Saturday, August 30, 2008

September features/care package for a soldier

Alright, in the coming weeks we'll be posting lots of cool stuff. I'm working on a review piece on a very affordable flashlight, the Streamlight NightCom, which has a 3 mode selector switch and runs rather efficiently on 2 CR123-type lithium batteries. Also my love for SureFire's G2 Nitrolon lights, and an anecdote about my Surefire's role in securing the safety of an octagenarian on a mountain lake at dusk.

Aeric will be doing some good stuff about clothing and outerwear that stays tough when the going gets tougher. I've been using Cold Steel's Roach Belly economy fixed blade and details are coming soon. A full writeup of Benchmade's Blade Show 2006 American Made Knife of the Year, the Blackwood Rukus, is in process.

Gerber's foreign-made Gorge compact shovel aided me in the burial of a small animal that my cat maimed, seriously, and it's a great value, more soon.

Discomfort and I also have a friend who's husband has just been sent to the Middle East, like so many other young men and women. I'd like to get a little tactical care package together for "D". I'd like to show my support for the troops, regarldess of politics. I hope it'll make our friend "M" feel better about her man being gone. I have a couple of good solid folding knives to send his way. I'll find out specifically what the guys in his unit are not getting from Uncle Sam. Maybe stuff like beef jerky, sunscreen, gun oil...we'll find out what kind of stuff the guys want or need. I think anything would be appreciated, even letters, but I've heard that many troops have been short on weapon-cleaning supplies. I'll post more on this as soon as I find out what would help him get through hot and dirty days over there.

Stay Sharp...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aaron's take on his new Benchmade model 950SBK Rift

I'll TRY to make this quick. Discomfort already reviewed this knife, see his great post below, from a few days ago. His words were convincing and I found myself in a rare and temporary position to spend some dough. He gave the 'generals', now I'll give the specifics...Disc uses his knives much harder than I do, for a wide variety of work and home tasks. He's the guy that took his brand new Emerson CQC-10 out of it's box, and rammed it, hard as he could into his kid's discarded rockinghorse, made of 1/2" thick plastic! When he likes a knife, I know it can be used hard. I very recently bought the awesome Benchmade/Blackwood Rukus. It's an amazing knife, and I love my large folders, but it's just too large and menacing to use at work around "Sheeple". I went to my local warehouse sporting goods store before work today, the one I call "Redneck REI". The Rift was unbelievably below suggested retail and they had an untouched one in a box. I took it. I'm a very picky knife guy, I'm partial to higher-end factory knives in the $100-$250 range and after just one afternoon of carrying the 950 at work, I'm impressed. My first Benchmade Axis Lock knife, was their flagship 710 Bill McHenry/Jason Williams design. I bought one as soon as they came out. I used the snot out of that blade, and now it's in Discomfort's collection. BM's Axis is arguably the finest modern folding knife locking system yet in history. All it takes is moving water to clean it, and no matter what kind of debris gets up in there, these things always lock up solid.

Warren Osborne's beautiful design on the 950 seems natural as a home for an elegant piece of engineering like the much-imitated Axis. This is the first Warren Osborne design I've ever liked well enough to buy. I've always thought of his designs as kind of feminine and boring. His 950 could be considered gender-neutral, yet dark, aggressive, and mean as hell. I love the look and the feel, as Disc. mentioned of the multi-textured G-10 in black and gray, that makes up the handle/blade housing. Blade shape is Osborne's signature "reverse tanto", but beefed up. 154CM is probably better than any knife steel I've ever used, and it's American made by Crucible. My only comment, or more of a question: If Benchmade put the 950 in their 'black box', military and LE professional line, why isn't there any sort of texture or jimping on the thumb ramp? Various retailers have it listed as a "combat folder", and it's no doubt very capable, but the design lacks any sort of grip on the blade spine or blade/handle junction. This is probably due to the fact that the entire handle is aggressively textured and it would probably take an 'act of God' to dislodge the knife from your hand, even if it was wet or bloody. Just a thought. Let me say that I haven't been this excited to own and use a Benhmade knife since I bought the Elishewitz Nimravus when it made its debut when I was a much younger man. I agree with D's review below, the 950 Rift is a sure fit for me too. For dimensions and technical specs, click our Benchmade link, or check out the link to your right.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let it be said that when it comes to knives, I'm still a little in the dark... I know what my own personal preference in knives tends to center on, and pretty much don't strive much for expanding my knowledge of the industry. I would have happily dropped that sentiment long in the past if it weren't for the hefty price tag that accompanies most modern pocket knives, but have grappled often with just how worthy a tactical folding knife really is of a $100+ price tag. Let it never go unstated that I am a person of expensive tastes, if my budget doesn't necessarily allow for it, and I can see well ahead the money I will be spending on these little guys.

