Thursday, June 28, 2012

TAD Triple Aught Design Ranger Hoodie Review

TAD Triple Aught Design Ranger Hoodie Review


According to Mrs. Pandemic, I am a coat whore with no less that two closets filled with what could be or what might be a better jacket than the last.  Typically my purchasing satisfaction of a jacket wanes after a month, however not with the Ranger Hoodie and I am still all nerded out over the features, comfort and design.  I own stand alone jackets and those that can be layered... but somehow I still almost always seem to find myself wearing some type of Polar Fleece jacket 90% of the time as a layer or as something to throw on simply take the dog out on cold nights. 


Polar Fleece offers a lot of flexibility however most fleece jackets lack any useful amount of pockets, style, or features typically found on a dedicated jacket and are not really tailored to the tactically minded.  Enter the Ranger Hoodie from Triple Aught Design which offers a ton of style, pockets everywhere, and has a cut and features which add up to what I consider the ultimate survival jacket that can go anywhere and do anything.


ABOUT TAD - TRIPLE AUGHT DESIGN
Triple Aught Design was founded in 1997 by Patrick Ma; former US Army. His goal was to inspire people to explore their world by offering the best performing gear available with comfortable, high performance, durable, and reliable equipment. He founded Triple Aught Design with a signature focus on combining rigorous functionality with sophisticated design.  If the Ranger Hoodie is any indications of the design capabilities of TAD, they are obviously adding in a fair amount of innovation into their designs as well. 


One of the things I like most about Triple Aught Design is that they are obviously beating their own path of style, features and comfort.  All too often, we see one company offer a big seller and everyone scampers to replicate the product. TAD pays no mind to what others are doing and in the end I believe many of their products will be or are the ones others will attempt to replicate.  


Triple Aught is also obviously taking the time to think through how an owner will use the product and how they could evolve the product such as longer sleeves to assure your wrists are not exposed during a bow’s full draw or shooting in poor weather.... it is the little things on the Ranger Hoodie which set this all USA made manufacturer apart from every other jacket manufacturer in the market.


FIT & FEEL
The Ranger Hoodie has continued to evolve since its introduction in 2002. According to Triple Aught Design, this year’s customer feedback drove changes to a more evolved fit designed specifically to ease layering and increase range of movement in high speed activity. The result of a decade of refinements delivers one of the most comfortable and versatile coverings you can own. The heavy Polartec WindPro provides substantial warmth even in wind and rain without the weight.


TAD notes that when you are out in the field, a little comfort goes a long way, and I would add this is certainly the case in a survival or outdoor situation when things turn bad. The fleece of course is extremely comfortable, and the Polartec WindPro allows breathability while blocking wind. Other little features that add up to big fit and comfort improvements include a single panel running from the cuff, up the arm, and down the torso to the bottom hem.  This single panel enables a full range of motion. The Ranger Hoodie’s design allows you to move in a completely unrestrained way without any binding. At this point I have worn the Hoodie as a base layer, under body armor, stand alone, zipped and un-zipped and it has been extremely comfortable across all uses. Even the uniquely designed Aero hood lies flat on the upper back which reduces bulk around the neck.


FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
Made with DWR-treated Polartec WindPro blocks for times as much wind as a traditional fleece so it works extremely well as a stand alone outer layer. beyond the fit and upgraded Polartec WindPro, the next set of features and little refinements are what really set the Ranger Hoodie apart from any other. 



Although the fleece breathes, there are open armpit vents to allow extra ventilation at these mature hot points.  The hood itself has a special TAD Aero hood design which not only lays flat when not in use, but provides more coverage to the user when needed.  It even has a little built in fleece visor extension which I will note works great on sunny cold days.  The hood also has two 1” Velcro squares to attach Ranger eyes or glint squares. Ranger eyes are used by special forces to identify friendlies during night operations.
Armpit vents provide a huge
level of comfort



Zippers are also not standard fare.  The main zipper is a full front double coil Zipper with chin flap for comfort. All the zippers have looped pull tabs for easy use and have zipper garages on all pockets for a quieter jacket and cleaner look.



