Cold Steel Extra Large Espada, by Pat Cascio

We get a lot of requests at SurvivalBlog to test and review many products. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of these requests, we simply can’t review every product, or we’d have a website full of product reviews each and every day. I personally take as much time as I possibly can with each product I test to make sure I give it a fair test, in that the product does what it is expected to do. When it comes to firearms, I shoot them a lot, and in the case of a handgun I carry it, too. I’m not going to recommend a handgun to someone else if it isn’t something I’d carry myself. We get a lot of emails, at least I do, personally, for knife reviews. I’m happy to say I have some of the best contacts in the knife industry, and they are happy to send me their products for testing. Still, I can’t review all of the knives I’d like, because there isn’t enough time! I also get requested, or should I say readers asking me what is the “best” knife! I simply can’t answer that question; there is no “best” when it comes to … Continue reading

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Letter Re: 80% Lower Router Problems

Hugh, I wanted to add something here. You should not have to keep retightening a router bit after each cut. Having been a woodworker for 25+ years and having used routers to mill aluminum, here are a few safety tips: When inserting bit in collet make sure bit is not bottomed out all the way. Insert bit until it bottoms out and then slightly raise it up about 1/32 or 1/16″. The easy way to do this is to snug collet enough so you can insert bit into collet, and that bit will stay put when you take your hand off, then bottom bit out. Then while pulling outward, slightly twist bit about 1/8 of a turn to relieve bit from touching bottom, then tighten collet. I have noticed that if a bit is bottomed out, it can work loose even when routing wood. By relieving slightly so bit is not touching, I have never had one come loose. Hope this helps readers stay safe. – William in NC

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Letter Re: 80% Firearms

Hugh, I recently completed a Complete AR-15 Rifle Kit with PTAC Upper from 80% Arms with their Easy Jig system, and I would like to share a few things from my experience. 80% Arms shipped the kit within just a few days. There were no missing parts or tools. That was my only experience with their customer service, but based on the rapid shipment I would rate them “excellent”. The instructions were quite complete and understandable, but you do need to read them carefully (preferably twice or more) before cutting and then follow them exactly step by step while cutting. Two points I want to emphasize from the instructions: The Easy Jig system uses a router with a mill bit for much of the cutting. The instructions clearly state to ensure the bit is very tight in the router. They do mean very tight, as mine began to drift at one point in the cut causing a problem I will discuss shortly. Even though I had tightened the bit tight enough that I was worried about breaking my router, I found that I needed to tighten the bit after every cut, until it eventually “seated” in a sense and the … Continue reading

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Letter Re: 80% Article

Hugh, Concerning the article titled “Building an 80% Firearm,” I just wanted you (and the readers, should you decide to post this) to know that the 80% handgun market is continuing to expand. In addition to the Not-A-Glock and 1911s, there is a website (matrixprecisionparts.com) that offers 80% Sigs for construction. On the website, they also sell refinished German Sig Sauer P228 9mm parts kits for the 80% receiver. This is easily one of the most satisfying builds I have done. Now if only someone would offer an 80% M1A or mini 14 receiver and tooling. – F.M.

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CZ 85B, by Pat Cascio

Continuing on with testing all-metal firearms, as requested by many of our readers, here’s one of my favorite double-stack 9mm handguns. The CZ-85B is simply an upgraded model of the original CZ-75. For many years, the CZ-75 was hard to come by in the USA, because it was produced in the Czech Republic when it was behind the “Iron Curtain”. The few CZ-75 handguns that were in the USA were very hard to come by and expensive, very expensive! Because of the scarcity of the original CZ-75, a number of near-clones of this gun appeared. One of the most recognized, coming from Italy, was imported by several different companies into the U.S. However, some were a serious hit or miss proposition, and I owned many. They had feeding problems as well as extraction problems, and most were guns you sure didn’t want to bet your life on. That was then, and this is now. One major importer– European American Armory– is bringing in some outstanding CZ-type handguns. However, like many gun owners who longed for the real thing, I wanted the original. CZ-USA.com is the importer of the original CZ-75 and, of course, the subject of this article is the … Continue reading

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Building an 80% Firearm- Part 4, by Tupreco

Building 80% 1911 and Glock Pistols In Part 3 of this series, we took a detailed look at selecting and completing an 80% AR-15 lower receiver. Whether or not you choose to build an AR-15 ghost gun, you may be interested to know that there are also 80% pistol frames and build kits out there to make your own ghost pistol as well. It’s a great challenge and very satisfying to complete one successfully. First, we will look at the legendary John Browning-designed 1911 version. Your 1911 Ghost Gun Trying to explain the popularity of the 1911 .45 ACP pistol is like trying to tell someone why you love your Harley Davidson motorcycle. It goes beyond simple functionality, often being described as something that just feels right. A friend, who is a fanatic for both his 1911 and his Harley, once told me that while neither of them could be called the best versions among their competitors, they both fulfill their mission in a way that feels uniquely American. They are both solid performers, each with its own rich history and back story. So it’s no surprise that an opportunity to build your own version of a handgun with such … Continue reading

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Building An 80% Firearm- Part 3, by Tupreco

