Polymer 80 PF940C

  I have to admit, that after seeing the Polymer 80 PF940c frame in person, I had to get one. Polymer 80 was gracious enough to send one to me for review. The PF940C frame came in 3 colors at the time, so I opted for gray, more colors have been added since then. This is a 80% frame for Glock Gen 3 parts. One must first machine the frame to get it to function.

  When I first received the frame, I noticed that it came with all the tools needed to finish it out. The only thing missing was a drill press or a dremel tool. The kit includes a plastic jig that the pistol sits in. This jig is a one time use type of deal, but works really well. Basically you pull up the online instructions and go from there. Brownells also has a video series on machining the frame. First thing I did was drill the holes. Drill each hole from each side of the jig, don't think that you can just drill through the whole thing. Next, I actually took a mill and machined off the four "nubs". One can use a file, a dremel, or a drill press with a vise for this also. The last machining step is probably the hardest. In this step they have you mill out the recoil spring channel. Just pay close attention and you'll be fine. I had to dremel the channel out some more after I installed the locking block so that the recoil spring moved smoothly. I figured that you can always remove more material, but you can't add material.

  After the machining steps are done, it on to installing parts. The Polymer 80 PF940C frame kit comes with a locking block/front slide rails insert. Just drop this in and install the front pin. Also in the kit is a Rear Rail Module. This rail piece sits around the Gen 3 G19 trigger mechanism housing. I really like how they did this as it gives metal rear slide rails and is easy to install. All the other gen 3 parts go in just like a standard Glock 19. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, please take it to a gunsmith.

As received

After machining and parts installation

  Now that it is assembled, it's time to go into some things I noticed about the PF940C. I love the grip texture that comes on the frame! It is not too rough, but not smooth either. It feels kind of like they glued sand on the frame. I did run into a problem with the takedown spring. The channel in the frame, where the flat tab sits, was not cleaned out, or still had a thin piece of plastic from the molding process. This made the spring sit too high and put upward pressure on the slide. I took a sharp x-acto knife and just moved it back and forth to clear out the slot. This worked good, and the spring flat slid in and sits flush. The other hitch I ran into had to do with the recoil spring channel. As mentioned above, I dremelled out more of the channel, this was so the spring wouldn't rub on the sides of the channel. Result, smooth as butter. 

  The PF940C frame has some improvements over a stock Glock 19. Besides the texture I previously noted, It has a really nice undercut trigger guard so you can really get your hand up high on the pistol. I didn't care for the front of the trigger guard, it's squared off angle looks good, but makes it not fit in some Glock 19 holsters. Holster makers are starting to address this problem, so in the future your options should be better. Polymer 80 also makes a smooth frame for those wishing to add their own texture. For those with larger hands, It also has an extended beavertail. My favorite is probably the different grip angle. This grip angle just works better for me than a stock Glock. You may, or may not like it, it really is personal preference. There is also a STANAG rail up front to mount a light. My frame, when using a Grey Ghost Precision slide and barrel, locked up super tight. It took about 100 rounds before it would cycle consistently. I could have cycled the slide by hand to get the same result, but I was excited to go shoot it.

  These Polymer 80 frames are pretty neat. If you like to build stuff on your own, or just want something different, these might just be the ticket. I had a good time building the PF940C frame into a complete pistol. These kits are really great for building a custom "Glockish" pistol. Go check Polymer 80 out, pistol frames are not the only thing they make.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Glock 19 style 80% frame kit

Target Market:

Those wanting to machine a 80% G19 size frame, or those wanting to build a complete G19 size pistol

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Comes with all tools and Jig for machining

  • Online instructions

  • Easy to machine

  • Textured frame

  • Undercut trigger guard

  • Uses Gen 3 Glock 19 parts

  • Metal front and rear slide rails

  • Slight beavertail

  • Built in Metal plate for engraving ser#, etc

  • Picatinny Rail

  • Thumb ledge

  • Available without texture

  • Delivered to your door

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Black, FDE, OD Green, Robin Egg Blue, White, and Cobalt

What others are saying?:

By Hollywood at GlockStore.com 5/5 stars

BETTER THAN A FACTORY GLOCK LOWER

I was blown away with how easy this was to finish. I used a drill press, but have no doubts this could have been done just a good with simple hand tools. I decided to go with a custom slide, so I did have to rack it about 150-200 times before it would move smoothly. With a Glock factory slide I'm sure it would not have required as much effort. Everything about this lower is exceptional. I field tested it putting about 250-300 rounds down range. I did have three malfunctions within the first 25 rounds but after that, she was flawless. I would have complete trust in this weapon as a daily carry. Do yourself a favor and get one... maybe two of these. They are fun to finish and even better to shoot. Plus they look great.

By Templeton P. at Brownells 5/5 stars

CAME TOGETHER NICELY

I assume because of these receivers, demand for even just plain old used Glock 19/23 uppers seems to have skyrocketed. It's hard to find one under $300 unless you get really lucky. You will NOT save money vs buying a new Gen 3 Glock (or probably even a Gen 4) by doing it this way. I was seeing used Gen 3 G23s for $299 just a couple of weeks ago. That being said, this is a fun project, and everything can just come to your door. Had never attempted anything similar, but it was relatively easy to complete. I didn't have a mill, but instead bought a milling bit for my Dremel. I had the Dremel Router/Shaper table accessory and it made the job exponentially easier. If you plan to use a Dremel, I would highly recommend spending the extra $35 for this add-on. Freehanded the barrel block. Put the jig in a vice and just took my time and it went okay. Drilling the holes is a no brainer as well. Sanded things down and installed the parts kit without much fighting. Grabbed a box of cheap ammo and worked flawlessly at the range from the first trigger pull. Needs more range time before I trust it completely, but so far so good. Ergonomically, I also find this feels better in my hand than actual Glocks. Going to try a 9mm conversion barrel next.

Link to other reviews:

We Like Shooting review

Price point:

MSRP = $160.00

Retail = $149.99 at Brownells

I need it now! Availability:

Brownells

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Comes with all tooling (Jig, Mill, Drills)

  • Frame texture

  • Uses Gen 3 Glock parts

  • Undercut trigger guard

  • Multiple colors

  • Can be completed with a dremel

Cons:

  • Some patience needed for small problems

  • Not all standard G19 holsters fit

  • Sharp angled front of trigger guard

Score: 7.00 Good

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Chad's Favorite Link:   Poly Gun Mods

 

Patriot Gun Polishing

Written by: Tony Simon

My BBQ Gun by Patriot Gun Polishing

    I remember being enthralled as a kid reading a gun magazine article about BBQ guns. What is a BBQ gun? Only the hottest looking revolvers I’d ever seen! There were nickel and gold plated Colt Single Action Army revolvers, Colt Pythons and Smith and Wesson revolvers with awesome scroll engraving work with beautiful grips made of everything from ivory, pearl and exotic woods. They were all wrapped in highly customized holsters made from leather that were open carried to BBQs for everyone to gaze upon. I lusted after one throughout my childhood but I assumed that I was over it when I became an adult. I was wrong.

   I owned a Smith and Wesson 686 that I use to teach new shooters how to use a handgun and for The 2nd is For Everyone: Diversity Shoot. I am always looking for ways to get people introduced to firearms and I figured a BBQ gun would be just the ticket to get new shooters over being intimidated by a firearm. Pretty guns can’t be scary, right?  I looked around to have BBQ gun work done on my Smith and Wesson 686.. I saw really cool stuff from some top gunsmiths but the sticker price was out of this world. The cost of doing this work was in the thousands of dollar range, so I was out.

   I stumbled across Patriot Gun Polishing’s Instagram page and had my mind blown. The quality of the mirror polishing was amazing and soon I was at Gun For Hire range in Woodland Park NJ having them send my revolver to Patriot Gun Polishing in Florida.

  Robert, the owner of PGP, sent me a written description of all of the surface scratches that were on my revolver after he looked it over so we were both aware of what he had to work around. The wait for the work was a few weeks and it was killing me! Every day he post pictures of firearms that he is working and they looked great, I was going nuts waiting for my firearm. I received my revolver back in the hard black pistol case that I sent out. When I opened it I felt like the characters in the movie “Pulp Fiction” opening Marsellus Wallace’s suitcase, it positively glowed. Most parts of it was polished to a mirror finish, there was no hint of the scratches that were on the revolver. The end of the barrel and the top strap was left sandblasted,the trigger and hammer were left original.The mirror polishing along with the trigger and action job I’d had done when I purchased the 686 made this BBQ gun THE BOMB!

 I took this to the very next “The 2nd is For Everyone : Diversity Shoot” to see if new shooters would be impressed by the beautiful revolver. It made an impression on the new shooters but they had nothing to compare it to since it was their first time shooting any firearm. It was more of a big deal to experienced shooters that owned stainless steel firearms. They came over one after the other to look at and shoot my BBQ gun. I know this isn’t an expensive super customized BBQ gun from my childhood but it sure feels like it. I did not to change the grips because this is a training firearm, I want it to be as soft shooting and recoil friendly as possible so I kept original Hogue rubber grips.

   Clean up seems easier than before, I clean it the same as before I had the work done. I wipe it down with the same micro fiber cloth that PGP sent my revolver wrapped around to keep fingerprints off. The prices for most revolvers are $375, full sized pistols are $575, Commander size pistols are $525 and compact models are $375-$450. All prices include shipping. Robert was good enough to donate his services to 2A4E Diversity Shoots and for that I am very thankful. I have taken many photos of the revolver and used them to spread the word of our 2nd Amendment events. This firearm is very photogenic and tens of thousands of people have seen this firearm on social media.

 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Gun polishing

Target Market:

Anyone wanting a customized revolver

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Looks really cool

  • Easier Cleanup

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Shiny or Shinier

What others are saying?:

Sam K. on Yelp

If you want to turn your pistol or revolver into a piece of art then send it off to Robert at Patriot Gun Polishing. Robert is a trustworthy and first class firearms expert. Turn around time was good. Communication was professional. A first class operation! Wow!

 

Kurt-Patriot Gun Polishing on Facebook

Top notch service. Master of his trade. I carefully looked my Coonan over for any rounded off edges that aren't supposed to be rounded off. Couldn't find any. Some would say polishing is a bit pricey. It is (no matter who does it) So why pay the same and get less? I know a guy that had his 1911 polished by a competitor. The picatinny rail was rounded off. It looked like waves crashing on a beach. YOU WILL NOT GET THAT HERE! A true craftsman.

 

Price point:

MSRP = $375-575

I need it now! Availability:

Patriot Gun Polishing

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • The gun looks great

  • Cleanup seems to be quicker

Cons:

  • It seems expensive until you compare it to having a custom finish painted on a handgun

Score: 9.0 Amazing

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SAM XT TOURNIQUET

CAT, SOF-T, SWAT-T... And now SAM XT Tourniquet has entered the battlefield. For over 30 years, SAM Medical Products, an industry leader in the pre-hospital, trauma care market. “From the front lines to behind the lines to the sidelines, our products treat the problem at hand fast and effectively…”

Recently they’ve released a handful of new products on the market and I was lucky enough to receive a few of the XT TQs. Thankfully, I’ve not had to use one in a real world application, but I’ve tested them out extensively. I also brought it around my local shooting club that has members from all branches of the military, law enforcement, medical personnel, and regular Joes. Some of the big concerns where the plastic that SAM used in the buckle and other components, and the fact that you have to pull in a different plane than others. With those concerns, no one was able to break the plastic buckle(or other components), and after showing someone the correct way to pull(against the buckle, not perpendicular) everyone got it after the fact. Additionally, it was very intuitive to use by people who’ve never had TQ training.

What sets the SAM XT TQ apart from the rest of the herd is the Truforce Buckle. It’s a special buckle that releases forks to hold the tourniquet strap in place, and not allow it to loosen while you're securing the rest of the strap to itself. Slack in the strap is the leading cause for tourniquet failure, resulting in loss of life. With the Truforce Buckle, it secures the strap at a preset circumferential force, and allows you to use fewer windlass turns to fully tighten and cut off blood flow. Once it’s tight, you secure the windlass in the C-hooks, and lock it in the a velcro time band.

