Database Backup Encryption – Best Practices

Offsite backup storage should be a critical part of any organisation’s disaster recovery plan. The ability to store data in a separate physical location, where it could survive a catastrophic event which destroys all the data in your primary data center, ensures your data survival and continuity of your organisation. A Cloud storage service is quite a good method to store offsite backups. No matter if you are using a cloud provider or if you are just copying data to an external data center, the backup encryption is a must in such cases. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed several methods of encrypting your backups. Today we will focus on some best practices around backup encryption.

Ensure that your secrets are safe

To encrypt and decrypt your data you have to use some sort of a password or a key. Depending on the encryption method (symmetrical or asymmetrical), it can be one secret for both encryption and decryption or it can be a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption. What is important, you should keep those safe. If you happen to use asymmetric encryption, you should focus on the private key, the one you will use for decrypting backups.

You can store keys in a key management system or a vault – there are numerous options on the market to pick from like Amazon’s KMS or Hashicorp’s Vault. Even if you decide not to use those solutions, you still should apply generic security practices like to ensure that only the correct users can access your keys and passwords. You should also consider preparing your backup scripts in a way that you will not expose keys or passwords in the list of running processes. Ideally, put them in the file instead of passing them as an argument to some commands.

Consider asymmetric encryption

The main difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption is that while using symmetric encryption for both encryption and decryption, you use a single key or password. This requires higher security standards on both ends of the process. You have to make sure that the host on which you encrypt the data is very secure as a leak of the symmetric encryption key will allow the access to all of your encrypted backups.

On the other hand, if you use asymmetric encryption, you have two keys: the public key for encrypting the data and the private key for decryption. This makes things so much easier – you don’t really have to care about the public key. Even if it would be compromised, it will still not allow for any kind of access to the data from backups. You have to focus on the security of the private key only. It is easier – you are most likely encrypting backups on a daily basis (if not more frequent) while restore happens from time to time, making it feasible to store the private key in more secure location (even on a dedicated physical device). Below is a very quick example on how you can use gpg to generate a key pair and use it to encrypt data.

First, you have to generate the keys:

root@vagrant:~# gpg --gen-key
gpg (GnuPG) 1.4.20; Copyright (C) 2015 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

gpg: directory `/root/.gnupg' created
gpg: new configuration file `/root/.gnupg/gpg.conf' created
gpg: WARNING: options in `/root/.gnupg/gpg.conf' are not yet active during this run
gpg: keyring `/root/.gnupg/secring.gpg' created
gpg: keyring `/root/.gnupg/pubring.gpg' created
Please select what kind of key you want:
   (1) RSA and RSA (default)
   (2) DSA and Elgamal
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
Your selection?
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 4096
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0)
Key does not expire at all
Is this correct? (y/N) y

You need a user ID to identify your key; the software constructs the user ID
from the Real Name, Comment and Email Address in this form:
    "Heinrich Heine (Der Dichter) <>"

Real name: Krzysztof Ksiazek
Email address:
Comment: Backup key
You selected this USER-ID:
    "Krzysztof Ksiazek (Backup key) <>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? o
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.

This created both public and private keys. Next, you want to export your public key to use for encrypting the data:

gpg --armor --export > mybackupkey.asc

Next, you can use it to encrypt your backup.

root@vagrant:~# xtrabackup  --backup --stream=xbstream  | gzip | gpg -e --armor -r -o /backup/pgp_encrypted.backup

Finally, an example how you can use your primary key (in this case it’s stored in the local key ring) to decrypt your backups:

root@vagrant:/backup# gpg -d /backup/pgp_encrypted.backup | gunzip | xbstream -x
encryption: using gcrypt 1.6.5

You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "Krzysztof Ksiazek (Backup key) <>"
4096-bit RSA key, ID E047CD69, created 2018-11-19 (main key ID BC341551)

gpg: gpg-agent is not available in this session
gpg: encrypted with 4096-bit RSA key, ID E047CD69, created 2018-11-19
      "Krzysztof Ksiazek (Backup key) <>"

Rotate your encryption keys

No matter what kind of encryption you implemented, symmetric or asymmetric, you have to think about the key rotation. First of all, it is very important to have a mechanism in place to rotate the keys. This might be useful in case of a security breach, and you would have to quickly change keys that you use for backup encryption and decryption. Of course, in case of a security breach, you need to consider what is going to happen with the old backups which were encrypted using compromised keys. They have been compromised although they still may be useful and required as per Recovery Point Objective. There are couple of options including re-encrypting them or moving them to a non-compromised localization.

Speed up the encryption process by parallelizing it

If you have an option to implement parallelization of the encryption process, consider it. Encryption performance mostly depends on the CPU power, thus allowing more CPU cores to work in parallel to encrypt the file should result in much smaller encryption times. Some of the encryption tools give such option. One of them is xtrabackup which has an option to use embedded encryption and parallelize the process.

What you are looking for is either “–encrypt-key” or “–encrypt-key-file” options which enable embedded encryption. While doing that you can also define “–encrypt-threads” and “–encrypt-chunk-size”. Second increases a working buffer for encryption, first defines how many threads should be used for encryption.

Of course, this is just one of the solutions you can implement. You can achieve this using shell tools. An example below:

root@vagrant:~# files=2 ; mariabackup --user=root --backup --pass=pass --stream=xbstream  |split -b 60M - backup ; ls backup* |  parallel -j ${files} --workdir "$(pwd)" 'echo "encrypting {}" ; openssl  enc -aes-256-cbc -salt -in "{}" -k mypass > "111{}"'

This is by no means a perfect solution as you have to know in advance how big, more or less, the backup will be to split it to predefined number of files matching the parallelization level you want to achieve (if you want to use 2 CPU cores, you should have two files, if you want to use 4 cores, 4 files etc). It also requires disk space that is twice the size of the backup, as at first it generates multiple files using split and then encryption creates another set of encrypted files. On the other hand, if your data set size is acceptable and you would like to improve encryption performance, that’s an option you can consider. To decrypt the backup you will have to decrypt each of the individual files and then use ‘cat’ to join them together.

