About idwritingworks

Ian Daniels is the author of a series of fiction novels set in a dystopian world. With many more stories in and out of the same genre in the works, he hopes to give readers something a little different than what they are used to.

Its disaster season…

…and I’m paying attention. I do not live where we have hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding. Our most common natural disasters are winter storms, wild fires and the ever looming possibility of an earthquake. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to learn from the current disasters. Man made or natural, people and their pre and post disaster behaviors are one of the big factors that I watch. Panic buying a day or two before hand, evacuation issues, and then how they deal with the after effects of clean water, extended power outages, food, gasoline, medical, and other social scarcities… If nothing else, seeing, hearing, and reading these reports give us a good reminder to get our own stuff back up to snuff cause if you’re anything like me, throughout the year everything gets used, not put back exactly right, there’s a pile of stuff I’ll get to later, things I tell myself to remember to fix…

“Sheep only have two speeds: graze and stampede.” 

Here is one pretty good report from a guy in Houston that I found. I’m going to bold a few points which I think are usually overlooked.

I am less than a mile from one of the media’s favorite flood scenes, but am unaffected.

My AAR as follows, but still in progress:
– don’t underestimate effort to monitor news and communicate to friends/neighbors, etc… this is also the primo way to get news cause the news stations suck at giving real info
there is something other than a bugout bag and a get home bag — it is a small support bag i can carry with me that has just basic 10 items, knife, fire, phone, p cord, multitool, cash.
– 36 hours before the storm – stores are devoid of bread, water, milk, canned goods, cereal…and fruit. Plenty of broccoli, onions and other veggies including potatoes. All I did was go in and take pictures, bought some ice cream and fresh food to top up
– during the storm – almost the calmest part of the situation for me as we didn’t get hit bad. Not flooded and plenty of power/internet. Check you local risk maps when buying a place to understand your wind and flood risk.
– after the storm – every major highway closed, many key roads closed. If you needed to get somewhere, you had better know your way around and pick through side streets.
– I get a message from a friend “SWIMMING AWAY FROM THE HOUSE, LOST EVERYTHING” – now I can’t contact him
– after 5 days of storms – everything is still closed, people wandering around checking groceries and pharmacies, a rare convenience store open here and there. Some bars are still open.
– today I hear about sporadic looting events from friends around the city. Listening to online digital scanner, sounds like emergency services vastly overwhelmed – don’t depend on them.
– Levee breaks – even more flooding. Tough decision to let water downstream and flood people there or hold it….moot point now.
– tonight is our first curfew night. I spent some time pre positioning firearms, flashlights and fire extinguishers just in case….everything is locked down and alarmed.
– so far, we have nearly 10,000 in shelters in the city of houston and need space for another 10,000. It will be interesting to see how that plays out over time.
– the overall mood has been very respectful by everyone I have come in contact with…trading info about the storm, areas of damage, where have you tried to get supplies, etc…
– there is a sense of desperation/slight panic in some. Took a drive to check out my AO, stopped by the grocery…there was a young man there with a three year old….looking to get milk…the place was closed and he had this look of concern that is hard to describe. I think going to groceries and pharmacies might turn into a dangerous trip if this continues.
– saw “cash only” signs in a couple convenience stores.

My biggest surprise was how quickly supplies disappeared from the shelves within hours of the announcement… If you do not stock up and prepare well in advance, you are going to be one seriously hurting puppy.

I’m guessing Thursday or Friday I will need to dip into my gasoline reserves, other than that I could sure use a delivery pizza.

