Saturday, December 27, 2008

SKS Cleaning - it was a chore

I expected to get a few of my guns cleaned and lubricated today. I sat down this morning with the Yugo SKS across my lap and commenced to take it apart. After a few minutes of this and that, I realized I forgot a step and I had to resort to my video on how to field strip it. Yes it has been awhile since I cleaned it. No problem though, a quick trip up to my PC, a fast view of the video, and the issue was resolved. Piece of cake to field strip it once you remember how to do it. While I have the instructions for disassembly and reassembly on disc, you can also find those instructions online for free. If you need such info you can find it here: http://www.surplusrifle.com/sks/index.asp.

After that I went at getting it clean. Once I had it apart, and I had gotten a look inside of it, I thought - 'Oh my gosh that 7.62x39 Wolf Ammo sure is dirty shooting ammo". There was black fouling just about everywhere. I cleaned here, cleaned there, then cleaned here and there again, and again. Finally after using about 20 cleaning patches, and about 25 double ended cotton swabs, and a brass brush, and a steel brush, and about an ounce of Hoppes, and a pipe cleaner or two, it looked almost clean. As you may have guessed, that cleaning took me some time, I'd say at least an hour and fifteen minutes. Heck it never takes me more than about 15 to 20 minutes to clean one of my rifles thoroughly, so while I was taking all that time cleaning this one I had lots of time to think about why it was so dirty. The consensus of my little gray cells, both the lively healthy ones, and the slower dying ones, and even the totally pulverized ones all came to the consensus that maybe - just maybe - it was not the fault of the ammo so much as it was that I had not cleaned the darned thing after having shot it several times on various range trips. It actually took me a moment or two to remember I had been testing it.

Now there is an important point in knowing that my SKS could be fired at the range, and in between trips to the range that it could sit in my basement without having been cleaned, then be taken out again and fired again, then stored without cleaning again, then fired again, then stored without cleaning again, and on and on over the course of at least several more range trips. That point mind you is not that I am lazy about cleaning my SKS, but rather that it can and will fire when very dirty, and that it fires reliably despite the fouling. As a matter of fact, the carbon deposits on the face of the gas piston was probably as thick as two sheets of 20 lb. computer paper. That is darned thick. Yet the SKS has functioned flawlessly throughout having hundreds of rounds fired through it, then being stored, then fired again, and so forth on and on without cleanings. My guesstimate is that at least 750 to 1,000 rounds have gone through it since I last cleaned it.

Of course I do not recommend that you neglect cleaning your firearms. I only did it because I wanted to test it; I wanted to see about how long it could go without a cleaning and if it could go up to 1,000 rounds without cleaning. Somewhere in there though I lost my tally sheet. I do recall I was close to the 750 mark, and I also recall I shot it once or twice after that. It is not a picky rifle, and the gas vents stayed open and not fouled badly although things like the gas control valve, and the front face of the gas piston, and parts of the bolt were fouled almost beyond belief (yes the Wolf ammo is dirty but not excessively so, the excessive fouling was due to no cleanings). I like the fact that is can handle some dirt and still keep firing like a charm. From now on though it will get properly cleaned right after each time I fire it.


Now you may remember that I began this piece by saying: "I expected to get a few of my guns cleaned and lubricated today"; but the truth is it just did not happen. There was no time, what with all the time it took to clean the one SKS, so that is all I got done in the gun cleaning department. With relatives coming for a belated Christmas celebration, and with me needing to go to a few stores, especially to the beer distributor time was tight. Those Franziskaner Hefe Weissbiers I picked up were great, but my guns had to be put away before I could enjoy even a sip, and there is always tomorrow to get some others cleaned and they just need a routine light cleaning having been in storage. Once I get them done, I just may have to have another bier or two.

All the best,
Glenn B

WORST BUY?

This Christmas I received gift cards, a lot of them. Some were for Best Buy, others for Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabela's, Barnes & Noble, and EBay. This morning I decided to take a look at Best Buy for a digital camera. I don't want anything extravagant, and figured that the $150 worth of gift cards I have for Best Buy would get me just what I wanted, a Canon Power Shot A590 IS. Since I had just picked on up for my son from Del at about $130 (including tax, shipping and an add on 4 GB memory card) I figured I would get close to the same price at Best Buy. I mean after all there name is BEST Buy, isn't it? In addition I knew they had a price match guarantee, so how could I go wrong.

