HomePosts Tagged "Firearms"

In the previous article, we discussed what gunsmithing is, and saw that it had three components, tools, knowledge and skills.  We started out by looking at some of the universal basic tools of gunsmithing.  In part two, after some final thoughts on tools, we’ll look at knowledge and skills needed in gunsmithing.

Other Tool Considerations

In most cases, a firearm will come with everything securely fastened in place.  If you remove a screw which was “Loc-Tited” in place, you should have a little tube of Loctite on hand to allow you to refasten it.  If a part is “staked” in place (surrounding metal is “mushed” into the part), don’t remove it unless you know what you are doing and have the appropriate staking tool.

A set of magnifying glasses or an Optivisor can help you see small details better, and safety glasses will ensure you can keep seeing anything.  If lighting at your work station will be a problem, a small, bright “headlight” would be in order.   I find the Bushnell headlamps to be small, light, very useful and dirt cheap.

So far we have discussed a good beginning set of general tools for testing, basic maintenance, disassembly and reassembly.  If you get good quality tools and shop wisely, you should be able to get started for well under $400 (not including headspace gauges) and probably under $200 if you go with medium quality.  As to “specialty” tools for each firearm you intend to work on, the trick is to have the ones you need and not waste money on ones for tasks or firearms which are not in your current plans.

If you are going to start changing things while you are inside the firearm, the general tool list gets bigger (and more expensive too).  Here is a gunsmith tool set recommended by AGI, one of the better “distance” gunsmith schools, for a “professional” gunsmith.  The video on the page has more information about the recommended tools than does the printed list and is interesting to watch.

All of the tools they include are “general purpose” tools, so their set does not include any specialized tools for particular models or classes of firearms, which is completely understandable.  They don’t have a clue what firearms you will work on or what procedures you will do.  I think the $2000 estimate mentioned is quite low if you get good quality tools (some of the ones they show look like they could have come from a “bargain bin”), and if you add specialized tools, the total tends to really zoom upwards.  In case you were wondering what the top end training package which includes all these tools as well as all the training runs, it is $15,000.  But unless you are becoming a “professional” (when there are tax deductions and professional discounts available), you don’t need all these tools or education to begin with.  Get the basics, and add the other items as you need them.

Some of the tools you can get from common tool sources, or Amazon or eBay.  For some of the more esoteric ones you will probably have to go to a gunsmith tool supplier.  Brownells used to be the standard for gunsmith tools, and they are still around today, although the ratings of some of their tools seem to indicate the quality of some items may have declined.  I really don’t know of another “go to” place for specialty tools, although many of the standard tools and a few specialty tools are available from online firearms stores such as Midway or Optics Planet, or my new favorite, Primary Arms.  Let your fingers do the walking through the internet.

It is a good idea to have a specific container and location for your gunsmithing tools.  If you mix them in with your “regular” tools, you will tend to use them for non-gunsmithing tasks, and they can get scattered or worn out early.  If your set is fairly small, a portable tool case or pouch may do.  For a medium-sized set, a multi-drawer toolbox or two is just the ticket.  I used a four drawer toolbox for assembly, disassembly, lubrication, adjustment and measuring tools and supplies, and a three drawer one with tools and supplies for making modifications, which worked out perfectly for my needs and still could be carried in one trip.  For a large or professional set, you want a room or part of a room, with workbench, power tool stands, peg board and tool drawer systems.

Knowledge

This one is tricky.  For convenience, we divide this into “general” and “specific”.  General knowledge is the “basics”; including types of firearms and how each type works (or is supposed to work), basic tools and their usage, “universal” disassembly, reassembly and minor modifications.  This will be covered in a good gunsmithing curriculum, or you can get a good handle on this from books, internet articles and online videos.


Gunsmithing the AR-15, The Bench Manual

“Specific” knowledge is knowledge some of which you don’t need – until you do.  For instance, details of a specific model firearm you don’t have any immediate plans to work on or a specific procedure which you don’t currently plan to perform.  Since it is somewhat impractical to learn it all (and remember it 10 years later when you finally need it), generally this is best covered (or relearned) by reference books (paper or online) which you refer to as needed.  If you plan to specialize (use some specific knowledge a lot), then learning that subset of specific knowledge would seem the only practical methodology.  In this case, you may be able to get it from self-study, or you may be better served going to classes in that area of study.

For classes in gunsmithing, there are a number of possibilities.  If you have a local gunsmithing school or junior college/trade school/specialty school which offers courses, that may be a viable option.  It will be expensive and probably take up to two years for a degree, although a “certificate” may be a shorter time option.  If you don’t have live classes locally, then generally attending classes “away” is not practical, since not only are there the tuition costs, but lodging and other expenses.  Not to mention existing and temporary employment.  In the “old days”, they had mail order courses, which have been replaced with online training and DVD based training.  If you can keep engaged, some can provide INFORMATION as well as or even better than local “live” classes (you can repeat something as many times as you need), but there are some severe weaknesses.  Many of these don’t have a method for you to get questions answered, and none provide guided “hands-on” experience.

As a point for comparison, AGI’s basic “108 hour” video course is about $5000.  On the other hand, Phoenix State University claims their online training is “the best and quickest and cheapest”, at $99 for the basic certification, $149 for the intermediate one and $199 for the top one.  I’ve always heard that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true”, and that seems to be the case with PSU, based on the huge number of similar complaints (them not providing what was promised and using delaying tactics until the grace period for a refund has expired) I found about them.  A legitimate online course seems to run about $1500.

The instructions which come with specialized tools you buy is “knowledge”.  As a hint, store them in a good location.  When I dusted off my set, I found that I had forgotten not only how to use some of the specialized tools, but even what they were for.  If the instructions had not been in one of the drawers of the toolbox, I might still be trying to figure a couple of them out.

