Web Blast: Go Ahead Amaze Yourself

And The Best Thing To Be
Amazed With Is —  You!

May/June 2009 GunCrank Diaries Column

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Matching Boker SubCom F folders.

Lots of you guys wrote and asked about the blind rescue bowline knot I mentioned in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue. Yeah, it’s a great knot; one that can save lives, with many other uses too. The ability to quickly throw a secure knot which won’t jam, slip or bind can not only make your life easier and impress the heck out of your pals, but you’ll amaze yourself with what a smooth line-handlin’ rascal you are.

I don’t know how many lengths of rope I’ve cut and then given to “knot-challenged” friends with BRB instructions and a little book on knot-tying. Later, I love it when they say they’re amazed at how useful that skill is. But the BRB is just one element in my sinister “Amaze Yourself” program.

Whenever I identify gaps in a friend’s skill-sets, I like to give ’em a little gift and comments like, ‘next time I see you I’m gonna shake you down to make sure you’re carryin’ this, and test you on its use, okay? If you don’t have it, you get an Atomic Wedgie. If you have it but fail my little test, you get a Three Stooges knuckle-noogie on yer gourd.’Some folks find this practice strange, but more are pleased and even amazed with the results.

Since I can’t give these gifts and instructions to all of you, how ’bout if you give ’em to each other – and yourselves? Go ahead … amaze yourself.

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Bushnell’s new BackTrack can tell you where you are, how far
you’ve gone, and how to get back; what we call “a good thing.”

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Lansky’s Quick Fix has V-notches on each side for coarse and fine sharpening.
DMT’s DiaFold features coarse and fine diamond sharpening surfaces.

What, Where, How And Wow!

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This ToolLogic mini-light pulls apart and the magnetic swiveling
base sticks to any ferrous surface – a really handy feature.

A Teensy Light In The Dark. We all love cool tactical lights, right? But aside from light-freaks like me, how many people carry one 24/7? A pal of mine got a hard jolt and scorched-black burns on his fingers when he stuck his hand into an outlet box he didn’ first illuminate. If you start carrying a mini-light and use it every single time illumination is needed, you’l be amazed at how helpful it is. I probably use a mini-light a half-dozen times a day. Check here or on Web Blast at www.americanhandgunner.com for some recommendations.

Little-Bitty Duty Cutters. More true confessions: I usually carry four knives on my person at all times, but my LBDC is used more than the others combined. My current favorite weighs 2.5 ounces, has a blade under 2″ long, and it’s used and abused daily. Get one, use it, and amaze yourself. Note: nobody needs to know what other blade or blades you’re packin’, pal.

Wow! You could cut through, umm – soft butter with that! Having played with knives around the world, I gotta conclude that Earth is hip-deep in dull, nicked an – dinged blades. The weird thing is, as sharpening technology has improved and great sharpening tools become less expensive, there seem to be fewer and fewer people who know how to keep their blades bright and keen.

First get a good little pocket sharpener like the Lansky Quick Fix, or DMT’s DiaFold Sharpener; the FWFC fine and coarse model. Even if you claim you’re – edge-challenged, just follow the instructions and you might just be amazed. When every blade in your purview is scary-sharp, move up to a real sharpening system and join the “one percenters” who can dress an edge right.
Uh, where am I? Whether

you live and work in a metro concrete jungle, the High Lonely or the pool-table plains, you should know your cardinal points all the time. I’m one of those lucky people sorta born with an on-board compass, but even I get turned around, so I always keep a little compass at hand. Get one, and take readings at every point you routinely travel. I think you’ll be surprised at least once, and later, amazed at how “centered” you feel when you’ve developed your own on-board internal compass.

Seeing Farther

Enhancing the Mark-II Eyeball. As a police trainer, I used to loan cops a monocular or a set of mini-binocs, and coerce them into using that gear for at least a week, on and off-duty. Every last one reported amazement at how much more activity they saw, and how their overall comprehension of given areas improved. Most people tend to only see what’s happening out to about 60′. That’s bad and dangerous. Go ahead; become an amazed peeper.

