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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quick Release Scope Mount Review

It's been a bit hectic lately.  Lots of balls in the air!

A product review:  I purchased an NC Star Quick Release Scope Mount from [link].  What these things do is, they allow you to mount your scope to the Mount, then attach the Mount to your Weaver rail.  The idea is, you then zero in your scope and you are able to then quickly remove the Mount when you're done.  The next time you need to use that gun/scope combination, you simply snap the Mount to your Weaver rail, and you're already pre-zeroed.

In theory.

A problem I've been having is storing my gun in its case.  If I have either of my scopes - red-dot or hunting - it won't fit into the case.  Sux.

So, I wanted to be able to quickly switch between scopes and not have to re-zero every time.

This Mount costs right around $35.  I'd seen them upwards of $400, and wasn't going to spend that kind of money, at least not until I'd given a cheap one a try.  Plus, I'd read dozens of favorable reviews about the NC Star mount.

NOTE:  The mount comes with NO INSTRUCTIONS.  Idiots.  Thankfully, a bunch of the reviews had noted this.  There is only one tricky thing you need to be worried about - it has to do with a set screw and nut.  Just go slowly, and you'll be fine.

Anyways, I got the bad boy mounted.  I was using my Kel-Tec SU-16CA (5.56mm) with a very inexpensive BSA 4x12 power scope (under $100).  At home, I chambered a "laser cartridge" to pre-zero the scope.  I wanted to at least be in the vicinity when I started sending real rounds down range.

[BTW, I got one of the NC Star AR Riser and Quick Release Weaver Mount [link] at the same time for my red-dot scope.  $25.]

I got to the range and initially set up at 50 yards.  The proverbial "broad side of a barn" was not at risk (more on that later).  Finally got it zeroed, and moved the target out to 100 yards.

The Kel-Tec has an integrated bi-pod, which I used.  I was seated at a table.  The rifle was then shouldered and supported by my forearms under the stock.

The first shot at at 100 yards was down at 5 o'clock in the 8 ring.  Adjusted the elevation and windage.  Second shot was at 10 o'clock, also in the 8 ring.  Elevation adjusment brought it down to the 9 o'clock position in the 9 ring.  Windage adjustment put me in the 10 ring (don't remember which shot).  Took 3 more shots, all in the 10 ring.

I then removed the Quick Release Mount, then re-attached it.  Four more shots in the 10 ring! [BTW, this is an 8" target, with the 10 ring having a diameter of 2 1/2 inches].

The mount worked as publicized.

The target was one of three I had mounted on a 2-foot by 2-foot piece of cardboard.  The targets were placed in a evenly spaced diagonal row from the upper left hand corner down to the lower right hand corner.  The target shown above was in the lower right hand corner.

When I was trying to zero in at 50 yards, as I noted above, I couldn't find the target.  This, despite the fact that I had supposedly pre-zeroed the scope (at 15 yards) at home with the laser cartridge.

I was firing at the center target.  If you notice on the image above, I have one of the hole patches at about 10:30 in the 8 ring.  THAT was from my shots at the center target!

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Emphasizing The "Self" in "Self-defense"

I've had guns on my mind lately.  Well, self-defense weaponry of all sorts, actually.

Next week, I'm giving a talk to a couple of local Neighborhood Watch groups in a city with a very high crime rate.  One of the highest in the SF Bay Area.

One of their representatives contacted me shortly after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.  And they want to talk about guns.  I'm a bit apprehensive, to say the least.

I've been putting together a Power Point presentation that I'll use to guide me through the talk - which will cover knives, pepper spray, stun guns, Tazers, handguns, shotguns and rifles.

Part of what I'm going to discuss is crime statistics.  If you listen to the .GOV types, things are peachy-keen.  Crime is down to historic lows.  Yippee!

But you look at the local newspapers, and every day - without exception - there are multiple stories about local murders or shootings.  Reality doesn't foot back to the statistics.

I guess if they can fudge the economic data, they can fudge the crime data as well.

I ran across this piece by Thomas Sowell [link] that might explain some of it -
Similar episodes of unprovoked violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other places across the country. 
Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug as well.
A specific example -
In Milwaukee, for example, an attack on whites at a public park a few years ago left many of the victims battered to the ground and bloody. But, when the police arrived on the scene, it became clear that the authorities wanted to keep this quiet. 
One 22-year-old woman, who had been robbed of her cellphone and debit card and had blood streaming down her face said: "About 20 of us stayed to give statements and make sure everyone was accounted for. The police wouldn't listen to us; they wouldn't take our names or statements. They told us to leave. It was completely infuriating."
An unreported crime is one that never officially happened.  I thought that choice was up to the victim, though, and not the police.