TAD has your backside covered with a lowered motorcycle back cut to keep all manner of butt crack or concealed carry firearm covered. For the polite and CCW holder, this extra material around back is yet another little refinement that makes the Ranger Hoodie something special. 


Let’s say you have your hands stretched out running and gunning and you notice in between cycling your Mossberg 500 that your wrists are nice and warm.  Taking a cue again from motorcycle jackets, TAD though it would be nice to add extra length to the sleeves for full coverage even when your arms are out straight... which they usually are if you are doing anything.  Along the way they even added thumb hole cuffs (I call them thumittens). The half-mitt thumbholes facilitate adding and removing layers easily while providing thermal protection when your gloves are off or during unexpected cold snaps.



There are pockets everywhere on this jacket however they are placed strategically to accommodate user wearing packs or web gear. I found the placement perfect for access to every day carry (EDC) items or for me I call it EDCS - Every Day Carry for Survival. For me this is a Zippo lighter, LED Lenser tactical Flashlight, large folding knife, fire steel, two heavy duty one gallon ziplock freezer bags, one large 50 gallon black trash bag, my phone and keys. 


Shoulder pockets are great for
lighters and flashlights



The Ranger Hoodie also sets itself apart from what is in the pockets. The chest and upper arm pockets include D-rings to secure gear, pen/knife pocket, and a reinforced rubber grommet to pass media or com cords through. The headphone/earbud cords can be routed through the grommet and secured to the cord holders on each side of the zipper channel - all nice touches which make your smart phone an integrated tool versus something you are always fumbling with.


Rigged for comm & music
rubber cord ports in main pockets
and cord holds on inner zipper seams.
The left wrist pocket is handy to small items in.  Tactically there are a long list of things that could go in this pocket however my dog insists that this is where the treats go.   On the back there is what many term as a field game or hunter’s pocket which opens on each side. Most will use it to stuff maps into however this is a very spacious pocket that could easily accommodate a small backup hydration pack such as a Platypus bottle.  The hunters pocket has been upgraded to be more discreet by integrating the zippers into the seams. All the pockets are mesh backed so that they breathe and stay clean and dry.




A little survival kit fit nicely in
the rear hunter's pocket.
Triple Aught Designs offers the Ranger Hoodie in both Patched and Unpatched versions and your choice of black, grey or loden green. Patched versions include loop at the bicep and on the back of the hood to accommodate TAD’s Ranger Eyes, traditionally used in military contexts to help distinguish between friend or foe during night missions.  I of course picked up a scan patch and can now Velcro on all my favorite patches.



FINAL THOUGHTS
The Ranger Hoodie covers a lot of ground from a feature perspective and arguably offers more features than any other fleece on the market all while being made right here in the USA. I have had this idea of the ultimate survival jacket in my head for about two years.  It is a singular jacket which can accommodate an extremely broad number of situations including cold, windy, rainy or simple shelter. 


Ultimately I was hoping to find this mythical object in 100% to also provide fire resistance, however the Polartec Wind Pro delivers in all of the other areas I considered requirements. A hoodie was also a requirement for me as it provides rain, wind and sun shelter and warmth when required all without carrying a hat.  The Ranger Hoodie also offers the build in thumittens which of course covers another need in a survival situation.  The fit and feel are quality are absolutely impeccable and is by far more than just a base layer and more than just a jacket -  the Ranger Hoodie is the ultimate survival jacket. 




