Reader Question Burris MTAC vs Vortex 1-8

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How do you like the Burris MTAC? I’m personally between that and the new Vortex 1-8x Strike Eagle. Didn’t know what pushed to one versus the other. Any advice on low power variables? Keep your powder dry.

Ryan here: I really like the Burris MTAC. To my best memory what pushed me to the MTAC over the Vortex was that I liked the reticle better and the Burris MTAC had a good reputation. I have the 1-4X model. I sold an ACOG to get it and finance some spare parts. I wanted a ‘do everything optic’ and a 1 power (or darn close as a lot are like 1.1 to 30 feet or something) scope that could be magnified for longer range work with an illuminated reticle. I shoot better at distance with a magnified optic, honestly I think everyone does. Also the big difference between red dot (or irons) and a magnified optic is that I can see well enough to make good decisions. Yes you can hit at 300-400+ yards with a red dot but you can’t really tell if that person is a threat or a friend coming to help. My experience with shooting the MTAC has been quite positive.

Pros: It holds zero and adjustments are consistent.

The circle and dot reticle is pretty cool. The circle will work for really fast up close stuff and the dot is sufficiently precise for my needs. Its illuminated reticle is nice.

It is a rugged optic. John Mosby had one leave a vehicle onto pavement at freeway speed and all that happened is it jammed one of the adjustment knobs so you could not move it by hand. Short of an ACOG or say a Leupold HAMR I don’t think there is a more rugged optic out there and those are 3x plus the cost of the MTAC.

Cost- The Burris 1-4X MTAC is about $300 with mounting options for $60-200+. In this range the MTAC is pretty affordable and on par with an Aimpoint patrol or Eotech. All of these are within the range of a normal person given some planning.

Cons- Weight. Amazon says it weighs 1.1 points which seems about right.

Battery- They use the CR2032 which is kind of a special snowflake battery. I wish they used CR123 or AAs.

As to the Burris MTAC vs other offerings. I purchased my MTAC a few years ago,I was in Arizona so it would have been roughly 2013. At that time the moderate cost offerings from Burris, Vortex, Leupold, etc that had a 1 (or close) power bottom end topped out at 4 power. One power scopes with higher ends existed but not in my budget. The 1-6 and 1-8x offerings were in the high end Leupold, Vortex Razor and Night Force type with a cost range starting at a grand. I have been quite happy with the Burris MTAC 1-4x and think you would be too.

Fast forward to 2017.  Things have changed. One power scopes with higher top end have matriculated into the moderate budget range of optics. The 1-6 and 1-8x Vortex Strike Eagle offerings look very appealing. Additionally the ability to put a quick switch lever on the scope to make rapid transitions is pretty cool. I really like that.

The Firearms Blog did a review of the 1-6X which seemed positive.×24-ar-scope-review/

I am happy with the Burris 1-4x MTAC on my rifle but that doesn’t mean it is the best thing out there today in that same general (say $300-500 for the optic) price range. New stuff is available and in particular the Vortex offerings look very attractive.

I would have to look at the difference (beside the $100 or whatever cost) between the 1-6 and 1-8 power but unless there is a big downside a higher top end is better. A 1-8X scope from a good manufacturer that fits in an average guy budget without too much pain is pretty neat. At this current time with what is available now should I find myself in the market for another variable 1X scope I would look hard at the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8X. I would spend the money to put it on a good mount.
For full disclosure I have no personal experience with the Vortex scopes in question so what I say is relying on a quick google search and Vortex generally having a good reputation.
Hope that helps,

How to Stay Warm Indoors When the Power’s Out (& It’s Freezing Outside)

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How to Stay Warm Indoors When the Power’s Out (& It’s Freezing Outside)

Not too long ago, we received a question from @RayBurton on Twitter about whether or not we’d done an article on emergency home heating in cold climates. Well, we haven’t, even though I’m from Canada and Thomas & I lived there together for 5 years – so the fact that we haven’t is a bit… Read More

This is just the start of the post How to Stay Warm Indoors When the Power’s Out (& It’s Freezing Outside). Continue reading and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

How to Stay Warm Indoors When the Power’s Out (& It’s Freezing Outside), written by Elise Xavier, was created exclusively for readers of the survival blog More Than Just Surviving.

