Buying guns at Walmart

buying guns at Walmart Would you buy a gun at Walmart? I’ve had mixed experiences with any gun related purchases at Walmart. A few years ago I bought a Ruger 10-22. The clerk was nice until he found out I wanted to buy a gun. Then all of the sudden I’m being treated like a suspected felon (though they did sell me the gun). Buying guns at Walmart? You’ve got to be kidding me.

A year later I tried getting a hunting license. The clerk insisted that I needed a copy of my Hunter’s Safety Certificate. Never mind that I’m over 50. Never mind that I had the previous two years’ hunting licenses with me. Nope, according to the clerk I needed a 42 year old document from a different state that’s probably been lost for 40 years. I finally convinced her to sell me the d@*! license, if I could remember the exact date my safety certificate was issued. So I made up a date and got the license.

Usually that kind of crap would make me want to never buy any sporting goods at Walmart ever again. Small problem with that idea though. A few months ago Backwoodsman Magazine published a piece on the Hatfield SGL shotgun. I decided I needed one and the only place in town that has them is Walmart. Hmmm…

Buying guns at Walmart

I went to look at their gun display and a clerk walked up and asked me what I was looking for. I viewed this as an interruption because usually the Walmart clerks don’t know jack about guns. But since he asked, I told him I was looking for a Hatfield SGL single shot shotgun. Wonder of wonders, he actually knew what I was talking about. He pulled a 12 gauge out of the display case to show me and mentioned they also had the 20 ga. and 410 versions in stock, but not on display.

I told him I was interested in the 410. He said that’s a fun choice, but pointed out that 410 ammo is over twice the price of 12 or 20 ga. so I might want to consider the 20 ga. instead. We talked a bit and I thanked him for his time. I wanted to check 410 ammo prices online before deciding between the 410 and 20 ga. He agreed that was a good idea and thanked me for coming in. Wow, where was this guy before?

My Walmart gun purchase

After checking ammo prices online, I decided on the 410. I went back the next day hoping to get the same clerk. No luck, he was off. The lady clerk asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted to buy a gun.

“Oh. Do you have a CCW?”

I told her yes, I do.

“Good. That way you won’t have to pay for a background check.”

WHAT??? Two clerks in two days that are knowledgeable about guns? Unbelievable… So I did my FFL form and walked out of the store with two guns…

Two guns for less than $200???

The same issue of Backwoodsman Magazine that had the article about the Hatfield SGL also had one on the Daisy 880 pellet gun. I decided I needed one of those too. Since Walmart had them on the shelf for only $35.00 (with scope!!!) I decided to get one of those while I was there.

Price for both guns (including tax): $148.08

Not a bad way to spend a “buck fifty” and 20 minutes of my time. I guess that just like you can get crappy customer service anywhere, you can also get good customer service anywhere. Even at Walmart.

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – Jan 30 2018

Another day late and a dollar short. OK, two days late… or two weeks… Well, it’s not like I haven’t been prepping for the last two weeks, it’s just that I haven’t done any thing. Or at least done much…

But, what I did do is start dieting. Not a real diet, just a change in what I put in my pie hole. Lots less carbs, more meat and veggies. I’m also drinking smoothies every night. Organic yogurt, celery, wheat grass, frozen cherries, frozen blueberries, almond milk, and a little bit of honey. Tasty. I also started working out to the program in Convict Conditioning. I also started taking prescription level doses of vitamin D. For the past two weeks I’ve been rucking around my neighborhood. Not just on hump day either… I joined the gym at work yesterday. Today I bought two 30 lb dumbells at Walmart and started working my arms and shoulders. I’m kind of sore right now but it’s a good kind of sore.

All this is because two weeks ago my left ankle started acting up again. I got a new doctor who is very aggressive about finding out what’s wrong. She ordered a complete blood panel, including testing my uric acid level. The great news is my uric acid levels are well below what would cause gout. (See honey? I told you it wasn’t gout.) The good news is my cholesterol levels are almost normal in spite of being over weight and NOT taking my prescription cholesterol medicine for over a year now. My doctor said I can probably get it well into the normal range with just exercise and a fish oil supplement. The bad news is my liver enzymes are high and my vitamin D levels are low. Hence the no more beer, wheat grass smoothies, and prescription vitamin D. Oh, and my left ankle and knee still flair up too often (even though it’s NOT gout) so I’m working on leg strength and losing weight.

