Well, finally got a chance to return to the range today with my little black beauty – the Taurus PT709 Slim. If you recall, in the first review I said that I would only trust my life with this gun after I ran at least 400 trouble-free rounds through it. After a thorough cleaning and lube after last week’s workout, I’m happy to report that it passed the 400 rnd mark with about 40 to spare without a single stovepipe, misfeed or FTE. It shoots where it’s aimed with 100% reliability so it’s earned a place on my hip (about 4:00, to be precise) in a brand new CrossBreed IWB holster.
The photo at the top of this post pretty much tells the story. Most of those head shots were done as ‘double taps’ from a simulated draw towards the end of the shoot. The long free-play in the trigger pull before you feel the tension of the spring is taking some getting used to – especially after shooting 1911 for so many years, but the short distance required to recycle the trigger more than makes up for that quirk with an easy second shot. Before some wise-guy comments on the ‘flyers’ (off target hits ), be advised that I ‘dumped’ several full magazines as fast as I could fire as a kind of stress test for the PT709 – hence the misses. Am I a great shot with a pistol? No, not really, my strength is carbine shooting (more on that later in the week! ) . But the little Taurus is an easy gun to shoot and makes this slightly better than average pistol shooter look pretty good.
Hope you found this review helpful.
Be Safe. Be Prepared.
It was shortly after hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in 2005 (the same hurricane season that spawned Katrina, which was actually weaker than Wilma – for the record) that I started to think about seriously prepping for emergencies. In the aftermath of that storm, my neighborhood was without electrical power for almost three weeks. I vividly remember having to drive to get ice to keep our food from spoiling and waiting in line for bottled water as the water treatment plant was off-line for a period of time, necessitating a ‘boil water’ order.. I remember not having enough food or means to heat water for a shower or even batteries for my radios and flashlights, but the worst part of the lack of electricity was having no working home burglar alarm system as we went to bed each night. We would sleep with the windows wide open for ventilation (remember, I live in hot, muggy So. Florida where the nights are almost unbearable, even in October, without power or A/C) and feeling totally vulnerable to any hoodlum who would seek to sneak up to my 1st floor bedroom window, or that of my children, and poke a Glock (sideways, of course) through the screen at my wife and I asleep and oblivious to his approach.
I have since made several changes and upgrades to the electronic means I employ to increase my Situational Awareness (SA), that is, my ability to monitor what is happening around the perimeter of my home – even when the neighborhood’s power is out. What follows is my description of what I have done. Is my system the best or the only solution to the perimeter security dilemma? Of course not, but you can use my ideas as a starting point to devise your own home security plan.
1. Powering The System When the SHTF!
No planning session regarding electronic means of perimeter security and intrusion alarms should begin without a well-thought-out plan for how you will power those systems in the WCS (Worst Case Scenario) – a grid-down situation. As I described in the introduction, So. Fla. has its share of power outages due to hurricanes or severe thunderstorms. Like many folks who choose to live down here, I have a generator (2 actually) that will supply about 45 days of electricity for approx. 12 hours/day – enough to keep my meat freezers running as well as a small emergency wall mounted air conditioner to make those August nights bearable, on my present supply of stored fuel.
I do not, however, plan on using the generator to power my security equipment. The main reasons being that 1. I do not plan to run my generator 24/7 in order to save fuel, and 2. What would I do when (not if) the fuel eventually runs out? The answer: Solar Power. I needed a reliable supply of electricity for my security systems if the SHTF, not a temporary one like a generator. The solar-electric system I cobbled together has worked flawlessly for me for several years now. It consists of 1 Kyocera 64 watt solar panel (now mounted on a pole), 4 deep-cycle 6V Energizer golf cart batteries (from Sam’s Club) wired together in series and parallel to produce an output of 12V, a BZ-Products Solar Charge Controller and a Sunforce pure sine wave 1000watt power inverter. Now, before you say, “That sounds too complicated for me. I know nothing about electricity.” Proof that it can be done easily by someone who knows little to nothing about electricity is that I cobbled this system together by myself. Plans for wiring the panel and the batteries as well as tools for figuring out how much power you will be needing based on what you wish to run can be found all over the internet. I made good use of them as I researched my system.
