Sunday, November 6, 2016

Armed At Home or Home Arsenal?

I was having a discussion with some friends about the merits of always carrying a gun. Everywhere. All the time. No Metal Detector = carrying a gun. And I was hit with the following question….”What about at home?” At first I was confused, do people have metal detectors in their house? But the more we talked the more I realized that some people take their gun off when they get home. “Whew! Thankfully that is over” was the mindset I was dealing with. I can't say that is a mindset that is beneficial to survival at all. I asked them this question, and I pose it to you as well; where do 100% of home invasions take place? Yes, you are correct, the home.

As we discussed contingency plans for a home invasion there were three general schools of thought.
A: I’m home and I’m safe.
B: I have guns all over my house, there's always one within reach.
C: I carry a gun, at home.

“A” is a simple fallacy. If you believe this, you are wrong. I can't stress this enough. Outside of the “home invasion” scenario, which should be plenty of reason to be armed, 29% of all violent crime is performed by a household member. (US DOJ stats)
“B” certainly has some merit, but I find that most people seem to think having a handgun in their biometric safe in the nightstand counts as having a gun within reach. Which is partially true when one is in bed.
“C” is a great choice, but like “B”  it usually isn't as true as people believe it is. Going to the bathroom at 0300 is a time when most people don't grab their smokewagon on the way out of their bedroom.

There's only so much I can do from behind a keyboard to help, but maybe explaining what I do will spark some thought on things you can do to maintain being armed at home. It might not be the answer for everybody, but I found what works for me.

My first line is to carry my gun at home. Thanks to the awesome guys at NSR Tactical and Yeti Tac, my daily carry gear is comfortable and easy to carry all day long. If anybody reading this struggles with finding a suitable holster give those guys a look. Green Force Tactical, Stevens Concealment, and Galco make some fine choices as well.
A pile of awesomeness.

The upside of carrying your gun at the house is that I don’t need to plan further. If I am in the basement doing laundry, I have a gun handy. If I walk out front to check the mail, I have a gun on me. Mowing the grass? Already have a gun on me. It’s easy to see that we need to exert no extra effort, regardless of what is going on at the house to be armed. I have talked to many folks out in town that normally are armed that admit that after de-gunning when they went inside had neglected to re-arm before they ran to pick up some milk,or bacon, or beer. I don't want that to be me, I didn’t want it to be them, and I don’t want it to be you. The simplest way to assure you are armed is to remain that way all day.

I can hear what you are thinking. You aren’t going to sleep wearing your gun, or shower with it. I get it. Thats where we supplement our “Armed at Home” with the “Home Arsenal.” Like most people, I sleep in something other than what I wore all day. Shorts and a t-shirt are not the most conducive to carrying the same way I do normally. What I prefer to do is keep my carry gun handy beside the bed. But the devil is in the details. Instead of placing my pistol on the nightstand or one of those bedside holsters, I take off my pants and put them in the floor beside the bed. Very similar to how a fireman has his turnout gear staged.
I was once awoken to the sound of a car accident outside. There was screeching, the crashing. I immediately put my pants on and had a pistol, spare mag, flashlight, fixed and folding blade knives, car keys and most importantly medical gear. The only thing missing from my EDC was my phone since it had to charge at some point. I did grab it on the way out. I find this much better than dumping my pockets and then scrambling to get it all in an emergency. In the morning I will empty the pants to put the stuff in the new pants I’ll be wearing that day. If there happens to be a “noise in the house” and I just want the gun/light it’s no more difficult to get it from my holster on the floor than it is in a drawer beside my bed. My first course of action in this case is to grab the rifle from beside my bed. There is a suppressed SBR with a light and constant on red dot between my bed and my nightstand. With a redi-mag, I have 60 rather quiet rifle rounds at my disposal with a light attached. Far superior to a pistol in every aspect.

That leaves me with one glaring omission, the bathroom. Normally, if we are armed our gun will be with us in there. Even showering, if we take our clothes off in the bathroom, our pistol will likely be in its holster on the floor somewhere. “But Garry, I change in my bedroom not the bathroom” OK, that’s fine. This next idea works for that. It also works for those middle of the night trips to the head. Personally I’m trying to find the bathroom without turning on any lights or stepping on a lego. I always ignore both the rifle and the holstered pistol. So my solution to that was a shotgun in the bathroom.
Brian at Tacticool Guns and Gear hooked me up with a Mossberg 590 Mariner. I chose this model in particular. The 590 and the Remington 870 are reliable workhorses. I prefer the 590 to the 870. The Mariner is designed to be exposed to moisture. There is no exposed carbon steel. All nickel plated or replaced by polymer parts. I felt confident that in a room that is constantly humid, the gun would function normally. It has been doing this for a couple years with no issue. This is the same shotgun I train with, so it gets frequent checks and test to see if it holding up. I used to have some roommates that kept a S&W J-frame in the shower. The gun didn’t seem to be affected by the constant wetness, but the ammo was frequently a dud. They now keep an AK in the bathroom. While it does show some signs of surface rust, true to an AK, it keeps running.

