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.

10/22 Mags: Steel Lips vs. Hot Lips

I’m in the market for some more Ruger 10/22 magazines. Having shot the Ruger 10/22 for, well, decades at this point…I’ve got some opinions on the magazines.

The factory 10-rd magazines are great. If you don’t mind being limited to ten rounds of ammo, they’re fine. They’re resilient, reliable, and pretty affordable for what they are. Having said that, I kept virtually none of them…I don’t envision a future where a 10-rd magazine is more useful to me than a 25-rd magazine.

The only two brands of magazine for the Ruger that I have had great experience with have been the sometimes-hard-to-find Eagle brand mags (which are quite good and usually quite cheap), and the ubiquitous Butler Creek mags.

When you get into the Butler Creek mags, you get two choices: Hot Lips or Steel Lips. Bother are very good magazines, no two ways about it. When the 1994 ban took place, the Hot Lips magazines I had were the last ones I could get. In 2014, ten years later, when the ban sunsetted, I retired most of the Hot Lips magazines. While they had served very well for those ten years, a few of them were starting to have the feed lips fray a bit. So…on that very informal bit of testing, I would say that with ‘average’ use a Hot Lips 10/22 mag will last you about ten years.

The Steel Lip mags, naturally, are going to last pretty much forever…the feed lips, anyway. And when you’re packing stuff away for the zombie apocalypse, where the magazine you have me be the only one you have for the rest of your life (however long that may be) it might be a good idea to spend the extra five bucks per mag and get the Steel Lips.

When the Hot lips are on sale, I can usually get them for around $8 ea, and if Fortuna smiles in my direction, I can sometimes find Steel Lips for about $12 ea. When Im off playing at the range, I play with the Hot Lips mags, saving the Steel Lips mags for the day they’re needed. (As much as one can need a .22.)

So…if you’re stocking up on mags these days, which i highly recommend, and you can spend the cash, get the Steel Lips. If you want more mags for your buck, get the Hot Lips. But….get something.

AICS Pmags available

This little bit of news from Jerking The Trigger has been a while in coming…

The PMAG 5 7.62 is an all polymer and extremely affordable alternative to metal AICS pattern magazines. It will work with the above Bolt Action Magazine Well or existing AICS bottom metal set ups. The capacity can be increased to 6 rounds with a simple follower modification.

The Ruger Scout Rifle, supposedly, uses an AICS-friendly magazine, so these should be a cheaper alternative to the godawfully expensive Ruger factory steel magazine, and a more reliable alternative to the affordable-but-questionably-reliable Ruger polymer magazine.

For those of you with the Ruger Scout, this might be an interesting compromise between the two choices of mag.

Pelican cases on Craigslist

Just can’t pass ’em up when I sees ’em on Craigslist.

20151023_133702A pair of Pelican 1650‘s without foam. $150 for the pair. Not a bad deal. They are an excellent size for keeping winter gear for the vehicle, stashing a minimal cache at a buddy’s place, or a host of other uses.

Craigslist does turn up a ton of useless crap, but once in a while it does turn up some cool stuff. I’ll probably use one of these for winter vehicle gear, and keep the other as a spare.

Politics, unfortunately.

Joe Biden announced that he isn’t going to run for President, which means that the choices in the Democrat camp are between Bernie Sanders (who I really hope gets the nomination) and Hillary Clinton. This is akin to choosing death by firing squad or death by hanging.

The Republicans, thus far, haven’t come up with anyone that sets the world afire, so I think the election will not be about voting for someone as much as it will be about voting against  someone.

In short, it’s panic buying season. I would be surprised if the Biden announcement, which seems to seal the deal for the Clinton camp, doesn’t tick the pricing algorithms at Cheaper Than Dirt and we see Pmags back at $50 per.

I could be wrong, of course, but if I am…so what? All that means is you bought a dozen Glock magazines this week instead of in three months like you planned. Best deal I’ve found today is Gun Accessory Supply selling OEM G17 mags for $19. I’ve found Magpul Glock mags for $12 but Im not willing to pull the trigger, so to speak, on them until I’ve had one to evaluate.

Emergency bag repack

Like many folks, I keep an emergency bag in the truck for that occasion when the only thing standing between me and an embarrassing death is whatever I managed to tuck into the bag. In Montana, your choices of how to shuffle of the mortal coil in a vehicle related stranding are pretty easy – you either starve to death, freeze to death, or dehydrate to death. (Or any combination of the above.)

If you’re smart, and I hope you are, you’ll pull that bag out every so often and check the contents for any problems that may have arisen from being stored in a vehicle where temperature swings can easily span 120 degrees.

Case in point: my flashlight. For personal use, I like small LED flashlights that run off of lithium batteries of some sort…either AA or CR123. They are far less sensitive to temperature swings and self-discharge than the usual batteries. For vehicle use, I prefer the Mag-Lite (Yes, it’s actually hyphenated…says so right on the light.)

What I like about the Mag-Lite is that, in the LED version, you have an essentially bomb-proof flashlight. You can drop it and not worry about bulb breakage, it resists mosts damage, and it can always be used for ‘percussive persuasion’ if the situation calls for it. Problem is, the ones I like take D-batts and finding lithium D-batteries is virtually impossible and when you do find ’em….they ain’t cheap. Interestingly, lithium 9v. batts are available…I suspect for smoke detector usage.

