“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What's out there in the dark?


Sometimes I have to go out at night and see what the dogs are raising cane about.  You can tell from how they act whether it's anything serious.  Possums or raccoons who come up to eat the cat food only rate a couple of low growls or a woof.   Scents that they recognize wafting through the air usually inspire a couple of barks out of a sense of duty, but not much more.  Once in awhile though, they go off the deep end with barking, howling and running around in the park pad area whining.

When that happens, I have to get a gun and a flashlight, and go out to see what's going on.  I have a massive Ryobi floodlight but it's so heavy it takes up one hand, which leaves me only one hand for whatever rifle or shotgun I have.  That doesn't work well.  I have thought about getting one of those flashlights that go on the end of a shotgun. The drawback is that if whatever is out in the dark is two legged instead of four, then all they have to do is shoot at the light.

I have red security lights and I have night vision, but the night vision is a monocular and requires you to hold it. The security lights illuminate the area around the buildings but not the meadow or the treeline.  That's why I need the hand held flood.

You never know what's out in the dark.

 

24 comments:

  1. The kids here are sure it's Big Foot! Looks like you may have the same thing? LOL! It would be nice to wire up some lighting in the trees so you can just flip a few flood lights on.

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    1. I had thought about putting some lights out around the perimeter of the meadow and the tree line. The problem is, even white lights wouldn't penetrate into the tree line more than a foot or so. We have mountain laurel here, it makes thickets and is almost impenetrable. If I put white lights out, my night vision will be ruined. That's why I use red security lights. I used to have an electric fence all the way around the main house and the shop, but I couldn't keep it operating. Every time there was a storm, trees and limbs would fall on it. Every time a bear or hog hit it, they just tore it to pieces. So I am faced with walking outside in the dark, carrying too much equipment to be effective. I need to figure out a more efficient way to be able to move around the place after dark, outside the area lit by the security lights. By the way, one of the Discovery Channel shows on Big Foot was filmed near here in another mountain county. I just hope if he's out there he finds somewhere else to hang out!

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  2. Go with the weapon mounted light. Lets assume for a moment that it is so dark that you cannot see what youre shooting at without an external lightsource such as a flashlight. That being the case, the bad guy, unless he is wearing NVG or unless you are backlit, cannot see you either. So here's the two of you, prowling outside in the dark, with both of you pretty much adjusted to the darkness but still unable to really make out who's who. Now, throw 200 lumens from the end of your shotgun and the previously-accustomed-to-darkness vision of your bad guy is now so overpowered that I dont think getting an accurate shot in your direction is really much of a worry. I bought the 200 lumen SureFire forend for my 870 and I dont think that then that thing is shining in your eyes youre gonna get off a shot that even comes close to where the light is coming from. Just my opinion...but I'd get the a good weapon light for the pistol or shotgun if I were you. I waited a long time to get mine (becuase of the price) but when I finally dropped the coin for it I was immediately impressed with it and regretted not doing it earlier.

    http://commanderzero.com/blog/2013/01/04/upgrade/


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  3. Suppose Juan Pedroza the gang member from two counties over is out in the tree line and I come out on the porch with a light. I won't see him, so the light won't be shining right on him. Doesn't that make me a great target? I usually leave my security lights on when I go out, so there I'll be lit up in red, with a huge white light sweeping around. If he just fires at the light his chances of hitting me would seem to be good. I am out of my area of expertise here, but would I not be a good target at that point? Since these guys are proliferating in number, and they use the national forest for their transactions, this isn't as unlikely a scenario as it might appear at first glance.

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  4. Get one of these

    http://www.gunshack.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=315

    Trust me.

    If you use a standard AA battery in them you will use it up quick but for something small and handy with a new battery it will reach out there and touch something with it's light. It is small enough I can hold it in my hand while also gripping a firearm. I have a couple of mounted lights on various weapons but I don't like them on my pistols so I picked this little light up for 20 bucks and have been amazed by it.



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    1. So you believe in putting a light on your weapon too? I need an answer to the problem and the general consensus seems to be that's the answer. At least it would free up my hands for a weapon. Carrying that massive light around is too cumbersome. Another negative aspect of living alone.

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    2. I have lights on one of my AR's and my main defense shotgun but that is it. Actually I don't particularly like the mounted light thing either and would only use them when I am pretty sure I am not after a two legged varmint. The mounted lights are really for other pests. I use the small but very bright 130 Lumen flashlight I linked to because I can hold it way out to the side or hold it in my hand while holding a weapon. 9 times out of 10 when I need to really go check on the outside I have either a 1911 or a .357 on me so a mounted light is not necessary.

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  5. Another useful light trick is to mount those solar charged motion sensor LED lights around but facing out. That way you can see where the movement triggered the light.

