Difficult Decisions

Posted: March 11, 2014 in AR-15, Guns
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I posted so I figured it was time to bring up something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.  I’m the kind of person who gets very attached to his things.  I love my material possessions, and while I know I could live without most of them, if I have the choice, I will continue to live with them.  That said, I’ve run in to a problem that I need some suggestions on.

Black and White AR15I’m thinking of selling my AR-15.  I love the thing like its a member of my family, but I hate shooting it with .223/5.56.  Its too loud and it kicks more than I would like.  Its just too light and the noise drives me (and everyone around me at the range) insane.  Shooting it with the .22lr conversion kit is a dream, but with the money my AR would bring I could buy an AR dedicated to 22lr and still have lots of money left.

Norinco SKS

Besides, the SKS I got from my friend has quickly become my favorite rifle.  The thing is incredible to shoot.  Smooth trigger pull, no kick, and really quiet.  So maybe I’ve just spoiled myself too much to enjoy the AR lately.  That said, there are lots of firearms out there that I would love to own, but its hard to buy guns without money.  I could probably turn the AR into 2 other guns and some ammo, but should I?  Could I?

How do you lose your attachment to a firearm which you’ve built with your own two hands?  How do you give up such a thing without it leaving a deep pain?  The money certainly helps the healing, but there’s something to be said for having that emotional connection.  And once its gone, its gone for good.

Give me some advice.  Let me know what to do.  Keep it and accept that I’ll not be buying another gun for a few years, or sell it, mourn its loss, and buy something different?

Over on my other blog I’ve been talking about a new video game I’ve been playing.  Since the gameplay is relevant for this blog, I decided that I would share it here as well.  The game is still over a year away from being complete but already I’m hooked.  I’ve been playing it just about every day after work . . . chores be damned!

2014-02-03_00001

The scenery in this game is also pretty incredible. I play on very low settings to make it smoother but on high-res settings the game is BEAUTIFUL.  

So far, there aren’t a lot of guns in the game, but there are a few to play with like the Mosin, M4, and the SKS.  They seem to react in a real-enough way to simulate what it might be like to use one in real life.  Bullet drop as well as a delay for long distance shots is realistic and poses quite a challenge sometimes.  Ammo is also pretty scarce so you have to choose carefully whether or not to pull the trigger.

Surviving is hard and you’re required to stay healthy, well fed, and well hydrated, all while trying to live among zombies and other players.  The game demands that you prioritize medicine, food, and water, with firearms and other gear coming as you find it.  This part of it is a bit limited at this time.  Things are going to be added at some point like hunting/fishing so that should definitely add another element of survival to the game.  Currently you can only get food and water by venturing into towns and cities.  In servers that have a lot of people, this can be very dangerous and can keep even the most prepared players on edge.  Even without other players there are zombies to worry about too (although at this point they’re very buggy and not very much of a threat).

This is Phil.  He was friendly and we traveled together for a bit before going our separate ways.

This is Phil. He was friendly and we traveled together for a bit before going our separate ways.

What I like most about this game is that it sheds a light on what civilization might be like in a post-apocalypse type scenario.  Every human encounter I’ve had in the game has been very tense.  Sometimes that heavily armed guy running down the road waving in your direction might be bringing some supplies to weary travelers, but he might also be looking to put a bullet in your head for sport.  You never know what will happen; anyone can turn feral when survival is on the line.

If you like video games, and preparing for disasters, this is a fantastic game to try.  Its currently available on Steam for just $30.  As I said above, the game is still under development so there are a lot of bugs and glitches that occur, but you get all updates and patches for free.  When the game is complete and released it will likely sell for around $60.  Buying now is a great way to help the developers and just might save you some money in the long run!

My resolution for the new year was to get out and do some more shooting this year and I started out strong.  I spent the first Saturday of 2014 out at the Hite Hollow range near Staunton, Va.  My neighbor had a new pistol to shoot so we loaded everything up and headed out.

I was very surprised at how well I did.  Considering I hadn’t shot any of my rifles in months, I was lucky I could even hit the target.  I really don’t like to let skills sit idle for that long, but I guess it was ok this time.  I managed some pretty tight groups with my two 22 pistols and was hitting extremely accurate with my AR at 50 yards with both 22lr and .223.

The only gun I shot poorly was my neighbor’s pistol.  I don’t think that’s a personal failure either as the gun is nearly the size of my head and I could barely wrap my hand around the grip.  At about 7 yards I was hitting the target close enough to be considered deadly, but the time and effort involved in lining each shot up would definitely have cost me dearly in a real-world situation.  I will definitely need more practice with a gun this size if I intend to ever use one, but for now I think I’ve decided that a 45 just might not be for me.