Some ti
me ago, earlier in the summer, Aaron gave me a nice little pocket knife, made by Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT). The model is the Pazoda, and I have utilized it more during the ensuing months than I would have thought upon first receiving the little thing. Now, what with my participation with this blog, and endeavoring to bring readers an idea of what they might be geting into, I am constantly on the lookout for a solid performing knife for the budget-conscious, so when Big 5 listed the CRKT Crawford/Kasper folder in their weekly for $20, I had to get me one.

I didn't even wait until I got to home to pull it from the box and give it a test for sharpness right out of the package, and this thing was shipped razor sharp, like scary sharp to be honest
. I would feel comfortable using this bad boy as a field scalpel if the need arose, but that's assuming the SHTF... so to speak. But back to the knife, it boasts a 3+ inch teflon coated AUS 6M stainless steal, and the handle is a burly scaled Zytel that feels perfect in my hand.

Added to this model is the manual LAWKS security switch, which handily prevents the user from closing this blade on themselves, if it wasn't in an assured fixed open position after bringing out the blade, though the action on this big guy is smooth as butter. I've been playing with it fairly constantly, and am at the point where I'm having no trouble swinging it out of its resting place within the handle myself. Unlike the CRKT M16 series of knives, though, the LAWKS system on the Crawford/Kasper folder is not automatic, so the user will need to consciously remember to engage the safety after opening the knife themselves. Nonetheless an awesome addition to the blade.

I haven't had much of an opportunity to test the thing on the field, but for overall initial impressions, this thing is a winner. Of all the makers of knives and multitools out their that I have so far loked into, CRKT is easily in my top 3 of interest. The designers that put what I would literally describe as their art into the blades/concepts coming out with the CRKT name on them are some of the most innovative that I have seen. And while the Crawford/Kasper may be an older model, it's still an exemplary display of what a modern pocket knife should offer the user.

Expect more from me on these things, as I can easily see where the bug most knife collectors out there comes from. Not that I have the additional money to be blowing, but I'll be damned if I won't anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Range Report

PART ONE: Sordid Drama Before the Fun

As is normal for Sunday, today saw me braving the rain and making the trip into Issaquah for a day of shooting. The club there is outdoors, and while it is still well within city limits, it is quiet and relaxed place to practice marksmanship. Today was actually a bit of a fia
sco, due to my second outing with the Saiga spitting cases every which way but loose, and accidentally hitting a gentleman with one in the noggin. I apologized profusely and sought a shell cage, then resumed firing, however, two shots later one of my steel Wolf 7.62x39 cases hit the same elderly man. As I had made quite a show of placing the shell cage after the first mishap, I had no idea the hellfire that would rain down at that moment...

"Sonny, I'm gonna take that rifle and wrap it around your fuckin' head then pop you in the brainpan with your own shells and
see how you like it!" Paraphrasing of course, as his tirade was a little lengthier, but I got all the important bits there. And he rushed my where I sat; this 80 year old codger actually rushed a man less than half his age holding a loaded assault rifle! Not that I would have fired, or hit him back had he even managed to throw a punch. Again, a flood of sincere, "I am so sorry sir, I don't know how that got through the cage! I sincerely apologize!" But he just wouldn't have it, kept hollering, telling me to play soldier somewhere else, and that I wasn't welcome in his club, and that my 'type' and military rifles shouldn't be allowed on the range, etcetera, etc. After not taking any of my apologies gracefully, I lost it just a little and yelled back until I realized the futility of screaming at an old man with a gun.

