What is best for the prepper: Brand new 18650 batteries for $10 each or recovering used or surplus batteries for a fraction of that price?
If you are a frequent reader, you know that I like the 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery. When I buy portable electronics and lights, I go out of my way to buy those that use the 18650 battery.
The 18650 is the most popular Li-ion battery in the portable electronics world and was used to power some of the earlier electric cars. The 18650 cells powering electric scooters, skateboards, laptops, power tools, and probably millions of other rechargeable devices. It has a nominal voltage of 3.7 volts and usually offers between 2,600 and 3,400 milliamp hours (mAh). By combing batteries together serially and in parallel, you can devise battery banks that are 12, 18, 24 and 48 volts and provide kilowatts of power. You just have to use the right quantity of cells to fit your application.
Until now, I had been buying commercial 18650s from well-known brands like Tenergy and prominent flashlight makers. Most of these batteries are made by companies like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic and given a private label treatment by flashlight makers and other companies. Branded 18650s usually cost around $10, although the higher mAh and high-discharge batteries can cost up to $20 each.
At our last day, we tested a trifecta: The Mossberg Shockwave, outfitted with the OPSol Mini-Clip, shooting the Aguila Minishells.
Some time back, I purchase an OPSol Mini-Clip so I could fire the Aguila mini shotgun shells in my Mossberg Shockwave without jamming. Because the dang shells were in such short supply, I never tried it, until now.
I finally laid my hands on six boxes of the 1-3/4-inch Aguila minishell buckshot, birdshot, and slugs and tested them out on six steel targets at 36 feet.
The OPSol Mini-Clip was a snap to install in the Mossberg. It pushed into place in seconds. Once installed, the minishells fed flawlessly, which was not the case before hand. After installing the OPSol Mini Clip, I fired 40 rounds without a single missfeed. This device does its job well and inexpensively. The only fault is that it worked its way partially out of the shotgun partway through our testing and had to be re-seated. This was noticeable during reloading and a firm push of the thumb solved the problem.
I could have bought a $120 Makita but I picked up this $30 pneumatic bar nailer/stapler at Harbor Freight Instead. Here’s how it performed.
When I was looking for a pneumatic staple gun to shoot 18-gauge narrow-crown staples into my beehive frames and other hive components, I tracked down the least expensive one I could find: The Central Pneumatic 2-in-1 Air Nailer/Stapler from Harbor Freight. It cost only $29.99. The comparable product from Porter-Cable is $99, or more than three times as much. The Makita version is $120—four times as much.
I would not describe myself as cheap, necessarily, but I do like to save money when my life or livelihood are not at stake. I don’t need to show off by buying expensive tools because very few people are ever going to see them. Keep in mind, I’m not going to the job site; I’m hanging out in my garage or backyard. Plus, I bought a box of 2,500 staples, I’ll be surprised if I use them all and need a fresh box. Perhaps a Mikita or another high-end brand tool would outlast this one, but after spending $30, I am satisfied that I got my money’s worth.
What do you reach for when you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night? The phone? Your rifle? I reached for my Mossberg Shockwave because it was handy.
Well after midnight last night, while I was in the basement working on yesterday’s blog post, I heard a noise outside that I did not recognize. Was it a car door closing? Someone driving up the driveway? I was not sure, but it came from that side of the house. This was not the cat or another noise I recognized; this was something unusual.
I tucked my Glock into my waistband, not even bothering with the holster or a spare mag. I grabbed the Mossberg Shockwave with the 1,000 lumen TL Racker and stuck my head and arm through the single-point sling. Not hearing any further noise, I took the time to jam my feet into a pair of shoes.
It was pitch black outside. No sign of light. That means the motion-detection lights on the house had not gone on, which I took as a good sign. There were also no headlights, and while you can drive without them, it is so darn dark out on a stormy night, that doing so risks running off the road or off the driveway, both of which have sharp drop-offs.
I cracked the door, noticing that there were no engine noises. I let the gun lead me out the door, pointed it down the driveway, and hit the pressure sensitive-switch. The 1,000 lumen LED lit up the driveway all the way down to the sharp turn.
My next set of back up iron sights arrived in the mail, so I evaluated them and compared them to the A.R.M.S. sights.
