
  • The pistols have the reputation for being easy to cock, which is good for people with hand problems.
  • Very high magazine capacity.
  • Lightweight, compact ammo. A 50 round box of 5.7x28 is not much larger or heavier than a 50-round box of .22 Magnums.

This picture shows a CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 115 grain FMJ round next to an AAC 40 grain VMAX 5.7x28 round:

Here are the specs of the package I bought:

  • Two-tone sniper green/black
  • Optics ready
  • 5.2" threaded barrel (1/2x28 threads)
  • 10 x 23-round magazines
  • A soft case.
  • Gun lock.
  • Chamber flag.

The cost was $599 + tax and shipping. My FFL charged $30 for the transfer.

This will be my first foray in 5.7x28-land. At some point I'll probably add a Holosun 407K but first I want to try it with irons.

After I I ordered the pistol I also ordered 300 rounds of AAC's 40 grain VMAX load (they were out of stock of their FMJ loads) and one box of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ. When I picked up the gun I also bought one box of FN SS197SR 40 grain VMAX loads.

Yesterday I got a restock notice from PSA and ordered 250 rounds of their AAC FMJ loads.

Fiocchi is now selling 150-count bulk packs of 40 grain FMJ rounds. At some point I'll get some of those because they end up being the least expensive practice rounds.

My initial thoughts without having fired it yet:

  • The grip is nice. My hands are on the small side but I have no problems gripping it comfortably. The grip reminds me of a S&W M&P-9.
  • Good three-dot sights made from metal. The gun can be fitted with any Glock-compatible sights.
  • The trigger pull is heavy but has minimal takeup and a short reset. No noticeable creep. With some lubrication and dry firing I'm already noticing an improvement.
  • The finish on the slide is nicely applied.
  • The magazine catch is a bit stiff but is already breaking in. The mag catch is reversible but even though I am left handed, I will leave it as-is. I used my middle finger to push it.
  • The takedown procedure is the same as a Glock but easier because of the design of the takedown latch. Putting the upper back on the frame is a little different because of the takedown latch.
  • Field stripping and reassembly are easy. The takedown catch is much easier to use than on a Glock.
  • The zippered case that it came in is very nice.
  • The owner's manual is very nice and printed on good quality, glossy paper.

I will shoot it first with iron sights but plan to mount a dot in the near future. I should get to shoot it this weekend and will post a range report.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Follow up on the homemade percussion caps

We've been having some unpleasant weather here in SE PA recently. Hot, humid, and rainy with thunderstorms. However, yesterday I managed to sneak out for a couple hours to Boulder Valley Sportsmen's Association and shoot some targets on the woods walk course.

I took the Slotter-style plains rifle (which has become my favorite rifle) and aside from a capper full of CCI No.11s, a also brought along 6 of the homemade percussion caps from last month, in a 3D-printed star capper.

When shooting a caplock rifle it's always good to make sure the flash channel is clear before loading. This is most commonly done by popping a cap while holding the muzzle near a blade of grass or a leaf. If it moves you know the channel is clear.

Note that if I'm loading the rifle prior to a hunt, rather that popping a cap I'll use some rubbing alcohol and compressed air to ensure the channel is clear, especially since I may be loading (but not priming) the rifle at home. This is not a bad idea nowadays anyway, since No. 11 caps are hard to buy.

I did that with one of the homemade caps and it moved a blade of grass. However, when I loaded the rifle I found that the homebrew caps would not ignite the main charge unless I primed the nipple with 4Fg black powder first. That slowed the lock time down so that it was comparable with a flintlock.

(I keep a nipple primer in my shooting pouch in case I encounter ignition problems. This was the first time I actually needed it.)

Having tried them and found them wanting for use in sidelock rifles, I plan to make up another batch but add more priming compound.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

High Standard Sentinel Round Butt

A few years ago I picked up a High Standard Sentinel R-101 snubbie with a 3" barrel. It came with a square butt grip, which is very comfortable. However, HS also made round butt grips for these guns, which would make it a little easier to carry in a coat pocket. I was able to buy one from Numrich awhile ago but didn't get around to changing it out until today.

As the gun came:

And with the round butt:

Changing the grip required removing the only screw in the gun, which goes through the bottom of the grip into the grip frame.

The original grip has molded in checkering while the round grip is smooth. The gun feels secure in my hand but we'll see how it is when I'm sweating. I've also seen the round butt with checkering, which would have been ideal.

One might wonder at the point of a .22 snub. These guns were sold for use as plinkers or tackle box guns, but they are usable for defense even if they aren't ideal due to the caliber. It has a 9-shot cylinder so capacity is on par with a lot of autoloaders.

Because of the heavy double action pull I wouldn't recommend any rimfire revolver for defense if you have weak hands, but if you have hand issues that prevent being able to deal with the recoil of a .38 Special or other better caliber, it beats harsh language or a pointed stick.

The High Standard has been perfectly reliable for me so far. The hammer hits the cartridge rims with authority and as far as I can recall, I've yet to experience a misfire. I tried some Remington Yellow Jacket hypervelocity ammo and got sticky extraction, but that's the only issue I've had with it. I intend to try CCI Stingers and Federal Punch in it. (I have a box of the Punch that I'd bought for use in my Ruger LCP II Lite Rack, but it had a lot of malfunctions with it.)

