A Day With Mom – Strange But Better Days

Today seemed as bright as yesterday seemed dark. I had a few errands to run and took my mom to lunch in thanks for her help wrapping presents. Afterwards we went to the range and we started teaching her to run an AR using a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22. She has a long way to go but for an almost 80 year old woman she did pretty darn well.

These are still strange days when an ex-hippy, ex-pacifist, ex-liberal old lady wants to know how to run an AR. She told me that these are dangerous times and we might all need to take up arms to defend ourselves and those we love so she better get to learning. Not exactly a positive sentiment but after enjoying a day with her, things definitely seem much brighter.

Be alert, get prepared, fight the good fight!

God bless and God save the Republic.

 

Gear Observations

For years one of the areas of preparedness that I have consistently neglected has been training. Now that Wonderful Wife working again we have some extra money I have been rectifying that situation.

I started with a basic AR class. There was very little in that class that was new to me but it was a prerequisite for the more advanced classes I want to take. Once the basic class was out of the way I was at a more advanced tactical class which involved a full day of working with several other folks on small unit tactics in some very specific scenarios. It was an eye opening and enlightening experience. I learned a ton.

One of the best things about this training is that it gives me an opportunity to use the tactical gear I have collected over time. The gear and the organization of it is based, for the most part, on knowledge picked up secondhand from sources on the interwebz. Wearing it around my office occasionally does not count as actual use.

Here are some observations on my gear choices so far.

Rifle/Carbine

With the probability of The Current Regime targeting pistol braces and AR-style pistols I got rid of my AR pistol. I don’t own anything with a barrel shorter than the proscribed 16 inches. On what I considered my primary defensive AR I had mounted a 1-8x Low Powered Variable Optic (LPVO) from Primary Arms and a two point sling.

In the close quarters scenarios we were running through this optic seemed to be less than optimal. The shorter eye relief and limited field of view really seemed to affect my situational awareness making it harder to track what was going on in a very dynamic environment. Even when I was assigned to serve as over watch I never needed to dial up the magnification. Based on these limitations, I have stripped off the LPVO and replaced it with a cheap reflex sight I had laying around. This optic has a much larger field of view than the scope or a red dot. I’ll run it in the next training classes and see how it works. If it works well I will invest in a higher quality optic from either Holosun or Eotech. Although I have been happy with the two-point sling I have been using I am going to try out a single point sling and see which works better.

Other Gear

I started the training running the Condor Modular Chest rig loaded out similarly to what this shown in this video:

I really liked having the hydration bladder as part of my gear. While others were loading bottled water into pockets or not hydrating at all (very bad) I was sipping from the two liter bladder on my back. When we were running to engaging in other physical activities I didn’t have to worry about pocketfuls of water.

What I didn’t like was having all that gear weighing me down all day. To be honest, it was pretty warm as well with all that nylon wrapped around my midsection in the Texas heat. It I was on an all day patrol there is a lot of that stuff I would need or want but for the scenarios we were working through it was too much and sometimes limited my movement.

So, I have decided to strip it down some.

Instead of the chest rig I have configured a belt loaded with Molle webbing (what some might call a war belt or battle belt) with just the bare minimum of what I thought I would need. One my left side I have two kangaroo style mag pouches (AR rifle mag pouches with three pistol mag pouches on the outside). A Gerber multi-tool goes in one of the pistol pouches and (for now) the other one empty. On the right side I have a trauma kit and a radio pouch. The trauma kit is a little different in that the tourniquet is in an outside pouch making it quicker and easier to access.

I still want to carry water in a hydration bladder so I bought a lightweight carrier with a few outside pockets. Some (but definitely not all) the gear and stuff from my chest rig has moved to those outside pockets. I have a minor first aid (booboo) kit in there, meal bars, bandanna, and a few other items. Overall I have shaved a few pounds of gear off my shoulders and decreased the insulation from the nylon around my midsection.

