Thursday, September 14, 2017

My New Caliber Adventure with Stag Arms and Ammo To Go

For the past couple years I have been trying to rein in the shooting budget, and promising myself that I wouldn't buy any more guns. (insert maniacal laughter here). Yeah, "trying" is the operative word. But this year I did compromise a little. The other month I "only" bought an upper.

To be more precise, I bought a complete .300 BLK upper receiver for my AR-15 rifle. I have been trying to build more versatility into my existing guns. To that end, I've been using a CMMG .22LR conversion kit for steel matches. I've also been doing some reading this year about the .300 BLK caliber. 

I wanted a larger game hunting compatible round that I could use in my familiar AR-15 platform. I do have a Marlin 30-30 lever gun, which I have taken to deer camp in the past, but it has never fit me well, and I need to get the stock cut down. I finally realized after all this time that I have been quite comfortable with my AR, so why wasn't I using it to hunt deer with? To be fair, there was that pesky no semi-automatic rule in that one state I go to, but that is now changing. My gun even has a new CMC trigger that I put in it last year, so my excuses for not hunting with the AR platform have pretty much evaporated.

Thus, I started asking questions and looking around the internet to see what would work best for what I wanted. It turns out that .300 BLK is basically a .30 caliber bullet in modified 5.56 brass. Though I needed a new barrel, I could still use my existing AR lower and magazines. After studying the options, I decided that I wanted a "complete" upper  - for the sake of convenience swapping back and forth. But even so, it was still cheaper than buying a whole new gun, AND I could get more use out of my new trigger! These are the things that my brain rationalizes when I want a new gun :-)

By happy circumstance, Stag Arms  had a sale on .300 BLK complete uppers over the July 4th holiday, so that made it easy to burn another gun-shaped hole in my credit card.

Also by happy circumstance during that time period, I discovered AmmoToGo.

At Ammo to Go, there was a Remington .300 AAC Blackout 120 gr OTFB supersonic round with which to sight in my new upper. In fact, delivery was so fast that the ammo arrived before the upper did! Talk about great service!

The arrival of the upper however, was a whole other adventure. I could tell by the UPS tracker that the package was due to arrive on a Friday. Unfortunately, it was due to arrive while I was at work. I managed to leave work a little early, as I was planning on leaving town that evening anyway, but by the time I got home, the tracker said that I had missed the truck. ARGH! So I called UPS to see if I could pick up the package instead, as I knew that I would be gone on Saturday, and back at work Monday. I tried the online appy-thinger first, but it was incredibly frustrating and the options were not specific to my situation. The lesson learned is that it pays to talk to a live person, because the helpful UPS lady connected me to another helpful UPS lady at the local distribution center, who GAVE ME THE CELL NUMBER OF THE DRIVER! This led to the driver offering to allow me to meet him near one of his next destinations in order to still receive the package that day!

So no kidding there I was - driving down narrow rural roads on a Friday evening in the rain, trying to track down the Big Brown Truck of Happiness. I finally met him head-on  on single-lane track, and actually had to back up into someone's driveway in order to let him pass. The poor driver didn't yet know that this car contained the crazy lady who wanted her gun parts. I subsequently followed the truck for another few hundred yards, flashing my lights, until we came to wider spot in the road where both of us could pull over and not end up in a ditch. The driver met me with the package at my driver's side door, and I presented my ID. Naturally, he wanted to know what it was. The package was marked "Stag Arms", so I explained that it was new gun parts. He just smiled knowingly, and I thanked him profusely for his trouble. UPS Customer Service for the win!

Mission accomplished! Then came the test firing.
I cleaned and lubed my new baby with Lucas Oil samples I had in my kit, made sure that the upper fit well on my lower,  added a Nikon 1-4 scope that I had laying around, and took her out to the gun club for a test drive. 

Admittedly, my sight-in procedure is very seat-of-the pants, so I probably burned through many more rounds than was strictly necessary. But I was there to shoot - and shooting is what I did :-)
I began my sight-in at 25 yards to start. Once I was sure I had things on paper, then I went to 50 yards. After I was sure that all was zeroed (sufficiently for my needs at least), then I went to town on the 100 and 200 yard steel.