Test your backups

No matter how you are going to implement the backup encryption, you have to test it. First of all, all backups have to be tested, encrypted or not. Backups may not be complete, or may suffer from some type of corruption. You cannot be sure that your backup can be restored until you actually perform the restore. That’s why regular backup verification is a must. Encryption adds more complexity to the backup process. Issues may show up at the encryption time, again – bugs or glitches may corrupt the encrypted files. Once encrypted, the question is then if it is possible to decrypt it and restore?

You should have a restore test process in place. Ideally, the restore test would be executed after each backup. As a minimum, you should test your backups a couple of times per year. Definitely you have to test it as soon as a change in the backup process had been introduced. Have you added compression to the backup? Did you change the encryption method? Did you rotate the encryption key? All of those actions may have some impact on your ability to actually restore your backup. Therefore you should make sure you test the whole process after every change.

ClusterControl can automate the verification process, both on demand or scheduled after every backup.

To verify an existing backup, you just need to pick the one from the list, click on “Restore” option and then go through the restore wizard. First, you need to verify which backup you want to restore.

Then, on the next step, you should pick the restore and verify option.

You need to pass some information about the host on which you want to test the restore. It has to be accessible via SSH from the ClusterControl instance. You may decide to keep the restore test server up and running (and then dump some partial data from it if you wanted to go for a partial restore) or shut it down.

The final step is all about verifying if you made the correct choices. If yes, you can start the backup verification job.

If the verification completed successfully, you will see that the backup is marked as verified on the list of the backups.

If you want to automate this process, it is also possible with ClusterControl. When scheduling the backup you can enable backup verification:

This adds another step in the backup scheduling wizard.

Here you again have to define the host which you want to use for backup restore tests, decide if you want to install the software on it (or maybe you already have it done), if you want to keep the restore server up and whether you want to test the backup immediately after it is completed or maybe you want to wait a bit.

via Planet MySQL
Database Backup Encryption – Best Practices

The Inventory’s 2018 Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide: 150 Genuinely Useful Gifts For Under $20

Picking out big, pricey gifts is easy. Finding inexpensive, smaller stuff for stockings, office gift exchanges, and third cousins twice removed is where gift-buying season gets tricky. That’s why we compiled this list of 150 Inventory-recommended (and actually useful) stocking stuffer ideas, all for $20 or less.*

Everything you see here is either a Kinja Deals bestseller, a reader-favorite from Kinja Co-Op, something we’ve written about on The Inventory, or a product that we use and love ourselves.


*Due to daily pricing fluctuations, these might not all be under $20 at all times, but they’re all frequently available for that price, and don’t often go much higher.

1. Spigen Magnetic Phone Kickstand

2. MicroSD Cards

3. Monopod

4. Tensun World Travel Adapter

I used this on a trip to France and England this year, and love that it includes four USB ports, in addition to an outlet. – Shep

5. Monet Phone Wallets

6. Magic Mouse Grips

7. USB Heated Mouse Pad Mouse Hand Warmer

I don’t know about yours, but our office is frigid. Finally, here’s solution to cold, computer-using hands. – Chelsea

8. Anker PowerCore 5000 Battery Pack

9. Qi Charging Pads

Once you have a wirelessly charging phone, you can literally never have enough of these things.

10. Magnetic Phone Desk Mount

11. Sparkr Mini Electric Lighter 2.0 | 12. Tacklife Flexible Neck Electric Lighter

13. USB Hub

I have a keyboard, mouse and some USB Christmas trees plugged in right now. – Elizabeth.

14. PortaPow 3rd Gen Data Blocker

So Android Auto will leave you alone when you just want to charge your phone in the car. – Elizabeth

15. Smart Light Bulbs

16. Velcro Cable Ties

17. HDTV Bias Lighting

18. Anker PowerLine 3-in-1 MicroUSB/USB-C/Lightning Charging Cables

19. Phone Stand

20. Rechargeable Batteries

21. Tiny Wall Charger

22. Miniature Surge Protector

23. Magnetic Waterproof Phone Pouch

24. Bluetooth Headphone Charging Bag

25. HDTV Antenna

26. Nite Ize Original Gear Ties

27. USB Power Receptacles

28. Satechi Stick-Anywhere Magnetic Phone Mounts

29. Under-Desk Headphone Hook

30. Magnetic Parts Tray

31. Succulent Candles | 32. Kikkerland Potted Pen Stand

I have a talent for killing any and all plants, but these plant-like knick knacks are both cute and immune to my flora-murdering ways. – Chelsea

33. Clipa2 – The Instant Bag Hanger

I have this and use it all the time to hang my bag on shopping carts/restaurant chairs. – Elizabeth

34. Mudder Washi Masking Tape Collection

Washi tape has so many crafty, decorative uses. I love this festive, gold-patterned pack. – Chelsea

35. Luggage Scale

It’ll pay for itself if it saves your giftee from a single overweight baggage fee. – Shep

36. Signature K9 Heavy Leather Dog Leash

37. Pet Bowl Mat

38. Post-it Extreme Notes

39. Packing Cubes

40. Drill Brush

41. Luminoodle Click

42. Toilet Light

43. Under-Bed Motion Lights

44. Anker LED Flashlights

45. Delta Showerhead

46. HAMMERHEAD 4V Lithium Rechargeable Screwdriver

47. Candles

48. Copper String Lights

49. OXO Over-The-Door Folding Hook

50. Meguiar’s Ultimate Fast Finish

It does 80% of the work of waxing, without taking an entire afternoon. – Shep

51. Slice Box Cutter

52. Umbra Casa Tissue Box

53. Mkono Self Watering Globe Plant Water Bulb

54. Neat-O Chrome-Plate Steel Large Suction Cup Sponge Holder

Leaving a wet sponge in the sink or on the counter always felt wrong to me. This holder sticks right onto the side of your sink, and let’s your soaked sponge dry in peace. – Chelsea