I also purchased some lighter gloves. I like wearing gloves when running rifle and even working around the yard but the ones I took to the training were pretty thick leather work gloves and they were pretty hot. The new ones are much lighter and more breathable but will still provide plenty of protection.

I look forward to trying out this new setup in my next training class.

What Did You Prep This Month?

The pace of our prepping has accelerated this month and we were able to accomplish quite a bit. There are two reasons for this, Wonderful Wife’s income has been mostly replaced (at least temporarily) and we feel that the likelihood of needing our preps is going up. A quick look at the news should confirm why we are thinking that.

In addition to the items listed below we have started making repairs and replacing items around the house. Better to do it now while we have the income rather than later after the economy tanks or inflation begins to skyrocket.

Walk With God

I continued praying daily for my 50 closest neighbors, five each day.

I continued my study of the Gospel of Mark.

I also continued teaching Sunday School and attending church.

Self Defense/Hunting

We are continuing to stock up on magazines that the New Regime might want to ban in the coming months. We added four Glock 17 magazines, including one 21 rounder, three standard capacity AR magazines and one more AK magazine.

Since 7.62×39 is (currently) easier to find and cheaper than 5.56 we added five 30 round mags to feed my AR chambered in this caliber.

Yes, I always mark the 7.62×39 mags with a marker but also with the yellow tape in order to avoid potentially costly or even dangerous mistakes on the range.

Supplies/Gear

Rotated the emergency pantry.

We planted peas, peppers and basil in the garden and they are (so far) coming in nicely. The Cilantro generally reseeds itself but this year came up and went to seed almost immediately. I guess due to the crazy cold we had this year but none of it was worth harvesting.

We added more water purification tablets to our stock. The snowpocalypse forced a citywide alert that the water could be contaminated. It didn’t apply to us but I am not taking any chances for future incidents. The tablets don’t take up much room, are fairly inexpensive and last a long time. We also added a Sawyer Mini to the goody bag in place of the life straws I previously kept around. I plan on testing it out as soon as I can get into the woods.

I have been adding some Molle gear to my inventory including a holster for a sidearm in preparation for some training I hope to be taking soon.

I like to keep cheap emergency ponchos in my EDC, bag and get home bags. These are basically single use items and since I used a few in recent months I replaced the ones used.

I am hoping to do a little more camping this year and decided to add a good fixed blade knife for such adventures. I chose the Gerber Strongarm and hope to do a write up on it as soon as I get out there to give it a try.

Gerber Strongarm

We are also building up our inventory of household supplies as well; toilet paper, paper towels, sugar, seasonings, dry staples, etc.

We went into a large sporting goods store looking for hiking shoes and instead stumbled on a load of ammunition. We stocked up on 300 rounds of 9mm, 200 rounds of .223 and 100 of my preferred 7.62×39.

Score!

We put together two more blowout kits and purchased another tourniquet, this one a SWAT-T. This is supposed to be a better TQ for kids and with eight grand kids I want to be ready should the need arise. Stocking up on medical supplies is going to be a key goal while we have some extra money coming in.

Security

No activity this month.

Finances

Cashed out some dividends and used it to purchase precious metals and Bitcoin as hedges against economic collapse or inflation.

Fitness/Health

I had a bad week for exercise last week but I am still working to make myself tougher to kill by getting in better shape.

With the strong probability of financial and social disasters looming on the horizon I had decided to go ahead and take care of some outstanding medical concerns so they would be out of the way if things fall apart. Originally, I had planned on spacing all this out through the year but things at work are a little slow right now so I am taking care of all of them now. Just this month I have had an appointment with the Gastroenterologist for a check on my liver and a colonoscopy, a cardiologist to check my heart and lungs for any issues, and a urologist to check for kidney stones or cancer. The results on the kidney stones are back and, yup, like I told him (he didn’t believe me) I have three. I’ll have more information next week after another appointment with him.

***

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this month. How about you? What did you Prep this month?