He was asked to leave by the gentleman subbing for the absent range master (who over the weeks I have built a very good rapport with), and after making sure the old coot got his gear all loaded, made sure to apologize to me. Assuring me that I had done everything right with my apologies for the first offense and making all attempts to corr
ect that by placing the cage on my table. Which did help, as well as some of the solidarity that a few of the younger shooters present expressed. The last thing I want to do in that place is burn any bridges, but most of the old timers present there assured my that Ted wouldn't even remember who I was next week.

I felt bad myself for slinging the irrational insult I had at the last moment there, and prior to his leaving, attempted a final calm and honest apology, which was fully ignored. I hate to come off as a youngster who lacks respect for those well ahead of them in years, as I'm not that guy, and unfortunately I spent a good deal of time dwelling on the incident throughout the rest of my day there, and only managed to get about 100 rounds out of the Saiga before I zipped it up and stowed it in my car trunk for the rest of the trip. I did, however manage to get some fairly good groups at 50 yards though:

PART TWO: Sturm Ruger Vs. Winchester HP

Having been a player in resident knife enthusiast Aaron's decision to purchase a 10/22, as he was my sole accompanying comrade the first time I got to take it out, I brought out my own 10/22 for some quality time as I had been neglecting it the past few weeks. Aaron's got a nice one, to say the least, but I caught the aftermarket bug, and have turned mine into a deadly tack driver from 50-100 yards. Mine weighs about half of what the stainless barreled version with the synthetic stock weighs, and that's with a blued barrel and receiver. I've got a Bushnell scope on mine, a rimfire model as I can't see spending the same amount of money for a scope as I did for the weapon, but the crosshairs are clear and sharp, and there is next to no issue with parallax view I have it so finely sighted I could hit a dime... not that I want to sing my own praises, but I'm pretty much Tom Berenger with that gun.

Having put a huge variety of ammo through my 10/22, I went ahead and purchased a box of the local Walmart special. Winchester XPert 22 Hollow Point. A box of 500 for $13 roughly is tough to beat, and as I had yet to try them, the buy was pretty much a no brainer. I put appoximately 200 rounds out of the 500 downrange and can honestly say that it's the worst ammo I've yet to try with that gun. The casings are so weak that they end up mutilated in the pipe and won't eject, which then prevents the next round from chambering. I had this issue with an average of one from every magazine that I fired today. Two hundred rounds equals 20 mags worth, which means roughly 20 failures to eject. I can live with it, but it's not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, and needless to say, Winchester will not be getting anymore money from me when it comes to the ammo I buy in .22LR, that's for sure.

That aside, I still highly enjoy shooting this weapon. Just the repeated action of moderated breathing and puling that trigger, then hearing the snap as the bullet is discharged followed by the echo of the round tagging the target downrange is soothing. It gives me something to focus on, something to put my concentration toward, something that allows me to tune everything else out and strive for. I don't really care if it's trivial, shooting a gun that is, because the enjoyment I get
out of it negates any triviality one might surmise the activity bears. That said, maybe it was my frustration from the scene made earlier by the old man on the range, or maybe it was me putting aside how crazy things have been at work over the last week, but I did shoot exceptionally well today with the 10/22... better than most other days I've taken it out. At least enough to save the target:

These shots were at fifty yards, and each target on the paper the diameter of a Pringles can. SOme of the groups are a little wild, but that ten round group in the bottom left target made my friggin day.

Worth 1,000 words, Ross Lake, North Cascades, WA

I took this on August 16, 2008 with a cheap Canon powershot A550 around mid-day. Beautiful. I am at peace up there. On the boat across Diablo we spotted a mother Bear swimming ashore with a cub clinging to her back and another baby in tow. Amazing. I threw back my first legal fish, a long and trim 14 inch rainbow trout. I wished him well as I removed the hook from his mouth and watched him swin under, to live until he was attracted to another fancy lure. I caught my 13.5 inch keeper with a hand-made hybrid lure that took about 5 minutes to assemble. I had a really nice Jim Carpenter "pink lady", as uncle Bill called it. I got a bump on my line, I had a fish and the lure unraveled and the pink and chrome beads spilled onto the floor of the boat. I used pieces of a Mack's wedding ring and created a pink and neon green abomination that looked more or less like a dressed up version of this Mack's Kokanee lure
Next spring I'm going to start hand-making trout lures to have something unique to try on our annual trip. Ross is an amazing place, I'd like my ashes sprinkled there if I go out early, or if I live to be 100.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My new little piece of firearms Americana

