Thursday, July 12, 2007


added helpful links at bottom friday 7-13-07


My Choice in "Plastic Pistols"

by Stephen Camp

I'll say up front that I prefer steel pistols, almost always in a single-action design, and that I think nothing looks better than well done bluing and quality stocks of walnut or rosewood. I guess that makes me a traditionalist. I have nothing against hard chrome, electroless nickel or some other finishes, but if use in extremely harsh environments for extended periods of time is not an issue, I'll go with blue.

The bulk of my firearms are blued, but there are a few in stainless steel as well as hard chrome and E-nickel and I own one "plastic pistol."

I've owned others, but not all that many. They were a couple of Glock 17's, a Glock 22, and a Springfield XD9. I also owned an early Kahr P9. The above were sold or traded off. They just weren't for me despite the fact that they're extremely popular with a large number of shooters. Yet, I kept one plastic gun; it's features "work" for me.

If you're not a fan of the polymer pistols or are a traditionalist (like me), you might want to read on.

The pistol I kept was a Glock 26. For anyone who actually knows me or has read my stuff to any degree, it's no secret that I normally opt for longer barrels and full size versions of handguns. In my case, exceptions are snub .38's (for pocket carry), a 2 1/2" S&W Model 19 simply because I like it and a 3 1/2" Model 27 for the very same reason. Ditto an old Colt Agent .38 snub. I find all of them pleasing to the eye, fun to shoot, and have "pride of ownership" in each.

To me, the Glock 26 is one of the less attractive looking models in the Austrian stable of handguns. So why on earth would I pick a short-barreled, non-blued, polymer pistol? The reason is simple: It meets my perceived needs. That's not completely true; it meets nearly all of them.

I think this is an "ugly" pistol, but it has never malfunctioned with any ammunition tried, lends itself to inexpensive customizing for my particular "needs" and is capable of very satisfactory groups at 15 and 25 yards. I do not do as well with this pistol at 50 yards as with a Hi Power, CZ-75, or 1911. The two shots below the group shot at 15 yards in the picture were due to me, not the pistol. It does not exhibit the "first round flyer" syndrome present in some handguns.

So why did I go with the G26? I was looking for a pistol for pocket holster carry. I wanted something that would be easy to shoot well at speed, be utterly reliable and safe, and that would stand up to long term use with lots of shooting over coming years. I'd tried an early Kahr P9 that was more comfortable and slightly easier to conceal, but got rid of it. The reasons were two-fold:

1. It was not reliable with +P ammunition. My P9 was one of the early ones and at least once per magazine the slide lock would prematurely engage. While it worked fine with standard pressure ammunition, I insisted upon +P due to the shorter barrel and its accordingly lower velocities.

2. The Kahr P9 also abraded the skin at the base of my thumb. I'm the only person in the world that I've heard of having that problem, but it happens to me with P9's and to a lesser degree, K9 pistols.

I really regretted this, but despite Kahr's best efforts at the time, the P9 could not be made reliable to my satisfaction and for a "serious" carry pistol, reliability is a must.

I went with the Glock 26 for the following reasons:

1. The pistol has proven utterly reliable with all ammunition tried. This includes standard pressure ball and JHP's as well as Nato loads, +P JHP's, and +P+ JHP's. I have shot everything from 50-gr. specialty ammo to 147-gr. JHP's through this pistol with zero reliability problems. It's worked fine with handloads using jacketed or plated bullets.

This Glock 26 has been shot with lots of varied ammunition and it has never missed a beat. It handle's +P with ease. Bullet weight has not proven to be a problem in this particular pistol. The pistol packs sufficient "punch" with the better 9mm loads in my opinion to be considered a capable defense pistol.

2. While at the upper limit of what I can personally carry concealed in a pocket holster, the G26 can be carried in such a manner. I did carry it just that way for about a year, but in the end went back to an S&W J-frame. It is just that much more comfortable to carry via a pocket holster. I also noticed that with it flat profile, when I was seated just so, the pistol tended to try and slide out of my pocket. For these reasons, I no longer routinely carry it as a pocket gun. It can be done if deemed necessary, but I've pretty well regulated that "duty" to the lightweight snub .38.

