Saturday, April 29, 2006

Front Sights - Surprisingly Overlooked?

I touched on the rear sights, mostly, but the front sights are important as well. I suppose you could say I overlooked them. That certainly isn't what we do when shooting. In fact the front sight may well be the most important part of the sighting system.

In the military, with "iron" sights, the post is king. Post type front sights are on most military rifles and carbines and in the US have been the thing for many years. Military shooters are accustomed to the sight picture provided by the post and peep. I think the military knows what they're doing, at least here. This combo is the most precise combat usable sight available (remember that we aren't discussing any of the electronic or telescopic sights). Shown to the left is the Marbles Sourdough sight. This sight is nothing more than a post with a copper/brass insert to highlight the sight against certain dark backgrounds. This is so that the sight can be accurately located on the target, not to use in the manner of the bead front sight.

The bead front sight is shown here to illustrate the difference. With this sight the contrasting metal is intended to provide a round circle which at least partially subtends the target. Because the part of the sight used for aiming is round it is next to impossible to consistently locate it vertically on the target or to notice canting. An inability to do either of these things can contribute to a degree of inaccuracy not present with the post. However, the bead is fast to use as one simply looks through the aperture and lays the bead on the target (covers the target) and shoots. Some folks prefer it.

Of course, some prefer to have both sight types available. The Beech Combination was created for just such a need.With the hood up a bead type sight is available and with the hooded bead folded to the down position a post type sight is made visible. Another benefit of the sight is that the two sight types can be used for different ranges without adjusting the rear sight. The one shown here is from Buffalo Arms and also adjustable for windage.

Another means of having the availability of different front sights is the globe sight. The one shown to the right has a spirit level so the shooter knows if he is canting (tilting) the rifle. These sights come with or can utilize a number of inserts with different front sight forms as shown in the photo to the left. The rings are used by target shooters and are sized to correspond with regulation bullseye targets at various ranges. One looks through the peep, places the front sight on the target so that just a ring of white shows all around the bull between the bull and the sight ring. This allows for extreme precision and consistancy in the sight picture. The post forms are used in the same way as any other post. There are even cross-hair inserts for those desiring such.

Now this isn't all there is to say about front sights, but my favorites are the sourdough and post, bead is second. The globe is good for target shooting but obscures too much target for me when in the field. I don't like the new fiber optic sights as the sight picture for MY eyes is too blurry with the bright colors used.

Scope sights you say? Well that is a whole other topic for another time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pseudo Military Pistol Rig

I served over 27 years in the Army. In that time I kinda got accustomed to military gear including holsters and pistol belts. I must have liked the pistols too because I now have 2 .45 ACP Colts. Those who believe that there will come a The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) scenario might also be interested in this simple, comprehensive system for packing a combat pistol, knife, compass and ammunition.

The first item acquired for the rig was this US Air Force Pilots Survival Knife, aka US Army Hunting Knife, made by Camillus in 1979. I've had this knife a long time and one reason I think that both the knife and sheath have lasted is that when I acquired it I immediately applied leather waterproofing (I don't remember the product used) to both sheath and leather washer handle. This prevented both the drying of the leather and I think, rusting of the blade. I think that a lot of these sheaths still have some chemicals in the leather from the tanning process and this can accelerate rusting of the blade (in conjunction with moisture). I believe that the waterproofing neutralizes those chemicals (salts?) and prevents rusting problems as well. Certainly, it must keep some water from the blade.

The second item was the "belt, pistol, medium" after all, you have to have something on which to hang this stuff. Mine came from clothing sales. I had a couple of sets of web gear set up differently for different functions. Saved a lot of time when a commander got a bee in his bonnet to strip everything down for a parade only to have to reassemble it (and tie everything off).

Next was the compass. Not certain where I got this one, I needed an extra while at an NCO academy so I think it also came from clothing sales. This has the good radioactive stuff so that you can actually see it at night.