Skills

“Skill” is the difference between “knowing how to do something” and “being able to do it”.  If you have a fair amount of mechanical experience, you might be able to become competent at many gunsmithing skills fairly quickly through trial and error.  If you are not mechanically-minded, you will likely need to be shown how to do something, and then practice it.  The best place for this is gunsmith classes which have guided “laboratory” sessions.  If you have a school locally, at a reasonable price, you are lucky.  Otherwise, online or video classes may be able to show you what to do, but you won’t be able to do it until you have done it, and that may take someone who has done it before watching over your shoulder or even guiding your hands.  You may be able to find a local gunsmith who will work with you; perhaps even set up an apprentice relationship.

The other option is just to try things on your own.  Here’s a hint:  the first time you try something, don’t try it on an expensive firearm or critical firearm part…  In fact, go to gun shows and get the cheapest beaters you can find, even non-working or partial ones, to practice on.  To learn skills, videos are often better than written descriptions; being set up in front of the TV screen is about as close as you can get to a live expert present.

To be clear, there is no “distance” course which can provide you skills.  The best ones can guide you in attaining the skills on your own.

Parts

A functioning firearm generally has all the parts it needs included.  But parts break or wear out.  And if you take the firearm apart, small parts can get lost.  Sometimes stock parts are sub-standard, such as the MIM (Metal Injection Molded) extractor in modern Remington 870s replacing the machined part in older production.  Many aftermarket companies put out parts which are easier to use, more accurate, more durable or just cooler looking.  Improving the functionality of a firearm, such as replacing the safety with an extended version, is often wise.  For disaster planning, having some spares for firearm parts which are at risk of breaking or loss is wise.  Things like a firing pin, extractor, and springs and pins seem a good choice, and usually are not terribly costly.  Some sources even have gathered together a set of parts in an “Oops Kit”.

Gunsmithing, Why Bother?

You may have noticed that I am suggesting that you spend money on tools and possibly education, and perhaps worse, a significant amount of time.  Presumably you are already spending money on getting survival supplies and time learning survival skills; I’m not saying this is MORE important than any other skill or equipment.  But if you plan on relying on firearms in a crisis situation, you had better be able to keep them working, and if one happens to stop working (or if you come across one which is not working), get it working again.  It might even save you money in the long run if you don’t have to always go running to an expensive gunsmith when a firearm needs repair or modifications for optimal utility.  It can be a source of extra income or an alternate career.  Even if you can’t see gunsmithing as a worthwhile part of your personal survival plans, remember that gunsmithing will be a “primitive profession” which will have a lot of value in bartering in a post apocalypse world.

In the previous article, we discussed what gunsmithing is, and saw that it had three components, tools, knowledge and skills.  We started out by looking at some of the universal

What is “Gunsmithing”? It is the process of repairing or modifying firearms. You can do it on your own firearms without any problem, and you might be able to do it for friends and family, especially if you don’t get paid for it. But if you do it as a “business”, then you will need to be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

There are three aspects necessary to do successful gunsmithing: Knowledge (what to do), Skill (capability to do it) and Tools (what to do it with).

Tools are perhaps the “easiest” aspect to achieve. After all, it is a binary condition. You have the tools you need or you don’t have them. If you need a tool and don’t have it, all you need to do is track it down, and be able to afford to buy it (or rent it or borrow it) or be able to make it.

Tools for Disassembly and Reassembly

Gunsmithing tools are often similar to “regular” tools, but sometimes there is that slight, critical difference. For instance, the “first” type of tool to consider is the lowly screwdriver. No you can’t go down to the big box store and buy their no-name cheap screwdriver set. Or go to the fancy tool store and buy their top-of-the-line screwdriver set. Most “regular” screwdriver sets have a limited number of sizes AND their blade shape is a blunt wedge (taper ground). And this is a recipe for disaster when working on firearms. They have a lot of screws, often of the slotted persuasion, and in a wide number of sizes. Your “standard” tapered screwdriver set probably won’t have a blade of the right thickness or width, and without this degree of fit, the screwdriver will mar up the slot. Even if by some lucky coincidence the screwdriver is the right size, the tapered sides of the blade have a tendency to cam the blade out of the slot, which messes up the top edge of the slot. And firearm screws are often blued so any marks you make tend to really stand out. If you are looking at a gun with buggered up screws, the odds are someone who did not know what they were doing (and had the wrong tools) has been monkeying around inside of it (or failed to get inside).

What you need is a screwdriver set with a wide number of sizes AND parallel sides (called “hollow ground”). Because of the number of sizes, the best choice is usually a set with one or more handles and a large number of bits.

Their beginner’s sets are not cheap, and their top of the line set with 75 standard, 4 Phillips, 17 hex (Allen), 11 Torx®, and 13 specialty bits for sights, scope mounts, grip bushings, Ruger ejectors, and other unique applications, along with 7 assorted handles, runs $320. You can get cheaper hollow ground sets, but they usually won’t have the variety of bits and may be of lower quality than the Brownells sets, but can still be quite adequate. It is a reasonable methodology to start out with a small set, and add additional bits as you need them, although when you find you need a bit, you “should” stop what you are doing until you can get the correct bit. But this is often unacceptable in the real world. If you are gunsmithing professionally, get every bit you can; otherwise, get any new bits you need every time you access a new firearm. If there is a bit which you use “a lot”, having a spare of that bit is wise. Note that if you don’t have the right sized bit, you can grind a bigger one to size.

You may find some Phillips screws, particularly in rifle stocks, and Allen (hex) screws have become fairly common. Thus having Phillips screwdrivers (or bits) and a set of Allen wrenches is recommended. Allen bits are available, but the “L” shaped wrenches tend to be more durable.

