Hybrid-80 polymer 80% lower review: Self defense on purpose

“When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.” Sun Tzu

In November I received my Hybrid-80 polymer 80% lower. This was admittedly my first in two areas, 80% lowers and polymer lowers. I was hesitant as many test results have come back from polymer lowers and shown them to have weaknesses in specific areas as compared to aluminum lowers. What sold me on this lower was the inclusion of brass inserts for the buffer tube and grip screw. Seeing as how these were the two most likely areas to break with hard use.

This being my first 80% lower, I decided to try my hand with my trusty drill press. Now I am no machinist, my dad struggled to teach me welding and I can use a cutting torch as well as braze when needed, but, I wouldn’t rely on my welds personally. Simply put my forte is not in the mechanical, though I can and do follow instructions quite well when necessary. So the drill press I purchased over a year ago but had not really used until now is the HICO-DP4113 8-Inch Bench Top Drill Press 5 Speed Rotary Tool Work Station. I found it on Amazon for a decent price and seeing as how walking about Costco is not something I can physically do at this time, Amazon is my Costco. Regardless the drill press it self works quite well!

After putting the pieces together for the 80% lower (which is sent with a jig/ guide and attachment screws) I placed it on the drill press and cinched it in tight, the drill bits needed were simple and something I already had, however, you can get them on Amazon as well. You will need the following, and make sure they are SHARP! First a 5/16th end mill, 5/16th drill bit, 3/8th drill bit and lastly a 5/32nd drill bit. Several conversations later with others who have experience putting together 80% lowers, and milling them out, I began on mine. I will be completely honest, it is very easy to want to rush it.

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DON’T.

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It is in your best interests to take your time, do one step at a time, slowly, as my father used to say, measure twice CUT once! This part of the process took several days as I would work on it for 30-45 minutes and walk away to “whoosahh” occasionally. It is not that it is hard, simply put I am not a MECHANIC, I am not mechanically inclined and prefer cutting precision holes with high powered firearms at distance too sitting in a dusty work space, hovering over a drill press and worried that I am about to screw everything up!

I ordered the CMMG innards from one of the dealers for hybrid-80.com, and had a bit of an interesting back and forth with their customer service, which sadly is not great. “Tennessee Arms company, if someone purchases from you, its not beneficial to treat them as if they are burdening you when they call in regarding orders.” Of course, sadly I have noticed a decline in customer service with American companies in the past decades. I wish I could say this experience is a rare one, it is not, hence it is not something I allow to taint my view of a PRODUCT!

Assembled this really is a beautiful piece, while I generally do not see AR or Aks in the same light as say a Mossberg model 41 or a Remington model 44 with their walnut and hardwood hand polished stocks. I can honestly say that after the work put in, I wanted to cuddle it and wipe it with gun oils, I guess its a similar response to when my kids were born, except this child is a bit less likely to talk back.

Several uppers later and over 1000 rounds of ONLY steel cased ammunition I realized I wasnt going to be able to break this lower shooting it. So I stuck it on one of my lower quality uppers and ran it through a series of drop tests, even using my Toyota 4Runner SR5 (V8) model to run over it on several different surfaces. I than stuck it on a standard milspec AR15 1/7 twist upper and ran another 532 rounds through it. I did not have a single failure as a result of the lower itself. I used hexmags, magpul mags and standard GI spec aluminum mags, most of which I have received from prior service/duty vets. Ever single magazine type worked, and the lower functioned amazingly with an additional 200 rounds of 300aac blackout as well. A total of 5 different uppers were used on this lower, from Colt through Delton and not a single failure to feed, function or work in any way and many of the rounds were after the abuse testing!

As a side note, I do not suggest you purposefully attempt to break all of your uppers. However, if you have the money to purchase two, do it, unless you use a torch or grinder good luck! I quite literally could not break it and honestly as a result sent off for another lower (pre-built this time) from one of their retailers. I am going to be building a pistol AR with it, and it will be my new bug out gun! Yes, that is how much faith I have in this lower!

I included lots of pictures and video this time out, as I find it to be essential when judging for oneself the value inherent. https://youtu.be/r7iafS6BSV0

Lets go ahead and list the pros and the cons and why I suggest this as your next AR build!

Pros follow.

Lightweight, it weighs on average about half what an aluminum standard lower will weigh. Remember, ounces are pounds and so on. I like having an AR that is capable of 200- 300 yard shooting that weighs 5-6lbs loaded. Its NICE!

Strong, I was unable to break it with standard drop testing and even some minor use of it as a hammer with the butt stock as the handle.

It is easy to mill, TAKE YOUR TIME!

Relatively inexpensive, I have seen them for between $50 and $90 and paid $135 for a pre-built version to put in my AR bug out pistol.

Fits all lower kits fine, dropped in two different trigger assemblies and they functioned flawlessly.

Fits TIGHT, this is NOT bad, its a simple fact.

Cons follow.

Its polymer and as we know only steel is worthy of being a firearm. Oh wait, you mean Glocks are polymer as well? What, you mean Glocks have the hardiest reputation of all current use firearms in the world? (Yes I am being sarcastic)

Seriously though, my largest con is that the pricing for these has risen exponentially in the last 2 months alone. There is no reason for this, except that they are not selling as well as they though and so they are making it up by selling less for more? Personally, from a business angle I would suggest selling more for less. Go back too the $45-$65 dollar 80% lowers.

