Streamlight Siege

You guys remember Hydrox cookies? If you couldn’t pop for real Oreos, you bought Hydrox. Much like how if you’re on a budget, you don’t buy Frosted Flakes but rather the generic store brand ‘Frostie Flakes’ or some such (Slogan: “Theyrrrrrrrre….okay”.)

To me, Streamlight has always been the working-class version of SureFire. Yes, Streamlight has, as I read it, been around a tad longer than SureFire but SureFire gets the rep as the ‘high end’ tacticool product. (Interestingly, Hydrox came out before Oreos, as well.)

20160731_142828I’m kind of a gear snob, but I’m a pragmatists even more. A few years ago Streamlight came out with a product that, as far as  I know, has no comparable version from SureFire…the Streamlight Siege. (Although, to be fair, Eveready and a few others make a similar product but I don’t believe it to be as rugged and well thought out as the Streamlight product.)

The Siege is an LED lantern for area lighting. Nothing remarkable about that, but as you look the product over more closely you get the idea that it was designed for a very particular demographic….we happy survivalists.

20160731_143108The Siege runs on three D-cell batteries….one of the most common sizes of batteries around. Just about everyone has a couple D-cell MagLites floating around the house or car..the Siege takes advantage of that common battery. If you really want to streamline things, there are battery adapters that allow you to run one size of battery in devices meant for a larger size. Most often we see this with adapters that let you run AA-batts in devices that were meant for D-cells. But, my logistics revolves around three battery sizes (AA,D, and CR123) so I have plenty of D-batts laying around. (Interestingly, it seems like virtually the only thing I have that runs on D’s these days are flashlights. The days of radios and other devices running on D-batteries is coming to a close. )

20160731_142908The light source for the Siege is four white LED’s, and a fifth red LED. Holding down the one control button toggles between red or white. When the white LEDs are selected you have a choice of three brightness levels, starting with the highest. When the red LED is selected you have one brightness level, but double-clicking the button puts the red LED into SOS blinky mode.  The plastic ‘shade’ of the Siege diffuses the glow of the LEDs and is removable if you want more harsh lighting.

The top and bottom of the Siege has rugged rubber ‘bumpers’ making the light pretty resistant to being dropped, knocked over, or just banged around. Theres a foldaway clip on the underside of the light for hanging it upsidedown when you have the shade removed, and there’s a bail handle on the other end to hang it from whatever is handy when you do have the shade on.20160731_143039

The non-skid tread on the bumper-like bottom of the light keeps it from sliding on slick surfaces and provides an excellent grip for unscrewing the base to change batteries.

Light output on low is enough to illuminate a room so you don’t trip over anything, on high it’s bright enough to get things done but you’ll still feel like you’re in a power outage. Where this light seems to really shine (as it were) is as an emergency ‘area light’. When the power goes out its the light you turn on and stick high up in a corner of the room, hang in the stairwell, or put in your emergency gear storage area. It’s an awesome emergency light for when the power goes out and you need some light to get your gear together or start up your secondary systems (generator, transfer switch, etc.)

I haven’t beaten the crap out of it yet, but it has rolled off my desk a few times, and once bounced out of the truck….seems to still be doing just fine. Your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve been very pleased with mine and will be getting three or four more as spares/backups/loaners.

They’re available at the usual sources, like Amazon, but once in a while you can find an outdoors-gear vendor having them on sale. Even at regular price, though, they’re a good purchase.

Steel/Hot Lips mag deals

Well this is just a plain darn good deal…

FEB1220165From the guys at MGE Wholesale

That’s a ridiculously awesome price on the Steel Lip mags. Contrast that with $12.99 elsewhere.

Four words to keep in mind: it’s an election year.

(Plus, you know if Obama or Hillary get their way,  Scalia’s replacement isn’t going to be nearly as friendly towards our cause as we’d like. … cough*Heller*cough)

2(??) Lifestraws for $16 on Amazon

$15.96 is a pretty good deal for a Lifestraw. However the description of the product here clearly says “Package Quantity: 2“, and if that is correct…well, thats an insanely good deal. Wonderful stocking stuffers. If it’s a typo, it’s still a good deal. Might wanna jump on ’em before they sell out.

I keep one of these in my Tromping-Around-The-Woods bag, and they should always be in your BOB/GHB type gear.

For the price, these are excellent pieces of kit for whatever cache of gear you’re squirreling away somewhere. I’ve a dozen or so in storage and scattered among various packs.

 

ETA: Wow, those didn’t last long. Link appears to be dead…musta sold out.

