Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What a year it's been.

     I've not posted on this blog for almost an entire year. A lot has happened, both personally, and in general, during that time. Lets see....where to begin:

     I survived the DNC coming to Charlotte - what a blustery, blowhard mess that was. Hope & Change.... my ass. The city spent lots of money to make the city not look like the city. They hid problems like high crime hot spots and masses of homeless by moving them out of the main traffic routes of the DNC, only to move them right back once "the eyes of the country" were looking elsewhere.

     Obama got re-elected. We did it to ourselves. Enough said.

     The school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut. What a horrible tragedy. For the anti-gun crowd...what an opportunity to take center stage and present a knee jerk reaction to an emotionally raw country. Ammunition and firearms prices skyrocketed, people panic bought even more than they planned originally, and Obama's "gun control" sold more guns than any other event in American history.

     The fiscal cliff resulted in my paying an increase in taxes, so more people could produce nothing for longer on my dime. There was no economic crash and burn as predicted, more like a hot flash for the working man.....who continues to carry the burden of the not really looking for work, and therefore not-working man.

     The Boston Marathon Bombing. Another horrible tragedy and a senseless loss of life. My prayers go out to the victims. How did this happen. Isn't the Patriot Act supposed to prevent this very thing, wasn't the Department of Homeland Security created to prevent this very thing? I gave up many of my rights and privacy "for the greater good", and this is what happens? Who dropped the ball on this? Why are we, as American citizens, not raising tee-total hell about this?

     Benghazi - Our government ignores please for help and leaves it's citizens to be murdered and defiled in an U.S. Embassy which is being over run. Then claims "we didn't know". There is an entire SITUATION ROOM where these things are immediately brought to light, and decisions about course of action are made. What happens....the idiot who's job it is "to know" resigns, and is now running for President. Great. Just Great.

     The NSA leaks, and electronic spying scandal by .gov broke big time. People who normally wouldn't give electronic communication a second thought were suddenly paranoid conspiracy theorists. Shade tree cryptologists abound, everyone is encrypting everything. Meh.

     The Trayvon Martin trial - George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges and walked away a free man. This to the dismay of CNN news anchor Jane Valez-Mitchell who was shocked and obviously disappointed that not only were there no riots over the verdict, but there were more people in line at Taco Bell than on the courthouse grounds when the verdict was read. Creepy Ass Cracker leads Valez-Mitchell 1-0.

     I went to Greece for 3 weeks. I saw how well socialism doesn't work, first hand. Most of the "trouble" in Greece is in the large cities, not the rural areas where we stayed. People there are resilient, hard working, and self reliant. No matter what happens, they just keep on - keeping on. They grow their own food, repair their own stuff, mind their own business, and handle their own problems.

I promise I won't wait so long to post in the future. I plan on posting every 10 days to 2 weeks. That's the plan, and you know how plans go. Topics or gear reviews you like to see are always welcome. Help me out a little  :)

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. The point is to survive to fight another day.
Suggestions are welcome, topic suggestions are welcome, comments are welcome. You can post them on the blog, anonymously if you prefer. The point is to post them. If you would like you can e-mail me directly: survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

     As always, thanks for reading

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Multi-tools. What I carry and why.


     I'm a pretty loyal customer. If I'm happy with something, a particular brand for example, I'll stick with it until I'm no longer happy with it or no longer happy with the company that makes it. I'm like that about food, clothes, tools, etc. For example I've bought Heinz ketchup, Levis jeans, and Nike shoes for as long as I can remember. My multi-tool of choice is the Leatherman Wave. When I bought my first Wave about 15 years ago, they came in real leather cases, which were dyed brown, and had a brass snap on it. Now they come in a black (sort of) leather case, with elastic on the sides and close with velcro.....ain't progress grand?

     Back then there weren't nearly as many models of Leatherman multi-tools to choose from, nor nearly as many makers of multi-tools in general. Nowdays anyone tooled up to make knives is making multi-tools. That can be good and bad at the same time. The good of it is that someone will invent something innovative and change the landscape of multi-tools. The bad of it is that most of the second tier and lower manufacturers will turn out worthless crap.

     I own two Waves, a surge, and a M.U.T.(Military Utility Tool). Those four tools fit all of my multi-tool needs. I keep one Wave in my tackle box, one Wave in my GHB (Get Home Bag), the surge in my truck console, and the MUT in my carbine deployment bag. I've never owned a Gerber multi-tool, but have heard good things about them. I've owned a few of their knives and the quality is sufficient for the price, I can't imagine the multi-tools would be any different.

