2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
When I was a (much) younger man I was a "blade junkie". Like a lot of young soldiers I was fascinated with knives and edged weapons and tools and incorporated them into every aspect of my burgeoning military career. Take for example my common field load of blades that would accompany me to the field.
1. A genuine GI stainless pocket knife (for opening MRE's and such)
2. A Spyderco folding serated knife (for tough MRE's I guess)
3. A folding saw for cutting down tree limbs for stakes and such for fighting positions
4. A Ka-Bar or other such fixed blade for "battle"
5. My issue E-Tool with the smooth side sharpened as to create a makeshift ax
6. An occasional hand ax so I wouldn't have to mess up my E-Tool (what was I thinking?)
7. Last, but certainly not least, a Machete (or Man-chete as we called it) for clearing brush.
Man, that's a lot of wasted weight there. When it came down to it, I really only ever needed the pocket knife, the folding knife and the machete, on occasion. The rest was just useless trinkets. As I grew older and wiser I realized that my needs for blades were overstated and that a simple folding knife or pocket knife would suffice for 98% of the required tasks I had to accomplish. Sure the other stuff was nice to have, but last time I checked I wasn't engaged in hand to hand combat. Now I know a good number of my fellow soldiers and those brave souls that call themselves Marines over in Iraq have engaged in HTH, but I went over there primarily to run a database so the immediated threat of needing a long fixed blade was minimal. The need to long blades are valid for front line individuals, but as I was in Kuwait the majority of time, a nice pocket knife was all I really needed. The advantage to this thinking was that a pocket knife or folder would always be on me and available, as it should be.
By the time I deployed in 2006 the old GI pocket knife had been replaced with a Leatherman multi-tool circa 1998. It was not as whiz-bang chocked full of stuff as some of the newer ones, but it folded smaller and slimmer than its contemporaries or Gerbers and it has a nice leather case with a brass snap which I like. I was carrying a Gerber 4" folding pocketknife that worked perfectly for me until it went AWOL in Afghanistan and I was left without (sniff sniff!). When I got back to Kuwait I went to the PX for a knife run and picked up the subject of this post, a CRKT M16-13ZM folder. Specs are as follows:
Build: InterFrame with Zytel® Scales
Color: Desert Tan with Bead Blast Blade
Blade: Combined Razor-Sharp & Triple-Point Serrated Cutting Edge
Length: 3.50” (8.9 cm)
Thickness: 0.10” (0.25 cm)
Steel: AUS 4 55-57 HRC
Closed: Handle length: 4.75” (12.1 cm)Open: Overall length: 8.25” (21.0 cm)
Weight: 3.5 oz. (99 g)
MSRP U.S. $56.99
I picked mine up for less than the $57 MSRP, about $25 at the PX. I like a couple of things about it at the start:
1. It looks cool
2. It looks cool
Did I mention that it looks cool? It even has "OIF Certified" on it to let you know that there isn't a MRE in theater that it isn't up the task of tearing into. The handles is a sand-tan color which again goes with the OIF theme of the knife. I had looked at the bigger CRKT offerings (the -14Z model with a larger tanto style blade) but I thought the smaller, sleeker spear point would work nicely for me and would not stand out if opened in public once I got back to the world.
One interesting feature of the knife is the LAWKS system it uses to lock the blade. Most folding knifes use a piece of spring metal in the handle of the knife (called a clevis) that blocks the movement of the blade once extended. This is secure enough for most makers, but CRKT has improved by adding an additional safety. Their LAWKS system (patented) uses an additional safety bar that blocks the clevis from being accidentally moved while in the locked position. To close the knife you must first deactive the system with a button latch on the handle, move the clevis as other knives and then fold the blade. CRKT claims that this system turns their folding knives into fixed blades once opened. I will agree 80% with them on this statement as I think this system will work when employed on about 80% of what a fixed blade would be called onto do. The other 20% of the time, heavy prying and pounding with the knife, I feel, would be too much for the system to handle. My opinion, yours may vary of course. I should point out that this does not in any way make me any less confident in the knife. If it only had the clevis I would still highly praise it, the LAWKS system pushes this knife into the realm of the best I ahve ever handled.
