Monday, May 25, 2020

Cheap & Awesome Handgun Training with Airsoft

Cheap & Awesome Handgun Training with Airsoft

We live in an amazing time where we no longer need to bang away with high priced ammo and can now reach for many of our same gun models chambered in cheap-to-shoot caliber options. For handguns we have numerous clones of popular defensive caliber handguns now in airsoft options hit the market in the last few years. Let’s take a look at a few of the great options available. 

UMAREX Options - Umarex offer various air-powered pistols from Beretta, Browning, Colt, Elite Force, GLOCK Airguns and Airsoft, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, T4E, Tactical Force, Umarex USA, UZI, and Walther. If you want to train cheap, Umarex delivers really great quality and reliability with a legacy of great support. 

Walther USA also owns Umarex USA which is the definitive source for air powered BB, Pellet, Airsoft, Training, and paintball marker pistols that mimic the look and feel of the real defensive pistols. In fact all are licensed versions of each respective firearm company. 

Walther PPQ M2 - The PPQ has a well renowned reputation as the world's most comfortable handgun. My PPQ 9mm gets shot a lot, but thankfully I have options that are less expensive to shoot. Among those options within the Walther family is a complete series of Walther PPQ M2 pistols in various 9mm & .40 S&W PPQ defensive pistols, PPQ .22LR models, and then a host of PPQ pellet, BB, airsoft, and marker pistols from Umarex for training use. One of the primary reasons I love my PPQ format is that I can seamlessly train from the same holster with my 9mm, .22LR, airsoft, and paintball marker pistol versions and for the most part they all give me a similar weight to the 9mm version.

With the airsoft and paintball models, I can move into a backyard, or urban training environment with a high margin of safety for more dynamic and realistic person to person training. In the midst of COVID backyard airsoft training has been such an amazing tool. In most cases you can shoot airsoft for about $20 per 5000 rounds which is exponentially lower in cost than even .22LR ammo. My personal favorite backyard targets are the Rubber Dummies rubber targets. Even Airsoft rounds will flake off paint and indicate hits on this target. I probably have 50K+ rounds through the three PPQ airsoft models I own - phenomenal training fun.

Walther also offers BB, Pellet and .43 caliber Marker pistols. I recently picked up a Marker pistol to add as a backup for paintball but it is a much more serious training option. The PPQ Marker is part of the Umarex/Walther T4E training solutions for LEO and military departments. For force on force training, airsoft hurts and delivers the needed indicator that a shot has landed. The .43 Caliber Marker pistol pictured here is even more of an incentive to think about how you are engaging opponents with the option of both paintball and the even more painful reusable .43 caliber hard rubber ball ammo. For those that are extremely adventurous there are also aftermarket .43 caliber pepper mace ammo available which could be used as deterrent ammo in a defensive situation. Umarex markets the marker pistols and airsoft line as significantly less expensive options to expensive simunition rounds. Across the PPQ training stack, there is a model to choose to fit your training needs even if you prefer a pellet or BB option.

Glock - At one point Glock took itself way too seriously and would not consider .22LR or airsoft versions of their G19 and G17 pistols and the result were knockoff pistols that lacked a lot of reliability. Times have thankfully changed and now there is a Glock G44 .22LR for cheap and reliable range training and licensed partnership with Umarex offers a variety of GLOCK Airguns and Airsoft branded models in airsoft, pellet and BB pistols. Our Glock trainers shown in this article are the G44 which has already had thousands of rounds of .22LR pushed through it as a low cost range training and plinking option of the G19 format pistol. The G44 has been a fantastic little pistol, however I do wish I had a suppressor option for it. 

When we get into non-lethal training options, I personally love the sub-cent cost option of the Umarex Glock Training airsoft G17 especially for room clearing training and doing drills which could be potentially dangerous such as very close target draw, charge, and shoot drills. 

There are plenty of options on the market now, but these are some fantastic options. In the midst of our global containment, many of us are not getting to the range as much as we would like. The result is either not training or getting out to training with non-lethal options in our garages and backyards. When we do get to the range, why not save a bit more cash with a rimfire option. Get out practice, train, and save some cash.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Holster Modifications for Comfort and Safety

Holster Modifications for Comfort and Safety

If you are a new concealed carry owner, one of the most frustrating things is to find a holster that fits, is safe and comfortable to fit your daily lifestyle. There are a ton of great holsters out there, however every body shape is different and even the most incredibly comfortable holsters on the market can benefit from a little tuning to make them fit better, chaff less, and remain comfortable longer.

