Monday, May 31, 2010

A moment of inspiration

This weekend I spent a lot of time around family - my grandmother turned 98 on Friday and between Friday and Saturday a large amount of memorys were shared between folks. Overall it was a good time.

During the festivitys, someone mentioned that a certain country church up where I grew up is still there (which I probably knew, but hadn't really thought about in ages) and is kept up via donations and a couple of care givers that go out once or twice a month to take care of the lawn and cemetery.

And, in that moment my brain went 'Oh hey!! Problem solved!'

What problem you ask?

Well, thats easy. Ages ago I wrote a post about how I'd survive the zombie appocolypse. Which was somewhat tongue in cheek as a thought experiment, but also a primer for a TEOTWAWKI scenario, if one was looking for one (though it only really applied to *me*). Anyway, my largest problem, in a solo scenario was shelter. I had a couple options, be realistically they all sucked.

Now that small part of the problem might be solved, because that church is at most a mile from the farmyard I'd use in a solo scenario - has a well onsite (although probably not power - one problem at a time) and plenty of space, and a perfectly good furnace and kitchen (at least until the propane runs out.)

Is it perfect? Hell no, I may not be the most religious person on the face of the planet, but the idea of breaking into a church and occupying it isn't exactly my most comfortable thought - but... it'd be warmer then not doing it. And its a perfectly defensible location with at least 3 other nearby locations that may be usable as well...

Just one of those mental moments of clarity.

Now we'll see how I figure out how to solve the rest of the puzzle. ;)


On Extractors and Roll pins

So, I should probably be in bed, but I'm rather wired right now - and I've got a topic, so you all get a blog post.

A while back I posted about my rifle, and mentioned I'd be posting a blurb about a new cleaning kit. I got rather side tracked but was working on it this evening. While in the process of cleaning my XD and taking pictures of the cleaning kit (which I will get put up here eventually) I had noted that the loaded chamber indicator is no longer resetting to flush properly. Figuring I'd remove it and clean it up, I decided to take out the striker assembly , and the block and extractor to boot - just because after a thousand rounds or so the whole are was rather heavily carbon scored. And - what the heck, it'd be good practice.

More over, I'd noted that the rollpin holding the striker in place had tended to ride up since I'd put it back in, and that bugged me a bit. After over two hundred rounds since I cleaned the striker channel I didn't think it was going to come flying out - but it was a bit annoying.

Well, turns out I don't have anything small enough to stand in for the punch necessary to remove the loaded chamber indicator. And when I finally managed to work the striker pin, I found out why it kept riding up - it had cracked and bent. Now I dont know if that happened when I put it back in, or because I tend to do dry fire training without snap caps (which forums I've read this evening have noted it will break the roll pin. Note to self I need to get some snap caps) Either way, it had happened, so I went online to after finding there were a fairly well known after market site for XDs and bought some roll pins (.25 cents a pop, figured I might as well get a few extras) and their punch set for the XD. No more fillins for me.

However, after removing the retaining pin and striker block, I've still been unable to get the extractor to come free. Based on what I've seen in forums there are about four options. One, Beat on the slide til it works its way loose - which, I ain't doing. Scarred up my slide via use quite enough already - and that sounds about as caveman as possible.

Two, use a dental pick to worry it loose, then beat on it til it pops free. Tried using a near dental pick in my new cleaning kit - couldn't get the sucker to budge.

Three, Send it to SA - Since it ain't broke, no real reason to do that (Well the pistol is non-functional til I get a new roll pin... but thats no one's fault)

Four - Fabricate an extractor removal tool. Based on the pictures I've seen, and the forums I've read, I think a couple hours and some quality time with my dremel knockoff and I should beable to get this done tomorrow. Well today now I guess. Can't make the pistol go bang til I get the new roll pins anyway - so I'll have some time to figure it all out.

Over all, while I can't say I enjoy the fact that I currently have a pistol that doesn't go bang - I am enjoying the learning. I wonder if any schools around here offer gunsmithing courses....


Saturday, May 8, 2010

A bit of Blather about My things that go Bang

So I've been neglecting my blog of late, and there are all sorts of reasons for that, but those things are past and I've been pondering a series of posts like this for a while - and since I've had some time this weekend I figured I'd start.

Disclaimer: I only own two firearms, and am the current custodian of three. I am by no means an expert, but I'm able to handle tools just fine, and I'm a decent shot. Most of whats below are thoughts, opinions, and observations after a fair amount of range time.