Another thing found in abundance in firearms are “pins”. These can be solid or “roll” pins. To get them out and back in, you need the “second” type of tool to consider, a set of punches in various sizes. For solid, flat end pins, you use flat face, constant diameter “pin” punches. For roll pins, roll pin punches with a little bump in the middle of the face are strongly suggested. If you will be doing a lot of roll pins, a set of roll pin “holders” would make things easier; since each holds the pin in position and drives it part way through. Occasionally you will have a pin with a rounded end, and a “cup” face punch is optimal for these. If you have a pin which is stuck or extra tight, a “starting” punch is often suggested, but I don’t trust these. They are tapered, and although they do reduce the chances of bending or breaking a punch, only the face is the correct diameter, and I’m concerned they could deform the pin hole. Pin punches come in various lengths; shorter ones tend to be more durable, but if not long enough to drive the pin all the way out, less useful. A non-marring (brass) pin punch set may be useful, but for me, the deformation they could suffer outweighs the low mar factor they offer. However, a non-marring “drift” punch of brass or nylon (or both) should definitely be included.

Weaver Deluxe Gunsmith Tool Kit – beginner set with basic tools.

By themselves, punches are of limited use. When driving a pin in or out, you need a way to provide some impact force to the punch, and you need something to support what you are driving the pin out of, and a place for the pin to go without running into anything. These aspects are provided by a small hammer or mallet, with brass and sometimes rubber or plastic faces, and a “bench block” with holes you can drive the pins into.

To handle small parts, a selection of hemostats, large tweezers and precision “needle nose” pliers is in order. I also include a pair of parallel jaw pliers, a small Vise-Grip and a strip of thick, raw leather (to protect the part from the Vise-Grips) in my pliers assortment, but these are usually not required for normal disassembly or assembly. Assorted picks and probes can help you get gunk out of a tight space as well as help to manipulate small parts.

These are the “universal” basic disassembly/assembly tools. Specific firearms sometimes have specialized tools which make it easier (or in some cases “possible”) to disassemble or reassemble that firearm or class of firearm. If you will be working on that particular firearm, some of its specialized tools could be considered “basic”.

Tools for Maintenance and Testing

In order to keep a firearm functioning optimally, you need to maintain it. Maintenance usually involves cleaning it after use (or after it is exposed to an adverse environment). A cleaning kit is in order to clean out the bore. This includes some solvent, a caliber specific set of patches (squares of cloth), “mops” (fuzzy cylinders) and (soft) wire brushes, and a rod to push these items through the bore. Cleaning rods can damage the muzzle (and thus accuracy), so some sets have a bore guide included in them; some others use a coated rod or a very soft rod material. Some sets, particularly those intended to be carried with you, use a cable to pull the cleaning elements through the bore instead of a rod used to push. Alternatively, some people prefer to use a “bore snake” these days, claiming these pull-through combinations of mop and brush are quicker and safer (than rods). To clean the rest of the gun, a selection of brushes and cloths is in order.

The bore of a firearm is critical to its performance, so a way to check out its condition is necessary if you are considering acquiring a particular firearm. And for that matter, after you clean the bore, you want to check that you did a good job and that no damage has occurred over time. The reasonably priced way to do this is with a bore light; a lighted bulb which fits, or a drives a fiber optic tube which directs the light, into the bore. Alternatively, you can use a mirror, prism or “light pipe” to direct an external light source into the bore. For the well-heeled, there are even “bore camera” systems. If you see crud in there, you need to do (or redo) bore cleaning to get the crud out so you can see if there is any damage under the crud.

Once you get a firearm clean, you want to lubricate it with the appropriate grease and/or oil, and perhaps give it a wipe down with oil or other protectant to provide some protection against rust to the finish.

If the firearm is operating correctly for you, then it is sort of “self-testing”. If there is a new (to you) firearm for which you want to verify the functioning, or an existing one which it seems might be having problems, testing is in order. For testing feeding function safely, some “dummy rounds” are wise. Polymer dummies are cheap, but I prefer machined aluminum ones, or even better (if you can still find them these days), ones made of actual brass and bullets, but of course, no primer. Avoid ones which are “painted”, as the paint tends to flake off in the firearm. If you reload, you could even make your own; just mark them so you can tell them from active ammo at a glance. For testing the hammer and/or trigger function safely, a brightly colored “snap cap” (or six, for revolvers) would be useful. In order to verify a firearm is correctly headspaced and thus safe to fire, “GO” and “NOGO” gauges for that caliber are useful but costly. A complete set for a caliber, with GO (measures against the minimum factory specification), NOGO (measures against the maximum factory specification) and FIELD (measures against the maximum safe headspace after lots of use) will probably run $90 or more. You can buy the gauges individually, but do NOT mix brands of gauges for a caliber.

This is a good starting set of tools. Tune in next time for a discussion of Knowledge and Skills.

What is “Gunsmithing”? It is the process of repairing or modifying firearms. You can do it on your own firearms without any problem, and you might be able to do

Packing heat is always a good idea because you never know what this world is going to throw at you next. Revolvers make an excellent choice as a Concealed Carry Weapon, backup or self-defense piece. Here are seven reasons why the wheel gun excels.

Dependability

Revolvers have the earned reputation of being dependable under pressure.

A wheel gun can put up with a lot more abuse than an auto-loader. Drop it in the dirt. Roll it around in the mud. It is still going to function. Semi-autos are a lot more finicky about dirt and dust.

Even a cheap revolver is going to shoot a round that fits correctly in a cylinder chamber. New ammo or reloads, it does not matter. You can mix loads too. Load the first one or two out the barrel with a hot JHP to avoid over-penetration. Then, lower power loads behind that like lead ball to fill the rest of the cylinder.

Auto-loaders definitely express preferences in ammo. I once had a 1911 that digested factory JHP and FMJ just fine. Drop some hand-loaded round ball and it jammed every time.

 

 

Revolvers do not jam. Auto-loaders can. Misfeeds can be caused by a bent lip that you didn’t notice before slapping a new mag home or a weak mag spring. Auto-loaders are also susceptible to “limp wristing”, a problem that a revolver never has.

Fits your hand better

Even a cheap revolver is going to shoot a round that fits correctly in a cylinder chamber. New ammo or reloads, it does not matter.

