The knife above is a relatively plain Swiss Army knife. It is a little over 15 years old and I have carried and used it almost all of that time. It;s nothing rare or worth any money from some kind of collectors standpoint and it is certainly a tool. And it is a very handy tool that I have often preferred to carry and use over the large multi-tools.
But on the other had, it is something more. It has a sentimental value for me that makes it worth a lot more.
Back in 2001 I started a new job at a gun store. With my first payday, this knife is the first thing I purchased at the store I worked at. I did it as a little gift to myself since it was only about 25 bucks with my employee discount at the time. I carried it the entire time I worked there for daily tasks. One of the fellows who worked there was an interesting character and we became friends by the name Jody Bryant, nicknamed “PorkChop” by everyone who worked there and our boss. He was a very large guy and way over weight to the point of it being very unhealthy, he was only 30 years old at the time Indeed, I could fill the internet with some stories of this guy alone. He was that kind of guy. After our unlikely friendship had struck up, a year later he found an engraving tool in the back of the shop and determined to learn how to use it. After showing me some of his work, I told him I always wanted something engraved and made personal to me, but never wanted it bad enough to pay the price. So he said he would do some for me free so as to get more practice. I offered up the knife and told him I wanted my name on one side of the blade and then something cool. he could choose for the other side.
He put my first initial and last name on one side of the blade and brought it back to work to show me. I was pleased with this, and it did look great at the time. The blade was newer at the time without the wear and marks from being used hard over the next years. So I asked him to go ahead on the other side. He told me he was going to engrave “rifleman” on the other side since that is apparently what he thought of when asked to choose something cool that would be within my personality.
More than a month passes and he had not brought it back to me. And he kept saying he just keeps forgetting to bring it with him. After a while I am getting on his case, because I used it every day and missed it. He finally says to me one day “Shawn, maybe it has been a long time because I messed up on the engraving, and I have been afraid to show it to you because I don’t know what you’re gonna say”. “Did you ever think of that”?
I laughed and told him not to worry about it, if he did, he did and I was not gonna blow up over it. He admitted that was exactly the case adn brought it to me the next day. He had tried to engrave “rifleman” but forgot to put in the “A”, so then he tried to go back and some how over engrave the blade to fit it in,
It looks bad but not awful, and it is a knife that I intended to use. Being I did not pay him for it anyway, I thought of it as no big deal. We had a good chuckle over it, and I teased him on it a few times and we forgot about it over the following days.
A few years later, we had both left the store for different other things but still kept in touch. I saw him one day in late January and we talked a bit and talked about getting together later on in the spring.
Then in February, on Valentines day, that evening I get a call and it is my friend’s wife. She had woken up that morning of Valentines day and found her husband, my friend, dead in the bed beside her, He had died in his sleep over night from a heart attack. No doubt because of his weight problem. She was devastated to say the least and I told her I would be there for her and asked her to tell me when the arrangements were made. I did not even know what else to say, He was only 31 when he died. and I was 10 years younger then him. At that age, you certainly do not expect a friend to drop dead. Maybe a car wreck or in war, but not dieing in bed while sleeping.
Now, that screwed up engraving on a simple, plain Swiss Army knife, has made it more than just a tool for me. It is a reminder of my friend in a way better than if he had done a perfect job, Messing it up was something you would just expect him to have done. Especially with the half-assed attempt to fix it.
Some stuff are just tools. Guns, knives, hammers, whatever. But sometimes they can become more for the owner. Sometimes they can remind you of a better time, or a person you knew and was close to. I still miss my old pal, but I can look at that screwed up incompetent engraving from a 500 pound drunk guy and remember my friend and the laughs we had and our friendship.
Forgotten Weapons posted this cool video on youtube. I am amazed to see all the flash around the percussion cap.
Video has been released of Canadian SWAT storming an airplane. CNN has some video here. It is interesting to see their entry and their lack of hesitation to point the muzzles of their rifles at the passengers.
In the news there was a bit about ATF firearms training. The writer of the article states, “The M4 is a firearm with quite a bit of kick.” Gee whiz, I didn’t know that. They got to practice with an M4 (HK416), AK, MP5, and an Uzi because those are “all guns that ATF agents encounter on the streets.”
