Pistol Advice From The Brushbeater Blog

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Here’s some good advice on pistol choices from “Secret Squirrel” over at Brushbeater’s blog. SS gives some excellent advice on some outstanding choices. Although I am a fan of the .45ACP as a “Survival Caliber” for a handgun (most effective auto round in the least effective bullet design and material. that being the cast lead, round nosed bullet), I also know that for normal daily applications and as an overall group standard (men, women, and children), the 9mm is the way to go as long as effective bullet designs are available, and you’re not having to cast your own over a fire. SS’s thoughts on the 40Cal. mirror my own, even though my issued duty gun is a 40Cal S&W M&P. 
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A .45ACP selection from left to right. Glock 30 (regular “Off Duty” carry pistol), Glock 21, and an AMT Back Up 45. The AMT BackUp was not very reliable out of the box (I’ve had it a long time), and needed the addition of a Wolff recoil spring for 100% reliability. The AMT BU 45 is know for being the most compact .45ACP auto made.

Although I am not a fan of the HK’s and SIG’s (the quality to money ratio is not as good as other brands), but I will admit they shoot very well. Glock’s are my “Go to” in any auto caliber you care to mention, and I am a fan of the Beretta M9 (92FS), and the S&W M&P pistols, (but would go with a 9mm or .45ACP if given the choice with the M&P’s the .40’s are fracturing the locking block at less than 5,000 rounds). The CZ’s SS mentions are also one of the most robust and accurate pistols I have ever fired (right behind the BHP in accuracy for me).
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9mm pistols of choice left to right. Keltec PF-9 (smallest and lightest 9mm auto on the market), and a Beretta M9 with Crimson Trace laser grip (originally bought for my issued M9 on my last deployment). Some people don’t like Keltec’s but with all the Keltecs I’ve owned (SU-16C, P11, PF-9, P3AT, P-32), I’ve never had a bit of trouble either in parts breakage or malfunctions, and I’ve put a ton of ammo through the SU-16C, the PF-9, and the P3AT.  

To go along with what is written below about handgun selection, here are some posts I have written about belt mounted holsters and shoulder/chest mounted holsters .
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“Go ahead, skin that smokewagon and see what happens” by Secret Squirrel

As you might’ve guessed, this is a post about handguns. I asked a very close friend and accomplished handgunner to write a piece specific to it’s own and he’s what I would consider a subject matter expert. If there’s one topic that might be worse than the “whut carbine is bestest” nonsense, it’s people squabbling over handguns. But since a handgun is going to be the most likely used firearm in close or unexpected contact, and takes a higher amount of training to master, it warrants discussion.

I would like to first say I have the distinct honor to call the man that is NCScout my best friend. Not just a friend but a brother in all but blood. I know of no other person I would be more apt to follow to hell and back (again no less) than he. So to say it is a huge compliment for him to want to publish any of my babbling is no small matter. Thank you brother.

I try my best to keep up with the Brushbeater blog as much as possible but sometimes I get behind. Most of the time we are talking about the various topics over a craft beer and good homemade food anyway. But I did catch the “So You Want A New AR, Huh?” story yesterday and as with many conversations in the past the same kind of discussion came up about handguns. I told him I’d be happy to do a similar piece on handguns so here we are. What he is with rifle and carbine I am with handgun in our fold. My background aside from military includes prior Law Enforcement, Private Security, and my fair share of IDPA, USPSA, IPSC, and other various handgun competitions. I am by no means a handgun god but I do know a thing or two of what I’m talking about. This is also an account of my experience, observation and opinion so take it as you may. This post will be about defensive and/or fighting handguns, anything else like handgun hunting is a whole different can of worms for a different time and place. Let’s jump in.

First things first, yes I love my handguns and have the ability to stretch their limits, but do I think a handgun with ever replace a main weapon like a rifle/carbine or even a pistol caliber carbine? That answer is a very resounding NO. But I do think every person’s kit is not complete without a proper handgun, even their everyday kit. I can’t recommend enough to get your concealed handgun permit (in areas where you can) and carry as much as the law allows. Always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. As a backup to a main weapon I feel it is an indispensable tool to have especially after personal experience of being in a situation where M4 could not be used and hand to hand was extremely dangerous but a sidearm would have been the Goldilocks of the situation. Alas the Army did not see fit to issue a sidearm to all of us and luckily I was able to get out of that situation unscathed. But that situation made me further solidify in my belief of a sidearm backup. [Green on Blue incident, on case anyone is wondering- BB]

To kind of follow the AR post, he speaks of not getting into a caliber war. This will not either as there are only really three calibers to focus on; 9x19mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. Yes I know there are plenty of revolver cartridges that are plenty effective but unfortunately the capacity argument will beat revolvers every time with today’s available handguns. I say today’s available handguns because inevitably the argument will come up about revolvers reliability over an auto. Years ago that was a viable argument but not so much anymore. In my life I have had revolvers fail, and not just cheaper ones, we’re talking S&W and even a Colt. Also in my life there are a few manufacturers of autos that have NEVER failed me aside from ammo related stoppages. I’m not bashing on wheelguns, I’m honestly a huge fan with possibly a unhealthy obsession with pre lock S&Ws and Colt snakes, I just feel in today’s world they are outclassed as a fighting or “combat” handgun.