Revolvers come in all sizes from the diminutive North American Arms .22 and .22 Mag to the behemoth North American Arms BFR in .45-70
Auto-loaders do get small, but not as small as the NAA revolver.
The BFR is not suited for concealed carry, unless you are about 12 feet tall. A lot of people say the NAA revolvers are also not suited for concealed carry. If you must have maximum concealment and minimum size, the NAA offers fit both categories. If the choice is between no gun or an NAA revolver, these pocket powerhouses win every time.

Read More: Top 5 Firearms you need to get your hands on now!

Auto-loaders do not reach the sheer size of the BFR either.
A new generation of auto-loaders with different grips is out. Revolvers have had this for years and the choices are much broader.
A good revolver will also fit in the best hunting backpacks as a backup.

Shooter Friendly

 

Light loads are the perfect way to get used to shooting a revolver and to teach newbies. Shoot light and carry hot.

The revolver is more shooter friendly than an auto-loader. Because the revolver does not require recoil or gas to cycle, you can load revolver rounds very light. If you load auto-loader rounds light, you run the risk of a jam. The slide may not come all the way back. It may come back just far enough to begin the ejection of spent brass, but not complete it. There is another jam.
Light loads are the perfect way to get used to shooting a revolver and to teach newbies. Shoot light and carry hot.

Auto-loaders have a slide that comes back to cycle the weapon. More than one person has been pinched by the slide, usually because of limp wristing.

Easier to repair

A revolver has just a few parts. Most revolver parts can be milled in short order by any good metal shop.

Greater Durability

Revolvers have the least chance of failure of any handgun except single shots and the derringer.

The revolver is older than the auto-loader. What we know from a century of using both firearms is that the revolver lasts longer. Shooting does wear both firearms, but a well-built wheelmen will last longer than all but the most expensive semis.

The move to polymer parts on handguns in the semis is another reason many of these guns will not last as long as a wheelgun. Plastic, call it what it is, won’t hold up the way steel does.

Put another way, revolvers have the least chance of failure of any handgun except single shots and the derringer.

Safer

The revolver does not have a safety by and large. A few, like the Heritage rim-fire, do have a safety, but this is not common. Why no safety? Not needed. To make the revolver fire, the hammer-firing pin has to hit the primer hard enough to effect a detonation.

Double action revolvers do take some strength to pull that trigger to cock the hammer. Single action means you have to manually cock the hammer.

If the hammer is back, you know the gun is ready to fire. In a semi auto, especially with no exposed hammer, you have no idea if the gun is ready to fire.

Easier to Clean

Cleaning a wheelgun means running a patch down the barrel and through the cylinder chambers. Cleaning an auto means field stripping and putting it back together. For experienced shooters, this is not a problem. For someone who is new to guns, it can be daunting.

Law Friendly

Getting a permit to carry a revolver is easier in states that link a carry permit to the type of gun. Even New Jersey is more likely to issue a permit for a wheelgun than an auto. If you live in a state where the permit is keyed to you instead of the gun, a revolver still makes a good choice.

Conceal-ability

Hiding a revolver is easy. Modern holsters hide the profile very well. The holsters also come with features that make the holster snag in your pocket when drawing. You come out with the gun, the leather stays behind.

Revolvers also carry well in a shoulder holster, if that’s your thing.

I carry a Cobra hammerless snub .38 in a Bianchi 152 holster. The pistol is rated for +P ammo. The little holster fits most snubs. This is the second .38 snub I’ve had as a carry piece. The first one was traded to lady who wanted something for her purse and had a rifle I wanted. If I ever trade this one, its replacement will be a .357 snub hammerless or shrouded hammer. That way I can carry .38 Smith & Wesson, .38 Short Colt, .38 Special or .357.

 

 

 

Packing heat is always a good idea because you never know what this world is going to throw at you next. Revolvers make an excellent choice as a Concealed Carry

The world of Survival and Prepping Bloggers is pretty diverse. There are those who will say that they are only talking intelligently about preparing without any of the fear as if fear somehow makes prepping less relevant.

There are those who are on the opposite of the spectrum and almost daily warn of impending doom around every corner. In our broad sphere of influence you have Preppers, Survivalists, Homesteaders, Back to the Land types, current and ex-military, Off-Grid, Anti-government, Sustainable living, farmers, militia and all other points in between.

The largest majority in my experience are just regular folks who don’t want to be caught off guard if some emergency happens. Like the Prepper versus Survivalist argument, there are a lot of sides to any one topic.

With each of those sides come opinions and you know what they say about opinions.

 

 

When it comes to opinions I have more than my fair share and right or wrong they are what guide me on just about every decision.

My opinion from time to time has gotten me in trouble with some who read this blog and as long as the conversation stays civil, which I think it always has, that is perfectly fine to me. Now, I would like to think I am wise enough to realize when my opinion is wrong and be mature enough to change my mind. This to me makes perfect sense. If you learn something that wasn’t known to you before that completely alters your understanding and yet you refuse to change your beliefs out of stubborn pride then you deserve whatever you get.

Opinions in my opinion aren’t hard and fast rules. Opinions can change over time.

Speaking of opinions, there are some people in the Prepper community that absolutely abhor guns. They may each have their reasons, but usually they are convinced that a gun is not necessary for protection or survival. I had a reader send me in this question:

Does it even make sense to Prep extensively with intentions of NOT including firearm(s)? Why would someone Prep just to have it all taken away by somebody with nothing but a gun? I thought this might enlighten some of those who Prep but are dead set against owning a weapon of any kind.

I think this is a great question and there are really only two main opinions when it comes to guns. You either like them or you don’t. Maybe like isn’t the right word. You either appreciate what they are useful at doing or you don’t.

 

Digging Deeper

I wanted to try and come up with all the reasons I could think of for why anyone would not want to have guns in a survival situation. I came up with a few reasons, but maybe you have more I didn’t think of.

