Sunday, December 23, 2012

Makin' a list, checkin' it twice...

The gals and I are what some might call "preppers".  That term can cover quite a range of activities and lifestyles.  When you grow up or live out in rural areas like we do, what folks call prepping is just how we've always lived.  When the Blizzard of '78 hit northwest Ohio, we were snowed under for almost two weeks... no power, no school, no police, no fire service or EMS... folks took care of their own and each other... the firewood cut and stacked many months before kept us warm, the summer's garden produce was canned and stored in the basement, we melted snow for water, and we survived and helped others as best we could. Besides, ridin' a snow mobile right into downtown to get items at the grocery store was pretty cool and that was back when you could call "Joe" to open up his pharmacy at midnight to get a prescription for the elderly neighbor.

These days a lot of folks live paycheck to paycheck, some by choice, some not... but many live day to day if they were ever faced with their food, water, or shelter supply stopping.  While I'm not sure you can plan and prepare for every possible circumstance without it consuming your life, I think most folks can plan and prepare for some.  Like anything, to do it right you need to educate yourself, make a plan, and follow through... at a steady pace, not a crazy-mad rush that causes you to burn out and drop the whole matter.

For more immediate needs, the gals and I have Bug Out Bags (BOBs) ready to go and we've added Get Home Bags (GHBs) to our preps.  What's the difference, well the BOBs are set up for "buggin' out" and have supplies for at least three days and possibly up to two weeks of survivin', while the GHBs have what we anticipate needing for one day, maybe overnight... to get home from work, a friends, shopping, etc.

We're currently on Christmas break and my daughter and I went through our BOBs to check and update our preps and I changed out some clothing as I've lost some weight.  My daughter said she would like a list of everything that's in the bags and where 'cause she can't always remember... which I thought was a profound idea since I can't remember every little thing, let alone the expiration date or age of some supplies AND I have lists of just about everything else in our lives... lists for planning, lists for to-do, lists for the budget, lists for reloading, lists for groceries... boy have I got lists.

So we made a list of what was in each of our BOBs and GHBs, put them in zip-lock bags and put the bags right inside the top compartment.  I also made a list of future items and upgrades.  For example, we have to live within our budget and we have to do almost all our preps in triplicate as there are three of us.  I like the L.A. Police Gear backpacks we have, but they are not the best and while we chose Coyote brown/tan to look less tactical and conspicuous, we'd like to eventually get better quality bags that have a frame and look even less tactical... although the Molle strips are very handy.

The GHBs are $29.99 gear bags from Cabela's that we picked up on sale for $9.99 each.  They probably won't make it to the summit of Mt. Everest and back, but they should make it home with us.  The GHBs were also packed with consideration for the vehicles they sit in during the summer months so 120 to 130-degree heat won't ruin anything inside.

If you're interested in putting your own BOBs together or updating what you have, there are plenty of lists already out there on the internet.  Greg Ellifritz has a recent list in his post over at Active Response Training for the BOB and the GHB.  Greg has his BOB weighing in at 55 pounds, but realizing his physical condition in comparison to knowing what our physical condition actually is... we've tried to keep our BOB's under thirty pounds before we add the fire-power and requisite hardware.  James Wesley, Rawles' Survival Blog has plenty of information and lists for planning or checking your preps when it comes to BOBs and GHBs.  Survival Cache also has a list to consider for a BOB.

So we hope you folks don't have to use your BOBs or GHBs anytime soon, although we've tried using and replenishing ours on occasion to test our preps, but you might want to make a list... and the gals and I do hope you have a very Merry Christmas... and be good... because we're not the only ones... Makin' a list, checkin' it twice...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock

I love America.  I believe in American exceptionalism, our entrepreneurial spirit, and support un-apologetic patriotism.  While the socialistic tides are flowing against the foundations that this great country was built on, the opportunities for success are there for those who are willing to use their ingenuity, work hard, and persist when faced with adversity.

Those values and beliefs are clearly evident not far from the gals and I here in southwest Ohio up at B5 Systems... in a plain, nondescript facility on the outskirts of Xenia, Ohio... well... nondescript except for the large B5 Systems logo on the side of the building.  Taking decades of experience in precision, mil-spec military and aerospace contracting, manufacturing, and engineering... Judd Burke and the good folks at B5 opened their new business in 2008 and quickly made a name for themselves in the firearms community when they were awarded the military contract to produce the mil-spec Enhanced SOPMOD Buttstock back in 2009.  

B5 is now in the process of designing and developing their own line of mil-spec, quality firearm accessories... and they just introduced the first of several with the announcement of the BCM/Haley Strategic The Jack Carbine.  The B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock keeps the mil-spec quality B5 Systems is known for as a government contractor and manufacturer... and offers many of the advantages of the Enhanced SOPMOD without the battery storage in a lighter, more compact unit.

