Chile, Gun Show

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

Im waiting for self-appointed spokesman for all things enviromental, Al Gore, to appear at a podium somewhere and proclaim that the recent two-fer of massive earthquakes is the result of global warming. You know its gonna happen, right?

After the Haiti quake, folks probably thought “Wow, that sucks. I guess it could happen here but what are the odds?”. I’m sure now its more along the lines of “Uhh…coincidence. Yeah, one-in-a-billion shot. Nothing to see here. :::pause::: Uhm, where can I find a map of tectonic plates and fault lines?”

As Ive mentioned, Montana isnt impervious to earthquakes but Im putting the risk of a devastating one at somewhere between slim and none. Yeah, theres that whole Yellowstone supervolcano stuff but, really, if the thing goes kablooey every 10,000 years or something what are the odds that my fifty year lifepsan in Montana coincides with when the next 10,000 year eruption occurs? (well, statistically, I guess 1:200..which is, what?, a .5% chance?)

Again, like Haiti, this episode in Chile will be a rare and precious opportunity to examine disaster on a national scale. Chile is at least somewhat more modern and civilized than Haiti so Im curious to see how the whole thing is handled. So far all Im taking away from the Haitian episode is that you cant have enough shotgun sheels, drinking water or long-term food.
Gun show this weekend. So far havent seen anything truly compelling although I have an awesome find on ammo cans that I need to post about later. I did see a S&W 940 9m revolver I wouldnt mind having. ARs and AKs were in short supply although magazines were not. AR mags are coming down and it appears that $15-20 is the new norm. Primers and ammo are still outrageous and out of stock. I did find a fella selling surplus UM-84/M12 military holsters and I might need a few of them for my P35s. Did pick up a nice UM-84 4-mag 1911 pouch for $10. Thats a ncie little find. Trochmann wasnt there so the pickings in the ’survival and milita stuff’ were a little thin. Did see a semi-auto belt-fed 1919 for $2k. Nice but it seems like those things never work right. I need to go back tomorrow and pick up a few things so perhaps Ill have some pictures when I get back.

More armorers class stuff

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

Some people have asked me, since the armorers course, what parts to keep handy for the Glock. The course was fairly instructive on that and the attendees contributed their own experiences with what breaks and doesn’t break. (By the by, from what I hear from gun rental ranges the auto that breaks least are the Ruger P series.)

According to the instructor, and this was supported by the attendees, more parts are lost than broken. The Glock has only about 36 parts to the whole gun, a few of those parts are pretty small and can be easily lost. However, the parts that are easily lost are parts that are normally only removed from the gun during a complete takedown which is usually only done when youre fixing the gun or detail stripping for an annual inspection or something. Field stripping leaves almost no part big enough to lose.

Number one on the list is the trigger spring. This is the little coil spring that returns the trigger. Apparently on the 4th gen there have been some minor changes to the surfaces the spring attaches to in order to reduce the chance of spring breakage. The issue of this spring breaking can be removed completely by replacing it with one of the NY Trigger assemblies. These things increase the trigger pull to (supposedly) simulate a pull similar to a DA revolver. However the big plus is that the NYT unit is a zillion times more robust and will not break. So, either two spare trigger springs or two NYT trigger units.
Either unit, according to the Glock catalog, are $1 ea. Total outlay for suspenders-and-a-belt: $4

Recoil spring assemblies have, apparently, been quietly beefed up. Look at the end of your recoil spring assembly. Should have some numbers stamped on it. That same end should have what looks like a nick or notch or groove on it. That notch denotes the newer model. Catalog says $5 ea.

Spring cups are parts that seem to get lost rather than break or wear. $2 per set of two halves. This is a good time to talk about the maritime cups. These things are supposedly to let you shoot your Glock underwater. (Instructor had several stories about this and the foolish escapades people engaged in to demo this feature…notably, several holed swimming pools and bathtubs. Which leads to………….) The maritime cups, ordered from Glock, require LE letterhead to order. However, the instructor told us that the regular cups let you shoot underwater as well..just not as efficiently. He also mentioned that shooting your Glock underwater can lead to personal injury through the conductive nature of the water. Pissing blood and damaged ears were mentioned. While Glock requires some hoopjumping if you order from them, you can find them elsewhere with less hassle. I suppose if youre a SEAL or Ed Norton you might need them over the regular ones.

