The Simple 4×8 Raised Bed

Value up front: Here is a drawing link to a raised bed design I made and use. It is cheap, easy to build, and easy to order from just a few local lumber store parts.

This bed costs a whopping $76.43 in April 2020 dollars from McCoy’s lumber (my preferred store). The bed has a few interesting features:

  • $76.43 price per bed
  • Only 4 parts to order: 2x10x8’s, a 4x4x12, 3″ screws, and 2 24″ rebar pins
  • 1.6 cubic yards of space to fill
  • 29.5 square feet of planting space
  • Treated lumber will last for a decade or more. As long as the treatment is not CCA (contains arsenic), the general consensus is that treated lumber is safe for gardening.
  • 4×4 nubs can be used to attach watering, trellising, row covers, etc
  • Bed can be easily taken down and re-assembled at another location

Tips for Raised Bed Gardening

  1. My number 1 tip is to get Brett Markham’s book Mini Farming and simply follow his recommendations (I’m not an affiliate and get no money from this).
  2. Fill the bottom of the raised bed with old dead wood and logs, then fill the rest with topsoil and mushroom compost (50-50 mix). Don’t use suburb soil to raised beds, the soil is terrible. However, it helps if you turn over the soil under the bed, but it’s not strictly necessary.
  3. Put the bed on top of level ground. There is no need to dig the bed into the ground or anything.
  4. Amend the soil with mushroom compost or home-made compost each year.
  5. Check your local extension office for information on how and when to plant. The extension offices are one of the few government agencies that typically put out good information.
  6. Use wood chips, leaves, brown paper, cardboard, or compost as mulch.
  7. Water plenty, raised beds drain and dry quickly.
  8. Use the cloth bags (search your local garden store or Amazon) for growing root crops: that way gophers cannot get to them before you do, and harvest is as easy as dumping the bag out and grabbing the roots.

Deciding on the Best Bed

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new era of food insecurity in the West. While people are not yet lacking for calories, they have less choices at the store. Many have responded by starting gardens. I heartily agree with gardening. The yield is knowledge, healthier food, and time outdoors. Gardening makes for a more healthful life. My own motivations for gardening occurred before the pandemic: I was dissatisfied with the produce at the store, and concerned about future supply chain problems.

When I started gardening years ago, I began with raised beds and had immediate successes, along with failures. I have experimented with many methods, including raised beds, traditional tilled fields, no-till garden, raised rows, cloth bags, and trellising. For beginners, raised beds are by far the best value-added method. To that end, I’ve decided to compare raised bed types. I did this for myself: I wanted to know the best practice for rapidly augmenting my growing capacity if need-be.

To that end, I’ve posted the comparison for the reader’s review. I’d draw your interest specifically to the pricing on the bottom. First is cost per ft^2 (CPF), then CPF over years of use, then CPF over total performance.

TypeUnits5 30Gal Cloth BagsJustin Rhodes Raised BedsJustin Rhodes Raised Beds TreatedCinder BlocksGalvanized Horse TroughsSimple Treated Wood
Overall Inner Sizeft2’ Diameter4’ x 8’4’ x 8’2.67’ x 8’2’ x 4’4’ x 8’
Square Footage Perft^23.14323221.33832
Square Footage TotalFt^215.7323221.33832
Depthin162020242418.5
Volume PerYd^30.161.981.981.580.591.83
AttributesScore
Toxicity0-5353443
Gardening Performance0-10466544
Portability0-5522042
Immediate Usability0-5511141
Longevity Years0-104361086
Asthetics0-5254333
Total0-20232222232719
Deliverywks
CostUSD$$38.99$330.00$396.00$109.10$99.00$76.53
(CFP) Cost per Ft^2USD$$2.48$10.31$12.38$5.11$12.38$2.39
CPF / Longevity~USD$$0.62$3.44$2.06$0.51$1.55$0.40
CPF / Performance~USD$$0.11$0.47$0.56$0.22$0.46$0.13

Basic Night Vision Outfitting and Employment

I’ve received numerous requests for guidance in the past few days from people wanting to beef up their nighttime defensive capabilities. I’ve spent years using various night vision, thermal, and IR designation systems (NODs) in crummy locations. This article is for people just getting started, or without a lot of money to spend on this stuff. I’ll try to be concise. Here goes:

Seeing Versus Engaging

You need to consider the difference between seeing things with night vision, versus successfully engaging them. A simple hand-held or helmet-mounted device is beneficial for situational awareness, but a “stock” daytime firearm just isn’t really compatible with such a device. You have three options to get your gun in the night fight:

  1. A weapons mounted night vision device (behind or in front of the daytime optic), known as a “clip-on”
  2. A dedicated weapons-mounted, zero-able night vision optic
  3. A weapons mounted laser combined with a helmet-mounted NODs

Number 1 “clip on sight” is typically expensive and used for precision rifles. That way, the zero’d sniper scope remains mounted to the rifle both day and night. These are great. They can extend the range of your daytime long gun out to 500+ meters on a nice night. The bad news is that they are expensive, and you either need a helmet mounted NOD or a friend to cover the short range problem.

