GSP•15 GunSport Pro Electronic EarPro Review

I have seen Ear protection cost as little as a couple bucks all the way up to thousands of dollars. As we all know, while shooting is fun, we would like to be able to use our hearing again in the future. While enjoying firearms isn’t going to blow your eardrums in one shot, it is something that gets destroyed very easily over time.

With protection of the longevity of your hearing in mind, many of the options available on the market today are generally left to a combination of budget and personal preference. Pushing personal preference aside for just a minute, lets talk about popularity. By far from what we have seen from others within the industry as well as your average Joe/Jane shooter is the inexpensive Electronic EarPro commonly available at Amazon, Walmart and local hunting/gun shops. They work well, fairly ruggedized and easy to maintain/replace batteries. What you also commonly see is people still doubling up on this ear protection with the addition of foam or in-ear inserts. But why?

One of the main issues with the over ear protection, electronic or otherwise is from the shooting positions and butt stock associated with proper shooting form. What ends up happening more often than anyone would care to admit is that the ear pro gets lifted, shifted or moved when you go to acquire a proper cheek weld. When that happens you are promptly greeted with a loud “crack” and a persistent ring for a short time from not having the shot muffled. Another case for making Suppressors a non-NFA item and standard equipment available to all citizens, but that is a write up for another time. So what if you want the best of both worlds? What if you want simple, in-ear protection with the benefits of electronic ear protection that only attenuates the harmful sounds and still lets you communicate? Or even hear amplified sound like when you are hunting and still protecting your ears? This is where the GSP•15 from Etymotic comes in.

A good rule of thumb with technology I have always told people since my retail days is “If you want technology smaller, it costs more money, period.” Now while I am sure there are some exceptions to this rule, it is a pretty fair assessment overall. The GSP•15 takes a lot of what the most popular and affordable over ear protection does and fits it right inside your ear canal. Not only that but it gives you two levels of adjustment based on what you need it for. There is a dual mode switch that is oh so tiny that switches the unit between Hi and Lo.

The Hi position on the switch is fantastic for what we are used to from most Electronic Ear Pro with the volume turned up. It enhances the slightest sounds and is great for just hanging around at the range or a class or while listening for brush and twigs to break while hunting. It is fairly clean and not too “digital sounding” with minimal hiss. Reduction in this mode is a -15dB reduction according to Etymotic and while it is probably close to that, it works about as good as a solid 5.56 suppressor in making shooting hearing safe without really sacrificing any normal hearing.

The Lo position is for when things get serious at about -25dB reduction. With a flick of the same switch, conveniently oriented in the direction of the main module itself in your ear, it is easily flicked with a gloved hand an with no need for fine motor skill. The Hi setting may require some fingernail usage to get underneath the tiny switch, but for Lo, its just a poke in the ear and you will probably turn the noise down quickly and easily just by getting close to it. it’s not loose or faulty, its just positioned in a really convenient fashion. This mode allows normal speech and communication to come through but is definitely attenuated by comparison to the Hi mode. The benefit though is, ALL levels are attenuated. So if there are machine guns, indoor shooting, classes or a full firing line…. the Lo position is where its at while still being a pretty decent electronic ear pro and allowing you to hear normal to high volume level talking.

The GSP•15 comes with several options for the insertion tips which I found to be very forward thinking on Etymotic’s part. When you are spending $300 on ear protection like this, it needs to be comfortable. There is no off switch (we will get to that in a minute) so prepare to wear them for the entire duration of your activity. Some people like soft foam, others like harder foam. Not all canals are the same size so you have different levels of thickness as well as silicon triple flange tips too. But let’s be honest, there is something… IN your ear… and you are aware of it, it doesn’t matter who makes what. Something in your ear is something in your ear and eventually you will want it out. Whether its for a break, or sweat, or any reason at all you want to take ear pro off from time to time because theres something in or on your ear. That is normal.

To help with that and not lose it the GSP•15 comes Left ear and Right ear tethered together with a thin and very lightweight cord so they can hang gingerly around your neck when not in use. While convenient, I found myself freaking out more often than not thinking I lost my ears because they really are SUPER light and fairly unnoticeable. A pretty good design for size, included accessories, comfort and adjustability. With the good comes the bad, or shall we just say, trade-offs. It is incredibly hard (read: expensive) to have a lot of these features without making some sacrifices.

I have worn the GSP•15’s from Etymotic for several months now. I have worn them outdoors alone, outdoors with several other shooters on a firing line. I have worn them indoors both for shooting as well as photography and video jobs with live fire from one and several shooters at a time. I wore them to two machine gun shoots, in both fair weather and rain and I must say they have faired exceptionally well and the Hi/Lo switch has been thoroughly tested. The only times I wish I had larger or additional EarPro was when I was in close proximity (it has happened several times over the past few months) to multiple full auto and large caliber volleys of fire going on. Full auto 7.62 and higher like .30cal and .50cal will rattle you no matter what so it perfectly acceptable to want more from any ear pro in my opinion. The trade-offs I have found in this time and usage are simple but may be deal-breakers for many.

Price for one. At $299 there are certain things one expects like an on/off switch and or a volume control. This has neither. The only part resembling a volume switch is the aforementioned Hi/Lo toggle. While at no point I felt I needed to adjust the volume it was very interesting to me that it did not have some sort of capability. The on/off switch though at first glance is a big deal, until you understand the battery life of the GSP•15.

The GSP•15 uses super tiny Zinc batteries. The same tiny ones that work with a lot of the smaller in-ear hearing aids. I mean TINY. BUT, it is also one of the most affordable and most widely available batteries thanks to the Hearing Aid industry. Plus and Minus because while accessibility and affordability of the batteries is a great thing, the frequency at which you need to replace them is astounding. The downfall of the Zinc size 10 battery is that, once it is exposed to oxygen, the countdown timer starts. Not when installed in the device, not when the device is on…. from the moment you peel off the protective battery sticker, the countdown begins. The longest I got these batteries to last was 3 days. As noted before, there is no “Off Switch.” So in order to not have a constant drain from the GSP•15’s, you have to remove the batteries from the hearing device when not in use just to get to 3 days.

So like I said, trade-offs have to happen and to make technology smaller it costs money. Etymotic I think made some great tradeoffs in consideration of size and battery versus life and common usage. Do you need an on off switch for such a limited life battery? Probably not. The batteries are also available in bulk and for not a lot of coin so all in all it’s not so bad. I was never uncomfortable with the lack of fine volume adjustment and 90% of the time I was fine with the simple Hi/Lo pass switch. The weight (or lack thereof) was a blessing and a curse. They were not that noticeable at all while wearing, and panic ensued when you weren’t wearing them because you are afraid they fell off your neck. After all this process I can tell you a few key things.

I have bought more batteries, because while this is not my main “go-to” hearing protection I really do enjoy not having to put on big ear pro from time to time. Especially in the hotter climates when you get that gross ear sweat from the ear cups on traditional hearing protection, it is nice to not have the backside of my ears smell like a set of hockey gloves. They work really great and have had no issues in many environments for me, so as I try to get into hunting for instance, I can absolutely see the value of having these. I keep them in my camera bag at all times both for range time and videos, as well as for when I am not shooting a gun, but a camera and don’t want the sweat as mentioned before.

Conclusion

If you need to pack light, want the convenience of smaller ear protection, or just want a more compact option then the Etymotic GSP•15 is a great choice. I still use over ear electronic ear protection, but I must say I like having the option and ability to occasionally use the smaller sized in-ear electronic. I tend to shoot far more than the average enthusiast so things like the battery life, cost to replace and cost of batteries is a bit different for me so take the review with a grain of salt. I would love to have MSA Sordins or Peltor ComTac III’s or even Howard Leight Impacts shrunk way down and fit into my ear with a super long battery life and functionality for only $50. But like I said earlier; “If you want technology smaller, it costs more money, period.” Overall, if it’s in your budget and/or you want the luxury of in-ear electronic hearing protection, the Etymotic GSP•15 is a great accessory to keep in the bag.

Alpha Dog Silencers, Tacti-Cool Too Far?

While visiting family for the thanksgiving holiday down in CT, a buddy of ours from Rand and Dewey Rods invited me to come check out a facility known as King 33. Short story endless, one of the people “just hanging out” at King 33 during that visit on Black Friday was Aaron, the owner and inventor behind Alpha Dog Silencers. No velcro, no camo, and quite literally looking like nothing we have been accustomed to seeing in the firearms industry with a waxed and twisted handlebar mustache, Aaron asked if I would like to try his suppressors. To which there was already a station with pistols and ammo already waiting, I felt a little… “set up” and on the spot. So off we go shooting a suppressor with picatinny rail on it, and I have to say… I was immediately flipped 180 on my opinion of it.

Now I must say, I am not all starry eyed for all the things you can mount to picatinny rail, especially on a suppressor. It seems weird to me and a little excessive. Some guys have have many uses and ideas for it, and some of them actually sound reasonable or smart to me, given those people and there purposes for those applications. For someone like me, I have no desire to mount anything, nor (importantly) the need to mount anything on my suppressor. I know TruGlo makes a really neat mini laser that makes sense to me to have on there, but not for everyday use. More like a suppressed “bump in the night” type setup. But I digress. What does make sense to me is heat dissipation. Anyone who has ever put a magazine through a suppressor and instantly tried to either take it off, put it away, or put it on another pistol will tell you, you get burned. Plain and simple, suppressors get hot, just like the muffler of your car. There is combustion and expanding gasses and heat galore, of course there is going to be heat. The picatinny rail does a fantastic job of doubling as it’s intended purpose, heat sinks.

Heat sinks allow more surface area of a metal part that conducts heat to cool down and dissipate heat faster. Like your radiator, PC gaming video cards, parts in your laptop. It is a tried and true method of helping keep temperatures down with metal that continuously gets excessively hot. Now that we all have a degree in thermodynamics, lets continue with the suppressor.

The Alpha Dog Silencer is a Monolithic baffle design meaning the baffles of the suppressor are not stacked cups but instead is a single piece of metal that has the baffles cut out in the desired pattern to help slow gasses and sound. The Alpha Dog also has a break free cap on the end as part of the user serviceable design, not for cleaning but as a safety precaution. We will get to that in a second. The Nielsen Device, Piston, Booster, whatever you want to call it is held in place on the opposite end with a simple mechanical thread which locks down the opposite side of the Aluminum “tube” that houses all the guts. The can is also mechanically timed (meaning you compress the piston spring by pulling the suppressor away from the pistol and rotate to desired “timing” location before releasing the spring tension. Also a favorable or desirable trait.

The baffles are coated with (unit tested) a cerakoted finish which adds a color differentiation and some added toughness to the metal. They are also in a pattern I would describe as an ascending delta. Simple triangular baffles that become closer together as they get closer to the muzzle. Simple, clean and effective. When cleaning, the cerakoting helps let you know where the heavy build-ups are.

The Nielsen Device is simple to remove, simple to put back together and the Alpha Dog comes with the tool needed to remove it, made of hard steel. Mostly can be done by hand, but also works with a wrench or socket if you really want to muscle it on or off. Also not an expensive replacement if you for some reason lose it.

The tube itself, is more than just a simple design, it’s almost sneaky. Remember those picatinny rails, they are actually hollow on the inside. Why does that matter? Well, the more internal volume you have, the more room for expansion and sound suppression you get. While it may seem like not a lot of area by comparison to the rest of the tube, you have to take into account every little bit helps and thats why you see so many other brands changing the shape of the tube or even going back to some old school designs to help increase that expansion space.

We tested the Alpha Dog Silencer in 9mm, and a majority of the time utilized the in-house Alpha Dog medium, affectionately named “Dog Slobber.” I am happy to report that despite most of our shooting utilizing the medium, the can running dry was STILL more impressive than some of the other “more well known” brands 9mm cans run equally as dry. Truth be told we ran the suppressor mostly with the medium for two reasons. One, it sounds super cool and pleasing to the ears. Truly a “pew pew pew” sound and continuously had onlookers at the range saying “WHAT?!?!” with jaws dropped. Running the can dry it was not as much of a show stopper because… it worked. It sounds like a suppressed 9mm, plain and simple. Does a great job at reducing the “crack” of supersonic rounds and as we found over time (dependent on relative humidity) actually made it as quite as subsonic rounds. Impressive. The second reason is that it is a user serviceable silencer. By adding medium we are also increasing pressures a little more but also pushing material out through any gaps in the suppressor from dismantle-able parts.

With the medium involved more than not and constant assembly and reassembly of the suppressor, we did notice some leakage. Nothing substantial or cause for concern. There were no blowouts, no massive amounts of gas or liquid escaping, only microscopic. After a few hundred rounds and mag after mag of shooting “wet” we would begin noticing something resembling sweat marks at the seams. This is natural and unfortunately unavoidable due to heat, pressure and sustained shooting (see thermodynamics above). We noticed nothing coming loose or leaking to the naked eye and all the expulsion we could see came from the muzzle. Just a little cleaning with some of your normal favorite cap or lube and you’re good to go.

Speaking of the muzzle, we had talked about the front being mounted directly to the baffles. This was actually proven at a recent machine gun shoot we were at where a round left the barrel, went rogue inside the can and had (multiple) baffle strikes. Thanks to the design of the Alpha Dog, built to all blow forward and down the shroud it did exactly that. All debris and flack from the suppressor went downrange, not harming the weapon, the shooter or anyone on either side of the firing line. Now while I am not going to destroy a perfectly good suppressor to see if it’s true… this was a perfect example of it working the way it should.

A quick note on mechanical timing versus a pressure or ratchet locking system, some companies do ratcheting or pressure tightening very well, others not so much. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have an expensive suppressor coming out of timing because of a latch or “gear” or whatever becoming worn down from re-timing. I like mechanical, especially on pistol suppressors simply because it’s simple, straightforward and generally uses less parts in my experience.

Overall, the Alpha Dog Silencer is more than just tactical shenanigans gone too far. It is a better than average suppressor at a lower than average price point. $690 plus a tax stamp it is still sub $1K, has a great warranty, simple to operate and clean and does way better than some of it’s higher priced competition. Mount stuff on it, don’t mount stuff on it is your call, preference or need. At the end of the day you are buying a solid suppressor, not more pic rail. Truly can’t wait to see what Aaron the mad scientist comes up with next with Alpha Dog. Good Product, Good Company, Good People and a Good Price point.

Drive-By Kit from RE Factor Tactical Re-Purposed

RE Factor Tactical creates products based off a need by guys out there, in the field and overseas doing the kinds of things movies are made of. Putting the hurt on bad guys in places and on missions you will never hear about. The product we are focusing on today was created for a completely different purpose than what I used it for, but that also does not negate the quality and usefulness of the product in a civilian capacity.

The RE Factor Tactical Drive-By Kit was created for the purpose of engaging an enemy or threat from a motor vehicle in an easy access capacity without having to go to your load out on your gear. If you expend all the stuff you need that is on you from inside the vehicle and you need to hop out and move on foot… you are now at a reload/supply disadvantage. While that all sounds badass and awesome, it is hard for me to justify needing this product as a father and husband in my day to day civilian life. So how is this even a review? Well, technically it’s not, however I will share my results on how I “re-purposed” this fast deploying kit to suit my needs.

Let’s flash back to why I took this route before we come back to the present. On April 15, 2016 I was driving down the highway on normal, mundane day to day task in the middle of the day. As I was cruising down the highway I was caught off guard by an immediate occurrence of dead stop traffic. Like everyone “brake checked” everyone southbound at once. As I began rolling forward I could see what happened, sort of. Several vehicles on the Northbound side were in utter chaos. Crushed, on their sides, debris and car parts all over the highway with a couple on the jersey barrier. As I came upon it I started processing what the situation was and I could see a girl either in shock or terror on my side of the highway over the jersey barrier crying and bleeding. I am no first responder but with a quick glance, there were no first responders. I immediately thought “I should help” and I started positioning my vehicle to stop and protect the girl from on coming and try to offer assistance. As I was putting hazards on, waving out the window and getting over to the side, I took a quick medical inventory in the vehicle. Only to realize I had NOTHING of use. Literally, nothing but a pocket knife, Flashlight and a pistol.

There was nothing I could do that would help the situation at all and I would have put myself, my vehicle and others in danger. So there is the pit in the stomach, there is nothing I could do to help, and that bothered me greatly as I moved literally and figuratively back into my lane. Luckily as I was passing the girl on the road, Police were pulling up with Fire and EMT’s. I felt a little better but immediately came to the realization that this is an unacceptable situation moving forward. As it turns out, there was a carjacking that led to a car chase into MA, followed by another carjacking and stabbing before leading authorities on another car chase back into NH. I had just stumbled across the tail end of that debacle during normal, everyday, boring tasks.

So, as luck would have it, RE Factor had just released this new Drive-By Kit. The Drive-By kit consists of a semi rigid molle panel that attaches to a headrest. Utilizing a stiffened and open ended nylon pull, it weaves to a pouch that is a tidy little package. The pouch itself has two AR-15 magazine slots, molle front and rear, compartmentalized nylon lined on one interior side and an elastic banded flex use side on the other interior panel. The pack also has a quickly employable hook on it so when you do need to pull the red strap and be mobile in literally a second, you have a method to attach it without stopping and trying to thread molle. Very versatile and fast I instantly had an idea to create a roadside immediate action/driving utility pouch.

Now, bear in mind, it’s a great idea to carry a medical kit/first aid kit in your vehicle. Especially as a father, a traveller, a pet owner, a responsible conceal carry holder (shame on me) there should be a kit in the car. And I had one, but it was for bumps, and scrapes and not capable for that particular day or event. Furthermore, it was in the trunk, underneath bags, ammo, steel targets and a stroller. not very “immediate.” So with that event very fresh in my mind I started laying out all the IFAKs and medkits I have on my range gear and figuring out what I would want/need in a situation like that. I also factored in, what would I need if myself or the wife was driving, to help the kids in the backseat without having to stop, unpack a trunk to get at a kit or gear to help remedy the situation. So with that, here is what I packed in a fairly organized list and why.

MS Clean Kits Magazine Single

This utilizes one of the mag pouches on the kit to hold some bandages, tips and smaller items that the wife and kids can access without digging out the big kit in the back.

CAT Tourniquet and Trauma Shears

This goes in the second magazine pouch and is held in place by the bungee system on both mag carriers. I also crammed a chemlight in there and on the exterior molle as well. Many uses including illumination and occupying children.

RATS tourniquet

On the exterior of the main pouch I threaded a RATs tourniquets for fast deployment. The RATS is good for not just being another tourniquet to use, but it also works much easier on smaller people like the kids as well as the dog. The CAT just doesn’t do that as well or in a hurry.

  • 1 Israeli Bandage
  • 2 Large Gauze Rolls
  • 1 Medium Ace Bandage
  • 7 Gauze Bandages Large
  • 2 Hemostats, one straight one curved
  • 2 pairs Nitrile Gloves
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Krazy Glue great for quickly closing minor deep cuts.
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen

Strapped to the molle panel straps that hold the panel to the headrest is a 1000 lumen LED light from Work n’ Gear that has a high, low and red strobe setting and a magnetic base. Perfect for flat tire, roadside repairs and signaling. Also a utility/pocket knife on the outside molle.

So, I am happy with this setup but also not sold entirely on it. Hopefully I outlined the intended purpose of being able to get gear out and “at the scene” fast coupled with items needed for family on hand immediately/conveniently. I am also working on a well built trunk kit that will have more of a “we are going to be here awhile” setup. Hopefully this is a good start to immediate access in seconds. Please feel free to leave comments on Facebook or Youtube or even email us. I would love to get some feedback, opinions and ideas from our fans and followers!

Check them out at https://www.refactortactical.com/

StealthGearUSA FLEX Holster Review

OWB holsters are generally a faster access method of carrying a pistol and concealment takes a back seat with a heavier focus on access, speed, retention and comfort. Well, once upon a time we said the guys at StealthGearUSA were trying new things with new materials and new processes. The FLEX is a fine example of trying new things.

The FLEX holster is one of, if not the ONLY OWB holsters we have seen that has gone a different direction with mounting. There have been many iterations of loops and hooks made of metal and plastic. We have seen kydex loops and molded/injected nylon, we have seen larger offset paddle styles and even larger and wider “wing” type belt mounting styles all in efforts to smooth out on the hip. Be more low profile and sit closer to the hip and waist. The main difference between the FLEX and all the other ways we have seen is, instead of mounting a different type of loop to the same location, StealthGearUSA has changed the location and method of attachment. Instead of being on the backside of the actual holster, the “wings” are actually mount in a lifted position on the front of the holster and spaced with some flexible spacers or elastomers which allow a deeper level of (wait for it) FLEX in the mounting to your belt.

With trapezoidal belt loops that can accommodate the more common 1.5” belts all the way up to 2” belts. This method of attaching actually brings the holster much closer to your torso than anything else due to the loops in conjunction with the elastomer spacers. Because science. In my opinion this is an OWB holster suited ideally for anyone needing fast access that an OWB holster provides but with very limited printing or exposure you commonly see from OWB holsters. I don’t know for fact but I would think a lot of professionals in the LEO and private security realm would really benefit from this holster. The amount of printing or the lack thereof I should say, for an OWB holster the FLEX provides is pretty epic. Good retention is also a nice by-product of the holster with this type of mounting system as it utilizes a lot of the same forgiving yet rigid materials the ONYX IWB uses.

The materials are similar to the Onyx IWB StealthGearUSA makes that we already reviewed but locations and amounts have changed due to the wear and rigidity locations necessary for the different carry method. High abrasion resistant as well as limited slip materials are in “high traffic” areas like where the holster rides on your belt while still including the vent and padding technology up in the sweat guard. Firm, breathable and built to last for a long time it is true utilization on modern materials and methods to provide a holster of great value to the end user.

The only negative we found was something similar to what we see in a lot of holsters and little can be done about. Screws loosen and especially in dealing with things like these rubber spacers it will create a squeaking sound. Regular inspection and maintenance of your carry gear is always recommended and perhaps the squeaking created by this can be viewed as a positive. A good reminder perhaps that you need to address wear and tear issues like walking screws from everyday use. Also, a dab of Blue Loc-Tite never hurts either.

All in all we highly recommend SGUSA holsters. Check them out at http://stealthgearusa.com

Bowers VERS 9s Suppressor Review

Cost, wait times and tax stamps are some of the most common reasons most have to not buy a suppressor. Aside from State to State legality owning a suppressor can be a labor of love (or extreme want) for someone to choose a silencer, choose a caliber they wish to go through the hoops to get and then proceed to say “Bye Bye extra $200” on top of actually making the purchase. To make matters worse you have the endless pool of “resources” including this piddly blog of ours all preaching which can is better than the other. Endless tirades about dB ratings, who makes what, freedom group this or that… It gets tiresome.

I am here to tell you that in our experience, Bowers Group silencers are not the best. I don’t say that in a negative way, but if you compare all the data on Bowers cans they are not the best out there. What they ARE the best at, is providing solid, multi-caliber silencers at a lot less of the cost of their competitors. When you read up on suppressors and look at the details, there is something you don’t see that often in text and readings from meters. It’s the sound. “But there are videos and stuff out there!” Yes there are. For the most part, all shot by people like us, using the same or similar AV equipment which tends to (even to our best efforts) attenuate (meaning reduce the value of) sound to non detrimental levels. Here at FourGuysGuns we don’t use meters and scales and other scientific studies, we aren’t trying to science all that hard. What we do is shoot it. Shoot the hell out of it and tell you what we think.

I am happy to say that while Bowers is not the “Best” Suppressor out there, I can honestly say I have not seen better results from some companies that are $300-$400 more. Bowers Group makes a good solid can for everyday shooters that has a great tone, is hearing safe and even with the tax stamp won’t kill a budget. What a suppressor sounds like to me is most important, more important than the name or the extra whiz bang feature. A suppressor’s number one job is suppression and the Vers 9s did a great job with everything we threw at it. The can was consistent, it didn’t get excessively hot, had a similar tone from 115gr. supersonic all the way through 147gr. subs. The sound was so close and similar we wouldn’t have known the suppressor was doing anything if it wasn’t for the fact we weren’t wearing ear protection. It is hearing safe indeed.

Furthermore, when you are looking at costs for silencers, it is always a great value to be able to use your new purchase on more than just one or two weapons. Versatility is value and the Vers 9s has that in some similar diameters. Rated for 300 BLK and 300 super sonic, all the way through 9mm, .38, and .32 ACP. It is also a direct thread system so you can thread it on to any of those calibers with ease. They even have lug adapters available for Uzi’s if you are into that sort of thing. It is a little large by comparison to others but is not by any means a burden. All in all, we have tested the Paradigm .22 which was awesome and the Bowers Vers 9S did not disappoint either. If you have a $1k budget for a suppressor, this is a great can that still leaves ammo money left over even after the tax stamp.

RE Factor Tactical Essentials Target

A lot of time and repetitions are generally needed for true proficiency and confidence with a firearm. Training, instruction and mentoring bolsters that by helping with errors, providing feedback and correction. More rounds downrange (square range or otherwise) is also a positive step forward in becoming a better shooter. Furthermore… these skills are perishable. I have said it before and I will say it again, buying a guitar does not make you a rockstar and buying a gun does not make you safer. Both require practice, instruction, and more practice.

The Essentials Target from RE Factor Tactical is thus far one of the best methods we have seen to not only maintain those skills but to also improve upon them. The claim to fame is with 150 rounds of ammo, their course of fire that correlates to the paper target and proper execution… you get a full pistol workout. A tall order until you see the drills and target sizes, and more so when you try it. I honestly hope they make it an app or something because it is very useful and thorough.

From 25 yards all the way down to 3 yards and everything in between. Off hand shooting, support hand shooting, from the holster, low ready and even turns and 180’s this course of fire and target get you the most of your range time. And some of us truly know that going to a full day course or a weekend course to get these reps and instruction in can be a high cost. Now, I am not saying this replaces proper training and instruction. Not at all. But it is very supplemental and helps aid that degeneration of skills. Used frequently enough and even the addition of a shot timer you can now have a scaleable diagnostic tool for improvement and proficiency with shooting.

