Making Char Cloth & a Proper Birds Nest

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I was thinking about writing up a long post for you on the topic of making char cloth & a proper birds nest to start a fire for survival purposes or for camping but I think its better as a visual medium. Dave Canterbury who is an excellent resource for bushcraft and wilderness survival (Bio Here) has put out two YouTube vids that I thought I would post showing how to make the all important char cloth, birds nest, and igniting a fire.

If you are unfamiliar with Char cloth here is the definition strait from Wikipedia“Char cloth is a swatch of fabric made from vegetable fiber (such as linen, cotton or jute) that has been converted via pyrolysis into a slow-burning fuel of very low ignition temperature. It is capable of being ignited by a single spark that can in turn be used to ignite a tinder bundle to start a fire. It is sometimes manufactured at home for use as the initial tinder when cooking or camping and historically usually provided the “tinder” component of a tinderbox.”

If you don’t already subscribe to Dave’s YouTube channel I highly recommend it as he posts a lot of information that he teaches to his students at the Pathfinder School. Anyways on with the show:

 

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AK74 Tapco G2 & Krebs parts replacements

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I had a chance to shoot about 200 rounds this weekend through the Arsenal. For sure the trigger needed to go. If you have a background in rifles you will want to do a trigger replacement ASAP. The arsenal has a good, safe, trigger with 8-12 pounds of pull but that’s just too much for my tastes. In my opinion the trigger on the SGL31 is garbage for target shooting and for quick semiautomatic bursts. I knew this after the first time I took it to the range so I immediately ordered a G2. While I was in there I wanted to change out the shepherds hook. One nice thing about the M10 is it has all these parts already installed including a Tapco trigger pin retainer plate.

I’m thrilled with the Arsenal but these little things will start to add up. The G2 + the Krebs trigger pin retainer plate will run you with shipping around $40-$50. If you can get an M10 that works and you don’t mind the finish, love it and leave it!

The Tapco G2 came in this weekend along with a Krebs enhanced safety and trigger pin retainer plate to replace the shepherds hook. It was nice that they all came in the mail on the same day as it was a split order from Primary Arms which got me the G2 in 2 days from TX and Krebs customs.

Swap out of all the parts is simple. Biggest issues is getting out the shepherds hook which I think has more to do with having the right pliers that can get into small spaces than anything else. There is a good write up over at ar15.com – AK Semi-auto Fire Control Group Disassembly and Assembly. Once that’s done everything else is just drop in.

Installation of the G2 Trigger group

Addition of the trigger pin retainer plate

The BBQ paint that Arsenal uses is not the best, you can see how quickly the internal are getting scratched up. The outside of the SGL is also getting some dings, nothing major but the finish is no where near as strong as say an AR15 or Remington 870. Its more like the new 10/22 finishes, just strong black paint. Its definitely in the plans to get it re-coated at some point with an enamel or Guncoat so I’m not too worried about it. If your in the market and this was not on your list to re-do, take note. Continue reading

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Tail of the AK – Part 4 – The Arsenal

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In exchange for the M10 debacle Atlantic Firearms was cool enough to let me upgrade to an Arsenal SGL31. Like last time the order handling and shipping from Atlantic was ridiculously fast. I ordered the Arsenal Friday late afternoon, shipped Monday morning and was at my FFL Tuesday at 11am. Atlantic’s system is awesome, It sends you an email after every step, even upon delivery to your FFL.

I was unable to swing by to pick it up until later that night. The Arsenal SGL-31 comes in a plain white box with only a plastic bag and an instruction manual. For $200 more than the M10 I think its a no-brainier. This looks like an actual new gun. There are no milling marks, the finish is smooth, and all the parts a brand new. The fit and finish is excellent. I know Arsenal gets a bad rap for the simple painted finish but it looks far better than the M10’s parkerized version.

Sorry for not showing the original grip that came with the SGL, my mitts are just too big and it needed to be swapped immediately. I decided to go with the US Palm AK Battle Grip and it makes a huge difference. I think I may like it more than the Hogue grip that came with the M10. It certainly looks more traditional in my opinion.

