Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Snow Geese

It is no secret that I like to hunt deer. Certainly, shooting them is an integral and important part of the whole thing. Beyond that though, what is important is the time alone with my thoughts to reflect, ponder, meditate and, as much as anything, to simply sit there and regard what is going on in the woods.

I love hearing the raucous, frenetic cries of the Canada geese as they wing overhead. They are like a band of unruly frat boys noisily returning to the frat house after a night of libations.

I also love to hear the snow geese on the rare occasions when they make an appearance. In contrast to the Canada geese, the snow geese have an eerie, forlorn cry that is one of the most lonesome sounds I know. The Canada’s song is more upbeat and vivacious and it energizes the soul to hear it.  The snow’s song is a beat or two slower.  It chills the soul with its sadness.  It is a plaintive reminder that the warmth of summer and the abundance of fall have ended and will be replaced with the long, cold, stark days of winter.

It seems their voices travel for miles.  I hear them long before they come into sight.  Finally, the flock materializes into sight always at dizzying heights. Despite the lonesome sound, the flocks are huge; many seeming to number hundreds of birds. Hearing and seeing them, it is as if each bird is alone amongst the huge flock.

Today as I sat in the woods I heard them. I never saw them, but their cries lingered for several minutes as they passed me heading south. After they could no longer be heard the woods hushed and there was nothing left but to think.

I reflected on how tomorrow is Christmas and how most of us will be joining our families for a big dinner and shared gifts. I then thought of our soldiers far away who would not be with their families.

It occurred to me that the soldiers were like the snow geese. They are deployed together with thousands of other young women and men with whom they have been assigned. Still, each of them is individually lonesome for the family they have left behind.

As we all gather with our families and friends, please take a moment and remember those who are stationed far away from their families.

On behalf of Mrs. Blog Sarge, Blog Puppy and me, I offer my prayers for a blessed Christmas.  As we celebrate God’s ultimate gift to us, please join me in praying that this time next year we will have His peace to celebrate as well.

Blessings to all.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from the entire Blog Sarge family. And happy start of Hanukkah for our brothers and sisters of the Jewish faith.

While we are all running about doing family activities, we need to stop and contemplate on all we have to be thankful for.

For my part, I am thankful for the limitless blessings I have received and for which I feel completely unworthy. These include family, good friends, good health, a truly wonderful group of folks here at Ann Arbor Arms with whom I work and a bunch of wonderful customers who are as much friends as customers.

I am also thankful for the wonderful country we are blessed to live in. I pray we never take for granted the country or our freedoms. Freedoms that were secured for us through the blood and trials of the "sheepdogs" who stood guard before and now those currently stand guard.

Please join me in praying for those who serve and are far from home and in giving thanks for all the blessings we have here.

I wish all of you safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving.

Blog Sarge

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why We Hunt- The Blackout and Whitetail Deer Blog

“Good God, man. If you need meat, I’ll go and buy you some!"

It was a fellow cop talking to me years ago in early November. I told him I was taking time off to hunt and he didn’t see why. True, the grocery budget was a bit slim.  Still that wasn’t really what hunting was all about, although it did certainly help.

So I told him why I hunted. Yes, I told him about the relaxing time spent outdoors, the long reflective time in the deer stand with no outside distractions, the beautiful sights and sounds, the thrill of the hunt and the successful, although always somewhat sad, time of the kill.

I also told him other reasons that are even more valid now than they were then.

Do you know what is in the beef you just had for dinner? Do you? How many antibiotics, steroids and other drugs were pumped into that animal? What did it eat? Did it eat natural foods, or genetically manufactured food-like products? These questions might make you take pause and think about what you put into your mouth and wonder about the actual nutritional content and healthfulness of it.

And how did it live? Did it live free-range as God intended it to, or was it in an inhumane meat-mill living in its own filth? How did it die? Did it die a quick death from a well-placed bullet or did it get herded into a slaughter-house? Was God’s name spoken over it and thanks given for it after the kill? Was it cared for after the kill in a sanitary, respectful way or was it left dead in a pile of waste from other dead animals until lifted out to be processed by a machine? If you believe in anything like chi energy, you will appreciate that there has got to be better, healthier energy in the meat from a free-range living, quick, humanely killed deer.

Finally, I told him that it was about self-reliance. It was about being able to go out and do what man has always done.

So for all these reasons, I hunt. My cop friend will never be a hunter, but I think he understands why others do.

Gotta go, the fresh deer liver and heart are about done cooking. And yes, I killed it with my 300BLK!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Preparing- Gettin' Down on the Mountain

“How do you make others see it?” my friend asked. “It,” was the need to prepare.