Various small parts that get lost include:
Pins – there are three (usually). $1-2 each. Trigger pin, receiver pin, locking block pin.
Slide stop lever and spring – $5. Usually damaged from careless reassembly.
Trigger and trigger bar – $10
Trigger mechanism housing with ejector – $5
Assorted small springs $1-2

The major stuff, like barrels and extractors, are a good bit more but other than those almost every part is only a few bucks. You could put together a very comprehensive spare parts kit for less than $50 and if you wanted to go nuts you could make a damn impressive one for about $100. The Glock manual also lists recommended quantities of spare parts to keep on hand per 100, 500, 1000, and 2000 pistols. it is interesting to note that for some parts, the recommended quantity to keep on hand per one hundred guns is three.

So there you have it. Something to take away from the armorers class. Nothing that really changes my plans on what spare parts to keep around, although with the armorers certification i can order the parts straight from Glock so we’ll see if thats any great savings over Lone Wolf, although I doubt it.

Text message, HiPoint, ATFE says a shotgun isnt a shotgun

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

Interesting link here about how texting and ‘mobile devices’ saved the day for folks in Haiti. (By the way, according to the article, for a country of around 9 million folks theres about 4 million cellphones. Either cellphones are heavily subsidized or we’ve been misled about the poverty in the country.)

Unsurprisingly, phone networks get overwhelmed in disasters. Perfectly reasonable…everyone is calling their family and friends to check on them or say that theyre ok, right? What many folks don’t know, however, is that text messages use much less bandwidth than voice messages and, in some case, use different routing systems/protocols. The upshot of this is that when you cant get through by voice because ‘all circuits are busy’ you may be able to get through via text.

This isn’t necessarily news, though. During the 9/11 event many people came to discover this quirk. As the networks became overloaded (esp. since some carriers had their towers atop the World Trade Center and thus lost a chunk of their capacity when the buildings went down.) many people found that voice calls were impossible but, surpisingly, text got through.

So, the lesson here is that if you have a phone or device capable of text messaging and you find yourself in a position someday where you cant get through on voice you might be able to get your message out in text.
Speaking of guns, I took delivery of a gun for a customer today. The gun in question was a Hi-Point pistol. I have heard mixed things about these guns, and everything I read says their carbines are actually quite good. The pistol however……meh. It has a magazine disconnect, which is a nice touch, because if I pull the trigger hard enough the safety lever will move to ‘fire’ and the striker will drop (or strike, or whatever..its really a linear motion rather than an arc.) The gun is strictly blowback. When you get above .380 caliber you don’t see a lot of blowback guns. The way they make it work is twofold – huge slide mass and a stout recoil spring. Dealer cost? $155 in .40 S&W. For all I know, this thing may actually be reliable and accurate but just between you and me I’m not counting on it. If it feeds ball ammo reliably I’d be surprised. It seems like a lovely gun for your average drive-by shooting before you drop it the Gowanus Canal. (Famously referred to as the only body of water in the world that’s 90% guns.)

My point is that if $155 is all you can swing for a pistol…well, keep sweeping those floors and delivering those pizzas because for another $200 you can get a used police trade-in Glock and know the thing will go ‘bang’ every time you pull the trigger.

Speaking of guns, the fedgoons have determined that sometimes a shotgun just aint a shotgun. 18 USC 921(a)(5) says a shotgun is a weapon ‘designed or redesigned’ to be fired from the shoulder. Okay, sounds average enough. BUT…some shotguns come from the factory these days equipped with pistol grip stocks instead of shoulder stocks. Thus, according to the pointy-headed thugs at ATFE, a pistol-gripped shotgun is NOT a shotgun but “a firearm other than a rifle or shotgun”. So, according to these idiots if you wanna buy a pistol gripped shotgun you must be over 21 (instead of 18 for a regular shotgun) and must be resident of the state of purchase (unlike with a regular shotgun). In short, its treated like a handgun except that, as we all know, handgun shotguns are AOWs and already pretty restricted.