     The Wave is a very capable tool for urban, suburban, rural, and wilderness survival. However it looses some of it's functionality in the wilderness as a majority of the tools are for tightening/loosening, stripping, or opening things that aren't normally found in the wilderness. or The MUT is an awesome tool for armorers or people who maintain their weapons in the field vs. on a cleaning bench. I can completely field strip any weapon I carry using only the M.U.T.  The Surge is handy because it's smaller and lighter than the Wave, so it's likely to get dropped into my cargo shorts pocket.

     I don't intend to do a review of the Wave, everyone on the planet it seems has written a review on either the Wave or it's equivalent by Gerber. I did however write a review about the M.U.T. and you can read it here. It fits my needs very well, and as you'll see in he review it's quite capable.

     I realize I haven't posted in awhile, and for that I apologize. Life happens, and with small kids, it happens fast and without warning. However, we survived the summer, the vacations, the out of school kids, the back to school rush, and the death of another immediate family member (my mother in law). It's been a crazy ride. I'll write about surviving the summer in an upcoming post, I learned a lot.

     Remember I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. My opinions are exactly that....my opinions. Thank you all for reading and being patient with my lack of posts while I struggled through a difficult summer. As always, comments, suggestions, topics are always welcome....criticism not so much  :)
    

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review of the Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO) Double Nest Hammok and One Link

     I have been wanting to try hammock camping for awhile now. My son has an Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) Single Nest which he carries on all camping/backpacking trips. He uses it to lounge around at the campsite, but sleeps in his tent. I wanted to camp in a hammock shelter system versus a tent. After some research on the Internet, and checking out a few different options at my local outfitter I decided to buy the ENO One Link system.

     The One Link shelter system comes with everything you need to camp in a hammock. It includes:
  • Hammock - Mine is the DoubleNest which is roomy enough, in theory, for two adults.
  • Bug Net - comes with a suspension line.
  • Rain Fly - with tie down cords and stakes.
  • Slap Straps Pro - The suspension straps for the hammock system, also includes caribiners.
  • Carry sacks for each component, and one larger sack that carries it all.

     I set up my hammock after packing it in about 5 miles on the AT (Appalachian Trail). The set up was easy and took about 10 minutes to set up all of the components. I had set up a single nest before, but never the whole One Fly system.  I didn't use all of the rain fly stakes, but tied the rain fly anchor cordage directly to trees near me. I think I used one stake so i could control which direction the run off went, should it actually rain. The rain fly provided shade more than anything else. The set up went exactly as described in the documentation that came with the One Fly, with the exception of the bug net.

     The suspension cordage on the bug net was too short, it was only about 5 feet long and couldn't be used. I called Eagle Nest Outfitters when I got back and explained the situation. They sent me a new piece of cord, no questions asked. I can't speak highly enough for their customer service. I spoke with s guy named Adam, who really knew hammock camping. We talked about new products and swapped camping stories. It was refreshing to speak with someone who actually USED the product they were selling.

     The high quality of materials used in immediately evident when you get in the hammock. Everything I needed was included in the set up, and I used everything that was included. It turned out to be about 25% cheaper to buy the One Link system vs. buying everything separately. I think I'll add some different caribiners, and the possum pouch so everything is within reach, but that's about it.

     The Double Nest is comfortable and roomy. Getting in and out of the hammock with the Bug Net in place was a little tricky, but was getting easier every time I did it. I'm not a small framed guy, I'm 6 feet tall and weigh about 250 pounds. I'm sure it was amusing to see me try to get back in my sleeping bag which was on my ground pad which was in my hammock which was inside a bug net.....in the dark. Keep a headlamp handy, if for no other reason than to see me try to get back in my hammock.

 Observations and suggestions:
  • Stretch the hammock very tightly the first time you use it. Let your weight settle it in for a couple of hours then re-set it. I work up and had settled about two feet below where I had originally set my hammock. This only happened the first time I used my hammock. The second time it only settled about 8 inches.
  • Use a ground pad in the hammock if it's going to be chilly or windy. Once you compress the insulation in your sleeping bag, you'll feel the cold air on your back every tine the wind blows.
  • Keep a headlight handy so you're hands are free to use when you're trying to get in and out of the hammock, zip up the bug net, rearrange your ground pad, etc.
  • Keep the attachment cords for the rain fly attached to the stakes and just roll them up in the fly. It will save you about 5 minutes next time you set it up. It probably won't fit back in the stuff sack for the rain fly, but it will all fit in the bigger sack anyways. I couldn't get the fly back in its stuff sack WITHOUT the stakes attached....so I left them on the second time I set it up and just never took them off again.
  •  Using a shorter ground pad might help with staying on top of it. I woke up with mine wrapped around my legs, and never could get it set right again. It was dark, in a sleeping bag, in a hammock, in a bug net. Not a lot of wiggle room, and not a lot of options short of re-setting everything back in place. No fun at 3AM.
     I like my hammock system and would recommend hammock camping. Getting the right gear makes all of the difference on the world.  I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. Comments, questions,  and suggestions are always welcome.

