Saturday, April 1, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Aguila Ammunition 12 Gauge "MiniShell"- A Game Changing Round for Wilderness Survival Shotguns

All photos ©2017 Rocky Mountain Bushcraft/Jason Schwartz

A 12 Gauge shell that's as light as a .410 shell, yet patterns significantly better......

The 12 Gauge Shotgun is probably the most flexible and efficient bush gun ever made. With the ability to shoot birdshot, buckshot and slugs, it can be used to hunt any land animal in North America. This makes the 12 Gauge an excellent survival gun, with one huge caveat-- ammo weight.

12 Gauge Shells are HEAVY. Just one 25 round box of Low Brass Birdshot Shells weighs in at a hefty 2lbs 6oz.


This means that if you were to carry just two boxes of 12 Gauge shells in your pack, it would be like carrying the weight of a full size wool army blanket!

This is the reason why survival shotguns have traditionally come in .410 Bore. .410 shells are much lighter and easier to carry than 12 Gauge Shells.

Now, all that has changed.

Enter Aguila Ammunition's new 12 Gauge "MiniShell:"


The MiniShell is a shortened 1 3/4" Shotgun shell with a 5/8 ounce load of #7.5 Birdshot. MinShells are amazingly light, weighing the same as a .410 3/4 ounce shell. 

To illustrate this, here is a box of 20 MiniShells weighed on a USPS Digital Postal Scale:


Here is a box of 20 Winchester .410 3" #7.5 Birdshot 3/4 oz shells weighed on the same scale:


Visual comparison of the MiniShell and .410 3/4oz shell next to each other:


I also weighed twenty Winchester AA 20 Gauge 7/8 Ounce shells to see how they compare with the .410 and 12 Gauge MiniShells. At 25.1 ounces, the 20 Gauge shells were 6 ounces heavier than the .410 3/4 oz shells and Aguila 12 Gauge MiniShells:


The Aguila MiniShell in between two full sized 12 Gauge birdshot shells:



FIELD TEST


To test the Aguila MiniShell, I wanted to see how well it would perform next to Winchester's .410 3/4oz shell.

The guns I used for the test were my trusty New England Firearms Pardner 12 Gauge Single Shot Shotgun (shown above), and my Chiappa .410 Double Badger, which has a 19" Barrel and a fixed full choke:

©Rocky Mountain Bushcraft/Monica Tymcio 2013

The Pardner, produced by Harrington & Richardson (H&R), was sadly discontinued in 2013. It has a 28" Barrel, fixed Modified choke, and a crisp 4lb trigger. Pardner shotguns are dead reliable and throw great patterns. They can easily be converted into a lightweight takedown survival shotgun with the addition of a Choate Survivor Stock. In my opinion, the Pardner shotguns were the finest single shot shotguns ever made.

Testing

I decided to test both shells at 35 yards using Birchwood Casey PREGAME 12" x 18" Squirrel Targets to see how both would perform. These targets are nice because they show where each pellet hits with a bright, easy to see "splatter" effect.

The results were surprising. The target on the left is the Winchester .410 3/4 ounce shell. The target on the right is the 12 Gauge MiniShell:


As you can see, the difference is startling. At 35 Yards, the 410 has run out of steam and is at the end of its effective range:


The 12 Gauge MiniShell, which weighs exactly the same as the 410 3/4 oz shell, is still going strong at this distance and literally covered the target with pellets:


Conclusion

Overall, I am extremely impressed with Aguila's 12 Gauge MiniShells, and believe they are a game changer for wilderness survival shotguns. Not only is the MiniShell as light as a .410 3/4 ounce shell, it patterns significantly better. It also has the same blast and recoil of a .410, which would make it great for training new shooters on a 12 Gauge.

Criticisms? Yes, two minor ones. The first is that Aguila only offers their MiniShell in #7.5 Birdshot. #7.5 shot will get you by in a survival situation, but it is generally too light for rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, turkeys, etc. A #6 Birdshot option would greatly expand the usefulness of this shell for hunting. 