I only have two of these lowers currently, this for myself is a huge con, I prefer the approach of, 2 is 1 and 3 is 2…otherwise known as, one can never have enough ammunition or firearms!

Folks, honestly, I would suggest making these your next AR builds, they are amazing and worth every penny. Again as I always do, if you are in Arizona, drop me an email, I will let you use any of the products I have reviewed and recommended. Why not, I like meeting new people!

[email protected]

Free the mind and the body will follow!

Item Of The Week : Holosun Optics: Are they the new best red dot on the market?

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” Sun Tzu

Budget prepping is a difficult thing to do. After all, there is a difference between budget and cheap, inexpensive and cheap. Cheap by definition does not mean something is necessarily bad or of poor quality, however, with some things cheap is bad. Red dot technology has progressed light years beyond the first bulky Aimpoint, EOtech, and Trijicons. Obviously, Aimpoint as a company has maintained a seriously good reputation and continued to progress with the times, as has Eotech and Trijicon, however, their pricing reflects no shifts for markets unable to afford spending $600 – $2500 on a simple 1-4 power red dot styled optic.

My search for a less expensive optic commenced several years ago. I worked my way through Bushnell T series which functioned fine but were hit and miss at best. Eventually, I settled on the Bushnell AR scope series and decided to simply move on from the red dot phase. After all, a solid scope with excellent glass and comparable abilities to other more expensive brands will work in most cases. This didn’t mean I had no need for a red dot, after all, a solid red dot with a solid pair of backup irons is an amazing thing to have. Quick on target and easy to use, good red dots mean the difference between hits and misses in many arenas, especially combat related training and combat itself.

Over the past year I decided to do some research and look around again for a solid red dot under $500. I found several brand names, Vortex, AIM sports and even Bushnell had new offerings on the market. However, I was drawn to a relatively new company, Holosun©, this optic had serious potential. After dropping $170 on the HS403B found on Amazon, I received the well-wrapped package and mounting hardware. Two sets, a low riser and high riser were included. The high riser fit my carbine exactly as needed. Co-witnessed with my irons I took it out too the range and started testing.

After around 100 rounds I set the rifle to the side as there were other reviews that needed fulfilling and it held zero very well, so what more needed testing. As I leaned it against the carbine rack it smacked the crossbar on the way by and snap, the red dot came off. I leaned over and realized that the screw holding it too the gun had snapped off at the head. I finished my testing for the rest of the products and called Holosun on the way home. They assured me that they both new about the problem and apologized for the inconvenience this had caused, I asked if this was going to be an ongoing issue or if it was a simple flaw in this particular part of the design. The person I spoke with grabbed another individual who explained that the model I had received was the last in a first gen run and the new gen had much stronger hardware.

Upon arrival 3 days after the call, I installed the part and decided to test it too its breaking point. After all, nothing to lose at this point as the people I had spoken with assured me they would replace the entire unit free of charge if it happened again. I dropped tested it on dirt, grass and concrete from approximately 5 feet. I also decided to “accidentally” smack the red dot housing into a few items during my next test run. Needless to say it held firm and I have not had a breakage or issue since.

Though I doubt it will take a bullet to the casing as say an Aimpoint will, at 50,000 hours of battery life and with a VERY clear dot picture and glass as well as solid easy on when you pick the gun up, well I think this is my new best friend in the red dot world. They have different variations, shotgun patterning dots, circle over dot, plain jane red dot and all of the varieties can be had with a nifty solar-powered recharger put on the top if you want.

The company offers a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner, and their customer service is very expedient and quick to respond, a truly rare commodity in todays age of somewhat lackadaisic service. They are located in the USA, Walnut California, to be exact. They offer a 50,000-hour battery life, a variety of aiming products from lasers too red dots. In this case, my interest lying completely in their cost effective, efficient and extremely solid red dots. The HS507A is compatible with the standard RMR mount and the other red dots have a variety of mountings available with some specifically designed for Aks and others for Ars. Some options have a quick release mount and others a kill flash and other essential needs for red dots. The best part is their red dots run between $165 and $350 dollars and you can order from Amazon.

Now obviously I have not been able to test the veracity of the 50,000-hour battery life, however, the unit I have has been on and working clearly for well over 6 months without a hiccup. I have no doubt that the longevity is easily better than Bushnells offerings and Vortex. The price point allows budget preppers and shooters to have (as the company motto says) “A military grade optic at under military prices” now personally, I have not tested it in combat yet. However, it has preformed well through many tests it is NOT designed for. I do not recommend you treat your optics badly on purpose, that is my pleasure to do for you! Having family and friends still in the military this is the question I ask myself, “would I recommend this to them?”

YES!

It works very well, it will be ready for them when they need it, and will function with general abuse and function well. This being said, I am not the desk personnel from the Pentagon and it isn’t my job to accept money to pass along new products to our soldiers.

This being said, what are the pros and cons listed out?

Pros

  1. 50,000-hour battery life with optional solar panel for charging and auto adjustment in all light conditions.
  2. Multiple reticle styles and mount styles available.
  3. Crisp clear dot, brightness easily adjustable or set for auto adjust.
  4. Movement activated red dot when you pick up your firearm, the red dot comes on!
  5. Built for shotguns, rifles of many calibers and even handguns.
  6. Limited lifetime warranty.

