Whenever the discussion about Ruger Mini-14s comes up on our Cheaper Than Dirt Forums or Facebook page, the question of “Gen 1″ vs. “Gen 2″ magazines made by TAPCO accompanies it. There’s a lot of confusion about this issue right now, so we want to do our part to clear things up.
“Nutnfancy” is an online reviewer of guns, ammo, and gun gear. He posts informative videos on Youtube about what gun stuff works and what doesn’t after putting all the latest toys through his testing regimen. Yes, we are jealous of him too. A while back he posted up a review of some new Mini-14 magazines made by TAPCO, and he didn’t like them one bit. To their credit, TAPCO contacted him and asked for input on what changes he thought they should make. They made those changes, then sent him some of the improved magazines to review. He had much better luck with the second batch. He decreed throughout the land that the improved magazines were good to go. Nutnfancy dubbed the new impoved magazines “Gen 2″ or “second generation” magazines, and called the older magazines “Gen 1″ or “first generation” magazines.
There’s only one minor problem—TAPCO didn’t change their part number, packaging, or the UPC code on their Mini-14 magazines when they made Nutnfancy’s design changes. The packaging doesn’t say “Gen 2″ anywhere and if you are buying these magazines online, there is no way to tell which ones you are going to get. TAPCO’s Web site lists a Gen 1 magazine under their Ruger Mini-14 Components category, but they don’t list a Gen 2 magazine nor show that it comes in any color but black. So what’s the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2, and how can you tell?
According to Nutnfancy, Tapco changed the composition of their polymer in the Gen 2 magazines, resulting in a stiffer magazine with feed lips that won’t spread apart over time if the magazine is left loaded with rounds. This doesn’t help us identify the different magazines, but the other major change they made does. The Mini-14 mag is a “rock and lock” design requiring the shooter to put the front of the magazine into the mag well first, then rotate the magazine to the rear until it locks into place. A round pin built into the front of the rifle’s mag well holds the magazine in place, interfacing it with a hole in the front of the magazine. On the Gen 1 magazines this hole is molded into the polymer mag body. On the Gen 2 magazines Tapco reinforced this hole with a steel band wrapping around the magazine body, as shown in the pictures. The steel reinforcement keeps this critical area from wearing prematurely. This is how you can tell at a glance whether the magazine you are looking at is a TAPCO Gen 1 or Gen 2.
Here at Cheaper Than Dirt, all of our in-stock TAPCO Mini-14 magazines are already Gen 2 specification, so if you’re ordering from us you don’t have to worry about this. We have ’em in black as well as the flat dark earth type pictured here, for $12.97 each. But if you happen to pick up some Gen 1 magazines at a gun show or something, know that TAPCO offers a lifetime warranty on their magazines, so if you have problems they will take care of you regardless of which ones you are using. Now take that Ruger out there and put some rounds downrange!
It isn’t every day that you get to meet real life heroes. CTD Martin and I had the honor and pleasure of meeting several heroes at the Warrior Cane Project event near Dallas, TX. The project is an effort to empower disabled veterans by training them how to defend themselves with a cane.
Thomas S. Forman, Valhalla Security Consulting
There are several advantages to this approach. You can literally take a cane anywhere. Airports and other controlled entry locations can’t take a person’s cane away. They also cannot legally ask you why you need a cane. Obviously, a person’s medical conditions are their own business. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning that a person could do any real damage with a cane, but after seeing the types of sticks these folks used for training, I quickly began to understand. Typically, canes nowadays are hollow tubes of aluminum, which are light and comfortable for the user due to padding around the curved handle. The fighting canes however, are hand-carved hardwood sticks with lethal grooves carved into the sides. Designers included this shark tooth pattern of grooves to tear skin off the bone should someone be so inclined, and getting smacked with a fast-moving wooden rod isn’t something I want to be on the business end of.
A Warrior Holding His Donated Cain
The class took place in a pub in Dallas, TX. When we entered the pub, I wasn’t sure we were even in the right place. A large shadow appeared to my left and I no longer had any doubts. The instructor for the class, Thomas Forman, stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and would make most NFL linebackers look like sissies. He graciously introduced us to some of the warriors taking the class and we had a chance to chat before the class started. We met several people who were anxious to discuss a myriad of topics including the fading support for veterans benefits that is stemming from Washington. There are veterans out there having to pay money out of their own pockets to take care of wounds they sustained while fighting for our country. This situation is obviously unacceptable. Randy Stamm, an author and veteran with a laundry list of military accomplishments and decorations that I can’t fit into one blog post, explained some of the hardships that currently face veterans under the current administration. Randy spends one hundred percent of his time helping veterans get the benefits they earned while keeping our country safe. As a veteran myself, I was happy to meet him. I recommend reading his book, “A Soldier’s Dying Heart,” a documentary about the Gulf War.
By the time the class started, the room filled up with heroes like Thomas and Randy. They stood in a large circle where Thomas began to teach the basics of cane fighting. This style of fighting originated in Korea, and Thomas has a perfected version that veterans can use to help defend themselves against attackers. Criminals routinely target the disabled and elderly since they believe they are easy prey. The crooks typically don’t expect the disabled elderly person to be a former special operations soldier who is wielding a three-foot stick with sharp edges. As the class continued to learn, you could see that warrior mentality surface in the faces of the students. Empowering otherwise disabled veterans is what this program is all about.
Due to the success of the initial training sessions, the Marine Corps and the Army have requested Mr. Forman and Valhalla Security Consulting to teach Combat Cane sessions all over the United States, and train Wounded Warriors to become Combat Cane Instructors. These Wounded Warrior instructors can then maintain partial or full active duty service.
As with most programs, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Each hand carved cane costs $160.00. The program relies totally on donations, so help these troops become warriors again. You can donate here, and your contribution is 100% tax deductible as a donation to the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
American history offers us many examples of a single vote being the deciding factor in important decisions with far reaching consequences. My favorite “your vote counts” story is when President Andrew Johnson was aquitted by a single vote when opposition leaders impeached him in the spring of 1868. Johnson had gained the presidency in an unhappy way—he took the oath of office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln—and the country was in turmoil following the end of the Civil War. If Johnson’s opposition had been successful, he would not have been able to grant unconditional amnesty to former confederate soldiers just before the Presidential inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was the former Commanding General of the Union who had accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. General Grant also supported the continued occupation of the south by the US Army. The survival of the Johnson presidency by a single vote ended up making a real difference in how America was “reconstructed” after the end of the Civil War.
The future of our republic depends upon regular participation by a well-informed voting electorate—we the voters. If the electorate isn’t well informed, the system breaks down because the voters do not know the positions of the candidates they are voting for. Whether the candidates will do the things that voters expect is less likely when the voters don’t know much about them, and once elected they lose their accountability to the electorate who put them in power. In the internet age, the danger to the electorate isn’t being uninformed; anyone with an internet connection has instant access to more information about the candidates than ever before. The danger to us in the 21st century is becoming misinformed by a jumble of different information sources. These sources are often biased and their agendas can be either obvious or hidden. It is not difficult to find news stories about any party or candidate you are interested in, but finding a news source that you trust can be more challenging. The millions of dollars spent by candidates every election for advertisements that simply attack each other only adds to the noise and confusion.