How far is THAT? Whether it’s a peak on the horizon or the phone pole down the block, sad to say, most folks ability to gauge distances sucks buttermilk. Others just need re-honing of old skills. You might start with a set of pace-counter beads (from many sources including www.brigadeqm.com) and literally pace off some distances around your home and work. You may initially be surprised at how wrong you are and later, amazed at how accurate your gourd-mounted organic on board rangefinder has become.

Train More, Bleed Less. Finally, get a target setup, one easily put up and taken down, in your garage or hallway, and resolve to practice handgun presentation,sighting, reloading and malfunction clearing at least once a week for twenty minutes. Most shooters don’t, and even such short sessions will result in some degree of self-amazement, I promise. If Blade-Tech offers their Training Barrel for your pistol, pop the $13.95 and train safe! Check details at www.blade-tech.com. Revolver shooters can use inert training rounds try www.stactionpro.com. If you can, put a laser on your roscoe and have an amigo see where that laser-berry wanders or jitters off to when you’re slappin the trigger.

Listen up, folks: This is that “More Blurb & Photos” thing I promised
you in the print version of May/June 2009’s GUNCRANK DIARIES.



From 12 o’clock clockwise, Photo’s Proton Pro, ToolLogic’s Magnetic TracLite, the Streamlight
Microstream, and Coast’s LED-Lenser. The keychain light is Photon’s Freedom MicroLight.

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This ToolLogic mini-light pulls apart and the magnetic swiveling base
sticks to any ferrous surface – a really handy feature.

Those Teensy Lights: You just can’t underestimate the value of these puppies, and in an emergency, one that’s on your person and available in a flash could quite literally save your life, while that big Tacti-Cool model is sitting in your dresser drawer. I know a guy who even teaches low-light defensive shooting using the tiny but powerful Freedom MicroLight, simply because people are more likely to actually be carrying such a light daily. Don’t leave home without one, okay? www.photonlight.com, www.toollogic.com, www.streamlight.com, www.coastportland.com.

Handy Knives


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Matching Boker SubCom F folders, skeletonized Spyderco, and the slick Kershaw Chive are
representative of tiny, light but tough little cutters which will stand up to daily use.

The LBDC’s: Last time I gave one of these to a friend, he kinda sniffed at it, `cause he carries a big hand-filling tactical folder. I just asked him to try using it for routine daily cutting chores for a while. He was amazed. He realized on many occasions when he needed to do some cuttin’, social decorum and self-consciousness restrained him from whipping out his big folder in front of co-workers and associates of the easily-shocked sheeple variety. Using his LBDC, his cuttin’exhibitions drew only interest and admiration from those folks, and queries of “Where can I get one of those? Can you show me’?” `Nuff said.

Try one, and don”t think in terms of “when do I have to use it,” but rather “when can I use it?” It’s been my experience that the more you use a knife, the more you’ll find using one to be a huge convenience, besides which, it will save wear and damage on your teeth and fingernails.

How many times have you watched as some “highly civilized sophisticated” person tore savagely but ineffectively at plastic packaging with their teeth, only to have another “highly-evolved” individual grab it away from them and proceed to try to pick and pry it open equally-unsuccessfully with their manicured claws? And all the while you were thinkin’, “Didn’t we Homo sapiens solve these problems eons ago by developing cutting tools?”  Be the caveman with a cutter, okay?

Stay Sharp


Lansky’s Quick Fix has a carbide V-notch on one side and ceramic “crockstick” V-notch on the other for coarse and fine sharpening, while DMT’s DiaFold features coarse and fine diamond sharpening surfaces.

Keepin’ Your Cutters Keen: I do about 80- to 90-percent of all my blade sharpening with the two tools above: Lansky’s Quick Fix and DMT’s DiaFold. First, because routinely keeping my knives sharp means I rarely have to do anything more than touch them up, and second, because they’re both so small and light they’re usually close and convenient; many times in my pocket or go-bag. These two are among the best of the breed.