Those who know me by my taste in weapons know I'm a knife-guy with a deep interest in martial arts. Sure, I own a handgun or two, but I could by no means be labeled as a hardcore shooter. A recent trip to an outdoor gun range with the resident gun-guy here at SB&T had a large impact on my enjoyment of target shooting. Aeric had purchased a Ruger 10/22, which I thought was pretty cool, until I handled the rifle, and nailed bullseyes from respectable distances with it and its capable Bushnell scope. From the moment I squeezed off the first round of many a few months back, the experience stayed with me. I found myself in a rare and decent financial situation, working again after a long hiatus and decided to think about getting my own 10/22. Man, I really wanted to wait to do a write-up until I'd had some real time with my 10/22, but there's no time like the present!  I might as well talk about this gun while I'm fully excited by its 'newness' and still have the smell of powder and the sound of shots on my mind.  I decided on the All-Weather black synthetic stock model that retails for just over $300 USD, I paid about $270 at a very cool gun shop in my old stomping grounds, Totem Lake. I got home from work today after thinking about the gun for the last 48 hours and wanting to break it in.  I quickly called up a neighbor who'd mentioned an empty field suitable for shooting a few weeks back. He'd had some pals here from the UK, and wanted to teach them the joy of discharging guns American Style. I got rough directions to the location and drove there quickly. It's private property that allows non-vehicular recreation use, according to the sign posted at the gate. As I walked toward my mysterious destination, it was eerily quiet, and rather hot out. No animal noises, no people, just me and my new rifle. It's a large former clearcut area bisected by two gravel roads, evidence of reacreational shooting litters the ground, but other than that, it's almost pristine wilderness, tall grass and thick brush. Sweating like Mickey Rourke at a pig roast,

I removed my rifle from its temporary home in an old guitar gig-bag. I popped in some foam plugs and loaded the included 10 round rotary mag, then the aftermarket 'Hot Lips' 25 round banana magazine, made by Michael's of Oregon, known for 'Uncle Mike's' holsters and gun accessories. Iron sights, no scope, no problem.

The durable little rifle ate approx. 200 rounds of CCI high vel. mini-mag and aside from a hot barrell made hotter by the afternoon sun, not one single malfunction. The CCI rounds all had a waxy coating that rubbed off all over the magazines and my hands, I assume it's some sort of factory applied corrosion resistance measure. A web search for "waxy ammo" verified that it's fairly common, though something I've never seen in pistol ammo.  I'm going to try my best to feed my new Ruger cleaner ammo in the future, I won't be buying CCI again, if I remember correctly, I had some bad experiences with some of their cheap .38 spl. in a revolver several years ago.  I rapid fired several of the 25 round clips and I'm still surprised at just how rapid "rapid-fire" really is with the little gun. I shouldn't be though, as that's a lay definition of a semi-automatic gun, it'll fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.  I was sold on the 10/22 after using Aeric's, but now I'm very pleased with my decision to get this awesome little plinker while my money situation was good, rather than wait. Customization options and aftermarket parts are virtually unlimited and pretty inexpensive. I'll post updates of any inevitable new work or action this gun sees. Now comes the part I used to enjoy but now my new gun.

The Benchmade Rift by Osborne

Benchmade's Osborne Rift is an incredible tool, this burly knife has a beautiful gray and black handle heavily milled and textured G10, this handle has amazing grip and is sure to never come loose from your hand while executing any task. The reverse razor sharp tanto blade of 154cm high carbon stainless, is coated with Benchmade's BK1 for extra protection against corrosion to the blade and it also helps the material you are cutting to glide past the blade with ease. The Benchmade Osborne rift is equipped with an awesome Axis lock, making the Rift a great ambidextrous choice. With the G 10 color design and the BK1 coating this knife is super stealth,

I have tested this in various light combinations and there is not one thing that glints or shines on this tool, even the slit arrow clip is black coated and has no shine. The position of the clip in relation to the butt makes the knife ride low in the pocket

As far as knives go for me, the Rift is on the larger side, despite the size of the knife, it is super light and feels almost nonexistent riding in the pocket.