Really, I don’t know the answer.  But my friend posing it had a good point. He was preparing for whatever occurred, but his friends and loved ones were not. So what should he do? Should he try to convince them? What is he morally obligated to do? Should he prep for non-preppers too, when he can hardly afford what he is already doing? If something happens how does he decide who to help and how much help to give?

And what about spiritual preparedness?  Many people have stashed away food, water, ammo, fuel, medical supplies, etc, but have we prepared ourselves for the ultimate end? Do we prepare and pray for God to save us from natural or man-made disasters, but not take steps to try to assure forgiveness when He causes the event and decides that he is ready for the final judgment?

Preparedness is a complicated idea and requires forethought. It is about more than food and water. It involves a balance of sustaining fuel needs, medical needs, water needs, communications needs and much more.

The recent events in the Philippines with the typhoon underscore that there is a need to prepare for natural catastrophes. Your own personal views on where we are as a civilization will dictate your feelings about how much concern you need to have about man made catastrophes. 

Either way, the likelihood of some sort of event forcing self-reliance for even a relatively short time is not unreasonable and should give cause for us to evaluate our level of being prepared against where we feel we should be.

And the time to do so is now before it happens. Drinking water, canisters of Wise emergency food, backup medical supplies, fuel for generators, ammunition for protection and hunting all are items that will be sold out in rapid order once something occurs.

No, you do not need to go over the top. But yes, you need to have some sort of preparations made.

In the end, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and our families rather than relying on a government or others to take care of us. To prepare is responsible and patriotic and I believe should be mandatory. In the event of a large-scale national emergency, those who have not prepared will place a drain on resources that might overburden the government. And it will be unreasonable for them to expect to be bailed out.

I'm curious what plans others have and how much "charity" will be shown to those who do not prepare.

I’ll leave you with a little Corb Lund singing about this exact topic…

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Those Who Have Served

A while back, my wife and I loaded up and drove up to Door County, Wisconsin, through the Upper Peninsula and back down the west side of Michigan.

This summer, we spent a lot of time on our boat and traveled around northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

A couple years ago we flew one of the club's Cessnas up to Mackinac Island and Traverse City just for the fun of it.

Last Tuesday, thousands of people went to polling places and participated in a democratic process called free elections.

And you ask, "So, what the hell is the point Blog Sarge?"

The point is that we can do these things. Many people in this world cannot. The difference is that we are a free country.

Why are we a free country? It is because brave women and men from early in our history through into today have been willing to stand up for our freedom and our way of life and put their own lives at risk for the greater good. They had the guts to stand up to oppression, boldly say that we are endowed with rights and that these rights can not be taken away.

Monday is Veterans Day. It is a time for us all to think about the freedoms we enjoy and to give thanks for those who have answered the call to serve us.

Please give thought to offering to help those who served and gave of themselves for us.

Check out Camp Liberty and consider what these people have given us, think of what your freedom means to you, and then think of what you can give back to them.

Finally, don't forget to offer your prayers for these men and women and to give thanks for the blessings of freedom we enjoy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Consistency- The Ted Nugent, Keith Richards Blog

There is one of the best, most piercing guitar note in all of rock and roll in a Rolling Stones song. In Wild Horses, Keith nails a note that is worth listening to the whole album, er, I mean CD, for.

And he can nail it just the same every time he plays it. This leads to the point, his consistency makes for an accurate guitar lick.

The same goes for Ted Nugent. Listen to his guitar licks and you will hear consistent precision, each chord being delivered with acute accuracy each and every time he plays.

As I’ve been called out recently for listening to Sarah McLachlan, here’s something from the unabashedly American, freedom loving, Second Amendment supporting Ted Nugent to help me regain my good Second Amendment Karma… The Nuge

From time to time, I speak with someone who wants more accuracy out of their rifle. Obviously, a good optic is called for and I addressed that in a prior blog. Next, assuming that the rifle is a decent one and the ammo is good, the attention turns to the shooter, which is often the first place at which we should start anyway.

Recently I wrote about breath control, one of the keys to precision shooting. Consistency is another key.

So, to the consistency issue. To achieve accuracy, you must do everything the same, every time. Rest the rifle the same. Load the ammo the same. Use the same ammo every time. Breathe the same. Press the trigger the same. Get the idea yet? And yes, I said press the trigger. Think press, not pull. Press, to many people, implies a more controlled, gentle action. (I’d never thought of it, but a recent student mentioned it and it makes sense. Whether I am giving or receiving training, I bring an ‘empty cup’ and am open to learning new tricks.)

