Remember a few posts back I saw a sign in the window of a local shop? Well, someone thought I shouldn’t be without, and this little gem showed up in the mailbox the other day:


I’ll be giving it a prominent place in the shop window for the world to see. Much thanks!


Trying the new Gen III ECWS

Bloody cold today. Actually, it’s not that cold…it’s simply what its pretty much supposed to be in Montana around this time of year. Currently? +3, although I expect below zero as the night progresses.

Since it was so cold during the day today, I figured I’d try out a new piece of cold weather gear. See, usually I wear my heavy Carhart coat in this sort of weather. It does a decent job, and its tough as nails, but it’s pretty bulky. I picked up a Gen III ECWS parka a few months back and this has been my first chance to try it out and I’m very pleased with it. Like most cold weather gear, it helps if you dress properly underneath it – you cant just put it on over a t-shirt and expect to be toasty.

gen3_level7_400x408One nice thing, right off the bat, is the compressability….the Carhart coat cant be stuffed down into a small(er) package the way this thing can. I was out this evening walking Nuke and I was wearing the parka over a longsleeve ‘waffle’ pullover and a ECWCS undershirt (which I recommend highly for its warmth and low bulk. Buy ’em cheap by the dozen on eBay) and was warm and comfy. I suspect I’ll troll eBay and pick up two or three extras for myself and one or two for the missus.

Not all military surplus lives up to the hype, but I have to say that thus far I’ve been pretty pleased with it. If you’re hunting for something warm but not overbearingly heavy/bulky you might wanna check these things out.

2014 in review

Well, 2014 hits its end in another few days. How did 2014 fare in terms of preparedness? Lets see…

It was a gun heavy year. At least four or five rifles and shotguns, and no less than a half dozen handguns. It wasn’t so much that I had any more money than usual, it was that I took advantage of some deals that came along.

Ammo was still a big deal with .22 ammo going from being ‘virtually unobtainable’ to simply ‘still overpriced’. The availability is there, if you’re willing to pony up about ten cents a round. I shot very little .22 this years, and with the acquisition of my Sparrow I now need to get a goodly stash of subsonic .22 as well.

In the centerfires I put back a little bit more .223 which is always good. I didn’t shoot very much centerfire ammo at all this year…probably less than 500 rounds total. Virtually all of that was used in function testing new guns.

Food levels remained pretty much the same. Went through one package of freeze drieds during hunting season and thats about it. Towards February we’ll pick up half a beef and restock the freezer. In short, the level of food around here stayed pretty constant.

Rotated some fuels during the year with fresher stuff. Again, zero-sum game. Fairly even amount of fuel as what the year started with.

A quick bit of math in Excel shows that the average cost, with premium, for silver acquisitions this year was $19.50 per ounce. Since the premiums can run anywhere between $1 and $3, depending on the form of silver, that would mean the spot price of silver purchased during the year was between $16.50-18.50.

Any consumables used during the year – batteries, toilet paper, soap, etc – were all replaced so we’re on an even keel there.

We did add fairly heavily to the supplies of first aid gear. That was the result of a lethal combination of eBay, a PayPal account, and late-night boredom. On the bright side 4,800 bandaids should last us a good while.

No major turmoil in the family, no job losses, dog is in good health, still married, truck still runs, house is still standing, so all in all I’d say that while 2014 wasn’t any remarkable advancement there weren’t any real losses…so I call that a win. Yay for homeostasis. Actually, thats not true…as I (poorly) proofread this, it occurs to me that we used a windfall to knock down almost 16% of our mortgage in one stroke. That shaved 2.5 years off the 15-year mortgage and really felt good.

There were no power outages or infrastructure failures that affected us this year, so it looks like the ‘fragile infrastructure’ that threatens to throw us into ‘grid down chaos’ at any moment might be a bit more resilient than we thought. Or, more likely, the appropriate challenge simply hasnt occurred yet. There was a little ebola buzz around here what with out local hospital being one of the handful of designated ‘ebola-ready’ hospitals. They are now backing away from that status and I suspect its because theyve discovered that all it takes is treating one ebola patient to bring a hospital to its knees in terms of function, readiness, and fiscal health.