As with all tourniquets, they recommend you get one for training and one for use in your kit. As it falls in line with the price of other TQs, you should take a look at your concerns and consider this for your kit. I know I’ll be keeping one with me.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Stopping extremity blood loss due to trauma

Target Market:

MIL/LEO, anyone who owns a gun, car, chainsaw, etc.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Auto-lock Buckle
  • Metal Windlass
  • Windlass C-Hooks
  • Meets MIL-STD 810G

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Available in Civilian Orange and Military Black.

What others are saying?:

Only 2 reviews were founds at the writing of this article, they’re from amazon.

★★★☆☆ Good functionality, but very steep learning curve.

★★★★★ Even better than the CAT.

Price point:

MSRP = N/A SAMXT.com

Retail = $37.99 Boundtree (preferred distributor)

$36.96 Amazon

$37.95 Rescue Essentials

I need it now! Availability:

For speedy results, the best bet would be to buy it on amazon.

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Auto locking buckle

  • Metal Windlass

  • Circumferential range: 5.5in - 35in

  • MIL-STD 810G Proven

Cons:

  • Plastic components

  • Additional training required (as with all different TQs)

Score: 8.5 Great

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2A Armament Aethon Rail

  Since everyone has an AR15, or at least should, aftermarket accessories for them have become the norm. That brings us to 2A Armament. They produce a variety of products, including complete rifles, for the AR15. 2A sent me one of their 7" Aethon rail handguards with M-Lok slots.

  The Aethon rail has some interesting design features. The first one I noticed was the scalloped picatinny rail sections. Of course this helps to reduce weight, but also looks very nice. The Aethon features a full top rail, that lines up with the receiver nicely. Under the top picatinny rail there are lightening holes, which also help vent heat away from the barrel. At 90°, 180°, and 270° are the flats with the M-Lok slots. Since this is a 7" handguard, there are only 2 slots per side. In front and behind the M-Lok slots are holes for QD mounts! Between the flats on the handguard, 2A has reduced more weight by milling out an angled half circle style design. Also the top picatinny rail has "T" markings on it.

  Installation of the Aethon rail is pretty straight forward. I'll run you through the simple method. After taking off the old parts. Just install the 2A Armament titanium barrel nut per specified torque, line up one of the cut-outs for the gas tube and the barrel is tightened back on. I used my armorers wrench and it worked just fine. Now here is one of the niceties of the Aethon. To install the handguard, you just slide it over the barrel nut and align the top rail with your receiver. Then you just tighten down the four angled set screws, 2 per side, and your done. The way the barrel nut is designed, along with the angled set screws, is what makes this so easy. A warning, do not over tighten the set screws as they are going into aluminum and could possibly strip out fairly easy. I just put blue threadlocker on them and called it a day.

  The Aethon rail saw plenty of use. Partly because the rifle I installed it on, wasn't working properly. This had zero to do with the Aethon. I will say that because of the small internal diameter of the Aethon, it does get very warm when shooting quickly, so much that I wouldn't recommend it for a registered full auto, unless you always wear gloves. Other than that, the Aethon performed great. I liked the smaller diameter of the Aethon, it allowed me to get a good grip around it to help reduce muzzle jump. If you have really large hands, you could probably wrap them all the way around this handguard. Because this is a 7" handguard, it is very sturdy with no flex whatsoever. There are also no sharp edges anywhere, even where the set screws lock the handguard on. My only complaint is that it only measures 6.7" long instead of 7", leaving a little gap between the end of the handguard and the fixed front sight post. 

  2A Armament has done an excellent job with the Aethon handguard. It is a deep black anodizing, so much that it is much darker and shinier than my receiver. It is fairly lightweight and installs easily. If your in the market for some nice AR parts, go take a look at 2A Armament.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Lightweight AR15 handguard

Target Market:

Users wanting a lighter weight, or M-Lok handguard

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Made in U.S.A
  • U.S.A. sourced 6AL-4V Titanium barrel nut
  • M-LOK mounting solution
  • Free floating design
  • QD mounts on both ends
  • 1.3” Internal Diameter
  • 6.7" length
  • "T" markings
  • Weighs 6.2 oz's complete

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

10", 12", and 15" lengths

What others are saying?:

None Found

Link to other reviews:

None Found

Price point:

MSRP = $179.00

Retail = $170.00 at Optics Planet

I need it now! Availability:

2A Armament or Optics Planet

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • M-Lok

  • Easy Installation

  • Dark Anodizing

  • Small overall diameter

  • Full top rail

  • QD mounts

Cons:

  • Not a full 7" in length

  • Gets hot

Score: 8.0 Great

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Favorite Link:   Poly Gun Mods

 


 

Glock 19 Gen 5

 Written by Zane M.

  In case you haven’t heard the worlds most perfect pistol just got an upgrade. That’s right perfection has been perfected. In all seriousness glock has released their gen 5 line of g19 and g17 guns and people seem to have mixed emotions.

  Being a fan of glocks, I was naturally curious and later reading a few write up and internet scuttlebutt I definitely wanted to get my hands on one.  It worked out well because a friend called saying he was getting one and did I want to check it out.

  I drove out to his house and picked up a brand new g19 gen5. “Bring it back sometime next week” he said. I also had an alert from UPS letting me know I had a case of ammo on my doorstep, how convenient.

  The new finish on slide looks very nice, it looks a bit darker and is more subdued. A blacker black if you will, and not as shiny as my gen4 and gen3 glocks. The gun lacks finger grooves, a welcomed change from most people I know, but so does my gen4 thanks to a dremmel. The barrel on the gen5 uses traditional rifling instead of the polygonal rifling glock has previously used. Probably the most notable difference aside from the lack of finger grooves is the ambidextrous slide release/stop. So if you’re wrong handed, glock thought about you. One change I was most interested in checking out was the Flared magwell. I was underwhelmed by it at first glance but it definitely grew on me. Glock is still using those plastic atrocities they call sights but this gun had already had them replaced with some fiber optics. The biggest thing I noticed is still no front cocking serrations. Come on, glock, get with it.

  The gun came to me with one magazine through it but was otherwise brand new. In the box there were three mags and mag loaded tool, Cleaning rod and brush, cable lock and manual. I took the gun to the range as it came to me with a few hundred rounds of ammo.

The trigger is a glock trigger, it seemed a bit smoother than my gen 4 and gen 3 but lighter than the g42 I used to have. The take up did seem bit stiffer but I’ll take that for the seemingly more consistent “push” if you will through the “wall” The gun handled and fired like a glock. The flared magwell did grow on me with every reload. In 300+ rounds of two hand, primary hand and support hand only shooting. I had no malfunctions to speak of aside from three failures to lock back on the last round. These were completely shooter induced and occurred with a 19, 17 and magpul 21 mag. It’s also worth noting this is a problem I have with all glocks because my support hand contacts the slide release.

  Holster compatibility was something I was curious about so I tried the gun in several that I had laying around. The starboard side slide release dragged on two of them, touched one, and worked fine with four. Two of those were home made by yours truly and the other two require the use of a weapon mount light. Overall it seemed to work in many existing holsters and with some quick modifications I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in most all of them.

  Final thoughts: I like it. For an out of the box carry/duty gun, it’s hard to beat save the sights. However, if you’re going to modify or send it off, I’d probably just save the little extra and go gen 4

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

It’s a glock, not much else to say. It’s been upgraded

Target Market:

Law enforcement, security and law abiding citizen looking for a reliable, ambi pistol. And glock fanboys like myself

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • glock reliably

  • ambidextrous slide stop

  • flared magwell

  • lack of finger grooves

  • new more durable coating

  • replaceable back straps (not new)

  • traditional rifling

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

None

What others are saying?:

Too New

Link to other reviews:

Concealed Nation

Price point:

MSRP = $629.00+

Retail = $559 at Brownells

I need it now! Availability:

Brownells

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Works like a glock

  • flared magwell

  • pleasing to shoot

  • smoother trigger

Cons:

  • Still no front serrations

  • sights are still terrible (not a big deal to me)

Pros/Cons: You Decide

  • lack of finger grooves

  • ambi slide release

Score: 8.5 Great or slightly better than the gen 4

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Boyds AT-One Stock

  If you have been around guns for any length of time, you have probably heard of Boyds gunstocks. They make laminate wood stock for just about every rifle, and in a bunch of patterns and colors. They sent me one of their new At-One stocks in "Blaze" for review.

  First off, let me mention that this At-One is for a Savage 93 in .17HMR. Boyds also makes this stock for just about any other popular rifle. I mention this because in my case, I had to order the bottom metal. Not a big deal, but a note to check and see. Otherwise, installation is super easy. Just take your old stock off, and install the At-One. One benefit of the At-One is that it free floats the barrel to help improve accuracy.

  As one can see, the At-One has some adjustments on it. The comb and butstock adjustments use a push button system that is built into the right side of the stock. Basically, just push the button, and slide the comb or buttstock to the position you want. The buttons do push pretty hard, but this is because Boyds doesn't want them to be pushed accidentally. The cheek riser/comb is an overmolded rubber and works well without having too much grip. The buttstock has a nice rubber buttpad bonded to aluminum for a stable platform. If you look at the stock, you notice that the pistol grip and foreend are plastic. It comes from the factory with a slimmed down version of both. But I was also sent the target versions of these. The target forearm is slightly wider and rubberized. The target pistol grip is fatter and has a flatter front. Both foreends come with 2 pre-installed swivel studs. To change them from one style to the other, just take out the allen head screws, slide the piece or pieces off and reinstall. The target pistol grip is a 2 piece design and has a seam where the 2 pieces meet, I would have liked it to be one piece so you don't notice the split. On the rear bottom of the stock is also a removable piece that has a swivel stud installed. as of this writing, no other pieces are available as options. To top all of this off, the stock has a quick connect swivel hole on each side slightly behind the pistol grip!

Target Grip

Standard Grip

Target grip behind standard grip

Target grip seam

Target foreend on top, standard below

  Being that the stock is made from laminate hardwoods, it is very stable. Laminate stocks tend to stiffen up the support that the shooter places on the stock. This can help with accuracy. Plus when mounting a bipod, the foreend will not flex as much. I did see slightly better groups when using this stock over the flimsy factory stock. I can consistently shoot under 1 moa with just about any .17hmr ammo. With the factory stock, some ammo would group about 1.5 moa. Because the At-One is laminate, it does weigh more than your factory stock. I actually thought this helped balance out this particular rifle.

Bottom view as received in standard configuration

  I found the At-One to be an excellent choice. It is not a chassis system, but it is about as close as you can get for only $189. My preference was to use the target foreend and the standard pistol grip. When letting my daughter shoot the rifle, it was easy to adjust the length of pull shorter for her. So if your looking for something different in a stock, take a look at the At-One by Boyds. 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Adjustable Laminate wood stock

Target Market:

Those wanting a solid adjustable wood stock

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Enhanced Accuracy
  • Laminate Wood
  • Adjustable Butt pad
  • Adjustable Cheek rest (Comb)
  • Quick Attach Sling points
  • Interchangeable Grip
  • Interchangeable Forend w/2 swivel studs
  • 12.5" to 14" Length of pull
  • Weighs 3 lbs

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Coyote, AppleJack, Zombie Hunter, Sky, Pepper, Royal, Royal Jacaranda, BlackJack, Forest, and Nutmeg

What others are saying?:

No ratings found at this time

Link to other reviews:

Soocth00

Price point:

MSRP = $189.00

Retail = $219.99 at OpticsPlanet

I need it now! Availability:

Boyds Gun Stocks

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Adjustable comb

  • Adjustable length of pull

  • Good stable shooting platform

  • 2 swivel studs (one for bipod)

  • Sling swivel sockets

  • Optional pistol grip and foreend

  • Free floats barrel

Cons:

  • May need bottom metal

  • Target grip is 2 piece design

Score: 8.5 Great

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Chad’s Favorite Link:  Nevada Cerakote

Raven Concealment Eidolon

Written by: Zane M.