The knife sits beautifully in my hand. I have what I consider a normally large hand and the contours and finger indents in the handle feel like they are almost custom made for me. A raised spur on the blade doubles as both a one handed opening assist and a guard to keep your hand from slipping onto the blade. On the back of the blade a checkered section of the back of the blade provides extra grip and control for your thumb while manipulating the blade. Excellent overall feel. The blade itself is made of AUS 4 steel with a RHC factor of 55-57. This provides a low maintenance blade that is easy to sharpen, but must be monitored more closely for wear than a harder steel. A good tradeoff considering this particular model was developed for soldiers in the Iraq theater of operations. the 3.5 " blade is half a regualar blade and a triple point serated edge, for cutting 550 cord and the like. After carrying this knife for over a year, including the time since I have been home, I can honestly say it is one of the most useful knives I have ever owned. It feels perfect in my hand, the color and the style blend nicely in with my civilian wardrobe and the OIF markings make it not only a souvenier of my tour but also a conversation piece occasionally.
My only critique is with the pocket clip. The 3 small hex screws do not work for me. I have loosened the clip more than once by catching it on a seatbelt or other object brushed against it. The small screws just don't hold as tight as I would like. Possible replacing these 3 small screws with 2 larger screws by the manuafacturer would solve this. It is not a show stopper for this knife
If you happen to be looking for a well built, dependable and sturdy knife for EDC (every day carry) use, this is a great knife to have. If you happen to be in the PX at Camp Arifjan and see one, pick it up along with your NA Heinekin and pogy bait, you won't regret it!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Hi-Point name is largely unknown outside of those who follow or use firearms. Colt, Smith & Wesson and Beretta are all manufacturers that most people on the street could recognize as firearm manufacturers. Hi-Point is one of those makers that make little noise in the industry and go along making their product with minimal disturbance to the other major manufacturers. Selling relatively inexpensive firearms, they have solidly carved a niche in the lower end of the buyers spectrum next to other budget companies such as Kel-Tec, Jennings, Raven and Bryco. Such manufacturers often are labeled peddlers of “Saturday Night Specials” – cheap guns that find there ways into the hands of criminals. Hi-Point itself gained some notoriety when one of its 9mm carbines was used in the infamous Columbine High School Massacre. Often seen as targeting minority and low economic areas where crime is often prevalent, the inexpensive handgun has been the target of many legal and political charges. In 2003 the NAACP sued 45 gun manufacturers claiming that the industry purposely saturated the market with cheap guns that would eventually end up in the hands of criminals. The suit was eventually dismissed, but the damage had already been done. While researching the purchase of this gun, I read numerous references to this gun as a “gang banger special”, “ghetto blaster” and “slum gun” – not exactly glowing endorsements.
I found a Hi-Point C-9 at Vance’s in Columbus on sale for $119, a bit high compared to what I could find on line, but Vance’s provides excellent customer service and I could take it home that night, so the pistol found its way into my collection (I also picked up their 4095 .40 S&W carbine the same day!!). The pistol itself comes in a plain cardboard box – no fancy carrying case included, with one 8 round magazine, a ghost ring rear sight and a trigger lock. The rear sight is a nice accessory to include. I prefer standard sights for my pistols, but for those wishing to use a rear peep/ghost ring set-up the included part should work for most. The pistol is marketed as a compact pistol with a 3.5” barrel, 6.75” overall length and empty weight of 29 ounces. It is a bit big for my definition of a compact, but that is mostly due to the size of the slide due to the direct blowback nature of the gun. Its also labeled a “polymer” frame, but “high impact plastic” is more descriptive. Plastic is technically a polymer, but the quality on the pistol is not the same as the polymer used on higher end pistols such as the Glock and Sig. It has proven in my use to be just as good, so other than cosmetically, it affects the pistol minimally in my opinion.