This  Remington 120 gr ammo fed consistently, and I had zero issues from the get-go. In contrast, another brand of .300BLK supersonic that I tried, failed to feed the second and subsequent rounds, every time I tried it. The Remington round had no such issues. It fed cleanly, and ejected reliably. Every. Single. Time. I was a very pleased. Now I'm kind of reluctant to try anything else, since I know this particular load works so well with this gun.

I will definitely be ordering more of this Remington round from AmmoToGo, and maybe investigating some game rounds as well. I need to start gearing up for deer season.

What do ya know - Now I have a gun that can handle THREE different calibers!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Guilt, Victimhood, and Confusion

The mainstream news has me so confused these days. I'm not sure if I'm the Oppressor or the Oppressed.

I mean, while I was at Walmart today, I saw tiki torches on markdown in the garden center. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to be offended because of cultural appropriation, or offended because apparently by marking them down, Walmart was making it cheaper for white supremacists to light up their hate speech. Should I have bought all those torches up, so the the supremacists couldn't get to them? Or would that just have been enabling Walmart because I gave them more money to oppress their wage-slaves in China?

While I was there, I also bought shotgun shells. Does that make me an evil firearms owner who wants minorities and children to die in the streets in order to maintain my silly "hobby"? If the shells were marked down a dollar less per box, does that make me 20% less guilty? Or 20% MORE guilty because I bought more shells for the same money? Was I oppressing Walmart workers by buying cheap? Or was I using my money to make sure they had a job?

Does any of that guilt get cancelled out by the fact that I also bought "Moana" while I was at Walmart? As a kid doc, I feel the need to keep up on the characters that appear on the t-shirts and sneakers in my office. Or am I just supporting Disney's cultural appropriation machine?

As a "rich doctor", what was I doing shopping at Walmart anyway? Shouldn't I have been shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, or someplace more "fair trade"? Does that apply even if I make much less money than the national average for my specialty because I practice in an economically depressed population, which is largely Medicaid? Does that mean that I'm NOT being victimized by the "wage gap"? Or that I AM? So am I a greedy rich doctor, or a victim of my gender, or a champion of the underserved? I'm so confused.

I'm sure that the purchase of "Moana", does not absolve me of my guilt for being fair-skinned. I found out that I'm supposed to feel guilty and "privileged" because all of my ancestors (that I know of) came from Europe. I have ancestors who were "privileged" to have fought for the Union in the Civil War. Some were privileged enough to have been maimed for life in that war. Others were privileged enough to die horrible deaths and be buried as unknowns. But Civil War monuments are apparently symbols of hate, and not of sacrifice, so I need to start feeling guilty about that. I'll have to put that on my iPhone schedule. But does my iPhone oppress workers in China even more than shopping at Walmart?

I also have at least one ancestor who was privileged enough to have fought in the French and Indian War - and also privileged enough to live through it. Did he steal his land in Pennsylvania from native tribes? Or were those native people economic victims of the English who "bought" the land for trinkets? Am I supposed to vacate my house and give the land back now? If so, which tribe do I give it to? And how many millennia in the past do we count their occupation of the property? Once I give it all back, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to move back to Germany or England? Whose property there am I entitled to? Can I ultimately sue the Vikings?

Speaking of property, if I look far enough back in the family history, there is a Last Will and Testament from an ancestor, who bequeathed to his wife her own kitchen utensils. She wasn't considered enough of a person by law to be anything other than her husband's property, so she wasn't entitled to keep any of her own stuff. It all belonged to her husband. Does that fact mean that my gender (or is it "sex"? I forget which is the correct term these days) is inextricably linked to my ancestress's (is that even a word?) suffering? Did she even know she was suffering with a husband and children on what was then the frontier? Or was she too busy living her life to ponder her oppressed state? Should I have marched in a pussy hat after all?

But that brings me to ponder that if any part of my acceptance to medical school was because I was female, does that make me deserving as an oppressed gender (or is it sex?), or does it make me an oppressor because some man was perhaps turned down for the spot I received? Was I owed that spot because my 5 or 6 times great-grandmother didn't have any rights? Or did I get the spot on my own merit? 

