Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Simon asked "What situations require prepping?" I'm glad you asked sir....

A listener sent me a question I genuinely thought I'd hammer out in a quick little writeup, and ended up having to sit and think on it for a few.  What situation require prepping?  That seemingly innocent question is a far more wide reaching one than most would realize, but one I'm happy to tackle.

Prepping, as we've tried to define it, is any prior planning/training/action we take to prepare for a low likelihood/high consequence event that may reasonably be expected to befall ourselves or our families.  To unpack that, a fire extinguisher under your sink fits the bill because kitchen fires do happen, and a fire extinguisher is a prudent and applicable "prep" to aid in dealing with that event.  The event is, by definition, low likelihood and high consequence because it doesn't happen often (I certainly hope not) but can result in a complete loss of one's home.  So, any situation that fits the mold may be prepped for, the question is WHAT situations can you expect?

Rather than lay out each and every event I can imagine, I'll try to lay these out in three broad categories, all of which would have similar levels or volumes of necessary prep if somewhat different specifics.  Three of the categories will be abbreviations familiar to any prepper: SHTF, WROL, and TEOTWAWKI.

Single event - This category is something that befalls a single person/group.  Think home invasion, robbery.  Most self defense actions fall into this category, and I won't belabor the point as we have discussed the merits of self defense on an individual level many times already.

SHTF/Stuff Hit the Fan - SHTF by my definition is a short term disaster categorized by sudden onset.  Typical duration in my mind would be less than 7 days, though some situations could last longer.  Localized flooding, Category 3 hurricanes and smaller, smaller tornadoes and the like would fall into this category.  This would be a class of disasters in which the average person, with an appropriate amount of prep work, could easily ride out via a bug-in scenario.  The scope of the affected area allows citizens to travel a reasonable distance to retrieve materials they may require, emergency services are still available.  This would be a category of events I would reasonably assume most people can prep for, and most likely many people do.

WROL/ Without Rule of Law - While the duration can often be short, SHTF situations can develops into WROL situations depending on the scale and duration of the original disaster.  Following Hurricane Katrina, I saw the local area encounter this category of situation, as many parts of the New Orleans metro area were inherently dangerous to travel at any time, certainly after dark.  The scale of the disaster stretched police resources so thin, that there was very often virtually or literally no emergency service or police response to be had should it be required.  This was compounded by very poor telecommunications following the disruption and destruction of so many cell phone towers.  On a smaller scale, a riot or violent protest could also fit this description.  Self defense principles, while effective against small groups, would be dangerous if encountering a larger group (how much ammo did you bring to this fight???).  My recommendation would be for people that are planning to bug in for these situations to take careful stock of your preps and your home and decide if you are able and prepared to deal with medical emergencies and violent attackers with little to no outside assistance.  The average person would be better served by bugging out.

TEOTWAWKI/ The End of the World As We Know It - Zombie apocalypse, meteor strike, biblical flood, pandemic, nuclear wasteland, pick your cliche.  When someone wants to poke fun at preppers, these are inevitably the events they point to.  Not only are these events often so far fetched as to be humorous, they allude to disaster so wide spread and long standing as to beg the question WHAT you are planning to survive to do?  The only practical purpose served by these situations in my mind is as a logical and intellectual exercise.  We have often sat around musing about WHAT we would do in a certain situation simply to debate the finer points of one piece of gear or one strategy over another.  I wouldn't run out to clear out your retirement account and buy a ten year supply of MRE's just right now.

What types of emergencies are YOU likely to encounter?  Obviously, with me living in Southeast Louisiana hurricanes are far more concerning to me than blizzards, but each environment has different concerns to address.  What is important is to identify those concerns, prioritize them by likelihood, then develop an effective strategy for how to mitigate the associated danger.  Shop and train accordingly, and please keep the questions and feedback coming. - Phil Rabalais

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why the 4th Circuit court of appeals is dead wrong on the 2nd Amendment

Excerpt from 4th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision below, link for full text: We conclude - contrary to the now- vacated decision of our prior panel - that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are NOT protected by the Second Amendment. That is, we are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are amonth those arms that are "like" "M-16 rifles" - "weapons that are most useful in military service" - which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment's reach.

