Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Was that a major bait-and-switch, or what? Here we are pretty confident that the end of the world is going to be some sort of global economic meltdown and some wiseguy decides to let Captain Tripps loose in Mexico knowing it’ll make its ‘undocumented’ way across the border to infect those evil Americans.

Guess I’ll have to make sure we’re stocked up on disinfectant and that sort of thing.

I’m fortunate in that my work doesn’t put me into contact with too many people. The people I do come into contact with are usually fairly hygienic. The wife, on the other hand, deals with the wastes of society almost every day. I may have to design some sort of decontamination shower outside the house for her to use before being allowed in.

Hey, you know what one of the biggest vectors is for the spread of infectious disease? Theres the usual suspects – doorknobs, elevator buttons, telephones, etc. – but one of the biggest is money. It changes hands frequently, moves around all over the country, and spends time in peoples pockets with their Kleenex, and snuggles right next to those warm, moist parts of our anatomy that germs love so dearly. Money is some nasty stuff.

I suppose in a worst-case scenario therell be some fractures in the infrastructure…schools will close, delivery of goods and food may slow as truckers and shipping outfits deal with a sick workforce, people will get pushed further into a financial hole as one or both members of the household cant go in to work, etc, etc.

Disturbingly absent from the news out of Mexico is any indication either way about whether infected people who die are or are not ‘coming back’ with a hunger for brains. I believe the media is keeping a lid on that part at the behest of the .gov. Better play it safe and unpack the machetes.

So…you can’t just board yourself up in the house and stay put till its all over. Someone has to go to work, go shopping, etc, etc. Lets take some precautions. The missus and I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the truck. Whenever we leave some major bacteriopallooza like WalMart the first thing we do is use a big dollop of that goo on our hands. Unless you’ve washed your hands or used some antibacterial on them, don’t touch your face, mouth, or any other body part with openings. Especially don’t walk through CostCo, pushing your cart with your hands on a germy shopping cart handle, and then use those same hands to pick up a slice of pizza in the food court. You may as well just wipe your pizza along the floor in the restrooms. Wash your freakin’ hands. If you can, be conscious of what youre handling…people a lot scuzzier, filthier and more diseased than you may have been using that phone, handled that shopping cart handle, pushed that elevator button, used that toilet seat, or typed with that keyboard. If you cant disinfect the object, then disinfect your hands after using that object. Or, to put it another way, pretend every item in the world is covered in a layer of dog crap. Now, after touching those items do you really want to pick up a hot dog, handle your kids food, put your wifes toothbrush in the medicine cabinet, or put a stick of gum in your mouth? Didn’t think so. Wash the hands. Often.

I’m a huge fan of those little bleach wipes that you see for sale these days. Clorox makes a ‘pocket pack’ of these things. I keep one in my bag at all times. In addition to wiping down the handles of shopping baskets and shopping carts it gives tremendous peace of mind if you have to use a public restroom. I try not to get fanatical about various products but I definitely recommend the Clorox pocket packs. Other companies make similar products and theyre probably just as good. Get some and use them.

Naturally, there are those who say that an opposite strategy is called for. Go lick doorknobs, roll around in medical waste, and eat spoiled food…it’ll build your immune system up to the point where you’ll be bulletproof. There may be a grain of truth to that for the kids. However, Im over 40..any immunities I was gonna build up are either there or theyre not. Im at the stage in my life where Im going to take every advantage I can and if that means a garden sprayer full of Clorox to disinfect my world and keep me from puking and coughing myself into an early grave, then so be it. If the massive-exposure-equals-massive-resistance school of thought is so darn effective then go have unprotected sex with a couple dozen crack whores…lemme know how that AIDS immunity thing works out for you.

On the less dramatic side, its always a good idea to be prepared for a shutdown or slowdown of the system that keeps gas at the filling station, food at the markets and money at the banks. Stored food, stored fuel, cash in the safe…if things became insanely weird and people had to stay in their homes we’d be set for quite some time. You should have all that stuff stored away by now anyway.

However, I’ll go on record saying that it isn’t going to come to that. Why? Because the US isn’t a Third World country like China or Mexico when it comes to this sort of thing. That’s not racism or blind nationalism talking…that’s the facts. Think about these words: Mexican health care system…Chinese infectious disease response plan…. Either of those sound terribly confidence inspiring? Fact is, despite what gasbags like Michael Moore might say, the US probably has some of the most advanced medical research, treatment and production capabilities on the planet. (A side effect, so to speak, of the ‘for profit’ medical system in this country.) If there is any country on this planet that can put the brakes on a disease or ailment its probably this one or one just as advanced. Mexico and China? They get diseases, they don’t cure them. Will the US see outbreaks of this ‘Mexican flu’? Of course. But I would almost guarantee that the rate of death from it will be lowest in the US compared to any other country. And it will probably be the least disruptive in this country…that’s not to say there won’t be disruptions, just that compared to other countries we’ll be getting off light.

