Our interview series with shooters from History Channel’s hit series continues! This week I’m joined by Drew Shprintz of the Red Team, who was eliminated in a great head-to-head battle against USPSA Revolver GM Cliff Walsh. Click the link for our interview with Drew Shprintz.
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We’ll be back next week with another great episode; as the challenges get more intense and the competition heats up, I’m looking forward to the interviews getting more and more charged! Season 3 has been great so far, and they’ve certainly not spared any expense on the shooting challenges. Next week’s episode is going to feature a Gatling gun, which should be a recipe for a lot of fun.
2011 may very well come to be known as one of the most active weather years. From floods to drought, from hurricanes to fires, from white outs to brown outs; it seems like we’ve seen it all this year. Throughout this year, too, we’ve been posting articles and commentary about disaster preparedness to help you plan and survive. Here is our quick guide to articles to help you get through the next disaster.
Is there a survival topic we haven’t covered here that you would like to read? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Hating the heat wave? Drinking a lot of water and still got a dusty throat? Tired of carrying your toolbox around the job site? Cheer up buddy, we don’t have it that bad. We don’t have to run the Mogadishu Mile today.
On October 3, 1993, members of various U.S. military branches participating in Operation Gothic Serpent conducted a raid in downtown Mogadishu. During the raid, a large firefight began between the American forces and irregular Somali militia. Two American helicopters were brought down and 18 American soldiers killed. The incident is known in some circles as the Battle of Mogadishu or the Battle of the Black Sea, but most Americans simply call it Black Hawk Down, the title of the 2001 movie depicting the battle (and title of Mark Bowden’s book, on which the film was based).
At the end of the movie, the 10th Mountain Division blast their way through the city, using armored vehicles borrowed from United Nations to reach strongpoint areas where members of Task Force Ranger and SFOD-D (Delta Force) have been fighting off Somali militiamen all night long. They load American dead and wounded into the vehicles along with as many troops as they can, but there just is not enough room for everyone. Some of the Delta and Ranger soldiers familiar to the audience are to walk behind the vehicles and use them for cover as the entire force shoots its way out of the city. The vehicles take off too quickly, leaving them behind, and they must run on their own to safety while occasionally dodging bullets and shooting bad guys. On their own, they fight their way to the Mogadiscio soccer stadium, where they are met by laughing children and friendly U.N. forces who tend to their wounds. This fighting withdrawal on foot, without vehicle support, became known as the “Mogadishu Mile.”
The legend of the Mogadishu Mile has grown in the past decade. It is commonplace for organized 5k running events in the month of October to be named “Mogadishu Mile” runs in honor of the men who died in the battle. Likewise, military training runs in full “battle rattle” with heavy rucksacks and weapons are adopting the name, especially in high temperatures or if the trainees must carry simulated wounded troops. However, the real Mogadishu Mile did not go exactly the way that the movie makers portrayed it. Calling the retreat a “run” is an oversimplification, as the soldiers moved from cover to cover, often at a walking pace, and frequently paused to communicate and ensure that the element was staying together. Instead of going straight from the crash site to the Mogadiscio stadium, the Delta and Ranger troops actually started in the opposite direction. From the first crash site (UH60 Super 61), they had to move south to reach a rally point at the intersection of National Street and Hawlwadig Road, still in the heart of the city and only about five blocks south of the Olympic Hotel, where the raid had begun. There, they met additional tanks and armored vehicles waiting for them, and more of the men were able to transfer into vehicles. From that intersection to the soccer stadium, the combined convoy took a zigzag route out of the city center, avoiding the barricaded major roads overflowing with enemy. The actual distance traveled during the retreat from the intersection was somewhere between 4 and 4.5 kilometers, or 2.5 to 2.8 miles. For those who had started at the first crash site, the distance covered topped three miles. The dangerous retreat on foot was shared with troops from 10th Mountain who had given up their vehicle seats, as well as the SFOD-D and Rangers as portrayed in the movie.
These men had already been fighting the enemy for around 12 hours before the convoy arrived and the Mogadishu Mile began. Aside from one daring helicopter resupply run the night of October 3 (by Super 66, which barely made it back to the airfield with 3 wounded crew), the soldiers had access only to the food, water, and ammunition which they had brought with them to the initial raid. They were dehydrated before the run began, and had not slept or rested during the night. During the fight, they had carried with them their individual weapons, body armor, radios, rucksacks full of gear, helmets, and all other sorts of items, and now as they left the city they fought their way out, shouldering their weapons and using the last of their ammunition to engage targets and protect each other. Several soldiers were wounded by enemy small arms and RPG fire. Stopping to tend to them was impossible given the tactical situation, but leaving them behind was against the creed of their comrades. Without vehicles available, the wounded were helped along, and in some cases carried out by their fellow soldiers. They all fought for their lives.