Overall I like it, I like the costs of training coming down with performance going up. Doing that in a shorter time frame is even better. It’s like the 8 minute abs for shooting except it works. I really am looking forward to seeing more drills and courses, definitely worth buying and shooting more than paper plates and old pizza boxes. Check them out!

https://www.refactortactical.com/shop/essentials-target/

L.A.S.R. App Review

The L.A.S.R. was a much superior offering to previously tested products from other companies. Furthermore it works with another product we absolutely love and use personally several times per week, the SIRT Pistol from NextLevel Training. When you combine good hardware and good software the positives of the L.A.S.R. system far outweighs the negatives.

The L.A.S.R. system utilizes a webcam, just about any webcam that was made in the past decade combined the L.A.S.R. software and any laser emitting device like a SIRT pistol or Bolt. Inexpensive alternatives work as well, but the best we have seen and reviewed has been the NextLevel Training products. What this software does is uses your Windows laptop and webcam to help you map out “targets” on the wall or “range.”

Why the quotation marks? Well because your “Range” can literally be just about anywhere you can set this system up which gives it so many possibilities for convenience and flexibility for targets and target types. And by “targets” we mean anything, seriously anything you would aim at. For instance in my office there is a series of hooks holding hats on the wall, a couple patch panels and a RE Factor “Essentials” target on the back of the door. Randomly throughout the day and during conference calls (thank you mute button) I will grab my SIRT Pistol, shoot the hats in a specific round count, transition to the patch panel and then 180 to the target on the door. These random items can all be defined “target” areas via the software.

Anyone can use a mouse and draw a circle or square and thats all you have to do. You can use actual targets like the VTAC, use steel, wall clocks, post-it notes, books on the shelf. ANYTHING. All you have to do is select it in the software that the webcam is looking at and tell it to be a target. It is that easy. You can also specify round counts, magazine counts, keep track of shot timing, reload split times and even get diagnostics on your shooting to see if you are on the trigger too long, jerking, slapping etc. It’s truly an awesome and super easy to use training tool.

We tried the L.A.S.R. system under normal household lighting conditions as well as outdoor and failing light. The ability for the software to recognize some target areas will definitely be impacted by lighting, however we found with the webcam we were using that just by moving the camera closer we were able to alleviate all issues of contrast and target recognition by the software. Most of the systems we have tried have had issues with registering the speed of follow up shots. Mind you we are no KC Eusebio or Brandon Wright type speed shooters, but things like not registering 2 of 5 hits from one of us is noticeable as we are not paid competition shooters. The L.A.S.R. software actually kept up pretty good in the failing light and was great in normal household lighting conditions and “dropping shots” was at its worst a 1 in 20 occurrence. Similar issues with low light though but that is a matter of lighting/contrast and the webcam you are using. So not impervious to issues, but easily remedied issues that are environment based. Add more light, invert targets, whatever need be if you have to shoot in low light, the system will still work.

The only perceived problem we had during testing was getting used to the audio queues. It was a little disorienting and at time felt like you were a gerbil, wait for the correct sound to receive your feed pellet. Let’s be honest though, you, me anyone shooting will not get better if they are trying to practice shooting while looking at a computer screen. So with that the audio queues are a necessary device. After using the system for a few short hours it becomes similar to a trendy song in your head and you know all the words. So the biggest “negative” of the L.A.S.R. system is easily overcome with steady repetitions. I do not believe this is detrimental to live fire as you can visually see targets and see steel react in real life versus working with an audible system in computer software. Besides, for all you “train like you fight” die-hards out there… if that was true then paper targets are also against your beliefs since threats are seldom made of paper.

As a whole, the software is easy to install, its easy to use, intuitive to control and can be used in a wide variety of drills. If your targets are fixed, camera is fixed as well as laptop not moving, this means you can do (room provided) anything from sitting at your office desk, on your couch or even vehicle work in your garage. Truly a neat system where the only limitations are pure darkness and your imagination. The only thing that would make this better was if it had an iOS app to work with the iPhone or iPad. THAT would be amazing and as flexible as it gets. Alas a boy can dream.

Check them out over at lasrapp.com, watch the video to see it in action.

AAC Illusion 9mm Review

AAC (Advanced Armament Corp.) released their 9mm offset can dubbed the “Illusion 9) and we were fortunate enough to get to play with it for an extended period of time. The offset design is both convenient for accessories as well as offers a different utilization of volume for expansion. Many concentric cans (the majority of the market) have great success with changing the baffle design with spacing, shape and materials. While the offset design modeled after Hiram Maxim’s Design is intriguing and useful for many accessories, it also provided some areas of improvement.

The good features include the timing mechanism. it isn’t anything that is fancy or extravagant and has been a proven system on other silencers. It is simple, robust and to the point without involving extra parts or latches. It is built rugged and sturdy, from the baffles to the outer anodizing it was good to go through and through. Dropped several times over, in bags with other metal objects it acquired some minor scrapes and scuffs, all which easily wiped away. The offset design also allows for you to get going right away without the added cost of Suppressor Height Sights, or any quantity of them if you have multiple 9mm firearms but not the budget for several sets of sights. It is also thin enough of a suppressor that it does not interfere with many of the most popular weapon lights including the Surefire X300U, X300, the IR version, Streamlight TLR-H etc. So whether you want to run ALL the accessories or just a can, it’s all good.

The parts we struggled with were definitely surrounded by the “User Serviceable” factor. Once you take the Illusion 9 apart its like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle back together on a jenga tower while on a boat. While I am ok with the baffles not being numbered (it’s cheesey but I like it) they are also cursed with smaller than they should be keyed connections. Mind you this is all if you can even get all the baffles out after a spirited day of shooting. If you do manage to get the baffles stacked, in order and inserted…lining up the baffles is as simple as rotating the keyed stack around (don’t dislodge any) until they settle and lock into the proper alignment on Nielsen. Once that is squared away you can thread on the end cap which like magic (or proper timing) lines up the holes from end to end. In case you were wondering, we were not a fan of “servicing” this suppressor.

While supersonic rounds are supposed to be loud, even through a silencer, we were not that impressed with the sound or tone reduction. There was a definite difference between shooting with and without the can, enough that if you had to, one could shoot an entire magazine and then put their ears back on after some mild ringing. no worse than leaving a loud bar on friday night with an awesome cover band. Subsonic rounds (of course) fared much better and were hearing safe. I am using the term hearing safe loosely only because several mags it was still nothing to write home about. Would I rather shoot with it than without it? You betcha. I maybe just had higher hopes for this can with the offset design after seeing other companies have great success with it.

All is not lost however. I think this can has potential and hope Advanced Armament Corp. creates a next generation model. With my complete lack of an engineering degree I would say more offset and increase the diameter a couple millimeters. Include an alignment rod or tool and make the keying on the baffles more pronounced. It is very close to its competitors but not close enough to sway me, despite how much I like being able to take suppressors apart and clean them.

Magpul D60 First Glance

I am not one for high capacity magazines. yes I said High Capacity because any magazine in excess of 30 rounds is actually a “High Capacity Magazine.” 30 Rounds is actually standard capacity unless you want to get really technical and old school and talk about the 20 rounders originally with the platform Eugene Stoner invented. Drum magazines especially for regular old me have no purpose other than for funsies on the range. However as they become more reliable and in the case of the Magpul D60, less expensive, there are uses and possible instances where they are useful not just in competition but also in “real world” usage.

Magpul announced the D60 right before SHOT Show last year and made a lot of claims on the product performance that had a lot of people interested. Things like Locking back on empty, loading on a closed bolt fully loaded at 60 rounds (sometimes PMAGS won’t even do that) as well as working with speed loaders and stripper clips. I for one use stripper clips all the time with a device from Maglula, the “StripLula” as it is less time consuming and lets us get either back in front of the camera or back on the line faster at a class. When you need to load a high capacity mag, the last thing anyone wants to do is load 40-60 rounds one at a time.

If you watch the video you will see we are happy to report that every single claim made by Magpul is in fact true. They took a lot of the known issues people have with Drum Magazines and fixed them. Made the internals more robust and easier to clean. They made it lighter and most of all they made it less expensive. The Magpul D60 has a great feel to it, loads and unloads as reliably as a PMAG (so far) and sits a lot closer to the receiver for tighter spaces and prone. All in all, especially since my StripLula works I am actually really excited to play with this drum more.

The Kydex Review No One Wants to Do

FourGuysGuns over the years has received quite literally 67 different instances of people asking to review their Kydex. When we first started out, Kydex was the up and coming “thing” and was all the rage thanks to prevalence of it’s appearances on instructors both local and on the web like Haley and Costa. Flash ahead 5-6 years and anyone one with a toaster or press and some sheets of Kydex is “the new best holster company.” Even the Kydex manufacturing process and raw materials has come leaps and bounds over the past several years as well as material and methods of creating have boomed. From ways to fasten the Kydex, Boltoron, whatever.. to mounting options, colors, patterns, eyelets, and cuts… it is showing no signs of slowing down. But I digress.

Why is this “The Kydex Review No One Wants To Do” you ask? I refer back to the 67 different holster companies and their request for reviews. This is not us saying everyone sucks. This is us saying that molded plastic around common firearms looks the same, behaves the same and fact of the matter IS the same. Now that is not to discount those that are higher quality fit and finish or better and more defined molds, they exist. But let’s be honest, those companies that are growing and making money let alone thriving in the Kydex holster making industry are providing a consistent finished product that is better than you, me or my brother’s cousin’s stepsister’s husband Bill who used to be a SEAL Force Team Ranger Delta 9. Sure they all have maybe a “feature” or “trademark” type thing that differentiates theirs from another Kydex company, but other than that small feature or “thing” It is the same materials, same mounts, same blue guns. Here is what we feel separates companies from one another and we applaud and encourage it.

A thriving Kydex/Holster manufacturer has built a culture around their product. Whether it be effective marketing, great customer service, amazing turnaround time or even a goofy off the wall thing. Maybe they are consistent in fit and finish. Maybe their clientele has better word of mouth and reputation. Perhaps maybe you just happened to get the right brand in front of the right camera at the right time with the right person using it. It doesn’t matter. As a Kydex manufacturer that is thriving and growing YOU are doing a GREAT JOB at growing not just the market but also the culture shift and we love it. YOU are starting a business and (hopefully) doing something you like or love. YOU have built a culture, following or market around something RIGHT that YOU are doing. But please, take no offense that we did not review YOUR particular holster because at the end of the day there is not enough of a variance or innovation between manufacturer A, B… all the way to Z. If we showcased every holster maker to the FGG fans every time we were asked, we would see a new holster roughly every 2 weeks from someone else. To be fair, that’s marketing not reviewing.

The brands highlighted here are companies that fall into some of the criteria we had mentioned before. These companies either have built a relationship, , refined and polished a consistent fit and finish above and beyond, innovated something interesting and “outside the box” or created new and improved ways of older styles of holster making. These stood out to us above and beyond what we all see day to day with OWB, IWB and AIWB type plastic holsters. These are the companies that over the past couple years we have taken notice of, have worked with on multiple occasions or feel are steering the boat in a good direction. Some were review items and some were purchased with our own money so I can vouch our due diligence has been done on these companies and it is not the aforementioned marketing versus review.

We hope you enjoy.

Art of War Industries

I’ve been shooting IDPA for the better part of a decade, but didn’t start to get more serious about it until about two years ago. And recently, I’ve made the extra effort to upgrade my gear. That means new holster and new mag carriers, to start with.

Anybody who has spent any amount of time in the shooting world knows that holsters and mag carriers can be found anywhere. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of manufacturers of all sizes churning out gear in leather and Kydex, in all sorts of patterns and colors, and with any of a million different features. After deploying some rudimentary Google Fu, I stumbled upon a shop called Art of War Industries. Their gear looked good, fit my budget, and I read a couple of fairly positive review. Then I noticed they’re located just a few miles up the road from me, and you all know how I like to support the locals. So I placed an order for a basic holster for my Springfield XD. That was my first order, but it would not be my last.

When I decided to upgrade my 3-gun gear, I didn’t even hesitate to call up Joe over at Art of War Industries. The first thing I ordered was the mag carrier. I figured I would just continue to use my other holster in the meantime, but I really needed the mag carrier. Joe and I chatted for a bit, he made some recommendations and I swiped my credit card. The result was a fine specimen of craftsmanship and ingenuity. The carrier holds two pistol magazines as well as two AR magazines. The Kydex is formed specifically for my XD mags, though of course they can do them for just about any mags on the market. It will hold any standard AR mags, because AR mags are mostly pretty standard. Hooray for mil-spec!

I opted for the heavy duty belt loops, rather than clips. I run the carrier on a sturdy HSGI rigger’s belt, so it made sense to go heavy on the loops. The loops are simply screwed into place on the back of the larger AR mag carrier piece. Oh, I should have mentioned, the whole rig is essentially two carriers affixed to one another to make a single rig. At first that sounded a bit overly complicated to me, since I’m not terribly bright. But that quickly became one of my favorite features. When not used as a 3-gun rig, I can detach the smaller pistol mag carrier, screw the belt loops onto it, and use it by itself. So essentially it’s two completely different rigs that combine to form a larger, more awesome one. Basically it’s Voltron.

I used that carrier for a few months before I finally decided to get myself a fancy new holster to go with it. I should note that by this time I had purchased another Art of War Industries holster also, an AIWB holster for my FNS9C. But that’s a whole other review for another time. In this case, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Texas recently approved open carry of handguns, beginning next year. I’m not a big fan of open carry and I’m not here to start political debates. But I figured there may be instances in which open carry would make sense for me. In such cases, I personally feel a holster with retention is a must. That combined with fears of being DQ’d in competition for having a gun fly out of my holster (yes, I’ve personally witnessed it happen to other shooters), made this purchase a no-brainer.

I made the drive back up to Las Cruces to see the Art of War Industries guys again and discuss what I was looking for this time. My goodness, so many options. I knew I wanted a single piece design, with retention, in multicam to match a ridiculous battle belt setup that I bought because I have no impulse control. Joe went over the different mounting options, retention options and finishes. I left the plans in his hands and left excited and anxious for my new holster. Apparently my request was more complicated that either of us expected, which resulted in some delays. Joe was great about keeping me in the loop on the progress though and eventually got it squared away.

Finally, just in time for our next 3-gun match, Joe personally delivered the holster to my house. Man, it’s pretty. Fit and finish are perfect, he provided two different mounting options (for both belt and MOLLE attachment) so that I can run it on different gear. The retention we went with uses a type of thumb-break that has taken a bit of getting used to, but it does the job it’s supposed to and I have no complaints. I just need to work on getting better at breaking it open at speed.

In the near future I will be doing a short write-up on different types of holsters and why one would be better than another for different situations or uses. I’ve now got three different holsters from Art of War Industries, so expect to see them represented heavily in that discussion. In the meantime, check them out at their website and on Facebook. They can fabricate just about anything you need, just throw ideas out and they make it happen. Tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount for that or anything, I just like it when folks drop my name. It makes me feel important. And if Joe and John read this, I’m dead serious about that cheeseburger holster.

Thanks again to Chad at Ambrosia Studios for the photos, please go check out his work here and here.

And follow me and the guys on the web, Facebook and Instagram.

Arsenal Strike One Review

I hear Whitey had a pretty sweet AK here recently, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. And maybe someday I’ll convince Snake Hound Machine to hook me up with one of their sticks.

Anyway, you can imagine how a relatively new Russian-designed pistol would pique my interest. I’m referring, of course, to the Arsenal Strike One. The Strike One made its debut a few years ago, but hasn’t really been seen out in the world too much until fairly recently. Any number of factors may have played into that, including testing, manufacturing, distribution or whatever. But let’s cut to the chase: it got pretty darn tough to import guns from Russia in the past year or so. You may have heard about that on the news. CNN can fill you in, if you’d like.

No worries, though, because firearm manufacturers are nothing if not inventive. By sending unfinished pistols to Italy, the guns are now able to me stamped "Made in Italy" and imported to the U.S. with no additional headache. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. Richard, one of the friendly folks over at my LGS picked up a Strike One recently and has been bugging me to try it out and write it up. So here goes.

Let’s get the basics out of the way right quick. The Strike One is somewhat unique in that it uses a non-tilting, Bergmann system barrel. I’m not an engineer, so don’t ask me how all that works. Suffice to say that unlike most other, Browning-style guns, the Strike One’s barrel doesn’t tilt upwards when fired. You can see in the pictures how perfectly straight the barrel stays throughout the firing process. I’ll talk about what that means for actually shooting in a minute. The gun has a 5 inch "cold hammered" barrel, lightweight polymer frame, and hardened steel slide. One interesting feature of note is the full-length steel frame rails inside the gun. That’s an interesting feature, but without doing serious stress tests, I’m not sure how much value it actually adds to the gun. The gun ships in with three 17-round magazines. To my knowledge there are no after-market mags available yet, but I’m sure ProMag will roll out a shoddy version in no time.
Oh, and it’s 9mm because 9mm is the one caliber to rule them all.

I headed over to the range recently, along with Chad the photo guy, to shoot the Strike One and see how I like it. I fed it a mix of ammo in different weights (115-147) and from a few different manufacturers. For some reason Richard asked that I not shoot steel cased ammo, even though I tried to explain that Russians are all about steel ammo and this gun should be built to eat it. That didn’t seem like a point worth arguing though, so we skipped the steel. Keeping in mind this isn’t a highly scientific accuracy or longevity test, we only shot about 150 rounds over the span of about an hour or so. Getting quality pictures sometimes means slowing everything down. We suffer for our art.

First off, some feels. The gun feels odd. When it’s unloaded, it has very little weight in the frame, and the upper assembly doesn’t add much. Even with that light weight, it feels solid and robust. I particularly like the scalloped front end of the slide, mostly for aesthetics. When loaded, the gun is about as perfectly balanced as and full-sized pistol on the market. The mag release is not truly ambidextrous, but can be switched from one side to the other (a la the M&P pistols). Strangely, there is no cut out or groove in the slide to work the slide stop/release. Instead, that is all done internally via a catch on the underside of the slide. It works. Mostly.

The Strike One shoots ridiculously smoothly. The locked barrel and low bore axis transfer felt recoil pretty much straight back into the shooters strong arm. Muzzle rise (or flip) is essentially nonexistent, somehow. I’ve been shooting a lot of pistols for a lot of years, and I can’t recall ever shooting one that feels quite like the Strike One. That being said, it feels weird; almost unnatural. It took me a couple mags worth of shooting to figure out how to compensate, but once I did it was smooth sailing. Less muzzle flip (or rise) means sights get back on target more quickly and follow-up shots are more accurate. Even shooting quick 5 round bursts yielded darn good accuracy results. I’ll also ad d that the trigger is among the best I’ve shot in recent memory. Light pre-travel, clean and crisp break, very good reset.

The gun shot all the ammo we put into it, with nary a problem to be had. Except for one light primer strike, but we can chalk that up to the ammo. I’ve had similar issues with that particular ammo in my other pistols.

However, the Strike One ain’t perfect. One many occasions, the slide did not lock back when the gun ran empty. That may be a magazine/follower issue, or it may have something to do with that unique slide stop design. Tough to say. After one string of fire, the slide locked back but then slammed forward when I dropped the magazine. That leads me to think the slide was only catching on the follower. Second issue was the fact that the Strike One’s controls (mag release, slide release) are pretty small. They sure look good, riding on that slim frame and all, but I had a heck of a time manipulating them with gloved hands. The mag release could stand to be enlarged a tad and the slide stop need a bit more purchase area. Those aren’t deal-breakers though, as any Glock owner will attest.

All in all, the Strike One is neat. Just that, neat. I don’t expect it will be dominating any markets any time soon. To my knowledge it hasn’t been adopted by any law enforcement or military units, though there were rumors of some Spetsnaz dude carrying them. Verifying Spetsnaz gear is tough for us non-Jack Ryan types though. It’s going to find a good niche with certain types of shooters who want "different" guns. It’s a quality shooter that might deserve more praise than it gets. But don’t go trading your Glock for it.

Many thanks again to Chad for the photos and to Richard and everyone at Sportsman’s Elite for the gun and range time.

Go give us all a "Like" and follow:

Trans-Mountain ShootersFacebookInstagram
AS Firearm PhotographyInstagram
Sportsman’s EliteFacebook

Trinity Force Rail Review Part II

After a few relatively minor issues with the installation, we set aside some time for a bit of controlled environment testing. We ventured out into the unreasonably hot west Texas summer sun recently to do a bit of work. Keep in mind, these tests are relatively basic and simplified, but we did try to simulate a few real-world type situations, as you’ll see below. Also, we’re not engineers, so our ideas on “fixes” may not be worth anything. We’re just dudes who are uncommonly gifted at wrecking things.

First thing’s first though. I took the gun into the nice air conditioned indoor range at my local shop for a couple of quick initial measurements. The idea was to get controlled baselines, then come back after our field day and see what was (or wasn’t) changed. I took measurements of the internal diameter, ensured the rail was straight and level, including laser leveling (rudimentarily, I admit) and final hard torqueing of screws and such. I attached a laser to the far end of the rail, in place of a front sight. I set the dot at bullseye at 50 feet on the range. If the rail bent in any direction, I’d be able to go back and put the laser on target again and measure the deformity. (Note: the laser was removed for all other testing to ensure changes weren’t the result of the laser itself drifting.)

With all these measurements in hand, we loaded up the gun and gear and headed out to bang it around a bit. We had essentially four key tests we intended to run:

  1. Vibration test – would the vibration caused just by shooting the gun have any effect on the rail
  2. Hard drop test – butt-down, drop the gun so the rail impacts on a barrier; this would simulate both actually dropping the gun as well as going prone quickly and propping the gun on a barrier; in this case we tested on a railroad tie; drop was from approximately 12 inches
  3. “Snag” test – simulating an attached accessory catching or snagging on a barrier; for example, catching a weapon mounted light on a doorframe or an underslung bipod on, oh let’s say a railroad tie; this was intended to test the keymod attachment points themselves
  4. Heat dissipation – to measure how well the larger surface area would dissipate heat generated by rapid firing strings; this would be compared to two other ARs fired; this was to be the most complicated of the tests… but we didn’t quite get that far

First test was fairly simple. Part of the idea of a free-float handguard is the fact that it is more isolated from vibrations generated by firing the gun. This isolation helps to prevent accessories like lights, lasers and front sights from moving around and losing zero. I’d planned to fire 30 rounds in progressively faster 5-shot strings. However, after about 10 shots just warming up, it was clear that we had the results we wanted. Despite the fact that we’d torqued the barrel nut screws down using near Hulk-like strength, the handguard almost immediately began shifting forward. In no time a discernible gap was visible between the upper receiver and the handguard itself (see picture). The remainder of this test was scrapped.

Next was the hard drop test. Let’s face it, guns hit the deck a lot. It’s somewhat important that a handguard be able to absorb most of these kinds of drops without suffering any major movements or failures. This test was conducted by placing the gun butt-down on the ground, then dropping the gun so that the handguard hit the railroad tie from about a foot up. Keep in mind, railroad ties are somewhat soft wood, nothing like a rock wall or anything like that. I’ve dropped my guns in this manner many times and have full faith that they’ll take the beating.

This handguard didn’t take it. The very first drop resulted in visible deformity, a noticeable bend right in the middle, causing the front end to droop. After-action examination found the keymod cutout at that point was bent inward, somewhat as expected. Cutting the aluminum for those slots means less strength at those points. My laser test noted a 4” drop at 50 ft. That is substantial.
Third test was the “snag” test. This test was recommended by some folks on an awesome Facebook page that I often turn to for all my gun-related questions. The discussions there about keymod all eventually turned to concerns that attached accessories would snap off if they were caught or snagged on obstacles. There were plenty of tales of foregrips and flashlights getting sheared off on door frames and walls. In order to ensure that the problem wouldn’t be my inexpensive bipod, I removed the bipod and tested snagging the rail on a single 6-slot rail attachment piece installed almost at the far front end. I used an extra UTG rail section that I had laying around, after finding out that the Mega Arms piece I had simply wouldn’t fit.

I placed the gun back on the railroad tie, then proceeded to stand quickly and catch the rail section on the front of the wood. The first attempt caused the gun to slip out of my hand. This seemed like a success, since nothing on the gun had come loose. The rail section was intact. I then tested it going forward, putting stress back towards the gun. Again, the rail section stood firm. Hoping to continue these results, I proceeded to replicate these actions. On the third go-round, it happened. The rail section held on for dear life, but the whole handguard itself was pulled clean off the gun. You may recall from Part One that we had concerns about how effective the barrel nut attachment would be. It was not terribly effective.

“Well,” we thought, “that’s a drag.” Needless to say, we stopped the testing. Our probably-too-complicated-anyway heat dissipation test was shelved for another time. We took this opportunity to brainstorm a few ideas on how the issue could be resolved. It seems like a few things could be done quite easily, without substantial cost or inconvenience. If I owned a steel lathe I probably could have fixed it myself. But like I said, I’m not an engineer.

In summary, I’ll say this: Trinity Force is onto a good plan here. I’m still impressed with the ergonomics, ease of install and aesthetics of the handguard. I’ve been informed that TF’s guys are working on improving the design already, so hopefully they’ll take some of this into account. In the meantime, this isn’t a bad set-up for range toys or plinking guns. They’re just not ready for hard use on fighting guns.

As always, thanks to Ambrosia Studios for the pro photos, Sportsman’s Elite for the use of tools and gunsmithy stuff and thanks to Robinson Munitions Mfg for the ammo.

Surefire Ryder 22s

This Surefire can is an awesome setup simply for the fact that the “S” version can handle .22 Magnum. In my eyes, that’s easily the choice to go to because I don’t like having to worry about what I can and cannot do with a suppressor. I have no intentions of running 22mag nor do I even have a firearm to do so. However, with the baffles ready to take the beating I know that I will never have to worry about what ammo I am putting through it and (theoretically) it will last me longer.

I am not as well versed on suppressors as I should be and many of the features the Surefire Ryder 22s has I am told are fairly common, however they still opened my eyes to a whole new world. Things like alignment and disassembly tools mean taking it apart and putting it together is simple as pie. Reassembly of the baffles (internals) is also easy as they are numbered and keyed. It makes it incredibly easy to re-assemble after cleaning. My only grievance with the tools and suppressor itself was the guide rod used to help align the baffles. When everything is good and chunky from the filthy 22 rounds it is a little harder to disassemble. I accidentally sheared that rod off due to the tiny pegs on the disassembly tool slipping off. I would recommend Surefire make them a smidgen longer and not rounded for a more positive lockup of the muzzle and tool.

