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:

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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.

*sigh*

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:

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

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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.

Heavily armed nature hike

Went hunting yesterday, although  it might be more accurate to describe it as a heavily-armed nature hike, As the day went on, some weather moved in and it became prime hypothermia country – lowering temperatures (45~ degrees), freezing drizzle, and gusty winds. The classic scenario for hypothermia. I’d been wandering up and down the hills so I was pretty warm but I decided to find a comfortable spot under some cover and have some lunch and just wait a while and see if something walked by. Problem is, once you come to a stop you start to cool down.

When I was getting ready to leave that morning I was debating on what to wear. I didnt want to wear too much and overheat, or have to carry discarded clothing….but I didnt want to underdress and be cold and miserbale. I went with the ECWS undershirt with a Woolrich wool shirt over it. (And although they are expensive, and they require a certain degree of specialized care, everyone should have a couple quality wool shirts) I was wearing an orange hunting vest over that, so that was pretty warm. I was originally gonna wear the synthetic gloves but went with the wool mittens since I figured if they got wet theyd stay warmer. As it turned out, that was the good call.

So I found a comfy spot under some low branches and set up to have lunch.

IMG_1904[2]It’s hard to tell in the image, but it was a steady drizzle. Fortunately, it was time for lunch.

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Lunch was some Mountain House spaghetti which has either gotten spicier since I last had some, or my growing old has made me more sensitive to such things. Still, just about anything eaten out in the sticks tastes good. The Esbit stove worked well and got 12 oz. of water to boiling in a few minutes with time to spare. The Mountain House is in their Pro-Pack packaging. This differs from their normal packaging in that they vacuum seal it to reduce the overall size of the package…this makes it a bit smaller to pack into a bag. Other stuff: titanium spork and Snow Peak Hybrid Summit Cookset. The cup normally has a silicone lid with it and a silicone bottom cover to protect the hand from heat. Since I normally stuff a Nalgene bottle into the cup, that leaves no place for the lid. But, the bottom cover fits over the top to act as a lid, so I use that.

So I had lunch and sat around in growing cold waiting for Bambi to show up. No luck. So, I figured the day was pretty much a bust so lets take advantage of the crappy weather to test some gear.

I used to pack the classic mylar ‘survival blanket’ in my gear. You guys have seen them, right? They’re about the size of a pack of playing cards and gossamer thin. In fact, theyre packaged too well for such a thin material…try opening one up sometime with frozen fingers. Imagine taking a stack of Kleenex out of the box and soaking it in water…now try to peel away one tissue at a time….thats what its like. I went old-school to one of the older style ‘blankets’..specifically the older space blanket. It is a bit more bulky (you can see it folded up on the ground in the second picture, next to the binoculars on the ground) but it is a much more durable material. I figured I’d wrap myself up in this one and see how it fared against the wind and rain.

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It actually worked quite well. You have to understand, the material has virtually no insulative value. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around your finger and then lay it atop an ice cube. Finger gets cold, right? The value of the material is in its windproofness and its reflective properties. Or, put another way, if you wrapped your finger in a piece of insulative material (a wool glove, for example) and then wrapped your finger in foil, you wouldnt feel the cold from that ice cube. So, in this case, draping the space blanket around myself, and drawing it closed around me created a nice pocket of warm air and the warm package of food held in my lap certainly heated things up nicely. (In fact, this sort of arrangement with a small tealight-style candle [or candle lantern] generates plenty of heat in that enclosed space. The space blanket did a very good job of keeping me warm and keeping the wind and wet at bay. Drawback: It would be nice if there were a velcro closure system..I had to grasp the edges of the blanket and hold it around me to keep the wind from pulling it open. In a real pinch, though, I could just use the medical tape out of my first aid kit. If you had some compact insulative layer like a Woobie or poncho liner with you, you’d be in awesome shape. The tradeoff, of course, is just how much crap youre willing to carry around.

So I sat around for a couple hours in the weather waiting for Bambi to show up and was pretty comfortable all things considered.

So there you go – minor field testing of some gear under the guise of a hunting trip. The next day, by the way, we had a blizzard-like weather system move through. Temperature dropped 30 degrees, powerful gusty winds, and a good deal of snow and sleet. So, good timing.

Gear – ‘Seek’ thermal camera attachment.

Ok, this is, like, ten shades of cool. Here’s a few articles for background:

Heat seeker: Meet the thermal-imaging camera you can afford

The Seek Thermal Infrared Camera for iPhone and Android

Seek Thermal, a $199 Thermal Imaging Camera for Your Phone

Short version: for $200 you can see in the dark if there’s bad guys, warm car engines, animals, or other heat sources lurjing around your AO. This really is one of those products that is ‘limited only by your imagination’. Pour hot water down a clogged pipe to find the clog, see how much propane is in a tank, see if the dog was sleeping on your couch, see if the cars in the driveway/parking lot have been used recently, where is the deer you shot just before sundown, is that a SWAT team hiding in the bushes, which beer in the fridge is the coldest, and, possibly, is that gal across the room really into you or not.