Cons

  1. They are a relatively newer company, so not as much time to evaluate and test as other more established companies.
  2. They have had some issues with mounts, however, this is being addressed and is easily fixed, upgraded with a call too their customer service.

Overall, this is a product I definitely recommend and run on my carbines now. MD Creekmore also has one and here is what he says, “I bought this sight a couple of weeks ago and mounted it on my Colt M4 and so far I’ve been very impressed and agree with everything Jesse has said here in his review. I have an Aimpoint and an EOTech on two other AR’s and the Holosun HS503GU (the model that I have) is just as good as either one of those for half the cost. ”

Free the mind and the body will follow…

Item of the Week : Helikon Wolfhound Light Insulated Jacket

Solid gear and a place to get this gear is an essential part of any camping, prepper, survivalists toolbox. Many times we find ourselves perusing Amazon or Ebay and crossing our fingers when the gear we see doesn’t have a good number of reviews or is stuck in the limbo of the 50/50 world, where half love it and half hate it. Since no one likes to flip coins we often find ourselves out searching the web/local sporting good stores and even yard sales and pawn shops to locate gear we need so that we can ensure the safety and comfort of our family.

While I am and always will be a dedicated bargain shopper, with some items bargain shopping is not beneficial overall. You can get the less expensive pullet or the less expensive knife and still have a solid tool. With jackets, tents, sleeping bags and the like, less expensive sometimes means the difference between relative comfort and uncomfortable, soggy days. So where is the middle ground?

Military 1st is a great website based in Great Britain with reasonable pricing and relatively quick shipping. To test them out I ordered the Helikon Wolfhound Light Insulated Jacket in “coyote” or light tan. Upon receiving the jacket less than 10 days after ordering it, I was quick to try it on, for we Arizonans, this is a perfect jacket to have, as layering is essential given the large temperature swings that occur this time of the year.

Over the weekend we had a group (local friends/family/like minds) get together and did some shooting, training, eating and all around enjoying of each others company. The jacket soon found its way on to one individual who promptly fell asleep only to later waken and state, wow, that’s a nice jacket. The next morning my son grabbed it on the way out the door to school, he is 14 and stands 2 inches taller than I do, it fit him well, (though looser in the waist than with myself) and after wearing it all day he came home and sheepishly stated, “dad, I grabbed your jacket”…smiling he said, “can I have one now?”

Now I cannot vouch for the other products on the site, I can however, say that with myself they were prompt, extremely well mannered and as is usual with our British cousins explained exactly what was being received on the site. Very punctual, solid material and worth the money spent. Again, I do not always spend lots of money and truly do enjoy looking for the bargains, however, there are times when finding both or possibly spending a bit more will in fact, get you a better product. This is one of those times, I think that this Online Product Portal would make a great addition to your repertoire of places to shop.

Pricing is in British pounds, however, this is easily changed to dollars with any number of online currency conversion tools. Shipping is quite quick and reasonable as well. It will come via Royal Post, made me feel quite special, maybe silly but heck it’s the little things right? Regardless, I hope that they are able to stay around for a bit and keep supplying solid well-made equipment and clothing for reasonable prices.

Free the mind and the body will follow

Item Of The Week: NAA Mini Revolvers: Self Defense on Purpose

Jesse Mathewson – Product Review Editor

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” Sun Tsu

NAA Mini Revolver

NAA Mini RevolversSmall self-defense tools are among the most deceptive tools available for the common man. We have been raised to believe that size is everything. It is cultural in the western world, everything from lips to bottoms and all in between bigger is better or in very rare cases smaller is better. This is the current pervasive belief that is held within much of western society. In the United States, the longest held myth is the following, “Unless it starts with a .4 or a .30 it simply will not work.” Those of us who have seen combat, been involved in self-defense or had other issues occur where firearms were involved know that this is actually scientifically untrue.

NAA Mini RevolverHowever, it is important to understand that I do not agree with the opposite extreme either, the often repeated, “more people die by .22 than any other” group of people. Rather I am a realist, a researcher and a practitioner who tests everything carried and does so with every potential defensive tool I add to my chest. As someone who grew up in a home where a .22lr supplied meat and fur money for the winter hard times, I am the last person to discount this extremely viable cartridge. However, I have also lived through the shortages following the 2008 election and the subsequent decline in quality control with big box American-made ammunition. As a result, I absolutely agree with the issues that can occur with .22lr, especially with dirty firearms or poorly made ammunition.

NAA Mini RevolversMy fix for this, simple, I chose to spend 0.08 to 0.14 a round for Ely or Ely primed ammunition made by Aguila using Remington machinery. Secondary, I have taken to cleaning my .22lr firearms every 200 rounds or after every range trip and once a month regardless use. Amazingly, my firearms and their subsequent accuracy and reliability has gone up significantly as a direct result. In fact, I am happy to say that when properly cleaned, maintained and using Aguila or Ely ammunition has reduced failures to a grand total of 1 in over 5000 rounds, better than centerfire 9mm and 5.56, produced by both federal and Winchester. (I have had numerous failures to fire and one squib over the course of the last year with these) while not scientific in nature these results for myself at least lead me to a simple conclusion, .22lr works quite well if you test, clean and use good ammunition.

