Notes for Friday – April 28, 2017

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April 28th is the birthday of Aimo Johannes Lahti. (Born in 1896.) This clever Finn designed (or co-designed) an amazing array of weapons including the L-35 Lahti pistol, Suomi M-31 SMG, the Lahti-Saloranta M/26 LMG, the the famous Lahti L-39 20mm anti-tank rifle, and even the 20 ItK 40 (a 20 mm dual anti-aircraft cannon.)

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Today, we present another entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Start With A .22 Rifle- Part 4, by behind-the-counter

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Steps 3 and 4

This is the final article in a four-part series and finishes the do-it-yourself guide with installation of three additional upgrades for your Ruger 10/22, including an enhanced extractor, a much improved firing pin, and a larger bolt handle with a polished guide rod and spring. We wrap up this article with a complete list of all the videos and .pdf files referenced in all of the articles plus an annotated tool list and links to additional resources.

If you have followed us this far, you have learned that we think a .22 rifle is an excellent first gun for a prepper family and an important addition to any prepper battery. You learned that we especially recommend a stainless Ruger 10/22 Takedown for a number of reasons. You also read about the Appleseed Project and Rimfire Challenge, which we think are great experiences for beginners as well as experienced marksmen. In the third article, we made a case for doing all the gunsmithing yourself and provided detailed instructions for installing an automatic bolt release and an extended magazine release– two of the four must-have upgrades. This is the last piece.

STEP ZERO

Lock the bolt back on your newly installed automatic bolt release. Use your new extended mag release to drop out any magazine. Visually check the receiver to confirm there is nothing in the chamber. Remove all magazines and ammo from your work area.

STEP ONE

Completely field strip your 10/22 and set aside the forearm, butt stock, and the trigger guard housing you worked on in the third article.

STEP TWO

You really should complete Step Two before jumping into Step Three.

STEP THREE- Bolt Assembly

Pick up the bolt and examine it carefully. As you will see, it is an example of simple and elegant design. There are only two moving parts plus two springs, a plunger and a single pin. Wipe it down with your shop rag and assemble the components and your tools. The tools include your gunsmith hammer, a bench block, a 5/32” pin punch or better yet a 5/32” roll pin punch, an awl, and your choice of a 4” needle nose plier, a 4” needle nose vise grip, or the Joe Beary tool shown in Video #6.

Extractor

We recommend the TandemKross Extractor and Extractor Spring ($9.99) to replace the stamped factory extractor with a machined and hardened tool steel part that has a more aggressive profile to provide a much tighter grip on the spent case. In a recreational setting, a “stove pipe” or a failure to eject (FTE) happens when the empty case is caught in the ejection port by the bolt moving forward before the case is fully ejected. In a competition setting, while hunting, or in a survival situation, that FTE is a potential disaster that can be easily avoided, and the fix will last for the lifetime of the rifle. The total time for the next two upgrades is less than 10 minutes plus the time to watch Video #6 (the second part of Video #2) or read through the TandemKross installation sheet at PDF #2.

Look at the front edge of the bolt and push on the small portion of the extractor that slides over the rim on the .22LR case when the bolt slams home. Push the little claw with your finger to get a sense of the range of movement and to understand how the extractor pivots in its slot so that it can slide over the rim of the case and into a small groove cut in the barrel just to the right of the chamber.

Use a small screwdriver or better yet an awl to reach into the extractor slot machined into the right side of the bolt to push the plunger on the end of the extractor spring back beyond the round opening in the extractor slot thereby releasing spring tension on the factory extractor. While holding the plunger/spring assembly under tension, the original extractor can sometimes be dropped out or easily pulled out with 4” needle nose pliers. Because some of the extractors are not smooth or are a little larger than spec, they can be quite difficult to remove. For just those cases, I keep a 4” needle nose Vise-Grip on my bench. This is almost like having that third hand. Note: Tolerances on the factory extractor vary a lot. If the extractor wants to stay in place, I clamp the very tip of the needle nose vise grip onto the claw so that I can use an awl in my left hand to push the plunger back into the slot while lifting up on the extractor/vise grip with my right hand. Some extractors are very tight; just be persistent. It may take several tries to get all of the spring pressure relieved while providing the correct up and out movement on the extractor.

Once the extractor is out, slowly release the tension on the plunger/spring combination. Bag the original extractor and spring to keep as a spare in your spare parts plastic baggie. Install the original plunger over the end of the new T-K spring. One end of the spring is usually tighter than the other; this end goes over the narrow end of the plunger. Slide the spring into the extractor slot, and compress the plunger/spring assembly with the awl or the new extractor until the base of the extractor drops into the slightly larger circular opening in the machined retaining slot. Sometimes with an overly strong spring or a slightly under-dimension slot, you will have to use the awl to provide enough extra room for the rear edge of the extractor to drop into place. Even though we have replaced a lot of extractors, a common mistake is to lose control of the spring tension and shoot the plunger off into our work room. A back-up extractor plunger is one of the several items you can buy from shopruger.com. (Item #60012 – $2.00) for your spare parts kit. Once seated and locked in place by the plunger, move the extractor tip back and forth and from side to side in the slot to make sure it is secure.

Firing Pin

Although our shop is finally able to order a variety of brands of .22LR from different manufacturers, availability of certain types of CCI and Eley match grade brands is still spotty. One of the realities we have experienced first-hand is the increasing frequency of “failure to fire” (FTF) in all brands of .22 ammo and with many of the .22 rifles or pistols we work on and test. The case rims show a solid impact from the factory firing pin, but the round fails to go off. It’s no big deal when you are not under stress or time pressure. Count to 30, rack the bolt, eject the dud, and chamber another round. But, if you are hunting, in survival mode, or in a match, that FTF can be a really big deal.

A dud can be the result of either slack quality control in the ammo manufacturing process or a sub-optimal impact from the firing pin or both. We choose to eliminate the firing pin as a point of failure.

Since the bolt is already out of the 10/22 receiver to replace the extractor, we strongly recommend that you replace the factory firing pin with one from Volquartsen, Power, Tactical Innovations, or Kidd Innovative Design. ($23.95) Superior metal, proper hardness, precise EDM wire cutting, and precision grinding make for a much more consistent impact and positive ignition. This is one of the most important upgrades, even for the recreational shooter. According to Power Custom, the extractor and firing pin are the two most common upgrades they sell.

To remove the factory firing pin, place the bolt on a conventional gunsmith’s bench block or some other surface with a hole or edge to allow the roll pin room to move and use a 5/32 pin punch or roll pin punch and a gunsmith hammer with one brass head and one nylon head to push the roll pin holding the firing pin into the bolt body from left to right. Please do not use any punch smaller than 5/32”; you might damage the roll pin and not be able to re-use it. Of all the pins in a 10/22, this is the most difficult to remove, or in this case partially remove. Do not drive it completely out of the bolt. Once started with a punch and sufficient hammer force to get it moving, use a number of smaller taps to drive the roll pin only far enough to release the firing pin; it just needs to move slightly more than 60%. You can check by picking up the bolt and looking or by pulling back on the pin punch to see if the factory firing pin is loose in its slot. When the firing pin is free, pull it out of the bolt body. Turn the bolt body over and shake loose the firing pin rebound spring. This very small compression spring is another candidate for your spare parts kit from shopruger.com. (Item # 60038 – $2.00) Put the old factory rebound spring and firing pin into your spare parts bag.

