Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Some of this is my stuff, some is not.

Six terrible reasons not to carry concealed.

Getting ready for your first practical pistol match.

LCP vs. J-Frame, and the winner is

We are losing the cultural war against guns, and that needs to change. (I wrote this based on an email conversation I had with Michael Bane, and he talks about that conversation on his podcast this week.

This is how we’ll win, with more of this (and other stuff too).

Building an urban bug out bag. I like the idea of prepping for dust and smoke… we forget that fires tend to happen in a social unrest situation.

Tamara Has a Patreon Page. It’d be a good idea to chip In. I did.

Speaking of Gunblogging, if you’re not reading Grant Cunningham’s Hump Day Reading List and Greg Ellifritz’s Weekend Knowledge Dump, you really should.

Promote School Safety And Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

Promote School Safety and Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

After Parkdale, there has been a lot of proposals floated around about how to stop school shootings. Some of them good, some of them flat-out unconstitutional and wrong.

One thing that might actually work, though, is if teachers were empowered to deal with the effects of a mass shooter right away, rather than wait for the police to secure the scene and THEN wait for the EMTs to roll up.

Which is why this initiative to train the teachers of Collier County Schools in trauma care and first aid and equip them with the gear they need to accomplish this goal is so cool. For just $5, you get a raffle ticket for over $2300 in cool stuff, and your money goes to help provide gear that will save lives.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Product Review: Elite Survival Systems Pulse 24 Hour Backpack.

Product Review: Elite Survival Systems Pulse 24 Hour Backpack.

Advantages: Well-made, holds a bunch of gear, doesn’t look menacing
Disadvantages: Could use a just little more MOLLE on the sides
Rating: Five Stars Out of Five.

I reached out to Elite Survival Systems for a couple of EDC/Bug Out bags, and they didn’t send me just two bags, they sent me three: A Pulse 24 Hour bag that I’ll review right now now, and an Echo EDC bag and a Guardian concealment pack that I’ll talk about later.

How cool is that?

I reached out to Elite Survival Systems for this bag because I found out that my current bug-out bag, a Paladin Gear, um, Bug Out Bag, just wasn’t comfortable enough to carry on a long-term basis. I did a seven-mile walk with the Paladin on my shoulder (note: *shoulder*. More on that later.), and it became really tiresome to carry around about halfway through the journey.

This is a problem, because my idea for this bag and what it holds is simple: It holds all the stuff I need if I need to go camping for three days on a moment’s notice, anywhere in the American Southeast. I don’t go camping as much as I used to, and I don’t go into the back country here in Florida like I did in Arizona (probably due to the fact that the back roads here are, in fact, swamps, and not roads), but still, I like to have a backup plan handy at all times, so I carry a bug out bag.

The Elite Survival Systems Pulse takes the tried-and-tested 72 hour bag and tones it down a bit. Rather that make it Kyrptec or Multicam or some other tactical color, the bag comes in either brown or black, about as boring as possible, and boring is good if you’re going to be walking around town with it on your shoulders.

And that’s a key point: This bag has two very comfortable padded shoulder straps, along with buckles the chest and level and waist level, and makes it very easy to carry around for hours on end. I did the same walk recently with this bag, and it was a MUCH more pleasant experience. A sling bag is good for emergencies, when you need to grab something quickly and move quickly, but that’s not why I have a bag in the back of my car. The bag in my car is meant to keep me going for at least three days without access to all the niceties of the modern world, and if that means taking a hike to get  back to the modern world, I take a hike.

The Pulse is built well: The zippers open easily and don’t hang up, the nylon is nice and thick and there are no loose threads to be found anywhere on the bag. One of the reasons why I like the Pulse for this sort of thing is it contains a pocket for a hydration pouch: Living in Arizona taught me that a ready supply of water is really, really important, so a bladder is a “must have” for me in a bag like this.

A hydration pouch is just one of the pouches this bag has. I was able to squirrel away all the gear I had been carrying in old bag, with some space left over. The Pulse has MOLLE on the back of the bag and a plethora of pockets inside, allowing me to sort out my stuff into some sort of logical order for quick access. One thing that is different from the Paladin bag is that there is no MOLLE on the sides, which really isn’t a bad thing, I guess, but I carry around a machete with me in my car (because I live literally minutes away from the Everglades) and it’d be nice to strap it to the side of the bag if I need to take a long walk in the swamp, for one reason or another.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a gear bag that won’t make you look like you’re headed out to the sandbox when you’re headed out of town.


FCC Disclaimer: Yes, I said they gave me this bag. What of it? 

A Couple Of Quick Product Reviews.

A Couple of Quick Product Reviews.

7″ Tekko Polymer AR15 Carbine M-LOK Rail System*

Advantages: Easy to hold, has rails where you want them, has hand stop
Disadvantages: Not free-floating, little crammed on the gas block
Rating: Five Stars out of Five

Mission First Tactical sent me one of their new polymer forends for review, and I slapped it onto my CavArms AR, replacing the Magpul forend that was already there.