 And the Heller decision that they are referencing, link for full text: The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

Now, notwithstanding the fact that it is fairly easy to argue the Heller decision probably did not intend to limit the 2nd Amendment's application to ONLY firearms unconnected with service in a militia, as the 4th Circuit is now trying to construe, I think we should take a little trip down memory lane to 1939 when the Supreme Court spoke on a landmark challenge to gun control laws, on a day before many of us were born, and made fairly clear their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment at that time.

United States v. Miller, 1939, link for full text: Excerpt from decision:

The Court cannot take judicial notice that a shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches long has today any reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, and therefore cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon.

The above decision was handed down upon challenge to the National Firearms Act of 1934. Two suspected moonshiners (no contraband liquor discovered at time of arrest) were arrested and charged with having violated this act because one of them possessed a shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 inches not having paid the tax stamp for such a weapon. A lower court held that the NFA was in fact a violation of their constitutional rights and it was later appealed to the Supreme Court. As one can see, AT THAT TIME, the Supreme Court ruled fairly conclusively that the NFA was not an infringement BECAUSE it applied to a firearm not associated with a militia (even though, historically, short barrel shotguns had in fact been issued to and used by the US Army in WW1, a fact the Supreme Court justices in their infinite wisdom apparently overlooked.) So, in almost 80 years we have two separate opinions stating that the 2nd Amendment DOES and simultaneously DOES NOT apply to weapons issued to and used by the US military and the militia.

Which is it? This is why I earlier said, and continue to say, the 4th Circuit has stepped on a legal landmine. The courts are cherry picking which decision they wish to apply to satisfy their brand of judicial activism rather than following the plain text of the 2nd Amendment, and what I have laid out above should point to that blatant hypocrisy.

So, which is it? Shall we shred the NFA and let everyone have their short barrel shotguns and rifles and suppressors, or shall we agree that "military style weapons" are in fact protected under the 2nd Amendment? Which is it everyone? - Phil Rabalais

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Intro to Handloading

Today I put together a short introduction to handloading. Anyone familiar with the topic would notice I intentionally skipped a lot of the set up and just showed enough of the process to give everyone an idea of what was involved. If anyone is interested in a more detailed video, please don't hesitate to reach out to me through the video's comments section, or through our Facebook page.

Factory 357 magnum (per my usual spot for factory ammo) is running 25 to 45 cents a round, and none of that is premium ammunition (the 25 cents per round is steel case Tula for comparison's sake.)

Phil's garage ammo:
1.5 cents each for used brass (reusable),
4.5 cents worth of powder, 11.2 grains Accurate No. 7
4 cents per primer, CCI Small Magnum Pistol Primers
9.6 cents per bullet, Xtreme Bullets copper plated 125 grain flat point
 = under $0.20 per loaded round.

So for those paying attention, I'm loading my own ammo for less than the cheapest ammunition I could find for sale today, and at less than half the cost of more premium practice ammo from Remington, and 1/4 the cost of premium defensive ammunition.  What that adds up to is the ability to shoot and practice more for the same dollar.  As you can see below, the cost to get into a basic reloading setup is not out of the reach of the average person, and a little judicious reading of directions goes a long way towards having a good experience loading your own ammo.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Medical gear YouTube show

This list is meant to coincide with today's YouTube show regarding necessary medical gear, but they would also make a good shopping list for a person's home built trauma/hemorrhage control kit.  If you plan to purchase any of the below items and would like to support the show, please click through any of the below links to Amazon as we are a member of the Amazon Associate program.

YouTube Medical 101
Podcast Medical 101


Chemical Hemostats:

Pressure Bandage:


Gauze/Abdominal pads:

Chest Seal:

Trauma Shears:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More important than WHAT to conceal carry..... WHEN to use it.  I was faced with this decision over the weekend, and felt compelled to relate my experience and thought process to everyone here.  Note that the particulars vary by state, as state law dictates a lot of the legal justifications for civilians to use deadly force.  This is the most important decision to make for a concealed carrier, not holsters, not firearms, not what ammo.