The mag pouch is a match for the Bianchi UM-84 holster I got for the Combat Commander. Except for color and that it is for 1911 magazines it is the same as the military issue.

The holster for my 1991A1 (replacing the Combat Commander in this rig) is the Bianchi 66. A gift (a generous gift) from Simply Rugged Holsters owner Rob Leahy, this holster was a big thing when introduced to the Army. I know lots of soldiers tried hard to get one of these and get away from the side slapping, PITA, 1917 holster issued at that time. Mostly, one only saw these in MP units. Not only is it ambidextrous but it can be mounted on either the pistol belt or narrow pants belts AND this can be done quickly. The cover for the pistol rotates on snaps to uncover the pistol and usually stays in place for the draw but does provide protection for the pistol. Rob will now make you one like this for your favorite handgun, called the Flip Top and they look good, too. You can read more about this holster at GunBlast.Com.

The only thing missing in the photo is a lanyard. Lanyards can be very useful things if you think keeping your pistol close by is important. I always liked them best when sleeping. Hammer down on an empty chamber and tied off to my wrist, the big .45 was going nowhere. Unfortunately, I'd yet to acquire a main spring housing with a lanyard loop for my 1991A1.

This setup rides easy, is relatively easy to care for and has everything one could need for security missions around the ranchette.
The Hunting Bag

I struggled many years with how to carry the seemingly innumerable things that one finds one wants, needs, or is pressured into carrying when hunting. I tried pockets, backpacks/rucks, fannypacks, and this, my hunting bag.

Nothing more than a US Army canvas buttpack with a utility shoulder strap hooked to loops of paracord (for silence), this has been convenient and capacious enough for my purposes here in the eastern US where most of my hunts are within 1-2 miles of several houses, and help.

What exactly is in the bag? Well...

1 - Knife, actually 3 knives. Frost of Mora Swedish Army Knife, Cold Steel Twistmaster Knife (now discontinued), and the Wyoming Knife.
2 - Glove kit. You can't be too safe given today's health concerns and the wife doesn't want blood on my shirt. Consists of 2 pair of rubber gloves and some pre-moistened wipes for clean-up.
3 - Seat mat. The ground is always wet where I want to sit. I made mine from an otherwise unserviceable US Army issue sleeping mat.
4 - Drag strap. Some of my deer don't come with built in handles! Mine used to be a tree-stand safety strap.
5 - Flashlight. It gets dark at the worst possible time. I recommend BLUE or YELLOW as the color for the flashlight so you can find it if dropped (when off) but the camo was a gift.
6 - Extra gloves. If yours get wet OR aren't enough when you stop moving. These are insulated with Thinsulate®.
7 - Gerber multi-tool. I happen to have one but a Leatherman, SOG or other will do just as well.
8 - DMT diamond sharpening "stone". Knives get dull at the worst possible time.
9 - Magnesium fire starter. It gets cold at the worst possible time.
10- Water purification "straw". One runs out of water at the worst possible time.
11- Ear plugs. Just in case...
12- Gerber field saw. Who knows...
13- Extra ammunition (sometimes).
14- Chemical heater(s). These are Hot Hands®.

I can also stick food and actual water in there. To be honest, this thing would probably sustain me for quite a while IF I was mobile. Well, ok, I could carry this stuff in my pockets, but I either couldn't find which pocket, couldn't get to the pocket because of my position (prone or sitting), and it was darn uncomfortable. Yes, you're right, I could have carried a backpack (and have) but how often has it been that you wanted to get to something in your ruck but didn't want to shrug your ruck either because it was darn inconvenient or because it would be more movement than you wanted to make at the time. With this throwback to the muzzleloading era I can simply slid it over into my lap, when sitting, and access anything I need.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Snake Stories
Was on a forum where snakes were being discussed. I've got a couple of stories. I think most infantrymen have at least one. You can't go where we go and not see at least one snake in a career. Since the weather is warming and we're getting into snake season, I'll share them.

