Got a Hogue 34569 X5 3.5″ Pocket Knife with a Whancliffe Blade for Father’s Day!!

Well, my wife sure surprised me this year — she bought me a Hogue X5 pocket knife (SKU 34569) at Smokey Mountain Knife Works when we stopped at the store on Father’s Day. I carried it every day until we returned home on Wednesday.  For some reason I did not get more photos of the knife new out of the box.  The photos I am showing are all after 2-3 days of being in my pocket with keys walking all over the place.

I must say that I am disappointed that the finish on the frame scratched in a few places but this knife was always intended to be a working blade and not a shelf queen.  Standing up to keys is the least of my worries really.  It is interesting to note that the top of the blade that was exposed to the keys also shows zero wear relative to the frame.   We’ll see how the finish holds up over time.

I’ve been a fan of Hogue knives for a while – especially after a good friend bought one of their fixed blade models.  I had a chance to look it over carefully when it was brand new about three years ago and it was very well made.  He took it to Alaska and California used it a ton camping and climbing.  As for me, I’ve wanted a Hogue but the right opportunity never seemed to pop up until now.

So this is a almost new out of the box review 🙂  Let me start by saying that the X5 family of blades are very well made.  I was trying to decide on whether to get another Zero Tolerance (ZT), a Benchmade or the Hogue and finally settled on the Hogue that you see.

The 3.5″ blade is 0.15″ thick and is made from CPM154.  This is the CPM manufactured version of Crucible’s 154CM that folks into knives like – it’s relatively easy to sharpen, tough and corrosion resistant.  In short, the business end of the knife is made of excellent steel that is 57-59 on the Rockwell scale hard.  The blade was cryogenically treated and then finished in a black Cerakote.  By the way cryo treatments are fascinating.  Click here to read a great write up about them.

The profile is a stunning looking wharncliffe style.  Wharncliffe profiles have always caught my eye and there is a bit of history to them.  The Viking Seax blades are the first knives I have seen with this profile that is the reverse of most knives.  In terms of the name we often use today, the first Lord of Wharncliffe came up with the design in the 1800s and had Joseph Rodgers & Son him some pocket knives.

The blade is a spring-assisted flipper and it opens very smoothly.  You can see the round blade release button and a sliding lock behind it.   When the lock is engaged, the button can’t be pushed and blade is securely locked open.  I like spring-assisted blades by the way as I am always in some weird position trying to open boxes, working on machines, etc. where I can only get one hand free.

The frame of the handle is aluminum with a black G-mascus  G10 insert.  When closed, the knife is 4.75″ overall yet weighs only 4.66 oz.  I really liked the combination of size and light weight. Plus, the frame is remarkably thin so it fits in your pocket nicely and doesn’t feel like a boat anchor.

 

Now this knife is pretty new to me right now.  I haven’t cut anything yet but definitely will be as I have quite a list of stuff to get done and I’ll be cutting open boxes, plastic tubs, etc.  I’ll post updates plus I want to compare it to my ZT 350, my favorite EDC blade but I want more mileage on the X5 before I do that.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Hogue HO34569-BRK X5 Button Lock Wharncliffe


Features: Category name: locking-knives, Country of origin: USA, Brand name: Hogue

Closed: 4.75″; blade: 3.75″ L CPM 154 stainless L standard edge L black finish; handle: black L aluminum; other info: extended tang L lanyard hole L pocket clip. Wharncliffe blade. Black G-Mascus G-10 handle insert. Black nylon zippered storage pouch. Boxed.
New From: $181.08 USD In Stock

The Vortex Torque Wrench Optics Mounting Kit is Wicked!!

I’m to the point with rifles that when I want to maintain accuracy, I know I need an accurate torquing driver.  For years I have used the Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque (FAT) Wrench and it was good enough.  For about $40 I got the base unit that included a few bits and a case.  The FAT wrench had a range from 10-65 in/lbs and good enough accuracy (+/- 2 in/lbs up to 40 pounds and +/- 5% over 40 in/lbs).  My only beef with it was that the mechanical scale that shows you the torque settings was in 5 pound increments.  To get close to 18 in/lbs, for example, required going close to the middle between 15 and 20 in/lbs and calling it even.

I used the FAT wrench pretty much exclusively from October 2014 to May 2018.  It was good enough at the time – way better than going for ballpark feel “farmer tight” settings but in the back of my head though, I wanted better.

By the way, in case you are wondering why a person would get one of these torque wrenches or drivers, it’s because many torque wrenches aren’t calibrated in inch/pounds (they are often foot pounds in the US) and they may not go down as low as 10 inch/pounds (in/lbs).

My interests span many types of firearms from AKs to precision rifles.  With the latter, I own a number of sub-MOA rifles and they demand precision tools if you want repeatability and reliability.  These rifles also have very good Vortex scopes and rings as well.  If you want consistency and the rings to not shoot loose, the value of a torque wrench becomes apparent fast.

I’m a Vortex fan – there’s no two ways about.  Their optics are superb and they have an absolute “we will stand behind it no matter what with no nonsense” warranty.  Once in a while I will see guys troll the brand on Facebook but I honestly question whether they have ever actually even owned one.

Folks, I’ve owned probably 7-8 superb Vortex scopes and a ton of red dots.  I really don’t know how many red dots of various types – probably approaching a dozen.  The glass is good, the scopes are durable and do you know how many times I have used the warranty? — None.  In talking with guys that have, Vortex took care of them.

So, let me get to the point.  Vortex came out with a torque driver called the “Vortex Optics Torque Wrench Mounting Kit” that goes from 10-50 in pounds in calibrated 1 in/lbs increments that you set like a micrometer.

