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Saturday, March 17, 2018

What We May Do in Winter at Long Ridge Farm

 After town meeting the other night I was asked by a native New Englander a question that  left me completely nonplussed. So much so, that I simply answered " Not much!" with a smile. The question was, "what do you ever do all winter up on that hill farm?"

Well we might make a trip to the Big E for the February North American Sportsmen's Show where we found carved Sasquatch giants, and CO Eric Hannit of NHF&G and a star of Northern Law.
 Or some mounted trophies,

 or faraway outfitters ready to take us Elk hunting.
 or to hunt stag or European boar in Poland. I have a dear friend in Greece who is an avid hunter, so maybe I should go...
 Or, if it gets really boring during these winter months, and less than 15 inches of snow we may be out exploring, clearing trails, or counting deer beds on the ATVs. But sometimes it actually DOES snow up here in Northern new England, so we have to fire up nothing less than snowmobiles to see the countryside.
 In between mechanized excursions we have been crazy enough to strap on snowshoes and perhaps strap on a predator rifle, and scout out the local coyote population. It's a fun and healthy way to spend a day!

 Of course our supplemental heat is wood, and we don't buy it. We log 50 or so trees, haul them out of the woods with the John Deere, cut, split and stack the five cords for the next year. It is actually quite theraputic and fights that heavy bored winter depression we all suffer.

 And then, over a hot coffee or chilled cocktail we might watch deer twenty feet from our kitchen window. They are a good crew! They save some of the expensive bird seed from being consumed by our hordes of feathered friends.

 ...and just when we thought we were bored, we remember to go out and fell 10 or 15 more red maples for the deer to strip of buds in March. As I am cutting, the deer hear me, and come in very close. The one below is about 30 yards away.
 And just because we refuse to discriminate by animal type, we do watch the birds feast out front. Plenty for all.
 If we are in a dreamy or artistic mood we can always take a walk to deer camp and marvel at the roof snow. Stand there long enough, and it does eventually fall. And by the time you get back to the house, all the paint is dry.
 Oh, wait! I forgot that twice a day the livestock, for us, sheep, must be cleaned, fed, and watered along with the New Hampshire Reds. The dogs just get walks and fed good vittles.
 We might even muse over the fact that the manure pile can never stay snow covered like everything else, and that at -10 degrees neat clouds of steam erupt from it. Kids LOVE to hear why it is so.
 When I am absolutely desperate for something to do, then I break out the bucket loader, shovel, snowblower and wait for it to snow so I can get to all that clearing out that must be done. It's so strange. If I don't do it, no one will deliver propane or come visit us. Go figure.

In between whining about the length of winter here in NH, and just plain couch tending, I do a winter long deer census of the square mile surrounding us. It isn't easy, and requires hours of prep, hiking, plowing, and gathering game camera pictures. I only do it when I am really, really bored.

 Sometimes it is a waste of time because instead of a deer picture, I might get a bobcat, fox, coyote, bear, fisher, or raccoon or something else that just wastes batteries in the cameras. It it is very discouraging, especially during these long NH winters.

And then, guess what! Sometimes in winter you get March at the end of January like this year. So during this warm spell we stay in the kitchen and watch the deer save our seed from the birds on plain ground. They are good at it!

So while we agree that it is pretty slow here on a farm during the winter, we slowly learned how to survive the boredom and depression. Lots of people just fly South for the winter, and that would be cool too. But then, who would take care of all the little guys! Comments, critique and suggestions happily accepted.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2017/2018 Winter Deer Census at Long Ridge

Long Ridge Deer camp has wrapped up this years census. If you recall, last year we came up with roughly 19 deer per square mile (that square mile has camp right in the center of it). This year it appears to be substantially lower at 12. Twelve is what F&G biologists estimate, but we have always had more than their numbers prior to this winter. Frankly I do not think there are fewer deer than years past. We have had very light winters for three years now, and winter kill is negligible. Coyotes are scarce here. Food sources are continually exposed, and we have yet to get snow deep enough to trouble deer movement. I believe because of light snow pack, and warm temps the deer simply never yarded up and are free to cruise and browse as they choose. I am also aware that  there is heavy feeding of deer by a neighbor hood about a mile from here. In any case you can see that there IS no shortage.
Health appears to be no issue with these two below. These are the same two that make daily visits to our bird feeder twenty feet from the kitchen window.
Raccoons out of hibernation to enjoy a few crumbs left... 

