Military Surplus

It’s no secret that being a hobbyist gun owner can be expensive. There are tons of peripherals that seem to just add up over time and might be putting a dent in your wallet. One often overlooked way to pick up gear for cheap, however, is military surplus. This is equipment that has been retired or discarded from the army and is being sold at discount prices to the general public. This equipment may not be the top of the line but it’ll be cheap, usually fairly well made, and generally you can find tons of great stuff with lots of applicable uses. Military surplus stores can be found all across the country and here we’ll look at a few different things that you’ll likely be able find and might make for a good and cheap purchase.

Clothing

Clothing and camouflage is generally ubiquitous among military surplus stores. This means boots, hats, pants, shirts, jackets, and pretty much everything. This gear is usually cheap to purchase and generally of a ‘practical’ quality. It will be sturdy and well made but perhaps not the highest quality available. This gear is great for hunting and camping. Additionally there is a lot of tactical gear that can be bought which includes vests, belts, helmets, backpacks, gas masks, and all sorts of goodies. Check it out and you might just be surprised what you’ll find.

Survival Gear

For any survivalists out there you might want to think about becoming friends with the employees at your local military surplus store. There are tons of great options for those who are interested in preparing for the unknown catastrophes of the future. You can buy bulk emergency meal kits, medical kits, compasses, water purification systems, and all sorts of goodies that’ll come in handy in the event of a disaster. I was even able to find a radiation detector while browsing military surplus online.

Camping

Military surplus is also a great boon for all of the campers and hunters out there. You can buy tents, mosquito nets, backpacks, boots, lanterns, flashlights, camo, cots, canteens, rope, and more at most military surplus stores. Camping equipment can be quite expensive when you shop at some of the high end retailers and it really shouldn’t be when you can pick up most of the same stuff for half the price at military surplus. While it might not be name brand it will certainly get the job done.

Firearm Peripherals

Lastly, there’s lots of good gun peripherals to be bought as well. Some stores will sell ammunition though this is actually less common. More likely you will be able to find hard and soft cases, sights, grips, holsters, ammo cans, slings, and much more. Really, you never know what you’ll find but there will always be a lot to choose from. Check out military surplus next time you’re looking for a budget solution to a need for gear.

Sport Shooting

For the competitive spirits out there it might be time to check out sport shooting. If you think you’re the fastest or the most accurate shot around it might be time to really put it to the test and see if you’ve got what it takes. There are a huge number of fun sub-categories to competitive shooting so it’s likely you can find a niche for yourself and some wholesome competition. Here we’ll look at some of the basics and how to get involved in competitive shooting; it can be a great way to learn about local gun culture and firearm safety.

Shooting is a serious sport. It has been a staple of the summer olympics since its inception in 1896. The lineup has changed over time and many of the subcategories have come and gone during that time but shooting has always remained. It might not take the same athleticism as some sports but the concentration, dedication, and precision are all qualities of sport shooting that are unparalleled by other sports. Current sub-genres being practiced at the summer olympics are: 10 meter air pistol / air rifle, double trap, 50 meter pistol, 25 meter rapid fire pistol, 50 meter rifle prone, 3 position 50 meter rifle, skeet, and trap. If you’re very serious these are going to be the most important to practice.

So, how do you get started? The first step is pretty simple: learn to shoot. The basic hub for your initial foray into the world of shooting is likely going to be a local shooting range. This is where you will begin to practice shooting as well as where you can find help, clubs, teams, and like-minded individuals to help keep the competitive spirit alive. There are youth shooting clubs available in most places that will place a high emphasis on safety as well as local adult leagues where you can compete for small prizes and, of course, prestige.

While you can certainly pick much of this up as you go it also might be a good idea to get a look at some of the basic rules of sport shooting before you begin. The largest governing body for sport shooting is the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) which is where you’ll be able to find most of the basic guidelines as well as upcoming competitions and pretty much everything you need for sport shooting. It’s another great way to begin though in general it’s going to be catered towards the more serious competition while as an amateur you’ll be better off in your own local scene for some time.

So, check it out. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to instill some discipline in today’s rowdy youth. Sport shooting is highly regulated and not dangerous. All it takes to get involved is get out there and find some friends or join a club and start shooting!