55. Two Trees Botanicals

56. Microfiber Cleaning Mop Slippers

You may or may not be able to find me sliding around my apartment floor wearing these fashionable mops on my feet on a Saturday night. Yes, there is music playing. Yes, I promise I have a life. – Chelsea

57. TEKTON Mini 6-Inch x 1-1/2-Inch Ratchet Bar Clamp

Most people don’t need clamps very often, but everyone should have at least one in their toolbox. I’ve used this to help repair some MDF furniture that started to split after a move. -Shep

58. Sugru

59. Accutire Digital Tire Pressure Gauge

A top seller on Amazon for a reason. It does one thing, and does it perfectly.

60. TubShroom the Revolutionary Tub Drain Protector Hair Catcher

My long hair has clogged many a drain, but I’ve said goodbye to snaking since I bought this little guy. – Chelsea

61. Label Maker

62. 3M Doorstops

63. Squatty Potty

64. GiR Spatula

65. Knife Sharpener

66. Instant Pot Ceramic Non-Stick Interior Coated Inner Cooking Pot

67. Happy Sales Steel Kitchen Garbage Sink Strainer

No more forks in the disposal! – Elizabeth

68. HQY Magnet-Automatic Beer Bottle Opener

69. OXO Jigger

Easy-to-read measurements inside, dishwasher safe, and the spout means you won’t spill anything when you pour. I use this any time I make cocktails – Shep

70. Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker

71. Lakemint Zoodle Chef Vegetable Spiralizer

I once tried a diet that forced me to eliminate all carbs, but I missed pasta so freaking much. This spiralizer, when used on a zucchini or squash, almost made me forget about spaghetti. Almost. – Chelsea

72. Taco Holders

They hold tacos…I don’t really know what else to add. – Shep

73. Tomorrow’s Kitchen Silicone Utensil Rest

The age-old problem of where to set your dirty utensils while you cook, solved. It’s even dishwasher safe – Shep

74. Herb Scissors

I use these any time I have to chop something herby. – Elizabeth

75. Chef’n VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper

And this when I have to deal with onions. – Elizabeth

76. MASTER COOK Kabob Skewers

Even when you aren’t using them for kabobs, they work as marshmallow sticks when you’re making s’mores. But you should make more kabobs. – Shep

77. ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot

78. Copper Reusable Straws | 79. Silicone Reusable Straws

80. SiliconeZone 2-Cup Measuring Cube, Green/White

This thing is a bunch of measuring devices in one and fits better in cabinets than round cups. – Elizabeth

81. IR Thermometer

82. Cast Iron Chainmail

83. Contigo Travel Mug

84. Amazon Truffle Spread

85. Collapsible Microwave Cover

86. Cooking Gloves

87. Steel Tumbler

88. Williams Sonoma West Blade Citrus Zester

89. Dash Egg Cooker

90. OXO Can Opener

91. OXO Pour-Over Coffee Dripper

92. Kitchen Scale

93. Frozen Drink Glasses

94. Paring Knife

95. Thermos Can Insulators

96. Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Storage Sets

97. Joseph Joseph Cutting Board

98. Five Pounds of Gummy Bears

99. Magnetic Knife Strip

100. Hanging Toiletry Kit

101. Shoe Bags

102. Plus Pen Style Compact Twiggy Scissors with Cover

I keep these in my bag because you need scissors way more often than you’d think. Legit used them today. – Elizabeth

103. Mini Air Compressor

104. Magnetic Smartphone Vent Mounts

105. A Tiny Car Charger

106. DenTek On-the-Go Flossers

Travel floss for when you get popcorn in your teeth at the movies. – Elizabeth

107. BEARZ Compact Pocket Blanket

108. UCO Stormproof Matches

109. LifeStraw

110. Gerber Shard

111. Repel 100 Bug Spray

112. UCO Candle Lantern

113. USB Fan

114. HEROCLIP Carabiner

115. IMAK Compression Eye Mask

116. No-Pressure Eye Masks

For people who have trouble sleeping unless it’s totally dark. – Elizabeth

117. Melatonin Gummies

118. Marvy Shampoo Brush and Scalp Invigorator

I think we can all agree that the best part of a haircut is the scalp massage during the shampoo. This little tool allows you to recreate the feeling at home in the shower. – Chelsea

119. OXO Mouthwash Bottle

120. Dreamfarm Tapi

121. Upper Canada Softest Plush Spa Headband

If you own a face mask, you should also own this headband. Because getting mask out of your hair is the worst. – Chelsea

122. Hearos Ear Plugs

123. Oars + Alps Natural Solid Face Wash

124. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

The fastest and easiest way to wash your face – Elizabeth

125. Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

My dry skin requires that I moisturize in winter, but sometimes, lotion just feels too gloppy. Bio-Oil is a non-greasy alternative that I cannot recommend enough. – Chelsea

126. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

Mask newbs and mask veterans alike will enjoy this delightful minty breakout zapper. – Chelsea

127. Iron Lion Soap

128. Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

129. Tiger Balm White Ointment

I rub some Tiger Balm on my nose when I feel a cold coming on. And sometimes I find myself sniffing it even when I’m not congested. – Chelsea

130. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

131. skyn ICELAND Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gel

132. Paula’s Choice Lipscreen SPF 50

133. Nose Hair Trimmer

134. Vinyl Records

135. Fabric Shaver

136. Hanes Ultimate Men’s Comfort Flex Fit Boxer Briefs

137. Dritz Thermal Thimbles

These have saved me so much pain when using a hot glue gun. – Elizabeth

138. Umbra Poise Large Jewelry Tray

This two-tiered tray is interesting enough to not be an eyesore, and cool enough to disguise the fact that I’m kind of a slob when it comes to my jewelry. – Chelsea

