Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Product Review: TruGlo Bright Sight Paint Kit

Getting old sucks.  Your short term memory goes, your knees go, your sex drive goes, your eyes go, your short term memory goes....

Joking aside, your eyes do age, and as they do so, some things become more difficult.  For me, one of those difficulties has been picking up my iron sights, especially when they are the unrelieved black such as those found on my recently purchased Ruger LCP.  On my first trip to the range, I was convinced that something was terribly wrong with the gun or perhaps the ammo, until Son was able to take the same gun and ammo and shoot a respectable group with it.  While I did have the foresight to purchase the version with the Crimson Trace laser, I really would like to see those sights.

Previously, I have used various colors of enamel paint (such as Testors modeling paints) in an attempt to put some color to work for me.  While that has helped, these paints are a gloss enamel, and they can be a source of glare, even on something as small as a front sight.  I wanted to try something different this time.  A little research via Google led me to the TruGlo family of products, and their Bright Sight Paint Kit, which I purchased from Amazon.

For a bit over $21, I got the kit as pictured at left--red, white, green, orange and yellow paints, plus a cleaner to be used before painting your sight.  (You can use alcohol in place of the supplied cleaner.)

Reading the Amazon reviews, it seemed to be a love it or hate it sort of thing, with negative reviews fixating on "The paint was thin" and interestingly enough, "It doesn't glow in the dark!"  I remember thinking that while I had no idea about the first gripe, it didn't say anywhere in the item description that it was glow in the dark, so why would you think it was supposed to?  I suppose the gun culture has to endure its share of derps.

At any rate, once I had product in hand, I performed the obligatory check, check again and check AGAIN to be sure the gun was empty.  Reading the extraordinarily brief instructions, I decided that my basement lair was a bit on the chilly side, so I arranged a small light bulb to provide some heat to the Ruger's slide, selected the orange color for my test and placed it in my pocket to warm.  In the meantime, I got out my 91% rubbing alcohol and cleaned the front sight and surrounding area.

Once satisfied the slide and paint were warmed, I did the triple check of the gun again, shook the paint thoroughly, opened it and carefully brushed on a coat.  The reviewers were right, this stuff is thin.  Very thin, somewhat thicker than muddy water.  Being no stranger to painting (walls and houses, anyway), I decided that we would simply use as many coats as necessary to get the front sight to the level of color I wanted.

The instructions say that the paint needs to dry 24 hours; more if possible.  I allowed it to dry anywhere between 2 and 12 hours between re-coatings and gave it 4 coats in all before it reached the level of opacity I was seeking.  The result was a nice orange sight.  It is not, however, the bright orange of the paint in the bottle, but rather darker.  It is also not a gloss finish, which I appreciate.

In between coats, you can clean your brush with plain water.  That's a nice touch I appreciate.

Weather, work and family obligations have prevented a trip to the range, but I have had time for some dry-fire practice.  I'm happy to report that the front sight is much easier to pick up, even in fairly low light and against light backgrounds.  In more normal light and against outdoor backgrounds, it seems to make an equally big difference.  I'm may also paint the rear sight a different color to see if the contrast improves my acquisition time.

I haven't tried any of the other colors, but I'm looking forward to trying them on some other guns that need a bit of help in the sight department.

For $21, it's a cheap enough thing that you can experiment with it.  I expect from the nature of the product that it is not a "permanent" paint, which would make experimenting with it a simple matter, and the amount of paint you get ought to keep you busy experimenting for quite some time.  I can even see this as a way to test out new sights before actually buying them--just paint up your existing ones to mimic the new ones.

Over all, I recommend it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Paging Quality Control...

I don't remember seeing this many gun recalls, one after another, ever.  This time, it's Remington's turn, with a recall for their Model 700 and Model Seven rifles.  It seems that some of them could unintentionally discharge, making you one of the less popular guys amongst your hunting friends.  If you have one, visit the link and see if it's one of the winners.  Or losers.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Book Review: Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers

(I'm trying something new here in an effort to have some more to write about.  Since I've tired of ranting about our government, keeping track of what page of Atlas Shrugged we're living on and so on, there has been a general dearth of things to post about.  Sure, there's guns, but given the price and availability of ammo plus my lack of spare time, I haven't been doing much in that area.  So I'm going to try and bring you some reviews of books, magazine and maybe products.  Let me know what you think.)

Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers, by F.J. Bohan, published by Paladin Press  119 pages

At first, I was a bit put off that I had actually spent money on this book.  Most of the contents are things that one could Google up for oneself.  However, as I read along, it struck me:  "Sure, you could Google for this stuff--if you knew what to Google for."

That's where Bohan earns his keep.  There are literally dozens if not hundreds of ways to fortify a building or a given location.  He narrows it down to 8 items.  They are:

  • Barbed wire
  • Bollards
  • Gabions
  • Revetments
  • Fascine
  • Deliberate Defensive Fighting Positions
  • Trenches and Tunnels
  • Bunkers
That's it.  No tank traps, road blocks (well, not a lot) or booby traps (to speak of).  He has narrowed it down to the basics that he believes will be useful to someone who is facing a Mad Max survival scenario.

For each topic, he explores in some depth.  For example, barbed wire gets an in-depth treatment, covering various types of protective wire in addition to traditional barbed wire and how to employ each type properly.  Bollards also come in for a similarly deep treatment, while trenches and tunnels get a lighter treatment, in part because he refers back to previous sections such as revetments, using that knowledge as a building block.  Fascine gets a single page treatment; almost making me wonder why it was included at all.

I felt that Deliberate Defensive Fighting Positions could have been much better done, and could probably be a book-length subject of its own.  However, he does cover the basics of constructing the basic types, even if he is a bit short on siting, how to tie them together and the more in-depth areas of the subject.

At the end of the book, I felt that, given the $10.50 Amazon price tag, I had gotten my money's worth after all.  Face it, if Mad Max does start riding around, you won't have the Intertubz to Google about on, and any knowledge you have will be in your head or on your book shelf.  Better to have this little book on the shelf than not.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Ruger recall

Ruger is recalling some of its SR-556VT rifles for a disconnector that was incorrectly heat treated.  They say that this can lead to the rifle doubling (firing two shots with a single trigger pull).  Seeing as how that meets the strict definition of "machine gun" and some folks have been convicted of possessing an illegal machine gun in similar circumstances, if I had one, I'd be getting it back to Ruger posthaste.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let's talk about the Springfield XD-S for a second

In particular, let's talk about the recall and what they do to your gun.

Without having taken it apart and mic'd every part before returning it, all I can tell they have done for sure is to drill the grip safety for a non-functional roll pin.  I assume the pin is simply the easiest way anyone could figure to let those in the know determine at a glance if a given XD-S has seen the recall fairies or not.  It's ugly, but not so ugly that I'd give up the gun.

What I suspect was done was to install a different sear that is either slightly longer or that has a slightly different engagement angle.  That, however, is purely conjecture on my part.  (I'd love to hear about anyone who knows for sure what was done.  Springfield has been very secretive on that point.)   My gun never had any of the noted problems, but I decided that it would go back any way.  "Rather safe than sorry", and all that.

I have heard some complain that their gun came back with a horrible trigger.  While I haven't been able to get to the range (Thank you, Weather Control), I have dry fired it and measured it with a trigger pull scale against a post recall example from the safe.  My original averages at 6.5 lb. over 5 tries.  The post-recall gun averages 7 lb. over 5 tries; both measured on an RCBS Military Trigger Pull Scale.  That is a bit light for a scale meant to measure in double digits.  A 8 oz. - 8 lb. Wheeler scale is on order; I plan on repeating the test with it.

Unless I got really lucky, I don't think my trigger is substantially different from what it was when it left.  Still, I think some research into lightening them both up a bit may be in order.

Edit 3/31/2014:  Wheeler scale in hand, I've repeated the above tests.  The original gun averages a 6 lb pull over 5 tries; the post recall gun averages 6.5 lbs.  So the RCBS scale, which is not really meant for this sort of thing, actually did a credible job, being off only 1/2 pound on each.  Still going to be looking into trigger lightening for both when I get some spare time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

So, the prepping thing is all fun and games

Right up until you actually have to use it all.

Last Friday, the weatherdroids got it wrong.  "Light glaze of freezing rain", they said.  "Little accumulation", they said.  They were off by about 1/2".  And 1/2 inch of ice is more than enough to bring down limbs and trees, like the 85' long pine that landed on our house--but I'm getting ahead of the story.  What I really want to do is discuss how the preps worked out for us.