Once the electorate has learned about their choices as best they can, they must participate in the election by voting. As U.S. citizens, nothing we do has as much impact on the way the government is run than casting our vote. You’ll notice that the recent massive “occupy” protests across the country have yet to result in a single proposed change to our nation’s laws. When congress was considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, from the winter of 2009 to the spring of 2010, letters and emails against the proposal flooded the mailboxes of Senators and Representatives alike. Although the vast majority of these communications urged them not to pass it, the bill ended up passing, and the President signed it into law in June of 2010. Once elected, representatives can ignore petitions and protests, and act in the best interests of whomever they see fit. Our only way of holding them accountable is to limit their term of power by voting them out!
Never doubt that your vote counts. The presidential election of 1800 resulted in a deadlock in the Electoral College. The House of Representatives decided on the office of the presidency by a vote. Aaron Burr (who would kill Alexander Hamilton in a cold-blooded pistol duel 4 years later) was defeated and did not gain the presidency. Thomas Jefferson instead became the third President of the United States—by only one vote.
In Bushmaster’s product line-up, the M17-S bullpup was always the odd one. It shared a few components with the AR-15 rifle, but remained more of a low-volume curiosity for its entire 13-year product run. This rifle has its origins in the Leader T2 rifle mentioned last week. In 1986 the Australian Army invited bids to replace the L1A1 rifle. Charles St.George submitted an improved select-fire version of the Leader T2 designated the M18. The M18 used a short stroke piston and a gas regulator, with the non-reciprocating charging handle, bolt carrier and two action rods of the T2. The plunger ejector was changed to a fixed ejector like the Stoner 63. A folding stock was added. Beta light sighting system was to be standard. The Australian army eventually adopted the Steyr AUG instead and produced it under a license as F88.
The designer with his rifle.
Charles re-designed the trigger mechanism and converted the M18 into a bullpup rifle named the ART30. Once fully developed it was licensed to Bushmaster as M17-S. Probably to make use of more common parts, the U.S. version used AR-15 type plunger and a further altered trigger mechanism. A heavier extruded receiver added noticeable extra weight. The lower receiver was also altered in a way which made stripping and removal of the bolt carrier assembly more difficult. Rudimentary emergency open sights were built into the “carry handle”, but it was expected that an optical sight would be used. At the time, the reliance on optics for a defensive rifle was considered a flaw by most.
Partly as the result of those changes, the rifle came out somewhat heavy, with a spongy trigger and tended to retain heat. The heavy weight was mitigated by the excellent balance and very low felt recoil. With right-hand only ejection, it was also an awkward fit for left-handed users. Since bullpups were new, few training materials existed and most shooters viewed the manual of arms as awkward. One major plus of the M17-S was its use of the standard STANAG magazine. During the ban years (1994-2004), AUG magazines were extremely expensive, while AR-15 magazines remained at least somewhat affordable. The rifle itself cost about two-thirds of an AR-15 because the design allowed cost-effective manufacturing.
K&M modified M17S with 1-4x GRSC scope
Recently, I test-fired an M17-S modified by K&M Aerospace. The modification started with ventilating the receiver to reduce weight by half a pound and to improve air flow. Combined with the already thick barrel, the ventilation greatly improved the sustained fire capability. Use of a vertical foregrip further insulated the support hand from the barrel heat. The “carry handle” was removed and replaced with two rails, permitting the use of standard AR-15 optics and other accessories. The longer rail also provided useful separation between the front and rear backup sights. Because of the central balance of the original rifle, addition of accessories didn’t make the gun too front heavy. Fired with GRSC 1-4x scope set to 4x, this modified rifle shot at 2MOA from prone with plain American Eagle 55gr ball. Surprisingly, the mechanical noise of the operating parts was not noticeable at all.
The major issues with the M17-S —weight, trigger quality and awkward take-down—have been addressed in the next rifle designed by St.George. I will cover it in the next chapter of this tale.
On the way to SHOT Show last year, I met Charles St.George. I didn’t know who he was, but somehow the Bushmaster M17 came up in conversation and turned out that he was the original designer. It was therefore no surprise that the rifle he displayed at the 2011 show looked like a very brawny M17. The Leader 50, while internally quite different from the M17 used the same basic extruded receiver design as the .223 bullpup. But the internals of the upcoming 50BMG rifle were based on a design of which I had not heard before, the Leader T2.
Charles St.George was born on Malta but moved to England with his parents at a young age. As a child, he had a Colt Peacemaker replica which even came with full-size dummy cases loaded with caps. The gun itself was precision die cast from zinc and Charles played with it until the toy literally fell apart. When his father’s regiment, the First Cheshire, got posted to Libya, Charles tried to replicate the zinc toy in steel. After a month of work with a hacksaw and a file, he had something only slightly resembling the intended form. “The experiment helped build arm muscles, at least!” he joked.
Upon returning to England, he decided to build a .303 semi auto rifle. Scotland Yard sent an Inspector from the Hampshire Constabulary to interview me at home before granting permission. Perhaps having a military father helped. The ammunition had to be kept at the Bisley Rifle Range and used cartridges logged in a register. The rifle he built used a simple tilting lock that locked the breech bolt into the receiver tube. A friend helped machine some of the parts, the rest were fashioned by hand. At the range it would not fire. In retrospect, Charles says that was lucky, for the rifle would have blown up. He knew nothing about metals, heat treatment or the designing of real guns.
As an adult, Charles immigrated to Australia started to tinker again. He built .223 semi auto rifle prototypes until he had a beautiful select-fire weapon with an aluminum receiver somewhat like the AR15 and a non reciprocating charging handle like the L1A1. Long stroke gas system used a piston pinned to a tube which housed the return spring and held to the bolt carrier by a wedge held in place by the cam track in the receiver, a triangular breech bolt and wooden handguards. The design eventually entered production around 1978 as the Leader T2. In use, this gun has particularly mild recoil, especially when compared to an AR15. Forgotten Weapons shows the T2 disassembly process on video. They also feature photos of a pre-production sample with a wood stock made before the Zytel furniture was ready.
T2 has very mild recoil.
Left-hand charging handle does not reciprocate on firing
The Leader T2 production went smoothly because the gun was designed from the start to be extremely efficient. The receiver was based on a 16 gauge steel square tube. Dupont provided the expertise for the Zytel parts, which had not previously been used on an assault rifle. The triangular bolt design (subsequently used on the Serbu rifle, the R4 and Barrett 82A1/M107) simplified the barrel extension and the bolt broaching process. The barrel blanks from Parker Hale were rifled with a simple button rifling machine also designed by Charles. It rifled a barrel blank in about 20 seconds. While T2 resembles an AR180 superficially, it is even simpler inside. All major parts can be removed for cleaning in seconds and stay captive to simplify the take-down. It used common STANAG (M16) magazines.