Reader Questions: Meister on my changing family situation

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Meister said “Have you thought about doing a post on your changes to your basic plan with the new familial arrangement? Lots of people in your position would like to hear a fresh perspective.”

-Ryan here.

The just Ryan in Kansas plan is really easy. If you prepare for a family for 4 and are (in hindsight not so) suddenly alone the person to calorie/ days math goes long really fast. Also being a fairly hearty guy I’m just not worried about too much. If I had to hunker down or leave in a hurry I could do that.

As to the kids and Baby Momma. They are with family who have made some pretty solid preparations in an area where they have a solid network of people. For any semi realistic scenario that group will be fine.

That is not question I think Meister is really getting at. What I think he wants to know is how these plans may/ will come together in a way that I provide value to my children (,by default the people around them) and Baby Momma?

I am not ignoring this question but I am not ready to answer it I am going to hold my cards pretty close to my chest here. Stuff is in the works that I am not yet ready to discuss. Some time after those things happen I will decide if and when to talk about them.


PTR-91 or Optics

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Anonymoushighdesertlivin said…
Sound advise. Ryan I too could use some different points of view, if you have the time and energy. Here’s the deal: I just received my refund (915.00) for 2 eotech 512’s I returned to the factory. My intention was to immediately purchase 2 aimpoint patrols to place on my primary and secondary. Now I’ve been lusting after a ptr GI at Atlantic firearms for 899.00. Part of me says, get those weapons up to speed post haste, another part says get the ptr now or maybe I won’t get a chance to in the future. Thinking optics, is more important……but? Thanks in advance. HDL

 Ryan here: HDL, I have two questions:

First have you factored in the cost of all of the necessary stuff to go with that gun (mags, parts, ammo, etc)? Unless you already have it that stuff costs money.

Second what is your capacity to buy the thing you delay down the road in a month or 6? If the budget is real tight and you won’t be able to put much cash into stuff later that leans towards the optics since they are important. On the other hand if you can buy the other thing down the road a bit grab that rifle now and the optics later.

Without getting into specifics I have had a similar situation. I can use a nice scope to finish up a project, it will cost $450ish. The rifle that needs the scope works now but is not optimal. I also want a back up rifle. Don’t have cash to do both at once. My decision is to buy the rifle sooner and the scope later. Why? I am confident I will be able to buy a rifle scope in a year. The rifle, not so much.

Hope it helps, R

Reader Questions: Gun Stuff in the Election Cycle

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          Hope things are going well in your new digs and that you are getting settled in to new life there.  I was out of town and missed open line Friday, so I thought I would drop you a line about a possible post topic.  If you can do so without giving away opsec too much I’d love to hear your thoughts and plans now that we’re less than a year away from what is shaping up to be a very scary election cycle that could have major consequences on like minded individuals such as us.  Even if nothing happens to 2A as a result of the elections I’m still expecting panic buying as summer turns to fall.  I’d love to get your take on it and I’m sure it would spur discussions a,on some of your respected readers.   Anyway, have a good’un and thanks for doing what you do.  I don’t always comment, but just know you’re one of my 3 go to sites daily (and you introduced me to the other two).


Ryan here:  Honestly the quadrenial presidential election panic buying is a pretty normal event. You can’t predict event based stuff like Sandy Hook but there are elections every 2 and 4 years. Honestly I am at a point where I do not really feel a need to rush based on it. Consistent purchases over time really add up, even on a fairly modest budget. Put it this way, if you bought a standard capacity PMAG (199 at 0.Lucky Gunner) and Glock 17 or Glock 22 mag every month since the last presidential election cycle you would have 48 of each. Sorry if that is harsh.

