Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recover Grips Rail Test

Ok well I mounted a cheap light to the rail on my 92F and put a box of rounds through it.   It held up just fine.  The light mount is flimsy and cheap so if it failed I have no idea what I would've blamed for it.. the light or the rail... but it didn't fail so I'm out ok I suppose.  I wanted a cheap piece on it because I figured if a cheap one didn't fail then your good stuff isn't likely to fail either.

Like I say it doesn't lock up tight... but its a flashlight so it doesn't have to. 

I can't say it changed the way the weapon ran.  I blasted away with reckless abandon trying to make it let go and it never did.

So there ya go... if you are looking to add a rail to a pistol of yours... this is a real option.

And you can get them off amazon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

NateMail: 357 Sig?

Anonymous Stilicho asks... "Anyone own a .357 Sig? Thoughts?"
There is a big difference between 357 sig and 9mm...  and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Even the hot +p loads don't compare to the 357 sig.  But... where does the hype stop and the truth begin?  A lot of folks claim you get 357 magnum performance out of this round... and that's just not the case.
A 125 grain 357 magnum with a 5 inch barrel is rolling at over 1600 fps.  A 125 grain 357 sig is closer to 1450... which is still rolling... but its 150 fps down from the wheel gun.  In terms of energy... the magnum is beating the sig by right around 100 foot pounds.
All across the board on all sizes of bullets the magnum is significantly out performing the sig.  
But... if you don't have a 5 inch barrel...  well then its a different story.
This is what I can tell ya...   357 sig is expensive...  there is a ton of blast... and it is not for the recoil sensitive.  That said if you don't like it you're a barrel swap away from a .40.  So what have you got to lose?

I personally have only shot 357 sig out of large pistols...  full sized beefy things.  Its fun.  its a lot of fun. If I were carrying it for defense... I would have some high end defense rounds on the larger end of the scale.  Hornady makes a couple good options... 135 grain critical duty and 147 custom XTP hollow points.  

That's a philosophical thing though.  I want a heavier slower bullet.  I want penetration but I don't want over penetration.  I would prefer the bullet to stop inside you... because that would mean you took every ounce of the energy.... and that means you're more likely to be on your ass.  And that's what the 357 sig gives you over the 9mm... a chance to carry heavier bullets.

I would stay away from the 115 lasers....   they are liable to cauterize the hole on the way through. No thanks. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Name is Nate...

and I may be developing a problem....

As you can see I have been playing with the 92F quite a bit.  Once it came back from the factory I put a couple boxes of ammo through it... and something struck me.

This thing is damn fun to shoot.  I mean damn fun.  9mm feels like 22lr coming out of a single six.  I mean there is no recoil at all.   How do people complain about this thing? 

Sure.. the double action pull is a mile long.. and its a heavy pull.  But so what?  Cock the damned thing.  How is cocking the hammer on this different than sweeping the safety down on a 1911?

For the life of me I can't think of a bad thing to say about this weapon other than its a 9mm...   but ya know what?   9mm is cheap!  and unlike 22lr... I can actually find 9mm.  So instead of plinking with 22lr... I'm plinking with 9mm.  Because why not?

Now does this mean when TSHTF I'm gonna grab this Beretta?  Oh hell no.  My opinions on the viability of 9mm haven't changed at all.  I'll grab the Steyr... or one of my 1911s... or one of the 357s...  or maybe even my old Taurus PT101.  But if its a sunny day and I just want to ring some steel or punch some holes in paper?  You can bet the Beretta is gonna be coming along for the ride.

Because its damned fun. 

And that is one of the best reasons I can think of.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Science Behind the Taste of Boubon

What follows is a guest post by none other than our very own Cheddarman.  If you've ever wondered how bourbon is made... and what makes it taste the way it does...  well... here's is your PhD level dissertation on the matter.  Fair warning...  if you hate chemistry this is going to make your head explode.  If you like chemistry... you'll love it.

Now... if I can only get him to explain, in scientific terms, why scotch sucks...