Oh, and for those of you who are unaware, Thomas Sowell isn't some jack-booted, black-hating, skin-head white supremacist.

He's a black man.

Unlike the rest of the media, Sowell sees what's going on, and takes it head-on.  If there's a problem, let's address it.  You can't just click your ruby-heeled slippers and hope it all goes away.
Trying to keep the lid on is understandable. But a lot of pressure can build up under that lid. If and when that pressure leads to an explosion of white backlash, things could be a lot worse than if the truth had come out earlier and steps had been taken by both black and white leaders to deal with the hoodlums and with those who inflame the hoodlums.
This guy, for totally different reasons, sees what could be coming as well - VERY UNSAFE FOR WORK OR CHILDREN.  SERIOUSLY!

When was the last time you went to the range?  How about your spouse?  Your kids?

Confidence doesn't keep you alive and safe.  Skills do.

I had a first on Saturday for my introductory gun class:  3 couples (I limit my intro class to 6 students).  I found that interesting in and of itself, but the after-class chat was revealing.

Two of the couples were white.  One in their early 60's and one in their late 40's/early 50's.  The other couple was Hispanic in their 20's.

I tell all of my students that I'll always stay after class as long as they need me to answer any questions they may have that aren't covered in the class.  Most that stick around want more specifics on how to select and purchase a handgun.

One of the white couples took off right after class.  The other white couple already owned a gun, asked a couple of questions, then took off.  The Hispanic couple stayed around for a half hour.

What caliber?  Handgun vs. shotgun?  Concealed vs nightstand gun?  Revolver vs semi-auto?  I asked them a number of questions to help them make their own decision.  They thanked me and left.

After I cleaned up my classroom, I popped out to the lobby of the gun range, and there they were.  They'd just finished taking the test for their Handgun Safety Certificate (required in CA before you can buy a handgun) and were plopping down some bucks for a gun.

I turned around and ran into another Hispanic woman who had taken my intro class a month ago.  With her husband and daughter.  The three of them, plus her uncle have signed up for one of my advanced Practical Defensive Pistol classes.  They, too, were buying guns.

My point?  I think Hispanics are taking this possible "race/economic justice/I want my fair share/gang banger" war threat a lot more seriously than a lot of whites. Especially whites at or reaching retirement age.

At least in my little corner of the gun training world, Hispanics are taking more of the advanced classes in comparison to their demographic representation in the SF Bay Area.

One more thing to think about:  What if you find yourself in a shooting situation, where the object of the shooter isn't to steal something or to escape, but is just to shoot and kill?

This article [link] goes more into the specifics of this Active Shooter class attended by the author, but it's something to think about.
We talked about some of the differences between your average robbery and an active shooter. Fundamentally, the active shooter is there to shoot people. He's not using violence as a means to and [sic] end in the way that a robber is (the end being your money), the violence is an end in itself. He's also very likely to be suicidal, or at least willing, or planning, to die in the course of events. This means strategies that involve dissuading or deescalating the situation are unlikely to work and we're more likely to have to achieve physical incapacitation, rather than relying on pain or fear.
Irrational, crazy person with nothing to lose.   Just looking to inflict some pain and damage.  Doesn't care if he lives or dies.

I dunno, like if he can't find a job and his government payment days are coming to an end.  Or he's lost his house, his car, his family, his friends.  His dignity.  He might be listening to a black power or white power or la raza preacher, and figure he's "a chosen one" - "Preacher's talkin' to me!"

He could be wrapped up with some, "end of days" cult, or Mayan calendar sect.  He could be persuaded by a Muslim imam, a Baptist minister or a Catholic priest to help cleanse the world before the fiery end.

It takes all types.  It could be any or all of them.

Things seem to be wound up pretty tight in our world right now.  NATO protest, more Occupy (fill in the blank) protests, Canadian protests, Greek protests, French protests, German protests, Camp David protest.

Might be a good time for YOU to think how you'd handle such a situation.

The neighborhood watch group will get much of the standard fare:  Situational awareness, distance from violence is your friend, and fight like a crazed banshee if you're forced into it - get out of there, THEN call the cops.

I'll talk a bit about how their city is basically broke, and police services have been cut to the bone.  Emphasize the "self" in "self-defense".

I will actually spend more time on the "non-lethal" pepper spray, stun guns and Tazers than on handguns and long guns.  Since virtually no mere citizen in this city has the ability to get a concealed carry permit, if someone in the Watch group has a handgun on them outside of their home, it's likely illegal.

