Letter Re: On Brass Recycling

The note from “Christian Souljer” in the Pacific Northwest today (Monday) points out the elevated price available when recycling brass. I was talking to
Nikki at River Valley Ordnance (http://www.rvow.com) the other day. [She told me that] brass is high now because China is paying top dollar for brass, including the once-fired brass that RVOW would normally buy from the government to remanufacture for us non- government types. Not so long ago, RVOW was able to buy .223 [U.S. military 5.56mm NATO M16 brass] in 5,000 pound lots; Nikki says it looks like the minimums are going up, possibly to 100,000 pound lots, because Chinese are buying so much surplus brass. I wonder why… Do you remember reading about how much scrap iron the Japanese were buying from us in the 1930s? – Dave in Omaha

JWR Replies:  It isn’t just brass, Dave. According to Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (http://www.scrap.org), the mainland Chinese have also driven up the prices of scrap steel, stainless steel, nickel (to make stainless steel), copper, bronze, and lead.  In many cases they are buying everything that they can lay there hands on. Note that the following observation may just be evidence of that “free floating  anxiety” that I was once accused of in a televised debate, but methinks that the extent of the Chinese scrap metal buying frenzy cannot be attributed solely to China’s economic renaissance.

Odds ‘n Sods:

For those of you that read German, consider this interesting web site:  http://www.survival.4u.org  (A lot of the links are to English sites. I hadn’t seen some of these links aggregated anywhere else–for example the ones on meteor strikes )

If you are looking for some military surplus bargains, see:  http://www.drms.com  (Here is your chance to attend a DRMO auction and pick up, for example, some bales of concertina wire at scrap metal prices.)

There are some interesting surplus dealer links at: http://www.jackwalters.com/links/surplusgoods.html  Some of these guys should be advertising on SurvivalBlog!

In Search of More Correspondents and Profiles

We are seeking additional overseas correspondents and/or Profiles for SurvivalBlog, particularly in dangerous locales, countries with religious persecution, and/or countries with recent insurgencies or economic troubles such as: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Haiti, India (preferably someone living in or near the Kashmir), Indonesia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Our readers would benefit from your “lessons learned” and even just hearing about your day-to-day experiences. (How you survived hyperinflation, how you avoided kidnapping, your countermeasures for street crime, et cetera.) I’d also appreciate hearing from anyone that has recently lived in a high crime inner-city area in the United States.

The pay for your writing: zero.  (Well, perhaps the occasional free book or sample merchandise.) The rewards: tremendous.  You’ll know that you are helping many thousands of people gain valuable knowledge and motivation to be able to survive, if and when the First World starts to resemble the Third World. Don’t worry about your spelling or grammar. We’d like your input, even if English is not your first language.  I’ll handle the editing.

David in Israel Re: Tzedaka (Charity) and the Tehillim (Psalms)

The highest level of tzedaka (charity–the same word root for righteousness) is where you never find out who receives and the receiver never finds out who has
given. In the holy Temple there was a large box where people would drop off money and the poor would withdraw it was impossible to tell the donors form the
receivers. In modern Jewish religious communities a Gamel Chesed (carrier of kindness) will deliver food packages on a regular basis as a family in hard times
needs, these families will likely find envelopes of cash appear in coat pockets or under doors (rent the family friendly movie Ushpizin http://www.ushpizin.com/ to get a better idea of how it works). It is considered evil speech to finger out a person who is known for giving tzedaka directly as he might be mobbed by the poor and depleted. This delivery also keeps the poor from feeling beholden to their known donors.
In a survival scenario the ancient wisdom of an anonymous surprise gift of supplies distributed by a designated messenger (like The Postman) will reduce the danger of you becoming known as the house with supplies to be constantly begged or raided. Always remember as I have said before your responsibility bulls eye starts with you in center-then wife and kids, other family, neighbors, more distant victims, and so forth.

Tehillim (Psalms)
The writers of the Tehillim were holy men who inspired by the Almighty wrote poems which were meant to among other things invoke the trait of mercy from the
Creator. It has been a constant that in times of trouble we have resorted to prayer, fasting, and charity to overturn a harsh decree against us. Tehillim falls in the core of our appeals to the King of the Universe. When expressed in Hebrew they are at their most potent and beautiful. I (with no financial or other interest) personally recommend one of my favorite artists singing these as I would imagine David the king or the Levim in the Temple would have.   See: http://www.israel-music.com/yosef_karduner/ or do a web search for Tehillim for other artists. BTW, I always carry either my larger prayer book which contains all of Tehillim or a small pocket size compendium that measures about 2″ x 3″.