Bourbon flavor and its development: some artisanal and industrial considerations
In honor of Nate and his friends and blog followers, Rebels, Copperheads and Yankees, and even any anonymous Ohio State University sports fans or dedicated pink Hello Kitty Glock users that hang out at the ATF blog, I have put together a little “review” of bourbon flavor formation. Specifically, I will cover a number of the factors involved in the development of bourbon flavor, beginning with the raw ingredients, and following the process through to the end. I have not been able to find any published scientific articles on the science and craft of making Bourbon. However, I have a 20+ year career as a practitioner of flavor chemistry, and can draw on my experience in that area that includes extensive reading of the scientific literature as well as working on a number of flavor related projects in industrial and academic settings. Finally, for what it is worth, I could be considered a world class expert in the flavor of chemistry of ripened cheeses, and this gives me some unique insight into the development of bourbon flavor. All these credentials and 50$ will get me a good bottle of bourbon (it never got me anything else, nudge nudge, wink wink). There are also a number of excellent sites on the world wide web devoted to making bourbon from an artisanal approach that were helpful in putting this review together. I hope you enjoy it. If you want to better understand Bourbon, here is your chance to dig deep.
Artisanal” versus “Industrial” Bourbon
As one looks at the types of bourbon available on the market, there appears to be 2 separate schools of thought in how to make it, clever marketing tactics aside. One is the artisanal school (I use that term because these distillers are practicing an art), where bourbon is made the old fashioned way, in small batches, using pre-industrial techniques. Whereas artisanal producers specialize in making more expensive, more intensely flavored, or more “interesting” bourbons, the “industrial” bourbon makeruses modern methods of production to make a more affordable product that is generally more consistent from batch to batch, and has a wider over all appeal due to its relatively milder flavor profile. We will cover aspects of both approaches below.
One way to make bad bourbon is to start with low quality ingredients. High quality water is very important to bourbon. Traditionally, water from limestone springs is used to make the malted barley and the mash. Some writes have said that the calcium dissolved in the water somehow contributes to high quality bourbon flavor. I doubt that is true, for a couple of reasons: 1) Calcium carbonate from limestone filtered water has little if any flavor. 2) The fermentation micro-organisms need some calcium for growth, but they can obtain it from the grains. There a number of reasons why the use of limestone filtered water was a common historical practice. This water is filtered by slow passage through limestone, and is generally free of off-flavors, chlorine and iron. This is very important, as iron or chlorine in the water can cause the formation of off some very potent undesirable flavors. Iron will help oxidize oils present in the grains, and causes a variety of “green” off flavors, like including freshly cut grass, metallic flavors (imagine a penny on your tongue), drying oil based paint, and fishy. Chlorine can react with phenols that are produced during barley malting, the sour mash fermentation or charring of barrels. These chloro-phenols have very potent “saltwater fishy” aromas. They can ruin otherwise good bourbon. Enough said. The industrial producer uses a number of steps to clean up their brewing water. These may include ion exchange resins to remove iron and other mineral,, as well as sand filters, activated carbon, UV light and Ozone to remove all traces of taste or aroma from the water. As a result, the industrial distiller can have water of even higher quality than that coming out of a natural limestone formation.
Grains, Malt and Enzymes
By U.S. law, Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn as well as barley, rye and wheat. The primary purpose of the grain is to provide glucose for the yeasts to ferment into alcohol. The grains should be high in starch, and low in vegetable oils. The oil can be a source of “oxidized fat” off flavors. The grains are ground to improve the conversion of starch into glucose and other sugars. If the grains get too hot during milling, it will damage the starch and protein, and they can’t be broken down by enzymes. Also, high amounts of heat building up in the grains during milling can oxidize the vegetable oil.
The artisanal distiller generally uses malted barley. In the malting process, dry barley is soaked in water to activate enzymes in the grain. Wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria grow on the surface of the grains during the malting process. The slow drying of the malt “hardens” these micro-organisms, so they can survive the mash boiling step and ferment the mash. These “wild” micro-organisms can be a source of the batch to batch flavor variation seen with artisanal distilled bourbon.
The enzymes activated by the malting process are needed to break down starches and proteins in the other grains. Without these enzymes being active in the mash, the fermentation process would be slow and difficult to control. Glucose and other sugars are produced from the breakdown of starches by a set of enzymes called amylases; proteins are broken down into amino acids by protease enzymes. The activity of these enzymes on starch and protein helps set the stage for rapid growth of yeast and lactic acid bacteria during the sour mash fermentation. Glucose and amino acids are also a converted into flavor compounds by the yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