I have been doing leatherwork since I was about eight.. so a while, and have done a bit of kydex work as well. Over the years, I have learned a few tips for holster modifications that can transform an uncomfortable chafing holster to one which seems like it was made for me. There really are only a couple key inexpensive tools I use: a lighter, combo 180 & 240 grit nail black files, Bick’s Leather conditioner, threadlock, and occasionally a ¾-inch piece of shrink wrap. Generally I like to wear a holster and mark the pain or discomfort generating areas with a Sharpie, some of these will be sharp edges, some will be over-formed kydex, stiff leather, or pop out areas of kydex that can be sanded down flatter. Other times that will be non-skin side areas that are delivering unusual wear to my cover garment, belt or pants.

Lighter - Kydex is an extremely forgiving material. A little heat on each side of an area of the holster that is digging into you, an over-formed contour, or an edge that could be bent inward a bit can easily be heated and adjusted again and again. A lot of times I am heating and bending in the top and edges of holsters and tucking in other edges. Some holsters have gaping openings which can be molded into the gun a bit better for increased comfort. A lighter is an amazing tool to tuck in those edges and deliver huge comfort gains.

Combo 180 & 240 Grit Nail File - Leather will break in and round naturally and Kydex can be heated and bent. Often I find that the edges of kydex and leather are cut with sharp edges and sanding a rounded 45-degree bevel can deliver a life-changing comfort level. Sand a bit and try it. It is hard to believe that a simple nail file can really deliver huge improvements with a few sanding tweaks in areas where you are chafing. A small strip of sandpaper or round file can be used to round plastic and kydex belt loops to prevent them from chewing up your belt.

Bick’s Leather Conditioner - For hard or stiff leather a good soak down with Bick’s Leather Conditioner can clean up and condition a sweat stained leather or loosen up stiff new leather. The awesome part about owning a bottle of Bick’s is that anything leather will look spectacular again with a wipe down. For hard leather holsters there is no quicker way to get them broken in and comfortable.

Shrink Wrap - Steel belt loops can tear up pants and belts. An appropriate large sized shrink wrap over the steel belt loops can prevent pants and belts from getting chewed up. 

Threadlock - If you have any holster with screws you need to use red permanent thread locker to lock every screw down. Even if they seem tight, they will loosen at some point. Pull every screw and thread lock them.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Why Arlo Cameras Suck for Security and A Few Great Alternatives

Simpli-Safe is a better option
Why Arlo Cameras Suck for Security and A Few Great Alternatives

A few years ago, we decided that in addition to our security system we wanted to add some Arlo cameras for wireless flexibility beyond our wired system under the assumption they would be easy and flexible to use - We were wrong.

Initially, the idea of the Arlo camera marketing hype is easy setup, HD video, and remote anywhere video monitoring all with the convenience of wireless battery operation. The Arlo system has a lot of limitations that make it almost useless as a security system; notable problems are significant live video latency, very short battery life, poor night vision, very limited range, flaky app and overall system, requirement for high number of resyncs, and some truly mind-reading mystical stuff that seems to shut the system down any time you actually want to use it for something important.

We bought the Arlo system via a Costco value pack and once we had laid out that $300, we added to it with replacement, upgraded and newer camera versions - looking back we should have just returned the whole thing. With that noted, if you want a completely wireless system that is battery operated the Arlo Pro is still a horrible choice with better options being the Blink XT2 and EufyCam E with solar panel option for significantly less money.

The dependency on the very limited range of the base station is problematic at best in a realistic home setup. The overall latency on the system with live video is pretty bad at about 10-30 seconds depending on the teenage-girl mood swing of the Arlo system that day. Arlo also seems to have an extremely sketchy voodoo-esk ability to sense when you need to see what is going on the most and then go completely offline. There is also the insanely short battery life on the Gen 1 models which eat CR123 batteries at a rate that was shocking. The Gen 1 cameras also had a high failure rate for me of 50% in the first two years. The newer rechargeable versions with audio were better, but the range was still horrible with the base station and a new updated based station did nothing to improve my performance. 