Brand Breakdown: Fort Knox

You’ve surely heard the name before. Synonymous with security, Fort Knox safes have been called the ‘Cadillac’ of gun safes and for good reason. With lifetime warranties and impeccable build quality Fort Knox lives up to the name. What exactly is the story behind this brand though? Here we’ll look at some of the history behind this brand of gun safes and find out exactly what sets it apart from the rest.

Warranty

Fort Knox safes are about as all American as it gets. Named after America’s iconic symbol of security, Fort Knox safes have been designed and manufactured in America for over 30 years. In this time Fort Knox has been an industry leader in reliable innovation as well as customer service and satisfaction. With great pride in their product, Fort Knox offers the single most comprehensive lifetime warranty available for any home or commercial safe. The Fort Knox lifetime guarantee includes burglary, fire, flood, incidental damage, and even lock and paint. With the conviction to stand behind their product and high quality American engineering, Fort Knox safes have quickly become a fan favorite for gun safe enthusiasts.

Innovation

Among the many innovative features utilized by Fort Knox safes, the most intriguing is perhaps their patented rack and pinion gear driven locking mechanism. This is one of the most technically sophisticated pieces of mechanical engineering to make its way into home or commercial safes. The basic idea is a series of gears (sometimes even coming with a clutch on the handle) that convert rotational motion into linear motion. Today this method is commonly used in the steering mechanisms for modern cars as well as some bank vaults. This method is generally believed to be stronger, more precise, and require less maintenance than alternatives.

Quality

In addition to innovation, Fort Knox doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality materials. The best part is that virtually every piece of Fort Knox safes are customizable and upgradeable. You can even upgrade the steel used to ArmaKnox Ballistic Metal (three times stronger than mild steel with a level three ballistics rating) or simply increase the thickness. Fort Knox safes come with 90 minute fire protection (tested at 1680 F) with two sets of intumescent seals.

Now for the bad part. These safes are not cheap (as you probably expected). Especially true in the world of safes and vaults is that you get what you pay for. Fort Knox are top of the line premium products designed explicitly for the consumer that needs the best. That said, if you can afford it Fort Knox will not disappoint.

Installing a Home Wall Safe

Installing a safe into your wall can be a fun home project that is manageable with a little bit of research and some do-it-yourself knowhow. Everyone secretly wants to have a sleek wall safe hidden behind a knock-off Van Gogh in their lounge or den and with this simple guide you can be on your way to a cool new approach to holding your valuables. Bear in mind that while fairly basic, this project may be best suited for a professional if you do not feel especially comfortable with home do-it-yourself projects.

The first step is buying a safe. It is important for it to be small enough to fit between the studs in your wall and shallow enough to fit between walls. There are specially constructed safes specifically for in-wall installation that are highly recommended for this project. These safes are typically more shallow and come with pre-drilled holes for securing it to the studs. It is important before buying your wall safe to get an approximate idea of the distance between studs at the intended location.

Next you are going to use a stud finder to locate the studs in your wall in the location in your house that you want to have your wall safe. It is important at this time to take measurements of your safe to ensure that both the width. height, and depth are going to be able to fit into the designated area. Additionally make sure that there are no electrical or plumbing fixtures where you want to install your safe.

Using a drywall saw and a level or straight-edge you are going to create an opening in your wall. It is advisable to begin with a small hole so that you can check for plumbing or electrical fixtures. Once you are sure that the location is good you are going to cut a hole the same size as the rear dimensions of your safe.

Depending on the space between your studs and your drywall opening it may be necessary to fill in the extra space with shims or small pieces of plywood so that your safe will sit flush against the studs. Finally you will place the safe in your wall and secure it to the studs with screws. It may be necessary to drill small pilot holes in your studs before hand. Once you have done this you can install shelves if desired and you now have a home wall safe. Hopefully this project doesn’t seem too daunting. It is always a little bit intimidating when you have to cut holes in your wall but this project should be fairly manageable for most people.