Number 2 dedicated optics are somewhat immature technology. Some of the best examples of this are the scope series by ATN. The bad thing about them is that they are software reliant, so if the electronics shit the bed you are in trouble. There are non-software options, but they are either very old or very expensive. If you are comfortable with technology, the ATN isn’t too bad for day/night use in the $700 range.

For the new night vision user, I recommend option 3. It’s fairly inexpensive to get a helmet mounted NOD setup and a weapon mounted laser. Your situational awareness is good with this setup. While the range of the laser isn’t great (figure 30m for pistol and 200m for carbine), it’s a lot better than the range of a non-NOD equipped adversary. This setup is a game changer. I’ll give you a few basic rules for what to buy, and then a basic first setup:

  1. Do not buy any NOD less than Gen 2+. They just aren’t good enough. Gen 3 or 4 tubes are quite good. Gen 2+ tubes will work well with good illumination from the moon or ambient light.
  2. Make sure you buy the correct mounting parts to get the tube on your helmet, or other “hat.”
  3. Make sure the weapon laser you buy is IR. Not red, green, or whatever else. Color is IR.

Starter Night Vision Setup

The Night Optical Device

  1. A single PVS-14 is a good bet. Go to Optics Planet, or Amazon, and search “PVS14”. AGB Global sells a Gen 2+ tube for $1,929.00. Buy the best you can afford.
  2. To mount it, you need a J-arm and a skullcrusher at a minimum. These two items, at time of writing, are $88.99 and $119.99 respectively.
  3. Total cost to see at night is $2,137.98.

The mounting scheme here is Head–>Skullcrusher–>J-Arm–>PVS-14. See Below:

If you are using a helmet, or a Crye Nightcap, you will also need a swing-arm and adapter plate or shroud. The benefit to this is that you can easily swing the NOD up and out of your line of sight. Also, the Nightcap and similar products are more comfortable. Search these items on Amazon and OpticsPlanet. There are many options. Make sure that the helmet or Nightcap is compatible with what you select. The mounting scheme is:

Head–>Helmet/Nightcap–>Adapter Shroud–>Swing Arm–>J-Arm–>PVS-14. See Below:

The Laser

  1. For pistols, I really like the TLR-2 IR version. It’s $309.49 today. You’ll also need to get a custom holster made to hold the pistol and light. The light is white light, unfortunately. The laser is clearly visible to 50 meters.
  2. For carbines, I use the Steiner OTAL-C. It’s $498.99. The effective range of this laser is at least 200 meters. I haven’t gotten much time on it, but from what I see so far it’s a good purchase.
The Steiner OAL is very small, and does the job.

You need to zero the laser after mounting it. One way to do it is the old fashioned way: shoot at a zero target, and make corrections. I don’t like this method. The laser is off-center with the weapon, unlike an optic, so you get a crossing of the optic line of sight, laser line of sight, and bore line. This leads to unpredictable zero at greater ranges. This method is painful at night. It’s hard to see the zero target.

The better method is called a “co-witness” zero. Co-witnessing means that you look through your zero’d and confirmed daytime sights with your night vision device. Use the broad side of a building for this exercise, after clearing the weapon. Turn the laser on. Now, adjust the laser over to where you want it in relation to the daytime sight. Think about where the laser is in relation to the bore, and offset it appropriately. For example, my Steiner laser is just to the right of the bore. So, I put the laser dot slightly to the right of my daytime zero point on a 100 meter target. That way, I won’t get the laser crossing to the left at longer ranges. This doesn’t matter as much if you co-witness at 100 or 200 meters, but co-witnessing at 25 meters will require that slight offset to avoid a cross.

A Very Inexpensive NOD Option

For those who really need to pinch pennies, there is another NOD option. It’s the SiOnyx Aurora, for $399.00. This is actually a handheld IR camera, that is about the size of a PVS-14 tube. I have looked through the camera, and used it with my weapons mounted laser. I found it to be nearly as good as the Gen 2+ units, at a much lower price. To make this hands-free, you need several custom adapters.

Image from the Etsy store of Kiloohm. I have not tried this out. Buyer beware.

The mounting scheme is as follows:

Head–>Helmet–>Helmet Mount Shroud–>Norotros Rhino 2–>Norotos AKA2 PVS-15 Socket–>Wilcox PVS-15 Shoe–>Kiloohm Adaptive Mount–>Aurora.

All of that stuff totaled up is roughly $1000.