David in Israel Replies to Recent Posts

On Expedient Shelter/Greenhouses:  You are right the human waste was to be baked and re-cultured before being introduced into the system guess most of us don’t have a small reactor to provide the unlimited heat/radiation as a Mars  expedition would have. I think there are enough collective brains amongst SurvivalBlog readers to design a concept pop-up settlement for vehicular bugout or being forced from your primary retreat.

On Mobile Ham Gear: The ADSP2 is a good unit (only DSP unit I have used please suggest better) if you can find them at a radio shop, on sale they go as low as $70 they have the ADSP2 board inside for less then the board itself is sold. You can solder in a switch for the filters and add a headset jack, or just pull the board and install it inside your radio, instructions are on the Internet. It really makes extended monitoring less exhausting. 

Letter Re: Expedient Field Telephones and Lightweight HF Transceivers

Mr. Rawles, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I noticed that many references are made using the surplus TA-1 telephone. A household telephone can be used for a point-to point two-way communications by using 4 wire cable, a 9 volt battery (better 12 volts) a 300 ohm resistor, two momentary switches and two signal devices such as a piezzo device or buzzer. A 9 volt battery will furnish telephone comm. for several miles but have never used one over two miles.
I am also a Amateur Radio Operator, (57 years) and if you must go backpack with HF there’s nothing lighter than a HF CW rig such as a Elcraft K1 I built 3 or 4 years ago. CW [manual morse code] still has it’s place in emergency communications. However the Yaesu FT-817 is another but heavier choice that works very well. With a small homemade 50 watt linear amplifier you should not have too much difficulty communicating by SSB anywhere in the US and beyond depending on band conditions of course. It also works with my K1. Just my two cents worth. – M.C., Sr.

Two Letters Re: M14 Clones

You gotta love a well put together MIA. Too bad that Springfield Armory doesn’t seem to be up to the task.
The M1A, my favorite battle rifle, but is probably the worst as far as scoping goes. Scopes of conventional eye relief have to mount very high for the ocular to clear the rear sight assembly, this makes for funky stock welds and other problems. As well the side position on the receiver of the scope mount generally has the ocular too far back and close to the eye, causing grief when shooting from all positions even when cantilevered rings are used to move the scope forward. This problem is compounded by the short mounting “pads” of the ARMS #18. Which also happens to be one of the best scope bases otherwise IMO. The Brooks style mounts have a solid rail to mount on but are heavy and bulky and start you down the path to a M21 clone.
There’s no doubt in my mind that an optic makes it easier to get good hits fast in the 300-500 yard slot that we seek to control with rack grade weapons and ball ammo. It becomes painfully clear (or not so clear, a funny ) as the ranges get 300 yards and out and the targets are of realistic color and pattern, such as those shot during our Wyoming Rifleman Challenge. Throw in a blowing dust cloud, 100 degree temps boiling a thick mirage and then have the shooters “watch and shoot” for a series three second exposure.
So far in my experience the most practical of the scoping options for the M1A is the forward mounted Intermediate Eye Relief (IER) scope. Springfield Armory sells a satisfactory mount and Leupold and Burris make decent scopes. The scope mounts low with the ocular just even with the ejection port and with the right rings about 1/8″ above the upper hand guard. This leaves the receiver open for quick cleanings or stripper clip top offs as well as trouble free ejection. The eye relief is fine with a full field of view from all positions.
I had my doubts about the Springfield Armory forward scope mount at first, it’s clam shell design clamps around a standard contour barrel and that just doesn‘t seen to be the road the accuracy IMO. While a concern it wasn’t enough to keep me from mounting one up when it came my way. I prepped the mount by chasing the screw holes, degreasing them and a drop of red Lok-Tite in each. I also cleaning the surfaces coming into contact with the barrel to degrease them and put a few drops of red Lok-Tite on both parts. Placed the mount in rough position and snugged the screws.
Getting the scope mount square to the receiver was a concern, what I ended up doing was using my scope reticule leveling tool, that is held in place by a rubber band and indexing off the top of the rear sight ears. I got it were I wanted and tightened everything in typical alternate fashion. I added the proper size hex head wrench key to my butt stock cleaning gear and also check the screws at every cleaning on the bench . The mount has never shifted as far as I can tell after several thousand rounds. This can probably be attributed to the generous girth and the length of the mounting screws. Something I did notice after a few hundred rounds was that the back edge of the mount had the finish worn off by the motion of the operating rod. No metal just the finish, so I beveled it back a bit. And hit it with some marking die to see what was going to happen next, nothing happened. I still check the mount at every cleaning but no longer expect to find it falling off.
I have IER scopes mounted on M1A’s in both Warne and Leupold QD rings and have found that both work fine. Something I did with both is lap the rings before I mounted up the scopes. I lap all my scope rings just to take any bind out of the mounting process and to help with repeatability should the scope have to come off and be remounted.
The downside to the forward IER scope is that it’s limited to 2-3/4 power magnification with no provisions, as issued, for come-ups past battle sight zero. Of course this is a real drag for the rifleman wanting to control that 300-500 yard slot.
Compensating for range is handled to my satisfaction by adding a Butler Creek elevation knob, about $25 from Brownell’s. In my experience the knob provides repeatable, precise elevation control. The laser engraved index marks are a bit over 1 MOA in value and definitely close enough to be used with ball ammo rule of thumb come-up’s for good work to 500 yards. You will be on at 600 with the rule of thumb come-up but high and you will shoot over at 700. No big deal just don’t come up the whole rule of thumb come-up. It’s easy to simply computer print the come-ups on a large mailing label stick it to the stock and cover with clear packing tape. The 2-3/4X magnification and NATO spec ball cone of fire start making 600 plus shots an iffy thing anyway when you factor in holding off for the wind. We goof around with this 500 yard plus shooting and I have tuned the data but I really consider the rig to be a solid 500 yard rifle in practical terms. With match ammo and some more magnification the IER scoped M1A could very well be stretched to 700 yards if the wind wasn’t too awful wild.
So far all I’ve done about wind compensation is holding off, using the size of the target, reticule sub tension values and rule of thumb NATO ball hold-off values . It works good enough, but gets twitchy past 500 yards.
When the IER scoped M1A is used 500 yards and in, the rifle/scope combo has proven to be a solid performer in my experience and I’m pleased with it so far. I have to say, I don’t really believe we have the right scope yet. The right scope would [be an IER with] a straight, mil-spec 30mm tube, luminated reticule, MK4 M3 style knobs and mil dots. – Dennis Ross, President, Wyoming Rifleman Association