To install the new firing pin and spring, drop the spring into the firing pin slot making sure that the larger end is toward the bolt face and the smaller, slightly conical end is toward the rear where it touches the firing pin. Move the new firing pin back and forth in the slot with your finger to make sure the spring is retained by the firing pin. While holding the firing pin pushed forward into its channel, turn the bolt on its side and use your gunsmith hammer to drive the roll pin back into place, seating it flush on both sides with the 5/32” pin punch. Check again with your finger to make certain the firing pin moves freely in its channel.

STEP FOUR- Receiver Assembly

Bolt Handle Plus Guide Rod and Spring

The final upgrade to consider before installing the bolt back in the receiver is the charging handle that allows you to move the bolt back and forth in the receiver. In our household, we have four different bolt handles from three different manufacturers, including the ones from Tactical Innovations that come in a variety of bling colors. I have the Kidd Bolt Handle ($20.00) in silver with ring cuts. It sticks out far enough that I no longer skin my knuckles on the receiver body. Even more important, the oversize handle is much easier for my big fingers to grasp in a hurry without getting pinched.

The benefit from upgrading the guide rod and spring comes from smoother and more consistent bolt operation since the new guide rod from Kidd is machined from hardened tool steel to very tight tolerances, polished, and then nitride treated for a very smooth and slick surface. This improves both feeding and ejecting as the bolt moves back and forth in the receiver without jerking. The Kidd Guide Rod and Spring Kit ($9.95) comes with a choice of three springs– standard as well as one with 10% more resistance for a steady diet of hyper velocity (1600 fps) and another with 10% less resistance for subsonic ammo.

We usually install the standard replacement spring for use because we expect most customers will use something like CCI MiniMag (1250 fps) for hunting/survival and either CCI Standard Velocity or Eley Match for competition (1050-1085 fps).

For the typical hunter or recreational shooter, the new bolt handle may not be so important. For Rimfire Challenge competitors where half a second makes a big difference or for guys with XXL hands, it is worth every penny. The total time to remove the bolt, remove the factory guide rod assembly, and install the new super smooth guide rod and spring plus the new bolt handle should be less than 10 minutes plus the time spent watching the videos. After all, the bolt and receiver assembly are ready to go.

The procedure for installing the new charging handle, guide rod, and spring is much more easily described than done, until you have done it 20 or 30 times. So that you can better understand how the pieces fit together and work inside the receiver, take the bolt and place it on your work surface so that the firing pin is up and the narrow tapered end of the firing pin is facing away from you. You will see a 3/8” wide channel milled across the top surface about ¼” back from the front face and a portion of the firing pin sticking up into that milled space. With the spring on the left and handle to the right, place the bolt handle assembly into that channel. The milled slot in the bolt handle allows the firing pin to move freely when the bolt handle is in place.

Holding everything together, turn the two pieces over. This is what you will see when you put the bolt down onto bolt handle inside the upside down receiver. Now take the receiver in your left hand and look for the ledge cast into the left receiver wall above the ejection port. Steady the upside down receiver with your left hand, and holding the bolt in your right hand, place it into the receiver parallel to the receiver and drop it into place. The parts need to be parallel, since you have less than 1/16” of an inch of clearance between the front of the bolt and the back of the ledge. Just for grins, reach in with your right forefinger and take the bolt out. You probably cannot do it until you turn the receiver over. That’s how tightly the parts fit together.

Now, let’s put everything together under spring tension. Put the spring (white tip or standard strength) on the guide rod which goes at an angle through the ejection port until the pointed end fits against the guide rod rest on the far side of the receiver near the bottom. Compress the spring on the rod until about an inch is clear and hold the compressed spring between your right thumb and forefinger. (Watch Video #3 starting at 1:55.) Making sure that the channel for the firing pin is facing up, use your left hand to slide the bolt handle onto the exposed end of the polished guide while continuing to hold the spring between your right thumb and forefinger resting firmly against the guide rod rest. Compress the new spring with your right index finger while pulling back on the bolt handle with your left hand, simultaneously pressing the guide rod into the right wall of the receiver and down against the bottom. The whole guide rod assembly has to be compressed straight back into the receiver to allow enough clearance for the bolt to drop back into place. Once fully compressed, put your left forefinger over the handle and left thumb around the bottom of the receiver and hold the guide rod tight against the right wall and down.

Drop the back of the bolt into the receiver so that the bolt is snug to the rear. Then, drop the front of the bolt over the bolt handle and just behind the ledge. It will not drop past the ledge until you push down on the front of the bolt with your thumb while making sure the guide rod is down and tight against the receiver wall. Release the bolt handle, and the whole assembly should slide forward in the receiver slamming against the front surface.

Practice this a time or two, and you will be much faster, though maybe not as quick as Tony Kidd in Video #3 or Joe Beary in Video #2. You might think a three-handed gunsmith would have a real advantage, but there is no room for that third hand.

Bolt Buffer

The final upgrade for the receiver/bolt assembly is the bolt buffer. As you recall from Video #1 and Video #3, the stock Ruger part is a solid steel pin and serves two purposes. First, it prevents the bolt from hitting the back of the receiver frame casting when the action cycles by absorbing the impact from the bolt body slamming back on the steel pin. Second, the bolt is locked into place by the combination of the round cut in the back of the bolt and square cut ledge on the side of the receiver.

For most of our shop work we recommend the Kidd Bolt Buffer ($5.95) because of its two part construction. The outer sleeve is made of shock absorbing Viton rubber with an inner steel dowel pin. The combination almost completely eliminates bolt battering and dampens the vibrations from the action cycling. TandemKross also makes an excellent composite bolt buffer. (You can save a whole dollar.)

How important is this upgrade? There is a definite reduction in noise and felt vibration, but we have never been able to measure any change in accuracy or reliability. We have never done this replacement without also changing the guide rod and spring and bolt handle so there is no labor charge. We know that cracked receiver frames or cracked bolt bodies can theoretically happen from the bolt hammering the steel buffer pin, but we have yet to see it. The cost is low, there is no extra time, and it looks (and sounds) like a good idea.

Wrapping Up

The total cost so far is $105.87 for all five major upgrades plus your labor and some tools. If you also did the magazine latch and the bolt buffer, your component cost total comes to $118.32. The result is a smoother running rifle with everything done to remove failure points, improve functioning, and increase long-term reliability. As a by-product, you also started a spare parts kit. Whether you keep the gunsmithing tools in a small tool box or in your range bag, you will use all of these tools over and over. Most importantly, you have the satisfaction of knowing you can fix almost anything that goes wrong with your 10/22 and that you have the tools on hand to do the work.