This little guy appears to like the company of a Gray.
Deer in the headlights look? This Stealth Cam takes embarrassingly poor night time pictures.
And our favorite flying friends who watch me lug corn to the station from high in the maples and swoop before I am hardly gone. Check the kernal in one's mouth as he flies off!
Below is a picture that illustrates scattered whole corn. I have learned over the years - don't make piles or the deer will squabble. Use whole corn (it does not soften and rot like cracked corn) and the deer can find it under 4 inches of snow.
March has come a full month early this year.
This group comes from the West...
Portrait time...
Any questions/comments to conducting a deer census, let me know!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A New 2018 Striker Fired Pistol Run-Off, a Review!

We are about to evaluate and review the three handguns below. This will be in context to find the best all around EDC or off duty carry pistol. The Glock 19 has for some decades been the standard to measure all the rest against. These three are considered 'compact' pistols, all have a fifteen round capacity. They are almost identical in dimensions and weight. I will elaborate on the differences later, but suffice it to say that all three have barrels about 4 inches long, are light striker fired pistols, and seem completely equal in material and fitting quality. The Sig is two ounces  heavier than the other two...In the end, it may depend completely on personal choices of ergonomics that determines 1st place. Or, there may NOT be a first place. We'll see. In any case, you should know my history, as this is a completely subjective review (as they ALL are).
I was a pioneer in bringing Glocks to New England to serve in the police services, about mid 1980's. They were quite controversial at that time mainly due to anti-gun folks labeling them x-ray invisible. Silliness. Even my Chief was fully against them at first. In the end we prevailed and took in 55 Glock 17's 1st generation. Solid, reliable, combat accurate. 17+1 rounds. I had to convince, with a letter from my Chief, the State Academy to accept them. I put over 40,000 rounds through that Gen 1 before she broke. Don't remember ever having a malfunction. Blew the FBI away with it at Fort Devens. So, for some 30 years, Glock was THE combat battle pistol to me. We out shot the 10th Mountain boys with it, and it was unstoppable. And it caught on. Took the L.E. world by storm. It was the perfect pistol. Of it's time. There WAS nothing else.
Then, about three years ago, while shooting my KPD Glock 31 3rd gen duty pistol (.357 Sig caliber) at the range, a stranger asked me if he could try it. He offered me a S&W M&P 9 full size to try in exchange. I accepted. I fired most of a magazine from that M&P and then stood there, nearly speechless. It became instantly obvious that my 3rd Gen Glock was a piece of block antique. Why had I not kept current? I'd hardly heard of the M&P series pistols. I bought one that evening. I put 1000 rounds though it. The trigger was not ideal, but installed an Apex tactical, and it was perfect. I have almost 10,000 rounds through that full size M&P, and not a single malfunction. It is the most butter smooth and easy to shoot full size battle pistol I have ever handled. It is so ergonomically superior to the Glocks that I have divested myself of all but the most sentimental duty pieces. What this did was wake me up and realize that in the last 10 years, there has been TRUE competition in the gun world. Huge markets will do that. I had not been paying attention. So, shortly after that, a fellow employee at the Sheriff's dept let me try his M&P Shield. I was blown away by it's shoot ability, accuracy, and ergonomics. Bought one that day. See you later Glock 42/43. But, then decided that when not headed to work wearing the M&P9, or in shorts carrying the single stack Shield, I needed the M&P compact (gen 1.0 12 round). Nice but I don't like it's 12 round capacity or short grip for a compact. So when the 2.0 came out I traded and thus you see the Smith pictured below. I have not shot it. But, people, it was produced with the explicit purpose of competing with the Glock 19 compact (the standard to judge against) and the Sig 320 Carry (compact). When guys at the department heard that I was going the review the M&P 2.0 I was promptly (and generously ) offered both a Gen 5 Glock 19 and a Sig 320 Carry to review along side the Smith. Neat, but uh-oh. What happened to my Glock love, might just happen with my M&P love!. I have resolved however, that of the three pistols pictured below, the one that I take to, is the one I will buy. These are serious pistols, for serious professionals, and capable of serious social assignment. The one left out, is the FNH 509.
 Those folks are not sleepers, and know their battle weapons. Just can't afford one to test right now, but what a fun test with the three below it would be! Some day!