     As always, thank you for reading. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Surviving the Idiots in The Suburbs

     This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am absolutely surrounded by idiots. I'm in an Idiot Rich Environment (IRE if you will). Why is this a problem you ask? Idiots are generally harmless. Well....you know how beer makes anything better; if the foods good, beer makes it great. If you're pissed off, a beer will make you mellow. If you're hot and tired, beer makes you feel better. Conversely, no matter how bad things are....idiots make them worse. No matter where you are, what time of day or night it is, or what the weather is, there will be an idiot around you. Surviving the idiots on a daily basis is an ordeal.     

     Idiots put in stressful situations become Super Idiots. For example, on the Appalachian Trail I saw an idiot pour all of his water out.
The conversation went like this - me: "Why are you pouring water out in the middle of the trail for everyone else to step on?"
Idiot: "It's heavy, I'm tired of carrying it."
Me: "Where are you going to get more water?"
Idiot: "I have more in the car, I'm only about 5 miles from the parking lot."
Me: "There's water closer if you can treat it"
Idiot: "I'm ok, the water in the car is bottled so I don't have to carry anything else."

  These are the kinds of idiots who leave their cars in the road obstructing traffic while they call AAA to fix a flat tire, or stand three deep in a doorway and have a conversation while others try to move around them. They're worse than Sheeple (Sheep people for the newbs). Generally sheeple have two modes; Graze and Stampede.....but idiots have a third mode: Obstruct. They have an uncanny ability to get in the way of anything productive and stand there. Just stand there....doing something completely unrelated.
    
     The question is....how do we avoid and thereby survive idiots in our midst? We learn to identify traits of idiocy from a distance, and simply go another direction.  Easily identifiable traits of idiocy include, but are not limited to:
     People who are so self absorbed they fail to realize there is a line behind them, and they are the reason there is a line.
     People who are so unaware of their surroundings that they sit in plain view and pick their noses.
     People who will wait until a hurricane is within 2 hours of making landfall to go out and get supplies.
     People who think they can protect their family from a threat by "calling 9-1-1".
     The list goes on and on....please feel free to submit Traits of Idiocy to me either in the comments section or by e-mail. I'll post them as they come in.

    I think you'll find that idiots tend to congregate in certain areas. Avoiding these idiot rich areas is a good start to avoiding idiots in general, especially in a crisis. This post was written sort of tongue in cheek....sort of.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions. As always, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Economic Survival in the Suburbs

     Making ends meet is tough in the suburbs, or anywhere else. Managing your finances and covering all of the expenses while maintaining some savings and prepping is a skill set. I can't speak for others and how they do things, I can only relate my own choices and why I made them. My family has one income and five members. One of my children is in college, one is in middle school, and one is in pull ups. It's always an adventure at my house. We have the usual bills like mortgage, car payment, taxes, HOA fees, gas, groceries, etc. There are the child related bills like college tuition, scouts, sports camps, dance, relate equipment, insurance, co-pays etc. Then there are the unexpected expenses like home repairs, appliance repairs, veterinary bills, computer dies, phone craps out, etc. Being able to meet those bills, and still have some left over for prepping is a major juggling act. Below are some things I did, and still do to not only pay off bills and the debt, but to avoid taking on additional debt and expenses in the first place. At the very least I have learned how to minimize the impact of expenses, shorten their repayment terms, and get longer lasting value from expenses I do take on.

  Do the work you can do yourself, but know what you don't know.
      Clean your own house, cut your own grass, wash our own cars. Do the things you can do yourself. Don't pay someone else to do them for you. Doing things yourself will promote pride in yourself and your home, it will also teach your children how to have pride in themselves and their living areas. Learn to make minor repairs yourself. Internet sites like You Tube and Instructables are great Do It Yourself (DIY) resources. The flip side of tht coin is to know what you don't know. Don't attempt medium, large or complex projects unless you're very comfortable with lessor projects. Paying some one to fix your mistakes is much more expensive than paying them to do it right the first time. If you use someone to do the work....be there when they do it, and watch what they do. There are a couple of areas in my house I might attempt minor repairs on, but generally will call in a professional. Those areas are electrical, plumbing, and roofing. Mistakes in those areas can cause fires an flooding, either of which will be catastrophic both financially and to your family's lives.