Of course, playing the odds isn’t what people like you and I do in regards to things like this. We look at a 90% chance of nothing happening as a 10% chance of a trainwreck. Nothing wrong with that…better to have it and not need it, etc, etc. So..I’ll keep an eye on the news, try to read between the lines, and take any preventative steps that I think we need to take. Right now I think Im just going to make sure we have a couple gallons of fresh bleach, some more bleach wipes, cold/flu meds, and do a little research on other pandemics.

Letters to the editor

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Some nosebleed sent this in to the local rag’s letter to the editor page:

No reason for assault weapons
We do not own guns, but we do respect the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to bear arms. Our son and grandsons are hunters; we value their rights as long as they are responsible gun owners. We also respect the right of our neighbors to have a gun to protect themselves and their property. However, assault weapons do not fit into either of the above categories. Assault weapons have one purpose: to kill people. When the Second Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, such assault weapons, as are currently available, were unthinkable.

Therefore, it was both disappointing and alarming to read the statement of our Montana congressional delegation: their unqualified rejection of the current administration’s attempt to ban all assault weapons. We understand the political strength of the gun lobby in Montana, which can make or break a politician. However, it is frightening to realize that our elected representatives in Washington are being held hostage to the arrogant demands of Montana’s gun lobby in return for its political support.

We therefore urge all Montanans who believe in the right to bear arms in conjunction with the responsibility therein, to speak out in support of the current resolution to ban those so-called “assault weapons,” which not only take lives but contribute to the surge in violence in this already violent country.

Now, come on, it’s Montana fer crying out loud…we aren’t exactly a high crime area even though we’re better armed than many small countries. Heck, its because we’re so well armed that we have a lower crime rate. So, I fired off my own missive to the editorial page:

[name’s] letter of April 24 calling for a ban on undefined ‘assualt weapons’ contains two contrary statements. [Name] respects “the right of our neighbors to have a gun to protect themselves and their property” but would deny them guns that “have one purpose: to kill people”. Perhaps [name] somehow feels that we should be defending ourselves with guns that aren’t designed to kill people. I believe they’re in the toy department at WalMart, the brand name is “Nerf”. I value my life and wife’s life enough that when self-defense with a gun is our only option for continued safety I want the meanest, ugliest, most evil looking bullet spewing contraption that ever stalked a battlefield. Actually, I want two of them – one for me and one for the wife. [Name] is welcome to use a rolled up newspaper, flyswatter or one of those little toy guns that has a cork on a string sticking in the end of the barrel; my wife and I will keep our ‘assault weapons’ and urge others to do the same.

I would bet money the original letter writer isn’t “from around here” and hails from CA, CO, IL, NY or some similar venue.

media, .22 ammo issues, link to PM

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

There doesn’t seem to be any consensus in the media about what exactly is the state of the economy. Some say its getting better, some say its going to get worse…no one really seems to agree on anything except that, at this very moment, it’s “not good”…where it goes from here seems to be anyone’s guess. People trot out all sorts of numbers or stats to bolster their arguments but the other side pulls out equally convincing stats and figures. I figure the best thing to do is err on the side of caution – assume its going to get worse and plan accordingly.

I can look around me and see what the economy is doing..if I see new construction, new cars being sold, formerly vacant storefronts sprouting new business, then I think that maybe things are on an upswing. If I see a lot of ‘going out of business’ and ‘for lease’ signs on commercial properties, new car dealerships slashing their own throats to sell cars, people in the construction biz getting laid off, then I figure maybe things aren’t going so well. As of late I see more of the negative indicators than positive ones.

My completely uneducated and unsupportable opinion: we’re in a difficult time and while there will be an end to it, it isn’t in sight yet.
I’ve been wanting to do some shooting lately but I have difficulty bringing myself to crack open a new brick of Federal .22 when I can’t get any more at the moment. Although I have thousands and thousands of rounds of the stuff squirreled away I don’t feel comfortable actually shooting it right now. The stuff we have stockpiled is put away for situations more prolonged and dire than the current ones and pulling a brick or two out of that stash just seems wasteful and dishonest. This isn’t an emergency, a prolonged crisis or similar scenario…its s temporary shortage, an inconvenience, really. Pulling ammo out of that stash would be like breaking into the long-term stored food because Domino’s was closed that evening.