Here, briefly, is how it works: The solar panel, on a sunny day, puts out about 4 amps of power through a device called a charge controller and into the storage batteries. The controller is there to make sure that the batteries are not overcharged and damaged. The power inverter converts the 12V DC power to 120V, in other words, wall voltage. The ‘pure sine wave’ part of the inverter description refers to the shape of the wave generated by the inverter. Some devices, like my laptop, need pure sine waves to run properly, while others like lights and fans do not. While more expensive than regular inverters, a sine wave inverter is a good investment if you plan on running more than just lights and fans – like me. While the sun is out, your devices will pull power directly from the solar panel through the inverter. During the night, the charge controller switches the power source to the batteries. My batteries have enough to power my entire security system, a few compact fluorescent lights, and other important items. Will it run my A/C and HD tv? No. I designed it to fit my budget and to keep my perimeter security up and running if the grid goes down, and it does that very well.
2. Perimeter Intrusion Detection
“OK, so I’ve got a fail-safe means of supplying emergency electrical power. What should I get next?”
Well, before you hear that boot trying to kick your front door down in the middle of the night, it would have been nice to have had ample warning of the ‘guest’s’ approach, so that you might have time to prepare an ample reception for him – perhaps the 12-gauge variety. That’s what a perimeter alarm affords you – TIME. Mine is on all the time, especially when my wife is home alone so she is always aware when someone is approaching the house. It consists of 6 wireless motion detectors and a base unit powered by the solar power system. The system I selected can be programmed to play a short message you record associated with each of the six zone sensors. For example: when a car pulls in my driveway or a person approaches the front of my house, the Zone 1 alarm says: “Front door. Someone’s approaching the front door.” At the present time I’m using the Voice Alert system with 6 zone sensors and I’m very pleased with it.
I consider this system to be indispensable in that it warns us when anyone gets within a certain distance from our house. On a normal day, it tells my wife that I’ve pulled in the driveway, or the mailman has come, or any number of innocuous arrivals of family and/or neighbors. But, it really shines at night, when you’re laying in your bed and the aforementioned dirtbag is sneaking up to your back door or bedroom window. It eliminates the element of surprise for anyone who would approach your house to do you harm. And having it running off the solar power system means you’re protected, even if the power should go out when you’re asleep – again, something that happens often in So. Florida, especially during the rainy season.
Some years ago I was at a drag strip in Hollywood, Florida. I had brought my two young nephews to watch a wheel-standing school bus race against another wheel-standing vehicle with a fiberglass body shaped and painted to look like an Army tank – turret and all. Great stuff for 10 and 12-year-olds. Behind the vehicles, a huge crowd had gathered to watch the cars blast down the quarter-mile track. When the two vehicles finished their raucous burnouts, replete with obligatory fire and smoke, my over-excited nephews dragged me out of the grandstands and to the chain link fence that separated the track from the spectators for a closer view. Their fingers nervously gripping the fence, mouths agape in wonder, I watched as my nephews, Robert and Ralphy, shrieked with delight as the two vehicles leaped from the starting line, front wheels majestically in the air, hemi engines emitting an ear-rattling roar. Then, suddenly, as quickly as the race had begun, it ended with both vehicles slamming their front wheels back on to the asphalt, their drivers frantically undoing their safety harnesses, and leaping out of the roof escape hatches designed for a quick exit in case of a fire, and scampering across the track to the safety of the guard rail barrier.
But there was no fire.
In a few moments, we were at last able to see what the drivers had seen from the moment the aborted race began. At first, it was just a pair of headlights approaching the starting line from the far end of the track, then, as the lights drew closer, you could see that it was a car; a black Firebird, flying down the track the wrong way at well over 100 mph. The crowd, myself and my nephews included, were transfixed. We could only watch as the car plowed into the crowd of spectators behind the starting line and eventually slammed into the concrete barrier. The sound of the engine, the flying bodies, the brutal smash of car into reinforced concrete, are all memories that will haunt me forever, But the most amazing thing about the incident was the oppressive and massive silence that hung in the air and froze everyone into a temporary, but acute paralysis. No one moved. It seemed like no one breathed. Time stood still while our brains tried in vain to cope with the magnitude what we had all just seen.