Pocket machete

Well, I guess since the cat is outta the bag, I can quickly mention a cool toy I was gifted.

20150731_151835The knife is done by Cold Steel with input from SurvivalBlog’s own ,Rawles. (Yup, thats his name on the blade. Yes, they included the comma.) Proceeds from the sale of the knife go to charity.

This monster of a pocket knife was gifted to me at the Missoula gun show a couple weeks ago. It’s an interesting knife and a far departure from what I normally carry around. While calling it a ‘pocket’ knife may stretch the definition of ‘pocket’, it definitely doesn’t depart from the definition of knife. This thing is a big folder with a half-serrated blade, beefy, rough-textured handles, and everyones favorite black/olive tacticool finish. It’s a litte big for my personal EDC, but it will definitely go in my bag when I’m out tromping around the woods or E&E’ing ahead of the zombie hordes. Personally, I like half-serrated blades. Sometimes stuff needs to be cut that is just too challenging to a straight blade….nylon/plastic strapping comes to mind…and the serrations make short work of that sort of thing.

From Cold Steels website:

The RAWLES VOYAGER was made to James’s unique specifications, with an O.D Green Griv-Ex™ handle, heat treated 6061 Aluminum liners and our famous Tri-Ad® locking mechanism, offering unparalleled shock and impact resistance and durability in the field.

The Rawles Voyager has also been equipped with a high performance American CTS XHP steel Tanto point blade and a durable black DLC (Diamond Like) coating, making it an excellent choice for the modern day survivalist!

This limited edition knife is the only version of our highly popular Voyager that features an American CTS XHP blade, giving it even greater edge retention properties!

Cold Steel, Lynn C Thompson, Andrew Demko and James Wesley, Rawles have all chosen to donate all proceeds from the RAWLES VOYAGER to charity.

Cool knife with cool backstory. My thanks to the person who generously gifted it to me.

Sharp pointy cutty things

I hate knife sharpening. I mean, I hate it with a passion. You have to remove material (which you can never put back) from your favorite  knife and keep the right angles on the blade and still produce a good edge. I swear, every time I sharpen my own stuff I cringe when I have to go cut something because all I can think is ‘geez, now I’m going to have to sharpen this thing again’.

Obviously, some metals are better for knives than others. Stainless steel has the edge, so to speak, for maintenance but carbon steels win for holding an edge. Unfortunately, given the nature of the world that you and I are preparing against,. stainless blades tend to dominate. Sure it would be nice to have everything made out of that nice blend of carbon steels so that they cut wonderfully and sharpen easily…but the future is going to be full of days where being able to wipe down your metal tools with an oily rage at the end of the day is just not gonna be in the cards.

Lansky makes one of those sharpening tools that keeps the blade at the same angle every time and I know quite a few folks who love that setup. I’ve only fiddled with them and for a guy who grew up using the old-timey methods it was a bit…difficult. What I use nowadays is one of those three-stone deals. Lansky and Smith both make them, I use the Smith simply because thats the brand of stone I’ve used since I was old enough to start accidentally slicing myself with dull knives.

See, it’s the dull knives that cut you. You use a dull knife, you start to use more effort than normal to make the cut, something slips or gives way and -whammo- QuickClot and a trip to the ER for some mattress stitches. If something is supposed to be sharp, keep it sharp…it’s actually safer than using a dull tool.

YouTube is full of knife sharpening how-to videos and if any three of them agree on the technique and materials…well..I haven’t seen ’em. I put some oil on the softest stone, spread it around, and start like Im trying to slice off long strips of the stone…one side, then the other, repeated a buncha times….then switch to the next hardness of stone and lather, rinse, repeat. Some folks like to finish up with ceramic sticks or a strop…I don’t usually go that far. The test that I’ve read about to determine if the edge is good is to pull the blade across a fingernail..if it just slides across, thats bad. If it bites and drags into the nail, thats good…means you’ve got the microscopic little ‘teeth’ just the way you want ’em.

Someday they’re going to have adamantium knives that will never need sharpening but until then…ugh…shhhhhhk, shhhhhhk,shhhhhhk,shhhhhhk, over and over, as you slide the blade across the stone.

Bandoleer stuff

Unsurprisingly, I had a bunch of loose .223 ammo sitting aound that really needed to be organized better. A cardboard box full of 1000 loose rounds of ammo is no way to show up for the apocalypse.

When I go to the range, and I’m shooting .223 (or 5.56 [and, yeah, I know they’re different]) I usually pack them in a plastic 50-round ammo box. Other than keeping things neat and tidy, it also keeps me from turning too much money into noise.