When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the heft.  This is a solidly built metal tool that screams quality.  It comes with a few bits.  You pull the copper colored locking ring down and turn the handle to get the torque you want.  I did find that you have to push the bits in very firmly.  There is a detent ball that holds the driver bits in and it is surprisingly stout.

A nice touch is that the end of the handle has a 1/4″ socket if you want to use a ratchet wrench for higher torque applications.  For example, Vortex precision rings can go up to 50 in/lbs.  I can do that by hand most of the time but a ratchet makes it much easier.

On the topic of bits, it is a standard 1/4″ drive so you can get a large collection of bits and pair it up with this unit.  For example, I had a Home Depot Husky brand driver with a ton of bits that I picked up on sale at some point and just had sitting on the shelf.  I put it with the Vortex and its few included driver bits.  Additionally, when I am working on a firearm, I typically have my Weaver deluxe toolkit open as well.  It contains a great selection of bits that you tend to find on firearms.

There is one thing I changed though – the Vortex unit comes in a round plastic case that is nice and strong but I don’t have the patience to try and put it all back together for storage.  So, I hopped down to Ace hardware and bought a case to hold the Vortex torque driver, the Husky driver and all the bits plus I have room for more storage.  I also used some of my spare pluckable foam left over from cases to pad the bottom of the case.

In case you are wondering, here are photos of my FAT and Vortex torque drivers side by side:

In this next photo, you can see what I mean about precisely setting the torque on the wrenches.  My Vortex Precision Scope Rings specify a torque of 18 in/lbs.  With the Vortex wrench, you can precisely set it for 18 pounds.  With the FAT, it’s somewhere around 17-19 pounds plus we already know the wrench’s accuracy is limited to +/- 2 in/lbs as well.

On the topic of accuracy, the Vortex driver comes with a certificate of calibration to testing standard DIN-ISO-6789 by a gentleman named Tom on Feb 27, 2018.  You can see my specific wrench nails the accuracy – no more guesswork and no more ballpark torque setting.

In summary, I am very happy with my Vortex wrench and would recommend it to anyone doing precision firearms work, notably optics.  You can pick one up at a very reasonable price from Amazon and you ought to do it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 


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Vortex Optics Torque Wrench Mounting Kit


Features: This tool is easy to operate, simple to set, and offers fast, accurate tension wherever and whenever you need it., The easy to read inch-pound increments ensure you tighten in 1in/lb increments to the specified torque, and not a bit more, ranging from 10 in/lbs to 50 in/lbs., Bits included in kit: 3/16″ Hex bit – fits Vortex Bobro mounts, 2.5mm Hex bit – Fits Razor Red Dot, 3mm HEx bit – Fits Hunter rings, CM-202 and CM-203, T15 Torx bit – Fits Viper rings and Tactical rings, Bits included in kit: T25 Torx bit – Fits PMR rings, 1/2″ Socket – Fits Tactical rings, 10mm Wide Screwdriver bit – Fits Hunter and Viper clamp bolt, 1/4″ Socket adaptor

Riflescope mounting accessory set 10-50 lb adjustable torque – 1 in/lb increments Versatile set – Variety of bits included Convenient, twist lock storage packaging
List Price: $69.00 USD
New From: $69.00 USD In Stock

Plano’s New All Weather Series 2 (AW2) Case For a .338 Lapua Savage Stealth Evolution

It’s funny how a person’s views can change over time.  When my dad I first started going to gun shows back in the early 1980s, my idea of a gun case was a naugahyde bag that was long enough with straps that I could close on the rifle.  Then again, my budget was about $10-20 for the case and usually about $100-150 for the firearm.  Times change.

I’ve heard it said that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys and that just may be true.  Now when I buy and tune a rifle and put a big optic on it, I want it protected – well protected.  When I first started buying hard cases I would get the kind with the egg crate style foam that could generically hold anything with no modification.  The downside with the egg crate cases is that they don’t hold things very securely – if you drop the case hard enough, the contents will move including the weapon and any accessories or ammo you have stored in the main compartment  As a result, I shifted away from these cases some years ago for my bigger and heavier rifles.

To make a hard case that is tailored to what you want to store in it, you have two routes.  The best in my opinion are cases with hard foam that you cut to exactly fit what you want.  These cases hold your contents very securely.  The con is taking the time to cut out the foam.  It’s not a huge overhead but they also tend to cost a bit more for a good case such as a Pelican.

Option two is to still use a hardcase but one with pluckable foam.  This means the the foam has been pre-cut into little vertical rectangular columns that are partially connected to one another but can be pulled apart or “plucked” out.

Now the pros are that these cases can be affordable and are easy to work with.  The con is that the foam is very flimsy an I stay away from really fine details a single piece tends to break way from the other pieces very easily.  In short, I can’t fit the foam more closely to the contents *but* it still works and protects the contents better than an all eggshell hard case.

So, let me tell you about a Plano case I bought recently from Amazon.  I have used a lot of these tough Plano hard cases with pluckable foam over the last few years but now they have a model out that I really like due to the construction.  It’s the Plano “All Weather Series” and I bought the 52″ model to hold a Savage Stealth Evolution in .338 Lapua that is 48″ overall.  At $136.13 delivered it’s about $40-50 cheaper than a big Pelican.

To get this case, make sure your Amazon item description contains “AW2” – I assume this means it is the second generation of the All Weather case and I like the handles way better than the previous version.

When you open the lid, you see the usual placard and keys but if you zoom in you can faintly see the border of non-scored foam that runs around the perimeter.

In the next photo, note that the middle pluckable portion pulls right out.

In the next photo, note that the latches are now four in the front and none on the ends.  Some models have a latch inside the end handle and I find myself fumbling with it to get it to open.  I’m happy to see them just on the front.

