Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest 2014 – Things Learned

Friday:

Haphazardly throwing meat on fire will get the job done, but properly rubbing it and painstakingly monitoring temperatures produces better results. I think we proved this with pork ribs, beef brisket, and even squirrel.

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It’s always a good time for recreational archery, and a worn out archery target is not at all useless. Please see below.

You know the party has warmed up when the swords come out.

It’s awful fun to hack up a used up archery target with a Scottish claymore.

Sitting by the smoker all day is simultaneously relaxing and exhausting.

Saturday:

No matter how well organized you think you are, you will forget something. Targets, tripods, the other camera, revolvers…

Shooting is a depreciable skill, and I personally am not putting in nearly enough trigger time lately.

Rifles should always outnumber people 2:1 in any civilized gathering. A higher concentration of them is even better.

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With many thousands of dollars worth of hardware laying about, sometimes it’s the $4 vinyl decal that steals the show.

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Trophies make good targets.

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Pulling out a life sized mannequin and placing her downrange will excite a line of shooters the same way the ice cream truck does kids in the park.

And then, a half pound of Tannerite will blow her into more pieces than you can count.

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If you want someone to try your gun, seize the opportunity to shove it into their hand along with ammo at the first opportunity.

There’s no better way to wear yourself into exhaustion than a day at the range.

Sunday:

A windy night will do remarkable things to a 40-foot tarp left out.

There’s a lot of fun to be had even on the clean up day.

Often, a $200 rifle is just as much fun as a $2,000 rifle, even when each of them was fully worth the respective purchase price. You’ll probably want at least one of each.

Make sure you have enough charged batteries for all the cameras you might want to run.

You can in fact have too many tripods. This is a relieving, good problem to have.

A home made long bow with a ~40-lb draw weight will launch an arrow at over 100fps and least 100-yards, although the arrow is nearly impossible to track with a camera.

A pound of Tannerite will reduce 120 eggs to a fine layer of goo and tiny shell fragments faster than you can say, “Woah!” Pics and stuff forthcoming.

Overall lessons from the weekend:

When the event is over, you can simultaneously be relieved to get back to normal life and saddened that it couldn’t last longer.

The third weekend in March is a less than ideal calendar date for an event like this.

Sporting clays apparently reproduce. As long as we keep hosting this event, I’m confident I’ll never have to buy another box of the things. Then again, it’s hard to have too many.

There’s no way to accurately guess how much food will be needed in advance, but we got pretty close this time.

I should already know by now, but a gray tarp would be better to photograph and take video on than a blue one.

As wonderful as it is to see the friends who came, and as grateful as you can be for their attendance, there’s always room to miss the ones who couldn’t make it.

“Smart” Guns

My lovely wife points this out.

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The pistol itself is pretty. It has lovely lines and is pleasing to the eye. Although I’d like to get on board with the whole idea of techy guns, I live in real life. Jennifer brings up the question of batteries, which is a good one. When you need to charge or replace the batteries in your watch or gun, does that mean that the gun isn’t available for defensive use? Damn, someone is breaking down the door, but my gun is on the charger with my phone and e-cig! The question of batteries only scratches the surface of the fail here.

The concept of my gun only working for me is a lovely one I guess, but I know that two out of three printer drivers won’t work on my laptop’s OS to send print jobs to the laser printer. The one driver that does work doesn’t like certain image files or font sets.

I know that there are movies that won’t play on our Blu Ray player unless we have the latest firmware, and it’s difficult to predict when it will happen. What happens when your pistol needs a firmware update? Cleaning guns is one thing, but how would you like the routine of clean and download/install firmware?

Sometimes our router crashes and our network fails to network. I know how often I have to restart the router because the network has crashed. Better not have a gunfight during an update.

Remember sliding a cartridge into your Nintendo only to have the game not boot properly, and trying it all over again? Ever blow into the end of a game cartridge to dislodge offending dust particles? Kids, ask your parents. It would be a crap ton of bad luck if you feared for your life and had to reboot your gun. That’s just a smidge more than rack-tap-bang. Try blowing into your gun to see if that will fix it. There are people out there that only carry DA revolvers because the reboot process consists of simply pulling the trigger once more.

There are many of us who can’t wear a quartz* watch without it going dead. Does the control watch itself have EM shielding? Are the electronics in the watch and pistol water/shock/freeze proof? A gun that shorts out and won’t work in the rain is as useless as a paperweight.

