SG stuff, inc. the zelts

Well, my package of goodies from Sportsman’s Guide arrived today. A couple months back the guys at SpecOps were having a sale on their SOB buttpacks for around $12 or something like that. I wound up buying a half dozen of them but they did not come with shoulder straps. Fortunately, I knew that eventually I’d find some on sale somewhere. Thus, I got these from SG. Brand new, pack of five for $15. Good for he several buttpacks/musette bags I have sitting around.

After that, I picked up a couple of these sleep system carriers to try and stuff my military three-piece bag into. A little compression might(!) be necessary but I think they’ll fit. They’d also make excellent bags to store blankets and the like. Wish they were OD but, hey, you can t have everything.

And, finally, the might-be-zelts. well….they definitely have been around a while. Lotsa patches, small holes, etc. I compared them against the German specs from the manual I have and while they follow the pattern, their dimensions are smaller than what the German ones were. Still, they’ll be interesting to play with and I’m sure they’ll take my mind in other creative directions.

Zeltbahns…sorta

Looks like a zelt to me.

I think I’ve mentioned it a couple times in the past, but one thing I’ve always wanted to get my hands on and examine is a German zeltbahn. Unfortunately, originals (and even repros) are hard to find at reasonable prices. Fortunately, other countries adopted the basic design and, surprisingly, Sportsmans Guide has some Swedish ones. At least, they look like zeltbahns. Check this out. It isn’t that I necessarily think this design is any better than the current ones (although it is much more imaginitive), but I’d like to have one to examine and experiment with and, if I like it, use as a template for a version using modern materials and camo patterns. I have a copy of the original German (translated) manual for the use, care, and specifications of the Zeltbahn and while it’s an old design I think it has one or two advantages of the modern rectangular one. Regardless, I’m gonna have to order up a couple of these just to goof around with. If nothing else they’ll make nice covers for my bicycle when it’s locked up outside.

35L pack, HK links, range time

Sportsmans Guide seems to have gotten the Swedish 35L packs back in stock. These are decent packs for truck bags, stashing gear at secondary locations, and anything where you don’t want to risk an expensive pack but want something that can actually do the job. These things usually come and go in the surplus venues with some irregularity, but they seem to be quite popular. Even with used frameless ALICE packs dropping into the $30~ range, these are still a bargain. Check ‘em out. (if youre a really cheap bastard like me, they even have a used version for a few bucks less.)
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A couple HK-style links I have floating around. Of use if you have a PTR-91:
How to adjust the sights of your HK rifle
G3 Armorers Manual (.pdf)…this is definitely worth saving.
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Spent some brief time at the range today. Played with the Uzi a bit more. Definitely a ‘niche’ firearm, but fun and cheap to kit out. I still need to pick up a threaded barrel for it so i can put the AAC Evolution on the end. Although I have no real use for .45 ACP outside of the occasional 1911, I might keep my eyes open for a .45 conversion kit just for fun. But, really, I need to prioritize – more mags and some spare parts.

It’s still pretty cold (and muddy) up at the range. It snowed there last weekend as the missus was shooting her match. Theres another match this weekend and i’m hoping that perhaps it will be a little warmer. I don’t compete – I don’t like the regimented comptitiveness, Im more a casual, informal competition kinda guy – but it’s quite entertaining to watch.
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And a fun link just because I find it…fun.
Warning label generator

2-qt canteens at SG, seasons change

New Sportsmans Guide HQ catalog showed up today. This has rapidly become my favorite source for military surplus stuff. It isnt always the cheapest, but they do get some cool stuff from time to time that I dont see anywhere else. I didnt see anything truly exciting, but I do like these:

2 New U.S. Military Canteens with Covers, Coyote – Water that I carry on me is usually in a CamelBak or a Platypus soft bottle . But, for stowing some extra water in the vehicle for a roadtrip or for leaving at a camp site or rally point I really like these. You can sling ‘em in a hurry, they have a pocket for water purifier tabs, and the canteens themselves are soft enough to squeeze out any air inside to reduce noise. These are great for leaving a ‘stash’ somewhere. Again, $20 for a pair of new ones.

As an aside, water that I store in vehicles or elsewhere where they may sit for quite awhile I leave in it’s original packaging. I may leave an empty canteen with the sealed bottles of water, but I try not to store water long term in something that I filled myself. Why? Honestly, it’s probably overkill but I’d rather that the water have been bottled in the reasonably sanitized and sterile environment of the bottling plant rather than the not-exactly-surgically-clean environ of my kitchen.