My preferred way of mounting a scoped rifle is to have the scope “up” towards the carry handle on the side and the muzzle towards the carry handle on the end which means the butt stock is down by the wheels.  The reason for this is to protect the muzzle and the scope as much as possible.  A jarring force when someone drops the case – especially when carrying it with the side handle and dropping it – will be absorbed by a non-critical end … in theory.  You can never plan for everything and these cases are strong but not impenetrable.  For example, I received a case once where a fork truck tine had skewered it.  Amazon, as always, gave great customer service and shipped a replacement immediately.

Take the firearm and any accessories and lay them out on the back / the mirror side of the case.  You are going to mark with permanent marker where stuff goes and you don’t want that showing up later.  Now some folks will use chalk and blow it off.  Others will pin paper outlines – whatever works for you.  I use a Sharpie and try to remember that I need to flip the foam while keeping in mind the orientation of the weapon so you will note I have the rifle in the case scope down because I will just flip the foam afterwards.

Out comes the old Sharpie marker and I trace everything.  I traced the magazine in the rifle as well as a slot for the spare.  Not I have the ammo boxes sitting on their side edge.  I may trim the bottom foam out as it is a tight fit but I decided to run with that layout for now as the cartridges are very long and use a lot of real estate.  I wound up turning the Atlas bipod on its side also after the above photo was taken so the profile changed.

In the next photo, note how the big recoil pad is coming right down to the wheel housing.  The .338 Lapua Stealth Evolution is 48″ long so it is a tight fit in this case.  I figured the rubber recoil pad would protect the rifle and literally have it right by the housing.  The top of the scope and the bottom of the grip are right to the border of the pluckable area.

Now it is time to pluck!  I stay within the lines and figure I can always remove more later.  I do try to balance too close and will come apart later vs. too far away to protect the rifle.  I pluck and test, pluck and test until I get it the way I want.  Note how I have now reversed the foam – you don’t see any marker lines and the rifle is now oriented the way I want.

The next step is to take the insert outside and spray and adhesive on it to glue it in place.  You need to do this and apply it relatively heavily or it will pull out of position and flop around.  I use the 3M Super 77 spray adhesive and only spray the pluckable insert.

The end result is stronger if you apply the adhesive to both surfaces but it is very messy to deal with.  If you really want to do this, one trick is to save the foam you plucked out, cut it in half lengthwise and glue it in to the bottom.  Some guys like this as the firearm and accessories aren’t as deep in the foam.  In this case, I am just doing the one side so I applied it thick.  Make sure you do the right side … yeah, I’ve made that mistake too.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes so it gets tacky and then put it back on the lower piece.  Move quickly before it sets up and make sure everything is straight.  If you get the adhesive on stuff you don’t mean to, it can be readily cleaned up with turpentine while still wet.  I always have stuff I have to clean up.

Once you have the insert glued in place, be sure to let it dry for 6-8 hours.  I’ve had problems in the past if stuff sticking to firearms so I let it sit a good long time just to play it safe.  The warmer it is, the faster it will dry and cure.

Here’s the finished case.  You can see how the rifle completely fills it.  I wish I had a bit more buffer for protection but it is pretty good.  I will definitely do some more tuning on the ammo section.

I really like the case and think it’s going to do a good enough job for me.  I don’t plan on using it for anything incredibly rough – mainly range trips and it’ll handle those just fine.  I’d definitely recommend this case to someone who wants a very good mix of affordability and quality.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Folks, I really wanted to post a link on Amazon or eBay for the Atlas bipod but I decided against it.  There are tons and tons of cheap Chinese counterfeits of it and I would rather recommend you either buy it directly from Accushot or go to a reputable supplier like Brownell’s or Midway.  They are great bipods and if you buy one, make sure you are getting a real one and not ripped off.  The unit you see above is the BT10-LW17 with the quick release lever.


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Plano All Weather 2 Double Scoped Rifle/Shotgun Case, AW2 gun case, 52″


Features: 52″ all weather case. Exterior dims: 53.5″ x 17″ x 7″ interior dims: 51.5″ x 14″ x 5.5″, Customizable pluck-to-fit foam, Easy Glide Enclosed Wheels and Dual Stage Lockable Latches for Travel. Extremly Duable and made to withstand rough hanlding during Travel., Continuous dri-loc seal and pressure release valve, Aw2 cases create a watertight and dust-proof shield that protects your gear even in the most extreme conditions

Plano all weather gun cases defend your firearms from damage and the elements. We have enhanced some of our best-selling cases with an upgraded look and improved functionality in the AW2 line. They’re still your old favorites – just better. With rugged, industrial-strength construction and a continuous dri-loc seal, AW2 cases create a watertight and dust-proof shield that protects your gear even in the most extreme conditions. Heavy-duty, dual-stage lockable latches and a built-in pressure release valve also help the cases withstand the continuous bumping and jarring of airline travel.
List Price: $136.13 USD
New From: $124.79 USD In Stock

Cool New Soviet KGB Vodka Flasks – Awesome Conversation Starters

So I was surfing one day and stumbled across these cool souvenir personal liquor flasks from Russia that hark back to the Soviet era.  They looked really cool in the photos and were brand new so I figured why not get one and check it out.  Thus, out came the credit card and I got one from worldgifts1 on eBay.  I should point out that a number of vendors are selling these and they all look the same.

The below are photos of my exact flask.  I actually bought two – one for myself and one for my buddy Scott.  They really are nicely done – the chrome plate is good and what really caught my eye is the coat of arms – the CCCP is the abbreviation of the Cyrllic words “Союз Советских Социалистических Республик” that translate as the Union of Soviety Socialist Republics.  The КГБ is the Cyrllic abbreviation for Комите́т госуда́рственной безопа́сности which translates as the Committee for State Security, which we better know as the KGB.

I bought this strictly as a novelty plus as a place to keep either vodka or, gasp, my beloved tequila.  I think I am in big trouble for the tequila comment 🙂  It’s definitely a cool conversation starter and you could put whatever drink you want in there of course.