OK, so right here we have the M&P 9C 2.0 without manual safety to review. Check the specs.

S&W 9 M&P C 2.0- You can buy this for about 460.00


SKU: 11683
Model: M&P®9 M2.0™ Compact
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Barrel Length: 4" / 10.2 cm
Overall Length: 7.3"
Front Sight: Steel - White Dot
Rear Sight: Steel - White Two Dot
Action: Striker Fire
Grip: Polymer
Weight: 24.0 oz / 680.4g
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel - Armornite® Finish
Slide Material: Stainless Steel - Armornite® Finish
Frame Material: Polymer
Purpose: Home Protection, Personal Protection

And here below is the Gen 5 Glock 19. And while it has been losing some ground in the CC market it is unarguably the most popular pistol for EDC that has ever been manufactured. It has an earned reputation for ruggedness, reliability and longevity and is fully combat accurate. We'll discuss ergonomics later, but you'll note that they finally dumped the finger grooves on the grips (good) and trimmed the silly heavy nose of the receiver. It is overall smoother and trimmer than it predecessors. 
GLOCK 19 Gen 5 9mm Semiautomatic Pistol - view number 1

Glock 19 Gen 5 Specs - you can buy this for about 560.00 but you do get three magazines as opposed to two with the Smith and Sig.
  • Caliber: 9x19mm.
  • Length: 7.28”
  • Height: 5.04”
  • Width: 1.34”
  • Barrel: 4.02” – 1:9.84” RH twist – Blued.
  • Trigger: 5 to 6.5 pounds.
  • Sights: Polymer “U” dot configuration, rear adjustable (standard)
  • Weight: 23.99 oz. w/empty magazine.
  • Capacity: 15 + 1 

And last we have the Sig Sauer 320 carry, also meant to compete directly with the Glock 19 and the M&P 9C 2.0. I have read much about this pistol, as it has secured a huge military contract. It beat out Glock and the Smith primarily because it is a modular pistol. It is a high quality pistol like the two above and I would expect it's life expectancy to match the other two. I do not give more credit to a modular platform however, because I do not have military needs or mindset. Nor do I have a thousand armorers at my beck and call. To me this is not an attractive gun, more like a cement block in my minds eye. On the other hand, who cares for an IWB carry piece?

 Sig 320 Carry Specs - you can buy this for about 575.00
  • FAMILY:P320 Series
  •  MODEL:P320 Carry
  •  TYPE:Semi-Auto Pistol
  •  ACTION:Striker fired
  •  FINISH:Nitron
  •  STOCK/FRAME:Polymer Frame
  •  STOCK/GRIPS:Polymer
  •  WEIGHT:26 oz.

  •  CAPACITY:15+1
  •  # OF MAGS:2
  •  MAGAZINE DESC:15 rd.
  •  BARREL:3.9"
  •  SIGHTS:SIGLITE Night Sights
  •  ADDL INFO:1913 Picatinny Rail
  •  ADDL INFO:Full Size Grip
  •  ADDL INFO:Compact BBl/Slide
I am 5-10, 175, and wear medium gloves sizes. All pistols with adjustable back straps seem to fit me best with the medium back strap. All three pistols are set up thus.

My first step was to clean all three pistols and wet lube all with Slip 2000 heavy. I gave it two days to penetrate to all parts, and then cycled and trigger pulled each one 40 times. This was to familiarize myself with each trigger, and to set the guns up for initial trigger pull measurements.

Ten measurements each gave me an average trigger pull of 7.25 pounds for the Sig, 6.25 for the Glock, and 5.25 for the S&W. I didn't expect quite that high a pull for the Sig, nor quite so low on the S&W, but there you have it. I will re-measure after several hundred rounds have been through each.
I measured take-up also. The take-up in all three guns is a bit gritty, but then it always is with new striker fired.

