Monday, March 31, 2008

Jewelry gold, on field test

I’ve told people many times about how popular the jewelry gold business became after the 2001 crisis.

So, taking advantage of the current situation, I took a gold 18k bracelet I have, gift from my sister back when guys wore such things. :) It’s just a common gold chain bracelet.

I headed to Libertad street, were many “I buy gold” places are found, and walked into a few places.

After just a few seconds, taking an experienced quick look to see the metal and dropping it over an electric scale, give or take 3 or 4 bucks, everyone offered about 350 pesos, a bit over 100 USD, for the 18k bracelet.

TIP: One nice thing about having a few bracelets or chains instead of having gold rings, is that you can fraction the chain much easier.
So if you just need, suppose, 100 pesos, you can simply cut away 1/3 of your chain, sell it, and use the cash right away, while keeping the rest of it in gold.
This is harder to do with rings.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Home Invasion

Just got off the phone, after talking with a college friend of mine.

We talked about the current situation our country is going through, the food shortages and empty shelves, and how long things will hold on until people get desperate.

As an afterthought she mentioned that some robbers attacked her father and his girlfriend (divorced) while they watched over her recently married sister’s home, while she was in her honeymoon.

I always try to learn as much detail as I can from these situations.
As usual, 3 armed men intercepted the couple when they arrived to the sister’s house, when they were getting out of the car.

Then, three more guys showed up, each driving a car!
They tied them up, loaded the cars full of the newly wedded couple’s gifts, everything they had was soon fitted into the cars.
After that, one of the bad guys cut the cable off an appliance, stripped the end of the cable, and threatened to torture them with electric shocks.
There was also some money in the house, about $ 1000, and fortunately they didn’t fulfill the threat.

A few thoughts that come to mind:

1) Criminals ALWAYS seem to attack when entering or exiting your house. Those are the moments when you should be extra careful.

2) Be discrete about what you have. 3 cars? They knew about the wedding, the gifts, the new house, etc.

3) Once you are tied up in a chair, there’s no use in wishing you had done something before. If they end up raping or killing your entire family, you cant go back in time, buy a gun, learn how to use it, and defend yourself and your loved ones. It’s too late.

4) Some people just don’t get it, even when the truth is smeared all over their faces.

Right after telling me this, my friend told me that the best thing to do is surrender, cooperate with the criminals and hope for the best.
She told me that she was worried about me because she knew that I was armed and had the will to shoot if necessary.

I expressed my concerns about the opposite being true regarding her.

5)3 armed guys and 3 more near by? Do I really want a 6 shot revolver, or even worse, a 5 shot one?

The reality around you dictates the kind of weapon you need, and even then... guns are meant to be comforting, not comfortable. That’s one of the few gun maxims I like.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

FM Hi Powers and +P

Hi Vic303,
FM Hi Powers are military spec. guns, they are intended for hard use with NATO 9mm.
FM tests them with 50% overload rounds ( that’s some really hot stuff!) before they leave the factory.
Hi Powers are extremely popular here, the most common auto to be found in gun shops, sometimes sold as ex cop or military surplus.
Due to the crisis people use reloads almost exclusively, some of doubtful quality control.
Do you know how many kabooms, or even cracked slides I heard of so far, regarding FM Hi Powers?
Nothing, zip, nada.
Use +P on your FM Hi Power without a care in the world, if it’s an older FM, even better. The worst thing that can happen is that it wears out faster, which means it will last 3 generations of constant use instead of 4.
Even then, with a steel slide and frame and that chromed barrel, some simple spare parts will set it back on track.
Use normal ammo for practice mostly, and just a few +P for familiarity and for carrying.
Your FM will last forever that way.


Monday, March 24, 2008

My Handgun Selection

Every now and then someone sends me a PM asking about my choice of weapons.
There’s nothing extravagant about the weapons I chose, they are all proven, popular designs and I’m sure many of you have made similar decisions.

Still, I’ll explain why I have them, and hope it helps you decide what fits your needs better.

Glock 31 (Caliber: 357 SIG)

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This is my main firearm, the one I carry the most.
Glocks are the most popular gun among those with self defense in mind these days.

There’s little left to be said about them. They work, they are easy to shoot well, accurate, one of the most rust resistant guns out there.
Lots of good things to be said about Glocks.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the plastic sights it came with.
They are pretty flimsy and I need to replace them, something I should have done a long time ago, by the way.
I’ll be replacing them with steel ones with a similar sight pattern.
No, not the snag free type, I’ll be using the normal, square one.
Why? Because those ones allow you to rack the slide single handed by pressing the rear sight against the belt and pulling down energetically.
What are the odds of having to rack the slide to chamber a round or clear a malfunction single handed?

Small, very small.

Still the sights need to be replaced, and I might as well get every advantage I can out of it. That’s pretty much a motto I live by.

Back to the Glock.

The model 31 was chose because it answered the following question I asked myself:
“If I’m going to get caught in a gunfight (against one or many attackers, more likely 3 or more theses days in this part of the world)
what handgun would I want to have with me?