SPECS
Material -                         Polartec® Wind Pro® 100% Polyester (10 oz)
Finish -                                 DWR Finish (Durable Water Repellent)
Patterning -                        Single Underarm Panels with Pit Vents
Hood Configuration -          Aero Hood Design
Hood Features -                Two 1”x1”Velcro Loop Squares on the Hood Accommodate Ranger Eyes Or Glint Tape (Available on Patched Version Only)
Chest Pockets -                Two Large Chest Pockets with D-Ring and Media Ports
Upper Arm Pockets -        D-Ring and Media Ports
Back Pocket -                   Single Large Double Entry Hunter’s Pocket
Forearm Pocket -             Left Forearm Only
Pocket Configuration -      All Pockets Feature Zipper Garages and Pull Tabs
Zipper Configuration -       Full Front Double Coil Zipper with Chin Flap and Pull Tab
Zipper Construction -        All Zippers are YKK® Zippers
Cuff & Sleeve Conf - Thumb Hole Cuffs Integrated into the Seam
Patches -                          Two Upper Arm, Die-Cut 3”x5” Loop Swatches for Accessory Patches
Hem Configuration -           Drop Back Hem (Provides SOB -Small of Back concealed carry)
Drawcord -                        Adjustable Locking Drawcord
Fit -                                   Active fitting cut
Logos & Labels -     One 1"x1" Loop Swatch with Logo Patch at Right Hip
Color Options -                 Black, Loden Green, UE Grey
Size Options -                   S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
Variations -                       Patch, No Patch
Made in the USA!
MSRP -               $239


SOURCES
Triple Aught Design
http://www.tripleaughtdesign.com

Monday, June 25, 2012

Akdal 1919 12 Gauge AR Shotgun Review

Akdal 1919 12 Gauge AR Shotgun Review


We have all asked for it, a AR15 that shoots 12 Gauge shotgun shells.  Seems like a simple request, however if it was so simple someone would have done it sooner.  Ucyildiz Arms of Turkey took on the challenge by developing the Akdal 1919 and has come closer than anyone has before with something feels and shoots like a 12 gauge AR15.


The Akdal 1919 is produced in Turkey by Ucyildiz Arms and imported into the US by RAAC Firearms the same ones who thankfully import the Saiga shotguns we also love.  I decided it was time to give this shotgun a whirl and see whether this was a viable defense and sport shotgun and what I found was a fast shooting AR15 scattergun.


FIT, FEEL & FUNCTIONING
The Akdal 1919 is comfortable, shoulders and points extraordinarily well and generally feels and operates just like a light AR15.  In the land of 8lb AR15s, this 6.5lb shotgun feels very light considering its overall larger size compared to your standard AR15.  This is a shotgun priced at around a $750+ street price so the polymer castings are a little rough in a few spots but still very well thought out, extraordinarily comfortable, and very ruggedly made polymer.  


The polymer sight and the polymer detachable A2 style carry handle/sight do feel a bit cheap however it proved durable and works to place shots where they are needed. I understand the copious use of polymer from a cost and weight perspective and judging from the rounds I put through this thing, durability was not an issue. This is a shooters shotgun not a wall hanger and some will note this is not a thing of beauty.  On the other hand, I dare you to attempt checking out of a gun shop with this thing without at least half a dozen people wanting to look at it and ask questions.  For most of us AR nuts, the Akdal 1919 is an awesome design that shoots as well as it looks.




FEATURES
The Akdal 1919 semi-automatic shotgun is a conventional gas-operated action which is located around the support tube that runs below the barrel along with the return spring. That mechanism is concealed by a polymer hand guard held in place with standard shotgun style retaining nut with sling attachment. The upper receiver is manufactured from an aluminum alloy while the lower receiver, pistol grip, and stock are manufactured as one piece from impact resistant polymer.  



The grip and buttstock are very comfortable to shoot with and the buttstock features a sling mount and thick rubber pad.  Although the ergonomics are good, I would have liked to see a design option where standard AR15 grip and 6-position stocks could be added, however on this version does not.



The MKA 1919 requires no gas system adjustment to shoot 2 ¾” or 3” shells and comes with two 5-round metal detachable magazines, one for 3” and the other for 2 ¾”. My advice is to buy a bunch of extra magazines in each size, as they tend to go empty pretty fast.  I am told high capacity 3-gun magazines are on the way - joy. 



