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Moving with Guns and Ammo

A friend of mine recently moved across multiple state lines with his entire gun collection, all his ammo, and his other preps. Let’s just say he had a bit of learning experience when he found that his truck was MASSIVELY overweight. Thankfully, he found this out before he hit the road. I have done a similar move myself and found that good information about how to move with these items is hard to find. The following will not be an exhaustive guide to moving but maybe you can learn from some of our mistakes.

Most of the learning that occurred centered around weight. Believe it or not, even a modest gun collection can eat up a significant portion of your available cargo weight without taking up much space. The weight of ammo, guns, and gun safes adds up surprisingly quickly and if you aren’t careful you will find yourself well over the GVW (gross vehicle weight) of your rented moving truck quickly.

JTT Moving Truck

Choose the Right Truck

The first thing to keep in mind in regard to weight is that the larger trucks don’t always carry more weight. For instance, most truck rental operations offer a 22′ truck and a 26′ truck. You initial reaction may be to go with the 26′ truck since it offers roughly 200 additional cubic feet of cargo space. However, both the 22′ and 26′ trucks are built on the same chassis and have the same 26,000 pound GVW (the gross weigh that the vehicle is rated carry safely and the weight which you must be under for weigh stations). That means that, since the 22′ truck weighs less empty, it can actually carry more cargo weight – about 1200 pounds more cargo weight! That is good to know when you have a lot of compact, dense, and heavy items to carry.

26,000 GVW vehicles are the largest that you can operate without some form of a CDL. You need to know the GVW of the vehicle that you rent. Ask before you rent and then check the sticker inside the driver side door frame. There should be gross weight information listed there.

Find a Truck Stop with a Scale

Once you have your truck loaded, head over to the nearest truck stop with a scale. You want to make sure that you have all the passengers on board that will be with you on the trip and the gas tank is full so you can see your actual maximum weight. You might be surprised how much weight a full tank of gas and a couple of passengers can add. It is best to be surprised before you hit the road, not while you at a weigh station.

The scale will give you the weight at each axle including a trailer if you have one. Remember that the weight of the trailer is included in your GVW and that your vehicle will likely have a weight rating for each axle so take care to distribute your load so you aren’t overweight on any one axle. This is especially true for the steering axle (the front axle) since it will have a much lower weight rating than the rear.

It is hard to overload a truck with items like couches, dressers, and tables because these items have a lot of bulk to go with their weight. However, it is relatively easy to overload a truck if you have a modest gun collection, a gun safe or two, and ammo to go with it. You need to be sure of your weight before you hit the road because if you have to go through a weigh station and you are over your GVW, you will have a very, very bad day. The scale at your local truck stop is the best way to ensure you can cruise right through any weigh station.

Weigh Stations

This is the most convoluted and tricky part of traveling on the highways in a rental truck. It seems that everyone offers their opinion on whether rental trucks need to enter weigh stations but no one knows for sure. The most prudent thing to do, in my opinion, is to plan on pulling into any open weigh station.

Most people will tell you that, in a rental vehicle, you can drive right by them without stopping and that is mostly true… until it isn’t. It is possible that you might drive by only to find that you are chased down by a highway patrolman and politely told to turn around and go through. It happens.

If you do go through, you will likely be waved through without weighing. However, if you are weighed, you need to be sure you are under your vehicle’s GVW. Being over weight can result in heavy fines and you will likely not be allowed to continue with your overweight vehicle which means going through your business right there at the weigh station which is less than discreet. I know you wouldn’t own anything illegal but moving your guns and ammo around in a public place is a good way to make it on the evening news even when they are perfectly legal (and downright enjoyable) to own.

Every state varies as to whether they require rental trucks to enter weighs stations and the particular state laws are not always apparent. The only way I found to ascertain all the laws was to call the DOTs of the individual states that I planned to pass through and even then it wasn’t clear since some of the people I talked to didn’t even seem sure themselves. We even received conflicting information from the rental company. Some states will clearly mark what kinds of vehicles must pull in on the weigh station signs but that is the exception, not the rule.

Safety

Remember, GVW isn’t just a bureaucratic booby trap meant to hamstring people who like to overload trucks. It is there for safety as well. Those trucks are designed to accelerate, steer, and stop that much weight. I do not relish the idea of driving an overweight truck through the mountains. It can be a hazard to your and everyone on the road around you.

Legal Considerations

You may also have to deal with varying gun laws surrounding the transport of firearms. While there are federal protections for transporting firearms under FOPA, this country is also dotted with a sticky web of state and local laws. The law enforcement agencies in these areas may take the approach of confiscating/arresting and sorting out the legalities later. The NRA-ILA has a great resource on navigating these laws.

Basically, you need to put some thought into how you will lock up your guns in a container like a gun safe. There are some general guidelines that will keep you legal in most places. Firearms should be UNLOADED and LOCKED in a container of some kind and the container should be placed where you do not have access to it from the passenger compartment. Your ammo needs to be separate from the firearm containers.

