Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Keepin' the Big Dog happy...

Ruger, our German Shepherd, is two years old now and is the self-appointed Big Dog... at least among the gals and his four-legged friends.  We had various friends and family visit during the Christmas weekend and Ruger made sure he had all his dog toys, Sasha's dog toys, and all the other visiting dogs' toys and bones claimed and accounted for.  It's just his way of keepin' the Big Dog happy.

Unfortunately, this Big Dog hasn't been too happy.  Christmas morning started with a sinus cold and by the time I managed to get in to see the doctor on Tuesday, my sinus cold had turned into a full-blown infection along with a fever and a touch of wheezing bronchitis.  Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to spend some shooting time with some friends out at Farmer Phil's place.

That would be Robert and Daniel setting up some targets along with some bowling alley rejects.  It was good to see old friends we haven't had time to catch up with for a while.  I set out some of the new target stands to the left we had picked up from Target Meister a few weeks back.

So far, they seem like really nice stands and would work well for IDPA or IPSC shooting too.  I have six of them and after a few more uses I'll probably give you folks a review about our experiences, which so far have been very positive.  They're built like brick outhouses... strong and functional.

We spent a lot of time shooting handguns.  Seemed like 1911 was the lucky number with offerings from Colt, Ruger, Kimber, Taurus, and Springfield Armory on hand along with other assorted semi-autos and wheel-guns.

Shooting FMJs or "ball" ammo is great for practice, but if you carry your gun concealed or otherwise it never hurts to run some of your carry ammo through it regularly to check reliability... even if it does lighten your wallet a bit.

Robert had a beautiful set of sequentially numbered Ruger Vaqueros in .45 Long Colt.  We shoot cowboy action with our 4H Shooting Sports kids mostly using .22s, but I'd sure like to have a leather rig with a pair of these in the future to shoot some cowboy action myself.

There were a lot of holes in a lot of targets when everything was said and done.  Even some ARs, .22s, and a Savage bolt-action in .22-250 had a good, long-range workout.  Discussions on guns, reloading, gunpowder, politics, and family seemed to get everybody back on the same page until too much time has again passed by and we finally get around to all of us meetin' back up again.

Today, it's just a day of rest while I try to break a fever and beat this stupid sinus and chest cold.  This is not exactly how I had planned to spend a few days off work, but I'm thankful for my gals who are takin' care of me... as my main gal says, "Keepin' the Big Dog happy"...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2:11

The gals and I are wishing you a very Merry Christmas.  Ya'll may not believe the same as we do, but we are thankful for all of you... our family, friends, co-workers, students, and blogosphere friends... but most of all we're thankful for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ... and the blessing of living in the greatest country on earth... God Bless America!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Permanently deleting personal data...

While preppers and survivalists are definitely concerned with digital OPSEC and some folks are worried about privacy or identity-theft in this age of digital data and information... few people actively take appropriate steps to protect themselves.

We recently discarded two older computers.  One was a mini-tower while the other was a laptop.  Before they went out to the road for trash pick-up, the gals and I removed the hard-drives.  Now I know there there are many utilities that can perform a Department of Defense (DOD) approved data wipe to "clean" the digital information from the hard-drives... but out here in the country, we have a simple utility that works just as well and is a lot more fun.

First, we make sure our utility is properly configured to permanently delete the data from the hard-drive.  An approximately half-inch group, three-quarters of an inch low at fifty yards from the prone position seems like a good configuration.  Nothing a little Kentucky windage won't correct on a .223 utility originally configured at a hundred yards.

Since this utility for permanently deleting data isn't approved by the manufacturer, the gals and I figure that we're probably going to void the warranty... but then again, I think the warranty already expired a while back.

After running the utility for a few minutes, the digital data on the hard-drive has been rendered permanently unrecoverable.  In this case, our utility was a Ruger MKII Stainless Steel All-Weather bolt-action rifle in .223 Remington loaded with Federal V-Shok .223 cartridges with 40-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips which work really well with with the one-in-twelve twist-rate.  In addition to data on hard-drives, it also seems to permanently delete groundhogs.

So, before you just throw away that old computer... take out the hard-drive, stop on by, and we'll be glad to help you with permanently deleting personal data...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Five Bucks: Sandless Sandbags for Shooting...