I believe the country is experiencing a similar awe and near paralysis as I write this. I believe that most Americans instinctively know that the Health Care vote on Sunday was a rubicon-crossing of sorts, but are still in that suspended state of disbelief. Not sure exactly what happened, but knowing it was bad – very bad. I feel an uneasy calm on the part of patriotic Americans who are not exactly sure how to respond to this usurpation of their God-given liberty by a cabal of socialist criminals. After all, patriots are never the ones to race out into the streets chanting and holding up obscene placards while spitting on the police. That is the province of the left and always has been. Still, I fear for what may happen when patriots, once again can gather their wits and shake off the disbelief.
I pray for the hand of Providence that guided the Founders of this great republic to once again guide us and lend us counsel. Now is not the time for revenge or rash, pointless violence or mischief. It is not yet the time to choose between the ballot box and ammo box. I believe we need to concentrate our efforts towards voting the globalist progressive, socialists out of office and electing as many patriots as we can so we can forestall any more erosion of what is left of our liberties. We need to also concentrate on the state level, where the real battle against this marxist behemoth will play out. Write call, or fax (or all three) the AG of your state and demand he/she take steps to block implementation. I believe change must first be given the opportunity to play out at the ballot box before other solutions should be brought into play.
God Help Us.
When I first saw the Taurus PT709 Slim, the small, angular and indeed very thin weapon with the oddly shaped trigger guard at a Miami gun show last weekend, I was immediately intrigued. I had been looking for a small 9mm pistol for IWB (In the Waist Band) concealed carry for some time, but nothing had fit the bill. I’m a pretty slim guy and found most small 9mm offerings to be too boxy or bulky (Glock or S&W, to name a few) or, when I found one I liked, namely, a Kahr PM9, the price was prohibitive.
So I asked the salesman if I could the PT709, heft its weight, check out the sights and see how it fit in my hand, after all, why not give this little beauty a try as the feedback I’ve heard about this gun had been extremely positive. Long story short, I loved it and plopped down a decidedly un-Kahr-like $369 and took my new potential CCW (concealed carry weapon) home. I say ‘potential’ because I will only decide to carry it as a defensive weapon if it proves to be absolutely reliable. More on that later.
Facts and Specs
The PT709 is a single stack, 7+1 round 9mm semi-automatic pistol. It is just over six inches long (6.24″), four and a half inches high (4.52″), and an amazing one inch (1.04″) wide. It has a steel slide with a polymer frame which add up to a diminutive nineteen ounces. My 709 has a blued slide, but they can be had in stainless steel and titanium. The grip is thin but with a good texture and offers a good, positive hold. A small, but appreciated design feature is the way the trigger guard angles up just as it meets the grip. That small amount of extra space offers a bit more room for the three fingers of your shooting hand to grasp the weapon. The frame has matching dimples on either side. One perfectly fits the knuckle of the thumb of your shooting hand, and the other, further down the frame towards the front of the gun, offers an index position for your trigger finger when it is not on the trigger. Also a nice design feature.
The PT709 is a striker-fired weapon with an interesting single-action/double action capability. When a round is chambered, the trigger pull is always about 5-6 lbs in single action mode. However, if a round fails to fire, the PT709 allows a second pull of the trigger in double-action mode (about 6-7lbs) without racking the slide. It offers a true double-strike capability on a dud round without cycling the slide. The PT709 has a nicely positioned thumb safety and a trigger safety like that of a Glock which allows for it to be safely carried with a round in the chamber. It also has a firing pin block to prevent the weapon from firing unless the trigger safety has been pressed. I like that safety redundancy in a CCW.
Besides the trigger safety there are other Glock-like features of the PT709 Slim, namely the way it’s disassembled. Rather than removing a pin to free the slide, the 709 has a set of take-down latches on either side which free the slide. A slide-lock release is just ahead of the thumb safety on the frame and the magazine release is nicely placed on the grip and easy to access. A very usable set of fully adjustable 3-dot sights rounds out my description of the PT709.