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    1. There are only two real approaches to the buildings. One is the vehicle trail and one is a trail down to the creek. Both have motion detectors that set off a light panel and buzzer in the house. I have done a pretty good job of making sure nobody can get up here unannounced. My problem is that once I know they are coming, my only recourse seems to be going outside the house in the dark to sort things out. Staying inside isn't an option because I'm not going to let an intruder or intruders kill my dogs. Besides that, I have gasoline in a storage shed, and I live in a log house. Hiding out inside doesn't make a lot of sense that way. One fellow suggested on the old blog building a firing position on the knoll where the vehicle trail comes into the meadow. I didn't give it much thought then but now I'm beginning to reconsider the idea. If I ever get intruders it will almost certainly be up that vehicle trail.

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  6. MORLOCKS!!! :)

    I've thought about springing for a weapon mounted night vision set up, but its cost prohibitive for me. I live on a small suburban lot so I don't have the same challenges as you do. Distance, cover, etc aren't as much of a problem for me.

    Either they are in my small yard, or in my house, or they ain't my problem. Generally. If something goes bump in the night I have a weapon mounted flashlight and another flashlight in my pocket. I've got a night vision monocular that I use on occasion, though I bought it mainly for disturbances that might arise on a city block/neighborhood level after a storm or other disaster (eg. seeing looters before they get in my lap).

    Maybe in your circumstances you could use the handheld Monocular to scout the area and identify cause of the uproar before coming out of cover or lighting up with a conventional light? Once you've got an idea of "what and where" then you could ditch the monocular and use a high lumen (200 lumen or better) weapon mounted light once you close on target.

    Short of dropping the cash for a weapon mounted IR sight I don't see another way to see the bad guy without him seeing you AND keep a weapon trained on them all at the same time.

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    1. Like you, the state of my exchequer doesn't extend to a first class night vision sight or device. I can see pretty darn good with the Night Owl, as long as the red security lights are on. They give it light to work with without causing the light burn white lights do. At night, the lights inside my home are all red as well. I know people will say this is crazy but I learned during my many floats with the Navy that red lights don't mess up your night vision when you step outside on a dark night. The Night Owl is an old piece of gear but it has an infrared projector mounted on it that gives it extra range. The big drawback is that it takes two hands to hold it while focusing, and one hand just to look through it. The tree line is damn near impenetrable even in winter, and in summer when all the vines and creepers are in full blush it's like a wall. Anything hiding just inside the tree line is going to be virtually invisible no matter what I do. At the moment, I'm doing what you suggest, going out and trying to identify the source of the problem either with the red security lights, the Night Owl, the dogs, or some combination there of. However, even if I take one of my lighter rifles, I can't fire it and hold that big Ryobi flood at the same time. When my son lived at home it was no problem, on those rare occasions when something was amiss I'd roust him out and he'd hold the light, I'd hold a rifle or shotgun. Now he lives up North and I haven't come up with a good solution. Both the fellows who commented up above feel like a muzzle mounted light is the way to go. I guess I couldn't be any worse off, I could hardly make myself a bigger target than I do with that Ryobi. Your last sentence is to the point. There may not be a better solution.

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    2. By the way, you are exactly right. Those are Morlocks. Colonel Cooper used to call bad guys Goblins or Morlocks, and the habit stuck with me.

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  7. It's kind of freaky when you think about it. I read a story about an Asian child that was born with blue eyes. He could see perfectly in the pitch dark. In fact his eyes glowed like a cats do. Kind of crazy!

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    1. That's a genetic trait I would be glad to have. My night vision was pretty good thirty years ago but now my vision has deteriorated significantly. I have to wear glasses to read or drive. I don't see well at night but then I am past sixty.

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  8. Since you mentioned your son in this situation, I got to thinking.

    Harry, as things deteriorate, assuming no sudden collapse, at what point do you call your kids home? Or do you? I know they are both adults at this point and have their own lives.

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    1. It depends on what happens. Some sort of societal disorder, they would have to get out of the city and I'm sure they'd leave as soon as that became apparent.

      A biologic outbreak of some kind, I'd get them out of there once it became apparent there was an issue. How soon that would be would depend on how honest the government was in informing the population of what was going on. Not that I have any faith at all in the government.

      They both have jobs but I don't think that would hold them in place if they needed to leave.

      That's really a judgment call and I'd have to base it on the particular circumstances and course of events. I'd try to err on the side of caution.

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  9. Harry, The only measurable advantage I see from a hand held light vs a weapon mounted light is that you are not muzzling everywhere the light goes. Then again up where you are that's not a huge issue as it is highly unlikely the neighbors toddler would sleep walk over.

    As to people shooting at the light so long as it's within arms reach of your body that is danger close for somebody shooting at a light. Most likely given goblin tactics it would be a half dozen rounds from an SKS into the general area which is problematic either way.