Consistency is more important than number of rounds. In fact, you can accomplish a ton without firing rounds. Dry firing, done with care and with a plan, can do wonders. If you can, try to balance a spent cartridge on the end of your barrel, dry fire with it there and work on doing so without letting the cartridge fall off. Obviously, a round barrel won’t let you do this, but a flat topped barrel like many pistols will.

When the time comes for live fire, remember that a range session of ten deliberate, carefully planned shots can be more beneficial than a hundred rounds pounded down range without care.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Magazine Changes- The Tactical Diaper Change Blog

Boss Chick, Tech Dude,Tactical Corporal and I were chilling at the store during a lull in the action. In walked Mrs. Tactical Corporal with Tactical Baby.  Damn cute kid, too. Blessedly for Tactical Baby, he takes on after his mum...

Once Tactical Corporal was able to wrestle the little guy away from Boss Chick, he carried him around for a bit. Then Tac Baby got that look on his face. You know the one. The sublime, blissful look that clearly tells everyone, “hey, I’m taking a dump!”

Now, I know that Tac Corporal is highly trained and more than capable of handling emergencies, but even I was amazed at his application of an immediate action drill. He performed, (using the armorer bench, I’m afraid) a tactical diaper change in record time, collecting the old and replacing with the new. And no, he didn't use any Frog Lube.

This reminded me of a question recently from a student while doing tactical magazine change drills. The student was being drilled on magazine changes and I was reminding her to just drop the old magazines, not to catch them or, worse, pull them from the gun. She asked if there was ever any time when it was OK, even recommended, to catch the old magazine.

Sure, there is. For instance, during a lull in the action if you want to top up and collect the old magazine with the few rounds left in it, do so. Maybe you want to consolidate a few partially full magazines. Fine, catch the old and do what you want, IF you can do it safely without letting guard down.

But I train to dump the magazine as the preferred method. Why? Well, in the heat of a shooting you will revert to your training. If you are trained to manually pull out the old magazine, put it into your pocket, then get out the new magazine and seat it, you will do just that. You’ll waste a bunch of time and perhaps get shot when you should have been back in the game. This has been well documented in police and military training. California saw a couple of cops get into a gunfight years ago. They were found dead with the spent casings from their revolvers neatly collected in their pockets just as they had been programmed to do when on the shooting range.

But, if the action is at a lull and you have time to collect your thoughts you can adjust and do a controlled top up. The combat reload is the default method, but can be consciously overridden for more of an administrative load if the situation allows or dictates.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Building ARs, Jacques Cousteau and the Calypso- The John Denver Blog

Fall is here. Fall to me means many things, shooting deer comes readily to mind, but musically it means it is time to dust off the old John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot CDs. Can’t say why, but fall requires a different soundtrack and the sounds of Lightfoot and Denver are just right for me.

The CD player just finished John Denver’s song about the Calypso. I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau. Maybe that’s why I became a scuba addict. As a kid we’d tune in to Cousteau specials and watch as they sailed the Calypso all over the world doing their diving and all. The sea always held an allure for me and I got my big-water fix this way.

Anyway, during a brief stint as a student at Lake Superior State College Jacques Cousteau, the Calypso and crew were scheduled to pass through the locks at the Soo. A great many people flocked down to see the proud ship Calypso lock through that night. I had just broken my ankle playing basketball but I was so excited that I still hobbled my way to the locks to see the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Our anticipation ran high as the ship approached. The locks closed behind her and the ship slowly rose up out of the deep lock into the awaiting flood lights. When we finally got a good look at it, we saw that it was a piece of junk. I was crestfallen. It was beat up, rusty and unkempt.

Such is the life of a working tool, as opposed to a show-piece. I understand now. Firearms are the same.

Some are pretty and are destined for being what I call “Barbecue Guns.” These are pampered and are taken out as show pieces and for casually popping off rounds with friends. Others are working guns and, while cared for, are not pretty, not pampered and often are rough around the edges.

My ARs and Glocks are working guns. Yes, I take great care of them. I maintain them as if my life depends on them because, well, for years it did. But they are not pampered. I have waded into a mucky swamp with my Glock. I have been out in foul weather with rain, snow and mud assaulting my AR. I was working and expected my tools to go along with me. They did. Faithfully.

I have others that are pretty guns. Pop-in-law’s Browning BAR. Great Uncles Browning Sweet Sixteen. Grandpa’s Winchester 12. Dad’s Mossberg .22. These are in varying conditions, but all live a gentle life now. Rarely shot, but always cared for and appreciated.

Building an AR can go either way. We have good quality receivers and barrels at low cost for building knock-around working guns. We also have some very nice billet machined receiver sets made especially for us with the Ann Arbor Arms’ A3 logo.