The front sight block is strait and looking good. The safety was not brutal to move and fit nice under the cover. The standard SGL stock is far too short for my 6’1″ frame. Buts it’s replacement will happen soon enough. I have decide to go with the Bonesteel Ak/Saiga Folding stock with integral AR15 extension tube along with a Magpul CTR stock. They are not shipping yet but should be by the end of March. It looks to be one of the best folders on the market and there is no need to cut off your rear tang like the ACE folder. Continue reading

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Tail of the AK – Part 3

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If you have not had a chance yet, have a look at at Part 1 & Part 2.

By Sunday morning it was apparent that M+M had shipped a lemon. Stuff happens, I get it but as I mentioned before, this was such a bummer. It was a beautiful weekend and I had dreams of shooting at my outdoor range and sighting in at 100 yards. Now none of that was going to happen.

After looking over the gun, there were some other issues I was not too happy about. It looks like whom ever built this M10 had crushed part of the gas tube as they were putting on the rail system and the top cover was far more difficult to put on than any other AKs I’ve handled.

At this point I had a bad taste with this gun. I emailed Blaine and asked him if we could do an exchange. He had offered in his first email and this M10 was just giving me bad mojo. It’s not that I didn’t want an M10, I just didn’t want this one. Blaine emailed me back and said he could do a refund or a swap out for a different AK, as there has been a run in last couple of weeks on everything AK-74 and they were out of M10s. We spent the rest of the day trading emails about any folders he had be it low-end all the way up to $1200 Arsenals.

Blaine called me again on Monday after he had a chance to look over Atlantic’s inventory and told me I was SOL on getting another M10 from them but M+M might send me a new rifle if the new mags didn’t work. We also had a chance to chat about different options in the market. He had nothing but good things to say about the M+M and that I was the first to have issues with the 74.  The only thing he had in stock we Arsenals in the base model and the SGL-34 triangle folder along with the polymer folder. Both of those are in the AR territory price wise but the base modeSGL-31 was looking attractive and I could build it out exactly how I wanted. Continue reading

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The Tail of the AK – part 2

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Part one of The Tail of the AK.

So I’m in, I want to get a middle of the road AK-74, preferable a folder so it’s easy to transport. If the SHTF I just want to be able to throw it in a duffel or bug out bag and bail.

Under the middle of the road AK-74s you have a lot of choices. One thing I knew is I was going to put a rail system on it. The AK in my opinion has some fundamental issues with ergonomics that an AR just excels at. It does appear that the landscape is changing though and tactical companies in the space see this as a growth sector so new and exciting AK accessories are coming to market every day.

This brings us to the M10 from M+M. Looks to be exactly what I was looking for; a folder with forward rails that from my research appear to be decent. It looks like they are Romanian WASR models that a little more care was taken to build them out correctly. The M10 seemed to answer all my needs and I wouldn’t have to spend extra to pick up the accessories I wanted. It looked to be good to go right out of the gate.


As I mentioned in Part 1 Atlantic Firearms has a good reputation for taking care of their customers. It looked like in the past if there was an issue they acted as a liaison between you and the manufacture. This is actually a big deal; if you buy a firearm and it doesn’t work, generally it’s not the problem of the store that sold it to you, especially online. Nine out of ten times they will point you in the direction of the manufacture, who will ask you to ship it to them and give them a couple of weeks to fix it. This sucks, because you just got a new toy and it doesn’t work and now you have to wait two to three weeks to get it fixed = not happy. Then you always have this doubt in the back of your head about that firearm. Most of the time they get sold or traded to a gun shop for a replacement.

From the looks of it on the AK & AR forums, Atlantic has actually replaced firearms that customers were having major issues with. This is a big deal and should not be taking lightly when determining who to purchase a firearm from.

So I decide on the M10 and I was going to get it from Atlantic. This is not my first online firearms purchase but it was my smoothest. Their online ordering system is strait forward. The FFL page was great and my local shop was already in the system so I didn’t need to do anything but click on the name. It shipped the next day via FedEx ground and due to my proximity, arrived at my FFL the next day. So I ordered it on a Wed night and it was at my FLL Friday afternoon – can’t beat that.