WHEN do I draw and employ my weapon?

First of all I am a big believer in the idea that you do not draw your weapon (hence let it be known you have one) until such time as you need to make that shot.  To that end, as has been espoused by many people in the LE and firearms community, when a person is less than 21 feet from you with either a blunt or a sharp weapon, your firearm had better be drawn.  An average person can charge 21 feet in the amount of time it takes for you to react to that threat.  So, 21 feet/7 yards is a minimum safe distance.  Adjust your decision to draw accordingly.

Some will state that if your gun comes out, it is automatically getting used and I tend to agree with a major caveat.  If the gun comes out of the holster, you should be in a position where you are legally justified to use deadly force BUT you are not automatically going to use said firearm.  The implementation of the firearm is meant to stop the threat, not neutralize or injure a person.  If your attacker sees a firearm and immediately disengages, you have ended the threat without firing a shot.  Make sure you are safe, holster your firearm, contact local law enforcement to relate to them what happened because simply by drawing your firearm (in many states) you have committed assault with a deadly weapon and you want YOUR STORY told rather than only the other person's.

That all tends to be easy enough to figure out if you are dealing with a person attacking you, but what about someone else?  Are you legally justified to use deadly force on someone else's behalf, and even IF you are should you?  Your livliehood, your legal defense costs, your freedom are all on the line if you make the wrong choice.  Are you willing to involve yourself for a stranger?  There was the question I was presented with.

Yesterday my wife and I went out for our anniversary, starting with a little chips and salsa at a local spot while we figured plans out.  While there, we observed a woman and man (probably in their 20's) arguing very loudly, cursing, with the man trying to get the woman to come with him in the car and the woman telling him to leave her alone.  My wife and I were naturally concerned, and she asked what we should do.  I calmly replied that if I got up from the table, she needed to call 911 and then I sat and waited.

In my state, I am legally justified to use deadly force to prevent the serious injury or death of myself or someone else.  I have no legal duty to retreat, nor does anyone else.  What I was specifically waiting for was to see if the man would either physically assault the woman, or attempt to force her into the car.  At either point, I had every intention of walking over, drawing my gun, and stopping whatever situation had developed because I can reasonably deduce that I am witnessing either assault (obviously) or attempted kidnapping (and subsequent injury).  Had I been faced with either situation, I would have reacted simply because I have made that decision that I am unwilling to stand by and watch harm be done to someone else.  If you are unwilling to involve yourself in such a situation on a stranger's behalf you are within your rights to do so, I'm just not wired that way.  The situation ended with the man leaving without any physical altercation.

The thing I want to point out is, I already knew what standard of behavior was required to legally enable me to draw my firearm.  Until I reached that point, I was unwilling to even walk over and verbally challenge the man because IF that had turned violent and I used my firearm I would be legally liable because I had initiated the confrontation.  In other words, this was an all or nothing situation where either I jump in head first, or not at all.  I knew what I was looking for, and I waited.

I would advise anyone that has taken it upon themselves to carry a firearm for defense to ask a similar set of questions of yourself.  What do your laws dictate, what do your morals dictate, what is your red line to protect yourself or someone else?  The answers to these questions are important because they answer the question more important than any question about what or how to carry.  These questions all shape a potentially life altering encounter in which you will or will not use your firearm and suffer the consequences of that action. 

The question is not what, or how.  The question is when and why? - Phil Rabalais

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Slow down, pay attention

Sometimes life reminds you to slow down and pay more attention. I was finishing off the last of my 357 magnum loading for a bit (need to order more bullets) and apparently I had one nasty little split case get past my watchful eye. Had to yank it back apart and salvage the bullet and primer. - Phil Rabalais





H.R. 367 The Hearing Protection Act aka Common sense and respecting citizen's rights FINALLY!!!

Full text of H.R. 367 The Hearing Protection Act

Lately, you may have seen me post or share a few items here and there regarding HR 367 and the various collection of crayon eating politicians that are shouting bloody murder about it.  OK, to be fair, you might have seen quite a few posts about the subject mostly because I am a huge proponent of the act and I have famously little patience for politicians that don't support individual liberty and freedoms.  On the off hand chance some of you out there might have bought into all of the hooplah, let's talk about suppressors for just a minute.