   Only rich people can afford to buy cheap things.
     Don't buy the cheapest you can find only because it's the cheapest. You want to buy the best value for your money, often times that is not the cheapest. It often not the most expensive either. It is far better to buy quality components, even if you have to assemble them yourself. than the cheap/quick/easy option which might break or not work in 3 months. I buy the best quality I can afford in most things I buy. I can't afford to replace them. The best way to KNOW you're getting the best quality is to educate yourself on what you're buying. Do your research, the time your invest will pay for itself financially and in satisfaction of what you bought. No one like to feel like they got ripped off when they make a purchase.

   Maintain What You Own
     "Take care of your things" my mama used to tell me all the time when I was little. What she was trying to teach me is that if you take care of your things, you don't have to replace them or do without them once they're broken and no longer working. Change the oil in your vehicles, rotate the tires, and service the transmission; you will extend the life of your vehicle by 75,000 miles if you take care of it and keep it in good working condition. Change the air filters in your home, have the major systems in your home serviced regularly. it's much cheaper than replacing an air conditioning system. Keep our tools lubricated and clean, avoid having to replace tools. Paint when it's time to paint, caulk when you paint, replace toilet seals before they leak and ruin your floors. These are things that we all KNOW to do, but rationalize ourselves out of doing when the time comes.

   Avoid impulse purchases.
     I'm guilty of this one. I'm a terribly undisciplined shopper. I ALWAYS get drawn to the cool stuff on an end-cap at WalMart then convince myself I can't live without it. I go in to buy a box of light bulbs and $300 later......i have a ridiculous amount of crap I didn't need or even know existed, much less know that I wanted until I went in to buy light bulbs. I combat this by making  list before I go shopping.  Once inside the store I keep my eyes on the floor and repeat my list out loud....I know I must sound like the Rain Man to passers by. Whatever....I got light bulbs, and only light bulbs. Understand that stores are DESIGNED to make you impulse buy. That's why they put candy by the check out.....kids will inevitably see it and demand candy. The store (and your kids) are hoping you'd rather buy the candy than risk the embarrassment of beating your kids ass in the check out line of a Food Lion. Occasionally they do the right thing with the check out aisle and put useful items there. Things like spare batteries and flash,lights during storm season. Then my kids beat my ass for spending all of their candy money on batteries :)  Circle of life.
  
  Pay Down Your Unsecured Debt
     Use a debt reduction snowball or some other type of debt reduction strategy to pay down your unsecured debt. You will be amazed how much of a money suck unsecured debt is against your monthly budget.I used a debt reduction snowball to pay mine down. For those who don't know what that is, I'll explain as best I understand. Make a list of all of your unsecured debt (Credit Cards), and sort it from the highest balance to the lowest balance. Your lowest balance account is at the bottom of the list. Basically you make the minimum monthly payment on all of your unsecured debts, except one. The one with the lowest balance (the one at the bottom of the list) gets all of the money you were paying in excess of the minimum monthly payments on your other unsecured debt accounts. you pay off the lowest balance first. Once it is paid off, you pay the money you were paying on that account towards the account with the lowest current balance while paying the minimum monthly payments on all of the other unsecured debt accounts. Once you pay that balance off, you apply the funds to the account with the lowest current balance. At this point you are currently paying off the account which had the 3rd lowest current balance whens you originally made you list. You snowball your debt reduction up the list, paying off accounts from the bottom of the list and rolling up. I'm not a financial advisor or giving you financial advice, please don't misunderstand my point here. I'm just telling you what worked for me. There are literally HUNDREDS of debt reduction strategies, pick the one that works best for you. But do something to reduce or eliminate your unsecured debt.

     The bottom line is control your spending, and manage your debt effectively. Times are tough right now.we're in one of the worst recessions in the history of this country. It is just as likely to get worse as it is likely to get better. Who knows what will happen. I don't have the foggiest idea.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. The point is to survive to fight another day.
Suggestions are welcome, topic suggestions are welcome, comments are welcome. You can post them on the blog, anonymously if you prefer. The point is to post them. If you would like you can e-mail me directly: survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

     As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Quest For a Suburban Survival Vehicle

     I have been looking into buying an expedition type vehicle. Something that has off road capability, is a daily driver, gets fair gas mileage, decent towing/hauling capacity, and room for 5 plus some gear. It should also fit my standard sized garage. I don't want anything extreme or technical to maintain. I'm not looking for a rock crawler or a swamp buggy.

     I currently have three vehicles (I'm downsizing to 2 vehicles), and I know what I like and dislike about them all. So maybe that's a good place to start:
    F-150 4X4 - I bought this truck new 12 years ago. It's been a champ. It has a big V-8, and an extended cab. I use the bed alot, but I use the extended part of the cab more. The cab is too small, the people sitting in the back seat are cramped  I have 3 kids now, and it's a chore to get everyone loaded inside. There's not enough room left for everyones stuff, so that goes in the truck bed....weather permitting. I also can't leave valuable tools or equipment in the bed of the truck unattended for very long.