3. As has been mentioned, I am not a real Glock fan. I have no particular pride in this pistol, something that cannot be said of many others I own. However, it has so many strong points that I intend to keep and use it for certain purposes. As most know, if a handgun is used in shooting another person, justified or not, it will spend some time away from home and in an evidence locker. It will be tested by a firearms expert as well. In short, the gun will be out of our control and subject to perhaps not the best treatment possible. I'd rather have my Glock subjected to less than ideal conditions than a more traditional blued firearm or one that holds strong sentimental value. My G26 could probably be replaced with another showing the same level of performance.

4. While it is not blued, it does have a dark finish…and one that turns out to be very durable and corrosion resistant. That is a plus to me.

5. I was able to make some minor changes in the gun without the expense associated with similar changes to more traditional pistols. Namely, I changed the sights, recoil spring guide, and added a plug for the hollow behind the magazine well to keep out dust. (Some opine that this is not needed, but I did it when I was carrying the gun via a pocket holster. Untold amounts of lint and debris found their way into that hollow and since I could see parts when looking through it, I didn't want to take a chance that some of it would eventually make its way into the guts of the gun. From what I've seen, I don't think it would actually affect reliability, but I was not willing to take the chance. The plastic sights, while usable, wore down with not that much practice from the holster. I replaced them with AroTek fixed sights. They mimic Novak sights somewhat and are reasonably priced. While I left the recoil spring alone, I did go with a Wolff two-piece, steel recoil spring guide system. I'm told that it's not at all necessary, but I just didn't like the flexible, polymer factory spring guide. The gun's functioned perfectly with the Wolff unit, but it never malfunctioned with the factory plastic rod, either.

Not a "match gun" by any standard, the Glock possesses plenty of accuracy for its intended purpose and is capable of better than the "combat accuracy" mentioned by some gun writers. Despite its short grip, I was very pleased that it is easy to shoot. The abbreviated grip presented me no control problems and allowed for both a precise hold for slow, precision shooting as well as for the faster "practical" drills. While felt recoil is subjective, varying from shooter to shooter, I did not find the G26 objectionable to shoot with even the hotter loads such as the Corbon or Winchester shown above.

6. The Glock 26 does not give up much with most ammunition despite its 3.46" barrel. This was a pleasant surprise. Elsewhere on this site, you will find "Glock 26" velocities listed if interested. It should be noted that a couple of favorite standard pressure loads do not quite "satisfy" when used in the Glock 26. Federal 115-gr. JHP and the now discontinued 124-gr. Nyclad simply don't work as well in the short barrels as in those 4 or 5" long. Triton, Corbon, Winchester, and other newer +P loads give virtually the same velocities from the Glock 26 as did my Hi Powers, albeit usually to the low side. However, differences were not great, velocities remain well in the ballistic envelope at which the bullets are designed to expand, and on the receiving end, there's probably no practical difference.

7. Having an abbreviated grip or butt, the Glock 26 is exceptionally easy to conceal under a loose

fitting shirt or jacket. With a proper belt and holster, the gun that was too heavy for pocket carry will

be almost forgotten! In short, the G26 is extremely easy to carry via belt holsters. While I usually go

with a Commander .45 or a Browning Hi Power 9mm when wearing a belt rig, there are times that I

opt for the Glock. One reason is when wearing waist-length jackets. The longer guns can protrude

below the bottom of the jacket. The G26 does not.

I also believe from observation and the written work of folks using Glocks heavily that they last. They last for years and with heavy use. I am a shooter and long-term durability is a factor I look at strongly. The Glock meets this requirement.