Which brings me to my next point. 22 cans get dirty, very dirty and very quickly. In 250 rounds we had a little difficulty extracting the internals for an inspection and cleaning. If you are shooting a bolt gun, well you have lots of time between cleanings. But many know it is not hard with a pistol or an semi auto rifle how quickly 250 rounds can go. The longer you go without cleaning that 22 suppressor, the harder disassembly and cleaning will be. Just an FYI, I am told that 250-350 is about the magic number to clean most 22 silencers.

The construction was solid as could be and the anodizing on the can itself was top notch. I know this because I dropped it from the bench at waist height and cringed as the $400 can slammed into the concrete. After a momentary worry, the concrete channels and dust wiped off and she was barely even scratched. Good stuff. Stuff like that matters to me because I am not gentle on equipment for starters, and because if I am teaching my kids to shoot, ideally they will probably be worse at holding, dropping gear than I am. So it’s tough both physically and aesthetically, comes apart easy and includes the tools to do it. Even though I broke that rod, still a breeze to take down and reassemble.

Watch the video to see how it sounds!

Grey Ghost Precision Specter Dark

Its terminal ballistics rival the 7.62 at short-to-intermediate range, making it ideal for engaging targets at those distances. The heavy bullet is makes it perfect for running as subsonic loads, and well suited to firing from suppressed guns. It’s just a cool round.

Ok, so maybe I haven’t wanted it since I was a kid. It hasn’t really been around that long (I’m older than I appear). And while all the rest of that is true, the .300BLK round still suffers from the single biggest drawback that ammo can really have: cost. Even today in the post-scare market, I have no trouble finding quality brass 5.56 ammo in the range of thirty to forty cents per round. Unfortunately, the cheapest retail pricing I see regularly for .300BLK is closer to $.85 per round. That cost is tough to justify, if you’re not reloading ammo yourself. That’s a whole other topic for another time.

All that being said, I still have plans to build or buy an AR in that caliber at some point. So you can imagine how pleased I was when I heard that the fine folks over at Grey Ghost Precision were getting ready to unveil a new variant of their Specter rifle chambered in .300BLK. As luck would have it, a prototype just happened to be floating around my town recently, and I was fortunate enough to get my grubby mitts on it to try it out a bit.

First off, the basics. The Specter Dark carbine, as it’s called, is built on a sturdy 7075-T651 billet upper and lower receiver set. The fit and finish on these things is top notch. The handguard is available in either KeyMod or the fancy new M-LOK system. Barrel is 16” with 1:8 twist, cut for mid-length gas system, and topped off with a Gemtech muzzle brake. So, you know, put a can on it. I especially like the addition of the Battle Arms Development BAD-CASS safety selector. Nice touch. The trigger is a beefy MEGA Arms piece, and it’s all charged up with a Slide Lock charging handle. I like some of these bits and pieces more than others, as I’ll explain. Oh, and Magpul grip and ACS stock. Those are good to go.

The test model I got in featured a 10.5” barreled upper (which will be available for purchase also). Other than the shorter barrel, everything else is identical to the full-size carbine model. It also had a few after-market add-ons including a B5 Systems Grip Stop (buy one, they’re great) and an Aimpoint Micro T-1 sight, on a very nice Fortis Manufacturing mount. Since those don’t affect the functionality of the gun, I’m not really going to discuss them. All of this was delivered in a nice new Grey Ghost Gear Apparition backpack, which I’ll be reviewing separately here soon enough.

When I first got word that I would be testing this gun, I was uncommonly excited. When it showed up, I was somewhat it awe of it. I would say it’s pretty, but that hardly seems to do it justice. The machining is perfect, everything lines up and fits like a glove. It isn’t too heavy, isn’t too light. Even with the short barrel, the gun is perfectly balanced and holds well. Ideally, I would prefer to swap out the adjustable stock buffer tube for a LAW Tactical folding stock, though. Because if you’re going to go SBR, you might as well go as short as possible. On the 16” model, the 6-position tube will be perfect.

After sending it off for a few days of glamor shots, the gun came back for me to actually shoot. I gathered up ammo and mags and headed over to Sportsman’s Elite to use the range. I typically prefer to do these test and photo shoots outdoors, but it was 100 degrees that day. So I opted for the comfort of an air-conditioned indoor range. Shooting the .300blk from a short barrel with the Gemtech brake on an indoor range is, to put it simply, an experience. It’s loud and hot and the concussion can be felt three stalls over. There’s not a whole lot of muzzle flash from this barrel, and I imagine the 16” would be about the same. Recoil is a bit rough, but certainly manageable. Muzzle rise was easily mitigated, making it easy to keep sights, and shots, on target. I wasn’t testing for accuracy, but I was more than surprised to see fairly tight grouping.

The Specter Dark uses a new version of the Slide Lock charging handle, specifically designed for .300BLK guns. The Slide Lock charging handle is somewhat unique in that it does not have a release lever. Simply pulling back on either side of the ambidextrous handle releases it from the upper and operates the BCG. In theory, that means one fewer moving part to worry about. I personally prefer a traditional latch release on my handles and typically run BCM/VLTOR Gunfighter handles on all my ARs. My biggest concern was that the difference in cycling and recoil between .223/5.56 and the .300BLK round would simply pop the handle loose when firing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. The charging handle stayed in place even during some faster rate of fire testing. I am officially swayed to the Slide Lock camp.

So those are the positives. There was, however, a single small point that irked me a bit. First, the MEGA Arms trigger is quality. It’s built tough, no pre-travel, crisp break and very nice reset. I’m just not a big fan of wide triggers, and this one is a bit wide. I may just be so used to slimmer mil-spec style triggers that having extra real estate under my finger feels a little unnatural. As a buyer, though, I wouldn’t have any trouble swapping that out at a decent cost to myself. So it’s not ideal for me, but hardly a deal breaker.

Bottom line: this is going to be a heck of a gun. It’s not going to change the world and isn’t breaking any new ground in design. But it’s well built and will be a wonderful addition to a lot of collections. I’d like to take a 16” model out east of here and do some hog hunting with it, at some point. Until then, I’ll just keep saving my 5.56 brass so I can start reloading for the eventual day when one of these comes back into my life.

Thanks to Chad for the photos, as always. He makes me look gooooood. Check him out here at www.Ambrosiastudios.com

Thanks to Richard and Michael and everyone at Sportsman’s Elite. Yes Michael, I know the targets can be moved closer.

And many thanks to Kevin at Grey Ghost for getting all this going for us. I owe you a cheeseburger and a Slurpee sometime. Check out their line-up at www.GreyGhostGear.com.

And follow me over at TransMountainShooters.com and on Instagram @xmntn.

The Blitz by Falkor Prototype

Prototypes are not something that commonly get sent out to media outlets. Especially of the SBR variety, and even more so with experimental muzzle devices. You can imagine the excitement as we met the UPS guy in pajamas when it arrived as we signed the electronic pad as incoherently as possible with a Parkinsons type jitter.

Unwrapping the packaging and opening up the hard case we were greeted by a filthy animal. Even in her carbon coated state, she was damn cool and the type of firearm that gets you all excited and interested in guns all over again. We see a lot these days, between experience and real life when it comes to “new” and “innovative” ideas. This was no different a day than any except that it’s physically in my hands and not just a cool image, video or “unboxing” (if you can call that a review). I made a quick text and call to Clint at Falkor Defense letting him know it was received and to inquire about the filth.

“I was in a rush, and I want you to test it and tell me what you think,” was the fearless response from one of the creators of this SBR. That is not common either. Who sends a filthy, used, carbon coated rifle out to a media company to review? I honestly have never seen that before, and just thought to myself “Game On.”

Off we went to the range with a measly 300 or so rounds. Day one was just a warmup and more geared for the stills than really putting a new gun through its paces. Did not lube it, clean it or pamper it, just got right down to business. Business was good as this little monster began spitting fireballs and running like a sewing machine. Despite the fouling, the build up and a clear need for a bath we had one hiccup from a mag filled all the way to 30 on the first day and that was it. The issue would have been easily rectified with a forward assist, but the Blitz is a slick side receiver and there was no way other than drop the mag. Bolt automatically closed with round in and we were back to work.

So, off we went back to the safe where our main man Monkey cannot deal with dirty guns in his house. He will stay up all night if he has to, but he is going to clean one way or another. So the Blitz got a bath of the Hazmat variety as only monkey can do. It was needed and overdue, but it also gave us a good inside look at some of the inner workings of the Blitz, the receiver, the BCG and the buffer on the MVB Arc PDW collapsible stock.

The Falkor Blitz is based on the Ambidextrous design originated by SI-Defense and it does not disappoint. Personally I am not a fan of Ambi-anything as it always seems to be some clunky add-on or bolt-on or goofy workaround that interferes with normal operation from “standard” AR configurations. The team at Falkor approached it from an engineering standpoint and not a “Band-Aid” type solution. The ambidextrous controls are mirrored perfectly in size, shape, and location on both sides of the receiver. The control surfaces of all these components are cut very deep and aggressive, which aids in actuation without making them larger or obnoxious. In fact they are smaller than your standard parts found in a Lower Parts Kit. They are also not standardized parts which some may complain about but let’s be honest… how often has anyone ever changed their mag release button and or bolt catch. These control surfaces and shapes of them blend nicely with the receivers and their “standard-not standard” shape.

All the core elements of an AR-15 Upper and Lower receiver are there and function as they are supposed to if not better. A bold statement since we did not have a lot of time with the Blitz. But there are both aesthetic as well as performance upgrades to these receivers at the manufacturing level that we noticed and appreciated. Like the thin and ever so slightly flared maxwell, the cuts and grooves for finger placement, design cues and logo placements all over the receivers. Some bold, some subtle bt all cut deep and pronounced as if to proudly say “I am Falkor, and Here I Am.”

Another one of the interesting items was the Bolt Carrier Group itself. it had all the same parts and assembly methods you would normally see and disassembled pretty much the same as any other… but the rear of the BCG has a different shape to it. Almost like a mix between an AR-10, AR-15 and a piston rifle. When asked for more detail about the design, we were given an abundance of information talking about carrier tilt AND carrier walk. Carrier walk, well thats a new one to me. After much discussion as to what it does, how it works and how it affects accuracy, I decided to save that info for when we look at the Petra 300 WM or the 308 Falkor makes as an SBR “review.” Talking about prototype parts and accuracy is a whole other write up entirely, but one we will cover, I promise you.

Notable features include the MVB PDW stock, which has a cool factor of course and I am sure a purpose. It was however finicky after countless hours of firing, being in the sand and dirt and was overall uncomfortable to use. Falkor as I am told has no plans to move forward on that design and is leaning towards more of a fixed position type stock. In all fairness and as stated, it has a purpose it was built for. It makes the SBR ridiculously short overall length, extended has a lot less flex and takes a pounding. For this SBR though I would have liked a better cheek weld is all.

The rail itself I found out was also sort of an experiment. The one on the Blitz we messed with had machine marks are some rough cuts on the M-Lock portions. We found out it looked this was because it was machined BY HAND and we were holding the very first final draft. I must say, I have seen final products that had similar marks and they were machined by an automated machine. This leads me to believe that the quality of machining and attention to detail the team at Falkor is top notch. We shot the SI-D 308 a few months ago and it was smooth as silk in appearance. Combine that machining with the stuff done by hand and there are no doubts in my mind that Falkor is as concerned with design and appearance as they are with functionality. That means a lot as they seem to be one of the few leading the way towards a new generation of manufacturers. Manufacturers that understand design matters too.

Finally let’s talk Blast Cap. The Blast Cap muzzle device is a muzzle device that literally dances the line between NFA and concussion. With four bolt on ports, the “iron cross” segment of this two-piece design can be swapped in and out for other future designs for different desired effects from gas and recoil. In it’s current configuration it works like many other Linear Compensators by pushing and directing all unburned gas and concussion forward. There is some shenanigans in there however helping to direct that swirl of fire and fouling vertically once the round has exited. We saw it multiple times with the High Speed Cameras and it was a truly interesting thing to see. Part mad man, part genius and all awesome as you rip another 3 foot fireball out of the muzzle.

Overall we ran over 1000 rounds combined between our shooting and some others we were with testing it out. (The guys from TheGunCollective will have their say about it in the near future as well). We had one or two times where full mags did not want to allow the bolt to seat the round and that was it for mechanical issues on Falkor’s end. The MVB stock, that’s natural for anything with that kind of machining and actuation when put into an adverse condition and we have seen it before. Again, parts and purpose. We are spoiled with our multi-ported muzzle breaks and whiz-bang devices, so to us it felt like the Blitz was a bucking bronco. Upon review of the high speed footage though, it really was not moving all that much at the muzzle and the only thing that needed recalibration was our egos. You know, because we are so operator (sarcasm). You will see some flip in the prone however, but that was because as stated before, poor to no cheek weld.

Personally, I am very excited to see what the future holds for Falkor Defense and the direction they are moving in. Once upon a time people handcrafted and shaped wood, hand laid metal and engravings. Many companies still do and we fawn over them for true craftsmanship and styling. Much of this is lost on the AR generation as so much is forged or machined to tolerances and perfection all handled by CAD programs and automated machines. Falkor Defense is finding modern ways to bring design and aesthetics of a modern world into this platform and I think we should all celebrate it.

Trinity Force Rail Part 1

I’ve used a pretty good variety of parts on different guns, and used consistent parts on different guns too. I like particular triggers, for example, so I tend to put the same set up in as many guns as possible. But I’m also big on variety, which is why no two guns I build are ever really the same.

Choosing just the right part for the gun’s intended purpose can sometimes be tough, with so many options available. Other times, it can be pretty darn easy. In the case of the upper I built for this review, the choice was simple. You see, following a past write-up (which you can read here), I was contacted by some of the fine folks over at a California-based outfit called Trinity Force. After some friendly chit chat about the scope I reviewed and some basic gun guy banter, the rep offered to get us set up with a fancy new handguard they’ve been working on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the shooting world, it’s “never say no to free gear.”

As I waited for delivery of the handguard (which turned out to be two handguards), I went to work getting together other parts to build a simple upper to use as a test platform for the new handguard. Right from the start the goal of this test is essentially to try to destroy the handguard. Now, I don’t mean I’m going to just sit down with a Dremel and chop it up, of course. But it would definitely be facing some considerable abuse. However, while the handguard may have been donated for testing, I’m still on the hook for buying everything else, which I don’t intend to destroy. With that in mind, I decided on a pretty tough 18” HBAR barrel, the heaviest darn barrel I could find. A sturdy Yankee Hill Machine low pro gas block and tube went on it, and married it all to a beat up old upper that was graciously donated by our buddy James.

Finally, the big day came. Our friendly USPS lady was spotted rummaging in the back of her little mail truck and eventually emerged with a nice big box full of metal for me. First impressions were, well, impressive I guess. The handguards are heavier than expected, especially for keymod. I’ve grown so accustomed to keymod stuff being lightweight based on experiences with Bravo Company, Noveske, UTG, etc. That’s not to say these are too heavy, but ounces are pounds and these have the ounces.

Weight notwithstanding, the rounded triangular shape of the handguard feels awfully natural in the hand. They’re egonomically sound and provide a better than average grip. The flat(ish) bottom also provides great support when propping the gun up on a bench rest or on a barricade prop during competition shooting. I imagine it would work just fine on top of a wall, over the hood of a car or across the closed top of a friendly neighborhood hot dog vendor’s cart.

The handguard has keymod attachment slots running its entire length, in addition to the full-length Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position. Unlike some other keymod set ups though, the Trinity Force handguard only has three rows of attachment points, running at3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions. Do you need to have 8 planes of attachment points on a handguard? I don’t know, maybe. I guess it’s nice to have the options. I prefer to have a WML running at 3 o’clock, where I can reach it with my support-hand thumb (since I’m still not a c-clamp convert).

I spent a few minutes looking over the whole thing to get a feeling for just how easy or difficult it would be to install it. Trinity Force is using a somewhat unique barrel nut attachment system that I found pretty intriguing. The barrel nut itself is heavy duty, heavier than most barrel nuts I’ve encountered in the past. I like that. To quote one of my favorite flicks, “heavy is good, heavy is reliable.” I was a bit concerned that the planes for grabbing the nut with our torque wrench were surprisingly small. The purchase area is only about a quarter of an inch, considerably smaller that the half inch width of the wrench slot. I’ll cover that a bit more later.

The handguard mounts onto the barrel nut using what is essentially a clamp system. On the underside of the thing are two small chunks of aluminum cut out and drilled for screws. They’re angled on the inside to sit flush against the barrel nut and grab on as the screws are tightened. On first glance I had some serious concerns that such a small surface area making contact with the nut would be sufficient. Testing will address that, as you’ll see.

One thing I was surprised to see were the tiny anti-rotation tabs that sit on either side of the upper when installed. My surprise is in the fact that, well, my gosh they seem small. While they sit nice and flush and feel sturdy, it just seems odd that they’d be so small. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t extend them a bit, but I’m not an engineer and I guess maybe there’s some engineering smartness involved that I just don’t get. The tabs measure roughly 1/16”, which is puny when I compare it to the tabs on the UTG, which essentially run the full vertical length of the handguard. For other reference, though, the Noveske tabs are actually even smaller.

I cruised on in to my local shop the next day to get the first upper built. We had a bit of trouble getting the barrel nut torqued down properly, as we couldn’t get a really good grip on it with the wrench. The nut was a somewhat odd size, which meant we didn’t have a wrench that would fit it perfectly. We ended up having to use a slightly larger wrench and crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t strip the nut. This, again, brought up the concern about the short plane face on the nut. It was our “expert” opinion that milling the nut out to offer 3/4” of plane would have been ideal, without sacrificing the integrity of it. Another option would be to include a wrench with the retail packaging or at least offer one as a stand-alone accessory; that would pretty much alleviate our concern.

The handguard slid over the barrel just fine, plenty of clearance for the gas block/tube and about 1/4” of clearance all around, slightly more at the “points” of the triangle. Then….we hit a snag. Well, not a snag really, more like three tiny aluminum walls inside the handguard. The last two inches or so of the handguard are milled to be round to fit the barrel nut. As a result, there are three spots where the round milling stops and bumps up against the flatter triangular plane of the rest of the piece. Ours wasn’t milled quite deep enough for the handguard to go all the way back flush with the upper. At least not at first. Some heavy grit sandpaper and brute force eventually worked that problem out, though I’m pretty sure we’ve permanently marred the inside.

We tightened down the clamp on the underside, making sure the two tabs stayed aligned and flush on the barrel nut. I was definitely impressed with how surprisingly solid the mount felt. There was no perceived wobble or wiggle. A dash of blue Loctite should hold everything in place. Should.

Last step was throwing our old Trinity Force scope onto the upper and firing a few test shots just to make sure the thing wouldn’t blow up in my face. I’m too pretty to risk that kind of catastrophe. Everything worked fine and we stood around patting each other on the back. Then we remembered that the real testing was about to begin.

Come back for Part 2 for the torture testing. Expect some blood, sweat and tears. Plus an awesome soundtrack by Grammy Award winners Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Agency Arms Review

This is a double edged sword in the firearms world when it comes to aftermarket work on something that otherwise, at its core works exactly the same way it did before it got modified. If a Glock 17 fires reliably every time the trigger is pulled, why dear god would you spend an additional $1800 to have someone like Agency Arms modify it? Well, I can tell you it is a lot more than the “spoiler on a Honda Civic” analogy and I will go over everything here in an attempt to explain or even justify this adventure.

I have stated before that companies that do this kind of work generally fall into a few different categories. Some do it for looks. Like the Civic we mentioned before, is it born to be a beautiful racecar? No, but there is a HUGE amount of aftermarket components and parts that will make it look cooler, go faster, etc. Some companies do it for upgrades, like a Jeep. You have four wheel drive and higher ground clearance and the ability to “go anywhere.” But that doesn’t stop people from lifting the suspension higher, adding more lights, winch, differential locks, snorkels… you get what i am saying here. Lastly, there are companies that do it for both the looks and performance.

There are only a small handful of companies that have mastered the ability to do both, you can have the looks, and the performance built onto an already proven reliable platform. “Do you need it” is the number one question, and to be honest, that’s for you and your wallet to decide. Personally I do not own a stock, barebones factory Glock. Not a single one. I am spoiled as I have had a taste of so many awesome aftermarket components that I cringe whenever I shoot a stock gun. I have enough experience to know how I like a trigger to feel and reset, how I like a pistol to cycle. I add and swap out aftermarket components to accommodate how I shoot and the purpose for which a firearm is to be used. Do this to an AR-15 and it’s widely accepted. But customize a pistol, and suddenly you are open to ridicule… go figure.

Agency Arms does a great job polishing and refining what Glock has put forward. Glock is known for reliability, but it’s also a drab slab of steel and uninspiring polymer. But did you know you could tighten up the trigger slack, break and reset? Did you know you could reduce the amount of muzzle flip and recoil? Did you know you could get more out of the polymer to get a better grip, fit and feel? Glock creates a “One Size Fits All” product and Agency takes that and makes it tailored for better, faster, flatter and more enjoyable shooting.

Let’s start from the frame up. Glock grips as a whole are longer than I like from front to rear so I always do what is called a “Grip Reduction.” This helps get those horrible finger grooves off the gun, get a better purchase overall and fit my hand better. The whole grip area is then covered in a fine “stipple” which is basically a pointed heat treatment that creates a built in velvety/sandpaper like surface for better contact in wet, sweaty or god forbid any bodily fluids that get on your hands. There is also work done to the trigger frame typically referred to as “undercutting.” This thins out the trigger guard to allow your middle finger and subsequently your entire hand to get higher on the pistol. This brings your natural point of aim closer to the already low bore axis making it very easy to point and shoot. This translates to faster target acquisition and significantly better handling and manipulation.

A big stand out feature that has helped really separate Agency Arms from the many other options out there is their “Accelerator Cut.” Agency has CNC cut quite literally an angled shelf on the frame forward of the Glock takedown release. If you are utilizing a proper thumbs forward grip, your support hand thumb can very easily find a new home on this three dimensional and stippled surface. By simply pressing down on this you are no longer counting on just proper stance, grip and 8 fingers at the rear of the gun to mitigate recoil and muzzle flip. By having that more forward support you can help keep the gun more level after every shot allowing for faster recovery of your sight picture which means faster follow up shots.

Let us move now to the feature that may be one of the most important but is also the most overlooked when you have so much going on with a visually stunning pistol like the Agency. Agency triggers very good. Not just good but really high speed. The slack alone has been halved. The set trigger has so much slack taken out of it that the pistol almost looks like it isn’t cocked. It is a firm but not heavy take up, most aftermarket triggers lighten up the pull whereas the Agency is fairly similar to stock tension but as smooth as a ball bearing rolling on glass. The trigger break is a surprise and there is no discernible difference between the slack and the break. Very smooth all the way through. The reset is audible and tactile with again almost zero take up to re-engage. There are companies out there that many people already pay hundreds of dollars for just the trigger and personally this is right there if not surpassing those offerings.

Many do not realize how much things change when they see material removed and cuts in a slide machined out. The first thought is always an aesthetic one. Some love it and some hate it. What many overlook is that you are removing material and with that comes a shift in balance and physics. How the weapon cycles and reacts to firing is noticeably different based on what has been added or removed. In my case, my Gen 4 Glock 17 got the “Urban Combat” package which has the most material removed puts all the weight at the rear of the slide, so when you shoot there is a lot less metal (weight) flipping up and thus helps keep the pistol more level for follow up shots. Then you have the Jagged and purposeful “grippy” parts that are utilized for racking the pistol. Whether you are an overhand rack kind of shooter, or you do press checks, maybe you slide from the front, the cuts are deep and sharp enough to get a purchase on the slide and easily get a round in the chamber.

Also part of the package is the guide rod, bushing and spring upgrade which also aids in how the weapon cycles. Kind of like you can’t just get big wheels on a truck without making sure the axles can take it too. The Agency Arms modifications also include a pre-cut area for optics like the RMR with a bolt down cover which is one of my favorite features. They machine a miniature American Flag into it as well, so if you aren’t going all high speed like me with an optic, you get a small taste of stylish America.

I want to say that each one of these features shaves quite literally thousands to tenths of seconds off of your “time.” Whether it’s coming out of the holster, target and sight acquisition, follow up shots and reloads, we are talking about a fraction of a second for each feature. Combine them and based on your skill level and practice we are now talking tenths and or even full seconds off of your actions. So while you are talking to your friends about things like: carrying a round in the chamber, how you carry your pistol and you use “sight brand x” because every second counts… wouldn’t you like an extra second or more? I love my Agency pistol and use it far more than most think. I do spend a good amount of time on the range and whether it’s review stuff or being at training classes I always want to shoot it. Almost everyone who has ever shot it has been very impressed and asked how much. Plain and simple, even people who say “All I need is a stock Glock” always ask if they can shoot it some more.

There is nothing wrong on the fundamental side of Glock pistols and if you choose to leave it the way it came out of the box… It will probably serve you and serve you well for a very long time. If you want to speed up and flatten out, I suggest spoiling yourself with an Agency Arms. It is so choice.

Brilliance in the Basics

The more complicated the plan the more opportunity there is for things to go wrong. The idea of there being brilliance in the basics can be applied to almost all facets of our daily lives but for the purposes of this article we will relate it to firearms training.

If you show up to one of my handgun classes regardless of the skill level there are a couple things you can count on. First, my dog is going to want to sniff every single one of you before she gives us the green light to begin and second is that we are going to start the day at three yards shooting 1inch circles. It is not uncommon for me to walk up and down the firing line for the first 15 minutes of class telling the students that they need to earn their way off the 1inch circle. If you cannot accurately and consistently shoot multiple rounds through a 1inch circle at bad breath distance then I then I think fundamentally you have some shooting flaws that are in all of our best interests to work on correcting.

Training to improve on the basic shooting fundamentals of Aiming, Breathing and Trigger Control is far from the sexiest thing you could be doing on the range and it definitely is not going set the Instagram world on fire. What it will do though is make you a better shooter, which is the point of training to begin with isn’t it? Marathon runners don’t train for races by running marathons every day. They work on the individual pieces that make up the race so when the time comes they can call on their body to be in continuous motion for 26.1 miles. I don’t believe being a skilled shooter is any different; you have to master the basics.