   Toyota Sequoia - I bought this SUV new about 10 years ago. It has a big V-8, but is 2WD. It has plenty of room for my family and their stuff, and loading it is easy. I drive it daily, it's reliable for now, but I can't haul as much in it as I can haul in the bed of my truck. But I like that everything I lock inside the SUV, is inside the SUV and out of the elements and a little more difficult for someone to steal. I've bought lumber, pipe, and yard stuff and I was able to load it all into the SUV without an issue. Plus the rear window rolls down, which is a feature I use almost everyday.

    Honda Odyssey - I bought this mini-van new about a year ago. It's the most practical vehicle I won. It's really easy to get the kids into it. The doors are all automatic and key fob controlled....click open...click closed. It can hold a good bit of cargo (like full sheets of plywood or sheet rock) if you remove the seats, and has a V-6 engine. It's the ultimate grey vehicle. Just try counting all of the mini vans you see in a suburban neighborhood, they're EVERYWHERE.

      So that's what I have, and what I like about them. I definitely want 4X4, and a large V-8. I know I  want 17 inch rims and 285/75 tires, fog lights, recovery hooks, and skid plates. I'm stuck between a 4X4 SUV probably another Sequoia, and a full sized truck, probably a Ford.

     If I go with the pickup truck my first choice would be a F-250 Super Duty. I can get the Crew Cab option, the diesel engine, and a full sized bed. However I'll seriously under utilize the truck. I most likely will never haul or pull anything even close to the weight capacity of the F-250 Super Duty. It's about 10K more than the F-150 I would buy in it's place. I'd like to say "comparably equipped F-150" but that's not true. You can't get a diesel engine or a crew cab/full sized bed option in the F-150. If I go with the F-150 I'm afraid I'll always wish I had the F-250 even though it won't fit in my garage.

    If I go with the SUV, I will probably buy another Sequoia. I looked at the Tahoe, and even looked over one of those hybrid trucks that is part truck, part SUV, and not very good at either one. I can probably get a Sequoia for less than the F-250 but slightly more than the F-150 if I skip the Limited package and get the SR-5 package instead.  I really like the rear window rolling down in the Sequoia, it makes putting small things (like groceries) in the back really easy. I use that feature almost every day.

     This is a big decision for me. I keep vehicles a long time, so it's a decision I'll have to live with for quite some time. It's a BIG financial decision as well. I have friends that get new vehicles every 2 to 3 years.  They always have nice new cars and trucks. There's times I'm glad I'm not like that.....like when I go 8 years or so without a car payment. Then there's times when I'm rattling down the road in a 10 year old SUV, or 12 year old truck....that I envy them a little (or a lot).

     Another choice for trucks in the Toyota Tundra. I own a Toyota Sequoia, so I'm familiar with the fit and finish of the truck. It's 22 inches longer than the Sequoia, so it'll be a tight fit in the garage. Parking on the driveway is not going to be an option for me....for many reasons. This might rule out the F-150 as well as it's 18 inches longer then the Tundra, so...3 1/2 feet longer than my Sequoia. After breaking out the tape measure and checking some manufacturerrer specs, neither the Tundra nor the F-150 will fit in my garage and allow me to close the door. I could still park them outside, but I'm not very inclined to do that.

     As the time draws closer to making a final decision and buying a vehicle, I'll keep you posted as to which way things are going.

     Input and suggestions always welcome...ESPECIALLY on this topic. I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. As always, thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review of the Leatherman MUT (Military Utility Tool)

     I've owned the Leatherman MUT (Military Utility Tool) for about a year now. I bought it after seeing it at a shooting class I took at US Training Center. It was purely an impulse purchase, but one I have not regretted. An operator taking the class with me had a MUT and showed me a few of the functions. I was hooked and had to have one. As soon as I got back home I started looking for the best price. I paid 104.99 with free shipping on Amazon. The price has come down a little since then.

   There are two versions: Utility and EOD, and they come in a couple of different color combinations. I bought the Utility version in Black and Stainless. That means the handles are black anodized, and the plier heads and knife blades are stainless steel. The other color option is black on black, where the plier heads and knife blades are black anodized like the handles.

