EDC Outdoors

Streamlight ProTac 2L – Awesome little Light

Don’t be fooled by the size or price of the Streamlight ProTac 2L, it is a workhorse of a flashlight.  It is at the lower end of the ProTac line, but there is a lot to love here.
Specs and Features
  • TEN-TAP® Programming– Choose from three user selectable programs:
    S1) high/strobe/low  2) high only  3) low/high
  • LED output and run times:
    • High for bright light: 350 lumens; 159m beam; runs 3.25 hours; 6,300 candela
    • Low for longer run time: 30 lumens; 49m beam; runs 35 hours; 600 candela
    • Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 6 hours
  • IPX7 waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes; 2-meter impact resistance tested
  • Includes two 3V CR123A lithium batteries and nylon holster
  • Solid State power regulation provides maximum light output throughout battery life
  • Rubber push-button tail switch
  • Durable, anodized aluminum construction with impact-resistant tempered glass lens
  • Removeable unbreakable pocket clip
  • Anti-roll head
  • Serialized for positive ID
  • 4.77” (12.12 cm); 2.8 oz (79 grams)
  • RoHS compliant
Capability Chart
ProTac 2L Packaging
Tip – To use the TEN-TAP programming feature, tap the button quickly 9 times then on the 10th tap, hold it.  when the light turns off the light has been set to the next program setting.  So if you were on program 1 (default) you will now be on program 2, pretty simple.
  • Small for everyday carry
  • Super Rugged
  • A strong clip keeps the light secure
  • Bright for its size
  • Waterproof
  • Expensive batteries
  • Could use more programs – but it is a flashlight for heaven’s sake
  • Doesn’t float
  • Nylon Holster is a very basic
  • Can’t give someone a good thump on the head
Maglight Size
ProTac 2L Beam
ProTac 2L Water
  • A little old-school comparison, a three-D cell MagLite vs the ProTac 2L – just for laughs…
    • Size does not matter
    • Output matters
  • Look the flashlight works underwater, but no floating 
Overall the ProTac 2L is a really nice light, good for the toolbox, glove box, or pocket.  For the price, it is a great entry-level flashlight for everyday use.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some others on the market, but it does to all the basics very well. 
The flashlight looks cool, fits in your hand very nicely, and is very bright.  For smaller lights like this, I usually add some electrical tape or some hockey stick tape on the end so I can hold it in my teeth, but did not since we are giving this one away.
When you are looking for a  new flashlight to carry every day, be sure to put the ProTac 2L on your list. 

Enter to win this exact flashlight today!

If you don’t trust your luck you buy one here.
Food & Drink Gentlemen

How to Make Popcorn on the Stove Like a Boss

Popcorn is a great snack and generally pretty healthy, but up until 2015, the microwave version was anything but.  Today’s microwave popcorn does not have the diacetyl and other chemicals it used to, but there are still harmful chemicals in the packaging.
Why not make popcorn on the stove and control what goes into it?  You can use some good yellow corn, top-quality oil, as well as, make it any flavor you want.  It is very straightforward and will only take a couple more minutes than using the microwave.
So let’s get into it, and start snacking better.
What you will need
  • Popcorn
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Large Pot
  • Seasoning – We will use salt and garlic powder but the sky is the limit here
  • Butter/spray olive oil
  • Large Bowl
How to cook it
  • In the large pot, coat the bottom with olive oil, and add the popcorn.  Use enough kernels to coat the bottom about 1 and a half times.  We say it this way because pot size will vary.
popcorn stove
  • Cover the pot and start cooking on medium heat.  Shaking the pan to move the kernels around about every 30 to 60 seconds until it starts popping, then every 5 seconds – Be aware, hot steam will eventually come out so best to use potholders or oven mitts for this.
Popcorn Shake
  • The corn will eventually start popping, keep cooking till the popping slows to one pop every couple of seconds (same as what they say on the microwave popcorn, but probably no one ever reads that part.  Seen my fair share of close popcorn calls.)
finished popcorn
  • Dump the popcorn into that big bowl you have standing by.  There will be steam, so be careful!
popcorn in bowls
  • Lastly, add the seasoning you want, toss, and enjoy (hopefully)
popcorn and spice
Finishing up
To finish, you can do almost anything.  Here are a couple of variations you could try.
  • Salt and Garlic
  • Cinnamon and sugar – like Cinnabon popcorn (who remembers Cinnabon?)
  • Butter, salt, and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese and black pepper
  • Za’atar seasoning
A word on salt
Salt is pretty critical to this process.  You can use any type, we suggest Himalayan or some kind of natural sea salt (great for grilling as well).  However, more important than type is granular size, it should be the smallest you can get.  This makes it possible for the salt to get in every little crevice (like going to the beach, don’t ask) and evenly coat the popped corn.  So grind it up if you have to, you will thank us later.
Now you know how it works, don’t make the mistake of eating microwave popcorn again, I mean why would you when you can just as easily make popcorn on the stove!
What do you put on your popcorn?  Do you use a special method for popping corn?
Firearms Shooting