The idea that becoming a proficient defensive shooter could involve things like bulls eye targets, 1inch circles or God forbid index cards is one that is sure to draw some debate. I have heard everything from “train how you fight” to “I don’t plan on getting attacked by little circles.” None of these statements are validation as to why marksmanship drills don’t belong in a defensive weapons training curriculum. We all have our own hypothetical gunfight to train for and we hope we are prepared for if and when that moment arises. With all that being said I don’t discredit the need to train on the more, dare I say dynamic parts of shooting. Whether it be urban prone behind a vehicle, working one handed manipulation drills or getting your temple index on, those all very important tools to have as a defensive shooter. However, those skills do not amount to much if that is the foundation of your shooting ability. We have to learn to crawl if we ever hope to walk. The difference between a good all around shooter and the one that wishes he was can usually be directly linked to the amount of time they spent getting the little things right.

Shooting, more importantly shooting well is a skill that is incredibly perishable. I try and make sure I am on the range with a gun in my hand at least four to five days a week, but as we all know life has a way of creeping in and wrecking havoc on even the most regimented of schedules. I am always amazed at how fast the rust collects on my mechanics when I miss a few days. I’ve found that a great way to get my head, hands and eyes back in the game after some time away is that regardless of what I am on the range to practice I always start with an accuracy warm up. Whether it be a variation of the bullet hole drill, trying to pass multiple rounds through the same impact point or going back to 25yards and slow firing on a pistol bull it always gets the wheels turning and I get more out of my training later on. I had a Platoon Sergeant that loved to say that “speed doesn’t impress nor do I care how fast you can miss, our time on this earth is a dependent on you hitting what you’re aiming at not emptying your magazine the quickest.” So I’d challenge you the next time to head to the range to give a quick accuracy warm up a shot, I know it has served me well…

Samson K Rail Model-1 Review

Look at other markets and hardware in the firearms world. Whether we are restricted by bureaucrats and legislation or maybe simply stymied by lack of innovation, firearms as a whole are looking more inward at refining some perceived “perfect” platforms.

The AK is naturally an aggressive and menacing weapon in appearance. Couple that with a 7.62 x 39mm round and you have a lot of meat to contend with. Angry, angry meat. To bring this iconic rifle up to modern standards adjustments must be made to accept things like lights, sights, lasers, grips etc. Mind you the rifle will still operate without all those things and perform as it should. So again, why? Because people want to, and when people WANT something there is a market for it. This is where the Samson K Rail Model-1 comes in.

There are a lot of variations of the AK out there. Between the years and years separation of the manufacturing process, to materials used, country of origin and import/export rights it is hard to say any two stamped AK’s are genuinely identical in fit and finish. With that comes a lot of fitment issues accessory manufactures have to contend with when making things like a rail system for the AK. The model we used was a Century Arms Romanian WASR 10 that had a rough life.this rifle was adopted with no magazines, a stripped set of threads on the barrel, missing screws in the trunion and aging wood. This is the perfect example of a good time to “update” the rifle. The K Rail does a great job with a combination of rugged reliability and simple installation. One of the hard things between AK variations in particular is getting a rail to mate up with the receiver in a manner we are used to see on AR platforms. I tried a couple that were loose, wobbly or simply had massive gaps that aesthetically weren’t pleasing at all. The Samson rail fit the bill pretty good.

Minimal tools and minimal parts make assembling the rail on your AK super easy and quick. It took me longer to get the old and stuck on wood forend off the WASR than it did to install the K Rail. The only hiccup, but one which is to be expected with just about any part on the AK, is loctite. Use it liberally, and you will have no issues. It adds a noticeable amount of weight towards the muzzle which is a good and bad thing. The added weight does not make the rifle any lighter, but it does aid in recoil management. So if you want a flatter shooting AK, one of the things you can do is gain that weight and lift a little more. The six screws that pull against eachother and also pin the rail against the breach stay put when properly tightened down and loctite applied. Goes on simple and stays on is something I am a big fan of. All in all for the value factor alone this is a very affordable, rugged and solid upgrade to your AK. There are some improvements I would like to see though.

Like I said the weight is a positive and negative. Quad rails are cool if you have a need for them but taking cues from the AR-15 market… weight is the bigger focus point. Making things stronger and lighter simultaneously is the trend that seems to be fairly slow to the AK market. If Samson had made a KeyMod or even a newer MLOK rail to go with the AK, they would be much lighter and more current and competetive with other newer rails on the market.The ridges on the rail between the horizontal and vertical picatinny rails looks cool as hell and adds to the aggressive styling of the AK’s persona. It’s very similar if not identical to the insides of the Samson Evo rail which is meant to aid attachments. On the outside of the rail however it helps grate cheese like no ones business.

Overall for $250 this is a really solid and easy to install upgrade for your Kalashnikov. The pro’s by far outweigh the cons and I was very happy with the look, fit and finish of the product as a whole. Wear gloves, use loctite and enjoy your knew shoulder muscles because it’s worth it. Check them out at www.Samson-mfg.com and if you want to see the installation video, luckily Andrew did that for us already here: https://youtu.be/XlzWtTPKczg?list=UUhPoH8HtGu5QlCx9BSG4y2Q

Thanks Andrew!

U.S. Optics Academy After Action Report

A small lodge masquerading as a mining camp nestled in this encapsulated valley, surrounded by mountains, trails and seemingly randomly placed hunks of steel with tell tale pock marks of long range hits. In this modern day where we can get just about anywhere fairly quickly, this trip out to the middle of nowhere did more than just take time, it made you think. It made you anticipate. As we drove down the sand and dirt road up and down the hills and mountains, the anticipation does it’s very best to make you start wondering “does anyone even know I am here?”

Now that the stage has been set, know that this is an awesome setup for a long range training camp. While some may say vast and long stretches of land, or even big and sloping mountains are optimal, this snake shaped valley is a sniping jungle gym. Surrounded by multiple elevation changes, constant and unpredictable wind shifts, heat, cold, barometric pressure changes as well as angles of shooting made this location an experienced shooter’s dream and a beginner’s nightmare. There are so many twists and turns that if you have zero experience in long range shooting, ranging, wind estimation or even proper trigger control… you have some learning to do and quick. This is where Lead Instructor Tyler Hughes comes in.

Tyler is a veteran Marine Scout Sniper who has had the opportunity to take and complete (to my civilian knowledge) Every, Single, Sniper School and Training that the United States Marine Corp. has to offer. What’s worse is I am pretty sure he has memorized all of it too. This means Tyler knows the question you are going to ask, he knows where the zero should be and the DOPE to get the round there (pick a round, any round). Furthermore, he knows when you need to know it as a seasoned instructor should. Mr. Hughes is an encyclopedia of Long Range and Ballistics knowledge and has utilized this playground for some time now with his company Max Ordinate Academy (MOA). So based on the day of the year, time of day and barometric pressure conveniently on his wrist… he knows exactly where the bullet is going to go before you pull the trigger, as long as you are pulling it right. He is that teacher, the one who had eyes in the back of his head. The one who has seen everything, several times over. The one who has mastered his craft and still seeks to learn more.

Day one began with something unusual compared to all the trainings I have been to over the years. There was breakfast? George, part of the U.S. Optics staff had coffee, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fruit and everything you could need to get through the morning and then some. Up before everyone else and all set and ready to go first thing in the morning. It was awesome. Not some caterer or grumpy line cook, but a genuine and happy guy was a welcome face and personality every morning. We got all gassed up and braced ourselves for some classroom time. Or in my case, dreading it. I don’t do so well in classrooms.

Classroom time at U.S. Optics Academy was not all too bad actually. We received an official looking and well-built Range Kit that contained everything we would need to DOPE (Data On Personal Equipment, for us regular guys… a diary for your gun), catalog and estimate range while out on the line with Tyler later. We also got a really informative how-to by the head mounting wizard at U.S. Optics Chris. I think it was a really great segment because there is a drastic difference in shooting a 168gr. projectile 100m at your local club, to 1000m+. Every little detail, right down to how level your glass is to your scope ring height and more. From bare rifle to fully equipped with a USO ER-25 this was a great breakup to looking at slides, doing math and discussing the finer points of focal planes and ballistic coefficients. Day one in the classroom was not bad at all as Tyler speaks in a manner that makes all the information and knowledge he is transferring to you easy to digest.

Utilizing this newfound knowledge, after lunch we went to see it in action as we set up to chronograph and zero all the rifles. U.S. Optics had their wizard and others on hand to mount, bore sight and fit scopes to each shooter on hand. Again, making sure that all the hardware is on point so Tyler and you can focus on technique and knowledge… not fixing or fighting equipment. That’s a good thing too because it isn’t like you see in the movies or on TV. There is a lot of detail and moving parts (you + Equipment) you have to learn and focus in order to be consistent and get your hits as the distance stretches the capabilities of the rounds. Perfecting groups at 100m is great, but any inconsistencies will start shaking themselves loose as you head out past 300, 500, 800m. Getting it right and consistent is a great building block towards working up in distance. I see it now, although my frustration at the time (I am not patient) was rattling me pretty good.

Now, I know this is an After Action Report but I think any further dissemination of the course at this juncture would be a disservice to both U.S. Optics Academy and Tyler. We covered so much ground over this course that it was like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. The personal attention Tyler shows to each student, the information covered and the repetitions in real life application made this course not just invaluable to new Long Range Shooters; but also far more than a “brush-up” for those that are experienced. Like I said, this place is an obstacle course for all that shoot in Apple Valley. Can you clear the obstacles? Absolutely. The great thing about it is that there are hurdles for all skill levels available in even the entry level course. There was a wide array of weapon systems and shooters and everyone took some new found knowledge away.

The facilities were great and all you needed which I found amazing. I don’t need crazy amenities, hot tubs or fancy decor when I am laying in the dirt all day with over a dozen other dudes. They keep you well fed, plenty of beds for everyone and everything is done as a group for the most part. This is a great facility and training structure not just for the individual, but also for a group dynamic. And due to the valley you are in, you have no outside distractions to look at/worry about as all cell service and data is gone the moment you enter this amazing off-the-grid wonderland. Not so good for media… but fantastic for the learning experience.

If you wanted the chance to get damn good with a long gun at distances further out than your local 100m-300m ranges then put this Academy on your to-do list. Learning from Tyler has been a long awaited experience for me and he did not disappoint. Taking a course at U.S. Optics Academy was a memorable and inspiring experience to expand our own knowledge and push us out of our comfort zones. Highly recommended for beginners and the experienced alike. Check them out here at http://usopticsacademy.com/

Magpul MOE SL Review

I am not saying the M-LOK system isn’t cool or newsworthy, in fact it’s huge and has thus far began molding the industry away from the key-mod craze. To be fair, both are great systems but manufacturers immediately began tooling up and adjusting CAD designs to accommodate M-LOK accessories. Now everywhere you look there are M-LOK and KeyMod options for just about everything. That is some influence right there.

But what happened to the new …stuff? Magpul SL hardware took a back seat for a long time and I alone witnessed and answered many questions that sounded like “what is SL mean?” and “What is THIS version?” It has’t in fact been until recent months that we started seeing more MOE SL in the wild. So what is it?

Magpul MOE SL, stands for Slim Line. A whole set of AR furniture that is an upgrade from the standard MOE offerings. It also raises the bar for what you can do with polymer gear for the AR and has made me love my light carbine all over again. For those that need a little more clarity, “Furniture” is a term used to group rifle accessories that come in contact with your body to successfully operate a rifle. This includes stock, grip and hand guard. Let’s break these individual components down and make bite sized chunks shall we?

The hand guard to me is the crown jewel of the SL set. It redefines what polymer hand guards should be. Typically you see a receiver, a delta ring (the pain in the arse cone/ring that you push down as un-coordinated as possible to remove or install a hand guard) and then essentially a plug and play hand guard assembly with little or no tools. This leaves an ugly gap between the hand guard and the receiver which for the most part does not matter. In a world where everyone and their mother makes a new/light/ULTRA light or tacti-cool quad rail that seamlessly mates to a receiver, it’s hard to not say it. The delta ring gap is ugly. Magpul fixed that with an aesthetically pleasing design that not just seats in the delta ring, but comes back around it to mate up with the upper receiver. How it’s taken someone this long to make that seems silly in hindsight.

Incorporating their new M-LOK at the 2, 10 and 6 o’clock positions gives a decent amount of accessibility with the countless M-LOK bolt on accessories they offer. It also works with previous MOE rail accessories too although as you can see by some of the pictures, over tightening the older accessories may lead to some marring of the polymer. This hand guard also changes the feel and handling of the rifle entirely, it even feel more ergonomic. Instead of round, square, triangular cross section, it is almost an oval or rounded rectangle. It feels a bit taller and slimmer than it’s predecessors and geared towards more modern shooting stances and grips. With most military, LEO and up to date civilian trainers teaching out a more thumbs forward and C-Clamp grip (and it’s many variations) the SL Hand guard shines again by extending it’s sides out past an A2 front sight post gas block. This means less burned fingers and thumbs.

The fit is tight and hard. In fact, almost a complete pain to get on with the way they engineered the fit. Once that mean bastard is on though, I have to say that they engineered the polymer pretty damn good. It is firm, rigid and almost as solid feeling as an aluminum hard mounted rail. There is no shift forward and back, no rotation and it doesn’t feel like anything cheap. Well done. It even does better than the original MOE at heat protection too. Maybe it’s this new shape, maybe new polymer, either way, I never went sustained full auto with it so all I can attest to is that I never felt the slightest bit of heat on my palm or fingers.

The grip is not nearly as wordy, and I apologize for the length of that last bit. The rail system is integral to a lot of accessories and must be addressed. But the grip is short and sweet in review. I love it. I love it because it is the missing link in the Magpul lineup for guys like me. I like the K and K+ grips but I rarely hold them. Usually theres only a couple fingers actually making contact or even wrapped around them. The MIAD grips and MOE grips are a bit too bulky and fill my hand weird due to the angle and diameter. But the SL grip fits me and the way I shoot just right. A beaver tail/tang that the K grip is missing, only slightly increased and rounded diameter over the K grip and an in-between grip angle make this grip by far my favorite.

The adjustable butt stock is the final piece of the puzzle and follows a similar path to the hand guard. Redesigned and taking several cues from many of the stocks that Magpul offers without deviating from the overall look and feel of the other components. A little more cheek weld area on the top like the STR and ACS line and simplicity in the design like the CTR without feeling cheap. Incorporates both slots to mount a sling as well as built in QD connect points on both sides. I also really appreciate the new slide release latch as its easy to use and doesn’t require releasing a locking system to utilize. Also notable is the small rounded rocker bottom on the stock itself which helps keep positive contact to your shoulder or body armor while rolling the rifle up and down your shoulder from a low-ready to up and on target consistently.

Overall this is a new look, new feel and seemingly better engineering and build quality with the end user in mind. Not just appearance or bell and whistle upgrades but a good, solid and noticeable upgrade for any user. Light in weight as well as on the budget I would highly recommend the Magpul MOE SL line to anyone looking to improve their rifle, especially if all you have is that standard A2 shenanigans. Seriously… who enjoys that?

Innovative GunFighter Solutions Review

You have a thousand options and can go anywhere from machined show pieces to the other side of the spectrum, those that are meant to be beaten, used and abused and come back for more.

Innovative Gunfighter Solutions does very aggressive slide serrations to the extreme. Not only do they go above and beyond the usual muzzle end slide serrations, but they go all the way down the slide if you want. They even do the radius of the slide as well to get the most surface area utilized in that worst case scenario. And by extreme I mean you can rack these pistols off of an oiled up beach ball while jello wrestling. Take that visual, keep it. It’s yours.

IGFS does this not to be cool or pretty but to be functional. Functional in ways most do not prepare or even train for. Don’t get me wrong they still look cool to me, even if I never need to perform a one handed rack or double feed clear with a bloody non-dominant appendage. They still look badass as hell. You can get your M&P or Glock from IGFS with a lot of different enhancements too, like grip reduction, stippling, undercuts and more. You can specify the location of, serrations you would like and how aggressive you want to go.

One of the best selling points to me is not just the actual product itself, but the turnaround time and cost is slightly quicker and costs less than many of the companies that do similar work. With that being said, let’s talk review.

The IGFS pistols we tried were a full size Smith&Wesson M&P as well as a Glock 17. During 95% of all testing the weapons both performed flawlessly. In heat, sand, water, cold they both worked amazing. That 5% though as you can see in the video, was the hurdle that is mud. That doesn’t mean that IGFS is at fault, machinery is machinery and if you clog it with enough quagmire it is bound to fail. In fact, that 5% is where IGFS’s work really shined. Hands covered in slick mud with a pistol completely coated in the sludge and we were still able to perform immediate and remedial actions. Clearing double feeds and failure to ejects left and right without sliding, slipping or losing traction on the pistol at all. See IGFS doesn’t make firearms, they modify them for worst case scenario. With the models tested there was no extra “porting” or slide cutouts. All internals are factory on both the M&P and the Glock, so take that and run with it.

There were a few things here and there on both pistols individually that stuck out to me. On the M&P for instance, I prefer to run a small grip (M&P comes with 3 sizes for those that do not know or own one.) With the stippling and grip reduction this made the small about the size of an extra small. Myself and everyone who tried or ran the pistol instantly noticed they were over reaching the trigger and getting too much of it. Pulled shots left and right. I only bring this up because if you are getting a package from IGFS on the M&P I would go a size up on the grip from what you normally run. The trigger was far better than a standard Smith & Wesson, but not better than a $189 or higher trigger job. Personally, I would run it all day as the differences between say an Apex trigger and the IGFS trigger was not a big enough difference for me to spend more.

The Glock, my only complaints are aesthetic. Glock is a very square and simple design and by adding the same style of serrations as you would see on the M&P it just looks off to me. Keep in mind the serrations are not identical to the factory M&P serrations, in fact they are much harsher. But at a glance they look similar and thus the mistaken identity. Now, I understand this pattern has most likely the optimal “grab” as serrations go and probably perform far better than straight line cuts. It just looked off, especially with the accent cuts in the side of the Glock (which I thought looked great.) Last peeve was the actual machine marks on the slide serrations. Now with a faster turnaround time and lower cost, this is an acceptable tradeoff for many. Especially with the amount of people that Cerakote these days, it is a non-issue.

Overall I was very pleased with not just the appearance but also the general functionality of the Innovative Gunfighter Solutions offerings. I ran them both pretty good with assistance from Monkey as well as some other students for full days at a training over the summer. The M&P pistol has over 500-600 Rounds through it, and the Glock has even more. The M&P was never cleaned and the Glock was only cleaned after the mud situation. Lube used was FireClean as well as Rand CLP and up until the mud not a single stovepipe, double feed or jam. If you need a pistol that can take the punishment and not let you down when things go way past sideways then I have no issues with recommending IGFS to do work on your Glock or M&P. My pistols do not live a comfortable life and these operated with flying colors.

CMC Triggers 2-Stage Trigger Review

I am not afraid to admit my faults and this was one of them. Over the past year I have tried many triggers and have really become smitten with the CMC. With the amount of parts and time spent to swap things over at times, the CMC Drop In Trigger saves me a lot of time without sacrificing quality of a good feeling, responsive trigger system. The two stage CMC has made is no exception., In fact, in my opinion it is THE example of “best of both worlds.”

There are a lot of triggers in the market these days, all promising different feature benefits, some infringing on others patents with different packaging or marketing, others just rebranding mil-spec junk with a new coating or “polishing” (read: dremel). The reasons why I like the CMC trigger and company are numerous as with anyone who is a died in the wool fan of any company. I have seen behind the curtain of the great Oz, seen the process, met the people behind it and stand by with them on making a fantastic product. You find any other great trigger company and those who vehemently support them and I guarantee they will have the same opinions about their favorite brand/engineer, etc. Over the years I have found triggers to be like Cola companies. People are die-hards and will be in one camp or the other. I am not saying that CMC is the be all and end all in triggers, but I am saying that I like and enjoy the product and the people that make it a lot.

Best of both worlds, what does that mean? Well, many trigger systems out there fall into 2 basic categories (in my opinion). It is a classic, multi part system that you assemble with the springs, hammer, disconnector etc., or it is a “drop in” type system that holds all the parts together for ease of install. I tried several of each kind and they all have great systems and brands. The reason I say best of both worlds is because the time it takes me to install one versus the other with zero hiccups is a difference. Sometimes lining up pins, getting a spring to stay in place, or even the perception of doing so is lost on many. I can do it no problem (now I can at least) but I almost always encounter difficulty somewhere. The CMC drop-In system has been by far the best on cost, ease of install, speed of install and lastly the quality of the trigger itself. We covered all this already in the 3.5lb Single stage review, so let’s focus more on the real question. Which one is better and what is the difference?

The number one benefit to the two stage trigger from CMC I found was consistency of pull and accuracy. With the two stage trigger you get a lighter pull from the “first stage” where you would normally feel the trigger “hit the wall”. The point at which the trigger breaks however is your second stage, and that has it’s own pull weight that is either the same or less than the initial pull. This allowed me to have a very smooth pull from the beginning of the pull all the way through to the hammer dropping. You know when you are pulling the trigger, and you can feel the stages in your trigger finger, but the trigger breaks so smoothly that you almost never even notice it. The trigger “surprises” you in the manner most people were taught to strive for when first learning how to shoot. Not in the way where you jump back and freak out or god forbid flinch, but more of a manner where you are expecting it to happen but you had no time to pay it any mind. Clean and smooth, trigger pulls roll off your fingertips like lapping waves.

How does this affect accuracy? With a single stage trigger there is a set number of pounds to pull, like the CMC 3.5lb for comparison. You have slack on the take up, you feel the sweet spot where the trigger is going to break and those pre decided pounds are required to make the hammer fall. That’s it. You pull at 3.5 pounds and if there is anything that gives, it translates through the rifle all the way to the muzzle where even 1/8th of an inch translates to inches or more as the target distance reaches further out. With the 2-stage and the smoother pull, there is less drag on the pull, less to flinch or move about which helps keep the rifle and the muzzle more stable. That means that 1/8th flinch or more turns more into a 1/16th, or 1/32nd flinch resulting in tighter groups downrange. To some, those measurements seem inconsequential at the muzzle, but try it and see the difference in your groupings. 100m is a hell of a tell tale between the two, thats for sure.

The speed is also dramatically increased. With the second stage being equivalent or lighter you can really get a rifle cooking by finding that “sweet spot” where the first stage engages and the gun goes bang on the second and just keep on riding it. It aids in trigger slap too because you feel the reset before you even get out of the first stage after the trigger snaps. As you become more proficient in your trigger pulling, you feel things a bit differently, and as with most things repetition builds speed. Therefore, you become faster and more proficient. Now be careful, I am not saying that by purchasing a CMC two-stage trigger you will instantaneously become an AR ninja with blistering speed and accuracy the moment you drop it in and screw it down. But I am saying that with practice and fundamentals in place, you will get better than a single stage, and infinitely better than with a Mil-Spec trigger.

Is it worth the money? Absolutely. If I was a wealthy man I would probably switch out some more of my single stage triggers for two-stage triggers without any regrets. It is the refined and polished CMC trigger. When shot side by side I instantly noticed how much more I mash the single stage and “bounce” the muzzle significantly more than the two-stage. If you have a very soft or flat shooting rifle as is… this will take it to the next level of shooting lazer beams. Check out our video review to see what I mean.

Sig Sauer P320 Review

I bought it for the reasons of, I could shoot it accurately and one of my more knowledgeable friends had one. Fast forward 5 years later and I feel differently about Sig Sauer than I used to. At some point you have to take a hard look at modern tools, materials and engineering while asking the question “Can this be done better?” Sig Sauer has done just that with the P320 and I must say it is a big leap into the next generation of service pistols.

Let us “pump the brakes” for a second and validate the last statement. At the core function and feature set the Sig Sauer P320 offers, is it a forward step, or a good sprint to play catch up? A little bit of both actually. The Sig P320 is a Polymer framed Striker fired Service pistol chambered in 9mm, .40 and .357 sig with .45 in the works. In those parameters, this is a “tap, rack, bang” offering from Sig after the P250. There are plenty of options in the Polymer striker pistol market, well established and reliable options at that. So how is this a “next generation” pistol in any sense of the phrase? Several reasons, for starters the most obvious reason to anyone who has fired a P320 is the trigger. 

Sig Sauer has found a way to make a striker fire pistol not feel like, a striker fire pistol. Many other striker pistols out there have created an entire market of drop in trigger upgrades just to make a striker trigger great. What is worse is that this isn’t even an “insider secret” or some gun smithing trick. It is widely known that striker fire triggers suck, yet none of these manufacturers seem to put any investment in making a better trigger commonplace or even a feature to be known by. Sig Sauer however, has put it front and center with the finest striker fire trigger I have ever seen out of the box. I feel like I am shooting my P226 yet I see no hammer and I have no de-cocker to manipulate. Well done. If there is even a P320 Trigger Upgrade available on the market, I don’t even think I would be shopping unless I was in some sort of competitive shooti-g market.

The P320 has obviously taken some cues from the polymer aftermarket as well with some great features that improve the functionality and aesthetics of the pistol. The trigger guard is thinner closer to the frame, reminiscent of popular “undercutting” most do nowadays. The frame is ergonomic and ubiquitous without being overly sculpted or modular like the grip reductions and sculpting services you see out there these days. Speaking of services, “stippling” or texturing of the polymer grip is done tastefully on the P320 in all the right places making this pistol tactile without being overly abrasive. Finally there are front serrations on the slide for more grip on the slide for press checking and racking. Plus, they just look pretty damn cool too without being over the top. The mag release is also notable as it is for one, ambidextrous and switchable from left to right, but it is also easy to release the magazine quickly without being an oversized or extended mag release system. There are also magazine well baseplate cuts for those “Murphy’s Law” moments when you need that mag out and it has different plans. Although with the stiffness of the polymer and amount of tolerance allowed in the magazine well, that must be a really bad situation to need that. Still good to see it was included though.