The action on the knife opening and closing both using gravity and a hand open is extremely smooth

I don’t use it as a daily carry but as a work knife. Keep in mind I consider myself somewhat of a knife collector so even though I do use my knives I still baby them. I have used the Rift to slice through basic material like newspaper straps that it snaps with ease.

All in all, Benchmade once again has made an amazing knife not just in looks but also in functionality. If you are looking for a rugged and beautiful knife the Benchmade Rift is a sure fit.

Friday, August 22, 2008

9 Milli On The Cheap

A lot of people out there are quick to decry something that is cheap. As if an item being inexpensive somehow has any bearing on whether or not said item is worth owning. Really it's all just a matter of opinion, and this is mine: so long as I get what I pay for, and occasionally more, I am happy with any purchase I might make.

I am first and foremost a fan of long guns. My whole exuberance in shooting comes from the concentration it requires to make a sick shot from 50-100 yards. Shooting rifles, whether bolt action hunting rigs or assault rifles owned for no purpo
se other than challenging plinking and a potential "if the shit hits the fan" scenario, provides me with a zen I've never gotten from traditional meditation. But I do believe that people living in urban sprawls ought to take care... of themselves, their family, their property. And so I picked up this little piece, the Hi-Point C9.

This 9mm piece is deceptive in it's appearance. Not a pretty gun by any stretch of the imagination, I prefer to call it fugly. Of course, when I'm pointing it at an intruder, I won't be fishing for compliments on my firearm. Instead I'll be hoping, as anyone would in such a scenario, that the gun shoots. And shoot it does. I have so far fed it ammo ranging from Wolf (cheap and dirty) to Glaser Blue Safety slugs (which I got yelled at for discharging on the range... fine by me since 6 slugs will run you $10 easy). I can report that none of the ammo I have thus far tried discharging from this gun has failed to fire or failed to feed. Like a billy goat, it will eat anything, and in my mind, that's a huge plus since I am sporadic at the store and will pretty much try any ammo at least once.

For the gun itself, it is put together simply, like all my favorite things. A straight forward weapon that operates on a blowback design and single action trigger, it is easy to shoot, and due to the weight poses no real recoil. It is a comfortable fit in the hand, even more so once I added the Hogue grip as I'm a sucker for a pistol with grooves for my fingers. The frame itself is polymer, with a die-cast slide which boasts an observation port that will tell the user whether or not a round is chambered without having to pull it back. It's not too light, and not too heavy, which is in line with appeasing me as I have a huge dislike for guns that feel like toys. While the factory sights aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread by any stretch of the imagination, they are sufficient and easy to pick up due to the red on the rear sights and the bright yellow on the front sight post. I can quick draw from 25 yards with this piece and still nail center mass every time, though like any home defense weapon, this thing really succeeds at close range. I'm talking 3 inch groups at 10-15 yards and 1-2 inch goups at five yards. That alone pacifies me, really.

I think what gets most critics of this weapon riled up is the price point... MSRP is $150, which is all that I paid before tax myself. Deemed a throw away gun by naysayers and ridiculed by gun snobs who have never fired one themselves. Even if I had been able to afford a Sig or HK, I wouldn't have to be honest. When it comes to home defense I've pretty much got my bases covered between this piece and my Saiga. I picked it up primarily because I did want a handgun, a reliable handgun, and with 1000 rounds out the pipe and still no problems with firing or feeding, I can't thus far say I've made a mistake in my investment. I do at some point intend to obtain a Walther P22 for plinking and concealed carry purposes, but as far as a nightstand gun, the Hi-Point is perfect. Sometimes you do get what you pay for, and sometimes you get more. In this case, with an American company producing the gun using American made materials and a no questions asked lifetime warranty, I would tend to lean to the latter... call me frugal, but I'm not winning any fashion shows anyway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Russian American Armory FTW.