  • Their Religion forbids owning guns
  • History of bad experiences
  • Philosophically opposed to killing even to protect life
  • Scared of guns
  • Believe guns are better in the hands of police/military

I am sure there are a myriad of other reasons, but for this article I’ll start with these. For the sake of argument, I will even say that all of these are valid reasons for not wanting to purchase a weapon for defense.

Getting back to the question; does it make sense to prepare if you aren’t checking the box on the firearm box? I think this depends greatly on a lot of factors.

What are you Prepping for?

Prepping is not something you can ever accomplish. To me, Prepping is a way of living in a way that will keep you as safe and self-sufficient as possible no matter what emergency or crisis comes your way. You could also say that Prepping is about becoming self sufficient in a way. You could be prepping for an earthquake or a Tornado, a Hurricane or even a broken down vehicle. Each of these normal events has a relatively short time period, but the devastation from some of these natural phenomenon can last years. If you lose your home to a hurricane you might literally not have a home to call your own for over a year.

For these events, safety from others is not normally your focus in the short term, but I can point to virtually any natural disaster and show examples of looting and robbery. Eventually safety does become an issue whenever there is a crisis even if it was caused by Mother Nature.

Others are prepping for man-made events like war, home invasions, economic collapse or riots where the rule of law is out the window. In an event like this it’s every man/woman for themselves. In this type of event safety is no less an issue, but what makes this worse is that you don’t have relief workers spending their summer vacations passing out water. You don’t have power company trucks from other states rolling in. You could very well be alone with no one but your family and neighbors for safety.

What do you want to have by your side in the middle of the night?

Where do you live?

Now even if we do have the worst case scenario, global catastrophe, or plague known to man there will be people who aren’t as affected as others. If you are living in downtown New York, regardless of the issue you will have a lot of other people to contend with. If you live out in the plains of eastern Kansas, I imagine there will be a lot fewer people to deal with and worry about. Does that mean you have nothing to worry about though?

To anyone who has read this blog for any length of time, it is probably painfully clear that I have and advocate the responsible use of firearms by legal adults. Firearms serve a purpose for me and that is almost singularly around protection of my family. I have weapons that are solely for hunting but in a pinch they can be used for defense too. I live in what I would call a small town. Not one stop light small, but small enough I think. We do not have the same problems as those in New York, but we certainly don’t have the breathing room that they do in Kansas either.

 

 

As I have said on multiple occasions, I believe that a means of defending yourself is one of the key items you need to account for if you are prepping for almost anything. Your very life could depend on the choices you make or the situations you find yourself in and in my opinion, planning to survive without considering the dark side of humanity is a failure to plan for one of the most likely scenarios.

Is purchasing a gun your only option? No, I guess you could have a baseball bat, or a cross-bow or a hockey stick.
You have to ask yourself, how well protected will you feel with your choice? I don’t want to look into the eyes of someone intent on killing me as I grip a golf club.
I want to have the most effective means I can purchase for defending my family and our home. I have settled on firearms because to me that makes the most sense.

 

 

If you are planning to survive catastrophe, but don’t expect the darker side of humanity to ever be a threat to you or your family I would urge you to reconsider.
For me having a gun and never needing to use it would be far superior to not having a gun and losing my family to someone who did.
Does simply having a gun guarantee the bad guys won’t come knocking?

Hardly.

 

Does me having a rifle mean I will be able to defend my home against any and all threats? No, but it does give me a fighting chance at surviving and protecting my family. Isn’t that what you are prepping for after all?

 

 

 

The world of Survival and Prepping Bloggers is pretty diverse. There are those who will say that they are only talking intelligently about preparing without any of the fear as

Let me start by saying this: I am not a fan of hanging fifty-million things and a coffee maker from my AR or upgrading a $200 10/22 with $1K worth of furniture. It’s just not my style and I’m of the mentality that the more things any item has, the more things there are to snag and break. Especially when I’m looking at firearms for home- or self-defense or hunting, I want to eliminate potential disasters.

That said, there are a few things on the market that I and some of my partners and buddies now have, but we don’t really see often on the ranges, blogs, or forums. I consider some of them game changers. So today, I’m going to point out offset sights, optics with integrated sights, and a specific type of single-point sling adaptor that could change some minds about the best gadgets for your guns.

*The links are only examples. There are others available. Please shop around and find additional reviews and pricing options.

Offset Sights

Offset sights like these are intended to be used in conjunction with an optic or scope.

Quickie refresher: Scope – dedicated crosshair aiming aid, adjustable or fixed magnification using lens refraction (no battery for many/most); Optics – either all lens-based aiming assistants; or battery-powered light-up aiming aids, regularly with multiple types and-or colors of dots and open- or closed-ring reticules to choose from and additional choices like red dot versus holographic. I’ll use the more disparate definitions this go-round.

In some cases, offset sights allow a shooter to switch between a longer-range target appropriate for a medium- to high-magnification optic or scope, and a close-quarters target by simply tilting the firearm a bit. In other cases, they allow a shooter to have a backup sighting option in case their optic has a really bad day at a really bad time (dead batteries, solid smack, cracked lens, blowing snow, sprayed mud).

American 45 Degree Offset Rapid Transition BUIS Backup Iron Sights For AR15

They’re also useful as a way to avoid switching between optic types or colors that perform better in varying light and background conditions, although that crops up more  regularly with competition and smaller game shooting.

Co-witnessing standard iron sights and optics or scopes is certainly an option. There’s a little fiddling at times to get height right, but an MBUS rear sight is hardy and fast to pop up even in freezing weather and gloves or sweltering summers with slippery hands, and you learn to let the front sight blur in front of your crosshairs or optics just like you learn to switch between a front sight focus and target focus when you hunt with a pistol and a bead-sight shotgun. Still, I really like the ease of just tilting a firearm.

Up to a .223/5.56, anyway.