This is the second pistol I have reviewed that does not use the Browning system to operate. All of Hi-Points firearms use a direct blowback system to operate. In this systems when the round is fired the energy from the expanding gasses and fired projectile is directed against the slide itself which recoils, extracts, ejects, strips, loads and chambers the fired and next round. This simple system was widely used during the first part of the century. It is reliable and easy to produce, which is a bane when you are only asking $155 (MSRP) for each pistol. To accommodate this system, the slide is rather large for its caliber. When I say large, I mean like a hunk or slab of metal on top of the frame. Not that it is a bad thing mind you, all that metal is comforting in a way. If you were ever to run out of ammo and have to throw this pistol at an assailant, a hit to the face or forehead would be devastating!! Now this size would imply that it is large or ungainly to hold and shoot. Not the case here. Between the molded grip, finger extension on the magazine and slide shape it sits well in my hand and points naturally. This is an observation I have also gotten from a few other people who have shot this pistol on the range.
This reliable, robust and simple system would almost indicate that this weapon is made in the former Soviet Union, but no…Its made right here in Ohio!!! That adds one coolness point for me being a buckeye just for the place of origin. Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, Hi-Point borrows some of the technology prevalent in local automotive parts manufacturing practices in the creation of their pistol. Makes sense, parts and service for their manufacturing devices should be readily available, as should locally available skilled labor to operate them. They use a different location in Ohio to produce their .40 (Mansfield) and .45 (Lima) pistols.
Safety concerns are addressed by the use of 3 systems: a provided trigger lock, a manual sear safety and a drop safety. The trigger lock is interchangeable with other Hi-Point firearms and consists of a clamshell trigger lock that fits over the trigger guard and is locked by means of a special tool included that also does duty as a maintenance and adjustment tool for the pistol. Once locked it has an additional lock hasp on the left side that can accept most small or medium pad locks for extra security. One critique if have about the pistol is that the slide design does not lend itself well to the insertion of a cable lock into the weapon, which I prefer. The manual safety is easy to reach and operate, though I wish it had a bit more positive locking or setting motion to it when moved between safe and fire, as opposed to it continuous sliding movement of the lever. I have not tried to test the drop safety (for obvious safety reasons) but needless to say these are commonplace and the design and principle is sound enough not to overly worry about it. Using the 4 principles of safe shooting along with these safeties should ensure a safe pistol for all users.
As I stated above, the pistol handles well for me. The sights consist of 2 orange dots in the rear with a yellow ramp sight up front. They aquire easy and are simple to use. The magazine on my particual pistol takes a bit of exertion to insert (the cause of my only feed failure with it) but ejects normally. Hopefully this will be remedied after a few more rounds (like 500!). I wish that they included a 2nd mag, reloading is always the worst part of range day other than setting and pulling targets. The pistol shoots well, at least as well as the more expensive pieces in my arsenal. I am shooting a bit low and too the left with Blazer 115gr. roundnose range ammo, but grouping is well within 5" at about 15 yards, which is acceptable for this type of gun. Partially due to the large slide, recoil is very managable (it is a 9mm for crying out loud!). Overall, this is a great gun to use for a plinker or backup gun for a truck or RV.
Until next time- Shoot Often...SHOOT SAFE!!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Rifles (Top to Bottom):
Russian Mosin-Nagant M-44 7.62x54R carbine
Romanian WASR-10 GP AKM 7.62x39
Hi-Point 4095 .40 S&W Carbine with Red Dot scope and compensator
Mossberg Maverick 88 12ga Shotgun with heat shield and pistol grip (the "master key")
Pistols (Left to Right):
Charles Daly 1911-A1 .45 ACP with Hogue combat grips, beaver tail extension, extended
ambidextrous safety and slide release and combat trigger set up.
Smith & Wesson M&P .40
Stoeger Cougar 8000 9mm
Hi-Point C-9 9mm
Smith & Wesson 1952 J-Frame Chiefs Special .38 snubnose
Whew! That's a lot of firepower, shit, that's a lot of money!!!
Here are the current rounds that I am firing (sorry no 12 gauge to show)
Rounds (left to right)
7.62x39 (WASR-10 GP)
.45 ACP (1911-A1)
.40 S&W (M&P and Hi-Point 4095)
9mm Parabellum (Stoeger and Hi-Point C-9)
.38 Special (S&W Chief's Special)
Recent AdditionsA pic of the .45 and new shotgun that I picked up recently. More to come later on these two!
Shoot often...Shoot Safe!
Monday, June 2, 2008
In the meantime enjoy this little clip of the Gunny at Knob Creek from the History Channel's Mail Call.
Shoot often...shoot safe!