Gun Safe Overview: The MonsterVault

Is there a monster under your bed? There should be! The monster vault is a new and innovative under-bed safe designed specifically to keep your firearms close by, secure, and hidden. It’s like the little brother of the bed bunker and another highly effective way to manage and store your firearms (or anything for that matter!). The monster vault brings an interesting take on the gun safe and presents a unique solution to the gun owner’s dilemma. Firearm owners have always wanted 3 basic things when it comes to a safe: security, proximity, and space though typically they have had to compromise for two out of three but not anymore. Here we’ll look at some of the basics of the monster vault and the details of what makes this a unique and interesting solution for gun owners.

Dimensions

Outside: 7” H x 48” W x 28” D.

Inside: 5” H x 44.5” W x 26” D.

Interior Cubic Feet: 3.35.

Weight: 140 pounds.

Build Details

The monster vault is constructed with a double wall design of cold rolled steel with a minimum wall thickness of ⅛”. The basic design is a shallow box with a single drawer that slides in and out on rollers (it is important to note that the drawer’s glide capacity is limited to 100 pounds). The monster vault comes with a programmable digital combination lock and two half inch steel rods for a secure locking mechanism. Additionally the monster vault comes with pre-drilled access holes for floor mounting. Finally the monster vault is finished with a black powder coating inside and out to give it a cool sleek design. The bad news, however, is that the monster vault has no protection against fire or water damage. There is no fire rating and while it shouldn’t have any trouble with light condensation it will not react well to submersion in liquid.

As for burglar protection the monster vault has surpassed the California Department of Justice’s construction standard for gun safes. This is a good sign and bodes well for the quality of the monster vault’s construction.

The Perks

There’s a lot of great things about this safe that can be attributed to its very clever design. Finally gun owners have a secure way to store their long guns without investing in a 1,000 pound stand up gun cabinet. This is a pretty big development and the monster vault is poised to fill this gap in the market with style. Additionally, and a very important point to make, is that the monster vault can be easily placed into most SUVs or trucks with relative ease. Again, there is a lack of serious security options when it comes to vehicles so it’s great to see another innovation available. All in all the monster vault presents a breath of fresh air in a world where the basic design for safes hasn’t changed in 100 years. There’s a lot of potential uses for the monster vault and so far reviews have been positive.

Long Term Gun Storage

If you’ve got a firearm collection that you are planning to store for extended periods of time there’s some important details about maintenance that you should heed to make sure your guns will make it to the future unhindered by damage or rust. When it comes down to it one of the most important parts of storing firearms is the initial condition they are in when you put them into storage. Of course there’s some basic regular maintenance and checkups to ensure all is going to plan but the crux of long term storage is about the maintenance and cleaning before you even begin storage. Here we’ll look at some of the problems that may appear during long term storage and how to prepare your firearms for storage with thorough cleaning and maintenance beforehand.

Humidity Control

Controlling the interior humidity levels in your gun safe is an important aspect of antique firearm storage that is especially critical for older antique guns. Moisture over time can cause rust on the metal parts and cracks in wooden stocks. The simplest solution is to store your antique gun with desiccant packs that will absorb moisture and keep the humidity under control in your home gun safe. Another option is to keep a dehumidifier with your antique guns. This will have the same effect though will be more expensive than desiccant packs. As a bonus though, unlike desiccant packs, you won’t have to replace an electric dehumidifier periodically.

Temperature Control

While it may not be practical for most gun collectors to diligently control the temperature of their antique guns; the most important aspect is consistency and stability. Drastic changes in temperature can be damaging to antique firearms. Rapid swells in temperature can cause expansion and retraction in wood which may cause cracks and other damage.

Protective Coating

There are a lot of different products on the market to protectively coat the exterior of your antique firearm. Most experts recommend a thin coat of wax to create a protective layer that will not harm the gun. Different oils will often be advertised for this purpose but have the potential to seep into a wooden stock and cause damage. A thin layer can be used on both wooden and metal parts of the gun without damage.

There are a lot of different ways to keep your gun in pristine condition. The above offers only a short insight into the world of proper care and maintenance for firearms. Seasoned gun collectors will likely be your best resource on the matter; so if you’re new in the game find a club or a group of enthusiasts and you’ll have no problem finding information to help secure your investment and keep your hobby alive.