So there’s a heat wave in town and the air conditioning in your truck is on the fritz. You’ve worked a hard eight-hour shift and you can’t wait to get home. When you finally do settle in front of the TV and pop open a cold one, take a second to remember the men of Delta, Task Force Ranger, and the 10th Mountain Division. It’s because of men like them that we’ve got it so easy!
ModGear Black OPS Bags are super tough and ready to hold everything you need for a range trip. Put spare mags in the two Velcro covered end pockets, eye and hearing protection in the two full length padded side-zip compartments, ammo boxes in the divided side pocket with elastic loops, and a pistol, holster, and mag pouch in the main compartment. Ok, so you don’t have to set up yours that way, that’s just how I do it. These bags are padded nicely, and come with a thick padded shoulder strap (because ammo is heavy). They use good zippers that won’t break and are securely attached with cross cut stitching, so they won’t rip out. The whole bag is nicely padded to protect your pistol and delicate accessories like electronic muffs. I bought the Coyote Tan one for no good reason except I thought it looks the coolest, but they also come in OD Green and Black to suit your taste.
The 2011 Steel Challenge is in the books, the winners have received their prizes, and now the next “big” Steel Match will be the Nationals in Titusville, FL in 2012. This was my very first Steel Challenge, and it was fitting that my first official Steel Challenge World Championship would be the last one that will be held in Piru, California…which is only an hour or so from where I grew up in “lovely” Lake Los Angeles, California. The 2011 Steel Challenge for me was a great match filled with tough lessons, great shooting, and a lot of skill development to work on for next year.
One of the great things about Steel Challenge is seeing all the different guns that shooters are using in the various divisions. For example, at left you have Randi Rogers from Team Glock running a Smith & Wesson Model 41 with a bull barrel and compensator in Rimfire Open division. Or BJ Norris’ M&P in Iron Sight division.
I competed in two divisions using the same gun, a Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 Competition, the newest member in the XD(M) family. Running the XD(M) in IDPA Enhanced Service Pistol, I finished fourth in ESP, missing the top three by just a few seconds, and eighth in Production. For my first World Championship, a Top 5 and a Top 10 are two finishes I’ll definitely take, and that continues my streak at matches this year of not finishing out of the Top 10 in my division. Now, a lot of people are wondering how the XD(M) ran, because it’s a fairly new gun to the market and has a lot of improvements over its brothers in the XD line. I have to say that it ran like a boss, digesting almost 2000 rounds in the dusty California environment without a single complaint over the week was down there. To be perfectly frank, I didn’t want to like the XD(M) coming in to the match, but by the end of it I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a proper competition gun. With the addition of the 5.25 to their lineup, Springfield Armory joins the ranks of Glock and Smith & Wesson by having a competition ready polymer gun out of the box.
The highlight of the match for me was Outer Limits. This stage has always been difficult for me, as I’ve struggled with moving from one box to the other and getting hits on all the plates. I spent a lot of time at Steel Challenge with my buddy BJ Norris, and listening to his advice I was able to take three seconds (a huge amount of time) off my Outer Limits run. Something as simple as not breaking my grip on the gun and starting in a different position took me from an average run of 7.5 seconds to running in the low 6s high 5s. In ESP, I finished 3rd place on Outer Limits. The only ESP shooters that were ahead of me were Rob Leatham and Taran Butler, two of the top shooters in the world, period. I’ll take a third place finish to those guys.
At the end of the week, I’d fired a bunch of rounds, improved my personal best score at Steel Challenge, and generally had a great time shooting. Taking home a Top 5 and a Top 10 in my first Steel Challenge World Championship is a great feeling, and I’m looking forward to heading to Florida next year to try again.
Huge thanks to my sponsors for supporting this match, and of course to Cheaper Than Dirt! I had numerous people come up to me at the match thanking Cheaper Than Dirt! for their support of the shooting sports.
Sales of tactical folding knives have swelled in the past few years. Hundreds of different models are being offered and it’s rare to see a major knife manufacturer that doesn’t offer some sort of knife in this category. But what makes a folding knife “tactical,” and are they popular for a good reason or is this just a dumb fad?
