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Author Archive | Matt

A Visitor

Over the last several weeks we have been blessed with a very cool visitor. We have had Barred Owls in our woods for years but usually they would never come any closer than the creek which is about 30-40 yards from the back door. That has changed recently probably due to us using the back door less frequently in the winter. Now the owl has been roosting on our deck, patio furniture, nearby tree limbs, and bird feeder poles while it hunts moles and chipmunks.

We have actually been able to watch it hunt from less than 10 feet away. We have a few picture windows that look out over the woods in the back and these have allowed us to be up close and personal with these amazing creatures. They are so mellow that I can actually walk right up to a window in full view of the owl while it watches no more than 10-12 feet away!

Being able to get that close makes for some great pictures…

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US Palm AK Magazines

I have been looking forward to the release of these magazines for some time now. US Palm has finally brought their US made AK-47 magazine to market and they are in stock at SGC.

This magazine is brought to you by the same folks who make the excellent Tango Down ARC Mags for the M16 family of weapons. In fact, it shares many of the same features like ribs on the front and back for grip, deep waffle texture on the sides for additional grip, low friction follower, and permanently sealed polymer construction. The AK mag also has metal reinforcements in key places.

You can also keep an eye on US Palm for more products built around the venerable AK. They are bringing a great looking AK specific chest rig to market soon and I hear they are working on a grip that will likely be the best thing going in AK grips. Hopefully they will bring a 20 rounds version of this magazine to market. I much prefer the size, weight, and handling characteristics of 20 round mags for the AK-47.

These mags have been tested by a lot of pretty serious AK users during the development stages and passed with flying colors. I very rarely run my AK but I still appreciate a great product when I see one. If you run an AK with any regularity you will want to check out these mags.

If you have these in hand already, I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment.

Girls and Their Bags

I recently picked up a new Kifaru Molle Express. It is a great pack and I have had a few chances to wring it out already so look for an upcoming review. Until then, enjoy these pics of my highly paid fashion model wearing the pack.

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It passed the taste test.

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Tactical Handyman: Tournequit Retention Doohicky

So you need a way to keep your tourniquet at hand? Well the Tactical Handyman has the simple (and cheap) way to build your own Tourniquet Retention Doohicky or TRD (pronounced turd). If you are anything like the Tactical Handyman, you have the stuff to make one laying around already. Why pay $5-12 plus shipping for something you can make on the cheap?

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Necessary Materials:
– Short piece of mil-spec shock cord

Optional Materials:
– Cord End
– Cord Lock

Instructions:
This isn’t rocket science. This is simply a loop of shock cord. The cord ends are nice since shock cord will fray readily but a simple knot will do. You will have to experiment with different lengths in until you find a length small enough to really secure your tourniquet. The cord lock allows you to make your TRD a bit more universal. You can cut it a little bit long and use the cord lock to take up the slack.

Simply thread the TRD behind two rows of webbing like so:
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Now you can stretch the ends over your tourniquet. I found that the cord stayed out of the way well if I twisted it so the ends were to the side like so:
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Or, you can loop the end onto the windlass or other part of the tourniquet:
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I found that spanning 2 rows works best because it allows the cord to be placed toward the center of the tourniquet but still have a couple of inches in between straps for stability. If you get the straps toward the center of the tourniquet and make them tight enough the tourniquet is locked down and isn’t going anywhere. This type of design is common to most tourniquet holders. The ability to loop the small tab onto something like the windlass gives a 3rd contact point and even more confidence that you will not lose your life saving gear. If you felt the need, a third strap could easily be added, but I think it is unnecessary.

To remove the tourniquet quickly, simply pull on the cord end (or knot) which will free the top (or bottom depending how you have it positioned). Once one end is free the tourniquet can be tugged to be released from the remaining loop. This can easily be accomplished with one hand.

This sure beats rubber bands. The Tactical Handyman has your back.

I am using the SOF-T Tourniquet in the pics but this should adapt to just about any model.

PS – This works great on the webbing that is sewn on the side of many blow out kit pouches like the HSGI Bleeder Pouch.

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Clean, Fresh, Water

We all need water to survive. A healthy adult can only live about 3 days in ideal conditions without water. Water should be at the center of your preparedness plans.

A site called Monolithic Marketplace is selling a very simple and inexpensive water filter that really works HERE. This filter can be purchased as an entire kit, ready to assemble, or you can purchase just the filter and fit it to your own containers. With proper maintenance a ceramic gravity filter like this will last a long time.