Let me make a quick plug for your local gunsmith should you ever need him. The shop labor rate is only partially related to the estimated time to do a particular task. It also includes an allowance for all of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) paperwork, logging your rifle in and out of his A&D Bound Book (Acquisitions and Dispositions), the rent and overhead for his shop, and the hefty insurance bill just for being a gunsmith and working on customer guns. The labor rate also makes up for lost time or hazardous parts that need to be replaced but are discovered only after starting a project. I have seen posted rates for the upgrades described in this article and in the third article ranging from $90 to $150. That is roughly the amount you can save by doing the work yourself.

If you make it all the way through this project, reward yourself with an inexpensive but high quality shop apron listed at the bottom of the tool list. For the eternally optimistic, buy it when you get the other tools and wear it proudly from Day One.

OUR FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE

Get your 10/22 and make the upgrades before SHTF. It could happen any day.

Resources:

www.kiddinnovativedesign.com [firing pin, bolt handle / guide rod plus more]

www.powercustom.com [full line of replacement parts]

www.tacticalinc.com [bolt handle / guide rod with bling and matching base and rings]

www.tacticalsol.com [extended magazine release]

www.tandemkross.com [extractor, automatic bolt release, and other parts]

www.volquartsen.com [full line of replacement parts]

Key Videos/PDF Files:

Video #1: Major Sub-Assemblies – A quick overview of field stripping and putting a Takedown back together.

Video #2: Bolt and Charging Handle – The first two minutes show how to remove and install the bolt and guide rod spring with and without Joe Beary’s 10/22 tool. (The second half of this video is Video #6.)

Video #3: Bolt Removal/Guide Rod Installation – Tony Kidd showing how to remove/install the bolt and the charging handle guide rod without the Joe Beary tool. He also describes the Kidd bolt buffer and its installation.

Video #4: Automatic Bolt Release/Extended Mag Release – These are not the parts we recommend, but the video is short and covers everything you need to see to visualize the entire process.

PDF #1: Includes Tandem Kross Installation Sheet – Scroll down to the 10/22 heading on this page and download the TandemKross Installation Sheet with some excellent photos and a slightly different description which assumes you are replacing only the bolt release.

Video #5: Tactical Solutions Employee Demonstration – Watch a Tactical Solutions employee install an extended mag release in less than two minutes, assuming you are not replacing the bolt release.

Video #6: Extractor (same as Video #2) – The second half of this 4-minute video shows Joe Beary demonstrating his tool to remove and install an extractor. You may never need to use it again, but for $12.95 this tool will save a lot of time. The following link is to Joe’s web site: gunsmithertools.com/gunsmither-1022-bolt-bar/index.html

PDF #2: Another Extrator Installation Approach – Yet another approach to installing the extractor is covered in a downloadable pdf of the Tandem-Kross Installation sheet for their extractor. It is not always this easy.

Video #7: Firing Pin: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw6KbM7CjFM Installation of a Volquartsen firing pin, but the same techniques apply to the Kidd firing pin.

Tool List:

The following list is just a starting point for you to do your own shopping. All of the links shown are to Amazon, but there are three other exceptional sources to consider:

www.graceusatools.com – the best traditional bench tools

www.midwayusa.com – very fast service and a broad selection

www.brownells.com – many gunsmith-only tools and parts

If you bought everything listed from Amazon, the total would be $146.07, assuming you substituted the Joe Beary bolt and extractor tool. Put another way, the tools cost more than the components. On the other hand, you now have all the tools you are likely to need to add a scope base, rings, and a scope as well as to install any upgrades to the trigger, sear, and hammer. And, they will prove useful on every other gunsmithing project you take on.

  • Excellent gunsmith hammer ($23.99); Brownell’s also sells one with their name on it.
  • The Real Avid bench block is what we carry in our range bag because it is much lighter than either the Brownell or Wheeler versions we use in the shop. ($14.99)
  • Wheeler bench block. ($19.99) This or the Brownell’s block are used every day in our shop.
  • Stanley steel punch set with the three sizes you need (3/16, 1/8, 5/32) and three superfluous. ($9.96) These are excellent tools with a variety of uses, but if you are thinking seriously about building an AR-15 or expanding your gunsmithing activities, you should consider a complete set of pin punches, roll pin punches (with a small knob on the tip to fit inside the roll pin), and roll pin holders (which hold the roll pin itself for the initial taps) whether from Grace, Brownell’s, or Wheeler for a cost of $100 or more.
  • Bondhus ball driver 8-piece set of Allen wrenches for hex head screws in the three sizes you need (7/64, 1/8, 5/32) and five superfluous but handy ones. One great feature is that each driver is proportionately sized. You will instantly know which one you need to grab. ($15.77)
  • Bondhus ball driver Allen wrench 3.5mm ($6.44); or you could buy an entire set but make sure the set has a 3.5mm size.
  • Grace 8-piece hollow ground gunsmith screwdriver set with three you need (02, H2, H3) and five that will be useful on many other guns. ($33.99)
  • Ullman 4-piece pick and hook set, all useful. ($9.99)
  • Stanley 6-piece mini plier set including the 4” needle nose plier. ($12.99) You will probably find a use for all of these, just not on this project.
  • Irwin 4” needle nose Vise Grip are more expensive than the Joe Beary tool, but it has many other uses. The only use on a 10/22 is to hold the extractor claw more securely than with your fingers. ($13.98)
  • Shop rags are just a part of handling dirty, oily guns; these cost about $0.40 each. Run through the washer/dryer without anything else before you start to use them. Old t-shirts also work. ($9.99)
  • And last, your very own gunsmith apron. P.S. Do not get the camo version. Wear with pride. You earned it. ($12.75)
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Economics and Investing:

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Cashless society getting closer, survey finds. “More than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could, and at least 20 percent already pretty much do so, a study showed on Wednesday.” – G.G.

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Government Employee Salaries Outpace Private-Sector Salaries by Double Digits for Similar Work. “Government employees earn roughly 17 percent more in total compensation than private-sector workers in similar jobs, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.” – G.G.

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Canada’s Housing Bubble Explodes As Its Biggest Mortgage Lender Crashes Most In History – R.T.

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Improvised Explosives in Markets. “The NASDAQ is primed for a major correction. Other indexes will follow. In response global central banks will print currencies, levitate markets, buy stocks, extend and pretend, and buy time.”

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WHO REALLY CONTROLS THE GOLD PRICE?? The Answer is Quite Surprising

o o o

SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

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Odds ‘n Sods:

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The Only Plant That Should Be in Your First Aid Kit. Not sure it’s the only plant you need to know about, but it does have some pretty amazing properties. – H.L.

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Amazon wants to watch you get dressed: New “Echo Look” camera to spy on you in your own bedroom and bathroom. “This Echo Look camera is, of course, just the latest insane intrusion into personal privacy by a monopolistic corporation with ties to the CIA and NSA. Does any informed person really think Amazon isn’t recording all this audio and video, then sharing it with government spooks? Thanks to Edward Snowden, we already know Google and Facebook are little more than NSA spying fronts that surveil their own users, then turn over all their findings to the intelligence agencies without a warrant.” – D.B.

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Second Amendment Not a License to Kill – Reader John Cylc wrote this article because it seems there is a lurking presence of people in our survival/gun community who feel cop killing is acceptable when not provoked. Let him know what you think.

