Back when Podcasting was all the rage, I did one with an old college buddy. We ran it for about five years and then as family and work obligations took over, had to shut it down. One of my favorite episodes was always the “What’s On My Christmas List” edition we would do in late November/early December. We don’t do the podcast any more, but I still like making lists, so without further ado, I present a few items for you gift-buying consideration…
Compact Binoculars – Depending on your preferences and budget, there are three decent sets out there that I have come across. First up are the $700+ Leica 10×25 BCR Ultravids. The next option are the $547 Nikon Premier LX-Ls. Finally, for those who don’t want to break the budget, there are the $165 Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×25 binocs. I’m liable to push for the Bushnells for a couple of reasons. First of all, compact binoculars are always going to be a compromise. The 25mm objective is simply not going to take in enough light to rival even mid-range 42 or 50 mm objective lenses. Secondly, I’ve had good experience with Bushnell’s line of elite rifle scopes – they may not be in the same league as the really high end competition, but they get the job done at a reasonable price. Plus, Bushnell will buy them back if you aren’t happy with them. Satellite Phone – Whether you’re preparing for bad weather, social collapse, or just plan to do some traveling in an area where cell phone coverage is spotty or non-existent, a satellite phone may be in your future. Keep in mind that cell towers require power so a really bad storm can shut down the cell system. Furthermore, in the event of a localized disaster, service to normal people can be turned off completely or simply degraded to make space for the “official” first responders. Sure, Amateur radio exists, but it can be a pain in the backside to locate a working repeater that can do a telephone patch if you want to call someone on the phone to let them know you are okay or to pass a message. Sat phones have come down in price over the past few years and there are some reasonable options. I’m not going to do a full discussion of Sat phones here because after all, we are a gun blog, but suffice to say that you need to pick your service provider carefully. The big three (Globalstar, Iridium, and Inmarsat) all have pros and cons. What I’m going to recommend however is a deal that Roadpost.com is running on Inmarsat phones. The $600 Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro is currently available for free if you sign up for a two year contract. Sure, the cheapest plan is $50 per month and only provides you 10 included minutes, but let’s face it, how much time to you plan to spend yakking anyway?
Orvis Men’s Simoon Zip Neck Shirt – My wife picked up a couple of these last Christmas and I want some more this year. While they are made by Orvis, they do not seem to be available on Orvis’ own site – only through Amazon.com. I like these for a couple of reason. First of all, the Poly/Cotton Blend makes them easy to wash and they keep their shape wash after wash. Secondly and the real reason I like them is that they tend to be cut lower than many other sweaters and sweatshirts. They are the perfect length for concealing a compact firearm either inside or outside the waistband. Finally, the leather trim and collar make it easy to slip this on over a t-shirt and look relatively neat and professional. Not a bad thing for $79.
Offset Rail for my AR My SIG Sauer 516 currently wears a Nikon P-223 3-9 x 40 scope. It’s great for intermediate range work, but not so good for close in stuff. If I’ve learned nothing else from the CQB courses that I’ve taken, its that sometimes, you need to deal with a potential threat right in front of you. Even if you have a rifle. 3x is not terrible for this, but it does cost you situational awareness. With this in mind, I’d like to put one of the red dots I have lying around to use and mount it on my rifle. Sure, I could always replace the scope mount that I currently have with one that includes an angled mount, but I think the cheaper option would be something like this Daniel Defense 1 o’Clock mount.
Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme – Ever since RF mentioned the Stoeger Coach Gun as one of his “Three Guns to Take to Work” back in September, I’ve had a hankering for one of these (damn you, Robert). I’ve never been a big shotgun guy. Sure, I’ve terminated my share of clay pigeons over the years, but never with my own gun. A couple of years ago, I picked up a Mossy 930 Tactical Shotgun, but that’s really for a different purpose. The classic look of the side by side epitomizes the old west and from a self defense perspective a side-by-side has even fewer things that can go wrong than a pump or my semi-automatic. Plus, I love the fact that this thing takes down quickly for easy transport. The supreme version that I want ships with a couple of choke sets and has a thicker recoil pad. I’ll take mine in 12 gauge and a nice nickel finish. There have been some issues with the single trigger version, but the double trigger one seems to be rock solid. If I get one of these, I’ll do Joe Biden proud.
Polymer 80 Polymer 80% Lower – Did you know it is completely legal to make a gun for your own use? For years, gun enthusiasts with some machinist experience have been exploiting a small loophole in the existing draconian Federal Firearms laws by making their own guns. Yes, it’s completely legal (at least for now) to build a gun for yourself without notifying the
Gestapo ATF of its creation. AK-47 pattern guns have been popular for years with their stamped sheet metal receivers that requires some molds and a modicum of experience to bend and weld into a working receiver that can then have a rifle built around it. AR-15 pattern rifles are also popular due to the accessories available for them, but their receivers are a little harder to build without access to a CNC machine. One way around this is the 80% lower. It is what it sounds like – an AR-15 receiver that is only 80% finished. As such, it is not considered a firearm by law and sales are not subject to 4473 or registration of any kind. The purchaser of these 80% lowers is responsible for doing the last 20% of the work, thus being the creator of the firearm. In the past, these 80% lowers have been largely made from Aluminum which requires either a milling machine or a drill press (and a lot of patience) along with some degree of milling expertise. In the last year or so, a number of companies have released 80% lowers made from polymer which is much easier for the home gunsmith to work. Polymer 80 offers 80% lowers as well as a drilling template that fits around the receiver and makes it fairly easy for someone with a bit of woodworking skill to create a fully functional lower. If you buy the recevier and template from Polymer 80, they throw in a set of drilling/milling bits, so all that you need is a drill press. Polymer 80 also offers instructions for those who want to do the job with a hand drill and Demel, so not even a drill press is needed.
Gift Certificate to the Local Gun Store – When all else fails, a gift certificate to your local gun store is always a winner. Sure, you can save a buck or two buying your guns from the online guys (and I do business with them when I want something my local guy can’t get), but at the end of the day, its the local gun store where you go to fondle the merchandise and to shoot the breeze with other people who think the way you do. I’ve been in no other retail environment where a conversation can get started between several perfect strangers and go on for an hour. Your LGS is the glue that holds our local gun communities together and the slight premium we might pay to buy something from them is worth it.