And was that "merit" because I was "privileged" enough to be smart? Or because I was "privileged" enough to be self-motivated to go back to school as a divorced mom? Or was it the "privilege" of my 12-year Catholic education? Does my former Catholicism cancel out my "white privilege", and make me a victim too - because white supremacists hate Catholics just as much as they hate everybody else? 

All this thinking is giving me a headache. Maybe I need to create a scorecard where I list my privileges and my victimhoods, so that I know which one I'm supposed to be, and when. I'm just so confused. I need somebody to tell me what to think. Maybe I should ask the Internet.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Add Sunlight and Stir: A Day-Tour of Habitat Projects in Kumbrabow State Forest

Since I haven't been doing much travel to large shooting matches this year, one of the things I have decided to do instead, is use some of that travel money to make an investment in wildlife conservation. One of those investments was to become a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society.

This organization works on the local and national level to improve habitat for game birds, specifically the Ruffed Grouse. They also have a sister society called the American Woodcock Society, accessible through the same link.

Wildlife conservation was a cause near and dear to my own father's heart, as he was a lifelong hunter, and also an RGS member. Since I've gone on a few small hunts of other birds myself now (link and link), I thought it might be appropriate to continue the tradition, and join RGS.
I thought it would be good for me to learn more about Grouse habitat. I have not yet  hunted these birds myself, though I have eaten the fruits of my father's hunts many times in childhood. I DO know what grouse "drumming" sounds like though, as I had the occasion to hear it with my uncle at the family deer camp a few years ago. At first I thought the sound I was hearing was someone trying to kickstart a motorcycle in the distance. But my uncle informed me that the odd rumbling/buzzing sound was really a territorial display by a male Grouse. I had a hard time picturing this, until I looked up a video. Rather amazing, really.
A few weeks ago I got an email from the RGS, announcing a "tour" of local habitat projects for those who were interested. Since the date fell on a Saturday, I was free, and intrigued, as was my older daughter who happens to be in the university forestry program.

Thus, a couple Saturdays ago, my daughter and I drove several counties away to meet up with what turned out to be a large group of very interested and interesting people. I should mention as an aside, that I am neither a forester, nor a wildlife biologist, so any errors of interpretation or explanation are entirely my own.

The tour was hosted by several individuals from various different, but related, disciplines. It turns out that this group was illustrative of the type of cooperative efforts that are needed in order to make projects of this type come to fruition. Our main hosts were:

Dr. Linda Ordiway - RGS Regional Biologist
Travis Miller - WV Dept of Forestry, State Lands Manager
Rob Tallman - WV Dept of Natural Resources, Wildlife Manager
Shane Jones - United States Forest Service
Anna Branduzzi - United States Forest Service

There were others, representing various organizations, but I apologize that I did not get their names. In total, we were a group of about thirty people. I had not expected a group that large to show up on a beautiful Saturday morning, but there we all were - including a few eager birds dogs! 

Since the group was so large, we car-pooled-up for our tour, so as to limit the number of vehicles in the caravan. My daughter and I were fortunate to end up in Travis Miller's truck, so we were able to benefit from his knowledge and commentary for the entire trip. My daughter took notes for the entire tour, as did I.

Our destination (or rather, series of destinations, since this was a tour) was Kumbrabow State Forest, in Randolph County, WV. This is a 9400-plus acre forest range, which is the state's highest state forest, at 3,000 to 3,930 feet of elevation.

This location has apparently been serving as a laboratory of sorts for wildlife habitat efforts for the past several years, thanks to the team efforts of Travis Miller and Rob Tallman, of the DoF and DNR, respectively.

The partnership between the RGS, the DNR, the DoF, and the USFS has resulted in projects in the Kumbrabow State Forest to attempt to mimic pockets of natural disturbance, in an effort to produce more desirable habitat for the species that we are trying to encourage -  Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, and the Golden Winged Warbler, to name a few - in addition to doing no harm to existing species, such as local bat populations. This can apparently be an interesting juggling act, but the projects have thus far been successful in finding this balance.