Second is the price-- at $13-$16 for each box of twenty, these shells are more expensive than most full size high brass offerings from most manufacturers.

Criticisms aside, I think these shells are fantastic for survival use or for training new shooters on a 12 Gauge.

Because of their light weight, they finally give bush pilots, canoeists, field researchers, 4x4 and ATV enthusiasts and other outdoor adventurers the ability to carry enough ammo to make the 12 Gauge a viable wilderness survival gun.

 5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

Knife Porn: Benchmade 928 Proxy CPM20CV

All photos ©2017 Rocky Mountain Bushcraft/Jason Schwartz

(click to enlarge)







For more information visit: http://www.benchmade.com/928.html

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Budget Bushcraft Gear: Military Surplus 100% Wool Watch Cap


Here's another budget bushcrafting gem I found while searching the net recently- Military Surplus 100% Wool Watch Cap. This cap is every bit as nice as the Filson Wool Cuff Cap I reviewed back in 2012. Whereas the Filson costs a whopping $45.00, this Military Surplus Wool Cap is only $6.99!

Cheers! Jason



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Featherstick made with a Benchmade 154BK Jungle Clip Point Bowie Knife



Finally got a chance to try out Benchmade's 154BK Jungle Clip Point Bowie Knife the other day- not bad! It feathers and splits quite well for a large (9" blade) and lightweight (10.9oz) Bowie-style blade. Will post more information on this blade as Spring approaches.

Cheers,

Jason

Gear Review: Wavian NATO-spec Jerry Cans


A safe way to carry spare fuel in your vehicle for bushcraft adventures and backcountry emergencies

For months, I have been looking for a safe way to carry spare fuel in my vehicle for emergencies. I frequently drive deep into the mountains far away from cell phones signals and civilization, so I like to be prepared for anything.

When I looked for a solution both locally and online, my search kept coming up empty. All of the gas cans I found were not safe to use inside a vehicle except for emergency use.

Finally, my answer came one day while surfing an Off-Road 4x4 Forum. Enthusiasts there were raving about one can in particular -- The Wavian NATO-spec Jerry Can

After trying out these Wavian cans over the last couple of months, I was quite impressed and wanted to share them with RMB readers.

Wavian Jerry Cans

SPECS:

  • Made from 0.9mm pickled steel 
  • To prevent internal rust, all of cans are lined with petrol resistant alkyd-ammonia based paint – 100% safe from flaking.
  • External powder coating gives anti-corrosion protection and smooth finish.
  • Unique wide channel breather enables ‘glug’ and splash free pouring – 20 Litre Cans will empty in only 25 seconds
  • Strip welding ensures handle strength
  • Robust Triple Handle
  • Special holes drilled in the handle enables pouring spouts to be attached.
  • Bayonet closure is completely leak proof with the can in any position
  • UN number approval certifies compliance with Dangerous Goods Transportation Regualtions.
  • Date stamp on cap – shows year/month of production.
  • Internationally Patented Locking Pin gives additional security against accidental opening of the can

Wavian Jerry Cans are standard issue for NATO Forces throughout Europe. They are built in the Eastern European country of Latvia, and have to pass very high standards to be certified for use.


These standards include a high pressure test, dropping the can from various heights, and being able to withstand being engulfed in flames for a 2 minutes without failure. Here is a video from Wavian showing these torture tests:


The Cans

Wavian Jerry Cans come in three sizes-- 20L (5.28 Gallons), 10L (2.64 Gallons) and 5L (1.32 Gallons).


They are constructed of 0.9mm pickled steel. The can consists of two sides which are welded together in the middle to create a leakproof seam:


To prevent internal rust formation, each can is lined with a petrol resistant, alkyd-ammonia based paint. Wavian claims that this paint is 100% resistant to flaking.

All cans come standard with a large spout for use in gas powered equipment and older vehicles, as well as a small spout for filling modern vehicles. 