Besides that, I bought Forging the Hero for one of my friends and started some winter lettuce.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

Reconfigure an AR 15

black hole weaponry barrel The Sept/Oct 2017 Backwoodsman Magazine had a good article on the AR 15. It’s nice to see them being open to the AR platform. I think the AR 15 is ideal for the Backwoodsman or Backyardsman. The article was positive, but the author left out the biggest point: How easy it is to build, repair, or reconfigure an AR 15. Just about anyone can do it, with no expensive tools (i.e. lathe) or specialized skills required. If you have average or better hand-eye coordination and you can follow simple instructions, it’s easy to work on an AR 15.

My AR 15

My AR 15 is one I built myself about 3 years ago. I put it together not really knowing what I wanted. The lower is configured as an A2 (fixed stock). I’m OK with that, but I flubbed the upper. Barrel is a Black Hole Weaponry carbine length HBAR. Heavy. Rail is a Daniel Defense RIS-II. Heavy. Flash hider is a BE Meyers 249. Heavy. The scope and mount are also on the heavy side.Because of all the heavy parts, the gun itself is heavy – not what I really want.  The problem is I bought my parts without thinking about what I really wanted.

How to reconfigure an AR 15

Luck for me, it’s really easy to reconfigure an AR 15. My main goal was to reduce weight but keep the Black Hole barrel. Adding up the weight of things I could reduce gave me a total weight of 40.5 oz. (RIS-II 14.1, BE Meyers 3.1, LT104 7.1, and Viper PST 16.2). I started looking for lighter replacements. A Daniel Defense MFR is 8.4 oz. A plain A2 flash hider is 1.1 oz. lighter than the BEM 249. Aero Precision’s ultra light AR 15 scope mount is 3.3 oz. I can’t afford a new scope just yet, but Nikon M223 scope is an ounce less than my Vortex and gives twice the magnification.

Changing out the scope mount and flash hider is easy. The only potential issue is replacing the rail. Most of the time you’ll have to pull the gas block and tube to get the barrel nut off. In my case I hope it’s not an issue because my new MFR rail uses a similar barrel nut as the RIS-II. This is kind of a big deal to me because I used red Locktite to put the gas block on, and I don’t really want to take a torch to it. We’ll see when the MFR gets here later this week…

So what will I gain? Replacing the rail, flash hider, and scope mount take 10.6 oz. off the gun. That might not sound like a lot, but it should really change the feel and balance of the rifle.

Buck Brahma Review

Buck BrahmaWhen I was a kid, Buck knives were considered to be the best hunting knife you could get. Today, over 40 years later, Buck still makes great knives. The classic models are even still made in the USA. When I saw the Brahma version of their 119 Special I had to have one. The Buck Brahma has the same wonderful 420HC blade as the Special, combined with the classic good looks of a Ka-Bar military blade. After reading some of the negative reviews I almost changed my mind. More than a few were having issues with the handle being loose or misshapen. I decided to order one anyway. I figured the worst thing would be I’d get a chance to try out Buck’s customer service.

My Buck Brahma Review

I ordered my Brahma from Amazon and had it in two days. It didn’t have the handle issues that some of the reviewers on Amazon were complaining about. So far, so good. The first thing I did was compare it to my Ka-Bar. Yep, looks just like the Ka-Bar’s little brother. Nice. Overall quality seemed good, so lets look at the details.

Buck Brahma and KaBar 1220
Buck Brahma (next to Ka-Bar 1220 for size comparison)


My Brahma didn’t show any problems with the handle. The leather washers were all tight, finished to a smooth contour, and the whole assembly was correctly aligned. The leather looks like it has no finish, so I’ll treat mine with beeswax or something to help protect it. The handle gives 4 inches of grip between the finger guard and pommel. My hand fit (barely), but those with larger hands might have a problem.

Buck Brahma handle
The Brahma handle fits my hand with no room to spare

The blade guard has lanyard holes on both sides and there’s a third lanyard hole in the pommel. The pommel itself attaches to the tang with a small threaded nut and a steel pin. I don’t like this, because using the pommel to hammer something (knife abuse!!!) will likely damage the nut. Not a great design. Looks really cool, but not so sure about durability if you actually used it as a pommel…

Buck Brahma pommel
The nut and pin that hold the pommel in place. Also note lanyard hole


The Buck Brahma uses the same blade as the 119 Special. This could be good or bad, depending on how you intend to use this blade. If you’re going to use it as a hunting knife, it’s ideal. The hollow grind slices nicely, and the up-swept tip means it can do a passable job at skinning. If you’re planning on using this as a bushcraft knife though, my advice would be – don’t. The same features that make this blade so nice for processing game also make it too delicate for serious wood processing chores like chopping or batoning IMO.

