AR mags

People say that you should load AR mags with 28 rounds rather than 30 to prevent jams.  I read somewhere that the problem is that people (soldiers) would take the mags apart and put them back together in such a way that the springs didnt compress properly and when thirty mags did wind up getting stuffed into the mag there would be problems. So….logically, the answer was to play it safe and always go with 28 rounds rather than learn to re-assemble the mag correctly, I suppose. To each their own, I suppose.

Since the AR is so ubiquitous there is no shortage of manufacturers of magazines out there. “Contract mags” are what most of us wind up with. Simply put, these are magazines that are built under contract for Uncle Sam.

Theres three kinds of AR mags out there these days – plastic, aluminum and steel. Speaking from my own experience, I almost always go with the original aluminum mags. I’ve met very few plastic mags that were reliable, fit well, and could take abuse. Some folks love the Pmag from Magpul but I’ve read mixed things about them. The big drawbacks to plastic magazines as Ive experienced them have been durability and fit. I try to take good care of my mags and not drop them onto hard surfaces, etc, but when the zombies get here it’ll be nice to know that I can drop mags on the sidewalk at a dead run and not have them chip or break…I just havent met a plastic magazine yet that makes me feel comfortable in that regard. The other problem Ive had with plastic mags, and this was a problem on early first-gen Glock mags too, is that when the mag is fully loaded it swells a bit and makes insertion/removal from the magazine well a bit tricky. If it doesnt drop free from the AR when I push the mag release, I dont want it. The Pmags get great reviews but they also have their detractors. I have a couple of them and they seem to work okay, although I havent tested them to destruction yet. On the other hand, I have AR mags from waaaaaaay back that still work just fine.

The steel mags, which I understand are mostly surplus British SA80 mags although there are some commercial ones as well, seem to work but I’m squeamish about constantly inserting/removing a steel magazine into/from an aluminum magazine well…it seems like a recipe for wear.  I do have a few steel mags that Ive kept over the years but I almost never use them and they are relegated to tertiary-level spares. Given the low price of aluminum mags these days I may just strip them for springs and followers and toss them.

That leaves aluminum mags. Although the mags have pretty much stayed the same over the years, the innards have not. The biggest change has been in followers. I have original Colt mags with the alloy followers (thats old, baby!) Followers then changed from black plastic to green and now to tan. The latest feature is the ‘anti-tilt’ follower which seems to be becoming standard with almost everyones AR mags these days. While there are plenty of makers of AR mags out there, I’ve been stocking up on the ones from CProducts. Quality has been very good and they are priced extremely well. Often you can find wholesalers dumping them for less than $10 ea. in quantity.

For drum magazines, theres really only two options – the 90-round drum which is pretty darn big and bulky, and the 100-round Beta magazine. I’ve very little experience with either one but the Beta seems like a better choice just in terms of size and carryability.

Were someone to ask me what they should buy and stick away for that Rainy Day, I’d say get as many of the CProduct or genuine GI mags as possible. I prefer 30-rd mags although a couple 20’s are handy for carrying in your pocket.  I’d stay away from anything aftermarket like the dreded USA-branded mags, any steel mags, and most plastic mags. There are some 40- and even 50-round mags out there but I question their reliability and wouldnt advise getting them unless youre going to test them thoroughly.

Our buddy  ,Rawles has a FAQ about AR mags thats worth reading here.

“911, thank you for holding”,

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

I cannot fathom the quality of policing in an agency where the average response time to a 911 call is 24 minutes and thats an improvement. I can leave my house, lock the door, drive to the police station, find parking, walk in the door and announce myself and my problem in less than half that time in this town. I’ve no idea what the response time in this town is to a major 911 call but if it takes more than five minutes for a cop to show up I’d be surprised.

However, Im more of a DIY kinda guy when it comes to crime and criminals, so 911 response times are somewhat irrelevant to me. But, geez, you think an agency would take a little pride in their work….

Nonetheless, there used to be an old joke about how you should call a cop and then call for a pizza and see which got there first. Apparently in some places it really is true the ‘za will get there first.

And yet some folks will still blithely say that you dont need a gun, you can just call 911.


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

Wasnt it Will Rogers who said to be grateful that we didnt get all the government that we paid for?

