Monday, December 24, 2007

More on reloading

Strangely enough, one of my posts has managed to somehow make the first page on a google search for "homemade ammo". For anyone who is looking at that one, I thought I'd add a little something I've learned from reloading. If you're going to try reloading, my biggest piece of advice would be to start with 9mm ammo. Of the calibers I have done so far, 9mm is the only one so far that appears to be impossible to overload. I had thought that switching to a powder that would only need 5 grains of powder, as opposed to 7 grains, would leave more room in the cartridge. Instead, it turns out that the other powders just didn't pack as well and took up as much room. I also haven't been able to get remotely close to the minimum overall length specified for any max load I have used. The powder takes up so much space that the bullet just won't press down that far.

To put it simply, I have yet to press a bullet in far enough to risk high pressures, and the one time I "double loaded" a cartridge, I had a huge mess on my hands.

Home for the Holidays, and the 10K mark

While my wife and I are effectively boycotting the holidays by heading to Vegas on Christmas morning, I felt like I should at least visit my parents for an evening before we left. Being a bit sick in the head, I took the motorcycle out there and back. I knew going into this that it would be 40-45 degrees on my ride there, and 50-55 with torrential rain and 25mph winds on the way back. But, since days off for bad weather won't be much of an option during my trip to Nova Scotia, I headed out anyway.

The trip out was pretty uneventful. I hit the road at 4pm, so most of the ride was in the dark. The first thing to start feeling a little numb was actually my head. Since I didn't have much luck keeping my first anti-fogging visor insert attached, and haven't taken the time to try again with the replacement I bought, I have to keep the visor cracked when it's damp out if I don't want a layer of fog in front of my eyes. As a result, I have to suffer through wind swirling around the top of my head. Fortunately, as evidenced by the fact that I left the house in this weather for a 4 hour ride, I'm not the brightest bulb. So there probably isn't
actually enough blood flow to my head to worry too much about heat loss.

The next thing to start feeling the cold was my legs and my feet. This was the point where "I wonder if Widder makes heated pants to go with my vest?" started popping into my head. Thankfully, less than an hour later, I had reached my parent's farm, and it was time for a hot meal and gift swapping.

On Sunday, things got more interesting. The sky had already opened up, so I was thankful that I was able to pack my hard luggage inside, and then just walk it out to the bike. In addition to my Rev'it Cayenne jacket and Dakar pants, which actually did quite well at keeping me dry through light sprinkles on the trip up, I was wearing my BMW Rainlock Weather Suit. I was also wearing my Rev'it Fahrenheit Gloves (last years gauntlet model, not the current ones) and my Rev'it Atlas H2O waterproof balaclava.

The ride home started with a couple spin-outs in the mud and grass before I finally made my way to the gravel driveway. A little later, I laid the bike down at an intersection in Pamplin City. I foolishly assumed that a truck with it's right blinker on was getting ready to turn onto the road I was leaving, instead of into the gas station to my right. I started moving, and stopped about a foot later. But that one foot traveled was enough to leave me with nowhere to put my right foot. Fortunately, I know the correct way to pick up a bike. So, despite the fact that my bike was loaded up, and the slope was working against me, I had it up in a moment and was right back on the road.

The bulk of my trip was spent leaning about 10 degrees to the right just to maintain a straight line. I managed to get ahead of the heavy rain once I crossed back over I-95, but the wind never really let up the entire time. The final notable event on my ride was when I hit the 10,000 mile mark on my odometer right as I was leaving Suffolk (the "C" location on the google map).

I am happy to say that, aside from a little perspiration, I was dry as a bone once I got home. I already knew my BMW rain gear did a good job. But I was happy to finally own a pair of gloves that fared as well. The Rev'it Hydratex lining definitely did a better job than the Held Ice Breakers I had used on my trip to New Hampshire. As an added plus, the Rev'its were more comfortable and I could actually work the buttons on my gps with them. I think I'm almost done getting myself geared for cold weather riding. Once I find some way to keep my legs as warm as my torso, there shouldn't be anything left.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Concealed Carry Class

Recently, I decided to start putting my NRA instructor certification to good use, and started helping a friend teach his Concealed Handgun Permit class. Granted, there's no such thing in Virginia as a "concealed carry class" as such, or at least the state doesn't give any real guidance on what needs to be covered by a class like that. As such, our class is just an NRA First Steps class, with a little extra time spent on explaining Virginia gun laws.

This most recent class, I had a new winner for scariest response to a question in class. There are a few things we like to stress in one portion of the class. The first is that you don't draw your firearm unless you believe you are going to have to shoot to protect yourself, and you have to have the will to pull the trigger once you draw. The second is that you have to have the self-control to not shoot if the criminal bolts as soon as you draw. There is a third thing we use a scenario to highlight, but I'll get to that in the story.


Me: "Ok, a guy comes at you with a knife. You draw your firearm, and he hightails it as soon as he sees the barrel come up. At this point, is everything over?"

Them: .....stare blankly, followed by one or two saying "I guess so."

Me: "No. While you go about your business, thinking it is over, the thug is on the phone telling the police that you pointed a gun at him for no reason, and you end up in cuffs. So do you think you should do to prevent this."

Normally, I get more blank stares. Occasionally, I get the correct response of "call the police first?". On Saturday, I heard "So should I shoot him before he gets away then?".

The fact that I visibly cringed at this response was a pretty clear indication to the rest of the class that this was definitely NOT the correct action.

Me: (pulls cell phone from my off-hand pocket) "No. You use this. You call the police before he can. Police will try to claim this isn't true. But when it's one man's word against another, the first one to call is generally considered the real victim. You DO NOT shoot a fleeing man in the back."

As much as I love teaching people to shoot, and helping them be able to carry concealed for their protection, comments like that scare me. It's not his answer to that question that scares me. What scares me is that he may have another screwed up notion about something important, and I haven't thought to include that question in our course. I realize that the state only requires me to conduct a safety course, and that I only have an obligation to make sure what I say is correct. But I still wish that there was some way I could actually prepare a class for every circumstance in a four hour course.

A blog named Muhammad

I thought I'd go ahead and rename my blog for a little bit as a show of moral support to Say Uncle, even if no one actually reads my blog.