Something I've always wanted: an AK47. Nothing super fancy, though I wouldn't balk at the gift of a shiny DPMS flat-top AR15, they're a little too high maintenance for my liking; fragile and picky when it comes to the ammunition that you feed them. The AK to me has always been the more elegant assault weapon, as it's simple build and unquestionable reliability have garnered it the title of the most recognized and popular assault rifle ever made. The AK's picture graces currency as well as flags of nations abroad. It is versatile and dependable and will shoot unquestionably in any environment. It fires clean and it fires dirty, it fires dry and it fires wet. It will fire caked with mud as well as it will fire right out of the box.

The problem that I've always had with the AK47 is that since the assault weapons ban imposed by Clinton in '94 came to a conclusion in 2004, most preban versions of the weapon are nearly impossible to come by. Yes occasionally you may come across a beatup Mac90 at a pawn shop for an asking price of 600-700 dollars out of your pocket, but those instances are few and far between. Better to go with a Yugoslavian SKS, honestly, because those weapons are just as reliable at less than half the cost of a preban AK. Your other choices are Century rebuilds which tend to be okay to terrible in their reliability, to Arsenal rebuilds which are exceptionally sick but will run you eight hundo at the minimum. For that price buy a bare bones AR.

Russian American Armory, however, seems to be providing an solution to those picky people like my frothing at the mouth to own their very own AK47. Manufactured at Izhmash in Russia, the same plant that employs Kalashnikov himself, the Saiga rifle is an exemplary show of what a reliable, affordable, and ultimately badass AK47 build should demonstrate to the potential user.

The company offers their rifles in virtually all popular large calibers, ranging from the Nato 5.56 (.223) to my preferred round, 7.62x39 mm round. My reasons for preferring said caliber are fairly basic: it's cheap (a box of Wolf containing 20 rounds runs roughly $6) and it's a larger bullet than the .223, and makes a louder bang when you pull back that trigger. As you can see, the rifle is assembled in a sporting configuration (meaning no pistol grip, on of a few things that set it apart from it's standard AK brethren) which means that the weapon can be shipped from the plant in Russia to their US distributors without having to comply to Article 922R as stated by the ATF. What a lot of collectors then run into is having to worry about compliance once you begin the process of converting the gun to look and feel like a normal AK47. RAA, however, has been kind enough to provide a skeletonized stock to replace the monte carlo style hunting stock that is standard on the gun, and that part does not count as a free standing pistol grip, even though one is integrated on the stock. It also decreases the stock length by several inches, making it a bit more comfortable to fire. But all that's for another post. the only add-on I will be pursuing for now, will be a side mount and holographic red dot to help improve my accuracy.

Speaking of accuracy, this thing is virtually dead on. My shots were a little hit or miss for the first five rounds due to bad target placement on a relatively windy afternoon, confined to the upper left quadrant, but for my second set of shots, I started by slamming the bullseye that you can see pictured on the right. Adjustments will need to be made for the elevation on the front sight of the gun, as after that one, I managed to pepper a perfectly straight line up and down dead center of the target.

On display as well as the target and rifle itself, is the magazine, as well as the cleaning kit, which have been standard issue for any AK since production began. Unlike your traditional WASR10 or Mac90, though, there is no trapdoor to store the kit in the buttstock of the weapon. But the quality of the utensils supplied are ten-fold that which you'd get with a normal Century rebuild. The Saiga kit includes bore brush, pin punch, flathead screw driver bit which can be fixed to use the container as the handle, cleaning rod (not pictured), and swab attachment for the cleaning rod. Which means that my Yugo SKS kit can be used specifically for the Yugo, and I don't have to share. Now that may seem superfluous to some of you, but I'm a sucker for anything extra included with the shit I buy.

The barrel of the Saiga is also chrome-lined, which helps to prevent corrosion from bad ammo. Mainly reloads which I won't be using anyway, but it's a nice feature since even the Wolf or Golden Tiger non-corrosive rounds will eat away at the inside of your barrel eventually. Another perk of the chrome lined barrel is how it also helps to prevent heat from affecting the straight line of the barrel itself. Other gas operated weapons, like Ruger's Mini14 (Sturm Ruger's attempt at replacing the AR15 with a cheaper weapon back in the 70's) will experience an issue referred to as "barrel droop" after getting too hot. Not a permanent problem once the rifle cools down, but during a firing session it is nothing short of a terible impediment to accuracy. If you expand the picture to the right you may be able to see that the only problem with the barrel that my gun displays is some slight pitting. This is actually not a problem with the barrel at all, but an issue with wear on the muzzle itself. It looks like it may have been dropped at the factory, or jammed into a wall or box, but thankfully doesn't affect the firing of the weapon itself, and is only a slight cosmetic flaw. The general rule is to never look down that end of the gun anyway, so really, who's going to notice? The only other problem I have with the gun is the receiver, which rather than having been blued, was painted black, a paint which chips fairly easily, though again, fixing that is just a matter of stripping the paint and blueing the receiver myself.