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Veteran faces 21 years in prison for possession of pistol magazines. “Simeon D. Mokhiber, a Niagara Falls, N.Y. Army veteran, was convicted April 21 on three felony counts of possessing “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act.” – Time for the SAVE Act and Cuomo to go! – P.S.

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The Real North Korean Missile Crisis is Coming – “The Cuban missle crises in slow motion” – P.S.

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Notes for Thursday – April 27, 2017

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On this day in 1789, the crew of the British ship Bounty mutinied, setting Captain William Bligh and 18 sailors adrift in a launch in the South Pacific.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Start With a .22 Rifle– Part 3, by behind-the-counter

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Steps 1 and 2

We started this series by recommending a .22 rifle as a first gun for a prepper battery or as an important addition to a well-stocked arsenal. We specifically suggested a 10/22 Takedown or any other 10/22 model and recommended dedicating enough time to become confident using this wonderful little rifle. The two structured alternatives we described for building competence and confidence were the Appleseed Project and Rimfire Challenge.

In the second article we provided much more detail about Appleseed and Rimfire. We also described the specific upgrades recommended by Appleseed and four more that would improve the reliability and functioning of any 10/22.

This article and then the final one in the four-part series provide more information and additional resources on the upgrades covered in the second article and provide details on a few more changes to enhance the performance of an already outstanding rifle. Part Three specifically covers the complete field stripping of the 10/22 and installation of an automatic bolt release and an extended magazine release in the trigger guard housing. At the end of the fourth article, which details the installation of the extractor, firing pin, and a replacement bolt handle and guide rod, we include a detailed list of the videos, tools, and additional resources.

Become a Gunsmith, Now

In some future scenario, you may have no choice about being your own gunsmith. Why not learn now, while you have easy access to the Internet for videos, tools, and parts? The 10/22 Takedown is an excellent choice as the first gun in a prepper battery. It is also one of the best firearms on which to develop some basic gunsmithing skills.

This article is a genuine do-it-yourself project. If you take the time to watch the videos we recommend, assemble the necessary tools, and then do all the steps outlined below, at least four important things will result:

  1. You will end up with a semi-custom Ruger 10/22 that is more accurate and more reliable than the rifle you took out of the box.
  2. You will know a lot more about Bill Ruger’s engineering genius reflected in this rifle than most of the other people shooting one, and if something does break you can fix the problem yourself.
  3. You will save enough money in gunsmithing fees to purchase the recommended tools that will have many more years of useful life.
  4. You will have a huge head-start on being able to work on a lot more firearms than just your own 10/22.

Starting the Project

Read through this article, and ask yourself if you are ready to add a great prepper skill to your personal resume. If you are, here are the steps we recommend:

Watch all of the videos and any others you run across in the process. When you have finished watching, re-affirm that you can do the job.

Assemble the basic tools using the resources listed. Move up or down on the price points we mention, depending on your personal situation. If you already have tools that will mostly do the job, save some money. Unless you actually have the right sizes, spring for the 1/8” and 5/32” pin punches that include 7/64”, 1/8” and 5/32” plus 3.5mm.

Decide which of the upgrades you are going to do. There is no requirement to do them all at once.

Order the components mentioned below that you decide to install. Look through all of the resources we list and any others that pop up in a web search. If you like a different vendor’s extractor or bolt release better than the one we normally use, feel free to make substitutions. Just don’t mix and match when it comes to the trigger assembly pieces.

Talk to your spouse or partner and settle on a suitable work area. In our house, that would be either my workshop in the garage or the kitchen table. Both my wife and I prefer that I do projects like this in the garage, but where we live, it is painful to work in an unheated garage in the middle of winter. That’s time to make a deal. Make sure you have really good light. A piece of carpet remnant with a short, tight surface can make a good work surface, will protect the table, and your next meal won’t be flavored with Hoppes No. 9 or Quick Scrub III.

What’s the downside risk? You make a good faith effort, and you learn that working with guns and tools is not for you. Maybe essential oils, bee keeping, or Ham radio are more your special skill. There are no judgments here; all of three of those projects are on my personal to-do list. This is a personal journey.

We do have one suggestion that will make all the difference in your experience. Do this project with a good friend, a family member, or a like-minded prepper. This works wonders whether you do two guns at once or just have a supportive team member to look over your shoulders.

Step Zero

Before doing any work on your 10/22 or any other firearm, start by removing the magazine and confirming that the chamber is empty. Then, make sure that there are no magazines or ammo anywhere near your work area. In our view, there is no such thing as an “accidental discharge”, but a negligent discharge can ruin your whole day. Now is a good time to review the Three Commandments of Gun Safety.

Step One– The Major Pieces

Lock the bolt back so that the action is open, and confirm again that the chamber is clear and that there is no magazine. Assuming you have a 10/22 Takedown, remove the barrel and forearm and set them aside. Now close the bolt by pushing up on the bolt lock tab on the bottom left side of the trigger guard while pulling back on the bolt handle. Use a 5/32” Allen wrench or hex key to completely loosen the action screw near the front end of the butt stock. This screw attaches the receiver to the stock. You do not need to remove the screw from the stock.

To remove the receiver assembly from the stock, you must first push the safety to a position halfway between Fire and Safe. This will allow the receiver and trigger guard assembly to come out of the stock as a unit.

With the receiver out of the stock, look at the left side; you will see the two receiver cross pins that are 3/16” in diameter and the slightly larger bolt buffer pin near the back of the receiver. Push out the two receiver cross pins holding the trigger guard assembly from left to right using a 1/8” pin punch. Do the same thing to remove the bolt buffer pin. Some pins almost drop out; others require some persuasion. If these pins are a little tight, we recommend using a gunsmith hammer and a 1/8” pin punch to apply modest force and a bench block (with pre-drilled holes and v-channel) on which to rest the receiver so that you have the necessary clearance for the pins to come all the way out.

Once the pins are out, you can remove the trigger guard assembly, even if takes a little tugging. This polymer housing contains the trigger, hammer, safety, ejector, magazine latch and release, bolt release, and all the associated pins, springs, and plungers as a complete assembly. This is part of the genius of Bill Ruger’s design. Occasionally, the two primary retaining pins in the trigger guard are so loose that the pins will fall out of the housing while handling the assembly.

What remains is the receiver body containing the bolt assembly containing the extractor and firing pin plus the charging handle (or bolt handle), and guide rod and spring. To remove the bolt, turn the receiver upside down with the bolt handle on the left side and the rear of the receiver toward you. Put your left index finger on the bolt handle while wrapping your thumb around the back of the receiver and pull the bolt handle all the way to the rear with your left hand. Reach under the front edge of the bolt with your right forefinger and lift it up past the ledge on the left side of the receiver, wiggling the bolt to free it from the portion of the bolt handle hidden under the bolt. Once you feel the bolt starting to release, maintain the upward pressure and slowly release the tension on the bolt handle and the guide rod spring. Place the bolt and bolt handle assembly to the side. BTW, as you watch the second video below, you will see a completely different way to remove the bolt using a specialized tool that you may or may not decide to purchase.