So we have 40 S&W. Wonderfully effective, inherent natural accuracy and higher capacity than 45 ACP in comparable frames. Something along the lines of 65 to 70% of law enforcement agencies use the 40, I did, being issued one in the Glock model 22 flavor as a Sheriff’s deputy. But that is starting to change. More and more agencies are dropping the 40 in favor of other calibers. Reason being other calibers previously thought to be ineffective are not so anymore. More about that later. Not to mention it has never standardized as an issue round to any standing military in the world. Logistically, sure you can find 40 on most shelves just about anywhere, but for how much longer? Not just LEOs are dropping 40 but I am seeing many private individuals dropping it as well. I did, with my last 40 being traded off several months ago. The problems with 40 are not just what I see to be a pending logistics problem (think 357 Sig) but also the recoil. That may sound funny but 40 is a bit snappier in recoil whereas 45 ACP and 9mm more push. That all has to do with muzzle rise and how quick one can get back on target for follow up shots. Also in my experience 40 tends to beat the weapon up a bit quicker than others, so less of a potential round count out of a given weapon. 40 is good without a doubt, still hits hard on the business end, but I feel it has run its course and is starting a slow road to die.

Next is an oldie but a goodie, 45 ACP. Not much needs to be said about the 45, most anybody knows its pros, its huge and hits like a sledgehammer at velocities as low as 450 fps. Everybody knows that one guy that always says “If it ain’t got a 4 and a 5 in the caliber I ain’t carryin it”. But the 45’s biggest advantage is also its biggest disadvantage, its sheer size. The cartridge itself not just the diameter is pretty massive and requires a huge frame to fit it in and not everybody can wrap their hands around one. Unfortunately the easiest to comfortably grip for most ends up being a single stack magazine frame, and that of course drops capacity. Logistics of it are great, it can be found pretty much anywhere. It also still sees widespread use in LE and various armed forces around the world. It’s been a reliable cartridge for over a century, always been more than accurate enough, surprisingly mild recoil for its size and you won’t be under gunned by any means but you may need to practice mag changes more than others.

Now we have 9mm; or 9×19, 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, your preference of what to call it. I once talked to a guy that refused to own a 9mm because it was a “Nazi German” round, which yes is true and the popularity of 9mm rose in no small part to the Luger P08 and Walther P38. Whatever. We fought Japan too in the same war but that doesn’t make Toyota trucks any less reliable or hard to kill. The fact is it works. The argument was made for years that 9mm only punched holes with no real stopping power. If it didn’t work it wouldn’t have endured up to this point. Plenty of “good” rounds went the way of the Dodo because they weren’t effective but somehow the 9mm endured. And same with any good enduring thing it has evolved. Fast forward to today and now 9mm is the king of auto calibers. With modern expanding ammo it has been found to be plenty effective on soft tissue for stoppage, per the gold standard of ballistics testing the FBI’s ballistics lab. Hence why the FBI is looking to go back to standardizing the 9mm for its agents. Don’t believe it’s becoming king of the auto world? Take a look at the amount of LE agencies going to it or going back to it. Look how many militaries around the world still have it standardized. Go to your local range and see how much 9mm brass is lying around. I frequent a public range local to me and every time I go I go clepto on the range brass cans. For every 45 ACP case I get I get at least 50 9mms. For every 40 it’s at least 100 9mms. Logistics behind it are endless. It’s everywhere and it has gotten insanely cheap. It’s pretty fast, it’s naturally accurate, it’s low recoil and you can pack a serious amount of rounds into a pistol frame. It is here to stay, and for a long time.