There are many different types of trees that they are trying to encourage as well, including Black Cherry, Red Oak, and Red Spruce - depending on what the particular area has to offer. In what was to prove one of the highlights of my tour, Travis pointed out to us a surviving American Chestnut tree! This species has all but died out due to a fungal blight which took hold in the early part of the 20th century. This particular tree was remarkable for its height and age in the face of disease. But sadly, the nuts it has produced apparently die of blight not too long after sprouting.

(The flagged American Chestnut tree)

At a couple of the stops we made, there was signage describing the types of habitat projects. I hadn't realized before this tour that projects like this might require public relations explanations. Apparently the general public sometimes gets upset about trees that are taken down, or areas that look "messy" in a forest land. What people don't realize is that a manicured park-like setting - which for many is their only experience of the outdoors - is not necessarily ideal wildlife habitat. 

Some of what I learned on this tour, is that tall, dense stands of trees with a dark, shaded forest floor and very little underbrush, don't support the kinds of wildlife and game birds that many people think they do. What is needed to produce good cover from predators, good nesting sites, and good food sources is what is called Early Successional Forest. This is the type of vegetation and environmental grow-back that results after an area has been disturbed - by storms, or fire, or logging activity, etc - thus giving rise to the term Disturbance Ecology. 

One of the key features of this kind of disturbance is that the area is opened up to sunlight, allowing forest floor plants and saplings to sprout up, which had previously been too shaded to survive. This underbrush-type growth provides cover for nesting and juvenile birds, and "mast" seeds and fruits for food. These species often come back all on their own, without any further intervention, after opening the area up to space and light. Thus, the comment was made that all that was needed for this habitat to occur was to "Add sunlight and stir".

As we drove from stopping spot to stopping spot, projects were visible even from the road. In fact, the forest access road was itself a project. This was something I had not even thought about before, but as part of an improvement project, the team opened up, and "daylighted" a road which had previously been tunnel-like through the dense forested area. Opening up the sides of the road, using a "feathered edge" concept, rather than hard lines of delineation between open and dense areas, allowed the graveled road itself to become part of the habitat. Thus, it provides open areas for some wildlife to feed, with an uneven vegetation edge close-by for cover from predators. The road also then serves as a connecting route and travel zone for wildlife between other "pods" of intentionally disturbed and daylighted forest projects in the area.

One of the main features of these particular projects was the use of a "mulcher" machine, to open up designated patches of forested land to sunlight, and stirring up the soil. This leads to renewing ground vegetation, and starting the Early Successional Forest process mentioned above. While this work "can" be done by chainsaw, and dozer etc, it can apparently be done much more efficiently by one operator on a mulcher.

After a scenic lunch on Potato Hole Trail Overlook, we were given a demonstration of the machine. The mulcher struck me as a sort of cross between a Bobcat tractor, a rototiller, a continuous miner, and a stump grinder. It was donated by the Ruffed Grouse Society early in 2016, and has seen (I believe) a thousand hours of runtime so far.
This link provides a "before" photo of the mulcher machine when it was newly donated by the Ruffed Grouse Society. 
Here are a couple "after" photos.

This machine has proven to be a great investment for RGS in the Kumbrabow area, as the machine has opened up several hundred acres of dense forest to pockets of "sunshine" for habitat creation in that time frame.

Organizers admit that at least part of the success of these particular projects is due to the personalities and rapport of the individuals involved. Recognizing this, they are trying to work out ways to translate their efforts into a more formal program or framework that others might be able to use elsewhere.

(L to R: Dr Linda Ordiway, Travis Miller, Anna Branduzzi, Rob Tallman, Shane Jones)

(Representatives from the Ruffed Grouse Society)

They also admit that they do what they do out of passion, and are not very inclined to toot their own horns. At the same time, they recognize that horns MUST be tooted in order to gain support for additional projects. 

Many people in the general public don't realize that it is money from sportsmen and hunters which provides a large chunk of the funding for wildlife conservation. Organizations such as the Ruffed Grouse Society, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Trout Unlimited, and many other organizations - in addition to funds from hunting and fishing license fees - support habitat creation projects like this across the country. These organizations work with state lands projects, national lands projects, and even private landowners to improve habitat for a variety of different species. But they often do their good work outside of the limelight of the mainstream press. Thus, the general public has little knowledge of the good things that are happening for wildlife on their public lands.

