Cuben fiber

Clearly I need to get out more, because up until the other day I had never heard of Cuben fiber.

Silnylon is the shizznits when it comes to lightweight materials for backpacking gear. But, apparently the new kid on the block is this material called Cuben fiber. I was talking to a guy the other day and he was showing me his gear. He had the lightest bivvysack I’ve ever seen… the ground-side was Cuben fiber, the top side was snetting and silnylon. Apparently the CF was waterproof/resistant enough to be a good choice for that task.

It reminds me of Tyvek in terms of the feel and color. Apparently it got its start as sailcloth material for high-tech sailboats and, as with a ll technology, it eventually trickled into other fields.

I need to do some investigating to see if it comes in some more useful colors. And I’d like to test it out to see how waterproof it really is. With the ridiculous light weight it would make an awesome ‘tarp’ to take along in case you have to shelter overnight when on a hunting trip or something.

Clearly, more investigation is in order.

Cast iron seasoning experiment

I love cooking with cast iron. To my way of thinking, cast iron, especially Dutch ovens, have a place in the survivalist stockpile by virtue of their utility, durability, and versatility. What I cannot freaking stand about cast iron, though, is seasoning it.

Ever get a roasting pan or some other metal bakeware that winds up getting some grease or oil baked onto it to the point that it leaves a hard, black, spot on the metal that is virtually impossible to scour off? Well, the idea is to do that on purpose to the piece of cast iron. Most resources tell you to clean your cast iron really well, slather it in Crisco or some other oil/fat, wipe it down, and bake it on high heat in an oven to season it.

Does. Not. Work.

I tried going through cycles of heat pot, wipe down pot with oil, bake in oven, let cool, repeat, repeat, repeat. Marginal results. Additionally, unless you’re cool with your house smelling like a dumpster fire behind KFC you really want to do this sort of thing outside.

Which brings us to an experiment I figured I’d share with you all.

Yeas ago, someone was nice enough to buy me one of these for my birthday. Although Lodge sells their stuff as pre-seasoned, you’d be a fool to take their word for it. I went through various techniques to try and season it and nothing ever did the trick just right. It was a shame too, because smokin’ hot cast iron is just the thing for maintaining temperature when you drop a pound of cold diced chicken and vegetables into it.

I had read several articles on the best method to season cast iron and, more importantly, what fat/oil to use. After reading a bunch articles on the topic, this one made the most sense.

So, I’ll use the flax oil. Now what? Well, I need a heat source. I was originally going to use my propane barbecue but wanted a more direct application of heat to the metal. Then I remembered I have my Volcano stove with propane conversion in storage. I set up the stove, cranked it up high, sat the cleaned wok on top of it and waited for it to heat up. While I waited, I took a small patch of towel material and my cooking tongs and got ready to swab down the wok. When the wok was sufficiently hot, I dipped my swab in the flax oil and wiped down the entire inside of the wok..making sure not to use so much oil that it pooled in the bottom of the wok. Smoked like heck, lemme tell you. Once I had completely coated the inside of the wok, I stood back and waited for the smoke to clear. After five minutes the smoking had virtually ceased, so I swabbed it out again. More smoke. Wait five minutes. Repeat. I did this about eight times and then finally let it cool. Tried it out this afternoon and it worked great. Threw it on the burner, poured in some oil, and stirred up some chicken. Nothing stuck to the wok, and clean up was the usual boil-water-in-it-to-loosen-things-up-and-wipe-it-out procedure. A quick wipe with an oily paper towel and its good to go.

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By the by, if youre going to start over and reseason a piece of cast iron, here’s the method I use to remove seasoning. Works great, just takes a little time.

“EDC”-type stuff

Tam has a brief post up about how, being tool using animals and all, that even if you don’t carry a pistol you should probably at least always carry a knife and/or flashlight.

For the last few years I’ve been carrying a little Benchmade folder that was a gift from a very generous LMI a few years back. You get so used to carrying a pocketknife that when you wind up reaching for it and its not there, you get quite surprised.

For flashlights, I love SureFire as much as the next guy but my wallet does not. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by how much I like the Fenix flashlights, especially this little guy. This is the one I carry around in my pocket and Ive been very pleased with it. It runs on AA batts, so it fits my logistics table quite nicely, throws a good amount of light, is LED, and for the money its a pretty tough act to beat.

Some guys get carried away with all this ‘EDC’ stuff. I’ve seen some people post pictures of their ‘EDC loadout’ and it’s enough crap to drag your Levi’s down to your ankles if your belt isn’t doing its part. For me, I keep the pocketknife clipped in one pocket, flashlight in another, wallet in the back pocket and a gun on the belt. That’s pretty much it. If I need to carry more gear than that, I usually go with the messenger bag I picked up a few months back…gives me room to carry my textbooks, spare ammo, extra sweater or cap, and it all carries rather well on the padded strap.

