It was cold.
Ammo was hard to get.
Few showed up.
The results were great.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that 2014 will be better.
It was cold.
Ammo was hard to get.
Few showed up.
The results were great.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that 2014 will be better.
“Michael,” he said, “are you dual wielding Leathermans?”
“I suppose I am,” I chuckled, “there’s a story about that and I’ll share it with you in a moment.”
Well, inevitable tangents happened, and ultimately I did not explain to Kelly why I had two Leatherman pocket tools in my pocket. But, that’s what the internet is for, am I right? This last Christmas, my father-in-law gave me a Leatherman Sidekick.
This was a nice little multitool with pliers, a locking straight-edge knife blade and locking wood saw blade, as well as a pair of screwdrivers, can/bottle opener, file/small screwdriver, small serrated blade, and a fold-away lanyard loop. This very quickly became my go-to pocket tool, displacing one of my pocket knives as well as the screwdriver set and P38 can opener that had previously lived in my pockets. It went everywhere with me until it disappeared one day. After I had not found it for a couple weeks, I decided to see what was in stock at the local Ace Westlake Hardware store. I had a $5 coupon to the store, so I dropped in to check out their inventory. I wound up purchasing a Leatherman Wingman that was on sale. This unit was very similar to the lost Sidekick.
The two units are built on the same frame, with the same pliers and screwdrivers. The blade on the latter is partially serrated, and it has a pair of spring operated scissors instead of the saw blade. The bottle/can opener and the file are common between the two models, but where the Sidekick has a serrated knife blade, the Wingman has a ‘package opener’ which consists of a protuberance with an inward facing chisel point for cutting tape and straps without being an actual knife blade. I mused to Jennifer that it would be nice to have a unit with the three knife blades, as each one fills a bit of a niche. So, although the replacement was a little different, I began to enjoy having it around; and then of course, you know what happens when you replace something that you have lost.
Having the two side-by-side has been interesting.
The differences were few but significant.
Of course, I was reminded of my earlier conversation with Jenni in which I said that I’d like to have all three knife blades in one unit. I noted that the leftover parts would make a unit that didn’t have a knife blade in it at all but would still have a handful of very useful tools. Apparently, it was time to void some warranties. I took out my torx driver and started swapping parts. The saw blade where the knife belongs functions nearly as though it was meant to be there. The lock doesn’t function quite as intended, but I don’t feel like a lock is necessary on a saw blade anyway. The knife blade where the saw belongs however… it bolted in, and would lock open, but it would not close completely into the handle.
It turns out that the blade stop was bottoming out shallower on this side of the unit than the one where the knife blade is intended to go, and it fit like this:
instead of the way it works in factory format like this:
So, I put a cutting wheel on my little Black & Decker Wizard and ground away a tiny bit of the pocket bottom, like so:
This allowed the blade to sit a little deeper in the pocket, while still retaining the function of the blade stop.
And, that made it so that the blade closes as though the factory intended for it to be there.
Once I had reassembled the cases, they don’t look like they have been tampered with at a glance.
I placed the partial serrated blade for a right thumb open and the straight edge as a lefty opener. I initially had an excuse for this decision, but it escapes me now, so it may have not been as important as it seemed at the time.
So, one of these now has an excess blade and the other has no knife blade at all. If I’m going into a place that disallows knives, I can very honestly claim that it is not at all a knife, and make a strong argument for keeping my multitool on me.
I have not been a fan of any of the products of the Taurus group in the past. Sorry, Gabe. I’m not hating. You’re gun is still cool. I have a dear friend who purchased a model 10 from a local pawn shop. It’s from the Bangor Punta era that we Smith fans are supposed to sneer at, but it is still a pretty sweet gun. Well… I have pined for a decent revolving carbine chambered in .357 Magnum. Or even better, .44 Magnum. And then…
What? What do we have here?
Umm… This appears to be a revolving carbine in .44 Magnum. In a bright blue. With walnut furniture.
Yeah. We may just have to get one of these babies.
Thursday, Jennifer and I got up early with the plan to pick up the rent-a-heap (as OldNFO calls it), with the intent of her taking our Compact Tactical Assault Sedan to work while I took the foster car home to load our junk, ready to drive once she got home from the office. She had a couple of loose ends to tie up before she could take off, but she was still planning to cut out early. The rental company jacked up our reservation and didn’t have our car by 7:30 as arranged. At that time, they offered excuses and said they could take a car to her office by nine. They didn’t have a compact, as we had booked, so they were going to upgrade us to a midsize. I dropped her off at work and took our CTAS home. At nine, she texted to let me know that the rental company had not yet delivered a car. She called and reamed them a new one, so they ‘upgraded’ us, once again, to a Dodge Avenger. Our original booking must have been for a two-door Speck with a three hamster engine. They got her the car at around 9:30, and we were on the road by ten. In all fairness, the rental company was extremely receptive to our multiple complaints and has made overtures to remedy the mishandling.