    Your NOD (good call by the way) in hand held mode is good for scanning but not shooting. Might be worth looking into whether the company makes, or is compatible with another, headset or helmet mount.

    Weapons lights are good for engaging targets at reasonably close quarters in the dark. It's worth noting you can certainly use them in a temporary on mode ie something is moving, light on, identify as goblin, bang, light off move. Short of a big money NVG/ IR laser combo this is probably the best way to actually identify targets at night. My defensive long gun has a light on it. Plan to put lights on almost every fighting long gun in due time.

    Tritium sights help hit that target though sometimes lights are bright enough for existing sights to do OK. Red dot's or illuminated reticle low power scopes can work well at night.

    A weapon mounted light and night sights is definitely the basic "common man" fighting at night setup and can be had for $175-300+ depending on how brand choosy you are and the specifics of the gun involved. It's a good option. If you can adding a nod and a laser really pushes the capability but at a steep financial cost.

    For your situation and current gear I would use the monocle with your off hand. First scan from the house then if needed go outside. Tie a loop of string to it that can go around your beck. Have whatever long gun you choose slung in front readily accessible to your strong hand. If the threat is two legged you can let the monacle drop and bring a weapon to bear, though a weapon's mounted light would be handy here.

    Hope it gives you something to think about.

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    1. The general consensus is overwhelmingly in favor of a light mounted on the weapon so that's how I'll go. I should be able to find a decent one at reasonable prices and have had some good suggestions as to where to start looking. Almost all of my firearms are from the 1980's and 1990's, and none of them have an integrated rail. I can afford the light and a mount, but a night vision sight is probably out of my budget range though I have to look around and see what they are running. There was a time when they were in the three thousand dollar bracket but that was some years ago.

      I appreciate the advice. The input I've gotten has helped me crystallize a plan of action as opposed to just worrying about it. I know what I'm doing now is completely unworkable.

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    2. Harry, For a flashlight there are a lot of options. Some are full setups such as a shotgun pump forend, others are basically a double hose clamp (one side on the barrel of the gun, the other on the light). If you would like more specific advice drop me an email with the gun or guns a light will be mounted to.

      I think we might be talking apples and oranges. As to night sights. Tritium/ trijicon night sights are basically a normal iron sight with a little glow in the dark insert (like military compasses). They will let you see the sights at night. Cost is fifty to a hundred bucks.

      Night vision on the is like your Owl or more advanced stuff. Unfortunately there isn't much between the $300-500 cabellas/ sportsmens guide range and legit Gen III mil spec stuff running about 3k. Good luck with the new plan.

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    3. Ryan, I'm tracking those issues. I think I just want a double clamp mount like you see in Cheaper than Dirt. I've never had night sights on any of my weapons. My understanding is that tritium degrades over time, is that correct? If so, I wonder how long a one hundred dollar sight would last?

      Night vision sights would be nice but I don't have the money to spend 3000 on a good unit so that's out. Besides, if I have a white light on the gun, night vision won't work too well. Or has it changed significantly since my Night Owl was made? That's always possible.

      I'll get something modestly priced and practical. I don't need the best for what I have in mind so it will have to be a compromise between performance and cost.

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    4. Harry, Makes sense. IIRC the half life of tritium is 12 years. So if you order new sights today in 12 years they will be half as bright.

      As to shooting. It really is a white light or NOD choice. Personally I like lights for room clearing/ fighting in structures and NODs for more open spaces.

      Getting a bit under 3k for a NOD and $600ish for a laser is hard. Food for thought; you have quite a quite a gun collection. Selling 2-4 guns you probably haven't shot in years and likely wouldn't notice missing without doing an inventory would pay for a PVS-14 and a DBAL IR laser. A full bore night fighting setup is are FAR more likely to save your life than rifle #16 and pistol #19.

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    5. Ryan,

      It's never rifle #16, it's "The K98 that was built in Czechoslovakia, then rebuilt in Israel in .308. It was surplused by Israel to Costa Rica, then sold to Century International Arms and imported. I got it from that old guy who used to live over by where the grist mill was on Panther Creek." Your generation is all about efficiency but there's no romance in it's soul. ;-)

      I know I need the items you mentioned, and I can move some money from one pocket to another to get them. Probably long past the time when I should have done so.

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  10. Has anyone recommended an old fashioned headlight...I keep about six around the house and in my rig and GHB.

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    1. If you are wearing a headlight and they are shooting right at the light wouldn't they be shooting right at your head? I actually considered some sort of headlight when I first started thinking about this but that seemed a pretty detrimental aspect. Of course, as Ryan pointed out, just because somebody shoots at something in the dark from a distance doesn't mean they will hit it.

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