Some are quick to reply that they’d have a rifle or shotgun…
That defeats the purpose of what we are trying to achieve here, since we are entering the wishful thinking realms.

Rifle and shotgun? You might as well wish for a SWAT team that fits into your pocket and grows to it’s normal size when you add water.

No, the question is limited to a handgun because that’s what you can realistically have with you at any given moment, even if you do have long arms in your house or even in your car.

The answer to such question came in the form of the Glock 357 SIG.

1) It’s a Glock. Glocks are no frills, easy to operate weapons, and they are pretty sturdy, reliable guns.
2) The caliber, 357 SIG, offers a 124 gr. jacketed hollow point (JHP) projectile flying at over 1400 FPS.
In case you are not familiar with such ballistics, that’s the exact same formula delivered by what’s commonly acknowledged as the best handgun caliber for stopping humans, the 357 magnum.

Many studies show that the 124 gr JHP flying at 1400 FPS, stops men with a one shot chest shot about 95% of the time.
Even if there are now calibers that offer equal or slightly better rates according to the Marshall and Sanow tests, the 357 magnum is the caliber against all other handgun calibers are measured.

The 357 SIG offers such ballistics, even gets higher speeds due to the auto system not loosing pressure like the revolvers does on the forcing cone. Since there’s no gas being lost, this means that a 4 inch or even 3,5 inch barrel in an auto, will give you greater speeds than a 4 inch revolver.

Another advantage rarely mentioned when talking about this caliber, is the one provided by it’s bottle shaped case.
While straight walled cases are much more common, the bottle shaped case feeds much more reliably.
You’ll hear about other calibers having feeding problems sometimes, getting stuck when leaving the magazine and entering the chamber.

This rarely ever happens with the 357 SIG. I’ve never experienced or hear of feeding problems with this caliber.

All agencies using this caliber are very pleased with it, it’s also very accurate and accuracy has gone up among officers when they started using it.

On the down side, it’s not a popular round, a bit harder to find and you don’t find that much bulk ammo getting sold.
Still, this “problem” is easy to solve: You can convert ANY 357 SIG into a 40 S&W in a matter of seconds just by swapping barrels.
Just buy a 40 S&W barrel and you’ll have two calibers in one gun. 40 S&W for the range and 357 SIG for when carrying.

3) With the Glock 31, I have 15+1 rounds of the best stopping power ammo available.
A revolver would only offer 6 or 7 rounds, and in a gun that has more felt recoil and is harder to shoot fast against multiple attackers.

Even with the 7 round revolver, the Glock offers 128% more firepower. That’s not a minor factor in my opinion.

Some people say that you only need 3 or 4 rounds, that if you need more you are already dead.
I’ve even read one self proclaimed expert saying that a 22 LR derringer was enough most of the time, suggesting that you only need a gun to scare people away…

I don’t pack a gun to scare people, I have this picture in my wallet for that:
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I pack a gun to stop people effectively if such persons are trying to kill me or my family. It’s that simple.
If I could carry some sort of death ray with a 1000 round capacity, that’s what I would carry, even if the chances of needing so much firepower are nearly non existent.

There’s been cases in which people got killed after running out of ammo or not being able to reload fast enough, and there’s been people that shot their way out of situations where they faced multiple attackers, situations where 5 or 6 rounds wouldn’t suffice.

Again, what are the chances of that happening?

Well, here those chances are pretty big. Two days ago some guy made it to the 8PM news, he had been kidnapped and dragged through the ATMs. But that wasn’t news, the news was that this already happened to him twice already, and he also had his car robbed three times.
Heck, my wife was kept hostage and locked in the bathroom twice too, in her house and once in the office.
So whenever someone on the internet accuses me of being an “armchair commando” claiming that those things don’t happen, I just suggest that they should speak for themselves, and that I envy their situation, the safety and tranquility their family and themselves enjoy.

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Caliber Comparison: From left to right, 22LR, 9mm, 357 SIG.

Bersa Thunder (Caliber: 9mm)

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The piece of rubber on the trigger guard is to avoid hurting the finger during extensive shooting sessions.

This is the firearm currently being issued to the Argentine police all over the country, slowly trying to replace the old warrior, the FM Hi-Power.
Now, those are mighty big shoes to fill, but the Bersa seems to be doing ok.
Bersa has been building guns for a long time now, about 50 years, and they have a lifetime warranty.
Bersa wont be earning any originality points, they just copy other well known, proven designs and apply some upgrades to them.

That’s not a bad thing.

The Bersa Thunder is a clone of the excellent but expensive Walther P88. Bersa just made it a bit beefier. Even compared to Glocks, the Bersa slide is visibly thicker.

They also added ambidextrous safeties and slide releases, front rail, Glock style sights ( Metal front sight though, not plastic) and it also has a surprisingly nice DA pull, something that’s a bit of a trademark of Bersa in all their autos.

I’ll admit that I never cared much for them before. They looked kind of ugly, even cheap and I was a bit of a gun snob back then.

But when I started looking for a gun to beat around, to shoot a lot of cheap reloads without worrying about ruining my “nicer” guns, the gun shop guy strongly recommended the Thunder 9.