Take care and God Bless

Range Report: New Rifle Choices

Back in July, I started rethinking my optics choices for a self-defense rifle (Rethinking My (Rifle) Optic Choices). The concern, was that a Low Powered Variable Optic (LPVO) while an exceptionally good choice for a combat weapon may not be the best choice for a home defense rifle. By nature a rifle used for home defense would be, almost without exception, used for close quarters encounters. and the optic should be optimized for that role.

By September I made the decision to not only change the optic but to change the rifle underneath it as well (Rifle Optic Choices – Rethought). For home defense, a short barreled rifle (actually a pistol by US law) would be better than a full length carbine (10.5″ barrel vs. 16″). I decided to stay with 5.56/.233 as the primary caliber. Reduced penetration through barriers and effectiveness at the ranges involved contributed to that decision. The optic is an open reflex sight with a large “dot in donut” reticle.

This thinking was all well and good but pretty worthless until tested out. So, off to the range I went.

The first step was to zero the new optic. I zeroed the optic at 25 yards which would be the longest shot possible on my suburban property. The zeroing process was smooth and trouble free (other than the tiny little holes this caliber makes. I needed a spotting scope even at that distance to get the job done. The range I went to was not equipped to allow me to test the zero at shorter distances than 25 yards but I was able to push it out to 50 and 100 yards. In both cases (and surprisingly) it hit a little high at both distances. Not enough to require me to compensate on center mass shots but for head shots I would have to adjust point of aim a bit.

The next step was function testing the new upper receiver (actually these happened simultaneously). I was initially surprised because although it was functional the bolt didn’t seem to be moving as it should. I pulled it apart and took a look and realized it was user error. The upper was not lubricated at the factory and I had not oiled it either. A few drops of oil from out of the range bag and everything was working perfectly. Several hundred rounds later, there were still no issues. I would always like to send more rounds downrange but I think we can call this one good to go.

In terms of performance for its intended purpose, yes, it is much faster for target acquisition at close quarters. Yes, it is easier to run the gun at those distances with both eyes open. So, for this specific use case, home defense, this is definitely a superior solution.

I did bring my 16″ carbine topped with a LPVO out to the range with me as well so I could run them side by side.

Guess what?

At longer distances the LPVO was definitely the superior choice. If I were in need of a “battle rifle” for use in “the field” I believe this would be my preferred configuration. The longer barrel of the carbine gives better performance. The LPVO would allow me to make reliable hits on chest sized targets out to 200 yards and minute of man hits out to 300 yards.

Fortunately, (current) US gun laws are such that I can keep both and grab the one that would be most useful depending on the situation.

Take care and God bless.

 

Rifle Optic Choices – Rethought

As I mentioned in my post about a month ago, Rethinking My (Rifle) Optic Choices, I have been a proponent of Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO) on rifles for quite a while. In fact I was a fan before it was “the latest thing.” But, after a training session last month I began to rethink my choice and after a month of thinking it over I have decided on my direction moving forward.

Note, this post is strictly related to rifles and carbines used for defensive purposes. It has no bearing on what I use when hunting or target shooting. My mission is to defend my home and loved ones from those who would do us serious harm or bodily injury. I am not a war-fighter tasked with seeking out and engaging the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. I live in a suburban neighborhood of single family homes. The terrain is flat but heavily wooded. The absolute longest shot possible (from the treeline at one end of the street to the houses at the opposite end) is about 300-325 yards. From the street in front of my house the longest shot possible in either direction is around 250 yards. The longest shot possible from my front porch is under 60 yards. In reality most engagements I can foresee would be well under 45 yards with a maximum of maybe 65. Basically, this is close quarters combat, or CQB.

In this environment, I think the speed and CQB advantages of the red dot or reflex sight is more important than the flexibility offered by the LPVO. Based on this I am changing up my home defense setup a bit (as soon as I can get to the range to sight everything in and test it out).

First, I will use my short barreled, 10.5 inch, AR for self-defense purposes in place of the 16 inch carbine. Yup, I will be giving up some velocity but will be gaining a shorter, lighter, and more maneuverable weapon more suited to close quarters. No it won’t have the range of the carbine but within the confines of a suburban home/neighborhood I see that as an acceptable trade off. As with my current carbine setup, it will be loaded with .223 hollow points from Hornady which should be pretty effective rounds against anything short of Level III plate armor.