We were near Kingwood, WV and I'd finally got to wrap up in my poncho (only) and put my head down on the kidney strap of my ruck for a bit of a nap. I was talking quietly to my platoon sergeant when I felt a snake slide down my body from ankle to shoulder and on off about 2' towards one of my fireteam leaders. Yes, on the outside of the poncho and yes, along my back as I was lying on one side. As it moved off it rattled as the FTL got up to move out of the way (rapidly move out of the way). At one point I could feel the snake at my ankle and shoulder at the same time. Now that was the closest I've been to something dangerous but I didn't kill it, nobody did. You see, we were under strict light and noise discipline and didn't want to screw up the exercise by turning on a light or causing a rucus. Neither the PSG or I bothered to get up. Too tired!

When I was about 5, my dad and mom took us (including my sister who was one) for a short hike in the vicinity of Spruce Knob in WV. I was running down the logging road and jumped over something that was in the middle of the road. I heard a rattle and turned around to see the snake just a couple of feet away. I wasn't scared but my dad was (for me). He came around and moved me away from the snake with some mild remonstrance. Yeah, I think he was cussing but I didn't know the words and can't remember them!

Ok, so these aren't great stories. Neither would be the one about finding a baby copperhead moving ever so slowly across the trail one fall or the snake on FT A. P. Hill that was laid out parallel to our trail and seemed to be as long as a fireteam in column. Or maybe you'd like to hear about the cottonmouth that came out of the Rappanahock and crawled across the sandbar on which I was trying to lay an ambush.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Carry or Field Knives

I see and have seen a lot of concern about which knife to use and get and how much money one has to pay for such things.

About the least expensive and best value would be the Swedish Army Knife as made by Frosts of Mora, Sweden. At $9.99 this is about as little as you can spend for a quality knife. The plastic handle isn't much for looks but doesn't get slick when wet with blood. It stays sharp too, as well as can be expected for a stainless steel. Mine handled my deer this year. Another good thing about this knife is the sheath which is very versatile and doesn't require straps to secure the blade. Mine rides on the outside of my US Army buttpack which I carry with a shoulder strap.

A knife that I've received as a gift but never had the opportunity to use is the Wyoming Knife. Mine is an older model with the pressed steel handle and a leather sheath. One can still find those but they are more expensive than the current model. It should be very useful as it is hard to lose one's grip and the blade is a proper shape for skinning and gutting. I'll be making a more sincere effort to carry mine just so I can use it once.

My everyday carry knife is the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, Hunstman model. When still in service I carried a Leatherman tool (original Leatherman, Gerber, Leatherman Wave in that order) from the time I discovered them. The pliers were handy and the tool(s) was (were) used daily. However, civilian life is different and after trying several models I settled on the Huntsman. While it doesn't have the pliers I don't seem to have the need for them I once did. Screw drivers, can and bottle openers, knife blades and particularly the saw are all usable and save many steps to fetch other tools! These knives can be found priced from $27 to $40 and even packaged with a mini-Mag light.

My other everyday knife is the Spyderco Delica. At only about $40 this is a using knife, also. I have the partial serration because I feel that this blade gives the maximum versatility while permitting rapid, emergency cutting of ropes and straps. This knife is NOT used for anything other than that and possible last ditch self-defense. I like the black Zytel handle/frame rather than the steel because the integral clip wears clothing less than the metal clips, because black is low key compared to the shiny steel and because it is lighter. I carry this knife in my right front pants pocket where it is immediately available. Spyderco's patented blade hole makes this a true one-hand knife and I have found out that can be a big deal. The smaller size of the Delica has advantages over the Endura in that one will not likely have problems legally carrying the smaller knife. This has been a concern for me and can be for many others.