Chances are only a few people will use the other chokes, however if you are a hunter or opt for the camo “BONZ” AKdal 1919 version either include three internal screw in chokes for lots of hunting versatility and comes with the Improved Cylinder choke installed.  The magazine release button, bolt release and safety lever all mimic the M16 rifle location as does the bolt release.  The manual safety also duplicates the M16 style being located on the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip.  The top of the receiver has a detachable picatinny mounted carrying handle.  With the carry handle/sight removed any optic or sight can be mounted to the upper receiver as you would any flat top AR. 



FUNCTIONS
Functionally the Akdal 1919 works like your standard Remington 1100. Fit and action overall was actually a bit tight and the action needed breaking in.  After several jams from my first box of shells, I contacted RAAC and asked what I was doing wrong.  They suggested I run it hard and charge it like I was mad at it through the first fifty to seventy rounds.  The Akdal 1919 does require a break-in period otherwise the fit is a bit too tight initially and you will have a few failure to feed issues here and there until everything is broken-in.  Four to five boxes of shells put the beat down on any tight spots and everything will feed and functions just like a Remington 1100 except you can just push in an extra mag to reload. After that break-in the Akdal 1919 has been phenomenally reliable, actually I have not cleaned it in over twenty boxes of ammo and it just keeps running.



You quickly forget the initial pains of the first couple boxes of shells once everything smoothes out.  The Akdal 1919 shoots so fast, smooth and softly with such little recoil that really fast shooting can take place.  Initially empty magazines did not drop free, however once they saw a little use, mags were dropping free and I was speed-loading another mag followed by another light recoiling 5 round shot string. 



This is without a doubt the most fun shotgun I have shot in a very long time and one I can and do shoot for an afternoon of drills.  The gas operated system manages recoil to a very light feel with 2 ¾” rounds and is still very manageable with the big 3” rounds.  Ergonomically, your mind thinks you are shooting an M16 and feels about like an AR10/308 format AR and I can see this would be a huge favorite for 3-Gun competitors once a larger capacity magazine comes out.


FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a cool looking shotgun which draws a crowd, and is a freaking blast to shoot fast and hard.  Get beyond the first 50-75 shells and problematic failures give way to smooth shooting and total reliability.  I can see new three-gun competitors hitting the field with the Akdal 1919 once the high capacity magazines hit the market.  I have heard and seen some customized Akdals with muzzle brakes and even six position stock modifications, however I have not tracked down who is doing these modifications, but I will try. 



Will I take this duck or goose hunting? You betcha and loaded with 00 buckshot it can also handle those intruder level varmints as well.  I guess we were all right to expect and ask for a 12 gauge AR15, because this is far too much fun to shoot whether you are a 3-gunner, rabbit hunter or someone looking for a good defense shotgun.


SPECS
Model - MKA 1919
Operation - Gas operated Semi-auto Shotgun
Caliber - 12 gauge
Range - 35 mt.
Weight (Empty) - 6 1/2 lbs 
Barrel Length - 47 cm.
Magazine Capacity - 5 Round
Safety - Manual safety lever
Overall Length - 96,40 cm.
Mobile shock - 5 cm — 10 cm — 15 cm 





SOURCES
RACC Firearms - AKDAL
http://raacfirearms.com/

The Mossberg Raptor Grip Review

The Mossberg Raptor Grip Review
With two steel plate and over a dozen screws in my dominant arm I am usually left swearing or wiggling my arm hoping feeling comes back after shooting high recoil firearms such as full 158gr .357 loads in my Ruger LCR, or in this case 00 buckshot with my pistol gripped Mossberg JIC II 12 Gauge Shotgun. 


The head scratcher is that I do not have that problem shooting a standard shotgun stock even from the waist, so why is the pistol grip so painful for me to shoot?  The biggest reason is that the recoil is not coming straight back because the hand and arm position are under the centerline of the barrel’s recoil with the wrist already 50% through its range of motion. The result is a lot of back and up recoil force leveraging on hand, wrist and forearm versus recoil straight back which could use the nature wrist, elbow, and shoulder as a spring. 