At any rate, it arrived as you see above and is water tight.  I sloshed some soapy water around inside, rinsed it out several times and then let it dry and it was good to go.

In my opinion it is a good deal – sure you can get cheaper generic flasks but they scream “boozer” vs. being a conversation starter.  I’d recommend these and they do make flasks with other insignia too – I opted for the KGB one due to growing up during the Cold War and tons of spy movies.

World Gifts is not the only seller and while I suspect they are all being made at the factory, I can’t speak to the quality of other sellers’ products.  Below are flasks from eBay including stuff from a number of sellers and at the bottom I have a link to the KGB Flask as sold by World Gifts on Amazon.

VINTAGE CCCP RUSSIAN FLASK

$9.95 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Jun-24-2018 19:02:24 PDT
Bid now | Add to watch list

VINTAGE USSR Russian Military Stainless Flask - CCCP-

$15.00
End Date: Sunday Jun-24-2018 23:19:29 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

8 oz. Stainless Hip Flask Canteen w/ Russian Soviet Military Badge KGB CCCP USSR

$20.45
End Date: Sunday Jul-1-2018 14:55:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $20.45
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

6 oz Flask w/ Russian USSR Soviet Military Badge - GUARDIA

$16.95
End Date: Saturday Jun-30-2018 11:46:23 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $16.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Original soviet russian ussr army flask water military canteen and case.

$16.99
End Date: Saturday Jul-14-2018 8:45:41 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $16.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Russian Lion Flask/Decanter Marked USSR

$20.00
End Date: Monday Jun-25-2018 22:45:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $20.00
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Collectible Russian Lenin KGB CCCP Insignia Badge Stainless Steel Flask

$20.00
End Date: Saturday Jul-14-2018 18:18:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $20.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

VTG SOVIET ? RUSSIAN ? ARMY MILITARY WATER FLASK CANTEEN WOOL COVER W/CUP

$9.95 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Jun-26-2018 15:00:19 PDT
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Russian Military Stainless Flask Enamel

$19.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Jun-24-2018 19:39:30 PDT
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Vintage Russia Russian Flask

$40.00
End Date: Monday Jul-9-2018 15:25:19 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $40.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 


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8 oz. Stainless Steel Alcohol and Spirits Flask Canteen w/Russian Soviet Military Army Badge KGB USSR CCCP


Features: Stainless Steel Drinking flask 8 oz. for Vodka, Cognac,Whiskey, Scotch, etc., 5″L x 3.75″W x 1″, Russian Military badges KGB, Faux Leather Wrap, Suitable for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks

Made in Russia, this curved drinking flask makes a great gift. Latched screw top and decorated with 2 Soviet Era badges. Suitable for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Soviet/Russian Army/KGB souvenir – stainless steel Flask 8 oz. Military collectibles and Military Memorabilia
List Price: $21.99 USD
New From: $21.99 USD In Stock

Why I Stopped Using Harbor Freight Air Fittings

In short, Harbor Freight quick couplers look like a cheap way to go.  The problem is that they are really soft.  I can’t even guess how many female fittings I have thrown away as they deformed and started to leak air.

The same goes for the soft male fittings.  You will find they abrade easily and leak air plus they bend and break easily.  The latest example is this male plug on my IR 117 air hammer where the smaller nipple is tearing away from the relatively thicker base:

My solution is simple – I only use Milton air fittings now and you can get them from Amazon at an affordable price.  Every time one of my many Harbor Freight units fails, I replace it.  By the way, I’m to the point that I don’t recommend any of the cheap import fittings regardless of maker.  Milton isn’t much more and they will last.

By the way, when you look purely at the purchase cost that doesn’t tell the whole story.  This fitting failed right at the start of the job and set me back about 10-15 minutes while I was rummaging around for my Milton spares, my teflon tape, the wrench, setting the tool in the vise to do the work, etc.   All of a sudden the supposed purchase savings doesn’t seem like a big deal.  By the way, I was swearing the whole time too 🙂

Here are the 1/4″ Milton M-type fittings that I use and recommend:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Milton (S-210) 1/4 NPT M-Style Coupler and Plug Kit, (12-Piece)


Features: BASIC FLOW SIZE: All 1/4″ body size air fittings. 1/4″ NPT. Buna-N seals., KWIK-CHANGE®: Interchangeable/compatible with most manufacturers. Easy push to connect., MAXIMUM: 40 SCFM. 300 PSI. Temperatures up to 250 degrees F., QUALITY: Durable brass couplers. Case-hardened steel plugs, plated to resist rust and corrosion., M-STYLE KIT INCLUDES: (2) Female Couplers, (8) Male Plugs, and (2) Female Plugs. (Milton #715, #727, #728)

Milton (S-210) M-Style Coupler and Plug Kit, (12-Piece)
This pneumatic 12-pc. Milton (S-210) M-Style KWIK-CHANGE coupler/plug air accessory kit includes a variety of couplers, plugs and fittings with a 1/4″ basic flow size (air handling capacity). Milton M-Style Kwik Change couplers are made of brass, while M-Style Kwik Change plugs are made of case-hardened steel and are plated to resist rust. This collection of couplers and plugs:

– Will interchange with all manufacturers who comply with the dimensional requirements of military specification MIL-C-4109.
– Offer a maximum airflow of 40 standard cubic feet per minute.
– Offer a maximum of 300 pounds per square inch.
– Can withstand a max temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

KIT INCLUDES:

(2) 1/4″ FNPT couplers
(8) 1/4″ MNPT plugs
(2) 1/4″ FNPT plugs

Singular Milton Item Part #’s:

#715 coupler (1/4″ FNPT)
#727 plug (1/4″ MNPT)
#728 plug (1/4″ FNPT)

 

List Price: $22.73 USD
New From: $17.61 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Resurrecting a Gummed Up Air Tool Without Disassembly

Recently I got out my Ingersoll Rand model 117 air hammer to use and found out its action had gotten all gummed up.  It’s been probably a year since I last used it even then probably didn’t use it a ton.  I always drip air tool oil into a tool before use because my air lines run driers and particulate filters for my plastics work.  Thus, I have to manually apply the oil before I use a tool.