   The utility version I bought has the following features:
     Needle nose Pliers - Pretty standard Leatherman needle noses. Similar to the Wave
     Replaceable Wire Cutters - the blades can be replaced when worn or damaged.
     Combo Knife - An inch or so near the base is serrated. Cuts well in my experience.
     Saw - Works as well as it works on the Wave. Not for cutting substantial limbs or boards.
     Hammer - The bottom of the tool has a hammer face Wear gloves if you hammer anything. It's not a  traditional hammer.
    Replaceable Cutting Hook - Used for flex cuffs or paracord. I like this feature which also comes with a thumb guard.
    Bolt Override Tool - This is a great feature. Frees a stuck bolt on the AR platform.
    Replaceable Firearm Disassembly Punch - Works on frame pins in a Glock among other pistols as well as rifles. The base the punch screws onto will also take a standard firearm cleaning rod. Neat.
    Replaceable Bronze Carbon Scraper - Ive used this lots, but never to scrape carbon.
    Cleaning Rod/Brush Adapter - accepts the male end of standard cleaning rods.
    Carabiner/Bottle Opener - Another neat tool. I clip the MUT to my gear using this.
    Large Bit Driver
    1/2" Wrench and 3/8" Wrench - Double ended box wrench that fits inside the MOLLE Strap on the   carrying case.
   Titanium pocket clip - Removable, and allows you to clip the MUT to your gear.

  The carrying case can double as a pistol magazine holder, and also has two elastic straps I use to hold spare AA batteries.

    It's a well engineered and well thought out tool that is perfectly suited for military and law enforcement use. I consider it a great tool for shooters and it's a well used piece of equipment in my range bag. For civilian use it might be under utilized however. The MUT is big and heavy for civilian every day carry (EDC). The MUT is designed to help a soldier, contractor, or LEO keep a weapon running when it's needed most. The MUT provides tools and features that you simply can not get with other multi-tools.

     For civilian EDC, you might only use 3 or 4 of the 18 tools on the MUT on a regular basis. Not enough to justify the weight and size. When carried in the MOLLE case, the MUT is about the size of a Red Bull can. This can make for a long day if worn on your belt as a civilian, especially in a business casual environment. I also have a Leatherman Wave which I keep in my get home bag (GHB). I use it more than I would use the MUT in ordinary circumstances. When used under circumstances it was designed for, the MUT performs like a champ. It does things that other multi-tools just CAN'T do.

     I recommend the Leatherman MUT for military, LEO, and rugged civilian use. I think it's well designed well built, and reasonably priced. It has features you just can't get on any other multi-tool, and comes with a 25 year warranty. I bought mine on an impulse a year ago, and have never regretted it. I look forward to using it for many years to come.

   I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. Suggestions, comments, and topic recommendations are always welcome. Readers are always encouraged to leave comments, anonymously if you'd like, or you can e-mail me survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

    As always, thank you for reading.
    

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review of the Mossberg 930 SPX

     In my search for a home defense (HD) shotgun I have evaluated a Remington 870 Magnum, Mossberg 500 Mariner, Mossberg 590A1, and the Mossberg 930 SPX. I think the 930 SPX to the range this weekend and ran 250 rounds(225 low brass game loads, 15 00 Buck, 10 Slugs) through it. The 930 SPX is a serious contender to be my go to HD shotgun going forward. It has lots of features I want on a home defense shotgun, and provides a LOT of fire power..

Features:
Stock - Adjustable angle and length by adding shims provided with the gun, synthetic, swivel attachment points, pistol grip, checkered on the pistol grip and fore end.
Receiver -  Matte finish, picatinny rail, safety, trigger guard is large enough to accommodate gloves.
Sights - Ghost Ring rear, adjustable, M4 style, fiber optic front, hooded, Ghost Ring rear is removable from rail.
Controls - Trigger is crisp, cocked hammer indicator, safety is easy to see and use, charging handle is easy to operate even with gloves on.
Capacity - 8 shot with 2 3/4 or 3 inch shells (3 more rounds than the Benelli M4).

Performance:
     Shooting this shotgun is a lot of fun. It cycles VERY fast, faster than I can pull the trigger. The 930 SPX points well and is comfortable in my hands. The forend stock is not bulky and provides a sure grip. As is the case with all Mossbergs, the controls are well placed and easy to use. The sights are easy to acquire in most lighting conditions. If you have any experience with the AR-15 platform, the rear sight on the 930 SPX will be very familiar to you. The trigger pull is crisp without a lot of travel.  Loading the weapon, or reloading, can be a little cumbersome if you do not have something to rest the barrel on as the weapon weighs in at almost 8 pounds. It can be barrel heavy if you try to hold the weapon one handed by the pistol grip and load with the other hand.
      I managed to create a jam while loading by not completely inserting the round into the feed tube. I didn't seat it completely and the magazine spring pushed it into the space under the bolt, which prevented me from inserting another shell until I cycled the action to eject the shell loaded int the chamber, and load the shell that popped out of the mag tube. This was an error on my part, and something I'll have to address through training. I believe the 930 SPX can be ghost loaded, however I did not try it personally.