And finally, let me talk about actually shooting the gun. I do not own another firearm that is such a joy to shoot. While 7.62x39 is by no means a small round, I can easily compare it to any weapon firing .223. Granted the .223 round is merely an extended .22, there is little to no kick when firing this weapon. What little kick there is comes from the bolt slamming back and forth during firing, which is typical for an AK, and from my experience with it in action, barely touches your accuracy.

To close, my exuberance in the shooting sports has been relatively placated with this acquisition. It is a blast to shoot, and has provided me with long sought AK for my own personal armory. Granted I am all about the "fun guns", which the Saiga 7.62 most certainly is, but when (if) shit goes down, it will be impossible to pry this tool from my hands. For a retail cost of $349.99 and the cheapest medium sized caliber on the market to feed it, as well as a new interpretation of the classic AK design, you can't go wrong with a Saiga. my weakness-8/25 update!

I can't resist a good knife deal, ya'll know that well.  Lynn C. Thompson's prolific Cold Steel knife company recently introduced several great fixed blade knives for the budget-conscious.  Around Thanksgiving '07, I spotted the Roach Belly and Finn Bear knives at Sportsman's Warehouse in Lacey, near Olympia, WA.  I thought they'd been mismarked, as $14.99 each was a true steal.  I went home to find that both blades retailed for a suggested $18.99.  Wow.  I've been jonesing for them both since, and even bought A Buck Diamondback Guide fixed for $12.00 earlier in the summer to try to scratch that itch.
Yesterday, on the way to a company meeting in Silverdale, I stopped by Sportsman's Warehouse to see if the location carried either knife.  I had cash on hand, but was hesitant to spend, as I just picked up Benchmade/Blackwood's Rukus folder, which you'll read about soon.  I couldn't resist, I got both knives for around $30.00.  They are both supplied with a cheap cordura sheath and held in by friction.  Handles are CS's polypropylene.  Blades are German Krupp 4116 stainless, with which this is my first experience.  They both came hair popping sharp, out of the box, a Cold Steel hallmark.  I've only had them in my possesion for a matter of hours...I'll do a detailed review as soon as I've had some real time using them.   
I'll probably detail Streamlight's NightCom 3 stage light this week too.
Keep your heads on a swivel.

8/25: I used the Finn Bear around the kitchen last night. For a $15 knife with an MSRP of $18.99, that can be found for as little as $12, this is one hell of a knife. Cold Steel's Finn Bear performs better than many $50-$100 knives I have owned. Its German Krupp 4116 stainless is very stainless. Remember, stainless steel isn't rust-proof, but will Stain, Less. My dad and I cut up vegetables, carrots and tomatoes and the FB handled the chore with ease. The polypro handle is similar to "zytel" or glass filled nylon and the unique handle shape really sticks to the hand.The cool guy at the warehouse store I got it at, was a knife-guy too, which I appreciated, he pointed out that there's no guard for your hand and that's the only reason he wasn't 100% fond of it. The Finn Bear is designed in such a way that a guard would be a moot point. First, the Scandanavian style it's based upon never had a guard, and second, the deep grooves that run the length of the handle dig comfortably into your hand with no "hotspots" or areas of irritation. I have to hand it to Cold Steel founder and president, Lynn Thompson, his company will not quit, they always have something new every 6 months or a year. I used the Finn Bear in lieu of a table steak knife at dinner also. The knife cut the meat effortlessly-I like my steak well done...repeated contact with the dinner plate had near zero effect on the knife's edge, and when I was done, I hand washed it with a drop of dish soap and hot water, though this is one knife, if any that would definitely be suitable to throw in your dishwasher! When my dinner tasks were done, the hair popping edge that the factory had put on the FB was diminished, but not gone. For fun, I broke out my favorite ceramic rod and gave the Bear a few very light strokes on each side, this pleasantly "roughened up" the polished edge and gave it a sort of sharpness I call "grippy", sort of micro-serrated edge.