Another knife I've had for years is a Russell Canadian Belt Knife. Made by Grohmann in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada, these are good knives. Mine was purchased in 1973 in Monterey, California. The current production is illustrated. Mine has cleaned squirrels, rabbits, hogs, deer, and cut rope, etc. The handle doesn't let the hand slide onto the blade and permits good blade tip control. The leaf shaped blade penetrates well and still has the necessary belly for skinning. The sheath is comfortable to wear and the knife is held securely. There are many models to suit many needs but I think the original is the best all around knife.

Another knife which I've found to be useful, durable and a value is the US Air Force Survival Knife. I think that you MUST get a Camillus made knife. I don't think that the Ontario made knife is up to the standards that Camillus maintains. For a long time these knives retailed for $14.95. Now they seem to be in the $50-60 range! Look at all the yard sales you pass, lots of sellers will be happy with $10 for a knife they were issued in service.

These knives do need to be sharpened (some so much as to tick you off) but the blades are good quality and the handle doesn't get slick in the wet. The sheaths take dye well, too. I think this is important because you should immediately put a good waterproofing or black dye and waterproofing on before going to the field. You should also pop for the metal tipped sheath. It will last much longer than the other. There is a reason the military specified the metal tipped sheath, believe me!

Many folks seem to think they need a machete. Wouldn't you know it but some places have commies so concerned about illicit use of the machete that they are going to require registration! For a TOOL! Well, you can pray for our country but in the meantime you can get a Woodsman's Pal. Ok, so even the makers call it a machete but it doesn't look like the short sword that so frightens the wimps, it looks like a tool! For those who are willing to ride the edge in civil disobedience this is a defendable (perhaps) way to do so. Luckily, this tool also works very well. It is a bit expensive with the tool costing about $70-90 and the sheaths from $20-30. You can get it engraved with your initials and a meaningful date.
For me the most important features are the steel handguard, the dull point, and the curved vine hook. The handguard has saved me much grief and I've used standard machetes without a guard. I'm all for the guard. The fact that there is no point as with a regular machete is a plus for me as well. One can't accidentally stick things with this tool. I really like the hook. This thing makes the precision cutting of certain vines and small limbs so much easier. For regular swinging the tool has sufficient weight and comes sharp enough to work through a lot of jobs with ease. It is easily resharpened and the dull tip protects the blade from impact with rocks when working close to the ground.

My most recent knife purchase is this used Chris Reeve Shadow IV. I've never owned a knife by Mr. Reeve. Now this will be a used knife but I suspect that the sheath has taken the brunt of that wear and the price was very good. I'm thinking I'll either make a Kydex sheath OR get Simply Rugged or Levergun Leather Works to make a new sheath along the lines of the one Reeve sells for the Shadow III. I don't think that the blade will be too long for use with such a sheath as the knife will ride high enough to clear seats and such. The blade shape is more a utility shape and should work well for the intended use as a working knife.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

FirePower and Faith by Dr Peter Hammond

NOTE: JimT at Leverguns Forums posted this. While I don't want to devote this blog to politics or religion I thought it sufficiently on-topic AND important to record here.

Firearms in the hands of pastors or missionaries seems to have become a controversial subject. There is no doubt that the primary weapons for missionaries and pastors are spiritual - the Bible and prayer. However, does God require full-time Christian workers to ignore Biblical commands, which require self-defence and mandate the protection of one's family? (See: Exodus 22:2; Nehemiah 4: 14; Luke 22: 36; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Sometime ago, while I was engaged in a mission trip to Sudan, I was taking the picture of 4 pastors, each in their clerical collars, and each holding an AK-47 assault rifle. I requested them to put their rifles to one side for the picture. They laughed. "Christians in the West will not understand pastors carrying firearms" I explained to them. They laughed even more. I put my camera down and explained: "pastors in the West do not carry rifles."

The response of one was: "Why not?"

Why not indeed? The present paranoia against firearms has not been shared throughout most of Church history. Christians have always maintained that evil comes from within, from the heart, mind and soul of individuals. A bad workman blames his tools. We cannot blame a cold, metal, inanimate object for the evil that men choose to do. While many men have misused firearms, many others have used firearms to protect the innocent and to prevent evil doers from having their way.