The carbide V-notch of the Quick Fix will indeed quickly fix most smaller dings and nicks on edges, and the ceramic V can finish that edge to a smooth slicing surface with very little elbow grease and even less time.

DMT’s diamond-surface sharpening technology grows by leaps and bounds, and what a relief it is to be able to use plain water in the process rather than sharpening oil. The microscopic diamond particles on the coarse side of DiaFold’s paddle will erase even significant nicks and dings quickly, and then a couple of passes across the “fine”surface will slick it up. As you might guess, any attempts to “wear out” the diamond surface will just wear you out. www.dmtsharp.com.


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A quality knife-sharpening system like the Lansky LKDMD above will pay for itself over years of service.

If you’re a Certified Knife Knut “or about to become one ” a high-quality sharpening system like Spyderco’s Sharpmaker or Lansky’s LKDMD is a sound investment. I have both, and I can recommend them with absolute confidence.

If you’ve tried and failed to achieve the correct angle at which the blade contacts the sharpening stone “a very common problem” the Lansky system can make it easy for you. In their instruction guide, just match your blade edge type and intended use with one of the holes in the clamp, stick the rod extended from the selected stone into the correct hole, and “check the photo above” it will hold your blade and stone at the appropriate angle for you. www.lanskysharpeners.com

Find Yourself


Bushnell’s new little BackTrack combines a digital compass and a GPS
system in an inexpensive, compact package.

Where am I, Where do I Go, and How Far Is It? The BackTrack from Bushnell is a digital compass and GPS system which allows you to designate up to three precise locations. When you want to “backtrack” from any one of them, just push the button for where you want to go, and it will not only give you a compass reading for that route, but tell you how far it is in yards and miles or meters and kilometers. Use it for on-foot or in-vehicle ranging, finding your way out of a super-mall maze, plotting your route back to camp, and only about a dozen different uses I can think of, ranging from convenience to survival. There’s hardly a better way to sharpen your range-estimation skills, and Bushnell has made its use really simple.

For example, set a “home mark” in front of your house. Estimate the distance to the third telephone pole in the distance, or that big oak in the next block. Now walk to it, set that as the second mark, and tell Backtrack to plot the return to the home mark. It will give you a compass heading and the true distance in yards or meters. How far off  was your guess?

For many people and many situations, I think a full-up GPS device is overkill and too complex. The BackTrack is extremely user-friendly, and certainly wallet-friendly at a suggested retail of $69. www.bushnell.com


High-Tech meets Low-Tech: Multi-function Brunton Eclipse compass
and ancient-technology pace-counting beads.

If guesstimating distances and playing with the BackTrack whets your interest in land navigation, Brunton’s Eclipse compass is a nice self-reward and a pleasant challenge. After years of carrying a mil-issue lensatic and trying, then dropping a score of contenders, I was convinced my original was the best to be had. I learned yes, it’s good  but the Eclipse is better. It is arguably the best professional baseplate compass in the world, with circle-over-circle alignment, three inclinometers, declination adjustment, a magnified map reader, and an excellent set of field reference cards. If you don’t know the terms used, you can learn `em for under $100 bucks and also own the best compass made.

When batteries fail and cloud cover or heights preclude getting a satellite link for GPS, you’d better have a compass and a low-tech distance calculator. Pace counter beads, often called Ranger Beads, proved high-tech and extraordinarily accurate for Imperial Rome’s legionnaires  and countless warriors over the centuries since.

A set consists of friction-fit beads in two sections on a cord, the two separated by a knot. The top set has four beads, and the bottom set, nine.

First, measure how many times on average your left foot strikes the ground while walking a measured 100 meters. For me, bearing gear and averaging different terrain, it’s 65 times.