If you are using your safe to secure your guns, plan on strapping it securely to a wall of the truck. It will be tempting to tip it over on its back or side to prevent shifting/falling during transport but many safes will not open when they are tipped on their back or sides. You don’t want to have to try to lift a full safe in order to open it.

Remember that many localities have laws surrounding so called “assault weapons”. These are treated as a sort of separate class of firearms that may even be illegal to even transport through said localities. Your best bet is to drive around these places even if it costs you several extra hours and gallons of fuel.

The previous paragraph can also pertain to magazines as well. Know the magazine restrictions for the places you must drive and plain accordingly.

I should probably note that typing the previous paragraphs has me seething with anger and my blood pressure has spiked. The thought of being arrested for simply driving through a locality with a legally owned firearm should make you just as mad.

Try to Relax

If you have done your homework and planned well, try to relax and enjoy the trip. You probably won’t have any issues and this is a beautiful country to drive across.

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Emberlit FireAnt Now Available

0001243_emberlit-fireant

After a smashingly successful crowdfunding campaign, the Emberlit FireAnt is now available. The FireAnt is the latest and greatest version of an already great stove. It allows the user to heat food using wood, alcohol burners, fuel tabs, and more. It stores completely flat and titanium construction means the whole stove weighs just 2.8 ounces.

Until now, only Kickstarter backers could get their hands on the stove. Check out the FireAny at Emberlit.

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News Flash: Water is Wet and Custom Gear is Expensive

Whenever I post about custom gear that costs more than production or overseas made gear, someone complains about the price in the comments. The optimist in me thinks maybe it is just because the complainer doesn’t understand what goes into making these sometimes very complex items one at a time (the pessimist in me thinks they are probably just d-bags). So, just in case it will change someone’s mind, here is a glimpse at what goes into a single custom bag.

javran wingman parts

JAVRAN recently posted this image of all the various unassembled parts of their Wingman Messenger bag. It, like most custom bags, is expensive due to the large amount of time and materials that go into them. The image you see above contains 120 individual parts and pieces. All of that Velcro, Cordura Nylon, foam, webbing, paracord, and all those zippers go into just one bag. Imagine the cost in keeping all of those materials in various colors on hand. Imagine the time it takes to cut them all. Imagine the time it takes to assemble them. Image the equipment it takes to sew through all the layers. All that time, all those materials, and all that equipment add up to one thing: money.

Do you still want to complain about the price? Surely these craftsman deserve a wage that reflects the time and expertise that goes into such a product. Next time you are tempted to complain about a price online remember: sometimes thing are expensive to buy because they are expensive to produce (and it makes you sound like a d-bag).

Now before you get too down on yourself, take a look at the finished Wingman on JAVRAN’s Facebook page. One look at this killer bag will cheer you right up.

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Arisaka Finger Stop

Arisaka’s Finger Rest is a bit different than most hand stops. It is smaller and more rounded, like the world’s tiniest vertical grip, so that it can slip between the shooter’s index and middle fingers, a technique that I use on occasion with a standard hand stop when my shooting position dictates it. This design allows the shooter to place the Finger Stop further forward on the rail which can provide additional space should you need to move your hand back on the rail as you would in a kneeling position.

arisaka finger stop

At just .4 oz in weight, it is less than half the weight of most hand stops. I have written about how the weight of a hand stop is well worth the functionality that it brings. The Finger Stop would have all the same benefits at less than half the weight. Lightweight AR builders take note.

The Finger stop is available for the Centurion Arms CMR, KeyMod, and M-LOK. I believe it takes real work and ingenuity to reduce something to its simplest form. I am not sure I have ever seen a more minimalist and simple weapon control device than the Arisaka Finger Stop.

arisaka finger stop on rails

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Review: TOPS Knives Baja 3.0

The TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 has a size complex. It is small enough to be pocketable but it boasts a blade larger than you would expect.

TOPS Knives Baja 30

Overview

The Baja 3.0 is a TOPS Knives creation through and through. They often follow a simple formula and get great results. That formula is quality 1095 steel + micarta slab handles + solid heat treat + usable sheath = great knife. This one doesn’t stray far and that is a good thing.

  • Steel: 1095 carbon steel
  • Thickness: 1/8″
  • Blade length: 3″
  • Overall length: 6 1/4″
  • Blade shape: Drop point
  • Primary grind: Full height flat grind
  • Scales: Green canvas micarta
  • Coating: Tan traction coating
  • Sheath: Leather pouch style sheath (can be worn vertically or horizontally)

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Handle

Observations from Use

The Baja 3.0 is comfortable to hold and use. The handle is lightly contoured and the scales are flat but grooved for texture. The butt of the knife is turned down a bit and this curve rests nicely on the ring finger. Some users will be able to get all four fingers on the grip.

TOPS Knives added jimping on the spine and the self guard area. The spine jimping is well placed and provides grip during cuts that require you to back the blade with your thumb. I could do without the jimping on the self guard but it isn’t so aggressive that it is uncomfortable.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I unwrapped the Baja 3.0 is just how much cutting edge is packed into a relatively small knife. It is just 6 1/4″ long and 3″ of that is blade. When measured from tip to handle scale (instead of the plunge line), it is actually more like 3 1/4″ of blade with 3″ of handle. That is a lot of blade for a knife in this size range.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Spacers

There are times when I am glad it has that much blade but I often find myself wishing it was 1/4″ – 1/2″ shorter. That would leave plenty of edge for an EDC fixed blade and make this knife just a bit more compact overall. Maybe a Baja 2.5 is in the works!

