Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Gift of Pain

Recently, one of my children asked me what caused pain.  She had driven a sliver under her nail-bed and was wincing in pain, when she realized that she wasn't bleeding.  She wanted to know, in the absence of blood, what caused pain.  I began to explain to her that blood, in and of itself, had nothing to do with pain, but that pain was caused by damage or stimuli to nerves.  After I explained the physical process of pain, I began to extoll pain's virtue.

Pain, I explained, is our body's warning system - our first and best defense against mortal injury.   If you put your hand on a hot burner, pain causes you to immediately remove said hand, saving you from further, potentially significant injury.  The intense pain of appendicitis serves to motive the sufferer to seek medical attention before a rupture occurs, effectively saving the life.  Pain, although uncomfortable (sometimes unbearably so), serves us by acting as our first alert system.

But pain is even more than just a warning system - it is a tangible component of the refining process, of improving.  When we discipline our bodies with a new exercise regime, we often experience pain.  When we run, when we bust weights, when we push ourselves, we spend days reveling in the "burn".  And most of us would admit that the pain that comes from driving our bodies to the limit is a "good" pain - a well-earned discomfort.

And then there is life-giving pain.  Life itself is born of pain.  When a mother gives birth to her child, that child draws its first breath amidst blood and tears, and most compellingly, unspeakable pain.  And then, lets not forget eternal life - which was brought forth in unfathomable pain upon a cross on a hill.  In pain, every one of us was born and in pain we have all been given the chance to be born again.

Although pain is our great servant, we seem to be collectively terrified of pain.  The more "advanced" our society has become, the more repulsed we are by pain.  As parents, we do everything within our power to shelter our children from any kind of pain, viewing pain as an enemy rather than a friend.  We make sure that our houses are "child proof" and our neighborhoods are "safe places".  In our attempts to insulate our children from pain, we actually rob them of their first, best security system. 

The repercussions of our aversion to pain are no less dramatic in our nation.  Our government's  constant attempts to keep our citizenry (and by extension, itself) from feeling the "pain" of poor choices has resulted in trauma so gangrenous, so rotten, that the very flesh of our nation is being eaten away.  Our nation's internal security system has been dismantled under the guise of a social safety net and in the process, we have produced a suffering, dying civilization.  The gift of pain has been replaced by the stench of death.

Pain is not an enemy, it is a servant - a faithful servant, indeed.  Pain saves life, encourages robust life and gives life.  It truly is a magnificent gift.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Gear Talk - Rifle Slings

Sir Knight

After using several different types of slings - single point, two point and even three point rifle slings - and talking with operators who've used them while deployed, I've found a few slings that work well for our applications.  This is not a product review, because the use of rifle slings is completely personal - a sling system either works for you or it doesn't.  I'll share what we use and why, and maybe show you a few innovations you hadn't seen before. 

My personal choice for a sling is a two-point sling.  I use the VTAC sling made by Viking Tactical.  It comes in every color you want, padded or not padded.  The quick adjustment, which is just behind your back, makes it very easy to loosen or tighten the sling.  As a matter of fact, you can suck it up hard against your chest with the simple pull of one hand, allowing you to bend over to render aid or do any other chores without having to take the weapon off. 

VTAC padded sling

VTAC sling - pull to tighten

Pull to loosen

Maid Elizabeth replaced the original pulls with these para-cord pulls
(skulls optional)
Master Hand  Grenade prefers a single-point sling.  For whatever reason, I feel trapped in a single-point sling, however they do have other advantages.  The ability to shoot right or left handed is lightening fast with a single-point sling - not so with a double point sling.  However, you can't pull a single point sling tight against your chest.  The sling must be removed or the rifle slung backwards across your back.  Enter Master Hand Grenades new sling that may be a good compromise between both.  The Magpul MS4 sling. 

Magpul MS4 sling

Pull to adjust

MS4 sling in single-point mode

And in double point mode
The MS4 sling works best when used exclusively with quick disconnect (QD) sling swivels (which are now standard, and sold everywhere).  By the use of a clever little metal bracket, this sling is able to be a single-point or a two point sling.  Master Hand Grenade loves this sling, however we have not yet had a chance to test it at the range.  The adjustments on the MS4 sling are easy to use (I still prefer the VTAC sling).

