Tales from The Front (Part III)

Our good friend Gerry from over at LITGM works for a major reseller of outdoor equipment including firearms and is on the “front lines” in this important debate. Here is his story…

In the wake of a senseless tragedy and the residual madness regarding the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States I try to find the positive things. It’s not easy if you pay attention to the media but there are plenty of positives to witness first hand while on the front lines.

Good news #1

Ammo is coming in again, that is some good news. The bad news is customers snap it up as soon as it hits the shelves. Even with a ten box limit it disappears fast as if it were being given away. The magazine aisle is still barren. No backorders or rain checks are being issued. The reason is because manufacturers cannot guarantee when they will get it into our supply chain and that goes for firearms as well. Much of it has been wiped off the website. If there is no guarantee from a manufacturer then the company will not disappoint customers with a potentially false promise. Seems like a sound business decision.

Yesterday a man approached me with the usual questions. Any .223 come in? No. Any 5.56 arrive? No. How about PMAG’s? No. What’s going on, when do you expect to get more? Don’t know. Do the delivery trucks come in overnight or during the day? Nobody knows. What is holding up the supply? Manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand. I heard some is coming in today, is that true? I’ll check.

I told him to stick around while I made a personal visit to the warehouse and see. Some ammo came in and was being unloaded off the truck. What was on the pallets was unknown because it is all mixed up and shrink wrapped so there is no way to tell what exactly was in the shipment but I did manage to make out some branded shotshell cases. After my trip to the back I saw the department manager. He told me he heard some 5.56 was in but didn’t know how much and would get back to me when it was unwrapped. I explained that a customer had the shakes for some AR ammo. He said to tell him to come back in an hour or so and even then he did not know how much would be available since it sells instantly.

By this time the man was accompanied by his wife who was pushing a cart with various handgun ammo boxes as I returned to the floor. I told him that yes, some had come in. When I told him it would be in an hour or so I detected that he was getting the shakes. On the floor I refer to these customers as being similar to drug addicts. I see it daily. Folks are so frightened of bans or restrictions or high prices they are taking the lack of availability way too seriously.

He introduced himself as Sam and his wife Jill (not their real names). His shakes were brought on by the fact that he was due in for work in an hour. They discussed their situation in private. My take was they were after a twenty box limit between the two of them. Ten wasn’t enough with him having to leave. He pleaded with me to make it quicker but I explained that it was out of my control.

Going about my business I spotted them an hour later in the archery department looking at crossbows. In another half hour I spotted them walking toward the checkout grasping their twenty boxes of American Eagle 55 grain 5.56 NATO. That’s 200 400 rounds total. They were all smiles as if they just scored an eight ball. We spoke.

Sam explained that he lived on property that bordered on the Kankakee River in Indiana. There was only one road in and one road out. They lived on the end of it. Further more those that lived in his vicinity are all very well armed. If one unfamiliar car comes anywhere near the road someone is communicating with the other neighbors. They watch out for each other and trust nobody. Both he and his wife are not hilljacks or redneck types, both being very sharp, well educated and well dressed. After a long discussion about the current state of affairs confronting all of us I made the assumption that they are “preppers” and lived among others like them. But I did not ask nor did they tell me, it’s none of my business but it was easy to spot. I have no notion that what they are all about is either good, bad or just plain batsh*t crazy as many like to believe.

Preppers are those among us who are preparing themselves for survival when all hell breaks loose and they strongly believe we are on the verge of societal chaos be it financial collapse, government oppression, all out Middle Eastern war, domestic terrorism or some of those in any combination. Lately I have been making some moves toward prepping personally but have not fully committed myself. Classify me as a sympathizer and a dabbler. Been dong a lot of reading on the subject as well.

To me this is good news. Citizens need to be prepared and ready to face the life different from what we now take too much for granted. We live in crazy times with crazy politicians driving normal law-abiding citizens to do crazy things. My wife calls this crazy talk when I speak of it. While some of us will head for the exit others will firmly stand their ground and what they believe in. With so much uncertainty surrounding us just who are the real crazy ones?