Additionally because wrist only has 50% of its motion left, once recoil occurs the wrist locks out quickly and then that back and up recoil of the pistol gripped shotgun moves where it attempts to flex to the forearm.  My arm with “extra reinforcement” does not flex which makes for really painful shooting. A standard shotgun stock locks the wrist all the way in the forward/down position which maximizes the range of “up” motion the wrist can offer during recoil and aligns the bones in the arm to structurally take the weight in a linear straight back manner.


A lot of people like pistol grips on shotguns because they do provide a lot of maneuverability, control and if needed in a rare circumstance eye level single handed shooting.  
Shockwave Technologies decided to develop the Raptor pistol grip for the Mossberg 500 shotgun platform which delivers substantially less felt recoil to the shooter in a very durable and comfortable grip. The Raptor shotgun grip may look familiar.  This style has been known as the birdshead grip, witness protection grip, chicken head grip, and the sawed off grip however the Raptor has a few refinements. 


FIT, FEEL & FEATURES
The Raptor shotgun grip fits Mossberg 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns from the 500, 590, 835, 600 series as well as the Maverick 88 shotguns. I bolted the Raptor up to my Mossberg JIC II packaged 12 gauge 500 series shotgun with the included hardware.  The fit is not perfect and had a slightly fatter and taller profile than the 500’s receiver to assure any sharp edges of the receiver are not exposed.  The grip did have one rough spot from the casting on the underside near the trigger gaurd; however this did not affect function or shooting comfort.  The fine textured surface gives your hand plenty to hold on to.



The solid fiberglass reinforced polymer Raptor grip feels far more comfortable and more substantial than the stock pistol grip. It has that once you are out of ammo use me as a club feeling; after all it is solid fiberglass reinforced polymer and is designed to take more a beating that your shotgun may be able to handle.


The big attraction to this grip is the substantial reduction of recoil; however there are a couple side benefits to this longer grip.  If you have your shotgun sticking out of your bug out bag, the handle could be mistaken for a machete versus screaming “I have a pistol gripped shotgun”.  This was one complaint I had with the JIC package was that assembled it sticks out of the JIC II pack.  Now the case just looks like a big machete sheath.



Although totally badass looking, style wise it is a little lower key if you just see the handle.  The other upside suggested by Shockwave is that according to the ATF a shotgun which has never had a stock attached, nor was intended or sold that way is not considered a shotgun or AOW (Any other weapon) by the ATF. 


Additionally Shockwave suggests that by installing the Raptor grip and shortening the barrel to 14” it will still be above the 26” or less concealable classification by the ATF which means with a Raptor gripped Mossberg cruiser or JIC series shotgun you could have a 14” barrel shotgun (26.5” overall) legally without any need for required ATF tax stamps which is an interesting idea for those that need a little more stock and a little less barrel.



FUNCTION
I love this grip. During testing I shot an a half 00 buckshot rounds plus another dozen BB rounds without any pain and at a cycle rate significantly faster than I was able to before. Frankly one round with the old pistol grip was a bit tingly for me and three rounds were downright painful. With the Raptor grip I could have easily shot another couple boxes. At least for me, a single handed eye level shot is tough to manage as you do not have the leverage like you do with the pistol grip; however I was far more accurate with waist and two handed eye level shots with the Raptor stock.  


FINAL THOUGHTS
Will I go back to the stock pistol grip on the Mossberg JIC II 12-gauge 500? No, probably not, however I will be able to look lower profile, shoot without pain, and hit my target more often which is the reason you are carrying the shotgun in the first place. If you have a Mossberg 500 or other compatible shotgun, I would highly recommend this grip and especially for those which are a bit sensitive to recoil.


SPECS
Material - Fiberglas reinforced Polymer
Retail - $29.95
MADE IN USA!