Now, I won't encourage them to break the law, but I sure as hell won't say or imply I agree with our state's insane gun laws.  They've got to walk that path alone.

And I'll encourage them to have multiple back-up with them at all times.  Assume failure.  A twist on an old saying:  Walk softly and carry a big spare magazine.

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bites Of Elephant

Oy.  This is going to be a connect-the-dots article.  I'm going to try and feed you an elephant - one bite at a time.  The first couple of bites:

The US federal government spent $3.8 trillion in 2011.

They took in $2.2 trillion in tax receipts.

They borrowed the other $1.6 trillion.  This is equal to 40% of every dollar spent.  It's called the Federal Deficit.

Of the $1.6 trillion we borrowed, the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) provided 62% of that, or $1 trillion.  This is called Monetizing Debt.

As Wikipedia explains:
Monetizing debt is thus a two-step process where the government issues debt to finance its spending and the central bank purchases the debt, leaving the system with an increased supply of base money.
The FRB literally created that $1 trillion out of thin air.  They simply pushed keys on a computer.

Again, Wikipedia -
In this latter case where bonds are placed with the central bank, the central bank will create the needed money by conducting an open market purchase, i.e. by increasing the monetary base through the money creation process.

When the FRB engages in this practice of creating money, it's called Quantitative Easing (or QE).

Sounds so civilized and proper.

Just like with any other item, if more of that item is introduced into the market, identical items that currently exist lose value.  With money, this process is called Inflation.  Each dollar has less value, thus it takes more of them to buy whatever you need.

OK, let's digest some of that elephant.  Think of our federal government as a household.  It's in over its head - living beyond its means.  Like an enabling parent, it just can't say "No".  Whichever dead-beat kid asks for a couple of bucks, they get it.

There is no concept of, "Tough Love".  "Sorry, honey, you've got to make your own way in the world now.  You're going to have to get your own housing, your own food, your own condoms, you're own healthcare, your own education, your own clothing."

It sounds so harsh and heartless.  These are not emotions that politicians want associated with their re-election campaigns, so they buy the votes - with your money.  They provide MORE government housing, MORE government food, MORE government healthcare.

Instead of expenditures decreasing to meet revenue, they go in the opposite direction.

Each year that we have a Federal Deficit, that amount is added to the Federal Debt.  Our accumulated Federal Debt now stands at over $15.7 trillion.  That equals more than $138,000 per taxpayer.

But wait!  There's more!  We also have a much less discussed, but massively greater set of social service promises that are going to be damned near impossible to meet.  When you combine the unfunded liabilities (promises) made for Social Security, Prescription Drugs and Medicare, we have another debt of  $118.7 trillion.  Seriously.  That equals more than $1 million per taxpayer.

I believe they will accept personal checks for your portion....

If you looked at the markets over the last couple of days, you'd see stocks and precious metals taking a beating.  Precious metals, in particular, move in the opposite direction of the dollar.  When the dollar gets weak, PMs get strong, and vice versa.  Something is causing the dollar to get stronger.  How can this be?  If the FRB is printing up all of this money, the dollar should be dropping, not rising.

Welcome to the world economy.

The European Union (EU) is crashing.  A number of countries over there are hurting.  Badly.  Collectively, they're called the PIIGS nations - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Many of you have heard of the riots, etc., going on in Greece.  The government tries to cut back on it's social services promises, and the people are pissed off.  Stuff gets broken and burned.

Over the past few days, we've seen changes in the governments in Greece and France.  Both countries voted in Socialist leaders.  The people have elected politicians that are saying they will not institute the harsh austerity programs needed to balance their budgets.  They'll balance them by taxing the rich (all this sound familiar?).

You may be saying to yourself, "BFD - let those idiots crash and burn.  I don't have anything to do with those European commie bastards!"

Ahh, but you do.

Time to loosen your belt.  Some more bites of that elephant -

Like the US, the countries in the EU borrow to pay their bills.  This is called Sovereign Debt.

Many buyers/investors of this debt want to be assured that they will get all of their investment funds returned to them in case one of these countries defaults on their promise to repay.  To do this, certain companies - usually private banks - issue a sort of insurance policy called a Credit Default Swap (CDS).  If the sovereign debt is not paid as promised, the CDS policies make up the difference.

Worldwide, there are approximately $700 trillion in CDSs.  The 9 largest US banks hold about 1/3 of that balance - $228 trillion [link with awesome graphic].

None of these US banks has any reserves available to pay CDS claims should that become necessary (as it was when Greece defaulted on their debt earlier this year).


Soooooooo, if EU countries default, US banks will go teats up.

Well, they would if the FRB wasn't there to bail them out. Ever heard the term, Too Big To Fail?

