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“Christmas time is here by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say ‘When.’
Kills the turkeys, ducks and chickens
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.”
—A Christmas Carol, by Tom Lehrer

Let’s come to an understanding. I will pretend that you can seriously consider buying at least some of what follows. You will pretend that you are not scared plain flat pissless of what 2009 holds in store, and will read all this with your usual avarice. Note, however, that the rotten situation we’re in does not detract one iota from how good all this stuff is. Some of it is new; other items I have used for years.

KNIVES: The Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife is a copy of the Russell Canadian Belt Knife, which is one of the great all-around designs. It’s stainless, with a polypropylene handle, and comes with a very good nylon sheath. You have to sharpen it a lot, but so what? It costs only $19. Cabela’s Bell & Carlson Gator, at $90, is the best factory hunting knife I know of. They did everything right, and then some. At the semi-custom level are the five DiamondBlade knives; four fixed and one folder. I don’t know of anything that comes close to their ability to take an edge and keep it. $250 and up, depending on handle material. Gerber’s E-Z Out DPSF is a small folder that was designed for the military. It will cut anything, and for only $67.
SLEEPING BAG:** Anything made by Wiggy (actually, Harry Wigutow). Wiggy has developed his own insulation, called Lamilite, which will not absorb moisture and will not lose its loft, I don’t care what you do to it. If Wiggy happens to answer the phone himself, don’t get him talking about Hillary Clinton. It’s not good for him.

SCOPES: Trijicon TR20-2 AccuPoint 3X9X. Comes with fiber-optic-illuminated pointed post or mil-dot reticle—and no batteries. A super scope in all respects. Nikon Monarch 2.5X-10X. An absolutely first-rate all-around scope in the medium price range. If you want to shoot stuff in the next county, try the new 6.5X-20X Monarch with Nikon’s range compensating reticle. Nightforce 1X-4X NXS. Most of what Nightforce makes is big, heavy, and tactical. (Nightforce scopes are almost standard equipment among .50 BMG shooters; they are among the few scopes that can stand up to the big guns.) This little scope is idea for much big game hunting, and it is a true 1X, which gives you a huge field of view. How tough are Nightforce scopes? A gun maker friend of mine was visited by a Nightforce salesman, who made this point by banging on the desk with one of them. “He wrecked my desk,” said the gunmaker, but the scope was not harmed in the least. Nightforces scopes are not cheap.

G.I. SURPLUS RUBBERIZED NYLON LAUNDRY BAGS: Has it really come to this? Why not? They are cheap (around $6-$7) each, and extremely useful. You can pack your clothes in them, stick them in your duffle, and because they are waterproof, when the ramp apes leave your duffle bag out in the rain, your clothes will stay dry. You can store your wool stuff in them for the summer, or you can actually put laundry in them. I got mine at Brigade Quartermasters, but they appear not to carry them any more. The source I can find is schooluniforms.com, and the code number is Roth 2576.

More coming.