139. Whitmor Clip and Drip Hanger

Clothes last longer when they air dry, and this thing lets you hang a ton of socks, underwear, and even larger clothes from your shower rod. – Shep

140. Dryer Balls


142. Aerie Boybriefs

143. Portable Stain Removers

144. Strap Saver

145. A Big-Ass Mouse Pad

146. USB SNES Controller

147. Pixel Pals

148. Cards Against Humanity Storage Box

If you can’t fit all your expansion packs in your original CAH box anymore, this is the solution. – Shep

149. Plus-Plus Blocks

150. Big Bubble Wands

Many of these products were also included in last year’s guide, but you can check it out for even more ideas.

via Lifehacker
The Inventory’s 2018 Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide: 150 Genuinely Useful Gifts For Under $20

Improve Your Ruger 22 Charger with Adaptive Tactical Rimfire Accessories

Adaptive Tactical's Rimfire Accessories line for the Ruger 22 Charger
Adaptive Tactical’s Rimfire Accessories line for the Ruger 22 Charger

Nampa, Idaho ( – Adaptive Tactical, LLC, manufacturers of innovative firearm stocks and accessories, can take your factory Ruger 22 Charger or 22 Charger Takedown and improve its performance, all while increasing its accuracy and versatility through several products from its Rimfire Accessories line. The Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger Barrel/Rail Combo, Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger Takedown Barrel/Rail Combo and TK22C Ruger 22 Charger Takedown stock are the ideal upgrades for a plinker’s dream firearm.

Adaptive Tactical Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger barrel/rail combo
Adaptive Tactical Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger barrel/rail combo

The Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger Barrel/Rail Combo and Tac-Hammer Ruger 22 Charger Takedown Barrel/Rail Combo will increase accuracy and improve the performance and portability of the Ruger 22 Charger when upgrading from the original factory barrel. The Rigid-Core Barrel delivers the benefits of a bull barrel’s larger diameter and related stiffness – greater accuracy and repeatability of the shot – without the added weight. A rigid-core, stepped barrel design is encased within a post-tension, aluminum shroud, offering the rigidity of a bull barrel with a significant weight reduction. The Tac-Hammer Package includes barrel, cantilevered optic rail and front threaded compensator. The cantilevered rail design ensures consistent zeroing for Takedown firearms.


Barrel: P4140 Chromoly steel with heat and rust resistant coating
Shroud: 6061 aluminum with durable Cerakote® coating
Top Rail/Compensator: 6061 aluminum with color matched Cerakote
Twist: 1:16
Threaded Barrel End: ½ x 28 (fits common compensators or suppressors)
Barrel OD: 0.92”
Barrel Length:

Without Compensator:

With Compensator:

Exposed Barrel w/ Comp:





The Tac-Hammer TK22C Ruger 22 Charger Takedown Stock is made from a durable, all season polymer construction that provides increased versatility. The removable barrel insert provides a custom fit for both standard tapered barrels and 0.92” bull barrels. The pistol grip is designed to fit the spring-loaded TacTRED™ Monopod for increased stability (sold separately). It includes a custom firearm sling, which improves stability when shooting. Simply attach to the stock’s rear loop and shoulder; aim is improved due to full extension along the arm. It also features an integrated rear single point sling attachment loop and front bipod swivel mount.

For more information on Adaptive Tactical, visit or “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Instagram.

About Adaptive Tactical, LLC:Adaptive Tactical Logo

Adaptive Tactical’s design team, a proven leader in firearm stock and accessory innovation, led the way in award winning recoil dampening shotgun and rifle stocks and accessories. Manufacturers of the popular Sidewinder Venom™ mag-fed shotgun system and ADTAC stock systems, Adaptive offers products focused on improving speed, performance and versatility for military, LE, defense, range and competition applications.

Improve Your Ruger 22 Charger with Adaptive Tactical Rimfire Accessories

The Truth About AR-15 Rifles

The Truth About the AR-15 Rifle

courtesy Nick Leghorn for TTAG

[Ed: Nick originally wrote this less than a week after the Sandy Hook shooting, but it’s still just as relevant today.]

In the wake of recent events, it’s obvious and unfortunate that the vast majority of pundits have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to guns. Especially with a firearm like the AR-15 (a.k.a., “assault rifle”). Scanning the press coverage, there’s no end of misinformation about the ArmaLite Rifle (that’s what AR means, not “assault rifle”) design and why it’s the most popular rifle in the United States. Hopefully I can put some of that right.


Before the AR-15 rifle made its way onto the market, gun owners needed to buy a different gun for each caliber and application.

Whether they wanted inexpensive target shooting (with cheap ammo like .22 LR) or deer hunting (with a more substantial caliber like .308 Winchester), shooters had to buy a different firearm for each use. That made changing calibers expensive, time-consuming, and generally a one-way process.

Shooters were also stuck with their rifle’s ergonomics. If the stock was too long or too short there wasn’t much they could do short of paying a gunsmith to modify their firearm. The same was true if you didn’t like the rifle’s trigger or its sights. Changing just about anything was a major pain in the butt.

With an AR-15, however, gun owners don’t need a qualified gunsmith to modify or customize their gun. The average shooter can order the parts they need online and perform the work themselves with little more than a screwdriver, a wrench, a hammer and a YouTube tutorial. [Click here for a handy how-to.]

In fact, there’s only one part of the gun that an owner has to buy through a gun shop: the “receiver” or lower (above). That’s the serialized part of an AR pattern rifle. Technically, as far as the ATF is concerned, that is the gun. I’ve assembled all of my own AR-15 rifles from scratch, having purchased only the receivers through gun stores.