AR15.com forums had a post with a cute comic about gun control:
A friend of mine who collects Mosin-Nagants purchased a sniper mosin a while ago. To get into reloading cheap, he picked up a Lee Loader in 7.62x54R. He was given some powder by my dad, and bought the other supplies. The Lee Loader just neck sizes rifle brass so it works well enough for most of his Mosins, but makes it unsuitable for reloading for a semi auto. Also, we tried at one point to load using .308 instead of the normal .311 diameter bullets for a Fin Mosin, but the Lee Loader wouldn’t crimp the cases enough to hold the .308 bullets securely. The capabilities of the Lee Loader are limited, but it works well enough for low volume reloading like what my friend is doing.
This sniper mosin had a non-matching scope and mount. This had to be shimmed to allow for proper zeroing. Small slices of a soda can made for a functional temporary shim.
The next thing is ammo. Most of the cheap 7.62x54R surplus is not that accurate, rather dirty, and corrosive. My friend bought the only .311 sized bullets in his local area, Sierra 180 grain pro hunters. Not a bad bullet, but these soft points are not the best for accuracy.
My friend was using Lee dippers to measure the powder for his reloads. I brought a cheap Hornady electronic scale so we could see how accurately and precisely he metered out the powder. The dippers, which measure by volume, were not bad for consistency, but the electric scale allowed for greater precision and consistency in measuring powder.
Checking various loading data charts, we found the minimum loads were starting at 43 grains of powder and max charges of 46.5 grains. So I suggested that my friend try some loads of 43gr and 45gr to see how his rifled liked those. This is an old rifle, we certainly are not going to try and go above recommended max loads.
Now I see and hear many reloaders say that they get the best groups at or near the max pressures. While this is sometimes the case, I have met a few 1000 yard competition shooters that found the sweet spot for their rifle well below the max load. Regardless what ends up working best in your rifle, it is best to start low and work your way up.
I spotted for my friend when he fired his first 5 rounds groups with each load. He pulled his last shot with the 45 gr load, you can see it noticeably lower then the rest of the group. No sight adjustments were made between strings, so it is interesting to note the left-right shift between the two loads(identical loads other then powder charge).
So the first impression would be that the 43gr load is horrible and the 45gr load is the way to go. But not jumping to conclusions, we repeated the test.
So, then we had a better result with the 43gr load, and a different result with the hotter load. What does this mean? Could mean any number of things. My friend might have needed to warm up to shooting the Mosin, or his rifle might have liked being a little dirty better. By the second set of groups the Mosin’s recoil may have been beating him up. In any event, he now knows the best thing to do is to repeat the test and see what happens. That first group from the 45gr. load shows potential. I look forward to seeing what sort of groups my friend will manage to achieve as he experiments with reloading.
Reloading can be a hobby on its own. You can choose to produce cheaper ammo, or you can use reloading to fine turn a load for your firearm.
We have another post from Brain, from over at www.thenewrifleman.com. This time is gives his thoughts on body armor for new buyers.
When Argentina’s economy collapsed, the government was still capable of arresting and policing. The situations that arose in Argentina made it clear I should buy some armor. I studied what I saw others using at club shoots and made my decision to conceal my armor rig.
Points to consider:
Rifles didn’t come out to play in Argentina’s collapse: Police presence was still available, and carrying a rifle around with you invited their scrutiny. Not Good. Also made you a target for robbery.
Criminals used handguns: Obvious reasons aside, criminals preferred to look like anyone else on the street, except they would pull a gun and take your cash when the opportunity presented itself.
Criminals became very crafty: A favorite tactic of criminals was to approach you as you fumbled with your keys to unlock the door. In general they used the element of surprise. You should surprise them by being immune to their attacks to the torso.
Instead of going full tactical Molle kit like I see online and at the range, I decided a concealable vest would make more sense in a collapse type scenario. I don’t want to look tactical or out of place in such an event. I want to blend in. Concealable soft armor would likely protect me from the most common threat on the streets: the handgun. Wearing a full tactical kit, pouches, and associated gear WILL WORK if you have friends that will watch your back and you stay out of the authorities eyes. However, for the common Joe, getting a concealable setup gives you the element of surprise against would be attackers.
