P-Mags – Questions for my Readers 

I recently got to spend some time with an experienced Army sergeant, who has spent his share of time in harm’s way. When we were visiting, he noticed my P-Mag supply, and asked if they were all I used.

Naturally I was concerned that a professional would question this, in much the same way if my doctor were over, and questioned my brand of first aid products; they must have a good reason.

As it turns out, he did. He told me that, in fact, he had used them quite a bit, exclusively in fact, for quite a while. He liked a lot of things about them – grip and texture, weight, durability – but he eventually stopped, due to one reason. After a long time carrying them, they started misfeeding, and the followers got hung. He found out they had gotten full of sand, and that was causing the problems. So, since he could, he just switched over to the Army issued metal mags, and had no problems thereafter.

So, that got me thinking: should I get rid of mine and switch?

But before I tell about that I thought I would ask you, O Reader: what is your experience with P-Mags? Please share, and I will continue next week.

Podcast Review – When The Balloon Goes Up!


Ron Larimer has taken the When The Balloon Goes Up brand to another level, with a new podcast. They have produced 3 so far, and I am impressed.

It’s a good entry to the podcast galaxy, not too long, and not too short. It’s a great mix of interviews, shooting news, and reviews. Ron is the host, and brings in people to help and interview, like Ben Stoeger and Julie Golob.

Each show is only about 20 minutes, and I find it fills a gap in my rotation. I leave the longer shows for car commutes, but this one fits in well in a lunch time, or short commute.

Give the show a listen, and let me know what you think.

The Decline and Fall of USA Ammo

In June 2011, on the advice of a fellow shooter, I bought 500 rounds of 115 grain FMJ 9mm ammo from USA Ammo. At the time I was very impressed by the delivery and performance of the ammo, and I gave it 4 eye patches.

Later in 2011, they ran a special on GearHog, and a lot of people bought a lot of good ammo. Still, I was pleased.

Then something terrible happened.

From what I can tell from posts on other sites, the company wasn’t able to keep up with ammo production to fill the GearHog orders, and they started having problems shipping orders on time. Customer service suffered at that time, too. Calls to the company went unanswered, messages were unreturned, and emails seemed like they were going to a black hole.

The appearance of the loaded ammo changed was well. In the first batches of ammo I had gotten, the bullets were shinty and unblemished. Later batches had bullets that were full of small dents and dings, which seemed to indicate to me that the bullets had been in storage or shipment for a long time.

Comments to my previous posts show a trend in the downward performance of the ammo, mostly in fulfillment of the orders. And a cursory Google search shows similar disappointing reports.

Based on these, I can no longer recommend USA Ammo.

I will continue to follow their progress and update as I see it.

When the Balloon Goes Up! Launches Online Store for Gear That Just Works

Ron Larimer at the When The Balloon Goes Up! blog has launched a new online store. He sent me a link to it some time back, and I must say, I think he has done it right. The store concentrates on gear for concealed carry, preparedness, and competition pistol shooting, and he has done a great job in picking the leading products in each, products with a reputation for no-nonsense quality and performance.

Personally, I am a big fan of Warren Sevigny sights, and when I get a chance to add another set, I plan to buy from Ron. I’ll let you know my experience, for sure.

Here’s the announcement on the Shooting Wire. Check out the new site.

Knife Review – Gerber Dime

Gerber’s Dime, shown with a G17 magazine for size comparison

In March of this year, I bought a Gerber Dime micro multi-tool, and started carrying it as part of my EDC posse. After six months of carry, I thought I would share my experience and impressions.

The tool is very small, measuring about 2-3/4 inches long by 3/4 inch wide, by 1/2 inch thick when folded. It includes the following:

The Dime unfolded

  • Pliers with wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Regular blade
  • Box opener blade
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Smaller screwdriver with file
  • Bottle opener built into the frame

The tool is very compact and sturdy. I’ve made it a point to use it in preference to other tools, and it’s held up well.

The pliers work well for their size, with good leverage and good serrated teeth. I’ve used them to hold bolts and to tighten bolts. The wire cutters worked well on small gauge wire and for cutting the ends off plastic wire ties.