T2 was shown to represenatives of Italy, Portugal and Oman. About 2000 were eventually exported to the US and a few to Africa. By the time the 1989 and 1994 bans in the US caused the cessation of the production of the T2, Charles St.George had already moved on. His next rifle is familiar to Americans as the Bushmaster M17. We will talk about that design next week.
This rule of gun safety applies at all times no matter the circumstances. We need to see our targets to be sure of them, and in darkness that means bringing our own light (night vision and laser designators notwithstanding, for you military guys). Attaching flashlights to firearms isn’t a new idea. Now declassified photos of British SAS operators in the early 1980s show them using Mp5 submachine guns with big police-style Maglite flashlights taped to improvised mounts. In 1993 Heckler & Koch released their Universal Service Pistol, which included a compact Universal Tactical Light fitting underneath the slide and producing 90 lumens of light. Fast forward to 2011, and a dizzying variety of dedicated weapon lights ranging from very affordable to pretty darn expensive are offered for sale by a number of manufacturers. The latest generation of lights are smaller and brighter than ever. Nearly every new pistol design produced in the past few years features a rail underneath the barrel intended for a light. Light rails are being added to new variants of classic guns like the 1911 and Beretta 92. From SWAT teams everywhere to elite military door-kickers in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the local Sherriff’s deputy to pistols in civilian nightstands across the country, having a weapon mounted tactical light is becoming the rule, not the exception.
Old School: These SAS guys had improvised weapons lights almost 30 years ago.
Some will say, “I’ve been shooting my whole life and I’ve never needed a tactical light before, why do you think I need one now?” Allow me to answer that question with another question. How much shooting have you done in darkness, where correctly identifying your target meant the difference between saving your life and killing an innocent person? LAPD SWAT is the busiest SWAT team in the world, responding to call outs and executing high risk warrants on a daily basis in one of America’s toughest big cities, and they have been using weapon-mounted tactical lights for decades. When they enter a residence to apprehend a dangerous barricaded suspect, instantly they need to be able to identify the bad guy, the bad guy’s thug friend lurking around the corner with a baseball bat, and the bad guy’s innocent wife and kids cowering in fear in the opposite corner of the bedroom. Regardless of lighting conditions in their operating area, their weapon mounted lights ensure that they can discern friend from foe quickly and effectively.
The predictable response is, “Ok, fine, so SWAT needs tactical lights, but I’m not kicking anyone else’s door down. Anyone who comes into my home uninvited deserves to get shot and my state’s castle law says so.” It’s a bad idea to blaze away in the dark at people you can’t identify, but you don’t have to take my word for it; take the word of Glenn Mizell. Having been burglarized a week before, Mr. Mizell woke up to the sound of his dog barking frantically in December 2007. He grabbed his home defense pistol and got out of bed, convinced the intruders had returned. Having calmed the dog, he was coming back to bed when he suddenly saw a figure rummaging around in his kitchen in the dark. Taking careful aim, he fired a single shot, which struck his wife Deborah squarely in the chest, killing her. She had not realized why he had left the bedroom, and had gotten up to make a snack. Mr. Mizell’s story quickly became fodder for gun control organizations, which spread the story around as a cautionary tale for wives who so foolishly let their husbands keep a gun in the house. Be sure of your target and what’s behind it folks.
Some flashlight companies like to advertise their tactical lights as a “less lethal” option capable of temporary blinding and disorienting an attacker. The opposing school of thought claims that flashlights are just a liability, giving your position away to the bad guys and presenting a bright circle for them to aim at. In my personal opinion, neither of these extreme perspectives is entirely correct. I sometimes do a drill at night which is easy to replicate (the hardest part is finding a place that will let you shoot in total darkness; this is where friends with large farms come in very handy). Duct tape a cheap 120 lumen tactical light to the head of a standard IDPA type target. Face away from the target, close your eyes, and have a friend activate the “constant on” switch. The light is shining on your back, but you are facing away from it with your eyes closed. Have your friend grab you by the shoulders and spin you 180 degrees until you are facing the target and your friend is safely behind you. Open your eyes and suddenly you are exposed to the brightness of the light. Bring up your firearm and shoot a controlled pair at the center of the target. If you are like me, the light from the flashlight will dazzle you, hurt your eyes, and be a major annoyance for a second, and you will then drill the center of the target with two well-placed rounds. On the other hand, the sights of my gun have never been drawn to the flashlight itself. I’ve never been tempted to shoot at the flashlight itself, but this is also a function of distance to the target—I do this drill at a distance of 5 to 7 feet from the target, which is a very typical indoors “close quarters” engagement range. If I were 25 yards away from a bad guy pointing a light at me, you bet I would be shooting at the light source.
The purpose of the tactical light is to help you be sure of your target. Up close, it may additionally buy you a split second of confusion on the other person’s part, while you make a critical split decision on whether it is wise to start shooting. Don’t view the tactical light as a substitute for lethal force or as a foolish gimmick that will certainly get you killed. Instead, view it as a useful tool that can assist you in certain situations, when used properly. You must choose your light carefully and know how to use it.
Light choices and techniques will be covered in Part II, coming soon!
This simple drill will disprove common misconceptions about tactical lights
Kahr Arms is building an empire out of a single innovative pistol design. Their first pistol, the K9, featured six US patents covering the locking, firing, and extraction design elements, and the company now lists 70 different models all based on the same features. All of them are made in Massachusetts using state-of-the-art CNC machining technology. Kahr bought Auto Ordnance (the Tommy gun people) in 1999, and in 2010 bought up Magnum Research of Desert Eagle fame. The company’s purchasing power comes from their President and CEO, Justin Moon, who is the son of Sun Myung Moon. Yes, THAT Reverend Moon, who founded the Unification Church.
Justin Moon started shooting at age 14, got his first license to carry at age 18, and wasn’t real thrilled with the choices available in an ultra-compact 9mm pistol. He decided to design and build his own, and the rest is history. The Kahr I have in my hand right now is the PM45, the smallest .45acp I’ve ever seen. It is striker fired, like a Glock or M&P, using a cam system to finish cocking the partially pre-cocked striker. This gives it an incredibly smooth double action type trigger pull, but like the Para LDA trigger you can’t re-strike the primer a second time by simply pulling the trigger—once the striker hits the primer, the trigger system has to be reset by moving the slide. I’m a single action kind of guy myself. I like a crisp 1911 trigger or a Glock with a 3.5lb connector, but I have to admit that in an ultra-compact defensive gun with no external safety, a longer trigger pull is safer. If it’s a smooth, light double action pull like on this gun, I can still hit my target quickly and consistently out to 25 yards or so, which is what the P45 is for.