While quite heavy, the Sig has the shortest take-up at 1/8th inch! Let-off a bit spongy for my taste.

The M&P trigger has a much longer take-up but a crisper let-off than the other two.
Longer (1/4 in inch) reset though.

The Glock trigger at this point comes in 3rd in my view. A good short 3/16 inch take-up , a quite spongey let-off, but a very decent re-set.  Measurements were all attempted at the center of the triggers.

For sights, the Glock makes the mark with the best front sight which appears to be an Ameriglo. It is bright, and big, the way a battle sight should be.

I should probably rate the Sig sights second best because they are tritium. They are much smaller than they should be however for serious work.

The M&Pc  sights are rugged, but plain white dot. Large, like they should be, but pretty useless in dark conditions. Great in daylight, but that's not good enough. They'll be replaced with TFO's if I keep it. Last place.

Grip stippling on all three feels OK with the Sig and Smith most alike. Not having shot these pieces my first impression is that the S&W will be the most aggressive, with the SIG in followup.

 All three companies stand behind their pistols.

Next Chapter - off to the range.
 I decided that hauling three pistol cases, a camera, notebook and pen, several hundred rounds of ammo, and a range bag with targets and the kitchen sink in it would be too awkward. So I put all into a rifle case and there you have it.  Note the box of L.E. duty rounds. All three have to operate flawlessly with this ammo, right out of the box, or right back into the box they go!147 grain Winchester T series.

I am done my range sessions. The first point I would like to make is that I will NEVER again review more than two weapons at a time. Doing three is crazy, and your note taking has to be constant to remember which did what poorest/best! Each pistol consumed about 500 rounds. They were not cleaned during this review. And for the bored, let me state at this point that all three pistols functioned perfectly, with all ammunition. Zero malfunctions of ANY sort occurred.  I did not drop these pistols from a plane over a cement runway at 400 miles an hour. I did not pack them with mud and let it thoroughly dry before testing. I did not bury them in the ocean for a year. I know, I know any REAL test would require all of those. But I did shoot them with NATO, Duty Ranger T Series and Federal ball ammo. I shot them limp wristed. I shot them upside down, laying on the right, and laying on the left. These are reliable to the true meaning of the word. If that is your main criteria for an EDC, then pick any of the three.
I began the first session with the duty 147 Winchester T-Series we carry. All shot this round well, though the SIG had significantly more perceived recoil than the other two. This in spite of the two oz. additional weight over the Glock and Smith.

I followed this with the high pressure NATO rounds. All fed this through with no problems. The SIG did not care for it in the accuracy department though, and again the recoil was VERY pronounced.

 Next below are the 10 yard 115 ball ammo targets. Glock nails it, Sig and Smith lag. Now I want to emphasize, I am not target shooting. I am cadence shooting here. All three of these pistols will shoot 2-3 inch groups at 25 yards all day long from sandbags/vice/factory. Already been proven a dozen times. What we are looking for here, is the best overall EDC where you must be able to shoot accurately and quickly if needed.

 Backing out to 15 yards, still cadence fire. No material difference that I can discern, though the Sig still has to be held with a bit more authority than the others.

 Ok, time for rapid fire at 15 yards. Rapid fire to me is shooting as fast as you can, and still stay on target. Staccato fire if you will. All three performed but the S&W and Glock are a bit more spread than the SIG. On the other hand I had two misses with the Sig.

The next three targets are cadence fire at 25 yards. Glock quite tight! All three doing admirably.

 The FBI Q target above shows nine rounds each from each pistol two to the chest, one to the head three times each. I am at 10 yards shooting as fast as I can from low ready. I don't have holsters for these guns. One miss Glock and one miss Sig.
These torture dot tests are interesting. Because I am new to these pistols I did the torture at three yards. Out of 50 possible I got 46 with the Glock, and 44 each with the Sig and Smith.
 These tests require weak had only shooting, strong hand only shooting, and  8 other exercises. It is an excellent exercise. One thing I discovered is that Sig is VERY controllable with one hand. Perhaps that IS the weight advantage? The first dot is two handed five shot string. Glock and Smith nail it.
My third and last range session was at the steel plate range. I shot the six plates from 15 yards, but discovered the battery is dead in my shot timer. But I learned that all three pistols were fast and easy on plates. I did magazine after magazine  and all were easy. I could tell here though that carrying a Glock 19 on duty did assist me here. All three pistols shot the man steel, the 16 inch steel and the 6 inch steel at 25 yards with no problem. So, what is my take? Here are some pros and cons for each pistol.