Pull all beads up the cord to their highest position. Now start ground-poundin’. When your left foot strikes the ground at 100 meters, pull one bead down from the lower nine-bead section. Repeat all the way through the ninth bead and you’ve traveled one kilometer. That’s where you pull down the lowest bead from the top section, and pull your nine lower beads back up again. When all four upper beads have been pulled down plus nine lower beads, you’ve hoofed 5,000 meters. Wasn’t that fun? Well?

When you’ve had some practice, you can go “box the compass,” say, hiking 1,000 meters due north, then east, then south, then west back to your starting point. Pace counting can be very accurate. I’ve boxed the compass over miles in tough, broken terrain and come out within a hundred meters or less to my precise start-point. It’s just one of many skills we’ve sorta let waste away in the Electronic Age, and we shouldn’t.

There’s a good pace length table and discussion of pace counter use at http://therucksack.tripod.com/landnav.htm#pacecounting. Do a Google search for “Ranger Beads” or “pace counter beads,” and avoid fragile ceramic ones, okay? Good trekkin’.



Get outside your bubble with a lightweight monocular or binoculars like these from Tasco and Bushnell.

imply put, open your vision up to details outside your usual “range of focus” and you will be amazed. Years ago I gave a monocular to a friend who had not touched a pair of binoculars or other magnifying device since his days in the Navy two decades before. Within 24 hours, he went out to his backyard fence and glassed the undeveloped canyon country behind his home. The first thing he spotted was a large “undocumented migrant worker” camp to his west, and then to his east, four greasy-lookin’ dudes who popped out of a well-camouflaged hidey-hole in the wall of the canyon. They moseyed about 100 yards closer, then sat down and shared a gigantic “herbal cigar” before climbing outta the ravine to their vehicles parked in a cul-de-sac. Yep; the hidey-hole hid commercial quantities of “unlicensed pharmaceuticals” and “recreational herbs.” He became a convert. To magnified optics, not to the drugs, okay?

Glass your neighborhood being careful not to seem to your neighbors like a born-again peeper-pervert the park off Highland Avenue, that s’posed-to-be-abandoned old mansion at the end of Jericho Road, whatever. Me, I like knowing what’s just beyond the detail-focus range of my onboard Mark-II Eyeballs.

There are lots of subcompact, lightweight binocs and monoculars out there in every price range. If you’re really going to carry them often and keep them at hand, I recommend you start cheap, which is not to say junk, but rather, inexpensive.I view them as combat consumables;gear you can expect to lose or destroy and not get too upset about. Check what’s available from several makers, then go try them before buying, and if one shop won’t let you finger the goods, go find another. If they’re binoculars, be sure to adjust them to your eyes, according to the instructions. Also, unless you’ve got a really steady hand, don’t go over 8X power with the subcompact binocs, or you may get so much jitter you’ll have trouble using them. Go. Look. See.

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Blade-Tech’s Training Barrel allows full slide and trigger function for safe, effective training.

Fortunately, there ain’t too much more to say about the value of frequent and regular training, practicing your initial grip and presentation, trigger control, reloading drills and malfunction clearance. The best saying I know on the subject is, Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.And if you’re going to train anywhere an errant round might pose danger to an innocent person, pet or porcelain antique, Blade-Tech’s Training Barrel is a fantastic tool.

While you’re at it, get a pal to join you in a training session once in a while, to observe and comment critically on your performance. An objective observer will see things you don’t even feel things you need to improve, and things you don’t want to become hard-wired in your neuromuscular responses before you correct them.

Laser Tool


The Uni-Max Green laser from LaserMax is a brilliant green targeting laser as well as a great training tool.

An excellent way to analyze your grip and trigger control is by using a laser, so your coach can clearly see any jerking or pulling you’re doing by simply watching the laser-berry jumping around when it ought to look like it’s tacked on your target. Tough, durable lasers from top outfits like Crimson Trace and LaserMax can fill more than a tactical niche in your battery.

We must be done here, because my fingers don’t work anymore. Now it’s your turn go amaze yourself!

May/June 2009

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