These are the things that I do to keep my home better prepared. They may not work for everybody, but maybe we can get thinking about the things that will work for us at home. Not only should you approach how to be armed at home you should get some training on how to effectively do so. Get your family on board with your emergency plan and practice it. You will likely have mere moments to put your plan into action while help is many minutes away.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

EDC Seminar - Vehicle EDC

Vehicle EDC

In the beginning of July I was invited by Jared Ross of Rockwell Tactical to speak at a conference he had arranged. The topic of the conference? Every Day Carry. My sliver to cover was EDC in a vehicle. I don't feel as though I was any more qualified than the other speakers for this particular subject, but it was all mine.

The day of the seminar my throat was about as sore as I have ever had , so of course I muscled through it. Its a good thing I had a microphone because my voice was giving out about 15 seconds into it. I cut short the time I was given because I didn't think my voice would hold out for long. I think I cut it down to 15 minutes or so. I told the participants I would put a list of things one should keep in a vehicle on the internets so they could at least see what is on my list even if they couldn't hear it. So without further ado, here is my list/notes.

Vehicle has 2 major advantages

All of this is dependent on what vehicle you have, what type of storage is available.

Storage- how will we utilize the extra storage to supplement our normal EDC?

Gallons from wally world, or a case of bottles , probably everybody here is not properly hydrated.

AMMO  There is a tiny chance you will ever need it to save yourself. It’s just not a necessity. Of course, I have 3K in there right now. Unlikely you will need it, but it does make for a great opportunity for an unplanned range trip

Med Gear
EDC should include med gear. The vehicle offers a chance to carry medical gear for yourself or more advanced medical care. More blunt trauma gear instead of bleeding gear. You don’t need to know how to use it, someone else might.
You will have a much better chance of being a hero with some medical gear than a gun.

Rifle? - #1 question. Should I , shouldn't I ? Personal choice. I cant answer that for you. Not everybody even wants to, but I carry a pistol when there is a 0.00% of a gunfight. If I feel it gets up to 1%, I’m bringing a long gun. If you are someone inclined to keep a rifle or any gun in your car LOCK IT UP!  I keep an AK and a chest rig locked under the rear seat.

Bug Out Bag/ Get Home Bag - That’s a whole different class, but keeping a backpack in the car in case you need to travel on foot is free.

Comms - A CB radio or a HAM, cell phone chargers

General Purpose -
Flashlight/ headlamp (lithium batts)
Toilet paper
Shop towels
Garbage Bag and or tarp
Road Atlas
Wool blanket or similar/ space blanket
Change of clothes (BOB) footwear for business and women
Cordage (paracord)/ bungee
Sunscreen and DEET

This is usually the reason we even own a vehicle. We need to carry the stuff to keep it mobile.
Biggest thing here is fuel. I don't recommend carrying a gas can inside a vehicle. A pickup truck has some advantage here. But don't run your car until empty. A good rule of thumb is to fill it at the halfway mark. You could opt to carry an empty tank in the trunk.

Jumper cables, I shouldn't have to point this out we have all been on one end of a jump start.

Fluids - if your vehicle uses more trany fluid or oil, keep some in it. (Like a Chevy) Otherwise, you are likely fine

Spare tire and tools, check them and make sure they all work. Upgrade the jack and wrench if you like. When you air your 4 tires up, check the spare at the same time.
Tire repair kit, fix a flat.
A 12V air pump to go with that kit.

Duct tape
Extra fuses (especially for a VW)
Snow chains

Tools - A small toolbag with some open end/closed end wrenches, a pair of adjustables , screw drivers, pliers and a socket set would be a great start. Going further to a 3 lb hammer, some high temp liquid gasket and a variety of hose clamps. Like medical gear, you may not know what to do, but somebody else might.

Fire extinguisher!
Road flares, signage.
Tow strap- for someone to tow YOU out
E tool
Hand saw , folding , wood, Chainsaw if you have a locking toolbox in a pickup

Seat belt cutter/ glass breaker, resQme central or individual.

Most importantly is get training in how to use the things you are carrying. Sure I said some things you might not know how to use but somebody else will. But that’s no excuse to ignore getting those skills. Put that stuff on your list of shit to learn.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Trijicon MRO - Best on the Market?