What am I personally going to do? Basically I have been trying to front load the years gun stuff.
Good: A budget back up/ truck gun AR-15 with 20 mags.  Also a pair of stripped lowers.

Better: That plus 10 more Glock mags, a case each of 5.56 and 9mm.

Best: All of that plus a case of 7.62×51 and 10 more FAL mags.

For general advice I would say to focus on full capacity (10+ rd) magazines then the military pattern rifles that hold them. If you have your eye on a spare military pattern rifle/ pistol then get that. Once you are square on that I would look to training ammo. Having enough to train for at least 6 months is a good idea.

If the goal is to make money I would be stashing PMAGs and stripped lowers, plus maybe some brand name (S&W, DPMS, etc) basic AR-15’s.

As always the comments section is open.

Reader Questions: Meister on Appalachian Land Purchase or Beach Front Property

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Meister said: Looking at a large property purchase. Having issues deciding on location. Appalachia or the coast with a boat. Tough decisions.

Meister asked a question that has a fairly complicated answer. Should he purchase land in the Appalachian Mountains (or that general region) or on the ocean with a boat. For background Meister lives (based on his google profile) in the greater Indianapolis IN area.  I will talk the general pro’s and con’s of each then hit the questions that would guide my answer if this was a conversation.

Mountain land:
Pro: Cheap
Pro: Low maintenance costs
Pro: Minimal population

Con: If that situation becomes untenable options are limited.
Con: Lots of poverty and drug issues. Of course this is a very local thing but the meth heads in town or a trailer nearby could be a real issue if things get ugly and EBT cards stop working.
Con: May not be the easiest culture to assimilate into. There could be a we/ they thing if stuff got ugly.

Beach land:
Pro: Vast resources readily available. Food storage could be greatly supplemented by shellfish, crab, fish, etc.
Pro: Being able to have either on a dock or a trailer in a shed, a boat capable of intercoastal waterway type travel gives a great supplementary option.
Pro: A little cabin on the ocean and a boat would be huge fun for the family and an anchor to get teen and adult kids to come out for the family vacation for years to come. This is something you could really enjoy.

Con: Population. Beaches tend to be relatively busy places as they are cool. Sure there are some more isolated areas but you have to really look for them. Without googling it I suspect the low population density of the Appalachians is difficult to find on the Eastern seaboard unless you look at extreme norther Maine.
Con: Cost. Your dollars will get a lot less land if it is on the water.
Con: In a worst case scenario being on the water puts a big ole high speed avenue of approach right on your back lawn. Not so long ago Pirates raided small towns and settlements in the American South East because it was easy to hit one and vanish into a maze of islands or get back to a safe haven.
Con: (Boat) Significant upkeep costs. A trailered boat costs money. A boat you have to keep in the water year round or dry dock costs real money to upkeep. I knew an accountant who had a very long conversation with a legitimately wealthy client that in fact no she could not comfortably afford a boat.
Con: (Boat) I would be worried about not having my eyes on such an expensive thing, especially if it was in the water.

Now the thoughts/ questions I have to guide the decision:

Q- Do you plan to keep living in the same area you currently do or relocate?

Thought. Distance- My rough math says the Appalachians (picked Cumberland, TN as an arbitrary mile marker) are fairly close to you, approximately 275 miles so a tank of gas or so. Also it is pretty open country so I wouldn’t be TOO worried about making the drive if things got bad. Relatively un populated/ affordable beach front land would probably be in the Carolina’s which are roughly 750+ miles (I used Mertyl beach as an arbitrary mile marker). That is a lot further any way you cut it. Also there are a lot of more built up areas in between. A further away place means you are less likely to use it get away (and be around/ check on your stuff) and it will be harder to get to in a worst case scenario.

This is probably the biggest issue in my mind. The ocean is pretty far from where you live. As such this favors land in the mountains. If it was not almost twice as far we might be able to argue for the ocean but……

Q- What sort of scenario do you see happening?