The industrial producer may choose not to use malted barley, and instead use a commercial mixture of “microbial” amylase and protease enzymes produced by food grade bacteria or fungi. It is faster and cheaper than using malted barley, and can help keep “wild” yeast and lactic acid bacteria out of your mash fermentation.
By varying different amounts of the 4 grains, one can change some of the flavor profile of the bourbon. Each grain has some unique flavor components that can be released during the fermentation. Wheat, as an example, is supposed to have a mellowing effect upon the bourbon. Consider the differences in flavor between a sour dough wheat, rye barley, or corn bread; these differences in flavors can be partly attributed to the interaction of the yeasts and bacteria with the individual grains. The yeasts and lactic acid bacteria have special enzymes that will release specific classes of flavor compounds from the grains. The different grains will have varying levels of these flavor compounds. These flavor compounds are often attached to a sugar molecule or other non-volatile molecule; by the cutting the chemical bond, the glucose can be harvested, and the flavor molecule is released into the mash.
The mixture of grains and water is called mash. The mash is heated to help dissolve the starch and protein in the grains. This also has the effect of killing off some of the wild yeast and other bacteria that could be present on the grains. If we use microbial enzymes instead of malted barley, we can cook the mash at higher temperatures for a longer time. This will, again, kill off more wild microorganisms naturally present on the grains, and help us have a more consistent product over time. The microbial enzymes are more heat stable that the enzymes from malted barley and are active at relatively high temperatures, and can be added when the boiled mash is still hot.
Fermentation/ or making Sour mash
If you mom, sister, girl friend or wife has ever made sour dough bread, she has come pretty close to making a sour mash and is a stones’ throw from hooch, if I am using that term correctly. But that is the difference between us and them. They will walk up to the line and not cross it (No offense, Miss Susan, I know you are reading this). We will, because BOURBON, DAMMIT!!!
Fermentation is any process where micro-organisms are grown. In a sour mash fermentation, Lactic Acid Bacteria and Yeasts grow up together for their and our mutual benefit. The Lactic acid bacteria grow faster than the yeast, and quickly produce lactic acid. They also use up the oxygen. This is important, as yeast makes carbon dioxide and water if it has oxygen. Nate is not pleased if good grain sugar for a bourbon sour mash is being converted to CO2! Without oxygen, the yeasts make ethanol, and Nate is happy! (Note to self: unhappy Alphas are not much fun, and it is probably dangerous to laugh at them) This cooperation between the two inhibits their competitors, and allows the Lactic Acid Bacteria and yeast to dominate the process, and keep the potential spoilage bacteria from growing. You could perhaps explain this cooperation to the simple minded as something like tag team professional wrestling, but on a very small scale with a whole lot of tag teams.
The lactic acid bacteria can and do make a number of other flavor compounds, in addition to producing lactic acid. They actually produce two types of lactic acid, the “d” (Latin abbreviation for right) and “l” (Latin for left) forms. The lactic acid can and does react with the ethanol, to produce esters. The “d” and “l” esters have different aromas. You probably already know this, but Lactic acid bacteria also ripen cheese and other fermented dairy products, transforming relatively bland milk into pure Cheese awesomeness. (Sorry my Southron friends, but no one makes a great Cheddar Cheese like New England Yankees, and I say that as an Ohioan who believes the South was right and who did 1 year hard time in Vermont workin’ at a cheese plant). The take home message is that the yeast and Lactic acid bacteria can contribute a lot more to the Bourbon flavor that acid and alcohol.
Europeans and Lactic acid bacteria have a few things in common. For instance, they have a peculiar habit of trying to kill each other off every so often. Some species of Lactic acid bacteria make chemicals called bacteriocins that can inhibit the growth of closely related Lactic Acid Bacteria species. This would be like my Scotts-Irish cousins many generations removed, developing a superweapon to completely dominate my Irish Catholic cousins, many generations removed. The lactic acid bacteria can also be attacked by viruses called “bacteriophage.” Bacteriophage can wipe out a specific strain of lactic acid bacteria that dominates fermentation, and allow another strain to grow up and dominate. Some strains of lactic acid bacteria actually have bacteriophage hidden in their DNA just waiting for the right moment to pop out of hiding and take out a competing strain.
Yeasts also have ways of competing with each other, although I am not familiar with these mechanisms of competition. A dominant yeast strain can also be killed off by a virus. The take home point in all this is that if you have a favorite artisanal bourbon, and the flavor changes over time, it could be due to a formerly dominant strain of Lactic Acid bacteria or yeast being wiped out by a virus or other form of competition, and replaced by a competitor.
Distillers normally save some of the previous batch of sour mash, and use it to introduce yeast and lactic acid bacteria into a mash after it has been boiled, and cooled. There are a number of simple techniques an artisanal distiller can use to preserve their mash, such as using good manufacturing practice borrowed from the dairy industry for starter culture preservation, freezing and storing portions of the mash, and having different mashes that they use on a rotating schedule.