When I went to use 117 the piston would not actuate and when I shook the tool, it didn’t sound like it normally did.  My first thought was to check the air pressure and it was at 90 PSI and the regulator was wide open so my next guess was lubrication.  Adding more air tool oil didn’t make any difference.  I then remembered a tip a guy told me years ago with gummy air tools – spray a ton of PB Blaster down the quick connect fitting and let it sit with the quick connect fitting up in the air trapping the penetrating oil in the tool for 5 minutes and try again.

So, I did that, reconnected the air line and it worked!  The tool worked like a champ and it blew PB Blaster everywhere!  I did it one more time just to make sure stuff was clear and ran the tool for a maybe 30 seconds to blow the PB Blaster out, wiped it down with a rag and then put in four drops of air tool oil.  Problem solved.

This was a huge win because I was in the middle of working on AK and wanted to use this tool plus I didn’t have time to take it all apart,  I’m writing this post a few weeks later after completing the AK build and the IR 117 is still working like a champ.

By the way, PB Blaster can be found at tons of automotive stores.  The packing looks gimmicky but it is actually one of the best penetraing oils that is out there along with Kroil.  If I didn’t have access to either of those, I would have made up some Ed’s Red or at least used some form of transmission fluid.  Tranny fluid works great but take a while to penetrate gunk.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Ingersoll-Rand 117K 2,000 Blows-Per-Minute Standard Duty Pnuematic Hammer with 5 Chisel Set


Features: Longer Stroke Piston, Alloy steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life, Up to 2,000 blows per minute, 5 piece chisel kit

An economical air hammer with a longerpiston stroke, this tool is designed forexhaust work, bolt cutting, and front-endwork. The trigger control and a built-in powerregulator give you full control of the speed and power. Longer stroke piston. Alloyed steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life. Up to 2, 000 blows per minute.
List Price: $69.99 USD
New From: $61.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $889.42 USD In Stock

Use an Air Riveter to Install or Remove AK Barrels

For years I used my 20 ton press to remove and install barrels on AK rifles and then somone, Gunplumber maybe, told me to try using an air riveter instead.  You know what, it surprisingly works well and now I only use my press on the removal of really stubborn barrels.

I am going to throw two terms around in this post that I need to explain.  Air hammers and air riveters are remarkably similar – a pneumatic (air powered) pistol is going down a bore and slamming into the end of the unit where a tool is attached.  Thus they are delivered from the hundreds to almost three thousand blows per minute (BPM).  What usually, but not always, differentiates the two is the degree of control you have with the trigger and an integral air regulator to adjust the BPM and how hard the blows are.   If you see a tool with virtually no controls, it is likely an air hammer.  However, as you will read here, there are air hammers that do overlap with air riveters.

With air riveters, the main thing you get is a variable flow trigger, sometimes called a “tickle trigger” and usually a built in air regulator.  This allows you to really dial in the speed and strength of the blows.    When guys gush about how well they can control a big riveter, pay close attention because they aren’t kidding.  When you are building an airplane you need precision and you sure don’t want the riveter to slip and mar the aluminum.  Traditionally with air hammers we think about driving apart exhaust pipes, cutting open barrels and what not.  With air riveters, think of airplanes,

Okay – enough background – let’s talk about how to size these things – riveters are are sized based on the stroke length of the piston and an arcane naming scheme like “2X”, “3X” and “4X”.   Each has a piston about one inch longer than the previous model and the longer the piston, the harder it hits and the bigger rivet you can drive.  Think of the piston in a car – diameter and stroke set the stage for more power.

For example Aircraft Tool Supply sells all kinds of tools for folks who build airplanes and have decent riveters – I have one of their ATS-3X units and it has held up great.  At any rate, here are their tool ratings for example:

Note how the stroke is increasing from their base 200B unit through the 4x.  When you get to the 5x and 7x, both the stroke and bore size increase.  The capacity stated is for aluminum rivets so for steel rivets go two sizes up was a rule I was once told.

Most rivets you encounter around firearms will be steel and between 5/32″ to 3/16″.  I was told not to go smaller than 3X and have no regret with doing AK trigger guards but I did wind up with two units because I wanted to more powerful unit for barrels and barrel pins.   By the way, I was told not to go too small or all the hammer blows would risk work hardening the rivets.

Historically, I have mainly used this riveter for the trigger guard and an occasional barrel pin.  For most of my heavy work such as barrel pins and  barrels, I use an Ingersoll-Rand (IR) model 117 air hammer.  Now here’s the interesting thing – most air hammers, especially cheap imports, do not have variable triggers – they tend to be on or off.  Like riveters, the IR 117 has a variable trigger and a built in regulator.  With piston stroke of 3.5″, and an 22/26″ bore it makes the 117 a tad bigger than the 4X riveter from ATS so all things being equal, the IR 117 will hit harder.

I know Harbor Freight has an air riveter now (they didn’t when I bought mine) but have zero experience with it and also not so good experiences with their air hammers not lasting.

A big requirement for this work is control – you need a variable trigger so you can get just a few blows all the way up to continuous.  A regulatory allows you to adjust how hard the unit hits.  Some past import air hammers I have used seemed to have triggers that were either wide open, or completely unpredictable.  If you have one that is this way, don’t try working on a firearm that you care about.