So let’s look at the guns themselves. Much like the question asked to NCScout about ARs, I get asked about handguns the same way all the time. “What’s the best handgun” or “What should I get” comes more frequently than I care to count. There is no holy grail. Sorry, just ain’t going to happen. What I tell most everybody that comes to me about it is this: Go to a well-stocked gunshop or to the next local gunshow and get your hands on different ones. Find one that fits your hand and feels good. Then, if you can by any way possible, give it a test drive. If it feels good, buy one. Now with this discussion I will say there is one caveat, and that is if you are within a group it is VERY wise to get standardized across the board for ammo and mag commonality. But for an everyday carry potentially anything could go. I have my personal favorites and for good reasons; they are Glock, CZ and H&K in no particular order. The venerable 1911 still seems to be the standard for 45s. I know I will probably get blow back and hate mail for this by some but the 1911 ain’t that great anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a wonderful piece and it will always hold a place in my heart and in my safe but there is more advanced 45s out there now. I still have a Springfield Trophy Match that has seen an ungodly amount of rounds and untold number of matches, and the old girl still shoots great. But for a fighting 45 my H&K USP 45 runs circles around any of my 1911s. For me it’s been 100% reliable no matter what, honestly more accurate than I am, and the biggest thing is a standard 12 round mag vs 1911s 8 round. Those extra 4 rounds will keep you in the fight that much longer. The downside for most is that it is a BIG pistol. That doesn’t affect me so much because I have big hands and actually find the big frame comfortable. Same can be said for the Glock 21. Not everybody can fit a double stack 45 so the go to if one wants 45 is the 1911. Some will say “OK, what about the double stack 1911s, the 2011s?” They are fine if you intend on competition or maybe even carry but they have not been combat or field proven by anyone I know of like H&Ks, Glocks, Sig 220s or similar. Even in competition they can be finicky beasts, needing constant tweaking and magazine tuning. Not reliable enough for me to trust it in the field. So for me H&K gets the nod for fighting 45s. In the 9mm realm my personal favorite is the CZ 75 series, with Glock a close second. In the beginning I actually hated Glock. I didn’t want Tupperware in my holster. The grip angle was funny. The trigger was weird. Then I had to carry one as an issue weapon. After I learned a bit more about it, got more trigger time on them, they really started to grow on me (taking the Glock armorer course helped too, highly recommend it to anyone contemplating taking it). My hatred turned into a humbling respect for them. It is really hard to kill one, I’ve tried. Accurate, simple, AK of the handgun world reliable, they are a no brainer. The biggest point of Glock to me is the magazines. The compatibility amongst same size frames. It’s nice to carry a 26 with a flush fit stubby IWB and have a 17 round G17 mag as a spare for the 26. Well done Gaston. Not to mention ammo and mag commonality with how many millions of people in the US and around the world? Can’t swing a dead cat anywhere without hitting a 9mm Glock. I just still can’t see spending $3000 plus on a customized Glock when a $500 factory will do more than what the average shooter is capable of anyway. I’d dare just about anybody with a $3k Salient to go up against Dave Sevigny with a box stock G34 and see how far that 3 grand got them. My absolute favorite by far though is the CZ 75 series. The ergonomics, the natural accuracy of the design, the toughness, all of it is hard to beat. One of its biggest criticisms is the weight being all steel or steel/alloy mix. That doesn’t bother me, it still carries great and the little extra weight helps negate felt recoil. Top of the list is the CZ 75 SP-01. It’s even a little heavier than the standard 75 due to full length dust cover with rail but after you start shooting it all the negatives go away. The felt recoil is almost on par with say, my Browning Buckmark 22 LR. The accuracy of this thing is somewhere between a laser guided smart bomb and a James Bond harbinger of death super sophisticated ray gun. NC Scout was a witness to it dumping a mag full (19 round mags by the way, take that Glock 17) of 147 grain handloads into a group that could be covered with a quarter at 25 yards. It’ll ring a 15 inch gong at 100 yards with such frequency it gets boring. At $650 out the door it’s amazingly affordable and to date has never failed once. Obviously I can’t speak highly of it enough. All that is just an example of my findings and personal preferences. There are many others that work very well that others can shoot just fine. Sig for example is a fine company that makes a fine weapon (albeit overpriced but fine nonetheless). The recent hype over the non-German made Sigs being worse in quality has some truth to it but in my experience has been blown out of proportion. I recently had an Exeter made P226R with the newer E2 grip and it was just as good as any German made Sig. Alas, I don’t run Sig because no matter how hard I try or how many I get that I want to let my big hands leave my thumb sitting on top of the slide lever, inadvertently engaging it when it should last round lock. That is a no-go for me in the field or in defensive situations. But they still shoot great and many do like them. Other companies make fine products like Ruger, S&W and FN to name a few I just don’t run them for personal reasons. I still own/have owned many of them just regulated to range or match work. The point is, try some and find what works for you. Then train with it.

Which bring me to the next and probably the biggest point of them all, practice and training. Get out and shoot the things. 9mm is cheaper than 22 LR per round in many cases right now so that’s not an excuse. Rainy day and can’t get to the range? Sit in front of the TV and do dry fire practice to on screen “targets”. There’s no excuse to not train. It’s not always practical (or legal) to carry your fighting rifle or carbine every day, and if you are using handgun as a backup to it things have gone bad to worst fast so there is a very big chance you may need to rely on that handgun for your safety and the safety of those around you. So training with that weapon is a must. Learn to point shoot for close range targets, I teach that and it is extremely effective and fast once learned. I mentioned earlier that I have done quite a bit of competition in the past. Competition can teach you some good practices for handgun but DO NOT take it as gospel. I always found competition to be fun and it did help train me to be a bit faster but after real world experience I found it is lacking for real world scenario. The biggest way is that it can ingrain bad habits. Let’s look at IDPA. It was originally created by Bill Wilson and friends to be a defensive minded set of competition. So started with excellent intentions it has fell off a bit. My biggest gripe with IDPA is the course of fire. You never have a set course of fire in the real world. There is no rangemaster saying “you engage this target then this target then this target with X number of rounds in each etc. etc.” when you have the unfortunate circumstance of having to defend yourself in an actual shooting. So I wonder why IDPA doesn’t run its course of fire by means of say engaging the worst threat first and going down the ladder of threats from there when IDPA is supposed to be a “defensive” organization. That can set bad habits that can confuse a shooter when presented with legitimate real world threats. Maybe I’m picking nits but that is something I have always looked at and deemed a problem. I also feel that some of the strict rules can get in the way of practicality. Like if a particular holster that I like is not on the “approved for competition” list. If that’s what I like and what I use then I should be able to use it. I completely understand some not being allowed for safety reasons, like a crossdraw that could potentially flag bystanders or range officials on the draw but that is a little different. If you want to try competition then by all means do so, it is a helluva lot of fun and you get the chance to meet some truly wonderful people. I don’t compete at the moment, mainly due to life happenings, but I won’t say that I’ll never compete again. Just don’t take it as the things to do for the real world. I could probably write a book about handgun training so for sake of sanity I will keep it simple here. Bottom line is get out and use it, don’t let it become a paperweight on the nightstand or a permanent addition to the sock drawer.

I feel that I am starting to drone on about a topic that I could talk about for days so I will wrap it up. Handgun is an oft overlooked tool that should be just as important as anything else in your kit or in everyday life. No, they aren’t the end all be all but all tools have a job to do and I feel that the handgun’s job is an extremely important one. Find one that fits you. If need be acquire similar pieces to others within your fold to keep commonality. Then train. Then train some more. Do drills, do buddy drills, then train some more. Make that hawgleg become an extension of your arm. It could potentially save your bacon one day or even more important someone you care about.

Everybody be safe, watch your backs, and have a wonderful day!

-Secret Squirrel

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JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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Brushbeater Discusses AR’s, The Alternatives, And How To Select One

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DSA FAL Para.