As a kid, I remember playing with remote controlled cars and planes with my friends. You couldn’t run more than two at a time, because of RF interference. It would be embarrassing at the range and deadly in a struggle if such interference locked up the gun. I need to defend my life against this bad guy, but I can’t get too close to wireless device because my gun won’t work there.

With any device that has complications that may cause failure, users must be diligent in confirming function. Does owning one of these guns necessitate a home range with a backstop so you can fire one off before you holster it for the day? You know, just to make sure you don’t have to reboot it or reestablish the link to the watch so you know that it will actually go bang instead of locking up like a blue screen of death.

Just as many people carry revolvers as opposed to semiautomatic pistols, the more than century-old semiautomatic shotgun has not eclipsed the pump-action or break action for home defense, sporting purposes, or range time. This is because in the case of a defensive weapon, or any life tool for that matter, simplicity is king. We pull the lock flags out of our S&W revolvers so the mechanism won’t lock up and brick our guns when we’re at the range, in competition, in the field, or defending ourselves. If we hack a pistol such as this so it’s functional without its activation watch, we risk giving ammo to a prosecutor. Remove and/or bypass the electronics in this beauty like we mod an Xbox for better function, and a jury of your peers will hang you. I don’t even particularly like electronic sights, because as useful as they may be, the fear that they may fail jaundices them to my eye, and the likelihood is far less than the failure of the can of worms that this pistol system is.

I fear that legislators are pushing for technology such as this. If we were ever put under such onerous encoding, what would become of legacy guns? Would they be grandfathered or would we be required to retrofit or simply ordered to turn in our dumb guns? I shudder to think of the sight of my S&W M29 with some retrofit device bolted to it. And, many of us have guns that represent historical significance or family heritage and it would be many levels of natural crime to deprive us of them, even if these pieces never fired another bullet downrange for the rest of their future existence. This is the essence of the danger of people who don’t have any knowledge of gun culture or gun function getting into gun design or legislation. They outlaw the shoulder thing that goes up or mandate fictional technology that optimistically is dodgy in its execution.

No thanks. I carry a polymer frame pistol. It has a flashlight on it. That’s about as high-tech as I’m going to get with it. Whenever something like this comes up, we must be diligent to stomp it out like stray embers from a camp fire. Because, just like so many stray embers can burn down the forest, high-hope technology like this threatens our culture and our literal survival.

*edited for spelling

The School Shooting That Didn’t Happen Today

This morning, there was a bit of a scare at Oklahoma University in Norman, OK. Someone called the police to report shots being fired. The campus cops responded. Norman Police responded. The SWAT team came out. They couldn’t find any victims of the shooting. There was no suspect. Indeed, there was no evidence that a shooting had occurred. Last I heard, they are calling the whole thing a false alarm. OU President David Boren commented about guns on campus after the fact.

In his political blood dancing where no blood had even been spilled, he expressed his “only ones” opinion. Lovely. It shouldn’t be a shock that an education administrator holds such a stance. It only surprises me because he’s an Oklahoma edu admin. The typical radically left-leaning Oklahoma native is usually disgustingly conservative and pro-gun by coastal standards. Despite the overwhelming evidence of us commoners, with a full range of training and life experience successfully using guns for self defense, and despite the fact that accidental shootings are exponentially more likely to be perpetrated by uniformed police officers, the antis keep on rolling out the tired old talking points about the “only ones” with the training to be sufficiently competent with deadly weapons.

I have deep, personal respect for law enforcement officers. I have personal friends who are and who have been police officers. Those men and women are paid to do a tough job that most of the rest of us would never do. Even though I will not likely ever go full time, I’ve often thought of signing up as a reservist in a local department. Truly the police are to be respected, but to set them aside as some elite class is factually and morally wrong. It goes against the grain of liberty as well. And, to tell us that the police have more magical powers to (or perhaps that we mere mortals are too stupid to) apply the four rules is nothing short of insulting.

*spit*

Your attitude disgusts me, Mr. Boren.

