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Good Stuff From Other Blogs

Beyond “The Chart” – Vuurwapen Blog – 87GN hit this one out of the park. “The Chart” is a great resource but it was never intended to tell the whole story. There are other factors involved that you should consider. This is a must read.

Knot Series – ITS Tactical – ITS Tactical shares a new knot every week. They show how to tie it and offer suggestions on how to use it. The series on stringing a tarp shelter has been especially useful to me.

The Pros and Cons of MREs –  ITS Tactical Navigating the world of MREs can be tricky at times, especially with all of the commercial makers out there claiming to be just like the real issued MREs. ITS Tactical recently posted an article that may be of some help when trying to determine which, if any, MREs to purchase.

HSH Fighting: The Sand in the Face – Death Valley Magazine – This article is a good reminder that the handful of sand (or whatever else is nearby) isn’t just a dramatic plot device employed by Jean-Claude Van Damme movies – it actually works.

Buy a Knife, Cure Cancer – PistolTraining.com – Todd Greene at PistolTraining.com is one of the premier handgun trainers in the country. He is also a cancer survivor. He has collaborated with SKD Tactical (a great source for tactical gear) to bring you a limited edition Zero Tolerance knife. Part of the proceeds will go to the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Tactical Preschool 54 – The Things Worth Believing In – I hate stairs! Tgace has the lowdown on two man stair clearing technique.

Dwell Time and You

If you own an AR-15 or you are thinking of purchasing one, you should make yourself familiar with dwell time. Dwell time is simply the amount of time that the bullet spends in the barrel after it has passed the gas port and before it exits the muzzle end of the barrel. Too much time here results in an over gassed system which can cause accelerated wear and tear. Too little dwell time can cause short stroking (especially in cold weather). Both situations are bad.

Barrel length, gas system length, and gas port size are key to determining dwell time. An understanding of these factors is especially important when you are looking at 16″ and 18″ barrels. Many people choose barrels based on looks or style without truly understanding the consequences of the choices that they are making.

The military uses carbine length gas systems (about 7″) on 14.5″ barrels and rifle length gas systems (about 12″) on 20″ barrels for a reason. Carbine gas systems on 16″ barrels may be less than ideal since they are often over gassed. Straying outside these norms can have a negative impact on your reliability. Midlength gas systems serve the purpose of shortening dwell time and over gassing on 16″ barrels. Arm yourself with as much information as you can before choosing a barrel!

Here are two excellent discussions of dwell time, its determining factors, what it might affect, and how to tune it:

How the AR-15 Direct Impingement gas system works – by Randall at AR15Barrels.com

Carbine vs. Mid-Length Gas System on a 16″ Barrel [2010-01-10] – by USMCo3 at 03 Design Group

Bogota Entry Tools Available Now at ITS Tactical

I have been waiting for these ever since I saw the review on ITS Tactical. The Bogota Entry Tools are available now. For $30-35 you get an innovative, quality, handmade entry tool set and you support a great blog – it’s a win-win.

Bogota Entry Tools on ITS Tactical

Tactical Handyman – PJ Cotton Ball Fire Starters

Starting a fire when conditions are less than favorable can be a real challenge. Successful fire starting starts with training but a having the right gear certainly helps. What ever gear you choose should give you a high likelihood of being able to start a fire across a broad spectrum of conditions. One such piece of gear is Petroleum Jelly Soaked Cotton Balls (PJCB).

PJ Cotton Balls work like a candle. When they are lit, the flame will consume all of the petroleum jelly before it consumes the cotton. The cotton is acting as a wick and, conveniently, it also happens to light very easily. The PJCB will continue to burn for several minutes which will hopefully give you enough time to build a sustainable fire. As a bonus, you will find that the petroleum jelly has other uses like moisturizing cracked hands or lubricating stuck sections of a fishing rod.

Materials:

  • Cotton balls (raid the wife’s make up drawer, there are probably tons of them in there)
  • Petroleum jelly (AKA Vaseline)
  • Storage container (film canisters work well)

How to Make PJCBs:

  1. Locate a small container that seals securely. The container should be small enough to fit in your survival/EDC kit. It must seal securely because PJCBs can be a bit messy.
  2. Rub the cotton balls in the container of petroleum jelly until the outside is coated thickly. Some people like to warm the petroleum jelly so it permeates the cotton ball but I prefer to leave the inside of the cotton ball somewhat dry. More on this later.
  3. Place as many cotton balls as you can in the container. It is that easy.