UPDATE: One week after the event:
– i have noticed a lot of hotels with “NO VACANCY” signs – even the formerly hourly ones
– Rental cars are getting scarce
– Car repair services seem a lot busier than normal
– The public storage was jammed like I’ve never seen it – the lady who runs the place says they have no more spaces
The “green grocery stores” like Whole Foods were the first to close their doors and last to open… undependable.
– COSTCO did one hell of a job restocking quickly, providing much needed supplies like batteries, cleaning supplies and such. They had employees from other stores which had been flooded and these folks came to the open stores in Houston to work to help people….I have been a customer for years but now I am for life…they really came through. I saw the manager working with folks who were buying bulk supplies for relief efforts and handling it smoothly. AWESOME job.
After five or six days, eating prep foods gets old, the milk and bread runs out and you’ve been couped up like a hibernating bear.. Some friends were getting “cabin fever” by the time it was all over. Keep busy, stay focused and take breaks away from the news.
Constant vigilance creates a kind of burnout and coupled with a few sleepless nights I can see how the brain starts to suggest stupid ideas. If my house had caught on fire or a tree fell on it, I can envision degraded thought processes being a killer.
– Supposedly the airport is opening up…hope so, my wife is on an inbound flight.
– In retrospect, having an alarm system was helpful, but more as a perimeter detection system than a summoner of emergency services…they could not have gotten to me if they wanted to…too busy with real rescue.
– The curfew has been widely obeyed by most. I called police station and told them what I needed to go out and get my wife at the airport…they said go ahead and do it, just be prepared to explain to the officer if you get pulled over…so evidently officer discretion is very much in effect.
– Getting around was dicey….with all the roads flooded, it often required a very circuitous route to get from A to B….during something like this, be prepared to travel 3 times the distance and 3 times the elapsed time to get to your destination.
– Based on how difficult travel was and that you never know who you might meet at the empty parking lot of the closed grocery store (there were only a few shady ones)…. I developed a “travel bag” that included water, a backup gun with extra ammo, extra ammo for my carry, cash, a few small tools, a small hygiene kit, a small IFAK, some batteries, Hatch resistor gloves, a map of the city, flashlight, multi-tool, some Pcord, some candy, a few other minor items, a bottle of water. The goal of the bag is more operational support while you’re out and about locally, not sustainment. Focus on fast, light movement, defense and very basic support. If my wife was here during the event, I would have added comms.

I am guessing that the price of the following products will go and stay high for a while: gas, furniture, food, clothing, apartments, cars/trucks, construction supplies & tools, insurance.

I am wondering if we are going to have some kind of spike in health/hygiene oriented illnesses due to mold, sewage, spoiled food, wearing your clothes for too long, stress, etc…

Have not heard any updates on looting, and have not seen any national guard in my area. Power is stable, internet is experiencing degradation but is acceptable.

– Local authorities and FEMA are already saying “we will be here for years” to repair the damage.

This is what a real non-hollywood, not prepper dream disaster looks like. I think the tide has finally started to turn for most of the people who got into the survival state of mind around the mid-2000s. Its not all hoarding the best deals from Sportsmans Guide and Cheaper than Dirt catalogs, its beginning to see the real world useful items and hopefully, mindset. Not nearly enough of us use and are extremely familiar with everything that we do have, and that is not great but it is understandable. Being adaptable and knowing when you need to slow down, thin, read directions, etc is as important as having all that gas in metal cans and no way to safely transfer it into your generator. Being able to hook that gen set up to your well pump is probably one of those things you shouldn’t guess at being able to do right when the time comes by the way.

Stay safe. Stay vigilant and stay learning.

-Ian

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One Gun – Round 2

I have previously shared my thoughts on the one do-it-all gun for today’s world. Well the more I practice what I preach, the more convinced I am that a 308 Bullpup – once properly set up and wrung out – is the best do-it-all one gun there is.

Now yes, yes, mission and training dictates the equipment… but I like to learn, so I picked up some new equipment that really seems to fit the mission. Instead of ooh-ing and awing at pictures and looking at receipts, lets start by looking at all the places it fits:

The Scout Rifle

Accredited to the late Co. Cooper, the scout rifle concept is nothing if not an argument starter. I still like the concept though… if you don’t get hung up on the traditional stuff – because in truth it is unbalanced and kind of not all that great – and while outdated (in my opinion), the criteria for Coopers old idea has been well documented. With new materials, innovations, and inventions, the specific Scout Rifle numbers of weight and length and sighting system just don’t translate anymore. But again, the idea still does.

“A general purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target.”

So a handy (read: light weight), hard hitting and accurate gun with a low powered variable optic that is a bit of a do-all outside of extended combat? Yeah, that translates. In some ways the idea is almost even more valid in today’s world of accurate, reliable, mag fed semi autos and quality optics than ever.

Of course though as soon as a set of rules are laid down, there will always be immediate push back, and this happened with the Scout Rifle concept… and still does fifty years later. But as much as they bitch, people have been drawing inspiration from Coopers concept for the same amount of time. So in the spirit of inspiration, I think we are right on with a heavy caliber bullpup. Yes a 77 grain 556 will do just fine, but whatever, I’m not goign there.