When I put the Mag-Lite away in the bag I made sure to load it up with fresh Duracell batteries. I then set aside two extra sets of batteries as well. So they’ve sat out there in the heat and cold for over a year. I turned on the flashlight and compared it to a similar Mag-Lite with fresh D-batts and the results were…illuminating.

20150802_113830Clearly the batteries has suffered over the course of the year, what with the huge temperature swings that make Montana such a delight to try and dress for.

Now, yes, i could avoid this problem altogether by simply going to a flashlight platform that uses AA lithium batteries, which are easy to find. But I want the big, reassuring heft and handling of the large Mag-Lite.

So, the moral of the story here is – change out those in-vehicle flashlight batteries at least every year. And if you really wanna go the suspenders-and-a-belt routine do it like you’re supposed to do with your smoke detectors and change the batts every time you reset the clocks for Daylight Savings Time.


Entrenching tools (or “e-tools”) are an interesting thing. I’ve had exactly four of them to date and I don’t recall ever really using one very much out in the sticks. Honestly, when its time to answer natures call and you need to dig a hole, a small trowel like the U-Dig-It tends to be much more practical and packable than the larger gear.

That being said, sometimes you need to dig more than just a hole big enough to drop a deuce. Sometimes you need to dig something outta the ground like a bucket cache, or dig something into the ground like a body. Or maybe you just need to dig a large fire pit, or what have you. Times like that you want the real deal – a folding shovel.

I’ve tried four different ones and still have them all. The first is your typical ‘tri-fold’ military entrenching tool. If you get one of these things, get the real deal..the made in China knock offs are just gonna be trouble. Ask your local Iraq/Afghan vet how to use it as a portable toilet seat. They’re pretty stout and do a good job. They’re a bit heavy, and sometimes hard to find, but they are a solid piece of kit. If you want the least expensive but still want quality, these are a good value.

Next up, Gerber made their own version and it’s not bad. The replaced a  lot of the metal construction with plastic (or ‘polymer’, I suppose) and it still folds up to about the same size as the GI tool. It’s nice, but I wonder about it’s durability. It’s really sort of between the military shovel and the Glock..and for about ten bucks more, you can get the Glock.

After that we have the Glock entrenching tool. I rather like this one, but I’m usually willing to spend the extra bucks. It is very compact, fits most e-tool carriers, and even comes with a wood saw attachment for cutting through branches. Its a straight handle rather than the usual D-handle, but that doesn’t seem to affect function very much. It is pretty light and that is it’s big attraction to me.

And then there’s Cold Steel’s Special Forces Shovel. What can you say? It’s a battle axe disguised as a shovel. Oh, it’ll dig a hole just fine but let’s not kid anybody…it’s a weapon. Sharpen the edges of the blade and this thing will take apart a steer. If you like the Eastern European style of entrenching tools, you’ll like the Cold Steel offering. I used to keep one behind the seat of the truck specifically for its ability to lop the head off of some poor slob. It’s not compact enough to really warrant taking on a backpacking trip through the boonies, but it’ll be your best buddy when you’re parking your truck in a dark parking lot in the middle of the night.

Nine times out of ten, though…the U-Dig-It does what I’m looking for and it does it with a lot less space taken up in my bag and a lot less weight on my shoulders. For hunting/fishing it’s definitely more sensible than an entrenching tool. But, for those situations where you gotta have something a bit more shovel-like I prefer the Glock one.

Canned stuff musings

Another glorious day here in paradise. My local Albertson’s is having a sale on canned goods and I picked up a couple of flats of canned tomatoes and corn. Funny thing is, I had just gone to CostCo earlier in the week and bought some canned tomatoes…and they were more expensive than this sale. So the moral of the story is – you can’t always assume the warehouse store will be cheaper. Now, arguably, they’re not the same product….CostCo’s offering was ‘organic diced tomatoes’ and we all know ‘oganic’ means virtually nothing except a higher price. (And the only reason I picked them up was because CostCo didnt have any other kind of canned diced tomatoes.)

Speaking of CostCo, after a hiatus of a few months they appear to have the canned  Kirkland Roast Beef back in stock. Normally, I turn my nose up at canned meats….they all look and smell like cat food once the can opener punctures the can…but the Kirkland roast beef, once you toss it in a pan for a few minutes, turns out to be darn good. So, why wouldn’t I grab a few of them to put on the shelf?

When it comes to storing all this canned stuff, I usually go with steel wire shelving (also available at CostCo).


I tlooks good, handles the weight, and is configurable to allow me to have it follow walls and corners. Yeah, it runs about $100 for a six-shelf unit, but pick up a bag of S-hooks and you increase the versatility and get better value out of your existing sets of shelves.

I like these little can organizers from Shelf Reliance. They’re plastic and link/stack together so you can just run ’em along the length of shelving. If you’re truly hardcore, or have a huge enough family that #10 cans a re a mainstay, they also make a similar product for #10 cans. Thats when you konw you’ve arrived.

Of course, any goober with some plywood, a saw, and a screwgun can fab up a similar product on his won but I’m kinda lazy and rather enjoy the consumer experience…so I just buy this sort of stuff.

The sale at Albertsons is for another few days so I’ll see if I can scrape up another few bucks to get some more flats. I’m very painfully aware that food I buy now may someday be all thats standing between me and being hungry.