Video #1 in the resource list at the end of this article provides a quick visual overview of field stripping and re-assembling a Takedown. The first half of Video #2 with Joe Beary, a master gunsmith and inventor, provides a more detailed view of removing the bolt and bolt handle. Tony Kidd in Video #3 provides his version of removing the bolt and as a bonus shows the steps for installing a Kidd bolt handle and guide rod spring.

At this stage, you should have a more or less orderly layout of an empty receiver, the bolt, the bolt handle and attached guide rod, the trigger guard assembly, and off to one side the butt stock plus the forearm still attached to the barrel.

If you decide to do nothing further, you are now ready to do a very thorough cleaning job on all the major parts of your 10/22 including the barrel. One of the special benefits of the 10/22 Takedown is that cleaning the barrel from the breech end is super easy. Remember to start a cleaning rod only from the breech end and never from the muzzle, or skip the cleaning rod and use a bore snake. If you have decided to limit your first session to installing only the automatic bolt release and/or extended magazine release, you can stop after Step Two and put all the pieces back together.

Step Two– Trigger Guard Assembly

Two of the “must do” upgrades described in our second article are the Tandem Kross Automatic Bolt Release ($9.99) and the Tactical Solutions Extended Magazine Release ($34.99 to $42.00, depending on vendor). These upgrades are straightforward, can be done as a standalone project, or as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the trigger guard assembly. They are also used every time you shoot.

Not as noticeable or noteworthy is the Kidd Magazine Latch and Spring ($7.50), but the additional time and effort if done at the same time as the bolt release and magazine release is maybe 30 seconds. This does not improve accuracy at all, but it does make sure the magazine is locked more securely in place and releases more easily.

Bolt Release

The easiest way to describe these two upgrades is to treat the replacement of the factory bolt lock plate with the automatic bolt release plate as one discrete process and the replacement of the factory magazine release with an extended magazine release as another separate process. The only tool needed is the 1/8” pin punch or any other improvised way to push out the two pins. I have used a ball point pen on occasion.

We normally replace the factory bolt lock with the Tandem Kross Automatic Bolt Release ($9.99) or the Kidd Auto Bolt Release ($10.95). You can pick on the basis of color (black vs. white), price (save a dollar), or savings on shipping charges. I would prefer to have either company make a slightly longer release tab sticking out next to the mag release lever so that I could operate the bolt hold open wearing gloves.

Take a close look at the trigger guard assembly with the trigger on the right and the factory mag release on the left. Push the safety to off to avoid accidentally releasing the hammer while working on the other parts. You will see two empty holes where the receiver cross pins were removed in Step One. Just above the trigger pivot point is the trigger pin; above and to the left is the hammer pin. We are going to focus on the two remaining cross pins on the left half of the housing, either of which may be loose enough to fall out of the housing.

The first pin to remove is near the top of the housing halfway between the hammer pin and the empty receiver cross pin hole on the top far left. Looking down from the top, you will see that this pin positions (a) the bolt lock spring, which has a straight upper arm and a bent lower arm, (b) the ejector which pivots on this pin and rests in a slot milled in the top front of the housing, and (c) the upper hole in the bolt lock plate. Using the 1/8” pin punch, push the pin from left to right about halfway. This will allow you to remove the ejector, which rotates on this pin; set it aside noting the orientation (or grab a photo with your cell phone). Then, while slightly depressing the upper arms of the spring with a fingernail, remove the pin completely. The spring can now rotate freely around the right pivot of the hammer.

The second pin near the bottom of the housing holds (a) the lower edge of the bolt release, and (b) the upper end of the factory magazine release. Drift this pin halfway from left to right using the 1/8” pin punch. (Note: This pin and the upper pin are identical.) The bolt lock plate will now be completely free. Push up on the lower tab near the mag release and lift it up and out of the housing or turn the housing over and let the plate fall out. Put this part in a small plastic bag as the starting point for your spare parts kit.

To install the new bolt release, flip the magazine lock spring all the way back on the hammer pivot so that the bent arm is sticking up out of the housing. Looking at the T-K bolt release, you can see that a small tab has been bent out of the main body and that the tab has a small notch cut into it. That notch is where the bent arm of the spring will rest. Drop the bolt release into the housing so that the notch on the tab is at the bottom of the housing. The bottom of the bolt release with the oval hole (on the T-K part) will slide into the small gap at the bottom left between the mag release and the housing, and the upper portion will drop over the left side of the hammer pivot. Carefully work the bottom retaining pin through the elongated hole locking the lower portion of the assembly in place.

Flip the mag lock spring all the way around so that the bent arm drops into the notch in the bolt release. While pressing down with a finger nail or tip of a small screwdriver, push the upper retaining pin about 75% of the way back into place from right to left making sure that the straight arm of the mag lock spring is captured underneath the pin. Place the ejector on the pin oriented so that the extended portion sticks out above the trigger housing. It should be free to rotate on the pin. (You did take a photo with your cell phone…)

Finally, while pushing up on the bottom edge of the bolt release, line up the upper cut-out in the bolt release plate with the upper retaining pin hole, and slide the retaining pin into position locking the bolt release into place from top and bottom. To check your work, push up on the portion of the bolt release extending out of the housing next to the mag release. There should be a slight spring pressure, and you should see the upper edge of the bolt release come up out of the housing about ¼”. Slide the ejector along the pin toward the bolt release and flip it forward into the vertical slot with the leading edge protruding above the housing and sticking out in front.

So that you have a complete visual image of what you will be doing, watch the first 2:44 minutes of Video #4. While we recommend parts from different vendors, the process is identical. You should also review the TandemKross Installation Sheet, which is PDF #1 in the resource list at the end of this article with some excellent photos.

Extended Magazine Release

The lower pin also holds the factory mag release in place which in turn holds the magazine latch and spring in the circular recess in the front of the trigger housing. Take a moment and push the mag release forward and watch it move the front of the magazine latch back into the recess. This motion is what releases the magazine allowing it to fall free. Next, hold the housing in your right hand while pressing in on the front of the magazine latch with your right index finger to keep the mag latch from popping out. With the spring pressure relieved, drift the retaining pin completely out from left to right releasing the factory mag release and the bottom portion of the bolt release plate that you just installed. With your right forefinger pressing on the magazine latch, pull the factory mag release out with your left hand. Add this component to your spare parts baggie. Note that the upper part of the mag release is normally captured between the large front portion of the magazine latch and the belled back-end of the mag latch. It’s a good idea to take the magazine latch out to inspect it.

If you have decided to replace the factory mag latch, now is the time to drop in the upgraded Kidd Magazine Latch and Spring ($7.50). Otherwise, just reinsert the factory mag latch. Depending on the normal variability of these parts, you may need to wiggle the latch and spring combo to get it to seat properly and allow you to press it in and out freely.

To install the Tactical Solutions Extended Magazine Release ($34.99), hold the trigger housing in your right hand while pressing straight back on the mag latch with your right forefinger. With your left hand, insert the top end of the mag release lever making sure that the top is once again captured between the main part of the mag latch and the belled back end. Check carefully, but the mag release should stay more or less in place. At this point, line up the holes on the new mag release with the pin still holding the bolt release and push the retaining pin all the through locking the bottom of the bolt release plate as well. It should take only minor adjustments to line up the holes. Once the pin is fully inserted, push on the mag release to check for proper functioning of the magazine latch.