The US government simply will not allow these banks to fail.  Ain't gonna happen.

We'll create more money, and pass it along to Europe.

As I noted back in November ("Why You Need To Care About The EU"), here's what I think will happen -
The third option would be to use a third-party bag man to deliver the cash. Oh, like maybe the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We'll dump buckets-o-fiat-currency into the IMF, and they'll pass it off to the EU countries that are gasping for breath.
Along the same lines, the Federal Reserve may open up a big-assed line of credit for the European Central Bank (ECB) to keep things afloat. Same thing as the IMF route, just using a different bag man.
Since we're not currently flush with excess cash to pay for all of this, Uncle Ben Bernanke will flip on his laptop, and just create the needed funds. Expect lots of commas and zeroes in the number.

This will exacerbate the inflationary effects of QE. It's a vicious, vicious circle.  Bad debt begets more debt.  We're trying to borrow our way out of an economy which can't fix itself because the government won't let the rotten parts die.

The EU cratering also makes it likely PMs will still suffer for a while.  How far and how long is anybodies guess.  Personally, I don't think it's going to be much, as I think the market has already priced in the EU crashing.

I could be totally wrong - this could be 100% wishful thinking.

At least PMs (and land) have never been worth zero.  You can't say the same thing about fiat currencies.

OK, Chief, the world is coming to an end.  Now what?  How can all of this debt get unwound?

The plan of the FRB was that by injecting all of this cash into the economy, it would stay afloat long enough for jobs to be created.  With jobs comes spending and taxes.  Sales tax and income tax.  The government would take those taxes, pay down the debt and all would be well again.

BUT, if jobs aren't created, the "plan" won't work.  It can't work.  Consumers make up 70% of our economy.  If you don't have a job, you ain't buyin' stuff.  No income or sales tax.

Our country is like a body wracked with diabetes.  We're over-weight and out of shape.  Some of our toes are losing circulation and need to be chopped off.  But we really, really like those toes.  Instead of changing our lifestyle to improve our circulation, we do something to reduce the pain.  A shot of this numbing drug, or a pill to "take the edge off".

The toes continue to rot.  You don't want to look at them.  They're getting pretty ugly, but you'll just ignore them, and things will get better.  Hey, you were actually able to move your big toe a couple of days ago - things are looking up!

The toes turn black with rot, and it moves up into the foot, calf and leg.  Soon enough radical surgery is needed to try and save what's left of the leg.  But you really like that leg, and just take more drugs.  Keep yourself numb enough, and you don't feel the pain.

The rot is starting to spread.  The other foot is looking gnarly.  Your fingers have lost all function.  More drugs to numb the pain.

And so it goes.  When do you make the decision to chop off the bad parts - and save the body?  Or do you just continue to let the rot spread to the whole?

We've got to get all of this money that coursing through the world's economy, out of circulation.  One way you do this would be to restrict the money supply.  The FRB does this by raising interest rates.  But that's a dual-edged sword.

Raising rates extends to all facets of the economy.  The few qualified borrowers that are out there now would be further reduced.  If you don't have money to grow or maintain your company, you go out of business, or cut back.  Both result in lower taxes for the government.

Additionally, the US Treasury would now need more money to pay the higher rates on T-bills.  Since tax receipts would be reduced because of the tightening of the economy, they'd have to borrow MORE money, digging a deeper hole.

A "pay down" of the debt in this economy - or even a normal economy - will never happen.  We simply can't tax the country enough to make a dent.  I guess if we had enough lame duck members of congress and the White House, we might be able to come up with a budget where expenditures were less than revenues. 

Pigs will fly the same day that budget is passed.

We could nationalize all of the assets of the rich in the country.  As soon as that happened, people would "Go Galt" en masse and the economy would implode.

To pay it off, I can think of only one realistic option. The ONLY way the US Federal Debt will ever be paid off is if our economy goes absolutely crazy.  Unprecedented levels of productivity.  Something to spur the economy that has proven successful in the past.

Like if you had a war or something.  A big 'un.  Hmm.  I can just seem them now in DC:  "Hey, it's worked before.  What have we got to lose?"

You folks know my plan is as much preps as I can store, with the rest in precious metals and productive land.  

If the government continues on its current path, this makes sense.  If we purposely start a massive world war, I've got no idea.  That's some elephant I need to digest...

[Just as I was proof-reading this rather lengthy piece, I came across a "surprise" announcement from JP Morgan (Chase Bank).  It seems that they just took a $2 billion loss.

On CDSs gone bad [link].

Surprise. Looks like someone just burped up a chunk of elephant. ]

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.