While I do not believe in "Glock Perfection," I do believe that if an old traditionalist like me can find a use for one, others might, too. If you think you might try one, understand that like the Hi Power and 1911, the Glock design does not suffer foolish gun handling well. While pressing the trigger does move but a partially cocked striker rearward, this distance is not great compared to either a Kahr, most other DA autos or a double-action revolver. It is essential that the trigger finger not touch the trigger until ready to fire. This must be religiously practiced with all handguns, but especially so with a Glock. Despite its "safe action," it ain't so "safe" with the finger on the trigger as the one and only external safety has just been depressed and deactivated. Likewise, choose holsters with care and absolutely avoid those in which thumb breaks or retaining straps of any kind can get into the trigger guard when the pistol's being reholstered. This can cause the gun to be fired unintentionally.

Do NOT put your finger on the trigger or in the trigger guard until actually preparing to fire.

My Glock 26 has a home because it does what it's called upon to do very well…with the exception of being an "always" gun in a pocket holster. It's capable of spitting out up to 11 hot 9mm JHP's before reloading and felt recoil is very easy to control in rapid fire. I may never be a member of the Glock Camp (Sorry,couldn't resist), but this model has proven itself a capable performer and a viable carry pistol for me under certain circumstances.

If you are looking for a compact pistol, don't care for single-action, and want a durable, long-lived handgun in the 9mm power range, I suggest giving the Glock 26 a long, hard look.

It may be ugly, but it is worthy of serious consideration.


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Israel: The Most Disputed strip of Real Estate on Planet Earth!
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Obadiah Chapter 1

א חֲזוֹן, עֹבַדְיָה: כֹּה-אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה לֶאֱדוֹם, שְׁמוּעָה שָׁמַעְנוּ מֵאֵת יְהוָה וְצִיר בַּגּוֹיִם שֻׁלָּח--קוּמוּ וְנָקוּמָה עָלֶיהָ, לַמִּלְחָמָה. 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the nations: 'Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.'
ב הִנֵּה קָטֹן נְתַתִּיךָ, בַּגּוֹיִם: בָּזוּי אַתָּה, מְאֹד. 2 Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised.


Exclusive: The Terrorist Cells Are Already Here While More Are Coming
Dr. Walid Phares

Author: Walid Phares
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: July 13, 2007

Recently, the US media have been reporting that Al Qaeda plans to strike the U.S., possibly this summer, and many of us are all a-twitter about this shocking news. Yet with a series of eye-opening questions and facts, FSM Contributing Editor Dr. Walid Phares explains why this should be no news at all.

The Terrorist Cells Are Already Here While More Are Coming

By Dr. Walid Phares

The current media rush to interpret what the US Government is releasing in terms of potential infiltration by an al Qaeda cell (or cells) to strike this summer is warranted but still unfocused. ABC News and AP have reported new official "concerns" of an attack on the US homeland this summer. ABC specified that (according to its sources) the Terrorists intend to attack a Government facility. Furthermore, as reported widely in the press, "new intelligence suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the US, or may already be here." The report added that the White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon “to address ways to minimize or counter the threat, and steps to harden and protect Government facilities."

The report quoted a former FBI agent (and ABC Terrorism expert) analyzing the potential threat by stating that the target is a Government building. ABC told its viewers that the tactics by the London attackers provided clues that are being used to decode other emails, etc. Even further AP reported that US Counter Terrorism officials have warned that al Qaeda has "interest in attacking in the summer time." Added to this salad of analysis, was the news about a previous video showing a "graduation" by the Taliban in Pakistan. And to season it, two more leads were added: One was the Daily Telegraph story about the 45 doctors who were planning on attacking a US military target in Florida and a Sky News report about British Pastor Canon Andrew White who has said of an April discussion with al Qaeda "representative" who told him "the killing will start in the UK and the US."

So in short, based on these "reports," US media are telling their audiences (from their Government sources) the following:

1) A Graduation has occurred in Pakistan (they showed the footage) and Jihadists are on their way to the West.

2) A Pastor has met an al Qaeda representative who told him operations are underway.

3) American analysts looked at the British Jihadists’ tactics over the past few weeks and "learned" something new. Something that taught them how to better read information they already had.

4) A media report said 45 doctors were to prepare an attack against a US base.

5) Hence, the conclusion is that a cell, or more, is on its way to the US. And according to a general mood, it was concluded that summers are better for Jihadists to attack.

