Thursday, October 25, 2012

The AR-7 Survival Rifle - Review

The AR-7 is a little .22 caliber auto-loader.  It is an interesting gun because the barrel and receiver disassemble and store in the stock making a veer small and lightweight package.  I've always been curious to own one of these little rifles, so when I saw one at a recent gun show for a hundred dollars, I picked it up.  Pictured below: Charter Arms AR-7
The AR-7 was designed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured originally by Armalite in hopes that the military would adopt it as a replacement for the AR-5 bolt action survival rifle.  Things didn't work out so Armalite began selling the AR-7 on the civilian market.  Over the years the design and manufacturing right were sold to Charter Arms and then the Henry Co.  The AR-7 that I bought was made by Charter Arms which I have read did not produce the best version of this product.

The stock of the gun is a synthetic that is filled with foam.  Supposedly the gun will float if dropped in water, but I haven't tried this personally.  The barrel is made of aluminum with a rifled steel inner sleeve and unscrews from receiver.  Pictured below: Barrel unscrewed from receiver

A thumb screw on the bottom of the stock allows the receiver to be detached from the stock.   Pictured below:  Screw that holds receiver in place

The barrel, receiver, and magazine can then be stored in the butt of the stock which is closed by snapping the plastic butt-cap back in place.  Pictured below: top, parts of the rifle; bottom, barrel, receiver, and magazine stored in stock

When assembled the rifle is 35 inches long.  Disassembled and with the barrel and receiver stored in the stock, the AR-7 is 16 inches long.  The total weight of this weapon is 2.5 pounds.  Pictured below: AR-7 broken down and packed

The AR-7 is chambered for .22 longrifle.  It is an auto-loader with a blow-back bolt and double bolt springs.  The factory magazine holds eight rounds. Pictured below: top, Magazine in mag port, bottom, magazine removed

The bolt springs are fairly stiff and will only cycle reliably with high velocity ammo.  .22 longs, short, and CB's will not operate the bolt although they can be single loaded and fired.  Round nose bullets are said to load more reliably, but I always buy hollow points so that's what I am using in this test.

The AR-7 is intended as a survival weapon.  This means small game at fairly close range, so I am going to be firing it on a thirty yard range.  The sight on the AR-7 is a fixed blade on the front with a rear peep-sight that is removable but not adjustable. Pictured below: Rear peep sight

I am no sharpshooter, so I decided that in case I just wasn't shooting any good I would fire from the same distance, and from the same prone position with the AR-7, a Hi Standard .22 revolver, a Savage combo gun in .22 over 20 ga., and a Ruger 10-22.  I could then compare the targets and see how the AR-7 performed against other weapons.

The results were not very favorable for the AR-7.  It was the worst performer of the four weapons fired.  Of the first eight rounds fired through the AR-7, I had two jams.  These jams were not from failure of a round to chamber properly.  They were caused by failure of the extractors to pull the fired rounds from the chamber.  Because the bolt doesn't lock back I had to manually hold the bolt open while pulling out the spent cartridge case with my pocket knife.  A real pain.  Of the eight rounds fired only six cut paper and they were all over the place; no consistent pattern whatsoever.  Pictured below AR-7 target number one.

I ran eight more rounds this time with only one jam, but I only got two rounds on the paper.  I'm not a great shot, but I'm not that bad.  Pictured below: AR-7 target number 2.

Next I fired eight rounds through the Hi Standard revolver.  No misfires and all eight rounds on the target.  Seven of the rounds were within a six inch circle.  Pictured below: Hi Standard revolver and target.

As pictured below the Savage combo put all eight on the paper including one bull, and the Ruger 10-22, predictably, shot the tightest group including one bull.  Pictured below: top, Savage target; bottom, Ruger target

So when all is said and done I would say that if you have the opportunity to buy a Charter Arms AR-7, don't.  If you are looking for light-weight and compactness, a good quality revolver will out perform the Charter Arms AR-7.  I can't tell you about the Armalite or Henry versions of the AR-7, and I have heard that they are of higher quality.  But as for the Charter Arms…… your money.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Survival Dental Care

You definitely want to avoid tooth problems if you no longer have access to modern dental care.  One way to avoid problems in an uncertain future is to take good care of your teeth now.  Regular dental check-ups and cleanings, and daily brushings are a must.

You can stock-pile toothpaste in your emergency supplies if you want to, but it's not really necessary.  Back in the day, the purpose of tooth powder was to clean your teeth, not to give you a brighter, whiter, sexier, better smelling smile like today.  Most people back then used a mixture of salt and baking soda to brush their teeth.  Tooth powder was kept in a can.  You could shake a little out into the palm of your hand, wet the bristles of your tooth brush, dip the bristles down into the powder, and brush away. Pictured below: Home made tooth powder and twig brush.

If a toothbrush was not available, the old-timers would cut a small stick (usually from a gum tree or a willow) and chew the end until it kind of splintered up into a brush.  This improvised brush was then used to brush the teeth. Pictured below: Brush made from gum tree twig

I do keep a few dental items in my emergency supplies.  I have a little dental repair kit that consists of a topical numbing agent, a small wooden spatula, some dental putty to temporarily fill cavities, and some dental adhesive that can be used to temporarily glue on broken crowns or dropped fillings.  Pictured below: Emergency dental repair kit

I also keep a bottle of oil of clove.  Clove oil has been used to treat toothaches for centuries.   