Back in the day, you could expect a thick edge from TOPS Knives. Their edges were bomb proof but they didn’t always cut so well. This little Baja 3.0 is just the opposite. It has a very tall flat grind and distal taper that results in very aggressive cutter with a fine point. TOPS Knives turns the point down just a bit to keep it strong. This knife came to me shaving sharp (literally, I always check on my arm hair) and it graduated to laser status without much work on a strop. The combination of flat grind, carbon steel, and good edge geometry almost always creates a solid cutter that is easy to maintain. That is definitely the case here with the Baja 3.0.

The sheath is of good quality. The leather is fairly thick and it has double stitched construction. It is ambidextrous in design and holds the knife securely. There is some kind of insert in the bottom of the sheath to protect from pushing the knife through. In addition to belt carry, the rounded shape lends itself well to back pocket carry. While the sheath is well made, I do find myself wishing that the Baja 3.0 came with one of TOPS Knives Kydex sheaths with metal clip. They are a little smaller on the belt and I like how easy their metal clips are to place on the belt. This is purely a preference and I suspect that many users will prefer the leather.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Sheath

Normally, I don’t really care what a knife looks like as long as it works. The Baja 3.0 certainly works but I think it could be a lot more attractive without the brass crosshead screw that is used in the handle construction. It is a tiny nit to pick but it just looks out of place.

The size of this knife allows it to work well for a variety of tasks. This is a true general purpose knife. It may not be the right tool for every cutting job, but it is rarely the wrong tool. It is great as an EDC fixed blade due to its compact size and more than enough blade for opening boxes, cutting strings, and other typical tasks that an EDC knife must perform. It would also make a good hunting knife. I prefer a more compact knife for dressing game up to whitetail deer size and the Baja 3.0 is ideal for that. Surprisingly, it is pretty handy in the kitchen as well. The blade is offset from the handle quite a bit allowing the user to get close to the cutting board.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Hand

Wrap Up

The Baja 3.0 is a solid offering that stacks up well with other similar EDCable fixed blades. I find myself wishing the blade was a bit shorter at times and the crosshead screw is a bit off putting but these are small nits to pick. It cuts like a laser thanks to a tall flat grind paired with 1/8″ stock. The handle is comfortable and offers plenty of purchase. The sheath is usable and well made. It is just a very solid, ready-to-use package.

More often than not, you’ll find mine tucked into my back pocket.

Diclosure: This product was sent to me by the manufacturer, free of charge, for review.

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Ranger Green Tough Hook Special at Katylist

I use Tough Hook gear hangers extensively to keep my gear organized and I am always on the lookout for a deal. Katylist has the Ranger Green version of the Tough Hook on sale for $14.99 which is a considerable discount.

ranger-green-tough-hook

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Robar PolymAR-15

Robar is developing an AR-15 with a polymer upper and lower receiver called the PolymAR-15. The fact that Robar is putting their name on a polymer upper receiver is interesting. I know of at least one polymer lower with a good track record but no polymer uppers with a solid reputation. However, I am willing to give a company like Robar some attention and if they can make it work it will be big news.

They claim to have a prototype that has shot over 45,000 rounds without cleaning or lubrication. As you might expect, the PolyAR-15 makes use of Robar’s NP3 coating which is self lubricating. Everything in the firearm is treated with a Robar finish of some kind. They are also claiming sub-MOA accuracy and a weight around 5 pounds.

It will be interesting to see the price point. Typically polymer has been used in AR-15s to reduce the cost but it is hard to imagine that a Robar firearm will be inexpensive.

In the video below, they also reveal that they are working on a polymer fore-end. I can only assume that because drop-in polymer hand guards already exist and the context of the video that they are referring to a polymer free-float rail which would definitely be unique and interesting.

I for one will be anxiously waiting to see if Robar can pull this off or if this is the second coming of the Carbon-15.

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JTT 30 Lives Patches for $6 Shipped!

JTT has a new logo but the JTT 30 Lives Patch still sports the old logo so, they have to go! The price is now just $6 shipped. Get 30 Lives today!

JTT 30 Lives Patch JTT 30 Lives Patch on Pack OC Tactical Banner Panel with JTT 30 Lives

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Geissele Raptor Charging Handle

The Raptor Charging Handle is not new but this Geissele Automatics branded version is. This is the same great AXTS Raptor that you love with the same easy to grasp levers, massive roll pins, and 7075 aluminum construction. Check it out at Geissele Automatics.

raptor_stock_images

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Custom Branded Gear from Fight and Flight Tactical

Fight and Flight Tactical can customize most of their gear to match your brand. They gave us a look as some recent branded Beer Battle Koozies they did for the Lone Survivor Foundation. If you want to undertake a similar project, get in touch with Fight and Flight Tactical.

fight flight coozie custom

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