Copper’s prototype Scout Rifles were bolt-actions, however he did state, “if a semiautomatic action were made which was sufficiently compact and otherwise acceptable, it should certainly be considered.” To that I say you pretty well can’t get more compact that a bullpup. What I’m really taking away from Coopers thoughts are that the controls need to be intuitive, and positive. Let me explain…

I’m old school, and like so many other people, a lever or bolt action is still very intuitive for me, heck, more so than an AR is in the heat of the moment quite honestly. Keep it simple and all that. Anyway, I think we’ve all shot on platforms – rifles and pistols – where the controls just weren’t in reach. I have big hands and still never could quite get to the point on a heavy metal 1911 where the controls were all easy to access without having to turn the gun perpendicular in my palm. That’s a slight exaggeration, but really, only slightly. The other gun I have never forgotten how non-intuitive it was, is the Kriss Vector. I had a friend with one and every time I would shoot it, put it down, then pick it up again, I’d swear I was looking around to see if my hands were in the right place. It was just… different.

Now as different as the bullpup platform is from literally everything else, I don’t find it un-intuitive. Each one is going to be different of course, but at least to pick it up and hold it, if you’ve spent any time with sub guns / sbrs, or any other short firearm that gets shouldered, it’s very natural. With the fact that bullpups are for the most part a newer thing, relatively speaking, I’m finding that modern day designing and testing and revamping have all helped to make them as good as possible as far as control placement and grip angles go.

Cooper further outlined such specifics like, “the bolt knob should be smooth and round, not checkered and positioned far enough forward of the trigger to avoid pounding of the index finger during firing. The safety should be positive and include three positions. It should disconnect the trigger mechanism rather than blocking it. It should be strong and positive and work from front to rear, rear position “safe” and forward “fire.” 

Ok well I disagree with the checkering, and while its not ideal in today’s world, the M1/M1A safety is not all that bad. But again, his intent was simply nothing to hang up, nothing to screw up, and nothing that left the user unsure. Some more modern iterations of the scout rifle include things such as retractable bipods and accessory rails for other lights and attachments,  and while the addition of some of these features often render the rifle technically not a scout as originally defined, it (thankfully) has come to be accepted by many as still conforming to the spirit, if not the letter of the concept. We can go all through the outdated specifics and restrictions, trigger pull weight, forward mounting optics and the like, the point is, the 308 bullpup meets and exceeds those old ‘rules’ and works quite well in the scout role.

So, where else can this thing stretch its legs?

Designated Marksman

Yes, the ‘not quite a sniper’ Designated Marksman of the squad. It may be yet another somewhat outdated concept meant for those guys who were issued ACOGs for their long barrel M16s because it afforded them the ability to be a bit more selective with their targets at extended ranges, but the idea is always an intriguing and sexy one, so lets go with it.

In reality, if the Sniper is the offensive threat, the DM is the defensive one. The sniper is a specialized tactician, employed for specific missions, who slinks in undetected, completes his offensive objective, then slinks back out undetected. The DM is an advanced shooter that works with a squad, just as a grenadier or automatic gunner is, who is called upon when need arises.

The DM’s role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper, typically being deployed at ranges of “can you hit that from here?”  They are the middle ground almost-experts… which sounds exactly like what we’re looking to do with our one general rifle. I joke, but in all honesty, Designated Marksman are traditionally misunderstood and misused by their commanders, and with absolutely zero discredit to them in the service, this is one of those rare places where I believe civilians should be able to do better than the run of the mill rifleman, because through ability and necessity, we are all capable of meeting the DM standards. The guys I hang around all take their stuff out to extreme ranges, because, why not? From pistols to SBRs to muskets, we’ve tried to see just how accurate at X range we were with whatever we had out that day. I can hit targets at 600 yards with my AK74 and iron sights, it doesn’t make it or me DM capable. DM’s are trained to work with their squad, its what makes the whole team thing work. We’re not concerned with that part right now though (although you should look into their training, its cool as shit). As civilians, with the right platform, we are afforded the opportunity learn and practice to our hearts desire, and with better glass, a wider variety of ammunition, and however much time we want to put into it. I see no reason why any shooter can’t get coached up to, and continue to practice to remain effective against targets at extended ranges, if they have an adequate setup for such a role, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

In the various individual services, from Russia to Israel to the US, that setup usually is a semi-automatic, magazine fed or 10, 20, or 30 rounds (depending on the firearm in question) slightly accurized with an optic to aid in target acquisition.

I’m probably talking too much about the tool and not enough about the idea here. The idea, minus the military squad implementation, is a rifle that can engage multiple targets at a sustained rate of fire across a wide distance. 308 Bullpup.

Home defense

Well, maybe lets go with rural home defense. While I completely support my neighbors defending hearth and home with superior fire power, I really don’t want anyone touching off a 308 in town. Read up on frangible 9mm and 556 vs drywall if that’s your AO. For rural home defense though, hey, its a short 308, whats the problem?