AR-10’s, SOCOM .308’s, and the other 7.– platforms are a little more than I can comfortably handle for more than a couple of shots tilted, even being 6’ in heels and 200# in winter gear. It’s also harder for me to keep the firearm under control when it’s angled with larger calibers. That’s where the second nugget comes in.

Optics with Integrated Iron Sights

Manufacturers of optics with integrated iron sights like the Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope or the Aim Sports 4X32 Tri III. Scope with Fiber Optic Sight seem like they have missed a really, really big advertising and searchable description point to me. I had never heard of having more than a blade front sight centered on an optic or scope until fairly recently. The ability to actually adjust an iron sight as a backup to a scope is huge for me, and having it all be in one single piece without the need for extended or additional rails or attachments totally blew me away. You’d think they’d be singing from the hilltops about what they did. Instead, our groups see them very rarely and they tend to be unknown when people notice us using them at ranges.

I have the Bushnell for several guns, but its irons aren’t adjustable. Aim Sport apparently started manufacturing some of its models in the U.S. and fixing some of the import and manufactured-for-domestic-assembly products recently, so we jumped on a couple because they do allow us to adjust both the optic and the irons.

Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope, 1x32mm

We’re pretty happy with the Aim Sports in the households that went there, but nobody’s had them much more than a year and I tend to want a little more history or a standing reputation for quality before I’m willing to give an unqualified recommendation. Mine holds both optic and iron-sights settings well in hard-times practice, banging around in a pickup bed in transit, and at 3-Gun and 100-yard Modern Sporter competitions. It’s not so hot as a shoulder-holstered or chest-carrier handgun optic. The Bushnell is a reasonable hunting handgun optic, although finding a holster for it is funtastic and I still have point-of-aim adjustments for certain rounds.

The joy with these is that while you do loose cheekweld, it’s not a tremendous adjustment, and you can still keep a firearm shouldered squarely. Too, with little to no movement of the gun, it gains a bit of speed. There are times when fractions of heartbeats matter, a lot.

As with the offset irons, the AimSport with adjustable iron sights can also be set up with one for <10-25 yards and one for 100-200+ yards. Another bonus is allowing me to shoot ammunition that performs very differently due to powder loads or specific projectile weight or shape easier. Instead of painter’s tape marked with point of aim differences on the firearm, I can set up a single optic for the two most common sets.

Buying fancy optics & irons

It’s not a totally inexpensive investment, but considering what we seem willing to pay for optics as a general shooting crowd, they’re not unreasonable. There is at least one other dual-sight optic manufacturer out there – possibly more, since they seem to be totally dropping the ball on marketing these puppies as a be-all solution for backups, lighting, evil match designer, or variable distances. Again, research is our friend.

Aim Sports 4X32 Tri III. Scope with Fiber Optic Sight

Single-Point Sling Adaptor

I found a single-point sling adaptor with the intention of using it just for 10/22’s and airguns for practice. Then I decided it was fan-tab as a lanyard adaptor for a couple of my hunting or creak in the night handguns. And then we started testing some buckle varieties (which we mostly like better than the Velcro).

 

We’re pretty pleased.

I now have these or similar on a fair number of firearms. Don’t run them through a trigger guard or anything crazy like that, but most guns have somewhere they can get snugged. *We have yet to find one that works with M16A1 or A2 stocks; they block the charging handles. Skeleton or adjustable stocks only.

The straps do loosen up here and there as you go along, but a loaded Benelli Nova has been hanging from an unused belt (ahem, “sling”) with extra rounds in an attached purse (ahem, “ready bag”) behind a closet door for a couple of years. It’s been tightened maybe 4-8 times in its life now, and we’re talking about the gun that gets to go to the range and practice being a master key and LTL to lethal crowd and varmint control, then get dropped for a handgun for clearing and precision work. I use the same adapter on my 3-Gun shotgun and rifle.

It rolls around some, but I don’t consider the rolling to really be a bad thing, either. I live with and practice with a couple of lefties. It’s not a big deal in gloves, but for the ones who don’t practice “adaptably” as much as some of us, the buckle can be distracting and having to clip a sling to their shooting hand side is sometimes problematic. In a situation where they need to transition, a stock hanging up in the sling because it’s on a dedicated ring to one side can cost some precious heartbeats. The universal bands slip enough to eliminate that problem for us.

The other joy is that these things are $5-10, and require no tools or skill to install. Zero – an otter could do it. That means that while some do live with a sling attached, I can afford to put them on absolutely anything that might ever be grabbed in a hurry or needed in a defensive situation.

Now, instead of having dedicated rigs to account for various chest and height measurements from 24” and 5’6” up to 52” and 6’4”, everybody has a sling with their grab gear. They can then exchange firearms or grab whichever firearm is most appropriate for a situation, clip it, and roll. With person-specific slings instead of slings dedicated to firearms, a big, tall shooter doesn’t end up with a necklace or snagged as they “swim” into a sling, and a shorty doesn’t end up dragging even an 18.5” barrel’s front sight over the gravel and through the grass (both make it harder to shoot accurately; the latter may cause shouting from the gun owner during practice).

Slings (and sling clips) are one of those things I don’t see on firearms as often as I really should at the range. Being able to sling a firearm can be pretty invaluable. My household and partners like single-point slings best for defense (single-point slings are not really ideal for hunting – just saying). There are worlds’ worth of slings and adaptors out there, and they merit some research and a decent investment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a sturdy 48” or 52” belt at Goodwill for $2 and a $2 clip at ACE to go with a $7 adaptor until you’re ready for that investment.

As mentioned, the really nice thing about those buckle-on single-point sling adaptors is that they’re so inexpensive, and adaptable to so many different types of firearms. Saving money on a sling and clip may let us get in some practice that makes us more effective or – over a household – might save enough money to invest in some solar-powered motion-activated lights that let us immediately locate an intruder of either the coyote or human type. That’s pretty invaluable, too.

How much should you spend on gadgets?