Your .gov at work folks. Is there a workaround? Probably. Throw a shoulderstock on it and – presto – its redesigned to be intended to be fired from the shoulder and is thus back in NormalLand. Have the customer bring the stock back the next day or something. At least…its seems like that would be keeping within the letter of the law.

Think I’m making this stuff up? Page 2 of November 2009 FFL newsletter…also available from

Speaking of bureaucracy, that November 2009 newsletter? Yeah, that showed up today. Three months after the fact.

And people wonder why I have such a low regard for these weasels…………

Glock armorers course

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

Wow. Long freakin’ day. Today was the one-day Glock armorers course at the police department. See, Glock will send a couple of their guys out with Pelican cases full of cool stuff to teach your class, at $150 a head, on how to fix the guns that dont need fixing. Trouble is, in a small department like this one, getting 20 guys together who are a) interested in the course and b) have a department willing to front the greenbacks is pretty tough. So, whats an agency to do? Why, you open it up to anyone who wants to come! As a result, it was 37 people including local PD, various sheriffs agencies, forest service, one treasury guy, one IRS guy (what the hell?), some IPSC folks and one low-profile preparedness freak – yours truly.

This class was nine hours. Let me put that into perspective. The average Glock has 36 parts. The course was nine hours. If you spent fifteen minutes covering every single individual part in the gun you could fill nine hours. It doesnt even take nine hours to make the gun! Much of the class was history and development and a huge amount of gun safety rules since the class was mostly law enforcement who had their guns with them. The safety lectures were punctuated with graphic photos of gunshot hands and limbs. Owie.

How was the course? Good. Learned a bunch of stuff I did not know. There were plenty of interesting anecdotes. (“Glock changed this part in 1997 because [agency] told us they kept breaking [part]“.) It reinforced my belief that the Glock is probably the only gun on the market right now that hits the high levels of reliability, durability, ubiquity, affordability and versatility that Im looking for in an autopistol. No, it isnt perfect, but it suits my needs better than anything on the market right now.

We completely, totally, and undeniably removed every single part (except the sights) from the slide and frame. We learned how to check the safeties, check for worn/broken parts, check recoil springs, check the firing pin, check…everything, where to lube/not lube, troubleshoot, etc, etc. The Glock really is pretty simple to detail strip and diagnose.

The practical upshot is that if I had a business card I could slap “Certified Glock Armorer” on it. Theres also the ability to order spare parts from Glock but, really, you can get almost all that stuff from the guys at Lone Wolf. The instructor admitted that “Glock Perfection” isnt always perfect and we talked about parts that seemed prone to breakage, parts that had to be redesigned, etc.

Two interesting things about the instructor: first, he never said anything bad about the competition. Secondly, he never, ever, ever used the word ‘plastic’. It is ‘polymer’. I genuinely believe that part of his training course at Glock to be an instructor probably included stern admonitions to never refer to the Glocks as ‘plastic’.

He mentioned that Glock has set up a factory in the US now to make slides and frames, so all Glocks in the US will be made in the US. This opens up interesting possibilities because some Glock stuff cannot be brought into the US because of import restrictions, such as their .380 automatic. If it is made in the US, however, it isnt an issue. I’m hoping this means at some point Glock will make a .22 caliber model or at least a conversion kit. The .380, by the by, while not available to us peons is available on special order on police letterhead. Go figure. The US plant also means Glock could do military contract stuff since the requirements for that sort of thing usually require the gun to be made in the country that is giving the contract. (Hence, Beretta USA.)

To be honest, the course was good but I dont think you really learned anything of substance that you would not learn from Lone Wolfs book about Glocks. The advantage here was that you had someone you could bounce questions off of and someone who could show you the correct way to do things when you hit a wall.

In addition to the instructor there was the regional Glock LE rep who brought along samples of the RTF Glocks and the new Gen 4 Glocks. The Gen 4 is nice, but other than the adjustable backstrap and new textured grip it wasnt anything special. What was important to note was that these 4th gen guns will incorporate some parts changes that will not necessarily be backwards-compatible with older guns. For example, the 4th gen recoil assemblies will not interchange with 3rd gen. The guy is going to email me a list of parts that will/wont be backwards compatible and I’ll post it when I get it.