I know someone is going to ask where I carry a spare magazine. Honestly, ninety percent of the time I don’t. Most people would feel comfortable carrying a 6-shot revolver and 2 speedloaders….thats the same amount of ammo my Glock 9mm carries without a spare mag, so…I figure I’m doing okay there.

Smokin’ deal on wirecutters

Let’s get this part out of the way: cutting fences/wire that ain’t yours is bad. Don’t do it.

Now, being reasonable men, we can safely assume that in a situation where life and death may come down to removing obstacles in your path, a pair of wire cutters that will cut chain link and barbed wire can be very handy. Most notably if you’ve had the misfortune to get stuck in traffic and the only way out of that situation is to cut a hole through the fences that line the road.

Anyway…

Colemans Surplus has a deal ( a VERY good deal) on surplus British military wirecutters. Dated from when Churchill was doing his thing, these wirecutters fold up into a very small package and, yes, they will cut chain link and they will cut barbed wire. Tried ’em myself. At the stupidly low price of less than four bucks each get a bunch. One for each BOV, a couple for around the farm, one per team, etc, etc. True, they probably won’t cut padlocks…and a boltcutter that will cut padlocks will easily deal with chain link and barbed wire…but not in as compact a package and not for a lousy $3.25 each.

17WARRINGTON-013881_2Seriously…go get a half dozen for $20. Zero approved.

ETA: Hmm…price went back to its normal $19. Either the sale ended yesterday or they use the Cheaper Than Dirt pricing algorithm that increases price as demand rises.

Link – Bulk AR lower parts kits

Well, first of all, let’s throw in a link to a proposed Mountain House group buy if I can get enough warm bodies on board.

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The folks at Jerking The Trigger have a link to a vendor selling a bulk package of AR lower parts kits…enough to build up 50 lowers.

That comes out to about $43.99/kit…which isnt bad since Stag, my go-to guys, sell them for $54 a set.

Still….$2200 is a lot of money to plop down at once. On the other hand, if you’re sitting on a stash of lowers, it might be just the opportunity to save some money in their assembly.

Ammo can followup

Well, first of all, let’s throw in a link to a proposed Mountain House group buy if I can get enough warm bodies on board.

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Now that that’s out of the way…

A few posts back I commented that CostCo had ‘ammo cans’ for sale…a .50 and a .30 for $19.99. I speculated that these were Made In China and therefore not worth my time. Some poeple took issue with that. So…back to CostCo today. Let’s just cut right through the foreplay and get to the money shot:

20160308_14590120160308_145916Now, to be absolutely fair, these appear to be a different brand of ammo cans than what was there a couple weeks ago:20160213_155204However, I’m willing to bet that there are several companies buying these cans in bulk and rebranding them as their own. So, as far as I’m concerned….no, not the ‘real deal’.

Caveat emptor, kids.

 

Mag speculating

Remember when the stewardess gives you the speech about when the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling you’re supposed to put yours on first and then assist small children and others? Why is that? The answer is simple: if you put your mask on first, then you’re in a position to help more people.

Same thing applies with this post. Before you go buying magazines to resell to the unprepared masses, make sure you have your own needs more than taken care of.

For those of you who may not remember the great Assault Weapons ban of ’94-’04, you were limited to 10 round magazines unless your magazine was made before 1994. As a result, much like the ’86 machine gun ban, the prices of those items went up, up, and up as time went on and their availability went down, down, down. $600 (in 1999 money), was not unheard of for a Betamag. Glock mags were in the $75-100 range, ARĀ  mags could be around $30-40, and exotic stuff like Valmets, SIG, and HK were easily over a hundred bucks a mag. In short, it was like everyone was selling at Cheaper Than Dirt panic-prices.

Don’t believe me? Let me dial up the Wayback Machine and, lo:

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That’s $119.00, in 1999 money, for a Glock happystick. And $80 for just a ‘regular capacity’ G17 mag. You thought you were the luckiest man on the planet if you found one for fifty bucks!

Who made money? Guys who were sitting on a bunch of magazines. I remember being able to buy M1 carbine mags from J&G Sales for $0.86 each in 1990-1991. Four years later those were $20+ magazines. Colt manufactured 20-rd AR mags were about $4-5 in 1989. Wasn’t long before they were almost $50 ea.

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$45 for a Colt 20-rd mag. Even a Thermelt was going for twenty bucks.

.Is it going to happen again? I think so. Maybe not this election cycle, maybe not on a national level, but I do think it’s going to happen. I’d be thrilled to spend $100 for 30 G3 mags right now and sell them ‘afterwards’ for enough to pick myself up an ICOM-7200 or other expensive toy.

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Here’s perspective: CTD was selling these HK mags for $0.97 a few years ago. At these prices, my stash of mags goes from being worth $600 to $30,000.

What would I buy to take advantage of the panicked masses yearning to be armed? Well, the smart thing to do is appeal to the most common denominator. Yeah, the Valmet mag you pay $45 for today is going to be worth $100 but by the time you sell it you could have sold a hundred AR or Glock mags. ‘Boutique’ and ‘niche’ stuff like the exotics will sell, and it will sell at a great price, but it won’t sell nearly as often.