For the survivalist I can see this thing having all sorts of uses…seeing if something is out there in the dark, checking the ground for heat sources from recently extinguished fires, seeing what guns in the rack may have been handled/fired recently, etc, etc.

I’m tellin’ ya, man….we’re living in a Star Trek world more and more everyday. And while the technology is interesting enough on its own, it isnt that new since its been around a while. Whats new is dropping it down to the price of HiPoint pistol and a box of ammo.

I think I may have to get one of these.

MH deadline approaches,TacPack,MilitaryMorons,Wilderness belt,gas piston ARs,Savage Scout

Not to come off as a spammer, but… this Wednesday is the last day to get in on the Mountain House pouch order. After that, the next opportunity will be a #10 can buy around June. Heres the original post with link if anyone is interested. Unlike the #10 cans, these pouches are practical for shorter term emergencies (although rated shelf life is 7+ years) and are great for camping, hunting, vehicle kits, three-day bags and other applications.
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Found this little jewel while cruising the MilitaryMorons.com website. Theres a write-up about them here. They do mention that there is a quantity discount available so perhaps if theres enough interest a group purchase may be in order.
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Clinton vs. Obama, Obama vs. Clinton, and who knows who else wants to get in on the action. Even if Im 110% wrong about the Democrats and their gun control agendas in the coming elections (what are the odds, hm?) do you really think you’ll regret having stocked up on mags and other related materials? Of course not. So, really, skip eating out this week and buy some magazines and ammo. If you’ve got a decent paying job and haven’t wiped out your Christmas bonus yet, pick up some AR lowers.
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I’ve been wearing the Wilderness Instructors belt for a month now and must say that as a gunbelt I’m pleased with it. I’d replaced my DeSantis gunbelt after almost twenty years of daily use with another DeSantis, but I’d been wanting the Wilderness belt for a while now. I like the ‘infinite adjustment’ provide by the Velcro closure and, although this is totally irrelevant, it looks really good. The ability to use it to ‘tie in’ for certain applications (which I’ll probably never do) has some appeal but overall it’s a good piece of gear. I hope I get 20 years use out of it. By the by, it was a Chrismahanakwanzakah gift from the always thoughtful girlfriend.
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The more I read about them the more I think I want to try on of the new gas-piston AR uppers. I’d love to get my hands on an HK416 upper but I would imagine those are big money when you can find one. Anyone have any experience with any of the other AR uppers out there?
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Speaking of boomsticks, it appears Savage has reintroduced their Scout rifle, now with AccuTrigger. $432 dealer cost. I dunno, I’d be tempted but I think the Ruger version might be the better value in terms of workmanship and durability. I’ve heard that the Savage’s had issues with detachable magazines not fitting the guns properly. Usually the mag(s) that came with the gun were fine but if you ordered spares they often didn’t fit without some modification.

CZ magic, IQ Switch, gas rotation

Love my CZ550. It seems that when I concentrate and try to let the break of the trigger be a ‘surprise’ I get okay groups. However, when I hurry and consciously pull the trigger I get outstanding groups. Go figure. Today was another 5-shot, 100-yard group that I could cover with a quarter. And thats using a plain Jane 3-9x Leupold VXII hunting scope so if I drop some better glass…who knows. The thing is, the gun has proven that it is quite capable of excellent groups. I am teh pleasedzor.
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Bought one of these:

for my MiniMag lite and I am thus far finding it to be an excellent addition. This thing is a tailcap press-to-operate switch that also gives five different functions. Plus it has a little ‘locator’ blink every few seconds. Check out the product spec page. Pluks, it’ll work with the LED conversion so when running the light at 25% power you get even more life out of your batteries. Looks like a very cool gadget. Price? I think mine was about eight bucks. Made in China, unfortunately.

Im telling you, folks…LED flashlights are going to relegate the old incandescent flashlights to the ‘specialty’ categories. You’ll see them for big X-Files style searchlights and maybe for the uber high-intensity lights but for typical day-to-day stuff its going to be LED’s from here on in.
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Gas has dropped below $2.50/gallon locally so I’ll rotate out some gasoline this week. Two cents cheaper up at CostCo.
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The case for cases

As you and I know, the world can be a pretty tough place. If it weren’t, theres be a lot of EMTs and auto body shops out of work. Additionally, since fate is not without a mean streak, when it rains it pours. Take some of the lessons from Katrina for example…some folks had their guns stored in safes. They werent stolen but they sure weren’t dry. (Actually, some guns that were in safes were stolen..by NOPD for their own use.)I’ve seen photos of guns that sat in the sewage-and-chemical-saturated waters for a week or two and they were pretty sad. This time next year youre going to see a large number of very experienced, very talented amateur gun refinishers and stockmakers down there.