Sig 320 - A finely built pistol with arguably the best trigger. It has the heaviest pull, (still 7.5 lbs.) but the shortest take up and shortest re-set. (you'll only care when at the range people...) I did find that I had to consciously raise my finger up into the saddle of the trigger to avoid the sharp curve at the end of it. Like the Glock, it has that silly squared off trigger guard.  Heaviest pistol, but with noticeably more recoil with all loads than the others. Go figure. Easiest to shoot rapidly one handed. The best grip stippling midway between the Glock and Smith. About perfect. Last four rounds are a bear to load in it's magazine (no Honey, I don't use a mag loader). It is a wonderful gun, but feels bigger and blockier than the other two. Accessory rail way overstated for an EDC. Better suited as a duty gun in full rig than an IWB. It has terrible sights. They are tritium night sights, but small and the most difficult to acquire rapidly. I liked it a ton, but won't bother to buy one. In short, Fugly, and Functional.

S&W M&P 9c 2.0 - another very well designed battle pistol, well engineered and accurate. Ergonomically (to me) the best of the three. Second best trigger.  (still 5.5 lbs.)Nicely rounded trigger guard. Battle accurate. Easiest slide to retract and easiest mags to load (after you get that first nasty round started, thank you). Large white dot sights, great in the daylight at the range. Totally inadequate for a life saving instrument. TFO's going on it. There goes the 100 dollar price advantage! Grip stippling is a bit too aggressive for me, especially the back strap. I will mellow that with sandpaper. If I did not shoot quite so much I would leave it as is, but after 500 rounds, you really begin to notice it. Seems to handle recoil a lot better than the Sig, and marginally better than the Glock. Also a bit overstated in the rail department. This would be a better pistol with the Glock rail set up. Overall, can't think of much to bitch about other than sights. A great pistol, and since I own it, I will begin to seriously train with it.

Glock Gen 5 19 - Rugged, reliable and will shoot forever. Pure Glock, and Gen 5 or not, I don't see much change in the way it shoots from other generations. If anything, it reminds me of the duty 17 Gen 1 we were issued some 33 years ago. Battle accurate, reasonably priced, and plenty of aftermarket goodies if that is your bag. This Glock had the best sights by far of the three. Not even close. The Ameriglo front sight is big, and in your eye in an instant. This sight, or a TFO would make the other two pistols significantly better shooters. (um, what did I just do to Glock?) Decent grip stippling, not as ergonomic overall as the other two. A bit outdated is what comes to mind around shot number 400. The biggest fault of this pistol, for me, is the trigger/trigger guard. For three decades I have shot Glocks heavily and since day one, I have always gotten a nasty blood blister right side of my trigger finger pad from dragging against the inside of the trigger guard on each trigger pull. If I take the time to raise my finger on the trigger with this gun it slows me down noticeably. Rapid fire quickly becomes painful. When you are thinking about your finger, rather than the front sight and trigger, you are off. It is one of the traits that sent me to my M&P's. I shot this one well, because I carry one on duty. Advantage Glock. I will not be taking a Glock Gen 5 pistol as my EDC or off-duty.


It would be an ideal world if everyone could shoot out these three pistols and then take their choice.  And I will say, that if you own any one of these three pistols, you needn't spend 600 bucks looking for a better one. They are all three excellent in their own way, and ALL are more than adequate battle pieces. But if I had none of them (I didn't) and shot them as I did this past week, I believe I would quickly purchase the S&W. It just feels better in my hand. The Sig is an immensely comfortable gun to shoot, but just a bit too big in some ways for EDC. The Glock is the Oldsmobile, The SIG is the Mercedes, and the Smith the GT Mustang. Which do YOU want to drive?

Queries and comments welcome as is hate mail !

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