The angle of the Bravo's anti-slip, cushioned and removable butt plate has been designed with a cant and fits my hold point much better in a forward-facing CQB type of stance.  The overall profile for the cheek-weld has been kept the same as the Enhanced SOPMOD.

You can easily see how much narrower the profile of the Bravo is when placed next to the Enhanced SOPMOD.  I personally could not tell a difference in the feel and fit when actually switching back and forth between the two stocks in terms of cheek-weld, but I did find that for my body, chest, and shoulder... the new cant of the Bravo fit better and provided a more solid, parallel contact point for me.

I think a lot of folks will probably not need the extra battery storage on the rifle, so I doubt that most will miss that feature.  B5 does offer the buttstocks molded in various colors.

You can really see the slender, sleekness of the new Bravo when comparing it to the Enhanced SOPMOD and viewing both of them from the front.  Speaking of slender... weighing the two buttstocks on our digital scale... the Enhanced SOPMOD weighs in at 10.6 ounces with the battery compartments free of batteries while the new Bravo weighs just 8.2 ounces... that's 2.4 ounces less.

The ambidextrous, position-locking, quick-detach sling mounting points... in addition to the two traditional slots for threading through web-strapping of of other slings... provides many options for folks whether you're running with a two-point sling set-up or a one-point sling.

Our one-point Troy Battle Sling attached positively and easily... although I wouldn't attach it all the way back on the stock as in the photo, but I don't currently have any quick-detach two-point slings.  The sling attached with precision, but the fit wasn't so tight as to make attachment or detachment difficult.  Mark Keller... B5's Director of Marketing, Firearms Fanboy, Industry-Connected, AR Guru... has worked with key players in the AR world, military, and firearms industry throughout the entire design and development process for the Bravo... and I think it shows in the details, quality, and versatility... especially with the sling attachment options.

I found the Bravo's six-position locking-lever to be slightly more rounded and ergonomic than the original Enhanced SOPMOD and those on standard M4-style, six-position, adjustable stocks.  The fit of the stock on our Ruger SR-556c was perfect... snug, no play, or wiggle, and adjustment was easy with positive positioning on the buffer tube.

Folks are going to find that the military and aerospace engineering and manufacturing expertise and capabilities that B5 Systems brings to the table allows them to produce quality mil-spec gear and accessories for the AR-platform at price-points that will keep the competition hoppin'.  

B5 will be be hard to beat and... in full disclosure .. I am acquainted with these folks... and they provided the new, still packaged stocks for me to use and evaluate... and they're good people with terrific products... which is American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship at it's best... These are patriotic Americans with American designed and American made products putting Americans to work.

B-Smart, B-Aware, B-Ready... B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ruger Single-Ten

I think as folks begin to add to their gun collection, there are few collections that should be without a good, quality .22 rifle and/or a .22 pistol.  The .22 rifles and pistols are fun and cheap to shoot, plus good ones are just dead-on accurate. We've acquired a fair number of .22 rifles and pistols over the years... mostly Rugers... so I admit my bias up front... and our newest acquisition belongs to my wife for fun, 4H, or whatever she wants to shoot... as long as it's not me.

A couple of months back, we picked up a Ruger Single-Ten for my gal and we've now had a number of opportunities to put a lot of rimfires downrange with it, so I thought you folks might like an update and a review.

Bill Ruger, Sr. introduced his Ruger Single-Six all the way back in 1953, then upgraded it with a transfer-bar safety with the New Model Single-Six in 1973. Since then, the Single-Six has been offered in a variety of configurations. Ruger's most recent configuration involved some drilling and machining to let ten little .22 cartridges gather for the fun before reloading.

Now if you're lookin' for technical spec's or tactical applications, then this ain't really the review for you.  I usually don't review a gun until I've had some substantial time using it.  There are already plenty of reviews out there for this gun, but I thought some of you might find my observations helpful.

First of all, this stainless steel six-shooter, er... ten-shooter is just deadly accurate, keeping less than quarter-sized groups of ten shots when fired off the benchrest position at twenty-five yards with just about every brand of .22 long rifle cartridges we've fed it.

The Williams Adjustable Fiber-Optic FireSights that come standard have a rear sight that's both windage and elevation "click" adjustable. Even on a gray, overcast day the Williams FireSights are bright and easily acquired in visualizing your sight alignment and sight picture.

The trigger is definitely not a super light-weight target trigger-pull, but it has a wide, smooth front face and breaks crisply without any noticeable creep.  The fit and finish of the gun is well done, but not so well done you'd think twice about slipping this hog-leg into a holster or pack while you're camping, hiking, or doing a day's chores around the barn.