Yes, suppressors, not silencers.  Suppressors do not make a gun shot completely silent, contrary to what alarmist politicians and Hollywood would try to convince you of.  A suppressor, with the appropriately loaded subsonic ammunition, aims to make the discharge of a firearm hearing safe.  Hearing safe in this context means below 130 db, which for those of you paying attention is still loud enough that it will not escape the attention of anyone not clinically and legally deaf.  Also worth pointing out, if you use a suppressor without that subsonic ammunition (ammunition intentionally loaded to keep the bullet's muzzle velocity below the speed of sound) you're still going to hear a wicked cracking noise from the sonic boom of the round exiting the barrel.  In other words, suppressors are so named because they ....SUPPRESS..... the sound of the firearm, not eliminate it.

Furthermore, for a politician to insist that making firearms more quiet is a danger to law enforcement overlooks a few points.  First of all, we heard these same concerns when concealed carry saw widespread acceptance around the country, and yet the purported bloodbath in our streets never came to pass.  Perhaps this is because law abiding citizens, being the type able to pass the mandated background check, are unlikely to commit a crime.

Secondly, suppressors are already legal, and have been for decades.  Send your application and $200 to the ATF, have a clean police record and fill out the paperwork correctly, and within a matter of months you can expect you will most likely be granted your government permission slip to own what amounts to a muffler for your firearm.  Again, no bloodbath in the streets, no police being shot at by scary silent firearms they can't track.  More alarmist shouting without merit.

And lastly, the same argument I have pulled out time after time after time; criminals are criminals because they DON'T abide by the law.  If a criminal wants to create a silencer (honestly not that difficult, I could build one in my garage in an afternoon if I weren't a law abiding citizen) without filing the paperwork because MOST LIKELY he is already a felon, nothing but a general respect for the law is stopping him.  Assuming he's a felon, I'm going to have to assume he doesn't have much respect for the law.  And yet, police are not being assaulted by firearms equipped with these illegally manufactured silencers today, nor have they been in the decades since law required them to be registered with the government.

The only thing that HAS happened for decades is massive hearing loss even while wearing hearing protection amongst the gun community.  Hunters are often weary of wearing ear plugs as they are unable to hear their game approaching.  Even wearing ear protection at a gun range (particularly an indoor range) you are likely to suffer some hearing loss over time.  Several European nations REQUIRE suppressors for citizens firearms specifically due to concerns of hearing loss, yet our politicians continue to chirp and screech about an imaginary crime wave enabled by this bill.

Everyone, please support this bill, call your congressmen, and share this article around so that the people unfamiliar with WHAT a suppressor is and it's function can be educated on the subject and in the mean time please remember to wear eye and ear protection while around firearms.  We only have two of each, and life's a whole lot less fun missing one. - Phil Rabalais

Monday, March 13, 2017

MoF Podcast now an Amazon Associate

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

So, with the mandated legalize out of the way, if anyone shops at Amazon (and who doesn't) and would like to support the show please use the below search bar or check the "Support the Show" tab.  If anyone is looking for some good reading material, "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross happens to be a personal favorite of mine.

Does the AK suck? I'm glad you asked

By Armémuseum (The Swedish Army Museum) - Armémuseum (The Swedish Army Museum) through the Digital Museum (, Public Domain,

Since someone recently posed the question "Why does the AK suck", and I am a dyed in the wool AK guy, I thought I would take it upon myself to answer the question "Does the AK suck?"  I don't think so.  A lot of the grumblings I hear about the AK platform revolve around western shooters familiar with the AR platform comparing the AK to the AR/M16/Stoner designs.  I think in order to appreciate the AK, it's important to take a look at it through the lens of it's history, original design, and manual of arms at the time it was envisioned.

