Monday, March 31, 2014

On Training

There is no shortage of tacticool schools out there, which is really unfortunate for those who didn't get the opportunity to experience ten years in the Army and two years in combat. The problem I see most often with these schools is that they're all focused on the wrong thing: combat.

You could kill hours and hours on YouTube or Everydaynodaysoff watching herpy derps "train" people to do ridiculous things like bump-fire at an area target or charge in, guns blazing. In real life, these things will only ensure that you will be criminally charged.

What you should definitely know how to do is hit one to three targets very solidly in as little time as possible, drawing from concealment at three to seven yards. But that doesn't sell people on a $500-$700 class. Gimmicks like no-light shoot houses and cameramen downrange seem to do that.

The biggest thing you should probably know though, is combat medicine. First aid is acceptable, but falls short of real immediate trauma care. Also, you'll find that most off-the-shelf medical kits are really just expensive boxes with band-aids and Neosporin. In real life, medical knowledge will go a lot further than knowing how to clear your house by yourself (which will result in you needing Quick Clot and a tourniquet. Or a bodybag.).

Just the other day at work, one of our HVAC techs fell off some scaffolding and hit his posterior on a steel door frame on the way down. This caused a 5" laceration on his ass, which bled enough to alarm the poor fellow, but was all capillary bleeding from his skin. It was deep enough that I could see quite a lot of ass fat. Using my Army CLS skills, I went to the heavy-duty kit in the job trailer and got shitloads of gauze and an ACE wrap to serve as a protective cover for the gauze packing and wrap. My wrap did well enough that by the time he got to the hospital, his ass had stayed intact enough that they could stitch the wound without any extra cutting to facilitate a clean stitching.

Learn combat medicine (classes do exist--seek Navy corpsmen if at all possible). You may save a friend's ass, or even your own.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Extras, Storage, Organization

Never one to waste space, or buy non-utilitarian gun parts, I've decided to write  a short commentary on what should be in your extra space and what merits its own accommodations.

With hollow rifle stocks or pistol grips, I store gun-specific support items. For instance, in my AR pistol's BCM grip, I keep a couple of spare CR2 batteries for my optic. I wrap those in zip-top sandwich bags to prevent them from contacting eachother, and also to keep them from getting wet. Also, a tightly wrapped sandwich bag will prevent any rattling. This is helpful for operators operating operationally, or for hunting purposes.

My 20" AR wears a scope, and that merits carrying a lens pen. Rather than let one float around in my range bag, or a rucksack (if I were still an operational operator), I keep it wrapped tightly in a plastic bag in the pistol grip.

As for the capacious Magpul stock, I keep a reasonable field cleaning kit. I stripped down an issued OTIS cleaning kit. I have the cable, .22 wire brush, .22 patch loop, pull handle, and infamous green toothbrush. If you have room, a small non-aerosol lubricant source would be great. I also throw a few q-tips in there in case the bolt were to need deep cleaning. All of this goes into a zip-top bag for the aforementioned reasons, plus if you have lube in there, you'll want it wrapped up because it will explode and coat everything in CLP. CLP stinks, and if this is your coyote gun, ol' Wile E. Coyote will smell you a mile away.

So what doesn't go in these two spaces?

1. Medical supplies.

I have a blowout kit in my range bag. It's full of leftovers from the Army, but it has the bare essentials: exam gloves, two CAT tourniquets, one medium bandage, one small pack of surgical gauze, one medium QuickClot bandage, and some medical tape. Check your expiration dates, and NEVER use QuickClot for anything but very serious wounds. If you aren't trained in the use of it, don't carry it. Tampons will do nicely, and are FAR cheaper. A blowout kit does not include: ACE bandages, band-aids, Neosporin, or Motrin. That would be a very basic comfort care kit, and sorely insufficient for emergency medical needs.

Also, for the operational operator, if you get shot ( in combat, your med kit is for YOU, not THEM), your buddy will have to take your rifle apart to treat you. This is unhandy if you are still in fighting shape, and wastes time vs. just having your IFAK on your vest.

2. Ammunition.

There is something to the "last mag" theory where you keep your very last bit of ammunition somewhere separate. Inside your rifle's furniture is the wrong place because you can only store loose ammo there, and that is dumb on a bunch of different levels. Instead, keep one magazine in your assault pack, or on the back of your armor. Or if you're just competing in 3-Gun or coyote hunting, don't worry about it at all.

3. Skittles.

 Are you Dugan Ashley? No? Lose the skittles.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

AR and AK Musings.

My FaceTube feed has been full of Army buddies' pics of their brand new ultra-expensive ARs and AKs. I am incredibly suspicious of new manufacturers, especially when their prices are three or four times what a service rifle costs. While I'm not going to name names, one guy in particular paid $2400 for an 18" direct-impingement AR with a fancy paint scheme. For that money, you could spec up your own build and have the mother of all ARs. Or for half of that, you could build a top-shelf service rifle.

I guess I'm writing this as a word of warning. Just because you pay three times the market rate for a rifle doesn't mean you're getting "the best". In fact, if you're hell-bent on spending your life savings, you're a lot better off to go to a reputable smith and have him spec up a rifle for you. Or build a nice service rifle and then get an awesome scope like an ACOG or the US Optics 1.5-6x I've had my eye on for a while.

There are reasons to pay more for a rifle. For instance, BCM's M16 bolt is all machined steel and has a heavy duty coating. It costs twice as much as a "semi auto" bolt with a MIM or cast extractor and gas key. But it is far more durable and because of its greater weight, will help slow the cyclic rate and be more reliable.

Additionally, the Vltor A5 actually slows your cyclic rate and will make your pistol or carbine more reliable and nicer to shoot. If you're stuck on a rifle (like me) the Magpul rifle stock has more storage space, is more comfortable, and is easier to bag down than an A2 stock. They cost more money than their alternatives, but they're worth it.

In short, do some research and make sure you're paying for actual parts and not blue-sky and a fancy paint job. Nice ARs do cost a little more, but you should be getting real, quantifiable performance upgrades for the increased cost.

AKs are another story entirely. To oversimplify, an AK is an AK. Romanian WASRs are of notably terribly quality, with a well-known canted sight problem (among others). They used to be FAR cheaper than the other makes, but now they're all about the same $500, so buy a Yugo or a VZ58. You can spend $1000 on a very pretty Arsenal AK, and I have a hunting buddy who did just that, but his Arsenal is no more accurate, nor any nicer to shoot than any mid-price AK. All that money paid for is a milled receiver, which is very pretty to admire for its flawless machine work. But the tolerances are about the same as any of the cheaper stamped models. 

Do your research and don't get suckered by pretty finishes. Build the rifle you want, and putting a pretty finish on will only run you another $200-350 in cerakote. Caveat emptor.