NAA .22lr mini revolverSo now we are faced with additional facts, use of .22lr in self-defense. Over the past two years, I found several cases. They follow in a quick list of links. Enjoy!

These are just a few, there are several others but it takes a bit of searching, as we know positive uses of the firearm to save peoples lives is almost always squelched by mainstream media, after all it takes away from the narrative that guns are evil. Regardless, the diminutive .22lr is a round that can and does work. And from my perspective having owned and used a Beretta bobcat in .22lr as well as several other small .22lr firearms, Bond derringer and now the NAA .22lr mini revolver. I have to say I truly do love the NAA .22lr, in fact, I am finding myself more and more attached to this little piece of well-designed steel as each day goes forward. So here are some quick pros and cons of this handgun alone.

Pros

  1. It fits anywhere and does so with minimal to no tell tale bulge or printing.
  2. Five rounds of single action .22lr, using your favorite well-made version can when put in the right places (which are quite large on mammals) cause cessation of action. Eg., stop a threat as a last resort.
  3. I have yet to see it fail as a handgun. It works, every time the bullet itself works. Which again with good ammunition, means easily 99.9% reliability in function.
  4. It is accurate, add the LaserLyte® laser grips and it is almost impossible to miss the target at between 3-5 yards at MOST.
  5. I have shot it with the standard wooden grips, LaserLyte® grips and the longer folding holster grips from NAA and had no problems with all of them. The most comfortable to shoot was easily the longer grips, the more accurate were the LaserLyte® grips and though they worked and looked good, I did not like the standard grips that came with the firearm.

Cons

  1. This is NOT a gun for beginning shooters, IT is NOT a handgun for a mediocre shooter, THIS is only a firearm for advanced or well-prepared shooters. It takes practice and lots of it to be comfortable carrying it, I suggest using a DeSantis® nylon holster for pocket carry with the LaserLyte® grips or the standard grips from the factory. And of course, if you use the folding holster grip, well it pretty much does it for you.
  2. It has five rounds, that’s it, unless you have 2 minutes to reload, you WILL not get more rounds out. This is a LAST chance gun, a true BUG, back up gun, it is NOT meant as a primary carry or primary defensive firearm.
  3. It is truly so lightweight you could easily forget you have it in your pocket, check your pockets before hitting the airport or courtroom. Please, for your own sake!

So I know several of you have this firearm in one of its several configurations, what do like most about it? Why do you enjoy it and what put you over the edge in purchasing one?

Free the mind and the body will follow!

Item of the week: LaserLyte® Laser Grips: A review for self defense on purpose

by Jesse Mathewson – Product Review Editor

Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.” Sun Tsu

NAA .22lr mini revolverSelf-defense is absolutely something that requires solid tools and the ability to use them effectively. LaserLyte® has already done something others have not, they offer a full range of practice targets and pistols that mimic full-size roller handguns and semi auto pistols in trigger pull and feel for a reasonable price.

They also offer laser grips for a variety of handguns, the grips I used were on a true B.U.G., or backup gun, the NAA22lr mini is easy to conceal, not as easy to shoot accurately. However, it can be done, and in fact has been done several times (used as a self-defense tool) for those individuals who had need to use it. A simple google search turns up several cases of self-defense in which the NAA .22lr mini was used. By adding the LaserLyte grips to this bug I was able to easily place rounds on target as far out as 7 yards. (See video for accuracy of the full five rounds at 3 yards) I will do a separate article on the usefulness of the NAA22lr mini as a bug very soon.

NAA .22lr mini revolverThe new line of LaserLyte laser grips also work on their target systems, helping you in practice and in real defense as well. Obviously, I am old school, this should be clear by now. This means that simply put I prefer to use iron sights over optics, and when I finally get optics out I want them to work well. Adding a light is essential for my bedside defense weapon, after all, I have children, target identification is essential. A laser, though? For a very long time, I thought this was the silliest thing a person could do. On a full sized weapon, I don’t see the benefit, I mean sure the military uses them to help in a variety of ways, however, one should learn to shoot well with iron sights right?

NAA .22lr mini Well, when it comes to bug guns or the little pocket rockets as some call them, we have to absolutely always be as accurate with these as we are with our full sized right? Well, for smaller bug guns, a laser is just the ticket, it doesn’t mean you will hit the target by default, but you will be able to better and more quickly get on target and stop the threat if you can more easily see where you are aiming.

NAA .22lr mini This laser attachment is priced reasonably, right around $135 and for other handguns as low as $105 depending on type you are using. It stays on target after several shots and is easy to adjust if necessary. Battery life is not extreme, but, with daily use for between 5 and 10 minutes a day I didn’t need to replace them for over two weeks. You may see different mileage with yours.

Here are the pros as I see them.

  1. Much easier way to line up on target
  2. With some models can be used as a practice tool.
  3. Good battery life, not the best but most definitely not the worst.
  4. Easy to use, the switch is placed right where the meat of the finger hits it as you squeeze for a shot.
  5. Inexpensive when compared to your life.

Cons as I see them.

  1. Honestly, you may end up relying on it, practice with your bare irons as much as possible, but have a set if it will help, and do so knowing it will function when you need them. Obviously not a large con.
  2. In bright overhead light (Arizona daylight) the laser is difficult to see past 3 yards, it is best used inside and close up, for the NAA 22lr LaserLyte laser. Still not a huge con, just an observation that isn’t a pro.