Brushbeater gives some good advice about selecting a caliber and weapon type. It is no secret that I am a big fan of the 7.62×51 (.308) and the FAL and M1A (M14) rifles in particular. As much as I would rely on those two rifle types and that caliber, anyone who knows me will also tell you I think everyone needs a quality AR in 5.56 caliber in their gun safe, because it just makes logistical sense. From a Survivalist perspective, the other calibers are generally gimmicks if you are honestly answering the “versatility versus logistics” question in a logical manner. The 5.56 in an AR, and/or 7.62×51 in an FAL or M1A is where it’s at.

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AR carbine (top), or pistol (bottom) in 5.56x45Nato

M1A rifles

M1A Socom with Sage stock (left) M1A Match (right). While the FAL isn’t known for it’s accuracy, the M1A (especially the “Loaded” and “Match” models) are.

The above video was from my M1A Socom shown above, and shot at EVTC. They got it wrong about the ammo however. It was 1970’s era German Ball. This just shows how effective a good flash suppressor can be, even out of a 7.62×51 16″ carbine barrel.

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So You Want A New AR, huh?

Admin Note: I wrote this prior to the contemporary…um…’incident’. But that being said, it’s timely for those just now waking up, those looking to streamline kit, or those simply wanting to read another take on the bewilderment that is the contemporary AR platform. This is NOT a caliber war. Intermediate caliber debates are stupid and get argued by people who don’t know their rear from a hole in the ground about fighting. So if you want to argue why your pet caliber is better than Joe’s pet caliber, there’s whole forums where folks with no experience do that- Go there. Understand?

A Reader’s Question:

Looking to purchase a new ar-15 soon, but am at odds on the caliber. So (many) conflicting opinions on the internet. Could you do an article in the future about the feasibility of each caliber? .223, .308, 6.5 Grendel, 300 ACC Blackout. Considering long term ammo availability as well, that being the primary issue. Thanks.

Parameters Matter

Our first question needs to be what is the purpose of this weapon? Is it going to be a jack of all trades, general purpose home defense rifle? That’s 99.9% of you reading this. Is it going to be an *actual* sporting rifle that you intend to hunt with or is it simply a range toy? If it’s a range toy then what I have to say is going to be irrelevant either way; I’m not wealthy, I can’t afford range toys. Are you buying with the intention that you’re going to need resupply (you should be) at some point or are you planning on going it alone? How do you intend to keep it running? Logistics matter a lot more than what you like best. For sanity’s sake lets look at our options listed above and say that our first rifle is going to be our general purpose, home defense, fight if we have to, carbine. We have .223 (5.56×45), .308 (7.62×51), 6.5 Grendel, and 300 BO. (But, why not 7.62×39??? Because it runs far better in an AK. That’s why.)

300 Blackout

This is, like 6.8 SPC, doomed to be an “also ran” for a lot of reasons. Having shot a good amount of it, the round always seemed like to me an answer in search of a question. “The better mousetrap” I guess. It may have a ballistic advantage in a certain niche, and while I’m NOT a fan out of an AR, it’s interesting out of a bolt gun- but nothing that can’t be done cheaper with more common rounds. Wanting a caliber with the close range ballistics of the 7.62×39, better performance than 5.56 suppressed, and fitting in a standard AR 15 magazine all seems like a worthy notion, but in practice I think it falls flat especially for a Survivalist.

First, it’s not in widespread use. Yeah, sure, such and such or so and so secret squirrel ninjas are rumored to use it (because wikipedia said so), and it’s the hottest thing on the planet this week to the cooler-than-thou range bunny types, but the real story is that it’s a lot of hype for not much gain in any direction, especially if you’re running a standard length barrel unsuppressed (and that’s most all of you). It’s smaller cousin, 5.56, from which it borrows its case is in far more widespread use, every bit as effective at longer ranges (300-600min my experience, and unless you’re explicitly building a rifle to be suppressed-only, you’re not gaining much except for a more expensive ammo budget. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s going to be adopted by anyone in large quantity either. The usuals said that about 6.8 too…which went nowhere. In fact, if it did get picked for large scale .gov use the on-the-shelf supply would dry up faster than .22 LR at a prepper convention.

But, but, I can reload for it! Yeah, right, ok. And when you run out of that supply, eventually, where are you going to find new brass? You don’t have time or ability to worry about digging up brass if you’re laying down the pain on a target. Oh, you’ll ream .223 brass that’s everywhere, that’s right. But you’re doing all that while you’re also runnin’ n’ gunnin’ and survivin’ n’ preppin’ like a doomsday master right? Have you reamed 2,000 of them to resupply your team? Can you? No? That’s what I thought. Shaping brass is a major PITA, and there’s no guarantee that it will even work across varied rifle manufacturers or chamber tolerances. The logistics simply don’t support it, and until they do, and I don’t think they ever will, you should avoid it no matter how much the tacticool gunrag crowd tells you not to. Yeah, it kills stuff. So does 5.56. So does 7.62×39. The dead ain’t gonna compliment you on your boutique round.

6.5 Grendel

Now the Grendel is a neat concept and in many ways perfects the concept of the intermediate round. Interestingly enough, Bill Alexander ( I have a close friend who met him bumbling in a gunshop of all places local to Alexander’s facility, and speaks very highly of the encounter) took a similar path that the British did earlier in the .280 British, which was scrapped as the NATO standard in lieu of the 7.62×51, as the US possessed far larger means to produce .30 cal ammo. (And it kept the MIC in business) But the .280 class round excelled at flat trajectory and carried energy at distance, also reflected in the strengths of its newest incarnation. The Grendel is excellent for shooting at longer distances and being lightweight with low recoil, making it a very attractive round for families of smaller statured shooters or recoil sensitive people to be more effective at longer ranges. Overall, I think it’s a great round and a great idea. It’s an excellent intermediate range cartridge and works very well. But I won’t recommend it as a first or only AR-type weapon.