My SKS, as I expected, was the most fun to shoot.  There’s just something about the 7.62 round being fired from a gun with some wood on it that I really enjoy.  I would love to try shooting an AK47, but I’ll settle with the SKS for now.  It doesn’t kick, its very accurate (even with open sights), and it just looks so cool.  I used to consider my AR to be my #1 choice if things got bad, just because it can shoot two types of ammo.  I think I might be starting to change my mind.  After all, that Bayonet will be very handy when the zombies come . . .

 

Its time for us to say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014.  Its time to look back on our lives for the past year and see what we can do to improve ourselves or make life more enjoyable.  Its time for New Year’s Resolutions.

Since I’ve moved out of my parents’ houses and into an apartment with my fiance, things have been fantastic.  Life really is great and I couldn’t really ask for more.  That said, I have been neglecting my firearms and letting my skills wither away.  Its time for me to get back out there and do some shooting and practicing.

For 2014, I resolve to go shooting as often as I can.  I’m going to start out strong by going to shoot with my neighbor this Saturday.  He recently bought a 9mm 45 and has been really looking forward to shooting it.  Depending on where we go I’ll probably bring my rifles along.  I’ve been itching to shoot my SKS some more.  If we go to the indoor range in town however I’ll have to stick with just my .22 pistols.

Either way its going to be fun.  I’ll be sure to share how everything goes and let you know how badly my skills have deteriorated without practice.  Happy New Year everyone!

I haven’t updated the blog in a while and I feel kinda bad about that.  I’ve been enjoying life, relaxing and being lazy.  Its nice to come home after a long day at work to just sit down with my fiance and watch some TV or play some games.  But I feel like today I need to make a post because something pretty important happened that not many people are talking about.

China successfully landed a rover on the moon.

China is now one of only three countries to have done this and the first in almost 40 years.  To say its a big deal is kind of an understatement.  The moon is over 238,000 miles from the Earth and constantly moving, as is the Earth.  The science involved in making something like this happen is nothing to scoff at.  The trip alone took 13 days!  That’s a long time to sit there hoping that all your calculations are correct.

Sure, we’ve landed rovers on Mars already, but China is just starting into the world of space exploration.  They’re putting a lot of effort into their space program while here in the United States we’re decreasing the funding for ours.

China has big ambitions for space.  Ignoring the fact that the vehicle used to land their rover on the moon can carry a payload far heavier than what it carried this time (humans and more equipment maybe?), they also plan to have their own space station.  China is not a partner with the International Space Station, so it makes sense for them to explore other options.  Its also possible that when they finish their station, it may be the only space station in service, as the ISS is only supposed to last until about 2020, though it could be extended if those involved decided to keep funding it.

China is not the 3rd world country that it once was.  They continue to show that they want to be a major contender in world affairs, and we should probably start paying attention.  We may not agree with the Chinese on every aspect of life and government, but surely we could benefit more from a partnership with them as opposed to a 21st century cold war.

But if we can’t get along with them, I suggest our lawmakers start putting in place the plans necessary to keep us dominant on both the surface of the Earth as well as space and beyond, because China seems ready to compete . . .

The game has been out less than a week and I have to say it has absorbed quite a bit of my free time.  One of my co-workers has been playing with me a lot online and together we’re pretty hard to beat.  On more than one occasion my fiance has had to work extra hard to pry me away from the PS3.

My Thoughts

I have to say I was a little skeptical about this game.  I was always a huge fan of the Infinity Ward games (particularly Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2) but the new team at Infinity Ward hasn’t impressed me that much.  That said, this game removed all doubt.  The online multiplayer has been revamped and is better than ever.  While I still miss certain features from the Modern Warfare series, I welcome the new changes.

I haven’t played the campaign at all, so I can’t comment on that although I’ve heard its really cool.  I’ve focused strictly on the multiplayer at this point.  Typically my fiance plays the single player portions long before I do.  In my opinion, the campaign is just a bonus feature in these games.  Most of them last less than 5 hours and while they’re usually fun and impressive, I prefer spending my time climbing through the ranks online.

Online, I focus on playing as a sniper.  I have gotten very good over the years and my friends hate to play against me.  This game is very sniper-friendly, so I enjoy it a lot.  There are open lanes on just about every map, unlike previous games where certain maps just didn’t fare well for long range shooting.  I can play well using just about any type of weapon, but my slow and steady play style is better suited to using a weapon that often requires patience to master.