Clever adapter

Close-up of the MS4 adapter
The quick disconnect sling attachments are so popular that most major AR-15 stock manufacturers are installing sockets for the QD slings into their stocks.  And to put a sling on the hand guards is just as simple and they can be placed absolutely anywhere.  By installing a rear plate at the butt stock, with a socket built into it, any single point sling with a QD can be hooked right into that rifle instantly. 

Quick disconnects

Factory installed QD socket on Magpul stock
(can be removed and installed on the other side)

QD socket installed on Magpul MOE handguards

QD socket on rear plate

Single point sling attached to rear plate

QD socket installed on Key Mod handguards

Ultimately, you will have to research and try different slings to determine what would meet your needs.  Viking Tactical has instructional videos on their website and there are several Youtube reviews of the Magpul MS4. 

Whichever sling system you decide to use, I am completely sold on the quick disconnect sockets and swivels.  There are times when a sling is just impractical or gets in the way.  With the QD setup, the sling can be removed instantly and shoved into a pack or a pocket.

Master Hand Grenade and I have found what works for us - We recommend both the VTAC and MS4 slings very highly.  You can't go wrong with either of them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mind-numbing Distraction

Modern America, with all of its innovations and technological advancements, is becoming a waste land of mind-numbing distractions.  We are more in tune with our social media accounts than we are with our children and television (tablets, computers....pick your poison) has replaced family conversation.  Tools that were designed to serve mankind, to increase our productiveness and give us more hours in our day, have instead become mind-numbing Masters, distractions that require our constant attention, stealing our lives while whispering "you can't live without me".

Distractions come in many forms.  And we have so many of them now.  The news, the latest diet craze, sports teams, impending societal doom, video games, Facebook, shopping.  We have exchanged an engaged, thoughtful life for an existence marked by always-striving, never-achieving, stress-filled imperfection.   We are losing our families, our country, even our souls, to mind-numbing distractions.

It is time for us to wake up.  We have to look past the pretty, shiny things in front of our face and strive for things of eternal value and consequence.  We have to reclaim dominion over our lives and relegate our gadgets to a position of servant-hood rather than our serving them as masters.  We have to discern between what is "good" and what is "best". 

I'm not much of a believer in conspiracy theories.  Most of the atrocities in our world are happening right under our noses, we are just too distracted to see them.  We pay more attention to keeping up with the Jones' and checking our twitter accounts than we do to electing leaders that will lead with conviction and truth.  We are more concerned with "our" sports team winning the big game than we are balancing our checkbook - or making sure our government balances theirs.  We are distracted by minutia while history records the fall of a civilization.

Unplug.  Disengage.  Untangle yourself from the distractions that have numbed you to the realities of your life, your family, your nation.  Set the table - connect with your spouse and children.  Turn off the television - seek for the truth yourself, don't buy what someone else tries to sell to you as truth.  Turn your gadgets into tools rather than distractions.  Read a book, knead some bread, engage your mind as you walk through your day - don't let the constant drone of distractions rob you from thinking deep thoughts and experiencing raw and real emotion.

You were born for such a time as this.  Don't let distractions steal your days - they are too few already.  Wake up - and live.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Product Review - GunSkins

We live "next door" to a gunsmith.  He's not just your average, run-of-the-mill gunsmith, he is an excellent, can-do-anything gunsmith.  Over the years, Sir Knight has purchased weapons, parts and accessories (for pennies on the dollar) that others wouldn't touch, simply because he knew he could take them to "our" gunsmith and have them back the next day in perfect, like-new condition.  We have had weapons refinished, blued, parkerized and repaired. 

Although we have such a wonderful resource available, Sir Knight has always balked at the idea of having any of his rifles or pistols camouflaged.  Too many times he has seen rifles rendered virtually unsellable due to a poorly done camo job.  Even well done camouflage can greatly reduce the resale value of a pistol or rifle. 