However, for just throwing some extra water in the back of the truck for a roadtrip or long summer day, I definitely like these military 2-qt jobbies. If you really wanna go nuts, fill them halfway, freeze em, then fill them the rest of the way when you leave. Keeps things deliciously cold in August.
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We’ve hit the stage of seasons here where its 20 degrees in the morning, 60 during the day and then back to 40 at night. You really have to dress appropriately for this sort of thing. But, more importantly, it’s proof that its time to start wrapping up the winter goodies and putting them away for the year. I definitely need to tune up the bicycle and start riding to the shop in the mornings…especially if I can get Nuke to behave himself and run alongside without getting under the wheels or yanking me off the damn thing.

I didnt spend nearly as much time outdoors last year as I should have. I think I went hunting once, went fishing once and that was about it. I really need to get out more.

Hardigg Medical Chest w/ Drawers at SG

The lovely lass at The Trooper’s Gal pointed this deal out. It’s the Hardigg Medical Chest with drawers. I got one of these last year without the drawers and it’s a nice piece of gear. With the drawers? Ten shades of awesome.

Sportsman’s Guide apparently has some. Price? $199.99…about a twelfth of the new price, if SG’s listing is to be believed. SH408 is a code for free shipping, but you’ll still be on the hook for the ‘heavy item’ fee.

Overkill? Probably. Pretty much any waterproof large container would work for this sort of thing but these cases are purpose-built for keeping your emergency medical supplies safe, dry and clean. Like a lot of really cool military surplus stuff, I expect that these will be ‘out of stock’ shortly.

Cold weather gear time

Much like how Hunter Thompson tried to develop a strain of cold-hardy peacocks, a friend of mine is attempting to grow a plumeria here in western Montana. He was out of town for a week and asked mt to mind his stuff while he was gone. One of the instructions that was made quite clear was that if there was even a suggestion that the temperature might get down towards freezing, bring the plant indoors. Well, I like to err on the side of caution and brought it in the other day…..good thing, too. It’s been right at freezing or a few degrees above these last few mornings. So, in addition to playing conservator to a plant that really has no business being in this part of the country, it is also time to break out the winter gear…especially the cold weather module for the backpack.

Since I made that original post about 6 years ago I’ve changed a few things. I added an extra set of mitts, an extra neck gaiter and an extra hat (because someone always forgets theirs). Otherwise, its the same stuff. Theres just barely enough room left for an UnderArmor undershirt which comes in handy when you really underestimate the weather.

As I was repacking things I noticed that, dammit, I’m having trouble finding the surplus wool mitts I purchased about a year or so ago. I bought enough that I vacuum sealed several individual pairs and tucked them away fro long term storage, but I also left at least a half dozen pairs loose for casual use. No big deal. A quick trip to Sportsmans Guide turned up these well-reviewed wool mitts. $19.97 for twenty pair. But, if youre a member of their buyers club you can shave off another $2/pair. So far so good. A quick Google of “sportsman’s guide discount code” brought me to coupon code #SN323 which shaved off another $10. So, what woulda been around $46 with shipping came out to $36. And I’ll have forty pairs of wool mitts to work with. As is SOP, half will go into deep storage and the remaining half will be left out for immediate use, although I might send a few pairs to some LMI as thoughtful gifts.

HK cleaning kits

Ah…the German (West German, originally) G3 cleaning kits arrived.

And, really, at $2 each wouldnt you have bought a bunch as well? Not sure what the word is that comes after ‘tertiary’ (quadriary? Pentary?) Never mind..found it: Primary (1st), Secondary (2nd), Ternary (3), Quartary (4th), Quintary (5th), Sextary (6th), Septenary (7), Octonary (8), Nonary (9th), Denary (10). We’ve apparently gone past the point of duodenary levels of redundancy on .30 caliber cleaning kits.

Enough about the semantics, lets talk about the goods. All of the kits appear to be either new or like new. They include a pull through chain, two brushes for said pull through, a small ‘paint brush’ for cleaning in the tight spots, a small vial for lube which everyone seems to agree leaks horribly, and two bundles of what appear to be cotton strands like youd find on the end of a mop. Not sure how theyre to be used.