My employer had declared a 1 hour starting delay the evening before, mostly so we could all see just how bad things would be before hitting the road for work.  I had decided to take advantage of that and had set my alarm for an extra hour of sleep.  I got 45 minutes of it, being awakened early by the resounding "pow" of an overloaded tree limb giving way under a load of ice.  Looking out the window in the early light, I could already see around 1/4" or so of little accumulation on the trees.  I checked the rest of the family's "go to work" status.  Those with jobs had already been notified to stay at home.  I rechecked mine and found no change.  Lovely.  Time to hit the shower.

While in the shower, we had the sort of power disturbance that makes an IT person wince--the rapid off-on-off-on that causes havoc with electronics, even those on surge protectors.  (The only thing that helps with that sort of thing is a good uninterruptable power supply.)  A few seconds later, my wife pops into the bathroom,  "Did you see that?"  I told her I had, and to unplug all the major electronics in the house and to have Daughter start cooking up a hot breakfast whether anyone wanted it or not.

By the time I had showered, the ice was up to around 3/8".  I called in to work, and was told they only had a cold rain.  (Work being considerably south and west of my location.)  I told them my situation and that I wasn't going to try it.  I could see ice building on the road in front of our house by then, and while snow doesn't bother me, I don't venture out in ice if I have a choice.  Add to that a fairly steady rain of branches, many larger than my arm, falling all around us, and discretion seemed the better part of valor.

So I ate my breakfast and got ready to work from home for the day.  However, that wasn't going to happen, because at 9:30 the power failed.  This time there was no flippy-flippy, it was just gone.  After waiting 45 minutes, just to see if a miracle happened and the power came back on, Son and I got the small generator (a Honda EU2000i, for the record) and the extension cords out.

Pro Tip #1:  Have a generator and plenty of extension cords.  Also have plenty of gas, oil and the gear to change oil if necessary.  When the power goes out, this is the only way most of us can make electricity.  Solar is wonderful, but 99.999% of us don't have it.

One thing I have noticed about the current generation refrigerators and freezers--while they are very energy efficient--don't seem to hold their cold as well as the older ones.  I wanted these things on power now, because I really didn't expect the power to be back on any time soon.  I also wanted the blower for the wood stove back on, because without it, the only room in the house that would be warm was the den.

Because we exercise the generator regularly, it was fueled and started easily.

Pro Tip #2:  Exercise your generator every month.  Don't just run the engine, run  it with at least a 75% load.  This forces moisture out of the generator coils and ensures the generator actually generates.

We ran our extension cords to the refrigerator, freezer and stove blower.  One thing we noticed is that, because the newer generation of appliances has become so efficient, smaller generators are now much more able to take the household load than they were just a few years ago.  2000 watts could run the blower and handle the start-up surge of both refrigerator and freezer, even if they started at the same time.  I hadn't expected that.  We even had enough left over to run the flat screen TV, the sound bar and a laptop so that we could play movies.  Talk about surviving in style!

One thing we discovered is that you want to take an extra few minutes and run the extension cords neatly, around the perimeter of the rooms you must go through--not haphazardly through the middle of the floor.  If the power is out any length of time at all, you get tired of stepping over them, and the last thing you'd need in a true survival situation is for someone to fall and sprain or break something.

Pro Tip #3:  Run extension cords neatly, because you don't know how long you'll be living with them.

So around 11:30, we are sitting around, reading and what-noting, and there is a tremendous crash that shakes the entire house.  I knew what it had to be--we'd taken a tree on the house.  Mrs Freeholder was squalling (sorry, that's the correct word, unless you prefer caterwauling, which would be equally correct), and both kids were darting at random.  I pretty much had to bellow for quiet and calm, and got people checking various rooms, looking for tree bits through the ceiling.  Blessedly finding none, we started looking out windows until we found the tree.

We'd taken a large pine pine, around 20" at the butt, running from the rear corner of the house and running the length of the house.  I could tell that much from inside because I could see one end connected to the ground and bits of the tree in the driveway at the other end of the house.  But other than that, we had a mystery on our hands.  Mysteries of this sort I don't like.