The drive was not terribly noteworthy, considering we drove through both Dallas and Houston. There weren’t too many situations in which I knew we were about to see some idiot cause a forty car pile-up because he was in such a hurry to rush up and tailgate the next driver in line or cut across four lanes of traffic with no signal, or both. Maybe I’m just growing patience with age. Thursday night, we met up with some of our friends for some Cajun food. Jennifer and I split a dozen oysters on ice, five pounds of crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn. Yum! Friday morning, we woke up at the butt crack of freaking dawn and headed down to the convention center. Parking was a veritable nightmare. If you don’t mind spending $30 to park your car for a day, it wasn’t bad at all, but that is extortion, IMHO.
The show was what I have come to expect out of a trade show. There were lots of pretties to handle and we got to meet many interesting people. Some of them are people that we have grown to know and respect online, others that we only knew by reputation prior to this weekend, and still others that were fresh introductions. Also, we had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, if not nearly enough of them. But, that’s how these things go. It seems like no matter how much you try to pack into each day of the weekend, in the end you’re always short on time. Please do expect some pics and accounts of guns and gear, as well as more detailed stories, and it looks like we’ll have some extended test and evaluation stuff to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll post some more updates tomorrow, and suffice it to say that it’s been an extraordinary trip so far.
S&W 686+ Performance Center. This is a 7-shot .357 Magnum in stainless steel with a 5-inch barrel, significantly tuned action, and the cylinder is cut for moon clips. This would make a sweet hunting gun, and I already have 19 moon clips that will fit it!
As many of you know, this past weekend was our second annual Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest. A splendid time was had by all. the turnout was smaller than anticipated, which I blame on the current ammo shortage combined with less than perfect weather. I literally had people straight up tell me that they weren’t coming because they couldn’t afford the ammo. Yes, I could have used less wind and another ten degrees of warmth, but it was still a lot of fun. Shortly after we arrived at the range on Saturday morning, with a glitter in his eye, Teen Bot asked me if I packed some 20-gauge shot shells.
Several years ago, I had bought a beautiful little Winchester 1300 in 20-gauge with the coolest youth furniture on it. This was a pawn shop find, barely used (if at all), with a vent rib and winchokes. This was one of those deals where I’d seen the gun previously, and we were going into the shop for another purpose. On the way, I commented, “if they’ll take $xxx for that gun, I’m going to buy it. Then when at the store, the owner offered to sell it for a price significantly lower than my proposed price.
The youth stock and fore end make this gun ideal for smaller statured people and children, which makes it an awesome new shooter trainer for our arsenal. When I bought it, Teen Bot was still small enough that I thought he’d get a lot of use out of it. But for whatever reason, the boy was completely frightened of any shotguns bigger than a .410. He would practice stance at home, and even mount up the empty gun, but he didn’t want to have anything to do with it on the range. Often he’d claim that he’d screwed up the courage to try it today, only to chicken out when we actually got in the open air.
This went on until one day, the three of us showed up on the property with nothing in the car but shotguns, bird shot, and a case of clays. I had Teen Bot operate the thrower for me for a bit, and then he said that he’d like to try that 20-gauge. And then, he was totally hooked. In short order, he was busting clays like a pro. Sadly, this timed poorly with his major growth spurt. He’s now nearly as tall as me, and the youth sized 20-gauge is a little on the small side for him anymore, after him putting a paltry 100 or so shells through it.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. I dug around in the trunk for the 20-gauge with no success. I asked Jennifer if she had packed the gun, and she confirmed that she had not. She’d meant to, but she specifically remembers not packing that case. So, I asked Teen Bot if he’d like to try 12-gauge instead, assuring him that the recoil was not much worse. He tentatively agreed to give it a go. We don’t have a 12-gauge in the house that most people would consider an acceptable clay gun, and the first gun I grabbed was Jennifer’s Defender. Teen Bot shoved seven shells in the magazine and I started throwing clays for him. Again, he was busting clays and having a great time.
The boy is going to need a shotgun of his own. I knew this day was coming eventually. When I bought the 20-gauge, a big reason was so that he could start learning to use a shotgun, but it’s not a gun that I really saw him taking into adulthood as his. So, now I’m thinking about the economics of a decent, multipurpose shotgun. Remington 870s are fairly easy to source for around $400. You can get a brand new Mossberg for $200 or less if you are looking right. And, I still see like new Winchester 1300s between $250 and $350 on occasion. No, I’m not buying him a Kel Tec KSG with an EOTech mounted on it. His birthday is long past, so I’m going to have to figure out some occasion that will be appropriate for gift giving.