I for one appreciated the education, and I was VERY impressed by the efforts of all of the organizations involved. I hope they consider this small blog piece my trumpet blast for them, and their continued success! 

(The author and daughter enjoying the Potato Hole Trail Overlook)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gear Review : Voodoo Tactical Mini Tobago Backpack


I have been eyeing this bag ever since I saw it at SHOT Show in January. I finally got my hands on one, and wanted to give you a review, so here we go.

I ordered this backpack from GunGoddess.

The checkout process was easy and painless - I even used some of my rewards points, so I got it for 20% off and free shipping! The box arrived on my front porch in two days, and boy was I excited!

I first have to say that there is nothing "Mini" about the Mini Tobago. This is not a tiny bag. It's still definitely a daypack, and not a weekend pack, but there are plentiful pockets, and zippered compartments to keep all kinds of gear organized.

I ordered the version that was gray with pink stitching, and it is much prettier in person than the photos online. I have a Voodoo Tactical bright pink range bag, and although I love that bag and have gotten lots of use from it, this backpack is beautiful in a more subdued and subtle way. It's still a little feminine, but it just doesn't scream about it, like the hot pink bag does.

This bag does have plenty of features that scream "badass" though - LOL - like accommodating a hydration system (which I don't currently have, but have been meaning to investigate). The bag itself is made of heavy pack cloth (unlike the stinky vinyl type cheapo bags out there). There are heavy duty zippers with paracord pulls, multiple exterior pockets, and the pack is covered all over with webbing so you can attach exterior accessory pockets/bags if you wish. I may eventually do that with my trauma kit to make it more easily accessible.

There are mesh zippered interior pockets, and two of what I call "administrative panels", (I'm not sure what you really call them.) You know - the place that has all the pen sleeves, and mini flapped or zipper pockets so you don't lose your chapstick and your cough drops and your keys? Yeah that. There's TWO of them. There is no dedicated key clip, but my keys are on a carabiner, so they were easily clipped to one of the several paracord interior zipper pulls, for ease of access. The exterior pockets and main compartment also have drain grommets at the bottom of each. I HOPE I don't ever need those, but for those who do - this bag is prepared.

I hadn't originally planned on using this backpack as a range bag, but since I had an IDPA match the day after the pack arrived, I thought I would give it a test run that way anyhow, just to see.

Pictured is the gear I took to the match. As you can see in the photos, just the bottom front pocket compartments held 4 magazines and 200 rounds of 9mm ammo. Granted, it was those little compact boxes of Sellier & Bellot, but 200 rounds is 200 rounds. The upper front compartment was roomy enough for my knife, a pen, my Surefire flashlight, sunscreen, hand wipes, a rain poncho, plus unused space. The main compartment held my pistol case, trauma kit, eye and ear pro, holster, and mag pouches. There was a still some room to spare there as well. The side pockets held my belt, snacks, and a water bottle. Actually, after I took the photo, I decided that since I was going to wear the belt anyway, I'd replace it in the side pouch with a second water bottle.

Though as I mentioned before, I was not originally planning to use this pack as a range bag, it nonetheless proved its storage capacity and weight-bearing capacity for me during this test. I usually struggle a bit with managing the weight and awkwardness of my heavy range bag - even with a shoulder strap. With this pack, between the top handle and the shoulder straps, lugging my gear around turned out not to be "lugging" at all. My shoulder didn't hurt, and I didn't have to hold my hip at an odd angle to balance the load, like I do for my regular range bag. The weight rested easily on my shoulders via the heavily padded shoulder straps. The area of the pack that rests against one's lower back was also heavily padded. I had zero discomfort handling this pack all day. I'm even thinking this might become my new SHOT Show bag.

For a second test, I decided to take this bag for a day outing on a tour boat. The pack accommodated a soft insulated cooler - containing my shrimp, pasta salad, homemade bread, and wine slushie (I was treating myself for Independence Day), a shemaugh and bandana (for tablecloth and napkin),  and extra water bottles, with room to spare. 