When they do work, the Arlo system is still problematic, only working 20-30% of the time and are slow to respond even when they are working right. The joke in our household is to shoot first and look at the Arlo later and a friend jokingly noted that Arlo cameras are basically to record the aftermath. Access to Arlo has three major problems, the range and connectivity to the base station is horribly short, when Arlo video does work it is slow to start up with a huge lag between the live feed and reality and the entire system mysteriously goes offline with high frequency. If you do have power failures, mini-blackouts like we do, each Arlo has to be power-cycled individually and sometimes completely re-synced with each power cycle. There is also an obvious scaling issue - the more cameras the slower your camera response will be.

So I don’t get deluged with Technical Tom to the rescue of how awesome Arlo is, be assured I already went the route of working with the retailer, working with Arlo support, and spent weeks online cruising support sites. The reality is that hundreds of others have the same issues I have experienced. The problems are not isolated to the Arlo components I have, my network, my wireless carrier, or the app on my phone. In short “I” am not the issue, the Arlo system is just extronarily lacking compared to many other systems like wired systems, Simplisafe or other wireless options I have tested in my home. For the money SimpliSafe seems to be leagues better with video when you need it, but a wired system is the way to go for reliability and speed every time.

Troubleshooting my base station’s range issues required me to relocate a hard wired connection to a geographically central base station location to allow connection to the cameras around the house and accommodate the ridiculously short base-station range. That did resolve the range issue, but every camera still has average level connectivity. It is ridiculous a system designed to be used in a home that requires the base station to be moved around to tune in the cameras like an old fashioned TV antenna. Not sure how I can have triple the range of my WiFi around the outside of my home, but a security camera manufacturer only has a realistic 25 ft range in a home - the Arlo tech is just a bad system all around.  Simpli-Safe has a base station and does not have this issue at all. 

Response, lag and latency - Whatever the lag or delay is, the battle is over to see who is at the door before the Arlo image comes online. Even your more patient friends are screaming “WTF dude answer the door”. When the system is actually online, it is a good 30-60 second wait to see what is going on 90% of the time.  Arlo will not deliver the information you want to see at the speed you want to see it when bumps and bangs happen in the night. If this is why you are buying Arlo move on to something else.

The night vision is OK but very limited in the range, the Gen 2 with talk-back and listen features is marginally better. If you think that you can put an Arlo on your deck overlooking your driveway, the built in IR light is just not powerful enough to deliver visibility. My workaround was to leave my drive lights on all night and it actually did work well, but there was no night vision involved. Realistically the IR night vision is good across one “smalls” room only.

The last problem is so infuriating it makes me want to turn all the cameras into skeet fodder for my shotgun. The problem is that somehow Arlo seems to sense when I have left the house and have a pressing need to remotely see if the delivery was left, why a sensor alarmed, or just to check that my Dad and dogs are alive while traveling. Arlo works perfectly when I am home, but any time I really want to see what is going on, ARLO is freaking OFFLINE. Why it does this apparently Arlo or no one on the internet knows, however there is another work around for a system that has worked somewhat. We use a Wemo WiFi plug and remotely reboot the Arlo base station and hope like hell that it comes back online and that the cameras do not need to be resync’ed when they come back online. It works about 40% of the time, but the rest of the time Arlo requires multiple reboots and sometimes requires an insanity inducing process of pulling down all the cameras and resyncing all the cameras which never…. ever want to sync up the first time. 

Here are some options that I think work well as alternatives:
Run the Wire for wired Camera System - If you want reliability and fast response without latency, just run the wire for a $1000+ multi-camera wired system. I have yet to talk to someone who notes these wired systems do not work right. My recommendation is to stick with POE - Power Over Ethernet using CAT5e or CAT6 ethernet cable. This is basically network cable but carries power. Almost all the outdoor security systems use this as a power source - thought they may need a power adapter. CAT5e and CAT6 cabling are thicker wire cables than standard CAT5 and in theory can carry more current/power. I used all CAT6 in my wiring and have never looked back. As I added SimpliSafe cameras to my wired system, you can buy POE power adapters to run anything that is USB powered, so even the USB plug-in powered SimpliSafe cameras can be powered via some remotely located POE CAT6 Ethernet network cable. You can daisy-chain things together with POE CAT6 like also powering an outdoor wireless hotspot or support very long runs for wired security cameras. If you have long-runs and want to support longer ranges, I would go with a wired system. A word of advice, if you are going to take the trouble to pull one CAT6 wire, pull two or three as spares.