But…for packing ammo away for that rainy day, I rather prefer to store .223 in bandoleers.

clips

Classic four-pocket bandoleer set

If you’re not familiar with them, a proper bandoleer contains a cloth bandoleer, ammo on stripper clips, cardboard inserts for the bandoleer pockets, a stripper clip guide (‘spoon’), and a safety pin to hold the spoon to the bandoleer. This is pretty much how they’ve been packing the stuff since Vietnam.

556x45mm55tracerfederalammocan-840-7_1

New-style four-pocket set

The idea is not, as some geniuses would have you think, to carry this stuff around and then load magazines from stripper clips in the heat of battle. The idea is that it’s a convenient way to stage and transport a basic loadout of ammo. Original bandoleers were seven pockets holding 20 rounds each, for a total of 140 rounds. Of course, that was back when 20-round magazines were the norm. Nowadays there are bandoleers out there that are four pockets holding 30 rounds each. I’m a bit of a worst-case-scenario kinda guy, so I go with the seven-pocket bandoleer but put three clips in each pocket.

The bandoleers, spoons, and stripper clips are quite reusuable and its the rare survivalist that doesnt have some of them floating around in the garage or in his junk bin. But those damn cardboard inserts….they tend to get lost, destroyed, and they’re kind of a pain in the ass to source out. Now, I’ve got a shopping bag full of stripper clips, a cardboard box full of bandollers, and no 3-clip cardboard inserts. What to do, what to do…….

Naturally enough, a quick trip to Amazon showed that, yes, you could get the 3-clip cardboards there. Gotta love that instant gratification enabling that is Amazon. Ordered ’em up and a few days later -voila-:

20150607_201414So what do you do with them once they’re loaded up? Well, I dunno what you do with ’em, but I pack ’em away in some .30 cal. ammo cans until the day when I need them. Then I can grab a rifle, a couple mag pouches of magazines, throw one or two of these bandoleers over my shoulder, and head for the hills.

Is this superior to storing your ammo loose in an ammo can? I think so. For one thing, it makes an easy and quantifiable amount…one bandoleer is 210 rounds. (As opposed to a couple fistfuls of .223 which may or may not be enough to fill all your mags.) The stripper clips keep things nice and tidy, and load mags a heck of a lot faster than by onesies.

For range trips, I still use the plastic ammo boxes..but they don’t fit into BDU pockets very well, are noisy, and still require you to load your mags one cartridge at a time…all things that arent really a big deal at the range. I suppose some might question the utility and practicality of the bandoleers but I find them to be a convenient way of grabbing a ‘pre-measured’ amount of ammo, and also a convenient way to carry it.

Thoughts on the PTR

People throw the phrase ‘battle rifle’ or ‘battle carbine’ around and it always sounds a little…weird…to me. I suppose you may want to differentiate between youre hunting rifle that you knock down deer with and your ‘just in case’ FAL thats sitting in the closet, but ‘battle rifle’ always sounds kinda hokey. But..what else do you call it? Your ‘social rifle’? I usually just call it a ‘rifle’ and, maybe, depending on the context, ‘defensive rifle’. Anyway, Friend Of The Blog, Ryan at TSLRF, has been mulling a .308 defensive rifle. I threw my two cents in and suggested the PTR.

The PTR is a fairly accurate copy of the HK91. There are several copies of HK rifles out there, and there are a few ‘niche’ or ’boutique’ makers who make a very nice (and very expensive) product, but in terms of mass-market stuff its either Century or PTR. My feelings on Century is that it is the ballistic equivalent of treasure hunting at the sight of old outhouses….you might find a jewel once in a while, but most of the time what you find is crap. (Not withstanding their new milled AK which I may have to get two or three of.)

Personally, I rather like the FAL. But economically, if you’re wanting a .308 semiauto for the day the wheels fly of civilization, and you’re on a budget, you would be hard pressed to find a better value.

Eliminating the exotic stuff, here’s the rundown of whats available in .308 these days that fits the bill and isn’t some super-rare oddball thing (like a .308 Galil or Valmet): AR-10, FAL, PTR, M1A and maybe one of the AK-pattern .308s. I’m limiting this discussion to stuff based on platforms that have been around a while…the AR-10 being the newest. Stuff like the KelTec RFB or other gunny-come-lately need to be around for a while so we can see if they have legs or not.