During a slide presentation in a Church in America, the pastor objected to the Christians in Sudan taking up arms against the Sudan government. I asked him what Americans celebrate on the 4thJuly? He seemed somewhat confused, so I reminded him that their founding fathers had unilaterally declared independence from Great Britain on 4 July 1776. The British called it a rebellion.

The American colonists took up arms against the crown because the British had failed to rule the Americans in accordance with the Magna Carta of 1215, and the Declaration of Rights of 1689. King George had violated his Coronation Oath. The American Founding Fathers maintained that the British government was no longer an authority to be submitted to, but a tyrannical power to be resisted. How then could Americans object to Christians in Sudan doing what they had done in 1776?

I then pointed out that in the entrance way to their Church they had a framed, colour picture on the wall of early American settlers going to Church, carrying their rifles with their Bibles. I reminded him that many Churches in America in the 17th Century fined men if they came to Church without a rifle! 1 Timothy 5:8 requires men to make provision for their family, and declares that any who fail to do so deny the Faith and are worse than an infidel! Churches penalised members who showed such irresponsibility as to fail to carry a weapon for the defence of their family members.

I then had to point out that Sudan, today, with slave raiders kidnapping children, burning crops, looting cattle, poisoning wells, destroying Churches and crucifying pastors, is far more dangerous than America was in the 1600's.

Far from Christians in previous centuries having an aversion to firearms, not only were swords or rifles freely brought into many Churches, but the pastors were often some of the best shots in town. During the American War of Independence, an enormous amount of pastors served as officers in the Continental Army under General George Washington, fighting for independence.

Pioneer missionary, William Carey, whose landmark book, An Enquiry Into The Obligation Of Christians, the book which launched the modern missionary movement, listed as essential equipment for any missionary "knives, powder and shot "

David Livingstone, pioneer missionary and explorer, who first landed in Africa in 1840, was well equipped with some of the most advanced weapons then available, including a 6-barrelled revolver. On occasion, Livingstone was compelled to use his weapons for protection from wild beasts and to persuade slave traders to set the captives free. At one point, when criticised, Livingstone responded: "I love peace as much as any mortal man. In fact, I go quite beyond you, for I love it so much I would fight for it." Blessed are the peacemakers not the pacifists. To make peace requires resolution, courage and action.

Bishop McKenzie, of the Church Missionary Society, was involved in several fire fights against slave traders in the Shiri Valley (present day Malawi), and set many captives free.

Francis McDougal, the first Bishop of Labuan, reported an attack by pirates in 1862: "My double-barrelled Torry's breechloader proved a most deadly weapon, for its true shooting and certainty and rapidity of firing."

Many religious readers today would be shocked and horrified to read such reports in present-day missionary newsletters. Perhaps the comfortable and prosperous surroundings that most Christians in the West have enjoyed for so long have blinded us to the harsh realities that most Christians throughout the centuries and less fortunate parts of the world today, have had to face. An unBiblical pacifism has gripped many Western Christians.

When world-famous cricketer, turned pioneer missionary, C.T. Studd undertook the first baptisms in a river in the Congo, he needed to fight off the crocodiles with a revolver in one hand while baptising the new converts with the other!

Adoniram Judson, America's first foreign missionary to Burma was captured on the high seas and incarcerated in a French prison, from which he escaped. Later he was imprisoned and tortured in "death prison" in Burma for eighteen months.

David Livingstone was mauled by a lion and endured multiple attacks on his life by slave traders.

John Paton, missionary to the cannibals in the New Hebrides Islands, described being encircled by cannibals "in a deadly ring and one kept urging another to strike the first blow."