Tactical knives certainly don’t look like your grandpa’s folding knives. His pocketknives featured thin blades that are extremely sharp, and usually included more than one folding blade contained in the handle. That handle was traditionally made of wood, or sometimes ivory or animal horn. The tactical folding knives are different, with a single thick blade sometimes featuring aggressive serrations, and grips made to fit the hand rather than look pretty. These knives look scary on purpose, reflecting the huge “tactical” trend that has defined the past decade and continues to grow. But aggressive looks—blackened blades and grips made of plastic, zytel, or simply more raw metal—don’t make a knife “tactical.” Some of the most aggressive, scariest looking knife designs aren’t tactical at all, falling instead under “fantasy” knives. If the intended purpose is to slay dragons or protect the Klingon Empire, its not a tactical knife at all.
All Tactical Folders Have a Blade Lock
One feature all tactical folding knives have is a blade lock to hold the blade firmly in place until the user operates a lever or button to allow the blade to fold closed. The lock is a must because the tactical folder is intended for harsh tasks, where the user’s hand will be wrapped completely around the handle and gripping tightly, and where the blade may be pushed in different directions. A knife that unexpectedly collapses back onto the fingers holding is definitely an unsuccessful design! The most popular lock type is the liner lock. When folded inside the handle, the blade is surrounded on each side by a metal “liner.” As the blade reaches its open position, one of the liners acts like a leaf spring and jumps into the space in the middle of the handle, holding the blade open until the user pushes it back into place, allowing the blade to fold. The liner lock is simple to incorporate into a knife design with minimal cost, but it has been criticized as lacking in strength. This reputation isn’t helped by the fact that many of the cheapest knives use poorly executed liner locks, giving the design a bad name when they fail. Some tactical knives dispose of the liners entirely and use only a lightweight, skeletonized “frame lock” performing the same function. High quality knife makers often incorporate more sophisticated locking designs such as Benchmade’s AXIS lock. The AXIS lock uses a spring loaded button passing all the way through the frame, fitting into a notch cut in the back of the blade, locking it into place with great strength. The design of the lock is largely personal preference; the quality of the parts creating the locking system separates the contenders from the pretenders.
Tactical Folders Usually are Partially Serrated
Tactical folders often incorporate serrations into their blades. These little teeth aggressively saw through hard to cut materials. Serrations can add a lot of versatility to a knife—if half the blade is serrated then tough tasks which would abuse or dull the straight edge can be tackled by the serrated section of knife, saving the rest of the blade and getting the job done quickly. The disadvantage to serrations is that they dull relatively quickly and take special tools and a lot of time to sharpen. Blades without serrations are usually intended for “fine” slicing work, and blades that are totally serrated all the way down are usually intended for heavy, coarse use where no finesse is required.
Blade Shapes of Tactical Folders Must be Efficient
Tactical folders feature a wide variety of blade shapes. To describe all the tantos, drop points, bowie styles, clip points, and hawksbills would take a whole separate blog post (and maybe I will write one sometime), but regardless of the exact shape, the blade shapes are all intended to be used as competent self defense weapons. This is what separates a serious tactical folder from a traditional pocketknife or a fantasy knife. Personally, my first rule of knife fighting is to bring a gun, but there are many places where concealed carry of firearms is still very restricted. Yet folding knives with blades of ordinary length are often specifically exempted in state law definitions as not being “weapons” at all. Tactical folders are carried easily without scabbards, using clips that hold them at the ready in a pants pocket, and they are unobtrusive and lightweight. It’s easy to forget that you have one with you until it is needed. But once employed as a fighting knife, all the features of the tactical folder come together to benefit the user—the thick blade, the blade lock, the aggressive blade shapes and the ergonomic non-slip grips all combine to maximize efficiency. A high quality tactical knife is a better fighting knife than a plain pocket knife, easier to carry everyday than a decorative fantasy knife, and practical enough to be used for all the mundane chores that it will be asked to do in the course of ordinary life.
This is one of the fastest stages at the match, with large 18×24-inch plates that are fairly close. However, it’s a mistake to not respect this stage, because the times are so fast, one mistake can really hurt. Rob Leatham knows all about the pitfalls of Smoke & Hope from his career at Steel Challenge, and in the video below he runs the new Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 Competition like a boss on this stage.
Rob finished the match with a 95.57, which was good enough to bring home a win in ESP and place him near the top of the overall standings as well. The new Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 looks like it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the competition shooting world, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action at even more matches.
The shotgun is one of the most effective and deadly weapons on the battlefield. In one trigger pull, a shooter
Federal 7.62×51 175 Grain Gold Medal Match
When I’m not tinkering with my droid collection or working on my sand speeder, I spend the sweltering summer days of August amongst the moisture farms popping womp rats with my trusty, old Springfield M1A. Nothing puts those wretched scum down quite like the 175 Grain Sierra MatchKing BTHP bullet loaded in Federal’s 7.62×51 Gold Medal Match.