Whats your budget for the gun and it’s necessary gear? Well, let’s say, mmmm, $1250. Let’s also not cheap out and go with the absolute cheapest [rifle/mag/etc] we can find. We want what works. So, while the Century FrankenFAL may be 1/2 the price of a DSA, it is not a contender because it’s simply a crapshoot in terms of its manufacture. LWRC and SIG don’t have anything for less than $1250 at the moment. S&W has some ‘bargain’ AR-10 rifles but nothing on Gunbroker is less than $1250, and while Remington makes one as well I’m holding off on any of their new stuff until they get their act together in terms of QC.

A basic rifle suitable for defensive use, not a target, match or hunting gun:

Magazines? You’ll need a few. Assuming OEM or similar quality..no Tapco, no USA, no Korean/Chinese. Magpul is ok.

So, working within our arbitrary $1250 budget, and not counting mags that came with the gun, we get:

A Springfield Armory M1A with no extra mags
A PTR-91 with 116 extra mags
An AR-10 with 8~ mags
An FAL with 9~ mags

Or, to work it from another angle, a rifle and 30 mags would be:

M1A – $1700
PTR – $990
AR-10 – $1682
FAL – $1575

So, from a ‘bang for your buck’ standpoint the PTR seems to be at the top. But, that isn’t everything when it comes to these matters. What about reliability, ergonomics, modularity, etc, etc? The AR-10 platform is the newest and thus doesnt have the track record of the others, but it seems to be as reliable as most other piston designs. The PTR, while based on a design that has been extremely reliable, suffered a bit with the early guns. Newer PTR rifles (within the last couple years, and all “GI” models) have corrected the fault that caused rifles to choke on tar-sealed surplus ammo. So, assuming you have one of the rfiles made in the last couple years, it should be as reliable as any HK.

Ergonomics suck but, for me, theyre no more awkward than an AK. If you really wanna go nuts, you can have the receiver sent out for the paddle mag conversion to make it ‘true’ to a G3 but I find that the magazine release isn’t a big deal. The AR-10 wins, hands down, on ergonomics, by the way.

The PTR, with a railed handguard, is about as modular as any other gun. There are provisions for folding, tele, and regular stocks. New guns can be had with railed receivers, making optics much easier to mount, and the rifles are accurate enough that a scope really is worth the investment….the guns are capable of very fine accuracy.

Do they eat the brass? Not to the point you can’t reload it. Someday I’ll take the gun, one cartridge, and a loading press to the range and fire/reload the same case several times to prove it. Until the, though, believe me…you can reload the cases just fine.

So, Im not saying the PTR is the best rifle for anyone. For me, who wanted a .308 in a proven platform without breaking the bank, the PTR fit the bill nicely. From a logistics standpoint, it is at the top of the list with cheap mags and spare parts availability (for now). Some folks prefer the AR-10, some folks (including myself) prefer the FAL, but for the guy who wants a quality, reliable, semi-auto and it’s accessories at a reasonable price…well, its pretty hard to beat.

 

 

Local flashlight sale

Years and years ago, the flashlight to have was a MagLite with the ‘Krypton’ bulb. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s these things were practically lightsabers. But…they still used incandescent bulbs (which are somewhat fragile) and sucked down batteries pretty quickly (the tradeoff for lighting intensity). But despite those two issues, MagLites were pretty much the standard flashlight for most folks. Streamlight always controlled a good chunk of the cop market for flashlights, but MagLite wound up becoming quite the major player in that field. One of the great attractions of the MagLite was that they were pretty robust…you could drop them, bang ’em around, and, of course, use them for ‘persuasive concussive techniques’ if the situation called for it. And, even after pulping someones face with them, they still (usually) worked.

When the LED revolution in flashlights finally came, MagLite introduced an LED version of the classic D-batt flashlight. This completely solved the bulb fragility issue (as well as having a longer life) and made a big positive change in battery life as well. As a result, I’ve been slowly phasing out my non-LED MagLites to the LED version. Problem is, the LED versions cost a little more than the non-LED. It is my opinion, though, that the added initial cost is very, very much worth the expense for the tradeoff of battery life and bulb resilience.

So, I was in my local sporting goods store today and they had the LED MagLites marked down by 33% from their normal price. That dropped ’em to about $18. A quick check on my phone shows that Amazon sells them for about $25 and that was the price to beat. So, I managed to get a flashlight upgrade today at a bargain price. Now if only the rest of my day were so bright and promising….

Panic buying

It occurred to me, as I was talking to someone about the still-present situation regarding .22 ammo, that any lulls that we’ve experienced in the panic buying over the last year or so are going to be pretty much wiped out by the fact that next year is an election year.