But if the reader would re-read those five points he/she may ask many troubling questions. I have the following ones:

A) What if the footage of the "Taliban graduation" aired by a TV network wasn't obtained and thus wasn't shown to the American public? Would it mean that the Taliban aren't graduating, or haven't been graduating since 2001 or even before? Would that mean that there were no Jihadist graduates already heading to the West? Does it mean that this is the "only" graduation by the Taliban, other Jihadists around the world? Did we have to "see" that particular footage to "learn" that a Jihadi machine is producing "graduates" as we speak, even if they are not featured on ABC or al Jazeera?

B) What if the Pastor hadn't met with the al Qaeda representative? Would that have meant that the Jihadists weren't marching and aren't willing to strike deep inside the West? With great sympathies to the cleric who should be thanked for reporting this, was that a "new" revelation? We have the leaders of al Qaeda informing us every few months on al Jazeera and online, and a daily wave of chat rooms statements enlightening us on the "blessed strike to come." Why aren't we taking that seriously until a "personal story" occurs somewhere? Don't we know that there is a standing order by al Qaeda to strike when and where possible?

C) Did we have to wait for the British Jihadis to load two Mercedes and one Jeep and target a nightclub and an airport to "learn" that this is a possible tactic? Is this scenario that impossible to imagine and project? What did we learn from these tactics that we've already seen in the Sunni triangle in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Afghanistan? That it could happen in England too? So are there advisors in the West who are telling Governments and the public on both sides of the Atlantic that there is no such thing as "Jihad;" that there is no "war on terror;" that "it is about socio-economics?" So what have we learned tactically from the UK failed "raids?" What is it that our imagination has failed to predict, since the 9/11 Commission has told us that we have a "failed imagination"?

D) Then we learn about the discovery of 45 doctors who planned for a Jihad in Jacksonville against a US base. What did we really discover here? That doctors can be Jihadists? Weren't we listening to (Doctor) Ayman Zawahiri for years and many other doctors in the region threatening with Terror? Haven't we seen in the 20th century’s darkest moments Nazi doctors involved in one of the most horrific genocides of all times? Or why were we surprised by the fact that Jihadists were planning on attacking a US base in the US homeland? Didn't we analyze enough the Fort Dix guys who were planning a similar attack on American soil against an Army base few weeks ago? Weren't the two Georgia young Jihadis, arrested last year, planning on striking at US military installations across the nation? In short, is that shocking to "learn" that the Jihadis are targeting our national defense?

E) Last but not least, we are supposing that "al Qaeda likes to attack in the summer." So, should we discount attacks in the fall, winter and spring?

I am not being sarcastic here but there is something strange about how we proceed in analyzing the Jihadi war against democracies and America, and how we break news to the public. On the one hand, the overwhelming majority of the academic elite, many in the political establishment and most of the mainstream media are desperately trying to demobilize their audiences by claiming that all what we see "is just a mirage." And on the other hand, the same media tell us that al Qaeda could be "attacking us this summer" because of a graduation, a Pastor's report, tactics we learned from London, doctors-turned-Jihadis, and summertime. With all these ingredients, the debate on Terrorism seems to be swinging between total denials on the one hand and blurry vision on the other hand.

This summer and any other summer, and all other seasons by the way, are Jihadi times. We need to adapt to this reality for as long as this conflict is on. For al Qaeda and its allies, as well as the Khomeinists are on the path of war. And when they are in that mode, nothing should surprise us.

▪ Al Qaeda has already established cells in the UK, the US and the West. If there is an "additional" cell coming this way, we would certainly be happier if the Government would have detected it and stop it. But it would be misleading the public to state that al Qaeda's second cell ever to infiltrate the country (after Mohammed Atta's in 2001) is "now" heading to our shores.

▪ The intention to penetrate our systems and to strike is as old as the Jihadi war against the West (that would be at least since the early 1990s). An al Qaeda representative in Iraq is not serving us with news if he "reveals" that the group will be spilling blood soon.