Here’s a fascinating link from Drudge:

What many Americans don’t realize, is that census workers — from the head of the Bureau and the Secretary of Commerce (its parent agency) down to the lowliest and newest Census employee — are empowered under federal law to actually demand access to any apartment or any other type of home or room that is rented out, in order to count persons in the abode and for “the collection of statistics.”  If the landlord of such apartment or other  leased premises refuses to grant the government worker access to your living quarters, whether you are present or not, the landlord can be fined $500.00.

I’d like to see the relevant legal citations regarding that. If it’s true, its a very disturbing and little known fact about the census.

I really dont look forward to the day that some census taker demands access into my house.  I dont look forward to it for his sake, nor for my own sake when I have to explain to the wife why her coworkers were called out for a ‘loud disturbance, possibly physical’ call.

Whoops! Edited to add:

§ 223. Refusal, by owners, proprietors, etc., to assist census employees

Economy musings

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

Interesting day watching the week market spasm up and down. I’ve almost nothing in the market so theres no direct effect on me. I’m sure that like every episode, once things tumble far enough people looking to pick up bargains and ‘get in on the ground floor’ will start snapping up shares and things will start upwards again. Or, I suppose, the Plunge Protection Team could mobilize from their secret hollowed-out volcano base and do some behind-the-scense work to make the numbers magically change. And, of course, White House spokesdroids will remind us that the administration ‘inherited’ this problem.

When I was a kid I remember taking some economics courses at college. I remember nothing of them. I have a feeling, though, that at the moment theres renewed interest in economics and the curriculums now feature language like “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see real-world examples of…” I should head over to the campus and check the bookstore there for some used economics textbooks. A little more learning is never a bad idea.

I know people whose exposure in this economic climate is downright scary. They have, to me, huge amounts of money tied up in funds that have suffered nasty losses. For them, a good year has been one where they lost no money or only a small percentage of their value. And that’s a good year.

I must say, the current economic situation has been fascinating from a preparedness standpoint. Think about what we’ve been seeing – tremendous increases in unemployment, foreclosures, a jobless ‘recovery’, market rollercoasters, abandoned homes, municipal budgets collapsing, bank failures, etc, etc. We used to look to the Great Depression and ask grandpa ‘how did you get through the Depression?’ and in ten or twenty years it’ll be a new generation asking us what it was like to go through and survive this episode. Even more interesting is trying to predict what sort of stamp this will make on the national psyche. The Great Depression influenced the behavior of the folks who were there for the rest of their lives. We’ve all heard about old folks who went through the Depression and for the rest of their lives they never threw away anything, never wasted food, etc. Im sure we all have heard about the old folks who ‘don’t trust banks’ after that experience. The behavior of people after this current situation will be interesting to observe.

Preparing for an economic disaster will be more than theory after this. This is probably a good thing because if the pundits and talking heads are correct, the consequences, effects and legacy of the last few years will be coming home to roost further down the line when all these bailouts catch up to us.

Seismic detection manual, Brit skit, YouTube channel

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

I posted, way way back, about picking up a couple seismic intrusion sets off of eBay. The older set used wired geophones and the newer set were wireless. Unfortunately I never did find the manuals for either one. Someone very thoughtfully emailed me today with a link to their webpage where they had pictures of their intrusion detection set and they very generously scanned in the manual to a .pdf. How awesome is that? Here’s a link to the .pdf. My thanks to the considerate fella that sent me the email!


Someone elsewhere posted this excellent video from the Brits that illustrates the tangled economic situation that is going on in Europe. The most telling part of it is the observation the commentator makes after the humorous ‘skit’.


Interesting YouTube channel with various gun and gear reviews.

Choosing rifle calibers and if it’s even really an issue

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

I had a fairly long post about the .223 vs. .308 arguments but I decided that all I was doing was muddying the waters.

The endless .223 vs. .308 (or 7.62×39) debate is like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors – there is no one argument that isn’t trumped by one of the other arguments. This one penetrates better but this one is lighter to carry but this one shoots flatter but this one lets you have a lighter gun but this one has a further lethal range but this one………

Realistically, any quality AK, AR, FAL, M1A, Mini-14, AUG or HK is more than adequate in power and accuracy for the unpleasant tasks we might encounter in the future. Having said that, then the other factors that come into play.

Reliability – Is it reliable? Can you fire hundreds of rounds through it without failure? Are you genuinely surprised if it fails to fire or do you ‘sort of’ expect it to have problems ‘now and then’? Can you reasonably correct reliability issues in a hurry or under stress?

Accuracy – Can it be counted on to hit what you want to hit at the distances you expect? Will it reliably put your bullets into a man- or animal-sized target at ‘x’ hundred yards?