All in all it was entertaining, although probably a lot longer than it needed to be.

Haiti coverage, Mosin Nagant link

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

Haiti seems to have run through its scheduled news cycle and is back in the page-five category of ‘news events that continue, but are no longer interesting to the public’. Not surprising, major news stories are all the rage for a brief amount of time and then media focuses on newer, fresher issues. In the meantime, a month after the earthquake, Haitians live in squalor and grinding poverty, slowly starving and dying from disease and violence. The cynic in me wants to say “So, things have gotten back to normal then”.

Sucks to be in Haiti, no doubt about it. And as bad as conditions are there for those folks my primary concern is stuff closer to home. The economy continues to shed jobs, the hopey-changey administration continues to be an epic fail, more businesses seem to be shuttering up, and lotsa folks don’t know if theyre gonna be homeless in a year. Im supposed to, with that in mind, be concerned about a disaster in a Third World country? My plate is kinda full at the moment as I worry about this First World country. (And, yes, there is, technically, a such thing as a Second World country….Canada springs to mind.)

Im actually a little disappointed at the reduced coverage of Haiti. I was very interested in seeing how the various problems were overcome and what sort of methods were being used. Mass disaster planning and mitigation is mostly theory. You can have all the drills and mock events you want but in the final analysis you cant be sure a program works until you actually try it in a crisis. Haiti may wind up being a case study or laboratory in which these sorts of programs and policies will be proven (or disproven). Should be interesting to see what happens.
The Mosin-Nagant rifles (and to a lesser degree, ammo) continue to be one of the best bargains around these days. Cheap enough to buy a few and stick ‘em away for a rainy day, the Mosin-Nagants are certainly better than no gun at all. Heres a link to a very nice tutorial on disassembly and , more importantnly, re-assembly. A nice touch is that theres some explanation on how to use those curious disassembly/takedown tools properly.

Im kind of a snob on surplus rifles. Theres plenty of good ones out there but I think its pretty hard to beat the classic 98 Mauser style action. Sure the Enfields are rugged beasts, and yes the Schmidt-Rubins are amazingly well-machined, and the 1903 Springfields make excellent sporters. But I just really like the old Mauser. I think thats one of the reasons the CZ rifles appeal to me….although to be fair, the current incarnations of the Ruger 77 rifles with their claw extractors and controlled round feeding are excellent derivatives.

HK drums

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

When I decided to get a .308 semi-auto rifle the choices were fairly limited – FAL-style, M1A-style, HK-style. Oh sure, there were a few offbeat models out there (.308 AK, Valmet, etc) but I wanted something with a good track record and, more importantly, excellent logistics support in terms of parts, accessories and magazines. My first choice would have been the FAL style rifles but I went with the Hk clone from JLD/PTR on the strength of a) the reputation of the HK system and b) the dirt cheap parts and magazines that flooded into the US as the G36 pushed the G3 into the history books.

The HK91 is a fine rifle, no doubt. Not my favorite, I find its ergonomics pretty lacking, but I have unwavering faith in it’s reliability and performance. What I was interested to discover was that Hk, at some point, made a 50-rd drum for the G3/HK91. Didja know that? I didnt. Very few, apparently, made it into this country and when found the bring a little under $2k. For a 50-rd mag… After the AW ban… I mean, yeah, its got the magic ‘HK’ stamped on it but still…..

I remember watching video of the North Hollywood Shootout and one of the bad guys was reported as having a drum for his HK. I recall thinking that must have been a typical error made by a gun-ignorant reporter – he must have meant a drum for his AK. But…on video I recalled seeing the HK91 with what appeared to be a drum. I thought maybe they had made the drum themselves or modified some other drum magazine…after all, there was no such thing as a HK drum, right? Wrong. I guess if you rob enough banks and armored cars you can afford to move up from the cheap guns and cheap accessories.

So, if youve got around $1800-$2000 laying around you can get yourself a 50-rd drum for your HK91. Be the first kid on your block to be the last kid on your block. If you have the money, right?