For a third test, I  took this pack for a state park trail hike, and then a lake beach stop. The pack easily held two water bottles, my lunch, park maps, beach blanket, etc. As well as the knife, flashlight, hand wipes and other miscellaneous "be prepared" supplies that I left in the pack from the last range trip. The padded shoulder straps were quite comfortable during my hike, and the adjustable chest strap/buckle ensured that the straps didn't slip around.

My final analysis is that the Voodoo Tactical Mini Tobago Pack has proven itself to be a great all-around, multi-purpose day pack. It is sturdy and roomy, without being so oversized as to be unwieldy for grab-and-go use. But it also has the features of a much larger "tactical" pack, making it capable and organized where other daypacks fail. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

On Female "Protestors"

The internet is ablaze this weekend with leftist indignation over video of a female "protester" being punched in the face during a confrontation in California. If you happen to be one of the indignant, allow me to acquaint you with the adage, "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

This woman willingly attended a gathering where she was actively seeking confrontation. According to internet screen captures of her page, she states that she wanted to "bring back 100 nazi scalps". In addition, one does not generally wear a bandana to cover one's face if one has peaceful intentions. 

The video shows her jumping forward into the confrontation, (not backing up or leaving the area), whereupon she is punched in the face by a male in a blue shirt. The video does not show what led up to that confrontation, but some reports say she was throwing M-80 fireworks at people.

Forgive me if I cannot generate any crocodile tears here. To use another adage, "Everybody wants to be a badass, until it's time to do badass shit." This chick dressed herself all in black, to include fingerless black gloves, so she could look all badass and posture on her social media page. But when it came down to it, she cried because she got punched. 

There is a lesson here for "feminists", of whatever wave you identify with. This is what "equality" looks like. In a street fight, you don't get spotted any points on the physical testing like you do in the military. You don't get to fight only other women. Nobody is letting you do girly push-ups. You get punched. In. The. Face.

This has nothing to do with "self-defense". Real self-defense (especially for women) involves a very healthy dollop of:


Avoiding confrontation, de-escalation, and the like are mainstays of personal defense training. This chick did none of those things, and she got exactly what she was looking for. She is actually lucky that nobody used those dreds as a handle with which to fling her around and break her neck.

I fear that stupidity like this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CMMG "Converts" Me to .22LR

I should preface this post by pointing out that I am by nature a "multi-use" kind of gal. I built as much flexibility into my home as possible - like folding doors to hide kid mess when guests come. I love sofa-beds to pull out when guests come, I also have a handcrafted kitchen "stool" that folds open into an ironing board. I have a day pack that folds down into its own pocket. I appreciate items that are versatile, reversible, reusable, and reliable.

Thus, it was with great interest that I read about the CMMG 5.56/.223 to .22LR Rifle Conversion Kit.

This is a drop-in bolt adapter (no tools or gunsmithing experience needed!!), which comes packaged with a special .22LR magazine designed to fit a standard AR mag well. Being the "multi-use" kind of gal that I described above, I was intrigued by the possibility of being able to expand the uses for my existing AR15 rifles, so I decided to  see if CMMG would let me try one out. 

The CMMG Conversion kit arrived on my front porch by UPS. The kit is only "gun parts", so I didn't need an FFL or any kind of "expert/pro" stuff to be able to try it.

The packaging and directions were pretty self-explanatory. All I did was make sure my AR was relatively clean, lube up the adapter well with a sample of Lucas Oil Extreme Duty , pop the rear AR pin, slide out the existing bolt carrier group, slide the adapter in, and close the gun back up. That was it - yes really.

I also needed to find some .22LR Ammo, as I'd never shot this caliber before. Thanks to Greg at Second Amendment Sports and Defense  for the help selecting various kinds of ammo to try. For my testing purposes, I ran:

Remington 22 Golden Bullet - plated round nose, 40 gr, 1255 fps
Remington 22 Golden Bullet - plated hollow point, 36 gr , 1280 fps (bucket o'bullets)
CCI Mini-mag 22LR - plated round nose, 40 gr, 1235 fps
Winchester 222 Rounds - plated hollow point, 36 gr, 1280 fps
Winchester SuperX - plated hollow point, 40 gr, 1280 fps

My only criteria for selecting ammo was that 1) I didn't go with low velocity rounds, as I understand that they don't cycle the bolt well, and 2) I stuck with plated bullets, as .22LR is inherently "dirty" as it is, and I didn't want to deal with lead-fouling on top of that.