- Getting a full kit on may attract unwanted attention. Be smart when you deploy your tactical setup.
I made one mistake with my armor purchase… Instead of getting a smooth carrier, I should have gotten a molle carrier and wore it as a concealed vest. Leave off the extra gear and it will conceal well enough for day to day activities. If the need arises, the vest can be outfitted with mag pouches, plates, and other necessary equipment. So I need to spend another hundred and convert it to Molle while keeping the slick concealable ready if need be.
Your Rifle and Your Armor
Armor is something we want to get, but typically the money is spent on upgrades to your rifle. This is a sword and shield issue and no one would go into a fight without both. Look at your situation and determine the best strategy for your situation. You may need more concealment and pistols than a full on tactical kit, especially if you are in an urban area. If you want to run a rifle with armor, it’s going to be a massive learning curve and your equipment may need to be set up to mitigate how cumbersome the armor can be.
On the left is an older worn unknown brand AR15 extractor. Note the chips on the groove where it holds a case rim. The extractor spring has a blue insert. It’s replacement on the right has a black extractor insert, and an O-ring. The rifle the old extractor was pulled out of was having some extraction issues. The new extractor should put an end to those issues.
The M16 used a blue extractor insert and a 3 coil spring. Later a 4 coil spring and harder black insert was adopted. Sadly some companies have produced blue strength inserts in both blue and black. Bravo Company’s Paul Buffoni has said that the durometer measurement of the blue insert is 60, and 80 for the black insert. This shows that the black insert is harder.
Now there are 5 coil springs. When purchasing new extractor springs for a carbine, I would recommend buying the new 5 coil springs. The additional O-Rings and D-Fender rings are generally not necessary, but they can aid in extraction if you are having issues.
This post is not easy to sum up with a short title. It contains my thoughts on the 1911 in its custom form, if the high end super pricey custom guns are worth it, And my thoughts on how they often give the 1911 a bad rap by people who do not care to take the time to understand some of the down sides of the tight fit match and carry guns. Apologies for the rambling nature of the post. Also I want to warn it is my opinion and you may not agree, If you can not handle that, I do not know what to tell you other than don’t bother posting in the comments complaining to me about how wrong I am. I have spent a long time with 1911s and have my opinions on them. Everything below is given as opinion and personal experience and observations only.
I am always having discussions with people about accuracy. Readers who check here regularly know that it is a topic I often write about. I give my thoughts on what guns I find to be accurate, the amount of accuracy you can expect from rack grade combat guns and the distance that those guns are capable of shooting to way beyond the common knowledge of the internet experts along with the fire arms magazines. I put great effort into showing that most factory guns are more capable than most people will ever know. A match barrel does indeed have it purpose and can give a great deal of improvement, but the barrel that comes from quality factory guns are a lot better one may think, despite the fact that the match barrel selling merchants would like you to believe them to be crap.
When it comes to factory barrels and accuracy, self defense is one of those times people would understandably want as much accuracy as they can use. Even if they can not actually use i due to their skill level. The model that in my opinion, gets the short end of the stick when it comes to higher accuracy demands for self defense is my beloved 1911. For the almost 30 years I have been using the 1911, I can remember being told that all this and that kind of work has to be done to the gun to make it accurate. No factory 1911 is all that accurate some said ( and still do) and a lot of specialty shops have popped up to cater to this idea. But this is often at the cost of reliability. The 1911 was made to work withing certain specs. It was made to work when filthy and muddy and with little cleaning, And the military models, when made to the correct specs and dimensions and with good ammo, will work. the problem I always see, are 1911s not made to the military combat specs.
To me, it is important to have one that meets the original specifications. I want it to always work and to be accurate. After a recent conversation about it for the 1 millionth time, I decided to show a little testing of what a nice loose, proper 1911 is capable of.
Using the V-Tac target, I fired a full magazine of just plain old ball ammo from 25 yards, off hand. The ammo is nothing special, it is not match or Black Hills or handloaded. It is just military ball. I fired at the head and the center of the chest.