USB Powered System - We recently added a Simpli-Safe system as a replacement for Arlo and it worked well, but has the condition that it needs constant USB power provided via a very long USB power cord and AC adapter. I have powered a few exterior Simpli-Safe cameras with POE adapters and overall been really happy with the system overall and the camera doorbell is excellent.

Other Wireless - It is too bad that the Arlo system just does not work as advertised, the idea is cool, however with competitors like SimplySafe, XT2 and EufyCam E with solar panel option, there is no reason to consider Arlo as the only option.

TrailCams -  If you really just want to capture what happened from a historical perspective, I highly recommend a HD Trail Camera. There are now about $100, deliver higher resolution and better night vision than any security camera I have tried and can record hours and hours of video and thousands of pictures. Most people use security cameras to see what happened in the past versus to see real time feeds, so in my mind this is a better option for most people.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Weight There's More - Bullets vs Backs

Liberty Ammo 9mm +p
Weight: 50gr, Velocity: 2000 FPS,
Kinetic Energy: 450 FPS
Weight There's More - Bullets vs Backs

About seven years ago, I was at a launch event for Liberty Ammo and was pretty blown away with their ultra-light 50gr 9mm defensive rounds which are actually more powerful than super heavy rounds. We shot into ballistic gel, full pork bone in shoulders, through car doors, through car windows, and a lot of different household building materials. The result of that testing was rather fantastic to see what a 50gr 9mm round can do traveling at 2000+ ft/sec delivering a whopping 450+ Ft/lbs. of energy. It makes sense, after all the 5.56/.223 round is built on the same concept of a light bullet traveling at high speed. I have continued my personal performance testing of various lightweight bullet rounds including Interceptor ARX, Liberty, and HPR ammo.

What is interesting is that these rounds perform similar or better than heavier rounds, but they are obviously a whole lot lighter and this started me thinking - Weight there’s More. The heavier the bullets, the more weight my back has to carry and the weight based in grains is a simple linear weight increase from 50gr to 147gr math but what does a grain weigh.

For example, a 50gr bullet is 0.114 ounces and a 147gr bullet is 0.336 ounce. If we look at this from a purely bullet weight perspective of a 17+1 Glock G17, 18 rounds of bullet weight that is 6 ounces for the 147gr rounds vs 2 ounces for the 50gr rounds. With one full mag in the grip. and an extra carried, that is a ½-lb difference in carried weight between the light and heavy rounds. Considering a backup Ruger LCP only weighs 9.4-ounces you can almost carry a spare LCP as a backup with the weight difference or …. your pants won’t sag as much.

The weight difference gets worse if we start looking at the ammo quantities carried in bug-out and get-home bags when packing some type of AR pistol or PCC - Pistol Caliber Carbine. Usually people are packing four 30-round magazines where weight can add up quickly and especially if someone is packing a 300 Blackout or PCC with heavy bullets. 

Including only the bullet weights without cases powder and magazine the below 30-round bullet weights would make me want to carry the lightest bullet weight available in a get-home bag.  
30 - 40gr bullets = 2.74 ounces, X four mags 11oz
30 - 63gr bullets = 4.25 ounces, X four mags 17oz
30 - 110gr 300 BO bullets = 7.5 Ounces, X four mags 30oz
30 - 220gr 300 BO bullets = 15.09 ounces, X four mags 60oz

A friend of mine notes regularly he carries a 300 Blackout in his get home bag with heavy subsonic rounds so he will deliver heavily hitting and lower noise. Not at bad concept at all, but the weight is a back killer for a lightweight get home bag. The reality is that I could carry five mags of 40gr 5.56 defense ammo for the same weight as one 220gr 300 BO magazine which is a whole boatload more firepower. That is a substantial 3-lb weight difference if four mags are carried is the equivalent of being able to carry an extra loaded Glock G19 + one extra full mag of even super heavy subsonic ammo. If you load down to the typical 6-8 magazines carried by the military, the weight differences get worse. 