Finishing an AR-15 80% Lower During the eight years of Obama’s presidency, a record 144 million pre-purchase NICS background checks were performed. This is almost exactly twice the number we saw during eight years of George W. Bush. Whether the numbers return to Bush-era levels under a Trump presidency remains to be seen. Certainly, while a background check is not an actual gun sale, it is widely believed that the numbers do correlate closely to actual gun sales. This substantial increase in firearms sales also saw a corresponding increase in firearms technology development. Good examples of this include the rise in popularity of the AR-15 rifle with pistol versions and availability of several new calibers; the proliferation of new firearms models; and solid sales growth for items like suppressors and specialty stocks that used to be regarded as curiosities. While Obama’s anti-gun stance clearly polarized the nation, a broader firearms mindset also became evident by increased concealed carry permit issuance and broader concealed carry legislation. Firearms training classes also proliferated as the idea of gun ownership actually attracted many new shooters, and, of course, there was the emergence of the 80% firearms industry. The 80% firearm idea is simple. It … Continue reading

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Building An 80% Firearm- Part 2, by Tupreco

Learn The Why and How (continued) The key provision that makes the 80% industry possible is making sure that all the items being purchased and transported are parts and not a firearm. Because once the parts wind up in your hand, you have the right to now “make” a firearm as listed above but only if you can legally own that firearm in your state of residence. Does this mean I can make my own firearm? The short answer is “Yes, with conditions attached.” From the ATF website: An individual may generally make a firearm for personal use. However, individuals engaged in the business of manufacturing firearms for sale or distribution must be licensed by ATF. Additionally, there are certain restrictions on the making of firearms subject to the National Firearms Act. The second consideration is also critical: (again from the ATF website) Does an individual need a license to make a firearm for personal use? No, a license is not required to make a firearm solely for personal use. However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution. So, you can’t sell it, ever. But when does a person need to become licensed? The simple answer … Continue reading

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Building An 80% Firearm- Part 1, by Tupreco

Learn the Why and How The election of Donald Trump is beginning to show concrete steps toward dialing back the Obama administration’s numerous efforts to undermine our Second Amendment rights. How that will continue to play out remains to be seen. Surprisingly though, even on Obama’s watch there were several pro-2nd Amendment (2A) court and legislative victories, including expansion of concealed carry in many states. Another thing that occurred while Obama was in office was an unexpected but welcome surprise from the ATF. Several years ago, a well-known AR-15 parts manufacturer requested and received the ATF’s formal approval to manufacture and sell, without restriction, a partially-finished AR-15 lower receiver. This receiver would only be legal for unrestricted sale if the ATF approved the exact design where several very specific features remained un-machined or marked in a way that would aid in its completion. This partially-complete receiver (now commonly called an “80% receiver”) required that the through holes for the trigger and hammer pins be omitted and that solid material must remain where the cavity for all of the trigger components would normally be milled out. This new approach was clearly designed to attract buyers who would then complete the steps … Continue reading

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Kel-Tec SU-16B, by Pat Cascio

This isn’t my first Kel-Tec SU-16B rifle; I bought one around 2003 or 2004, if memory serves me correctly. What caught my attention back then was that it didn’t look like other so-called “assault rifles”. It was compact, lightweight, and shot the .223/5.56 caliber round. However, I had nothing but problems with that particular sample. The empty brass would stick in the chamber after firing, and quite often loaded rounds wouldn’t fit the chamber either. The gun was sent back to Kel-Tec, and several weeks later I got the gun back. I was told that the chamber reamer was worn out and the chamber wasn’t cut deep enough. Whatever! However, the gun still wouldn’t function 100%, so I got rid of it. Some time ago, I spied a used but like-new Kel-Tec SU-16B at my local gun shop. The price was way more than “right”, and I got it and took it home for a good cleaning and lubrication and, of course, a very close inspection. The SU-16B weighs a mere five pounds empty, which is nice. It has a 16-inch medium/heavy barrel profile, with an overall length of a bit more than 37 inches, but that isn’t the whole … Continue reading

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Blackhawk Legacy, by Pat Cascio

As many readers will know, my wife is always chiding me about flashlights. She is somehow under the impression that I might have too many, until the lights go out and she asks, “Where’s a flashlight?”. To be sure, I keep flashlights within my reach– in my living room, bedroom, kitchen, and office. Living in the boonies does have some disadvantages; the power goes out quite often in the winter months, due to trees falling onto the power lines. We are used to the power going out and have prepared accordingly. We have LED lanterns, and we also have a 4,000-watt generator, which rarely gets used. Most of the time, when the power goes out, it is only for four to six hours, so I don’t want to crank up the generator for that, especially if the lights go out during daytime hours. If I need to find something, I’ll just grab a flashlight. We’ve been down this road before in several other articles about flashlights, and I believe you should buy the absolute best flashlights you can afford. There is no sense going to the local dollar-type store and buying a cheap flashlight; they will fail you. The batteries … Continue reading

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Everyday Carry and the Musings of an Old Guy, for a Post-Apocalyptic World, by OldRonin

A big part of the prepper culture revolves around guns and gear. I must confess, I’m gun and gear poor! I can just about outfit an infantry squad as I write this! My bonafides are as follows: In my youth, I was an Army Airborne Ranger (Ranger class 9/78, assigned to the second Ranger Battalion, 2/75th). Currently, I am a more than 29 year serving police officer and soon to be retired. I’ve done patrol, investigations, FTO, supervision, and I was a SWAT guy at one time. I have also been a “use of force” instructor and have taught rifle, pistol, and shotgun along with police defensive tactics. ‘ I have been in some hairy situations over the years, to include two standup gunfights. I am a widower with five children, all of them by the same woman, God rest her soul. Three are grown and two teenage boys are still at home. I have prepped for over 20 years, and, yes, I am old. I have given a lot of thought to what our world will look like if the thin veneer of civilization peels away. This article includes my own conclusions and opinions about some popular gear and … Continue reading

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