So with ammo, and my gun with new adapter in hand, I loaded up the car, and headed to the range. I am spoiled, in that my gun club is only 2 miles from my house, and there is rarely anybody there before noon on weekends, or during the day on weekdays. I had ALL the ranges to myself to do with as I pleased!

I started with sighting-in the older red dot that I had dug out of storage for this trial. I got my zero on paper at 25 yards, and then started plinking away.  The sound of the ringing steel at the 50-yard berm was very satisfying. I was hitting it easily both at the bench and offhand. Then I moved over to the bays and the plate rack.

The 25-yard plate rack was giggle-inducing with this set-up. I'm not kidding. Shooting rapid strings on that rack with .22LR was more fun than middle-aged women should be allowed to have all by themselves! I ran that thing over, and over... and over. It didn't matter what kind of ammo I used either. The CMMG conversion adapter cycled all of my choices equally well.

During this first session, the only hang-up I experienced was around the 150 round mark. The adapter bolt itself ran like butter, but the magazine spring started hanging up for some reason. When I got home, I took it apart to clean and inspect it. I didn't find any spring kinks, or burrs on the follower, so I reassembled it and took it back out the following day for another 75 - 100 rounds. It ran fine then, and has continued running fine ever since. It must have been just a fluke, but I wanted to mention it anyway. 

      ( After the initial hang-up, the magazine ran fine)

Those were the first and second test sessions. For the third session, I again had the range to myself, so I went "longer" this time. I decided to test the CMMG conversion kit, and my older eyesight, with the non-magnified red dot, on 6-inch hanging steel at the 100-yard berm. This was a little more challenging. Even so, I was still getting good hits. This was a pleasant surprise to me, as I knew that my 1 in 7 twist AR barrel was not ideal for .22LR distance accuracy. I even videoed some of this session. (gotta love a freestanding iPad) 
Given all of the above, I was completely tickled at the sound of ringing steel at this distance with "only" a conversion kit.

(This video screen shot shows the open CCMG bolt and a smudge of ejected brass)

Now, a little about the equipment I was using. It is important for me to note that this Smith & Wesson M&P15 was my first "evil black rifle". I had carefully researched the purchase about six years ago, and used it as my learning tool for the AR platform. This was the gun that I learned to field strip on my living room floor - on an old mattress pad, so I could find all the little pieces. This is the gun that I hit my first 200 yard target with, and learned to shoot 3-Gun with. 

The gun has sentimental value - we were bonded, she and I. But she had been hanging around as a neglected safe-orphan ever since I won another rifle, tricked out specifically for 3-Gun, in a raffle a couple years ago. I had started to revamp her a little last year with a prize-table stock, and new trigger, but she was still kind of superfluous, and looking for a "purpose".

This clever little CMMG adapter has allowed me to give new life to my old AR friend. She isn't a safe-orphan anymore. She is now a ridiculously fun little plinker, which will get much more use in monthly steel matches than the other gun does in thrice yearly 3-Gun. And shooting .22LR in club Steel/Rimfire Challenge is a lot more affordable than shooting 5.56 in 3-Gun. If I wanted to, I could even swap the adapter over to my 3-Gun rifle for some cheaper practice, and then swap it back for Rimfire Challenge.

The Tru-Glo red dot sight which I mounted, was given to me "used", by a friend a few years ago, for use on a deer rifle. But once I discovered that my older eyes really needed a scope for those distances, the red dot began also sitting around, neglected, in my safe. Now, it too has found new plinking life! For me, the red dot is the perfect optic for the short distance, rapid target acquisition that I need with steel matches.