Friday, June 09, 2023

Homemade Percussion Caps

Last week while I was on a staycation I prepared a batch of homemade No.11 percussion caps, using the tool from and their Prime-All priming compound. I tried them out a couple days later.

I left out the tan/off-white component, which is either dextrin or gelatin intended to be a binder. By most accounts it works poorly as suck. Instead, I took a 1 oz. plastic bottle with a needle oiler tip, put a few millimeters of Duco cement in the bottom, then filled the rest with acetone to make a saturated solution.

Using a CCI Large pistol primer tray as a loading block I filled about 20 caps at a time with the mixed Prime-All compound and then put a drop or two of the Duco/acetone solution in it. Using a small piece of bamboo cut from a chop stick I gently tamped down the wet mixture.

After the caps were visibly dry I put another drop or two of the solution in the caps and let them dry in the open air overnight. I wanted to ensure that enough Duco cement was deposited in them to keep the priming compound in place. Duco is a nitrocellulose based glue so it's flammable even when dry.

For safety's sake make sure that you crush any lumps in the components before mixing them. Crushing lumps after the components are mixed can cause detonation.

Note that I did not have luck punching caps out of beverage cans, even doubled. I keep punching right through the material. Rather, I used 0.005" thick copper foil which is a more durable material.

I tried them in my Pietta 1860 Sheriff which has Slixshot nipples installed.

  • 6 caps to clear the nipples: All popped. I noticed they make less noise than CCI, Remington, or RWS caps.
  • 6 shots loaded from paper cartridges with 25 grains of Scheutzen 3Fg BP: The first 3 went off OK but the next 3 popped but failed to set off the BP. I recapped those cylinder and none set off the powder. I recapped once more using RWS 1075+ caps and all 3 chambers went off. They may work better with paper cartridges if I increase the amount of priming compound.
  • 6 shots with 25 grains of Scheutzen loaded from a flask: All 6 went off properly.
  • 6 shots with 25 grains of Triple 7 3Fg BP substitute, which has a higher ignition temp: All 6 went off properly.

The caps on shots with 25 grains of BP held together but flowed a little back into the safety notch in the hammer nose.

The caps on the Triple 7 loads all perforated but the skirts held together.

None of the caps fragmented and I had no jams. Some came off easily while others had to be pried off either with my fingers or pocketknife. All 27 caps I dropped the hammer on ignited properly.

Since the Prime-All fouling is corrosive I cleaned the gun with water and MPro 7 after getting home, and oiled everything with FP-10. I left it disassembled overnight to confirm I'm not going to get any rust and everything looks fine.

Overall, I consider the home made caps using the Prime-All compound a success for use in percussion revolvers and I'm sure they'd work fine in an underhammer. I need to test them in a sidelock rifle or pistol.

Article: Complex Systems Won’t Survive the Competence Crisis

It's been awhile since I posted anything political but, a few days ago this article was brought to my attention and I've been digesting it ever since. It clearly articulates much of what I've been thinking in the past few years, reinforced by my long term employment at a Fortune 50 company. The article's arguments and conclusions are spot on, IMNSHO.

At a casual glance, the recent cascades of American disasters might seem unrelated. In a span of fewer than six months in 2017, three U.S. Naval warships experienced three separate collisions resulting in 17 deaths. A year later, powerlines owned by PG&E started a wildfire that killed 85 people. The pipeline carrying almost half of the East Coast’s gasoline shut down due to a ransomware attack. Almost half a million intermodal containers sat on cargo ships unable to dock at Los Angeles ports. A train carrying thousands of tons of hazardous and flammable chemicals derailed near East Palestine, Ohio. Air Traffic Control cleared a FedEx plane to land on a runway occupied by a Southwest plane preparing to take off. Eye drops contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria killed four and blinded fourteen.

While disasters like these are often front-page news, the broader connection between the disasters barely elicits any mention. America must be understood as a system of interwoven systems; the healthcare system sends a bill to a patient using the postal system, and that patient uses the mobile phone system to pay the bill with a credit card issued by the banking system. All these systems must be assumed to work for anyone to make even simple decisions. But the failure of one system has cascading consequences for all of the adjacent systems. As a consequence of escalating rates of failure, America’s complex systems are slowly collapsing.

The core issue is that changing political mores have established the systematic promotion of the unqualified and sidelining of the competent. This has continually weakened our society’s ability to manage modern systems. At its inception, it represented a break from the trend of the 1920s to the 1960s, when the direct meritocratic evaluation of competence became the norm across vast swaths of American society.


The path of least resistance will be the devolution of complex systems and the reduction in the quality of life that entails. For the typical resident in a second-tier city in Mexico, Brazil, or South Africa, power outages are not uncommon, tap water is probably not safe to drink, and hospital-associated infections are common and often fatal. Absent a step change in the quality of American governance and a renewed culture of excellence, they prefigure the country’s future.

Emphasis added by me.