Sandbags have been used for steadying shooters perched in the benchrest position or even the prone position for decades.  The one problem, though, with filling sand bags with sand is that the sand and dust from the sand seems to instantly adhere to any surface of the firearms with even the slightest bit of lubricant on it.  The last thing any shooter wants is their firearm covered with something as abrasive as sand.  Just ask... and always thank... our troops returning from the Middle East.

The gals and I started using pea gravel years ago in our sandbags, but it usually came in fifty-pound bags, plus it needed rinsed and dried to get much of the dust and dirt off of the little rocks.  Then in a moment of fleeting brilliance... an idea popped into my aging mind...why not use aquarium gravel.

I had received a set of Cabela's Shooting Bags for a gift from my main gal a couple of years ago and decided to try our idea.  A quick trip to Walmart, the simple price of $3.48 for a five-pound bag of aquarium gravel, and we were on our way.  First, we cut a plastic water bottle in half for a funnel, then filled the bags with the aquarium gravel.  A little shaking to settle the gravel and everything looked great.

Next, I folded the opening's flap over and tucked it in place... gave it a few good shakes and drops on the floor... and no gravel, no dust, no problems.

The two bags held about a bag and a half of aquarium gravel, which gives them decent heft to stay put while shooting.  We don't have the leaking sand or sand-dust problem and they're not as impossibly heavy to move around as a friend's bags are who used lead shot as a filler.

If you prefer some of the good ol' classic shooter's sand bags and can still find a reloader or someone who has the old-style cloth shot bags laying around... they work just fine too.  If not, you can easily sew up some sand bags using the legs from some old blue jeans or work pants.

Just fill the sandbag up almost full of aquarium gravel... we chose white, but they also have tan and black gravel available for you tactically correct folks.

Just sew the end of the sandbag shut with some heavy-duty thread and you have an adjustable gun rest that will last for years without the problems of sand getting all over your firearms.

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ruger LCR... up close and personal

Now I know there are a lot of opinions about which guns are best for concealed carry, but I personally think the best gun for concealed carry is the gun that meets my Rule 2 (Have a reliable gun you can reliably shoot) and that you will carry every day.  Currently, my two every day carry guns are the Ruger SR9c and the Ruger LCR.

I also know there are thoughts out there about switching between different carry guns, but I practice with both of these firearms almost weekly and I've had no problems transitioning between the two.  While I carry the SR9C in a Galco Cop Slot 3 Holster, a Triple K leather Inside the Waist Band (IWB) holster for the LCR from Ruger has been working well for me and doesn't seem to "print" through my clothing.

The LCR has been with the gals and I for about year now and it has around 750 rounds through it, and as I've said before... I don't like to review anything I haven't spent substantial time using.  It shows some wear marks on the cylinder and the already light-feeling double-action trigger seems as smooth as glass.  The Triple-K holster has some wear and scratches, but it has held up well, clips securely over my belt, feels very comfortable against the skin or undershirt, and stays open for quick re-holstering of the LCR if its something your worried about.

The little revolver is extremely light with the polymer grip frame and aluminum main frame with a stainless steel barrel insert.  It is definitely a lot less weight than our Ruger SP101 (I did previously mention I'm a Ruger fan, didn't I?)  While I won't waste your time with photographs of hole-filled targets, I will say that this snubby is as accurate as any snubby I've ever shot off-hand or off the bench.  The recoil with .38 Special +P rounds is very manageable and quick pointing, firing, and follow-up hits on target are no problem... especially for "combat" or self-defense accuracy. 

The grip is made for Ruger by Hogue and has a soft, grip-able surface with dimples on each side and a very soft, almost gel-like backstrap area that takes it easy on the palm and web of your hand while fitting comfortably in my larger hands. This firearm also provides a sure grip when shooting in the pouring rain and cold weather.

The easily indexed cylinder release competently lets the cylinder open for quick checking and reloading.  The significantly fluted cylinder appears well made and up to the task presented by the Winchester PDX1s and Federal Hydrashoks.