Missionaries such as these faced dangers which we can hardly imagine. We should not be too quick to judge and condemn others for doing what the Bible commands them to do, to take reasonable precautions for self-defence and for the protection of their families. Yes, the primary weapons of missionaries are the Bible, prayer, faith and persuasion. Just as our primary spiritual food is the Word of God. But that does not stop us planting seeds, harvesting crops, shopping in the market and preparing food. Christians must be balanced and we need to recognise that sin comes from the heart of man (Mark 7: 21-23). There is no point blaming a tool for the evil in men's hearts. Pacifism is in defiance of historic Church teaching.

The Thirty-Nine Articles, the foundational statement of the Church of England, states clearly in article 37: "It is lawful for Christian men to carry weapons." The Westminster Catechism, considered the finest expression of Biblical teaching, states under the Sixth Commandment that the prohibition against murder requires as our duty "all careful studies, and lawful endeavours, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting by just defense against violence protecting and defending the innocent." (Q135).

Under sins forbidden, the Westminster standards includes: "The sins forbidden in the Sixth Commandment are all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in the case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life and whatever else tends to the destruction of the life of any." (Q136). In other words, God's Law forbids any government restrictions or interference in the right and duty of self-defence. It also forbids us neglecting these means for protecting the innocent.

Common Law has recognised this, including in the Magna Carta of 1215 and the English Declaration of Rights of 1689, which were foundational to the United States Bill of Rights. All these recognised the inalienable right of all free men to keep and bear weapons for self-defence.

The first president of America, George Washington, declared: "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. To secure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. They deserve a place of honour with all that is good."

"Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked." Proverbs 25:26

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8

Peter is the author of "Security and Survival", "In the Killing Fields of Mozambique" and the newly released "The Greatest Century of Missions."

- taken from Frontline Fellowship -


I was at Dominion Outdoors (a local establishment with a desire to emulate Cabelas) and noticed a product called a Gunsaddle. Retailing for about $40, this thing wedges itself between the seats or seat and console and holds the rifle safely. I liked the concept because it is very similar to the weapons holders we had in the cabs of our military vehicles.

It might be more useful in some states and circumstances than in others. Some states strictly prohibit transport of a weapon by this means but others like VA will allow it. Where allowed this could be useful.

I wish I could find somebody who has used these for a period of time. I'd like to find out what shortcomings they might have and how durable they are. E.g., do they slip around in their positions? Do they get in the way when using the seat restraints?

They also make these in leather and for bows and handguns. I know many people who would find these useful for the gun they carry in the car/truck.

If you've used this product please write and let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Should you bargain with the gun shop owner?

Call it bargaining, haggling, dealing or whatever, some folks will never feel comfortable doing this and some will try to talk you down from a dollar. Should you bargain on the price of a gun?

I do retail in a similar business (militaria and military fine art prints). MOST customers will ask if they can "get a better price" or "can you do a bit better for me?" I'm not offended. Our prices are right in the middle (by and large) but we do have room to move especially for repeat customers. We also offer a 20% military/leo discount on non-consignment items (not services like framing) which are not on sale or marked down.

When I buy guns I'll often do the same IF the price is above the middle or if the condition isn't consistent with the price. Sometimes, dealers mis-identify their guns. E.g. there is a local dealer with a British Enfield "sniper" rifle. It is actually a run-of-the-mill Ishapore .308 (actually 7.62mm NATO), VERY run-of-the-mill. He intially marked it at nearly $1000! It is now down to about $500. I asked point-blank how he had IDed this gun as a "sniper". He said he'd read of the guns the Brits had converted to 7.62 and since this was a 7.62 it must be a sniper... So, sometimes, you're just not going to suceed at negotiating even if you're right on about the value.

Do remember one very important thing. If you speak with a smile, don't accuse the dealer of intentional deception, and are frank and honest you are likely to get the same treatment in return. Whether you do or don't get any particular gun, wouldn't you really rather have had a good time in the process?

Whatever you may think, take a "shot" at it. You can't hurt yourself. The worst they can do is say "no".