The full article is here and worth your time, IMHO:

DEI is a major force behind this trend but it's not the only thing. For example, I've seen repeatedly where senior level, highly knowledgeable employees are let go as a short term cost-cutting measure. Not only were these senior folks repositories of painfully acquired tribal knowledge, they were mentors to junior engineers. Senior leadership considers it a bonus when they can point to one less old white guy on staff, replaced by one or more diverse candidates.

As the one meme goes, "I know it's bad, but it's going to get a lot worse." The more independent you are, the higher your standard of living will be in the coming years.

Loading and Shooting a Muzzleloading Black Powder Patched Round Ball Rifle

I made this video last week but forgot to link to it from here.

If you like it please hit that Like button and subscribe.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Goex Update

Yesterday I got an email from Maine Powder House stating the following:

Yes, in case you have not heard, GOEX production date was pushed back again.

GOEX dealers were informed the new projected production date is end of June. If they are able to make this happen, this means they will not start shipping product out to dealers until earliest August. GOEX has also informed us prices will be going up, but they have yet to give us a new price list.

Schuetzen and Swiss containers are here in the US, however their prices have gone up 17% and 22% respectively. This price increase was a surprise to all of us...including the distributor. Current prices listed as of the date of this email DO NOT reflect the 17% & 22% increases.

Maine Powder House current inventory on black powder is very low. I will be working with the Schuetzen/Swiss distributor on a new order, however it will be a limited order due to the anticipation of GOEX getting back in business sometime this fall.

Check the website for details as I will keep that up-to-date for everyone.


My $0.02:

With Goex availability pushed back yet again, if you need black powder I recommend buying Scheutzen, Swiss, or Graf's house brand (made by Scheutzen) from MPH, Powder Inc., Grafs, or whoever else might have it in stock. If you shoot a gun that works reliably with it, don't turn your nose up at Pyrodex or Triple 7, either. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Update on Percussion Cap Availability

Here's a video update on the availability of percussion caps, from the NRA convention.

Key points:

  • Per Ethan, CCI produces caps in seasonal runs. Next run is in June, reaching shelves in July/August.
  • No real updates on Remington or RWS caps.

My $0.02 is that I recommended stocking up after they become available this summer.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Alpineaire Black Bart Chili Review

 Back in the fall I bought two packages of Alpineaire Black Bart Chili from Amazon Prime. Today I decided to try one for lunch.

To prepared it, pour two cups of boiling water into the bag, mix, and then let sit for 10 - 12 minutes. Then mix it again before eating.

I let it sit for at least 12 minutes, mixed it up, and it looked like this:

It came out a bit soupier than I'd like. The texture was typical for reconstituted freeze dried meals. It was fairly spicy.

Because it was so soupy, after I ate half I tried adding some parched corn flour to it to thicken it a bit. Not recommended. I didn't care for the resulting texture.

Overall, I'd recommend it and will probably buy some more for my camping/emergency prep food stash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Converting Rifle Brass to Use No.209 Shotshell Primers

AKA, “Yet another reason to have a small lathe.”

Obligatory disclaimer: We don’t guarantee that these will be safe in your rifle or with your components. Do this at your own risk.

The cartridge cases converted using this method are NOT safe to use with full loads. Read that again. They are only safe to use with low pressure reduced loads. Use at your own risk.

My friend N. has recently delved into shooting his M-1891/59 Mosin-Nagant and No.4 Mk.I Lee-Enfield with "mousefart" loads. These are even less powerful than Ed Harris’s “The Load” of 13 grains of Red Dot under a 150 - 180 grain bullet. N. is loading a 115 or 125 grain cast bullet on top of 5.0 grains of Bullseye. (His first try in 7.62R used 6 grains of Bullseye but accuracy was horrible. Backing off to 5 grains shrank the groups.)

He has a good stock of No.209 shotshell primers but not a lot of large rifle primers. He also has a lathe in his basement workshop, as you can see in the picture. It’s an older Jet unit with a 7” swing (not sure how long it is). He took some Berdan primed .303 cases that he’d stashed away and drilled out the primer pockets so they will accept No.209 primers.

Per N., he used three drill bits to modify each case:

"Center drill to keep main drill from following the firing pin dent, letter C for the main body, 21/64 to countersink the flange on the battery cup.  Be careful!  My Fiocchi primers are .002" larger than my Cheddite, and I understand the Cheddites are larger than most Yankee brands."

So measure the No.209 primers you have and pick drill sizes to match.

We haven't tried this with Boxer-primed brass but I don't see why it wouldn't work. This project was primarily to make something useful from what otherwise would be trash.

Something else to consider is how your rifle will handle escaping gas if something goes wrong. I have been present when someone experienced complete case head separations in a No.4 Lee-Enfield and another time in a Mosin-Nagant. The Lee-Enfield shooter didn't notice anything awry until he opened the bolt. The Mosin shooter got gas back in his face but was uninjured because he wore eye protection.

Also note that a lot of milsurp .303 and all 7.62x54R were corrosively primed. Make sure to clean your rifle accordingly when shooting that ammo. You also need to rinse out the brass with water if you plan to reuse it. (The No.209 primers are not corrosive. I'm only referring to the initial firing with the original primers.)