That rifle has always been a bit of a red-headed stepchild: I won the lower off a table at a match, (which is cool), but I’m not that big a fan of fixed-stock lowers. The original purpose for it was a buyout gun, but I replaced it with my more-compact SU-16, so the rifle spends a lot of time in my safe, or else it’s got a .22LR CMMG adapter in it, and I use it as a plinker.

But that hand guard just makes it SHINE. Really like how it looks now. One thing I like about the hand guard is that the Grimlock MLOK slots are up towards the top of the hand guard, away from where your hands are. This allows the lights, lasers and whatnot you add to the rifle to have a clear field of view towards the front, which is a nice (and effective) added touch.

I also like how there’s a small stop at the front of the hand guard to help those of us who use a forward grip on the AR from running our hands in front of the muzzle, which would be… bad. The hand guard comes only in a 7″ length version (for now) and is not free-floating (which makes it slightly less accurate), and the hand guard covers up the first rail slot on my gas block, but other than that, the Mission First 7″ Polymer Handguard is a nice option for your lightweight AR build.


Raven Concealment Pocket Shield and SOF-T tourniquet

Raven Concealment Pocket Shield And SOFTT-W Tourniquet

Advantages: A real, effective tourniquet you can carry with you
Disadvantages: Still takes up a lot of room
Rating: Four Stars out of Five

I’ll have more to say about this setup once I figure how it will work into my casual EDC, but so far, the Raven Concealment Shield does what it’s supposed to do and make the mishmash of gear inside the front pocket into a smooth, contiguous whole.

The SOFTT-W tourniquet, in flat-pack mode, is terrific. It’s even easier to conceal than a SWAT-T, and I’ll be standardizing on SOFTT-W tourniquets in all my various first aid kits.


* Say THAT three times fast…
** FCC Alert: Yes, they sent it to me for review. Are you guys really that clueless?

Start With The Darkness.

Start With The Darkness.

Maglite and Tool PouchThat little combo flashlight / multitool pouch on the right may not look like much, but in a way, it’s what got me started on my journey towards armed personal defense.

I started off my photo career as a photo assistant, something pretty much everyone does, and within a few months, I was making a full-time living at it, something very few people were able to do in the Phoenix market. I rose to the top because when I was on the job, I made it my priority to make the photographer’s needs my priority, and that meant thinking ahead and having a plan to deal with all the things that might go wrong on the set. Sets that were usually pretty dark, because a ) The setups were usually indoors and b ) You really don’t want stray light sources interfering with your photos.

As such, it’s usually dark inside a photo studio, and that means that if something goes wrong, it’s probably going to have to be diagnosed and fixed in the darkness. I found out really quickly that having a flashlight (in my case, a AA Maglite, which seemed AMAZINGLY bright when I first started out) and a multi-tool (this Gerber, which I still love and adore), a pen (a fine point Sharpie) and some gaffer’s tape (because, just like The Force, it has a light side and a dark side and it binds the universe together) on me at all times was good thing, because stuff can happen when you’re 14 feet up in the air adjusting a light and you may or may not have someone near the grip cart to help you out. You were on your own, and you had to solve the problem in front of you RIGHT NOW with only the tools you had on you.

Sound familiar?

I honestly think carrying a flashlight on a day in, day out basis is the best starting point we have for getting people used to the idea that they need to prepare for the crap that can happen in their lives. As sure as the sun sets in the west, darkness will happen in our lives. We know this, we accept this, and yet the VAST majority of Americans walk around completely unprepared to deal with it beyond hoping that the streetlights come on each night.

Get people to carry a flashlight everyday. That starts the wheels turning.

An Army Of We.

An Army Of We.

Interesting article on Wired on how social media is proving to be more flexible and faster-responding to disasters than the .gov is.

From Hernandez’s viewpoint, international aid workers from countries such as Spain, Japan, Israel, and the United States were working at a dangerously slow pace. Hernández placed more trust in civilians, such as the carpenters, electricians, and welders who had responded to volunteers’ messages. The lamps, shovels, and dust masks were distributed from volunteers’ tents. The food that volunteers provided for the hundreds of people on site, including the government’s uniformed forces, was prepared in their own homes.

The Southern Baptists figured this out YEARS ago, which is why they’re so much better at responding to hurricanes than anyone else.

The modern security state exists, in part, because the people decided they needed a larger-scale response to large-scale traumatic events than they as individuals were able to provide. When a really big fire and a rising crime rate was the problem, the people got together and appointed members of their community to act as firefighters and police officers and solve those problems.

What happens when the people themselves can self-organize faster than the agencies that were supposed to solve those problems? What happens when the people who were supposed to solve the problems become the problem itself?

As the saying goes, the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it. Maybe now we’re seeing what happens when the internet has to route traffic to damage in order to repair it.

Turn Up The Radio.

Turn Up The Radio.

Ugh, did I just make a reference to a lousy 80’s hair metal band?

Yes, yes I did.

Anyways, there’s an interesting article on MacRumors.com on how iPhones are equipped with an FM receiver, but it’s turned off by default, and turning it on, especially during natural disasters, might be a good idea.

