The Deep Sleepers

Being a survivalist, you tend to ‘go long’ on stuff…a hundred rolls of TP at a time, canned goods by the case, socks by the dozen, etc. On a long enough timeline, all this stuff will get used. Some sooner than others. For example, the canned goods will probably get used up within a year or two, but some things, like the #10 cans of freezedrieds, are meant to never be used. They are a ‘only in case of apocalypse’ sort of thing. Some other items, like the bulk AR mags I bought a few weeks ago, aren’t meant to be used but rather tucked away safely for, probably, at least a decade or two.

Items that are meant to be put into long, long, long-term storage are referred to around these parts as ‘Deep Sleepers’. They are items that are not intended to be used anytime within the foreseeable future. And, honestly, probably not even after that.

Case in point, the recent stash of Magpul AR mags. I have no intention of using them. I have enough mags on hand to handle my needs for quite some time. So, this recent batch of Magpuls are Deep Sleepers. They are there as a ward against a new ban, in case the next civil war breaks out, or some other Very Bad Thing happens.

First thing we do is stuff them away into a clean, solid, ammo can with good seals. They’re arranged carefully and sealed up in the ammo can. Once the can is closed up, I put a couple loops of poly strapping around it. This serves two purposes – first, it makes sure the lid stays closed. Second, it keeps me from sneaking a mag or two out of there when I think “Ah, I’ll just take a couple from the stash and put them back later.” (Trust me…you are your own worst looter.) Once that can is sealed up it gets marked up with the contents and quantity on it..preferably on each side and top so I can see at a glance whats in it. After that, I write the contents on a ‘key tag’ and wire it to the bail on the ammo can. After that, the can gets tucked way back in storage and…byebye, baby…see you in twenty years. Once that’s done, the records (I use Evernote and Excel) are updated. In Evernote, this is tagged as “magazines”,”Deep Sleeper”, “Storage”, “AR”, and “MagPul”. I also make a note that this is an item that does not need to be periodically inspected.

20161120_110025That’s it. Right now, as I think about it, Deep Sleepers include stashes of magazines, clothes, freezedrieds, and a few other things. But, most importantly, I know what I have, how much of it I have, where I have it, and how well it is stored. Peace of mind.

Link – Rental Range endurance of ARs

Forget about any military endurance testing of the AR/M16 platform, a rental range in Las Vegas has some extremely interesting findings when it comes to large round counts, sometimes in excess of 200,000 rounds through commercially available and full auto ARs. Granted, none of the grueling testing procedures in place from a military standpoint are there, but for sheer round count alone, it really tells a lot about what some companies can take and what others can’t when it comes to their rifles and products in general.

I love articles like these. Real-world numbers and experiences. It is interesting to note that the article does not look favorably at the piston ARs. I guess it makes a bit of sense that the direct impingement versions, which are going to have no reciprocating parts on the barrel (and less parts overall) are going to be a bit more durable than a piston version. On the other other hand, I’d be very curious to see the failure numbers on a designed-from-the-ground-up piston .223 like the Min-14 or AR-180.

In a similar vein, they had a similar article about the AK family as well.

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.

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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.

Sig MPX in the wild

Mmmmm…if you can’t get yourself an HK94/MP5 this thing runs a real close second.

IMG_7730Came across the Sig MPX today. First one I’ve seen in the wild. Although it did have the ‘wrist brace’, it did not have the controversial muzzle device. Obviously, I didn’t get to shoot this thing but I sure got my fingerprints all over (and inside) it. My overall impression is that SIG is really living up to their reputation. Ambi safety, ambi bolt lock, ambi mag release, single point attachments, plenty of rail, etc, etc. The overall impression was that if you can’t find yourself an SP89 to ‘arm brace’ (yes, Im using arm brace as a verb) this little jewel might be just the ticket. Of course, its also $1600~. Still havent gotten my hands on a CZ Evo yet but I hope its just as nice as the SIG. And, lemme tell ya man, those AR controls were just nice. Come to think of it, all the MPX really is is a 9mm AR with a dedicated magazine well. But, wow, was it handy. I like my Uzi but its an aged design and the MPX really brought that home. On the other hand I can buy Uzi mags all day for about $10 whereas the SIG mags are around 7x that….for now.

If money wasn’t that big an issue, I might have a couple of these MPX but I really want to give the Evo a look. The price point makes the Evo very attractive and I think thats going to translate into a much larger logistics aftermarket as the Evo uses its MSRP to grab more market share.

Handy little gun…really would like to shoot one.

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.

 

 

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?

Uzi vs. Evo

I rather like my Uzi. It’s a proven, battle-tested design with a decent supply of spare parts and magazines on the market. The drawbacks are that finding another one is usually a $1100-1500 project, and its a bit heavy at almost 8# unloaded. Additionally, while I’ve been wanting an Uzi for the wife, I figured she’d be better served with the Mini-Uzi which is a bit smaller and lighter but still would give us magazine commonality. Problem there is that they are even more expensive at around $1400-1900 each.

Although there is some debate about the merits of the pistol caliber carbine, I believe they have a utility that segues into my anticipated needs. As of late, there are two newcomers on the market that may prove to be more economical – the SIG MPX and the CZ Evo. The Evo’s are 3# lighter than the Uzi, already have rails, better sights, and CZ is saying theyre going to bring in folding stocks for folks that want to SBR them. Best part is that dealer price on them is $700~…which means for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get two of these things. However….it is a somewhat new platform without the long track record of the Uzi, magazines are pretty proprietary, spare parts aren’t as readily available, etc, etc.

CZ14_Scorpion_EVO3_S1-L-e1416840329704-500x269

CZ Evo….time to sell the Uzi and get a pair of these?

But….for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get the Evo, SBR it, have several hundred dollars worth of mags, and still be below the price of a newish Mini-Uzi. Decisions, decisions.

cz-usa-cz-scorpion-evo3-a1-500x333

Other than that lovely full-auto selector, SBR’ing the Evo would gimme this little jewel.

I’ve got enough stuff in the gun safe that I could probably sell off a few things and get a couple of these, but I’d like to wait and see some feedback from real-world users. On the other hand, my big concerns are a) a change to importabliity putting this thing into the same sort of no-more-allowed-in category as my Uzi and b) logistics (mag/parts availability).

Sure looks sweet  though and the pricing seems reasonable.