Having said that, I am told that my local WallyWorld will have some ammo this evening and I plan on going down there and picking up a decent enough amount that I can earmark it specifically for recreational shooting. This way maybe I’ll be able to go enjoy myself at the range without feeling guilty.
Speaking of the economy, I do pick up a little bit of precious metals from time to time. For the last year or so I’ve been getting them from a local source. I don’t get any sort of kickback for recommending them, but I’ll go ahead and do it anyway – www.montanararities.com . Unlike a lot of folks these days, they have the stuff on hand for immediate shipping. Make sure to mention that I sent you.

1994 vs. Now

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Seen it before, pal. Pull up a chair, younguns, an I’ll tell you about the Great Primer Scare and the 1994 buying frenzy and how this current scenario compares.

Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s there was a rumour going around that the Clintonistas were going to mandate that all primers would degrade to the point of being inert within a set amount of time (usually six months). The idea behind this was that us evil right-wingers and gun nuts (or, as I prefer, ‘Ballistic-Americans’) wouldnt be able to stockpile ammo for our guns since in six months it would be useless. This sort of thing certainly sounded like something Slick Willie would pull…after all, this was the time of Janet Reno, Waco, and some pretty heavy-handed federal policing. Folks naturally started stocking up on primers…and it became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: you stocked up on primers against there not being any more and everyone else started to do the same. As a result, primers became scarce which validated peoples fears and made them buy more primers.

Eventually, people came to their senses. At the time, the technology wasnt there to make a primer that would go inert at six months without possibly going inert alot sooner or alot later. It was like trying to make an ice cube that would melt to nothingness at a precise moment.

I know people who, even today, have thousands and thousands of primers stockpiled after that incident ‘just in case’ something like that happens again. I see one of ‘em in the mirror every day.

In 1994 the Assualt Weapons ban came up and your $5 surplus AR mags suddenly commanded about five or ten times that. Any new magazine had to hold only ten rounds and alot of manufacturers played it safe and made them so theyd only hold nine since a guy with strong thumbs might be able to squeeze in an extra and get the manufacturer in trouble with Reno & Co. Again, people started stocking up and AR’s, AK’s and all that cool stuff was flying off the shelf. I have one buddy who, having missed the boat, had to take the last AR left in the shop…one of those ‘commemorative’ models with silver plating and lettering in wierd places. Looks pimptacular but it is an AR and at least he had one. I do give him a hard time about his ‘pimp gun’ though.

Magazines that held more than 10 rounds skyrocketed in value. Those capacious Glock mags that hold 30 rounds of 9mm would go for $100. A BetaMag could go as high as $700. And if you had something really funky that took mags that were already expensive (HK, Steyr, Valmet, etc.) you were gonna be forking out big bucks. Into this mix came new guns, like the SR-25, AR10 clones etc. that, since they were made after the ban, never even had a factory 10+ mag until 2004.

Today, its a familiar story with some different overtones. Folks are buying guns and mags like they’re going out of style…no doubt about it. But theyre also stocking up on ammo…not a box or ten like you’d think. We’re talking about guys walking out of gun shows with hand trucks loaded down with outrageously priced ammo…prices that two years ago would have made you laugh in the vendors face and say “Yeah, right!”.

The biggest differences I’ve seen compared to the Great Primer Scare, the ‘94 Ban. the Y2K Panic and even the earlier ‘86 Executive Order banning imports are:

  • Quantity – Ive been involved in this sort of thing for twenty years and I have never seen people unblinkingly drop as much money on guns, mags and components as I have lately. People don’t bat an eye at spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at a pop because they know that if they dont buy it that moment someone else will be there right behind them to buy it.
  • Reloading components – primers and powder always start flying out the door. Theyre consumables with almost no DIY alternative. Bullets can be made at home if you have to but making your own smokelss powder and primers is practically impossible.  Although there was a definite increase in past panics they were nothing comapred to this current one. I have called vendors who normally have thousands of varieties of brass and bullets and they can tell me everything they have in inventory in one breath. Makes you wonder why the even come in and turn the lights on.
  • Reloading equipment – This is the biggest departure from previous panics. Good luck finding an RCBS set of .223, .308, 9mm, .357 or .45 ACP dies at the local shop. These are durable goods…things that will last a lifetime….and people are stocking up on them too. I called RCBS to order a bullet mould out of their Special List. Previously the voice on the end says “You are caller number…” and usually its caller three or four if theres a wait…often theres no wait. Last time I called I was caller #39 in queue. When I finally got to talk to a human it was moot – they were out of everything I wanted. I need 24 sets of various caliber dies. I got 5 and had to get that from three different vendors. That, my friends, is people thinking for the long haul.
  • Survivalist subsets – more and  more of the people buying guns and ammo in huge quantities are also doing waht can only be described as ‘gearing up’ for…something. In addition to the guns, ammo, components and reloading gear theyre buying freeze dried food, water storage, solar panels, etc. The natives are restless.