So, what can you do? You want something to protect your electronics, guns, documents and other items that dont respond well to immersion, dust, dirt, impacts and abrasions. The answer, naturally, is some sort of protective case. Lets start with the basic simple ammo can…like a quality prostitute, theyre cheap, available, and take a surprising amount of abuse for the money.

Ammo cans come in all sorts of sizes…most people can go their entire lives and never see anything other than the .30 and .50 caliber cans. However, there are bigger (much bigger) cans available. With the exception of the hard plastic cans that are used for certain ammo, most US ammo cans are made of steel, painted OD green, have removable lids, and use a closure that levers the can shut. Waterproofing is achieved with a rubber gasket that goes around the lid of the can. Assuming everything is in good shape these cans will do 90% of what you want them to do…thier only drawbacks are really their  limited sizes and that they will dent if you hit them hard enough. When buying ammo cans always check the gaskets to make sure theyre in good shape and that theyre actually there. You also want to make sure the mouth/lid alignment is good without dents and dings that would prevent a good seal upon closure. Even in good condition, some ammo cans will still leak if submerged. For being out in the rain, bounching around in your truck, being dropped into snowbanks and the like they are great…but for actually sitting in a flooded truck under five feet of water for a week, you might be disappointed. However, since ammo cans work so well for most preparedness needs they shouldnt be dismissed. For truly important stuff, I’ll seal the item in waterproof plastic or another container and then put it in the ammo can. Belt and suspenders. Some of the larger ammo cans are well suited for larger things like guns and probably some of the best ammo cans are the ‘rocket cases’ that turn up from time to time. These are about the size of a small footlocker and usually have a lid that is completely removable and is held in place by six locking ‘dogs’. For storing a single longarm the absolute best Ive found is the cylindrical shell container…its got a lid that is padlockable, cams into place to provide a waterproof seal, is extremely durable and has attachment points to secure it to another object using a cable or chain. Theyre big, heavy and hard to find but its almost as good as a Pelican case in terms of durability.

The next step up from ammo cans are the plastic cases that come in various sizes specifically for guns and electronic gear. Pelican is probably the most well-known brand and their products are good. Heavy-duty plastic ‘briefcase’-style cases with locking latches and pressure vents. Usually lined with foam that can be cut to make a custom fit for your gear, they are outstanding weapons and electronics cases. Big drawback is the exepnse…this kind of quality doesnt come cheap. If youre lucky, you can sometimes find used ones locally or on eBay. Scrounging around photography or electronic stores that are going out of business may turn some up as well. The foam inserts can be replaced if you need. A clever trick that eliminates the need to cut the styrofoam in the case to fit your guns is to simply remove the foam entirely and keep your guns in their normal padded soft case and put that inside the Pelican case. Keep in mind that soft cases usually retain moisture so throw some dessicant in there with your gun. Pelican cases are about as waterproof as you can get, are very durable and come in a variety of sizes…they even make cases small enough to hold a GPS or HT radio.

The ultimate in hard, waterproof storage is probably the military-grade cases that are starting to show up. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has spurred the development of cases to keep the ever-growing quantity of military electronincs dry, clean and sand-free. Additionally, the fast-reaction nature of the conflicts puts an emphasis on portability and survivability (like kicking stuff out the back of a humvee at 50 mph or out the door of a Blackhawk at 30 ft. above the ground). These military-grade containers are designed to be stackable and ‘pallet-ized’ (fit neatly and securely on a cargo pallet) which makes them a good choice for storage. Drawbacks are pricing (about 50%+ more than Pelican) and availability. Used ones turn up on, surprise, eBay frequently but theyre usually well-used and I’d be cautious about the integrity of their waterproof seals.

Is it worth $250 for a Pelican rifle case? Depends. If your going to just take your AR out of the safe and to the range you probably dont need it. If your going to stuff an AR, 870 and Glock in there and hide it out in the rafters of your garage or in a culvert somewhere, then you most definitely need it. I’d feel perfectly comfortable heaving a Pelican rifle case into the back of a truck, bouncing down a logging road and dragging it up the side of a hill in the rain. If I were concerned of an impending disaster that might put my house underwater I would definitely pack the guns up in Pelican cases if i couldnt get them somewhere safer.

My point is that unless your carrying an object with you on your person, or you’ve already stashed it at its final destination, you need some sort of transport/storage container that can protect your vital gun, radio, computer, etc. from the nasty stuff TEOTWAWKI can throw at it. When youve got 30 minutes to pack your entire life into a truck and leave in a hurry you want to be able to grab stuff and fling it into the back of your rig without worrying about it. Youre not going to have time to wrap it up, baby it, gently place it behind the drivers seat wrapped in a blanket. You gotta go and you gotta go now. Its pouring rain, trouble is coming and if it isnt packed and ready to go five minutes ago it ain’t going. Thats when you’ll be glad you packed your mission critical stuff in some hard, weatherproof, tough-as-nails container.