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Notice the serious lack of meat on the edges of the bolt face? That’s an issue. Whether it’s 7.62×39 or 6.5 Grendel, which share parent cases, this design is NOT optimum for long-term durability.

First, you need special magazines. Like the 6.8, it suffers from needing it’s own due to a unique cartridge taper. This gets expensive and can be complicated, especially for newer shooters. Second, it needs it’s own bolt, which is the same as the 7.62×39 AR bolt face, having much less metal on the lugs. This WILL lead to premature failure compared to the standard AR bolt dimensions, as any 7.62×39 AR shooter will begrudgingly tell you. Ammo itself used to be expensive, but interestingly enough a number of nations are looking at the round as a possible next generation cartridge, including Russia and Serbia. In fact, a 6.5 Grendel AK Vepr was available in the US for a very short time before Molot imports ended up being banned earlier this year. wyEWOWf-660x495Zastava also builds one, and we might see an imported version on our shores along with their Yugo M70 type AKM. As of this writing 6.5 ammo is indeed made by Wolf and is available at many outlets, so stocking up on training ammo is not a problem currently. But that being said, since it’s not (yet) in widespread use, not used by any domestic entity in any measurable quantity, requires specialty magazines, and I don’t foresee a foreign invasion by an army using it, I don’t recommend it as a first or only AR-type weapon.

 

7.62 NATO (308 Winchester)

Unlike the bulk of the gun culture out there, I have combat experience with the SR-25, aka M110 aka SASR. I greatly preferred the M24 when given the option. The M14 EBR was also issued, and I still rather carried the M24. I privately owned a higher-end 7.62×51 AR-10 type weapon for a while, and still prefer a bolt gun. That should tell you what you need to know, but in case it doesn’t, I’ll elaborate.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind questions the power of the 7.62, be it a fighting round or medium game caliber, and in my opinion, it’s the best all around utility cartridge for a Survivalist along with the 12ga, primarily due to it’s commonality and widespread use among…pretty much everyone. I know first hand the destruction both M80 ball and the M118 can deliver on the business end, as well as the freezers I’ve filled growing up with Remington Core-lokt. But I don’t really like it in an AR.

The first problem is defining an industry standard; for the 308 pattern AR, there’s a few out there. The Armalite pattern took a proprietary magazine, the DPMS/Bushmaster yet another, the Rock River took an FAL magazine, etc, etc, with a de-facto industry standard arising with the adoption of the SR-25/M110 type rifle. This led to Magpul making the good quality and inexpensive magazines for it, somewhat resolving one issue, but still, there’s others. Like it’s little brother, the AR10 suffers from varying degrees of quality associated with expense- and if you’re buying “budget”, expect problems. I’ve shot

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Discipline 101. This guy would have severe problems with his rifle should he have needed it. He’s set up a DMR with no flash hider- I hope he knows the amount of dust that kicks up from an effective firing position. Notice the lack of ejection port cover and forward assist? Those were added to the AR design for a reason. In case someone shows up with something like this, at least cover it with duck tape. Don’t go to war with a range toy, Francis. 

enough of them to know and I’m not interested in hearing how your $500 homebuilt runs like a swiss watch. If you’re new to the AR in general, this is a HUGE deal. Malfunctions when it matters not only saps confidence but costs lives. Second, all ARs break stuff in time; if there’s varying degrees of standards, ill fitting parts deadline that weapon and without experience in your fold you’re going to have a heck of a time diagnosing the issue. Big Bore ARs are far less common and not nearly as interchangeable as their 5.56 counterpart. Bolts are a big part of the problem- there’s no one monolithic standard. The new DPMS Gen II makes this even more complicated, blurring the lines between the AR15 and 10 in an attempt to shave weight, using a completely different bolt than anything else on the market. Last, they’re all, to a rifle (again, I’ve got enough experience with them from the bottom end range trash to the Stoner SR-25) finicky about cleanliness. Much more so than the AR-15. In fact, the M110 is widely known among end users for being unreliable- the semi-integral suppressor and extreme close tolerances are the culprits- and keeping a weapon meticulously clean is a challenge on long movements. Trust me, I know. I think LMT has it right with their version that the Brits are using from what I’ve observed, but that’s the only one I can vouch for.

So while I love the 308 round, I don’t love the AR rifles that fire it, and approach with caution if you do. If you’re wanting a semi-auto combat rifle, the FAL, M1A/M14, and G3/PTR-91 types are better options in my experience, in that order. If you just have to have an SR-25 type rifle, don’t cut corners and buy the best quality possible. If standardizing on them as part of a group, buy ones form the same maker to have a known standard between rifles. But you’re walking into SCAR territory in terms of cost when buying quality, and that’s a better weapon all around. Even better still, put the money into a good bolt action rifle with great glass and buy a quality AR15 for everything else. Does this mean they’re all bad? No, it’s just not what you should buy as a first or only AR.