My FLL calls me up Friday afternoon for the pickup and I was ecstatic that it was such a quick process. I roll over there a little later on and find the gun in good shape. Trust me, buying a middle of the road AK is not like buying an AR. An AR will be nicely finished and anodized with no milling marks. It will be like any other gun that you would buy new. The M10 was not like this at all, there were milling marks all over the place and the finished was scratched up in a couple of places. This is not to say I didn’t know what I was getting into, but a Ruger 10/22 has far better fit and finish then this M10.

My FFL had an Arsenal AK-47 on the wall that I took a look at while I was waiting on the paperwork and it had a much nicer finish overall. But after looking at it I was still very happy to get a folder and a forward rail for half the price.

I head home to lube her up before I headed out to the range. When I opened up the M10, the guys at M+M did a great job of cleaning up the inside and oiling her down. I don’t think you would have any issues shooting this AK-74 right out of the box. Continue reading

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The Tail of the AK

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I have been meaning to pick up an AR for a long time. You need to drop some coin if you want to get a good one. You could always build one but I’m without a garage right now and it would suck to try to cobble it together on my living room table. Not to say it couldn’t be done, I just don’t know how thrilled the wife would be.

Anyways, I’m explaining this dilemma to one of my buddies and he asks if I ever thought about an AK. My response was yes but I’m not a huge fan of the 7.62×39 round. He then proceeded to tell me three things that I thought were very worthwhile.

One, the Russians currently use the AK-74 which is extremely similar to the AK-47 but uses a smaller round, the 5.45x39mm. The 5.45 is very similar to our 223 or 5.56 NATO round so it’s smaller and lighter and also shares some of the ballistic efficiencies of the 5.56.

Second, you can get into an AR at about $700, get a solid one for 1k, and then the skies the limit. For an AK, you start at about $350, can get a solid one for $600, and can get a very nice arsenal for around 1k. My ears perked up here.

His third point was ammo; the 5.45×39 is dirt cheap right now. Like $130 for 1080 (Spring 2012 prices) dirt cheap. At this point I was all ears. I believe a couple things when it comes to firearms, you need to know all the nuances of your weapon and you’re not going to know those unless you shoot, a lot. And if we ever get into a SHTF scenario, you will have what you have. There is not going to be any restocking of the Walmart shelves. What you got is what you got. So $130 for 1080 rounds definitely allows you to stock up on the cheap.

So I take all this info and start my journey, do tons of research, like weeks’ worth. The one thing I will say about AKs is that it’s not as easy as ARs to get info. There is a lot going one with different models, different years, country of origin, US compliance laws, what attachments and stocks fit what guns, and there is not really a great one stop resource for all this. If anyone knows of one please let me know in the comments.

So I’m in, I want to get a middle of the road AK-74, preferable a folder so it’s easy to transport, and I have decided I don’t want to build one – same reasoning above so now where do you go and what will you get.

[Update] We have added a AK Resource page to the site to help with research. It will grow over time.

There are a couple of great places to buy AKs:
www.centerfiresystems.com
www.atlanticfirearms.com
www.tombstonetactical.com
www.aimsurplus.com
www.k-var.com

And there are a host of others I’m missing. If you poke around you will very quickly find out that Atlantic Firearms has a reputation of great customer service. That’s where we pick up on in part two.

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Atom

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Years ago I used to sell outdoor gear, I was an Outfitter. I worked in the DC Metro area which was an interesting place to sell high end gear for a number of reasons. One, there is a lot of money there so we could afford to sell the very best. Two, it was a pit stop for some as they would have to come to DC to get funding for their trips and came to us for answers. And three, we had an interesting collection of no named people come through because of our proximity to the Pentagon & Langley.

At the time, Arc’teryx was just starting to get a hold on the east coast market and they were known in the inner circles to have the best stuff around. In the spring of 2002 we had some strange characters (CIA prepping to go over to Afghanistan) come into the shop asking for the best gear and systems for mountainous regions.  We all pointed to Arc’teryx. Continue reading

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