Everyone has to do their own testing and not believe everything that they read on the internet, but I am impressed with what 40gr varmint rounds deliver for a defensive need with significantly less over penetration risk than other rounds. Pass through shots on targets are a big concern in dense urban environments and especially in chaotic situations. I own 300 BO guns and know the awesomeness of the caliber; however, I don’t like it enough to carry three extra pounds during a duress based 20-mile sprint home or make the choice to shed extra ammo.

The 40gr ballistic tip is also my preferred round for a get home bag and saves weight. I also like the very deep penetrating high weight retention copper alloy 50gr GMX Full Boar Hornady hunting round rounds as an option for woodsy outdoor type get home situations. The 40gr ballistic tips are super flat shooting with a lot of power and extreme power delivery and insanely accurate in my 10.5” barreled Faxon backpack gun. 

What I learned is that weight is weight and math matters. After playing around with some get home bag options, my hope is that I am on the move and ahead of anything potentially really baddies that shoot back. If I want to be light and save my back I can or I could use the weight savings on light rounds to add a mag of M855 rounds to punch through barriers, an Angle Armor backpack Level III panel, a spare G17 magazine and an extra bottle of water.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Masks Filters and Cleaning Explained for Coronavirus COVID-19 Protection

Masks Filters and Cleaning Explained for Coronavirus COVID-19 Protection

As of February, 2020 it would seem the Coronavirus COVID-19 is no joke of a virus. It has reportedly infected tens of thousands and potentially killed hundreds with a kill rate of greater than 2% with modern medicine. Experts are saying it may be the most deadly virus ever including the Spanish flu of the early 1900s and even the legendary European Black Plague which estimates note killed 30%-60% of the European population. Sadly as of early February, we know very little, however we do know the pandemic spreads and that is by air, aerosolized spray and direct fluid contact. With the exceptionally obvious rules of don’t touch stuff and wash your hands insanely frequently, what other precautions should be taken.

My site, Major Pandemic, was founded on a common sense preparedness strategy, so I am not advocating taping doors and windows, pulling out the Tyvek body suits and covered face respirators just yet for COVID-19 .. but you do have those, right? Here in the US, we fortunately have a much higher standard of hygiene than most other countries. Though I did really second guess that assumption after watching a few Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen episodes.

This should be in the no shit category, however it is most likely the most missed obvious part of hygiene and the biggest threat in a pandemic. Wash your freaky little hands… and not that splash and three rubs before hitting the paper towels just so your buddy does not think you are gross; I mean a real thorough hand washing.

After recently visiting Paris, I would say our US hygiene is still WAY higher than France’s for sure. Those friends who have been to China have all noted the obvious, that the country as a whole is not at the hygiene standard of the US and terrifyingly far below Paris. Hygiene can prevent catching a crapload of viruses, bacteria, and infections and also prevents them from spreading. Ten out of ten doctors will say that ritualistic meticulous hand washing for a full 30-seconds and attention to general daily hygiene is the greatest tool in the protection against the spread of all things we think of in the realms of Pandemics. What else can we do to step our daily hygiene to prevent the spread of a disease, virus or infection? Before we break out the hardware of masks and gloves, let’s look at cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers.

Without getting into weird industrial cleaners and sticking to the most common available cleaners, the next set of tools are generally topical antibacterial disinfectants with alcohol contents of 60% or higher and bleach based cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers and sterilization.

First it is important to understand that there is a difference between each group of cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers, sterilization, and barriers. Lets say your dog drops one on the carpet. The glove provides a barrier while you use “cleaners” help get the brown out after you scoop up the turd. Of note not all disinfectants/sanitizers or sterilization are good cleaners, so often you need to use a combination of barriers, cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers and sterilization to things to both look clean and become sanitized or sterile.

The disinfectants kill a huge amount of germs, are generally cheap, and make you feel better that it is clean or smells clean, but you still would not likely stick your tongue on the carpet after disinfecting/sanitizing.  Disinfecting/sanitizing is the step hospitals take which technically reduces organisms significantly by up to 99.99%, but up to could be a big variance. Still though, 99.99% is still not tongue to carpet worthy.