What the most common rifle in this country for guys like you and me? AK-pattern and AR-style rifles. Sure there are guys with FALs, AUGs, HK93s, and the like out there…and those mags are worth a lot and will be worth even more…but you’ll sell a lot more of the common stuff. AR and AK mags are where I’d put my money for rifle mags. Magpul Pmags and known-brand GI aluminum mags (Okay, CProducts, etc) would be my choice. While you might get a good deal on Lancers and other stuff, they’re small enough people won’t recognize them and no one wants to buy the ‘off brand’ if they don’t have to.

For pistol mags its Glock, XD, and M&P. Beretta mags might be a good choice but there will be a lot of military ones floating around. Again, stick with the OEM stuff if you can. (Although I’ll probably go with the Magpul Glock mags). The 9 and 40 mags will be the most common and those would be where I’d focus.

In .22 magazines all you need to know is that Ruger 10/22 mags will outsell every other .22 rifle magazine combined. I’ve posted about them before…get the Butler Creek mags (or even the Eagle mags) and buy as many as you can. You’ll never regret a drum full of those things.

Interestingly, while pump action shotguns usually (though not always) skate around ‘assault weapons’ bans, there may be some forward-thinking statists who will want to see your 870 limited to five rounds or some such. While I wouldn’t go very deep on them, a handful of factory extended mag tubes and springs might turn a tidy profit later.

Of course, if a future ban doesn’t occur (and I wouuld be thrilled to be proven wrong) you still wind up with a nice amount of mags to last you the rest of your life…and you’ve traded opportunity cost against inflation in terms of what you might have to pay for the mags in the future. Win – win. But, as I said, you really want to make sure you have your own needs taken care of before you start ‘speculating’ in magazine futures.

Interestingly, as I was typing this up, this little jewel from MGE Wholesale landed in my mailbox:

MPMAG546-BLK(5)Go figure.

MagPul announces Glock happysticks

The PMAG 27 GL9 is a 27-round Glock 9mm handgun magazine featuring a new proprietary all-polymer construction for flawless reliability and durability over thousands of rounds. Meeting the overall length requirements for a 170MM competition magazine, the PMAG 21 GL9 offers additional capacity without the need for expensive extensions.

I haven’t tried Magpul’s new Glock magazines yet. I’m always reluctant to go anywhere for a pistol magazine except the OEM source. I’m especially concerned about Magpul’s magazines not being metal-lined like Glock’s. Way back in the dinosaur days, Glocks mags were all plastic with no metal liner. When loaded, the mags would swell a bit and as a result, many more-than-empty magazines would not drop-free. It’s my understanding that the European methods of mag swapping involve stripping the mag rather than letting it drop free, so perhaps that wasn’t an issue. However, for the American market…us crazy Yank cowboys like our drop-free magazine changes.

An original 33-round Glock happystick is always going to be my first choice for this sort of thing. However, from an investment standpoint, if the Magpul offering is less than $20@ it might make sense to throw a few dozen back. If I ever get around to getting the 9mm Glock-compatible AR that I want, a couple dozen might be just what the doctor ordered.

MTM’s can/box combo

From the Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That department:

If you’re anything like me (and, really, let’s hope that you aren’t), you probably store a goodly amount of ammo in those handy little plastic 5- and 100-round plastic ammo boxes. They’re handy, cheap, and hold a useful amount of ammo. I usually then stack them up in ammo cans for long term storage. This works great in theory, but in practice there’s a problem – military ammo cans aren’t necessarily designed to perfectly accommodate those plastic ammo boxes. As a result, you get gaps, or the boxes aren’t arranged in the most efficient manner.

I was puttering around Cabela’s and discovered something interesting. MTM, the guys who brought such odd entries to the preparedness market as the Survivor, are now producing plastic ammo cans sized to fit the plastic ammo boxes. For example, the 9mm one lets you stuff 10 100-round boxes in it with a little room to spare for things like dessicant.

Also available in 45, 223, and 308, it seems a nice way to store ammo when you want something more than just a cardboard box on the shelf, but don’t need the overwhelming ruggedness of a .50 cal. military ammo can. I could see these being very handy for keeping ‘shooting/ready’ ammo on hand. Esp. if you keep your stuff out in the garage or something. I might have to get a few of these to play with.

2(??) Lifestraws for $16 on Amazon

$15.96 is a pretty good deal for a Lifestraw. However the description of the product here clearly says “Package Quantity: 2“, and if that is correct…well, thats an insanely good deal. Wonderful stocking stuffers. If it’s a typo, it’s still a good deal. Might wanna jump on ’em before they sell out.

I keep one of these in my Tromping-Around-The-Woods bag, and they should always be in your BOB/GHB type gear.

For the price, these are excellent pieces of kit for whatever cache of gear you’re squirreling away somewhere. I’ve a dozen or so in storage and scattered among various packs.

 

ETA: Wow, those didn’t last long. Link appears to be dead…musta sold out.