Good news #2

Last Saturday I was approached by a short and pudgy fellow, a rather nebbish gent in his late 40’s. I’ll call him Tom. He wanted to pick my brain about 9mm and .45ACP ammunition. He had recently purchased a 9mm handgun and wanted to take lessons, get in some range time and become more familiar with conceal carry laws and techniques. He intended to purchase a new .45 that day. Tom point blank told me he knew nothing about handguns and had never shot a handgun before but owned a Mossberg 500 shotgun for home protection. In his basket were different boxes of ammo. He showed them to me and explained his plan. The plan was to buy two boxes of each different grain in each caliber to see which ones had the lightest to the strongest recoil. I noticed he had some 9mm and .40S&W in the “+P” category. So I gave him a basic understanding (as I understand) of handgun ammo and what purposes they all serve.

First I explained to Tom that the grain weight on the box referred to the weight of the bullet itself, not the powder amount as he had assumed. Without getting into too much detail on the nuances I told him the while higher grain rounds may provide additional recoil the difference would be rather negligible to all but the most avid shooting enthusiast. He would definitely notice more recoil between the 9mm and .45. One thing I noticed was that he had a few boxes of ammo in his basket rated “+P”. so I told Tom to be aware of. +P ammunition. It has a higher pressure than standard ammunition and could present a problem if his firearm was not rated for +P. My advice was to read his owner manuals or check the stamping on his gun before trying to shoot any +P ammo. We have been getting in a lot of +P lately most likely because it is more available to retailers.

Second I showed hi the differences between FMJ (full metal jacket) SP (soft point) and JHP (jacketed hollow point) and explained to the best of my knowledge what each is capable of. Tom was like a kid in a candy store. He was excited to learn anything about all of this and I encouraged him to attend NRA classes and to read a lot on the subject since my knowledge is basic and I am far from an expert.

Later on Tom came back to me asking about cleaning supplies. What did I recommend he use? As a kid my grandfather taught me to use Hoppe’s No. 9 (love that aroma) with a lot of patch swabbing in the bore until one came out clean. Next step was to send a slightly oiled patch up the bore and done. Recently I discovered a few one step cleaning products such as Ballistol and Breakfree CLP. I led Tom to the cleaning supply section where a young soldier wearing his digital camo BDU was shopping for supplies. After explaining the various cleaning methods to Tom I noticed the Sargent listening in so I asked his opinion on gun cleaning with Breakfree. He quickly responded, “CLP man, never be without some”. Sargent O explained CLP as invented for and used by the military and was a great solution to use on all his weapons. But his first choice when he can get it is FrogLube CLP, something I had never heard of before. The Sarge told us FrogLube is very new and hard to come by.

Tom headed for the checkout while I spoke with Sargent O for a while, picking his brain on AR’s, ammo and cleaning. Sarge mentioned to me when using CLP it is advisable to send a final swab sprayed with Windex down the barrel because Breakfree will leave such a slick finish in the bore it causes some loss in accuracy. Not a lot, but by his standards being 1″ off at 100 yards is a lot. I should be so lucky.

A few minutes later Tom came back again. Tom thanked me and especially Sargent O for our help. He was so grateful to the Sarge Tom handed him a $100. store gift card for his service to our country.

These are only two positive tales from the front. There are so many more like it to tell and I’m certain there are many more to come.


As I have written many times in the past on this blog I am a hunter first and a shooter second. Most of my personal firearm experience is with a shotgun, hunting waterfowl and upland birds and a .50 cal traditional muzzleloading rifle for hunting deer. I bought my first handgun, a Glock model 22 in S&W .40 caliber only seven years ago. I do not pretend to be a marksman, firearm enthusiast or be-all, end-all when it comes to firearm knowledge. By taking a job at the big box outfitter store my intent was to learn much more than I do and I am.