Value:
     This shotgun is a great buy for the money. I paid about $630 for mine, out the door. That's about $100 over half the cost of a FN SLP and a third of the cost of a Benelli M4 (depending on configuration). There are lots of accessories available for the 930 SPX, some of which I plan to get....some I don't. Mossbergs customer service is one of the best in the firearms industry, and their quality is very high.

Field stripping:
     Field stripping the 930 SPX is pretty easy. Simply remove the magazine tube extension by unscrewing it. Be careful when you remove the mag extension as the mag spring is VERY long and will fly out. It can be somewhat of a PITA (Pain In The Ass) to reinstall but it's not difficult, just somewhat frustrating.Then remove the hand guard, barrel, piston, and then the bolt. You can remove the trigger group by punching out the pins holding it in place if you want. I never have. I have learned that if you want to remove the trigger group, make sure the hammer is back before you remove trigger group or parts will fly out. There are a couple of videos on You Tube detailing how to break the 930 SPX down, I highly recommend watching them.

Going forward:
     Overall this is a great shotgun for the price. It's comfortable to shoot, versatile, easily maintained, and customizable. I highly recommend this weapon to someone who is in the market for a home defense shotgun. I plan on adding a sling, and a mag tube clamp with mini-picatinny rail. I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. Please comment with your own experiences with this shotgun, you can do so anonymously if you wish.

     As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Storing Firearms and Ammunition in the Suburbs.

     We all agree that our 2nd Amendment Rights under the Constitution are the pillars of out basic freedom. Most , if not all, of us also agree that with that right comes certain responsibilities. Properly securing your firearms is one of those responsibilities. Keeping in mind that those responsibilities go up a level or two if you have children in your home.

     Most of us have children, or will have children, and almost all of us own a firearm, or will own a firearm, or should own a firearm. Then there are a few of us who really should NOT own a firearm. If you don't own a gun and aren't planning to own a gun, then this really doesn't pertain to you. However, if you do own one, or are planning on owning one, you really need to take a look at how you're going to secure your weapon and the ammo you have for it.

     There are only three basic places you'll need to store and secure a weapon, depending on if you conceal carry or not: on your person, in your vehicle, and in your home. We'll look at each of those scenarios, for long guns and handguns, and I'll go over my own personal thoughts on those issues as well as what I've done for each scenario. Keep in mind that a gun you can't get to when you need it is worthless, or a gun that won't function when you DO get to it is worthless, or a gun of yours that a bad guy gets before you do....is not worthless but is really bad.

     On my person: I'm of the opinion that my handgun is the most secure and accessible when it's on my person and under my control. With that being said, lets not go down some primrose path, simply for the sake of argument, that it would be more secure locked in a fortress safe inside a hidden room or something ridiculous. It still has to be accessible to be any help at all. So, I carry in an A-Holster custom made for a G23. It's comfortable, secures the weapon really well, is concealable, is very easy to get on and off my belt, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. You can check one out here AHOLSTER. I usually put it on when I go out and take it off when I get back home. The rest of the time my G23, along with a spare mag, is stored out of sight to everyone, and out of reach to children, and is accessible within 10-15 seconds from anywhere in my house. I don't carry a long gun so storing those is for later in this post.

     In my car: I keep a Nano Vault 200 in each of my vehicles. That's in case I need to store my carry weapon when I'm out. It's extremely secureable, very easy to use, and costs less than $30. Check one out here NANO VAULT. I don't believe it's a good idea to store weapons in the glove box for many reasons, primarily because every car break in I have ever seen has resulted in the glove box being searched. Secondly, don't keep your gun where you keep your vehicle paperwork, it could lead to some sticky roadside encounters with law enforcement.

     In my home: I mentioned above how I store and secure my G23 in my home. Everything else is kept in a gun safe locked in a room that has a very strong door. Not the best situation for home defense, but the best situation for me. I have three kids, and on any given day, all of my kids friends are running around my house. Most of them are not raised in gun responsible homes, they're raised in gun avoidance homes......which GREATLY raises their curiosity should they come across a firearm. Some of them are too little to know that a gun is dangerous, some of them are too curious to avoid a gun should they find one, and some of them are reckless enough to think they can handle it themselves. So I triple lock everything except my carry gun. I currently looking into a wall mountable, trigger securing, keypad locking option for mounting a shotgun in my closet. It's kind of pricey, but would provide my access to a shotgun should I need it.