Sterilization is the process of hot steaming and object usually in a vacuum or with pressure continuously for about 20 minutes which does kill all - 100% of all organisms.  One reason I love industrial steam cleaning services for carpets - its not only clean, but it is really insanely close to sterile. After the carpet was sterilized, it would be cleaner than before the turd hit, yeah mentally I am pretty sure you could get the point of tongue tip to carpet. Sterilization is so clean that surgical instruments that were stuck inside one patient in the morning, are stuck in another in the afternoon after being sterilized. Steam sterilization is what my germaphobe wife deems as clean and we are on our sixth steam cleaner I believe.

Cleaners - The range is wide from foaming cleaners, to orange oil and natural cleaners. They get the brown out, clean the surface, but usually have little or no disinfecting abilities. Due to pressures of moronic uninformed consumers, many previously great every day cleaners that did kill 99.9% of germs have now removed disinfecting alcohol or bleach additives. For example, ever notice that Scrubbing Bubbles no longer notes “kills 99.9% of household germs”.

Disinfectants/Sanitizers - Alcohol, Bleach, Electric Steam Mops
Good old drug store isopropyl alcohol or the right ratio of regular laundry bleach or just 212-degree steaming H2O in contact with a surface for a period of time does an excellent job of disinfecting/sanitizing surfaces and objects. The amount of time any of these sanitizers are in contact with the target surface is critical though.

Isopropyl Alcohol 70% is available at any drugstore or superstore and in gel form as a hand cleaner. There is a reason pretty much every hospital, doctor, dental office and even the TSA use this as a disinfectant in a simple spray bottle. That reason is it works extremely well for simply disinfecting is due to being almost completely effective to its potential in just 10-seconds on contact. It is not hard on skin, tools, and equipment with constant use, is cheap, but it does not work well on super viral viruses. Of note, no matter how long you soak something in alcohol it will still not be sterilized… maybe close, but the really bad stuff can live through a soak. You will see that alcohol is often combined with other slower acting cleaners such as bleach to enhance the instantaneous cleaning power. Overall a fantastic cleaner that I even use as a general purpose gun parts cleaner that is also very handy for household/automotive/shop cleaning, and good for quick cleanups when returning to a vehicle. Currently experts are saying 15-second exposure to 70% isopropyl alchohol effectively kills the Coronavirus, however we still know so little about this virus.

Bleach - First I will not that Ammonia is also a good cleaner, but really only good for hard surfaces and if accidentally combined with bleach creates hydrochloric acid which is not something you want to made accidentally inside a home without protective equipment. I generally recommend bleach first. In the right proportions, bleach is super effective up to 99.9% in laboratory tests. Good old Clorox wipes still have enough bleach to kill pretty much anything around us from a bacteria or virus perspective, however again time is critical. Clorox wipes recommend a 4-minute saturation to assure the maximum effective sanitizing/disinfecting power is achieved. Typical laboratory tests note 4-5 minutes of a diluted bleach solution sufficiently kills 99.9% of germs and viruses.

  • Bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (Standard Clorox Bleach is about this concentration) is super flexible and could be used for everything from making potable water, to general cleaning, to sanitizing. For each use, common bleach should be diluted as follows:
  • Emergency Water Purification - 2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart of water OR 8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water OR 1/2 teaspoon Regular Clorox Bleach per five gallons of water.  If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages of Clorox Bleach. Only use Regular Clorox Bleach (not Fresh Scent or Lemon Fresh, etc).
  • General Disinfecting/Sanitizing - 1:99 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 1litre of water) can be used for general household cleaning.
  • Heavy Duty Sanitizing with Bleach - 1:49 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 0.5litre of water) is used with a full 5-minutes wetting of surfaces to kill 99.9% of germs surfaces or articles contaminated with vomitus, excreta, secretions or blood. Used cleaning tools should have a 30 minute soak in the higher concentration formula above.
Electric Steam Mops - The Bissel model has been rated continually as the best and after owning four in our home, the Bissel has held up better than the other brands. The idea is simple, add water, it is heated to a germ/virus annihilating 212-degrees F steam. A washable cotton mop cover is added and you work back and forth over the floor. These things are rather fantastically amazing and clean surfaces you “thought” were clean before to a disguising level. Kind of like when you first got one of those new high suction vacuums with the clear chamber. You saw how filthy everything was with your old vac. The steam cleaner is like that during the first couple uses. For actual sanitizing, you need a full 30-secs minimum of contact or repeated passes. 