Homemade Rifle Barrels Using Electro-Chemical Machining



This is a followup on yesterday’s post. While I surely have the technical ability to pull this off, I just don’t have the time. I’m curious to hear from any readers who have experimented with this.

Precision Rifle Matches

I’ve been shooting local precision rifle matches to hone my craft. I completed the second match two weekends ago. If you are near Navasota, Texas, check out TX Precision Matches. They hold matches the second Saturday every month. Shooters need $50 and 100 rounds.

The shooting is challenging, and humbling. The target size is 1-4 MOA, with 2.5 MOA or so being the average. The match features 8 stages. Each stage is 105 seconds, and 8-12 rounds fired. The match typically runs from 0830-1500. The target range is from 350 yards to 1100 yards, with a typical target being at 500 yards. Most shots are from non-prone positions.

TX Precision indexes shooters’ scores off of the leader in your division. The leader gets a 100%, and other shooters get percentages of the leaders score. If the top score in a given division was 60, and a shooter scored a 45, then his score is 75%.

I can’t recommend enough that you go to these local matches to skill build. The shooters are incredibly helpful, and will shepherd first timers through the whole match. Come prepared to be humbled. You probably won’t score well your first few outings. No, it doesn’t mean you suck. It also doesn’t mean that the sport is stupid. It’s a great chance to learn alternate positions, rapid wind calling, and applying the fundamentals under severe time stress.

The divisions are Marksman, Expert, and Pro for bolt guns. Gas guns are a separate division. A look at the scores shows why. I’ve always known from personal experience that bolt guns are more accurate than gas guns, but the low gas gun scores surprised me.

Mountain Guerrilla: Drill-Building for Skill-Building

Balance in training is key. You should drill fundamentals and incorporate more realistic and force-on-force work. Be wary of trainers that suggest ditching square ranges. Likewise, understand the square range is crawl/walk; you need further drills for the run phase.

MG Article

INTRO:

It’s become something of a cliché, in the training world, to point out that “Life isn’t a square range!” The implication—and sometimes it’s not even implied, but violently explicit—being that if you’re doing fundamentals work with your weapons, you’re going to die, because your training isn’t “real” enough. I’ve always found this ironic, since in my experience, the ability to actually hit what the fuck I was shooting at, on demand, as many times as I needed to shoot it, was THE defining factor in success in a gunfight. Where did I learn to do that? On the fucking “square range!” Admittedly, they were actually, usually rectangular, but…

Windage Field Constants for Common Rifle Calibers

For the benefit of the rifle shooting community, I have created this table of common calibers’ wind constants. If you’d like to see another bullet on this table, just post the request in the comment section, and I will update the table (weight, G7 BC, and MV would be helpful). I have gotten it kicked off with 6 common calibers. I made this table using my highly accurate ballistics calculator, Sendit Ballistics. The table is right below. Further explanation is below the table.

You better have some way of getting on paper in this atmospheric shit-storm.

Corrections Table

CaliberRanges Valid To (m)Wind Constant (mil, meter, mph)Wind Constant (moa, yard, mph)
5.56mm, M193, 55gr FMJ, 600206.4
5.56mm, M262, 77 gr BTHP, 2740fps MV800278.6
5.56mm, M855, 62grn FMJ600237.3
6.5mm (CM), 140grn ELD-M10004514.3
7.62mm (300WM), Mk248Mod0, 190gr BTHP11004414
7.62mm, M118LR, 175gr BTHP, 2600fps MV8004012.7
.22 LR, 40gr CCI Mini-mag, rifle40082.5

Having a windage field constant in your back pocket is a great thing for serious shooters. A field constant means a single number which helps you come up with corrections based on a full value wind, and the given range.

The concept of a wind constant works on the following equation:

Meter Line * Windspeed / Constant = Correction

EXAMPLE: 5.56 62grn at 400 meters (meter line 4),
in a 6mph wind. Want MOA correction.

1. Constant = 7
2. Correction = 4 * 6 / 7 = 24/7 = 3.5MOA
  • Meter Line is in hundreds, i.e. the Meter Line for 500m is “5”
  • Windspeed is full value, interpolate for half values
  • Constant is in such a unit that it gives you the desired correction

I made the table with two types of constants. The first row is for shooters who desire a mil correction, with meter distances, and mile per hour winds. The second column shows MOA corrections, for shooters shooting in yards, and using mile per hour winds.

You will notice that some of these constants are non-rounded numbers. I decided to err on the side of giving the rifleman the most information. If you don’t like “27,” you can make the call to round it to “25.”

Methodology

The wind constant calculations are pretty much pure analytical science. I used the ballistics engine in Sendit Ballistics to produce the corrections for the given bullet and wind parameters. From there, it is simple algebra to calculate the wind constant (see the simple equation at the top of the page, we need to know 3 numbers to find the 4th). I modeled the wind constant at every hundred meters, and at 5, 10, and 20mph for each cartridge.