Durability – Can it get wet, snowed on, dropped, dirty, bloody, banged around and otherwise abused with a reasonable expectation of continued operation? Will moderate neglect compromise it’s performance?

Affordability – Can you afford it and its accessories, parts and magazines without sacrificing elsewhere? (This is a difficult issue since we could argue that price is irrelevant if the other criteria are satisfied.)

Comfort – Do you feel comfortable shooting it? Is the operation of the controls something that comes naturally or is it a constant conscious effort to manipulate them? Does the recoil make you flinch? The muzzle blast make you cringe? The weight make you fatigued? Is it easy to carry?

Versatility – Can the rifle do all the tasks you expect from it? Is it a dedicated defensive gun or do you want to hunt with it? Is it strictly a CQB gun or can it be used as a marksman’s gun?

Adaptability – Is the rifle able to be modified or altered to accommodate changing requirements? Can it accept lights? Optics? Other accessories?

Logisticity – (Yes, I made up a word) Is the ‘support’ side of the equation in place? Can you readily procure ammo, spare parts, mounts, optics, tactical slings, bipods, accessories, manuals, specialized tools, cleaning gear, furniture, magazines, etc. Is there support for the rifle?

If the rifle youre thinking of meets all those criteria then it probably really doesn’t matter what caliber it is in….223, 5.45×39, .308, 7.62×39, etc. Yes, there are some exceptions…if youre shooting across valleys in Afghanistan you probably want the .308. However, realistically, the most likely shooting scenarios you or I may get into some day (Crom forbid) are probably going to be settled at less-than-parking-lot distances…distances at which the caliber has a lot less to do with success than accuracy and speed.

I’m a ‘suspenders and a belt’ kind of guy so I hedged my bets and got guns in the ‘big three’ – .223, .308 and 7.62×39.

Putting the band together

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

Every so often I read something where someone states that part of being prepared should be trying effect changes in ‘our communities’ and ‘the lives of our neighbors’ so that if something ugly does happen we have more people ‘with us’ than not.

It’s a personal issue, but I’m pretty much done with trying to convert anyone. I’ve stopped being concerned with what, if anything, will happen to those who are unprepared. Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I have this interest in preparedness. If in the course of knowing me, and sometimes discussing the topic, they haven’t come to the conclusion on their own that this is something they should be doing then there’s nothing else for me to do.

“’d let your neighbors sit in the cold and dark?” Sure. Why wouldn’t I? It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that maybe keeping a few flashlights and batteries on hand is a good idea…that having a secondary means of providing heat in the winter might be smart….that living within your means during an economic downturn is good thinking…but if folks are that shortsighted that they take no steps to provide for their safety in times of a crisis then, honestly, I have no use for them. “But, hungry, cold and scared neighbors can be dangerous neighbors!” Buddy, if theyre unprepared enough that theyre cold, hungry and scared then theyre unprepared enough to be only a mild threat to me…besides, if things go that far off the rails I plan on being somewhere where I dont have neighbors or the neighbors are just like me.

Does this mean I cant be friends with someone who doesn’t share my views on preparedness? Not at all. For one thing you put three preparedness-oriented guys in a room and throw out the topic and I guarantee that while theyre all on the same page on execution theyre also all completely different on theory…meaning they all see the wisdom of stocking up, they just all disagree on why theyre stocking up; so even guys who are ‘into’ preparedness may disagree on the subject. But in terms of someone who regards preparedness as the domain of tinfoil-hat-wearing nutjobs? Sure, I could be friends with them..I just might be a bit ‘closeted’ about what I do. But Im not going to waste my time or theirs trying to convince them to come around to my way of thinking.

A buddy of mine in the Masons told me that their policy used to be that they never recruited. They didn’t go out and look for new members, people who wanted to be members came to them. (It has, I understand, changed over the years.) I’m the same way, I think. I’m not going to try and convert anyone but if someone says to me “You know, the wife and I have been thinking about making a few changes to be more prepared in case of [unemployment/infrastructure failure/zombies/etc]” then I’ll help if I can.

“Battlefield conversions” to preparedness do occur. When the dust settles and the floodwaters recede then lets see who sticks with it and who doesn’t. After Katrina there were plenty of people who suddenly realized that having food, water, and spare batteries on hand might be a good idea…its five years later, how many do you think stuck with it?