8 Essential Accessories For Your New Gun

If you are new to shooting and don’t know the essential accessories for your new gun, you’re not alone.  2020 has seen a huge spike in gun purchases, with a good majority of them being new gun owns exercising their Second Amendment rights.
As a new gun owner, I welcome you.  You have made a good choice to protect yourself and your family.
Check out these past articles for some additional information.
Let’s get into it.  Here are 8 items you should also have so you can use your new gun safely and effectively.
Hearing Protection
Hearing protection is key.  Firearms arms produce an impulsive or impact noise, OSHA recommends avoiding exposure to these types of sound above 140 dB.  Rifles and pistols generally produce noise levels between 150 to 165 dB measured from the shooter’s location (arm’s length).  This is well above the recommended exposure levels, so it is HIGHLY suggested and mandatory at all ranges to where protection.
Here are two really good options which can be used separately or together to give you a bit of extra protection.  This over the ear set is great because it has microphones that are on most of the time so you can hear what is going on around you.  However, when there is impulse noise, like a gunshot, they turn off and protect your ears.
Eye Protection
You never know what will happen, I mean guns create mini controlled explosions in your hands.  There are also partials of gunpowder, copper, and lead in the air just searching for your eyes.  Eye protection is again highly recommended and mandatory at most ranges.  Nothing to fancy here, but there are clear, shaded, and colored lenses to choose from. 
You will want to make sure your safety glasses are clean and don’t have any scratches on them.  Scratches mess with your aim…
Most ranges have these to rent or borrow, but you will REALLY want your own set.  Here is a decent set to start with as an accessory for your new gun.
You will need something to shoot at, it’s really not that fun to shoot at the air.  There are all kinds of targets, most ranges can provide you with some (at an extra cost).  There are standard paper targets, person-shaped targets, training targets, exploding targets, and reactive targets.  Literally 100’s or maybe thousands of target configurations.  My favorite is the Shoot N-C reactive targets, when you hit the target the color changes so you can get a better look at where your bullet hit.
Birchwood Casey – SHOOT-N-C
Range Bag
I like to be organized at the range and before while getting ready to go.  You could throw everything in a gym bag but that is just leaving the door open to forgetting something or losing things while at the range.  Range bags generally have a place for all the specialized stuff you will need. 
I like this one from Grey Ghost Gear in black, super durable made with heavy-duty Cordura nylon, lots of pockets, and loops for all my stuff.  There is even a work surface that folds open if I need to take the guns apart.  It also does not scream range bag to anyone walking by, you know for security reasons.
Cleaning Kit
After you shoot your gun, you should clean it.  It is not mandatory, but to keep your firearm in perfect working order you should clean and lubricate it.  I suggest learning how to take your gun apart so you can do this.
One of the best cleaning products for everyday cleaning is Breakthrough Clean.  All their products are simple, right to the point, and work very well.  Here is a simple kit for pistols, but they have many different kits to cover most firearms and all the other cleaning products you may need.
Gun Sock
These don’t generally make it onto anyone’s list, but they are really worth the money.  Where are your guns most of the time?  In storage!  Lots of bad things can happen to guns in storage, one of them is rust.  These gun socks keep the rust away, even in humid environments.
I have some civil war era rifles in a not so great environment, but so far no rust and not scratches. 
These are just nice to keep your pistols and rifles organized.  There are hundreds of nice cases to choose from.
When you buy a new gun, it is important to get training to safely handle and use the firearm. I always say it is a good idea to get some training even before you buy a gun, then get even more after. Training should be an ongoing effort.
Beyond “one on one” training with an instructor, the best way to get good is to shoot a lot. However, this gets very expensive (especially with the price of ammo now), so dry-firing exercises at home are great. Dry-firing is going through the motions to fire your weapon but there is no round in the chamber, or maybe a laser training bullet.
By going through the motions you gain muscle memory from repeating the actions over and over again. To get the most out of your training time, I suggest the Mantis X3. This is a little device that attaches to your gun then connects to your phone and tells you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong with each shot.
Each shot is logged and you get a score. It is fun to watch the score increase over time, and it feels great to see your confidence with the firearm increase as well.
Safe Storage
The last of the accessories for your new gun you will need is to keep your firearms safe. There are again lots of ways to do this, at the very minimum you should have received a gun lock with your new gun, it’s the law. However, you may want something a bit better like an actual safe to put your gun into.
These come in multiple sizes from 1 gun to hundreds. Since this is likely your first you will most probably only need room for one gun. I happen to like keeping my gun secure and have quick access to it if I need it. This one from Gunvault is big enough for one gun and has a quick access code, it can be put on a shelf or under your bed.
Extra Credit – Gun Multi-Tool
One last accessory I think you might find cool. This special multi-tool is specifically designed for firearms maintenance. Perfect for use on the range, it has tools for sights, lasers, and triggers. The Wharncliffe blade adds to the usefulness, and it even has a bottle opener for after the range.
You are all set for your next trip to the range! Make it safe and enjoyable and don’t forget to invite a friend.
What accessories for your new gun would you suggest?
NOTICE – Please ensure your firearm is clear and unloaded while cleaning and maintaining, as well as, while training with it outside of a shooting range.
EDC Outdoors