Economic Personal Armory

I mused a bit of a thought experiment with Jennifer over the weekend. When we purchased the vast majority of our guns, we were cumulatively making fairly decent money. We weren’t at all wealthy, but we had the bills paid off and there was enough left over to play. As such, each of our first guns were revolvers out of Smith & Wesson’s custom shop. Indeed, we invested in some very nice defensive and sporting pieces. It’s no secret that things have been significantly tighter over the last few years. I posited that if we started now instead of then, our accumulation of arms would look significantly different. I thought that this was interesting enough to write up here. The three major defensive/utility gun configurations are commonly accepted as the handgun, either semi-automatic or revolver; a repeating rifle, usually in a carbine length, and a repeating shotgun, usually with a barrel length between 18 and 22 inches. In a life or death fight, we use our handguns to get to our long guns. If the fight is a close-range one, use the shotgun. If there’s some distance in the fight, use your rifle. Rule one in a gun fight is have a gun. A hand gun is the gun you have on you, and is therefore the beginning of the conversation.

When I made the decision to carry concealed, I decided that my 6.5-inch .44 Mag with factory hand engraving was ill-suited to the task. So, I picked out a S&W 586L-Comp as my carry piece. Since I tend to be an ambidextrous shooter, I bought a second 586L-Comp to carry as a backup, in a mirrored holster. Were I to arm up today, there is no way that I’d purchase a matched pair of Performance Center revolvers for concealed carry. That much money can be spread over entirely too many bills and debts for that. I did wind up with a M&P45c for daily carry, but I’d likely go with something more economical than that even. I’d more than likely pick up a used Glock 22 or 23. Jennifer asked me, “why .40?” This is an excellent question, as we don’t have anything in the house chambered in .40S&W. The primary reason we don’t, is that we have 9mms and .45ACPs. No matter how careless you (or your guests) are, you will never get a 9mm cartridge chambered in a .45. There are things one caliber is good at that the other isn’t, but there’s not a whole lot you can do with .40 that you can’t with either 9mm or .45ACP. However, if you could only have one gun, .40S&W is a longer-range cartridge, is far more compact gun frame than .45ACP, and is deer-legal in Oklahoma from at least a four-inch barrel. Glock models in .40 have been so ubiqutous that used varieties can easily be found for less than the $500-mark with a lot of life left in them. They’re cheap and easy to get accessories for, and their magazines are interchangeable with some non-Glock models.

This leads us to defensive carbines. Jennifer and I each have name-brand AR-pattern carbines in 5.56 NATO. Even though we love our little M4geries, I would not purchase one on the budget that I have today. Frankly, they are overpriced. Sure, a basic model doesn’t command $3,000 as it did for a weird four months or so of the Obamascare, but even what is commonly sold as a $800-$1,200 rifle is often an assortment of parts that should cost more like $500-$600 in a fair and unbiased market. This goes for AK clones as well. If a decent gun could be had for $300-$500, then everyone should have one. With the prices they command, I believe I’ll still pass. If I were purchasing my defensive carbine in today’s market, I’d be looking at Kel Tec’s Sub2000 in .40S&W, or perhaps a Hi-Point carbine also in .40S&W. Either one will happily share magazines and ammunition with the aforementioned Glock models. *01/22/2014 – EDITED FOR CORRECTION – Cyberludite points out in the comments that Hi-Point carbines do NOT in fact use Glock magazines. I’m not sure why I was thinking that they did, but I was indeed guilty of being a guy saying something wrong on the internets. Thank you Cyberludite and I’m sorry world.* I would most likely stock up on a few of the 22 or 29-round magazines, as well as shave the grips down on both guns so they would be short enough to accept Glock 27 magazines too. Although .40S&W isn’t the long range shooter that 5.56 or 2.23Rem, out of a 16-inch barrel (or 17.5, in the case of the Hi-Point), it’s producing more energy than 9mm, and it can reach out further than .45ACP. Again, this rifle configuration would be legal and effective against Oklahoma white tail.