The second part of VIDEO #4 beginning at 2:45 minutes shows the general steps for installing a magazine release, but in our view, this upgrade is even more worthwhile using an extended magazine, whether from Tactical Solutions, Tactical Innovations, Kidd, or even shopruger.com. You can also use the 1/8” pin punch instead of a wooden shishkebab skewer to line up the holes. From start to finish, including removing and reinstalling the stock, a TacSol employee in Video #5 installs an extended mag release in less than two minutes. This is not how we recommend you do this, but you can see how quickly the job can be completed assuming you are not also replacing the bolt release.

If you got your project this far, you have made the first steps to acquiring real gunsmithing skills. You can now put everything back together and take your rifle to the range to test your work. Feeling good so far? The next several steps are definitely more challenging, but if you got all the pieces where they belong in Step Two, you are ready to keep going.

The next and final article covers Steps 3 and 4 and provides an annotated tool list, plus links to additional resources.

Tools and Videos

Key Videos / PDF Files:

Video #1: Major Subassemblies – A quick overview of field stripping and putting a Takedown back together.

Video #2: Bolt and Charging handle – The first two minutes show how to remove and install the bolt and guide rod spring with and without Joe Beary’s 10/22 tool.

Video #3: Bolt Removal/Guide for Rod Installation – Tony Kidd shows how to remove/install the bolt and the charging handle guide rod without the Joe Beary tool. He also describes the Kidd bolt buffer and its installation.

Video #4: Automatic Bolt Release/Extended Mag Release – These are not the parts we recommend, but the video is short and covers everything you need to see to visualize the entire process.

PDF #1 TandemKroff Installation – Scroll down to the 10/22 heading on this page and download the TandemKross Installation PDF file with some excellent photos and a slightly different description, which assumes you are replacing only the bolt release.

Video #5: Installing An Extended Mag Release. Watch a Tactical Solutions employee install an extended mag release in less than two minutes, assuming you are not replacing the bolt release.

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Economics and Investing:

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Is The Deep State Creating Another “Crash Of 1929”?

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Leo Nelissen is sounding like a Perma Bull, over at Seeking Alpha: The Market Is Overbought, But There Is Plenty Of Room In The Near Future.

JWR’s Comment: The U.S. equities markets are starting to look “toppy” to me. It is high time to bail out and get into cash and metals. But shorting the market right now could prove deadly.

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This bubble finally burst. Which one’s next?

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Sweden’s Gold Reserves: 10,000 gold bars shrouded in Official Secrecy – H.L.

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Central Banks Are Now Printing $200 Billion Per Month… Without a Crisis – H.L.

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JPMorgan: “Trump’s Tax Plan Will Be Virtually Impossible To Pass Through Congress”

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

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Odds ‘n Sods:

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Reader R.V. wrote in to remind our readers that “Two is one, one is none.”: My little Berkey went flopping into the sink the other day as my nine year old (just one of them) tilted it on the ledge attempting to gain the last drops for his cup. The impact did not hurt the vessel but stripped the vinyl nut on the stem of the filter rendering the efficacy of the seal dubious. Off to the hardware to see if a stainless steel nut is available and if it will do the job.

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Reader A.W. sent in this link to the Bed Tent. It might be helpful in a bug-in situation. The tent sits on top of the box springs and the mattress goes inside. It has zip out “doors” on each side. This should provide a way to contain your body heat as you would in a standard tent, but would allow you to sleep in your own bed.

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Reader K.T. suggested that data preservation through an EMP event is simple: If you’re not using OPTICAL storage, all your data may be wiped out in a nuclear war, solar flare or EMP attack

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Mike Williamson, SurvivalBlog’s Editor at large suggested Reed’s Ammunition & Research, LLC. Apparently this outfit can produce quite a few obsolete and hard to find calibers, including 10.4mm Italian, .43 Mauser, 6.5 Dutch, 7.5 Swedish Nagant, and even .320 Garrucha from Brazil. Prices can be steep compared to production ammo, but mean certain collectibles and antiques remain shootable.

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Reader P.S. sent this article in as a follow on to the articles and discussion on making your own vinegar: An Easy Vinegar Recipe That’s Better Than Store Bought

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Notes for Wednesday – April 26, 2017

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On April 26, 1986, one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor sent radioactivity into the atmosphere; at least 31 Soviets died immediately.

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If you haven’t been following comments on SurvivalBlog, you are missing out. There has been an excellent discussion on last week’s articles – “Should I Bug Out or Survive in Place?- Part 1”, “Part 2”, and “Part 3”, by Jonathan Hollerman. There is a whole other article just in the comments!

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Today, we present another entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Start With A .22 Rifle- Part 2, by behind-the-counter

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Appleseed or Rimfire

Are you still pondering whether to get a 10/22? Or, have you already added a stainless Takedown to your gun safe and made several trips to the range? If you have also taken a class or done some serious practice, your round count is likely to be 300 to 500 rounds or more. You will have built some confidence in your rifle and yourself.

The next step is really a personal choice. Either of the two recommended options, Appleseed or Rimfire Challenge, will result in a major improvement in your skills and put you on the path to becoming a very good shooter or what we call a “capable defender”. (Capes are optional.)

Our advice: Go with your gut after reading the pros and cons of each. Whichever option you select to upgrade your skills, make a genuine commitment to one or the other. Stick with it.

Which one? Appleseed or Rimfire?

Let’s assume you are not an experienced rifle or pistol competitor and have had little or no formal instruction in four-position shooting (standing, kneeling, sitting, prone) and don’t have years of experience shooting varmints and pests. Which one should you pick?

Appleseed

Appleseed has several distinct pluses:

1. You can in theory earn the highly valued “Rifleman“ patch in a single weekend with an out of the box 10/22. (Spend some time on the Appleseed site to understand what they mean by a Rifleman patch and what it takes to earn one.)

2. There will be lots of other novice shooters on the firing line. Regardless of your skills, you will not be in the wrong session.

3. The instructors are well trained and thoroughly understand working with different ages, backgrounds, and physical challenges, like aging eyesight and bad knees.

4. You can bring a properly tricked out “Liberty Training Rifle” (basically a 10/22 with two modest upgrades) or a lever action with a tubular magazine or any rifle anywhere in between including an AR-15 or AK-47. The instructors will work patiently with you, regardless the type of rifle you bring.

(Special note: Depending on age or eyesight, you may be an immediate candidate for a variable power scope for Appleseed or a reflex sight for Rimfire. There is more on this later.)

On the other hand, Rimfire Challenge also has some advantages:

1. From its very inception, these “matches” were designed to be family friendly events to teach new shooters how to get started in competitive shooting. New shooters are the focus at our local club and are warmly welcomed. This has been the case at all the Rimfire matches I have attended.

2. The Match Director and any Range Officers will patiently and cheerfully walk you through coming to the firing line, direct you how to “Make Ready”, advise you on safety protocols, and help clear any malfunctions with your rifle. It is not called personal instruction, but for all practical purposes it works that way.