Selecting a holster can be a daunting task. Anyone who is serious about carrying a firearm probably has at least one box or drawer full of holsters that have fallen short in one way or another. I have two and half dresser drawers full of bad ideas and borderline junk myself.

  About a year ago I decided to try the  appendix inside the waistband(AIWB) position for various reasons. After trying a few holsters that I found and a few I made without much success, I reached out to some friends in the industry for suggestions.

  Highly recommended was the raven concealment systems eidolon. One of my friends had one he wasn’t using anymore so he sent it my way for some testing and evaluation. If you’re not familiar with the eidolon it is extremely user configurable. So much so it can be intimidating but it’s comes with a user’s manual and I recommend you read it.

  I kept the holster in the configuration it came to me in: a single belt strut(molded clip) and the RCS claw. Both soft loops and over struts can be used. Typically I’m a fan of soft loops but I have nothing against struts so I chose to keep it as configured. Other options include a wedge for pushing the top of the gun into your body, the claw(that I did use) for rotating the grip towards your body and wings so the holster can be configured for hip carry. The holster can be used right handed or left handed by simply switching out the mounting hardware. The holster is available for a wide array of guns as long as it’s a small frame glock that is to say double stack 9mm/.40/.357sig/.45gap (people use .45gap?) the model I have is cut to glock19 length with an open bottom. The majority of the testing was done with a glock 17, I also used it with a glock 26 for  comparison sake.

  At this point it’s worth mentioning I stand a staggering 5’10” tall and am weighting in at a whopping 150lbs, in other words, I’m not a big dude. The holster is comfortable and extremely good at concealing the gun. It covers the trigger completely but still allows for a full firing grip while the gun is holstered, even with a custom undercut on the trigger guard.  The strut is well made and after several hundred draws never once did it slip off the belt. As I was using a g17 there was about a half of an inch of slide sticking out the bottom of the holster, however I didn’t find this to be a problem. RCS offers a version with a closed bottom for the g17 size guns if that’s an issue for you. The gun stays in place, even with only one belt strut, and the rcs claw really does wonders for rotating the grip into the body making concealment of a full size gun not only possible but easy.   With the g26 the gun literally disappears.) If I were to continue to use the holster for every day use I would probably add a 2nd strut or even use two tuckable soft loops (available with the full kit or from RCS) I did add a strip of Velcro to put a foam wedge on, even though RCS offers a wedge I chose this route for the simple reason that I had the wedge already for another holster. A g26 in the eidolon is my go to non permissive environment rig (all federal, state and local laws followed of course) but no longer use it for the g17. The only reason for this is I now carry a weapon mount light and this holster doesn’t allow for that.

  If you’re looking for a user configurable, AIWB holster for your glock, you should take a good look at the RCS eidolon.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

A comfortable user configurable  AIWB holster for compact and full size glocks.

Target Market:

Anyone with a need to conceal a 19/17 size glock. Concealed carriers, off duty law enforcement and special operators with the military/security forces

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • RCS claw and wedge

  • Completely covers the trigger but still allows for a full firing grip even with an undercut.  

  •  User configurable   

  •  Injection molded

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Black or Limited clear at time of writing

What others are saying?:

From raven concealment systems website

“I ordered the G17 Full Kit for my G19 MOS w/ Trijicon RMR. It's a solid product! Shipping was fast and craftsmanship is top notch. My favorite holster to this day. I went ahead and ordered the soft loops too.”

Amazon review

“Ok like most everyone else I've been trying to make the switch to appendix carry. Finally after 6 different holsters I am appendix carrying. This holster is comfortable and most importantly it doesn't print. It literally disappears. I will say I bought the clips and they didn't work. I had to order the soft loops to make it work. I could never get the clips in the "right" position. Save yourself some money and buy the soft loops from the start. I paid $25 to order the soft loops after the fact when I could have gotten them for less than $10 by just ordering them with the holster. At the end of the day I can now carry off duty in the appendix position comfortably.”

Link to other reviews:

Breach Bang Clear

Price point:

MSRP = $59.99-149.99

Retail = $54.24 on Amazon

I need it now! Availability:

Raven Concealment and Amazon

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • user configurable

  • Super comfortable

  • Very well made

  • Cut for use with RMR/RDS

  • Tall sight channel

  • Mag release guard/ but not covered

  • Tuckable

Cons:

  • Only for glocks

Score: 9.0 Amazing

90.jpg

FT Bullseye

   The Meprolight FT Bullseye sight is very non-standard. It utilizes a bit of smoke and mirrors, but works better than I expected. When I first saw the FT Bullseye, I immediately sent them a review request, and as you can tell, they sent one out. The FT bullseye is a fiber optic/Tritium sight, that doesn't require a front blade. 

  I mounted the FT Bullseye on a Kahr handgun. They of course make them for other makes of handguns also. Installation is pretty straight forward. Remove the old sight or sights. I left the stock front sight in as it doesn't have to be removed. Slide the new FT sight in, they recommend loctite 609, but not on the screws. Center it up, and tighten the torx screws with the supplied wrench.  

  When I first took the  FT Bullseye out shooting, my main goal was to see where it shot, and adjust accordingly. While doing the initial sighting in, I realized that the sight was really easy to use. Since it it a dot inside a circle, your eyes naturally want to center the dot. This is exactly how the FT sight works. If you don't have the circle dot lined up, your not on target. Also if it is not lined up, it will appear dim on part of the circle, or nothing at all. Very similar to a red dot sight in that aspect. If for some reason you can't see the sight, it has an outline like a standard channel and post sight. This also helped me with learning where to look for the circle dot, as it is on the same plane as normal pistol sights. 

  I did see a few quirks with the sight. Noticeably was the lack of windage adjustment. You can move the sight left or right, but since it is fixed on one plane, it does nothing for you. I ended up loosening the mounting screws and biasing the sight at a slight angle to get it to shoot point of aim with my chosen ammo. Next up is the size of the fake notch/post sight. Because of the integration of the fiber tubes and how it projects the circle dot, the size tends to cover up some of the targets. On 6" steel plates at 15 yards, I could only see the top 1/3 of the plate. You definitely want to shoot with both eyes open so that your mind superimposes the circle dot over the target. Last on the list, the FT Bullseye washes out when aiming at a brightly lit target while you are in a dimmer area. It gets even worse if you shine a bright light at the target, or aim it at a bright light. Standard tritium sights do this also, so it's not just these. The FT Bullseye does have the "fake" sight blades, as I call it. So when it washes out, you still have some sort of sight reference. 

  Even with the above mentioned quirks, this  sight does work well. I timed myself before and after installing the FT sight. This was low ready to firing 1 shot on a 7 yard and 15 yard target. I did this several times, 25 with each sight at each yardage. When I averaged both of them, they were close enough to not matter. Accuracy was on par for both at those distances also. One of the times when I had it at the range, I sprinkled some dirt on the sight to see how it worked. Even though the sight picture was dimmer, I didn't have any problems seeing it while dirty.    

Dirt on sight

Water drop on sight

   The FT Bullseye sight is a little larger than your standard rear sight. But since it is very squared off, you can rack the slide by using the sight without any problems. I also tried it in 3 different holsters and it didn't interfere with anything on them. 

  I really like the concept behind the FT Bullseye. Kind of like a red dot, but in a non-electronic package. The Mako group imports these for Meprolight. Check them out if your in the market for a new sight.  

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Quick access day/night sight

Target Market:

Those wanting a combination Tritium / fiber optic sight

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Rapid target acquisition  
  • Fiber optic
  • Tritium  
  • Circle dot (reticle) 
  • No front sight needed

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Green or Red

What others are saying?:

Harold on OpticsPlanet 2/5 stars

I have purchased two of these sights now. I put one of the sights on a Glock 19, and the other on a Glock 43. I then took the two handguns and a Glock 19 with traditional meprolight night sights to the range. After 500 rounds, I found the sights neither faster nor more accurate. I believe they may be able to be as accurate as traditional sights, but it will require more practice behind the sights. The problem seems to be that it takes a slightly different process to get the dot aligned in the circle. I found that shooting with both eyes open was also more difficult with the sights. I seemed to have something akin to parallax happening with both eyes open. With practice these sights will work, but unless you convert all of your handguns to this style of sight, you may have difficulty switching between styles. My choice will be traditional night sights.

Pablo on Amazon 4/5 stars

i got the green for my glock 43 because as my primary carry gun (in AZ - hot with minimal clothing) i wanted to minimize any protrusions, size, and weight while keeping the area in front of trigger guard empty for my supporting hand. so optical sights, flashlights, and lasers, although used on my other 3 pistols, were not an option for this purpose. it lines up well. i used a bore laser to get it close windage wise - it's not adjustable for elevation. at the indoor range the sight is not visible at all. since i had the front sight off i was using instinctive aiming over the top fairly well, but i would not trust myself to attempt a head shot on someone more than 15 feet away with these sights in dim light. i'm going to put the front sight back on my pistol, paint the white dot bright green, and see if that helps for indoors.

Link to other reviews:

The Truth About Guns Review

Price point:

MSRP = $199. 05

Retail = $169.88 at Amazon 

I need it now! Availability:

Mako Group or Amazon

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Intuitive to use
  • Easy installation
  • Bright in daylight  
  • Tritium  
  • No front sight needed
  • Same presentation as standard sights 

Cons: 

  • Washes out on white or lit backgrounds
  • No windage adjustments
  • Covers a large quantity of the target

Score: 6.5 Okay

65.jpg

 

Chad’s Favorite Link: Staheli's Shooting Supplies (SX3)

FLIR One for Android

Written by: Rob Smith

  Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras use special optics to display thermal images (i.e. meltdown videos). In recent years prices for non-military applications has steadily decreased to the point where we now have civilian systems which produce a very good image.

 

  Enter the FLIR Company and their FLIR One camera systems for Android and IOS devices. The FLIR One uses proprietary MSX technology to combine a regular and thermal image into one composite image. It does this in a compact unit which currently retails for about $200.

 

The Following items are included in the box:

  • Camera

  • Camera Cover

  • Lanyard

  • Two spacers (one for Galaxy S5 and another for other Android phones)

  • Two adapters, one reversible for IR selfies.

  • USB Charging cable

 

  When you purchase the camera download the FLIR One App from the IOS App Store or Google Play (you might need to approve access to your storage location). When you use the app you will be prompted to create an account for warranty registration and receive updates about the application.

  You can still download the app if you do not have the camera but the imaging portion of the app will not function.

  Once the app is downloaded, ensure that the phone and camera are charged, turn on the camera and insert it into the micro USB slot. The application will automatically start and you are ready to take IR pictures. To take a photo press the photo button from the app (not the camera photo button). You will see the app swipe the photo to the side, indicating the photo was taken and ready to take a new picture.

  At the top of the screen is the menu button which takes you to application menus. Next is the Spot Meter button (looks like crosshair) which will turn on a thermometer which can read temperatures from -4F to 248F. The flashlight icon will turn on a flashlight for use in low light situations. The stopwatch button activates 3 or 10 second timer (configurable by user). The battery level is for the FLIR One camera.

  The current version of the software allows the user to change from photo, time lapse and video modes by sliding the mode at the bottom of the viewing screen.

   Under the Settings menu you can chose from nine different color palettes (these are just a different way to view the IR images). You can also use the parallax menu to change the overlay of the two cameras (or superimpose one image next to the other).

This is a photo of my front door taken from inside of the house at 4:00pm (door faces west)

This is the same photo but with the nine different color palettes

Here are two pictured from my dryer, one in Iron and the other in Wheel (note the dryer vent signature through the wall).

  When I first started using the camera on my phone (Motorola Droid Turbo II) it would constantly lock up. I found moderate success by clearing the cache and restarting. To be fair my phone was not listed as an approved phone (downside of using non-standard iPhone platform).

NOTE - In June of 2017 FLIR upgraded (overhauled) the app and it seems to be working fine now.

  Two spacers are included with the camera and are designed to close the gap between the bottom of the phone and the top of the camera (if not using a case on your phone). Peel away the backing on the spacer to expose the glue which will allow you to attach the spacer to the camera. When I tested this on my phone there was still a little bit of a gap so I did not use them.