How to Use PJCBs:

  1. Do all fire prep before you light anything! Gather tinder, kindling, and fuel sized pieces of burnable material. Have them sorted and ready. You may even want to make some fuzz sticks (feather sticks) with your knife.
  2. Rip open a PJCB. This will expose the dry inner fibers of cotton. The dry fibers can easily be lit with a spark (such as from a ferro rod/fire steel) or a flame. They can sometimes even be light by focusing light on them with a magnifying glass. You may not need to use an entire PJCB.
  3. Light the PJCB using your preferred method. I like to use a ferro rod.
  4. Add your flammable material starting with tinder, then kindling, then fuel. Be careful not to add the material too quickly or you will smother the flame.

Be sure you practice these techniques before you actually need them. This is a VERY easy way to start a fire if everything is done correctly. You can light several fires from just one film canister full of PJCBs. The Tactical Handyman is always ready!

Condor 14" and 18" El Salvador Machete in Carbon Steel

Condor Knife and Tool is Imacasa’s premium line that is made for the US market. Most machetes come with no sheath, a rough handle that requires some fitting, and an unsharpened edge. Condor machetes come with a leather sheath or have one available for purchase, fitted handles, and an amazing polished convex edge. They are the Cadillac of machetes.

My favorite machete in the Condor line is the El Salvador. It is a great all around machete largely due to its shape and thickness. It has a nearly straight spine with a slight upsweep, plenty of belly on the cutting edge, a great handle, and it is thick enough to the harder woods that are found in the northern USA while still remaining somewhat light and flexible. This is an exceedingly tough machete. Last year, Condor introduced the El Salvador machete in carbon steel, which made a tough machete even tougher (previously it was available in their excellent 420HC steel, which is the perfect stainless steel for a machete). I purchased a carbon steel version immediately and have loved it ever since.

This year they introduced a 14″ version which I love even more. For most of what I do when I am hiking or camping, I do not need the 18″ version. A shorter, handier machete packs lighter and is more than sufficient for fire prep, shelter building, and other tasks. The 14″ version has a bit more upsweep at the spine which gives it a very “weight forward” feel in the hand. This also really helps its chopping performance. However, the extra upsweep does preclude the use of the excellent plastic GI sheaths that I prefer. I may ground just a little of the point off the machete off so that it will work with my sheaths.

MacheteSpecialists.com is my preferred machete source and they are the only source of the 14″ version. You may also want to watch for an upcoming version of the El Salvador machete with a carbon steel blade and a micarta handle. If you are looking for a machete that is versatile, reasonably priced, and ready to use right out of the box, then check out the Condor El Salvador Machete.

BCM 16" Lightweight Carbine Uppers Now Available

Go and get them! The 16″ lightweight uppers with carbine gas system are available now. BCM continues on their march toward AR-15 world domination!

Fenix Outfitters Selling Hideaway Knives

Hideaway Knives (HAKs) are well loved but many have been afraid to order due to the rampant stories of terrible customer service. Well fear no longer because Fenix Outfitters is now stocking HAKs at very reasonable prices.

Photo from Fenix Outfitters

The HAK is great option for those who carry a knife daily. It is light weight and compact, readily accessible, and virtually impossible to lose in a fight. It really is an ingenious design. The news that Fenix Outfitters will be stocking them is welcome.

Look for an upcoming review on the straight Utility HAK on Jerking the Trigger.

Buyer Beware: Fake C.A.T. Tourniquets

87GN over at Vuurwapen Blog posted recently about the fake CAT Tourniquets that are finding their way to the market. These are very convincing fakes of a very popular tourniquet. If you have purchased a CAT tourniquet recently, I suggest that you check it against the PDF that is linked at Vuurwapen Blog.

It is vitally important that you avoid these knock offs at all costs (and all knock off products for that matter). It is not simply a matter of saving a few bucks. These literally do not work. The windlass is too flexible and will not provide sufficient leverage to tighten the tourniquet. They can not be used to stop extremity hemorrhaging. These have the potential to get someone killed.

Check your CAT tourniquets and tell your friends to check theirs.

Review of the US Palm AK Attack Rack

James G. at Death Valley Magazine (which I read daily, it is a great blog) has the first hands on review that I have seen of the US Palm AK Attack Rack. The AK Attack Rack is an AK specific chest rig with some unique features that help it deal with the unique challenges that AK magazines present.

Check the review on Death Valley Magazine.

The Complete Glock Reference Guide

I have been using The Complete Glock Reference Guide for several years now. It contains page after page of invaluable information for Glock owners. It covers everything that you would expect: field stripping, disassembly, assembly, cleaning, and more. The most invaluable information for me has been the tables that detail the parts that all Glock models have in common. I used this to help build an inventory of spare parts for all my Glocks.

All of the information is presented in a very well organized way with plenty of white space and tables. There are tons of clear pictures to guide you through the procedures outlined in the book. It is also spiral bound which allows it to lay open easily on your work bench.

This is just the kind of book that a Tactical Handyman needs on his shelf.

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