10 Most Common Knife Blade Shapes

If you live a lifestyle where you like to be prepared for the unknown, then you should always carry a knife.  This is a quintessential piece of your everyday carry, but what knife blade shape is best?  There are several to choose from, some are general purpose and some have a very specific use, it can be daunting.
Here are 10 of the most common knife blade shapes out today.  We can’t tell you which one is right for you, but by the end, you will have more info to choose wisely.  Let us know in the comments what your favorite shape is, I really like tanto knives personally.
Knife Blade Shapes
The first three on the list are probably the most common shapes today.
Drop Point
This design is very traditional, it offers a thicker blade for durability and strength.  The spine is fairly straight but curves convexly down as the edge curves up to meet at the point.  This puts the point aligned with the center axis of the knife, because of this it makes for a good stab and poke tool.
The belly of the blade is fairly large and well rounded, so it performs particularly well for cutting, skinning, slicing, and carving.  A good all-around capable knife that would feel at home as EDC, in camp, hunting, or in survival situations.
Clip Point
Clip Point Blade
Another traditional design dating back centuries with several variants.  This blade is similar to the drop point except for the spine curves down in a concave fashion to meet the point.  It is a bit better at stabbing and poking but this comes at the price of durability.  Great general purpose blade for EDC, hunting, camping, and survival
The blade as a whole is generally thinner but in particular, the tip is narrower.  This provides faster and deeper penetration, it is ultimately weaker and could break when put up against a harder material.  One variation has the concave portion of the spine sharpened to create a secondary cutting edge.
Spear Point
Spear Point - Knife Blade Shapes
In this classic blade, both the edge and the spine curve down equally to the point, where it lines up with the center axis of the knife.  The blade can easily be single or double-edged by sharpening the spine.  Overall the blade is a good balance between slicing and piercing so it makes for a good general purpose blade.  interestingly, most throwing knives you this blade contour, so you know the balance has to be good.
Bowie Knife
Bowie Knife
Ok, not so much a knife blade shape as it is a complete knife, the Bowie knife is probably one of the most famous and well know knives.  It is a large fixed blade with a clip point designed for fighting.  The knife was designed by James Bowie and improved by bladesmith James Black.
Jim Bowie was a 19th-century American pioneer legendary for stories about being a great fighter.  He became famous for one fight, in particular, the Vidalia Sandbar Fight.  This fight broke out after a peaceful duel between two gentlemen ended in a draw.  One group that was present had to settle a “difficulty” with another.
The fight only lasted a few minutes but it left two people dead and several wounded.  By all accounts, this would have made an epic movie fight scene.  Jim was one of the wounded, he was lucky to survive since he was in the cross-hairs of many in the crowd.  
Fun fact – From Wikipedia, a duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules.  In the early 1900s duels were outlawed because most of the time they involved military officers.  Military officers cost lots of money in training and education, the government wanted to stop wasting this money when they were killed by their own side.
Tanto - Knife Blade Shapes
They say it is not a great general use blade, however, this is my favorite one.  Mainly I like the look of it, but it is also the most useful in my everyday life.  The blade is thick all the way to the tip, which makes it very resistant to tip breakage, because of this, it makes for a good piercing blade.
The main edge and the edge that angles up to meet the point are flat.  Slicing is not that great because there is no belly, but chiseling and scraping are great.  Tanto’s were originally designed to pierce armor, they closely resemble the style of Japanese long and short swords.
Trailing Point
Trailing Point - Knife Blade Shapes
These are very specialized blades particularly well suited for hunters and fishermen.  Both the edge and the spine of the thin blade curve upwards past the spine, putting the point well above the center axis of the knife.  This creates a huge belly (some of us can relate) which is excellent for delicate work like skinning and filleting.  Be careful though, because the blade is thin, the point is very fragile and will easily break on harder material.
wharncliffe - Knife Blade Shapes
Kind of like the blade for a box cutter or craft knife, the Wharncliffe has a flat belly and a fine point, excellent for cutting.  It was originally designed for wood carving like whittling by the first Lord of Wharncliffe, James Archibald in Great Britain with one of his family Archdeacon Corbett over wine one day.  Today is has even made it into the tactical market, with some very nice examples.
The spine of the blade comes down to meet the straight edge, putting the point below the center axis of the knife.  There is no belly on the blade so slicing is not very practical.  But the flat edge does provide constant power to the cutting edge, no matter where the edge is on the material, the cutting energy is transferred evenly.
Like the trailing point, this blade is very specialized, tailored for cutting materials like rope and fabric, or even carpet, anything where you would use a draw cut.  The blade is vaguely hook-shaped where both the spine and the edge curve down, putting the point below the center axis of the knife.  This shape allows for less slippage of the material from the edge of the blade.
Similar to a Karambit, but in a karambit, the curve in the spine of the blade continues on into the handle.  The karambit is kind of like a hawkbill tuned for fighting; it’s thinner, lighter, and sharper.
Gut Hook
Gut Hook
The gut hook is more of an added feature on a knife than a type of blade.  But it looks cool so it is on the list.  This is a sharpened half-circle ground into the spine of the blade usually on a trailing point knife.  It is designed for cutting stringy internal parts of an animal.  Be aware though, it is a great big pain in the butt to sharpen because you can not use a normal stone, however, a round file works well.
Pen Knife
Pen Knife
The last blade on our list is more of a knife than a blade shape, but very important and shouldn’t be left out.  I believe these are what most of us get (or got) as their first knife.  The pen knife is a small folding knife generally synonymous with the term pocket knife like a Swiss Army Knife.  It is a general all-around good knife because the best knife is the one you have on you.  
Back when they used to write with quill pens, which are basically just feathers, the writing tip would break regularly, so they would have to cut a new tip.  This happened so often they need to carry a knife in their pocket just for this purpose.  The pen knife was born and since they needed one so often the pocket knife did too.
You can see there are many knife blade shapes to consider when choosing your next knife, we did not even get them all.  The shape is just one of the factors you should consider.  The most important thing is what the knife will be used for and how you will use it.  Once you know this, the choice should be easier.
What are your favorite knives?  What do you currently carry every day?  What kind of knife do you want to get next?
Outdoors Shooting