Buck Brahma blade
Buck Brahma blade (next to Ka-Bar 1220 for size comparison)

So back to game processing… The Brahma blade is ideally suited for processing game, but for some reason Buck decided to put some kind of coating on the blade. Some have stated it’s for “corrosion resistance,” but since Buck has shipped thousands (if not millions) of 420HC blades without coating  before the Brahma, I’m guessing it’s more for looks. That’s all fine and dandy, except it comes of really easy (you can see it on my hands in some of the pics). I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having unknown coatings transferring from my knife blade to my meat. Before using this on game, it would probably be a good idea to remove all the coating from the blade.


The sheath is another thing some of the Amazon reviewers complained about. One complained that it wasn’t real leather and another said it wasn’t really MOLLE compatible.

I think it’s actually a pretty nice sheath. It’s mostly made from black nylon cloth of some sort. There’s a Kydex pocket that holds the blade which is sandwiched between the main part of the sheath on the back and a leather cover on the front.

Buck Brahma and sheath


Good: The Buck Brahma is a classic Buck hunting knife updated to look like a US military fighting knife. Made in USA, backed by Buck’s limited lifetime warranty.

Not so good: Pommel is mostly just for looks, not function. Coating on blade needs to be removed before processing game. Seems to be targeted at bushcrafters, but blade not suitable for bushcraft IMO.

Last word: The Buck Brahma is a really nice looking knife with a great hunting blade. If you’re looking for a hunting blade, though, you might as well just get the original – the Buck 119 Special. Heck, or maybe even a Pathfinder. If you want a more versatile blade but find the Ka-Bar 1220 series too big, consider the Ka-Bar 1250. It’s about the same size as the Brahma with a blade better suited to heavy use.

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – Jan 14 2018

This week all I did was go to my monthly prepper group meeting. We didn’t have one in December so it was good to be back. Two of my friends (married couple) were sick and couldn’t make it. That sucked because I was looking forward to seeing them. On the plus side, there were 3 new people. That was nice since we haven’t had any fresh faces for quite awhile. One of the new guys did a nice presentation of a simple solar oven. Only five pieces: small piece of sign board, 9 x 9 inch mirror, 9 x 18 inch piece of aluminized mylar, small glass jar with lid, and second glass jar large enough to fit over the smaller one. I hope to build one soon and post pics and a how-to here…

We had a good discussion about “what is prepping” and what’s the difference between preppers and crazy, paranoid people. This was brought up by another one of the new guys. When I think of prepping, most of it would have been considered common sense not all that long ago. Know how to grow your own food. Know how to prepare, preserve, and store your own food. Be part of a resilient community.

Opsec? What opsec?

It was nice seeing some new people, but it also reminded me of the importance of Opsec. I guess going to a meeting isn’t an “Op” but you still need to know when to STFU when talking to people you don’t really know. So… the only thing I talked about was Baofeng radios and getting an amateur radio license. Better to just fly under the radar until I get to know them better (assuming they come back).

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

Getting ready for Hump Day

I’ve hiked before and I’ve carried a pack before, but tomorrow is the first time I’ve done it intentionally to get in shape. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a $295 ruck or a pair of $39 (each – ouch) weights to go rucking. I’m starting out simple with a 5.11 Covrt18 pack and some things to bring the weight up to. I’m not recommending this pack, just pointing out that you don’t need to spend north of $370 to hump a ruck.

With two 28 oz. water bottles, small laptop, notebook, a couple books for weight, and my CCW it comes to 15 lbs. That’s a little less than the 20 lb. recommended starting weight, but I want to start slow. After all, I’m old, fat, and decrepit.

Where to go?

I don’t know. The recommended starting distance is … not given. Just says 15 minutes per mile, 4 mph. I’m thinking of doing 1 mile in 20 minutes for my first time. If it’s too easy I can always walk faster or farther. I’m lucky there’s a few good walking loops in my neighborhood.