Moon’s little gun includes a few very clever design features designed to make it as slim and short as possible. Most interesting to me is the offset barrel design—looking at the gun with the slide open from behind, the feed ramp is actually positioned to the left inside the slide, with the trigger mechanism next to it on the right. How did they make that work? Kahrs have an excellent reputation for reliability so obviously the feed ramp still does its job despite the offset. This lowers the height of the barrel over the shooter’s hand, known as bore axis, and makes the P45’s recoil kick to the rear instead of flipping the muzzle up. The barrel ramp is polished beautifully right out of the box, and the barrel uses polygonal rifling that looks a lot like Glock rifling. These guns have a reputation for outstanding accuracy due to the polygonal rifling and the tight tolerances made possible by CNC machining every metal component.
The polymer frame is molded with sharp raised squares on the front and back strap. This reverse checkering design really grabs your hand aggressively—considering the small size, light weight, and powerful caliber of this gun I think wearing shooting gloves might be appropriate if I were to take a high-round-count class using the PM45, but in a stressful self-defense situation I’m sure I would appreciate the extra grip. The dual recoil springs are super stout, although I can’t find the spec anywhere I guesstimate that it takes between 22-25lbs of force to pull back the slide on this gun. Kahr recommends replacing these powerful springs after only 1000 rounds or risk having the polymer frame battered to death by the stainless steel slide. There’s always a price to be paid when putting a major caliber in a tiny, polymer framed pistol, and Kahr has obviously decided to let their recoil springs be the part that takes the punishment. The sights are metal (are you paying attention, Glock?), big enough to be useful, and feature a white dot on the front sight and a white post on the rear sight for a “lollipop” sight picture.
The Kahr comes in a small, foam lined black plastic case with two 5-round magazines, owner’s manual and assorted paperwork, and of course a trigger lock. Kahr pistols are not cheap. Priced in the $650 range, the little PM45 costs about as much as some good quality 1911s. Kahr makes no apologies, their website proudly and honestly states that they don’t cut corners to build their guns to a “price point,” they simply build the highest quality gun possible using the technology available. When you are trusting your life to a tiny, lightweight polymer pistol packed with .45acp hollowpoints, that’s a reassuring philosophy from the folks who built that gun.
With the passage of Wisconsin’s concealed carry legislation this year, 49 states now have some sort of concealed carry law on their books. Of those, 36 states have “shall issue” right-to-carry laws comparable to Wisconsin’s. Only Illinois, which predictably also frowns upon open carry, stands completely alone in denying its citizens the right to bear their arms.
The 49 states that do feature some sort of concealed carry on their books have different regulatory schemes, different requirements to acquire a permit, and different rules about where guns may and may not be carried. They also differ in one other important way—reciprocity. Reciprocity is the legal process by which one state may recognize the laws of another, as they do with driver’s licenses for example. Many states do in fact recognize permits from certain other states, but many others do not, or their recognition is limited to certain states. Without recognition of an out of state concealed carry permit, a law abiding citizen must then obey the wide variety of state laws regarding firearm possession and transport for non permit holders. This makes it legally risky for folks taking a simple family vacation from Missouri to Pennsylvania, for example, to bring a self protection firearm along with them. There are websites online which can act as a guide for law-abiding gun owners to navigate this confusing situation, but the fact that they exist at all drives home the point that the hodgepodge of state laws are difficult to understand and follow. And if you’re a trucker who sees several different states each week, the 2nd Amendment probably seems more like something you just read about online than a basic human right which could save your life someday.
U.S. House of Representatives members Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Schuler (D-NC) have a solution. In February 2011 they introduced HR 822, a national right-to-carry reciprocity bill that, if passed, would force every state to recognize the concealed carry rights of visitors with concealed carry permits from their home state. That’s it. No national ID card, no national database of concealed carry permit holders, just the radical yet simple notion that states should recognize each other’s concealed carry permits as they do a driver’s license. Surprisingly, HR 822 has its basis in existing federal law. Due to the Armored Car Reciprocity Act of 1993, every state, including Illinois, currently recognizes the permits carried by employees of Armored Car companies to carry firearms in their vehicles and on their persons. How simple is that?
While this may seem like a simple change, getting the bill through Congress and signed by the President will be anything but. Representative Stearns has filed a version of this right to carry reciprocity bill every year since 1995, which means that the bill has failed for sixteen straight years. Like seeds planted in barren earth, each bill has withered and died. But there are some indications that the bill’s chances are improving. The landmark legal case of District of Columbia vs. Heller affirmed in 2008 that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, not a collective right. The Heller decision now backs up HR 822 from the standpoint of constitutional law, but more than that, it has helped turn the tide of legislation in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
While the BATFE and the Justice Department are reeling from scandals involving the government’s involvement in trafficking firearms from the United States to Mexico and Honduras, there are indications that this Congress is refusing to go along with gun control proposals. The House of Representatives has adopted a provision protecting gun possession on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, and has shot down two anti-gun schemes by the BATFE and the Justice Department by removing funding from them. By contrast, HR 822 now has 241 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, more than half the total number of members. The bill is currently before the House sub-committee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. If it can be successfully attached to an important piece of legislation coming through that committee, it is feasible that President Obama would sign it into law as part of a larger package, as he did with a bill allowing concealed carry in National Parks in May 2009.
With every state but one having concealed carry on the books, more than half of the House of Representatives co-sponsoring this bill, a recent Supreme Court decision affirming the 2nd Amendment, and a president who has previously signed pro-concealed carry legislation into law, is national concealed carry reciprocity an idea whose time has come? Cliff Stearns and Heath Schuler think so. They have been watering this tree with care and have watched it grow over time. Is the fruit of their labors finally getting ripe? Will the mishmash of conflicting laws be replaced by a simple edict that the states are to respect the rights of each others’ citizens?
Yesterday four of us managed to get ourselves cornered in an alleyway. Two of us laid down covering fire while the other two pulled a dumpster sideways, creating a choke point. We radioed for help to the remaining members of our team. We held off the crowd of dead heads for what felt like an eternity. Shortly afterwards, a truck pulled up at the end of the alleyway, and a towrope came flying through the air. We clipped the tow strap to the dumpster and jumped in. The truck tires squealed and we started sliding to safety, firing out of the side window of the smelly metal container. Next time I hope it’s a recycle bin instead.
Last night, Sharp-Eye showed me a rash she had developed overnight. I was in my make-shift lab all day, so I’m not sure what the group got into yesterday. Everyone seems to disclose just enough that is relevant to the situation at hand and hardly anything more. So, I’m quite pleased she feels she trusts me enough to tell me. Or maybe it’s just because I’m the only one with such extensive medical training. I dressed her wound and applied some Antiseptic from the first aid kit. To avert any suspicion, I encouraged the whole group to dress in long sleeves to avoid sun exposure. I lead them to believe that our first aid supplies are dwindling and that heat stroke is detrimental to our survival. In regards to the rash, I’m not too worried, though I did take a scrape of it to take back to my lab for dissection.
Earl "The Duke" Jenkins
I’m not all by myself no more! I had to risk the sporting goods store because I was running low on filters for my Katydyn water purifier, and I wanted some other necessities, like clothes that don’t smell like burned zombie. And candy bars. I tried out the camera tripod spear and it works real good so I didn’t burn up all my ammo getting around. I’d already scavenged all the 9mm I could carry and I was shopping around for a new backpack when I heard the same machinegun as the other night, but this time real close. I got down on my belly and started yelling out as loud as I could that I’m Duke Jenkins, famous photographer and author, and I ain’t no zombie. I need to write a chapter in the book on how to not get shot when you run into people that are still, you know, people.