Whatever your need or want, we can help you build an AR to fill it. And yes, we can help you build one in my beloved 300 AAC BLK!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Highs and Lows- The Cowboy Junkies Blog

Sarah McLachlan had just finished "Angel," the last song on Mirrorball. I replaced the CD with Pale Sun, Crescent Moon, from The Cowboy Junkies and Margo Timmins was launching into "Crescent Moon."  One of the joys of a new car is the sound system.  Face it, the old truck's system sucks but the new car's rocks.  Lows in the basement and crystal clear highs reaching the sky.

Amazingly enough, I can still hear both highs and lows. Even after years of Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses and all sorts of other hard rocking folks combined with years as range officer at the department.

The reason is simple. Hearing protection.

There are two basic types; plugs and muffs. We carry both and both have their place.  Plugs are great and are easier to shoot long guns with. Muffs can get in the way of a good cheek weld but they can also dampen the conduction of noise impulses through the bones around the ear.

And, especially if you'll be shooting indoors around others, think about doubling up with plugs and muffs. I did this frequently during department shoots, wearing sonic ear plugs and putting electronic muffs over them.

Electronic muffs allow, even amplify, lower volume sounds but will cancel out higher volume noises.

If you need new ear protection, look for the type that will best serve your needs and check for a high NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). When in doubt, ask us and we'll help find what will best serve you.

OHHH! I just found a youtube of Natalie Merchant singing with the Cowboy Junkies, gotta go..... But here, you can listen along....Misguided Angel

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dude, Take a Breath- The Tactical Oxygenation Blog

I give private instruction on precision rifles, ARs and pistols and I am often asked about my thoughts on breathing.  I tell the student that I think it is a good thing to do and I encourage its continuation.

They want details, though, and maybe you do too. So for everyone’s enlightenment, here we go with Blog Sarge’s theory on “Tactical Oxygenation.”

I break breathing down into two forms for shooting. There is Precision Breathing and there is Combat Breathing. Which one to use is based upon the type of shooting you are doing.

Precision Breathing is for the times when you are going for, well, the utmost precision. This is controlled, deliberate, deep breathing. For this, think of Yoga or any relaxation exercise with breath control.  Break a breath into components. On the inhale your belly and chest expand with incoming air to the maximum extent comfortable. On the exhale the reverse occurs and there is a feeling of relaxation. The exhale typically occurs almost immediately upon completion of the inhale; there is usually not much, if any, of a pause. Once you are comfortably exhaled, there is a natural pause before the next inhale. (Notice I said “comfortably exhaled”, not completely exhaled. There is no need to force more air out than your body wants to release. Forcing more exhale leads to tensing.) With practice, we can extend the comfortable pause before the inhale. For precision shooting, I live in this natural pause. My world is entirely inside it, I live for it. During the pauses, my senses focus, my sights settle, my heart rate slows and my muscles are loose and poised. If I do not get the shot off during a comfortable pause, the cycle starts again, and I pick back up where I left off.  With practice, the shot will almost go by itself when your mind registers that all is as it should be.

Contrast that with Combat Breathing. This will be, by necessity, a faster type of breath. Do not let yourself hyper-ventilate, but concentrate on controlling your breath into a steady rhythm of moderately deep inhales and exhales. Living in, and getting the shot off during, the natural pause becomes less important to me here. Rather, when I need to shoot in combat breathing, I need to shoot RIGHT NOW. So, I simply pause wherever I am in the cycle, press the trigger and then resume the cycle. If you see a shot developing and have time, do a quick in and out and get the shot off during a the abbreviated natural pause.

Beyond being important for controlling the shot itself, proper breathing yields more control of yourself and the situation. The importance of good breathing cannot be over-emphasized. It relaxes the body and mind, provides fuel for the body and helps you to remain focused, centered and in control.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Too Many Guns- the "Going Straight (or not)" Blog

We were moving display cases around in the store. Boss Chick, Sig Gurl, Tac Sarge, Tech Dude and I were there.

A chipper voice piped up, “Hey, these cases are crooked. We should fix them”. It was Boss Chick. A.K.A., ‘Mrs. Obsessively Organized’. The lack of alignment offended her sense of order.

“You wanna know why they aren’t straight?” It was Sig Gurl posing the rhetorical question. We saw where this was going and waited for it….. “I did it”, she quipped a moment later.

So, why were we re-organizing the display cases at the sales counter, you might ask. Well, you might not actually ask, but I need the question to be asked in order to make my point. So, we’ll assume the question has been asked.

The short answer; we have too many damn guns. And we love it!