Ok no its not anyone’s first choice, but the bullpup design is great for being shouldered in a firing grip with only one hand while the other opens doors or holds back family members. Close quarters engagements are 90% tactics, but it sure helps to not have a four foot long bolt action you are trying to implement your violence of action with.

One thing about the bullpup in 308 that shouldn’t need to be said, is that they are loud. If one were so inclined, choosing from a design that suppresses well (easily) may be something to keep in mind. Me, I just keep ear plugs AND ear muffs readily available.  Big bore suppressors are not exactly cheap and they do change the handling of the firearm. For what this gun is for me, I’ll stick with the non-high speed stuff.

For a closing thought I’m going to back up for a moment. The idea of this versus a lever action… well like I said, I’m a bit of a nostalgist and one of those in 30-30, 30-06, 308, 338, or even 45-70 is still a hell of a gun. But the capacity, length and modularity of more modern offerings which expands the effectiveness in multiple roles cannot be denied. Three or five shots from even a moderately short barrel 30-06 will do dang near anything you need it to… for those three or five shots. From hunting to man to man engagements to an anti-vehicle need, only having three to five shots on hand can suddenly make you feel real short in the capacity department in a real hurry. Like this old AK goo-ru having to accept that the AR platform as a near household name in today’s world, bullpups, if not the way of the future, have carved out a niche that is here to stay, and I’m willing to take full advantage of they they bring to the table.

 

 

 

They’re a great close range bush gun. Plus its a nice medium between a fudd gun and a black rifle for the fudds that dont want an AR

Rules for Houseguests

 

There probably only needs to be one general rule for houseguests: don’t be a pain in the ass. Seeing as how that should be enough, but it never is, I think maybe I’ll make a bit more of a detailed list.

  1. Planning ahead, or as I like to call it, don’t just show up. Even if you (the guest) have a plan, don’t just tell the people you are planning to stay with that you will be coming into town on such and such date, and ‘would like to see us’. First, it’s very transparent that you only want to see us because you are coming to town for some other reason. Secondly, if we had plans, it now makes us the jerks to say, “Sorry, we won’t be around at that time. I know we haven’t seen you in five years – because you decided to move away too far to visit, but…” And we won’t say that anyway because everyone knows the next sentence from you the guest would be, “great, we can just stay at your place while you’re not home then!” It’s a round robin of crap choices forced upon the resident.
  2. Don’t complain. Don’t opine. Don’t offer ideas, in fact, just don’t talk. No our house is not a million dollar mansion with full time maids and gardeners and handymen, and it wasn’t designed for modern day families or anything else that would make it so much better. We know this and we don’t need to hear how we should really open up that kitchen wall or what a better backsplash would look like or if we had have planted trees when we moved in we wouldn’t be able to see the neighbors by now… yeah, trust me I know. You very much do not need to bring it up.
  3. Don’t help. It is very nice that you want to make dinner for us. Please do not kick me out of my own kitchen to do it. It makes me want to take your suit cases I have stubbed my toes on three times now and throw them in the street. Also, don’t rearrange our tupperware cabinet. That cabinet is already the bane of my OCD existence and you now, in your infinite helping wisdom, have managed to put all the containers we actually use in the back. With that in mind, stay the hell away from my spice rack.
  4. A towel a day? Seriously? It is just fine to use our shower and our towels, even at midnight like you managed to think was appropriate to do, but you do not need a fresh towel every single shower. Yeah, that’s right, I reuse my towels a few times just like I don’t put new bed sheets on the bed every morning. Thanks for running me out of laundry soap and taking even the decorative guest towels down for your one time use.
  5. For lack of a dedicated guest bedroom (read into that what you may), you are sleeping on a blow up bed in my office. I use my office, please do not make it look like you unpacked your suit cases by unzipping them, holding them by the bottom, and then spinning around in circles until they were empty. It looks like a five year old’s bedroom in there.
  6. At least pretend to offer to pay when we go out to eat. Yeah, we’re are not starving, and for some reason you are on your way to a skiing vacation from a part time minimum wage job and have told us how tight money is, but if we go out, just pretend that you don’t expect us to pay.
  7. Don’t bring up touchy subjects. Even if you think you are of the same political or social leanings as us, you have no idea the complexities of my views, and I don’t want to hear yours, no matter how well informed, or how close they may even line up with my overall leanings.
  8. Don’t come here and not get along with people you haven’t seen in a long time. Picking a fight with our parents the one night we have them over so they can see you is a dick move. There’s a reason no one balked when you decided to move away. Even parents can admit that while they love their kids, they might not always like them very much.

Good to see ya, Sis. Congrats on getting engaged. I hope he gets a prenup.