The scissors are really too small to be of much good. I did use them to cut some cord, but that might have been better accomplished with a knife.

The regular knife blade did well. It is plenty sharp even after six months with no sharpening.

The box cutter blade may be the most surprising part of the tool. I’ve used it the most, to open packages and even cut through cardboard boxes to open furniture.

The screw drivers worked well enough, although their size, combined with the small handle with the tool folded, makes them not very effective with anything but the easiest of screws. The file on the small screwdriver is virtually non-usable because of its size.

Second to the box cutter blade, the bottle opener may be the most useful part. Even with the short moment arm, beer bottles were very easy to open.

The tool also comes with a small key chain loop, which I removed, because I don’t carry it on my key chain, and the loop was annoying.

Now, I tend the throw things in my pocket without doing a lot of regular maintenance, and I found, when I unfolded the Dime to take a picture for this blog, that a few of the surfaces like the scissor blades had become rusty. A few passes with a bronze brush and a wipe with the ubiquitous lightly oiled gun rag removed most of it. Also, in six months of carry with other metallic objects – keys, a folding blade knife, coins – the flat black finish has scratched off in places.

All in all, the Gerber Dime has become a welcome addition to my pocket. While it doesn’t excel at anything other than opening boxes or beer, it is useful enough to carry, especially when carried along with a simple folding blade knife.

I give the Gerber Dime 3-1/2 eye patches out of 5.




FTC disclaimer – I bought all merchandise, and there was no consideration given in exchange for this review.

USA Ammo – Reader Help

Some time back, I shot and reviewed some 9mm ammo from USA Ammo. I even wrote a follow-up.

These posts continue to be some of the most popular on this site

However, I have had some problems with shipping on the last couple of orders, and some of the commenters on my posts have reported the same thing.

I have written them several emails which have gone unanswered, but before I close the door on them, I’d like to get your take –

What has been your experience with USA Ammo?

I will comment probably once a day, and on June 25 I will forward comments and all to USA Ammo.

Thank you for your help!

Knife Review – Victorinox Swiss Army

I’ve carried a knife of some sort just about every day since I was 10 years old. I’ve been carrying a Swiss Army Tinker from Victorinox for about 20 years. Before that, I carried a Boy Scout model Swiss Army knife since about the 7th grade, until I lost it when my canoe capsized when I was on a camping trip in Ohio when I was in college.

This year for Christmas, I presented the Dauphin with his first pocket knife, a Swiss Army Climber model. He was very pleased.

Here are our knives, side by side, with mine on the left and the new one on the right:

Since it had been about 20 years since I looked the Swiss Army line, I was also pleased with the changes Victorinox has made.

First, as the photo shows, mine is shinier than his, because his side panels are a matte texture, versus the old slick plastic. This makes the knife much easier to grip when wet. I tested it and I like it.

Second, there are a few more blades on the Climber versus my Tinker model. The scissors are much welcome. My wife carries a small Classic Swiss Army, and she tells me she uses the scissors at least once a week.

The Climber also has a hook and a corkscrew, but is lacking the Philips head screwdriver.

My impressions of the Climber are very positive, by itself, and compared to my Tinker. Opening is smooth, the blades are all solid and sharp, and the miscellaneous tools are easy to open and use.

I’m still pleased with my 20 year old Tinker, too. Although one panel is a little loose, the grip is still comfortable and usable. The blades have kept their edge, although I dress them regularly.

In all, this new knife should serve my son well for the rest of his life, provided he doesn’t put it in the pocket of an unsecured sweatshirt on any canoe trips.


A note of thanks is due here to Sheriff Jim Wilson. Some time back he and I swapped some tweets about pocket knives, and about how I had resisted giving my son a knife, for fear that he would accidentally take it to school, and in today’s Zero Tolerance world, be expelled when it was discovered.

Sheriff Jim responded simply that this might also be a way to teach responsibility.

Later, he wrote in his blog

I especially like to see a kid with a good pocket knife. It’s usually an indication that someone trusts him. And it is tangible proof that he is growing up and that the day when he will have his very own .22 rifle is not all that far off. Kids need that sort of trust and responsibility.

I think he was right. Thank you, Sheriff.