But this is America, dammit. Where there’s a will, a market, and some CAD software theres a way. Behold:

This is so mega-awesome it hurts. I’m sure somewhere, at some point, someone popped that 50-rd drum into their HK and half a continent away Chuck Schumer felt the beginnings of what he thought was a stroke.

MSRP? About $400.

Is there one in my future? Nope. But you’d think I’d be the first guy to jump on the bandwagon for one of these crowd-reducers, right? Simple math, amigo. I put two boxes in front of you. One box contains that lovely drum. Looks cool, is cool, will make you the envy of SWAT teams across the land. And will let you shoot 50 rounds. Sounds good, yes? Now lets crack open Box #2. Inside box #2 are 400 20-round magazines. Or, put another way, 8000 rounds worth of triggertime. it boils down to this: would you rather have one mag that holds 50-rounds or 400 mags that hold 20? Im preparing for the long haul, and that means not putting my eggs in one basket. That drum would be fun, no two ways about it, but it ain’t $400 worth of fun.

Now, before anyone (especially the guys that make and sell that drum) starts flaming the comments, lemme say that I think the fact someone went through the trouble of making a product like this available to the public is commendable. Youre doing Crom’s work, well done. I hope you sell a metric buttload of these things. However….I’m a poor survivalist with limited resources…while your product is darn nice, I gotta stick with what I can afford and one magazine vs. 400 magazines, no matter how you cut it, is what the final argument comes down to. For the price of that drum I can have enough mags for several PTR-91 rifles with plenty left over for practice mags, trading stock mags, cached mags, spare mags and even investment mags.

While we’re on the subject, I know the BetaMag folks have been working on a 100-rd mag for the M1A. If they could make the feed tower interchangeable so I could put an HK adapter on it and keep it priced fairly reasonably I might be interested in one. But only after Ive run out of other gun stuff to spend money on.

The question that most of use have no interest in asking about this is “what is it good for?” If I asked myself that question when I bought new gun toys I’d have a lot more space in my gun safe right now. Someone will say that its an excellent choice for a ’semi-auto SAW’ but, really, unless you have a quick-change barrel on your rifle I dont think dumping a hundred rounds of .308 in a hurry is gonna be a healthy thing for your firearm. I suppose if you have to make some sort of ‘Omega Man’-esque flight from a large population center it could come in handy but it still seems like a solution looking for a problem. Why did HK make it? It was for a project they had using a modifed G3 as a machine gun (HK11E, apparently). The variant did have a barrel change feature, so in that regard it made sense.

Bunker living, expenses

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

Someone elsewhere linked to yet another article about a fella who has decided to take a swing at making a former missile silo his home. And while on the subject, here are two more here and here.

I must admit, I love the idea of a missile silo home. Pretty darn hard to live in a place much more secure than that. The obvious drawbacks are the lack of daylight and the weak link of having to pump your sewage uphill. Many of the bases are flooded and there may be some environmental issues from the missile fuel. However, the low profile aspect sure is attractive. Unless someone knew there used to be a missile base there, folks are just going to walk right by you. On the other hand, missile base locations are pretty well documented and the locals will surely know about it. My fantasy would be to have one of these silos and build a house right on top of it. 2500 sq. foot house with a 25000 sq. foot basement. How awesome would that be?

Missile silos aren’t the only ‘secret’ hardened facilities that come up for sale though. When we think about government-built doomsday-bunkers we usually think of the missile silos because they get all the press. However, there are other facilities that although not as big are just as hard. More importantly, the public are less aware of them. Everyone knows about the old Atlas missle base three miles off county road six. But almost no one knows about the satellite control center three miles out of Podunkville, or the hardened communications switching facility near Dead Moose Junction. Also, hardened facilities aren’t just limited to .gov. Back in the old days, Ma Bell built many critical switching centers and other buildings with an eye towards survivability… probably with the quiet encouragement of the Cold War era government. (Head over to sometime and look at their maps of some of these hardened facilities.)

Every so often facilities like this turn up on ebay. Years ago me and the missus looked at a wonderful microwave relay station that had 8” concrete walls, blast shutters, and a host of other features that made it a lovely example of what im talking about. (if youre curious) These things are still on the market from time to time and are a lot more affordable than a missile silo. (Of course, their square footage is much much less as well.)