Both the ATS and IR units were recommended to me and I both do a great job.  Note, there are bigger riveters and air hammers out there but you will notice that the tool shank goes from the very common 0.401″ to a larger diameter such as 0.498.

At any rate, let’s get back to barrels.  Modern AK barrels are what is known as an interference fit with the barrel being pressed into the front trunnion and locked in place by a cross pin.  In general a 12 ton press will do the job reliably but it takes a while to get the jigs set up and parts ready to go.  A 4X riveter will usually do the job also but with way less set up time.   I say usually because once in a while you run into pins or barrels that just do not want to come out and that’s when a big press is the way to go.

Practice First

Let me give you one piece of honest advice – if you go this route, practice before you beat the snot out of your parts.  Air riveters and hammers want to move around on you and you need to know how to control them.

Removing the Barrel Pin

Now you may wonder why I went the pneumatic route vs. sticking with my press.  The answer is real simple –  when I am taking stuff apart, I don’t want to take a ton of time.  I can use the 117 to pop out the barrel pin with either a drift pin or a tapered pin in seconds with very little set up.   I usually just put the trunnion and barrel assembly on  bench block with a hole for the pin to enter as I drive it out from the other side – I drive from the operating side (right when viewed from the top) towards the non-operating side (the left side).

If you are using a tapered pin driver, get the pin started and stop before the tool will hurt the trunnion.  You can drive it out the rest of the way fairly easily with a drift punch and a big hammer.  If you have drift punches for your air tool, just pick one slightly smaller than the hole and drive the pin out.

These days I keep parts in a magnetic tray to avoid losing them and that’s where I stick the barrel pin.  If you ever lose or damage the pin, get a 7mm drill bit and cut off the shank to create the length you need.  I used to keep 7mm drill rod somewhere – I’m not really sure where it is now.

Backing Out the Barrel

Driving the barrel off the trunnion is pretty easy but you do need to make a tool that fits in the trunnion and has a brass “head” to drive the barrel out without damaging the chamber end – DO NOT USE STEEL – it needs to be a softer metal and brass does a good job.

My backout tool is a  6″ long 1/2″ bolt with a brass nut on the end with a ground down steel backing nut behind it:

Why 6″ long?  Because that is what I had in my box.  Shorter would be more controllable. I actually have a long 12″ unit I use if I need to back a barrel out of a trunnion that is in the receiver.

Here’s a photo of the ground down steel backing nut and the brass nut that sits on the chamber end and applies the actual blows to drive it out.

You definitely need the steel backing but or the brass will deform and come off the threads.  You can also see how the brass extends in front of the bolt – I always check to make sure I have about an 1/8th inch or so of brass before I use it.  This is basically a shorter version of my barrel back out tool (click here for the post about that from way back when).

Now to deliver the blows on the business end of my IR 117 is a 7″ brass peening  tool that ATS sells directly.  I bought a 3″ unit but it will not fit in the wire retainer of my 117.  They also have a 5″ model that I bet would work fine.

So, I mount the trunnion in my wood jawed vise to not tear it up, insert the backout tool and then use the 117 to apply the blows.   I will hold the bolt with one hand and use the 117 with the other.  Do NOT put your hand where the bolt and peening hammer come together or you will pinch the hell out of it.  I did that once years ago and it taught me a lesson complete with a blood blister as a reminder.

So I do a bit and check – I do not try to do it all at once.  By looking int he barrel pin hole, you should see it slowly backing out.  In general, the last bit of removing the barrel I do with a  big ball pein hammer to make sure the barrel assembly either is pulled out the last bit by me or land in some form of box or cushion vs. the hard floor.

That’s it!   The barrel is out.

Installing the Barrel

To install a barrel, I first install an old slant brake that I ground flat to protect the threads.  I have not used a muzzle nut because they do not seem to offer much protection to the front of the muzzle – they are mainly designed to protect the threads.  With the ground down slant brake, there is a plenty of material in front of the muzzle to protect it.  

You can see how it has mushroomed over time but that’s fine.  I’ve used it a ton and if I ever have a problem, I’ll chuck it and make another.

My best guess is that it came out of a Romanian G kit years ago.  I have a bunch of oddball parts like this that got replaced by US parts for the sake of 922r compliance.

I thread the converted brake / muzzle protector all the way back on the barrel to engage all the threads possible and back it right against the front sight block (FSB).  The idea is that you want the threads to take the impact and not the muzzle.

To start the installation, I push the barrel assembly into the trunnion and tap it with a big ball pein hammer.  I keep sighting down the rear sight block (RSB) making sure it is true.  At the point, you can use a rubber mallet or other non-marring mallet to tap the RSB and angle the barrel slightly one way or the other to course correct.  It is really, really important to get the alignment right at the start.  You will not be able to adjust it once you get very far in.  If it turns out you have alignment problem later, I would recommend driving the barrel assembly out and starting over.

To do the actual driving, I use the IR 117 with the brass peening hammer attachment.  I put the brass hammer face right on the converted slant brake and drive it in.  I keep checking the barrel pin hole to make sure I stop just short of the final location and that it is aligned.  If the surfaces are not aligned, I would drive the barrel back out and start over.  In this next photo, you can see I stopped just short of where I need to be.

Now this particular kit was a headspaced Polish WBP kit and I had checked headspace before I removed the barrel.  If I needed to set the headspace, I would start checking it somewhere around here.

At this point, I drive the barrel in the rest of the way by tapping the end with a big ballpein hammer – or any BFH will do 🙂  It really doesn’t take a ton of energy.  You want to tap and test over and over.  Don’t get impatient and try and drive it in all at once or you risk overshooting where you want to be.  If you do overshoot, it’s going to take some time and you need to make that longer barrel backout tool and either use your press or your air tool (I’d use my IR 117) and push it back out just enough to then fine tune the location.