The loading gate gives you a clear view and room to load and unload... one round at a time.  I'm not sure this  would have made me too excited back in the days of the wild west, but for plinking, small game, and target shooting... it works just fine.  While we're looking at it, I will mention that the counter-bores at the rear of chambers in the cylinder for the rim of the .22 cartridge do tend to fill with dirt and residue while shooting, especially with cheap twenty-twos, so a plastic, gun-cleaning dental pick works well to clean that area out when it gets a bit tough to load cartridges.

We did take a couple of maintenance precautions based on past experience with our guns... Ruger and otherwise.  A little bit of blue, medium-strength thread-locker on the screws that hold the front sight and ejector housing in place will keep them from loosening up and just a dab of thread-locker on the pivot-pin for the rear-sight elevation will keep it from sliding out.

So whether you grew up watchin' westerns featuring the likes of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and John Ford... or you're just lookin' for a .22 pistol that feels substantial, yet natural in the hand to plink, hunt, shoot targets, or whatever... this stainless steel single-action will outlast you and your kids... so if you're looking, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a... Ruger Single-Ten.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Musings of a Vegetarian Deer Hunter...

The bumper-sticker on the back of a neighbor's ol' rusty pick-up truck up the road says, "Vegetarian: old Indian word for poor hunter."  I felt like a poor hunter at times this past week during gun season in Ohio.  No venison in the freezer so far this year.  After all the planning and trail camera snapshots of does and bucks striking a pose... I didn't see anything close enough to shoot this past week.  Fortunately, there's some additional hunting season left in December, so we'll see what comes of it.

Truthfully, most of what I love about hunting is the solitude and sanctuary out and about in God's green earth.    Sometimes I hunt with a friend or buddy... but often I hunt alone where it's just me and the good Lord to chat about life and things.  I really love the sensations found in the field and woods.  The brisk, cold air where you can see your breath as you walk into the field or woods...  Listening to the crunching and crackling of leaves beneath your boots...  Feeling the weight of your chosen boom-stick slung over your shoulder... the clean, fresh smell of the fall air filling your lungs.

Whether it's the ground blind, a tree stand, or the deer stand... I love climbing into position... getting my equipment in place and my body adjusted... and settling in to watch and wait.  Listening... watching... feeling the cold on my face...relaxing my legs... finding that perfect equilibrium of a restful, yet ready perch... and then my mind relaxes... my senses heighten... I hear things I miss in daily life... a shot off in the distance as another hunter takes a deer... the creaking and occasional crack of the trees and branches as the wind blows through the woods... a dog offering occasional barking far off in the distance.

I watch... wait... listen... and begin my musings...

My daughter is in her last year of high school... she's more than I ever could have imagined... bright, smart, beautiful, hard-working, compassionate... thank you God... but damn you time for passing so quickly.

Greg Ellifritz and James Wesley, Rawles have two of the best blogs and any prepper and/or person interested in self-defense and survival should read every post published.

It's going on a year and a half now and I keep thinking of things I should have asked my dad when I still had the chance.

I need to clean the Ruger SR-556.

The doctors better be right about that mass being a cyst... my wife is my main gal, my life, my best friend, my world... I don't show her that enough and I'd be lost without her.

I'm blessed with good friends around here... the kind that would drop and run if you needed them too.

Farming is something I miss... tillage methods have changed, but I used to love the smell of fresh, turned dirt pulling a six-bottom plow through the field... the rumbling of a diesel engine pulling hard... I could cut a pretty straight dead-furrow back in the day.

The university's finances are awfully tight and I'm a non-tenure track faculty in a small program... I need to polish-up the resume... I love teaching... but I also love working with my hands... am I too old to go back to diesel mechanic work?

What changed the deer patterns... does and bucks every night and morning on the trail cams right up until almost Thanksgiving... then nothing.  Is it the coyotes?  Is the rut just over?

How the heck did this country get in such a mess?  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." ~Proverbs 3:5

Why do we like watching the steam from our breath?

Someday, I hope my main gal and I can just spend an evening chatting with Brigid, her words always eloquent and affirm much my own thinking.  Her cooking and recipes make it rough for a dieting fool like me.

I have to get the loader on the tractor before it snows... and put up those marker stakes along the drive.

Where are the deer?

Well I've been lookin' real hard and I'm tryin' to find a job... but it just keeps gettin' tougher every day... but I got to do my part cause I know in my heart I got to please my sweet baby, yeah... well, I ain't superstitious and I don't get suspicious... but my woman is a friend of mine... and I know that it's true that all the things that I do... will come back to me in my sweet time... so keep on rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby.

Frog Lube is awesome in cold weather... thanks for the heads-up on that, Matt... I still love the smell of Hoppe's No. 9.

It's dark... no deer again... I guess... for today... at least... that ends... The Musings of a Vegetarian Deer Hunter...