I’ll swap out the empty lube container for a small tube of Tetra or BreakFree. Add a small length of brass or bronze rod for knocking snow out of the muzzle and I think that’ll be all the mods I need to make. I’ll keep one of these with each of my .30 rifles and stow the rest. Hey, for two bucks, man………

Who really made it happen, surplus stuff

So the kill order for Osama Bin Laden was signed by the guy who won a Peace Prize? It is worth pointing out that Bin Laden was found using information gotten by methods Obama did not support, from people detained in a manner Obama promised to put an end to, housed in a facility Obama promised to shut down. So, that means the person most responsible for this turn of events is not Obama but……
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Interesting thing about downturns in the economy, you start seeing all manner of goodies showing up in pawn shops. I happen to find myself in one today and found a genuine US military sleep system , in its stuff sack with its three bags, for $79. Might have to go and pick that up if its still there in a few days. Be nice to have one as a spare to keep in the truck at all times or something similar. Although, with summer kinda sorta approaching, the focus isnt so much on staying warm as it is on staying hydrated. Fortunately a 5-gallon jerry can of water sits in the back of the truck and takes up virtually no room.
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Out of curiosity, I went back to Rosauers to see if they still had the #10 cans of storage food on sale. They did, but the quantity is dwindling. I did some math and it appears theyve sold, in the last two weeks, somewhere around 1300 cans of the stuff. I looked at what remains and it was mostly soup mix, pancake mix, bread mix, and instant milk. Both types of egg mix, both fruits, hiney, and butter powder were gone. I’m hoping that the store will decide to make this a regular stocking item and, more importantly, develop a relationship with the distributor that allows me to special order.
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Speaking of preparedness supplies, someone told me there was a military surplus place outside of town that I should go visit. The guy running the place is into preparedness, I am told, and might prove to have some useful stuff. Heck, I love cruising the aisles of surplus stores looking for cool stuff. Headed out there and, sure enough, the guy is into it big time. Matter of fact, he basically did what I did – decided to get into the business in order to facilitate his own acquisitions. He had some nice stuff and I got a decent deal on a little Surefire weapon light for $80 plus 3 silver halves. (Yes, he’ll take silver.) Other than a few fuel can racks that I picked up for the truck, I didnt see anything I didnt already have or couldnt live without but that doesnt mean I wont go back. Never know whats gonna turn up. His prices were, in my opinion, a little high but I bet I can dicker around enough to bring them to a level Im comfortable with. Also, it was nice to stand there and chat about the end of the world without worrying about what people were thinking. Thats worth a couple bucks right there.
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To carry the topic further, while I was in Idaho helping a buddy move (and 50,000 rounds of ammo does not move easily) we came across a really cool surplus store. They had a Pelican case there I very much would like to have as well as some other goodies. Between the gun shops and the surplus stores I may have to make a roadtrip to C’D’A every once in a while.

Pack purchase and buckle problem

I was looking for a bag to replace the simple flyers bag I keep in the truck. Ideally, it would carry everything I needed in case I get stuck somewhere or just need to spend the night out in the truck. Originally I was going to use my Blackhawk Patrol Pack but I wanted something with a little more room so I could stuff a sleeping bag inside it, rather than attach it to the outside. Because I have no self-control, and they’ve been getting in some fascinating stuff, I wound up picking up one of these Italian military packs that was being mentioned on arfcom. The one I got was new with the detachable day pack, much like the CFP-90 in that regard. Quality seemed pretty good but for slightly less money I could get new in the wrapper latest-generation-framed MOLLE packs from this place. But, those are desert and while the great state of Montana certainly has its desert and desert-colored regions I was wanting something a little more subdued. Plus, I love checking out foreign military surp.

The pack is pretty nice..not as rugged, IMO, as the US one but Id say its as rugged as it needs to be. Like the MOLLE it has a plastic (‘polymer’, I suppose) frame. I was able to stuff a sleeping bag and all my other gear in there with room to spare. Score! But, there was a problem. The lid of the pack is secured by two fastex buckles…pretty much like every other pack. Trouble was, one buckles female end was not securing the male end of the buckle securely. A bit of a firm tug on the strap and the buckle would release. This wasnt good since ideally you wanted to be able to pull hard on those straps to cinch things down. Additionally, the male end of the buckle was threaded through a strap, as is the norm, but the female end was contained within a sewn-in loop of webbing. To replace the buckle would mean slitting that loop open, replaceing it, and then stitching it shut. What to do?

Well, they make fastex buckles (and a good bit of other materials) for just such an event. They are split at the top so you can slide the loop of webbing between them. Trouble is, while I knew such products existed (they come standard on my Kifaru gear) I had no idea where to buy them. Searching for fastex buckles on the interweb gave me zillions of useless results. Finally, on one of the military gear forums I found these guys. Turns out they had a package that replces the most common buckles on US military gear and I figured they’d probably work on the Italian pack. I was right. This package had what I needed ( the 1.5″ buckle set) and a few extras that will be handy to have. So, since TPIWWP, some side-by-side:

On left is the original buckle, on right the replacement and in the middle an unattached replacement showing the split bar used to thread the webbing loop. The iPhone washed the color out a bit…its nowhere near that bright. Just your regular coyote color (or as we used to call it, ‘brown’).