These are all features you can do to just about any polymer pistol out there today, so I ask again. What makes this a “Next generation” service pistol? Well, all of these features  I just went through are FACTORY STANDARD and not something you spend extra money after the purchase to make a “cool” pistol with improvements on form and function. That’s correct, you get a fantastic trigger, undercuts, front slide serrations, decent stippling and SigLite tritium night sights for about the same price as a brand spanking new pistol from any other brand. Sig Sauer did not inflate the price at all to get to that competitive price point. A huge leap forward on so many fronts for Sig and as I said in the video, I applaud them for it.

Well, what could be bad with so many positives going for the P320? Well, there is nothing bad, so much as a “Needs Improvement” mark for me when it comes to this new polymer Sig. For one, this has to be the most felt muzzle flip from a 9mm I have ever felt. It has a similar muzzle heavy feel from other Sig pistols, however it doesn’t seem to work for the 320 here as the 9mm tested felt closer to a .40 than a 9mm. Strangely enough though when partnered with a good solid metal pistol light like a Surefire x300 or a Streamlight TLR-1 it settles right down and becomes a real smooth and flat shooter.  

May I ask, what is the deal with the grip angle? It was a bit awkward at first as it is definitely a more vertical angle to the grip than any other Sig before and reminiscent of the old Mauser. It was such a drastic shift from others that I cannot help but wonder if this is part of why it feels like there is more flip than there actually is? If you watch the review video you will see, it doesn’t actually even move a whole lot, but it certainly feels jumpy. The polymer they use is extremely hard and unforgiving. That is not really a good or bad thing, just an observation that lead to questions only time will answer. I had mentioned the grip wasn’t “modular” like most other polymers, and thats because if you want a different grip, you buy a whole new grip. See, the trigger and “Frame” are all one component in the traditional sense. The tr

Finally there is the takedown lever. It isn’t bad per se, so much as different and a departure from all other pistols, the P226 included. With a modern thumbs forward grip, the takedown lever rested squarely under my support hand thumb and was awkward at first, but quickly became a “gas pedal” type of rest for my thumb. I found I could really wrench down on my grip and reduce any muzzle flip pretty dramatically when pressure was applied to the takedown lever while shooting. So, as stated, not really a bad thing so much as a …different… thing. Could be a turn off for some and a blessing for others. 

The SigSauer P320 is an amazing step forward for Sig as a company and it is clear to me that they are very much alive, well and paying attention to the market and what users are buying. The P320 is overall an awesome and forward thinking step for SigSauer. This is not your dad’s Sig, it is a Sig with the modern end user in mind and all at a price point that is right in line and competitive with others in it’s market. If you buy a Sig P320, you won’t be disappointed. We had a great time re-learning our old friend Sig, and plan to shoot it more and more.

Adams Arms C.O.R. Upper Receiver Review

The myriad of components this build boasts all are really amazing in their own individual rights. When you put them all together it creates a really low impulse soft shooter that when matched with a good trigger can throw lead quickly and accurately.

Since C.O.R. is an acronym for Competition Optics Ready, we of course had to get some really good glass on top and we were lucky to have received a SR-8s 1-8x optic from U.S. Optics. We partnered it up with an American Defense Manufacturing USO Offset QD mount and we could not be happier with the end result. It’s like they were made for each other. The crazy thing is that aside from a 2-point sling, that was all we needed. This Upper was ready to rock and roll just as soon as we got it zeroed. That’s all it takes with this upper and we do love our conveniences. For a sling we used a Magpul Dynamics MS/1 with their new MS Slider which is a great sling, but that is for another time.

So many parts come together to create this upper and prove that is a sum of the parts and not the individual that make a build be as good as it can be. I will address them individually and hopefully explain as best I can how each part matters. Let’s start with the core of it all, the barrel.

The Adams Arms C.O.R. Upper boasts a 16.5” VooDoo Innovations LifeCoat barrel with a rifle length piston system. The LifeCoat provides excellent corrosion resistance and abrasion resistance even more so. 16.5” of 1:7 twist mean the heavier weights have no issue at all being all they can be. The rifle length gas system which travels through the 3 position piston system literally pulls just enough gas off to cycle the bolt when fully opened. This is another factor in cutting down on the impulse of the weapon.

The three position gas block has a setting for wide open, which works with everything we tested although we did only test .22, 5.56 and 5.56 green tip. It has a reduced gas setting which is intended for suppressors. This will bleed some of the gas off so as not to over gas the rifle when you encounter the pressure increase suppressors can create. It also has a third position for single shot only… although aside from a needed issue to cycle a semi-auto weapon after each round… it escapes this reviewer. Next on this barrel is the 3 chamber VDI JetComp which is a meaty brake. Three chambers that reduce in size as you get closer to the muzzle with 2 vertical ports that all work together harmoniously to keep any and all leftover gas pushing left, right and up. This keeps the rearward traveling weight and muzzle climb at almost zero. So even magnified in at 8 power there is minimal bounce to get faster follow up shots without needing a super aggressive hold on the rifle. Last but not least is the VooDoo Innovations LifeCoat Low Mass Carrier. This BCG has a LOT of meat taken out of it and with the LifeCoat she is light and slippery. This is the final piece to the impulse/felt recoil puzzle as there is a significant amount of reduced weight sliding back and forth in the buffer tube. It is married very well with the gas system and as far as we can tell we never even came close to bottoming out the buffer. This upper cycles fast and smooth.

Most people cannot talk about piston systems without bringing up 2 primary arguments. Where fouling and carbon go or get built up and which is better is one. The other is Carrier Tilt. Fouling happens, I don’t care what lube you run, what coating your parts have or what shaman blessed it to be self cleaning. It happens, and from my experiences so far, the Piston is by far easiest to clean, but sometimes needs to be cleaned more frequently for proper cycling as opposed to a DI (Direct Impingement) system which has much more room for fouling to live and can go longer periods without cleaning but is a pain to thoroughly clean. Again, this is my experience and opinion, results may vary. The other argument is the action created by a piston striking a carrier and creating something called “carrier tilt” which can wear on your buffer, buffer tube and receiver. Let me explain.

DI rifles have the power of gas coming into the receiver and propelling the BCG rearward into the buffer and back into the buffer tube. Fluid like a water rocket. The moment you change that to a system reliant on impact, there has to be an equal and opposite reaction (ref:Newton). So what tends to happen in Piston BCG’s is the carrier itself will tilt and push the rear of the BCG down, to grind along the bottom of the receiver extension tube and also damage the buffer. The VooDoo Low mass carrier addresses this with not just the slick coating but also with an sloped rear to the carrier in addition to the widened groove for the buffer retaining pin. As you can see in the video after several hundred rounds, there is zero wear on the buffer or receiver.

The rifle comes wrapped up in a Samson EVO rail made specifically for the piston system and is a 15” free float with tapped holes for adding components and modularity when needed. The Samson Grip stop is a really convenient and handy stop as well as having a knurled back end for pinning against barricades and such for extra support. There is a QD mount as well as a couple other picatinny mounts that are included as well. Truly optics ready, the C.O.R. Upper Receiver comes with Diamondhead USA D-45 Flip-up Offset BUIS so you have some sights to transition to faster from a magnified optic. They deploy fast and stay solid, the only issue is, they always deploy whether you want them to or not. The only time they seemed to stay folded and stowed was while they were in the rifle bag. When contacted, Diamonhead states that this is not what is supposed to happen and proffered me to send them in for repair. Many other users however have stated that this in fact is the norm. I won’t be sending them back because frankly, it doesn’t matter and feels “nit picky” to me, but if you were so inclined there you have it.

The only hiccup or issue we ran into with the C.O.R. Upper Receiver from Adams Arms was the lube it shipped with. As I stated in the video, maybe local climate had something to do with the decision but up here in New England, we were quite the opposite of impressed. We were told/found out it was Italian Gun Grease and based upon this showing alone I have no interest in looking into it further. It was sloppy and seemed to migrate everywhere when the gun was running, it gunned up really fast in the piston housing and worst of all, it froze. I have never used a lube, that froze the firing pin in place. we remedied the issue by putting all parts in thorough cleaning and degreasing and then tried both FireClean and Rand CLP. The Rand seemed to stay a lot better and the Adams Arms C.O.R. Upper Receiver ran like a top after that.

So with all that, this is a REALLY great upper. Solid built, weighing in a little over 4lbs. and with so many features included for a shooter let alone a competition shooter, the Adams proved to be a really good out-of-the-box ready to rock and roll complete upper receiver. Soft shooting and easy on all body types and frames it stays on target remarkably well and is super enjoyable to help you get more shots on target faster. If I was starting 3-Gun tomorrow and didn’t know where to start, this is a fantastic buy for all that and then some.

Rifenbark Armory S.O.M. Muzzle Device

It doesn’t fit the typical “mold” of compensators and with so many seemingly coming on the market everyday, this one stands apart from the rest with it’s looks if nothing else.

Rifenbark designed this comp over a period of four months and it’s really interesting to see a company take what looks like a Sci-Fi looking ventilation port and but it on top of a cylindrical design.These vents aid in the directing of gasses and fouling up and away on a slight angle from the muzzle. This helps reduce muzzle climb and aid in faster follow up shots on target. These ports are at a slight angle and not straight up which is great because you get some spill off laterally on the angle as opposed to hot venting pushing the muzzle down on the Y axis. The big porting chambers you are used to seeing on the horizontal with most Brakes and Compensators are actually narrow and long on this single chamber comp. It is an appropriate cut that pairs well with the vertical ports and allowing “just the right amount” of compensation. Any more and it would most likely render the vertical ports useless, any less and it could send more gas to the vertical and push the muzzle down unnaturally.

Let’s talk about the concussion for a minute. Most brakes and compensators have a very solid and chest thumping “THUD” when you are shooting it. Most who have shot on a line alongside or even in the same vicinity of big chamber brakes and comps know that sound all too well. Now, I don’t know because I am not an engineer if it has to do with the shape of the horizontal ports or the size of the ports or both that makes it sound the way it does. Maybe its that combined with the vertical ports, who knows. What I do know is it doesn’t “thud” quite the same way. Its a different sound that variates from what you are used to just enough to really get your ears screaming. I relate it to my young infant daughter. I can tolerate long useless angry cries because a broken toy, hungry, diaper change…whatever. But then she amps up the octave level on certain occasions and it renders me absolutely useless as a parent without ear protection. I don’t know what that decibel level is, but it can go straight to hell.

Installation was difficult and treacherous when we first received the device. This is no longer the case as they now make a tool for installation. But let me tell you, I tried everything, a pipe wrench, monkey wrench, pliers and channel locks. The thing that seemed to work best was a screwdriver through the horizontal brake ports and let me tell you, I have never before been worried about snapping a Craftsman screwdriver like I was that day. There are no flat spots for your standard armorers tool or even a wrench so as not to interfere with the design that seamlessly flows into the barrel. The tool they have now looks very similar to a 1911 bushing tool. It is made of resin, provides great leverage and makes getting this device on and off a breeze now.

It’s not too heavy, looks a bit awkward and is a bit wonky to get on or off if you don’t have the installation tool, but it does exactly as advertised and won’t make you any friends at the range. Whether that is your desired result or not one thing is for sure… you won’t have any trouble getting some “personal space” at your local range.

Modern Defensive Handgun (CFS) AAR

After Action Report

DRFT CFS Class 09-10 AUG 14

Class took place at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club. The area for the class was more than adequate for the 11 students. Amenities could have been increased a bit. The heads, actually a porta-john, was too far away. The student could not load mags, use the head and make it back on the line in enough time to not miss a drill or at least the start of it. There was not enough seating for all students. Although when brought up at the post class debrief it was noted that there was a plan to double the seating, all under an aluminum roof. Even with the above mentioned slight inconveniences the club was very conducive for training. Several of the club officers and range safety officers stopped by to see if we needed anything. A homemade lunch was also provided each day for a modest price.

Matt provided a real world, no nonsense approach to this two day pistol course. The course, Combat Focused Shooting or CFS, is not designed to have you stand in a bay and shoot statically. And we did not… This class had you moving. But not just moving. Moving and shooting… oh and throw in reloading too, after you were told why, not just why but the reasons behind why. I thought that was important because this class was not intended to make one a better bullseye pistol shooter, getting all your rounds in a dime size circle. This class was designed for when you draw your concealed carry pistol that you will be able to put combat effective rounds on target. Sometimes more than one target, in an ever changing training environment. Round count was just under 950, actually 948 rounds. I hate just putting a number like that out there. In the typical, and sad, “more is better” world, one might think that this class is not as good a 1500 round count class, or even half as good as a 1896 round count class. The truth is, that the number of rounds we shot were irrelevant. If Matt had said run these drills like this, and I used 400 rounds I would have been just as happy. I now have a host of new drills and scenarios to practice on the range. Each drill built on the previous one. Because of this we became faster and more effective.

I have taken several pistol classes. This class not only taught the standard issues items and causalities that most classes cover but went a little sideways. This class diverged in the approach to shooting. We didn’t just aim, pull the trigger and get the boom, but learned about the psyche and science behind what we were doing and feeling.

The science:

  • How your shoulders can help with recoil mitigation
  • How not using the sights can increase speed and even accuracy within the first 15 feet
  • How your first reaction is not to go for your gun but that you get into a defensive stance, and how to deal with your body and that process
  • The thoughts on when to take the shot and when not to
  • How not looking at your reloads actually sped them up and made them more efficient

The psyche

  • Moving laterally and not backwards
  • How the mind gets involved and can change your accuracy
  • How accuracy can be changed on perceived risk/reward
  • The last drill of the day, and strangely familiar to the first day but with a difference, it was a HUGE improvement; faster, cleaner and more effective rounds on target.

When class had ended and we had two other students each, verify our weapons clear, we took the obligatory class picture. Then we did something different, we participated in a mandatory class debrief. Each person had to review items in the class, good and bad, and also Matt himself. That’s a pretty bold step, but one that the CFS instructor group actually uses to improve the class. Some of the drills that we ran through we’re improved upon from those of you that took the class before me, thank you. D

I feel that I am more prepared if, God forbid, I need to draw my pistol in a crowed area or some back alley and employ deadly force; not only did this class increased that preparedness but gave it to me in a way that taught me the why and not just because that’s the way we do it…

Modern Defensive Handgun (CFS) with DRFT

It is a brutal and ugly look at the other end of the gun and forces you very soon in your love affair with shooting to decide if it’s even worth it. I would equate it to going on a first date with someone you find incredibly attractive and are enamored with, then hearing about every bit of ugliness and trauma from every breakup ever, all before appetizers are done.

A.A.R. (After Action Report)

Date: 08/09/2014 – 08/10/2014
Location: Cheshire County Fish & Game, Keene, NH
Course: Modern Defensive Handgun (CFS Combat Focus Shooting)
Instructor: Matt Devito
Min. Round Count: 900 Rounds

There is a side of firearms training most of us will either never see, or do not care to see. CFS is the side of training that tells us in colorful and descriptive language the psychological, physical and emotional impact of being drawn into a defensive use of our carry weapon, concealed or otherwise. It is the side that explains how the body and mind react when a “gun solution” is your only option left. When the talking, screaming and cursing is done and your fight or flight response kicks in because you are now in a critical event and fear for your life… what happens next? Are you actually prepared?

I have been to numerous trainings, talked and listened to many instructors and consider myself above average at drawing a firearm, shooting, reloading, malfunction handling and (believe it or not) movement compared to the average gun owner. I consider myself fairly versed in course outlines, courses of fire and stacking drills to incorporate prior lessons with new ones to keep the mind working. I will tell you this, that all came in handy but still did not prepare me for how Matt Devito and the Modern Defensive Handgun is approached by CFS. It is an unapologetic, put you in your place and step outside of your comfort zone course. Plain and simple.

Let me get one thing out of the way, and I will explain this next statement. I do not recommend a Modern Defensive Handgun (or CFS) Course as your first ever professionally taught course. There, I said it. I do not recommend CFS as your 8th or 9th course either. Just my personal opinion and here is why.

From a consumer standpoint, this is scary class to be your first. Most people are excited about their new firearm, feeling empowered and ready for anything because you now own a gun. You have taken it to the range alone or with friends and gotten used to how it operates, how to reload it, what happens when you pull the trigger etc. You decide it’s time to take a course and learn more about how to draw the firearm, how to carry it, how to deal with malfunctions, whatever. That is awesome, and a crucial step in gun ownership and being a responsible citizen. But nonetheless, it is a first step.

CFS will make you question if you are actually prepared to handle a critical situation, or even wish to pursue the knowledge at all. Will it turn you into a single lane shooter for funsies at your local favorite range or will it make you re-assess whether you even want to own a firearm at all? It is a brutal and ugly look at the other end of the gun and forces you very soon in your love affair with shooting to decide if it’s even worth it. I would equate it to going on a first date with someone you find incredibly attractive and are enamored with, then hearing about every bit of ugliness and trauma from every breakup ever, all before appetizers are done.

So, if I conveyed my reasons effectively I hope you understand that I am not bashing this course or saying it is not worth taking, quite the contrary. I am merely looking through the eyes of my wife, my friends who want to learn more who haven’t taken a course anywhere. I formulated my opinion based on their threshold or tolerance for bitter truths in this world as well as pride or ego. I would recommend letting a basic pistol instructor at a generic 01 course open your mind first. Fumble through a stove pipe or double feed malfunction there and break the ridiculous notion that you are a master of the gun universe before we get on the gas and do it while moving. Before doing it all while analyzing and thinking about environment and those around you. As Matt Devito says though, hope is not a method. So since I hope you get it, please keep reading, there is more to this course than meets the eye.

I had stated earlier that I would not recommend CFS for anyone for their 8th or 9th course either. Let me add some detail and clarity on that statement. I would not recommend a CFS course for anyone without an open mind to take this course after completing several other courses with one or many instructors. My reasoning behind this, Matt actually covered quite simply and elegantly during Day One. You develop a rut (myself included), or beaten path if you will, on how things are done and how you do them. Repetitive motions like reloading a certain way, holding a pistol a certain way, or even shooting a certain amount of rounds for a drill; you are developing a routine that stays with you from one course to the next.

This is not a bad thing. You reload faster, you shoot more accurately faster and you feel you are becoming a general badass. You gain immeasurable confidence in the actions and you enjoy doing them because you are good at them. Trying new things, even a modified or different way of doing the same things you have always done makes you take a step backwards and you may begin to doubt your awesomeness. As Matt stated during the training, Dopamine is a hell of a drug and humans enjoy doing what they are good at. No one wants to suck. When you are struggling with something, you will naturally want to stop and replace it with something you are good at doing simply because it is more enjoyable than something that is different or hard. Touching a hot stove is not enjoyable, but you still learned and got pretty good at not getting burned through life. All being said, it is interesting to see how it all comes together since CFS courses do not come with any prerequisites and accept all levels of shooters.

All preconceived notions of how a class is supposed to be run or taught needs to be removed before taking a CFS course. There is a method to the madness which becomes clear at every step as long as you can get out of your own way. There really is no “Secret Sauce” or wizardry. There may be a Mr. Miyagi moment or two and the “why” will always be explained. Matt prides himself on giving the “why” and will not broad stroke or blowoff any student’s question. Or as he puts it, Matt will never give you a “just another tool in your toolbox” response to a question. He doesn’t even (visibly) wear a pistol on the range, and rarely will he even demonstrate a drill. Fact of the matter is he didn’t have to as he clearly and concisely conveyed all actions to be taken without needing to demonstrate. The only reason he did on a couple (with someone else’s pistol) was to head off any safety concerns before the questions even arose.

Safety is another “concept” all together. Let me say, at no point during this training did I ever feel I was in danger or risk of gaining an extra hole or two. I did however, during Matt’s descriptions get the impression I should be. As I said, you need an open mind. Some of the drill descriptions immediately make you concerned for your safety based on other courses taken and preconceived notions of what is supposed to happen in a class. When when you actually walk through them verbally and sometimes without drawing or firing… all concerns are immediately squashed. The course of fire and more importantly the actual shooting that takes place is never at any given time un-safe or out of line. There may be a drill or two that makes you question it’s actual value, but never will Matt ignore that question and will provide you an answer or justification of a drill to help understand “the why.”

This is a fairly long winded review or after action report of the CFS course and I truly hope parts are not taken out of context. There was so much of this course that really made me wrap my head around some new concepts and re-align certain beliefs in methods of self defense. I don’t think I have talked at length with anyone about any course for more than 20-30 minutes TOPS. But Monkey and myself found ourselves discussing the principles, theories, drills and mindsets of this course for hours on end. It was almost like everything we had been taught over the years was just… parochial. Now that is not to fault all the trainers and courses prior, to this one. I learn so much more at every course evolution I have taken. CFS is taught from outside the standard regimes and SOP’s and it truly becomes apparent when you take the military derived instruction and throw it out the window. It changes your perspective from how proficient you are with the hardware, to how proficient are you are utilizing it in a real world scenario. There is emotion, analysis and real-time decision making that has to happen if you need to use your weapon in self defense and Matt Devito makes it very clear on how to try and prepare for it.

Overall, I encourage you to take a Modern Defensive Handgun or CFS course if given the opportunity. Go in with an open mind and try, honestly and truly try everything the instructor is offering. A training “rut” isn’t a bad thing, but there is no harm in making the rut, your knowledge base and your preparedness a bit larger or wider. I shot that course as fast and hard as I could have and followed instruction to the best of my ability. Believe it or not, it did not erase all the training I had before. It merely turned the volume up in some areas and toned it down in others. It helped me feel more proficient when walking around town with my family and not just on a range in front of the cameras.

SunDevil ADIGS (Adjustable Drop-In Gas System)

To go back a little bit, there are two (2) places that you can effect the amount of gas that is moved around the AR platform.

First would be an adjustable gas block which is attached to the barrel and the gas tube is slid into it. This, for most situations, is a more permanent attachment.

The second, and the one that we are looking at, is the gas key. This adjustable gas key made by Sun Devil Manufacturing is connected to the Bolt Carrier Group, BCG. The system is called ADIGS, Adjustable Drop In Gas System and it gives you the ability to quickly and easily change the amount of gas that is channeled to the BCG. One benefit that I see is that the BCG could be taken out and moved to a different platform or exchanged with a non-adjustable gas key if desired. Although after tuning and shooting it, I can’t understand why one would want to do that.

So why would one want to lessen the amount of gas that is sent to the BCG?

We’ll… this is important because the less gas that is sent to the BCG the less recoil will be felt as the BCG is not as forcibly moved reward. Of note and importantly, gas and recoil is needed. Sounds like doublespeak right… So as the Adjustable Gas Key is tuned, with a small screw that is placed inside the gas key, you are actually limiting the gas output. If you restrict the gas too much your BCG will not travel rearward far enough to eject the brass, or grab a fresh round or have enough force to seat the BCG. You are actually looking for the happy medium between too much gas, excess recoil, and too little gas, what we just reviewed. As you can see in the video and as I can attest to, when tuned it makes a drastic change to the way the rifle feels as you are firing.

The installation, which take about three minutes, if you dog it, could not be any easier. Everything that you need is included in the packaging. It includes:

1 – Adjustable Gas Key
2 – Socket Head Cap Screw 8-32 x 1/4″
1 – Bottle of Blue Loctite (# 242)
1 – Bottle of Red Loctite (# 262)
1 – Allen Key 9/64″ (Used for Install)
1 – Allen wrench 5/64″ Used to tune the Gas Key

Out of the package the ADIGS is adjusted to wide open, and will function the same way as the gas key that you just removed would. After restricting the gas, with the 5/64″ allen wrench, and taking a few test shots it is clear that this is where the ADIGS ease of use and functionality is seen. In less than ten rounds, I had my ADIGS dialed in. Now to rail on it… The felt recoil was considerably less. I was using 55gr FMJ, if you were to change ammo to say… 62gr you would just repeat the tuning process and you would receive the same results. In the last picture in the gallery (left), you can see the small set screw that limits the amount of gas that is applied to the BCG.

As you can see from the video (below) we went from 1.5 inches to less than 1/2 inches once tuned. I was not braced or anything for the “with” shots and I stood the same stance for both firings.

Check them out at SunDevilMfg.com and tell them Monkey from FourGuysGuns sent you.

GLOCK 42 Review

What a lot of people do not know is that in between 2012-2014, one of the biggest Conceal Carry market demographics on the rise was women. With that many companies began pushing forward on their ultra conceal carry models. So what separates the GLOCK 42 from it’s competitors, and furthermore why was there so much fuss about it? To start, no one expected GLOCK to unleash a .380. The GLOCK 42 is a single stack handgun chambered in .380. It appears, takes down and shoots just like all of it’s big brothers and sisters. The main differences are mainly size, capacity and notably the trigger. It is the Tyrion Lannister of the GLOCK family.

In a world of 9mm, .40 and .45 single stack conceal carry fan favorites, why the seemingly “neutered” round? For those that don’t know, the .380 is essentially a 9mm short. Same diameter as a 9mm, but a smaller cartridge (less powder, less velocity, etc.) So now, despite what all the internets and the guy behind the counter say, why do people shine the .380 in a bad light? Let’s map it out.

The .380 is a cool round in my eyes because it has a lot of pros and cons that really highlight it’s intended purpose. A point and counterpoint can be made for just about every feature of the .380 which may limit it’s end-user market, but also excels at that niche. Reduced felt recoil and muzzle flip for example lets you stay on target and not “fight” a gun back onto it’s sights. The counter to that though is a weak extraction of spent brass as you can see in the video review as rounds seemingly dribble out of the chamber upon being fired. The shorter round also lacks velocity which will reduce hydrostatic shock in a defensive scenario as well as leave/create a smaller exit wound. The flip side to that is less over-penetration and coupled with modern hollow point rounds, negligible internal damage differences counter balance that as well. The round’s overall length is also shorter than a 9mm which helps in smaller magazines, smaller grips, smaller pistols and a smaller print of the gun on a person offering more conceal-ability.

What does size have to do with anything? Many will want the most gun they can get in a fight for their life and that is an understandable and valid desire. At 5’11” and 265 lbs., the .380 is not the most gun I can conceal. But what about some of the more, let’s just say “leaner” people? Or those that have minimal clothing, or even many of the fairer sex. What about limiting garments or apparel not designed for concealing? Are there 9mm options out there that are comparable in size? Yes there are, but they are comparable, and not the best fit for that individual. So while we can measure our manhood by caliber all day long, that doesn’t mean one caliber or one pistol is great for everyone.