I’m hoping 2015 will be a year of advancement. I’d like to make some progress on the mortgage towards paying it down early, I’d like to do some production-capacity upgrades at the shop, and a few other things. I dont do ‘resolutions’…I figure if something is a good enough idea, why wait until New Years to implement it? But I think 2015 will be a year with a focus on that ‘ol filthy lucre …. say what you will, money is the most concentrated form of energy available to the average joe and things go a lot easier with it than without.

Winning the loot roll

The big Festivus gift this year? Well, check this out… for the last week or so, the wife has been spending all her time in the living room configuring her computer for some new games that she was interested in playing. Nothing surprising there, after she’s done fighting the forces of evil at her job she often spends a few hours a night fighting them online.

So I open my suspiciously large wrapped gift this morning and inside the box is – a custom gaming PC that she built from parts and spent the last few days configuring and installing, right under my nose. She built it so that it looks like her computer and that way could do all the work on it in front of me without me being the wiser. How cool is that? And the best part? Windows 7….now thats thoughtful! SSD boot drive, awesome graphics card, modular expandable case, etc, etc. and its preloaded with Skyrim, Battlefield and WarCraft.


I’ve been using the same computer for the last seven or ten years and would never have bought one on my own. I tend to just use peoples hand-me-down computers because I’m too cheap to buy a new(er) one. As long as it runs my browser, lets me get email, and that sorta thing Im happy. So a dedicated gaming box…thats quite the toy.

So there you have it….not at all topical or gear-related but still one of the most awesome gifts I’ve ever gotten.

Happy holidays

09-festivus-poles.w529.h352.2xThere’s a handful of holidays this month, some secular and some not-so-secular. It would be presumptuous for me to assume everyone has the same belief system, so I’ll just cover all the bases with a ‘I hope you have a happy whatever-holdiay-you-celebrate’.

Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Christmas, Festivus, Solstice, Voodoo Day, whatever……December really manages to pack a lot into it, doesn’t it?

Be safe on the roads, guys…drunks abound on these sorts of occasions.

Article – Dad, Sons Lost for 10 Days in Wilderness Found Alive

From Australia:

The trio was able to survive in the hot, muggy wilderness thanks to several factors. Lonkhuyzen carefully rationed their four-day food supply—they were down to their last bread slices when Wagner found them, the Guardian reports—and caught rainwater to drink in a plastic container. Lonkhuyzen also kept the family next to the car, set up eye-catching items around the vehicle in case search parties came by, and made the boys stick to a daily routine.

Another case of staying with the vehicle and everything turning out reasonably well.

Article – UPDATE: Missing hunters found ok in Beaverhead County.

DILLON – Beaverhead County Sheriff Jay Hanson says two hunters missing in southwest Beaverhead county have been found.

In a news release, Hanson said the two were found about 40 miles west of Dell Montana in the Big Sheep/Cabin Creek area.

“The father and son got stuck in deep snow and spent two nights with their vehicle. Both are in reasonably good condition,” said Hanson.

As many as 16-searchers had been looking on ground and from the air for the two, who hadn’t been seen since they ventured out to hunt in the remote valley west of I-90 on Saturday morning.

The missing hunters were identified as Scott McDougal, 56, and Conrad McDougal, 33.

The Facebook post:


“But they were smart enough to stay with their vehicle”… isn’t a 100% thing, but the folks who stay with the vehicle usually fare far better than those who do not. However, to be fair, we never read about the ones who leave the vehicle, walk two miles, and find help.

What makes staying with the vehicle an easier and more attractive option is having the necessary gear to ride things out. Its not hard – Sleeping bag, blankets, food, water, light, and a thick book to read.

Hows the dog?

It’s tremendously off-topic but a couple folks asked how the BioWeapon MkI was doing. Well, you decide:

nukeI’m no expert, but Im pretty sure thats a dog who really doesn’t have much to complain about.