  Two offset adapters are also included which move the position of the camera relative to the phone. One of the adapters reverses the camera so you can take IR Selfies. The photos below show the two different adapters.

This adapter changes the offset of the camera (micro USB port is on the other side):

Note: the gap between the adapter and the phone is similar to the gap between the phone and the camera.

This adapter reverses the direction of the camera

  When taking pictures I have noticed that this camera setup is not sensitive enough to take images through glass. I was in my living room taking images of items on the porch and notices that the IR images contained reflection on the glass door of items from inside the house.

  Other reviews have indicated that the camera is not sensitive in low light situations. I have found this to be true. Using the flashlight button to activate the phone’s light provides a much clearer image. This is because the IR Camera is using both an IR and regular camera to take a composite image and the regular camera requires a moderate amount of light.

  The micro USB charging cable can charge the camera or cellphone (you cannot charge the phone by connecting the charging cable to the camera and the camera to the phone).

 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

FLIR camera for your cell Phone

Target Market:

Anyone who wants a FLIR camera without spending a lot of money.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Inexpensive way to take IR images.

  • FLIR MSX image software.

  • Can take pictures, video and time lapse video.

  • Has a countdown timer (3 or 10 seconds) when taking pictures

  • Nine different color palettes.

  • Can measure temperatures from -4F to 248F

  • Temperature can be displayed using the Spot Meter

  • Adapter can connect to your phone or tablet even if it is in a case.

  • FLIR One app is user friendly

 

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

You can get it in any color you want as long as you want black.

http://flir.com/flirone/

What others are saying?:

C|net https://www.cnet.com/products/flir-one/review/

The Good The Flir One's MSX tech mashes a regular and a thermal image together so you can see more than you would with a standalone raw thermal image.

The Bad While $250 is inexpensive when you consider the larger commercial thermal camera market, it still isn't a cheap mobile accessory. There aren't a ton of practical uses for the Flir One.

The Bottom Line Get the Flir One for its superior thermal imaging tech and overall ease of use, but be sure to consider specific, ongoing applications for this $250 accessory before you buy.

Price point:

MSRP = $199.99

Retail = $289.98 at Amazon

I need it now! Availability:

FLIR or Amazon

Our Rating:

FLIR One is a great gadget for your cell phone as well as a useful tool.

Pros:

  • Cost effective way to take thermal images.

  • Camera can be used on different phones.

  • Automatic IR calibration

  • Nine different palettes to view the images.

  • FLIR has created several how-to videos with suggestions for using the camera.

Cons:

  • Takes a lot of memory to run app and camera (seems to be better with the recent upgrade).

  • Camera is not sensitive enough to take images through glass or low light.

  • Camera has limited battery life (about 1 hour).

  • You have to be careful to avoid accidentally breaking the micro USB Connector.

  • Cannot use the camera to charge your phone.

  • Not for use in bad weather.

Score: 6.5 Okay

 

 

TandemKross Halo Charging handle

  If you have been around certain types of handguns, like the Ruger MK series, you know how hard they can be to cycle by hand. This brings us to the "Halo" charging ring by Tandemkross. The Halo is a nifty device that clamps on your existing charging handle/slide. Tandemkross sent me the Halo for review. It is one of the few made for the square style bolt on the earlier Ruger 22/45 and MKII's.

  When you first get the Halo, you notice that it is a real simple design. It is basically a squared off ring with a slot and a bolt. Simple yes, but more importantly is the function. Once I mounted it up, I immediately found it easier to cycle the bolt. All you have to do is put a finger inside the loop, and pull back, then let go, and your done. I had my whole family try it, and they all said it was way easier and more intuitive. I was also told it made the 22/45 look like a space gun.

  Of course I was also worried about adding weight to the bolt. After trying everything from sub-sonic to hyper-sonic .22lr shells, I put that thought to rest as everything functioned great! Now on the other hand, I was a little disappointed the the inside of the Halo ring was squared off. It digs into your joint a little when using it. If Tandemkross were to round the inside, it would be much more ergonomic. I wasn't the only person who thought this either. With the Halo installed, you can cycle the bolt the same way as before, if you want, but with the added benefit of the tabs sticking out farther than standard.

  Everything needed for the installation is included. Basically the screw and allen wrench. To install the Halo. Just slide it down over the cocking serrations/nubs. Install the screw, and tighten it down. I put some blue threadlocker on the screw, just in case. One thing to note, you can put the Halo on upside down. Yes, I did this, and it does still function fine. But put the writing so you can read it, and that is the correct way to install it.

  The Ruger series of pistols is not the only ones that Tandemkross makes the Halo for. Some of the others look a little different, but function the same. So if you are having a problem racking the slide, or know someone that is, you might want to look into the Halo series of charging handles. 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Easier to use charging handle

Target Market:

Shooters wanting a quicker, larger, and easier to use charging handle

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Pull Ring Design

  • Ease of use

  • Ambidextrous

  • Lightweight

  • Anodized

  • Made in U.S.A.

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Black only, but available for other firearm models

What others are saying?:

Jon @tandemcross: 5/5 stars

Ruger 22/45 Lite Halo

This has to be one of the best upgrades for the Ruger 22/45. I got this for my wife because she has a hard time pulling back the bolt with her small hands. The halo ring makes it simple and easy for her to rack the bolt with just one finger. I also like how secure it is on the bolt, just a dab of blue loctite on the screw and its not going anywhere. Lastly, I believe the extra weight of the halo on the bolt helps cycle the gun better which is an added bonus. I would definitely recommend this upgrade for people who have trouble pulling back the bolt on their Ruger pistol easily.

Link to other reviews:

AmmoLand

Price point:

MSRP = $44.99

Retail = $42.99 at Brownells

I need it now! Availability:

TandemKross or Brownells

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Easy to use

  • Weight doesn't induce malfunctions

  • Model availability

  • Easy Installation

  • Made in U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Squared Off (Not Rounded)

  • Only available in black

Score: 8.0 Great

 

Chad’s Favorite Link:   AR15 Podcast

Stormrider Underlord Gear Belt

Written By: Zane M.

Probably the most overlooked part of everyday carry (EDC) gear is the belt.  You can't truly appreciate a good belt until you've worn a good one for any length of time.  About 8 months ago I began my quest for a new belt, as the old instructor belt I'd worn for years had seen better days, to say the least. There was one problem: I'm not a fan of the cobra buckle and cobra buckles are all the rage these days.  

  Enter Stormrider gear's underlord belt. The underlord is part of a belt system that uses an inner and outer belt. The outer is ideal for duty, training, and/or competition without the need for belt keepers. The inner belt, affectionately referred to as the underlord, makes an absolutely wonderful choice for a stand-alone belt for your EDC. 

  The belt has no buckle to speak of; instead it uses hook and loop to "lock" the end in place. The belt also sports loop (or the fuzzy side of the brand name Velcro) around the circumference of the belt. This is for use with the outer belt part of the system, called the overlord. This also works well with certain accessories that utilize hook and loop attachment points, such as mag carriers, medical kits, and of course moral patches. Stormrider gear offers belts without the loop, but for the same price and on recommendation from a trusted friend in the gun community, I saw no reason to forgo it. 

  The belt is stiff, as expected, and does support the weight of my EDC gear. I have carried in several different configurations during the last 6 months and regardless of how I carried, the belt supported each setup very well. I typically carry a Glock 17 and at least one spare magazine every day. For concealed carry the gun is kept in an appendix holster in the waistband with a spare magazine right next to it at about 11:00. For open carry, I use a duty type holster with active retention with a belt slide attachment (not a paddle) and belt slide duel mag carrier on the support side. I've also carried the same gun at about 3:30 in the waistband. The only time the belt ever became uncomfortable was during extended wear “hotspots” would develop right on my hip bones. It's worth mentioning that I have this issue with all thick webbing type belts and attribute this to my thin build.

  The belts are 1.5" in width and Stormrider gear boasts several color options on their website, to include the ever popular Kryptec patterns. I went with Kryptec Typhon and solid black loop. There is a sizing chart on their website and they warn "do not use your pant size.” 

  If you are someone who trains a lot with a full set up or needs the ability to quickly go from low profile CCW to full on duty rig (“kit up” for the tactical Timmy’s out there) the underlord is a perfect base to start with.  As long as you chose an outer belt that has hook attachment, you'll be good to go. 

  This belt is a great overall choice for the concealed carrier, as it is sturdy, comfortable, and very functional. The best part is, the underlord won't break the bank at sub $50. I've worn belts twice the cost of this and didn't gain much by way of comfort or usability. 

FIREARMS INSIDER REVIEWS - 8 KEY POINTS

CLAIM TO FAME:

Buckle-less design 

1" loop the entire circumference 

TARGET MARKET:

Concealed carry

Law enforcement/security personnel 

Anyone who needs a stiff, ridged belt 

FNBS (FEATURES & BENEFITS OF THIS PRODUCT):

Loop attachment points 

Very reasonably priced. 

Alternative to the cobra buckle (for those like me that aren't a fan) 

WHAT OTHER AESTHETIC OPTIONS OR FINISHES ARE AVAILABLE?

Base color:

Assassin black

Coyote brown

Foliage gray 

Ranger green 

Wolf gray 

Multicam

Kryptec highlander 

Kryptec typhon

Kryptec yeti

multicam black 

 

Loop colors:

Assassin black

Coyote brown

Foliage gray 

Ranger green 

Wolf gray 

Just brown

 What others are saying:

"I FORGOT I WAS WEARING IT!

 This belt is stout in construction but flexible enough that I forgot I had a belt on. When loaded up it feels like it distributes the weight well and resists bending outward very well. I can't wait to get the overlord to go with it. The buckle-less design is a huge comfort factor and is what lead me to give this belt a go. Was worth the wait!"

 -Review from storm rider gears website.

Price point:

 MSRP = $46.99 Add $3 for kryptec or multicam 

 Retail = $46.99

I need it now availability:

I was only able to find in on stormridergear.com

Lead time is 8 weeks at the time of writing

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Super stiff
  • Very comfortable 
  • Hook and loop fasteners
  • Very reasonably priced

Cons:

  • More difficult to sit down in the restroom than with a traditional belt buckle. 
  • Hotspots can build up on the hips (you probably know what I'm talking about. If you don't it's probably a non issue)
  • Looks odd with a shirt tucked in

 

Score: 8.0 Great

SKD Tactical PIG Full Dexterity Tactical Alpha Gloves

In addition to eye and ear protection, hand protection is a good idea that many shooters overlook. Shooting gloves are considered more of an optional layer of protection, because their construction can be stifling to the user's dexterity and sensitivity... two things an effective marksman requires. Gun owners who train more aggressive with their firearms know the necessity of a good pair of gloves. Racking slides, ripping magazines from pouches, and gripping hot surfaces will make short work of bare skin.

Although gloves help prevent cuts, scrapes and other hand injuries, they suffer from an inherent paradox. The more robust and protective they are, the less dexterity the afford the user. Don't believe me? Try pulling a trigger with some welding gloves on! What good is protective equipment if it slows you down? When it comes to a 'tactical' shooting glove design, the challenge is balancing protection with flexibility. This is exactly what SKD tactical set out to accomplish with the Pig Full Dexterity Tactical Alpha Gloves.

The Pig FDT Alpha Glove uses several distinct features that give the user comfort and flexibility at the right anatomical places. They focus attention at the points most utilized by pistol/rifle/shotgun shooters: the index finger pad, the other fingers, and the palms. Starting at the trigger fingers, a thin material called Clarino™ is used to increase sensitivity greatly, which obviously aids in applying and releasing trigger pressure.

Not only that, but a synthetic suede is used to make the index finger and thumb conductive for the use touch screens. This is a huge benefit for those who take photos with their smart devices, or use apps for ballistic calculation, recording range data, or just texting your mom. Normally with other gloves, you'd have to shed the glove to do any of that. #instragram #pewpew

PIG-2.jpg

As for the rest of the fingers, flexibility at the joints is crucial for a good grip, as well as manipulating fire controls, as well as working the action and reloading. Attention was given to every joint and knuckle so that flexibility and ventilation was noticeably present on each finger, at the points where you would need them most. This is where most gloves fall short because the construction is more rigid constrictive when you make a fist or try gripping anything.