SOURCES
Shockwave Technologies
http://shockwavetechnologies.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rite In The Rain Review

Rite In The Rain Review

So there you are after something like 911, the tsunami, or any number of other disasters and you revert back to the only communication working which is pen, paper and bulletin board.  You and other pull out paper and start writing messages, contact information and overall health status, and location and you pin it to a community bulletin board in hopes someone gets your message. But then it rains maybe a little or not a lot and your note along with others become just a wad of illegible paper pulp which becomes washed down the sewer.

A less drama inducing situation may be that you work or play outdoors and need to take notes regardless of the weather.  Even a standard Moleskin notebook will not deliver the water protection performance needed to take and retain legible notes for sometime weeks on end.

The better option would be to use one of a larger number of paper product options from Rite In The Rain which are as you would guess are waterproof, weatherproof, and extraordinarily tougher as well.  After testing a pad I have carried around for a couple years which has seen a lot of use, I decided to contact Rite in the Rain to be able to show you a sample of the products they offer.

ABOUT RITE IN THE RAIN
Writing in the rain; who would have thought of this idea? Way back in 1920 the Jerry Darling invented the first version of Rite in the Rain paper for use in the Pacific Northwest Logging industry.  Jerry’s legacy has continued with a significant number of advancements in the Rite in the Rain papers, notebooks, and products.

Still all made in the USA, Rite in the Rain today offers a wide range of products for the needs of general purpose writing, tactical, recreational, agricultural, underwater (yes underwater), construction, and sportsman users.  Those products range from bound books, notebooks, loose leaf pages, copier/laser printer paper, all-weather pens, pads & forms, cover, complete kits, field planners, vinyl labels, index cards and a variety of other accessories... basically it you need to write outdoor or even underwater regardless of the amount of water, Rite in the Rain has a product to fit your needs.

TESTING
After a year of running a notebook through its paces I was impressed however a simple 30 second test you can do yourself will impress you more. Below are two sample notes, a plea for help and a response, one on Rite in Rain notebook paper and one on standard heavy stationary type paper. I ran these messages both under warm water for 30 seconds first crumpling them up into a ball then rubbing them against each other.  As you can see the results were dramatic in only 30 seconds of exposure. Poor Leia, she will never know Luke is on the way and may just succumb to Vador’s choking fetish. It does prove Rite in the Rain works!



FIT, FEEL, & FEATURES
BOUND BOOK POLYDURA COVER - N390N - $19.95 - 4 ¾” X 7 ½” - Lined journal with numbered pages.  
Rite in the Rain call this the extreme professional's bound book as it is the only notebook book manufactured with a hard smooth plastic PolyDura cover, the exclusive paper, the sewn-in pages, even the glue has been designed to survive the elements. 
Honestly I have been a Moleskin book snob for quite a while, however these are less expensive and far more durable so I have switched over to these for all my journals.
From my experience the PolyDura line are virtually indestructible to survive any apocalyptic scenario.

TACTICAL NOTEBOOK TAN - N946T - $4.75 - 4” X 6” - Universal line grid pattern pages. 50 sheets/100 pages. 
Like all the Rite in the Rain products, the Notebook line crams a huge amount of utility into a very small space with rulers and converters printed on the typically un-used inside and back covers.  

POCKET SIZED NOTEBOOK - N135 - $3.95 - 3” X5” - Universal line grid pattern pages. 50 sheets/100 pages.  


This is probably my favorite overall size to just have with you to jot down a license plate, phone numbers, and general notes and has some of the same features as the larger tactical notebook above.  
I paired this with the rather classy looking Leather Cover N33 $16.95 which provides all the weatherproof writing with something that looks good even in a boardroom.
BOUND BOOK TACTICAL KIT - N980T-KIT- $42.97 - BOOK 4 ⅝” X 7 ¼” - Perforated universal line grid pattern pages plus 16 pages of tactical reference material, including: sector sketch preparation, unit symbol charts, mission graphics, with pocket-ed cordura cover with zippered closure, all weather tactical clicker pen.