I should mention that I never contacted the folks at Old Grouch about the problem with the buckle. If I had, Im sure they would have sent a replacement pack. It seemed silly to go through all that headache for a simple buckle replacement (and I had no idea if they had these kinds of replacement buckles, anyway) so it made more sense to sharpen the old Google-fu and find a solution. Glad I did, since it gives me a source for some excellent replacement parts as well as upgrading older systems.

In other news, I got one of those Wiggys insulated poncho liners. Details on that in a couple days.

Surplus goodies from SG:HQ

The new Sportsmans Guide HQ catalog showed up the other day. The HQ catalog is different from the regular SG catalog in that it is almost exclusively military-surplus and related stuff. In short, a very cool catalog. SG has been hit or miss in terms of order accuracy and value for many people but I’ve had pretty good experiences with them. What I find interesting in this catalog may not ring your bell, but heres some highlights that I think are worth pointing out:

German Sniper Sleeping Bag – #FXM-158691 – $29.97

I got a couple of these and theyre either new or like-new. Theyre a quilted bag with an outer vinyl cover. I have no idea if they really are ‘sniper’ sleeping bags but if you had to sit out in the cold somewhere for a period of time these would be nice. I could easily see myself in one of these while on a high point overwatching a small valley or ravine waiting for Bambi to show up. Definitely a good choice for those days duck hunting where its hours of sitting still in the cold. Whats cool is that in addition to sleeves, theres a zipper across the waist allowing you to keep your lower half outside the bag, so you wear it like a parka or as a sleeping bag. For thirty bucks, a fun piece of gear to play with. Good for tossing in the truck ‘just in case’.

800m Swiss Military Phone Wire – #FXM-182432 – $49.97

Ive a stash of TA-312s and this would go very nicely with them. Also great for running wire to your seismic sentry probes or impromptu ….devices. Often when you find surplus wire its been used which means it is tangled, knotted, spliced and probably not going to carry a current for its entire length. New wire is great because it lays out easily. A half mile of wire can be a handy thing.

10 New US Military Lashing Straps – #FXM-177549 – $19.97

Ten straps to use on rolled up blankets, ponchos, tarps, etc. Cant go wrong there.

US Military 120mm Cylinder Container – #FXM-183933 – $29.97

If you can afford the shipping for this thing, they are, hands down, the best firearms container ever. Better than the Pelican case. Many guns will need their pistol grips removed to fit inside, but these things are as bombproof as you can imagine. The perfect container for storing a rifle/shotgun, some ammo and a few essentials. If youre the type who likes to cache stuff around this thing is exactly what you need. They can even be padlocked shut. I have one of these that I picked up locally and I wish I had a dozen more. Airtight, watertight, crushproof, capacious, and perfect for housing important gear in inhospitable conditions. You could make something similar, I suppose, from PVC pipe or somesuch but no way will it take the raw, brutal abuse that this thing will. Cannot recommend these highly enough. Major drawback: heavy and expensive to ship. Try to find locally first.

Used Austrain Military Glock Bayonet – #FXM-175397 – $62.97

This is a case where SG drops the ball. A used Glock knife for $62? WTF? I have a vendor selling brand new ones right now for $21. This is why you should always shop around folks. The Glock knives are great general purpose field knives and are cheap enough to buy ‘em by the bunch. They are of excellent quality but are remarkably affordable – a rare treat in this world. This deal is so absurd it makes my teeth hurt. I point it out not to encourage you to buy, but to encourage you to keep your eyes open…everything that glitters and all that jazz.

2 New US Military Canteens w/ Covers – #FXM-148181 – $19.97

Ive switched over to Nalgene for ‘soft canteens’ and for hard ones I prefer the Nalgene bottles, but these have a lot to recommend to them. For me, theyre a secondary or tertiary level item – good for use as backup, loaners, stashing or expendable. Good for a day of gopher shooting or fishing, the major attraction is the cover with its sling.

Theres plenty of interesting stuff in the catalog, I just hit the stuff that looks like it fills a need. Its very easy to see stuff that looks cool and then fabricate up a need. Bad move. You’ll go broke in a hurry that way.