Hello James,
I’ve noted some discussions regarding the Springfield Armory products. Before buying [an M14 clone], folks should take a serious look at what the guys at Smith Enterprise have to offer. I’ve had several Garands rebarreled there, as well as some scope mounts installed on an M1A. Good folks doing good work!  See: http://www.smithenterprise.com/products02.html  – Dutch in Wyoming

JWR Adds: In addition to Smith Enterprise, there are also high quality M14 clones and receivers built by Fulton Armory (http://www.fulton-armory.com/), LRB (http://www.lrbarms.com/pages/1/index.htm), and several other vendors. OBTW, Smith Enterprise also make the excellent Vortex series flash hiders that I’ve had installed nearly all of my bolt action rifles by Holland’s of Oregon.

Letter Re: On Brass Recycling

Hello James,
I thought this information might be useful for the blog readers: Metal Recyclers (in the Pacific Northwest) are paying $0.97 per pound for “yellow brass” (used cartridge brass with or without a fired primer). I reload some of my own ammunition, but I had been saving non-reloadable cartridge cases, .22 brass etc. for recycle, and I took in over 100 pounds and I was able to get nearly a dollar per pound. Handy extra cash for those who have extra un-needed brass. The cash from the sale can go towards other preparedness items. Note: To give the readers an idea of the volume I am talking about – one 5-gallon pail nearly full of used cartridge brass is approximately equal to 60 pounds or more (depending on the type and size of brass cases). My pail was mostly rifle brass. God’s Blessings to You & Your Family, – Christian Souljer

Odds ‘n Sods:

We recently heard that there are several RWVA Appleseed Shoots scheduled for early 2006: in North Carolina February 25/26; in Kentucky March 25/26; and in Indiana is the last part of April. (They are still working out the date for the latter)  The cost is $45 for one day; $70 for the weekend. Shooters age 20 and under shoot free. Pre-registration is most appreciated. See: http://www.rwva.org for details.