How to Write Steampunk

Good writing is good writing, without a doubt. With any writing you still need to follow the basics tenets of grammar and story development and foreshadowing and the like, but as I venture into my first foray of writing Steampunk stylized science fiction/fantasy, I find that the lines of what’s appropriate are sometimes blurred in some very fun ways.

“Oh man, not more airships and brass rivets and gears and steam engines… it’s been done!”

Well yeah, but not by me. Look the genre was awesome when it hit the scene because it was different, then it got saturated and people got tired of it, but really Steampunk is not a genre; it’s a subset of many different genres; a cloak to wrap a story in, and an interesting one at that. I am not writing an alternate world that is  dominated by mighty machines, powered by scientifically impossible steam engines that take themselves all too seriously. But a throwback setting of scientific adventure and romance… heck yeah, why not? A Steampunk story seems to me to offer a unique chance to explore and thrill in a way that speaks to the minds and imaginations of many different moods.

Truth to tell, I have not read nearly enough in the genre, or much of what most people consider traditional science fiction either. At least not lately. So maybe I’m getting it all wrong. The couple of Steampunk books I have read were very highly rated and reviewed… and I didn’t like them all that much. I could see their imagination, but I could also see their influences and motivations, and it’s hard to mask your reverence for a highly popular space opera that was one of its kind if that’s your only muse. I mean that’s fine, but when you can create anything you want, get weird with it. Have fun with it, at least get different with it.

Sure, in science fiction you need to have a good original concept outlined to make the story be something. You need a strong plot, interesting characters, and an appropriate, engrossing setting. You are creating a whole new world that never existed before, but therein lies the fun: there are no rules except what you create. You want your characters to have what we think of as super powers, or machines that do things not physically possible? Science fiction yo, write it into existence.

Another thing I am enjoying is something that has been a downfall for most my other writing: too wordy (until I edit it down). In Steampunk with it’s Victorian era influences to class, structure, and language, wordy is right. With Steampunk you get to make up new terms or use old ones that have long ago been dropped from our modern English vernacular. It does amp up the amount of google word synonym searches, but man is it fun to use old timey terms when talking about a machine we could only hope to see fifty years from now in the future.

Traditionally, to make a story fit into the Steampunk category you have some standard additions and rules to adhere to. A classical facade for one. Another – which is interesting considering the social demonstrations of feminism and minorities we have seen in the real world of late – is the idea that the term of a ‘fairer sex’ never happened. In most Steampunk novels, chivalry was advanced and women were not seen as meek, needing to be protected. That tenet alone brings with it a whole new set of rules… and dangers. In my opinion, fiction is fiction and the lines get to get crossed when you want them to. Mechanical and magical can get combined, and if done right, can work really really well. Feminism combined with servants? Oh it’ll put some people’s gender inappropriate undies in a twist, but see if I care.

And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are strict rules to follow, things not to combine, things not to say or do, and maybe I should google that too, but for now, I’m enjoying the freedom, along with the technical research and studious note taking and organizing that it takes to keep straight everything about creating a whole new world, time, language and people. Steampunk was born to be an over-the-top form. The trick is making it relate-able to other people.

Beware the man with one gun

The idea of the general purpose / do-it-all rifle is not a new one by any means. It’s an idea born out of wanting simplicity, and who doesn’t like that? The issue is though, that one platform may be ok to good at most everything, but great at not anything at all and the more effective something is in one area, the less so in every other application. So, we end up with compromises. It’s hard to find something that will work as good at 50 yards as it will at 500, let alone 0 to 500.

But first, let’s back up a little. A long time ago people only had one gun and they pushed it into working for every role they needed it to. From loading a flintlock with bird shot to developing an over/under rifle shotgun combo, to utilizing a lever gun against game too big – and too small – for the .357 or 30-30 it was chambered in, and finally to developing a ‘modern’ platform like the AR15 which can be infinitely modified and personalized. Since the time that apes began smashing their thumbs with rocks, we have always looked to make one tool work for multiple jobs.

In recent years, people have come back around to the general purpose firearm. Most of them are looking at it all wrong though… in my opinion.  Specific tasks NEED specific tools. A person grabbing something for direct contact is going to want a drum fed, quick aiming blah blah blah. Nine times out of ten, that same gun is not going to be what a guy grabs to go hunting, or bump in the night checking around, or to have sitting around camp in a remote spot.  And that’s ok too; specific tool for specific uses and all that.

In the last ten years or so with this recent resurgence, the Main Battle Rifle (MBR) has reared its head yet again as a top contender for a general purpose rifle. The M1A, CETME/PTR-91, FAL, AR-10(debatable) are the usual suspects, and these are all good choices, good for a general purpose COMBAT rifle, which is the main distinction here. A good combat rifle is not a general do-it-all gun.