3. Counting from checking in, signing a waiver, attending a new shooters’ briefing, getting assigned to a relay, meeting some of the other shooters, to firing each Course of Fire, and then wrapping up, your total time commitment will be three to four hours for a Saturday morning match.

4. Everyone will be shooting a .22 rifle, a .22 pistol, or both, and for their first several matches, most shooters will be shooting a factory standard rifle straight out of the box.

They both sound good. So what’s the downside?

Here’s the Catch for Appleseed.

To get the most value from your weekend at Appleseed, you should plan in advance for a minimum of three or four range visits to practice shooting from the different positions and to confirm that your rifle is properly zeroed and functioning perfectly. This also includes some thoughtful testing to find out what brand of ammo your rifle “likes”.

NOTE: When shooters talk about “group size”, they are referring to the maximum distance between the two most distant holes for a single group of shots on your target. For this purpose, we recommend 5-shot groups and a simple ruler to measure from the outer edges of the two holes that are the farthest apart in each group. Technically, the measurements should be center-of-hole to center-of-hole, which requires subtracting the actual bullet diameter from this measurement, but for this purpose, great precision is not needed. You are only seeking to compare the relative consistency of different types of ammo. If all the group sizes for each different type of ammo are within ¼” of each other, that’s great. It means your barrel is not especially picky. But if the group size for Ammo A is 2” or less and Ammo B averages 4”, you know your rifle prefers Ammo A.

Your particular rifle’s ammo preference is hugely important. Any given combination of rifle and ammo with exactly the same shooter can produce a group size from 1” to more than 3” or even bigger with ammo as the only variable.

The Appleseed weekend events are shot on 25 meter ranges using scaled targets to simulate an enemy rifleman’s torso at 100 yards (with the shooter in the standing position), 200 yards (sitting or kneeling), 300 yards (prone), and 400 yards (also prone). And, the 400 yard score counts double. You have to keep all 10 of your 400 yard shots on a target that measures less than 1 ½” x 1 ½”.

If your rifle/ammo combo on its best day shoots 3” groups, no matter how well you listen to the Appleseed instructors, you will have some misses that could have been avoided just by testing different brands of ammo. (After two days of instruction and practice, you will be amazed at how much smaller your groups have become.)

Prior to your first Appleseed event, work-outs on your living room floor should include going through all the steps outlined in Fred’s Guide to Becoming Riflemen for each of the four shooting positions. Try to find your Natural Point of Aim (NPOA) with whatever sights you have decided to use. Like the time at the range, these practice sessions will be more productive if you can do some of them with a buddy or a family member. The entire booklet is available as a free download.

Whether you earn your Rifleman patch on the first or second weekend course, you will have learned a lot about yourself, your rifle, and how to use it safely and well. Everything will add up to being a better and more confident shooter, capable of imparting that knowledge to your family. You will not learn anything about hunting skills, but your ability to take game at a variety of distances will have increased greatly. You will also know that a .22 rifle is a very potent defensive weapon. A hit with a 10/22 is far more lethal than a miss with an AR-15.

What’s So Hard About Rimfire Challenge?

There is no “how to” weekend for newbies. There is no well written guide building on years of military training. There are no designated instructors. You will probably be thoroughly confused and overwhelmed at your first match. You will most likely feel conspicuous and out of place. You will not look cool, even with your dark-tinted Oakleys. (P.S. It will be a lot easier on your ego if you take a buddy or family member with you.)

Targets range in size from 8”, 10”, and 12” round steel plates to 12” x 12” and 18” x 24” steel rectangles at distances ranging from 7 to 30 yards. The targets for each Course of Fire are arranged in different patterns, using different sizes of targets, all set at different distances. Each of the 5, 6, or 7 targets need to be hit only once. Each shooter shoots five stages (the same set of targets) in a row on each course of fire, and the worst time is tossed out of your total. Then, the next shooter comes up to the firing line. When all the shooters in a given relay have fired, that whole group moves to the next Course of Fire. (You will need at least five of the Ruger 10-round magazines. We do not recommend using the 25-round mag.)

Compared to Appleseed, this is easy. Right? There is a huge target– 18” x 24”– compared to maybe 2” x 2”, and there are shorter distances except for the 30 yard targets. Not exactly. All shots are standing and start from a loaded rifle in the ready position. The range officer, with the timer, and the score keeper have to hear the impact of your bullet on the steel target for it to count. All the shots in a given stage are electronically timed to 1/100th of a second. You are on the clock, moving your sights from one target to the next as fast as you can swing the barrel, acquire a fresh sight picture, squeeze the trigger, and move on. This is real stress (though all self-imposed)! You will hear only cheers of support from everyone in your relay.

As you can see, Rimfire Challenge is completely different from Appleseed. Whereas Appleseed contemplates multiple targets, the goal is to engage them accurately in a measured rhythm from as far away as possible and take out each target before they can pose a threat to you. Rimfire Challenge sets 5 to 7 immediate threats in each Course of Fire that you have to hit anywhere on the steel target in the shortest possible elapsed time.

Both of these learning experiences are tremendously relevant, and the skills learned will carry over from using a .22 rifle to an AR-15 to a sniper rifle to a hunting rifle. Each event requires different types of practice. For Rimfire, assuming your rifle range allows, we recommend setting up four paper plates or regular 8 ½ x 11 printed targets on your target backer at any distance from 15 yards at the near end to 30 yards at max. For each string that you shoot, practice moving your barrel to a different plate after each shot. Alternate by trying for the smallest 10 shot group on a single plate taking as much time as you need at the beginning and then picking up the pace on each subsequent string.

After doing a range session with 100 to 200 rounds, pack it up. But, do an honest self-critique and take notes to review before your next range visit. Better yet, do the range session with a buddy or family member. Take turns shooting and spotting. Provide feedback and constructive criticism after each shooting session, and then change roles. After three or four range visits, you will be ready to enter your first match.

The Big Choice

Which skill set is likely to be more important to you in a TEOTWAKI situation?

1. Rapid target acquisition under stress on multiple torso and head-sized targets at distances from 7 to 30 yards? or

2. The ability to reach out and tag a torso target at 200 or 300 yards with plenty of time to take the shot?

We think both are important.

Rifle Upgrades

Special Requirements For Your .22 Rifle

Both Appleseed and Rimfire require rifles that are reasonably accurate, highly reliable, allow easy magazine changes, and have good sights. Out of the box factory 10/22 rifles will do the job, and lots of folks show up at Appleseed or Rimfire and do very well with a standard rifle.

So, why change anything at all?

Appleseed Recommended Upgrades

For Appleseed, two changes are highly recommended on their site, and there are four more that we put in the “must do” category plus two really helpful magazine upgrades.

The two Appleseed recommendations are:

  1. A GI-style canvas sling available from the Appleseed store for around $14.50. This item is critical for learning how to use sling support to achieve maximum stability in the various positions. Depending on which 10/22 model or after-market stock, this may also require installing sling swivel studs on the stock. (Note: Whether or not you attend Appleseed, a sling is a basic item for every prepper rifle. You need to be able to carry the rifle on your shoulder when you need two hands.)
  2. The Tech-Sight or a similar rear peep sight ($69 for the TSR200 available at the Appleseed store or for $74 with free shipping through Amazon Prime*) mounted on the receiver for a quantum improvement over the factory folding leaf sight mounted on the barrel. Two more options are available from Skinner Sights.