There’s a whole crew of these survivors and they seem alright to me. Not a good ol’ boy among ‘em, but if they made it this long they can’t be total idiots. And boy are they well armed, this feller that calls himself “Rampage” totes an M60 belt-fed machinegun around with him everywhere he goes, and it’s the same gun I heard the other night. Turns out they saw the fire from the gas station I torched too. None of ‘em has a radio or we might’ve found each other days ago, instead of me almost getting shot up in the men’s dressing room.
If you’re reading this, then you’re a survivor, because we all know zombies can’t read. And if reading this chapter saves your life, remember the name Earl “Duke” Jenkins, world famous photographer, journalist, and documenter, no wait, that ain’t right, documentarian? Is that even a word? Anyhow, I’m a world famous fact writer downer of this here zombie apocalypse, and ya’ll better remember the name of Duke Jenkins. So here’s some stories and advice from me to you about one of my very favorite topics: machine guns!
Even before the undead came (and monster truck shows ended) I knew all about machine guns. The littlest ones are called machine pistols, and I sure wish I had one. They’re just a pistol with a switch somewhere that takes it from pop-pop to yee -haw. The Germans and Italians made some HK and Beretta models that would shoot a 3-round burst, but the king daddy of machine pistols is the Austrian Glock 18, a true full auto that can dump its entire magazine with one pull of the trigger, if you’re desperate enough. Some machine gun dealers modified regular Glocks to go full auto in the past few years but I ain’t run across one yet. If I ever find one, my Viridian green laser and 33 round magazines will go right on it. Anyhow, 9mm ammo is real easy to come by and works great at close range, and a machine pistol can be shot with one hand while you do something important, like locking a door behind you, with your other hand.
Submachine guns are like little rifles shooting pistol ammo. They weigh less than a rifle, and they have a stock so you can aim better than with a pistol. Now, I think the ultimate submachine gun for the zombie apocalypse would be the American 180, which looks like a tommy gun but in .22lr instead of .45acp. It feeds with a drum magazine on top that holds, get this, 275 rounds of .22lr ammo. Remember, at close range .22lr does just fine to stop them zombies right in their tracks. The American 180 was mostly used by prison guards, so if you’re holed up in a prison keep your eyes open for one. Around here, you can find HK Mp5 submachine guns in police stations or even the trunks of police cars if you get lucky. You do always search police cars for good scavenge, right? The Mp5s are accurate and controllable and don’t use up your 9mm ammo too fast. When you’re faced with an undead mob of shuffling zombies outside a gas station ‘cause you took too long in the toilet laughing at the funny papers, one of these is just the ticket to carve yourself a path to freedom. That was a close one, I had to drop a whole load of snack food and flee for my life. I hate running, damn zombies.
One more step up bigger and you got yourself the select fire assault rifle. Far and away the most common are M4 carbines and M16 rifles, in places where the military made their last stands you can find ‘em lying around everywhere. Try to pick up a clean one, they don’t work as good with gunk in the action. With a good red dot scope aiming is fast and they are plenty accurate, so most of the time you’ll keep ‘em on semi auto, one shot one kill right? Except you can’t kill the undead, so heck I don’t know what to call it now. Anyhow, the .223 ammo they use goes through them soft zombie pumpkin heads real easy and if you take your time and wait for ‘em to line up, you can get a two-fer if you time it right. I do it all the time ‘cause I’m a real trick shot, sometimes if I get a two-fer I’ll reward myself with a candy bar right then and there. You gotta appreciate the little things in life, that’s what separates us from them.
The biggest machine guns of all are the belt-feds. I never got to shoot a belt-fed before the zombies came because the military was prejudiced against fat people and wouldn’t let me join up. One of the survivors I’ve been thrown in with totes an M60 and he showed me how to work it. You don’t want to have to load it in the dark or in a hurry, so he keeps it loaded all the time. I got to try it out once and it was more fun than a raccoon in a pillowcase. But it weighs 25 pounds, which is like carrying around four Mp5 submachine guns with you all the time, and the ammo for it is heavy too. The best thing about it when I tried it was that its 7.62 NATO ammo hits so hard. Let me tell you, zombie heads and arms were flyin’ off everywhere and the rounds just kept going through even more zombies behind ‘em. I got so excited I forgot to look down the sights and I just watched where the rounds were hitting instead, and with all the noise and smoke and the long bursts I was laying down, well it was the best Fourth of July show since Travis Tritt at the state fair. You gotta pick up as many ammo links as you can after shooting it though, because if you run out of linked ammo the party’s over. Honestly, I love the M60 but its not worth the weight if you’re on foot. Go with something lighter and you’ll move faster and you won’t be tired and crabby all the time.
Well, its time for some shut eye so I’m done with this chapter. Till next time remember, you can’t have too much fresh water, fresh batteries for your lasers and flashlights, or fresh ammo. And never, ever give up! Keep on going and maybe one day you’ll meet me, Duke Jenkins, out there documenting this here infested wasteland. I always have a candy bar to share and I don’t charge for autographs.
Zombies woke me up again early this morning. It’s like they know I want to sleep in till noon sometimes and they just want to take that away from me too. I lost my temper and torched a bunch of ‘em at a gas station. It don’t usually stop ‘em and it smells terrible bad, but I enjoyed the show anyway. I should have been embarrassed, I screamed at ‘em the whole time like they could hear. “Its your fault there ain’t no more pro wrasslin! It’s your fault there ain’t no more NASCAR!” I sure made a scene, but nobody was there to notice.
I got a real fight coming up but I gotta do it. I stink real bad right now, I need some new clothes or I’m gonna start smelling like they do. And I can always use more ammo and food, so I have to head into town tomorrow and see if I can find me a sporting goods store and resupply. There’s bound to be more of those undead moaners around than I can easily deal with. If I have to shoot my way in, then shoot my way back out, I’ll have risked my life all day and still be out of ammo. And that don’t make no sense at all, but I’m going anyhow.
David "Rampage" McCormick
Working with these untrained civilians is proving to be quite an adjustment. They have no regard for military bearing, hierarchy or the chain of command. They insist on doing things their own way, and I find this unsettling. When it comes to neutralizing the zombie threat however, some have proven to be useful. We have set up safe areas around the city that are fenced off and electrified; these small areas have food sealed up in airtight containers along with basic medical supplies. Ammunition was running low until yesterday when we raided a local gun store. We managed to carry out several weapons, and I am anxious to try some of these new 00 buck shotgun shells on our dead head friends. At close range nothing beats a tactical shotgun. Laying waste to a large crowd of zombies in just the thing I need to let out a little frustration.