I highly recommend these sights and this company, their service and ready availability to respond when asked questions is amazing. We live in a new world where customer service has taken a giant step downwards. LaserLyte® takes customer service to an entirely new level. Remember, for the price of a case of 9mm you can get a serious training tool. For the price of half a case you can have a training tool and defensive tool as well. It is worth your life and that of your loved ones, absolutely.

Several people used it and were very happy, sadly the video that was shot was corrupted during transfer and I was unable to get it edited for the release of the review. I will get video as soon as I can. A suggestion when shooting the mini NAA 22lr, cup your grip hand and using your thumb and forefinger stabilize and maintain solid grip behind the cylinder opening, it’s quite easy, but I highly recommend practicing this dry first. Additionally, the target and ten shots (two load outs in the NAA mini 22lr) were shot standing, one handed at 3 yards or 9 feet. It really is quite accurate for a BUG. Again, the LaserLyte is highly recommended.

Free the mind and the body will follow…

Item of the week: Sunforce 60 LED Solar Motion Security Light

Sunforce Solar Motion LightAs you know (or you should) home security is a big part of prepping. As preppers, we have lots of stuff to protect namely our family and supplies and as times get worse, and they will, this will become even more necessary to our very survival.

There are several good books with details on how to go about doing and I recommend the titles listed below :

And don’t forget to read these five articles – Five How-To-Do-It Articles For Defending Your Home And Retreat Against Looters, And Jackbooted Thugs.

As any home security specialist will tell that one of the first priorities when securing a home / retreat is lighting. You need to be able to see what is going on without being seen yourself and the best way to do that, cheaply, is with motion activated security lighting.

I have this type of lighting active on each side of my house as well as at other strategic locations around my property. The lights I use are a mixture of solar lighting and those that run off the regular power grid.

The ones powered off the power grid are brighter and are my main security lights, with the solar security lights being a supplemental backup that are effective when the grid power goes down.

Sunforce Solar Motion LightI’ve used several different brands of solar security lights and I’ve found the SunForce 60 LED Solar Motion Light to be one of the best in the price range. They are easy to put up, charge up fast, and are bright enough to light up a normal sized yard.

A cool feature that I really like about these lights over the other one I used in the past is that the light and solar panel can be mounted in separate locations. This allows the solar panel to be mounted in the best place to catch the sun’s rays and the light fixture to be mounted where it will cover the best area even if that area isn’t ideal for sun exposure and charging.

While an EMP will cause problems mainly with the power grid and electronics that are plugged into the power grid, it’s a good idea to cover all the possibilities and these lights are small enough and cheap enough to put back several in a Faraday cage for safe keeping.

These lights would also make excellent barter items after an EMP power grid failure.

What type of lighting do you have lighting up your yard when darkness overtakes the light?

Review of the Trucker’s Friend™ – All-Purpose Survival Tool – Made in America

Jesse Mathewson – Review Editor

“If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.” Sun Tsu

When it comes to prepping and survival there are really just three approaches.

  1. Those who are serious about it, but new and want to ensure that for their monies spent they receive the product that best fulfills the need.
  2. Those who do it because it is how they have lived their entire lives, and have the tools they need, like and prefer for the area in which they live.
  3. Those who simply believe someone else will rescue them, whether that be the government or their prepared cousin or brother/sister.

truckers-friendObviously, I am oversimplifying things quite a bit. However, for the sake of this review, it is necessary. This tool has some very beneficial aspects and abilities, does it meet my needs personally or does it bring something to the table to fill a hole I may have been lacking? No. Honestly, it is an all in one tool. And like so many other all in one tools, it is good at many things, but excels at none.

The Trucker’s Friend™ – All-Purpose Survival Tool is without a doubt very well made. It is solid and worked well in hammering nails, and even chopping smaller pieces of wood. It also worked well when used to pry pieces apart and as a nail and chain puller as well as a wire twister. If you live where you have barbed wire, it would be a great tool to have, or as a toss it in the back of the car/ truck as a backup just in case!

Honestly, there are no complaints regarding its construction, and I loved the sheath design, (will need to make a similar approach for my tomahawks and khukris now.) The grip itself was easy to maintain, regardless sweating or not. It is well balanced and swings nicely. Is it worth $50-$80, sure, if you need a multi-tool or want to get a relatively inexpensive gift that could help someone who isn’t prepared get set on that road.

truckers-friendMy problem with this tool is quite simple, I don’t see a beneficial use for it in my preps. I said it, I do not see it as a benefit for myself.

Does this mean it is not worth having, absolutely not, in fact, I am likely going to purchase two or even three more. Specifically to help out some friends who are having difficulty getting their prep off the ground. Or to help out loved ones who have no desire to prep. Gift it for Christmas and when they open it, tell em on a card or in person, just stick it in your trunk, it’s like a fire extinguisher. It comes with a decent instruction book, so, honestly, if they can read, they will be fine!

In conclusion, while this is not my favorite tool, it truly is a solidly made, well constructed and well thought out tool. It’s a tool, with multiple purposes, it will last likely longer than the person owning it. These are my thoughts after using it. Check out the video and pictures and again, it is worth buying, if for no other reason than as a gift to the less prepared or to beginners.