Everything about the AR-15 platform can be swapped out to fit the specific end-user and their intended use. Long-range shooters might add a longer barrel and more powerful scope for increased accuracy. Those interested in home defense might choose a shorter barrel, a red dot and add a flashlight to the gun. You can even change the grip and fore end to fit your hand exactly and make shooting more comfortable.


Gun control advocates, the media and many politicians are fixated on the idea that AR-15s are “military weapons” or “weapons of war” that “have no place on our streets.” We hear again that they’re not suitable for hunting.

Not true.

Hundreds of thousands of hunters use the AR-15 platform which is often sold in complete configurations specifically designed for hunting. The gun is rugged, reliable, portable and accurate. What’s more, the ability to quickly and easily change the rifle’s caliber offers American hunters a huge advantage.

deer hunting with AR-15 rifle


I use an AR-15 that fires the relatively new 300 AAC Blackout round for hunting in Texas. When deer aren’t in season I swap my AR’s upper receiver for one that shoots the much cheaper .22 LR cartridge. This kind of caliber swap cuts down on costs and makes hunters more accurate (since they can afford to practice with their hunting rifle all year long).


The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 rifle, as adopted by the U.S. armed forces. The M-16 was developed in the wake of World War II. Generals wanted a rifle that would allow U.S. servicemen to put rounds on target accurately at extreme distances (as they did with the M1 Garand in WWII).

That’s the reason the rifle originally came with a bulky stock and precision “aperture” sights. The Powers That Be wanted their troops to take precise, aimed shots from the shoulder. So despite what the media would have you believe, the AR-15 was not designed to “spray” bullets. It was originally created as a precision rifle.

And despite plenty of misinformation to the contrary, civilian AR-15 rifles are semi-automatic. That means one round per trigger pull. Actual fully automatic machine guns are rare as hens teeth and prohibitively expensive thanks to regulation that goes back as far as 1934.

A great offensive weapon also makes a great defensive weapon. The AR-15 is an easy-to-use and effective rifle for personal and home defense. If someone was defending say, a school, and they were positioned at the end of a corridor, an AR-15 would give them the speed, repeatability (i.e. ammunition capacity) and/or accuracy they’d need to eliminate a lethal threat. Or threats.

Which is why so many Americans depend on the AR-15 for the self-defense. It’s also the reason that police rely on AR-15s to counter active shooters.


via The Truth About Guns
The Truth About AR-15 Rifles

Black Friday Deal: Seagate 8TB Hard Drive for $129

Black Friday Deal: Seagate 8TB Hard Drive for $129

By Leave a Comment

This Seagate 8TB USB 3.0 external hard drive is $129.99 (reg. $159.99) for Black Friday. Check it out here at B&H Photo and Amazon.

Also, check out more hard drive deals here on Amazon.

Watch for more deals this weekend on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Camera Deals page.

Subscribe to the Photography Bay Deals Newsletter to catch great deals like this and other photo gear deals daily. Sign up here.

via Photography Bay
Black Friday Deal: Seagate 8TB Hard Drive for $129

The Mad Scientists at Jell-O Have Figured Out How to Make Edible Slime

Your body is probably still digesting yesterday’s fantastic feast (and bracing for leftovers) but it’s already time to start planning next year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and now that Kraft Foods has seemingly done the impossible and invented edible slime, grandma’s Jell-O salad will never be the same.

Not content with just re-engineering the classic Jell-O formula so that the dessert can be used to make jiggly toy building blocks, a team of food scientists hidden away somewhere in Kraft Foods’ secret laboratories asked a question no one has ever asked before: what if slime was edible? Now this is not to imply that slime has never been ingested before; there’s undoubtedly countless children who’ve sampled their gooey play toy out of curiosity, or to prove their playground bravado. But Jell-O’s new DIY slime—part of its recent ‘Play’ line—is completely edible without the risk of going blind or needing your stomach pumped after snacking.

Whipping up a batch is apparently as easy as just adding water to an included mix and stirring for 30 seconds, at which point you’ll be left with a brightly colored non-Newtonian fluid that you can squeeze, squish, massage, and tear with your hands for about an hour before you’ll need to add more water to keep it fluid. There will be two flavors available at launch: pink (unicorn-themed) strawberry and green (monster-themed) lime, but there’s no word on how much each container will cost when they hit stores next month.

So what’s in the slime? According to the listing on Amazon, it contains “modified food starch, sugar, gelatin, contains less than 2% of adipic acid, disodium phosphate, sodium citrate, artificial flavor, fumaric acid, red 40.” Nothing we haven’t seen in other highly-processed snacks before, and a distinct lack of real monster or unicorn ingredients, which some might find disappointing. But those people have obviously forgotten how to have fun with their food.

[Amazon via]

via Gizmodo
The Mad Scientists at Jell-O Have Figured Out How to Make Edible Slime

Watch the First Beautiful Teaser For Disney’s Lion King Remake

The animals of the Pride Lands meet their future king.
GIF: The Lion King
Trailer FrenzyA special place to find the newest trailers for movies and TV shows you’re craving.  

We’ve heard barely anything about Jon Favreau’s take on The Lion King since Disney announced its plans to add the beloved film to its long list of remakes, outside of some extremely exciting casting. But now, we finally have a look. And, unsurprisingly, the man who turned The Jungle Book into a visual feast has done the same here!

The trailer is light on things that aren’t just gorgeous shots of immaculate looking CG creatures, but it captures the 1994 animated classic’s iconic opening stunningly—and of course we get the legendary James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa, talking to his young son Simba (played by JD McCrary as a cub, and Donald Glover as an adult) about the Pride Lands that will one day be his to rule.

Simba just can’t wait to be king, and we just can’t wait to see more of this in action. If that wasn’t enough, here’s an equally stunning poster of the young Simba literally standing in his father’s footsteps:

Hello there, little lion.
Image: Disney

The Lion King heads to theaters once more July 19, 2019.

via Gizmodo
Watch the First Beautiful Teaser For Disney’s Lion King Remake

Ammoland’s Epic Tour of Palmetto State Armory – Part 2

May St. Mattis watch over your range trip and keep the chaos to a minimum.
May St. Mattis watch over your range trip and keep the chaos to a minimum.