Past those calculations, there is some art involved. I first average all the wind constants to get a baseline number. This number is typically too low. The wind constants change drastically from 100m to 1000m. The constants are higher at shorter ranges, meaning that ultimately they produce smaller corrections for the riflemen in the field. Of course, the small wind constants at long range produce corrections which are too big at medium ranges. The key is to pick a reasonable range for the given cartridge, and then select a wind constant that will give adequate coverage for both medium and long ranges for that cartridge. It’s not too much of a problem if the shooter overcorrects by a large amount at shorter ranges; it amounts to centimeters.

Sendit Ballistics

Check out Sendit Ballistics for iOS if you are interested in an accurate, simple bullet trajectory calculator. I keep an updated page on the app here. The app is so accurate because it models the most important 3 degrees of freedom with painstaking detail. The app is designed for the field user, with a simple interface, range card mode, low light mode, and rapid corrections with minimal information. It is free to 400 meters, and only $4.99 to infinity.

Book Review: Victoria, William Lind

4.7 / 5.0

Bottom Line: Victoria is a teaching tool for 4th Generation War (4GW) students. This book is a very good series of short stories which help readers build an intuition for 21st century and beyond war, which will be 4GW to a large extent.

Review

This book should not be viewed as a novel, although that is how it is presented. It is really a series of short stories, loosely tied together on the theme of a future collapse in the liberal global order. Though the political setting of the book is designed to make Lind’s dedicated fans feel at home, it’s not really important for a serious 4GW student. I’m just as happy studying Hezbollah as I am a movement of traditionalists in the United States, which is the best way to describe the protagonists in Victoria.

The basic pattern of Victoria is to present a seemingly difficult problem, which the protagonists then solve by using a mixed and innovative approach, characteristic of successful 4GW. Lind’s intent seems to be to use each chapter to present a realistic pattern for a future conflict, and to then show how a thinking man would solve it.

In one instance, they defeat local politicians by recruiting friendly media outlets to create a public firestorm. In another, they use WW2 era tanks to make rapid 3GW maneuvers once the danger of air attack as passed. In still another instance, they recruit criminal organizations to set off a bomb near an enemy port, which gives the appearance they have more power than they really do.

Though the book has a loose storyline, it isn’t necessary to read it in order. The book has some value as a reference; the reader can flip back to a chapter that relates to current events or a historical scenario in order to get insight into the power dynamics between the two sides.

Lind’s military background included his part in a very serious attempt to reform the US military in the late 1980s to be a 3rd Generation War force. 3GW is the German Blitzkrieg, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the US Army in Desert Storm. The point is to break through an enemies lines with speed, and disrupt them at the operational level. According to Lind, the US military generally practices 2GW, which means to bombard the enemy with pre-assault fires, and then assault to take ground.

This background probably explains why Lind seems to strongly eschew 2GW in this book — he figures we have enough examples of it in current events and history and it does not need to be taught. By contrast, the book features a good bit of 4GW, some 3GW, and even a particular scene of 1GW. Part of 4GW also means to use and time the other generations of war to maximum information and strategic effect.

More on Victoria’s Learning Model

I am curious as to whether William Lind intentionally used the experiential learning model (ELM). The ELM is a learning model intended to touch on the primary ways adults learn, and Victoria seems to follow this model to engage as many adult readers as possible.

The Concrete Experience is simply reading an engaging scenario. Observation and reflection is really discussion, and it occurs in Victoria through the dialogue. Abstract Concepts means lecture style learning, and occasionally occurs as during soliloquies by Rumford or Kraft, the two main protagonists. Testing in new Situations is really a practical exercise, and of course cannot occur in a book.

The Bad and Ugly

There isn’t much bad about the book. Parts of it are kind of corny. The storyline is somewhat loose. The depiction of The South is downright cartoonish and grating. I give Lind a pass on this in general, because his portraying nations in stark contrasts allows him to better illustrate subtle 4GW cultural concepts.

Ultimately, this book is a good set of stories that illustrate various realistic 4GW situations. Even the unintelligent will get an entertaining novel out of the deal. Intelligent 4GW students will use this book to build their intuition about 4GW situations, as well as get guidance from the protagonists’ reading lists for further study.

Sendit Ballistics 1.3.0 Released (Thanks Beta Testers)

1.3.0 is an incremental upgrade which makes the operation of Sendit Ballistics smoother. The long and short of it is that I am removing the “default units” switch, which makes a user choose between either metric or standard.

It was a dumb system that made sense in my engineer mind at the time. Unfortunately, it’s just not how real shooters work, as I should know. I use meters and mils, mph for wind, F for temperature, and mbar for pressure. In other words, a mix. Beta tester “E” helped me to see the error of my ways, and for that I’m grateful.

Well, what are you waiting for? Download the improved app!