The tips of the fingers also get a much needed upgrade! Most gloves have seams near the finger tips, which totally kills sensitivity and make minute tasks like picking up small objects or pressing buttons almost impossible. The FDT Alpha design has material wrapping-over the tips of fingers, which is more comfortable and spreads out impact pressure that would otherwise damage fingernails.

Enough about the fingers, because the palm is a critical area that doesn't get enough attention on the drawing board most the time. The FDT uses a single layer made up of multiple pieces. This allows for the freedom of natural creases and contours when gripping or making a fist, while the single layer ensures theres a tangible feel of what you are gripping. Thick gloves for shooting reminds me a lot like Ralphie's overwinterized brother in the Christmas Story...

The back of the gloves are thoughtful designed as well. The knuckles are covered in 1000D Stretch Ballistic Nylon, which help cut down on pressure at the seams when you make a fist and your knucks protrude outward. There is even an area of micro suede that is good for wiping boogers off your mustache. It happens to all of us, especially outdoors in the winter... no judgment, ladies. 

The cuff is shortened as well, which makes alot of sense for shooting a variety of guns with different grip angles. Your wrist maybe bent at a greater angle shooting one firearm, say a short barreled rifle, versus shooting a pistol like a 1911. The cuff is secured using a velcro-like hook and loop that is much more minimal and modern. SKD claims they used this stuff because is is less prone to catching onto fabrics and materials you don't want it to cling to.

The FDT Alpha Glove is certainly more custom tailored to the anatomy of the human hand, and thusly the sizing will seem a bit off then what you are used to. For instance, my hands typically fit best in a ___ size, whereas the FDT Alpha Gloves in ____ fit perfectly. Here is a sizing chart to help you choose the best size glove for your paws.

The gloves are supposed to feel tight at first. SKD says as long as they aren't uncomfortable when you make a fist and is snug when your hand is open, the sizing is correct. They do integrate a paracord loop on the cuff that is bar-tacked, to help with sliding into the glove like most shoes have also for your feet.

PIG-11.jpg

The biggest issue many folks have is the longevity of the glove. Due to the design considerations to increase comfort, dexterity, and flexibility, these gloves can wear out sooner than you would expect.  I bought my first pair in 2012, and after about 16-18 months they finally met their bitter end. SKD is totally aware, and tries to make it blatantly clear on the website with a disclaimer:

At the end of the day, the PIG FDT-Alpha Gloves are a consumable product that will provide the user with the best tactile dexterity available in a tactical glove, and should be worn to destruction, then discarded and replaced. The selection of super sensitive materials and extremely tight seams mean that these gloves will eventually wear out, and there are no warranties implied. Please try them on and inspect them thoroughly for fit and finish before removing from the hangtag, but be forewarned, you will not want to take them off.
— SKD Website, product page

At a sub $50 price point, SKD urges customers to wear their alpha gloves until their demise, and simply buy a new pair. Welcome to Marketing 101... convince customer to buy the product, use until failure, then replace and repeat. Realistically though, gloves are just as susceptible to wear as gun magazines as well as other clothing. $50 underwear will last as long as the $15 5-pack will. But that $50 pair will feel so good on your cheeks that you wear them more, wash them more, and thusly wear out faster. The same applies to gloves essentially. I bet SKD would see a higher repurchase rate if they offered 5-10% off to reordering customers with blown out gloves, just a thought.

PIG-6.jpg

So did I buy a second pair after my first ones got thrashed? Yes I did, because the compatibility with touch screens was a big enough selling point to me, as well as the increased dexterity that is needed for every task on the firing line. Plus I often get sweaty hands when wearing gloves, and the ventilation holes in both the palms and fingers help combat the moisture. Just don't expect these to keep you absolutely warm and dry in the winter months, because they are really designed to do one thing well... shoot!

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: So much sensitivity that you can wear these on your next date with PALMela HANDerson.

Target Market: Shooters of all types

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Conductive Thumb and Trigger Finger material for touch screen use
  • Single Layer Multi-Piece Palm
  • Isolated Trigger Finger uses Clarino™ material
  • Forschette material is ventilated for maximum sweat wicking
  • Low Profile Hook & Loop Closure
  • Flex Joints for enhanced flexibility
  • Dual Flex Joints on Trigger Finger
  • Bar-Tacked Para Cord Pull Loop
  • Micro Suede Nose Wipe
  • Ventilation holes in Palms and Fingers for more wicking
  • Isolated Edge Padding
  • Wrap-Over Finger Tips for finger nails protection
  • Stretch Ballistic Nylon 1000D Padded Knuckles

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black, Coyote, Ranger Green, Carbon Grey. Womens sizes also available!

What others are saying?:"I dig these gloves. They required a total of ZERO break-in time. Their fine, high-quality seams don't press into the tips of my fingers when I grasp my rifle, sidearm, or anything else (unlike my normal shooting gloves, which were originally intended for automotive work). They're supple enough to go unnoticed on my hands after just a few minutes, and their touchscreen sensitivity is flawless." -User Review

"I do a lot of work with pyrotechnics, av grip work, and of course training with firearms. These are by the best gloves I've owned. What sold me was the overlapping finger tips which aid in improved fine motor dexterity that eliminates having to remove the gloves while working. They were so comfortable that I would find any excuse to wear them. I truly put them to the test and they held up until I blew out the index finger on the right hand glove. I can't knock them for it. All sorts of fine motor skills with pyrotechnics and AV grip work that could not have been for seen by SKD. I'll definitely be ordering another pair." -User Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: SKD Tactical

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Finger and Thumb work with touch screens on smart devices
  • Ventholes reduce sweating after prolonged use
  • Improved dexterity for tasks that otherwise require removing glove to do the job
  • Feels great in all hand positions
  • Single layer palm increases sensitivity

Cons:

  • Interior palm/finger material can be slippery on non-textured guns
  • Design causes expedited wear compared to other gloves (if you dont go thru shooting gloves every couples years, you aren't shooting enough!)
  • Single layer and ventholes work against you when wet and or cold
  • Made overseas

 

Score: 7.5 Good

75.jpg
 

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

"Game Changer" .22lr Compensator from TandemKross

  Compensator's for small caliber handguns can seem pointless to some. After all, .22lr doesn't have much recoil. But, I tend to believe that all calibers benefit from reduced recoil and muzzle rise. I tend to think TandemKross feels the same way I do. After all, they did send me the Game Changer comp to review.

  I installed the Game Changer on my Ruger 22/45 MKII. The barrel had been previously threaded to the 1/2-28 that the compensator is designed for. So I installed the supplied O-ring that they use as a type of crush washer and seal. Then screwed the Game Changer on and aligned the top holes up.  There is some resistance once the O-ring starts getting pressure on it, but it isn't a lot. This compensator does not have bottom holes/vents. I prefer this to other styles that have vent holes all the way around the compensator. 

  So it is time to tell my experience with the Game Changer. I originally thought the name was a little boisterous, but then I shot it. This little compensator does a great job of reducing the recoil. Since it didn't have much to start with, it took it down to almost nothing! But that's not all, it also reduced the muzzle rise. On a side note. While at a steel challenge match, I was talking with a guy who had been using the Game Changer for a couple of years in rimfire open class. He told me it was his favorite comp. So I am not the only one that likes it. Also when shooting the comp, you can actually see the gases coming out the sides and top. I did not notice it being any louder than without it, but it is only a .22, so it is not like a large caliber with a compensator.

  The Game Changer is constructed out of anodized aluminum. It has 4 holes in the top and 4 slots on each side. TandemKross says it has large ports for easy cleaning, and yes, you can get in there to clean out the lead and powder junk. As usual, it has 1/2-28 threads, the standard for rimfires. But there is one thing I don't like about the comp. It has a 1" diameter, so it is larger than the 22/45's barrel, and would also be larger than a 10/22 bull barrel. It is just cosmetic, but it would be nice if it was the same diameter to give firearm a smooth look. At 1.75" long, it is not really long either. It will also fit just about any .22lr that has 1/2-28 threads.

  After shooting the Game Changer a bunch. I've concluded that it lives up to the name. So if you are looking for an "actual" compensator, not just a diffuser, go look at TandemKross. They pretty much are a one stop shop for anything .22lr, not just products for Ruger's. 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

.22lr compensator to reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise

Target Market:

Shooters wanting less muzzle rise to get back on target faster

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Reduces Muzzle Rise

  • Large openings for ease of cleaning

  • Standard 1/2"x28 Threads

  • 1" Outside Diameter

  • 1.75" Long

  • Black Hardcoat Anodizing

  • Made in U.S.A.

  • Lifetime Guarantee

  • Fits: 
  • Ruger Mark III
  • Ruger Mark III 22/45
  • Ruger Mark III 22/45 LITE
  • Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Tactical
  • Ruger Mark IV 22/45 LITE
  • Ruger SR22
  • Ruger 10/22
  • Ruger 22 Charger pistol
  • Browning Buck Mark
  • GSG 1911-22
  • Savage Arms Mark II TRR-SR
  • Walther P22
  • SW22 Victory (2016)
  • Smith & Wesson M&P®22 Compact
  • Smith & Wesson M&P®15-22P pistol

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Black, Branded (has TK Logo), Tandemized (#tandemized on side)

What others are saying?:

Keith @tandemkross.com: 3/5 stars

It's O.K.

Does help with speed of follow up shots. However leading causes accuracy to drop off rapidly.

Jason @E. Arthur Brown: 5/5 stars

Works great on my 22/45

Threaded on great, came down to the right amount of force to snug it on and sits flush with the ports lined up exactly straight up on the top. Definitely can hear the shots, almost louder than before. It seems to tame the already small recoil down even more.

Link to other reviews:

Spotter Up Review

Price point:

MSRP = $34.99

Retail = $34.99 at Brownells

I need it now! Availability:

TandemKross or Brownells

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Reduces recoil

  • Reduces muzzle rise

  • O-ring seal

  • Price

  • Made in USA

Cons:

  • Diameter Size

  • Only Available in Black

 

Score: 8.0 Great

 

Chad’s Favorite Link:   Axelson Tactical

Decibullz Custom Molded Percussive Shooting Ear Plugs

  As shooters, we all know that good hearing protection is needed. Usually opting for over the ear style. Or most likely, amplified earmuffs so you can still hear other people talking, while cutting out the harsh noise of the gun shot. Sometimes the earmuffs can lift off your head slightly and now you have lost the benefit of them. Well, Decibullz has come out with a percussive filter, custom molded in ear, earplug.

  Decibullz had made standard moldable earplugs for a while. But they recently introduced their new Percussive Filter ones. The percussive filter cuts out harmful noise, while allowing you to still hear relatively normally. Not quite like the amplified muffs we are use to. These do not require any batteries! Granted, they won't amplify sound, but they also don't lift up when pressed against a rifle stock. When I asked how much noise reduction they have, Decibullz said they have a Noise Reduction Rating of 32, so 32 NRR. But at normal levels like talking, it is rated at 10 NRR. So what does this mean for you? Well, it basically means that you can hear normal voices, but they are a little reduced in volume. But on the other side, they do a great job at cutting out loud volumes like gunshots.

  Probably one one the best features of the Decibullz percussive ear plugs, is they are custom moldable. When the earplugs first arrive, they are kind of bean shaped. Don't worry, this isn't how they are used, you must first mold them. To mold the earplugs to the shape of your ear, all it takes is hot water. First remove the filter and set it aside. Install the orange tip onto the plug. Then just boil some water on the stove. Once it is boiling, take it off the burner. Toss in one plug only, as they can stick together if you put both in at the same time. Wait 5 minutes, remove the plug with a spoon and let rest for 30 seconds. Install the filter. Now press the plug, filter, and orange tip into your ear, pressing to form it to your ear. Let sit in your ear for 5 more minutes. Now your done with that ear, do the same for the other plug. If you mess up, don't worry, because you can just do the process over again to remold it. One of the only problems with these being moldable in hot water is that they can unform in high heat environments, like a hot car in the summer. But if this happens, just remold them. Decibullz has a very good video on molding the different model of plugs on their website.