Second, I will be topping it with a reflex sight from Holosun. Nope, it is not as solid as a Trijicon or Aimpoint but this isn’t a rifle that will be taking a beating. It will sit in the safe except for training sessions and should the need arise to defend those I love. For that I like the green reticle, long battery life and instant on technology.

Third, given the nature of the optic, the backup iron sights will be usable without removing the optic and a decent set has already been installed and will be zeroed in along with the reflex sight next trip to the range.

Since this is (for now) still the USA and I have the right to own as many firearms as I want the carbine is not going anywhere. It will remain as it is configured with the LPVO and ready should my needs change or as a backup for someone else’s use. It will actually remain my primary self defense long gun until I can get to the range to function check and zero the new setup.

(Note: Wonderful Wife has her own carbine. It is set up for her thee way she likes it and I won’t change anything on it unless she wants me to.)

So, that’s my rethought. As always I am open to suggestions and thoughts.

 

What Did You Prep This Month?

It doesn’t really fit into any of my standard categories but we spent some time cleaning up and de-cluttering around the house. A lot of this is old junk that needed to be donated to someone who can use it. Some belongs to our kids who (like their Dad) seem to leave more than they take with them when they move out of the house.

Walk With God

I finished another two rounds of praying for my 100 closest neighbors.

I continued with my Bible study of the book of Revelation.

I also continued teaching Sunday School and attending church. We are still virtual for both.

Self Defense/Hunting

I remodeled my AK pattern rifle to be a more effective weapon. Changes included a new hand guard that allows the mounting of a white light and an optic. A new pistol grip and butt stock for slightly better ergonomics and a sling. I need to get to the range to sight it in and make sure it is good to go.

I also added a few additional AK magazines to the inventory since this is now set up for defensive use.

To feed it, I found some 7.62×39 ammo at close to normal prices to added 500 rounds to the inventory.

I already had a short barreled 5.56 upper already but I never really shoot it or use it for much of anything. I don’t know if you have ever used a super short 5.56 but that sucker is loud. I’m talking ear plugs under ear muffs loud. In fact, I have been asked to either stop shooting it or leave a few indoor ranges because of the concussion and noise. I still like the idea of a shorter barrel for home defense so I picked up an upper with a 10.5 inch barrel. Those three extra inches make a world of difference in noise reduction and add quite a bit of velocity as well. Again, I need to get to the range to test it out and zero it in.

Supplies/Gear

We continued to stock up on long terms foods such as canned goods, dried beans, dried peas and pasta.

Given that we had two tropical systems in the gulf at the same time I went ahead and had my generator fixed so I will be ready for any power outages. This is something that has been on my “to do” list for quite a while and not it is off. I also topped off our fuel storage to make sure we have a good supply on hand to run the generator.

Topped off all fuel storage and bought another 5 gallon gas can in preparation for Hurricane Laura.

Security

OK, so I may have purchased another set of armor. I saw a special that included anti-spall coated level III plates, a carrier, elbow and knee pads for a good price. Unlike the IIIa plates I purchased previously, these are rated to protect against rifle rounds. The soft armor I purchased last month is only rated for edged weapons and pistol rounds. The knee pads will probably see the most use of all that gear as they will be used when when working in the garden and around the house. I wish I had invested in a set when we were rebuilding after Harvey. The steel plates will probably be used for exercise more than anything else but they were about half the cost of other similar offerings.

Finances

Ordered  silver coins for the kids and grandkids for Christmas. With the prices going up and availability going down we wanted to make sure we could get them this year.

We continued down the course on putting as much as we can into savings. We are on track to replenish our savings to pre-car purchase levels before Christmas (as long as we can keep our jobs).

Fitness/Health

I am cutting down on sodas (cokes for those of us from the south) and limiting myself to 1 (or less) per day and to drink diet soda when I can make myself. I have also started a workout plan (as regular readers will be painfully aware).