While it is certainly not a tight pretty little group. Who would argue against this being acceptable for ball ammo, off hand no bags or rest, at 25 yards? All but one round feel in the box of the head. The “flyer” is not a great shot. But I would think it would be a good chance it would probably stop the fight anyway, or at least make the attack second guess his commitment…. Maybe not, but the other shots would have gave him pause. Note the between the eyes hit just happened to end up that way, not by any special effort.
In my mind, for a 1911 so loose it rattles, and ball shot off hand at 25 yards, this will do the job pretty well while giving me a gun I know will work every time.
The second mag was fired at the chest as seen above. Again this was within the kill box of the target using plain ball. All nine shots are good hits to me. The gun grouped a but better due to a large area to aim at and be able to see my front sight against it better, but not a drastic improvement. Three hits seem to be pretty good CNS hits while four hits are in the heart and lung area with at least another hit in the other lung.
the back side of the target has very hand Bullseye targets on the back that are exactly placed on the opposite of the head and chest. Compare the front hits with the scoring of the bullseye on the back. I think this is a great feature without getting the shooter hung up on worrying over some kind of score while they see the human anatomy on the front. Few bad guys are likely to have black bullseyes on them so I don’t suggest spending too much time on them when training for self defense.
Again, while not good enough for Camp Perry. Not bad at all for ball. Of course this would be a different matter with my chosen self defense carry load. My daily carry ammo preforms better than ball. but, my gun is still a looser fit gun that gives me the combat gun reliability I demand.
This bring me to another of my pet topics about the 1911. I DO NOT believe or recommend a hard, tight fit gun for self defense or combat. I know you can find plenty of people out there who will want to argue with me about this. But you don’t have to spend much time on gun forums to see some guy complaining about how is multi thousand dollar custom Ed Brown or Les Baer 1911 let him down at a training course. Well. there is a reason for that. the 1911 is a combat gun meant to go to war, to be in mud and gore. rain, snow and with little cleaning. It was originally meant to be loose. Those tolerances allowed mud and carbon to get all in the gun while giving it enough room to breathe and move. A gun with the slide/frame so tight you have to beat it open, is not going to give you that.
That is not to say I think a 1911 should look like the original with no upgrades. I am not a follower of the “don’t put anything on the 1911 JMB did not put there.” I think ambi safety and better sights are a must have, among a few other things, but the the gun I use to protect myself will never be “tightened up” or a “hard fit”.
Tight fit guns have a place, and if you want one thats fine. But, if I was not going to be shooting a bullseye match at Perry, I would not carry one for self defense without a very long testing period. It is not that these guns are not quality. Because they are custom guns and they are made to a high quality. But sometimes that works against you when things get dirty. It is one thing to have something to pass down to your kids and show off at a BBQ and be a investment. But, I do not believe the super expensive, custom 1911s to be better choices for self defense over a 1911 with a looser fit. They are beautiful to be sure. but to me, that is not good enough.
The gun I carry every day, is a Colt XSE. It comes from Colt as you see it expect for the grips with gold medallion. The reason I love the XSEs so much, is that they have a lot of the upgrades a custom gun comes with but is not a hard fit 1911. The barrel locks up tight enough to improve that accuracy over a USGI issue. but it is not so tight to cause any possible problems if it gets very dirty. I have used this gun a long time and shot it so much I could not even count. It has never failed me. The first year I got it, I left it soaking in a silty creek for eight hours and fired it, I froze it in a freezing rain and snow. I opened it and poured powder fine dirt in it and one day I fired 1,000 rounds though it in about 30 minutes after not having cleaned it for many rounds before it, except to oil it. The gun became too hot to hold but still worked. It is also so loose that it rattles like a pebble in a empty milk jug. But it still works and I can make the hits well within what is needed.
My personal standard for a 1911 is to be able, off hand, to keep all my shots on a human head at 25 yards. all in the chest kill zone at 50 yards, and to be able to hit a man at 100 yards with my quality self defense loads at a minimum. I don’t expect it to do all that with ball ammo or sub par plinking rounds, but it does not need to. It has to be comfortable and have ambi safeties and sights big enough for me to see.