And for those of you in the Pacific Northwest, don’t miss the annual dynamite shoot (“The Boomershoot”) in north-central Idaho. It is scheduled for April 30, 2006. It will be preceded by a Precision Rifle Clinic on April 28th and 29th.  (Highly recommended.) The Boomershootis a blast (literally) and surprisingly instructive on practical long range shooting–with a bit more excitement than a typical paper-punching high power match. (“That blowed up, real good!”) If it isn’t pouring rain, I suggest that you shoot prone rather than from a bench, to give the event more practical applicability. So bring a shooting mat or tarp. See: http://www.boomershoot.org/2006/blast.htm

Note from JWR:

We just surpassed four million page hits!   Many thanks for helping SurvivalBlog be such as success.  Keep spreading the word. If you could include SurvivalBlog’s URL in your e-mail (“sig”) footer, it would be greatly appreciated.  Perhaps something like this: 
      https://survivalblog.com — Bookmark it. It May Save Your Life!

Letter Re: Canned Butter Versus Butter Powder

Hello James,
The Blog just keeps getting better and better. Kudos!

I’m in the “luxury” stage of my pantry building and recently calculated the cost/benefit of storing butter. I figure butter would not only provide a psychological boost during bleak times, but would make a great barter item as well.

I looked at three different methods:

1, Canned Butter Powder – Storage life of 6 to 8 years. Requires reconstituting. Cost per pound of table ready product – $8.45

2. Canned Butter – Storage life of 3 to 5 years. Requires no reconstitution. Cost per pound of table ready product – $5.26

3. Can your own. (www.endtimesreport.com/canning_butter.html) Storage life of 3 to 5 years. Cost per pound (buying butter at a shoppers club) – $1.69, plus cost of jars.

So… if I’m willing to provide the labor, I can stock up on real butter for less than half the cost of the butter powder, even factoring in a 50 percent shorter shelf life with the home-processed product. I’ve found that’s a pretty typical spread between rolling your own or paying for someone else to spice and dice. – Dutch in Wyoming

Two Letters from D.B. Re: M1A Rifles, Modifications and Scout/SOCOM Variants

A couple of tidbits regarding the king of the battle rifles:

M14 magazines are now just $10 each at Midway – they have secured a lot of Taiwan mags – these are made on USGI machinery that we sold to the Taiwanese. Yes, I feel stupid for having bought my supply @ $35 each!  [JWR’s Comment: If they are blued, then they are Taiwanese. If they are gray phosphated (Parkerized), then odds are 90% that they are mainland Chinese.]

The “chopping” of the barrel from regular length to scout length is a very complicated operation requiring the re-milling of the spline [cut] on the barrel, etc.. Fulton Armory has the gear/expertise to do it, but not sure of anyone else. They are a bit slow due to their backlog of work.

USGI parts have become scarce so newly manufactured Scout & SOCOM [variant]s should be checked out for having “real” parts and newly manufactured ones swapped out accordingly.  [JWR’s Comment: Nearly all Springfield Armory M1As made since the early 1980s have less than half original USGI parts.  Up until about 1985 you could special order one with Springfield Armory’s “All GI Parts” option.  IIRC, that cost an extra $200+.  I bought my first M1A in 1981–a special-ordered heavy barrel Super Match in an E2 stock with the “All GI Parts” option. That rifle cost $880, which was a fortune in those days. But these days just an E2 stock with all of the metal parts costs around $600.  That is one of the reasons that I switched to L1A1s.  But I still miss that Super Match. Sniff!] 

If it would help, I could share some modifications that were passed on to me by Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch/learned from use – let me know if you want them. – D.B.

In a follow-up e-mail, D.B. added:

These are what I have done to prep my M1A for Schumeresque use:
1. On the advice of Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch, I filed the front sight blade down the point where the rifle is zeroed at 100 yards with the rear aperture bottomed out. This way you don’t have to worry about the peep getting bumped down/off your zero when you are carrying/using your rifle. You need to determine what the best round for your use is – Talon demilled USGI ball, Hirtenberger, Winchester 150 soft point, etc.. Depending on your anticipated engagement parameters, maybe it should be set for 275/50/300 yards.
2. Again, per Clint, I put grab loops on the bottom of the USGI M14 mags [to facilitate getting them out of magazine pouches quickly.] Clint originally recommended the 100 MPH tape loops. However, knowing the life expectancy of 100 MPH tape under heavy use/heat/sweat/rain is 6-12 months, I went a step better. Bought 1/8” stainless steel cable from the hardware store and drilled a hole thru both sides of the magazine and created a loop of wire with a ferrule. Then put JB weld over the ends of the clipped wire to prevent the painful little poking that occurs from a frayed wire. Size them large enough to fit gloved fingers. These are the “sack of hammers” approach – yes, there are commercially made Mag-Pulls, but if my life is on the line, I want it Russian/11B grunt/Jarhead/sack of hammers tough. Clint was OK with the arrangement on my next trip. Also, can them clip empty mags to a carabiner after a magazine swap–as opposed to using a dump pouch – just my way of skinning this cat – YMMV.
3. Skateboard tape on the USGI metal butt plate so it doesn’t slip off during MOUT ops/movement. The recoil pad that Springfield Armory put on doesn’t help me use the rifle for it’s secondary purpose (a pugil stick – WARNING – those who insist on using the varmint round .223 platform, you can only use that miserable excuse for a rifle to butt stroke the bad guy one time – better make it count!)
4. Krylon wasn’t around when I did it to mine, but that is what I would use now to stripe/disrupt [camouflage] the solid black of the rifle. Paint the metal too – keeps it from rusting – the Brits are famous/infamous for it.
5. Take a Dremel tool and put air holes in the top hand guard to ease cooling. I don’t have any empirical data showing “X%” cooling rate improvement, but it makes me feel better that I am caring for the rifle as best I can. Recommend removing it B4 drilling so you don’t go too far/into the barrel.
6. The insides of the ears protecting the front sight blade are painted gloss white to reflect as much light as possible onto the blade as long/as soon as possible during reduced visibility.
7. I drilled holes in the side of the foreend and using 1” rings mounted a 6P Surefire to the stock. According to Surefire, they won’t withstand the recoil, but I have only replaced one bulb over the course of Urban Rifle, a symposium at Gunsite, and lots of training. I use the G2 [light] now, it is cheaper by 1?2 – I used Brownell’s bedding compound to epoxy in the nuts on the inside of the stock so they meet the 11B level of reliability – while mine is on the correct side of the stock (right hand side since I shoot the weapon the best way/as a southpaw) it works just fine for the wrong sided use (right handed) as well – guess you could try on the bottom, but could affect your prone/barricade shooting/get in the way more
8. I don’t hang an extra mag on the butt – you need to be able to “switch hit” from right to left shoulder to properly operate in MOUT scenarios and one of those is prohibited by having a mag on the butt stock
9. Consider heavily training opposite handed – the rifle “sings” when you run it left-handed – you can see the breech without removing the weapon from your shoulder – you can run the bolt from a better mechanical advantage/keeping your left hand on the pistol grip – I am left eye dominant and fairly ambidextrous, so this rifle rocks for me – YMMV
10. I have an M60 sling on it to hang the rifle from my neck/be able to drop it in case of malfunction to transition to sidearm – need a one point hook system, but haven’t been able to develop that yet
11. Use the cleaning kit area in the buttstock for it’s intended purpose
12. Have a ruptured case extractor on your line one level of gear – if you have any reloads in your BOB replace them with factory, and better yet, USGI rounds to preclude ever using the tool
13. Learn to use a spoon [stripper clip guide] and stripper clips so you don’t have to carry so many mags
14. Only use USGI mags on this weapon!
15. I drilled out my aperture to make it into a true ghost ring after shooting my first scout rifle – you can still be precise, but it really speeds up your ability to hit closer targets quickly
16. The second M1A (remember the motto: Two is one, one is none) is set up with a Leupold M3 scope on SWAN/ARMS QD levers. (Sorry, but SA’s mount is not stable.) Unitized gas system, stainless match barrel and trigger, bedded stock – I made out of leather with USGI sleeping pad padding, a cheekiest to get my eye socket aligned with the scope – there is no such thing as a “chin” weld – you must have a secure place to lay your face behind the scope to get accurate shooting. At Precision Rifle, I ran the tower drill getting 2 hits out of 20 rounds trying to use the chin weld – after 2” of sleeping pad and athletic tape were added, the group shrank to .75 MOA out to 600 yards. This rifle has a M1907 leather sling and skateboard tape on the buttpad for slippage prevention. I have not drilled the handguard on this one as it would contribute to mirage problems.
17. Remember – you sweated and cussed humping the ammo for this 9-to-10 pound pig – it turns cover into concealment, so make every one of them count–get a hit! Hope these help our patriots out there! – D.B.

JWR Adds: The only other modification that I recommend for an M1A is painting the handguard FLAT black. The original brown finish on USGI .fiberglass handguards tends to reflect as they get older and worn. OBTW, speaking of handguards, you mentioned: “Take a Dremel tool and put air holes in the top hand guard to ease cooling”  Personally, I don’t recommend that. Ventilation holes or slots will put “mirage” heat distortion lines up into your sighting plane. (This is primarily an issue for long range match shooting with iron sights.) Also, avoid the early USGI ventilated handguards (the ones with the parallel rows of slots)–they were discontinued because they tend to be fragile.