I never thought I would be a killer. I spent so many years studying on how to SAVE people’s lives. Not end them. Increasingly, I find it difficult to go with the team on scavenger outings. It is inevitable we all have to fight. Sometime when faced with the Reanimated, I feel hesitant to shoot. Survival instincts win out every time, though. I have become well versed in operating any weapon I am given. You have to, in this day and age. Dirty has trained me well on the tomahawk. I find it easy to sever the cortex of the reanimated fairly quickly and easily with the tomahawk. In my heart of hearts, I just know I could develop a cure. If I could just get to the lab…
It’s been a hectic week battling off the zombies. We’re pretty certain we’re winning. However, I’m not totally sure. I’ve been working to get the team all on the same page and feel like there is still yet more to do. The work never ends. It’s a drudge at times, but somebody’s got to do it.
We press on, keeping the zombies at bay. Who knows. We may need these skills later down the road. Could it be “Zombieageddon”?
I discovered some of my team’s journals. I know it’s rude to read what others have to say, but in this case, never knowing if they’ll return from the field or not, I thought, why not? I decided this would be a good time to share some of their entries. Maybe this will help put the pieces together so we’ll all know what to do next.
I’ve finally figured out the formula in which to measure my viral aerosol sampling of the dump site I recorded last week.
I’ve also been working on extracting hydroxicine, benzotrilyamate, and toxalymene from local plants in order to create a form of toxicalplymosis. I believe I can replicate the virus of the reanimated.
My compound so far: q-(prydoxyethal)-, 7-doxyethal-7-xneroutioxidie, stp-8-ry ethnayal, [9(X)-hydroxymil]-HrS,3rH-, Poxin-2a-y8
David "Rampage" McCormick
Dispatching these slow moving dead heads has become routine, but I don’t want to lie and say that I don’t get a small amount of pleasure out of my new found career. A favorite tactic of mine is to use bait. My team and I used to use human bait, but willing volunteers are becoming scarce, the zombies have resorted to eating any living thing they can find. Cats, dogs, cattle, and horses, are all on the menu. We found a goat one day and tied it to a pole on the inside of a warehouse. We rigged the doors of the building to all close simultaneously and once a large enough crowd of dead heads heard the dinner bell, we hit the switch and rained down lead from an upper railing. I used my ArmaLite M15A4CB, a few Magpul mags, and a Burris red dot fast fire sight to make quick work of our guests. Good times. We even made a game of it, Specter thinks he’s ahead, but we only counted claymore traps as one kill each, so the overall score is up for debate. Fortunately, we used a steel pet carrier from a burned out pet store for the goat, so the zombies could not spoil our dinner. There’s nothing like chowing down on a little goat after a long day of killing zombies.
Earl "The Duke" Jenkins
So this here journal is to help organize my book thoughts and such. The book will sell better after all this is over because I was orderly with my thoughts while the apocalypse was on. I picked me out a new camera on scavenge because all good books have pictures, and I used some parachute cord to strap my Ka-Bar knife to a tripod leg so I have an extendable spear. Its kind of a bulky deal so I can’t carry a long gun no more, but I’m stocked up on 33 round mags for my Glock anyway so its all good.
I heard a lot of shootin’ yesterday, someone was really letting fly with a machinegun and not too far away from me. I burned up a set of radio batteries last night but didn’t reach anyone. I tried every frequency I could so either they don’t got a radio, theirs works on different frequencies, or… they didn’t make it. I hope they harvested a bumper crop of zombies either way.
In my previous life, I was a member of the Air Force Security Forces. My typical day consisted of checking identification at a gate in some far off corner of the globe. I saw some heavy action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have to take pills to sleep a full night. My tenure in the military was coming to an end, so I was looking forward to sleeping in, eating chips on the couch, and mowing my lawn on Sundays. A week before shipping home I heard something about a serious sickness that was going around in my hometown, but I wasn’t the type to get ill easily. After another six-month deployment, my plane landed and I drove my jeep through town to the front curb of my house. There was almost no traffic and several cars looked abandoned on the side of the road. The tall grass in my front yard looked like a Southeast Asian jungle. I grabbed my messenger bag out of the passenger seat and walked up the narrow concrete pathway leading to my front door. The un-kept grass was so tall I almost tripped over the pile of newspapers that had accumulated around my front porch. I looked down and saw several headlines alluding to a mysterious viral outbreak. I shrugged and unlocked my door as I took a huge step over the trash.
When I walked in I immediately noticed an overwhelming smell. It smelled like death. I had seen death a few times and I will never forget the smell it makes in the desert heat. I reached in my bag and pulled out my Beretta 92 and my Insight Technology HX120 flashlight, not sure what I would find. I cleared every room in the house, checking under beds, looking in bathtubs until all that remained was the kitchen. I moved quickly and quietly and for a moment, I forgot I was home, the rush of adrenaline you get just before a firefight had become all too familiar, and I could just as easily been clearing a random hovel in Kandahar. I reached the kitchen and immediately focused on the pantry. I put the flashlight in my mouth and reached for the doorknob with my left hand. I threw open the door and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Potatoes. I didn’t throw out the potatoes before I left. Ugh, it smelled like death and my stomach started having a mind of its own. I immediately leaned over the sink and dispatched everything I had eaten in the last couple of days. Six months in the pantry with no A/C; I really need to improve my domestic skills.
I set my weapon down and laid my forehead on the edge of the sink when an almost euphoric sense of well being came over me, it’s the kind of feeling you get after eating some bad chicken, and then getting rid of it. I let out a heavy sigh and reached for the shiny chrome faucet to wash down the half-digested grossness. When I looked up at the handle to turn on the water, I noticed something move in the faucet reflection. It was the shape of a man; his greenish silhouette was walking slowly in my direction, and that adrenaline rush hit me once more. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel my whole body rattle with every beat. I rolled foreword over the top of the counter to put some distance between us. I spun around as fast as I could and reached for my leg drop holster. That holster spent the last six months attached to my leg, and I had gotten used to it being there. To my horror, all I felt was an empty cargo pocket, and my sidearm was on the other side of the kitchen counter, right next to the intruder.
I quickly sized up my opponent. He was heavyset and wore a badly stained tank top. He was looking in my direction but not right at me. He had a blank expression and drool was pouring over both of his unshaved chins. It was right then that I recognized him, behind that blank stare I saw my neighbor Carl. He was a truck driver whom I had become acquainted with through several disputes about my overgrown foliage that was pouring onto his property. In response he often let his little rat dogs do their business on my front walkway. I began to do the math in my head. The virus I heard about, the newspaper headlines, and now poor Carl.
Just then Carl lurched forward over the counter with both hands, I had the strangest feeling that this fat dude wanted to take a bite out of me. I lunged to one side to dodge his hand and noticed my old 13-inch tube television sitting on my side of the counter. I grabbed it with both hands and slammed the glass end of the idiot box right on top of this clammy bloated head. He leaned back with the television still attached as I jumped over the counter to grab my gun. I put six rounds through the side of the TV effectively turning what was left of his brain into Swiss cheese. He slowly fell backwards into the pile of rotten potatoes and everything got quiet, all except for his left leg, which was twitching a bit. I put three more rounds into his leg, he finally stopped moving, and I began to calm down. I made a mental note, no need to worry about poodles pooping in my yard, and zombies don’t like being hit with televisions.