Do not use headspace gauges as barrel stops.  You may know this but just in case you don’t – gauges are precision instruments and you only install them to test the headspace and *not* as a way to stop travel.  I’ve heard of guys doing that and, for a change, I wasn’t one of them 🙂

Once the channel is clear and you have one nice continous path from one side of the trunnion to the other it is time to reinstall the pin.

Installing the barrel pin

With I do is start the pin with a big ball pein hammer and the drive it in the rest of the way with an old rivet set that I use just for this purpose.  Years ago I bought a ton of used 0.401 shank rivet sets and rivet tools off eBay for a very reasonable price.  I use one that covers the pin nicely and drive it right in and let me tell you, it goes in fast.  You can stop short and drive it in the test of the way by hand if you want.  I tend to just drive it right into place with the air tool.

By the way, I’ve accumulated a number of rivet tools and bucking bars over the years.  Here’s a quicksnap shot of my toolbox:

That’s it – done.  I hope this helps you out!

By the way, here are used rivet tools currently on eBay.  Be sure the shank size matches your air hammer or air riveter (all of mine are 0.401″ for example)

Lot of 12 Aircraft Rivet Gun Riveter Sets in wooden block

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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Ingersoll-Rand 117K 2,000 Blows-Per-Minute Standard Duty Pnuematic Hammer with 5 Chisel Set


Features: Longer Stroke Piston, Alloy steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life, Up to 2,000 blows per minute, 5 piece chisel kit

An economical air hammer with a longerpiston stroke, this tool is designed forexhaust work, bolt cutting, and front-endwork. The trigger control and a built-in powerregulator give you full control of the speed and power. Longer stroke piston. Alloyed steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life. Up to 2, 000 blows per minute.
List Price: $69.99 USD
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Learn About The Type 2 Soviet AK-47 – Forgotten Weapons Video

It’s interesting that we hold the AK-47 in near mythic regard when it comes to reliability.  It took almost 12 years from 1947 to the release of the AKM (Avtomát Kaláshnikova modernizírovanny or  “Modernized Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle”) in 1959.  The journey the design team made over the years is quite interesting.

I did a post on the Type 1 previously (click here to open it) and that first iteration had problems with the stamped sheet metal receiver that affected reliability.  In response, Valeriy Kharkov lead a design team who created a milled receiver from a forging to address the reliability problems and it was ready by 1949.

The Soviets had plenty of labor, that wasn’t a problem so in a manually intensive manner, they machined a six pound block of steel that required 120 steps into a finished 1.4 pound receiver.  That means they wasted almost 3.6 pounds of quality steel and used a ton of consumables and machine time.  To be honest, it boggles my mind but they accomplished their mission – the QC problems with the receiver were addressed.

In the following video, Ian McCollum does a great job showing a type 2  and describing the differences between it, the type 1 and the following type 3.   For example, he points out the rear receiver extension that is made from sheet metal that is an instant identifier of a Type 2 fixed stock rifle (sometimes referred to as the “2A”).  Note, they made the type 2 with an underfolder stock also (the “2B”).

Another tell is that the lightening cuts are parallel to the top of the receiver in the type 2 and in the type 3 they are parallel to the bottom.

There are quite a few other changes such as the grip now being a single piece, the selector lever having an additional clearance added above the pins, gas vent holes moved to 10 and 2 o-clock and more.

By the way, one thing Ian does is refer to it as the AK-49 and I have never read anything that supports that nomenclature.  If you Google AK-49, nothing turns up.  I would recommend you refer to it as an AK-47 Type 2.  Other than that, I think it is a great video and you can actually see the many details as Ian points them out:

If you want to read a book that does a great job detailing the Type 2 and its history, I would recommend The Grim Reaper by Frank Iannamico.  Poyer’s book has details but not as much history.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



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AK-47: The Grim Reaper


By (author): Frank Iannamico

It’s back…but this time with more pages, more information and more photographs. The most definitive study on Kalashnikov pattern rifles to date boasts over 1,100 printed pages covering the AK rifle, as well as its variants manufactured in over 19 countries.
List Price: $69.95
New From: $69.95 USD In Stock
Used from: $95.01 USD In Stock

Learn About The Original Type 1 Soviet AK-47 – Forgotten Weapons Video

Ian McCollum does a great job showing an actual Soviet Type 1 sheet metal AK-47.   I’ve read about the Type and seen a few photos but nothing as detailed as this.  We so often focus on the AKM but Mikhail Kalashnikov and his design team at Izhevsk had to go through a lot of learning and evolution of the design.

For me this was absolutely fascinating as Ian talks about the Type 1’s history and QC problems this early design had and then actually opens the rifle up to show the many differences.

  • Grip plates vs a true grip
  • No center support to keep the receiver from getting crushed
  • A selector lever that was only on the operating side that did not go all the way through
  • Longer trunnion
  • Ejector was part of the trunnion
  • Different rivet pattern
  • Fluted gas piston
  • and more

If you like AK’s, be sure to watch this video:

Also, consider donating to Ian.  He puts a ton of time into his videos and the research required.  Here’s a link to his Patreon page.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 


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The AK-47 and AK74 Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations


Features: This book contains the most complete and up-to-date examination of the famed Kalashnikov rifle yet t
By (author): Joe Poyer

The AK-47 and AK-74 Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations provides a detailed, profusely illustrated examination on a part-by-part basis of the famed AK-47/AKM rifles, the AK-74/AK-74M series and the new Century series of rifles, the AK-101 through AK-108.

It is another in North Cape Publications, Inc., Shooter’s and Collector’s Guide series.

Every AK/AKM-type rifle manufactured in the Warsaw Pact countries plus the People’s Republic of China, Finland, Iraq, North Korea and Yugoslavia are described in detail, with a short history on the reason for, and the process of their development and use.

