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Campfire Chat

August 25, 2019

I’m posting early this week, because I will be tied up tomorrow. Also, I will be on the road next weekend, probably including Monday, so next week’s articles will be delayed.

Patreon folks: articles are going up right now.

First tier subscribers, there is a continuation of the Survival Retreat/TACFAC article series. There’s an added bonus for you guys this week as well. A reader, who is an active duty SF soldier, sent an AAR of his experiences in actually building a TACFAC on one deployment, and the returning to the same TACFAC, later, after it had been used by multiple other ODA. I’m hoping if you guys ask questions about it, he’ll find the time to respond either on the Patreon page, or via email to me, and I’ll post them.

Second tier subscribers, it was a slow week, but you’ve got the next article in the combatives series, answering the knife question that someone asked, and the journals entry, including my personal training from last week, as promised.

If you’re not on Patreon, you’re missing out….seriously.


If you are religious, joining the local church and especially the ladies auxiliary is the surest way to acclimate and be accepted into a new community..

Absolutely, 110% solid, good advice.


I can vouch for the “go skydiving” advice. I did and promise you’ll be a different person when you return to earth. I’d skip the kind where you’re strapped to the front of a real skydiver and pay more for the version where you leave the plane with two dudes hanging on to you. They’ll make sure you’re OK and not too terror-stricken before turning you loose before you pull the cord. The training for that experience is longer and better and it’s as close to solo as you’ll get the first time. Plus you’ll hang with some seriously experienced jumpers and learn that way. It’s worth far more than the extra cost.

As far as the experience itself, the dreaded feeling of falling ends in less than one second. Seriously, it’s over that fast. Then it’s just really REALLY windy. The chute opening is surprisingly gentle then you’re basically on a carnival ride. The parachutes have steering controls and brakes and are a lot of fun – find the wind sock to gauge direction, figure a reasonable approach course and steer it to touchdown. Then urinate.


The only skydiving route I recommend is static-line progression. Do it the right way, from the beginning.


And, experiences vary. I was never not scared jumping, from standing in the aircraft, waiting to exit, until I was on the ground, unhooked, and still intact.


For the grizzly, hard cast rounds are definitely the way to go. Buffalo Bore sells them in almost every caliber, and the 9mm page has a story of an Alaskan guide (with pictures of the skinned bear) which killed a grizzly with it! But a rifle is always better. I don’t have much grizzly in my area (Utah) but I do have extremely long ranges, would that warrant moving up in caliber (308) for a general preparedness rifle? I can make hits at a fair distance with the AR and 55gr but in that west desert 1000 yards happens fast, and I was planning on just moving up to 77gr TMK. But then again, with target discrimination issues you’ve brought up, should I even worry about it? Also, going to convince the wife I need to go skydiving now! Thanks again for all you do.

I mentioned in Guerrilla Gunfighter 2, if I was still in the intermountain West, I’d probably consider an AR10/XM110 in .308 as a general purpose rifle, for sure. I also lived rural, while I was there. If I had lived in town, or in the city, I’d probably have stuck with 5.56. I’ve been working on moving to MK262 as my primary round, but they’re expensive to buy, even in bulk, and I don’t have room to set up a reloading area yet.


I’m in the middle of “A Pattern Language” right now, which my psych-major wife also loves. Thanks for recommending both. I’m also trying to turn bits from “Speed Power Endurance” into a routine, because I don’t have one.

I’m pretty stoked for building my own house in a couple years, and while it’ll be brutal to balance a graveyard shift and a home construction project at the same time, it’s really the only way to afford a house on a spread out here without a big mortgage. A few years of hard work, or a few decades of payments? Not a hard equation to solve.


Awesome! I’m glad you’re getting benefit out of the From the Library articles. I really do love A Pattern Language, and wish I had time to read it more often. There’s a number of lessons I’ve learned from it that I wish I had discovered before I built our house. Ah well, hopefully the next one will be better.


I can’t recommend building your own house enough. I know it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay, since there’s too many fucking houses and buildings in this country anyway, but if you’re on bare ground, doing it yourself is totally the way to go, even if it takes longer.


I used to own a Ted Benson house, that place was some kind of crazy stout built home! Never had a worry about snow load, or anything else. Much better than stick built.

Dude, that’s awesome. Why’d you move? I love my house, but if I wasn’t going to build, now I can’t imagine buying a house that wasn’t a legit timber frame or a real log house (not a kit built). I’m actually going to build a range shed this fall, and am leaning towards a hewn log building. Initially, I was going to do it out of earthbags, as a trial piece, but I really like the idea of a hewn log building on the place, and an 8×12 range shed seems about the right size, and achievable by myself, or a couple occasional helpers, for building out of hewn logs from the trees we have on the place.


Is there an AK equivalent to Colt AR ( not too expensive, not too cheap)?