A topical oral anesthetic like Anbesol or Oragel can also be very handy.  Pictured below: Oral topical anesthetic

I have a supply of broad spectrum antibiotics that can be used to help with abscesses and infections.  And I always have a bottle of bourbon and a pair of vice grip pliers.  I guess you could call these my last resort dental care items.  Sure hope I never have to use them.

There is a book available called Where There is No Dentist.  This book is intended for use by aid workers in third world countries, and it is written on a pretty understandable level with the layman in mind. It is available for purchase from the Hesperian foundation or you can download the fairly massive pdf file for free.  Just do a search for "Where There is No Dentist" and you'll see a couple of different places where you can download the book.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Survival Sanitation - The Old Timey Outhouse

Improper disposal of garbage and human waste leads to disease.  In fact, the two greatest factors in increasing human longevity have been improved nutrition and improved sanitation.  Improvements in medical treatment come in third. 

So let's talk about sewage disposal.  What happens when the sewage and water plants shut down?  Well, you better be ready to do something about it yourself.  If you have a septic tank system you can continue to use an indoor toilet, but you will have to haul buckets of water to flush the toilet.  When we have a power outage my water well only works if I have my generator going.  I don't like to run the generator all the time, so I fill up a five gallon plastic bucket with water and set it in the bathroom.  One bucket of water will serve to flush the toilet two or three times.  Another alternative is to buy a portable, chemical toilet; but I find the bucket of water to be easier.  In the city, if the water goes out you will have to use a chemical toilet.  You wouldn't want to waste any of the water that you have to flush a toilet.  If the problem is long-term you're going to need to leave the city anyway, so I wouldn't bother trying to put together an elaborate waste disposal system

For us country folks the old timey outhouse is a long-time tradition.  You still see outhouses in the country, and I just happen to have a working model on my farm.  I'll grant you that it doesn't get used very often, but I have one, and it works!

An outhouse should be located a good distance away from your house.  It should be at least a hundred feet from your home and I would recommend that it be at least two hundred feet from your water well or garden.  An outhouse is basically just a hole in the ground with a seat over the top of it.  The fecal matter falls into the hole where it can decompose.  It is important to treat the waste after each use so that it will not attract flies.  You can do this by sprinkling powdered lime in the hole, or you can do it the old timey way and use hardwood ashes.  I keep a five gallon bucket of lime and a coffee can in my outhouse.  After use you just dip up a little lime and sprinkle away.

I keep toilet tissue in my out house, but back in the day they used pages torn from an old Sear's catalogue or even corn cobs.  Trust me, corn cobs are not the route to go.

One caution about outhouses.  Beware of spiders.  It is a good idea to hang one of those plastic no-pest-strips down under the toilet seat to discourage spiders and other bugs from making a home in your outhouse.

One final word on human waste disposal. Please do not try and compost human waste to use on your garden.  The human digestive tract contains e. coli bacteria, and if any of these bacteria survive the composting process you could have serious problems.  Many of the e. coli outbreaks that you hear about on the news are the result of agricultural workers defecating in the fields as they work.  You can get deadly sick from this bacterium, so be safe and don't fertilize with human waste.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mosquitoes - More than Just a Nuisance

Note: I wrote this article a couple of years ago but never posted it.  It really is hitting home this year, so I am posting it now.  We have had over 80 cases of West Nile virus and 5 deaths in East Texas this summer; so mosquitoes are a problem even in the “developed” world.  Read, and be warned about these little killers.

Nearly anywhere that you live in this world you will encounter mosquitoes.  Most people these days think of mosquitoes as a nuisance; but the fact is, they are a deadly danger to human health.  Mosquitoes are fairly well controlled in most developed nations, so the diseases that they carry are no longer a major health risk.  In developing nations mosquitoes are responsible for huge numbers of illnesses and deaths, and the cost to these nations is very high in terms of dollars, lost production, and weakening of future generations.

What would happen in developed nations if government agencies could no longer carry out mosquito control programs.  Well just look at the mosquito related health problems in some of the developing nations around the world.  According to a 2010 report of the World Health Organization there are over 225 million cases of malaria (a mosquito borne illness) throughout the world every year. Nearly 800,000 people die from malaria each year.  The majority of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and most of these victims are children.

Because of changing climate, some mosquito borne diseases, like West Nile virus, that were once considered "tropical" diseases have begun to spread to the temperate zones.  I live in Texas, and in recent years there have been several cases of West Nile virus. This is a disease that has never been known in this area, and it has appeared in spite of the aggressive mosquito control programs that we have.

So the bottom line is: government break-down equals no more mosquito control programs which equals you're on your own as far as preventing mosquito borne illnesses.  You need to prepare for this.  What are some things that you can do to prevent mosquito borne disease?

1. Drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

2. Avoid going out at dusk and nighttime (the time when mosquitoes are most active).

3. Wear protective clothing.

4. Wear insect repellant. (You need to lay in a good supply of DEET)

5. Make sure that you have screens on all windows and doors.

6. Sleep under a mosquito net if you are out doors.

Most of these precautions against mosquitoes used to be common place in the USA and other now developed nations, but with modern mosquito control we have fallen out of the habit of protecting ourselves.  It's time to start thinking about them again, because a mosquito can kill you just as dead as a bullet from an AK-47.