U.S.A.-( If you have not read of the first part of the tour be sure to click below and find out about Palmetto State Armory‘s impressive assembly process of their AR-15s and AK rifles.

Talking With The Engineers

Probably my favorite stop of the trip was a visit with the madmen that bring the top brass’ visions to life. These are the folks behind the upcoming PSA MP5 clone as well as the guys that are behind the PSA AKV 9mm AK. The collection of parts all over their office was something that I could spend a week digging through and finding inspiration, knowledge, and even some cool content ideas from.

They had the prototype AKV laid out on their table for us to check out when we arrived. Duncan had already had some time with the 9mm AK, but I hadn’t even had a chance to look at one yet. Let me tell you, that thing is impressively cool and as I would later find out, fun as hell to shoot.

Also hiding in the office was some prototype .224 Valkyrie barrels with an interesting twist rate that I am not sure I can tell you about yet, a new 7.62x39mm AR lower, a few prototype AK pistol braces that are sure to excite AK nerds and even some handgun stuff that caught my attention.

Sadly I am not entirely sure what I can tell you about, so I will err on the side of caution and assume that until it is listed on the website, I am to keep my dang mouth shut. That said, nerding out with the engineers about gun stuff was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had on a work trip to date, and I can’t wait till I have a chance to visit with them again.

Lead Star Arms

In the same facility as the engineering team, we found Lead Star Arms, the ultra high-end arm of PSA. These guys have focused on lightweight competition ready rifles and AR pistols that rival guns that are double their price point.

All we were able to see while we were there was a couple of completed rifles and a ton of components that were coming off their ultra nice CNC machines, and they are something to behold. Not only are the components that Lead Star is making interesting looking with outstanding detail and interesting windows on the skeletonized models, but they also have a root in competition where performance matters.

Sadly I don’t have any experience with the Lead Star guns, but Duncan does and had nothing but nice things to say about the shooting experience. Maybe sometime in the future, I will be able to put a Lead Star gun through the paces, but until then I will differ the questions to Duncan.

Building Our Guns

Now it was time for Duncan and me to head back over to the assembly facility to pair those barrels from DC Machine with the optics we got at the flagship store. Gathering up all of the parts took a few minutes since these builds were out of the ordinary and they wanted to ensure that inventory levels weren’t messed up.

Once we had the parts I started with the lower I was provided, a standard PSA marked unit. Instead of walking you through my build, I would rather just tell you the components that I used. You should also expect a full review of my build at some point in the future.

For the lower, I decided on a Magpul CTR stock with a Mil-Spec receiver extension, a Magpul MIAD grip, and Palmetto’s own EPT fire control group lower parts kit. The upper was really built around the barrel, a 16” stainless Freedom barrel chambered in 5.56 with a 1:7 twist rate and a mid-length gas system. The BCG was a standard PSA produced unit, the charging handle also was a Mil-Spec unit, and the handguard was PSA’s 15” lightweight M-LOK units.

Once I had assembled my upper, I turned towards Duncan’s parts and put an identical upper together for him while he prepared the Strike Eagle and the Viper PST Gen II to be mounted to the uppers. My rifle ended up getting the Strike Eagle 1-6 scope nestled in a Warne 30mm cantilever mount and a Trijicon RMR RM06 on a Magpul M-LOK offset optic mount paired with a high base for the RMR, a combo that I have been wanting to try for years. Duncan, on the other hand, had opted for a Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6 power scope in the same model Warne mount that I was using on my rifle.

Shooting Our Builds & The AKV 9mm AK

With the rifles built, the next step was to gather some ammo and head out to the shooting range that PSA owns not far from the assembly facility. We also asked to take one of the AKV prototypes out to the range with us since I hadn’t had a chance to shoot one and Duncan was chomping at the bit to shoot it again.

Both rifles functioned flawlessly over the several hundred rounds that we dumped through the rifle in the short time we were on the range. My initial groups should be categorized as acceptable, something that I was expecting since we were shooting off wooden blocks without rear bags to even get the rifle close to stable. Once I get the rifle out to the range, I will do a proper accuracy test with good match ammunition to see what she will do.

Once I had my fun with the rifle that I had built we broke out the 9mm AK they are calling the AKV and headed over to the pistol range where there were several pieces of steel set up for us. After burning through the better part of a case of Winchester 9mm NATO trying to see who was the fastest to run the steel challenge course we called it quits. I can see why Duncan enjoys the AKV so much, that is a soft shooting gun that you can really run fast if you do your part.

We packed up as the sun was setting and headed back to the hotel after dinner. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.

STS Machine In Jacksonville

The next day we headed to the airport to board a plane to Jacksonville, Florida where STS Machine is located. STS Machine makes several things, but the ones that we were most interested in were the upper and lower receivers, hand guards, barrel nuts, flash hiders, and gas blocks. STS also does work in the automotive and motorcycle industry in addition to the gun stuff, but who cares about that, this is a gun blog, right?

A Space Force lower next to a Mad Dog lower on the STS production floor prior to anodizing.

While I am not allowed to go into detail on how they produce the parts, I can tell you that while I was there the professionalism that the STS Machine team, as well as the level of knowledge, was impressive. These guys and gals knew their stuff and were ready to answer any questions that I might have about the process. I wish I could tell you more about how they make their parts since it addressed a lot of my questions about quality control and acceptable tolerances.

I did get a look at the Space Force lowers that had just sold out on their website as well as the Mad Dog lower that had yet to be released when we saw them being produced. Both had awesome roll marks, and I am really looking forward to what PSA cooks up going forward!

A bin of barrel nuts at one point in the manufacturing process.