“OK, fine. It looks and feels great. But how does it shoot?”
At The Range
After dis assembly and a thorough cleaning to remove all the grease on the slide, I packed 2 100 round boxes of Winchester ‘White Box’ 115gr FMJ 9mm and about 75 rounds of Winchester 147gr JHP ammo and headed to the closest target range to put the Taurus to the test. I purchased an orange silhouette target, donned my hearing and eye protection and headed excitedly to my assigned lane. A quick function check and two loaded magazines later I began to take the measure of my diminutive new weapon. My first impression was that the recoil was a lot less than I had anticipated it would be. Very controllable for so small a gun and very easy to get back on target. Second, I absolutely love the trigger reset on this pistol. After the weapon fires, a tiny release of the trigger recycles the action and the 709 is ready to fire a second shot, and a third, in very rapid yet controllable succession. The Taurus shot low out of the box – a common complaint for owners of this model – but a few rounds of adjustment of the rear sight had the 709 Slim hitting point of aim at seven and fifteen yards. It’s a darned accurate little gun. Before I knew it, I had gone through the first box of 115gr FMJs without a single FTE, misfeed or any other issue at all. And, unlike after shooting 100 rounds through other small 9mm pistols, my hand didn’t hurt. Not one bit. The PT709 was a joy to shoot.
The second box of 115s went just as smoothly and uneventfully, so I loaded the magazines with the 147gr JHPs. The 709 Slim ate all 75 of them without a single problem. Not bad at all for any gun during its ‘break-in’ period. Not one problem in 275 rounds through a brand new gun. Smiling, I left the range and headed home to give my new pistol a good cleaning and a find it a place in my safe.
“Well, were you impressed?
Absolutely! It fired with minimum recoil and maximum accuracy and did not fail to fire, cycle, or eject a spent casing.Not once. And, it felt very comfortable in my hands; like it was made for them.
“Is it your concealed carry weapon yet?”
Well, it’s going to take one more trip to the range this weekend and a few hundred more rounds of trouble free shooting before I trust my life to it, BUT, I did take the liberty of ordering a Super Tuck Deluxe, CrossBreed Holster for it, so what does that tell you?
All the machinations, and permutations, and backroom deals, and Louisiana Purchases. All the half truths and blatant lies (like cutting $500 billion from Medicare will ‘save it’) spewed on the Sunday morning talking head shows by the White House’s useful idiots. All the tens of thousands of Air Force One miles President Obama has logged (and Polar Bears he’s killed) in the last few weeks barnstorming the nation like a frenzied candidate behind in the polls. All of it. Every bit. Every second of it was a side show. A Trillion dollar sideshow. A mere distraction from the real goal; Total power over nearly every aspect of our lives centered in a massive federal government.
And proposing use of the ‘Slaughter Option’, that is to say allowing the House of Representatives to approve of the Senate version of the health care bill by ‘deeming it as passed’ without actually voting directly on the bill, a constitutionally required step in the process of a bill becoming law, speaks volumes of the hubris and arrogance with which these statists feel imbued.
As a dedicated ‘prepper’, I am, almost by definition, forward-looking. And as I look out at the near-term, I don’t like what I see. On the one hand, I hear Nancy Pelosi boasting that the passage of heal care reform by whatever means it takes will be the force that pushes down the door for the passage of other equally unpopular and costly Progressive programs like Cap and Trade and Comprehensive Immigration Reform spelled A-M-N-E-S-T-Y. And on the other hand, I see conservatives, libertarians, and patriots practically seething with anger at abandonment of Constitutional principals the financial destruction of the country on the part of the federal government – much of which, to be fair, began during the Bush administration.
It seems like a ‘Perfect Storm’ is brewing. The quintessential irresistible force about to collide with an immovable object. Perhaps a statesman will arise on either side to defuse a possible crisis. Hmmm…… have you seen any ‘statesmen’ in D.C. recently? Me neither.
Practical Preparations: They’re not just for weather emergencies anymore! Are you prepared?