Each can has a bracket to hold the spout when not in use:


For additional safety, all Wavian Jerry Cans come with a steel locking pin over the cap:



The 20L (5.28 Gallon) Can is a great general purpose can or for use on a 4x4 to carry spare fuel (Wavian makes vehicle brackets for this purpose which you can buy separately):



The 10L (2.64 Gallon) Can is a great size for carrying emergency fuel in a vehicle:




The 5L (1.32 Gallon) Can is great for carrying emergency fuel in smaller vehicles, or for safely storing extra White Gas for refueling Coleman Camp Stoves or liquid fuel bottles for backpacking stoves.





Easy Pouring

Aside from the Wavian can's ability to safely store fuel inside a vehicle, another great feature is that they pour much easier than any of the other post-2009 EPA fuel cans I've owned.

Anyone who's purchased these monstrosities populary known as "Obama Gas Cans" knows what I'm talking about. They are horrible!

The 2009 EPA mandated cans were supposed to be safer for the environment, but the government did such a botched job on their design that they actually spill more gas than the pre-2009 cans because they are so ridiculously hard to pour.

Not so with the Wavian Cans. For an EPA-compliant can, they pour MUCH EASIER. Not quite as a fast as a pre-2009 can (about an extra 30 seconds to empty a full can), but easy enough to make them a pleasure to use. Here is a video showing the pour rate of a Wavian EPA-spec Jerry Can versus a pre-2009 Jerry Can (starts at 2:50):



Conclusion

Wavian Jerry Cans are fantastic fuel cans, BUT, they have one catch -- at $79.95 for a full size can and $69.95 for the small can, they are not cheap.

The reason they are not cheap is because of the amount of military engineering and quality control that goes into them to make them safe, as well as the fact that they are made in Europe.

As pricy as Wavian Jerry Cans are, the ability to safely carry spare fuel ANYWHERE is more than worth the price in my humble opinion.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

For more information or to purchase Wavian Jerry Cans, visit: 
https://gijerrycan.com/jerry-cans

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pitchwood: Mother Nature's Magical Fire Tinder

"Farewell, Frodo Baggins. I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out." - The Lord of the Rings

(A Douglas Fir Pitchwood Torch burns furiously, illuminating the walls of an old mining cave high in the Rocky Mountains. ©2011 Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)

RMB NOTE: This article is an unfinished draft from 2011. It was intended to be an introduction to Fatwood/Pitchwood Tinder using 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' for its theme. I decided not to publish it and instead, went with a two part series which you can read here and hereThese photos were taken inside an old mining cave high in the Rocky Mountains. The cave reminded me of the "Mines of Moria" from Tolkien's books, so I thought you might enjoy seeing the photos I took of it. Cheers, Jason

In J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent literary fantasy "The Lord of the Rings," the Elven queen Galadriel gives Frodo Baggins a star contained within a glass vial with the blessing that it be "a light in dark places when all other lights go out." 

To me, the real life flammable wood found in the knots and stumps of dead conifer trees known as "pitchwood" reminds me of Tolkien's Light of EärendilPitchwood burns so furious and bright when ignited, it seems almost to have a magical power. 

Pitchwood's other magical quality is that it is completely impervious to weather. Pieces of pitchwood have been found that were completely submerged in lakes and ponds for decades, yet would still ignite immediately after being pulled from the water.

In this sense, a piece of pitchwood could be like a real life "Light of Eärendil" for a hiker lost and alone deep in the wilderness.


Below: Beautifully colored pitchwood harvested from Douglas Fir Trees:

Below is a graphic illustration of how a piece of Douglas Fir pitchwood can be used to illuminate dark places. Dave and I enter an old mining cave high in the Rocky Mountains, using only a piece of burning pitchwood to light the way.

The entrance to the cave:

Inside:

Did dwarves leave this mark to point the way to the Mines of Moria?


Could these sparkly rocks be the ore of the legendary Mithril?!

 Searching for more clues:

Here is what our Douglas Fir pitchwood torch looked like after it burnt out. Amazingly, it burned for nearly an hour! Truly magical stuff.


Cheers!

Jason and Dave