▪ Arresting the Terror-doctors is a positive development, but we shouldn't be in shock and awe about it. Our analysts and public educators should have (and some have) informed the public of the deep penetration that has been taken place within liberal democracies. We should learn form the infiltration of this particular segment of the medical field to preempt the penetration of other sectors, and of other fields as well. We should project that the Jihadists have infiltrated the engineering, computer, banking, security and other fields.

▪ Zawahiri's orders to strike inside the West and within the realm of moderate Arabs and Muslims are al Qaeda standing orders at least since 2001. His additional statements are reminders of what has already been a war waged at will and is taking place as its perpetrators are acquiring means and targets.

▪ Yes, it may be true that, statistically, most al Qaeda known attacks have taken place in the West between July and September, with the exception of Madrid's March 11, but there is no "Jihadi summertime." If and when these "forces" acquire targets and circumstances, they will most likely wait for warmer months to strike.

So, if indeed evidence is gathering that al Qaeda is preparing for a series of attacks in the US in the next weeks and months, then it is important to inform and ready the public for it. But the media - and their sources - must help their audiences put the information in context. There is a Jihadi war on liberal democracies, including America, and a US-led campaign on Terror. The learning and educational processes must be set in this general direction, not in terms of an out-of-context sensationalism. For it would have been out of line if in 1942, spokespersons and reporters in Allied nations would have been announcing that "unidentified planes with Swastikas on their wings were dropping what we think could be bombs on European cities."

# # Contributing Editor Walid Phares is the director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy, and the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy.
read full author bio here

© 2003-2007 All Rights Reserved

If you are a reporter or producer who is interested in receiving more information about this writer or this article, please email your request to

Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of The Family Security Foundation, Inc.

Other Articles by Walid Phares...
The Terrorist Cells Are Already Here While More Are Coming Dr.
Lebanon, Gaza, the Broader Syro-Iranian Offensive
Syro-Iranian Massacre of Politicians in Lebanon
The Syrian-Jihadi "highway" in Lebanon
Question Period: War of the Worlds
Exclusine: French Resistance to Jihadism: The broad implications of Sarkozy’s election
Losing the War in Congress: Not in Iraq
British Minister Fails the War of Ideas
Ahmadinejad’s Plan “B”: The Circus Continues
Jihadi Circus Begins In Tehran


Merkava Mk3/Mk4 Tank

The State of Israel made the decision in August 1970 to develop and build a Main Battle Tank. Until that time, Israel could not equip its armored corps with new tanks due to the continuous refusal of all nations to sell modern tanks to Israel.

The layout of the Merkava (Chariot) is unconventional, with the turret and crew compartments to the rear of the vehicle and the engine up front. This was done to improve crew survival in the case of an armor-penetrating hit on front quarter. The vehicle has a hatch on the center deck forward of the turret for the driver, and hatches in the turret for the commander and loader. The gunner uses either one of these hatches. There is another clamshell hatch on the rear for crew escape or access under fire. The turret is of low cross section with a large basket at the rear for crew gear. The Merkava can carry 6 passengers, one for each 12 rounds of main gun ammunition removed. Normally, the passenger space is filled with main gun ammunition, of which the Merkava carries a large supply.

The need to introduce modern tanks to the Israeli Army became acute when Israel faced a tremendous build-up of hostile military formations beyond its borders, equipped with the best weapon systems of that era including modern tanks and anti - tank systems. The decision to develop the Israeli tank named MERKAVA (Chariot in the biblical language) became inevitable.

The Israeli development team led by General Israel Tal, integrated state-of-the-art technology with lessons of war in the concept and the design of the Merkava and all its future generations:

  • The first Merkava tanks, Merkava Mk.1, were fielded in April 1979. Those tanks took part in actual operations during the Peace for Galilee War and proved themselves to be more effective than all other tanks in the theatre.
  • The second generation, Merkava Mk. 2, was first delivered in 1984. Production of this version began shortly after the adoption of the Merkava in 1983, and continued until 1989. It is basically the Merkava Mk 1 with extra armor and an improved fire control system. In addition, the transmission has been improved leading to an increase in range. The 60mm mortar can be loaded and fired from within the turret without exposing the crew to enemy fire.
  • The Third generation, Merkava Mk.3, was introduced in 1990 and became the backbone of the Israeli Armor Corp. It features a larger gun, a threat warning system, and more advanced modular armor that can be changed in the field. A more powerful engine has been put in the Merkava Mk 3, and air conditioning has been added. Up to 6 passengers may be carried by removing 9 main gun rounds per passenger. An advanced version of Merkava Mk. 3, with an improved Fire-Control System was fielded in 1995.
  • As of 2002, the next generation, Merkava Mk. 4, is on the way and was undergoing field tests.

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli armor suffered heavy losses from Egyptian and Syrian wire-guided anti-tank missiles. The high casualty rate spurred the IDF, which had previously depended on US-made Patton and Sherman tanks and British Centurion tanks, to develop the Merkava (Heb., chariot), considered one of the world's most effective and safest battle tanks.

Development of the Merkava was headed by Gen. Israel Tal, a former Armored Corps commander. Tal's team sought to design a tank that provided maximum protection to the tanks crew. One element of that defense is the placement of the tank's engine at the front of the vehicle, where it serves as a shield for the personnel compartment. This in turn provided more space in the vehicle's rear, which can be used to carry up to six extra soldiers. In addition, a special "canopy" protects the commander from indirect fire; the turret and the hull are fitted with a modular armor system that can be changed in the field; and the forward section of the turret is fitted with additional blocks of armor that provide extra protection against the latest generation of anti-tank missiles. A "skirt" of chains with ball weights is attached to the lower half of the turret, causing incoming projectiles to detonate on impact with the chains instead of penetrating the turret ring.

The tank became operative in 1979, and was first employed in the 1982 Operation "Peace for Galilee". The Mark I model was succeeded by the Mark II in 1983, which was replaced by the Mark III in 1990. Among the features of the Mark III are a new suspension system, a 1200-horsepower engine and new transmission, a more powerful main gun, and ballistic protection provided by special armor modules. The main 120-mm gun, developed by Israel Military Industries, is enclosed in a thermal sleeve that increases accuracy by preventing heat distortion.

Mark II and Mark III tanks are currently in service in the IDF; a Mark IV model, with additional safety and fire-control features, is currently being developed. It will include a new compressed-gas recoil system and thermal sleeve for the 120-mm gun, to enable the firing of enhanced kinetic energy ammunition. With the exception of the engine, all systems and assemblies of the Merkava tanks are of Israeli design and manufacture.

The Merkava is the innovative Israeli design of Major General Israel Tal. The primary design criteria was crew survivability. Every part of the overall design is expected to contribute to helping the crew survive. The engine is in the front to provide protection to the crew. There is a special protective umbrella for the tank commander to enable protection from indirect fire with the hatches open. Special "spaced armor" is in use along with protected fuel and ammo compartments. Rear ammunition stowage is combined with a rear entrance and exit. Since the rounds are stowed in containers that can be removed from the vehicle whenever necessary, this space can accommodate tank crewmen who have been forced to abandon their vehicles, or, if thought to be appropriate, even infantrymen. Rear ammunition stowage allows replenishment much more easily than if rounds have to be replaced in a carousel in the hull center, as in typical Russian vehicles.

Tank soldiers have long admired Merkava's rear entrance and exit, recognizing that it would allow them to mount and dismount unobserved by the enemy and would provide an excellent alternative escape route.

The Merkava can also carry a small Infantry squad internally under complete armored protection.

Weight (kg) 62,000
Length 8.78 m
Width 3.7 m
Height 9'6"
Forward speed 55 kph
Reverse speed 25 kph
Engine 1200 hp TCM AVDS 1790-9AR diesel
Vertical obstacle climb 1 m
Maximum width ditch 3.5 m
Fording Depth 1.4 m
Main Gun 120mm smooth-bore cannon
Coaxial machinegun 7.62mm
Anti-personnel machinegun 2 x 7.62mm
Commander's machinegun 12.7 mm
Light Mortar Internal 60 mm

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