I was asked after I put up my video on this optic if I thought it was an Aimpoint killer. I chose not to answer simply because I believe Aimpoint is the Aimpoint killer.  My experiences with the PRO left me wanting a different optic before I knew what one I was going to get. Now mind you, I have a T1 on my AK that runs fine so I’m not here to trash them as a whole, I just haven’t had the same experience that many others have had.  
Back in September I was at a Sentinel Concepts class hosted by MIdwest Industries and Steve Fisher had an MRO on his demo gun. I had seen the Travis Haley video announcing it, but that was all of the prior knowledge I had. So Steve let me check out the sight and I was sold. I had to get me one. They were just starting to trickle in to some local gun shops but not in large numbers. A Tactical Response Alumnus contacted me and told me his buddy just got a pair of them in at his shop. A few phone calls later and it was a done deal and he was bringing it to class that weekend.
My initial impression was very good. I only had the really really low mount that comes from the factory. I was surprised, that it actually was usable on an AR. Far from ideal but usable. At that time mounts were difficult to locate but my good friend Brian at Tacticool Guns and Gear sourced a couple of ADM mounts and graciously hooked me up. I had also talked to Pete at Midwest Industries and he told me that their first batch of mounts were finishing up in a few days. After using both of them, I prefer the throw lever on the Midwest mount, its much lower profile. Otherwise both mounts are rock solid and either will perform as expected.
As for the optic itself, let’s look into the things that set it apart. First the front lens is larger than the rear lens. This is brilliant (pun intended). When we look at things, the further away they are the smaller they are. So anytime you look through a tube, the hole in the far end appears smaller than the close end. Obviously the longer the tube the more pronounced this is. With the shape of the MRO, which certainly fits in with the style of an ACOG, this effect is nonexistent. One of the first comments I hear when I hand it to others to check out is “Wow, the field of view is huge”. When comparing the field of view to a more traditional tubed 30mm red dot, this sight seems much more clutter free even though it has a 25mm front lens and a 20mm rear lens. The engineers at Trijicon had a few other tricks up their sleeve to facilitate this as well. The main brightness control and battery compartment was moved to the top of the sight, moving out of the shooters lateral field of vision. In addition this makes the control ambidextrous which is always a plus. The next thing they did to make the body of the sight less obtrusive was to use a different type of adjustment for zeroing. The adjuster are flush and internally sealed, This removes the need for protruding caps to keep the watertight integrity.

As long as I am talking about those features, let's look into them with a little more detail. With the brightness control there are fewer options for brightness than I am accustomed to. But this has yet to present me with any issues. the control knob goes OFF, n, N, 1, 2, OFF, 3, 4, 5, 6.  The addition of the OFF position in the middle is very clever. If for some reason you like to turn your optic off this keeps you one click from a usable setting as opposed to running it through all of the low ones to get to the one you want. Personally I use setting 2 at night when I go to bed, it works fine in a dark room. 3 is usable for outside although depending on the lighting conditions, I use 4 often as well. I found this refreshing as I had been using my Aimpoint PRO and it just never got bright enough on a sunny day to pick it up quickly.

The adjusters, as mentioned, are flush and have no caps. The integrally sealed unit mens we are not relying on the O-rings in the cap to maintain waterproof qualities. It also means my dumb-ass won't lose the caps. Trust me, it's a known issue with me. They are your typical ½ MOA adjustment that is the industry standard. Any flat item can be used to make adjustments. A screwdriver, of course, a coin or a rim of a shell case all work great. This holds true for the battery cap as well.

Let’s move on to the part that sold me on this optic. The dot. It’s a rather standard size of 2MOA. But where it really shines (yet another pun) is its roundness and crispness. For years I bemoaned the dot on the micro series. I always wanted to know what sacrifices were made when Aimpoint made the micro series. I have seen a whole host of shapes for those dots, oval being the most prevalent, all the way to jellybean. The comp series doesn’t seem to exhibit this. Although I will say that Trijicon sure did close the gap to EOTech when it comes to crispness. This was one of the areas that L3 far exceeded the Swedes and it looks like another American company did the same.

The stated battery life is listed in years. I can’t vouch for this since I’ve only had it for a few months. It has outlasted my last PRO so it’s certainly on the right track. They do say on setting 6 it will last for about a month. Note to self:  if I’m shooting at the sun (the only place I’d need to turn it up that far) it will not last but a handful of weeks. With all the talk of battery life, in my limited experience, the big players are all close enough that I pay it no heed.

After I released my video, I got some questions about my comments on magnification. I wasn’t sure if it had it or not and I managed to convince myself that it both did and didn’t. All I could determine was that it was not 1.1 like a Nightforce. With some further digging, I find that Trijicon has it listed as 1.05 magnification. They say the optical engineers did this to make the dot the most crisp and obtain a better focused image through the lens. That’s all above my head but that's what they get paid for.  As I am told by sources in the industry, this level of magnification is standard in a non magnified optic. Aimpoint does the same thing, it has been reported that the micro series is 1.025 so the numbers to seem to support this claim. All in all, any talk of this minor magnification is irrelevant in my eyes, it’s a non-issue.

At the end of the day, the MRO is not what I would call perfection. If physics did not apply to red dot sights, I would have a list of features that I would want and I would pay more than a fair price to have them. But until the point where that list is feasible from an engineering standpoint, I will choose the Trijicon MRO over all the options currently on the market.