There are lots of tools and gadgets that make our lives easier or drastically increase our effectiveness and efficiency, but as with anything else, prioritize purchases. Make a list of goals, needs, the things that are most likely to strike personally and locally or regionally, and what’s already in the toolbox and junk drawer. Be creative as you look around, and visualize things that are already in-house as blank slates that can be adapted to other uses. A $15 lunch bag or laptop bag works just as well as a $25-75 range bag.

If something else works for now, until you’re better set, use that.

Do buy quality products when it’s something like a defensive firearm or its furniture (or smoke detector). That doesn’t mean you have to pay more for a manufacturer’s label and advertising costs. When it’s a $1K-$2800 HK versus a $500-700 S&W AR, get a S&W. It does mean that if something’s built for airsoft or paintball or costumes, you might want to consider the weights and abuse limitations. It’s usually worth it to spend more on something sturdier.

 

 

With the reminder that I’m just not big on hanging fifty million things from my firearm, there are a few choice gadgets that make a big difference and are worth some investment. A universal sling adaptor and the ability to engage targets accurately at multiple distances or if an optic craps out are two of the things that make my list. Hopefully even if they don’t make yours, something in this article gave you something to think about.

Let me start by saying this: I am not a fan of hanging fifty-million things and a coffee maker from my AR or upgrading a $200 10/22 with $1K worth

My wife came to me a few days back and asked me what I thought about Silencers. She had heard either ads or an interview on a radio talk show and was curious so she asked the local gun ‘expert’. I hope you understand that I don’t consider myself an expert on anything really, but when it comes to firearms I do have more experience than my wife for what it’s worth. She had heard bits and pieces about silencers and wanted to know what was so great about them and if they were so great, why didn’t I have them on our weapons.

She even mentioned that she thought this might make a good post idea since there were probably other people who had questions about silencers too. My wife usually has good ideas so I figured I would give it a shot, no pun intended and frame this within the context of a Prepper and our hypothetical grid-down scenario. Does it make sense to purchase a silencer for your handgun?

What are silencers and what do they do?

Silencers are also called suppressors and some people will get hung up on this detail. The silencer doesn’t actually ‘silence’ the sound of the weapon, but it does suppress the sound. You can call it what you want, everyone else does too and only the really anal will correct you if you call this little piece of hardware a silencer.

The reason why silencers are able to suppress the sound of the gun firing is they offer the explosion of the gunpowder more room to expand and cool off. Without any type of suppressor, when you fire a gun, the gasses that explode when the firing pin strikes the primer and ignites the gunpowder explode with a high amount of pressure. This pressure could be as high as 3,000 pounds per square inch so that explosion is very loud when it comes out of the barrel.

A silencer extends the barrel of the firearm out and gives the gas baffles to expand into so the explosion, rather than coming out immediately at the end of the barrel has more room to dissipate and cool off. When this happens there is less pressure and the explosion of gas is not as loud. The round you are using and the silencer construction will all play into how much sound is reduced.

What are good reasons to own a silencer?

The main purpose of using a silencer is to make the weapon quieter when you fire it. There are some other effects that silencer manufacturers will point to, but the noise reduction is the primary benefit. The question is why would you care to have a weapon that doesn’t make as loud of a bang when you shoot it?

I have handguns in my home for self-defense. These are meant to be used in the event that I have someone intent on causing physical harm to me or one of my family. We usually envision hearing a noise in the middle of the night and realizing someone is in your home. The gun is grabbed from its location and we head out to confront whatever the threat is. Our intent would be that if confronted with a life threatening situation we would not hesitate to fire our weapon and disable the threat, possibly permanently.

This sounds well and good but have you ever fired a weapon in a confined space? If you were to shoot just about any gun indoors you would not be able to hear immediately after the first shot. The noise decibels of that gunshot explosion we talked about above would be so high that you would suffer (hopefully temporary) deafness. If you were able to put down the threat with the first shot that might be OK, but what if there were other threats? What if you needed to communicate with others in the house? That gunshot would make doing anything that required hearing for a little while almost impossible.

When I was in the Army we would go to the rifle range all of the time. One time we were qualifying and this exercise is done with pop up targets that pop up for a few seconds and then go back down. If they go down before you shoot them you miss that point. The targets are all spaced at random distances so you never know which one will come up. Speed is a big factor at being successful in this test so I didn’t have any time to goof around. When the exercise started, I sighted in on the first target as it rose and sqeezed off a round. Instantly I knew that I had forgotten to put my earplugs in. My ears almost closed up or at least the feeling was similar and even outside the rifle was loud. The targets weren’t stopping so neigher could I to grab my ear protection. Each shot I took sent pain through my ears. I finished the test but my ears hurt for a good while after that. With a silencer I know it would have done less damage to my ears.

Having a suppressor could make someone who is gun shy, because of the noise, more comfortable shooting a weapon. Instead of anticipating the loud noise, a silenced weapon might allow them to comfortably squeeze the trigger and shoot.

Without getting too far down the rabbit hole there could be situations where you did not want to draw attention to your location and having a silenced weapon could help in that department. I am not talking about going Jason Borne on anyone here, but I’ll leave some of that up to your imagination.

What are reasons not to own a silencer?

There are really only a couple of reasons I could think of not to own a silencer. The first would be the cost and hassle you need to go through in order to purchase one. A silencer is controlled just like firearms so you obviously would need to meet the requirements of your state laws, be over 21 and not be a felon, etc. etc. You would need to purchase this through or have the silencer shipped to a licensed dealer. You would also need to pay $200 dollars above the cost of the silencer and submit additional paperwork to the ATF to get a tax stamp. If that wasn’t enough you will most likely need a threaded barrel to affix the silencer so after it’s all said and done you could easily end up spending close to $1000 for the joy of this new toy.

The second reason for me anyway is that I can’t justify owning one. Would I like to go out and shoot without wearing hearing protection? Well, sure that would be nice but I couldn’t do that at a range because nobody else would have suppressors on. Would this help me in a home invasion situation? I believe it would be a tremendous advantage, but I still can’t justify the trouble. Also, I would have to leave my silencer on my weapon to really use this and I think that might make storing this (where I have my weapon stored currently) more problematic.