This new, 4th edition is expanded to include he latest developments in the AK47/AK74 platform including the Century series and the AK12. Also included is new information regarding the scope and use the Kalashnikov series of rifles plus information gleaned from the use of the AK-47 in Iraq and Afghanistan by insurgents.

Mikhail Kalashnikov is one of the foremost small arms designer’s in the world. His Kalashnikov action has been widely imitated. This book also includes detailed descriptions of rifles based on his design such as the Belgian FNC, the Israeli Galil, the Indonesian SS1 series, the Indian INAS, the Swedish Ak-5, the Swiss SG-550 series, Singapore’s SAR series and many others.

The book also includes separate chapters that describe the accessaries issued to each soldier, the entire range of Kalashnikov bayonets, telescopic sights (both military and commercial, the sniper rifle variants and their telescopic sights produced by the old Soviet Union as well as other nations. An exploded view, serial numbers and markings, an assembly/disassembly guide with photos, instructions on cleaning, maintenance and repair, and shooting the Kalashnikov rifles and a guide to legislation affecting these rifles and finally, sources for accessories and parts complete the book.

List Price: $22.95 USD
New From: $16.85 USD In Stock
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The Romanian PSL Rifle – Feeling Nostalgic for the 7.62x54R DMR

I have to admit that I am a huge fan of Ian McCollum’s Forgotten Weapons videos.  On May 28th, 2018, he released “Romania Doesn’t Make the Dragunov:  The PSL”.  Being a fan of the PSL, I had to watch it:

As usual, Ian did a great job.  The PSL, or in Romanian, the Puşcă Semiautomată cu Lunetă model 1974 was Romania’s designated marksman rifle (DMR) in 7.62x54R and came about after they had a disagreement with the USSR and would not longer get access to the Dragunov design.

In a classic example of pragmatism, the designers at Regia Autonoma pentru Productia de Tehnica Militara, also know as  the RATMIL Cugir arsenal, upscaled the Kalashnikov rifle design to handle the larger round.  The receiver design is based on the RPK light machine gun with reinforcing plates at the rear and a bulged front trunnion.   To make use of the relatively old 7.62x54R cartridge, it used a 24.4″ long barrel whereas a typical AKM has a barrel that is about 16.3″ long.

In short, while some people refer to it as a Dragunov, it really isn’t the same design at all.  The Dragunov’s design is unique and more complex.  The PSL is essentially an AK-47 on steroids and it does a pretty good job for what it was intended for – being a DMR and providing supporting fire at longer distance targets vs. a sniper rifle.  A DMR has good enough accuracy to – say about 2-3″ MOA or better whereas a sniper, or precision rifle, will tend to be sub-MOA.

Paired with the rifle is a LPS 4×6 TIP2 ((Lunetă Puṣcă Semiautomată Tip 2, or “Scope, Semi-Automatic Rifle, Type 2”) scope that attaches via the receiver side plate.

Really, the PSL design was a success for the Romanians.  It was relatively inexpensive, rugged and did the job.  They actually wound up exporting it to a number of countries for military use including:  Afghanistang, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Congo-Kinshasa, Ethiopia, Iraq (after Hussein), Moldova, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Somalia.

Here it is seen in the hands of an Afghan Army soldier:

In the following photo an Ethiopian solider is firing a PSL:

Of course, another market existed for these semi-auto rifles also – the United States.  It was imported under a variety of names including:  PSL-54C, Romak III, FPK and SSG-97.  They were all the same rifle more or less and might show modifications for importation such as removal of the bayonet lug or no third FCG pin provision in the receiver.  The PSLs in the US could have been assembled either at RATMIL or later after Romania joined NATO, the ARMS arsenal.  Note, there are also PSLs floating around built from kits on US receivers also with quality running the whole gamut from poor to excellent.

At any rate, part of the reason I wrote this is that I felt nostalgic.  I bought a Century Arms assembled PSL Sporter from Centerfire Systems in 2010.  Here it is next to a Yugo M70B1 for comparison and it has a Konus optic on a BP-02 SVD/PSL low center mount that is in line with the bore that I purchased from Kalinka Optics:

Contrary to rumor, the skeleton stock as the original design and not something they did for the US market.  The skeleton thumbhole profile was developed to reduce weight, withstand recoil and be relatively comfortable – hiding under the steel butt plate was a spring to dampen recoil.

I couldn’t leave the rifle along because I really wanted an SVD so I had to pick up a Rhineland Arms  unfinished walnut SVD conversion stock set – all it needed was the finish.  I used one of the Minwax cherry stains (I don’t recall which now I’m afraid) and the multiple coats of boiled linseed oil (BLO) on top.

One thing I did need to do was to carefully remove the gas tube cover retainers on both ends.  I carefull ground them off with my Dremel and then refinished the gas tube as you can see in the next photo.

I then drilled and tapped the receiver to hold a small piece of picatinny rail and took care not to harm the serial number and what not.   I figured the rail could be readily removed for inspection if ever needed.

So here was the end result including a Versapod bipod with claw feet:

 

I definitely am nostalgic about the rifle.  In one of those twists of fate, I had to sell it before I ever got to shoot it.  If I ever fell into a good deal on one, I would get it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


** Note, images that have a grey wood background, are of the Rhineland stock, the finished custom rifle or are in the shop are mine.  The other images are in the public domain and are from Wikipedia’s entry on the PSL.


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AK-47: The Grim Reaper


By (author): Frank Iannamico

It’s back…but this time with more pages, more information and more photographs. The most definitive study on Kalashnikov pattern rifles to date boasts over 1,100 printed pages covering the AK rifle, as well as its variants manufactured in over 19 countries.
List Price: $69.95
New From: $69.95 USD In Stock
Used from: $95.01 USD In Stock

When Strength and Quality Matter Most