A number of years ago, Master Hand Grenade had a rifle Dura-coated, along with a scope, flashlight, barrel, and magazines.  It looked great.  However, over the years, Hand Grenade changed his mind about the flashlight, and added a different one.  Then the scope came off.  Little by little, his rifle resembled a Frankenstein - reducing it's resale value and providing us with endless hours of entertainment (teasing him)!

Then, along came GunSkins.  I stumbled across the GunSkins website one day as I was looking for a solution to our camouflage problem (Miss Serenity wanted to camouflage her hunting rifle in Wildfire camo).  GunSkins looked simple to install and came in so many different camo's, even the Moonshine Wildfire we were looking for.

After watching a video, Sir Knight decided that GunSkins were worth looking into.  We decided to start small, and ordered a handgun kit in Moonshine Muddy Girl.  Our test subject was a Walther P22.  Sir Knight and Maid Elizabeth plugged in a hair dryer (you can also use a heat gun), pulled out the exacto knife (order lots of blades - you will need them!) and went to work.  Each GunSkins comes in a basic kit (handgun, rifle, shotgun) that needs to be custom cut for each individual weapon.  Rather than explain the whole process (which of course, takes longer the first time you do it, but gets easier with every installation), I highly encourage you to watch a GunSkins installation video.  It will give you all of the information you need to know.

Walther P22 in Moonshine Muddy Girl
The Walther turned out great, although not perfect.  The GunSkins adhered to the Walther well, and after 2 months of use,  it shows no signs of peeling or wearing off.  Sir Knight and Maid Elizabeth, with one installation job under their belts, knew the next one would be even better.

Next up was a 1911 and a G-Code holster in Kryptek Highlander (Master Hand Grenade's choice).  The 1911 turned out great and the holster (done with a GearSkins - a large piece of camo that you cut for whatever gear you want to cover) was absolutely perfect!  The finished installation looked professional, even with an up-close inspection.  The GunSkins seem to be holding up perfectly, not even showing holster wear on the 1911.

1911 and G-Code holster in Kryptek Highlander
After the 1911 came Miss Serenity's hunting rifle.  Wow!  The installation was quick, painless and looks great.  And here comes the best part - if Serenity gets tired of the Wildfire, or if she decides to sell her rifle, she simply has to peel off the GunSkins - no fuss, no muss and no negative impact to the re-sale value.  Perfect!

Savage rifle in Moonshine Wildfire

GearSkins on the scope
Another great application for GunSkins is concealed carry.  Carry guns often suffer holster wear, marring the weapon's finished.  GunSkins are the perfect solution.  Maid Elizabeth covered her Sig P239 in old school Tiger Stripe and wished she would have done it sooner - before any carry wear began to show.

Use Frog Lube to clean prior to installation

Using the blow-dryer on the Skins

Wrapping the Skins

Cutting around the important bits

GunSkins solve a lot of finish related issues.  First, they protect gun finishes.  If you install a GunSkins on a brand new weapon, the finish will be as new when you peel the Skins off.  Second, they are the perfect solution for people wanting to camouflage their guns without impacting their value.  Third, they are wonderful for people who change their minds about camouflage or like to add accessories (think Master Hand Grenade here) .  Another useful GunSkins accessory is their Magazine Skins.  They have packs of 3 Skins in various designs.  It is nice, especially if you have numerous people in your family (you can designate a specific design for each person) or if you have the same magazine that could be used for two different calibers (5.56 and 300 Blackout) making instant magazine identification simple.

GunSkins are a product whose time has come.  They are a practical way to maintain your gun's finish without effecting its value.  We definitely give GunSkins two thumbs up!


NOTE:  We found that we simplified the installation by only applying the Skins to the slide and grips rather than completely covering the frame.  We found that the "Less-is-more" approached appealed to us.  Also, we did have one failure installing GunSkins.  We attempted to install Highlander camo on a Mossberg MVP and had it immediately peel off.  We contacted GunSkins and they sent us another GunSkins (no charge) and told us to clean the rifle better (with Frog Lube).  We meticulously cleaned the rifle, tried the installation again, with the same result.  We did let GunSkins know, and although they have never had that issue, they said they would let other consumers know.  Please note, we have installed GunSkins on numerous weapons and gear, with no other failures!