It’s time to start eradicating zombies at Cheaper Than Dirt! We’ve been strategizing for weeks. We must end the apocalypse now! Won’t you join us?
Thomas “Dirty” Poole
Thomas "Dirty" Poole
When it comes to zombie survival, this primarily involves breaking obstacles so the team can keep moving and then setting up new obstacles to slow down the horde. This usually puts me pretty close to the zombies. When the opportunity presents itself, I try to get a smile out of the team with an explosion or two. I’m a survivor because I just don’t want to end up like one of them.
Personality Type: I’m an explorer and a risk-taker. I also tend to “treasure hunt” a bit more than most others. I just don’t want to miss any really good supplies that could help keep us alive!
Best Zombie Kill: While covering a narrow doorway, I simply bayoneted the first zombie in the chest and held him at arms length. I did it because I was waiting for another few to stack up behind him in the doorway. I then fired a 1oz slug and dropped four at once. Rinse. Repeat. Ammo conservation is important with a shotgun!
Dr. Narcissa Ravenblack
Dr. Narcissa Ravenblack
I am an Epidemiologist who worked with a highly classified group of scientists developing a biological weapon, a project called Ninth Gamma. I secretly concocted an antivirus and have been taking it the entire time, which is how I was unaffected by the catastrophic event at the lab that released the toxins in the weapon.
All my notes, research, and vials of antivirus serum are secretly buried in cache storage behind the lab. I have failed to tell my current team of survivors that I have what I believe to be a vaccine to the virus. I am waiting for the right time to reveal my secret, so I can be hailed as the one doctor who saved mankind.
Personality Type: Megalomaniac, slowly descending into complete madness
First Zombie Encounter: When the lab exploded and released the virus. My entire team was infected.
Favorite Zombie Kill: When I had to relieve the head of funding for Project Ninth Gamma of his condition with a jagged edge of a broken Petri dish.
Specialty: Excellent at fixing the team’s physical and psychological wounds
Earl “The Duke” Jenkins
Earl "The Duke" Jenkins
Role: Photographer and novelist, documenting the Zombie Apocalypse for future generations, with plans to make millions off of the book and movie rights afterwards.
Modus Operandi: Tends to hold camera in one hand, Glock in the other, and photographs zombies until the last possible moment before popping them in their gory heads.
Secret Shame: Once artfully photographed the grisly death of a politician rather than try to save him.
Thing he Misses Most about the Old World: Playing “Left 4 Dead” online with friends… all of whom later became zombies.
Zombie Kill of the Week: Zombie got too close during a photo shoot. Duke stunned the zombie with his camera flash, then impaled him with a Ka-Bar knife he has strapped to a leg of his camera tripod. Then took a picture of the dead zombie with the camera (and zombie) still attached to the tripod.
Favorite Conspiracy Theory: Lady Gaga was the first zombie, years ago. Many suspected even then, but nobody knows for sure.
Role: Deployed in Afghanistan conducting anti-zombie operations to include vehicle interdiction, helicopter assault force, and foot patrols in hopes of finding the cause of the world’s outbreak. Responsible for 20-man reconnaissance/ surveillance team.
We currently have teams deployed in the Horn of Africa, Europe and South East Asia conducting similar missions in hopes of gaining intelligence in counter-zombie asymmetrical warfare.
Highly motivated to find the root of the outbreak which will in turn lead to a possible cure. It is also fun to waste zombies.
First Zombie Encounter: 14 July 2011 (female, approx. 23 to 30 years old, unable to determine due to decomposition, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan)
Too Close for Comfort, Those taken by the Zombie Apocalypse: Too many to list, I stopped counting after the first 100 team mates.
Weapon of Choice: FNH SCAR 17 (.308) with EGLM 40mm grenade launcher attached. Leupold 1.1-8X scope.
Little Known Factoid: Never bitten by Zombie
Closest Call with a Zombie: Vehicle convoy was ambushed IVO Asadabad Afghanistan. Lost everybody in my vehicle but was extracted via SPIES system from HH60 Blackhawk. During extraction operations, male zombie became entangled in SPIES rigging approx. three feet from me. I was saved by the door gunner who opened fire on zombie with Dillon precision Mini Gun.
David “Rampage” McCormick
David Rampage McCormick
Role: Former U.S. Air Force security forces who’s entire unit was wiped out by the zombie plague. Heavy weapons and entry team expert. Surviving to kill the maximum amount of zombie trash.
Weapon of Choice: M60/M4 or wooden bat with nails hammered in the fat end
First Zombie Kill: Hit him with the kitchen television
First Zombie Encounter: Encountering my zombie neighbor in my kitchen
Personality: Team oriented soldier
Blood Type: O neg
Sharp-eye “SURVIVOR” Sophie
Sharp-eye SURVIVOR Sophie
Role: Sharp Shooter
SURVIVOR is my middle name…I was stranded on some left coast island and managed to outwit and outlast the Zombies.
Weapons of Choice: Match set 1873 Bird’s Head SA Colt .45 (gotta have one for each hand); SA Model 92 .45 rifle; Browning 1885 .4570 High-wall
Best Kill: Head shot at 800 yards, but can take ’em down at a mite over 1200 yards
Motto: Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out
Personality Type: Rogue, loner
Shoots Pistol and Long Gun: Left-handed
Weapons Carried for Recon and Supply gathering: M24 – Rifle (carried in drag bag not on all occasions); M4 – Rifle; M9 – Pistol; Ka-Bar Knife
Mounted and Stationary: M60 – Machine Gun (one at each safehouse); M24 – Primary weapon
Closest Call with a Zombie: While taking a high position and providing high level cover for my old team the door leading into one of the safe houses was not securely locked down. By the time I heard them they were about five feet from me and closing in. I reached for my handgun but there was at least 25 to 35 on the roof top. Having my quick escape route I latched into my rappelling rope and bailed down the side of the building into my secondary safe area. This area is a fully enclosed location where the only way in is through the window. I stood at the window watching zombie after zombie attempt to fly.
Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry
When it comes to zombie hunting/survival, this primarily involves going out and away from our group in order to survey the area. I’m a survivor in order to provide for my family, as well as help anyone else who is still among the living.
First Zombie Encounter: While engaging in a little target practice one day, there was a flock of zombies that started coming out from behind the target berm. At first, I didn’t believe what I was seeing, but once I saw them take out the guy who was coming back from setting up targets, it became pretty clear what was happening. Luckily, I had just finished getting set up at the 1,000 yard bench with my secondary rifle (LaRue OBR), and was able to pick off each one of them with single head-shots. No misses!
Personality: Will kill as many as is necessary, or desired, until there is no longer a threat to my family and/or myself (all-around “gunny”).