We have recently gotten in a crap-load of both long guns and handguns.  Sigs, Glocks, a KelTec KSG, two Springfield M1As, LWRCs, FN shotguns, Weatherby Shotguns, AR15s up the wazoo (and man that hurts), 10/22s in takedown and regular, Kahrs, a Ruger 1911…. Well, if you don’t have the idea by now, you aren’t going to get it if I ramble on.

So, we need help from our loyal friends. BUY SOME MORE GUNS! We’ve been having banner days lately. Business is great and sales are strong so we’ve laid in more supply of guns than I can remember ever stocking. If you haven’t been in lately, stop in again. I have to think that we’ll have something you didn’t even know you had to have.

Cheers, see you soon.

And here's what the wall looks like.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

300 Blackout- Yes, again!

Yeah, I know. You’re tired of hearing me carry on about the 300 AAC Blackout. Too bad. Here’s some more on it so quit whining, pay attention, or get sent to the principal’s office.

I have long felt that, as much as I like the 5.56 for a police patrol rifle round, it just needed more size. It has way more than enough speed and flatness of trajectory and could do well to swap some of both for bullet mass and impact energy.

In 1992 when I started the 12-year-long push for my department to get patrol rifles, the 5.56 was the best thing going. It has proven effective for many police engagements (blessedly not at my agency) but its high speed and flat trajectory are lost in the typical police rifle shooting. These typically are less than 75 yards.

Were I at a department today, I would be pushing for rifles chambered in 300BLK. At any realistic police shooting range the 300 BLK has more oomph than the 5.56.

As for non-police defense usage, the 300 BLK is also ideal. I do not see much use for a personal defense round at much more than typical police shooting distances and probably much less than 50 yards is closer to actual. The 300 BLK is perfect for this.

An argument against the blackout is accuracy. It is simply not a super-accurate, sub m.o.a., long distance sniper round. My home-brewed rifle shoots 1.5 to 2.5 m.o.a. depending upon how well it likes the ammo. Bear in mind that I do not have a high power optic on this. I shoot with a medium quality 1-4x scope. Were I to add on a better quality scope pushing up to the 9 or 10 power range, the groups would shrink. This accuracy is more than enough for the intended purpose. I’ll take the extra energy and bullet diameter and give up 1 m.o.a. any day for this use.

Also, with the relatively small powder capacity of the case, most all the powder is used up well before the 16” barrel length. Sounds like a great candidate for the hopefully-soon-to-be-legal SBR, doesn’t it? Add a nice suppressor and some heavy subsonic ammo, and you have a polite man’s (or woman’s) neighbor-friendly backyard plinking machine.

I have been tinkering with this blog for a while and tonight I came upon the attached article. As much as I hate to admit it, the author makes the case I was trying to make damn well; perhaps even as well as your Blog Sarge.

So, pleased check out this link… 300 BLK Article Link

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Muzzle Devices

Loyal readers will remember that I have built two ARs, one in 5.56 and of course the other is in my beloved 300 Blackout. Both shoot well and recoil isn’t much on either of them. Still, for quick rapid engagement follow-ups, something more than the plain flash hider was needed. So I consulted the resident guru of all things AR, Tactical Corporal.

I basically told him to get me what I should have. I kind of gulped at spending plus or minus a hundred or more bucks per gun for the muzzle device, but heck, it was in the interest of research.

The 300BLK got a Daniel Defense Muzzle Climb Mitigator.  For those needing details, this has a 16 inch fluted Wilson barrel and runs on a direct gas system.  The Daniel Defense critter comes in at about 70 bucks.

The 5.56 is also a 16 inch Wilson barrel with direct gas, this time un-fluted. As with any stock 5.56, it had a sharp but not strong recoil pulse.  Muzzle rise wasn’t dramatic, but it was enough to get you off target, slowing the follow up shots. Tac Corporal screwed a SureFire Muzzle Brake / Suppressor Adapter on the end for me to shoot.  This little feller runs just a bit shy of 150 bucks, but I think it well spent. Also, if I ever get a suppressor from SureFire, it will attach right to this device. (Santa, are you reading this!?)

The first day I had free to hit the range, I took a friend, we’ll call him the Mad Russian, and we had at it.

The difference in both guns was immediately apparent. The Mad Russian has a 5.56 16 inch AR with standard flash hider so we could compare side by side.

Holy crap, what a difference.  Accuracy appears to not have been affected for better or worse on either gun during slow fire. Follow up shots however were fast and rapid multi-shot engagements were quicker and yielded tighter groups. The Mad Russian is just getting into the AR platform and our trips to the range are largely instructional one on one sessions. I ran him through movement drills and multi-target drills with my gun and with his. So you ask, did he find the muzzle devices worthwhile? He stopped at the store immediately after the session and had Tactical Corporal screw one on his AR. ‘Nuff said!