The aerodynamic design of the legendary Sierra MatchKing bullet helps overcome the immense wind resistance and wind drift of the Tatooine dunes. This means flatter trajectory, higher down range energy and more accurate placement. Gold Medal’s brass cases, with specifically selected and engineered stick powders and match primers, deliver consistent accuracy and performance. The results speak for themselves. I’m known around town as “The Force.”
This load is simply the best, most accurate commercial load I can get my rebel hands on. Unfortunately, the Imperial trade embargo makes these a hot commodity in Mos Eisley, but I can get them to you for a really good price!
Gerber LMF II Infantry Fixed Blade Knife
When you have crash-landed on a strange swap-forest planet and need to bust out an X-Wing cockpit window, chop down a small tree, and fight off an infestation of swap slugs, you absolutely need the Gerber LMF II Infantry fixed blade knife.
The thick, partially serrated blade cuts webbing with ease, will chop piles of firewood and fends off small green creatures that may jump on your back at any moment.
The over-molded handle successfully limits blistering. There is complete separation between the tang and butt cap, so the knife absorbs the shocks from hammering and prevents the shocks of electricity. Smartly situated grooves and lashing holes let the LMF II convert to a spear for cave exploration.
The low profile sheath facilitates movement, limits noise, works for parachuting, and attaches to a belt or MOLLE vest. The patented, integrated sharpener means edge retention in the swamp.
Anytime I venture into the Outer Rim Territories the Gerber LMF II is strapped to my leg and ready for action.
Eagle Industries Personal Retention and Extraction Lanyard
How many times have you been in a light saber duel and nearly fallen to your death in the cavernous core of Cloud City? Too many times!
Every young Jedi needs to play it safe and the Eagle Industries retention and extraction lanyard is your most important piece of safety equipment. Strap yourself to a railing and call it good! No more losing hands because your mind was on the 200-meter drop below.
This nylon lanyard has energy absorbing bungee and tubular webbing construction with an internal “shock cord.” It secures with a heavy duty Climbing Technology Kong Tango double locking carbineer that will never let you fall (unlike your deadbeat father).
Win the day and keep your dexterity with the Eagle Personal Retention and Extraction Lanyard attached to your gear.
Surplus Magnesium Snowshoes and Bindings
As a veteran of the Battle of Hoth, I know a good snowshoe when I see one. Tromping around barren ice planets is no fun, but it can be easy with these surplus magnesium snowshoes and Bindings.
Although slightly used, these snowshoes are in great condition. Constructed with a magnesium frame, the plastic-coated twisted steel cable adds durability and the high-strength nylon bindings attach to any shoe or boot. These lightweight shoes spread out your weight and keep you moving when the snow piles up.
Don’t get stranded in a blizzard without a good pair of snowshoes. If your Tauntaun dies, you’ll be left for the Wampas to play with! Trek out of any sticky situation in style with these surplus snowshoes.
It is generally not a good idea to bury components in the ground without sealing it in a watertight container first. Although when it comes to some firearms, like an old AK or Mosin Nagant, you could probably store one in a muddy creek bed for a few decades and they would still cycle like the day they rolled off the Siberian assembly line. For those of us who want something a little more secure however, this Chinese surplus mortar storage container is perfect for burying your ammunition, knives, barrels or anything else you can think of. Burying supplies in a random location and marking the GPS coordinates might also do the trick. If the apocalypse comes, it will be nice to have little supply caches all over town. Like most ordinance storage containers, this one is watertight and measures in at 2-feet long and has an inside diameter of 3.5 inches. The rubber seal and locking lid ensure that no dirt or moisture will get in. If western civilization falls, you can sleep well knowing that looters will have no idea where you stored all your valuable supplies.
Bleeding Zombie Target
OK, so he doesn’t amble and stumble towards you slowly, but this dude actually “bleeds” when you shoot him. Chris is a life-sized, 3-dimensional zombie target that makes perfect practice for when your training for the apocalypse. He stands 33.5” tall and comes with a mounting stake. Even better, Chris isn’t an alien zombie, he was “born” in the United States.
Zombie Industries fills their zombie target with biodegradable material, so clean up is a cinch. It can withstand 1,000 of rounds of various calibers, so shoot away! Even if you are not into the whole zombie apocalypse thing, Chris makes a fun and different target to shoot at.