So first off, the dreaded Arsenal:

The above is a Colt AR-15 Tactical Carbine (LEO Marked) with a flattop reciever and removable carry handle with adjustable forward and rear sights, and an aftermarket ambi saftey (I'm a lefty), and my Springfield Armory XD .45 Tactical, with optional ambi saftey. Compared to most of the shooters on my blogroll, my personal stash of firearms isn't particularly impressive, but its mine. :)

I've owned the XD for almost a year and a half now, and I've been extremely pleased with it - and written about it a few times. Its an excellent - and inexpensive handgun and I have no problem recommending the XD line to anyone looking to buy a handgun for the first time. Maintenance is simple, and you really have to screw up to get this gun to malf, or fail to fire (which, the latter I have done. Talk about that later this weekend).

The AR is my new aquisition, which has been in the works for almost nine months. The Outdoorsman in Fargo is the last place in town with a layaway plan, and I am not afraid to admit that in the scheme of things I overpaid for this AR by a bit - but it was one of the few ARs left in town at the time... and the layaway program was painless. And hey - now its mine. I always wanted to own a Colt AR platform, and now I do (No, I have no particularly important reasons - its just one of those personal things).

And hey, the Colt Defense symbol is pretty dang cool looking. The above shot is a close up of the 'righthanded' controls. I've found that as a lefty, I can operate the bolt release - which is not nearly as tight as some - with my trigger finger quite easily.

Here we have the 'lefthanded controls' - note the Ambi Safety and the lack of etching of Fire/Safe. While its not particularly important (learning the default positions is dang easy, there are only two) I think I'll eventually find someone to etch them in properly. In the shot above the dust cover is closed, and you can make out the Windage and Elevation knobs for the rear sight adjust. And of course there's the LEO markings. For any wonderers - the State I live in has no laws against the sale of LEO marked firarms to civilians. And to be honest, I'm not aware of any state that does (which isn't to say there aren't a few.) Dealer claims it'll help the rifle hold value. Hell if I know - I didn't buy it because it was LEO marked, though it does admittedly make me smile.

You might also notice that the ejector redirect has a bit of brass on it. I've put only about a hundred rounds through the rifle so far, and reports from my friends note that the brass clears my face by very, very little - however with a good cheek weld I've only been grazed once. Might be another incentive to lose a few pounds though...

Since I'm lefthanded, to activate the mag release I have to shift my grip back from my usual fireing position to activate the release with my thumb. I may end up adopting the 'Grip the Forward reciever' position as I get more comfortable, but for now I find having my hand farther forward on the stock as more comfortable, and accurate.

With the rifle, I recieved two steel GI 20 rounds mags, a very basic cleaning kit (rod, bore brush, chamber brush), a well written field/owners manual and a basic sling. I've never run a round through the GI mags, instead I went out and bought 3 thirty rounds PMAGs from MagPul - which I've been horrendously happy with. They feed well, and the covers provided should help keep the feedlips from breaking when left loaded. (Though I have noticed that fully loaded mag that has had a cover on it for a while frequently needs a good slap to the bottom of the mag after loading to get the first round to feed propely.)

All in all, I will be aquiring more PMAGs.

There are a couple things I'm *not* happy with, however, though they're not the rifles fault by any means. First, I'm fairly certain this is not the original rifle I put away. As I remember that one, it had the grenade launcher detent, and a 1/7 barrel. This one has the Colt HBAR 1/9 barrel. The whole detent bit really isn't a big deal, I don't own an M203 nore do I ever expect to, but I had wanted a 1/7 twist barrel. But, 9 months later thats impossible to prove, and I may indeed be wrong and had not paid as much attention as I thought I had. And if its *really* important to me down the road I can swap the barrel easily enough.

Also, this rifle literally swims in oil, from the adjustable rear sight to the bolt carrier group, there is a LOT of excess oil slipping around. This weekend I'm going to settle in and try out a new cleaning kit a friend of mine got for me (which I'll post about, its quite the compact field kit and extremely well apointed) and clean up all the excess oil and relube. If my XD taught me anything, its that while lubrication is important - overlubrication is a bad, bad thing.

So, coming up later this weekend or early next week, expect to see a post about my new cleaning kit, and how I fixed my gunked up striker assembly on my XD (which was an adventure, but not nearly as bothersome as I was afraid it was going to be)