Guide to Storing Ammunition

Have you ever wondered what the shelf life is for ammunition? While it can last a long time it’s definitely not eternal and one of the biggest factors for the shelf life of your ammunition is how well you store and care for it. Also important to note is that the type of ammunition is also going to determine how well it keeps up with time. For example, the US Army used .50 caliber rounds left over from WWII during Desert Storm. However, paper cased shot shells won’t have the same chance of lasting so long. Modern smokeless powders and primers are chemically stable for 20 years but again it is important to care well for ammunition if you plan to keep it for a long time. Here we’ll look at some basic tips for ammo storage and how to make sure the ammo you have will last as long as you need it.

Rotation

One very simple but effective technique for managing your ammunition to make sure that it won’t spoil is to continually refresh it and use the oldest available ammunition first. In order to turn this into a reality it’s important to mark your ammo cans with the date of purchase so you can effectively keep track of how old it is. There’s usually no noticeable difference in performance for ammunition depending on age; it typically comes down to a situation where it works or it doesn’t without the middle ground of poor performance.

Humidity Control

One very important factor for the longevity of your ammunition is the amount of humidity in your storage space. When possible you want to limit humidity and keep it as low as possible. There are a number of good ways to go about this. Electronic dehumidifiers and desiccant packs are very effective and even cat litter will work in a pinch. Depending on the local climate will really dictate how much you need to heed the dangers of humidity.

Vacuum Sealing

This is a relatively new idea for ammo conservation but vacuum sealing your ammunition has a lot of potential to protect it from various forms of decay. Vacuum sealing will protect your ammunition from rust, water, and even let you bury it underground if that’s your desire.

 

In general ammunition is pretty sturdy and will hold up under even surprisingly bad conditions. Typically you can get a good idea for the condition of your ammunition simply by looking at its condition and gauging the basic conditions of storage. If you treat and store your ammunition well it should last you decades.

Gun Friendly States

In a country built on diversity there is no better example of this than American gun law. While on the federal level there is some uniformity to American gun law there are also a lot of minor differences from state to state that can add up and ultimately make a fairly noticeable difference in local gun culture. Some states are renowned for being more controlling and strict while others have much looser definitions of gun control. Here we’ll look at some of the main differences for state gun laws and hopefully figure out which states are the most friendly and welcoming for gun owners.

What Makes a State Gun Friendly?

In order to make a good assessment for how friendly a state is with gun owners it’s important to define the criteria which we judge a state on. Some of the basic guidelines to consider:

Right to carry: Can citizens carry a handgun? Does it take a permit? Must it be concealed? Are there additional regulations in this state? How easily can a citizen attain a permit?

Modern Sporting Rifles: How does this state control modern sporting rifles (semi-automatic) that are not regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA)? Are there extra restrictions on magazine capacity or aesthetic features?

NFA: Are there further regulations concerning firearms controlled by the NFA? Are machine guns, suppressors, short barrelled rifles and shotguns subject to additional control?

Castle Doctrine: Are citizens allowed to defend themselves in their home? Do they have an obligation to retreat when possible?

As you can see gun law can be quite an intricate thing. There are a lot of details that can actually be quite important. So, without further ado let’s look at some of the states that stand out as both extra strict and extra free when it comes to firearms.

Extra Strict States

When it comes to extra regulations for firearms there seems to be a basic trend pointing towards the metropolitan centers of the East coast as the strictest part of the country for firearm ownership. Washington D.C. New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are all notorious for extreme gun laws.  In general these states make it quite difficult to get a carry permit for a handgun (if possible at all) and there are typically additional restrictions for magazine capacity and NFA gun ownership. In general these states have a less vibrant gun culture and might not make for the best destination for gun enthusiasts.

The Friendliest States

When it comes to friendly gun legislation it isn’t much of a surprise to see the states that excel in this area tend to be a bit more rural than the strict metropolitan counterparts. A few states that stand above the rest include: Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah. These are the states that can generally be classified as very gun friendly and demonstrate a strong willingness to let their citizens possess firearms as freely as possible. Most of these states have no limitation on NFA guns nor sporting rifles and tend to issue carry permits relatively freely for residents.

How Does Bullet Resistant Glass Work?