Best Kill: One Monday morning, I woke up and looked out of the windows in the back of the house. I saw my neighbor aimlessly wandering around his backyard, looking rather pale. Upon further inspection, it was obvious that he was a zombie. Since he had previously let his dogs bark almost constantly for approximately two years, I retrieved my AR and shot him…with very little hesitation.
None of us like those days when we run low on ammo. It just seems like no matter how careful we are to conserve it, we’ll use up the last just as a big swarm hits. So, when I’m running out of triple-aught (because over-penetration is the name of the game!), or they’re too close for me to reload, I reach for a big blade.
The main defensive blade I’ve used since the outbreak is the machete. With zombies around it’s really pretty much just used like a sword. Real swords are generally a bit heavier, but then again it’s not that often that you can scrounge a nice broadsword from an abandoned hardware store. So, we make-do with what we’ve got. I got lucky in finding this one. At 18 inches long, it’s about average length for most machetes. Where this one shines is that it’s a bit more thickly constructed than most. I really like the knuckle guard, too. See, when slashing with a machete, things have a tendency to drag down the blade and hit you in the hand. This knuckle guard keeps the infected (or what’s left of them) from getting to me. In general, I would prefer weight to length in a machete. For example, if I run across one of the Ka-Bar Grass Machetes I’ll definitely be keeping it. It’s not quite as long, but it’s thicker. It would still do fine for a slashing defense, but it would pull double duty at chopping through obstacles.
Speaking of chopping through obstacles, the next largest blade I keep on me is a Tomahawk. In a fight, I tend to use it kind of like a shield– keeping a zombie at bay until it’s his turn for the machete. I’m just not quite ninja enough to just go in swinging with both arms. The tomahawk works great by itself, though. It doesn’t have the reach of the machete, but it’s got plenty of heft to work over a pack of zombies in short order. That spike does exactly what it looks like it will do, too. I don’t throw it! I like to keep my tools with me instead of tossing them into mobs of infected. Now, the even better reason to have the ‘hawk around is for getting through objects like doors, boarded up windows, drywall, etc. Pretty much any light-skinned modern construction is easy work for the ‘hawk. This is important because there’s been plenty of times where our group would have been overrun if we hadn’t been able to make a hole in a building to get away. If you play your cards right, you can make a hole just big enough for everyone to get through quickly. Once you’re all on the other side of the hole, the team can take turns defending the choke point you’ve created until you can block it back up or the threat’s over.
The other bladed weapon I keep close at hand for defensive use is the M7 Bayonet on my Mossberg. I think of it more as a “zombie standoff device.” See, with a bayonet your goal is to jab at the bad guy in your trench until he stops trying to hurt your buddies. With zombies, it’s not quite as easy because in order for that to work I’d have to do all my jabbing from the zombies’ noses up. Good luck with that! What I can do with it, though, is use it to keep zombies at arms length. The trick is I have to use it that way in a choke point. If I’m in a parking lot and I stick one zombie, the rest will just go around him to get me. If I stick a zombie in a narrow doorway though, I can lean into him with the gun and keep him from coming in and he’ll block the door and keep all the others from coming in, too. It’s not fun, (you know, because there’s a hungry guy at the other end of my shotgun taking swipes at me), but when ammo is tight and the team needs a minute to figure out how to keep moving it can be handy.
None of us likes the infected being anywhere near us, but the edge of my machete lasts through more zombies than an M&P9 magazine will. And I can just keep sharpening the machete.
So you want to load your own ammunition but don’t know where to start? There are a few basic bits of equipment that you cannot do without.
There are a dizzying variety of bullets, casings, primers, and powders for sale out there, but you need some of each before you can assemble a working cartridge of ammunition. Books, magazines, and Web sites catering to the handloading community are available to help you choose appropriate components for the cartridges you want to assemble.
Tumblers clean empty casings in bulk. Take a plastic bag full of muddy casings you plucked off the ground, and pour them into a vibratory tumbler filled halfway with corn cob media. Flip the switch and walk away; after a few hours the casings come out clean and polished, ready to be reloaded. What could be easier?
You will need a scale to measure the amount of powder you are loading into the casings. Electronic scales are more expensive, faster, and easier to use. Generally, they can measure within an accuracy of one tenth of a grain, which is one hundredth of a gram. Mechanical scales cost less and offer the same accuracy, but are more difficult to calibrate and tedious to use.
The dies are the carbide metal cylinders that sit in the press and actually interface with the cartridge components. Up to four dies are required to assemble each round of ammunition. The size die has a long spike running down the middle to punch the spent primer out the back of the casing. While this is happening, the top of the size die re-sizes the shape of the casing precisely, ensuring that its shape is correct. In a press using an automatic powder measure, the expander die activates the powder pour while slightly expanding the mouth of the cartridge to make it easier to seat the bullet, which is the job of the seatdie. If needed, the last die is the crimp die, which squeezes the casing around the bullet to hold it in place.
Lee Single Stage Press
This is where everything comes together, and there are many varieties of reloading presses from which to choose. Single stage presses only work on one die at a time, so cartridges are not created as quickly as with a progressive press, which activates up to four dies at once. Progressive presses cost more and sometimes are not as precise as their single stage counterparts. If you want to make a ton of .45acp ammo for pistol shooting, the progressive is a natural choice. If you want to make match-grade .308 Winchester rounds with extreme precision, the single stage design is what you are looking for.
There are also some optional extras that come in awfully handy. They do not cost much extra compared to what you already have invested in the necessities, and they sure make life at the reloading bench a lot easier.
The Bullet Puller
Adjustments to the dies are made on a trial-and-error basis, which means while you are adjusting how far you want the bullet seated in the casing, you are going to “get it wrong” several times before your adjustments are done. Why throw away those bullets and casings if you don’t have to? Put your cartridge into this big plastic hammer, give it a sharp smack on the floor, and out pops the bullet. Sometimes it is good to be able to disassemble a cartridge without just shooting it!
The Case Trimmer
The case trimmer is generally not needed for pistol calibers; but for rifle calibers, it becomes important. The higher chamber pressure of rifle cartridges causes their casings to stretch and expand on firing. After resizing in the size die, these cases are taller than their specifications call for, and usually not all by the same amount. The case trimmer trims the mouth of each casing to exactly the same length, making it possible to create consistent, accurate rifle ammunition.
Hornady Powder Trickler
The Chamfer and Deburring Tool
The case trimmer will leave burrs and sharp edges on the inside and outside of the casing mouth. These are sharp enough to cut your hands, and inconsistent enough to grab each bullet slightly differently as it gets seated. Save your hands and make your rounds more consistent with this little tool that neatly cleans up the case mouth.
The Powder Trickler
The amount of powder dispensed by a progressive reloading press or by a dipper can be pretty inconsistent, and inconsistency is the enemy of accuracy. To build accurate ammo, you can intentionally dispense a little bit less powder than you really want, then use this device to “trickle up” a little powder at a time until you reach the perfect amount of powder needed to go into that casing.
It is hard to believe, but these few bits of gear are all you need to set up a custom ammunition manufacturing center in your own residence. Tailor-made ammo that matches your gun and shooting needs perfectly is within your grasp.