Duncan, Josiah, and I said our goodbyes and grabbed a bite to eat at a super nice steakhouse in Jacksonville that I couldn’t recall the name of if I tried. Once we had eaten more than our fair share of steak, we headed back to the airport to catch a flight back.

A Final Full Auto Shoot & The Flight Home

Now that we had seen everything that Palmetto wanted to show us we had a bit of time to kill on the final day before Duncan, and I needed to be back at the airport home. How does PSA fill that downtime? Time on the range with some machine guns of course!

Josiah had arranged for us to get to one their stores before open and had ammo set aside for several machine guns like a full auto converted M&P-15 .22LR, an Uzi, MP5, a PSA AK converted to full auto, and a PSA AR converted to full auto as well.

While we were on the range, I broke out my carry Glock 19 and got some practice in before I headed back home since the next day I would be at the Modern Samurai Project 2-day Red Dot Course. I know Duncan ate up the chance to mag dump the machine guns and don’t get me wrong, I did too between strings with my Glock 19.

Being responsible and brushing my shooting skill up a bit before class instead of shooting the crap out of machine guns killed me a bit inside but that is the price of adulating sometimes. I did get a chance to mag dump as well as deliver some controlled bursts out of everything PSA has laid out for us, just not as much time with them as I would have preferred.

I want to thank Josiah and the other folks at PSA for understanding the importance of me getting a bit of practice while I was out of town, so I didn’t show up at class shooting like a fool that hadn’t shot in a while. The ability to keep my practice schedule up while on the road was invaluable.

Right about 11 AM Duncan, Josiah, and I loaded up in the rental and headed to the airport so that Duncan and I could get back home and process everything we had seen. The amount of stuff that we saw, did, or learned on this trip was like drinking from a fire hose, and I knew I was going to need some time to decompress and process it all.

What I Learned During The Tour

While I know that this post is nearing the length of a short story, but I think it was well worth taking my time to explain everything that I saw.

Before the trip I had a positive impression of Palmetto State Armory’s products, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t. What I didn’t have was an appreciation for the mission of PSA or the amount of quality control and thought that goes into everything they produce.

Quality Control is taken seriously at PSA.

It has become in vogue to refer to PSA’s lowers as “hobby grade,” and I now know that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Why is it that folks feel that PSA’s stuff is of lesser quality? The price of the product plays a lot into perception. Because PSA has learned how to keep their overhead super low and is essentially offering their products at “dealer price” to consumers they blow most other companies out of the water regarding value.

Just because you are getting factory direct pricing doesn’t mean that it is of lesser quality.

QC on the majority of the parts is on par with many other manufacturers out there based on what I have seen and I would even go so far as to say that many of Palmetto’s components  are of higher quality than those found other rifles that have an MSRP double of what a PSA rifle would run you.

Barrels are even checked with fancy machines I don’t understand.

I guess the cliff notes version is don’t discount PSA just because it is attainable, more expensive is not always better.

Special Thanks

I want to thank Josiah and everyone else that either spoke with us on the tour or made it happen. The hospitality shown was nothing short of above and beyond what anyone would expect on a media trip.

I am looking forward to making my way back to Columbia for the next visit!

About Patrick R.Patrick Roberts

Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.

Ammoland’s Epic Tour of Palmetto State Armory – Part 2

.30-30 Winchester Ammo: Ideal for Personal Defense?

So what about the .30-30 Winchester as a viable defense round? Is it any good, or should it be hung over the wall with Granddad’s antique snowshoes?

Winchester 94 Rifle is .30-30 Winchester
Winchester 94 Rifle is .30-30 Winchester

USA – -( There’s been a lot of talk over the years, in gun shops, around camps and occasionally even in print that the .30-30 Winchester rifle should finally go the way of the Dodo.

I have heard more than one conversation between so-called learned experts that it’s a useless round past the 100-yard mark and that even at that distance, it’s really barely just getting by and that’s just for hunting. So what about the .30-30 as a viable defense round? Is it any good, or should it be hung over the wall with Granddad’s antique snowshoes and left as a memory of another time?

.30-30 Winchester Ammo

Most experts, of course, will throw out there that the best choice for a defensive round would be some semi-auto rifle, and in many cases they would be right, but in some locales, the laws are not always on the side of gun owners, and in some cases, those semi-auto rifles, are restricted or have to be “compliant” which to many of us, translates into another word. Neutered. For instance, in my particular state, any AR platform can’t have a pistol grip with a detachable magazine, which can only be 10 rounds anyway so they have this bizarre stock that resembles PVC pipe or you can have a pistol grip but must load from a stripper clip from the side at an angle. I applaud the gun makers for coming up with alternatives, but these guns are still shadows of their former selves.

Getting back to the .30-30 Winchester, look at the round itself. The 150 grain round is listed at 2,400 fps, and while this isn’t blowing the doors off the competition when you compare it to the .308 or .30-06, you have to be impressed when you compare it to one of the most respected military rounds on the planet, the 7.62x39mm, which with its 123 grain FMJ is also listed at the 2,400 fps mark.

One of the reasons the .30-30 Winchester has always been so popular is because of the gun it was chambered in. Putting the round into the 1894 Winchester rifle and the more desirable carbine with its 20-inch barrel standard gave the shooter a gun that weighed a little more than six pounds and was only thirty-seven inches long. Compare that to say an SKS which weighs over eight pounds and is three inches longer. If the Winchester 94 is not your thing, the Marlin 336 Rifle and it’s predecessors, the 1893, the 1936 and the Model 36 are all fine guns in their own right.

While many tout the .30-30 Winchester’s history of killing game all over this country and even the world, it saw action and military service for decades. In World War I, the US Military bought Winchester 1894 rifles in .30-30 and handed them over to the US Army Signal Corps who were protecting the tree cutting crews in the timber forests in the Pacific Northwest. These crews were cutting spruce which was vital to aircraft production, and these guns have been known afterward as “spruce guns”. There were some eighteen hundred of these carbines issued, with a “US” and flaming bomb ordinance mark on the top of the barrel behind the rear sight.