Ruger's friction reducing cam trigger system makes for the one of the best out-of-the-box double-action trigger pulls I have ever run across and the cylinder firmly and securely indexes through it's rotation with each pull of the trigger.

This is the first Triple-K holster I've ever carried and it was purchased directly from Ruger.  The LCR fits snuggly in the holster which is molded specifically for the contours of the LCR.  You'll find the LCR's contours, specifically the trigger guard, do not let it share many tightly fit holsters made for the SP101 or S&W J-frames.

The trigger is fully covered, yet the grip is easily available for the shooter drawing the gun.  The stitching and leather seem to be of substantial quality and thickness too.  The extra leather "collar" around the opening keeps the holster open for re-holstering.

(Photograph taken with remote, computer-tethered camera - Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction)
Now five shots of .38 Special +P is not everyone's idea of carrying adequate fire- power, but if you were the bad guy... would you want to be looking at this... the Ruger LCR... up close and personal.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Musings... Passing on our mindsets.

Just about every parent wonders if their kids are really paying attention to what you've tried to teach them about life.  The truth is, our kids are watching everything we do.. both good and bad.  Sometimes we hope they learn the good and forget the bad just so they can avoid the mistakes and troubles we've all encountered in life.

My little gal has been taking care of the dogs at our neighbor's farm up the road the last week or so while they're on vacation.  Nobody was supposed to be at the farm while they were away so my daughter was surprised to see a pick-up truck and a couple of men as she pulled off the road and onto their drive yesterday morning.

Now a lot of folks might have just driven on back to see what's up, but my sixteen year-old has been taught, she's observant, she's got the mindset of a sheepdog.  As an unarmed teenager, she didn't just drive up and say, "Hey fellas, what are you doin' here?"  She stopped the car, kept her distance, checked her exit options to make sure she wasn't pinned in on the driveway, and called us with her cell phone.

In the end, it turned out that it was just a couple of guys there to work on point tucking the brick chimney and the neighbors had forgotten to mention that they might be coming by to do some work.  With all the troubles out here in the country these days, it never hurts to be cautious. 

It may not seem like much to you, but for us it's another example of how my daughter really gets all those little things we do and have been teaching her... which is especially important as she's now out and about on her own a lot more and... she doesn't get any Second Amendment rights for self-protection in her vehicle with this state or country until she's twenty-one.

She's smart, observant, trained, and confirms that we're passing on our mindsets.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thank you for gifts undeserved...

Up north, my mother attended a memorial service today at the funeral home that provided services for my father and many others we knew who passed away this year in the community where I grew up.  They provided services for a friend's son who was a member of the army's special forces and was killed overseas in a hot, hostile land... a long way from Ohio and from Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.

While politicians and pundits argue the merits of redistributing wealth, let us not forget in this season of giving that many in the military have redistributed all they had and all they would ever have for the freedom so many of us take for granted every day.

As Christmas approaches and we think of giving... I encourage you to give from the heart, not the wallet.  There are so many men and women of our military who paid with everything they had... paid for the freedom we enjoy... paid for the freedom money can't buy... and to those men and women who paid the ultimate price, I say...

Thank you for gifts undeserved...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Five Bucks: Taking notes... Rite in the Rain

In this day and age of electronic wonders like Droids, iPads, Kindles, iPhones... sometimes low-tech is the best technology.  You'll almost always find a notepad with me, and often it's a Rite in the Rain pad.

When you're in and out of the inclement weather we seem to get this time of year, my little Rite in the Rain pad holds up.  If it gets wet or you spill something on it, drop it in the mud, smear greasy fingers across it, the cover and pages wipe clean and hold together.  The basic pads have horizontal lines with vertical dashes creating a grid which makes it easy to sketch out an idea or just jot down some notes.

Usually, I pick mine up at Tractor Supply Co. (TSC), but you can order them online and there are quite a few variations, including some "tactical" pads for those of you who need to maintain your image.  The "practical" pads in bright yellow do fine for me because if you drop them while hunting or working in the barn, they're easy to find. 

This is a great tool for those of use who seem to be thinking more and remembering less, and best of all... the batteries never go dead.  So pick up a couple of Rite in the Rain pads and take some notes...

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sheepdog 101: It's 1:50am... are you ready?

