Cheap & Handy
The Right Tools For The Task.
One of my household “call names” is Sharpener!—usually sung out like, “Sharrr-penn-errr! Sharpener to the galley, chop-chop!” I jump, because it usually means the Memsaab Helena is hackin’ and slashing at something savory I will shortly be feasting on.
Two short paring knives and a 9-inch chef’s knife awaited my attention. I added my pocket folder and a field knife to the lineup. As I whetted their edges, a couple of questions occurred to me.
The first question was, “How long has it been since I’ve used either of my two big, expensive professional knife sharpening systems?” and the second was, “Hmm… My least expensive sharpener is a terrific performer—would GUNS readers be interested?”
I freely admit I’m sorta fanatical about keeping my blades clean and appropriately sharp. By “appropriately,” I mean the edges of some should be finer and thinner, some more “toothy” and gross, depending on their uses. I know how to dress an edge, have all the required knife-knut maintenance skills, and the right equipment. In fact, I’m sure most people would say I’m over-equipped to the point of obsession. But a 0.8-ounce, 2×2.5-inch device that costs a piddling $5.99 neatly handles 90 percent of my blade-sharpening needs: the Lansky Quick Fix Pocket Sharpener.
On one side is a carbide V for more aggressive material removal, and on the other, a V of ceramic “crock sticks” for finer work and finishing an edge. A simple dished oval with rubber inserts guards your fingers and provides a good grip. As long as you keep the blade oriented straight and draw it smoothly through the Vs, about the only thing you can do wrong is to apply too much force and slip. It’s easy to feel progress as you sharpen and slick up the edge. I own those two pro sharpening systems and a half-dozen good portable and pocket sharpeners, but the $5.99 Lansky is by far the best bargain for the bucks.
For some time after I got a GTUL Glock Magazine Cleaning Kit, I used it for its stated purpose: easy disassembly and thorough cleaning of my Glock mags, and it did a heck of a job. The basic kit includes a pliable “grabber” to safely and securely hold the magazine, plus an 11-inch tool with a 6.5-inch tapered-end stiff brush, a 3-inch handle and a 1.5-inch hardened steel punch set into the handle end.
I used the brush on many other magazines, including AR mags, then on rifle receivers and mag wells, sights, fore-ends and rails, you name it. Soon it resided on my workbench, and I found myself using the brush on stuff like cleaning my shop vacuum attachments and heater flues and grids. The punch, intended to depress the retaining pin on Glock mags, is an all-around great pin-pusher, probe and teensy-recess cleaner. It’s one of those tools that if you just keep it available, you find lots of uses for it. All I’ve had to do to maintain it is plunge it into hot soapy water, gnarfle it around, rinse it and air-dry. I like that. The 2-piece kits including the brush tool and your choice of “mag-grabber” sizes run $21.95 and the brush tool alone is $14.95. Mine has earned its keep many times over.
Lansky’s Quick Fix sharpener, and GTUL’s Glock multipurpose kit fill
a lot of needs quickly, easily and inexpensively.
Curing Caveman Crunches
I break stuff, simple as that. Helena says it’s burned into my caveman genes. Got some bowling balls you want busted? I’ll try to handle ’em gently, and you’ll get ’em back in pieces. Scope bases and rings strip their threads and fail when I look at them, and they’ve cost me way too much money, grief and time. Step one is to have precisely the right bits, and have ’em handy. Brownells’ Tactical/LE Field Torx Kit includes five commonly-used optics Magna-Tip bits stowed in the driver’s hollow handle. If they don’t include one you need, just get that Magna-Tip bit.
The toughest part for me is not to use too much force on ring screws. They’re inherently evil. Most optics manufacturers recommend no more than 25 inch-pounds of torque. My hands are programmed for about a ton, so I now use Brownells’ pre-set 25 inch-pound Magna-Tip Torque Driver on those evil, self-stripping screws. These two tools list for $17.99 and $29.99 respectively. If they save you four screws and a set of rings, much less a cracked scope, they’ll pay for themselves.
I should have purchased a digital caliper/micrometer years before I did, but I made the mistake of asking a precision machinist gadget-freak for a recommendation. He named something like a “Hachimoto X5” or a Swiss-made “Zooper-Zwingel,” each costing more than my first truck.
Finally, I bought a $27.99 Frankford Arsenal Digital model. It’s precise, easy to use and read, and includes a depth gauge. Aside from its dozens of uses in reloading and miscellaneous gun chores, just last week I avoided a costly mistake by double-checking the inner and outer diameters of two sections of tubing I needed step-down and T-connectors for. The calipers are accurate to 0.001-inch, the micrometers to 0.0001-inch, and you can dance back and forth from inches to millimeters with the push of a button.
My gunsmith saw it and laughed. “Same one I use,” he said, explaining he has a $400-plus model he doesn’t use, because “It burns through batteries like wildfire (as opposed to about 2 years with the Frankford), the Frankford is just as accurate, and—I’m afraid I’ll break it.” Hear, hear, brother! We’re on the same bucks-and-breakage wavelength!
An AccuScope Scope Chart can save time and money zeroing scopes.
Brownells pre-set torque wrench and hollow-handle driver save plenty of screws from an untimely death. Frankford Arsenal’s inexpensive Digital Caliper/Micrometer is inexpensive and deserves a spot on every reloader’s bench.
Saving Bucks On Bullets
With lots of premium rifle ammo running over a buck a pop, how many rounds do you want to throw downrange—at a target you can’t eat—to zero in a scope? An AccuScope Scope Chart puts you right on the money fast and cheap. Their standard is “zeroed in four shots or less,” and I (and others) have done it in two shots.
Fire a shot, and if you feel good about your hold, measure how far outside the X you are horizontally and vertically. Using the chart’s slider, enter that info in inches, match it to your distance, and it tells you how many clicks you need to adjust—simple. One card covers scopes with 1/4- and 1/2- MOA adjustments, and another covers scopes with 1/8-MOA clicks. And if you’re not shooting at 100 yards, no problem: distances are listed in 25-yard increments from 25 to 200.
Durable, weatherized AccuScope charts are $17.95, and you can literally make that back sighting in two or three scopes. You might also check out AccuScope’s targets at $7.99 per 12-pack. They’re 16×20, and based on true MOA grid lines and circles.
Well, dang… A 1/2-dozen more handy-gadgets to cover, and I’m all outta space. Guess I’ll go warp some manhole covers. I’ll pretend they’re pennies—and pinch ’em. Connor OUT
By John Connor
P.O. Box 800, Buffalo, NY 14231
722 Cedar Point Blvd. #212
Cedar Point, NC 28584
200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171
Frankford Arsenal Battenfeld Technologies Inc.
5885 W. Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203
P.O. Box 633, Ankeny, IA 50021