I proceeded to eviscerate a large box of recycling, including several aluminum cans, I went to town on paper, cardboard and strips of self-stick bandage I'd been using to protect a scabby spot on my foot. The Finn Bear performed like a champ. When I was done, I gave it a few more, slightly harder strokes on the ceramic, then kind of stropped it on the back of an old leather belt, straight-razor style. I'm VERY pleased with my purchase. It was cheaper than buying a CD at retail price, and this knife would still be a great value at $25, or even $35. Take a look on the web to find a good price, or check out your local Cold Steel retailer. I'm excited now, to try my Roach Belly. I may even purchase Cold Steel's larger Finn Wolf, which is still cheap, but looks like a tactical steak knife and has been well-recieved. Their Canadian Belt Knife is based on the classic Grohmann Canadian pattern that's much lauded in the lexicon of knife veterans. They have a couple others too, the Western Hunter and Long Hunter that are based on historical American designs and retail in the neighborhood of $20-something. Cold Steel makes a knife for every budget, from high end folders in the $500 range, to very functional swords, to these inexpensive Taiwan-made Finn Bears, that include a 5 year warranty, like all Cold Steel fixed blades.

Inaugural Post. New Gear as Seasons Shift-8/22 update

I've been wanting to get this going for a LONG time.  With the purchase today of 2 cheap knives, 1 pricey knife and 2 new flashlights and a ton of batteries, it begins here.  This is a blog dedicated to the purchase, review and testing of knives, flashlights, outdoor gear and weapons.  You'll find my 2 cents on brands like Benchmade, Cold Steel and Surefire along with rifles, pistols and packs and tactical nylon gear.  Enjoi.

I just returned from 4 days at Ross Lake in the North Cascades, WA.  Trout fishing was good, the weather was too good.  101 F. on Saturday.  Luckily I employed some 35 spf sunscreen that is applied like spray butter, just squeeze the trigger and out comes an ejaculatory fountain of sun protection.  Banana Boat, to its credit, protected my skin, but it's greasier than Mickey Rourke at a pig roast.

My primary blade was a Spyderco Ed Schempp Persian lockback folder,

blade of VG10 and handles of stainless and black linen micarta.  It rode in my pocket everywhere and is the best knife I've ever used to poke into a trout cloaca and zip my way up to the gills, wherein the fun began.  
Today I acquired Benchmade's Neil Blackwood Rukus axis lock folding knife.  I found it at a local warehouse sporting goods store for an online sans shipping comparable price.  I love it.  The thing is massive with a 4.25" blade, it's 10.12" locked open.....more about that soon.
Also coming soon:  Reviews of Cold Steels incredibly inexpensive Roach Belly and Finn Bear fixed blade knives.  Field review of Eddie Bauer's redesigned Trail Head backpack.  And a writeup on Streamlight's NightCom 3 function green led/xenon lithium powered flashlight.  Supersanitary Garbageman will be a regular contributor also, chiming in on Benchmade and more, it's about time we got this party started.

 I've been chewing Swedish Portion Snus like a sum'bitch lately and you'll get plenty of evaluations on the 20 or so recent varieties I've ordered from in the last 2 months.  
Stay safe, stay smart and check back often.

Hey, I forgot to mention a fairly detailed piece on Surefire's $30-something G2 Nitrolon flashlight is on its way. This is one piece of gear I liked well enough to buy a 2nd one, and I've given them as gifts. I've probably invested several hundred hard earned personal dollars on flashlights and lithium batteries, as instant light is a concept I believe always exceeds its dollar value. I'm really digging Streamlight's inexpensive NightCom, as I've mentioned, I think the green LEDs have some sort of additional psychological intimidation factor, as I scared the crap out of a neighbor and her dog the other night, she may have thought I was an EBE on the prowl for medical test-subjects. If you can't cut, stab or shoot a confirmed "Bad Guy" blinding him and/or confusing him can buy you precious seconds. Viva La flashlight!