Jennifer and I love our Winchester pump actions. This is like being a Studebaker fan. Most sane folks justifiably choose a current offering from Remington or Mossberg, or perhaps one of the high quality semi-automatics. I wanted an old Defender, and when I couldn’t find one, I basically built one out of a 120 Ranger, which is a variation of the Winchester 1300 platform. I left the vent-ribbed barrel at 22-inches and added a magazine extention. After the fact, we managed to find a lightly used Defender for Jennifer. These things tend to be relatively inexpensive, and also tend to be pretty solid guns. Expect to see workable examples in pawn shops for $200, give or take $50. If I didn’t have my Winchester, and was looking to score a house gun, I’d probably get the cheapest used Mossberg pump I could find that was still serviceable, chambered in 12-gauge. Jennifer suggested a police retired Remington 870 as an option. Remington’s 870 is a fine gun in my opinion, at least as good as the old Winchester 1912, 1200, or 1300 pump actions, but even used and beat up, they tend to command a price that would buy two or three similarly worn Mossburgs. Indeed, I’ve seen Mossies in pawn shops priced close to $100 if not less. If it has a long barrel on it, chop it down within the legal minimum limit of 18-inches. I like my shotguns at around 20 to 22-inches, because this seems to be a pretty good compromise between payload velocity and keeping the gun maneuverable. Whether it has plastic or wood furniture, it will still put lead downrange. Whether it has a super long eight-round tube magazine, or a four-rounder with a plug limiting it to two rounds, training and practice will make it work just fine. When you practice and get good at feeding rounds in through the ejection port, you’ll find that the missing two or three rounds of magazine capacity will not be your bottleneck on shooting speed over the course of 25 to 50 rounds of ammunition.

In such a hypothetical situation, I probably wouldn’t worry so much about a backup handgun, but would focus my attention on making sure that my primary was in excellent working order at any given time. However, if I were to add one as a fourth gun, I’d probably be just as likely to choose either the cheapest, serviceable, used Glock 27 (for magazine and ammo compatability), or a .38Spl snubby in whatever brand was available. Although I do love my S&W revolvers, they tend to be expensive, pulling in close to $500 for even the cheapest of the J-frames. Conversely, I’d be looking at whatever used examples I could find from Taurus, Rossi, Charter Arms, and probably a few others, just as long as the timing was right, and the cylinder locked up satisfactorily. But even then, this would be way low on my list of must haves, as I feel that the expense would be better spent on practice ammunition and training.

Previously, I would have said that a .22lr, either rifle or a high-quality pistol would be a must-have in such a setup, for practice, training, and for small game hunting. But recently, it’s been so hard to come by .22lr ammunition, that I’m not convinced it would be well-advised. For the going rate of .22lr when you can manage to find it, you can hand load any common centerfire handgun cartridge for less money, so there’s not a significant cost savings if you have access to reloading equipment. Small game that can be taken with a .22 can also be taken with lighter 12-gauge loads, or even some centerfire handgun loads.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation but you started out with a revolver instead of a semi-auto, you might consider a lever-action carbine in the same chambering as your wheel gun. There’s something about ammunition commonality that is quite charming and useful. Frankly, it’s kind of weird that Jennifer and I have not wound up with any lever actions in .357 or .44 Magnum yet. Just as the pump action shotgun, with practice, these can run really fast and accurately. A .357 Magnum load out of a carbine-length barrel can get close to actual, rifle cartridge velocities, which puts it at an advantage over the .40S&W as discussed above. Plus, your .357Mag lever gun will shoot mouse-fart .38Spl wadcutters just as happily as your revolver, making it equally effective for small game hunting or paper killing.

At any rate, we do live in interesting times. It is my hope (and frequent prayer) that we’ll see real improvement in the economy. For those of you who may be trying to cobble together a defensive system under a serious budget duress, I hope this proves useful to you. Feel free to ask questions, and I’ll do my best to round up the answers. If any of my readers have anything to add, I’d love to hear that too!

Hawk Ammo – First Impressions

I’d like to take a moment to introduce Hawk Ammo.

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This is a brand new ammunition company that was started earlier this year by Jeffery Havard, an old friend of mine. His goal is to produce match-grade ammunition at big box prices. He dropped off a box of 20-rounds of .45 ACP for me to review several weeks back, and I have not had a chance to go shooting since. This is a shame, and I wanted to at least give a preliminary look at what he’s doing and what he provided as an example. His boxes may not have the foil-embossed, multi-color print that Federal and Hornady employ, but don’t let the humble monochrome packaging fool you.

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He’s started with brand new Starline brass,

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and stuffed it with 185-grain Gold Dot hollow points.

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He lists a box of 20 .45 ACP hollow points loaded for self defense at $18, which puts it toward the cheap end, if the quality is what it appears to be, which I fully expect.

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It may have to wait until after the first of the year, but I will carve out a little time to run this stuff into targets and across the chrony, and I’ll have more to say about it then.

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Personally knowing Jeff’s attention to detail, I expect no surprises here. I predict that these will be consistent and accurate. But, that proof will have to wait for another day. You can check out his website, or shoot him an email if you have additional questions.