And of course the guys that don’t want to admit the utility or a robust design, full power gun will begin to widdle down, complicate, and justify the issue to suit their opinions on the matter touting that a 75 grain Vmax bullet out of AR15 will stretch out to distance, is of lethal weight and design, is shot out of a more compact and lighter to carry… etc ad nauseum, just because that’s what they have and what they know. Honestly, I can’t find a whole lot wrong with that. The AR while maybe not as stoic as the MBRs above, is  undeniable. The platform’s best advantage is how many different ways you can change it. Still though, as adaptable as it is, it is lacking in a certain confidence inspiring something that the MBR gives. Subjective yes, but also I think more than a few will agree. In turn, what the MBR lacks is plenty. Usually they are heavy, and referred to as ‘combat accurate’ which to me is anywhere from 3-5 MOA. Not the type of accuracy a person should aspire for. This is not about the merits of those platforms though.

What I am talking about is my idea of the do-it-all one gun. Forgetting the General purpose COMBAT rifle, my one gun is probably most akin to the ‘truck gun’ concept. And here is my rationale: As alluded to above, this is not your go-to-a-fight weapon. Picture this: Taking the family up for a day drive to the cabin and you don’t feel like cramping the kids space in the back seat of the truck with your four foot long bolt action scout rifle. Yes it rides in the back seat, not in the bed… that’s just not even in question.  You also don’t want to haul your AR and thirty pounds of mags and chest carrier and all the accessory gear you seem to think you need with your AR. You’ve already got your too heavy backpack full of the best budget survival items thrown in, even though chances are if you break down it’s the first thing that gets left cause you have to wear the kid carrier and diaper bag instead. Now at the cabin, you spot that elusive coyote that you were trying for all winter, or that pesky black bear that hangs out up there has finally worn out its welcome when your wife is trying to pee and it sees her as competition… ok I’m obviously stretching for a specific here so let’s just say for family defense at the cabin. Then on the way back home later that night if an EMP sponsored apocalypse doesn’t stop you first, you get to your house on the outskirts of town and notice the garage door ajar…

While each of these scenarios all would best be handled by a niche gun for their specific situation, they can all be handled rather well by the one gun. Caliber wars aside, for my idea, it’s in 308. It just is. It’s the best all purpose caliber for the role of this gun. That said, let’s look at the platform. You need something that is relatively compact to best be able to be used around a vehicle and structure in a CQB role, as well as having a barrel long enough to carry the bullet velocity out to make that 600 yard coyote shot, with a conservatively sized 1×4 or 1×6 scope on top of course, all in one package.

This subject has not so coincidentally come up for me during the week of the 2017 SHOT Show. No, I haven’t hit the self-publishing puny author big time and been invited to attend, I am like the 99.9% of the rest of the gun guys in America and watching it in not so real time on various forums and on YouTube. I did have a few heads up ideas to wait until SHOT though to see what innovations to my specific item(s) of interest would be.  Namely and notably, a bullpup firearm calibered in 308. As of right now, there are 2.5 offerings out there to consider.

Yes a bullpup in a heavy caliber. First let’s talk about the bullpup design. It’s really pretty simple; a bullpup is compact. Look, take a sledge hammer and hold it out at arm’s length by the end of the handle. not so easy right? Now choke up and hold that sledge right up by the head. It’s simple physics. The best part about a bullpup is that it stays compact while still retaining the characteristics of a long barrel that are needed to keep velocities up at range. NO they aren’t as intuitive, but mostly because Americans didn’t grow up shooting them so they seem awkward and weird due to simple unfamiliarity. Also, bullpups aren’t meant to be shot off a bench for accuracy. They are carry and shoot guns, not bench stable, slow fire contest winners. I don’t bench shoot much but do sling up a lot, so that’s just fine by me.

mdr

First is the Desert Tech MDR. Desert Tech is a small, quality company which has been around in the market here and there, but two years ago when it announced their bullpup design, they finally caught fire. Unfortunately, they also found out just how hard it is to get a 308 to work in a bullpup design. This isn’t as easy as supersizing an AR15 to make an AR10… which few companies get right anyway. Literally every part of this idea has had to be created from scratch… and then tested. Desert Tech pulled through though it seems and has had a good showing at SHOT 2017. Estimated pricing is in the $2,250 range. That’s a pretty penny no matter who you are, but in this arena you have to pay to play. There is no cheap option and I don’t know if you want to shoot a 308 bullpup where the manufacturing came in under budget. The MDR weighs 7 lbs, is 26 inches long with its 16” barrel. Oh and remember how I said bullpups aren’t for bench shooting? Well this one comes in on the verge of sub MOA accuracy.