In my last entry I told of advising a customer against using 00Buck in an older fixed full choke shotgun because of potential hazard, even deferring to another employee, a veteran enthusiast who knew more than I do we’ll call Bill. Bill agreed. Well, sort of. A commenter on another blog questioned my advice and I commented back saying I would look into it. I did. I had confused shooting 00Buck with slugs and when I checked back with Bill here is what I learned. With slugs it is not advisable to use them in a full choked shotgun, 00Buck is not so much an issue. Bill knew this at the time but did not say anything and for a good reason. Bill explained to me that he noticed the older customer was using a cane and hard of hearing. I suggested a #4 lead turkey load for personal home protection and Bill agreed, here’s why. 00Buck has one hell of a recoil. IF the older customer tried to use it the strength of the load may have knocked him back rendering him unable to get off a second shot if he needed to. #4 lead has a kick as well but nothing like 00Buck. Since I never shot 00Buck or lead slugs before I did not know that. Now I do. So no harm would have been done either way except to a potential intruder. My apologies for the confusion.

Cross posted at LITGM

3 thoughts on “Tales from The Front (Part III)”

  1. People are getting more into preparations for bad times. Because bad times seem more and more likely, from whatever cause. I admit that I have more food and other supplies stored than normal [now the new normal], I’m adding alternate energy sources, and I am adding to ammunition stores for each weapon. And learning the art of reloading.

    And most importantly I, and some similarly worried people, have made contact. If bad times come, a trustworthy community. Because there are a whole lot of people whose idea of preparation is to plan to steal what other people have. I would suggest to Gerry that his dabbling include considering that, and means of communication within such a group. We will be testing our radio net soon, a combination of Ham and CB.

    We are fortunate, in that most of our group is retired law enforcement/military and we are in a small town. I don’t know where Gerry lives exactly, so his tactical position may be far different from us. To be honest, if he is near Chicago proper, my advice would be to be ready to bail to a distant fallback position early; as there is no trouble scenario where a major urban area is a good place to be. But that said, I assume that those who hold the keys to the blog can extract my email. If Gerry is interested, I can send him some information on long term food storage that would not interfere with normal consumption. Have him contact me with my email using my nom d’ blog and “Food Storage” in the subject line.

    Subotai Bahadur

  2. Well, I could recommend a few SF books that deal with (non-zombie) apocalypse. One of the more interesting ones is Niven/Pournelle’s now aging Lucifer’s Hammer, about a comet strike knocking out most of civilization as of the late 70s.

    In it, they make a point that is a good idea but subtle — if you had to hoard ONE thing that had a high-long-term-value to low weight, it would be spices — especially whole peppercorns. They will keep for a long time, and they are essentially worth more than their weight in gold if you assume international shipping is cut off or even substantially reduced. The other is to recognize the value of books.

    A couple decades ago (also thinking of Lucifer’s Hammer), I managed to score a 1905 Encyclopedia Britannica for a pittance. Why? Think about it… while much of the knowledge is dated, other parts are no longer a part of any encyclopedia — because — hey, who needs to know all that much about horse tackle, or pre-engine farm machinery?

    A very old encyclopedia may well be worth the entire shelf-weight in gold in terms of no-longer-useful knowledge suddenly become not just useful but essential again.

    I also have a WWII era medical manual. Having a few old books on these kinds of things can’t hurt that much — a few dozen shelf-feet of carefully selected, old, no-longer “useful” books could be worth one hell of a lot, and probably is cheap though not trivial to locate.

  3. Also, obviously, check into ceramic filters, the kind that can be cleaned by back-flushing them. Having the ability to “clean” water a gallon or so a day can be important. Also, consider MREs — they’re not supposed to be all that bad any more, and keep in a cool, dark closet for as much as 5-10 years… In “bulk packs” — about 50-100 they aren’t too expensive, either.

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