On Saturday, as I was handling clay targets, my life-long friend, Rob asked me how much a box of clays costs. I told him that I thought I usually paid around $10. He commented that shooting was an expensive hobby. I didn’t say much to that at the time. Shooting can get really expensive really fast. But, about $10 for a case of ~100 clays, and around $30 for a case of shot shells will keep a family entertained for a day. That’s cheaper than going to a theme park or even the theater, and it’s far better for exercising the body and mind, and bonding between participants. In the grand scheme of things, it probably one of the cheaper forms of entertainment, especially if you consider the benefits! And now, I wish that I was outside shooting clays instead of here at my laptop. Well, there really aren’t enough hours of work time before the weekend anyway.
Last year sometime, I received an email invitation to a beer tasting at the gun range closest to our house.
You read that right. The indoor climate-controlled gun range that is within stumbling distance of my home had several breweries come out, set up booths, and serve beer on the premises. But, don’t worry – they had the drinking section separated from the shooting section and they weren’t letting anyone shoot who had been drinking. They had taken names to draw for door prizes, and I had tasted Coop Ale Works‘ entire flight at least twice when they called my name. If you like beer, and you ever come through Oklahoma City, I highly recommend stopping in to give these guys a whirl, as they know their craft well, and brew some tasty refreshments. So, as they had just called my name, I went to retrieve my door prize. They handed me a handsome pint glass with the Coop logo silkscreened on one side and a list of their beers on the other. There was a matching, black t-shirt rolled up and stuffed in the glass. Oddly, I’ve wound up with quite a few beer t-shirts in circumstances not unlike this one. I did what any good beer fan would have in my circumstance, and took my glass to the Coop rep serving DNR, and showed him that my prize glass was defective.
“Because it’s empty?” he clarified. Ah! We have a quick one here, “I’m not filling that for you. You don’t want a full pint of DNR right now.” Oh well, you can’t blame a guy for trying. A good time was had by all, the alcohol may have influenced me to spend some money on Magpul accessories. I have no idea where the t-shirt wound up, but the glass took up residence on my kitchen counter and has been my go-to glass since then. Anytime I need a glass of filtered water, that’s the glass I grab. What if I want a glass of Hanson Key Lime soda? Coop glass, that’s what. I have had to make an actual effort to remember to cycle this thing through the dishwasher from time to time, as I’ve been in the habit of simply rinsing it and setting it by the espresso machine until I used it next. Until today, that is.
When Teen Bot and I were done with our Red Baron pizza, I walked into the dark kitchen and reached toward the sink to rinse my plate. The cuff on my O.G. caught on the lip of my Coop glass and it fell to its death upon the tile floor. It was almost like it fell in slow motion, with me reaching after it crying, “NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” But, it was too late.
As I swept up its remains, it called out to me, “Why? Why didn’t you save me? We had so many good times together!” And, I gave it a burial in File Thirteen in a coffin made from the Red Barron pizza box with the end folded shut. So, now I need a new go to cup. I was thinking maybe something like this:
Or even this:
Then again, something like this wouldn’t break if I dropped it:
I put those on my Amazon wish list anyway. Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone will gift me one.
You probably saw the title of this post and thought, “everything looks like a nail.” Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the common attitude among many LEOs that perceive themselves to be part of an elite class. Don’t get me wrong – I have many dear friends who work in law enforcement. I don’t mean this to be a blanket statement to cover them all. However, with the crap going on in LA I’ve been reminded of some of my less pleasant interactions with law enforcement.
I had to serve jury duty several years ago. I thought that I wrote about it, but I can’t find any more than a passing mention in my archives. I was out of work for three days, reading a novel and waiting. I never even got interviewed for a case. It was pretty much horrible. The afternoon that they released me, I exited the courthouse with a skip and a jump and proceeded to the office to see how badly they’d screwed up my work in my absence.
Each of those days I’d drive to the parking building where I was supposed to leave my car, I’d unload and stash my gun, and proceed into the courthouse. Just inside the front door there was a metal detector and armed security with wands. The courthouse was attached to the jail, so security was pretty tight. One day on my way in, this little female officer was searching me. I’d emptied my personal effects into a bowl along with my shoes and belt which they put through the X-ray. The officer was wanding me down and stopped at my jacket pockets.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“What’s what?” I returned.
“There’s something in that pocket,” she explained, “What is it?”