FDE Is the New Black

It’s the new fad anyway. And, I don’t say that disparagingly. I think flat dark earth is cool when executed properly. You all know of Jennifer’s famous pistol.

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Heck, some of my favorite customers have FDE guns.

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And of course, Jennifer has been working on building her new rifle, based on an Aero Precision lower receiver finished in flat dark earth.

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She will certainly have something posted about her progress soon. I will throw in that this stripped lower is top notch. From what we can see so far, these things are hard to beat for the money.

But still, as cool as FDE guns are, this is a current trend. It’s a fashion. I suspect tack blactical will always be with us, even as manufacturers taper off their offerings of other trendy colors, just as automotive manufacturers tapered off production of tail fins as though they were an embarrassing piece of the past to be ashamed of. My parents once had a refrigerator in harvest gold that they had purchased new. Almost twenty years ago, it was still running like a top, but was horribly out of style. so, they had it refinished in white. It has since died and been replaced. A good refrigerator will last decades. A good gun will last several lifetimes. As people accumulate guns in pink, purple, flat dark earth, and olive drab, as opposed to the classics in stainless or blue, black and wood, will they ultimately fall out of fashion and look gauche or do these trendy colors have staying power?

In twenty years, will we see people painting black over their FDE guns? I certainly hope not! As I previously stated, guns last a long time. What is trendy today will fall out of fashion and look hokey; this is inevitable. However, let time continue to do its work beyond that, and it will come back around and rather than unfashionable, these guns will suddenly become retro. Jennifer and I nearly bought a house that had a complete kitchen straight from the harvest gold era. Only, the appliances were olive green. The tile was brown and the cabinets were all walnut stained. Although it was very dated, it was well done and clean enough to have charm in its apparent age. Had we purchased that home, we probably wouldn’t have changed a thing in the kitchen.

I didn’t have much experience with guns in FDE when OldNFO opened up his Pelican case of toys and pulled out his FNP45 Tactical. It was a full-on assault on the eyes. Although the action was tight, and the gun had an overall feel of quality and competency, it was that weird color: not quite brown, not quite green. He commented on how much he hated it, but not because of the color. It was because of the decocker. You can carry the gun cocked and locked, but as an avid 1911 shooter, OldNFO would hit the safety hard enough to decock the gun, defeating the purpose of carrying it ready for an initial single-action shot.

Contrary to his personal code, OldNFO sold us that gun, and Jennifer has loved it for the last two and a half years or so. I eventually got used to the color scheme. It’s gotten comments from fellow range patrons, blog meet goers, gun manufacturer reps, and others. In our stable, it is joined by Jennifer’s new rifle project in the same color scheme.

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There is not a doubt in my mind that these will go out of style and look goofy next to more classic offerings or whatever the new trend turns out to be, but I’m at complete peace with that. Just as it’s a conversation piece now, it will be a conversation piece in half a century, or probably even more so. Besides that, it’s fun to talk about an evil black rifle that isn’t black. Indeed, the next rifle I build will probably be in a funky color instead of Scary Black. Keep on buying those funky colors, and carry them proudly, even when they’re no longer cool!

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Sadly, Ruger has already abandoned the gold anodizing on their 22/45 LITE in lieu of a more easily marketable black anodizing. I will still cherish my obsolete gold model though, complete with the pink ivory grips I made to fit it. So, to celebrate the trends that will almost certainly fall by the wayside, I write these words while wearing my pale tan western boots with brown lizard wingtips. Where did I put my disco shirt anyway?

Ammo Durability

Since I started my life with guns, I’ve been told by instructors, fellow shooters, and everyone in between that you must cycle out your carry ammo every few months. It was explained to me that temperature shifts and moisture that your carry ammunition is subjected to will destabilize the ammo, compromising its reliability.

Last fall, Teen Bot dropped a Ruger 22/45 magazine at the farm that was loaded with ten rounds of CCI Quiet. This magazine remained lost until Jennifer found it under some grass that one of my cousins had recently mowed. The magazine was dirty and rusty. I had my son clean it up at home, and then on a whim I dusted off the ammo that had come out of it, and loaded those same ten rounds back into the magazine. I really expected failures. Here’s the video:

Please do not in any way take this as advice to not change out your ammo. I am still a firm believer in keeping your carry ammo fresh. However, it makes me question the popular wisdom that you can’t get your ammo wet, and it will go bad if subjected to temperature swings. It was my understanding that centerfire ammunition is quite a bit more durable than rimfire. If this is the case, that 22/45 magazine has me questioning the reality of carry ammunition durability.