NWA Knives – Customer Service is NOT Dead

Background
Some time ago I completed a trade on BladeForums for a NWA W&SS Forum Knife which is now known as the Sierra Scout. I was quite excited to try my first knife from NWA based on reviews from folks on the W&SS.

I received the knife and quickly found that it was not what the person trading it had described. I immediately noticed that it has several chips in the edge that would seem to indicate this knife had been rode hard. No problem, it can be fixed. I contacted the other party in the trade and found out that he had already used the brand new knife that I traded him. To his credit he offered to pay my shipping to send it to custom knife maker Ray Laconico to have the edge repaired.

The knife arrived and Ray immediately noticed that the knife had a bend in it. It wasn’t terribly bent but it was noticeably bent. It seems this knife had lived a harder life than I thought.

I was frustrated. I loved the look and feel of the knife but now I was somewhat stuck with a knife that I could never hope to get any of my investment back from if I ever did decide to sell it. I wanted to love the knife but the experience had soured my feelings toward it.

I finally decided to contact Nick Allen (the owner/operator of NWA Knives) to see if the knife could be straightened. Nick took the time to answer all my questions and pointed out that this is one of the reasons that he differentially heat treats his knives – so they bend instead of break. He said that he thought he could straighten it and that there would be no charge. What he said next blew my mind. He offered to make me a new one. I resisted at first since it didn’t seem right for him to have to take the hit for another person’s mistake. But Nick emphasized that his main goal was to make sure I was happy with the knife.

That is called customer service. We are blessed with many great makers on BladeForums and Nick is certainly one of the best. I got the replacement knife from Nick yesterday and I haven’t had time to use it much, but I couldn’t wait to get the word out about Nick and NWA knives.

The Good Stuff

The knife that I sent back to Nick had his normal handle on it. It was well shaped with a slight finger groove for the first finger. This is the handle that you will see on most of his knives. Recently he has begun offering a more contoured handle without the finger groove which I believe he calls the bushcraft style handle. This is the handle style that I requested for the replacement. The result is excellent. The handle is comfortable in all grips and fills the hand well.

The fit and finish are excellent. The edge was nicely finished and very sharp. The scales are expertly fit to the tang with no gaps or ridges that I can feel. Nick even took the time to chamfer the lanyard hole. The temper line is visible and very beautiful. All grinds are crisp and even. Speaking of grinds, the cutting geometry is very nice for a knife that is 3/16″ thick. Nick’s use of full height flat grinds really renders an edge that cuts well. It is an impressive knife.

The sheath is one of the finest I have seen. Nick builds sheaths that are made to last. It made from very thick leather. The sheath features a fire steel loop and boasts full welt construction. It is dipped in melted bee’s wax and allowed to dry rendering it very weather proof and extremely stiff (a good thing in this case). The knife actually locks into the sheath with a click similar to kydex. Many makers provide sheaths as an afterthought, but Nick makes them just as tough as his knives.

I tend to be drawn to knife makers who have a unique style. Whether it is the intentionally rustic beauty of ML Knives or North Branch Knives, or the clean simplistic lines and modern design of Ray Laconico – make mine a knife with style. Nick has style and he has it in spades. The lines on this model (and all his knives) really flow. They have a really organic look and feel. They look like they grow on trees or drip from cave roofs over thousands of years. Even his makers mark fits the style of his knives. You know when you are looking at an NWA knife, even from across the room.

So if you are looking for a capable knife from a maker who stands behind his work, check out NWA Knives at their website www.NWAKnives.com or visit the NWA Knives forum where you can talk directly to Nick and actual users of his knives.

Introduction…

Thank you for stopping by my blog. It is my hope that eventually these pages will be filled with useful reviews, interesting news stories, and simple do-it-yourself projects that revolve around my interests in shooting, liberty, preparedness, and the outdoors.

Look for upcoming reviews on:

  1. Kifaru packs
  2. Knives from Ray Laconico, NWA (Nick Allen), Spyderco, ESEE (Rat Cutlery) and others
  3. Tactical nylon from Esstac, ICE Tactical, Diamondback Tactical, Eagle Industries and others
  4. AR-15 accessories from Daniel Defense, LaRue Tactical, Colt, and others
  5. Flashlights from Surefire, NovaTac, Princeton Tec, and others
  6. Optics from Trijicon, Aimpoint, Nikon, and others

You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t… or at least you’ll have to take my word for it.

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