Not Always “Just A Tool”


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 1999 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 I met him.

Indeed, I could fill the internet with  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 start  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,  I was not gonna blow up over it. He admitted that was exactly the case and 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 other things but still kept in touch. I saw him one day in late January and we talked a bit 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 34 when he died. and I was close to 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 . the laughs we had and our friendship.

Guns in the media

From Amazing Super Powers Comic.


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.” forums had a post with a cute comic about gun control:

Playing around with a Sniper Mosin.

Sniper Mosin

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.

Sniper Mosin

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.

Sniper Mosin

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.

Sniper Mosin

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.

Soft Armor And Other Thoughts

We have another post from Brain, from over at This time is gives his thoughts on body armor for new buyers.







I obtained some level III soft armor a few years ago. I didn’t get Molle or a camo setup, I purchased a flat black concealable vest from My reasoning was, in part, based on my knowledge from FerFal’s book: Surviving the Economic Collapse.

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

Let’s say things get worse for you/us than they did in Argentina. The landscape is so dysfunctional that police presence is absolutely absent. Limited social services and lack of utilities has caused social unrest and has forced the rifle front and center of your defensive setup. Your armor and rifle (or carbine) need to play nice.



A telescoping stock with a rubber butt pad is an absolute necessity. The stock must be shortened substantially so the weapon can be deployed with the extra layer of kevlar between you and it. The cordura nylon the carrier is made from does not play well with a plastic butt stock. The rifle wants to slide off the armor at every opportunity. Having some rubber on the stock fixes this issue.
Furthermore you can see how thick the extra layer is all by itself. While the level III doesn’t look like much, keep in mind it’s not very flexible. It doesn’t conform to your shoulder pocket and the rifle has to sit pretty far out in front of you.

Wrapping Up:

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.