The GLOCK 42 nails that demographic down with it’s simplicity, ruggedness and straight, soft shooting capability. The size is an asset with the 42 as it is noticeably smaller than many other in the same category and makes for a very easy appendix carry, or the many other places you can find to conceal it. Whether wearing a business suit in your corporate environment, out with the kids and family, or even going for a jog in less clothing to conceal, the size matters a lot. I used to carry “against company policy” for the longest time simply because my job wasn’t worth my life. If I had the GLOCK 42 back then, this would have been my pistol of choice hands down. Very easy to grip, fast follow up shots and a super simple interface we have come to know and expect from GLOCK.

In our review we put about 350 rounds through the GLOCK of horrible ammo and decent ammo as well as varying hollow points. In the first 50 rounds we had the same issues we have encountered with most brand new pistols. Stove pipes, failure to eject (FTE) and the incredibly popular “last round” insertion in the magazine. Once the gun was past that 50 round mark, all issues were gone. Loading all 6 rounds in the magazine with no problem, no feed issues and proper cycling. Even when we threw, kicked and buried the pistol in a mixture of sand/clay and dirt, the weapon still cycled. Interesting enough, when we threw it in a puddle to swish it around and clean it off, we began having issues. This doesn’t mean it can’t get wet as we did leave it outside for a bit in a rainstorm prior to the video review. It seemed to create some sort of sand/silt sludge paste which created enough resistance to impede the cycling of the tiny .380. A tap, rack, bang yielded single shot results and a functioning firearm but it was still interesting to see how far we could push a little .380 to failure.

This was the first review we have ever had of a .380 pistol and it was an eye opening experience. I trust the .380 cartridge more than I did before and it was really surprising to feel the difference between the .380 and the larger rounds. Enough of a difference where I am now seeking a pistol that shoots as smooth as a .380 but chambered in 9mm or larger. The potency of the round and the felt recoil were nothing short of eye opening and I am happy GLOCK gave us the opportunity to try it out. I feel like The Gunny did not lie to me and it was a smooth pistol to carry and a lot of fun to shoot. The size is definitely appealing to me and I am sure many more. Comparing it to “similar models” isn’t ergonomically the same and you know it the moment you pick it up. Another notable point is the trigger. I don’t know if it is because there is less on the trigger bar due to size, a better or more polished sear and components or what, but the trigger on the GLOCK 42 is by far the best factory trigger I have ever felt on a GLOCK. Period. As a conceal carry piece, the trigger is hefty, but it has a solid stop when you hit that wall and break the trigger as opposed to the usual striker fire mush. It also has a very positive and audible “click” when it resets and almost zero take-up for follow up.

In closing, is the GLOCK 42 a do-it-all pistol? No. I would not expect to shoot 100-200 rounds from this pistol at the range for ha-ha’s or even get a custom outside the waistband kydex holster for it. Could I? Absolutely. It is not made to be, nor should it be in the same category as a full size service pistol or even their slightly smaller counterparts, like the GLOCK 17, 19 and 26. Is the GLOCK 42 a highly concealable, effective personal defense pistol that I can wear and hide just about anywhere on me? Yes, in spades. You can wear 6 of them and not print as much as one GLOCK 19. For the market and purpose this pistol seems to have been designed for, I truly enjoyed the 42 and have no worries about the .380 as a caliber choice. People can talk a good game about caliber all they want but as most have put it out there already, no one is lining up fearlessly to take a hit or six from that round either.

Is the .380 a bad round?

The .380 puts holes in things, plain and simple. Would I want to get shot with a .380? Hell no, not after what I saw a .380 hollow point do to a watermelon within 7 meters. This video review we did to preemptively cull any shenanigans from the peanut gallery. Now let’s address the real issue. Why carry a .380 in the first place with the wide availability of ultra conceal carry and higher caliber rounds?

There are a lot of conceal carry options on the market these days for those that want a slim, compact and easy to conceal personal defense or backup pistol. Furthermore, the largest rising demographic in the firearms world since 2012 has been the female market. In a man’s world, the .380 is a neutered 9mm and therefore lacks power (by comparison) which translates to, not “manly” enough. You may not agree, or even be ready to admit that, but it’s true. I said it, let’s move on.

Men have typically larger framed builds than women. Larger hands, bigger muscles and bones and many other physical characteristics that (scientifically) separates us from the fairer sex. Some of the single stack 9mm, .40 caliber and .45 caliber conceal options are amazing and we can get into that another time. This whole video and article started just to see if gender and size aside, is the .380 a wimpy round in our minds, or in reality?

The reality I have come to find is that, I don’t want to be shot with a .380. The .380 is literally a shortened 9mm. Same diameter and same or similar weight to a 9mm round both in hollow point and in full metal jacket. So what is missing? Velocity. Plain and simple. How does that translate to you, the shooter?

A shortened round simply means that the case and overall length are shorter than it’s “bigger brother.” With that you have less room for powder and air during the combustion process. Again, what does that mean? That means what you lose in velocity you also lose in felt recoil, muzzle flip, gain faster follow up shots on target. Well now that doesn't sound so terrible does it?

Well what’s the downside, and why aren't ALL rounds shorter? Well, what you lose is… velocity.

Distance becomes your enemy. Simply put, distance and velocity. There is hours upon days of ballistic data available online comparing calibers and there penetration depths. As our video puts simply, both the 9mm and the .380 penetrate a watermelon and your traditional “Self Defense” distances through multiple layers of denim (which in and of itself is a ridiculous metric). So how much do you WANT to OVER penetrate, because now THAT is a reasonable question? But wait, there is more to it too,. When it comes to hollow points, more speed on the round equals a significant increase in the hydrostatic shock. What that is simply put is the amount of internal damage is sustained from the massive shockwave bubble created inside a body when a projectile goes through it and destroys tissue and organs. Ah, now we get into it. Higher caliber, with a higher speed and make it a hollow point. NOW it’s “manly” enough for me to carry. But consider the platform. If you could play “does it blend” with internal organs better with one caliber and one specific brand of hollow point for everyone, there would not be variety, opinions and hours upon years of debate, forum threads, ballistic data etc. So consider the platform. Consider the tool for the job. Would I like to hammer every nail with an 8lb. sledgehammer, yes. Is it a reasonable desire? No. I can’t fix my kid’s antique step stool with an 8lb sledge. I don’t want to carry that as a hammer all day on a job site. But I can smash the hell out of some concrete or walls.

Would we all prefer to carry a full size service pistol?

I think we can all agree we would want all available power we can handle at our fingertips at a moments notice, yes. Is it always appropriate? We all make sacrifices, including James Bond in his tuxedo with a Walther, chambered in .380. So before trying to find the one pistol to rule them all, spoiler alert: there is not one for everyone. So again, consider the platform, the intended use. Remove the psychological blocks from your mind considering sex, size and fighting off an angry mob alone with just you and your 1911 and make a rational decision. Try rounds and calibers out, you may be suprised at what you can do and how much a smaller pistol, caliber, or bigger even, will change your outlook on carry options.

Last example.

Today for instance, I will be on a range all day, so I am carrying outside the waistband (OWB) Glock 19 with a spare mag on my belt support side. If I was going out with the family later or to pick my kids up from school, I would conceal carry Inside the Waistband (IWB) my Shiled .40 because I don’t want other parents freaking out that I am carrying a gun, and because I can handle a .40 as good as a 9mm so I went with the larger round. Two very different tasks, two very different pistols, calibers and carry methods. There is not one to rule them all. Keep that in mind when scoffing at a caliber and ask yourself, do I have a purpose for this tool?

Howard Leight EarPro Review

No one wants to pay several hundred dollars for EarPro, no one wants to replace EarPro multiple times by buying cheap, and there is nothing better we have found than Electronic Ear Pro. How do you get the best of both worlds? Enter, the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Protection.

First, let us explain what the difference is in Electronic versus “regular” earpro. Generally speaking, standard ear protection reduces the amount of decibels that impact your eardrums so as not to injure or permanently damage your hearing from loud noises (read: many many gunshots). The most popular way of doing this is to block off the ear canal with either foam plugs or some sort of wadded material to prevent most sound from even entering. Kind of like putting your fingers in your ears but you can still use your hands. There are also headsets that are like earmuffs but specifically designed for noise reduction, they operate in a similar method but are far more comfortable for those that do not like stuff crammed in their ears.

Then there is electronic ear protection. These tend to operate in the same manner that the “earmuff” method does, by encapsulating the ear and reducing the overall decibels that can reach your hearing. The difference is that the electronic variety has circuitry, and microphone(s) with the ability to limit the decibels that can harm your ears in real time. So that means you can hear really good, actually better than your normal hearing, but when something goes bang, pop or crack at a high enough decibel level… it goes muffled and quiet. Very helpful when on a range with others, at a firearms training, or during any activity where you want loud noises drowned out and conversations to still take place.

There are several brands out there that have this type of hearing protection available. While all claim to be amazing there are differences in quality, battery life, ruggedness and especially price. The best we have found as a combination of all these factors is the Howard Leight Impact Sport EarPro. Widely available in most local shops and on many websites these are available for as little as $45. We have all had ours for more than 2 years at this point and they are still going strong. Mine personally have lived through 2 Shot Shows, countless reviews and filming days and many many firearms training courses and events.

Battery life is excellent as I roughly have to change the 2 AAA batteries that power the Howard Leight’s. The only issue with the power I have ever had is, when you are on the range all day long, the headsets automatically power down as a power saving feature to save your batteries in the event that you put them away without turning them off. Since this has happened to me several times and still had plenty of juice left to run them another day, it’s not really an issue, but worth mentioning for those that spend 8+ hours a day using Ear Protection. Still, far less annoying than the cost of batteries. Even if the power cuts out, you still have good noise reduction and the headset remains effective. Replacing the batteries is also way easier than equal or lesser priced EarPro.

Now, because these are electronic you have some cool feature benefits. One thing in particular we did not highlight in the video review is an auxiliary line in port. This can be used for anything from playing your music through your ear protection while you are using them, line into your phone or vox device for walkies and still maintain noise reduction from the outside world. You also get superhuman hearing when there are no loud noises present. When there is nothing loud enough to set off the protection, you can actually “turn up the volume” on your surroundings. You can hear people talking or whispering, you can hear twigs snap and feathers rustle and easily hear someone coming from a mile away.

The Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Protection is very well built, and comfortable. You would not expect it, but wearing a headset for hours on end starts to take a toll on the top of your head and around your ears where sweat and filth builds up. These are more comfortable than most and due to their popularity have several aftermarket accessories available to bolster the cushioning and still look “tacti-cool.” The exposed lines are pretty darn rugged and snag resistant, coated in a heavy rubber overall and extra near the grommets where they reconnect to the earpieces and under the band.

I have had these knocked off my head, thrown, crushed under range and rifle bags (more times than I care to admit) and dropped and kicked on rocks and concrete.I think this is where the “Impact” comes from in the name. They are sturdy enough to take a beating but not so tough that they aren’t pliable and forgiving. All of us here at FourGuysGuns highly recommend the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Pro’s. Hearing protection is one of THE most important things you should invest in when it comes to shooting sports, whether you are an avid shooter or hunter, or even instructors, media or fan of whatever loud things you attend or do. Don’t skimp and get something “good enough.” At the price these are sold at, there are literally no excuses, unless that is, you like stuff crammed inside your ears.

Smith & Bradley Sans-13 Tactical

It is a well thought out design based on hundreds and thousands of repairs by Jerommie Smith and Ryan Bradley. These two guys have spent years noting how and where other watches break and coming up with simple but aesthetically pleasing solutions to these shortcomings.

With Social media and crowd funding at its core, the Sans-13 is a do-it-all watch that won’t break the bank. We were very drawn to Smith & Bradley as a company because like us, they created their brand and product from nothing but their desire to do something better, do it for a wider demographic and do it with the backing of the public supporting them. The Sans-13 is a great watch that delivers a lot of notable features to a very wide gamut of customers without really harping on the "Tactical" aspect. This timepiece also does not sacrifice the ability to be a tactical watch in order to reach a wider audience either.

Starting with the band, it is not to be trifled with. The proprietary rubber band it is only an overshadowed but the girth and ruggedness of the thick strap. It’s like you stacked 3 of your favorite watchbands together and decided it needs to be able to support 300lbs. With that kind of strength the only way to connect it to the watch itself is with a screw system. No more of those pins that rocket across the room and get lost, or impossible to find micro holes to rest the end in. Screws, plain, simple and much more secure.

As for the case, it has just enough heft to it that you know it can take a beating, but not so much that the case is uncomfortable or a burden to wear. Clean lines and purpose built, it is a little on the thick side compared to others, but this only enhances the overall feel of durability. I am confident I can throw this watch at almost any wall and it will live. My fondness of it however, stops me from doing so.

Sitting on top of the case is the obligatory bezel with markings, arrows and glowing shenanigans that most on’t even understand the purpose of. The snag proof chamfered edges are both top and bottom which helps ensure you can turn it easily without any chance of catching it on something and snapping it clean off. A problem I have seen on many a tactical watch myself. The bezel clicks are smooth and solid, like a really nice scope turret, ensuring it doesn’t go spinning on its own like a bicycle gear. It is also worth noting that I did try this… several dozen times and continue to do so. It is showing no signs of giving in.

The Ronda Swiss Quartz movement is precise and solid with almost no over travel or give with every tic of the second hand. When doing the video for this watch, especially up close and personal it was really interesting to see just how little this watch flinched past a number than some other "ticking" watches I have. The black face has clean and very easy to read white numbers with a simple and elegant S&B logo under the 12. This is an often overlooked aspect of many "tactical" watches and can be a nuisance when you want to see the time. The style of this watch can be worn with more than just camo without drawing attention to itself.

Smith & Bradley opted for a proprietary "Lume Tube" instead of tritium for illumination and it does not disappoint. It lasts longer than most luminous paints and inserts remaining visible for over 6 minutes to the naked eye with as little as a 5 second burst from just about any light source. The macro shots really make it look a lot larger than it really is, but they really do hold light VERY well. The video shows the illumination from a desk lamp, but when you use something like say a Surefire X300 Ultra 500 Lumen weapon light… this thing is borderline nuclear. Short story endless the Lume tubes work really well, better than I expected.

I could have drowned this watch, thrown it out the car window on the highway or even shot at it with a variety of calibers to test it’s true quote un quote tactical abilities but all that really proves is that I can break nice things. Instead, focusing on the details and what separates this watch from others while I wear it for all my pseudo tactical day to day activities has yet to leave me disappointed.

I.C.E. Claw EMS Rear Sight

There are many varieties out there made of different materials including polymer, aluminum, steel, some with matching front sites that include dots, brass, luminescent (glow in the dark). All have their pros and cons and the right sights for the right weapon boil down to intended purpose, type of carry method and shooters style. In looking for a good EDC set of sights I came across the I.C.E. Claw EMS rear sight from I.C.E. Training.

Developed by Rob Pincus from I.C.E. Training and Combat Focus Shooting, this sight is an optimal replacement for factory rear sights on your Glock, M&P or XD pistols (recent addition.) It is made of all metal construction with appeal aesthetically and functionally. I tested the M&P model which differs a little in style due to the positioning of the dovetail placement on the Smith & Wesson versus the Glock or Springfield, but in no way seems to alter its ability to help me put rounds on target fast, or bite into material.

Biting into material… I never thought those words would be in the same article as a pistol sight review, but there it is. This sight was specifically designed to do two things. 

Get the front sight into a good firing position as soon as possible and repeat as fast as possible.
In case of injury, restraint or any other reason you can think of, assist in one handed manipulations of the firearm.

The EMS sight has a widened rear notch allowing you to find and line up your first shot much quicker than most aftermarket sights I have tried and especially factory sights. This widened notch also helps you get faster follow up shot accuracy the same way you got the first one. Wider means, more space to find that front sight and line it up. Inside of 18’ I am literally a quarter second (shot timer) faster accurately. at 20 meters I can get an 80% hit accuracy at about the same speed as factory sights. Outside that distance though, fundamentals and proficiency of the shooter need to be far better than mine as there is just too much gap for me to be effective. To be fair, this is not uncommon for most pistol sights for the common shooter, and where attentiveness to the fundamentals and the execution of them matter most regardless.

Take a pistol course or two where you are asked to do anything with one hand, or even worse, your support hand only. Normally simple tasks like racking the slide, locking the slide back or clearing a jam or double feed turn into a nightmare of “what do I do now?!” Simple Tap, Rack, Bang will suddenly make you feel like you are playing musical chairs, the music stopped and you realize your seatless. And there’s gunfire.

This sight really stood out to me. I have shot under high stress, and I have tried my hand at being a pistol marksman, and I know what I am proficient with carrying. The reason the Claw stood out to me is for my needs. 

Brief side note: I am usually out and about in daylight, therefore negating an undying need for night sights. If I ever found myself in the unfortunate situation where I would have to pull my gun, statistically it will be close, if not VERY close range. Lastly, if I am pulling out my gun, chances are someone already has theirs out which already puts me at a disadvantage making my chances of injury or death even higher. I will side with an extra tenth of a second every day at close range in daylight. I use night sights too, just on different setups. Can you use a Bullseye pistol to defend yourself? Absolutely. If given multiple choices of pistols for different attire, conditions, carry method and reason for shooting, wouldn’t you take it?

My EDC (EveryDay Carry) pistol optimally has a high contrast front site to a flat black rear and the EMS fits the bill. It helps me acquire the target faster at close range and has the added bonus of two little ninja climbing claws built in to aid in a “worst case” scenario. Right tool for the right job. I don’t see this sight as being a “gimmick” or  a waste of money. It is well built, a well thought out design and has it’s purpose and usefulness when it’s needed. Even if there was no claw, this is the type of sight I would be looking for.

Now I need to pick another set up for the Shield.

Partner Profile: Nic Smith

Weaponcraft and FourGuysGuns have partnered up to get you more info, tips and help this year. Delivering quality how-to’s and providing assistance to all levels of shooters with the help of highly qualified individuals like Nic, and some not-so highly qualified individuals… like us.

Look to see a lot more from Nic, Weaponcraft and us here at FourGuysGuns this year. Enjoy, and here’s to things to come!

Stay Tuned!

FNH SCAR 16 Review

From the way it disassembles to the way it operates, the FNH SCAR is in my opinion, designed and built off of a SOCOM wish list of wants and needs. Designed with the original intention of replacing the M4, the SCAR takes away the customization value of the Armalite design as a trade off for uniformity without sacrificing current accessory mounting options and common needs and wants.

The model we reviewed was the SCAR 16, which is the “light” version chambered in 5.56x45mm (.223) with a monolithic upper and rail. The entire system is aluminum with the exception of the lower and the butt stock being polymer. Despite the non-removable rail system, the custom crowd will still find solace in the fact that there are companies like PWS and MI that make extensions and accessories to add more rail space to the SCAR. The SCAR is not UN-customize-able, just simply includes many features that are as or more solid than aftermarket.

What you lose in customization from the AR platform you are used to, you gain in built in features and flexibility without making (sometimes costly) modifications. The SCAR has a cornucopia of features to really get this rifle to configured to you, the shooter more than many other rifles. From the collapsible butt stock, which also is a side folder to the adjustable comb and adjustable gas to the amount of engineering in the Ugg boot look alike stock is impressive. The built in iron sights are also of very high quality, feeling solid and utilizing very easy to read and adjust windage and elevation controls. Adjustable gas for all you suppressor fans out there is a simple 2-position lever on the piston system allowing for quick adjustment.  The piston system runs very clean, does not gum up and is also easily serviceable. 

While ambidextrous controls are always a plus for most, I usually am not a fan. The SCAR however was fully operable left or right handed without the ambi features being cumbersome or in the way. The mag release for example is slightly recessed and shielded from the top and bottom on both sides keeping it in-line with the receiver really well without impeding the ability to find the release button. The reciprocating charging handle is also swappable from left to right which I found was more convenient for my thumb and wrist livelihood as opposed to being left handed or right handed. I am a little surprised that for something so clearly engineered and thought out, still used an A2 style grip and not something more modern or ergonomic to go with the platform. I found the grip and the ambidextrous selector to actually be a bit cumbersome and awkward when comparing it to the AR Platform.

The SCAR also sits a lot “taller” than what most are used to as well.  Dimensionally it is not a drastic variance from what most are used to, but it feels and sits in your shoulder a lot thinner and higher. Maybe it’s just aesthetics, but shooting the SCAR is definitively a little bit of a different experience than firing the rifle we are all used to. Now, that’s not a bad thing just something I was not expecting. This rifle also felt like it was always intended for the 7.62 NATO platform, also known as the SCAR Heavy. It felt a little like driving a 4 cylinder Jeep compared to a 6 cylinder. Both are very capable and rugged, but once you feel the power and muscle of one versus the other there is not much debate after that. Now, with that said understand that 5.56 is far more common, is lighter and widely available, so in reality this model makes a lot of sense not just for availability but also for business. If you had never fired a SCAR Heavy, you would never even know.

Field stripping the SCAR is also really simple. In all actuality it is close to the simplicity of the AR platform with a few key differences. You can remove more parts without tools, and smaller parts on the AR platform are bigger and/or chunkier on the SCAR enabling full disassembly with gloves on or in the wet, cold or muddy environments. I know this because it was 5 degrees when the sun was up for most of the video shooting and I didn’t need any special tools or even extra props (read: multi-tool or bullets) to fully break the rifle down all the way down to bolt and firing pin. Really great engineering with simplicity and the field in mind.

Overall I truly feel that the SCAR is a cool platform. It was a good, consistent rifle with a lot of features I really liked at my disposal. I think the 5.56 versus the 7.62 is a distinctive difference was definitely noticeable in the overall operation by the shooter. It is unfair of me to compare the weapon tested to it’s bigger brother or even to the AR platform, but if you have never owned or fired any of the SCAR series then it helps aid a familiar point of reference. It is not a bad rifle in any sense of the word, in fact it is quite the opposite. Easy to clean, fully adjustable, suppressor friendly,  and just downright cool looking, but the selector and the grip were not for me. I am torn on the charging handle simply because again, it is NOT and AR and the manual of arms is different. I like the reciprocating handle, just not on my support side. It is actually pretty cool to feel like FNH made a rifle that operates like an AR and AK had a baby that was not a complete mutt, but in fact born into royalty.

In closing, the FNH SCAR 16 is a versatile and cool rifle. If you can swing the price tag, it is definitely a keeper. It operates and feels like it was a purpose built weapon and has very intuitive controls and features. Even though it isn’t as common as the AR platform, it is in the same ranks as the P90 for me. It’s really cool and would love to own one. It is like a German automobile, it is engineered and smooth operating and is definitively not a Chevy. If you ever get the chance I would say go shoot it and see if it isn’t fahrvergnügen.

Lone Wolf Distributors G34 Review

Combining what shooters want most from aftermarket parts as well as what many are actually doing to their GLOCKs. This G34 has all the awesome aftermarket accessories on it you could ask for and it’s priced really well to boot.

Lone Wolf has a laundry list of awesomeness on this pistol so to make it more manageable I will break it down into two sections. Starting with the Timberwolf frame alone is a daunting task. This frame features an extended beavertail with a nice palm swell to aid in a nice low centerline while helping to avoid slide bite. The grip is also a slightly steeper angle, feels a lot thinner and has different sizes for the replaceable backstrap. This frame also has a full picatinny rail in addition to their Slide Melt machining which helps keep a nice clean line and clearance and no “pig-nosing” at the muzzle end of the polymer frame. This allows the big 34 slide glide on the rails smooth and uninterrupted. The magazine well is also flared and aids in really fast reloads. I am not that fast and this pistol makes me look good.

The internals feature a 3.5 lb. connector with a 6 lb. trigger spring. The trigger itself has a fairly long pull however breaks very clean with a sharp reset. The trigger breaks almost fully rearward which is a bit different from what I am used to and surprises you when the shot breaks.The reset is sharp, audible and short for fast follow up shots without slapping the trigger and affecting accuracy. Also notable is the textured and rounded, oversized magazine release making reloads faster without hindering your grip. Magazines fall freely, if not fly out of the grip (not necessarily common with GLOCKs), This Timberwolf Frame is pretty feature packed.

Let’s talk G34 slide. This is one long slab of metal and it usually has a weight reduction cut in the top. The Lone Wolf does not and I fount the extra weight to slide a lot smoother on the recoil direction, but not as much on the management. The slide is manufactured from 416R Stainless Steel and coated in the ever popular Burnt Bronze Cerakote. Cerakote not only takes a lot of abuse in general but also stays looking newer longer and cleans up real nice after lots of abuse. All the pics in this writeup were actually taken after we ran about 500-600 rounds through the pistol and then cleaned up with FireClean. The slide itself has some very clean and very deep 1911 style serrations both front and rear. The front serrations especially come in handy with racking and press checks since the back end of the slide has a Leupold DeltaPoint red dot hard mounted to the slide itself.

The sighting package spares no expense but I felt budgeted in the right areas. The Leupold DeltaPoint is a fantastic red dot for the size and money and a great choice for a pistol mount. It does have some star-bursting which negates the 3.5MOA dot, but not enough to really upset anyone. Plus, the DeltaPoint has amazing field of view even while focusing on the dot itself. Lone Wolf went with the AmeriGlo suppressor height sights which co-witness perfectly with the red dot. Even if the red dot goes out, you have three highly visible tritium dots lined up to stay on target. The slide is even cut to get at all screws, mounts and controls for the red dot and sites way easier and faster than a bare bones GLOCK.

All in all this G34 from Lone Wolf is a great way to get an “out of the box” competition style pistol in a reliable and trusted platform. With so many great features already taken care of for you your pistol can spend more time shooting and less time in the shop. For those that like doing all these modifications on their own or in steps, there is still plenty of pistol and polymer left to keep you busy. I really enjoyed shooting this pistol. It did not really favor the packs of Blazer Brass I was shooting but gave me zero issues with the PMC and Winchester and even hand loads. This leads me to believe I have a bad box of Blazer, especially considering that one of the actual bullet heads fell out of the bullet itself from the same lot. More testing will be done to confirm it is not the brand, or the gun or the shooter.