km

The second is the K&M M17S. A newer and not always well thought of company, the K&M bullpup weighs in just over 8lbs, a little over 26” inches long with its 16” barrel, uses AR style 308 magazines and is generally pretty well though of. It is mostly all aluminum and not as ambidextrous as the others,  takes a lot of AR parts and has a good length top rail. The trigger is adjustable from 3.5 to 5 pounds of pull, easily the lightest of the 3. Asking price is right at $2,000.00.

rfb

Finally the Kel-Tec RFB. Yes Kel-Tec. Hence the .5 of my 2.5 offerings available.  Kel-Tec as a company are leaders of innovative design as much as they are leaders of un-surety in the public’s mind. Substantiated on not, questions of quality control and product availability abound when talking about Kel-Tec anything. Kel-Tec is actually on the second generation of RFB’s and the kinks, for the most part, seem to have been identified, if not worked out. The RFB was the first of its kind, making its debut in 2008. It’s caliber distinction almost out shown by its innovative forward ejecting tube that the brass gets deposited down. THE RFB uses FAL mags, weighs in at 8lbs and is 26” long with the 18” barrel. The RFB does only has 10” of rail space up top, and the trigger is thought of as exceptionally good although heavy around the 6 pound range. Its short gas stroke piston, and non-free floated barrel along with everything else generally produces 3 MOA groups.  Asking price these days is about $1,300.00.

The one-gun for me needs to have a few attributes that they can hang their hat on. First , it needs to work. Period. So far, the Desert Tech is un-tested, the K&M is making a good name for itself and the Kel-Tec, once fiddled with to find the right 1 of 18 gas settings for a specific ammo, well it works for most people if they have the patience to keep it long enough to get it dialed in.  Also, this gun needs to easily be able to accept an optic that doesn’t require a chin weld to be able to use it because it’s mounted so high. Along that line of thinking, it might be nice if it doesn’t blind you if on the off chance you choose to shoot it left handed. The Kel-Tec and Desert Tech ejects cases out front and the K&M has a pretty effective deflector, although you have to change its positioning for where you want the ejected casings to go. Now one big issue for me is the barrel length. I’m no long range shooter but I want this to be capable out to as far as possible. 308 out of a 16 inch barrel is just fine for 400 to 500 with the right bullet and hold over. I think 18” is the sweet spot for a 308 gun myself, but this is already not a very traditional idea so a few rules can be bent. Either way it’s not like this is some 11” FAL spitting fire blooms and deafening half the county.

No, bullpups aren’t AK simple to take apart for inspection and cleaning, and no they aren’t AR simple to clear a jam, but they don’t have to be, remember? This is not a gun you are going to put 5,000 rounds through probably in its entire lifetime (that’s $2,500 of the cheap ammo btw). Not that any of these three can’t take it, but it’s like that truck gun, carried with you a bit, and shot enough to know you can use it and it’ll work for you. The Kel-Tec is the best budgetable offering to be affordable and know that you aren’t going to be blasting away every weekend with it.  Somehow that doesn’t sound as promising as I thought it would. If the Desert Tech actually works, given their company rep., they are worth a few hundred extra bucks over the K&M imo, but there are some pretty big ‘ifs’ in there.

If a guy found a used Kel-Tec RFB with say 5 mags, a sling, and an optic of some kind for $1300, I would buy that in an instant. Is it worth $1300 bare bones one mag, right out of the box? Maybe, but after tax and transfer, that’s still a chunk, then you have to outfit it on top of that. The Desert Tech coming in just above the K&M in pricing puts it as the probable winner for over all quality. Is it a winner for $2,250 plus tax, plus mags, sling, scope and mounts? Well hell, when I put it like that, that AR you already have with a mag of good ammo is starting to sound better and better…

I’ve got mail

Haven’t written about writing in a while…
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I’ve got the first draft done of my genre jump into a contemporary type fiction. I sent an e-copy to the guy who has looked over my last few books. He catches some edits I missed but doesn’t do much commentary or critique. I hate E-reading myself, so I formatted and ordered a paperback proof to give to someone else to take a look at it. She is a quality reader, IE likes books of a lot better quality than the stuff I put out, and while that makes me apprehensive, I think I’ll get some good feedback from her too.
 