There are many advantages to living in Florida during the winter. Among them is the ability to plant vegetables in December and harvest them in March – while YOUR soil is probably still rock hard. Don’t hate me; wait ’till spring thaw rolls around and start a vegetable garden of your own. It’s easier than you think. As you can see by the picture of my ‘raised beds’, I don’t have an elaborate or extensive setup at all, but I’ve been picking carrots, spinach, lettuce and tomatoes every day from my garden for a couple of weeks now. Nothing is better than eating the fruits (and vegetables) of your own labor. The lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes in the salad pictured below were harvested this afternoon from those beds.
Gardening is an important skill to learn and a fun activity for the entire family. In a future post, I’ll share my ideas on how to start a modest vegetable garden to supplement your stored foods and provide nutritious, fresh veggies for your family if you can’t get them at the grocery store.
Be safe. Be Prepared.
Perhaps the most daunting task facing the new prepper is the acquisition of several months worth of food. When I talk with folks about starting a long-term food supply, I usually get a response like this:
‘Holy S&%$’, a week’s worth of groceries costs me nearly $200, how am I supposed to buy 6 months worth of food?
OK, stop hyperventilating. The answer is: one can at a time. Unless you plan on using a tax refund or the kids’ college fund to buy it all in one fell swoop, the idea is to spread the cost over as much time as necessary. Buy what’s on sale, as long as it’s something you normally eat. Put one in the pantry and one in the stash. Look for Buy One -Get One specials. Join a ‘warehouse store’ and buy in bulk. There are lots of ways to get started. But you have to get started!
‘Ok, Ok, I get it. So, what should I get first?’
It doesn’t matter what you get first. What matters is that you start now. And with that thought in mind, here are some food types and storage methods to consider.
1. Canned Foods
Most beginning preppers start with canned foods, as they typically have a long shelf life (usually a few years), they’re easy to store, and, in keeping with the post title: canned foods are a significant part of many peoples’ diets. I suggest a good mixture of vegetables, beans, and meats. Work out the meal portions yourself, but the more of these items you stock, the greater the variety in your diet when things go south.
Our canned vegetable supplies include several 6 or 8-packs of vegetables like green beans, corn, asparagus, and spinach (even canned potatoes) bought at a warehouse store, similar quantities of garbanzo, black, red, baked, and other beans, and a variety of meats. The canned meats vary form the quintessential and obligatory SPAM, to corned beef hash, tuna, salmon, turkey breast, and chicken breast. Also, in the meat catagory I guess, would be the dozens of cans of Chili w/ beans – a favorite of our kids. Note: Canned cheese and butter are also available for long-term storage, although not usually stocked in your grocery store. Just enter ‘canned butter’ or ‘canned cheese’ in your favorite search engine and have a look at the web links.
Start by accumulating a weeks’ worth of canned foods, then a few weeks worth, and soon, you’ll have your first month’s worth. Don’t forget to include canned desserts in your preps. Canned peaches or pairs or apple sauce can be considered a ‘comfort food’ if things go south. Remember also to develop some sort of labeling system so you can keep track of the expiration dates of your canned goods and rotate them out before they get too far past their ‘Good Until’ date. In addition, Remember to include in your canned foods supply a significant quantity of tomato sauce and paste, especially if, like me, you are of Italian heritage and would NEVER store jarred ‘spaghetti sauce’, lest the ghost of your little, Italian grandmother haunt you forever!
I read once about the Survival Rule of 3s: ‘You can live 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without air‘. I’m not sure about the veracity of that statement, but I’m reasonably certain that those numbers are ‘in the ballpark’ anyway. Seeing though, as no matter how severe any foreseeable crisis might be, I highly doubt it it will result in the total removal of all breathable oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere, WATER should be your first priority.