TAN & GREEN COPIER/LASER PAPER - $29.95 - 200 Sheets - By far the coolest stuff Rite in the Rain makes.  Pull up you needed map on Google maps or a Topo on USGS.gov and print off a weatherproof map.  
For those all-weather geocachers, general purpose maps, touring motorcyclist, etc. the uses are endless.  I use these for a large variety of purposes including printing off detailed Bug Out plans.

ACCESSORIES - Rite in the Rain also offers a large amount of accessories including all weather pens which I can attest to are the perfect companion to your all weather paper.
FINAL THOUGHTS
Weather and rain are unavoidable and sooner or later that notebook, note or critical info is going to get wet and damaged.  What I like most about Rite in the Rain products is that they are really not that much more than the typical quality notebooks, books, and papers we use currently.  They work as advertised, the paper holds up even after being soaked and for those studious types it can even be used underwater.  Best paper around and is a staple supply in every Bug out Bag I own as well as being used on a daily basis.

SOURCES
Rite In The Rain
http://www.riteintherain.com/

Country Living Grain Mill Review

Country Living Grain Mill Review

A few articles ago I reviewed several products from Pleasant Hill Grains designed for extended long-term grain storage. I am admittedly a big steel cut oat eater and a bit of a snob about the ingredient quality, grind and preparation of my preferred breakfast cereal. One of the things I realized through that article was that I was drastically overpaying for oats and other grains by the pound versus buying bulk and also that the flavor of fresh cut or milled grains is second to none.
Grains are wonderful extended food storage products which retain almost all their nutritional value if the grains are left intact/un-ground. After grinding the flavor deteriorates quickly, however for most households a coffee grinder or food processor is the only way to process bulk whole grains.  The best flavor from grains though is from grinding and this is where Country Living Grain Mill is so important to the prepper with a couple hundred pounds of grain or just the guy who wants a great bowl of cereal each morning.

ABOUT COUNTRY LIVING MILLS
Jack Jenkins founded Country Living Mills due solely to his own personal quest to grind his own grain.  Like many he believed stone grinding was the best and purchased a very expensive, heavy and loud electric mill with stone grinding plates and the results were far less than optimal. Through that brief ownership he learned and experimented with other grinding plates. 
His final design featured dual carbon steel cutting and grinding plates/burrs which far exceeded the grinding capacity of other plates and designs with more consistent grinds and less effort - the Country Living Mill was born.  Commercially “burr ground” grains and coffee are considered the most consistent on the market but Jack was the first to offer this for home grinders.
FIT, FEEL & CONSTRUCTION
There is something very special about an entire product these days with all metal construction, quality and feel.  After helping your UPS driver straighten up his back, the heft and design of the Country Living Mill takes you back to the 1900s age of steel when products were heavy and build for several lifetimes of use.  Recently I toured Hornady ammunition manufacturing and saw first hand how machines build right will still be in full production use almost a 60 years later and this is the quality and construction you will in the Country Living Mill.
This build-to-last for generations quality is exactly what I want for a mill I use daily each morning and will use when I have to process my bulk grain storage should “it hit the fan”.  The Country Living Grain Mill represents the ultimate in strength and durability, and the fit and finish are outstanding. The clean designed frame and hopper is made from heavy cast aluminum and coated with a super tough powder coat paint providing a simple mountable and stable grinding platform which will look good and last though loads of hard use.

A comfortable 7” hardwood handle gives you plenty of leverage to turn the cast iron operating flywheel which is also v-grooved should you decide you want to set up belt driven electric motor operation.  
The operating flywheel is matted to a standard .6” steel drive shaft and .174” key for flexibility in switching v-belt pulleys as needed. The mill has double sealed industrial bearing which are widely spaced to prevent shaft run out and minimize wear even during long motor driven grinding sessions. The remainder of the mill components is also built for generations of hard use with the two huge 5” carbon steel grinder plates/burrs, cast aluminum coarseness adjustment knob, four washers, a shaft key and a steel grain auger.