Speaking of like-minded individuals, whats my opinion on ‘survival groups’? I think that any group of like-minded individuals will probably fare better than individuals if everyone in the group shares the same level of dedication, vision, discipline and responsibility. Didja catch that? Nothing about gear, food, guns, or ‘standardization’. Group cohesiveness doesn’t come from gear, it comes from the participants.

What makes any group cohesive starts in the hearts and minds of its members…everything else is secondary. This is why so many groups (or cells, or factions, or whatever term you prefer) are comprised of people who share an intense and deeply rooted connection. For many, its religion ( as evidenced by the islamofascists and christofascists with their bombings and shootings), for some its family (the Westboro Baptist Church nutcases spring to mind) and in some cases its both (the Amish, Mormons). Next time you get into an elevator look around at the four or five other people in there with you and imagine having to rely on them, in a group, for your mutual protection and survival. Not terribly inspiring, is it? Of course not…it’s a random collection of strangers with no common interest. (Other than the presumably common interest of ‘not dying’.) My opinion is that if you were to start a group of like-minded individuals that group has to be ‘organic’. Meaning that you cant just pull names out of a phone book, conduct interviews, and put together something viable. Organic means that it occurs naturally….odds are that you already know a few people who share your ideals, that you have established relationships with, and that you can ‘be yourself around’.  Lenny who works at the supermarket who shares his political magazine subscriptions with you, Greg who works at the gun shop and competes against you informally at the range when you go shooting together, Neal who retired from the Air Force and quietly gardens at home and discusses world politics with you over lunch every Friday….odds are that, consciously or not, you’ve probably already created a network of friends that includes people who would be interested in the camaraderie and advantages offered by having close group of like-minded friends. The problem with this sort of ‘group by association’ becomes obvious pretty quick – you probably don’t know ‘all the right people’. You may know a cop, a doctor and a plumber…but you don’t know an accountant, an electrician or a lawyer. (And don’t kid yourself, those folks can be a tremendous asset.) At that point you’ve got to start recruiting from outside your close-knit circle and that’s where the problems start. Is there a simple answer? Not as far as I can tell. The military tends to promote cross-training to allow one specialist to fill in passably in another specialty…an insular group may have to go the same route. Make a list of skills and if no one in the group meets that skillset have someone dedicate themselves to learning it. That’s an extreme way to go but I’m pretty certain there are groups out there that have done that.

Is there a reason to even be interested in being part of even a loosely-knit group? Theres a line from Startship Troopers – “Sergeant Zim says, correctly, that any group is weaker than a man alone unless they are perfectly trained to work together.” In this case they were referring to hand-to-hand combat but some parallels can be drawn. One person who has been into the preparedness lifestyle for years will probably come out of your average disaster better than the previously mentioned elevator-load of strangers. However, lets say those five strangers in the elevator were actually five friends who have known each other for years and share an interest in preparedness. They’ve talked it over, gone over plans together, made large bulk purchases, maybe get together at the range once a month or go on camping trips together in the summer, discussed scenarios, taken some training courses, etc, etc. As a group, will they fare better than the single individual? Maybe…probably, I think. The five of them, teamed up with their combined resources and talent, will probably have an easier time of it than the guy going solo. However, the guy going solo will have it easier over the group of unprepared strangers.

There are, of course, tradeoffs. The biggest and most looming tradeoff is that anytime you bring anyone ‘onboard’ you are compromising your own personal security. You’re letting someone know that you have, most likely, large stocks of food, ammunition, guns, gear, fuel and a dozen other things that you’ve probably been taking great pains not to let people know about for quite some time. If the person you are feeling out turns out not to be of a like mind then you’ve exposed a part of your life that you really are probably better off keeping hidden from strangers. This is why, in my opinion, the best way to ‘network’ is through the already established channels of longtime friends and family. When you’ve known someone your entire life, like a family member, or for many years, such as a trusted friend, youre probably going to have a much, much better handle on whether theyre drinking the same flavor Kool-Aid as you are.

Home school poster

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

As far as I know, I dont have any kids. Barring some unprecedented physiological development, or me getting a spare wife or three, I’m not going to be having any kids. But…if I did have kids….well, its easy to say I’d home school them rather than put them into a public government school. In reality, though…unless one parent is a stay-at-home parent its gotta be pretty tough.

FOLLOWUP: Hk-91 drum magazine

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

The evil genius at Allied Armament has this to say:

“We just released new web pricing today. NEW MSRP is (hold your breath) $262 ! Now affordable to everyone.”