An industrial distiller would have a number of practices in place to protect the integrity of their sour mash. As an example, they may have what is known as a mother culture. The mother culture is used to grow up a “starter culture” in a small closed tank, from there it can be pumped it into the mash fermentation vat. External sources of contamination like airborne dust containing dehydrated wild yeast of lactic acid bacteria, are controlled through careful plant design, good manufacturing practices and air filtration.
A home brewer could make their own sour mash from scratch, using a process similar to making a sour dough starter culture.
We want the sour mash fermentation to stop before the yeasts and LABs run out of glucose. If they run out of glucose and the ethanol concentration is not high enough to make them go dormant, the micro-organisms will start breaking down amino acids or fibers from the grains for energy. This is not good, and can lead to off-flavor formation (Think cowy, cow barn, piggy, fecal, rotten egg, skunk, tomcat urine).
Distillation process:
Another advantage to stopping the fermentation before the glucose is exhausted it that free glucose will react with amino acids and other substances produced by the fermentations when we start heating the Bourbon beer for the distillation step. These reactions produce a number of “sweet” (think of yourself at a county fair and walking past the cotton candy stand) and “brown” (soy sauce-like) flavor notes. A similar reaction is used industrially to make cocoa and a multitude of manufactured flavors that go into processed foods.
We now have a soup that is rich in flavor compounds, most likely smells similar to beer, and has a lot of chemicals that can react with each other upon distillation heating to create other flavors. The distillers sometimes refer to it as the Bourbon beer. At this point, the distiller uses a selective process called distillation, where the bourbon beer is carefully heated to remove the ethanol. The distillation process changes the flavor profile into something that starts to resemble bourbon. (If at this point, for some unknown reason, Nate told the distiller to make some Vodka-like distilled spirits for his fellow Alpha buddy Vladimir Putin, the distiller would install an series of activated filters in the still to remove most of the flavor chemicals, we would indeed have a Vodka-like product)
A lot of things happen during distillation: 1) we reduce the concentration of the low boiling flavor compounds that are responsible for the “top notes” of the beer flavor. The heat of distillation can also cause some of these chemicals to form other, more complex aromas 2) We concentrate the alcohol 3) We reduce the concentration of the high boiling compounds from the Bourbon beer.
The actual concentration of the high boiling and low boiling compounds in the distilled ethanol depends on the design of the still. Generally, a higher distillation column will be more selective than a shorter column; it will more effectively separate the low boiling and high boiling chemicals from the ethanol. The industrial distiller might perform a “quick” distillation to strip of the alcohol, and then do a second, slower distillation to remove more of the low boiling and high boiling flavors. Obviously, by controlling the relative amounts of the low boiling and high boiling flavor compounds in the distilled ethanol, we control some of the flavor that is present in the final product.
The distillation process does one more thing that never gets any press; it introduces copper into the distilled ethanol and remaining flavors. Acids and sulfur chemicals from the beer distillation will attack the copper in the distillation column, and leach some copper into the distilled ethanol. More on what this does in the next section.
Barrel Charring and Aging
Most of you already know that bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels. Here is a little more information on how this affects the flavor. There are three natural polymers present in wood: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The barrel heating and charring affects each one differently, in terms of the bourbon flavor.
Heating lignin releases the chemical vanillin (Think artificial vanilla flavor, cake batter vanilla flavor, or Ben and Jerries’ chocolate chip cookie dough vanilla flavor) and smoky flavors. It also produces most of the color. (Vanillin is a little different in odor than the vanilla flavor extracted from fermented vanilla beans). The reaction can also produce phenol, which sort of dulls the tongue, and eugenol, a chemical in black pepper and other spices, and several other potential flavor chemicals.
Heating the cellulose and hemicellulose causes the sugar molecules in them to break down. This can form another class of compounds including and related to the cotton candy flavor we talked about earlier. These chemicals include sotolone and furaneol. These chemicals also occur in aged cheeses with dry rinds, and give them a “sweet” flavor.
The heating process also does something else that never gets any press, it converts the inside of the oak barrel into a large catalytic surface. The carbon surface inside the barrel, along with the copper from the distillation column or still, most likely catalyze a number of chemical reactions that inactivate sulfur compounds, and catalyze the formation of some other flavor compounds. (As an example, methyl glyoxal, and hydroxy acetone, two chemicals formed from cellulose and hemicellulose heating, can react to form the furaneol cotton candy flavor chemical) Some individuals claim that the aging process allows a lot of the low boiling off flavors to evaporate slowly through the wood. I think that much of the mellowing is due to the process I just described.
Obviously, an artisanal distiller may have a significant variation in charring for the barrels used to age their bourbon, and this will affect the flavor. The industrial distiller will probably use barrels for aging that are made with relatively tight quality control practices, leading to less flavor variability, and fewer surprises.