     That cover securing my firearms, lets look at storing them and the ammunition that goes with them. I store my long guns in a safe, not a cabinet, not a case, not a rack, a SAFE. I have a Goldenrod  dehumidifier inside the safe to keep moisture out, and check them once a month. All stored ammunition, aside from what I require for daily carry is stored inside military ammo boxes, and those boxes are stacked inside a steel, locking, cabinet. Aside from the obvious ammunition, each ammo box contains an O2 absorber, a moisture absorber, and a label detailing when it was stored and an approximation of round count.  Each ammo box is clearly labeled by caliber on the outside. I also have a box for range ammo, which I take with me when I target shoot or train. I top the range ammo off with stops to Wal-Mart or wherever I buy my consumable ammo. When I go once or twice a year to train, which usually runs through a few rounds, I rotate my stored ammo into my training and replace it when I get back.

     I can't stress strongly enough the need for a good holster, a car vault, and a good safe. Doing everything possible to keep your firearms out of the hands of people who should not have access to them is a fundamental responsibility of gun ownership. If you can't get on board with that, maybe you shouldn't own a gun.
    
     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. These are simply my observations and practices. Maybe they'll help you, maybe they won't. Comments, suggestions, and tips are always welcome. You cam post them to the blog, or e-mail them to me directly at survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

     As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Using The Kindle In Suburban Prepping

     Almost everyone either has heard of the or has an eReader. Be it a Kindle, a Nook, or an app running on a tablet like an iPad. I originally received my Kindle as a gift on Valentines Day a couple of years ago. I remember thinking "I like paperback books.....this is a fad." I charged it up, loaded a book or three and read it daily.

     About 5 weeks later the battery was low and needed it's FIRST recharging. I remember thinking "5 weeks! That's incredible......I wonder if I can work this into my preparedness plans."  What's not to like about the Kindle as an option? I can load my ENTIRE preparedness library onto the device versus trying to print/bind/catalog/store/transport it on paper? Seriously.....paper?  It's SEARCHABLE, talk about a huge time and effort savings. It's portable, I carry it in my EDC (Every Day Carry) bag most days.

     So I started looking into making it a real part of my preparations.  There were some immediate challenges that had to be overcome. There were also some challenges that presented themselves later on, mostly as a result of solutions to the immediate problems.

     Powering the device was my first challenge. I know five weeks of battery life with intermittent use is great....but it's still a hard stop on the device when the battery finally dies. When the battery is dead.....the device is useless. My solution to that problem is the Solio Classic solar charger. It's light, small, cheap, and does a good job. There are better options now, but at the time I went with the Solio. I can charge it with the Solio, or run it from the internal battery built into the Solio if my Kindle battery gets damaged or fails. I can also use the same Solio unit to charge my iPod and cell phone.

     Finding a durable way to carry it was an issue as well. I mean, we're not prepping for a sunny afternoon on the beach. We're preparing for bad times.....including natural disasters. I found a durable, pretty rugged, soft case which secures the device well. It's made by M-Edge. The case also has several pockets on the outside which I use to carry things I use with my Kindle....like a clip-on light, spare battery for the light, and a zip-lock bag. When I pack it in my EDC bag, I pack it near the middle, and surround it with other items that would help protect it from damage if the bag was damaged.

     Protecting it from the elements was also a concern. Like I said, we're preparingg for bad things like natural disasters. The simplest way I could think of to protect my Kindle from the elements and still be able to USE it in the elements was with a zip lock bag. I keep a 1 gallon size Zip-Lock bag in the outside pocket of my Kindle case, and several in my GHB (Get Home Bag). I put my kindle inside the zip-lock and can read it just fine. It'll float in water, and will keep rain, dirt, and grit out of the keys. It's not perfect but it's functional, cheap, has multiple uses, and is easily replaceable.

     Reading it in low light is a problem. The screen is not back lit, which is why it has a 5 week battery life. It requires a light source to read in the dark. I use a flexible light that stores and secures itself in the case I keep my Kindle in. The light is named the eLuminator.....clever huh? Works really well and runs on a single AAA battery.

     The Kindle is electronic, so it has the same issues you would have with ANY electronic device. However, it fits my needs very well. I have the 3G version, but keep the air-card turned off to prolong the battery life. However it's there if I need it to surf the web, check e-mail, etc. It's painful on a gray scale screen....but it can be done. I can also play MP3's on my Kindle. It's not the perfect solution for those types of things, but it does provide redundancy. One is none and two is one.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. This is just one tool I found useful. The portability combined with battery life, and searchable functionality made it a no brainer for me. If you have any suggestions about how else the eReader can be used, or any questions please e-mail me at survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

As always, thanks for reading.