As for the increase in noise to the side of the gun, I didn't notice it much at all with the SureFire on the 5.56 and the increase seemed modest in the 30 BLK.

We have these for the standard 5.56 thread as well as for larger 30 caliber bores. If your rifle barrel isn’t threaded, our gunsmith can hook you up there. We stock device from Daniel Defense, PWS, SureFire and a few others that I can’t remember right now.

See ya in the shop!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Banning Old Guns- The "Ol 55" Blog

This blog is for the folks who aren’t into the modern military rifles and think that they are safe from anti-gun legislation. The, “I only use older guns so I’m not worried about them taking my guns” crowd.

I was thinking about older stuff in my gun safe. I was feeling kind of nostalgic. I thought maybe I’d take out some of the old guns for a shoot; an old Winchester 12 gauge pump gun that was my grandfather’s, a vintage Browning Sweet 16 gifted to me by my great uncle just before he passed away, an ancient Marlin .22 bolt gun.  I got to thinking that these were once modern, state-of-the-art guns. Some, like the Winchester pump, were acclaimed military weapons, serving in the trenches of World War I.

I started on this old gun train of thought while listening to an old Eagles album and singing along with “Ol’ 55.” In private, of course.

So, as I gazed at my once modern, now ancient guns, I thought about the attempts to ban military-type weapons and where it might stop if it got a foothold. Yeah, they want to get rid of our AR and AK type rifles, but will they stop there. Not just no, but hell no!

The Winchester 12 gauge did serve in WWI, WWII and later wars. The semi-auto Browning style is similar to military semi-automatics, the Marlin .22 bolt gun operates exactly the same as military sniper rifles even still in current use.

That old Winchester model 70 or Remington 700 your grandfather left you is exactly like that used so effectively by our military snipers as they keep watch over their brothers in arms.

That old revolver they left you works the same as the revolvers carried in wars by forces from around the world.

That lever action deer rifle that your great uncle left to you is the same design that was used in wars at the start of the last century.

The lesson, and the warning, is that we must be neither complacent nor divided. We must not adopt the attitude that ‘they’ only want to ban someone else’s weapons that are military by design. At the root, most any firearm today was either designed for, or adapted to, military use. The end game is to ban all private ownership of firearms and to disarm us all.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

.444 Marlin- When You Need To Bring Enough Gun

The .444 Marlin cartridge turns 50 next year. I can relate. I did that last year. Still, I think I’m as good as ever. And the .444 Marlin is still damn effective, too.

Back to the cartridge. Marlin and Remington came up with it way back then as a replacement for the thought-to-be-on-it’s-last-gasp .45-70 (which even now is still soldiering strongly on). The idea behind the round is a that it fires, or maybe “lobs” is the better term, a big, heavy, lumbering bullet that hits like a freight train.

Imagine a .43 caliber, 240 grain bullet launching at 2350 fps out of case that is 2.25 inches long, with an overall length of 2.55 inches. This load gives you almost a ton and a half of energy. If you can’t anchor a deer, or black bear, or moose, or wild boar, or whatever with that, you should give up hunting and either become a vegetarian or buy your meat at the store.

Sure, it is a short range load. So is the .30-30, 300 Blackout, any handgun round… you get my point. Still, there is a place for short-ish range pumpkin launchers. The .444 Marlin is a premier example of this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

AR15 Functioning- the ins and outs of feeding your AR15

“Hey Blog Sarge, you sure tried to make short barrels sound as good as long ones in your last blog. You a little defensive about short barrels, or what?”

On my last blog, I made a strong case, or at least I hope I did, of why a short barrel is just as good for most normal shooting as a long barrel. 

Still, I will press on and probe the issue of AR15 reliability, or, as I like to call it, the ins and outs of feeding your AR.

Bear in mind that the gun only needs to do two basic types of actions once the round has gone pop, it needs to; 1)extract and eject the spent case then 2)feed and chamber a new round from the magazine.

Basically, if your AR15 is fed good ammo and is maintained well, failures will be as common as short songs by Phish; it will pretty much not fail you. If it does, either due to failing to extract/eject or failing to feed/chamber, here are some questions to ponder. While not a definitive list of causes, these are the ones I have seen the most and will get you started.

-Are your magazine lips deformed, possibly from a hard drop?
-Is the magazine follower sticking?
-Is the bolt clean? (Be honest, is it really clean? Even on the rear of it?)
-Is your chamber clean?
-Do you have the right amount of lube, neither too much nor too little? (ARs often like to run wet but too much can also gum up things)
-Is your gas tube clean?
-Is your gas key clean?