KTKC 2013 Day 30

Unless you have been living under a rock, or you got here on a Google search for hot Japanese squid porn, because I just incorporated that phrase, you know that this month I have been Kilted to Kick Cancer. Again, I want to give huge thanks to all of you who have made donations to the cause. Here’s a picture of me playing a Native American flute.

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As I said in some previous post that I’m not going to link back to right now, in years prior, I have succumbed to the temptation to find an excuse not to wear the kilt during this magical time. Not so this year! Although I have worn leggings under my kilt for parasite protection in the field on two occasions, I have not worn a pair of pants. Unless you count this picture where I show how much weight you too can lose by simply wearing a kilt:

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But, I didn’t so much wear them as crawled into them and peek out the top. And in all fairness, I was wearing my kilt under the jeans when the photo was taken. But, my point is that I have been wearing a kilt. All. Month. Long. Ask the other participants if they have completely abstained from pants this month. I severely doubt it. Last I looked, I’m pretty sure I was in seventh place. I wonder if any of the six guys ahead of me has worn a kilt at the absolute exclusion of pants since the month of August. This is why you should be sending your money through my account. Well, that and this hunter safety orange head tube that I arranged on Teen Bot like a balaclava:

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As of this writing, we have nine hours until the close of KTKC. In previous years, it has really come down to the last minute on who took the most for the cause. I know that budgets have been tight this year. I also know that a lot of people get paid on Monday. So help a brother out! To entice you, here’s a pic of me doing my best Captain Morgan impression:

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Your guess is as good as mine as to whether I’d had more to drink than the photographer. I think we can agree that there have been some pretty good pictures this year. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to getting back into my pants. Tomorrow, I plan on wearing a pair of Wranglers. On Sunday, I’ll wear an Armani suit. But, until I shed my clothing to crawl into bed and go to sleep tonight, I will be wearing my 5.11 TDK. Please keep that in mind this afternoon and this evening. I will be kilted for the remainder of the month, as I have been for the entire month thus far. When you think of this, think of male cancers. It’s not to late to contribute. Please consider throwing some bucks at the cause for me. Thanks again.

KTKC Day 24 – Goofing, Good Company, and Bad Jokes

There were two clouds high in the sky, just floating there and watching a more boisterous cloud lower in the sky. They watched it float this way and that, dart around, roll, and change shape.
Finally the one cloud said to the other, “He sure is nimbus, isn’t he?”
The other cloud groaned at the terrible pun and said, “Dude, are you cirrus?”

Yeah. I made that one up. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. So anyway, we made it out to the farm again on Saturday. Here is a game camera pic of the three of us with Mz. VRWC, who dropped in on us from out of town:

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And, Jennifer managed to catch me goofing off in front of her camera. If you can imagine that.

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Dance, dance, fashion, baby. Work it, move that thing, crazy. But, not all the kilted pics are of me goofing off.

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Alright, that one is actually from last week. And, maybe I was goofing off for most of this weeks pics.

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And just for funz, here’s an almost nightmarish game camera pic of Jennifer apparently getting ready for her impending machete massacre.

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There are reasons I want her at my back for the zombie apocalypse. So, we’re now well into the final week of KTKC 2013, and the donation totals are honestly looking pretty sad right now. Before I go any further, I want to send out a *huge* thanks to the few of you who have made donations to date. To the rest of you, come on, don’t make me call you bitches! You can’t let me finish this deal in seventh place! The KTKC crew is cumulatively not doing as well as we had hoped, but my recorded total is under $300 right now. Please don’t let it end like this. Hit the link and give to the cause as you can. I know that I originally set the donation goal unrealistically high, and I didn’t really expect to drag in totals like that, but I absolutely expected to top last year’s total of $2,263, at the very least. But, we’re not done yet. As long as you get your donations in by Monday, we can still do this. Again, here’s the link. Let’s kick cancer together!

Guns and Coffee?