Free the mind and the body will follow…

“Tomorrow War” a novel by J.L. Bourne

A book review by Thomas The Tinker.

Reading through a book .. a good one or not .. takes a piece of your life away so like the rest of you.. I’m picky. My tastes are eclectic. I’ve read Homer.. more than once. My ‘Slush Pile’ of paper backs .. in a continuous loop. Find a copy of Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ and you will know what printed classical music sounds like in the mind. If I like the tome.. you’ll find tabs and high lighter all over it. I find a good read .. Instructional… A ‘good read’ does not have to fit into any sort pulp or classic category. A good read just has to hold you and let you slip into it.

A “Good Read” has to take me on a journey. A good read must allow me to suspend my natural cynical nature and caustic critical thinking. A good read must show me what a common man or woman could achieve… even with a thin plot line such as “Tomorrow War” (not a complaint.. OK). Lucifer’s Hammer, Unintended Consequences, Lights Out … Good reads.. believe-able plots. .. plots and pages a person can let go and live in .. lay down for dinner or bed.. and slide into again as easy as sitting down.

The before the Election of 2016 DW and I made a run to “Ollie’s Outlet” off of Alexis Rd. in North Toledo. Four large jars of Danish jam .. Orange, Strawberry, Apricot .. ‘best by 8/03/19’. A large can of mixed nuts for the Granola Tube in the truck. … I digress …

Ollie’s has a large book section and there was J.L. Bourne … “Tomorrow War” red tagged .. $4.99.

Premise and plot… Our hero ‘Max’ is of course an uber soldatin (German sp.?) that is given an opportunity to serve the greater good of the Nation by the deeper and darker national intelligence networks of the NSA. Oddly this intense training and the like don’t really convert our hero into the superman that most pulp fiction supplies… but ya gotta help along the believability in order to slip into the state of suspended reality. It works.

The plot line drops us into .. of all unlikely spots .. Arkansas after a world wide cyber burp and ‘Tac-tile’ nuclear EMP strike… with MRAPs, Trains, Drones, an ultra-lite … and! a hobo … with ‘skills’. Relax… you haven’t fallen off your cracker into Techno-Middle Earth… Just post cyberpocoliptic Arkansas.
Oh… yeah.. nearly forgot .. thee .. of course .. mandatory band of “Outlaw, workin for the man, bikerninja Iphonezombies”.

I got into this literary bargain rather quickly after a 6:p.m. Tuesday > 3:37a.m. Weds run of FOX/CNN/NBC/RT election coverage. I had to get away .. I love to watch Megan Kelly … I mean I’m a guy and all .. but Carl Rove drove me to the shower and 20 mg of Melatonin. I slipped back into “Tomorrow” right after Hillary gave it up ( or so I thought ) on FOX the next morning.
Max has made a friend by then (the hobo), had his boyhood home turned into a smoking crater, buried a bunker in the woods, flown a few stealth recons in the ultra-lite and Saaa .. Moked a Fed MRAP (complete.. but vauge .. instructions are given in the book .. google “EFP”). Oh.. and .. spoiler .. his mom gets shot!

The Drama intensifies … but is kept in a rather moderate sized geographical area well outside of Little Rock. There are plot threads that stretch even suspended reality. The surplus population is thinned rather quickly and Los Federalies become grotesque quickly (but… they do take all the guns away from their new-hire bikerninja Iphonezombies). These loose threads made me do metal micro-time outs .. to mentally inventory the things such as tactics, storage, construction and skills .. but never let it stop the flow of the story. These time outs can make ya drop the book … or motivate your preppers darker nature.

I found myself thinking of the Author in terms of ‘Jason Borne’ and his protagonist Max as a motivated freshman spook with moderately developed skills.

Ok… first line highlighted: page 34. “… if two people know something, it’s not a secret. If your neighbors know, they’ll eventually get hungry enough to eat you, or kill you.”.

Ok Packers.. inhale here! !Run On Alert! “Tomorrow War” is not so hi-tech and superhero soaked as to make it more ‘comic book’ than give a reader of this blog the mental nudge to begin a self-subtext dialogue as to how “I’d” do the things Max and the hobo do. Me … I can fly a ‘Piper’ 140 .. an Ultra lite? Aaah No! I don’t own either. I am a former Marine Training NCO and former DoD civilian employee. I have a skill set some Americans don’t want .. some Vets are stuck with .. but readers of this blog may have .. or have looked into these skills. “Tomorrow” gets your dark side cod ji tatin dark thoughts and it tends to make you crack a grin when your ‘self-subtext’ dialogue, is running (hint… get a highlighter.. take margin notes as there will be some ‘Oh yahhh’ moments.) The action in the book may make you want to explore things most preppers only (play on words here) read about. Me!… communications, night vision, Iphones and the dark human nature of my fellow man.

These and other things are the “mental self-subtext” I was enjoying .. along with the journey of Max the hobo and Inky, Blinky and Clyde. (Ooouuu ya gotta read it to know what I’m talkin about).
Ok… Another line highlighted” page 171. “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” – H.L. Mencken
This line of Mencken’s I have printed and framed on my office wall .. right under the old photo of my old neighborhood gang… I digress! Dang! I was tight into this book already.