It’s easy to say that any self-respecting prepper should have several hundred gallons of water on hand in case the SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan…except the first word isn’t ‘stuff’), it’s quite another to actually do that. Water is heavy (about 8.3 lbs/gallon) and takes up lots of space and seems readily available at the faucet, so most beginning preppers make the mistake of putting off their water storage plans until they acquire food or communications gear or guns and ammo. This is a potentially fatal mistake. Remember: Without Water – You Die! So, let’s begin our Practical Prepping Blog with a plan to manage water resources during an emergency, because, during said emergency, there’s a good chance that dependable whoosh of water from the faucet might be replaced by an even more frightening onomatopoeia: the dry gurgle.
1. Drinking Water
It is said that a person requires about 2 gallons of water a day. One for drinking and cooking, another for washing and, shall we say, waste disposal. As with any ‘rule of thumb’, the numbers can be debated, but, in this section, let’s concern ourselves with the drinking/cooking gallon. At a minimum, I believe you should have at least 3 weeks of drinking water for every person in your house – about 20 gallons per person. If you’re in an apartment and space just won’t allow 20 gall/person, come as close to that number as you can. You can do this most easily by purchasing bottled water by the gallon – a 30-pack of those 16oz bottles might be convenient, but take up way too much space. If you live in a house, especially one with a garage, I recommend buying a new 55 gallon plastic drinking water drum and storing it in a corner of the garage. Don’t trust a used plastic drum as you can never be sure what was in it prior to your getting it home. They are usually blue in color and have a seal-able lid. Several places online sell them, but it’s better to purchase one locally because the shipping charges are outrageous.
When filling your 55 gallon drum or smaller plastic 5 gallon water cans, wash them out first, fill them from the tap, then add 6-8 drops of unscented bleach per gallon as a disinfectant – even if your municipal water supply is already chlorinated. Although the water should last longer than a year, I always change the water in my 55 gall. drums every spring – but that’s just me.
Preppers require a myriad of skills in addition to stored supplies and equipment. One of those skills should be weapons handling (shooting, field stripping, cleaning, etc). I’ll have a lot more to say about firearms in later posts, but for now, check out a video of how I maintain my shooting skills (such as they are – hey I’m no Sgt. York, but I try…). This vid was shot by a buddy of mine as I tackled Stage I of a 4-stage South Florida Defensive Carbine Club match last month. If you are at all interested in honing your Zombie dispatching skills, I highly recommend joining a sanctioned shooting association like the IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association. . .there are others) and researching where matches are held in your area. You’ll have a great time meeting new people of ALL levels of shooting skills from beginner to marksman. More importantly, you will have a chance to practice your shooting skills against a clock, learn the use of cover, and practice shooting while moving. Try ‘shooting while moving’ at your local range and see what happens.
So, join a shooting club. You’ll get much needed practice and a chance to sharpen your skills, meet like-minded folks, and learn real-world shooting skills you just can’t learn standing behind a barrier at your local indoor range.
AThe answer: Very Quickly!
If the massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile this weekend teaches us anything, it should be that our comfortable urban or suburban lifestyles depend of a thin fabric of civilization holding society together and that once that fabric starts to unravel, things go to hell in a hurry.
The dust had barely begun to settle in the wake of the first series of temblars in Concepcion, Chile’s 2nd largest city, than looters began doing what it is they do best – hastily unraveling that carefully woven fabric of society thread by thread. They immediately set to the task of cleaning out grocery, clothing, and electronics stores, leaving the more civilized residents of the city without any hope of replenishing their own food supplies before aid could arrive. But, this is certainly not exclusively a Chilean phenomenon.
Anyone remember the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? Looters were converging on flooded stores like vultures to carrion as soon as the winds died down. In a mere twenty four hours, downtown New Orleans had descended into chaos. What police officers actually did show up for work the next day (no value judgment here, just a statement of fact) were terribly outmanned and overmatched by the hordes of looters applying their ‘trade’ in waist-high water.
Same for Hurricane Andrew here in South Florida in 1992. One of the abiding visual images I have retained of the post-storm days is that of the countless ‘Looters Will Be Shot’ signs hastily scrawled by shotgun toting home owners fearful of looters who, with shopping carts filled with booty, strode with arrogant impunity past pimple-faced National guard soldiers with no magazines in their weapons.
Could it happen in your neighborhood? Sure. A better question to as is: Are you prepared if it does?