More details as we shoot this pistol more after Shot Show

HIPERFIRE Trigger Review

If you are looking for speed then look no further than the 24C. If you are looking for a more traditional upgrade then the 24 and 24E are excellent triggers to move up to.

Let’s start with the install, as with trigger systems these days this is usually where some will face the most adversity. Either due to inexperience with removing and installing a fire control system, or just lack of dexterity with small springs under tension. If you have built an AR lower or two this will be no problem for you at all, however if this is your first time then take your time. HIPERFIRE has included installation videos on their site that are thorough and easy to follow to help everyone get their rifle to shoot faster with less creep and trigger pull weight. Noticeable to myself and others was the tightness of the tolerances. From the pins that go through the hammer and trigger, to the springs in there, it is definitely a little more of an exercise on patience if you have never done this before. Tight tolerance are not a bad thing, but for those Mil-Spec fans, prepare to actually have a swiss clock type action versus the comparatively sloppy gritty loose action of the GI trigger group. Take your time and don’t take any shortcuts.

The only main difference between this trigger group and any other (aside from drop-in self contained systems) is the addition of the third set of springs. HIPERFIRE uses another set not common to AR-15 triggers that places a claw over the disconnector and a small barrel mount behind the trigger. These are supports for these extra springs which are available in Light, Med./Light, and Medium to help you customize the pull as much as possible to your personal taste. These springs also aid in the hammer fall (24oz which is harder than any other) strength without inducing more weight on the actual pull. It’s a really neat system that has far more benefits to the shooter. By Sharing the load among multiple spring systems you get the best of both worlds, hammer strength and trigger pull weight without suffering the pitfalls from some other less expensive upgrades. Commonly you will get light strikes or broken springs by simply changing springs or hammers out on a trigger and this trigger group defeats both.

The 24 and 24E models are fantastic upgrades with a superior difference to a Mil-Spec trigger. If you can feel it, the creep and slack is smoother and breaks much shorter with zero grit feel. The reset alone is another night and day difference as it is sharp, audible, tactile and clean. From there you get a very short take up stroke, so short you would need a micrometer to measure and you are back to engaged.

The 24C is in a class by itself. This is a trigger system that internally does not deviate from any of their other models in structure, but the pull weight and slack is halved. I know, I said I need a micrometer to measure it, but it is there as you can see in the video. I would say however that this is a purpose driven trigger system. If you are looking at a trigger to do competition shooting, faster shooting and anything where split times matter, then this model is for you. You can use this model for anything that requires rounds to go downrange, but if you are looking for something for accuracy or consistent “feel” I would steer you more towards the 24E.

The 24C sits further back in the trigger guard than any other trigger I have seen allowing your fingertip to really get in a position to get the finger muscles just right for fast pulls. Taking up some of that space is their HIPERSHOE which seems to be an elastomer/rubber shoe that mounts to the trigger itself. The HIPERSHOE is adjustable for those that pull the trigger higher up, at the bottom or anywhere in between. It’s quite an ingenious system, but does damper the feel a little if you are looking to feel every bit of that trigger on break and reset. By having a flat bar system with the shoe also allows you to have the same consistent pull length no matter where you touch that trigger, another great feature for consistency. Like I said, super fast I would definitely recommend, but for precision shooting, I would prefer the 24E.

If you are looking for a trigger upgrade I would absolutely vouch for HIPERFIRE models. I think they are very well built, a noticeable difference in feel and function and operate better than advertised. My only warning would be to make sure you truly analyze how you shoot and the intended purpose of the rifle when selecting a trigger group from HIPERFIRE. They have 3 different models for just that reason. We all want to be super cool and super high speed but in the end, choosing the best overall system for your needs in your rifle will leave you a much happier experience with your HIPERFIRE upgrade.

Osborn IWB Holster Review

I ordered this holster for my normal carry gun, my M&P 9mm. In their catalog it is the TacticalTuck version. Out of the package, it was a very tight fit. The product packaging said that it would need a break-in period; and anyone who has used a leather holster knows this. As soon as I put this holster on, I knew that it was going to be a great holster. I am a big fan of the attention to detail that they put into this holster. The clip that holds this to your belt is metal. It is mounted onto the leather using metal eyelets, four on each side. This was pretty cool because it allowed me to adjust the cant as I wanted. I started out with the second hole from the bottom on each side, as it was preset for. This allows for a 15 degree forward cant. I wear mine at the 3:30 position so that was perfect for me.

After wearing this for a few short weeks the leather was nicely broken in. With the holster past its break-in period, this allowed me to utilize the next great feature and the twist I teased you with earlier: that is the Osborne Holster mounts the Kydex to the leather using spacers. These spacers allow the user to adjust the level of retention based on his/her needs. I decided that the retention was just a little too slack for me. A quick turn of the screws and it was perfect. The packaging says that you could put a bit of Loctite on the screws to hold them in place, so a drop of 242 it was. Perfect.

This holster has some great features for not a lot of cash. For a MSRP of $49.99 it has more features than a similar model hybrid that I paid double for (play sad song on your tiny violin here). An impressive list of features include: The Kydex being mounted to spacers, allowing you to adjust the retention; the metal clips that are mounted to metal eyelets and the 16 different cant options (that is two rows of four for you math majors out there).

I also received a horizontal OWB spare magazine carrier. This hybrid magazine carrier has some of the same great features that I spoke of about above. Its retention screws gave me the security that I needed to have my spare mag at a horizontal angle.

All in all I am very happy with this holster and it has been my go to holster for everyday carry for the past two months. I could not be any happier with this holster and I know that you will be as just happy. Visit them at www.osbornholsters.com or on Facebook and tell them Monkey sent you.

Extar EXP556 Review

Less than 3 lbs. unloaded, 18 inches of overall length, and many features that offer ease of use and management of recoil. Despite it’s all polymer construction and lack of a buffer tube, the EXP556 is remarkably easy on the shooter and quite literally a blast to shoot.

This AR pistol has a lot of features that are usually items we add as aftermarket parts to many of our own AR’s. These features are also added for functionality and purpose which help make this pistol a great package for a fun time at the range. The EXTAR is a perfect reason to horde ammo as the boom and muzzle flash of every shot is a head turner at the range every time you pull the trigger. Equipped with an effective muzzle device, a winter trigger guard (especially useful up here in the northeast) as well as an ergonomic grip and accented hand guard, you definitely feel like you’re holding a space gun.

The hand guard is not a standard M16/AR15 type hand guard, and seems to accentuate the ribs drastically to help aid in the grip of the weapon. The AR Pistol platform is a bit different to hold and manipulate than both a pistol or an AR and with that comes with some mechanics that may look or feel weird, so having good grips and controls are important. The actual grip itself is a rubber type texture and is reminiscent of a US Palm grip in shape. Very comfortable and gives a very positive grip on the pistol combined with the hand guard help keep the EXTAR on target.

When shooting an AR Pistol there are a few ways to hold it. Usually you will see the buffer tube against the shoulder or armpit for support with the support hand using a mag-well grip. Another way to hold an AR Pistol is forward thrust in a modern isosceles type hold but with less rigidity and more similar to a hold or grip you would use with an AR in the Supine position. The most uncommon I have seen is the standard pistol type hold where you have both hands wrapped around the grip like a pistol. Without the buffer tube and combined with the reduced recoil of the EXTAR however the pistol type grip works amazingly well. The pistol grip and the isosceles stance seem to be the most effective methods of shooting the EXTAR with the lack of a buffer tube to use as a third point of contact. You can even shoot it one handed with ease, but if accuracy is your game you need to have a gorilla grip strength to compensate the muzzle movement…downward.

Working with a reciprocating side charger is also a bit different than most are used to but feels a lot more natural on the EXTAR than a standard rear charging handle most AR Pistols use. By utilizing a side charger, coupled with how the recoil spring is used, much of the recoil is balanced and kept within the actual pistol and frame and not thrust backwards onto the shooter like you usually get from a buffer cycling. The spring works really well and we only had one failure to feed from short stroking.

The only downsides to the side charger are the actual mechanics being slightly different than most are used to as well as the initial thumb whack that teaches you instantly how to not hold the gun. The EXP556 comes with a black, steel USGI mag and gave zero issues. PMAGS however worked fine except when loaded to max capacity on a closed bolt. That can be said for a lot of different rifles and pistols in the AR family so nowhere near a deal breaker for me. We mainly test brass 5.56 in our reviews but we did have a request to make sure it shot steel. We shot a lot of XM855 as well as some Golden Bear steel and had zero problems feeding, extracting or shooting. We did not test more than 100 rounds of steel so any “laquer problems” were not evident.

Overall the EXTAR EXP556 is a lot of fun at the range. It makes a great addition to the collection and is wonderful departure from the standard weapons we tend to test and review most frequently. A rifle caliber in this compact size has uses out there in the real world and can be used for more than just fun time. Certain parts of our country would use this as a truck gun, some people would use this as a trail gun, maybe even a good bug out bag gun. The EXTAR is super light, compact and easy to maintain. With an MSRP of $450 is not out of reach for anyone to have some happy fun time at the range.

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

The quintessential American plinker is almost always, a 22LR. With the dramatic introduction and popularity of the AR-15 into mainstream media, all shapes and forms of the platform are now commonplace and when combined with the 22 caliber there are few who stand out in the crowd. The M&P 15-22 from Smith and Wesson is one of the finest representations.

It took some time to get our hands on one after last years ShotShow due to the “Great Gun Grab of 2013” as millions of Americans, both existing and future gun owners jumped to get their very own AR. The M&P15-22 is a steal at the price-points they are offering and after putting a few thousand rounds through one I can fully understand why. It is light, it is reliable, and most of all it is almost an exact representation of a full size, 5.56 Caliber AR-15. All controls, all fixtures and functionality are identical to it’s larger caliber big brother and it allows for seamless transitioning for everything from teaching to training to cost effective plinking and on a familiar frame.

I was surprised at the amount of polymer used in this rifle. That’s not a bad thing, it just caught me off guard. All picatinny rails, sights, flash hider… everything, is identical to a full size AR-15 with the only exception being the internals. Not seeing a buffer, buffer spring and even the short representation of a charging handle was a bit different to me. Now that I have shot and played with it quite a bit, I just giggle and comment on it’s “cuteness” internally. All the polymer used seems to be very strong and reliable and I am sure helps in not only usability by a wider audience, but also in keeping costs down. Another nice touch on this rifle is the furniture and sights. Smith and Wesson didn’t go the route of using cheaper or lighter “Airsoft grade” products, they used the same MOE furniture and the same MBUS BUIS as any other rifle. So you can rest assured that all the parts on the M&P15-22 are up to snuff.

The Smith & Wesson manual clearly wants you to use quality 22LR ammo like CCI which is known for fantastic, jacketed and clean burning 22LR ammo. We were a bit more realistic in our testing due to both real world availability and what most people will use the most of. That would be your bulk-brick Remington or Federal brand 25-550 round box from wally world that we tested in conjunction with over 500 rounds of CCI MiniMag. I am happy to say that not only did it fire all of the ammo we threw at it, but in over 3,000 rounds I did not experience a single misfeed, stovepipe or even dud round. Not a one. Maybe I am just lucky (at least on the dud, that was shocking to me) or maybe the M&P 15-22 is just built damn well.

What really separates the Smith & Wesson 22 offering for me is the location and function of the controls. Several brands make a 22LR AR platform rifle, but the magazine release is moved, or the safety is relocated or many other differences. There is also the option of utilizing a 22LR conversion kit or swapping out an upper. Those are all great options to maintain consistency in training mechanics and functionality, but for the price, I will take the full size ready to rock and roll out of the box S&W. I am personally not a fan of interchangeability of calibers on platforms but to each their own.

Overall I would recommend the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 to anyone and everyone. The biggest take away I have from the entire review process was that this rifle was simply, fun. One of the most enjoyable and consistent experiences with a rifle since I started shooting. This rifle embodies everything great about the joy people get from shooting. The usefulness, the training capabilities, the cost effectiveness and the hours upon hours of shooting fun make this rifle one of my favorites. This is the rifle I would teach my son or wife on and have full confidence they could handle it and would want to shoot more. If you have never owned a 22LR rifle, you need to and make sure you don’t pass this one by.

CMC 3.5lb Drop-In Trigger Review

In minutes you can improve your accuracy, your speed especially on follow up shots, and the durability of your fire control. It literally, as the name states, drops in. The CMC trigger is engineered to fit almost exactly in the spot it is supposed to sit with minute fidgeting necessary to line the pins up and set the trigger in place. As for pins, the CMC drop in we tested came with pins for you as well as some very small and unnoticeable once installed C-Clips to help make sure they do not "Walk" themselves out. This is prone to happening sometimes under high rates of fire. I personally use KNS anti-walk pins to make sure everything stays put, not because I am some hot rod, but for reviews alone we put a lot of rounds downrange. I am told there are some new super secret awesome pins coming out from CMC soon, and we can’t wait to see them.

Now before you get all “Mil-Spec” on me or try and tell me GI is harder, better or good enough for you, then why have you changed any other parts on your rifle? And if you haven’t changed any at all well then… ok, Mil-Spec is perfect for you! But for those that upgrade or replace or modify every other part on your rifle you need not be scared, this is the best and easiest trigger upgrade you can get.

Now for a brief history on CMC Triggers, and only because I have heard many stories about their builds, who owns them and misconceptions about the brand. CMC started a long time ago, or “ages ago” as the owners put it as a collaborative effort between Chip McCormick and Jack Biegel. Jack was busy Engineering and Manufacturing replacement Spare parts for Jet Aircraft, Nuclear Submarines, Aircraft Carriers, fire Arms and most ground support equipment and, to put it plainly without trying to understate it, was the engineer responsible for the significant reverse engineering and original design changes necessary to aid Chip McCormick with this trigger design. A Drop-In Trigger, easy and fast upgradability of your fire control without filing parts, replacing springs or paying for all of it from a gunsmith. Eventually it was handed off to Chip. Jack went back to making things for our men and women in the armed forces. In 2010, Jack & Debbie start their own machine shop. Having stayed in communication over the years with Chip, manufacture of the latest, BEST Drop-In Trigger begins again. A short time goes by, and because Chip's Magazine business is doing so well, he decides to sell the Trigger business to Jack and Debbie. Short story endless, the product succeeds again. Eventually, the Patent for the Drop-InTrigger originally awarded to Chip McCormick are sold to O.F. Mossberg and Sons. Jack & Debbie purchased the Patent for the Flat Trigger directly from Chip McCormick.

So basically, unless you have one of the first runs of a CMC trigger made before 2006, and after 2010, you are not using a product that was 100% engineered, backed, and supported by the inventor and creator of the CMC drop-in trigger. Since the family run business has been brought back to one family, CMC has been on the rise quickly and they are expanding their line more and more every day. The Drop-In system is becoming such a value added upgrade that more and more companies are trying to take a stab at it. After using a CMC trigger I can see why.

In closing, CMC builds a really good trigger not just for the ease of installation, but mainly because it is simply, a good trigger. This is actually the part most who read will want to read about. The CMC 3.5lb Flat Trigger does a fantastic job at having a nice snap to it at the end of a very short take up or “creep”. In layman’s terms, the point from which your finger touches the trigger to where it sends a bullet downrange is very short and tight. The reset is clean with minuscule take up and the 3.5lb pull combines all this together to have a very fast and effective fire control system. I will be running this trigger for quite some time and enjoy the immediate benefits I have seen by taking the leap and installing something beyond General Issue.

Stay safe!

MechArmor Defense TacOps-1 Review

The MechArmor Defense TacOps-1 charging handle is a ballpeen hammer of an accessory that once you even hold it you know it is tough. It has a good weight and a good rigidity that many others lack in comparison. It is the appropriate dimensions it should be, but the extra girth on it is definitely noticeable. It has a few features that do stand out above other chargers I have tried, and it is made to take a pounding.

Most of the extra weight comes from the actual handle and latch portion itself. It is wider and beefier than others with an extra large latch and ambidextrous latch. The extra large latch and handle comes in handy with everything from one handed charging, double feed clearing, one handed manipulations and nailing missing cat posters to trees. The most notable of this ambi latch is how smoothly the handle feels when racking with one hand. The latch placement makes a more centerline pull which is easier on you and your receiver.

Maybe it’s just us and the amount of accessories we put on and off our guns but repeated use is something we do and we notice long-term wear on some parts faster than your average guy does. When something has less lateral stress and resistance it makes parts last longer. It’s funny because a lot of people say “it’s only a charging handle, what does it matter?” Well, the charging handle does a lot more on the AR platform than most parts. It is how you get a round in the chamber, how you clear, how you clear malfunctions or force a round out of the chamber that doesn’t want to come out. It is the equivalent of the bolt knob on a bolt action rifle and is crucial to operating an AR and keeping it operating.

This is by far one of the most hardened products I have tested. It almost feels like the TacOps-1 is supposed to be on an AR-10 and they just said hell why not, let’s put it on an AR-15. Like killing an ant with a sledgehammer, it is overkill… and I like it.If you are looking for a charging handle for your build that is bulletproof and solid look no further. If I was doing an indestructible build, this is the one. The TacOps-1 is the Thor’s hammer of charging handles and it will outlast your receiver. Mark my words. It’s even warrantied for life! No one does that unless they know it takes an act of god to destroy it.

For an absolute, no B.S., cannot fail part, I would say the MechArmor Defense TacOps-1 lives up to and exceeds spec plain and simple. Tougher than nails, Tonka tough. Enjoy the video!

[www.mechdefe.com]

King’s Arsenal Tactical Seat Covers Review

Made in the USA from 500D Cordura fiber, these seat covers are extremely tough. They’re also super easy to install, and pretty affordable, especially considering that they came with 12 high-quality MOLLE pouches of various types. 6 pouches come with each row of seat covers. (The front and rear are sold separately)

A few months back, I decided that I wanted to get some seat covers for my Jeep. The main reason was to preserve the leather and the fabric, also to make them a bit more weather and dirt resistant. I also was really tired of seeing the Call of Duty logo on my seats. I bought the Modern Warfare II edition Wrangler because of the features it had. In it’s stock configuration, it’s got more than any standard Rubicon. While I am a fan of the Call of Duty franchise of games, I don’t like being a rolling billboard for a game. So covering up the logos on my seats seemed like a good bonus to the main purpose of protecting my seats.

I came across a picture of the King’s Arsenal seat covers online, and thought it’d be pretty sweet to have the extra storage as well as the protection of a seat cover. After speaking with the guys at King’s, they talked me into buying the new Kryptek Typhon pattern version. (Also available in Kryptek Mandrake, and Kryptek Highlander)

I originally had planned on going with black, keeping with the silver and black theme of my Jeep, but decided to trust their judgement and go with the new pattern. To be completely honest, I figured if I didn’t like the pattern, I could just sell them on Craig’s list or something and order another set in black. I was quite surprised and pleased with the results.

As you can see from the pictures, the Kryptek Typhon looks amazing! I get compliments on the seat covers almost daily when I have the top and the doors off the Jeep. I’m not one to be an attention seeker with that kind of stuff, but it’s a great feeling when you pull in somewhere and someone compliments your Jeep. Just based on that, I would recommend these if you’re looking for seat covers.

The covers are manufactured by CoverKing and they’re REALLY worth the money. They make them for almost every configuration of vehicle you could imagine. When I ordered them, I had to specify about 4 different things regarding features of this particular year and model vehicle to make sure they were 100% the right fit. And because of their attention to detail in making them, they couldn’t fit any better.

Since testing them out the first few weeks, I’ve already been in a really muddy situation after a rifle training class in the rain and once dry, the mud just vacuumed right up and left ZERO sign that it was ever there. I can’t even imagine the damage I would have done to the actual seats had I not had these installed.

I’ll be doing a full in-depth review in the next week or two with a video highlighting the features and installation of the covers. As always, if you have any questions in the meantime, or anything in particular you want me to cover, let me know at [email protected]

Check them out at the King’s Arsenal Store

Long Distance Shooting With an SBR

I can’t tell you how you will use your SBR, however, I would be willing to bet that not many occasions will arise when you will be shooting more than a quarter mile with any caliber that uses the AR15 rifle platform. There are certainly a lot of variables once you get farther and farther away, the biggest issue I had filming this video was the cook time of the round (The time the round was ready to fire, the longer it is loaded, the longer it has to heat up). We shot the first magazine and I landed 15 out of 20 shots after getting the optic sighted in. After the rifle warmed up, I started noticing that the round would have to be in the chamber for roughly the same amount of time in between rounds to achieve consistent shot placement.

These are normal things to consider when shooting this kind of distance. Your two options are shooting a heavy round traveling at a slower velocity, or a lighter round at a higher velocity which exaggerates bullet movement in flight. I felt it was a good point to bring to your attention as it’s more noticeable when compared to a larger caliber rifle. Keep in mind I’m a gun blogger, but by no means an expert marksman, so this is really just to demonstrate that it can be done with some consistency.

We had a blast at NEMO Arms and still have a few other videos on the way so stay tuned, and of course, if you liked the video, click like and subscribe.

Lionheart Industries LH9N Review

This pistol was first brought to my attention through a link sent to me by Superbowl. The pistol was in it’s final testing/QA phases at the time. Lionheart was releasing tidbits of info through social media outlets about the crazy testing that they put the LH9 through. And I immediately wanted to have one.

I’m the least knowledgable about recent gun history out of the four of us, so when one of the guys told me about the origins of the pistol, I was intrigued and started reading up on it before getting my hands on one.

Lionheart Industries is a relatively new company to the firearms industry. The company formed in 2011 in Redmond Washington. After teaming up with S&T Motiv Co., Ltd (formerly S&T Daewoo and previously Daewoo Precision Industries), a South Korean manufacturer, to co-design and manufacture the LH Series, they worked on the design and product testing for over a year.

The LH series was introduced at SHOT 2013. There was quite a buzz online about Lionheart right after SHOT. Lionheart has a great group of people working there, and we were able to secure an LH9 for testing. We had originally received the standard base model LH9 back in March. Check out our first impressions of the LH9. Lionheart then sent us an upgraded model that they had come out with called the LH9N. Which features a duo-tone Cerakote finish (available in two colors) and Novak sights.

Since receiving this pistol, I’ve put close to 800 rounds through it. One of the days at the range, I had to wait about 20 minutes for the pistol to cool enough to put back in my range bag because it was a wee bit warm, and had started to melt the nylon on my bag. That day we probably put 500 rounds through it in under an hour. Which is quite a bit for a pistol, and especially when you have only two mags… but it’s proof of how much fun it is to shoot.

At its core, the LH9 is essentially a newer, redesigned version of the Daewoo K5, the South Korean army standard issue sidearm. The civilian version of the K5, the DP51, was imported to the US until the mid 1990’s by Century Arms. After 1999 they were no longer being imported, due to the re-organization of the Daewoo corporation. Read more history on the K5 pistol. There’s scores of people online who express their love of the DP51, and its reputation for reliability was pretty evident once I started looking into the history of this design.

With the LH series pistol, Lionheart Industries took a solid, proven platform from the 80s and 90s, made changes that are both bold, and subtle, and in my opinion, made a great pistol and new 9mm platform.

It has many changes/enhancements over the older military pistol that it’s based on. The sights are improved, the grip texture (which is outstanding) has changed, and the slide serrations are more aggressive. They also make a model, the LH9N MKII, which comes with a 1913 rail on the front.

The LH series’ tolerances in its design and manufacturing are one of the first things that amazed me when first picking up this pistol. It feels amazingly solid with little to no play in any of the parts. It’s lines are clean, and not over emphasized. It’s ergonomics were very well thought through resulting in easy to use, simple controls. They even took the time to redesign the hammer so that it was easier to use and created a more comfortable carry pistol.

The LH series also was the first pistol to ship from the factory pre-treated with FrogLube. Check out our year long journey with FrogLube to see why we think that this is a feature worth noting. It’s really nice to just be able to buy a pistol, and bring it right to the range without having to clean out the heavy layer of factory grease that some manufacturers load their products up with for shipping.

A couple other things to note show the attention to detail and the thought that went into the LH series. First is the packaging. The pistol comes with a gorgeous nylon bag that is loaded with goodness. I cover the details of what’s included in the video below. But a few things to point out about it is that it’s made of 1,000 denier cordura ballistic nylon. Has an embroidered velcro patch on the front, and contains standard items such as a trigger lock and a manual. Not so standard features includes 5 elastic loops for magazines, a small tube of frog lube, and a bore brush w/ cleaning rod.

Lionheart’s level of detail is clearly evident with the design of this bag. And even more so in the design of their manual for the LH series. The manual is a fold open style brochure highlighting all the controls and takedown of the weapon, including a list of all the parts contained and some standard operating procedures. It also features something that I’d never seen before on a gun manual; QR Codes on each section that link back to their site, with more detail and videos about each section.

The main selling points for me on the LH9 are comfort, safety and style. It’s hands down one of, if not the most comfortable pistol I have ever shot or had in my hands. There was one issue with the controls where the slide release lever is a bit large and causes the action to not remain locked back when the magazine is empty, but it’s more my grip ergonomics and my hand size that is causing the issue than the design. The Double Action PLUS+ system that this pistol has (explained fully in the video) is also a great feature that is unique to this pistol. Essentially it allows you to have a single action trigger pull with the hammer in double action position. For me, this was a great feature with regards to carrying concealed IWB because the hammer wasn’t digging into my side when sitting in my vehicle. There’s also an ambidextrous safety. While I did find it difficult to engage the safety without moving my grip, dis-engaging it was extremely easy and comfortable.

Some of the weapons specifications are below. Please check out the video for some more detail on the LH9 and send me any questions at [email protected].

 

Technical Specs:

Caliber 9mm
Length 7.5″
Barrel Length 4.1”
Weight 25.9oz
Mag Capacity 13, 15
Features Double Action PLUS+
Short Trigger Reset
Short Recoil
Semi-Automatic
Genuine Novak Sights
Ambidextrous Manual Safety
Passive Firing Pin Block
Rifling Six grooves 1:13”
Grips One piece black polymer
Finish Cerakote
(Graphite Black or Patriot Brown)
Frame Material Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum
Slide Material Forged 4150 Steel
Barrel Material Forged 4150 Steel

Vapor Trails at 1000 Meters with the NEMO Omen

We shot somewhere in the vicinity of 3000-4000 rounds in three days. This was a lot of footage that didn’t make it into any of our videos but none the less worth a look.