Closer to the actual battlefield, the British purchased some five thousand 1894 rifles and they were issued to the Royal Navy for use on board their ships, but the French acquired the most, more than fifteen thousand that had sling swivels mounted on the left side of the buttstock and the rear sight had graduations in metric. While not issued to front-line troops, it’s hard not to imagine them seeing some sort of action throughout all that chaos.

Where the .30-30 has been proven and documented, however, has been right here in the US and in the waning days of the Old West.

By the time the 1894 Winchester was introduced, most of the frontier had been settled, the Indian Wars were over, the bison were all but gone from the plains and most of the wild in the wild west had now been tamed. Still, the 1894 Winchester and the .30-30 found favor on both sides of the law and both sides of the border.

Tom Horn
Tom Horn


Isom Dart
Isom Dart

One known and well documented hard case that favored a .30-30 was noted Indian Scout and manhunter, Tom Horn. Horn, who was an interesting character, to say the least, helped bring in Geronimo, hunted down and apprehended men for the Pinkerton Agency before he became a hired killer for the Colorado and Wyoming cattle companies under the guise of the title of “range detective”.


Horn was convicted of shooting and killing fourteen-year-old Willie Nickell and hung for it on November 20, 1903 and while there is still a lot of debate that Horn might not have killed Nickell, there is universal consensus among historians that Horn shot and killed a man named Isom Dart, a cattle thief that had been warned to get out of the area.

On the morning of October 4, 1900, Dart walked out of the front door of his cabin and was struck squarely in his chest, he hit the ground dead. Later two .30-30 shells were found 150-200 yards away from where Dart had been shot.

While many speculated that Horn used a Winchester 1876 in .45-60, and he may have, at the time of the killings he was carrying a Winchester 1894 rifle in .30-30 with a button magazine equipped with a folding tang sight

Horn’s killing of Dart is probably the first known and documented use of a .30-30 for something other than game at long range.

Mexican Revolution Armory
Mexican Revolution Armory

The 1894 Winchester also found favor during the Mexican Revolution, whether in the hands of those fighting for Pancho Villa or the “El Tigre del Sur”, Emiliano Zapata, guns in .30-30 were extremely popular because ammunition was readily available on the American side of the border. During the more than nine years of the revolution rifles and carbines in .30-30 were sought after and used heavily during the whole conflict.

Law enforcement agencies across the country also found the Winchester 1894 in .30-30 to be of value. The New York State Police and the LAPD at one time issued the little carbines to their officers on either coast with many other police departments in between including the Texas Rangers. Arguably the most famous Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson carried a Winchester 94 in .30-30 that had the barrel cut down to the length of 16 inches, commonly known as a “trapper”. Jackson stated in an interview that he carried that gun at his feet the entire time while working as a Ranger.

 Joaquin Jackson
Joaquin Jackson

Getting back to the here and now, I decided to see what a good .30-30 could do at some distances some might not consider shooting them, at least not for personal defense. My .30-30 is nothing spectacular, it’s a Winchester 94, known as a “transition” gun, it was made in 1939 and had an earlier style receiver and buttstock of the old saddle ring carbines, which had two factory screw holes in the tang, which allowed for the use of a fold-down sight, but it had a newer style barrel with a ramped front sight. Winchester was essentially using up older parts and in 1940, a new buttstock was used with a flat recoil pad and then the receiver was different slightly with a single hole in the tang and all that was mated to the newer style barrel that was on the transition carbines. My Winchester 94 still has open sights, no peep sights, no scope.

I set up a cut out silhouette target without any aiming points and set it out at 125 yards which was the farthest I could shoot at our little range. I took five of my handloads, a 170 grain Hornady SP with a charge of IMR-4064 that essentially duplicates the factory ballistics. The five shots were all fired from a rest but as quickly as I could get the sights on target and they all hit close with three clustering nearly dead center, and all were pretty much to the point of aim. As you can see, the .30-30 will do just fine out to just past the 100-yard mark, and I would say out to 150 and 175 yards with practice is certainly achievable. Once the .30-30 gets to 200 yards and beyond it begins to lose altitude pretty quickly.

Winchester 94 group shot at 125 yards
Winchester 94 group shot at 125 yards

So in this day and age of the war on semi-auto rifles, lever action rifles chambered in .30-30 make a pretty good alternative for personal defense, and since they have a long history of their performance on game, can make a pretty good case for having only one long gun to perform several jobs. Ammunition in .30-30 is literally everywhere and one of the cheaper ones to buy, and handloading for it is simple and easy.

The .30-30 Winchester has been with us for more than 120 years now and it’s been all over the world, and it’s a shame that it seems to have taken a back seat to the belted magnums and wonder rounds that have come along ever since. While it might not be the most powerful round when it comes to knocking down game, it has more than enough for the job of personal defense and it’s almost always found in a lightweight carbine that lends itself to the task. In a compact gun the .30-30 Winchester is at home today at your side as it was in the early squad cars of the LAPD and riding along with those early New York State Troopers. Don’t overlook the .30-30 Winchester in a short carbine like the Model 94 Winchester or Marlin 336, especially in those states were gun owners are stuck behind enemy lines and are not trusted by their own elected officials with any semi-automatic rifles that aren’t neutered or have to be “compliant” in order to even be acceptable.

David LaPell
David LaPell

About David LaPell

David LaPell has been a Corrections Officer with the local Sheriff’s Department for thirteen years. A collector of antique and vintage firearms for over twenty years and an avid hunter. David has been writing articles about firearms, hunting and western history for ten years. In addition to having a passion for vintage guns, he is also a fan of old trucks and has written articles on those as well.

.30-30 Winchester Ammo: Ideal for Personal Defense?