I honestly don’t know, so I’m going to let readers who may be AK guys, chime in. We have three Kalashnikovs. Two are -47s that I was given or traded for, for teaching purposes. One if a -74 that belonged to my late stepdad, that he built from a kit and a receiver flat (and that I’ve actually never fired, and don’t know if he ever did, truthfully).

Both of the -47s are WASR-10 Century guns. Those have a—deservedly—poor reputation for QC issues. I will say, I’ve had zero issues with either of mine, other than I bent the fuck out of the oprod on one, causing it to malfunction until I beat it straight again with a hammer (one point for the Commie Peasant gun!). So, while I’m not comfortable recommending them, I do have to admit, I have zero complaints about my WASR-10s…..

I am hoping to sight in my new DD very soon, and have been reading the ‘How to zero’ section of GG v2 with great interest.  I appreciated you adding that section, as I really had no good idea of how to zero a rifle beyond spraying the target with rounds and guesstimating the necessary adjustments.  And I also appreciated you breaking down the approach based on the type of sights (irons, RDS, or scope with BDC).

How does one determine the center of a 5 group shot, unless the target used has X/Y coordinates?  If the target does have those coordinates, each shot could be assigned an X/Y location on the target, and the centroid of those 5 shots determined.  The X/Y coordinates of the centroid would then provide the MOA adjustments after a little trigonometry.  But I don’t see how one could do this with a plain white target with a black dot in the center.  Does anyone make a target with ‘coordinates?’

Also, what does one do if the sighting system is WAY off?  I’m not sure if this is a realistic scenario, but what if one can’t make it on paper at 100m?  Move the target in until consistent contact with the paper is made?

I use a piece of 3×5 index card usually, or, I just draw a black dot on an IDPA silhouette. There are a number of different zero targets available though.

So, I thought I made it clear in the book, but to determine the geometric center of the group, it helps to start by having a very small group. If you’re not shooting sub-4MOA (1 inch at 25 yards), you need to work on grouping before you worry about zeroing, because any zero is going to be too dispersed to be valuable anyway.

Then, I draw a line around the outside of the group, from center-to-center of all rounds that aren’t obvious flyers. Then, I guess what the exact center is, and measure from there. If your group is small enough, even if you aren’t exactly in the center, you should be within an eighth of an inch or less, and that will be close enough to get you zeroed.

I generally zero at 50 or 100, but even if I zero at 50, if my first shot isn’t at least on cardboard, I move close. I’ve had rifles that someone handed me that I had to get within 10 yards of, but generally 25 will be close enough. Once I can get my shot group on the cardboard, I can start making adjustments. If my first group is WAY off, I’ll make really aggressive adjustments, even if I overshoot the bull, and have to adjust back.


Any tips/tricks for fixing an involuntary flinch when shooting? It happens more often with pistol than rifle. I dry fire daily and fire live 2 or 3 times a month. The flinch doesn’t happen on the first few rounds but later on, usually during the middle of a drill where I’m focusing on the timer vs accuracy. I always realize the flinch after the fact but never before. Thanks in advance.

Only answer I have is pure will. I had a bad flinch for a few years, and nothing seemed to fix it. Then, one day, I was zeroing a 12 gauge, with a shifty red dot. It ended up taking me like 40 rounds of full power slugs. By the end of it, I was literally crying. In order to get it over with, I would will myself, despite the pain, to not flinch, and it worked. After that, willing myself to not flinch with a rifle or pistol, was cake.…

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  1. LowKey permalink

    If you’re wanting to build a log structure I’d recommend NOT hewing the logs. I’ve take a log home building course, and one thing pointed out is that squaring a log off exposes all the layers to decay.
    Overall I’d suggest the Butt and Pass method, with rebar pins driven through the log and halfway into the one below every 3 ft. Use a Milwaukee Hole Hog to drill a 1/2 in hole through the top log, then drive the rebar pin (length equal to dia of top log + 1/2 dia bottom log) through with an electric demolition hammer. Do not try to keep the pins perfectly plumb, you want them to be at a slight angle. This technique eliminates issues with settling as the logs dry out (yes, use green logs) as logs shrink to center and will “grip” the rebar pins, and due to the slight angle of the rebar the log will be held in place.
    Check out LHBA (Log Home Builders Association).

  2. Sled238 permalink

    Re grouping and zero:
    The new TC 3-20.40 says grouping must be learned and accomplished before zeroing.
    About time. As far as center of group to zero sights, it says to draw a straight line from the topmost shot to the lowest shot and another line from the leftmost shot to the rightmost. The intersection is the center of the group, and adjustments are to be made from there. Flyers are to be discounted in this process.

    Keep up your good works- they are appreciated.