My fellow packers and travelers.. “Tomorrow War” is a tight fast read. It’s plot line.. premise stretches things … a little. ( I wodda never stayed with the train as long as Max and the hobo did. but it did prove useful foil in the end.) Characters and development are detailed enough to let you fit into them .. as they are limited in number. The “Hook” of the story is more than believable as all we have to do is look a ‘Wiki-Leaks’ and the list of daily system hacks we suffer.. Now! The plot development does compress events and make one doubt the books ‘Federal responses’… until you think back and YouTube ‘Federal – State – City responses’ during the BLM riots the last two years. Or the Boston Marathon bombing and the police response … Bear Cats, MRAPs and body armor Oh MY! Or .. the post election ‘SnowFlake’ riots and ‘post-it note’ terrorist threats the last few weeks.

The prime value of “Tomorrow War” is the journey and the ‘tips’ and ‘nods’ the author gives the reader … that is to say … Sit down and bring your coffee and toast. By lunch, you will be up to slap the Mayo on the bologna & cheese and get back to the ‘Overpass’ or the ‘Cell-phone tower’. By the time you are ready for an early dinner … you’ll wanna go get take out in an ‘Ultra-lite’ .. after .. you tape rig the EFPs out in the yard. Bet ya won’t walk past that old gun show “Clacker” next time.

“Tomorrow War” … A good read. Mind ‘wondering journey’. May get you looking around your town in .. detail. May make your take another look in that bucket or box O junk parts you have under the stairs….. May get you to look up from this screen and grin a little. Enjoy all those things and when your done … ask yourself … Wheres Maggie!?! You may find yourself looking up the MSDS of a few common household chemicals…. Or taking the Iphone away from the DD or DS.

So ends another review and trip down a garden path with .. Thomas The Tinker .. fellow Packer & Traveler .. an all around Steller character of good humor and simple tastes.
And now back to you MD!

LaserLyte® Laser Trainer Kit: When training is essential and bullets expensive

Jesse Mathewson – Review Editor

“In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace.” Sun Tsu

trainingRepetition in training breeds success in life. This is the mantra followed by the most successful warriors, businessmen and individuals in life. Whether they know it or not, habits learned well and with consistent, proper approach lead to a much easier transition when emergencies occur.

My life began on a farm in Illinois, my dad was for all intents a sharecropping field hand at the time, winters meant no work, no income, so we trapped muskrat, beaver and hunted raccoon for pelt money. In addition we often trekked far and wide for wood for the furnace. Mother canned food throughout the year and we took advantage of the overflow sweet corn, wild rhubarb, asparagus and a very large garden. These habits of storing for the lean months stuck with me as I grew older and moved out on my own.

You could say I have been a “prepper” my entire life, and yet, daily I learn something new or come across wonderful aids that easily fit a very well camouflaged hole in my own preps. It is quite easy to become complacent in many areas, especially training with firearms. The LaserLyte® Laser Training kit allows you to use your own handgun or one that is quite similar to yours in training both effectively and efficiently. Doing so within the confines of your house wherever that may be is amazing. All good firearms trainers will instruct their students to use dry fire practice regularly as the mechanics alone form habits, the good or bad of those habits are up too the trainee.

LaserLyte® allows you to gain feedback in your training, and do so while working on trigger control, point of aim and drawing your firearm. While the noise and recoil will obviously not be the same, the trigger reset and function are extremely similar to factory triggers. The movement of the firearm when pressing the trigger is also extremely similar. Your goal, is to put rounds on target and do so in an accurate manner. Accurate, smooth reaction or action will with consistent training evolve into accurate, smooth, fast reaction or action. This is where the LaserLyte® becomes essential to ones training kit. Rechargeable batteries, a small solar panel, and add 4lbs to a vehicle or house kit and you add thousands of hours of viable training to your families training. Be proactive, be smart and always look for advantages in even the smallest areas.

trainingAfter unpacking the LaserLyte® and the target, (I got the speed/accuracy drill set with the Glock styled handgun) it took less than 5 minutes to set it up and start shooting. Between myself, my wife, son, and daughter we have been enjoying this target setup and learning something as we do. Grip high and tight, smooth press of the trigger, bring the gun up and allow your hand to naturally point into the target, speed itself comes after much practice. The best part is, we can easily use the same holsters we already have.

My family carries Glock 19s, so our concealed rigs and OWB holsters easily work for the handgun itself. The weight is similar to a Glock 19, close enough to allow for solid training. Empty the Glock 19 is 23 ounces, 30 ounces loaded. The LaserLyte® is 15 ounces, having shot well over 200,000 rounds through my Glock 19, (replaced the barrel several times, and springs as well), the weight is close enough to easily allow transitioning from the training firearm into the carry gun. There were no complaints from anyone in the family when using it, in fact, they kept shooting for over an hour. Thankfully the kit is rated for 50,000 shots for the pistol (battery life) and the target is rated for 6,000 shots (rechargeable batteries tend to get a bit less depending on type purchased.)

trainingPricing for these kits runs right around $300 dollars, and shipping is quick. The customer service is amazing, responsive and direct. When you consider that handgun ammunition runs between $200 and $400 for a 1000 rounds you will re-coupe training costs in money spent before the batteries die the first time. They have multiple handgun types, from revolvers through automatics as well as inserts for some handguns that allow the use of your own handgun and get practice in racking and shooting. They also carry a training kit for your AR platforms, which I will likely be purchasing now as well. Overall this is a worthy addition for training purposes alone to my families kit.