By this point I was beginning to run short on time, and was losing patience, “It’s a little cedar block,” I explained, “There’s another one in this pocket and yet another in this one.”
“Let me see,” she demanded.
So, I pulled the cedar blocks out of my pockets and handed them to her. “See?” I said, “Now can I go?”
She then asked, “Why do you have cedar blocks in your pockets?”
“I’m just trying to keep the moths out of my wool,” I explained, “this is an Armani suit and I’d like it to not get eaten.”
“You know,” she said with skepticism, “people like to take these and burn their drugs on them.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” I said resolutely, “They are moth repellent to me.”
“It’s suspicious for you to have them in your pockets,” she pushed.
“No it’s not,” I posited, “it’s responsible ownership of good wool.”
She finally let me go and I did make it in time for check in. I’ve had other experiences similar to this where a LEO was treating me as an inferior, but this was the worst. For whatever reason, I never think to get the officer’s badge number and name at the time. Anyway, what strikes me is that this officer had dealt with so many convicted criminals that she had become jaded to the point of it being impossible to see a law-abiding citizen for what they were. She just knew that there was something wrong with me. She was going to figure it out, even though there was nothing there. This is a problem. I should not have to justify a harmless piece of cedar in the pocket of my Armani jacket. The very thought of it is asinine. I see this as a manifestation of the same problem that the trigger-happy cops in LA displayed last week. They’ve been so screwed in the head that everyone and everything looks like the boogeyman to them. In my opinion, if you get to that level of paranoid delusional, they should have long since taken your badge away before you shoot someone or harass someone reporting for jury duty. The little deputy who submitted me to that grilling didn’t draw on anyone that day, but she was showing a gross lack of judgment all the same.
A couple weeks ago, my lovely wife posted an entry about personal security. She relayed a story about a man we witnessed in the bank drive through who thoughtlessly announced to everyone else around that he was getting large amounts of cash. Yeah, not real bright. Her rant about his behavior reminded me of one of my personal peevs. All too often, I will see women in the store who have placed their purses in the kiddy seats of the shopping carts and have turned their backs on them. They will stand there in their own little world, staring at the goods on the shelf, with their valuables behind them, across the isle. I have literally walked between a woman and her purse, because that was the path that she left available down the isle. All too often, I have thought to myself that if I were not so honest, I could take that purse, unnoticed. Beyond that, someone could reach into the purse and take the wallet, going unnoticed for longer, thus affording more opportunity to get away. Between cash, credit cards, and identification, and often jewelry and firearms, women put all of their important stuff in their purses. Perhaps someone can help me with this because I don’t get it. Why in the world would you make it so easy for a thief to rip you off? Does this come from a false sense of security or what?
This is like the people who don’t bother to lock their doors. I have no delusions that the dead bolt on my front door will keep the boogyman out, even less so the lock on the sliding glass door in the back. However, I’m not going to make it easy for anybody to come in uninvited. I know full well that if someone wanted to force entry into my home, the door would kick in or the window would break. But, the bad guy is going to have to actually make the effort, and then they have to contend with me. I am by no means a high-speed, low-drag, gun ninja. Heck, I don’t even own any ‘tactical pants’. But, I do try to be observant. I subconsciously look for the exits and scan crowds for suspicious looking people. I don’t get called on it, so I don’t think I’m obvious about it. I’ve instructed my son to not talk to people about our belongings because I don’t want anyone to have a reason to want to take what is ours. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that low-profile is good even if I have friends that are a whole lot better at it than I am.
Don’t obsess, but when you’re out in the world, make sure you aren’t being the easy victim. Those women I’ve seen who don’t pay attention to their purses – I guarantee they’ll have purses stolen or picked at one time or another. I have been tempted to confront them and tell them how easily they could be robbed, but I’m afraid that would come across as threatening. It would be a lot of fun to print up some fliers about personal safety and just drop them in purses when I see this situation. Again, if I got caught doing anything of the sort, it would probably mean trouble for me. Similarly, you can’t very well start trying door knobs and wandering into peoples homes to warn them to lock their doors because you might get shot that way. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to say this to my readers, but please ask yourself whether you are exposing yourself to risk. There’s no need to be paranoid, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little self-analysis.
Today, due to a lack of motivation to write a blog entry, I started splicing some of the miscellaneous shooting video clips that we have amassed over the years. It’s less than two minutes, and I’d really appreciate if if you would watch it and give me some feedback. I really wasn’t setting out to make a statement, but this is what I wound up with:
I think it came out pretty well. What do you think? Overall, I think my videos are turning out better and better. I might eventually wind up as one of those people.
Edited *twice* to FINALLY fix a typo in the captions on the video.