Today’s review of the UTG MNT-955 flip-up rear sight and the MNT-755 flip-up front sight will not only be a review of those sights but will also include a comparison with the A.R.M.S. 71L front and rear back up iron sights (BUIS) reviewed last week.
As you may recall, my aim in acquiring new BUIS is to outfit all the ARs in my possession that have only red dot optics or other scopes with a set of back-up iron sights for emergency use should the primary battery-powered optic fail.
The UTG sights I ordered from an eBay seller arrived quickly and neatly. The packaging was high quality and the sights inside were made from aircraft aluminum with matte black anodization. Both sights spring up with a push of your finger or thumb and lock into place. To lower the sight, you must press a small spring-loaded plunger, or button. This is intended to prevent accidental closure of the device.
After deciding he needs back-up iron sights on his guns, Pete tests the A.R.M.S. 71L polymer BUIS sights on his AR pistol.
I just installed a set of A.R.M.S. model 71L flip-up sights on an AR pistol that had no iron sights, just a red dot. I bought these because they were a good brand name with a price point which was not as high as Magpul sights, but was higher than cheap no-name crap from China that no self-respecting shooter would put on their airsoft gun.
These are not my first flip-up sights. I have flip up/fold down back up iron sights (BUIS) from Magpul (polymer), GG&G (metal), Yankee Hill Machine (metal) and a rear sight from ARMS (metal), their model 40L. The model 71L has some similarities to the 40L, but the 71L sights are polymer while the 40L are all metal. The 71Ls are easier to deploy than many of the metal sights, including the A.R.M.S. 40L.
2020 was a bad year, but will the future be better, or more of the same? We share our predictions for 2021 and the near future, and some might surprise you.
Happy New Year!
While many are happy to see the calendar leave 2020 behind us, I have doubts that 2021 is going to be any better than 2020. Here are some of my projections for 2021 and in some cases beyond it:
COVID-19 will not go away and will result in an even great dichotomy in the U.S. as proof of vaccination will become required to access certain services and locations. There will be new lockdowns, more emergency measures, new laws, and more court cases. Wearing masks will be required through 2021 despite a lack of proof that they do any good outside a medical setting.
The rich will keep getting richer, but there will be more economic upheaval for the middle class on down. More people will be hungry and more will be homeless.
The political divide will grow worse, not better. Biden will have no clear mandate and will face opposition at every turn. Taxes will be raised but the rich and big corporations will still find loopholes. Deficits will continue to rise. Congress will get little done. The 2022 election will see Republicans take over both the house and the Senate, and then even less will get done.
When it comes to dried meat, jerky is an American stable. But how does it compare to biltong, the favorite snack food of South Africans?
This is not a review of a specific brand or flavor of dried meat, but more of a comparison between the two: Traditional jerky, often made from beef, and Biltong, a thinly sliced dried beef that is South African in origin.
Let’s look at them both:
Who among us has not enjoyed a chewy strip of beef jerky? And I bet many of you have made your own, possibly with venison or another game.
Ripping off a piece of beef jerky when on the trail makes me think back to our forefathers who probably did the same thing, possibly even on the same trail. It seems to me to be a very traditional American trail food, but apparently the native Americans in both North and South America made jerky and it was adopted by both the Spanish Conquistidors and the early North American fur traders and settlers.
We found the Kindling Cracker to be a safe and easy way to chop kindling. Great for people with little or no prior experience or who may be uncomfortable using an axe or hatchet.
Model Tested: Extra Large
Over the years, I’ve split a lot of wood and chopped my share of kindling. I’ve used an axe, a maul, a sledge hammer, and wedges. For kindling, my go to is a hatchet, and I have them in several sizes and designs.
These days, I’m thinking seriously about going hydraulic for wood splitting, but I haven’t finalized that decision yet. Before I invest in a power splitter, I want to see how much wood we burn in a winter, how much it costs me to buy it, and what size and quantity of firewood I can harvest on our land.
But kindling is another story. After looking into a number of alternative ways to split kindling, I spent a little over $100 to buy the HA Kindling Cracker XL. This handy device is made in New Zealand but sold here in the U.S. in stores and online.