Of everything in this post, besides my walk with God, I think this is probably the most important step I took this month towards being better prepared.

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this month. How about you? What did you Prep this month?

Take care and God Bless

Rethinking My (Rifle) Optic Choices

I have been a big proponent of Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs) since before they became the darling of the industry. Since I was using the AR platform for hunting in conditions ranging from dense brush with visibility measured in feet instead of yards to open fields where 200 yard shots were possible this type of optic made a lot of sense. Based on that experience that became the “go to” optic for my self defense rifles as well.

I am rethinking (second guessing) whether or not that is really the best choice for me.

The primary purpose of my rifle is for self-defense. My mission is to defend my home and loved ones from those who would do us serious harm or bodily injury. I am not a war-fighter tasked with seeking out and engaging the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. I live in a suburban neighborhood of single family homes. The terrain is flat but heavily wooded. The absolute longest shot possible (from the treeline at one end of the street to the houses at the opposite end) is about 300-325 yards. From the street in front of my house the longest shot possible in either direction is around 250 yards. The longest shot possible from my front porch is under 60 yards. In reality most engagements I can foresee would be under 45 yards with a maximum of maybe 65.

Given the relatively short distances involved, I don’t know that I really a 1×8 scope for the rifle and could use a reflex sight instead. Here are my options and what I see as the pros and cons of each.

Classic red dot:

Classic Red Dot Optic

The classic red dot is simple, easy to use and fairly cheap. They are fine for the distances I would be dealing with. Most classic red dots offer a 20-22 mm objective lens which can make it tough to run with both eyes open and can lead to “tunnel vision” when running one. The eye relief is unlimited so head/eye placement is not critical.

Low Power Variable Optic:

Variable Low Power Optic

These are an excellent choice for intermediate or longer distances. And can be run reasonably well at shorter distances. Probably the least effective choice for close quarters due to the limited eye relief and “tunnel vision.” Although the ones I use have an reticle etched into the glass the only way to run backup iron sight would be with an offset mount for the sights or offset sights that would place the sights at an angle and not co-witness through the glass.

Open Reflex site:

Open Reflex Sight

Larger and more bulky that the classic red dot, they also offer a much larger objective lens (around 34×24 mm) which means a larger field of view. The larger field of view makes it easier to run with both eyes open and reduces the tendency to focus through the optic (tunnel vision). Eye relief is unlimited and most offer a reticle that combines a dot for precise shot placement and a larger circle for speed at closer quarters. With the wider field of view and the lack of a “tube” co-witnessing with iron sights is really easy.

What are your thoughts? Post in the comments below.

Take care and God bless.

Training Program: Update 7/15/20

Early last month I posted (link) that two of my sons in law, my son and I were all about to kickoff a training program to improve our self-defense and operational skills and I wanted to provide an update.

First off, we lost two of our number. For various reasons my son and one of my sons in law changed their minds and have decided they are not able to participate. One was not a surprise (actually, expected) but I was very disappointed my son backed out. The remaining member of our little band is the one I would count on the most in a dangerous situation so that is a good thing.

Before my son dropped out we met and agreed on the training plan and approach. We also discussed the gear selection and basic load outs we want to work towards:

Gear Selection/Load Out:

    • Glock 17 or 19 with three magazines. We will use Glock 17 magazines for interoperability. and we will both carry them outside the waistband on the strong side.
    • AR-15 in 5.56/.223 with three magazines.
    • Slings, optics, mag carriers and other basics will be up to the individual.

We decided on all this when we were still a band of three.

Training Session 1:

Our first training session went slightly differently than expected.

The batteries were dead in the rangefinder and I did not bring a tape measure as a backup so we were estimating on distances. I planned on using the shot time app on my phone but found that it did not work very well (hardware issue with the microphone on the device). I verified that the holster I was planning to use with the Glock 19 would work with the red dot. I did not verify that it would work with the suppressor height sights I installed to co-witness with the red dot so I worked the drills with the SIG P365 instead of the Glock 19. I also forgot to pack targets for sighting in our rifles. That didn’t turn out to be that big a deal as we spent a lot more time working with pistols instead of the rifles.

