Friday, April 21, 2017
A useful - and very cheap - firearms accessory
If one uses one's noggin, one can come up with some very low-cost alternatives to products sold by gun stores at a considerable markup. For example, some time back I pointed out that #4 drywall anchors made very good .22 rimfire snap caps, at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
Here's another helpful hint for those wanting to buy chamber flags - those red, orange or yellow plastic bars or flags that you insert into a semi-auto pistol or rifle chamber, to indicate that there's no cartridge inside. They cost one to two dollars apiece when you buy the custom-made variety; but there's a much cheaper solution - cable ties, like these 8" ones that I use.
They're available in several colors. I prefer fluorescent orange, because it's a widely recognized safety signal, but you can use all the colors of the rainbow, if you wish. (That also helps to distinguish between guns owned by different people, if they're stored in the same gun safe: each person can choose a color for their cable ties, for instant differentiation, even if they own visually identical firearms. For example, in my gun safe, Miss D.'s firearms are marked with purple cable ties, as it's one of her favorite colors.) At only $6.99 per 100, these cable ties are very affordable. If you lose or break one, it's no problem to replace it. At 8" long, in most pistols they protrude from both the ejection port and the end of the barrel, providing a double visual indication that the firearm is unloaded. (If you want to use them in a rifle or shotgun, you can get white heavy-duty cable ties from 9" to 36" long - just cut the longer ones to the length you want, and apply a little paint to the ends if you wish.)
For revolvers, it's just as easy. Simply buy orange drinking straws like these (or whatever color you choose). They're 0.21" in diameter, which is small enough to fit into any barrel from .22 upwards, although they're a tight fit in the smallest ones. Slide them in from the muzzle, all the way down through the barrel into the chamber. If they fit loosely, they can fall out, of course; but if you handle the gun with due care and attention, that's not a problem - or you can tape them in place, or wrap paper or cloth around the muzzle end to fit more tightly. As long as they're there, they provide a visual indication that the firearm isn't loaded. (If your gun's barrel is too long for them, simply insert one straw into another, or tape them together, to double their length.)
Another idea: for cheap cleaning cloths and patches, retain old underwear and T-shirts after they wear out, and get too many holes or tears or marks to be worn any longer. Cut them into patch-size squares to use with your cleaning rod, or into larger cloths for wiping down your guns. You'll also find them useful if you store a firearm in a case with exposed foam pressed against the metal. The foam can mark the gun over time, and perhaps even become glued to it, through interaction with cleaning solvents, etc. To guard against this, wrap the gun in a single thickness of clean cloth from an old T-shirt, to separate it from the foam.
If anyone else has useful money-saving ideas like this, please let us know in Comments. I'm sure we'll all be grateful.