Becoming the Ghillie Monster

On Nov 7th, just before midnight,  just two days after the game released, I unlocked the ghillie suit for my characters.  My performance as a sniper in the game has increased exponentially.  The graphics in the game are extremely good and the ghille suit makes it very easy to blend into the environment.  I’ve had many people run right past me or struggle to see me, simply because I was wearing the suit.  What I’m saying is that it is well worth the effort to get it, and I’m not looking forward to the future when every sniper has it.

In past games, the ghillie suit was typically given to players after they completed certain challenges (several hundred “one-shot kills” I believe), so long as they equipped a sniper rifle as their primary weapon.  This game allows you to equip it to any character, but its a bit more difficult to acquire.

To get the ghillie suit, you need to have the “chrome barrel” attachment on your sniper rifle and complete the 3 chrome barrel challenges.  The first is 100 kills, the second is 250, and the third is 500.  So the total you have to get is 850 kills using the chrome barrel.  Not an easy feat by itself.

However, this game is also unique in that you don’t have access to every challenge at once.  In previous games you unlocked more challenges as you leveled up.  In this one, you’re given a certain amount in each category and they only change if you spend points you’ve earned or wait the 2 weeks between sets.  So in order to get the ghillie suit, you also have to make sure you have the chrome barrel challenges open in the Operations menu.

My suggestion for unlocking the ghillie suit, if you choose to do so, is get rid of all other loadouts that don’t contain a sniper rifle with a chrome barrel.  Doing this will force you to play as a sniper (which is possible on every map) and you’ll develop the play style you have to have instead of flipping back and forth and trying to maintain different skills.

By default you start with 3 loadouts available.  I used one with an ACOG scope and the other two with Variable Zoom scopes.  Variable zoom lets you play well on most of the maps and the ACOG gives you the flexibility you need on smaller or more urban maps.  Set the perks and equipment up for how you like to play (I like perks that hide me and equipment that protects me from behind) and you should be good to go.

Likes

There are a lot of things I like about this game so I’ll just focus on the things I like the most.  Since I haven’t played the campaign yet, this will focus only on the online multiplayer portion.

I really like that they’ve added game types.  I particularly like the addition of Infected.  I remember playing something like that in Halo once at a friends house.  Its a  lot of fun if you play with a group of friends.  Cranked is also pretty neat.  I’ve only played a few times but its different and I like that they tried to add something instead of relying on only what worked in the past.

The maps are really cool.  It takes a while to memorize the maps and until then its just a lot of running around like you’re lost.  Once you figure it out though they all have a lot of unique features.  My favorites by far are Warhawk and Octane since they have something to offer everyone from snipers to those guys with SMGs.

I think they balanced the weapons more.  From the time I’ve spent with the game it seems the weapons have been a little more balanced this time and I like that.  Other people may disagree but I still have nightmares from the first Black Ops where nobody used anything but sub machine guns because they were so powerful.

Dislikes

There are only a few things I don’t like about this game and they’re easy to get past.  During the first few hours I had a tough time with creating a class.  The addition of so many perks and the fact that depending on what specialty you give your character changes which perks you receive early made it a bit confusing.  It was quite a change from previous versions.  After a few hours though it got easier to figure out and now I have no problem at all (though I still prefer the older create a class systems).

While playing a match, the statistics screen (brought up with the select button on the PS3) has been moved.  Instead of being in the center of the screen, its now smaller and at the top right.  The benefit is that it can be left up while you play, but the downside is that its smaller and harder to read.

Muting players online.  This used to be easy from the statistic screen.  You simply highlighted a player and pushed the mute button.  Now you have to open the pause menu and select mute players.  At that point its pretty much the same, highlight a player and push mute.  Unfortunately it takes longer to do while playing and took a while to discover.  That meant I had to sit there listening to chipmunks and 13 year olds cuss back and forth the whole time.

They changed the challenges.  I always thought the challenge system they had was really good.  I don’t feel like the changes they made to that part of the game improved the experience at all.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the online portion of past Call of Duty games, Ghosts will not disappoint.  My complaints about the game are minor and not worth worrying about (I’m just one of those people who hate change).  The game is well worth the $60 price tag.  If you don’t like that they release a slightly different version every year just to make money, then don’t buy it.  Its not significantly better than past games, and I definitely wont be trading my old ones in.  But I can say with absolute certainty that when I play a COD game during the next year it will be Ghosts.

Today is election day in several states.  While the race in NJ doesn’t seem to be that big of a competition with Chris Christie holding a pretty large lead over Barbara Buono in pre-election polls, things in VA are quite different.