The best part with all of this is that I didn't have to buy a whole new gun! The CMMG conversion kit gave me good accuracy at the distances I was interested in - 25 to 50 yards. Even using an unmagnified red dot with older eyes, it was quite acceptable out to 100 yards - with my pretty standard AR set-up - even though my barrel twist rate is 1 in 7". Usual barrel twist for .22LR is 1 in 16".

In the future, if I should decide that I want a more accurate, dedicated .22LR upper for say - varmints, then CMMG makes all of the parts necessary to complete my conversion to the .22LR dark side. I was told by a design engineer at SHOT, that the adapter bolt can, with the easy tweak of removing the chamber adapter, be used as a dedicated bolt for a dedicated .22LR upper, with just the addition of barrel collar, and a CMMG .22LR barrel. They even sell the collar and barrel together as a set for this very purpose!

That sounds quite economical to me, as I STILL wouldn't have to buy a whole new gun! (Not, that I don't LIKE buying guns, but sometimes a piecemeal approach is a little more budget-friendly, and many gals shoot within a tight budget.) To top it off, CMMG provides a lifetime quality guarantee.

I think this set-up would be "perfect" for a variety of women (and men too, of course), such as:

-Recoil-sensitive women (or even juniors) who might be interested in getting started in rifle shooting, but who are reluctant to make an investment in an entire firearm until they are sure they are comfortable. These women would be able to drop the CMMG .22LR conversion kit into a friend's or spouse's AR15, in order to get a feel for the platform in a lighter-recoil setting.

-Budget-minded women who already own an AR- style rifle, but who want to practice "on the cheap." .22LR ammo is much less expensive for practice than .223/5.56. The unit would pay for itself after only a few sessions of practice, while allowing such women to reinforce habits with their own familiar rifle.

-Practical women (such as myself) who want to expand our horizons into other areas of competition (such as Rimfire Challenge), but still squeeze as much use as possible out of the guns we already own.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this little conversion kit.
The bolt adapter itself had zero issues, right out of the box. It ran flawlessly through hundreds of rounds - from sighting in the red dot optic, to ringing 50-yard, and then 100-yard steel, to rapid strings on the 25-yard plate rack. 
I LOVE this CMMG conversion kitIt's a keeper! 

Now I just need to go buy some more magazines, so I can shoot a club steel match next month!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Affirmation and Tears

This is another "personal" post. It has nothing to do with firearms, but I wanted to share it anyway...

I received a wonderful reminder and affirmation today of "why" I wanted to be a doctor. 

I really, really needed it. Because lately I've begun to wonder and forget. 

Too often in medicine we get bogged down in paperwork, and EMR, and in meeting "quality measures" and "meaningful use", and otherwise having to justify everything we do - to bureaucrats who don't understand anything about it, and who are rarely satisfied.

It seems like some days there is a never-ending stream of negatives and complaints. Physicians are "rated" like restaurants - despite part of the job necessitating being the bearer of bad news, and telling people things they don't want to hear - in the interests of their own, or their child's health.

Doctors are people too. We are not vending machines, into which you insert your insurance card and we then spit out meds and a school or work excuse. We get worn down from trying to practice good medicine, while being judged like contestants in a beauty contest.

Sometimes we wonder if we're doing any good at all in an uphill battle. We lose sight of the good outcomes - because it is our "job" to make people better. We sometimes only remember the things we were helpless to fix or prevent. 

But then there was today - when a family kindly and graciously reminded me of an event that happened several years ago. I was so overwhelmed by the gesture, and their kindness, that I literally sobbed. I'm still tearing-up as I write this. 

Only this morning I had had a flash of wondering if I was truly doing any good in the world. I know I'm not alone in this. Many docs - especially in primary care - burn out long before their careers are over. 

This gesture of kindness and thanks - for something which was far enough in the past that it had dropped off my radar - gave me back a glimmer of the idealism with which I had started down this road. It also reminded me too, that there are real, and appreciative people and families behind all of the paperwork and stress - it's just sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.

So, I'm going to ask you today to try to remember that your doc is a human being. A word of appreciation or encouragement once in awhile can go a long way. 

Who knows - you might just refill their running-on-empty tank, and make them cry - because you let them know that they really are doing  a little good in the world after all. :-)