Thoughts on the GHB (Get Home Bag)

My thoughts on get home bags after looking at lots of blog posts, “reviews,” bag dumps, and YouTube videos is – most people carry way too much crap in their Get Home Bag (GHB). Sure, it’s good to be prepared, but how many people really need 40 lbs of stuff to walk – at most – 10 or 15 miles? Are you walking through a combat zone to get home? If you are I’m sure glad I don’t live where you do. If your GHB is as over the top as this one, I’ll give you some reasons why you might want to rethink your GHB…

What are you prepping for?

What are you prepping for, anyway? Since we’re talking about a get home bag, I hope we’re talking about getting home. Not bugging out, not going camping, not doing urban “security patrols”… we’re talking about getting home. Where from? Probably from work. So right off the bat, having an AR-15 as part of your GHB is a really stupid idea. Even if it doesn’t make you a target, it will draw attention from law enforcement. At the very least it adds 6 lbs or more of unnecessary weight.

What else don’t you need? You probably don’t need an axe, a hatchet, or a folding saw. What are you going to do, chop down someone’s tree on your way home? You probably don’t need a tent or a way to make shelter. The goal is to get home as fast as possible, not go camping. Come to think of it, you probably don’t need a mess kit and spices. We’re walking home, not practicing outdoor gourmet cooking. Other things you probably don’t need in a GHB are multiple knives, a tomahawk, multiple flashlights, large quantities of paracord or bank line, a trauma kit, a fishing kit… hopefully you see what I’m getting at.

OK, so what do you need?

Even just walking home, you need some things. You need protection from the elements, but that can be appropriate clothing (you don’t need a tent). You might need something for self defense. That doesn’t mean an AR-15 or fighting knife, though. A handgun and pepper spray would be better choices. You might need water. Do you need food? Personally I carry some, but nothing I need to cook or use a fork or spoon to eat. A way to find out what’s going on or contact others is nice.

For protection from the elements, I carry sun screen, lip balm, and a hat. In summer time the hat is wide brimmed to protect my neck and ears from the sun. In winter, it’s a wool watch cap. I carry a shemagh and an N95 dust mask in case there’s a lot of dust blowing around and a pair of sunglasses to protect my eyes. I carry an extra set of socks – wool in winter and whatever in summer – in case my feet get wet. In the winter I throw in a pair of wool gloves to keep my hands warm.

For hydration I have two 1 quart nalgene bottles. In the summer I keep them filled with a mix of vodka and sweetened cranberry juice. In winter, a mix of strong coffee, Irish cream, and vodka. Just kidding. Water in both summer and winter. In winter time, I might throw in a small stove and a couple of tea bags in case I want something hot to drink on my way home. Food is just a couple of nut bars from Costco and maybe a couple pieces of homemade beef jerky if I have any on hand.

For protection, I have my CCW – either a Charter Arms Bulldog or a Glock 19, depending on where I’m at. That rides on my hip though, not in the GHB. I also carry a Fox 40 whistle and I’m thinking about adding a can of pepper spray. The pepper spray would be more of an EDC thing than GHB gear. I don’t carry a map or compass because I’m familiar with the city I live in and I sure as heck don’t need a map or compass just to find my way home.

I carry a Baofeng UV-5R that’s programmed so I can talk on the local repeater network and listen to NOAA weather broadcasts. Oh, and my cell phone which I personally hate but I’m required to carry by my boss and my wife. And that is pretty much it, because that’s all I need to get home.

How about you? Do you have a simple GHB or do you load yourself down with lots of unnecessary stuff?

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

We become what we do. If we sit around and let ourselves get old, fat, and decrepit, guess what? We become old, fat, and decrepit.”

The author of that passage is blunt, but 100% correct. So in the spirit of that, I finally started a serious diet this past week. Not a starvation diet, just an “eat healthy food” diet. It’s been a whole 4 days with minimal carbs and about a 50-50 mix of veggies and lean meat. Also no beer which has been the hardest part. I really do like relaxing with a cold one (or four or five) after work and on weekends.

I also started the exercise program outlined in Convict Conditioning. I’m only doing arms (pushups and pullups) for now. Last time I tried squats I blew out a knee and was laid up for a week. Once I get my weight down a little I’ll start working on the squats again. I also ordered an exercise pad so I can lay on the floor in my bedroom and work on core exercises. My goal is to lose 15 lbs by the end of April.