Tasting Wheel
I would like for Nate to write a section on Bourbon tasting. He is the expert on that. I would, however, suggest that if you really want to train yourself to pick out some of the complexities of Bourbon flavor, Google “bourbon flavor wheel” or “whiskey flavor wheel”, and print it out or save it to your phone of wheel. Look at the wheel when you enjoy your next glass of bourbon, and see what you can pick out.

God Bless ya’


Sunday, January 04, 2015

EDC Gear 2015

Ok guys... when you walk out of the house... there are some things that you always take with you.  What does that gear look like?  Have you ever made a list of those things that you really like to have and have you ever thought about that?

EDC.  Every.  Day.  Carry.

If you had seen me out and about on some random day in 2014... what would I have had on my person at that time?

- Wallet:  We all carry wallets.  Mine is a little more awesome than yours.. because it says Bad Mother Fucker on it.

- Comms: Samsung Galaxy Note 4.   I never go anywhere without this thing.  I need to do a  whole write up on it because it is that cool.  Don't get me wrong... there are things that the Z10 was much better at...but I simply cannot over state the value of the S-Pen.

- Watch: In 2014 it would've been a seiko chronograph but its been thoroughly replaced now with a Samsung Gear 2 Neo.  Love the Gear 2.  slick touch screen... you can actually answer calls through it... and its battery lasts for days.

- multitool:  Leatherman MUT.  Yes... its bigger and heavier than most folks prefer but I love the thing.  another all-time favorite is the Leatherman Wave.  I carry it a lot too.  and toward the end of the year I found myself carrying an old school swiss army knife... I think its the tinkerer model.   No... its not what the cool kids carry and it has not even a hint of tacticool to it... but it is handy as hell. And that counts a lot.

- Sunglasses: I always have a pair of sunglasses.  Always.  I have trouble keeping up with them so I am loathe to spend a ton of money on them though.  So I get the nice stuff for DrWho and I tend to pick up whatever I can find in a pinch that's cheap.  Usually I head straight to the fishing department of a sporting goods store and grab the first pair I can find.  I don't care about color or anything like that.  I wear these things for protection not style... and since they always do double duty as shooting glasses they be the blade style lenses. 

- knife: in 2014 it was definitely the SOG Aegis.  It went everywhere with me.  This Christmas though a Spyderco Delica4 showed up... and I have to admit I have the koolaid poured and am ready to drink.  we'll see.  I love the Aegis... but the Spyderco is finding its way into my pocket more and more.

- CCW:  Steyr M40A1.  Yes... more often than not its still the Steyr on my hip.  Someday my springfield V10 1911 may replace it... but for now I haven't found a holster for it that I am happy with.  Until I do... the Steyr is just to comfortable.  Also there is an extra mag... always have an extra mag.

So that's what I carried last year...  what could change for this year?

Wallet: As much as I love the BMF wallet its just not working for me.  Its to big.  So its probably gonna be moved to a vice cabinet display piece.  I am looking at Maxpedition's CMC... and the SpecOps T.H.E wallets.  I like the SpecOps because there is no velcro.  I hate velcro wallets.

Multitool: I started carrying the swiss army knife just on a lark.. but I really like it.  So now I am probably going to put more thought into exactly which model would work best for me.  So I may keep it or I may replace it with a different model.  We'll see.

Sunglasses: I need to suck it up and put more into these.  I wear them all the time and use them for all kinds of activities.  I am open to suggestions here.  I have been looking at the 5.11 glasses.

Things I am thinking about adding:

- EDC flashlight:  I use the flashlight on my phone all the time.... multiple times per day.  it was fast and easy with the z10 but its a lot more of a pain on the Note 4... so I need to really look at one.  Suggestions are welcome here.  The Thrunight Ti3 is appealing because it uses AAA batteries.  Not a must but something I would prefer.

- Cotton Bandana:  Honeslty there are a thousand things you can use a bandana for... I used to wear one on my wrist every second of the day and I am not gonna lie.. I miss having it.  That said... an 40+ year old man doesn't wear a bandana on is wrist.    Still... nothing says I can't stick on in my pocket.  Its not like they take up any room.

- Pen.   I need some kind of pen. Writing on your phone is nice... but sometimes its about more than just taking a note or leaving a message.  Can't write a check on my phone. 

So that's where I am right now on my EDC gear.   I should say... there are a few things I carry all the time that I have left off this list... because... well...  we all have our secrets.  But this is a good list as far as it goes.

How about you?