Thanks to Tyler and Ryan at Max Ordinate Academy and NEMO Arms we were able to get a ton of cool videos together that are all coming up over the next couple weeks. We will be posting steady content so stay tuned. If you like the video don’t forget to hit like and subscribe. Check out NEMO Arms on FaceBook and give them a big thank you as well as Max Ordinate Academy. We will be working more with them in the future but for now, sit back, relax and check out what we got on film while we were out there!

25% Off Exploding Targets Use code “4guys” at the Sure Shot Exploding Target Website
15% Off Anything on the NEMO Online Store with code “NEMO15” at the NEMO Arms Website

1 Mile Shot at High Velocity Explosives

We were hanging out with the guys from Max Ordinate Academy, so we stepped it up another notch and took the shot at our explosive filled friend from 1 mile. Now it wouldn’t be right to make any polymer infused exploding mannequin suffer so we put him out of his misery before filling him with the magnum mix… watch the the first video below with a sense of humor then read on.

So now we had a lifeless mannequin waiting for the ultimate YouTube send off. We filled Ken with Sure Shot Exploding Targets Magnum target mix. This is the only target we could find that would still detonate at this distance. Sure Shot Exploding Targets makes some preeeeeeeety loud exploding targets. I have shot Tannerite, Shockwave and many others since starting Four Guys Guns but this little recipe is by far and large the most destructive I have seen. Check out the video to cure any doubts and make sure to click like and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

25% Off Exploding Targets Use code “4guys” at the Sure Shot Exploding Target Website
15% Off Anything on the NEMO Online Store with code “NEMO15” at the NEMO Arms Website

S&W M&P15-22 First Impressions

We are currently running more rounds through her, putting her through the paces, running different optics and utilizing the Magpul MBUS 2 flip up sights that come with this particular package. This is just our first impressions of this rifle with a detailed review to follow in the near future.

One of the first things I noticed was the weight. An all polymer upper receiver, lower receiver and even rail and charging handle are all polymer. Crazy to me since I generally fire all aluminum .223/5.56 and am used to the relatively light weight of an AR. This thing is about half the weight of a standard AR and instantly lends itself to shooters of all ages, sizes and skill levels. The bolt, barrel springs and trigger group are all metal and you would never even know if all you had to go on was recoil and operation.

The parts, despite their weight seem well built and sturdy. The size and shape offer a familiar feel and setup to most configurations in the popular AR market. In addition, the Magpul furniture and sights are very common and add to the value and flexibility for you to customize this weapon similar to an AR you may already have for an inexpensive training supplement. The individual part that stood out to me the most was the actual magazine. This thing feels rock solid and although it only came with one, I instantly picked up another and had to really hunt down a genuine S&W .22 LR magazine as the 3rd party offerings just didn’t have the quality or finish on them that the S&W one did.

Since the video I have already put about 250 rounds through this rifle and while that sounds like a lot, it was an absolute blast to shoot. I have not had this much fun with an AR in a long time. Maybe it’s because 1,000 rounds doesn’t cost me $500, maybe it’s because of my love and comfort for the AR platform, maybe it’s just awesome. I will have more details and feedback after I get a lot more rounds though her (poor me) and we will let you know our findings. My initial thoughts and opinions are pretty clear in the video but by all means, watch it and let me know if I seem disappointed.

Stay safe, check your chambers!

Aimpoint P.R.O. Review

Maybe you are training/practicing with a smaller caliber or airsoft version of your rifle, who knows. Those that count on and rely on their weapons working day in and day out with tried and true hardware though can’t afford to have failures due to quality or materials. But at what cost?

Enter the Aimpoint P.R.O. or Patrol Rifle Optic. Aimpoint has made quality and hardened optics for over 35 years. I have done reviews on some of their most popular reflex sights like the T-1 Micro and the Comp M4 (M68 CCO) and have always been thoroughly impressed. Those optics though are priced out of reach for many and then the rationalizations begin for ways to cut corners. So how do you get a good Aimpoint without spending a mortgage payment? The Aimpoint PRO is exactly what you have been looking for.

You can buy 2-4 budget optics and kick yourself for not just getting the PRO. Do it. Worth every penny. Period. At $400 average pricing online you are going to be hard pressed to show me an optic with the ruggedness, durability, simplicity and reputation that Aimpoint has put behind this optic. I beat on this thing. Aimpoint is probably going to be mad at me when they get it back (but it has fresh batteries!). This optic has taken a beating, stayed true, been left on since Shot Show 2013 and hasn’t quit. So how do they do it?

When you have different requirements, you can scale back some features without taking them away. Developed in fact as a “Patrol Rifle Optic” geared towards Law Enforcement, 40 levels of brightness in both red dot and Night Vision aren’t really anecessity. Move from Extruded Aluminum to a standard Aluminum housing and change the battery compartment. 1/2” MOA at 100yds as opposed to 1/4” etc. etc… All these things don’t sound like drastic changes and they aren’t. But they are enough to drive manufacturing cost of a really expensive optic down to reachable levels for the rest of us. No quality was lost, just some features and super fine tuning that most won’t ever notice. Those that do notice, get the more expensive optics and have no qualms about it.

I can bore you with all the facts, figures and data but what it boils down to is that Aimpoint made this optic with the same Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology they use in just about every reflex sights they have made. They use the same materials and just use less costly manufacturing methods (have you SEEN what extruded aluminum parts go for?) They cut down 5mm on the glass and use a similar but different mounting method and keep all the weight down by switching to a smaller lighter battery that lasts 30,000 hours instead of 50,000-80,000 hours. They kept the 2MOA dot. Aimpoint also cut down on the number of brightness options for both red dot and NV brightness levels. Gears and adjustment dials that are more exact-o and less scalpel also shrink the price more than you know. They did not skimp on the quality and brand recognition they have fought for and earned over the years.

I honestly expected to encounter what most large companies do when I looked at the PRO online. Take all the guts and glory out of it, use plastic where there used to be metal and make a big obnoxious dot where there used to be a precise one. Make it water resistant and not water proof etc… etc… but that isn’t the case with this glass. This is everything you wanted Aimpoint to be plus a price point that won’t kill your shooting budget for the next two fiscal quarters. If you have owned Aimpoint products before, this will be a favorite optic very quickly, but be prepared for a few changes. The battery was kind of hard for me to find last minute locally and the fewer brightness options leave the high setting a bit too high. (Same laser with less settings mean bigger jumps from off to max power.) Other than those two things, not a single issue.

If you have never owned this or any other Aimpoint product before, your hemming and hawing over the Aimpoint PRO is over. Stop it, just stop it and get it. This is an optic for the long haul that you don’t have to sacrifice for, carry a million CR2032’s around for or get mad at not holding zero for. This will be the best new addition to your arsenal and a fantastic introduction to the world of Aimpoint. I recommend this over 5 budget optics all day everyday. Not because I am a fanboy, but because I expect products to work as advertised and last. Period. And you should demand that from your equipment too.

Lionheart Industries LH9 Series : First Impressions

Back in March we got sent the base model LH9 Series pistol from the folks over at Lionheart Industries. I’d been looking forward to this review after seeing a bunch of their testing videos and social media stuff before the gun was in final production.

In the video, I literally picked up the LH9 from our FFL and brought it right to the range. Just wanted to get right into it. I’ve been working on the full review for a few weeks now, but thought I’d share my first impressions.

Even after a few months, I’m still JUST as impressed with the attention to details that Lionheart puts into their product. From the packaging up, it’s top notch. This is also the first pistol to ship pre-treated Froglube. So, I was extremely anxious to get my hands on this pistol.

Overall the LH9 was impressive. It outperformed my expectations in every way. Between the safety features, the lightweight frame, and the extremely tight tolerances on this pistol, it is on it’s way to becoming my new CCW. The LH9 also features a system called Double Action+, which is explained in the video.

Check out the video for the details and stay tuned for the full written review coming up soon featuring the LH9N which is an upgraded version of the model from this First Impression.

Frog Lube, The Final Chapter

A little while back I wrote an article on the different lubes I use and why. This review hasn’t changed any of that opinion as I still believe each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For this rifle, for it’s life, it has had Frog Lube and known no other and has performed beautifully.

The weapon in particular used was the Stag Arms Model 3 flat top. I bought this rifle and went right into adding all the fun tacticool accessories. 15” Midwest rail, Aimpoint Comp M4, 556 Tactical muzzle break, Magpul, Magpul and more Magpul from PMags to rail covers, and grips finishing off with a VLTOR stock. This rifle has been to several training classes, has had well over 10k in rounds through it and internally is (I believe) 100% stock. I have yet to have a stove pipe, a double feed (that wasn’t induced) or any other issues. So with all that said either Stag builds the most reliable AR-15 in the world or its a combination of good product with proper preparation.

Frog Lube is different than most CLP lubricants because they want you to heat up the components and metal before applying. What’s even more different is after you heat it up and apply the paste… they want you to wipe it off. Seriously? When you actually do it though it is not just a visual difference but you can actually FEEL it as well. See, you don’t actually “open pores up” or anything like that… all you are doing is “Seasoning” the metal with this lubricant. Think less Bioré and more Cast Iron Cooking pan. Get it hot, lube it, use it, wipe and repeat and it will last you a lifetime. Now, I am not trying to say you will have a brand new looking weapon forever and no parts will ever need to be replaced. False. No lubricant or elven magic stops fatigue and stress. Moving, metal parts, especially those that are under the stress of repeated small explosions (shooting) will eventually fail and need to be replaced. How long between failures all depends on your preparation.

Frog Lube kept everything… EVERYTHING in almost a “suspended animation” state. All the carbon and fouling that had been thrown back up into the receiver, all the sand and gunk never actually even got the chance to start burning or adhering to any surface. It may have taken about 300-400 patches and some time on my end to wipe it all down, but it all wiped clean. I used 3 brushes, a nylon brush, a heavy nylon brush and a brass bristle brush. These were mainly used to get into the tight corners and angles that a chubby finger and patch couldn’t get into effectively. Nothing on this rifle required any kind of hardcore heavy brushing or even soaking. Everything came off almost instantly. Basically, Frog Lube did everything as advertised and then some, at least more than I was expecting.

This rifle hadn’t been cleaned or maintained on well over 6 months and had well over 2000 rounds in that time. It was so dirty I literally had to break the rifle down to every pin, spring and screw. I even cleaned the 15” rail one segment at a time… but even the burnt and discolored metal at the muzzle was no match for Frog Lube as it was restored almost 100% back to pure black. The most time consuming aspect of it all was breaking all the parts down and reassembling them all after cleaning and re-treating them with Frog Lube, but I must say I am still very happy with the results over the past (almost) two years.

Before I let you go watch the video I wanted to add some tips to Frog Lube as we have had dozens come in over the past two years.

Make sure the rifle is clear of all oils and petroleum based lubricants first. This stuff just gobbles up all that stuff and all it will do is make you clean sooner or give you spots where the Frog Lube didn’t cover evenly and may require some scrubbing and scraping.

Heat and paste EVERYWHERE. First mistake I made way back when was inside the BCG. I had to kill myself to get all that fouling out which sucked because everywhere else just wiped right off. If it is made of metal, it gets heated and pasted. Period. That includes Gas block, barrel, gas tube and even the break. I have not tried it on a suppressor or if that’s even recommended.

Use a heat gun, a hair dryer will just piss you or the wife off. Use the heat to not only get the metal hot, but you can also use it to spread the paste into areas you may not be able to get in with a brush. $12 Heat gun worth it’s weight in gold.

Do not be worried that there doesn’t visually appear to be any lube in spots. When the rifle starts heating up (like shot 2 or 3) all the frog lube will literally start turning into a liquid, capturing and lubricating. The only place I don’t fully wipe down after applying is inside the BCG. If you leave more than that behind your rifle will have that wonderful “sweating” look from the pins and controls as the excess finds its way out.

I only use the liquid Frog Lube to help break down fouling during cleaning and on the range on (usually) other peoples hardware when something needs to work NOW. Other than that it’s the paste all day and forget about it.

Listen to me, don’t listen to me, either way the only way to learn is to find out on your own. To each their own but for me and this Stag though, it’s Frog Lube all day everyday. I’m sold.

Mechanix Gloves Review

There are three things I always have with me when I go shooting and i’m not talking guns and ammo. I don’t mean targets and a staple gun either. I’m talking safety wear. To me that is not just eyes and ears, that’s also gloves. As someone who still has to go to a public facing full time job where hands as well as their appearance are part of the “business professional” package, this isn’t really up for grabs from me.

Mechanix sent us a couple pairs of their gloves to try out and we spent some time with them. In the end I didn’t even really need to because I swear by them. I currently have in steady rotation no less than 4 pairs of Mechanix gloves. They are in my range bag, they are in my truck, they are on my workbench as well as with either rifle bags or chest rigs and plate carriers. Mechanix are really effective gloves without draining the wallet like many other “tactical” gloves people use and swear by. Now, that’s not to discount what some of those other companies offer let alone build quality and materials, but pound for pound and dollar for dollar Mechanix gloves offer substantial protection and configurations for significantly less and at this point are tried and true.

Mechanix got their start in the automotive world and racing where there is a lot of metal, hot grease and oil, heat and impacts of both knuckles and palms… You know what else has a lot of those things in common? Firearms. Whether it’s a hot barrel or suppressor, brass, malfunctions or even catastrophic malfunctions (think exploding in your hand) gloves to me are as important in eyes and ears. Mechanix has a plethora of offerings for all needs whether they be automotive, firearms or even carpentry or gardening. They even have a “Tactical” market and from what some of my buddies who either are serving or who have served have all told me, their Mechanix gloves served them well and in some cases better than higher priced brands.

The two types that I use the most are The Original and M-Pact. I like the Originals because they come in a lot of color variations, cuff configurations and they are really easy on the wallet. I have picked them up for as little around $10-$15 dollars. They have great heat resistance in the palm and fingers without losing a lot of “touch” so you can still manipulate controls and load magazines without a problem. Very easy to pick a few of these up just about anywhere and suddenly you have 2-3 pairs all over the place.

The M-Pact series however are by far my favorite for firearms, especially if I know I am going to be shooting for 6-8 hours and more so when it’s rifles and shotguns. M-Pacts were originally created for the guy working the impact gun all day long. If you have ever operated an impact gun you know its just a modified high-speed, pistol gripped sledgehammer that bounces in your palm rapidly while you screw the lugs back onto your car. Multiple, rapid impacts in your palm can wear your hand strength down, cause pain and add to fatigue. The M-Pact gloves operate on the same base as the original only they have extra padding in the palm to absorb that beating. They also sport extra heat resistant and abrasion resistant material in the high wear areas like the webbing and the finger tips. On the top side also has an awesome feature as they stack multiple variations of hand and knuckle protection. The ones they sent us had the padding on the top but I also own a couple pairs with molded rubber and plastic guards that run the full length of the finger as well as just the knuckles. Personally, I wish they would combine the Carpenter series with the Tactical series M-Pacts, but that’s a gripe for another time.

Now, one of the other pairs they sent us is based off the Original glove called the “Vent” glove. I love the Vent glove because it is thinner, lighter and much more breathable compared to all their other offerings. There are sacrifices you have to make in heat resistance and such with that, but during the summer months I see this glove getting a lot of use. I can’t bring up the Vent glove without bringing up the Winter Armor Pro’s I have too. Mechanix also has a wide range of cold-weather gear as well and I used their gloves in the cold weather too for everything from running a gun to shoveling the driveway. A little chunkier than the rest of the product line, but definitely tougher than most other winter and cold weather gloves I have owned.

All in all I highly recommend Mechanix gloves. Their product, their customer service and their people are all top notch and I have never heard anyone say ill of them. Protection is protection and for the price I would put Mechanix gloves up against many others of higher price points. They are good solid gloves, a key piece of safety gear to me and something that I never have a shortage of. Go check them out at Mechanix.com to see all the different makes and models. They are also on Facebook, Twitter, and heck even instagram (cool race pics).

KelTec RFB Review

Every gun has its purpose, a concept developed into the reason for which it was created. The purpose can be long range concealed shooting, close quarter combat, rapid fire for intimidation or accuracy.

RFB stands for Rifle, Forward-ejecting Bullpup. It gets its name from the most unique feature about it, the spent casings eject just over the barrel offset to the right when looking down the barrel. The casings do not eject with any force, they are fed down a ramp and fall out with gravity or the force of the shells behind it. This rifle is different in that it is using a shell ejection system that has not been seen in a rifle before and touts that in a very compact bullpup platform.

Things I liked

This rifle is tiny for a .308, with a total length of 26 inches. This is roughly two inches longer than a standard .308 barrel without a rifle attached to it. This can be ordered in the hunter configuration with a 24-inch barrel or the one we are reviewing with an 18-inch barrel. KelTec makes a claim that the 18-inch has a functional range of 600 meters whereas the 24-inch version has 1200 meters. The overall weight of the rifle is 8.1 pounds without a magazine.

The controls of this rifle are snappy. The safety has an unmistakable click when switched from one setting to the other. The trigger is identical to the KelTec KSG that breaks like glass with what feels to be a 6-7 lb. break. The magazine release and action release are intuitively located and are not in a place where they would accidentally be pushed under any conditions.

All around, this rifle screams close quarter combat to me and out of the box I think that this is a great solution for engagements within 300 meters. I cannot verify how it handles out to 600 meters but we will go over that more in depth a little later.

Things you should know

We have had this rifle for a long time and there were a lot of high points to it mixed in with some things I can’t really place as a pro or a con. It is a short stroke piston rifle, the piston takes excess gas and moves about 1 inch with enough velocity to push the bolt back the length of a .308 bullet. The piston system requires adjustment out of the box and every time you switch your bullet weight or ammunition type it takes a little tweaking with a few clicks in one direction or the other.

Accuracy was the one pain point I discovered with this rifle and in order to review what people would essentially find out of the box we didn’t use a bi-pod or any additional accessories. When shooting the RFB there is one sacrifice made in creating a .308 with such a short overall length: the rifle is so small and compact that even resting the rifle to shoot it is difficult. We were able to reliably shoot a 3-inch group with it at 100 meters – which is nothing to write home about but given the challenge of shooting it from a rest was most likely operator error.

The last downfall of the RFB that I can see with the 18-inch and 24-inch is the ability to put a larger sized optic on it. The rifle itself is so small that putting anything over a 10-12 power scope increases the size to half that of the rifle. A minor gripe and an obvious one, but something worth a mention. We initially put a 24x scope on it which ended up making it look like something straight out of Call of Duty. The major limitation this creates is finding an optic with the correct eye relief. The rail segment for mounting the optic is far forward, so you really need to find an optic that lets you put your eye anywhere in order to make it effective from standing and prone shooting positions.

Outside of the above statements, there really isn’t that much I would be concerned about with the RFB. The piston system works flawlessly after adjustment, the accuracy is really dictated by the shooter’s experience and all in all it is a great rifle with a lot of interesting concepts integrated into one bad-ass looking rifle.

Suunto Core All Black Review

There were a few features on it I didn’t feel I would need or use and the visibility of the actual display was a concern. There was something about it though that kept me looking into the Core and researching reviews and specs. I finally pulled the trigger on it and bought one and haven’t looked back since.

The Suunto Core All Black is amazing. Flat Black and murdered out across the entire watch with subtle silver and white fine markings pointing showing you where to find your data. Wrist-top computer is more like it but think less calculator watch and more Tony Stark. Even the inverted face is all black with only the numbers and data showing through. I say data and not time because there is a lot going on on the watch face without a lot of clutter. Simplicity and detail in a quick glance can tell you what time it is, the past six hours barometric pressure, date, altitude, depth, temperature and even which way is North. Did I also mention this watch weighs almost nothing?

The Suunto has a lot of feature benefits for a wide variety of uses and needs. The User Manual however makes it all simple and easy to learn the controls and operate them. The operations and control of the watch are also the easiest to navigate and use of any watch I have ever used. Seriously, it’s almost as if they employed an actual UI designer and not a computer programmer to help you get through the menus and functions in a fast and efficient manner. It’s on the same level as iPod classic navigation with a quick way in and out of the functions as well as a super convenient lock out button so you can keep the info you want on screen without inadvertently changing the display with accidental button pushes from your gear, wrist or whatever it is you do.

There is no way to tell you all the awesome features without writing a 10 page dissertation and it is equally difficult to do a video review without you staring at my wrist while I talk in the background. Instead, I will give you a “lightning round” of awesome.

The band is replaceable, light, flexible and can be tightened into a non-slip tension without cutting off circulation. The band keeper also has a notch in it to keep the excess from slipping out and flopping all over the place, essentially doing it’s intended job better than any other watch I have ever had… ever.

The rotating bezel is a knurled anodized aluminum and when scratched shows awesome character marks as it shows the raw aluminum through. It also has 2 glow in the dark inserts that retain glowing power fairly well. Lastly, it protects the glass perfectly as it is raised at a higher level…scratch the ring, not the glass.

The all black inverted display is not as hard to read as some reviewers have made it out to be. If you understand how LCD displays work on digital watches and aren’t expecting a perpetually backlit LCD display (like an iPod) then this is the perfect combination of stealth and legibility. It also benefits the blue backlighting and stands out even more since it illuminates the actual numbers and not the whole face.

The battery isn’t a nightmare to change or find the right size for. CR2032, just like many optics, computers and many other things we use. Plus, it’s user replaceable with a flathead, a quarter, a backhoue… whatever has a flat edge on it. Super easy without the need for finding that set of super tiny screwdrivers that you had once upon a time and remember seeing somewhere around the house.

The menus are easy to navigate and find your way through with simple x’s, minus’s and selects. My most common uses have been Day/Time/Date, Sunrise/Sunset and Dual TimeZone. Storm Alarm is always on and is generally spot on to within 1-2 hours of warning. Living in New England though, be ready for that thing to go off daily. We have a saying up here, “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait 15 minutes.”

Need to find North, or maybe even need a constant reminder which way you are supposed to be heading? Boom! It does that too with bearing tracking and Cardinal directions. Think “waypoints” for the gamers out there. I had no use for Altimeter or Depth Meter but they are in there as well. The only thing that was a little disappointing was the temperature. It reads your skin not the air, but to be fair…it’s on your skin…duh. So great for those that are concerned with their body temp, especially their extremities.

I could complain about the price of this watch all day, until I wore it, used it and beat on it. Ask anyone who has one, has had one or is currently wearing one and the absolute last thing they will bring up is the price if they can remember it. I was skeptical as could be because like I said, I have had many watches, some more expensive that didn’t even last that long. I have barely taken the Suunto off at all in the past 3 months because I barely know it’s there and furthermore, I always expect it to be there. At $299 this thing is a steal.

Special thanks to The Über Group for the Help, another great product to review!

Savoy Leather Custom Holster Giveaway

This contest is closed.

Since we began talking with Jeremiah his work has only gotten increasingly more polished and detailed. They are starting to become full on works of art. As a way to get share his talent out to everyone, we have partnered with Savoy Leather to give you the opportunity to win one FOR FREE.

He made us an awesome holster with our throwback logo which Monkey and myself are still fighting over and it is wearing really well, color and all. I even had a 1911 Springfield Armory Champion “beautified and enhanced” to look better in this holster.


Here are the details:

First, go and Like Savoy Leather and share the giveaway.

From June 15th until June 22nd send your BEST picture of your pistol that you would want to wrap in this luxurious hand crafted goodness to:

[email protected](Entry Period Over)

Include your Facebook Name and specific make and model of the pistol.

Pictures and Pistols will be judged on both Pistol and quality of the picture. We do not play favorites with any make or model so you can rest assured that Glock, Sig, 1911, Beretta, whatever will receive no preferential treatment. Creativity and Quality of the image will factor in to the preliminary voting process. All fan submitted photos will also be featured in an album on our website and FB page (unless otherwise stated in submission email) for all to admire.

We will taking submissions all week long and reviewing them for a Top 10 Facebook Vote Off. The Voting will begin on our Facebook page on Sunday June 23rd. All photos MUST be submitted by Sunday June 23rd.

You can vote, your friends can vote and the everyone who can click a mouse will decide the winner.

Giveaway is for 1 (one) belt worn holster style of the winners choosing with any custom design you can create with Savoy. Good luck to everyone, we cannot WAIT to see all the cool Pistols everyone wants a holster for. If you missed all the embedded links, here is your savior:

Savoy Leather Facebook Page

FourGuysGuns Facebook Page

Savoy Leather Website

FourGuysGuns Website

June 14, 2013 – Flag Day

For those of you who might not know or remember, June 14th is Flag Day, the day commemorating the adoption of the US Flag by the Second Continental Congress, June 14, 1777.

I just wanted to write a quick post reminding everyone to try to make sure that we keep the importance of our flag in our minds today. It means many things to many people around the world, and it is one of the most recognizable symbols in modern history. Let’s try to remember and honor all the people who came before us who made it that way.

-Lou

 

A bit of history (source: Wikipedia)

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14th. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. The United States Army also celebrated the Army Birthday on this date. Congress adopted “the American continental army” after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole on June 14, 1775.

The modern meaning of the flag was forged in December 1860 when Major Robert Anderson, acting without orders, moved the US garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, in defiance of the power of the new Confederate States of America. Adam Goodheart argues this was the opening move of the Civil War, and the flag was used throughout the North to symbolize American nationalism and rejection of secessionism.

Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory, flown from forts, embassies, and ships, and displayed on special occasions like the Fourth of July. But in the weeks after Major Anderson’s surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew – as it does today, and especially as it did after the September 11 attacks in 2001 – from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. For the first time American flags were mass-produced rather than individually stitched and even so, manufacturers could not keep up with demand. As the long winter of 1861 turned into spring, that old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.

The flag of the United States is one of the nation’s most widely recognized symbols. Within the United States, flags are frequently displayed not only on public buildings but on private residences. The flag is a common motif on decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world the flag has been used in public discourse to refer to the United States, not only as a nation, state, government, and set of policies, but also as a set of ideals.

The flag has become a powerful symbol of Americanism, and is proudly flown on many occasions, with giant outdoor flags used by retail outlets to draw customers. Desecration of the flag is considered a public outrage, but remains protected as freedom of speech

 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_Day_(United_States)