Homemade beef jerky…

I’ve been wanting to try making homemade beef jerky for awhile. Lately in Walmart I noticed they have some really lean cuts of beef that are about 3 – 4 inches around and 1/2 – 5/8 thick. Perfect for chunk style jerky, so I bought a pack. First try was a disaster – I marinated them in a salt/garlic brine for 2 days. I figured the meat needed time to absorb the flavor. Well, it absorbed the flavor all right. The crap was so salty I couldn’t eat it. The texture was fine so at least I was on the right track…

For my second try I didn’t bother marinating it, just sprinkled some salt on both sides and cooked it. Actually came out pretty good but not quite salty enough. Also, a little too soft and not dry enough. On the third try, I used a little more salt and adjusted my cook times and temperatures. Finally I think I’ve got it. I’d say it’s just as good as my formerly favorite beef jerky from Mahogany Smoked Meats. Plus mine doesn’t have MSG… It does take about 6 hours to cook but that’s a good excuse to not have to go shopping with the wife.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

Magic Fishing Kit

emergency fishing kitFishing is a good way to obtain food in a survival situation. Every survival kit – even mini kits, should have at least a basic fishing kit. At the minimum, you should carry a dozen hooks, six or so swivels, some split shot sinkers, and 50 or 100 feet of braided fishing line. With this minimal equipment you can ensure yourself of a good source of food. It works so well you could call it a magic fishing kit. Well, except you can’t because it doesn’t… but almost every survival expert recommends you carry a fishing kit. Even some otherwise excellent books emphasize the “need” to carry a fishing kit.

I have two problems with that notion. First, the average emergency fishing kit might look really cool, but it’s not going to be effective at catching fish. Second, in order to catch fish there has to be fish available to catch. What if your AO is the Mojave desert? Maybe it’s Peavine Peak. Last time I checked it’s pretty hard to catch fish if there are no streams or ponds or lakes…

I’m no survival expert, but from the time I was 5 years old until I was 18 I fished at least 3 or 4 times a week, every day of fishing season. There were several small streams withing walking distance of our home. Even more within bicycle range.  My parents even owned a lot that had TWO good trout creeks on it. As if that weren’t enough, my dad was an avid fisherman. When the local creeks and streams weren’t enough, he’d drive us to the river or one of our favorite lakes. Opening day was a bigger event than Christmas.

Almost all the waters I fished as a kid were small. Little creeks small enough to step or jump over. Even the bigger ones were mostly small enough to wade across (except the river). The lakes we fished were also small. In other words, waters that should be perfect for catching fish with the “magic fishing kit” outfits promote as prepping tools. And I’m here to tell you – catching fish with one of these “magic fishing kits” would be very difficult to almost impossible.

Shoot, even with a decent fishing pole and reel, and the best available bait it was hard to catch fish sometimes. And that’s assuming you have a good place to fish. What if you’re in the middle of the desert or on top of a mountain?

When an author (“noted survival expert”) proclaims that “every survival kit – even mini kits, should have at least a basic fishing kit,” it encourages people to waste money on something they might find useless. Worse, when they proclaim a fishing kit is “an excellent way to procure food” they may be giving people a very false sense of security.

There’s nothing wrong with having a fishing kit in your survival kit if that’s your thing, but if your AO is an area that doesn’t have a place to catch fish, you’re wasting time, money, and pack space on something that’s basically useless. Depending on where you roam, you might be better off packing a few cans of sardines instead of a fishing kit. Even if it’s the coolest mini Altoids tin magic fishing kit on the planet.

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

Day late and a dollar short, but you know the holidays… Spent last night doing a comm drill with the local Citizens Corp Program (CPP). Met a few new people and learned about how local law enforcement will react to an emergency situation. Other than that it was pretty boring. After testing radio comms we sat around monitoring local events. Nothing bad happened so it was a quiet evening. Got home this morning at 1:30. Oh, and I learned that my 50+ year old self doesn’t handle over nighters as well as I used to…

Went to Costco, not usually a big deal but I’m figuring out a way to stealth prep a bigger food supply. Got my kid to liking certain things that make good medium term food so just pick up a little extra, right? With wife’s blessing of course… so picked up an extra pack of Dennison chili and a pack of lentil soup.

Got a couple more books (reviews coming soon) and got the rest of the things I need to finish Cody’s survival kit. Once I get it all put together I’ll see if it fits in my pack. If not, either get a bigger pack or re-think what I need to carry.

That’s it for today (still recovering from last night)

Peace out,