  After wearing these for some time now, I can honestly say they are great. So good that I ordered a set of the standard ones also. If your worried about fit, don't be, they are really comfortable, even for extended periods of time. The plugs also come with a plethora of tips to fit different size ear canals. Also included is a neat little carrying bag to store the plugs in. While using these I didn't have any problem hearing normal conversations, even if the were muted a small amount. When shooting rifles, they allowed me to get a much better cheek weld than I normally get with my electronic muffs. They also did an excellent job cutting noise from short barreled rifles and compensated rifles, and we know those can be loud. For right now they only come in black. The ones they supplied me with are orange, as you can see. I would expect them to be offered in the same colors as the rest of their product lines. The orange is actually nice because it is easier for range officials to see that you have your ear protection on. 

  I mentioned ordering a normal set, since the moldable part is the same, I'll talk about a different experience. These were for my wife. After molding them, she was not really getting any noise reduction. She tried the different size tips and the foam tips as recommended on the Decibullz website, but that didn't seem to help. If you pushed on them, they would work. We tried to remold them, and even though they fit a little better, the plugs did the same thing and didn't block noise. After reading some of the reviews on Amazon, we decided that that her ears are small and/or narrow. There seemed to just be too much plastic to mold and get a good fit in her ears. Since all of the Decibullz products are one size, you might want to be cautious if you have small ears. Maybe Decibullz will offer sizes some time in the future.

  On a side note. The plugs are hard, not soft or rubbery. But since they are molded to your ear, they are still comfortable. Installing them in your ear is self explanatory. I found that when removing them from my ear, it helped to pull your ear lobe out of the way and then kind of pop them out. That's how well they stay in. But if you don't want the percussive filters, and just want standard plugs, they do not come with the plug insert

  At first I was reluctant at how these Percussive filter plugs were going to work. I have used other brands that were said to do the same thing and didn't. But the Decibullz work! I am so glad that they sent me out a pair, because I know that I wouldn't have probably purchased them myself. Like I said before, I even purchased a non percussive set. If you don't like ear muffs, but want to hear sounds around you without loud noises damaging your hearing, these are the ticket. Go give Decibullz a look, They also make headphones that are custom moldable.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Custom molded noise cancelling earplugs

Target Market:

Shooters, hunters, or anyone around loud noises

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Custom molded  
  • Percussive filters
  • Remoldable
  • Work with other Decibullz products 
  • NRR of 32 db
  • NRR of 10 db under normal volumes  
  • Certified up to 166 db
  • Passive (no power needed)  

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

None as of now, only black, but the standard earplugs are available in Black, Blue, Orange, Pink, and Red

What others are saying?:

None found. Product is too new with the percussive filters

Link to other reviews:

Spotter Up

Wide Open Spaces

Price point:

MSRP = $74.99

Retail = $74.99 on Amazon

I need it now! Availability:

Amazon or Decibullz

Our Rating:

Pros: 

  • Easy to mold
  • Remoldable
  • Comes with lots of sizes and types of inserts
  • Super quiet
  • No batteries to go dead  
  • Ultra comfortable  

Cons:

  • Some reduction in normal sound
  • Can melt or deform under high heat (like a car dash) 
  • Don't come with standard plug inserts 
  • Don't work well for smaller ears

Score: 7.0 Good

 

Chad’s Favorite Link:  Axelson Tactical

Smoke Composites Carbon Fiber Buttstock

  As previously mentioned in the Smoke Composites foreend review, they are making some awesome carbon fiber parts. Carbon fiber seems to be taking the AR market by storm. Probably because of it's characteristics. Since they also sent me a buttstock for review, it's time to talk about it. 

  The buttstock Smoke Composites sent is their carbine length. It is a very minimalist style. The stock consists of a tube, a buttpad/plate, lightweight castle nut, and a carbon fiber endplate. Also to note is that this stock is their closed style. This means it has an attached support piece that goes from the bottom of the buttplate up to the stock. The support piece also has 2 small M-lok slots to attach items such as a QD sling mounts. I believe this is an option and the standard closed stock does not have these slots. Smoke Composites also offers the stock in an open profile, with no support piece. One advantage to having the closed style is that brush, barricades, etc., do not hang up on it like the open style could. I will note that besides being super light, this stock is strong. I even beat it on a concrete floor to simulate mortering the rifle. All it did was put a slight scuff mark on the buttplate. 

  I don't know how they do it, but the attention to detail on this stock is spectacular. The screw threads on the aluminum piece, that is installed in the receiver, are beautifully machined. Then pair that with the lightweight aluminum castle nut, which is also excellently machined, and you have a working piece of art. Smoke Composites also sent their carbon fiber end plate. It, by itself, weighs nothing. But I would like to see a bump or something on it to index into the receiver. The end plate does have the index for the buffer tube groove, but it wanted to move a little bit when torquing down the castle nut. The top of the aluminum section also has "Smoke Composites" laser etched on it. 

     Now that the stock has been explained, it's on to a few specs. When I weighed this thing, it came in at 4.9 ounces, with the castle nut and carbon fiber endplate! The open stock weighs a little bit less. The length of pull is 9.5", which I have discovered seems to be about on par for these style carbine stocks. It uses the standard carbine spring and buffer, which are not included. If you know anything about carbon fiber, I don't, it is made from 35-50 carbon fiber. If nothing else, the stock pattern looks really slick. A rubber buttpad can be had as an option, which would help with the buttplate not being so slick. One neat add on is the ability to order a custom length of pull for an extra $35.

  If you're in the market for carbon fiber AR part, do take a look at Smoke Composites. This stock is great for functional lightweight builds. It comes in various options and lengths. Plus you'll have the coolest looking rifle at the range. 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Lightweight carbon fiber minimalist stock for AR style rifles

Target Market:

Lightweight AR builders, 3-gunners, and anyone wanting a super light buttstock

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Lightweight at 4.9 ounces with castle nut and endplate, 4.6 ounces alone
  • 9.5" length of pull
  • 35-50 Carbon Fiber / 7075 Aluminum construction  
  • 1.11" outside diameter  
  • M-Lok compatible  
  • Closed shoulder plate
  • Uses standard carbine buffer and spring
  • Custom length of pull ($35 extra)  

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Open style: short pull or rifle length

Closed style: short pull or rifle length with or without M-lok slots

What others are saying?:

Mike on Facebook: 5 stars

Ordered a stock from them, and let me tell you: It's absolutely a work of art in and of itself. Perfect in fit and finish, and there's nary a flaw to be found... It's crazy. On top of being ridiculously, almost impossibly lightweight, the stock is tough as hell. Easily the best, most well made piece of equipment I've ever had the pleasure of owning. Beyond the actual product quality, I got the thing within 4 days of ordering it - who could ask for anything better?

 Seriously: If you're on the fence about buying any of their stuff, don't be - it's too good to not get.

Link to other reviews:

None found

Price point:

MSRP = $221.00 as tested

Retail = $189-231

I need it now! Availability:

Smoke Composites 

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Super light at 4.9 ounces
  • M-Lok slots
  • Closed shoulder plate
  • Not your typical carbon fiber look
  • Nicely machined threads and castle nut
  • Strong
  • Great looking
  • Custom length available  

Cons:

  • Carbon fiber endplate has no index bump
  • Does not come with buffer or spring
  • Slick buttplate

Score: 8.5 Great

 

Chad’s Favorite Link: U.S Tactical Supply

 

Benchmade Griptilian

Like many red blooded American boys, I was big into pocket knives before growing old enough for the firearms bug to take hold. It's a fascination you never really grow out of I think. Over the years I've owned, broke and lost quite a few folding knives. It's because of this quick turnover that I've always been hesitant to invest in a nicer quality knife. My budget was typically the cheaper blades you'd get at Christmas or from a big box store for under $50. Usually a Gerber, or a Buck knife. 

Well finally I convinced myself to step up my EDC knife game. I bumped my budget up to the $100-$200 dollar range and was looking for a folder that had high quality steel that wouldn't need sharpening so often, and an easy opening mechanism. Obviously being in the gun and knife community for awhile, you hear impressions and recommendations from other folks. I kept hearing about the Griptilian and it's little brother the Mini Grip and how they were a great all purpose folder well suited for everyday carry and capable of handling some abuse.

The Griptilian is one of Benchmade's best sellers, and I figured I needed to pick one up myself. If purchasing from Benchmade's website, you can pick from all the customization options to design the knife exactly how you want, a lot like picking out a new car. Grip material, grip color, blade steel and finish, blade style, even custom engraving options. Of course, you're paying full price going thru the manufacturer's... but you get exactly the type of knife you want.

I went the more frugal option and bought my Griptilian at a gun show. I highly recommend this option for those who aren't too specific on their color options, and want to save more than a few bucks. The Griptilian has been out for quite a few years now, so being older its very easy to haggle with vendors and talk them down to a lower price, especially if A: you are buying more than one knife, and B: if its the last day/hours of the gun show and they are a little more desperate to move inventory. If you can afford to pay full price on the principle of supporting local small businesses, thats fantastic also. Just be aware that buying from a gun show booth, you are obviously limited by the stock on hand, so be prepared to compromise on handle color and other aesthetic options.

So I picked a black coated Tanto blade style 'Grip' with an OD green handle. I chose the Tanto because its design makes for a stronger tip, and I usually end up snapping tips on drop point and sheepsfoot style knives in desperation while doing a task with the wrong tool. Plus this is a knife I've added to my EDC gear (Que obligatory pocket dump instagram photo!) and a Tanto is a very capable defensive blade design.

 
IMG_5464.PNG
 

I didn't pick the Tanto for the express purpose of stabbing or shanking bad guys, although really the only benefits are its advantage in perforating tough materials like sheet metal, and skulls of course. As well as working well as a make-shift chisel when needed. When it comes to slicing jobs, drop points are more versatile because they have a belly.The Tanto design has two flat edges and zero “belly” to the blade, making tasks like slicing more difficult depending on the medium. Plus, drop-point style blades are MUCH easier to sharpen. Tantos have two angles to sharpen, and it takes some practice to perfect.

If I had to repurchase my 'Grip,' I would go for a traditional drop point instead. That said, I like the Mel Pardue design and the 154 chrome moly steel Benchmade uses, and it holds an edge pretty well compared to lesser knives. Most knife owners complain about their knifes getting dull, and its because they LET the edge get dull. These aren't lightsabers folks, and until adamantium becomes a real thing, all knifes will require sharpening as simple maintenance. With better quality steels, the more you let the edge dull, the harder it will be to return to that razor sharp edge. So if you use it regularly, you should maintain that edge regularly also.

Its the AXIS lock mechanism thats the shining feature of the Griptilian. The release itself is ambidextrous, and is raised for easy manipulation. The edges of the AXIS release are a bit sharp. I've heard of some users using an emery board or other buffing tools to knock down that edge so its not as aggressive. While it can be slid down from one side, pulling down on both sides of the release is more efficient. This is ironically because of the physical axis the release tilts on when you only apply downward pressure from one side. The travel distance needed to release the lock is actually pretty short, so it doesn't take much effort if you are wanting to 'flip' the blade out one handed with a flick of the wrist.

The blade can also be deployed using the thumb stud. The studs are sizable enough to wedge the tip of your thumb under and flick outward, without being obnoxiously protruding. If the traditional slow and safe way is more your speed, its easy to pivot out with your thumb on the stud, and then by pulling down on the release and closing the blade manually.

If you want to be fast and dangerous, there is the 'AXIS flick' method of opening the Griptilian by only using the inertia of a quick flick of wrist while holding down the AXIS lock release stud. This way will make you more friends around the water cooler, but is also a great way to cut yourself if you don't know what you are doing. Too much momentum might cause the blade to bounce if the AXIS stud is still being held down in the unlocked position. This goes for either opening or closing the blade (see end of video). Releasing the stud at the right time ensures the blade is held in the correct position. Just be warned this isn't the manufacturer's recommended operation, and you could be prematurely wearing your knife's internals prematurely by doing this too often.