And that’s what I’m really looking for with this one. As I stroll a little late into the party of the genre that was created by Twilight and 50 Shades, a sub-sect of post high school-young adult fiction (being referred to as New Adult Fiction: see: https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist/novelist-special/what-is-new-adult-fiction-anyway), I really do see this one as having what it takes to make a name for itself. My other books have been, and probably will continue to be in the dystopian genre (more or less for the next two I have lined out anyway). And while my first -Against the Grain – entered when the market was hot, survival fiction is starting to get played out. I didn’t write this new one thinking it would make money and junk, as always, I still only write for me, but I’ll admit to enjoying a chick flick, “girls” book, or CW network TV show every now and again. This new book is definitely in that realm.
 
I have only self published so far and thought I would actually query a few traditional publishers with this new one, but after reading a few articles, and a few especially convincing words from the author of Wool (google it, its worth your time) I’m beginning to think I’ll simply self-publish this one as well and let the cards fall where they may. Is it ‘cards fall’ or ‘chips fall’?
 
I’ve been drinking.
 
Anyway, lots of work left to do.

Electronic Go-Bag

I don’t travel much and when I do its usually within about two hours from home. That’s not because I’m some shut in, I mean I am, and its also not because I’m all paranoid about the world ending while I’m away from home with all my stuff, which again, I am, but I don’t travel much because I like where I live. I live in an area that within two hours travel time I have all the stuff I like to do. Mountains, forests,  lakes, rivers, plains… I’m not much of a beach goer and if i was, the closest ocean to me is  seven hours away and generally 40 to 60 degrees year round. Most my family lives here, and the others who don’t that we do want to see live within 4 hours in either direction… so we only see them once a year or so. When I do travel, I have a few standards I take with me. One of those being an electronics gear kit.

This is not about a survival in the woods type of thing, this is an every day survival thing in this culture of electronic everything. Now I am not one of those people that feels naked and afraid without their cell phone, but it is a part of my life. It connects me to my family, immediate information, and hilarious texts when my buddy is on the toilet and runs out of toilet paper. And really, who among us hasn’t been unexpectedly stuck somewhere with your phone battery running low and wishing you could get an updated weather report… or  play another game of bejewled?

So when I do travel farther than my normal day to day activities, I have a small, handy kit that travels with me. I try to keep it simple enough to not make it a pain to remember to grab or handle, because like a huge CCW pistol, you’ll opt to leave it home when you run to the grocery store for milk. My kit lives in a MOLLE compatible bag so I can attach it to any other bag/backpack that I happen to have with me. Its large enough to hold what I need it to hold, but small enough to be able to bury it in a larger pack too. I also added a thin shoulder strap in case I want to use it stand alone for any reason. This bag is purposeful and also necessary because I can’t afford to have duplicates of all this gear in each of my different kits, so this one bag goes with whatever other setup I take for that occasion.

Inside this handy carrying bag, I keep charging cords for both apple and android style devices, a USB 12 Volt cigarette lighter adapter, and a standard USB wall plug in adapter. This wall adapter came with an Ipad or something and is a 12 Watt 2.4 Amp charger which charges extra quick compared to a regular 1 Amp plug in. Those are the items that get used the utmost – although of course I have power cords and adapters that live permanently in my truck – but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t over plan. Also included is a hand held CB radio with its charging cord and an upgraded antenna, a hand held GMRS radio that can talk to the CB radio (because what good is only one radio when you need to stay in contact with someone in your group?), a small flashlight with a red lens that can can be put on (because I’m tacticool like that), a GPS unit, a traditional compass, a watch that reads barometric pressure, temp, altitude and oh yeah, time (it was on sale), a separate external battery for the Iphone, AA batteries for all the other electronics (because I like standardization), a push to talk microphone and ear piece for the GMRS, a write in the rain pad and pen for any notes I want or need to jot down, and a cheat sheet of my local frequencies to monitor.

Seems like a lot when I list it but really it all fits in a bag about 2/3rds the size of a loaf of bread.

I don’t have a scanner or a solar panel for this kit. My phone has a scanner app which is not much in an emergency I know, but the scanner I do own while its hand held, is big and heavy so it gets left behind to save bulk and weight in my bag. While I’m sure I’ll eventually buy one, I just don’t see needing a solar charger for my uses. If I’m in the woods where there’s no power, I’m not wanting my phone anyway. Besides the fact, in reality in today’s world, you can usually walk anywhere that has power to tap into in less than an hour. The other thing that I could add and haven’t is a USB thumb drive. I suck at encryptions so I simply haven’t tossed a drive together yet.

This kit is tailored to me with the smaller items mostly having been collected over the years or included with other purchases, so it didn’t take much to throw it together, but its already been very valuable and useful in my everyday carry travels.