I’m not going to bother linking to everyone in this post, but it seems like every gun blogger and his or her dog has weighed in on the non-committal letter from Starbutts concerning company policy on the carrying of guns. Here’s a link to the letter from the CEO, if you don’t have navel lint to gaze at or grass to watch growing, or sand to count, or any other more gainful thing to do with your time. Otherwise, I’ll summarize the new ‘policy’ for you:

Starbutts managment has decided that they don’t want to be a soapbox for the gun debate. They just want to sell bad coffee. They aren’t going to put up gun buster signs, and their “partners,” i.e. minimum-wage employees, won’t ask you to leave or refuse you service, but they would really prefer that you not come to their establishment armed. They won’t call the cops or anything, “but come on, guys! Please?”

In my home state, as well as many others, a business can put up a sign. If they don’t want guns in their establishment, they may post a sign that is “clearly visible at the entrance.” If you ignore this sign and enter anyway, you are not breaking the law anyway. If any worker at the establishment happens to notice your gun and if they then happen to give a trickle of whiz that you have ignored the sign, they may at that point ask you to vacate the premises. You still have not fallen afoul of the law if you turn heel at this point and find something better to do. If however, at this point you refuse to leave, they may call the police and you may be held liable for trespassing. In other words, there are a lot of ‘ifs’ to get through in order to make it illegal to carry a gun on private property here. What does that all mean for Starbutts and their new “policy” you might ask. Not so much as a hill of beans. Not even overpriced, former coffee beans that have the flavor completely roasted out of them.

And, what does this all mean to me? Just a little less than the aforementioned hill of tortured beans. I’ma tellya why too! Years ago, I started ordering my coffee beans online from these guys, mostly because none of the local groceries carried good coffee. CCM Coffee ships their coffee within 24-hours of roasting it, so it all tastes fresh and fantastic. You typically want to consume your coffee within a week or two of roasting it for the best flavor. For perspective, your typical canned coffee was roasted sometime since the Pleistocene. I only ordered a pound or two at a time because we couldn’t drink it before it went stale if I ordered it at higher quantities for a discount. Then, I started ordering green coffee beans in quantity, and home roasting in small volume to meet our coffee drinking needs. At this point, there’s a frou frou grocery store within walking distance of our home that has a couple dozen varieties of high-quality coffee (far better quality than Starbutts uses), reasonably priced; so I’ve pretty well fallen out of home roasting anymore.

The whole coffee beans go into a burr grinder, of which we have two (two is one, one is none). When it’s precisely ground to spec, it gets brewed with filtered water in our Briel Domus Uno espresso machine. Incidentally, Starbutts used to use good Briel machines, until they replaced them all with automatics once they found that a typical, minimum-wage barista can’t run a good machine reliably, even though I’m pretty sure I could train my Siamese to do it. Sometimes I’ll sweeten with a touch of raw agave nectar, and/or add a splash of milk, cold or steamed, depending on my mood. I usually drink it black. If you tell an average, knuckle-dragging barista that you want a double or triple shot of strait espresso, they will likely look at you like you just sprouted horns. Plus, I may or may not get dressed before I have my coffee. Try that at Starbutts!

Ten bucks will get you a pound of coffee that will make approximately fifty espresso shots, if I’m guestimating right. You won’t use a gallon of milk before it goes bad if this is all you do with it. A quart-sized bottle of agave nectar is about seven bucks and lasts me six months. Figure $.20 per shot on the beans and maybe a penny to sweeten your drink. Even if you go triple shot, with milk, you’re looking at well under a buck for a latte. Needless to say, I’m not spending money at coffee shops. Between equipment cost (~$300-$500 for a decent machine, plus ~$50 for a grinder) prorated over the years it will last (current setup here has been running fine for over five years so far) and expendable supplies (see above), it’s pennies on the dollar to brew at home as compared to going out for coffee. Plus, you get a far superior cup of joe.

Over the last few years, when the troops were rallied to support Starbutts for their refusal to ban us for our guns and to make up for their loss of business on the antis boycott, Jennifer and I would begrudgingly wander into the corner coffee shop and spend $20 on their crap as an act of solidarity. I can confidently say that Starbutts won’t be getting our $20 a year anymore. Boy, that’ll hurt! With the amounts I know other people are spending on coffee, and how those green and white signs seem to sprout out of the ground like weeds, they aren’t going to miss our $20, and we won’t miss their coffee. I know that some people are getting a little more worked up about this than others. I just don’t see it as much of an issue, one way or another, on any given level. Oh and, we’re still doing Kilted To Kick Cancer. Please take a minute and go donate here. Thanks you!