Just some ramblings

Im fascinated at the notion of the North Koreans determining what movies we can and cannot watch. I have a conspiracy theory that the .gov paid Sony to pull the movie and compensate them for their loss in order to avoid the threatened ‘events’ that would take place at theaters in the US that showed the movie. But…thats all conspiracy theory. On the other hand, you can bet right now that industry underwriters are changing their policies to specifically exempt this sort of blackmail in future studio insurance policies.


For a guy who fancies himself as being somewhat above-average in preparedness and thinking ahead, you wouldn’t think I’d be this far behind on Christmas shopping. And, oddly, its like this every year.


Ryan linked to an excellent land nav post over at Max Velocity. Great reading and very informative. A worthy read for everyone, even those of us who know our way around a map and compass can use some reminders every once in a while.


In local news, that was-it-or-wasnt-it ‘self defense’ shooting turned out to be a ‘wasnt’. The kid shouldnt have snuck into the guys garage, but the guy shouldn’t have gone around town telling everyone he was setting up a trap and that he was staying up nights to “kill some f***in’ kid”. No winners in this thing, but its the best hand out of what was dealt.


I’m looking forward to hearing about everybody’s AAR on their gifts this holiday season. (There are several gift-giving-themed holidays going on this month, so rather than list specific ones I just go with the general catach-all of ‘holiday season’.) And if anyone comes up with some holiday sales on things that are germane to our shared interests, I’d like to hear about ’em.


Savage stock options

Earlier this year I finally got my .22 suppressor. I had a few ideas about what i wanted to mount it on and wound up getting a Savage that really impressed me. The Savage had the AccuTrigger, a fluted heavy barrel, threaded muzzle, picatinny rail and a very nice price. But it had the most useless stock you could imagine. Whats the point of spending the money on a suppressor and a fairly decent rifle if the stock is so screwed up you cant even get a cheek weld. Here’s a crappy picture of the rifle with the ugly stock:


See, the problem is the comb of the stock is so low that once you slap an optic on that rail your face isnt even going to be touching the stock. So….what to replace it with. Well, I was rather fond of the greenish laminate that came on my Ruger Scout Rifle:

Copy of IMG_1287

So I decided to get something similar. A lot of stuff I read said that the Boyd’s Tacticool gunstock was the way to go. Headed over there and was dismayed to learn that the Tacticool was no longer available. Bummer. A quick call to customer service (more about them later) revealed that the Tacticool was now called the Pro Varminter. Whatever, dude…just put one in a box and get it here.

Now comes the interesting parts. Originally I screwed up the order. I went online and ordered the stock and I thought I ordered the forest camo laminate. Turns out I selected the wrong part number and specified the painted green stock. When the confirmation email came I found my mistake and tried calling them. Closed for the day. Ok, call the next day. The woman at customer service says that its not too llate to fix the error. Sweet! A week later I get the box, open it and theres my stock….in green paint.


Ok, box it up and send it back to Boyds. And wait. And wait. Finally I call customer service again three weeks after UPS shows them getting the stock back. I ask what the story is. The customer service rep tells me that, yes the stock was received, no we havent written up a new order for you yet. Seriously? I paid for this thing five weeks ago, you got the stock back three weeks ago, and you still havent thought to send me a new one? So she promises to get on it and a week later (so it took a month to get them to rewrite and ship the order!) I get the UPS tracking numnber. Stock arrived today. Behold a thing of beauty:


Is that not gorgeous? And once it was installed, it looked like this:


Wow, those cellphone pics are pretty crappy, aren’t they? Well, either way, gun looks awesome. That scop eis just something I threw on there for looks (IOR M2 w/ ARMS rings/mount)…Im actually looking at this for an optic. But I am supremely glad to be rid of that worthless cheesey stock.

Ii rather like this stock enough that when Ruger finally makes a ‘tactical’ version of their American Rimfire model I’ll wind up doing the same stock swap.

So…thumbs up on the Boyd’s stock, but a thumbs down on their handling of the order. I accept blame for getting the wrong stock the first time, but once they got back the stock it shouldnt have taken a phone call and three weeks before someone thought “Hey, maybe we should get that guy the stock he paid for.”

Things left to do: decent sling and a stubby little Harris bipod.