Private Firearms Transfers in Virginia

Virginia has become another state, on an ever-increasing list, to include “universal background checks” to the books.  This adds an additional level of bureaucracy to the purchase and transfer of firearms in Virginia from a private seller.
It has long been the law, both federal and state, that you are not allowed to sell a firearm to a person you know or believe to be prohibited from possessing one.  This writing of the law puts the citizen in control of their actions and gives them the choice of how to sell a privately owned firearm.  You know freedom!!
Now, as of July 1, 2020, you must seek out a licensed firearms dealer or the State Police to perform a background check.  This includes any purchase at a gun show, and any firearm you sell for “money”.  It does not include loaning or gifting of guns, but remember, they still can not be a prohibited possessor. 
No person shall sell a firearm for money, goods, services or anything else of value unless he has obtained verification from a licensed dealer in firearms that information on the prospective purchaser has been submitted for a criminal history record information check as set out in § 18.2-308.2:2 and that a determination has been received from the Department of State Police that the prospective purchaser is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm or such sale is specifically exempted by state or federal law.
A Couple of Interesting Points
This process will cost you!  The law says a dealer can charge no more than $15 for the service and $2 for the background check.  In general, licensed dealers will charge between $25 and $50 for a transfer from an online or out of state purchase.  For this reason, not all dealers will participate in this activity and thankfully the state does not force dealers to participate.  
There are currently only 167 dealers in the state that have confirmed they are participating, but technically any of them can.  So check with your local shop before heading over.
If the seller leaves the firearm with the dealer who is performing the transfer, the gun is now controlled by the dealer.  This means, if the background check on the buyer is denied, then the seller has to go through the background process to get it back.  If the seller is also denied then the firearm remains under the dealer’s control.
  • Once you leave the premises of the dealer, by law the dealer has to enter the firearm into their inventory logbook
  • To remove the firearm from the log requires a background check  
For this fact, we urge sellers to stay with the firearm until the transaction is complete.  It is a lot of paperwork, so pack your patience and schedule accordingly.  Be prepared to complete the process in one visit.
The process
For private firearms transfers in Virginia, the process is fairly straight forward and follows the same path as buying a gun from a dealer.  I have added a few optional steps that you can choose to do but they are not required by law.
  • Bill of Sale (optional) – For documentation purposes, it is a good idea to have a formal Bill of Sale between the two private parties.  If the police come knocking you will be glad you had it. Check out this article for more – Tip for Keeping Records of your Firearms
  • Stolen check (optional) – With the owner’s consent, the dealer can perform a check with the state to see if the gun was reported stolen.  This is a good idea if you don’t know the seller very well.
  • State form SP-65 – A Virginia State form, this will be completed by the buyer to authorize a background check through the state NICS system.
  • Federal form 4473 – This form will be started by the dealer then filled in and signed by the buyer.
  • Background check – Finally, the background check can be performed.  The response from the web-based tool usually returns within 5 minutes or less.
  • Dealer finalization – Lastly, the dealer completes the two forms with the background check information and logs the firearm in and out of their logbook.
  • Denial – If the background check returns denied, and the seller has not left, the seller is allowed to leave with the gun, however, the price for the check ($17) will still be collected.
This is a process, but any licensed dealer will be able to help you navigate it with ease. 
For more information on private firearms transfers in Virginia or to find a participating dealer, you can visit the Virginia State Police website. –
Food & Drink