5.56 NATO (.223 Remington)

img_0233Probably the most controversial round ever created among people who talk more than do, the 5.56 since it’s adoption long, long ago either meets scorn or high praise depending on varied levels of experience of the story teller (BS artist). I’ll tell you first hand it always worked fine for me. Fine as in, did it’s job. Nothing more, nothing less.  It did what I expected it to do, every time. The round was designed with certain parameters filling the same void the Kalashnikov did; bigger than a burp gun but playing the same role for the “marching fire” concept that was all the rage post-WWII. A soldier can carry a lot of ammo with not a lot of weight, and the heavier loadings that I favor (69gr Nosler, 77gr OTM, for different purposes) are very effective against a wide variety of targets. Since I’m not bound by any convention anymore (and that works two ways, for all you would-be partisans), I’m not limited to the 62gr green tip- not that it doesn’t work, but a Barnes Varmint grenade or a Nosler BT work dramatically better.

But this ain’t a caliber debate; its a logistics debate. Overwhelmingly the 5.56 is in broad supply, along with the standard magazines and standard dimension parts. Everything about the rifle is a known quantity.  Spare parts, even for top shelf quality, has never been cheaper. The 5.56 AR15 is experiencing a renaissance in the US like few weapons have, and in 20 years it went from being an “army gun carried by the fringe types” in the eyes of the public to being a status symbol along with Ford Trucks and Yeti coolers. It doesn’t make sense not to have one.

And for that reason, you should own one in 5.56 for your first AR. It is not the best of any world (no intermediate cartridge is), but it works and it’s what you’ll find in many people’s hands when need be. It’s not my own favorite round by any means but I know it works from experience. For that matter all of them discussed here work, it’s just a matter of how the logistics figure into the equation long-term. And that answer for the AR-15 is 5.56, period. The design is not going away anytime in the foreseeable future and adding one to your arsenal in its basic form is a logical move. Keep it simple and you’ll keep it effective. Avoid gimmicks, buy quality and train often.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

 

 

A Survivalist Self Assessment

MDT Patches1-1

I was recently going through an old journal I kept when I was a young Survivalist (15 years old), and I came across a self assessment test that I apparently thought was important enough to write out verbatim in 1985 (I decided to re-write it in a Word format now). I have copied what I had written in the journal here for your own perusal and use. It was originally put out by a company called “Safety City” of Washington D.C.. I tried to find out if they still existed, but all attempts at googling that business showed nothing available. Some people think that if it’s not the latest and greatest info (this is 32 years old), it is “obviously” sub par. Think what you will, but I challenge you to come up with a more exhaustive generalized skills and equipment checklist. Enjoy.

On the Warpath

Taken about the same time that I wrote this assessment down.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

A: HOME MANAGEMENT/HANDICRAFTS

  1. Home Water Purification/Storage
  2. Food Processing/Canning/Dehydrating/Storage
  3. Hand Powered Home/Kitchen Appliances
  4. Nutrition/Home Economics
  5. Soaps/Candle Making
  6. Home Product Chemistry/Formulation Process
  7. Spinning/Weaving
  8. Sewing/Knitting/Crocheting
  9. Home Energy/Resource Conservation
  10. Other__________________________

 

B: HOME BACK-UP SYSTEMS 

  1. Back-Up Home heating Systems
  2. Back-Up Home Lighting Systems
  3. Back-Up Range/Cooking Systems
  4. Back-Up Home Water Heating/Pressure Systems
  5. Back-Up Food Refrigeration/Freezing Systems
  6. Back-Up Home Electrical Systems
  7. Back-Up Home Waste Disposal/Composting
  8. Back-Up Communication/Signaling Systems
  9. Other_______________________________

 

C: MEDICAL/DENTAL

  1. First Aid
  2. Non-Prescription Drugs/Medications
  3. Paramedical Skills
  4. Medicine/Surgery
  5. Pharmacology
  6. Nursing/Midwifery
  7. Medical Lab Technology
  8. Paradental Skills
  9. Dentistry/Oral Surgery
  10. Public Health/Epidemiology
  11. Medicinal Herbs/Plants
  12. Natural/Folk Medicine
  13. Other______________

 

D: FOOD PRODUCTION

  1. Gardening/Organic-Hydroponic
  2. Greenhouse Construction/Use
  3. Fruit Tree/Small Orchard Cultivation
  4. Beekeeping
  5. Small Animal Husbandry
  6. Aquaculture
  7. Farmstead Operation/Maintenance/Management
  8. Other______________

 

E: MECHANICS/BUILDING/FABRICATION/PROCESSING

  1. Hand Tools Use/Maintenance
  2. Wood Cutting Equipment/Skills
  3. Bicycle Maintenance/Repair
  4. Small Engine Maintenance/Repair
  5. Auto/Truck Maintenance/Repair
  6. Home Appliance Repair
  7. Home Electrical System Repair/Maintenance
  8. Plumbing
  9. Carpentry/Woodworking
  10. Masonry/Concrete
  11. Metalworking/Blacksmithing/Weld-Solder
  12. Wood/Coal Stove Design/Fabrication
  13. Rope/Cable/Rigging Skills
  14. Well Drilling/Pumping Systems
  15. Trailer/RV/Mobile Home/Design/Fabrication
  16. Construction/Cabins/Sheds/Domes/Field Expedient Structures
  17. Tanning/Leatherwork
  18. Shoemaking/Shoe Repair
  19. Other________________

 

F: ENERGY SYSTEMS

  1. Wood/Coal Energy Systems
  2. Solar Energy-Passive/Active Systems/Photovotaics
  3. Wind Energy/Voltaics
  4. Alcohol Fuel Production
  5. Liquid Propane Energy Systems
  6. Steam Power Systems
  7. Water Power Systems/Hydraulics
  8. Pedal Power Systems
  9. Other_________________

 