Actually, I think it’s a great idea.

Our cell service was out for days after Irma, and we did better than most people at keeping up with what was going down because we had a cheap wind-up AM/FM radio with us. But if the gazillions and gazillions of iPhone owners out there could tune into hear emergency updates at a time when the cell towers were tango-uniform, it can only be a good thing.

Product Review: Bear Minimum Bear Bowl

Product Review: Bear Minimum Bear Bowl

Bear Bowl

Bear Bowl expandedAdvantages: Folds up REAL small
Disadvantages: Insufficient heating
Rating: 2 out of 5

I backed this campaign on Indiegogo because I was looking for a way to carry around a cup to heat up water that wouldn’t take up a lot of space inside my go-bag.

The Bear bowl is a different kind of bowl: It has a lightweight aluminum base to suck up the heat from your stove, and then some slick plasticky stuff on top that folds together to make the bowl itself.

It does require a little effort to get the bowl to fold together correctly the first time you try it, but after that, it’s pretty intuitive. To test out the bowl in it’s natural environment, I set up my Esbit stove on a baking sheet on my kitchen table while I was waiting for the power to come on last week, filled up the bowl with 2 cups of water, lit the fuel tab, and off we went.

Light it up!I apologize for the low-quality pic, but lighting with the lights out was less-than-optimal. The Esbit lit up like it’s supposed to, and the water started to heat up.

A brief explanation on why I want a stove and some way to heat water in my bug out bag: I don’t have any Mountain Home meals or similar in my bag because I’m not planning on using that gear for the long-term. The purpose of my bug out bag is to keep me going for a minimum of three days, and I can survive quite nicely (if a little hungrily) on energy bars and similar food for three days, maybe even a week. The stove is there to boil water if I need to purify it and to heat up water for instant coffee. Yes, you can survive without coffee, but why would you want to?

With that in mind, it’s important to me that my stove and water container can create good rolling boil to make sure all the bad critters in the water are well and truly dead, and sadly, this is were the Bear bowl falls down on the job.

Not a real boilThe Esbit fuel tab took around eight and half minute to burn up, and the picture at right shows the best boil I could get with this bowl. While that level of boil may be good for heating up freeze-dried meals or for coffee, it’s not going to work for purifying water. I’ve seen videos where an Esbit stove is capable of getting a rolling boil in around six minutes, so what I suspect is happening here is that the fabric on the bottom on the bowl is acting like an insulator (as plastic is wont to do) and impeding the boiling process. This test was done at sea-level. How this bowl will perform in the mountains is anybody’s guess.

In addition to this, the Bear bowl requires a controlled flame on the bottom of the bowl to work, and I question it’s utility for heating up water on a campfire or an improvised grill, and I just can’t guarantee I’ll have a stove handy if I have to use my bug out bag.

Bottom line is, I give the people behind the Bear bowl full marks for creative thinking and coming up with a unique way to save space when you’re trekking into the great outdoors. For me and my needs, though, it’s back to a metal cup when it comes to boiling water when no power is to be found.

Living In A Post-Irmageddon World

Living In A Post-Irmageddon World

Six years ago, I wrote about how watching the .gov screw up the response to Katrina made me realize that they were not going to be there for me if something bad happened to my family.

And they weren’t.

Who WAS there were people like my neighbor Chad, who ran outside at the height of the storm to clean a blocked drain that was threatening to flood our street.

There was Mike’s Weather Page, which provided hurricane models that were far more accurate that what the NOAA was feeding us.

There was the science teacher in my Sunday School class who worked with the NOAA for years, and told us WAY ahead of time that Irma was something to be concerned about. There were faith-based organizations who were FAR more able and nimble than the .gov was.

There were the meteorologists at the various local TV stations who were present when Wilma went through here and knew how to talk to us hurricane rookies.

Race Bannon Mike Pence showed up in our town and walked around and Ben Nelson shook some hands and Air Force One came and went, but they didn’t have to hunt for gas to fuel their cars and they don’t have to worry if the grocery store will have fresh milk tomorrow. FEMA has promised help, but it will be a while until it arrives, but in the meantime, churches ARE helping, and they’re helping right now.

It wasn’t Antifa who drove down my street at 12AM making sure everything was alright when all the lights were out, and it wasn’t the Republican National Committee either. It was the men and women of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, but I wasn’t counting on them to be there if someone decided to kick in my door during a gap in coverage.

I was, however, counting on the Mossberg 500* in my safe room and the 9mm Shield on my hip.

If and when the .gov does help in the recovery of Hurricane Irma, that’s nice, but to quote Band Of Brothers,  “How do I feel about being rescued by Patton? Well I’d feel pretty peachy, except for one thing, we didn’t ******* need to be rescued by Patton.”

We didn’t need to be rescued by the .gov. We rescued ourselves.


* Yes, I know, I wrote on how I was ditching the scattergun in the safe room in favor of an AR in .300BLK. I’m not going to make the switch, though, until my can gets out of ATF jail.