Where to begin in answer to that. I guess the first place to go wrong was that the gift giver of those Best Buy gift cards, through no fault of her own, thought like me. In what regard? Well, that they have a price match guarantee at BestBuy.com so they must have highly competitive prices - right! WRONG at least from what I can tell. BestBuy.com has some of the highest prices of any of the larger retailers that I checked for the item for which I am shopping. This also held true for their store in my area, where I did some Christmas shopping - but no buying. As for the camera, I also checked price some other cameras, you know - figuring maybe it was just the one item that seemingly was overpriced at BestBuy.com in comparison to the rest of the market. Again I was wrong in my thinking. All of the other cameras on which I checked the price at bestBuy.com, even those for sale like was the Canon Power Shot 590IS, were more at BestBuy.com than at other large retailers. The asking price of the Canon A590 IS was $142.49 AND that was the SALE price. Large retailers have it at lower prices like: Dell has it advertised for $109.00, Costco has it for $129.99, WalMart has it for $139.47. Even smaller specialty retailers have it for less: J&R for $109.88, B&H for $109.95. (All prices found at except for WalMart's were found the following link, WalMart's price was found on the WalMart site:

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/canon-powershot-a590-is/4014-6501_7-32826173.html?tag=rtcol;shop

Okay, BestBuy.com has what they call a PRICE MATCHING/PRICE GUARANTEE. I figured I could use my Best Buy gift cards wisely and use their BestBuy.com price matching/price guarantee to match a price like that offered by Dell. Good idea - right? WRONG!!! The price matching/price guarantee offered by BestBuy.com apparently applies only to prices offered by Best Buy stores and or BestBuy.com itself! Did you get that? I did not at first either, then I carefully read their price matching/price guarantee. If it is not the most bizarre, or at least not the most brilliant piece of marketing bullshit, price match I have ever read then I have never read another price match policy. Please allow me to assure you that I have read quite a few before I saw that of BestBuy.com. Here is a link to it:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?type=page&contentId=1043363603302&id=cat12098#01

Now, just in case they change it yet keep the same link address, let me print it here for your information:

"BestBuy.com Price Matching/Price Guarantee

If you've made a BestBuy.com purchase and discover a lower price offered on our Web site or at a Best Buy store on the same available brand and model, let us know and we'll match that price on the spot, tax included.

Exclusions: The BestBuy.com Price Guarantee does not apply to competitors' offers; third-party offers; online auction sites; shipping charges; clearance, Outlet Center and open-box items (when price matching with a Best Buy store); items for sale November 27th through 29th, 2008; special offers or promotions such as mail-in incentives, gift-with-purchase and financing offers; services such as installation; or typographical errors. Best Buy stores in Puerto Rico have their own price match policy."

(Please note that the red color and boldface added by me for emphasis. GRB)

So what are they saying with their PRICE MATCHING/PRICE GUARANTEE. They are telling us that they will match their own prices between their retail store and their .com business, or between their .com store on one day with one price and on another day with another price - but they apparently will not match the prices offered by competitors. Wow how munificent of them! Whom are they fracking kidding? Why bother having a price matching policy at all if that is all they are offering? I'll tell you why I think they have it - I think it is so they can bamboozle their customers into thinking they are getting something at a good competitive price, but that is just my opinion - you can make up your own mind after reading their guarantee. I figure that like me most folks just see they have a price matching policy and figure how can they go wrong - that of course without actually reading it.


Here again, we have what I believe to be a prime example of why American businesses are doing so poorly. Why - because their policies toward their customers suck - that's why. Either the American retailer or manufacturer, or other business sticks us, the customers, with things like bad promises, come on deals that fall through, crappy merchandise, or gimmick guarantees like this one. To me this price matching means virtually nothing to the shopper like me who is truly trying to save money and really get a BEST buy. I mean come on now - what kind of a price match is it when they will only match their own prices?

Now mind you, I am not faulting the person who bought me those gift cards - not at all. I love my wife dearly and have to live with her, and I complain too much while around her, so I want to make it absolutely clear I am not in any way complaining about her or about her purchase of these gift cards. It was a nice gift, and a nicer thought that went into buying them. It is only against Best Buy that I am targeting my disappointment when I say, that without a doubt in my opinion, Best Buy has the worst price matching type guarantee I have ever seen. Best Buy = Worst Buy as far as I am concerned.