Can you imagine walking around with a silenced pistol in a holster?

I know that everyone has an opinion and what opinions are like…. But for me a silencer having a silencer for your handgun falls so far down the list of priorities that I can’t see ever purchasing one myself. That is just me though. I am sure that there are folks out there who have the money and see the value in purchasing a silencer for your weapons. I can see the value, but everything else seems like a hassle to me that doesn’t give me a great return on investment.

What do you think?

My wife came to me a few days back and asked me what I thought about Silencers. She had heard either ads or an interview on a radio talk show

To the concealed carry permit holder, you have a very important responsibility. The responsibility to carry a handgun is not one that you should take lightly, it is a key factor in deciding whether or not you or your family will be safe and at the same time whether or not you will take a life. Guarding your family and ending the life of a bad guy is not a choice you should make with the same amount of thought as to what you are going to watch on TV tonight. This should be something that you are clear in your mind of the reasons why, and the possible ramifications of your choices.

Why Carry Concealed?

There are a lot of reasons why an individual would choose to carry a concealed handgun but they almost all boil down to personal security or protection. Why else would you carry a firearm that is capable of killing someone unless you were prepared to use that amount of force to do just that? If you weren’t willing or able to pull the trigger, there would be no need to carry would there?

Carrying a concealed firearm should be done with the full intention that one day you may need to draw your weapon, point it at the threat and pull the trigger. If you don’t understand this basic fundamental and more importantly, are prepared to do just that, you should not be carrying concealed in the first place.

For me, the motivation behind carrying concealed was not because of a threat on me or my family. I had no out of the ordinary experiences in my past that made me fearful for my safety or the safety of my loved ones. I look at this from a practical standpoint. I think Wayne LaPierre summed it up nicely in response to the outcry over the Newton School shootings when he said, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I agree completely.

It wasn’t a school shooting that convinced me to carry either, but Wayne’s comment resonates perfectly with my own philosophy. As a legal carrier of firearms, it may come down to me standing in front of a “bad guy” with a gun. I don’t view this as a preordained destiny from God that I would be placed in any situation like this, but if I am, I want to make sure I am prepared. If I am in that situation, I will accept the responsibility of being the good guy who potentially stops the bad guy.

Obviously my family’s safety was first and foremost in my mind, but like school shootings, or church shootings or mall shootings, I believe that the more legal, responsible people we have with firearms, the safer everyone else would be if a bad guy got it in his head to harm people.

Never leave home without it.

I know a couple of people who have their concealed carry permits, but they never have their weapon on them. When I ask why, it is usually one of two responses. Either they laugh and say, “I don’t have to worry about anything here do I?” or that the firearm is bulky, doesn’t go with their outfit, not easily concealed, etc.

If you have a permit, you should carry your firearm everywhere you go. I have mine with me even sitting around the house in my sweatpants. Why? Because you will almost never foresee the time and place you will need it. Leave it at home one day and the church you are attending may be paid a visit by a lunatic who wants to meet God, really. Have that firearm in your bedroom and someone may kick down the door while you are watching American Idol. You never know, so it is your duty and obligation to carry your firearm with you at all times. How are you going to protect yourself or anyone else if your concealed carry is under the bed?

When should you use your weapon?

Carrying concealed, as I explained above, is not to be taken lightly. If you are carrying, you must think through the possibilities and potential threats, escalation and your actions.

Let’s say you are a woman and you are work evenings at a retail store. When you leave at night, you may have to go out into a dark parking lot or a dark alley. Maybe this isn’t in the best part of town, maybe it is. Regardless, there is a chance someone could approach you on your way to your car, but you are carrying a concealed handgun. Out of the corner of your eye you see a man walking towards you. He is mumbling something that you can’t quite make out and he is closing the distance between you and your car. As he gets closer he is still mumbling and you see a knife in his hand. What do you do?

Every situation that you could possibly face is different so there is no one size fits all answer to using lethal force. As we saw with the George Zimmerman case, there was much arguing and heated debate over the “Stand your Ground” law in Florida. First, you should know the laws of the state you are carrying in, but a general guideline is that your life must be in jeopardy before you can justifiably kill someone. You can’t kill someone who is being rude or talking too loudly in a movie theater, or who stole your parking spot. This is life and death we are talking about so there can’t be any grey area.

If you do have to use your firearm, the police will be involved and they will be scrutinizing you very carefully to ascertain whether or not the person you shot (just like George Zimmerman) was a real threat. If they decide that you killed someone who didn’t deserve to die, guess who goes to jail?

One fallback you have is that the simple fact you are carrying, may be a deterrent. Without shooting anyone you can let them know that you will, if need be. Drawing your firearm and having it pointed down at the ready position (down) is a first step. Forcefully warning your attacker that you have a gun and you will use it may defuse the situation. They leave, you are both alive and you don’t go to jail.

You must play out scenarios in your mind and make sure you understand what you will do in various situations. You want to clearly deal with the threat if you are ever forced into that reality.

Why does all of this matter?

In order to be prepared, we look at a lot of different aspects of our lives, possible threats that could impact us and make plans for how to mitigate the pain or suffering we would go through in the event that any of those threats come to pass. Carrying a concealed firearm, just like storing food for an emergency is one type of survival preparation. You carry survival kits for when your car breaks down in an emergency. You carry a Get Home Bag if something happens and you need to make it back home, right?

Carrying a concealed firearm is what you do if you are planning to survive a bad guy trying to kill you or someone else. If you have foresight to get your permit, carry a weapon and have thought through the ramifications of deadly force, you have a duty to yourself and the other good guys around you to have this with you and be prepared to use it.


On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

To the concealed carry permit holder, you have a very important responsibility. The responsibility to carry a handgun is not one that you should take lightly, it is a key