Let’s talk about the last two, the gas system. An obstructed gas tube and/or gas key can lead to failures and the gun will look fine. I have seen nice, clean guns that would neither reliably eject nor feed. The cause was an obstructed gas system. The original AR platform relies on the gases flowing through the tube, into the gas key and into the bolt carrier. If that gets compromised it will render the weapon unreliable

How to go about correcting the above issues is often obvious, (clean the darn thing) so I will not go further into it here. But, if you have a problem you can’t figure out, feel free to stop in and chat. Bring your rifle and we can look it over. Case it and we will clear it at the counter then see if we can spot anything.

If your rifle needs a good cleaning we can do that. We also offer ultrasonic cleaning for hard to reach areas. We’re happy to help diagnose problems.  If you want us to clean it, ask for an estimate on shop time rates and we’ll have it spiffed up nicely when you pick it up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Short People- The Second Yoga Blog

“Now”, said the yoga DVD narrator, “stand in mountain pose and simply fold forward at the waist, legs straight, knees locked and place your hands flat on the floor”. Right. Place this flat on the floor lady.

And this brings us to rifle barrels and the question, are longer barrels inherently more accurate? One might think so given the long tubes on sniper-type rifles. But let’s check this out.

On my 5.56 build I have a 16 inch Wilson barrel and it shoots sub m.o.a. consistently. I have longer barreled rifles that cannot match this. More important is barrel quality and twist rate. My 300 BLK build’s original cheapest-I-could-find barrel was horrible, doing 8-10 inch groups at 100 yds. I got a 16 inch Wilson barrel from the shop and it now shoots much better. I haven’t shot for best group yet, but casual plinking groups of 1.5 m.o.a. are fine with me.

Now, I have also shot a number of iron sighted rifles and the longer barreled guns almost always yield better groups. And I have witnessed the same results from my fellow shooters. BUT, these guns were all iron sighted. Add an optical sight and the barrel length becomes insignificant.

So, I think the answer is no.  Kind of.

As far as group size at normal ranges, I don’t think the length of barrel matters much if at all. It has never seemed to make a difference to me, given a good optic on the gun. If you are using iron sights, the longer sight radius will definitely make a difference in how accurate you can shoot the gun, but that doesn't mean the barrel itself has more inherent accuracy potential.

Will a longer barrel group better at extreme-for-the-caliber ranges? Very likely it will. But not due to inherent barrel accuracy. Lemme ‘splain Lucy. With a longer barrel on a rifle, to a point at least, you may well realize an increase in velocity due to efficiency. You will be allowing more time for powder to burn and propel the bullet where a shorter barrel might waste burning powder on muzzle flash. This higher velocity will result in shorter travel time to the target, thus reducing the impact of wind drift, bullet drop and Coriolis effect. Reducing these factors will help with group size.

So there you have it, Blog Sarge’s take on the long and short of barrels. 

Cheers and happy shooting.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blacking Out- The Dean Martin / 300AAC BLK Blog

Dean Martin once said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they get up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

I heard that the other day and laughed. Then thought of drunks blacking out, which lead me to think of my 300 Blackout rifle, which lead me to a blog idea. Like how my mind works? It is kind of like living in a free-association exercise all the time. It must suck to work with me and listen to this all day.

I like the Blackout. No, not "Blacking Out." I speak of the 300 Advanced Armament Corporation Blackout cartridge, also called the 7.62x35, 300BLK and 300 AAC.

Like many who have gotten into building ARs, I wanted something just a bit bigger for using on deer and pig hunting and also as a mild-shooting house gun. Yeah, I built a pig gun. And no, I've never seen a pig around the old homestead. But I remain hopeful. When I do, you can expect an Ann Arbor Arms pig roast.

A friend asked me the other day about some alternative calibers for a prospective AR purchase, what calibers I had considered before I built my 300BLK and why I decided upon the 300BLK. I thought it’d be a great blog.

There are a whole host of other calibers out there that are suitable for an AR build. Some have much more oomph than the 300BLK.

I wish the 5.56x40 WT (Wilson Tactical) from Wilson Combat would catch on but so far it isn't showing the kind of excitement needed for bigger popularity. It’s basically the same idea as the BLK but has a case length of 40mm as opposed to the Blackout’s 35mm length. The extra case length translates into more powder capacity. With the 110 gr Barnes TSX bullet, it gets about 150 more fps than the same bullet in my BLK, hot-stepping along at just north of 2500fps with max loads. But more velocity from the ammo is worthless if you can simply not get the ammo. I do not currently reload so that was a big factor.