So, historically, we are in uncharted waters on this one. In this economy, where folks may not have a job in a few weeks, people are still willing to take the plunge and buy five AR’s, or a case of 100 magazines, or 20,000 primers, or five cases of ammo. That shows that they genuinely believe, right or wrong, that what theyre buying won’t be available in the future.

Having had a front row seat for the ten years of the 1994 AW ban I made bloody sure that I wouldnt get caught when (not if) they tried that stunt again. As a result, I’m not paying $1500 for AR’s, $25 for mags, or $40 for a case of primers.

Anyway, its going to be a bumpy ride. In a few years maybe we’ll all be buying huge caches of discounted components at yard sales. Or maybe we’ll be paying $2 per round for South African .308. If the current panic buying is anything to go by, the latter looks more likely than the former.

Patriots Day

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

April 19th is the traditional Patriot’s Day. In some states it is celebrated as such, in some it goes under a different name, and in far too many locales it goes by completely unobserved.

I always try to spend Patriot’s Day at the range, since I think the holiday is best marked by gunfire or firworks reminiscent of gunfire. I also tend to contemplate (more than I usually do) the roled .gov should or should not have, and the powers it should and should not have. I should probably incorporate reading some Heinlein or Rand into the holiday as well but usually im too busy cleaning guns at the end of the day.

Regardless, it is my hope that you’ll mark the holiday and even research it a little.

Too fast and then too slow – Ruger MkII

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Well, remember how I said I picked up that MkII the other day because it might be a long time until I find the MkII that I really wanted? Yeah. It was a long time, alright. About 36 hours. Went to the gun show and some guy had one in the box for sale. :::facepalm::: After none-too-subtle urging from my friend (”C’mon, you know you want it. You just said that it was the exact one you were looking for and that who knew when youd find another?”) I went back to the guys table at the gun show just in time to see an acquaintance of mine scoop it out from under me.

Such is life. Gotta be philosophical about it…that gun will always be out there. Eventually Ill come across another one. Might cost more, but it’ll be there sooner or later.

In the meantime, I can console myself with the MkII I picked up the other day and not feel too bad about it.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Department of Redundancy Department:

Another Browning P35 rescued from a life of belonging to someone who isn’t me. T-series serial number putting it as made in the mid/late 1960’s….gun is as old as I am, apparently. It appears to have weathered the years a bit better than me, though. Came with four mags, Pachmyers, buncha ammo, a low end leather pancake holster, a Safariland doublemag pouch, a surplus canvas mag pouch, and a set of Redding dies (steel, unfortunately…carbide woulda been too much to hope for.) Price? $400. And I kicked back $20 to the guy that turned me on to the widow who didn’t have the upper body strength/coordination to work the slide and thus wanted to sell her deceased husbands Browning to get a .357. (The guy in question who turned me onto this deal also gets his own freakishly weird deals too…like guy two weeks ago who brought in a keg of ‘gunpowder’ he found in his grandfathers garage. Turned out to be a 25# keg of DuPont blasting powder. Some guys have all the luck.)

What number HiPower is this? Uhm…well, lets just say we passed the tertiary level of backup a while ago. The Browning is a ‘secondary standard’ handgun for the LMI and, honestly, I’ve always liked them. This one will probably go into the safe for The Long Sleep, but you never know…might trade it out for another Glock at some point. Seriously, who wouldn’t buy a high-quality paperless semiautomatic handgun these days when given the opportunity?

So…I had my outrageous impulse purchase of the day and, if I were smart, would have quit while I was ahead. Then I made the exceedingly poor tactical decision to stop in at a local gun shop to say hi to the fella behind the counter. And found this:

Ruger MkII bull barrel .22 LR. Not the newer, and in my opinion less desirable Mk III, but the older MkII. Gun came with 2 mags. (Picked up a few extras while I was there.) I’ve been wanting a heavy barrel MkII for a while now but havent been able to find one. What I really wanted was a stainless, slab-sided MkII Target model but figured it might be a while till I can find one and have the cash at the same time. So…half a loaf being better than none, I picked up this one. Price? $225. I have hit my threshold for gun purchases for a while…I need to lay off them until my wallet heals. However, I am pleased…the MkII was a hole in my gun wishlist and it is now filled. I need to pick up about a dozen more mags and I’ll be set. Oh, and I’m gonna try to find a nice aftermarket Baughman ramp to replace that holster-destroying undercut Patridge sight. And maybe get it threaded for a supressor.

In the meantime, we really really really need to get another gun safe.