Thoughts: If your concerns run more towards a major financial collapse that runs short of full on grid down Mad Max I would go with the beach land and boat. Better economy (in general) and closer to population centers for work and such. Depending on the boat you have it has the added benefit that if the social/ political situation becomes intolerable you could easily sail down to the Caribbean or Central/ South America for a couple years. Your trade could be practiced underground for enough to keep the families bellies full and a reasonable boat running. The Appalachians are the white third world now, imagine if the EBT cards and government programs were cut off? On the other hand if you see things going full on Mad Max a cabin in a holler with a big garden 30 miles from a town of 3,000 people in BFE Kentucky/ TN would be a good place to be. If your immediate neighbors were solid and the terrain was good folks could do well up in those hills, it has been done before. For that scenario the openness of beach areas and the high speed avenue of approach of the ocean add risk.

This can go either way depending on your concerns.

Q- How much cash do you have for start up? How much for maintenance?

Thoughts: My very rough math says the beach land with boat is going to be a whole lot more expensive than some land in the mountains. Of course if you want a whole lot of acreage in the mountains (like 50+) but just an acre or two by the beach that starts to change things but it’s gaming the scenario a bit. Bottom line a given amount of cash will get you a whole lot more real estate in the mountains than on the water.

I don’t know your budget so it may or may not matter. However this favors land in the mountains for most budgets. The buy in for a place in the mountains could realistically be 20-30k with almost no maintenance. Beach land is probably going to cost more, then there is a boat to consider. In fairness a boat can mean a lot of things but I inferred more than a little row boat/ skiff. Boats are expensive to buy and have significant upkeep costs. From a family of boat owners I know the adage that they are a hole in the water you throw money into is true. If you had say 20-40 acres with a shed and a cabin and ran onto hard times all you would need is to scrape up cash for property taxes. On the other hand if you want them to stay operational boats cost money on a continual basis. Bottom line the up keep costs of a place on the coast with a boat will be higher.

Anyway if I had to boil this down to a suggestion. Both are fine options but that is a cop out. Unless there is some information I am unaware of I would lean to the mountains based primarily on distance.  The economics and what is better for which worst case scenario can be argued a lot of ways but the distance is very clear cut.


Reader Questions: Unpapered Guns

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AnonymousAnonymous said…
Swap guns purchased on a 4473 with someone else I know so they are one step removed or sell and buy at a gunshow as a private sale for more anonymity????

Ryan here: First of all one could debate how much of a concern the whole 4473 defacto registration through record keeping should be. I talked about this awhile back.  If you live in a state where it is legal stashing away a few guns for a rainy gun grabbing day is a sound idea. I hope to do the same myself in the near future.

Now as to private party firearms I would say they are not all equal. Lets say there is a color scheme between white being a papered gun you bought from a gun shop and black being a gun you bought with cash from a total stranger who you had never communicated with at a gun show 300 miles from home with no records kept then the stranger had a heart attack in the parking lot. A gun you bought from your neighbor the cop would be a very light shade of grey. A gun you bought from a friend of a friend a bit less so. You get the idea.

If your goal is to get a paperless gun the closer it is to black on the range the better off you are.

In general I would not worry too much about flipping the guns you have. If you like the guns you have and can afford (not today but over a reasonable time span) the cost to just keep what you have and get new guns for the rainy gun grabbing day stash. Have the guns you have be your normal training, home defense stuff then put a spare set away JIC.

Those are my thoughts on that.

Reader Question: Carry Permits

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AnonymousAndy said…
What’s your take on shall-issue states? I don’t have my pistol permit because the state I live in has a permitting scheme about as invasive as an anal probing. Would you get it? Or stand on the principle?