It may not be an extremely close race in my home state with the majority of people leaning toward Terry McAuliffe (D) but its close enough that either candidate from the Big Two could win depending on voter turnout.  The red candidate, Ken Cuccinelli (R), running as a Tea-Party supporter, is trailing enough that unless his supporters surprise everybody at the polls, he’s unlikely to win.

While I haven’t been of voting age but a few years now, I have to say this was an awful campaign from both parties.  There were almost no ads that didn’t attack the other candidate.  Very few ads featured a candidate talking about where they stand on the issues facing us right now.  Judging by where Libertarian Robert Sarvis stood in the pre-election polls, it would seem Virginians are not happy with either of our red and blue choices.

Robert Sarvis is on the ballots today as a Libertarian.  There are many out there who claim he’s not a Libertarian at all or he’s just a dressed up blue guy trying to steal votes away from The Cooch (Cuccinelli).  Regardless, Sarvis has gathered quite a bit of support with his very limited resources.  Polls were showing Sarvis having between 5 and 10 percent of the vote before election day.

I’m not a fool.  I know that Robert Sarvis has no chance of winning the election.  I’m pretty sure he knows it too.  But the fact that there is a large group of Sarvis-supporters out there show that people might be getting sick of the polarized political system we have right now.  I’m one of those people.  I voted for Sarvis.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t vote for him simply to show the other candidates that I dislike them tremendously.  I also felt like he best represented where I stand personally on political issues.  And after all, isn’t that the point of our “democracy”?  To vote for people who can represent you the best way possible?  It’s not the “vote for the lesser of two evils” system that so many people seem to think it is.  If you don’t like Candidate A or B, don’t vote for him.  Unfortunately we don’t always get an option for a Candidate C.

A lot of people blame 3rd parties in elections if their guy didn’t win.  “McCain only lost because of Gary Johnson!”  When The Cooch loses today, Republicans will blame Sarvis and say: “If all of those people had voted for Cuccinelli, he’d have won hands down!”  Well, speaking for myself, I would not have voted at all today if Sarvis hadn’t been in the race.  I just don’t think I want either of those guys to be His Excellency.

It’s also my opinion that if Sarvis had been allowed to debate with the other guys, he’d have had an even bigger following, from both the red side as well as the blue side.  Its about time that we, as Americans, get over this notion that we have to label ourselves as Republicans or Democrats, or anything at all.  We’re Americans, first and foremost.  Vote for the candidate who is best for the country, not the guy waving the same flag as you.

We’re a country, not a gang . . .

But no matter where you stand on the political spectrum or the issue of polarization in America, GO VOTE!  Get out there and show your support for whoever you choose.  Its your right to do so, so go do so.

**  UPDATE – 11/6/2013  **

As I predicted, The Cooch lost.  The blue guy won.  I was also correct in my other prediction, that people would blame Sarvis.  He received 7% of the vote which was more than enough to have elected Cuccinelli had they ALL voted for him.  Have a look at some of the comments I found in just one article about the election:

“The only reason Cuccinelli lost was because software billionaire Joe Liemandt, who just happens to be a top bundler for President Barack Obama, helped pay for professional petition circulators responsible for getting Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert C. Sarvis on the ballot.” – Yiddishlion

“Proof positive that an independent vote in a regular election is a wasted vote.” – Armand

“What I learned is that the Dems will support party to the death while Republicans would gladly see the demise of their party in order to jump ship and vote for a Libertarian. Cucinelli got Perot’d” – Al

“McAulife barely won only because the Dems paid for and ran a libertarian candidate that took 7% away from Cuccinelli. What it shows me is that the Tea Party remains strong and will do very well in 2014.” – NickV

“Once again a third party candidate with an ego too big for the room refuses to step aside in the last two weeks of an election, which allowed the candidate that he is in least agreement with win the election.” – I don’t think so

But then I found someone who seemed to feel as I do.  Someone who came to the same conclusion as I did when Sarvis earned that 7%:

“What it tells us is that extreme left and right politicians WON’T be tolerated.  All you elected officials need to get over your party ideology and work for US, the American people.  We are bigger than just left/right, black/white, rich/poor issues.” – Eric

I don’t know what else to say.  I’m only 23, so I know there are a lot of people out there who will discredit everything I say because I lack experience and that’s fine.  But you can’t tell me that you like the current state of affairs in this country.  You can’t tell me the system we have is working.

Then again, I guess that’s what 93% of Virginians did yesterday when they voted Red and Blue . . . so enjoy it.  Enjoy the never ending back and forth bickering.  Enjoy all the lies and deceit.  We’ve all earned it and its here to stay.