How to make a Mint Julep and a Brief History

How to Make a mint Julep and its history are just as muddled as the mint used.  When you hear the name mint julep, you probably think about the Kentucky Derby.  Well, this cocktail has been around since the 18th century in one form or another.
The word julep means a vehicle for delivering medicine.  So in the 1700s, this is were the drink started.  But then in the early 1800’s it first appeared in print described as a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.”
By the 1820s however, the drink had established its self in Virginia, so much so, that Jasper Crouch was acknowledged as the first master of the mint julep.  What an accomplishment!  The cocktail spread far and wide from here.
In 1916 the Kentucky Gazette associated the drink with horse racing, reporting that mint julep cups were being used as prizes.  
Then, in 1938 Churchill Downs started promoting the mint julep as part of the Kentucky Derby.  They now serve nearly 120,000 of them in just two days using well over 500 dozen mint bunches.  
Because of the difficult nature of making one that tastes good, most only drink the mint julep on derby day.  However, if you get it right, it is very refreshing on a nice spring day on the porch with friends.
Another View
The Greenbrier Inn, in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia, claims to have the history.  According to legend the first mention of a “Julip” was in an account book dating back to 1816.  Back then they cost $0.25 each, 3 for $0.50, seems expensive for nearly 200 years ago.
By 1914, the drink was a staple at the hotel.  Some accounts reported that the staff called the mint julep a necessity of life and would serve one up at a moment’s notice.  I imagine, “can I get an extra bar of soap, and a mint julep, thanks”.  Either way, they certainly knew how to make a mint julep.
The Official Recipe
double shot – Bourbon Whiskey
4 fresh mint sprigs
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp water
In Julep Stainless Steel Cup gently muddle the mint with sugar and water. Fill the glass with cracked ice, add the Bourbon and stir well until the cup frosts.  Garnish with a mint sprig.
An Elegant Alternative 
General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. from Munfordville, Kentucky has the absolute best recipe for the julep and the most poetic description of how to make a mint julep.
Go to a spring where cool, crystal-clear water bubbles from under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a little water at the source. Follow the stream through its banks of green moss and wildflowers until it broadens and trickles through beds of mint growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly in the summer breezes. Gather the sweetest and tenderest shoots and gently carry them home. Go to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon, distilled by a master hand, mellowed with age yet still vigorous and inspiring. An ancestral sugar bowl, a row of silver goblets, some spoons and some ice and you are ready to start
In a canvas bag, pound twice as much ice as you think you will need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry, and do not allow it to degenerate into slush.
In each goblet, put a slightly heaping teaspoonful of granulated sugar, barely cover this with spring water, and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this, leaving the spoon in the goblet. Then pour elixir from the decanter until the goblets are about one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small amount of sugar as you fill. Wipe the outsides of the goblets dry and embellish copiously with mint.
Then comes the important and delicate operation of frosting. By proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and blended until Nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of its beautiful phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glittering coat of white frost. Thus harmoniously blended by the deft touches of a skilled hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and beautiful women.
What do you like to drink on a nice Spring or summer day?  Have you mastered the julep?