A sheepdog is always ready, alert, and waiting to do what is necessary... are you ready?  See, prepping and readiness is more than having a bunch of guns, stocking up on ammunition, and having some rations stored in the closet.  Being prepared is a lifestyle and it's often the little things that will trip us up.  Similar to money management, we tend to make careful, thoughtful decisions when purchasing a home, a car or truck, a big screen TV... but we lose out on the hundreds, even thousands of dollars wasted daily and weekly in the little things.

It's 1:50am... where's your cell phone... oh, next to the chair in the living room... where's your flashlight... in the back of the drawer, under all the other stuff piled in there... where's your gun... is it loaded... is the safety on or off... is there a round in the chamber... can't remember when you last checked it... where's the spare magazine... where's everyone else... asleep... in the family room watching a late night show... at work... did you lock the doors... did someone else... who was supposed to lock the doors... is your heart pounding?

What woke you up at 1:50am... was it a intruder... a weather alert or tornado siren... the smoke alarm... the dog barking... how do you assess the situation... what's the plan... how do you communicate with the others... what are you wearing... where are your shoes... tossed in the corner or ready to slip on... where's your keys... oh, on the kitchen counter at the other end of the house?

What are you going to grab to take with you... are you looking for your glasses... where's your clothes... do you just grab the the Bug Out Bag (BOB) and run... or take cover... or use your alternate escape route... where do you re-group... who do you call... are you panicked? angry? frustrated? Are you thinking about all the things you should have thought about before 1:50am?

Preparedness is a continual process in our family.  It's a lifestyle with standard operating procedures and routines that are always being assessed, modified, and improved.  We have plans, we test them, we discuss them, and we ask, "What if?"  My little gal is sixteen and in less than two years she will likely be off at college.  Hopefully, she'll assess her unfortunately disarmed situation and make a plan, develop routines, and have her BOB ready to go.

I can't tell YOU how to be prepared as every situation is different, but I can suggest you look around and assess your situation.  You could probably make a hundred improvements in your preparations and readiness without spending a penny.  Think about it, and if you have a family or others living with you... discuss it with them 'cause nothing messes up a good plan more than someone who has no idea what the plan was.

I've often heard it said, "If you're going to carry... carry every day."  Well, if you're going to prepare... prepare every day.

So the homework for today's class of Sheepdog 101: It's 1:50am... are you ready?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Packin' eighteen rounds of .357 magnum...

After listening to some law enforcement officers talking after church about how there isn't any room left on their duty-belts for anything else with the S&W M&P 40, magazines, taser, handcuffs, ASP baton, rubber gloves pouch, pepper spray, radio, and other assorted items that even Batman wouldn't have thought of for his utility belt... I was thinking about way back to the good ol' days when I worked for a few years in law enforcement.

In the mid-1980s the military had adopted the Beretta M9 and Mel Gibson was shooting smiley faces at fifty yards in Lethal Weapon with the Beretta 92F.  Our department was still carrying .357 magnums... you know... six-shooters... wheel-guns... either the S&W Model 66, S&W Model 686, or Ruger GP100 in stainless steel with four-inch barrels firing Federal 158 grain Hydra-Shoks.

Those revolvers were reliable, built like a brick outhouse, and there was little argument about the stopping power of the .357 magnum cartridge.  We carried six in the cylinder and two HKS speed-loaders for a total of eighteen rounds.  Yeah, there was an extra box of ammo in the cruiser along with a Remington 870 shotgun loaded with 00-buckshot, but our force continuum was limited primarily in range from our gift of gab to our hands or PR-24 and finally to the .357 magnum.

It's funny how I wouldn't even consider an open/uncovered trigger holster today and the only vest we wore back then for protection was a sweater in cold weather.  In the late 1980s the department entered the future when they issued everyone S&W 4516 semi-autos in .45ACP.  With three magazines of .45ACPs and one in the chamber... we were packin' firepower with 25 rounds at our disposal.

That good ol' GP100 has had somewhere north of 20,000 rounds through it over the years, six at a time, and has never failed me yet... but looking back, we must have been just a step or two ahead of Barney Fife's one-in-the-pocket...

We were packin' eighteen rounds of .357 magnum...