The AK platform was designed in 1946, loosely based on Kalashnikov's earlier 1944 design for a machine pistol suitably beefed up and redesigned for the new (at the time) 7.62x39 russian cartridge.  Contrary to popular belief, the rifle is far from a copy of the WW2 German STG44, though it's influences can be seen.  The Russians (and to a degree all military services of the day) small arms development radically shifted course from full power battle rifles to select fire, magazine fed rifles in intermediate cartridges following WW2 due in no small part to the STG44 and it's success.  While the STG44 was a very complicated and labor intensive firearm to produce using a tilting bolt design, Kalashnikov sought to design a rifle that had similar capabilities yet was far simpler and cheaper to build.

What Mikhail Kalashnikov settled on was a gas operated, long stroke piston rifle using a two lug rotating bolt....actually very similar in operation to the American M1 Garand.  Where it cribbed unabashedly from the STG44 was the use of an intermediate cartridge (based in this case off the Russian 7.62x54R rather than the German 8mm Mauser), a high capacity magazine (vs. the internal box magazines of their previous battle rifle, the 1891 design Mosin-Nagant), and fully automatic fire capability.  So, while I would happily allow that the Russians looked to the STG44 for inspiration, looking at it's method of operation it is substantially different.

Also worth pointing out is that Kalashnikov's original design was to use a stamped sheet metal receiver.  This, unlike the more complex machined receiver of the STG44 (and yet not particularly robust), would have drastically simplified and sped up production of the Russian rifle.  Limitations of heat treating technology in the Soviet Union at that time forced a change to the milled receiver characteristic of the first AK-47's that went into service.  The later AKM introduced in 1959 made use of the stamped receiver and several other small changes.  The AKM is the variant I personally use and tend to favor.

All that said, yes, the bolt handle is on the wrong side.  A conscript army used to decades of bolt action rifles made that a natural decision, as common mode of reloading at that time involved taking your right hand off the grip of the rifle, and charging from a handle on the right side of the grip. The safety requires you to break your firing grip, so did the Mosin.  It's heavy, it's made of steel and wood (later polymer), not aluminum and plastic.  The cartridge is big and slow (smaller and lighter in the AK74's 5.45x39 introduced in the 70's).  So, why doesn't it suck?

Because, as the saying goes, the Kalashnikov rifle has killed more people on this Earth than cancer.  It has fought in nearly every war zone in the world since it's inception, it has survived deserts and jungles, and has soldiered on as a rifle design for over half a century.  It is no less prolific a rifle than our own much beloved AR/M-16.  No, it's isn't infallible, and it's users must accept and adapt to it's peculiarities, but it is no less an effective rifle and a worthy addition to the home defense plan of any home owner.  It is an extremely reliable, rugged, "accurate enough" rifle built to fulfill the original mission it was pressed into.  It was never meant, nor designed, to make nice tight groups at hundreds of meters (we can do a comparison of this rifle and the Dragunov sniper rifle to illustrate that point.)  It was meant to provide the average foot soldier with a minimal amount of training a volume of firepower that would be the envy of his previous generation....and that is exactly what it did.

And if you disagree, IT'S OFF TO THE GULAG WITH YOU!!!  Seriously, leave a comment and let's talk about it. - Phil Rabalais

My personal AK

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Gun Collective and Adam Kraut on the 4th Circuit ruling

Adam Kraut, the Gun Collective, and Jon Patton are responsible for this content, it is not mine.  I am posting it because Mr. Kraut is MUCH better versed on the law and more eloquent than I am about a subject that has me fuming mad.

The 2nd Amendment was perfectly clear.  It made no allowances for certain kinds of firearms.  It did not reference handguns or muskets.  It said ARMS, and SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED, and I for one thought that was easy enough to understand for men and women with a law degree.  I was apparently mistaken.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Do you practice enough, Matter of Facts style?

I recently read an article regarding the question of do you train (with your conceal carry gun) enough?  I felt like some part of the article might have been a bit tongue in cheek, but it raised a few good points.  I felt I would lay out my feelings and a few VERY simple metrics to judge whether or not you train often enough.

I'll start by saying I studied martial arts years ago as a teenager.  One thing my instructor pounded into our heads over and over was that the speed of reaction beats the speed of thought.  Meaning, if you have to think about what you are doing, you're working too slowly.  Your level of training should be sufficient that you are able to automatically perform certain menial tasks without conscious thought, freeing your mind to analyze the total situation rather than concentrate on minutia.