Who knows, maybe I can get lucky and find some sap of a customer at one of their stores to buy the $150 worth of gift cards from me for $145 cash. I can only hope so. I'd still be saving money by giving a deal like that.

All the best,
Glenn B

Return of The Yugo SKS

At long last, after having it sit around in its box down in my basement for over a month or was it months, I was finally able to return my recent purchase of a Yugo SKS to SAMCO. I just received the return UPS label from them earlier this week. Can you imagine that, having to wait so long just to receive the return label, and companies in the USA wonder why their business has been falling off. It is not just the bank mess, nor the auto maker mess, it is the incompetence of American workers mess 9or at least the incompetence of the worker hired by the American companies mess - such as in the wetback who can barely speak, read or write English. I suppose that the reason for the long delay in my receiving a UPS label that SAMCO supposedly sent to me weeks ago (and this was the second label they sent me since I never received the first one from them) was the fact that they had my address wrong, at least on the envelope for this label. I don't remember exactly how many times I told the lady who took my information for the return how to spell Glenn, or how to spell my last name, or how to spell my street name and so on. I do remember I had to be quite repetitive because she just kept asking me to spell it over and over again because she no comprende Inglesh so bueno. After waiting a week or two for the first label they were to have sent me, I called in to ask where it was and they said they would send another, but I should wait longer first. When I called back after a further wait, I asked to speak to a supervisor. He had an accent too, but at least he was rather the linguist. Still though, when I received the label this week, the name of the street was spelled incorrectly. Go figure.

There possibly is one bright thing in all this mess to which I can look forward, well maybe it is bright maybe not. At first I was told they were all sold out of Yugo SKS rifles in NEW condition, so they would have to send me a refund instead of an exchange. When I spoke to the supervisor weeks later, he assured me that they would send me a Yugo SKS in new condition as an exchange. When I reminded him that I had been told there were none left, he laughed and said he was certain they would send me a new one. I had ordered a new one in the first place, and they sent one that had been damaged and repaired - obviously not new, not even arsenal refinished to like new condition at that. Funny how that happened isn't it - yet they supposedly still have new ones to send me as an exchange despite the big rush to buy after the election! It almost seems as if someone was pulling our proverbial ding-a-ling by acting as if there was a short supply, maybe just to get the price raised up.

As for the new one they are supposedly going to send me in exchange, I now need to hope for two things - that is is actually in new condition so I do not have to go through the return process again, and that it was not one already returned to them by someone else who already found fault with it. Yes I am a pessimist, I expect the worst to happen and imagine they will send me one that is in worse condition that the one I just sent back to them; but nonetheless I am hopeful that it will turn out to be a new one. It would be an ice surprise for a change if it turns out to be alright.

After reading the last couple of lines above, you may think I am just a whiner and complainer who is not satisfied with anything. That is only partially correct. I bitch and moan with the best of em, but I also know a quality product when I see it, and I know when something sold to me is just a bill of goods as opposed to the real item. If I get screwed then I go into the complaint mode pretty quickly, more so when the seller gives me a song and dance or when they delay the return. Of course there is another side to me, and when I get an item that meets or exceed expectation I give high praise. The thing is though, there is a lot to bitch and moan about when it comes to things we buy nowadays. I don't know if this is just an American thing or not, I tend to doubt that it is solely our problem. Since much of the junk we are presented with in our markets is made elsewhere, I figure people in other places must get the same crap presented to them. Then again, I remember though that American made items, and American service, used to be better. This is no fantasy of my memory either, this is the absolute truth. Sure there were always scam artists who tried to get over with an inferior product, but there was also the seller who sold things of superior quality and who had salespeople and service people and guarantees of a superior nature to present and back up their products. It just is not happening anymore now is it! There I go - off on a tangent, but with sales and service like what I have received you have to wonder about American businesses and how they have the nerve to whine and moan they are not making money.

Let me just say, the Yugo is in the mail, and hopefully I will soon have one that is as they were advertised when I plopped my good money down for one of them. I paid a premium price for one in new condition, and therefore I expect to receive on in new condition - plain and simple. If they again send a clunker, you can bet my dealings with SAMCO will be at an end once I get my refund, and I will post about it here.

All the best,
Glenn B.
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