The grip texture on the sides of the nylon handle is a bunch of pyramids in an area roughly about the 60% of the whole handle. There is also nylon jimping on the spine side and blade sides. The overall swell of the handle I found pretty ergonomic in the hand, and I wouldn't wish it bigger or smaller personally. There is a big difference in handle width and feel if you go with a G10 handle, as they are panels rather than a nylon housing. I do like the nylon because its closed in the rear to keep out pocket lint and other debris, but it can snap with enough force applied (don't run over it or land on it in your pocket).

The metal inserts inside the handle have jimping as well, on the back side and the front near the pivot point. This is ideal for stabbing tasks, as well as cutting like you would with an Exacto knife or carpet knife. I found them textured enough for a firm purchase, without being too abrasive for bare skin.

The clip on the Grip is reversible for left or right hand pocket carry. Either way it leaves the folded blade's tip pointing up. You can't flip the clip to reorient the tip (thank you, thank you). But it would be very awkward to pull from your pocket in any other direction. For self defense, the knife can still be drawn and deployed easily. While its not setup to catch on the pocket and deploy all fancy-like an Emerson Wave design, its still a solid action for reacting to a threat.

In my time period with the Griptilian, I was pretty surprised by its robust construction. You could get away with a fair amount of stabbing, prying and reckless twisting with this knife in the Tanto configuration. It does have it's limits, but so far I've been surprised how much abuse the Grip can withstand... unmentionable things that I wouldn't dare subject a lesser knife to do. So far the Griptilian has been a fantastic EDC knife and I would happily repurchase it again (but in hindsight, probably get a drop-point blade instead).

FIREARMS INSIDER REVIEWS – 8 KEY POINTS

Claim to Fame: When it comes to all around functionality, you can't beat the Griptillian!

Target Market: EDC, Outdoor and Utility knife carriers

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Multiple shapes, sizes, grips and colors available

  • AXIS lock mechanism

  • Manual-opening action

  • Blade Steel is 154CM (58-61 HRC)

  • 3.45" Blade Length

  • 8.07" Open Length

  • 4.62" Closed Length

  • 0.115" Blade Thickness

  • 0.64" Handle Thickness

  • Drop-point Blade Style

  • Weighs 3.88oz. (Sheepsfoot: 3.79oz., Tanto: 3.89oz.)

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Satin or Coated Blade; Grips come in Nylon or G10, in Black, Olive Drab, Sand, Orange, and Gray.

What others are saying?:"I've had my Griptilian for over 6 years now and I have to say its the best knife I've ever owned. Its lasted a long time and through a ton of abuse during my many camping trips and time as an infantryman in the army. They have gotten a bit more expensive over the years but I would still buy a new one if mine ever decided to run away. I will say they are hard to keep sharp with typical sharpening techniques because the steel is so strong but with LifeSharp I never have to worry about my knife getting dull." - User Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Benchmade, Amazon, Gun Show Knife Dealers

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • AXIS lock easy to open knife with one hand two different ways
  • Blade quality is very decent
  • Nylon pyramid grip texture is great even when wet
  • Nylon handle option has a closed shell design, keeping out lint and debris
  • LifeSharp Warranty Service
  • Coating on blades is strong and resists wear pretty well
  • Jimping for thumb and index finger placement is top notch

Cons:

  • When closing one handed, blade can bounce back open if too much momentum
  • Clip can only be oriented with 'blade tip up' carry

Score: 8.5 Great

 

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

American Speedloaders Nest Style Loader for Glock 9mm/40sw

If you shoot a semi automatic handgun, you should own more than one magazine for it. The saying goes: "one is none, two is one, three is two, and 12 is getting close to enough." Okay I just made that up, but the point is you can never have enough magazines for your firearm. After you've spent the month's grocery budget on mags, you'll soon realize that loading more than one or two mags consecutively starts to become a pain.

For a Glock owner, having a Speedloader that is faster than traditional loading can save time and the nerve endings in your fingers.

For a Glock owner, having a Speedloader that is faster than traditional loading can save time and the nerve endings in your fingers.

If your firearm has an ammo capacity over 10 rounds and the ability for extended capacities, you begrudgingly know the discomfort and tediousness of loading magazines. Mags with 15+ round capacities can be a pain to load, and the faster you try to speed up the process, typically the more painful it is on your thumbs. For those who go thru a lot of ammo fast like competition shooters or instructors, topping off mags becomes a routine annoyance. Of course, humans do what we do best... invent a tool to get the job done better.

Tools that assist in magazine loading are commonly called "Speedloaders" and have been around for quite some time. Usually they are 'cap style' loaders that go over the mag's opening and help push down the loaded cartridge(s), compressing the spring and making it easier to insert the next round under the feed lips. This process still involves the same amount of force and the use of both hands.  It just saves your thumbs and fingers from fatigue and saves you a few seconds per mag.

The rounds slide down a sloped ramp into the nest itself. If the whole assembly isn't vertical enough, the round could fall into the internals and jam up the loader all together.

Recently I just came across a new style of speedloader that caught my interest immediately. A company by the name of American Speedloaders LLC has patented 'Nest Style' design that literally flips the script. Instead of pressing a tool downward on the mags, you turn the mag upside down and insert it into the speedloader itself. This gives the user more leverage, making it easier to compress the mag's internal spring.

Pushing down picks up the round in the magazine. It doesn't require much force, even with the compressed spring of high capacity mags.

The operation is really easy. When you insert the mag into the nest loader, it sits in an elevated resting position. In the side of the loader there is a small chute that slides down through a port. Dropping a cartridge into that chute and down into the hole aligns it directly under the magazine feed lips on top of a raise platform. Simply pressing the magazine downward into the Speedloader picks the round up. The loader's springs push the magazine back up into the resting  position after the use releasing pressure. Thats it! 

Releasing pressure resets the loader, and its ready for the next round.

Releasing pressure resets the loader, and its ready for the next round.

This process can be done both with one hand, or two handed for a faster rate per bullet. Extended magazines like the 33rd 'happy stick' can be loaded easily under a minute. This method is simply a better mouse trap. I can literally load every magazine I own in one sitting with no fatigue build up. If you've got the ammo, you can top off all your mags in one quick sitting.

This nest style design from American Speedloaders is only compatible with two magazine types so far. The Glock 9/40 mags, and the FN Five Seven (5.7x28mm) mags. According to their website, at the time of writing this review they are working on more speedloaders for other magazine types. I'm assuming Glock 45 acp mags are on the whiteboard, as well as other popular firearm models like the Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield XD-M, FNX, Colt SMG, and other pistol caliber guns with high capacity magazines available on the market. Obviously these are merely my own predictions.

The internal ramp feeds both 9mm or 40sw rounds into the magazine when its pressed down.

I don't foresee this kind of speedloader being adapted for smaller capacity magazines types like the 1911, single stack Glock mags likes the 42 and 43, and other mags with capacities of 10 and under, because they aren't all that difficult or slow to load. If you do own something along those lines and have a hard time loading mags...rest assured American Speedloaders has cap style loaders to suit your needs.

Obviously the speedloader works with all doublestack Glock magazines, even the ETS clear ones.

Not only do I own Glock pistols in 9mm and 40sw, but a couple carbines that runs on the same mags as well. There are dozens of pistol caliber carbines that utilize Glock mags like the Lone Wolf G9, Keltec Sub2000, Kriss Vector, JR Carbine, TWN Aero Survival Carbines, Quarter Circle Ten, and even more AR-15 style receivers. Carbines obviously make it easy to go thru larger mags faster, and loading them back up with this speedloader is almost as fast as unloading them downrange. Thats why I wouldn't be surprised if Colt SMG mags were being considered, as a fair amount of carbines and pistol caliber conversion kits use that magazine, and it's capacity warrants the need for assistance.

Here you can see a video of my loading Glock mags as fast and controllable as I can after some practice. If only I could rig this up with an automated reloaded press like a Dillan 650 and an Ammobot, but this is still very quick and extremely useful for an average shooter like myself. It works best when placed on a flat solid surface, but as long as its close to perpendicular so gravity can align the bullets properly inside the speedloader, it should work. If you don't have it vertical, or you don't fully let the nest rest by letting the mag come up, you could bump a round off the internal ramp and gum up the whole mechanism. (simply invert to dislodge jammed round).

Overall, I found this little gadget to be easily worth its asking price. Its easy to operate no matter your age or physical ability, and it is small enough to fit in a range bag or pistol case for range trips. I am anxious to see the next model of magazine that American Speedloader takes on. Heck, a 223/5.56 speedloader for STANAG rifle magazines would be very well received! *hint hint*

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: This changes everything. Load your entire magazine quicker and easier than ever before.

Target Market: Glock Pistol or Glock Mag Carbine owners

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Compatible with Glock 9mm and 40sw magazines
  • Simple to use
  • Compact and easy to bring to the range
  • Durable material
  • Patented design

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black only. Other calibers coming soon.

What others are saying?: "Received one of these loader for a gift. It really works great" - User Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Lone Wolf Distributors or Amazon

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Loads quickly with little physical exertion
  • Makes topping off larger capacity magazines with stiffer spring resistance easier
  • Can be used one handed and two handed
  • Mouth is designed to only accept mag in proper orientation

Cons:

  • Must be perpendicular when loaded, or round can bind up mechanism
  • Compared to other cap style speed loaders, compatibility with only one magazine type is a downside

Score: 7.5 Good

 

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

RangeMaxx R2G CCW Tactical Range Bag

Range bags come in different shapes and sizes, and up until a year ago I had only been using an old tool bag. Pretty quickly I got tired of tossing everything into loose pockets, no room for the cleaning supplies, magazines and boxes of ammo. While you do have the incognito factor of a non-tactical bag that doesn't scream "I'm on my way to / coming back from the range," sometimes you need to use the right bag for the job.

The RangeMaxx R2G CCW Tactical Range Bag is one of the better bags I found for the price point. I've been putting it through the ringer for the better part of 4 years now, and so far its held up better than expectation. I'm pretty rough on my gear, and I've been less than kind to this bag on trips to the range and throwing it in the back of my truck in between.

Believe it or not, the most important place on a range bag is the bottom. If not reinforced or armored somehow, the bottom will wear out overtime. If you haul all your ammo and other heavy gear, the wear only increases. I myself am pretty rough on my bag, tossing it on the shooting bench or down on the concrete. So far after 3 years this bag's bottom has stood up to the abuse of a lined pickup bed, concrete, gravel and dirt.

One feature I don't see on many range bags is a viewing pocket for identification. This is great for ensuring you never forget your range membership card, or simply marking your bag as yours and avoid someone picking it up by mistake. I often keep business cards in the pocket, to spread to good word about the Gun & Gear Review Podcast.

The bag is split up into a main compartment with two permanent dividers and one removable partition, two side compartments that are designed specifically for pistol magazines and carbine magazines, and two end pouches on the other smaller sides. Of course each of the four sides and the top panel is covered in MOLLE webbing for the addition of more pouches and gear as you see fit. It even has a square of 'loop' material, so I can rock my favorite Patriot Patch Co. morale patch!

The zipper pulls are just cheap scraps of shoelace. I doubt replacing these with 550 paracord would have added much to the production cost of the bag, but honestly it doesn't cost much for me to replace them myself. The actual zippers themselves aren't what I would consider high quality zippers like YKK brand, so I consciously go easy on them. 

The pistol mag pouch side compartment has a built-in cleaning surface sewn into the inside of the flap... but its just a bright gray felt. If you use it while oiling or cleaning your guns, it will soak that crud up and then you'd be stuck with it. So I recommend only using it to set your super fancy safe queen down while at the range to avoid scratches or marring from the bench itself. The seven mag pouches are good for exactly what you'd think, or other items like multitools, chamber flags, and whatever else you need organized. There is a large pocket behind the row of pouches for loose storage, but that makes the wall holding the pouches flimsy... especially if you are toting loaded up mags. Also note.... extended capacity mags like the 33rd Glock happy sticks are too tall and won't allow for closing the zipper!