April 8, 2016 at 7:22 AM
Ryan here: 
Shall issue vs may issue is an interesting thing. One single word in the state law matters a whole lot. Shall issue states work like this- meet the requirements and you get the permit. May issue states work like this- Meet the requirements and the approval authority (usually the County Sheriff) MAY issue you a permit, or not. They can give as many as they want out or none or just give them to their cronies and the well connected. They can deny a permit because they don’t like a persons face or whatever. Instead of being limited by the requirements you are limited by some persons whim. 
To the second question get the damn permit. We could debate the principle and yes I think CCW permits are dumb. However in the real world CCW licenses are required in most states. Ignoring that on ‘principle’ leaves the bad options of not carrying or carrying illegally. The consequences of both can be significant. In my opinion the hassle of getting the permit pales when compared to the risks of getting caught carrying without one. You can mumble all about MAH CONSTITUTIONAL RAGHTS shelling out big money for a lawyer then in jail while trying to avoid forcible sodomy and maybe afterwords when you are banned from owning firearms. Why ‘ride dirty’ if you can do it legally? Get the permit.
You are way more likely to defend yourself with a concealed pistol then the safe full of rifles at home. Also if at all possible you want to legally carry a pistol. First it avoids a significant potential hassle if a cop spots your piece or whatever. Second should you end up in a lethal force scenario you start out as a law abiding responsible citizen instead of a criminal who disregards the states gun laws. Also the consequences of illegally carrying a concealed handgun can be significant. 
As a final thought if you hate the states permitting structure that much and or want to be able to LEGALLY carry without a permit then maybe you should consider moving to a place that allows that. 


Reader Questions: Red Dot CO Witness?

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Morning Ryan, 

Do you know much about red dot optics?  I bought a Vortex SPARC II for an AK SBR. Im not sure if I should co-witness the dot to the front sight or use the higher mount so all I see through the optic is the dot.

The front quadrail also looks to be a few degrees off of a straight alignment with the rear and front sights. Will I be able to correct this with the windage and elevation or should I take the rail off and try to reinstall to get everything square?

Thank you for your time.
Ryan here: I have used Aimpoints plenty at work.  You want to co witness the red dot and the iron sights or at least aproximately so. Basically you need to be able to see the iron sights and the red dot at the same time. This article pretty much explains it. People talk about absolute co witness or 1/3rd co witness or whatever. I do not really care about that. For the sake of this discussion if you can see both the iron sights and the red dot it is co witness.
I believe in co witness for two reasons.
First is ergonomics and muscle memory (which they now say is not a thing but whatever). Rifle goes into the pocket of the shoulder then up to cheek to stock and the eye acquires the sights. I want to put my face on the same part of the stock and see the sights every time. If a scope was mounted high enough to clear the AK’s front sight the whole thing would be off.
Second on the off chance the red dot fails (out of battery power or whatever) I want to be able to see my sights and thus just keep shooting. 
If the rail is way off I would mess with it but otherwise just adjust the red dot. It should have plenty of adjustment range to cancel out a few degrees of cant.
Hope that helps,

How to Purify Contaminated Water [RQ#8]

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How to Purify Contaminated Water [RQ#8]

Alan’s Water Purification Question I reside in a very agricultural area that also has some semi-large towns.  The largest environmental issue here is agricultural runoff.  I cannot think of  a single waterway, creek, river, pond, whatever that is not affected by either runoff or seepage from septic systems or sewer systems.  How then to purify… Read More

This is just the start of the post How to Purify Contaminated Water [RQ#8]. Continue reading and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

How to Purify Contaminated Water [RQ#8], written by Thomas Xavier, was created exclusively for readers of the survival blog More Than Just Surviving.

Can I Cook Outside Without Attracting People & Animals? [RQ#7]

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Can I Cook Outside Without Attracting People & Animals? [RQ#7]

Been a while since we’ve had a reader question up on the blog! I suppose with the new forum, it’s been much easier to throw up a new thread than send an email, which is certainly fine! But do keep in mind we love getting questions by email (our contact info can be found here) and… Read More

This is just the start of the post Can I Cook Outside Without Attracting People & Animals? [RQ#7]. Continue reading and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

Can I Cook Outside Without Attracting People & Animals? [RQ#7], written by Thomas Xavier, was created exclusively for readers of the survival blog More Than Just Surviving.