One of the things you will notice when turning the grinder is how smooth it operates and that the plates are perfectly aligned and matted together.  This all adds up to a smoother and easier operating mill which delivers more consistent grind quality

FEATURES & FUNCTION
Use of the mill could not be easier. Secure the mill to a work table via the four holes in the frame or pick up a mounting plate as I did which allows the mill to be clamped to any heavy stable tabletop or counter surface.  Once the mill is secured, add the amount of whole grain you need in the 4.5 cup hopper and start turning the wheel. 
Generally I start with a coarse grind setting and turn the crank a couple times and assure I have the grind I am looking for and then start cranking away.  Any grain which is too coarsely ground can be dumped back in the hopper and reground.  I am typically able to mill 1 cup of wheat flour in about 1.5 minutes, however I can crank through my 1 cup of rough cut oats in about 15-20 seconds. The morning’s coffee takes only about 30 seconds.  We had a party where we needed about thirty pepper encrusted burgers which requires a lot of pepper; the mill cranked out the required 1 cup of fresh ground pepper in no time.  Any dry food can be ground including herbs.
The Country Living Mill comes with a steel spring grain auger, however if you plan on grinding corn, beans, or coffee (the coffee grind is fantastic) you will want to pick up the optional stainless steel auger.  From my perspective I would highly recommend the tabletop clamp mount and steel corn auger as accessories as well as the $30 Just-In-Case repair kit with the essential parts most likely to eventually wear out.

The significant advantages to the Country Living Mill burr grinder plates are the delivery of a very consistent grind quality and a low temperature grind when compared to other grind methods.  Obviously a consistent grind is preferred in any circumstance, however many people do not think about the heat generated by other grinding methods.  A hot grind cooks out nutrients; the cool carbon steel burr grind of the Country Living Mill preserves nutrient quality.

I have talked about grinding a lot of different and different flavored items, so how easy are the mill to clean?  Easy.  Spin off the grind adjustment knob, remove the two washers and outer grinding plate and then just brush or blow out the plate and reservoir and re-assemble.  All this can be done in about two minutes, however unless I have ground pepper or coffee or plan to not use it for a while, I rarely worry about cleaning out the tablespoon of grains left in the grinder. That tablespoon of oats added to your ground bread flour will not affect a recipe or conversely will not affect your morning cereal.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I have used other mills in the past, used coffee grinders and food processors also to grind grain however the Country Living Mill is absolutely the best. Other mills and methods used have required second passes for fine grinds, or deliver consistent grinds, and heat the grains; the Country Living Mill does not. 

The Country Living Mill is not some pretty Stepford Wife kitchen accessory; it is commercial quality for the home and could easily be used for light production work. Every mill is even grind tested before it leaves the factory, however if you have a wheat allergy, they can provide one which has had not contact with the wheat.

Many will be surprised by the $429 price, however if you have priced industrial grade kitchen appliances these days an heirloom all metal grinder which can operate whether the light are on or off is a great deal.  In fact if the lights are off, it is the only grinder which I would consider owning.  If you are considering packing away buckets of long-term grain storage from Pleasant Hill Grains, a Country Living Mill retailer or another supplier, you need a grain mill and you need one which will actually work for years and year and year and the Country Living Mill in my opinion is the best of the best.
SPECS
13.5" tall
12" wide
10" deep, excluding handle.
Weight 17.7 lbs.
Flywheel diameter 12-1/4".
Hopper capacity is 4.5 cups.
Lifetime Warranty in manual operation
Free Shipping to 48 States
MADE IN USA!

COUNTRY LIVING MILL - $429
CORN & BEAN AUGER - $36.95
COUNTRY LIVIGING COUNTER CLAMP - $49.95

SOURCES
Country Living Mills
http://www.countrylivinggrainmills.com

Pleasant Hill Grains
http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/