Sterilization requires either submersion in a full rolling boil for two minutes or use of some type of heat, steam and pressure contraption. A pressure cooker is basically what the hospital uses with the Autoclave. However, some autoclaves are vacuum pressurized. Water is a good sterilizer, but again it does take the appropriate heat and time. 

Barriers & Filters/Respirators
Barriers are pretty simple devices that include Tyvek body suits, googles, shoe booties, and rubber gloves. They also include surgical masks, because these masks have little ability to filter, have non-sealing gaps and are only designed to provide a barrier between the wearer’s exhalation and others. Again they are designed to provide an inexpensive simple device to protect you from the wearer. An update from a reader who is a DR was to assure readers understand that basic surgical masks DO NOT provide inhalation protection against viruses because of the typical gaping fitment and filter micron rating and are only a cough/spit/expelled fluid barrier to offer simple barrier protection for others from the wearer. To be clear, basic surgical masks are of little value in protecting yourself from inhalation of a virus or bacteria.

Filters/Respirators are something different and seal against the face completely, allow preferably 0% air leakage and filter, are N%, R% or P% rated and filter the intake air for the wearer. Exhaled air is usually unfiltered and directly vented through a simple valve assembly to ease breathing. When we talk about protecting ourselves from others with a pandemic we are talking about wearing filtered air respirators which come in a disposable packs in the paint isle of the hardware store, to dual filter 3M 6001 rubber respirators, to those full face mask versions they wear with rubber suits you see on the virus plague movies. If the survivors have to slip on a $140 6000 series 3M full face mask respirator, I figure we are all screwed, so that leaves the first two options.

These are relatively cheap, however there is now some hoarding going on so prices are bumping up. What to look for is a N95 rated mask at a minimum which is NIOSH approved (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). This means you have a N (Not rated for Oil) filter that will filter out 95% of all .3-micron or larger contaminants, viruses, bacteria. SARS was a .1-micron virus, so it could technically get through, however most doctors say this is unlikely since you will likely not just have one virus cell. Its probably going to come in a droplet form which a N95 respirator would capture. 

Why not a better or finer filter. There are N99 filters which capture 99.9% of .3-micron contaminants, however unvented N95 and N99 respirators reduce breathing efficiency by up to 37%. If you have any breathing issue you should not be using a respirator without consulting a doctor because you could suffocate. Vented respirators improve breathing efficiency but breathing is diminished by about 15%. The bottom line is that any finer filter is really hard on the breathing of a wearer and usually if there is that concern for really minute filtration, tanked air is the favored option along with powered respirators. Again if we see government folks with tanked air or powered respirator units, it is already too late.

For the general public N95, and R rated (resistant to oil particulate) R95 and P (oil proof) rated P95 respirators are the only option. For disposable options that do not make you look like you are imitating my logo, N-rated filters are about the only option. 3M and other industrial and healthcare suppliers deliver top rated products such as the 8511 N95 respirator disposable mask, however if you want something cooler looking there are options like RZ Mask which do not carry the NIOSH or N rating, have published independent laboratory results which exceed those ratings. 
The next tier of respirators are almost exclusively thought of as spray paint respirators. These are usually half masks made of rubber and/or silicon and feature a large full vented nose and mouth coverage with dual filter attachment points. These filters usually combine a replaceable ¼-inch p95 filter pad with an longer use activated carbon filter that further filters scents, and containments.

There are some specialized filters including the 3M 60923 which has a P100 rating plus Organic Vapor (OV) and AG (Acid Gas) rating, but just the replacement filters alone ar $20 a pop and still are only rated for 90 minutes. This is about as good as it gets for a public option for a filtered respirator. The N and P rated half mask filters are allegedly more than adequate to protect from airborne viruses. I will be the guy wearing these if I have to fly for work in the next few months. 

So there you have it. Keep clean, get some barriers and filters and live to fight another day.