That is not too much to ask with modern guns. but due to the flood of 1911s made by so many companies trying to cash in on the guns popularity, it is not as common as it would seem. All the crap copies have given it a bad rap among some, that it does not deserve when made to the specifications originally meant for a pistol to be used in muddy trenches, volcanic sand on Pacific Islands, snowy mountains in asia and the Jungles of Indochina. The USGI 1911 lasted so long because it works when made right with combat in mind. And in my very personal opinion, the hard fit 1911 is about as useful for fighting as the cheaper coat tail riding knock offs from other countries and even quite a few made here. When it comes to tight, hard fit 1911s sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Save the 2,500-5,000 dollar custom guns for family heirlooms, Bullseye or hanging on the wall or just shooting for pleasure and the enjoyment of having an investment grade gun. If you do choose to have a custom high end, tight fit 1911 made and decide to carry it. test it until you know it will work no matter what. For your own sake, get it filthy., abuse it within reason, if you are afraid of a blemish, then you are already going down the wrong road. Beat the hell out of it to make sure it works. If you ignore all I have said, at the very least, when it fails you at a training class when it is subjected to a high rate of fire and round count for the first time. at least tell the Trainer/instructor that looseorounds warned you.
When I browse the gun boards on the internet, I still see the claims by bench rest experts about how a carbine has to have the barrel free floated, preferably with a 400 dollar match stainless steel barrel. Or even more laughable. with a cold hammer forged barrel. Otherwise you are gonna be stuck with a 4 MOA or worse, gun. Last year I took a rack M4 out to 1,000 yards on a man sized target to show it could be done, but that was not the same as setting down from a rest and squeezing all the accuracy out of it I could get for pure precision.
So today I took a 6920 Colt ( M4) and slapped on my trusty Leupold 18x target scope, and grabbed some ammo to do some accuracy testing. The only thing different about this gun, is it has the SSA trigger to help with the groups and a Gunfighter Charging handle along with a standard Colt ambi safety that has no effect on its barrels accuracy. The gun still had the side sling swivel, and I even left a sling attached, and the factory hand guards. Other than the trigger and scope to help on my end, the gun had no other upgrades to the barrel. It was as it comes from Hartford. Gun was fired from a bench with front and rear bags using the Leupold 18x target scope I use for accuracy testing.
I drew a few dots and set the target out at 100 yards and got to work. Above is a 18 round group fired with M855. It is not a bad groups actually if you look at it in context. Some of the rounds obviously were not consistent with the rest, but the rest did give a group not bad at all for military ammo. I have seen M855 do better, but it is not match ammo.
Then I moved to shooting match quality ammo. The first group on the left, is 5 rounds of MK262 ammo, This is 77 grain Sierra HPBT’s. I only fired five rounds, because that’s about all I have left. I find this to be a normal group for MK262 though. Middle group is the Hornady TAP ammo, in .223 pressure loading, not the 556 NATO version. This is a ten round group. And it is normal in my experience with TAP. It is pretty good stuff but not as great and super accurate as a lot of people think. But it is nothing to sneer at by any means. Its terminal performance makes it an excellent round, especially if you get the 556 pressure stuff. Last group on right is Norma Match ammo I recently started buying and testing. Man! I did not expect to see this group. I knew it was good stuff because I knock crows out of trees at 200 yards with it all the time in a target AR15, but this was the first time I had shot it in a carbine for accuracy. I fired ten rounds of the Norma Match. It uses the same Sierra bullet as the MK262, but obviously more care goes into the making of this ammo. Norma has long been known for super high quality brass, so it should surprise no one that any ammo they make would be outstanding.
There have been probably a million accuracy tests of carbines on the web over the years, but it is always worth repeating since few actually put in the real effort to see what I plain rack grade barrel will do. You can do very good work with a factory carbine despite what you will read from internet experts, and the companies trying to sell you something. Your skill and practice are much more important than a FF tube when the gun is quality to start with. It is important to realize that rack grade does not mean just any Ar brand that looks like a plain M4 though. There is more to making a quality gun than just looking the same as another. But a proper made gun, made to last and be tough, will offer up enough accuracy for just about anyone if they dedicate themselves to becoming a real marksman, and not just a dirt clod blaster who burns up 15 rounds a second from 15 feet.