And for the price, something I can easily recommend to others. Benefit versus cost, in the case of LaserLyte® the benefits easily outweigh the initial costs. Sticker shock is always fun, however remember, how much you spend on ammunition and how much you could save by concentrating your mechanical training using this setup and saving ammunition for marksmanship on the range. (As always I recommend minimum training of 50 rounds a month with all firearms, and 200 + with primary firearms, plus 2-3 hours a week of dry fire practice, take the guesswork and potential for danger out of the equation by using this system for your dry-fire practice.)

Quick list of benefits
Cost easily overcome when benefit is shown and experienced, useful for ALL family members, my 7 year old daughter who does shoot a Glock 19 but due to size is relegated to 20 rounds at a time, can, now practice function and ability and do so without the limitations of using precious gunpowder and lead.

Similarity to real firearm was well liked and mentioned by my wife, daughter, and son. Trigger pull was almost identical, weight felt good and they loved that they had feedback after shooting instead of needing to wait for a “Cold Range” to proceed to the target.

Mechanics and repetition, absolutely essential in all firearms, knife, archery related skills. This provides that at a reasonable rate and allows those who live in cities or states where restrictions to firearms use may be more severe. Highly recommended for East Coast, California, Hawaii preppers.

Quick list of cons
Initial price can be shocking, save for a couple months and make the leap you won’t regret it.

Batteries, yes they have a long life, however, when they run out what do you do? Carry extra batteries? Can you even get rechargeable A76 batteries? (A fix I would suggest is going with the same batteries for the firearm as the target, and doing it specifically for easily purchased rechargeables)

So in conclusion, I highly recommend this as a training implement for all pack readers. Honestly, you would only be adding value to your kit by doing so. Obviously, this is not a rig to stick in the 3-day pack or go bag, however, it is a great addition to your vehicle rig or house prep kit.

Free the mind and the body will follow

Buying the Brightest Tactical Flashlight at Under $20? Read This First!

Quest Post Written By Kim

Competition in the flashlight manufacturing sector is undoubtedly cut-throat. So, in a bid to lower prices, flashlight makers often cut corners where they should not and compromise on quality. The worst part is that customers are cheated into buying these low-quality products with lofty promises about performance.

In fact, you’ll find many companies who claim to offer the brightest tactical flashlight for less than $20. Is that even possible? Let’s take a look at what goes into the making of a quality flashlight and the cost of these components to determine if any manufacturer can realistically offer a high-quality product and the claimed performance, all at a price of under $20.

And, This is What You Need to Make the Brightest Tactical Flashlight

The LED: We’ll start with the most important component of your flashlight – the diode. Depending on the make and build quality, this will set you back by $3 to $6. Currently, CREE makes the most sought after products in this category and with good reason. At this point, CREE diodes are some of the best performing LEDs in the market, with the XM L2 U2 diode being one of their brightest diodes for portable devices.

As far as flashlight manufacturers are concerned, the unscrupulous bunch will settle for a Chinese made, copy CREE Led which costs less than $1. But, if you are dealing with a reputable manufacturer, around $4 is what the company will spend on the diode since they purchase in bulk.

The circuit board: The cost of this component depends on what it can do. For instance, a 5 mode, high-quality circuit board costs at least $5- $6. Even if you were to factor in bulk discounts, flashlights makers still have to shell out around $4 for the circuit board.

To cut costs here, manufacturers simply have to pick a circuit board that offers only 2-3 modes and go for a substandard product. In fact, a poorly made circuit board can save the manufacturer as much as $3 on each piece.

The reflector: Like the diode and the circuit board, the reflector is a component that has a bearing on the performance of the flashlight. For example, a high-quality reflector will collect the total lumen output of the diode more effectively, adding 10% or more to the brightness of the flashlight. Again, in this case, quality determines the pricing and a good product can cost $3 to $9. If corners are cut, you can get a reflector for $2 or less.

The ancillaries: Other components include the flashlight case body, which has a price range of $3 to $5 but can cost far less at $1-$1.50 – if you go for the thinnest gauge aluminum possible. Of course, there’s no telling if your light as a feather flashlight will last very long.

Also, the super lightweight aluminum body certainly cannot be used as a defensive weapon. Apart from this, other components like the insulation gasket, the heat sink, the battery contact spring, lens and others parts easily cost around $3 to $5.

This is the base cost for the flashlight, which adds up to around $20. Now add to this the manufacturing of the flashlight, the administrative overheads, like the cost of assembly, storage, marketing, all of which can be estimated at $2 per flashlight, and the total cost comes to around $22.

So, unless a flashlight manufacturer has a penchant for running a loss-making venture, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a quality flashlight for less than $20. What this means is if you’re in the market for the brightest tactical flashlight, be prepared to pay no less than $25-$27 for it.

Brightex Technologies, for example, offers one of the brightest flashlights on the market, delivering 600 and 700 lumens – guaranteed. Yes, they have Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certification to prove this claim. They also went one step further and had several competitors’ products (all claiming to have around 1000 lumens) tested and the actual results (of 350 lumens on the average) showed that Brightex flashlights did actually offer the highest lumen output.

So no matter which flashlight brand you choose, make sure it has been tested in an independent lab so that you’ll know if its lumens claim is real or not.