The 6.5 Grendel has a slimmer .26 caliber bullet of similar weights to the lighter 300BLK rounds, but pushes the projectile faster. Ammo availability is also a big concern here.

The 6.8spc also was considered. It is a fine round, pushing 110 gr .277 diameter bullets to 2700fps. Like the others above it would be fine for deer and pigs and has reached a better level of popularity than they have. Ammo is easier to find that the 5.56x40 and 6.5 Grendel.

Bigger rounds are available, too. I considered the 450 Bushmaster and 50 Beowulf cartridges, too. Both send huge hunks of lead and copper downrange and moderate velocities and are devastating close range hunting and combat loads. The 450 was my second choice after the 300BLK and might still be a future build.  Hornady tells us the 450 can send a 250 grain bullet downrange at 2200fps.

So why did I choose the BLK? One big factor was that the BLK uses the same bolt and magazine as the 5.56x45 I had already built. The BLK uses trimmed and shortened 5.56 cases so there are no modifications needed to bolts and magazines. Bear in mind that I was building during the lean times last winter when there were almost no AR parts to be found.  Also, the idea of a round that could eventually be used suppressed in an AR handgun or SBR was attractive.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kuhl Change- The Little River Band Blog

I was listening to oldies rock on Sirius XM and Little River Band came on singing “Cool Change”. I always loved that song. Must be because I am a water person. It got me thinking of blogging about our new clothing line, Kuhl.

So, I took to the range wearing my Kuhl pants on the hottest day of the summer to wring the pants out. Literally wringing them out almost, it ended up. Reviewing Kuhl pants on a hot day. There's something else that's ironic. Quick, somebody call Alanis Morrisette.

So how did they do? I like them. Mine are the “Revolvr” pants which are made of a lightweight, yet durable fabric comprised of 26% nylon and 74% cotton. 

I liked the way they moved with me. Even when bending into a squat position they had good flex. Breathability was good, too. Going prone, the flat button design helps avoid digging into the stomach if you land on a hard object and makes the wearing of a sturdy gun belt less of a pain. The right hand thigh pocket is a good place for a cell phone, unless you will be doing strenuous activity. The roomy feel allows freedom of movement, critical when doing drills involving squatting, kneeling and tactical movement. After the range session they laundered well and showed no signs of damage.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Situational Awareness Blog

Paying Attention- The Situational Awareness Blog

“How did you know where he went?” The rookie cop was in awe of the sergeant.

The crook had been interrupted in the middle of stealing a radio from a car and had fled into the woodsy brushy area nearby. He probably heard the first police car coming. Back then (mid-late 1990s) there was a distinct rush of air through the wide-open four barrel carburetor that could be heard for miles in the cool night air if the cop driving didn't take it easy. 

“I used the force”, I answered.

“You’re full of crap.”

I know I didn't hear that. I looked at the rookie, said, “excuse me?”

“Errr, I mean, you’re full of crap, sir.” Ahh, that’s better.

“OK, I didn't really use the force. Mother Nature told me,” I replied.  Quite truthfully, too, this time.  I had simply paid attention to what the woods were saying.  Night birds, frogs and crickets could be heard all around us, except for one area where they were quiet.  It was a dead giveaway.

You are wondering what the heck this has to do with anything at Ann Arbor Arms.  Well, it leads in to my next defense-oriented topic quite nicely.

There is a rhythm to everything, a feel, an atmosphere that is right. There is also a feeling of something wrong when someone is up to no good.

Right, you say. Still you wonder what this has to do with self defense.  Simple, paying attention to these types of things can help you avoid a self-defense situation. Avoidance is always the best option.

So pay attention to details around you:
-Walking to your car in the dark lot, do you feel uneasy?  Is there a shadow under your car that you don’t feel belongs?
-Is the group of people ahead of you on the sidewalk acting too casual or too tense as you approach?
-Does the guy who just walked in for a happy meal act wrong somehow? And is he wearing a jacket too heavy for the weather?
-Is the guy across from you on the bus dressed too heavy? Is he sweating nervously? Is he muttering to himself? Does he have a package with him or bulges under his garments?

The first rule of self-defense is to avoid a problem.  That is far better than getting into it and then having to deal with it.  Simply paying attention to what is going on around you is priceless. Some survival theories have color-coded alert levels but they tend to make things more complicated than necessary.

I’ll make it simple. Look about you. Consider your surroundings. Do not bury your head in your smart phone like a dummy. Make eye contact with those you pass on the street. Act confident, not tentative and unsure of yourself. Act like a survivor, not a victim. Lastly, if things start to feel like they're going south, heighten your alert level and be prepared.