So, step one, is we have to train in common situations often enough that they require no conscious thought.  Get a failure to feed?  Slide lock reload?  Can you draw and engage your target with two shots without wondering where the safety is?  Can you safely draw and reholster without muzzling yourself?  If you haven't practiced these tasks often enough that they are near automatic, you haven't practiced enough.  Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire, five minutes a day every day will have you realize an improvement very quickly.

Step two, can we accurately engage targets at a reasonable range.  "Self Defense" range varies depending on who you ask.  I've heard as short as ten feeet (about double the distance you and your handgun reach out from your body, way too close for my comfort) out to 25 yards (much farther than the average gunfight takes place at.)  I would say if you can make hits on an 8" target CONSISTENTLY at 8-15 yards you're certainly outshooting the average person.  For the shorter backup guns, 8 yards will be a reasonable enough challenge, while duty size and 4" guns should allow a competent person to shoot out to and beyond 15 yards without issue.  But, if you have to bring the target in past 8 yards/24 feet to hit it you need to practice a LOT more.  There is almost no substitution for range time.

And finally step three; do you practice regularly?  A single training class, regardless of how high speed, low drag it is is useless without practice.  A single range visit a year does not yield operator status.  A person with a several thousand dollar firearm that can't hit the ground in three tries does not impress me.  There is no shortcut for training and practice, it has to be a part of your lifestyle.  Monthly is my preference, though I know some that hit the range weekly at least.  Regardless, make the time, buy the ammo, and go to the range with a plan for WHAT and HOW to get your training time in.  Shooting, like everything else, is a perishable skill that MUST be maintained on a regular basis or it will fail you in your moment of need.

To some of you, everything above sounds like good common sense.  To everyone else, I hope I gave you some food for though.  Reach out to me and tell me what you think.  What do you do to keep in practice? - Phil Rabalais

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What is a function check, and why am I so insistent on it.

Take a few minutes and watch the above video. This isn't a story about a careless gun owner, far from it. This is a story of haphazardly made modifications to a gun that could have killed an experienced USPSA competitor and she never even touched the trigger. This is a cautionary tale, and another skill to add to your firearms toolbox. 

I want to preface what I'm about to talk about by saying, loud and clear, that I am not throwing shade at this young woman. I can't see anything in the description of the incident to lead me to believe after two decades of handling firearms that she caused this. But, I want to stop everyone for a moment and talk about how this, perhaps, could have been prevented. 


Above pictured is a collection of homemade (I handload, therefore have what I need to create) dummy rounds and commercially purchased snap caps. The dummy rounds have their primer pockets filled with silicone, and the rounds are filled with sawdust. The snap caps are aluminum. Neither have any powder, all are harmless. I highly recommend you pick up some for every caliber you have in your home. 

I make it a point to religiously function check firearms after every cleaning/disassembly. In much the same way, I verify that the firearms' safeties all function. I verify they are drop safe (ready the firearm to fire without any ammo in the chamber, sharply strike the butt to simulate a drop and see if the gun will drop the hammer or striker.) I attempt, in any way not guaranteed to break the firearm, to induce a malfunction or cause the firearm to discharge. All of the above is done with dummy rounds of course in the name of safety. 

I'm pointing all of this out specifically because, doing so MIGHT have demonstrated this firearm was unsafe before Ms. Eisenzimmer gave herself a high velocity lead injection into her leg, in doing so causing an incredible amount of damage and potentially killing her. Again, nothing she caused, but a gun modified in such a way it goes off by itself would have failed all of some of my usual function checks. 

I have always maintained that firearms are a tool, l no more no less. We are responsible for making sure that tool functions as expected, and making sure what we place in our holster and strap to our waist is not going to harm us or anyone else by accident. I do truly wish Ms. Eisenzimmer a speedy recovery and a return to competition if she is able, but I hope her misfortunate serves as a cautionary tale to others. Look for a YouTube video in the near future discussing safety/function checks in detail.  - Phil Rabalais