Bullet resistant glass is a fairly modern invention with a lot of interesting uses. While it is marketed as protection against bullets that is only because that’s the most effective metric to properly convey its true properties: shatterproof, strong, and see-through . In truth there are a number of different modern uses for bulletproof glass though admittedly the most common fall under protection, self preservation, and safety.

History

Bullet resistant glass was first discovered, interestingly by accident, by French chemist Edouard Benedictus. As the story goes while working with a liquid nitrate solution he dropped a beaker which while broken had not shattered. He attributed this interesting find to the thin layer of plastic coating the beaker which would go on to lay the foundation for bulletproof glass of the future. In 1909 Benedictus filed a patent in France for laminated safety glass which was composed of a layer of celluloid between two sheets of glass. From there the story is one of regular innovation until we get to what we see and use today.

Uses

Historically war has been the great driver of innovation and this may not be too far from the truth for bulletproof glass as well. During World War I bullet resistant glass was used for the eye holes of gas masks to prevent the glass from shattering or breaking and exposing soldiers to harmful chemicals. Later, in World War II a stronger and bulkier innovated bullet resistant glass was used in vehicles to protect soldiers in trouble areas. From there it’s seen uses for high profile potential targets of assassination. The Popemobile is one example. Bullet resistant glass was used during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Additionally all of the windows of the White House were equipped with bullet resistant glass after Pearl Harbor.

How Does it Work?

The basic idea behind bullet resistant glass is a polycarbonate material that is layered between two ordinary panes of glass in a process of lamination. Polycarbonate is a basic tough and flexible plastic that you might know by some of its brand names: Lexan, Tuffak, or Cyrolon. All bullet resistant glass uses two panes of thick glass because the first is designed to absorb the initial impact and distribute the force among the flexible plastic between the two panes so that the projectile doesn’t have enough energy to make it through the second pane. Bullet resistant glass because of its multiple layers is usually at least 4 inches thick but may be thicker depending on what power of rounds it needs to be able to stop.

How Are Safes Fireproofed?

Fireproof safes are quickly becoming the industry standard and can offer a great amount of utility in the preservation of documents and other potentially flammable materials. However, have you ever wondered exactly how these safes are fireproofed? It’s not quite as simple as it may seem and there are a lot of different methods as well as regular innovations to the fireproofing methods. Here we’ll look at some common ways a safe is fireproofed as well as the pros and cons of particular methods. Next time you are interested in purchasing a fireproof safe you can be more informed and make a better decision to get exactly what you want out of your safe.

 Fireproofing safes has a bit of a history and has been a primary concern for safe manufacturers since the late 19th century. Henry Brown is credited with the first fire retardant safe in 1886 built from forged metal. Since then we’ve come a long ways and pioneered a lot of different techniques to maintain low internal temperatures.

Gypsum Board

The most common method for fireproofing safes is the use of gypsum boards (drywall) placed between sheets of metal on the exterior of the safe. The reason why gypsum board is so effective in combatting fire is because it contains hydrates that when exposed to sufficient heat release in the form of vapourized water or steam. This means that so long as the gypsum board contains hydrates the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed the boiling point of water. Interestingly, when a fire resistant safe is exposed to fire the water vapor will fill the inside of the safe and act as both a way to maintain a low internal temperature (raises the flash point) but also works as a pressure seal against the external heat of the fire. The trick here is maintaining a proper balance between humidity and heat inside the safe for a predetermined amount of time.

Concrete Composite

In addition to gypsum boards there are a number of more high tech solutions to build effective fire resistant safes. Another method that is becoming more common is using a concrete based  composite material to fill the voids in a fire resistant safe. This offers a very different approach to the fireproofing method and usually relies on sealing the safe with intumescent tubes rather than venting it like with gypsum. Basically this material is engineered to seal off the interior and conduct heat very slowly and thus protecting the interior of the safe for enough time.

While concrete composite safes are generally considered to be higher quality they are also usually much heavier and much more expensive. It’s a reasonable trade off and something to consider when you are interested in purchasing a fire safe. One last important detail to note is that fire safes constructed with gypsum board need to be replaced after being exposed to fire. Usually the manufacturer will guarantee a free replacement but just another thing to keep in mind.