The Clintons, Slick Willy or/and Hillary, are hardly friends of gun rights. They aren’t even friends of friends of gun rights. And as you hear Clintons name bandied about more and more as the nomination process approaches you’re going to see more and more panic buying going on.

Then, once the nomination process is on, it’ll continue as the election comes closer closer. Finally, depending on who is elected, it might start to calm down around March or April of 2017.

This stuff is actually highly predictable. The four stages of gun panics, as far as elections go, are:

  • Right before the election
  • Right after the election
  • Right before the inauguration
  • Right after the inauguration

Don’t take my word for it, your own life experiences should confirm what I’m telling you.

thNow, I’m not nearly as stupid as I look (I couldn’t possibly be), but even I learned a long time ago to buy what I needed as soon as possible, as much as possible, so I could ignore this sort of thing.

“But, Zero”, I hear you cry, “I am a survivalist of limited resources. I can’t possibly get all my guns, ammo, and magazines before the election. I need both those kidneys!”

Well, that’s true. It’s a pretty intimidating list. That’s why you need to prioritize that mofo like no one’s business. Let’s look at it from a historical and hysterical standpoint – in the last, oh, say thirty years, what’s been regulated out of the realm of ownership by us simple peons? Chinese guns, Chinese ammo, steel core 5.54×39, steel core 7.62×39, imported rifle barrels for ‘assault weapons’, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds*, pistol grip stocks on semi-auto rifles*, bayonet lugs*, etc.

What else could come down the pike from the twisted gnomes in Washington? Well, almost certainly a magazine ban, assault weapons ban, and some restrictions on ammo. That whole wrist brace issue is living on borrowed time, IMHO. I expect there’ll be some fundamental changes to the DIY/80% receiver market and possibly some restrictions on mail ordering the other parts you need to complete your AR. (And before you say that ATF can’t regulate gun parts that aren’t serialized receivers, go try to import some AK barrels and let me know what happens.) And I fully expect there to be some restrictions on body armour coming along as well.

So, man of limited resources, where do you put your money to get the most bang for your buck in a world where political expediency directly challenges your ability to own thundertoys? Guns, mags, ammo, in that order. Since it is reasonable to expect that as we slide further and further down the timeline prices will go up and availability will go down, it would seem to make the most sense to purchase the most expensive and least available items first. Actual guns are outnumbered by magazines and ammo, so get the guns first. After that, get the magazines. After that, ammo. For every AR, there are probably hundred of AR mags, and thousands of rounds of .223….so get the guns first.

Stripped lowers? Sure, if you can’t afford the actual complete gun I’d grab as many stripped lowers as I can. I suspect that at some point the upper receivers and what not will be regulated as well but until that time you’ll at least have the serial numbered part sitting away waiting for you to complete it…or use it as trade for other stuff.

Magazines are simply a buy-as-many-as-you-can item. For those of us who remember the ’94-’04 ban, we can tell you youngsters stories about $750 BetaMags, $100 Glock mags, and $30 AR mags. It was a time of great chaos, and great(!) profit making. Even if you don’t have the gun, get the mags.

Unless you’re on fire or swimming, you can’t have too much ammo. Any surplus ammo still coming into the country, as well as the Russian stuff, is probably first in the crosshairs of those who would do evil to us. While we all have a magic number in our head about how much ammo is the recommended amount per gun, the truth is that you really can’t go wrong with buying as much as you can afford. If you don’t think so, look at the the folks who are sitting on thousands and thousands of rounds of .22LR right now. Or cases of old Chinese 7.62×39 when it was nine cents per round.

At this point I’m sure there is some genius hitting the comment button about to say something deeply profound like “It’s because of idiots like you encouraging all this hoarding that I can’t find .22LR ammo, and when I can find it it’s at ten cents a round!” Actually, it’s not because of me..it’s because of basic economics, laws of scarcity and demand, and federal asshattery. (How many ‘t’s in asshattery, anyway?)

Having been to this dance before, I’m pretty much immune to a bunch of it. I already have a goodly amount of guns and mags stashed away, and ammo is always on the shopping list anyway. But it is my opinion that if you’ve been waiting for prices to ‘return to normal’ or for ‘availability to return to normal’ you’re going to be left with a full wallet and empty shopping cart. As the political season heats up prices are going to go up, availability will go down, and today is going to be looked back upon as the day you’ll wish you had started shopping.

* = yes, that law sunset and we can now enjoy normal-capacity magazines and ‘evil features’. But do you really think they’re gonna make that mistake again?