If you already know your eyes will need some help and especially if you wear bifocals, give serious consideration to a scope at the very beginning of your upgrades and skip the expense of the peep sight. We recommend a 2-7X variable scope or possibly 3-9X with an adjustable objective to allow proper parallax focus at rimfire ranges. Prices for a good quality Bushnell scope will range from $89 to $139, depending on the model and vendor.

A sling plus some form of enhanced sight picture turn your factory 10/22 Carbine or Takedown into a “Liberty Training Rifle”, and you are set to go to your first weekend. If you can handle a portable electric drill to position a hole for a screw to hang a picture frame, you can do the swivel stud installation yourself in less than five minutes by following this online exceptional rimfire tutorial.

The most time consuming part of the project will be assembling all of the parts and the tools. If you have a factory synthetic stock and forearm, you will need the Uncle Mike’s 1 ¼” swivel set with one wood screw and one machine screw. If you have a carbine with a wood stock or the Magpul X22 synthetic stock for a Takedown, you will need the set with two wood screws . Both sets include the 1¼” quick-detach sling swivels that attach to the Appleseed sling as well as the studs that attach to the stock.

The Additional “Must Do” Upgrades

Our recommended upgrades apply whether or not Appleseed is in your plans. All four of the following upgrades improve the reliability of any 10/22 or make it easier to perform standard tasks, whether hunting, plinking, or competing.

  1. Tandem-Kross Automatic Bolt Release ($9.99) or the Kidd version ($10.95). Although they have slightly different geometries, the function is the same: allow the bolt to be released by a simple pull to the rear rather than requiring finger tip access to the bottom of the trigger guard to release a small metal tab allowing the bolt to close while simultaneously holding the bolt all the way back with the other hand. This upgrade results in less disruption to the shooter’s position when closing the bolt after a magazine change and eliminates fumbling for the hold open release– a genuine design flaw in the 10/22. Try closing the bolt or locking it open manually on a factory 10/22 while wearing gloves, and you will know what I mean.
  2. Tactical Solutions Extended Magazine Release ($34.99). Changing magazines while on the time clock is a required part of Stages 2 and 3 for Appleseed. The stubby factory release frequently fails to completely retract the magazine latch plunger, requiring the shooter to help fish out the standard 10-round magazine. This takes time and will definitely result in losing your cheek weld and your concentration. The TacSol mag release is very positive, much easier to reach with your trigger hand, and has more leverage on the magazine latch. Tactical Innovations offers a less expensive version ($21.99) with bling colors that match the anodizing on the scope base and matching rings. Very cool.
  3. Tandem-Kross Extractor and Spring ($9.99). Unlike the factory part, which is a stamped steel component, the T-K extractor is precisely machined from hardened tool steel and has a more precise geometry. The result is very reliable extraction even when there are problems with the case heads or the cases are a little sticky in your chamber.
  4. Kidd Firing Pin and Spring ($23.95). Tony Kidd was previously the Head of Research and Development for the Army Marksmanship Unit, and the precise size, shape, and material of his firing pin is the end result of many years of experimentation funded by our tax dollars. Using the Kidd firing pin, we routinely see more consistent ignition with all different types of ammo. Given the problems with all too frequent dud rounds and weaker quality control in today’s .22LR ammo, this upgrade significantly reduces the possible need to take the time to rack the bolt to dump a faulty round and chamber another. Oh, and Tony says you can dry fire without any worries.

Installing all four upgrades will take less than an hour, including the disassembly, cleaning, installation of the upgrades, and reassembly of your 10/22. The third and fourth articles in this series will cover the recommended tools, videos to watch, and some tips from our shop experience so that you can do the upgrades yourself.

Finally, one of the most useful things you can do is upgrade the BX-1 factory 10-round magazine. We strongly recommend using either:

(a) the Tandem-Kross Magazine Bumper ($19.99 for a 2-pack), which extends the bottom of the magazine below the trigger guard housing, allowing a magazine to be grasped more easily to pull it out of the magazine well, or better yet:

(b) the T-K Double-Kross Dual Magazine Body ($9.99 each), which replaces the external plastic housings from two standard 10-round magazines with a single, clear housing for the two sets of internal components. This turns a single housing into dual, reversible magazines; just drop it out, flip it over, and re-insert. Plus, this extended magazine is easy to grasp if the magazine ever needs an assist.

The four upgrades described above add up to $79 and are enough to make the Ruger 10/22 into an even better choice for your survival battery.

There are some additional upgrades to consider over time, including the charging handle (bolt handle), guide rod and spring, bolt buffer, and eventually a trigger job. You can upgrade the barrel, the entire bolt, the receiver, or the bolt and receiver combination. Improvements in accuracy are certainly possible but expensive for modest gains. Instead, enjoy your newly developed skills by spending more time in the field or at the range instead of spending more money.

Scopes, Red Dots, and Reflex Sights

In our experience, the optimum sights for Appleseed are some form of scope capable of adjusting parallax focus down to 25 yards or with a preset parallax of 50 yards. The best choices are variable power scopes of either 2-7X or 3-9X. This type of scope will also be excellent for any hunting with your .22 rifle. The next article will cover our recommendations for a scope base, scope rings, and some very inexpensive variable power scopes.

If you really like Rimfire Challenge and decide to continue to build your skills, you will likely add a red dot or reflex sight to your 10/22. I have one rifle that has had the same Ultra Dot for over 20 years. That combo has taken a lot of prairie dogs, gophers, and coyotes with only periodic changes of the small battery. If you still have good eyesight, you can postpone the purchase of a red dot or reflex, but you will see that most of the top shooters use one or the other. It is all about obtaining a sight picture and focus as quickly as possible.

Taking Stock

After many years of using a carbine with a beat-up factory stock, I upgraded to a stainless Takedown installed in a Hogue overmolded thumbhole stock that fits me very well. I should have done this years ago. There are many, many choices for a new stock, and you can make the decision any time. And, if your rifle fits you better, it may improve your accuracy.

Most likely you will need to purchase your new stock on-line, since very few gun stores have a selection. Just make sure the vendor (for example, Midway USA or Brownell’s) has excellent return policies, since any replacement stock needs to fit your particular 10/22 model and your unique body type. Finding the right stock is a lot like finding a good dance partner. Looks are not as important as how you work together.

Time For Action

All four of our “must do” parts add up to $78.92 or $65.92, depending on which magazine release you select. The sling and swivel set will add another $22.49. The new peep sights or a variable power scope will add $75 to $150 more plus scope base and rings.

Is it worth spending the money? Absolutely, especially if you become your own gunsmith. Whether you make the personal commitment to Appleseed or Rimfire, you will be thankful you spent the time developing your shooting skills and installing the parts yourself.

If you ever need to use your trusty rifle and your new skills, the value of everything you have done will be repaid many times over.

The final two article in this series are a do-it-yourself guide, complete with a resource list and tool list. Learn to be your own gunsmith with all the resources offered by the Internet.

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