Son and I suited up to go outside.  It was still on and off freezing rain, with about 1/2" accumulated by this time.  Limbs were still coming down, but we had to know the situation fully.  Out we went, trying to stay out from under trees.  We determined that the tree was at least 85' long, and that the reason it wasn't in the house with us was that the brick chimney stack had taken the brunt of the impact.  Fortunately the tree did not hit the flue in use by the wood stove--it hit the one next to it.  We took some pictures of the damage (torn down gutters, damaged boxing, soffit and fascia along with roof and rafter damage) and came inside.

Venturing into the attic, we checked for damage and found cracked rafters and a couple of holes in the roof.  Because of the freezing rain, they weren't leaking.  We found some large containers a put them under the holes, just in case.  We took more pictures.

Then we called the insurance agent and got his instructions.  We'd already covered most of them.  (Hey, I view insurance as a prep.  Sue me.)

Major Observation #1:  Having a large tree on you house really harshes your mellow.  Having the stuff around to deal with it, even on a temporary basis, goes a long way toward restoring it.

By now, the novelty of the situation began to wear thin with Mrs. Freeholder.  It got thinner in mid-afternoon with her consideration of how she was going to feed us supper in a house with an electric cook stove and no mains power.  I was an evil person and just stood back.  I knew there was a two-burner and single burner propane stove withing easy reach, along with a Coleman gas stove, a charcoal grill and the wood stove.  I just wanted to see how long it would take someone who did not think as a prepper to figure it out.

Her solution was hot dogs.  We had the dogs and chili, frozen.  She had bought buns, anticipating a weekend cookout.  It would just be moved up.  How to defrost the dogs and chili quickly?  "Can you run the microwave off the generator?"  Actually we can, if we disconnect the two big appliances.  I did, she defrosted the dogs and chili, heated the chili, and used an electric skillet to cook the dogs.  Not prepper style, but it worked and everyone was fed.

The night was relatively uneventful.  We watched movies until an early bedtime.  I fueled the generator as full as I could, and we went to bed.  Mrs. Freeholder decided that she was going to sleep in the warmest room with the wood stove.

At 5:30, she woke me up to tell me the generator had stopped.  No big deal, it was still there.  (I had chained it down on the deck.)  It was just out of gas.  I refilled it and restarted it and grabbed a bit more sleep.

Pro Tip #4:  Chain your generator down.  People steal things, and in an emergency, generators are gold.  They will get stolen.

Major Observation #2:  I need to invest in the extended run kit for my generator.  The manual says "up to 9 hours", reality says around 6.

The next morning, power was still out.  No one wanted to take a shower, even though we had water pressure (county water) and hot water (propane water heater).  The house had cooled to 67, and the rooms away from the wood stove were several degrees cooler.  Interestingly enough, no one wanted to cook a hot breakfast.  For various medicinal reasons, I tend to skip it, and everyone else opted for Pop Tarts or cereal.  You're cold and you eat cold food--go figure.

Major Observation #3:  Without the HVAC system's fan and the ceiling fans, it's hard to move the hot air from where it's created to where it's needed.

However, fortune smiled on those of us at the Frozen Freehold, and a neighbor in the local VFD texted us to let us know he was guiding a power company crew to the scene of our interruption.  Within an hour, mains power was restored.  The outside temperature that day was around 60, the ice melted quickly and we got started on the cleanup.

As I write this, a week later, a contractor has removed the tree (it's in the side yard, waiting to be cut and eventually fed to the wood stove) and we're working with the insurance adjuster and the contractor to get all the damage repaired.  Around half of the limbs in the yard have been cleaned up, one brush pile has been burned and another is being built.

Not the end of the world, but in it's own small way, it was an informative exercise for us.  We have a lot to think about before the next exercise.  I've already taken some small steps toward addressing items I've noted (more surge protectors) and am investigating others (more UPSes).  We're considering the removal of more trees near the house, as our neighbor's tree removal campaign has left them less supported than they once were.  We'll get an arborist on on that discussion.  That's the thing about prepping--there's always more to learn and more to do.

(Note:  As I read and reread, consider and reconsider this, I am making major and minor edits, both for content and grammar.  I'm not going to keep a running list of them; that list could be as long as the post itself.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A sign that libertarianism is making headway

(Via Say Uncle)

How do you tell when libertarianism is starting to frighten The Powers That Be?  Their media lapdogs start getting their hate on.