I worked with my son in law (Moose) on his grip. He has never taken any pistol training so this was all new to him. Once we had the grip down and ran through some drills to reinforce this skill we move on to the draw stroke. Again this was all new to him and we spent a lot of time practicing this as well. In fact this is what we spent most of our time on.

We did go over reloads and failure drills, but only briefly as it was getting late in the day and the heat was starting to get the better of us.

We did not have any time for any serious work with the rifles. We did review the manual of arms (basic operation) of both the AR and the AK. We will be training with and using the AR platform but I thought it would be useful to review both. You never know when you might need to use something that is not your primary platform. We also spent enough time working with the rifles that Moose realized some of the choices he mad with his rifle may have been sub-optimal. For example, a long, heavy barrel sounds good until you are lugging it around all day. He may well either reconfigure his existing upper or buy/build a shorter, lighter upper for this role. He purchased some ammo from a “friend” and discovered that his rifle did not run it well. There was some sort of corrosion on the (nickel-plated steel) cases that could have been the issue. It seemed to run fine with both the brass and steel cased ammo I brought along.

This is a perfect example of not betting your life on untested equipment and ammo. This would have been a very bad thing to find out in a life or death situation.

Overview:

All in all I am pleased with the progress we have made so far. We both learned a few things, sharpened our skill sets and had a lot of fun. Now that he knows some of the proper techniques Moose will, hopefully, continue to practice at home (with an empty firearm) and his times and accuracy will improve.

I am a little disappointed that my son did not make this a priority because I think he would have learned a lot and improved on some critical skills.

Next time out we will practice these skills some more and measure ourselves against the standards we decided on. Hopefully, we will be able to add in some additional skills such as shooting while moving and start working seriously with the rifles.

Take care and God bless

What Did You Prep This Month?

Walk With God

Completed another round of praying for my 100 closest neighbors. Completed studies of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Continued teaching Sunday School and attending church.

Self Defense/Hunting

I replaced the triggers in two of my ARs. The trigger on one I was trying to sight in was pretty atrocious so I bought an ALG Combat Trigger that I noticed as being on sale for a good price. When I went to install it I found I had already purchased one for this rifle and had forgotten about it. So, I installed one on my AR pistol as well. The ACT keeps the trigger milspec in perms of pull (around 5.5 lbs) but smooths it out a good bit and the parts are coated and hardened. They also include a lighter spring but I don’t install those as they can be a problem with milspec (especially former combloc manufacture) ammunition.

I picked up two different Outside The Waistband  holsters that I saw on sale over Christmas. I liked the design and the price was pretty attractive so I grabbed them. I can wear them with a jacket or un-tucked shirt and still conceal pretty nicely.

Supplies/Gear

We restocked the Emergency Pantry earlier in the month. A week ago we rotated food into the primary pantry and made a shopping list to restock what we have used. It will probably be next month before I get a chance to do that.

Security

I bought a 5.56 upper receiver for my son (Christmas present). His AR is in 300 BLK. Should “something really bad” happen we will have ammunition and magazine compatibility for our rifles. My most favored son in law, Moose, already has a 5.56 AR so we are all good to go there. Two of the three of us also have 9mm Glocks to the same type of interoperability for our pistols as well. My son has a 9mm handgun but it is a different brand. Should “something really bad” happen I do have a spare Glock that he could use.

Finances

Christmas…not much added to savings but the kids and grand kids were pretty excited and happy. Each one of my kids and grand kids received a one ounce silver coin in addition to toys, gadgets and gizmos.

Fitness/Health

Totally fallen off the wagon and gaining weight again…

I have cut back on sodas with the idea of limiting them to one a day and drinking a lot more water. I had started walking again but a combination of being sick and buried with holiday stuff (and work) cut that short.

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this month. How about you? What did you Prep this month?

Take care and God Bless