  3. SEH 45 permalink

    Just a heads up for your readers – if they’re reloaders and are shooting 77 SMKs and happen to be driving on I70 across Missouri, make the stop in Sedalia. This is where the Sierra bullet factory is. They sell bullet seconds by the pound. Usually these bullets are rejected for finish quality. If they’re rejected for another reason, it’s usually pretty obvious, bent bullet, cannelure misplaced, etc. You can only buy them at the factory. Finish quality, in my experience doesn’t have an effect on accuracy at all.

    Plus there’s something satisfying about the staff scooping bullets out of a 30 gallon drum, and walking out with a big ol’ bag / box of bullets for a very good price! The factory tour is pretty interesting too.

  4. Bill pearce permalink

    Awesome, couldn’t agree more on building yourself. We are doing it on land in NE Texas. Extremely rewarding and at the same time painful.

  5. Reluctant Millennial permalink

    Re “mid-grade” AK: I too have been searching for an AK somewhere between a Century Arms clunker and a $1000+ Arsenal. Unlike John I did not have a good experience with my WASR (even using US-made brass cased 7.62×39 I still couldn’t get the gun to group even at 50 yards). I bought a Palmetto State AK and so far it’s run flawlessly and far exceeded my expectations for accuracy, although I admittedly haven’t put it through a carbine course or anything more strenuous than a 200 round range session yet.

  6. kevinH permalink

    The reason I no longer have the Ted Benson house is divorce. I have a lesser house now, but a better home(stead)!

  7. Miguel permalink

    As for AKs : Arsenal is good so far (have a SL 107 ), Norinco (have several Make 90s & Nhm 91) very pleased with them ,some I’ve had since early/mid 90s w/ thousands of rounds through 😀. Century & I.O. guns iffy, take time to find a deal on a Norinco or Arsenal (inspect before buying (some folks shot the crap out of the Norinco w/o proper : ammo/cleaning…maintenance and it’s been 20-25years since last Norinco/Poly techs came in).

  8. jaquebauer permalink

    Where is the link to your Patreon sign up ?

  9. The best cure for flinching is the ball-and-dummy drill. It takes two people to do it. The “coach” loads either a live round or a snap cap into the chamber while the shooter is not looking, and places the pistol on the bench. The shooter then takes a shot at the target. If the front sight moves when the gun goes “click”, there’s your flinch. Keep doing ball-and-dummy randomly until the muzzle doesn’t move at all when the dummy is fired. Flinch cured. It’s a good idea to regularly re-test, especially if the shooter’s groups start to grow.

  10. clayton permalink

    Thanks for the great content and books JM.

    When I was a private, my team leader fixed my flinch with the Ball and Dummy Drill. The shooter remains on the firing line while his assistant loads the gun, one bullet at a time. He loads the gun with either a live round or a snap cap (fake bullet used for training). Obviously the assistant varies and does not set a pattern.

    It’s so embarrassing to flinch, you fix it quickly. If you have no assistant, dry-fire to build the muscle memory of not flinching.

    For Mk262 clones, check out Magtech Tactical line in 77grn BTHP. Myself and a few other guys shoot this load in the local PRS-style match. It’s good enough for Gov’t work, and usually under $0.65 / round.

    • Johnw permalink

      Is there an AK equivalent to Colt AR ( not too expensive, not too cheap)?

      Windham Weaponry in Maine makes a fine 7.62×39 AR style rifle.

  11. revjen45 permalink

    The CAI WASR10 is the Yugo of AKs. My friend’s looks like it was built by drunks on Fri. afternoon but I have never seen it fail to go bang. Also, it’s so ugly that a ding or 2 is no big deal.

  12. MoreSigmasThanYou permalink

    In reply to comments on the Patreon section:

    Yes, we as humans aren’t hardwired to look to the sky for predators. However, in my very limited personal experience, drones are less than subtle. One of my wife’s friends had a three day long wedding. Part of this overly elaborate wedding involved drone photography.

    Imagine for a moment that a flying weed whacker is trying to sneak up on you to take your photo. How close do you think it would get before you looked up and saw it? I think in the future, humans might spot drones before drones spot the humans. I don’t picture a drone getting very close to a hostile armed force before someone takes a successful potshot at it.

    Would I send a drone with a normal camera to do surveillance? Maybe, but the surveillance would not be covert by any stretch of the imagination, and the drone would be disposable (even if I didn’t want it to be). Maybe if you have 100 acres of wooded land, then knowing precisely where your low flying patrol drone was shot down is exactly what you want.

    If on the other hand, you wanted to be covert about the drone surveillance then you’d need a camera with optical zoom. The purpose of the drone would not be to help get your camera close to a target, only to get your camera high enough to have a line of sight to the target.

    The Z30 Camera by DJI is probably good enough to do this. If I add the price of the camera and the drone together, it looks like slightly less than the price of a new car. If information is that important to you, it might be more cost-effective to invest in a network of paid informants first (like Lord Varys from Game of Thrones)

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