G: OUTDOOR LIVING/PIONEERING

  1. Backpacking/Camping Skills
  2. Foraging/Wilderness Survival
  3. Hunting Skills
  4. Fishing Skills
  5. Skiing/Mountaineering
  6. Swimming/Lifesaving
  7. Canoeing/Kayaking
  8. Open Water/Deep Sea Survival
  9. Search/Rescue Procedures
  10. Other__________________

 

H: SECURITY/SELF-/HOME-DEFENSE SKILLS

  1. Home Security/Defense Systems
  2. Individual/Small-Group Defensive Tactics
  3. Personal Protection/Combat Skills
  4. Rifle Skills
  5. Pistol/Revolver Skills
  6. Shotgun Skills
  7. Non-Lethal Weapons/Defensive Skills
  8. Scouting/Patrol Skills
  9. Improvised Fortification Systems
  10. Lethal Weapons/Firearms Safety/Discipline/Responsibility
  11. Firearms Marksmanship
  12. Ammunition/Handloading
  13. Gunsmithing/Firearms Repair
  14. Blackpowder Firearms Skills
  15. Crossbow/Tomahawk/Blowgun Skills
  16. Edged Weapon Skills/Knife Fighting
  17. Other_________________________

 

I: EVACUATION, MOBILE SURVIVAL/RETREAT SYSTEMS

  1. Backpack Systems
  2. Bicycle Systems
  3. Motorcycle Systems
  4. Canoe/Small Boat Systems
  5. Automobile/Truck Systems
  6. Four Wheel Drive Vehicle Systems
  7. Recreational Vehicle/Trailer Systems
  8. Sail/Powerboat Systems
  9. Aircraft Systems
  10. Individual/Family Retreat Planning/Design
  11. Group/Organization Retreat Planning/Design
  12. Other_______________________________

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE:

There are four sections that you can complete for each topic within each category. “Interest Level”, the “Present Skill Level”, a “Desired Skill Level”, and finally the “Willing To Develop/Provide Training For Others” section.

Section One would be your “INTEREST LEVEL”.

Under “Interest Level” is three categories, “NONE”, “SOME”, and “HIGH”. These are self explanatory.

Section Two would be your “PRESENT SKILL LEVEL”. 

The four levels of skill are, “NONE”, “APPRENTICE”, “JOURNEYMAN”, and “MASTER”. Be honest with yourself, it is a self assessment. You will never get better if you aren’t honest with yourself about where you are presently at.

Section Three is “DESIRED SKILL LEVEL”.

If you indicated in the “Interest Level” section that your interest was high in a given area, fill out your “Desired Skill Level” for those areas. Those levels would be “APPRENTICE’, “JOURNEYMAN” and “MASTER”. This will give you something to strive for.

Last but not least is Section Four which is “WILLING TO DEVELOP/PROVIDE TRAINING FOR OTHERS” and consists of whether you are willing to teach any area that you have a “Master’s” level of skill in. This is just a simple “YES” or “NO”.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Two things I added to my list years ago in the “Other” sections of two of the categories were as follows: in Category “G” I included Trapping, because if you are going to include “Hunting” and “Fishing’ as their own categories, “Trapping” deserves it’s own too. I also added ATV Systems to Category “I”, because they are not an automobile, and they have many more “Survivalist” oriented capabilities than a motorcycle.

Sometimes it is very hard to get an idea of what you need to learn or invest in, where you are at with skills and equipment, and where you want to be regarding skills and gear. Hopefully, this assessment will help you figure out some of those needs.

MDT Class 16-3-1-1

Still striving to complete the assessment 32 years later, but I’m a lot closer.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

 

Short And Sweet. The AR Pistol, And The Mossberg Shockwave, A Raison d’etre

Short guns2

Mossberg 590 Shockwave on top, 11.5″ inch barreled SIG M400 AR pistol with SB Tactical PDW collapsible brace and Spec Ops buttstock mag pouch with an AR 20 rounder in it. The Brace is in the collapsed position.

Recently, the BATFE has “ruled” that it is now (for now) legal to shoulder rifle type (AR, AK, etc.) pistols that have what is termed an arm brace on the rear of the weapon. From what I read, the ruling originally made by the BATFE back in 2015 said that shouldering the brace was considered a “redesign” of the weapon, and thus made it into a “Short Barreled Rifle” (SBR). The BATFE has now reversed that opinion, and you can read about it here.

Short guns1

Here the SB Tactical brace is in the fully extended position. The Shockwave is 26.5″ for scale.

On the shotgun front, we now have 14″ barreled shotguns with a birdhead grip, that are not classified as “Short Barreled Shotguns” (SBS) or “Any Other Weapon” (AOW). This is apparently because Mossberg figured out that if you start with a brand new receiver and register it as a “Firearm” instead of a “Shotgun”, the only length restriction for it was an overall minimum length of 26″ instead of that plus a minimum barrel length of 18″ (requirement for a standard shotgun) as long as it never had a buttstock or regular 18″ or longer barrel on it when built.

Regardless, I have been watching this for a while now. I have owned an AR pistol for almost two years, and recently purchased a Mossberg 590 Shockwave. Although I thought the original ruling on the illegality of AR pistols being shouldered was ridiculous, I’m also was not foolish enough to get pinched by doing it. My AR pistol was plenty accurate by shooting it with other methods that were not shouldered, but just as stable.

Why concern yourself with getting something like an AR pistol, when you can have a 16′ rifle. True, you can have a 16″ rifle, but can you legally carry that rifle loaded in your vehicle like you can a pistol. I don’t know about you, but I know of a few people that had something that was considered illegal (firearms wise) in their vehicle, and ended up in an accident which revealed that illegal item, and that ended up causing even more problems than just the accident would have. If you don’t plan on having any accidents, let me know, cuz………yeah, whatever.