Blackhawk Fury Gloves
I’m not really a fireman, but I play one TV. Well. Not really, but these Blackhawk Fury Gloves with Nomex are what I would wear if I was fighting fires. The Fury gloves made with Nomex are heavy-duty work gloves perfect for extreme heat environments. Nomex is also good for electrical work and for the oil/gas rig. The Fury gloves have padded protection on the knuckles and the back of the hand.
The fit is secure and comfortable and still allows for perfect dexterity of your fingers to work or fire your weapon effectively.
Pink is the new black!
Who says you can’t look tough in pink? Believe me, who is gonna mess with a girl carrying a gun anyway? Besides being just a t-shirt, Advanced Armament adds some excellent suggestions on multiple uses for your shirt:
- Blot lipstick
- Touch up eyeliner
- Win wet T-shirt contest
Not only that, but Advanced Armament recognizes that guns and skulls and pink on a women’s sized, (sizes range from small to xx-large) non-baggy, cute form-fitting shirt beats out big and baggy manly shirts any day. Well, for girls anyway.
Did I mention that it’s pink and has a gun on it?
American Eagle Tactical .223 Remington ammo is manufactured by ATK/Federal Ammunition, the same company that makes all the ammo for the US military. Each 20 round black box is glued shut all around to avoid spilling rounds during storage. Featuring an M193 specification 55 grain full metal jacket boat tail bullet screaming out the muzzle at 3250 feet per second, this round’s accuracy is proven in barrels of any standard twist rate from 1:7 to 1:12. Loaded to SAAMI specifications of not more than 55,000 psi chamber pressure, this ammo is safe to shoot in rifles marked either “.223 Rem” or “5.56 NATO” and is a natural choice for AR15s and Ruger Mini-14s. At this price, why not leave the .22 conversions behind on your next range trip, and get some practice in with the real stuff?
If I could only have one gun.
Seen in many forms around the world, the Mossberg 500 and 590 series shotguns are one of the most prolific shotguns in production. Featured in countless movies and television shows, the 500 series enjoys a status among owners as one of the most varied shotguns in the world. Countless builds and modifications are available making it one of the most versatile guns ever produced.
Produced in 1961 by O.F. Mossberg & Sons, the Mossberg 500 quickly built a positive reputation. Many shooters appreciated it for its high level of reliability and ease of maintenance. Mossberg designed the tolerances in such a way that the gun can operate in very harsh and dirty conditions such as waterfowl hunting or warfare. Because of the tolerances, racking a shell into the chamber of a Mossberg is quite noisy compared to some other pump shotguns. Some people view this as a positive, since the sound of a shotgun chambering can be intimidating. This ability to function regardless of the surroundings gave the 500 a very positive reputation in a very short time.
Why is this shotgun so popular? Value for your dollar is most definitely a huge reason. The Mossberg 500 carries a reasonable price tag, and has a very good reputation for being reliable. It can also chamber a three-inch shell and fire just about any kind of specialty shotgun ammunition. The Mossberg also features an aluminum alloy receiver, rather than steel. Some shooters view the aluminum receiver as a negative, but others see it as an effective way to keep the gun lighter, making it easier to carry long distances.
One of the main advantages to a Mossberg 500 is the number of options a shooter has from which to choose.
- Field Models: These are basic hunting models, which have a variety of barrel lengths and finishes.
- Home Defense Models: Available exclusively in .410, these models are intended for defensive situations at very close range. Achieving less wall penetration with the far less powerful round is important for bystanders as well.
- Law Enforcement Models: Feature heavy barrels, metal trigger guards and metal safeties.
- Special Purpose Models: Intended for tactical use, these models feature shorter barrels and often have a large variety of specialty parts. They are not the same as the law enforcement models due to the lack of heavy-duty barrels, as well as metal parts on the trigger guard, and safeties
The Mossberg 500 series has many positive design features. The safety sits on the tang of the gun, and is accessible for both left and right-handed shooters. The slide release sits just at the left rear of the trigger guard; this allows minimal adjustment to cock the weapon. Originally, the 500 used a single action bar, but this Mossberg later replaced with a dual action bar in 1970.
The Mossberg 500 is currently in service with the United States Military, Malaysia and the Netherlands’ Korps Commandotroepen, their elite Special Forces unit. Despite the much higher cost, the Marines have officially switched to the Benelli M4. Other branches are still ordering new Mossberg 500’s however.
Fifty years of service has allowed the Mossberg 500 to develop into a top-notch shotgun that owners can modify to suit almost any purpose. Mossberg clearly stuck to the philosophy that if it isn’t broke, there is no need to fix it.