This brings the price of their 50-rd drum down to about the same level as a Betamag and removes my one and only reservation about the mag.  When they make this thing for the FAL and AR-10 these guys will have a license to print money. Especially if the quality and function are as good as the one I got to try.

EDIT: Whoops, looks like they have a .308 AR drum available. Very cool!

MH, Glock mags, economy

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

I received an order from the folks at Mountain House last week. They’ve had some menu changes for 2010 with the addition of a couple new flavors in the pouches and the retirement of a couple others. In the somewhat more germane  #10 cans there have been no changes. Im the kind of guy who doesn’t mind eating the same thing over and over if it’s something I like so I have some pretty strong preferences. If you find yourself in a position to purchase some #10 cans of the Mountain House, I recommend the Spaghetti, Chicken w/ Rice, Chicken Teriyaki and Lasagna. The other flavors are okay, but those four are my favorites. Whats nice is that those flavors are also available in the pouches as well as the cans, so a fella can simply buy a pouch to try for a couple bucks before dropping the larger coin for the #10 cans.

Although the freeze-drieds are the ultimate in long-term storage (although some would deride them as ‘yuppie survival food’ where ‘yuppie’ is code for ‘makes more money than me’) they really are mostly a luxury. They are, however, an excellent ‘force multiplier’ to help you make the most out of your other food storage. What I mean by that is that the freeze drieds enable me to do more versatile things with the non-FD storage food. Most of us stock up on canned goods (vegetables, fruits, etc) and bulk dry foods (rice, pasta, wheat, corn, etc)  which will certainly fill your belly but can be a little challenging to work with in terms of coming up with something appetizing and unique. The freezedrieds give more flexibility with the meat and egg selections, two staples that are notoriously tough to store long term. For example: Canned tomatoes, bulk pasta, freezedried chicken, dried onions, canned mushrooms, dried garlic, assorted spices, some olive oil and –presto- chicken cacciatore. Or, FD shrimp, canned tomatoes, canned peppers, hot sauce, dried onions, spices, steamed rice and you’ve got shrimp creole. (Come to think of it, Mountain House used to make a very good shrimp creole..I wish it was still offered.) The FD eggs alone are worthy of inclusion just on their amazing versatility – omlettes, frittatas, baked goods, scrambled eggs, and the like are all possible with eggs. The laternative, of course, would be to have chickens and while that’s becoming more and more popular these days chickens aren’t exactly long-term storable.

Still, the bulk of our food storage is non-FD. We’ve a good supply of canned and jarred food, as well as many cases of self-canned staples from the LDS cannery. In addition, we also keep a pretty healthy amount of regular day-to-day use foodstuffs on hand – instant potatoes, stuffing mix, bread crumbs, oatmeal, salt, sugar, seasoned rices, seasoning mixes, etc, etc. On top of that theres the bulk storage of wheat, pasta, rice, and corn. A huge mountain of stored food is a lovely thing to behold, lemme tell ya.

The apocalypse is going to be many things, but it isn’t going to be rice and beans every day for months on end…not if I have any say in it.


I picked up a few of the Korean contract Glock mags the other day. I am a notorious magazine snob and I have yet to meet a non OEM Glock mag that I approve of. However, the Korean mags are getting overwhelmingly positive reviews so I thought it might be worth trying them out. I’ll probably use them as range mags and keep the factory mags for ‘serious use’ but it’ll be interesting to give these things a workout. Theyre about 1/3 the cost of the factory mag so if they turn out to be reliable there may be a group purchase down the line.


The more I try to follow the news about the economy, the more I am convinced that if we are in a recovery (which Im not really sure we are) it is, indeed, what they are terming a ‘jobless recovery’.  Businesses are making do with the remaining employees they have and are not jumping to hire any new ones. That’s just good financial sense if youre not sure where your market and sales are going. On the other hand, labor is probably pretty cheap now so it would be a good time to trim the deadwood and bring in better talented/skilled labor. Regardless, I am still pessimistic on the economic outlook. Theres a lot of cool stuff on the market right now at bargain prices as people try to keep their businesses afloat so if you have money its an excellent time to buy, but all I can think is that we should be holding on to whatever we have with both hands because we have no idea if things are going to get worse before they get better. As I told someone the other day, the times I have regretted spending money far outnumber the times I have regretted not spending money…so if there is a recovery going on, Im afraid theyre going to have to rely on someone else to spend money on it.