Short guns7.jpg

Standard 16.5″ barreled M-4 on top, the Sig 11.5″ barreled M400 below for comparison.

If given the option, you always choose to have a rifle for self defense if at all possible. Anyone who does not agree with that, does not understand the realities of self defense and the degree to which a rifle user can dominate a handgun opponent in a fight. Here’s another example. In my state of PA, you cannot legally carry a loaded rifle in the state forest unless it is hunting season, and you have a license. Guess who can LEGALLY carry his AR “pistol” in the woods….. Yup, ME.

Guys who talk about having their “Minuteman Kit” in their vehicle, but are using a rifle aren’t really what I’d call a “Minuteman” since they have to dig out their rifle and load it. It’s not instant access, is it? I already mentioned PA’s rifle requirement in the state forest, but here’s another requirement. If you have a long gun in your vehicle, it must be unloaded and cased. Guess what doesn’t need to be unloaded and cased in your vehicle in PA? Yup, you guessed it, a rifle type “pistol”. The brand and model you get isn’t as important as understanding the advantages to having a rifle type pistol, especially if you have a carry permit.

SBR

SBR’s are a lot of fun, but the initial paperwork, and the administrative paperwork required for transport is a PITA. Also, you can’t carry an SBR for protection like you can an AR or AK type pistol.

As to the Mossberg 590 Shockwave. When I found out about them last year, I started doing some research and determined that they were not just a gimmick, but had some legitimate uses besides that of door breaching. I have owned a Mossberg 590 (20″ barrel, 9 shot) since 1988 when they were adopted by the military. Over the last 29 years it has had thousands of rounds through it, and never had one issue. I carried a 590 in Iraq (18.5″ barrel, 6 shot), and it’s function was flawless when in use.

Shotgun.JPG

Military issue Mossberg 590 with an 18.5″ barrel and 5 shot magazine (5+1)

One of the reasons I am partial to Mossberg’s pump shotguns is because of the placement of their safety. It is completely ambidextrous, and having not only hunted with, but also qualified with and carried an Rem 870 as a duty weapon ( and it’s “less than optimal” placement of the safety for a lefty), I appreciate the convenience and accessibility of the Mossberg safety by either hand.

Short guns5

Top is pictured a Condor shotgun scabbard for up to a 20″ barrel. I modified its length to fit the Shockwave exactly, and the Condor ammo pouch on the front of it holds up to 25 rounds. The Shockwave can either be carried in the scabbard on the side of a rucksack or back of a vest (it has molle attachment points), it can be slung while in the scabbard, or it can be carried via a sling attached to the QD sling points on the pistol grip and the magazine nut.

Short guns6

The 590 Shockwave is a 14″ barreled, birds head gripped, 6 shot (5+1), 12 gauge with an overall length of 26.5″. What are some of the uses I’ve come up with for the Shockwave? Well, let’s see, can you think of a better gun to have in a tent when you’ve been woken up at 0130hrs by a bear intent on getting those krispy creme donuts you left sitting on your pack? Would you rather have a pistol or a short shotgun in that instance considering you are half asleep, it is dark, and a bear moves pretty fast, unlike you.

Short guns3

A Shockwave or AR pistol would easily fit in one of these weapon concealment shelves by Tactical Walls.

What about you guys who have those nifty mantle or shelf gun holders near your front door. Look up the penetration levels of 00 Buckshot, or even better yet, #6 birdshot, compared to a 9mm. Read those, then tell me whether you think a shotgun is better than an average pistol (9mm) for an apartment. When I went out and shot it the first time, I took some birdshot hunting loads with me to see if it was at all viable as a small game gun.

Short guns4

The difference in length between a typical 18.5″ barreled, pistol gripped shotgun and the Shockwave is about two inches.

Both at 10 and 15 yards the pattern on an 8 inch target with #6 high brass was in the 80% range for shot on target. This target was over another bigger target to see approximately how many shot missed it. Would I chose it as my primary small game gun? Of course not. Would it work in a pinch for small game? Absolutely! Of course it would be easily maneuverable in a vehicle, due to it’s short overall length, and as already mentioned, people, especially military and LEO’s, automatically think of this as a door breaching gun, and it definitely would excel at it.

If you have a need for a very compact “Long gun”, and are able to buy either one of these types of guns, I highly recommend them. Are they a necessity? Generally not, but that is situationally dependent. What they are is convenient, and a lot of fun to shoot, even after what they can do for you in a defensive situation.

I know some of you get pissed off when people discuss legalities, and the laws pertaining to guns, but here is how I look at it. Can you get SBR’s and AOW’s in most states? Yes. Are they highly restricted concerning their transportation? Yes. You can either try to comply with what is on the books so you don’t have to worry about getting caught with a National Firearms Act (NFA) weapon and catch a Federal charge, or you can use what is legally available and make it work for you.

It’s easy to say things like “I don’t give a shit what is legal, the second amendment gives me the authority to Fill in the blank (carry concealed, own a unregistered SBR or AOW, etc.)”. Although I agree with your premise, when the reality of that statement hits you in the face with jail time (loss of freedom, probable loss of your job, and hefty fines, not to mention how it will effect your family economically and emotionally) simply because you wanted to violate a law you thought didn’t “apply to you”. In hindsight, you will feel like three kinds of a fool, and wish you had the opportunity to change what you did. Is what the Gov does to people in these instances wrong? You bet it is, but it doesn’t change the “real time reality” for the individual that gets caught one bit, does it?

JCD

American by BIRTH Infidel by CHOICE