You and I might think something like this is uber-cool but the majority of people will look at you like you’ve got two heads. Why, they might ask, would anyone want to live in a concrete tomb? I suppose it depends on what youre after. I’d love to have a missle silo as a personal bunker but I probably wouldn’t want to live in it full time. It wold be nice, though, to have as a fallback position for when things get weird.

If youre interested in more about this sort of thing, this looks like a good place to start.
Thanks to everyone who kicked in a few bucks for operating costs. Enough was generously forked over to cover things for the next year and a half. Some folks kicked in a buck, some kicked in a good bit more. Average was around $15 or so. I thank you muchly and I’ll try to provide good value for your infotainment dollar. Very kind of you, and I thank you.


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

The dreariest part of having an online blog is paying for bandwidth. Fortunately, I’m not popular enough to go through the huge amounts of bandwidth that some folks do…so, in effect, I’m a cheap date. (More like a cheap date with disaster, but anyway….)

But, still, gotta keep the lights on somehow. Quite candidly, my costs are a simple $14 a month for bandwidth. Usually its not a big deal to do that outta pocket, but this economy, man…..

If anyone wants to throw a few bucks into the tip jar, I’d sure appreciate it.

Article – Man rescued after 3 days in snow-covered SUV in CO

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

SAGUACHE, Colo. – A 31-year-old Indiana man says he had not food but kept himself hydrated with Mountain Dew and snow while he was stuck in his snow-covered SUV in southwestern Colorado for three days.

Jason Pede was rescued Sunday morning after his vehicle ran out of gas and he walked seven miles to a road, signaling for help with a flashlight.

Pede was driving from Dulce, N.M., to the Colorado resort town of Aspen to deliver an Australian Shepherd rescue dog when he got stuck.

Pede, of Chesterton, Ind., says a “local” told him about a shortcut to Aspen and that’s how he became stranded somewhere in the Rio Grande National Forest in snow that went above the hood of his Lincoln Navigator.

He was lucky.

How many things can you find in this very brief article that this young man did wrong?

#1 is probably taking a ’shortcut’ that was unfamiliar to him. (Shades of James Kim.)

You can pick up the rest, I’m sure.


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

Apparently the eastern portion of the US is getting a unusually large amount of snow. Me, I love snow. It makes everything quiet, pretty and just plain peaceful. Right up until you have to drive in it.

Remember the first rule of surviving a disaster? Yeah, well theres alwyas going to be someone who ignores the weather advisories. The National Weather Service has this advice:



“Emergency”. Lets think about that. Out of milk? Not an emergency. Wife going into labor? Emergency. Internet is out so you’ll blog from a friends house? Not an emergency. Roof collapsed and you need a place to stay for the night? Emergency.

First rule, man….the very first rule – don’t be there. But I guarantee you we’re gonna read stories in the paper that go something like this “Susie Homemaker and her daughter, Susie II, 9, were stranded for nine hours yesterday when their minivan became stuck on I-2. ‘Susie Junior had a birthday party to go to and we just got stuck!’, said Homemaker.” Or something equally stupid will be in the paper.. someone flipping their car when they were on the way to get wings for their Super bowl party, etc, etc. Once they get pulled out of their wreck someone should ask them if it was worth the Chinese food they picked up or the movie they just had to go rent.

If I said to you “you can either stay home and not have pizza or you can give me $3500″ what would you do? Youd figure that going out for pizza isnt worth $3500, right? So who in their right mind sees nine inches of snow on the ground, high winds, crappo visibility and thinks “Ah, I’ll just drive down to Pizza Hut and pick up a few”? Next thing you know theres a tree where your front headlight used to be and youre $3500 in the hole to get a new radiator, quarterpanel, bumper, lights, etc, etc.

I stopped being a hero long ago. If its 1 am on a Saturday night and the roads are icy Im gonna take a pass on going out for a burger. Why deal with drunks and icy roads over a $5 combo meal? Screw that.

If youre really serious about being prepared then you should probably have a similar attitude. Sometimes the game just isnt worth the candle.