Now, a few years later, I have 4 pistols from Bersa, and I’m very pleased with all of them.

Having a gun you don’t care a damn about is very liberating.
Messing up the Glock that cost me 850 USD would really hurt, but the 300 USD Bersa, which also has a lifetime warranty isn’t something I worry about.
Bersa would replace it even if a train goes over it, no questions asked.

So I’ve been shooting it a lot, with the cheapest ammo I could buy. Some rounds barely leave the barrel, others sound and feel to loud for what I’d consider safe 9mm.
Cleaning? Just some WD40 down the barrel followed by a piece of toilet paper, the barrel looks very messy.

In spite of all this, the Bersa 9mm has never failed me, ever. It’s also accurate too, and it’s the gun I’ve been using for defensive shooting classes.

Through stoic service in exchange for the little maintenance received, the Bersa 9mm made for itself a small place in my heart.

It holds 17+1 rounds, and there are some normal size, 19 round mags for it too.
As I’m writing this I’m hearing on the news about a shooting that occurred today in Buenos Aires, 3 dead bad guys and a dead cop, between 40 or 50 rounds fired.
No, I definitely want more than 5 or 6 rounds.

FM Hi Power (caliber: 9mm)

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Bought it used. In spite of the mistreatment received during its law enforcement previous life, this gun works perfectly well and the barrel is like a mirror.

This one needs no introduction, its simply the most prolific handgun in the world.
This is John Moses Browning’s final masterpiece, with, the creator of the FAL, Dieudonne Saive, solving the high capacity, yet compact and ergonomically correct grip.
This weapon is the most prolific handgun in the country, it works well, tough as nails, and spare parts are plentiful.
Unlike most modern handguns, this one is completely made of steel, and it will easily outlive it’s owner.
9mm stopping power isn’t much to brag about, but loaded with +P ammunition, Jacketed hollow points ( JHP) it is more effective than most people think, within a 90% one shot stop rate according to Marshall and Sanow’s research.
There’s also 18 or 19 round capacity magazines for it, and the more common 13 round ones are plentiful and inexpensive.

This is the kind of firearm I’d grab if I thought I’d be going out my house’s door right now and never coming back.
Lots of parts, all steel construction, mechanically simple, part could be made and adjusted for fitting, and the caliber can be found everywhere.

SO that’s it guys. I’ve got other weapons, but these three are the ones I trust the most, the ones that get carried and used more often.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another day in paradise

Today I woke up to my 5 year old son shouting “Where’s my flashlight!?”
It was 6 AM and since it’s been cloudy and raining for over a week, it was pitch black at that time.
We got my son to our bed for some more sleep, and I handed my brother another LED light for when he woke up.

He’s staying here for a few days and he’s sleeping in my son’s room.

Once we got up, I turned on the emergency light in the kitchen so we could all have breakfast.
Half way through, power comes back on and we manage to catch a bit of news:
There’s fuel and food shortage, food is expected to go up another 30%-50%. There’s also a bonus: The Roca train is “delayed”… the one I take to work…perfect.

I talk with my brother and since he’s going downtown too, I decide to wait a few minutes and go along with him in his rental car ( rented the cheapest crap, both to save money and to go unnoticed)

As we get into the car, I notice he has almost no fuel left.
“ Don’t worry bro, will go to the gas station before we go”
“Haven’t you heard?” I say “ There’s no fuel. They said on the news this morning that most gas stations are already dry. You should never let it drop below ½ a tank. These things happen all the time here.”
After a couple of stations with “NO gas” sings, we decide to go in the opposite direction from the heavy morning traffic, away from the city rather than towards it, and we soon find a Shell station with gas.

My brother brings out his golden Mastercard and his European ID.
As I pull 50 bucks I explain,” I got it bro, they don’t accept credit card”. I look at the clerk at the pump to confirm “ Do you?”
“Nope, sorry” He says. “ Only cash”

Traffic is hell driving towards down town Buenos Aries, and my brother wants to drive fast on the slow lane, next to the sidewalk.
“ Don’t do that” I explain. “There’s a reason why there’s little cars on this lane. It’s full of junk and debris. Also full of nails dropped by the tire repair guys trying to make a buck or two fixing punctured tires”

After a while my brother notices “In Spain I just pick a lane and stay there driving calmly”
“Over here; first, there ARE no visible lanes, and second, this avenue is so full of holes, I have to worry about avoiding the cars and the holes on the street at the same time!”
He’s been away for two years, so I guess he forgot what it’s like.

At night, we had dinner ( made some homemade pizza) my wife and son, along with my brother and my two nephews.

He was going to take them back to his ex wife’s home. Before going out he asks. ”It’s pretty scary out there. How about giving me a gun?”
“Sure dude”
I handed him the Colt 38 Detective Special I’ve been handing him since he got here-He hasn’t shot a single round in may years, so I wasn’t confident about him handling an auto-

A couple hours ago he walked back in “Man, the streets are empty, very little street lights working. And the faces of the few ones out there…”

When he asked today, as we drove towards downtown, how do you get used to the food shortages, the lack of fuel, the prices, the crime.
I just told him “Bro, you’ve been away too long”