The opposite side compartment is designed to hold three AR-15, AK, or other similar sized carbine magazines. There is no "cleaning mat" on this side, and it also runs into the same problem with mags longer than the standard 30 round AR mag. The 40 round P-Mags will have to ride loose in the bottom of the pocket, or in the main compartment.

The center compartment can be as organized or chaotic as you want it to be. There is one center aisle with a flat box bottom thats great for ammo boxes, shooting bags, earmuffs, gloves and more. This bag also comes with a removable partition, but its pretty rubbish. I don't bother with it at all. On either side is a walled off pocket that is great for carrying paper targets (folded or small in size) as well as handguns, staplers, and data books for recording. I wouldn't consider this bag an optimal CCW bag, as it clearly broadcasts exactly what its contents will be: guns, gun accessories and or ammunition. However if you need to toss in a holstered pistol while transitioning from the range to your vehicle and back home, it works fine.

The stitching on the nylon webbing isn't anything to write home about, so don't expect military quality production here. Personally there isn't any pouches I would add externally to this bag because A: it would expand the footprint and be kind of chunky and B: pretty counter intuitive (things go in bags, not outside of bags). I suppose an admin pouch or a dedicated pouch for your staple gun would be practical. I wouldn't suggest attaching a holster to the outside of a rangebag, buts thats up to you. 

Overall, this rangebag has served my needs and has lived up to the $60 price tag, especially if you need to get rid of a Bass Pro Shops gift card and don't know what to use it on! In all honesty though, when (not if) this bag eventually kicks the bucket, I will spring for something with a nicer quality but similar features.

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: The RangeMaxx R2G CCW Tactical Range Bag is a highly functional range bag that carries handguns and shooting accessories for a day at the range.

Target Market: Pistol and/or Carbine Shooters

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Large zippered main compartment for carry ammo, shooting glasses, hearing protection, a gun cleaning kit, or tactical gear
  • Two large zippered side pockets feature magazine pouches; 1 side for AR-15 magazines, the other for pistol magazines.
  • Pistol mag pocket folds down to for gun cleaning and inspection
  • Two zippered end pockets
  • CCW universal holster
  • Exterior MOLLE webbing
  • Made of rugged 1,000D polyester
  • Heavy-duty zippers
  • Padded shoulder strap
  • Wide, web carry handles
  • 16"x10"x8"
  • Imported

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black only

What others are saying?:"Let's begin with the pros. The size of this bag makes it a perfect range bag for a day out to go shooting. The size makes it the easiest thing to pick up and go as I don't need to worry about lugging around a larger or heavier bag. Comfortably fits about 6-8 magazines.  The weight of this bag is pretty light even with a full load of magazines, loose brass, cellphone, range license, targets, small microfiber cloth and shooting glasses. If I want to, I can most definitely fit another handgun in there but I usually just carry the other ones separate but that's just me.This bag has a ton of velcro to hold everything securely so for some that could be a con but for me it makes it pretty simple to change things around as I see fit. The features this bag offers are just right for a day out and I am always excited to take it out with my ammo can.

Now for the cons. I do have to mention this as a con, although a small con, a con still. The Universal Pistol Holder is just a tad small for the more larger handguns and pistols. Now it does fit most but I would have liked to a see a little more snug fit for the handguns cause they feel and look a tad loose and I don't want that because the bag is a pack you carry on your shouldered because you are moving around and that also means your gear does as well and that is a con. Not something that is game breaking but it is to be mentioned because the pistol just sits a little long and sticks out, so for me, that makes it look a little tacky on the inside. Also, the price is a con. The price for this bag before tax is quite expensive, considering it literally has a tag that says, "Made in China." If it was made and manufactured in the US the price would be a little more justified. The quality overall is fine. I wouldn't say it's worth the expensive price tag considering its imported from China. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best and 1 being the worse, this bag is a solid 3.6 or 3.7.  Above average but not quite great but almost. I will definitely be bringing this bag with me everytime I go to the range, as I am always introducing new shooters and what to bring or not to bring when going out for some fun target shooting." Bass Pro User

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Bass Pro Shops

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Compartments offer plenty of space for organizing magazines, cleaning supplies, & other gear
  • Shoulder sling or carry handle
  • Enough room in main compartment's center for larger items like boxes of shotgun shells, rifle rest bags, earmuffs, etc.

Cons:

  • Internal partition doesn't secure with velcro or snaps so it comes out when retrieving items (I just threw it out)
  • Pistol-side "cleaning mat" is just cheap soft lining thats light colored and will show stains
  • Zipper pull stitching on top panel broke quickly
  • Zipper pulls are cheap shoelace string
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Score: 7.0 Good

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

Smoke Composites Carbon Fiber Handguard

   As many of you know, carbon fiber seems to be popping up everywhere. Smoke Composites is one of those companies. They recently started making carbon fiber parts for AR style rifles and pistols. Their history of making parts for the defense industry, has had a definite benefit for those of us looking for lightweight AR parts. I will take a look at their 12" handguard. 

  Smoke composites sent me one of the 12" M-Lok handguards to review. The first thing I noticed was how spectacular this handguard looked. It has a cool, non-symetrical, look to it. Not the standard grid pattern one would expect. I also noticed the quality put into the handguard. But then I picked it up, and wow, it is light. 

  Now it's on to the tech specs. When I said it was light, well, it weighs in at 7.3 ounces complete with all the hardware. It might not be the lightest, but accessories can easily be added by using the M-Lok slots, something other manufacturers don't offer in carbon fiber. Speaking of M-Lok, it uses the standard 5 slot M-Lok rails. The handguard has 4 M-Lok slots on each of the 8 45 degree sides. The slots aren't evenly spaced, they are grouped by 2's and then a space between the 2 groups. Also the slots on the top, bottom, and sides are more toward the front of the rifle. With the 45 degree ones set back slightly from the front of the rifle. Construction is from 35-50 carbon fiber and 7075 aluminum, so as far as I could tell, good stuff. At 1.88 inches outside diameter, it felt really good in the hand. I thought maybe the smooth carbon fiber would be hard to grip, but my hand seemed to kind of dig into the slots to provide grip. Smoke Composites forms a ring at the front of the handguard, I would guess to protect the front from getting chipped, it would be quite thin otherwise. The inside of the ring measured 1.53 inches, so some suppressors will fit inside the handguard. Don't worry about heat when doing this, the carbon fiber mitigates heat great! 

  Installation of the handguard is pretty straight forward. Make sure the firearm is unloaded and safe. Once you have removed your old parts, take the supplied barrel nut and tighten it over the barrel to normal specifications. Line up one of the threaded holes of the barrel nut, with the top of the receiver. Now put your low profile gas block and gas tube on. Then slide the handguard over the barrel nut. Loosely install the 6 supplied screws into the holes. Line the handguard up, and tighten down the screws. Now your done with the installation.

  When using the handguard, I found it worked nicely. The rifle swings fast, but also stops pretty well. If you are looking at getting this type of handguard, I would recommend getting a lightweight stock also because just the handguard alone might throw the balance of the rifle off. I did try this upper on a rifle with a standard M4 style stock and one with a Smoke Composites' stock. The M4 didn't seem to swing as well as the carbon fiber stock did, at least for me. One option I would have liked to have seen is the addition of some QD mount holes built into the handguard. I may drill some myself. When shooting fast, I did notice that the carbon fiber did an excellent job of not heating up.

  Smoke Composites is doing some awesome stuff with carbon fiber. This handguard is just one of them. Plus, if you want a custom length, they can do that also. I think these guys are going to be a company to keep an eye on. Great service, great products, and made in the United States of America!

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Lightweight Carbon Fiber M-Lok handguard 

Target Market:

Lightweight AR builders, 3-gun, anyone wanting a superlight handguard for an AR style rifle

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Lightweight at 7.3 ounces complete for the 12" version 
  • 35-50 Carbon Fiber / 7075 Aluminum construction  
  • M-Lok slots
  • Rapid heat dissipation  
  • Custom lengths available ($75 extra) 
  • Thick ring at front of handguard
  • Easy installation 
  • 1.88" outer diameter 
  • 1.53" inside diameter
  • Made in U.S.A.

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Also available in 7.25", 10", and 15.15"

What others are saying?:

Shawn on Facebook: 5 stars 

Had a minor issue with a handguard, contacted Smoke for advice-  They went above and beyond in getting me a replacement(which wasn't necessary, but they insisted). Phenomenal service! They really take pride in their work, it's obvious not only by their product, but their customer service.

Link to other reviews:

None found

Price point:

MSRP = $289.00 as tested

Retail = $249-299

I need it now! Availability:

Smoke Composites

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • 7.3 ounces
  • M-Lok slots
  • Easy install  
  • Large enough to fit over 1.5" diameter suppressors
  • Beautifully crafted
  • Not your typical carbon fiber look
  • Very strong
  • U.S.A. made

Cons:

  • Does not use standard AR barrel wrench for installation  
  • M-Lok rails, when mounted on the top,  sit higher than receiver
  • No QD mounts built in

Score: 8.0 Great

 

Chad’s Favorite Link: Axelson Tactical

 

Vortex Spitfire 3X Prism Scope

Lets be honest, the term "Poor Man's ACOG" gets thrown around WAY too much in the firearms industry. It still confounds me that an old military optic is still the golden measuring stick to which all fixed low power modern optics are measured against today. I blame video games like Call of Duty and others for introducing a whole generation to not only firearms, but optics as well. I don't mean that in a terribly bad way, as I can be lumped in with that bunch as well. The biggest hurdle preventing most rifle owners from purchasing one of America's most iconic battle rifle optics is its tremendous price tag. AR-15 owners often want a 3 or 4 power fixed optic with some sort of etched ballistic compensating reticle, without dropping a grand or more.

No one worth their salt in the industry will call the ACOG overpriced, but the stiff cost has given rise to many imitators and knock-offs over the years, that for lack of a better word... suck. If you just want to cosplay or throw together an airsoft rifle that looks like the real deal with a Chinese facsimile, go ahead. For those who are seeking a range/self defense worthy optic in the same category as the ACOG but at a much more affordable price, there are a few options available today that will definitely fit the bill.

Of course being a huge Vortex fan, I had to give the Spitfire a go. If you haven't already read my other reviews of Vortex optics (here and here) then let me reiterate that Vortex is kicking ass in "best bang for your buck" category. Their glass is on par with many of the top tier competitors, and their no B.S. VIP warranty means if you break it, you are not screwed. You basically get many of the features of more expensive scopes but at a more enticing price point. Thats more cash for ammo, training, or guns for that matter! 

Vortex's prism-based Spitfire line share a lot in common with ACOG scopes like the TA33, but at less than 50% the street price. Starting with the magnification and reticle, the Spitfire comes into two flavors: a 1x with a halo/dot reticle, and a 3x with a "EBR-556B" reticle with hold overs to cover 0-500 yards. The EBR-556B shares similarities with most ACOG reticles, giving a minimalist bullet drop compensation system while leaving a lot of uncluttered space in the remainder of the shooter's view. In my testing on an 16 in. AR-15 precision build as well as a TAR-21 Tavor Bullpup, the subtensions were consistent and very usable.

The feature of the Spitfire I found most favorable was the reticle that remains usable with or without illumination. Red dots are great, but ultimately depend on a battery to provide a point of aim. Hence the emphasis on cowitnessing back up iron sights as a failsafe against such an inevitable failure. With the Spitfire Prism optics however, you always have that black reticle on the glass. The red/green illumination is great in low light or no light scenarios, and the 5 brightness settings help with tuning that glowing reticle to your specific needs. But when that little 2032 battery expires, the ever present reticle will ensure you can keep shooting.

Speaking of illumination, that brings me to my next big point. Does the Spitfire have dual illumination like the ACOG? My short answer is no, it doesn't... and if thats something you want/need, shut up and fork out the $1,000 - $1,400 for an optic like the Trijicon ACOG or AccuPoint. Its as simple as that. If you want the same gear the big boys use in the military, buy the same gear. If you are a civilian owner of the AR-15, SCAR, a bullpup or other modular sporting rifle in 5.56x54mm who wants a fantastic 3x prism optic for the range as well as self defense and home/property defense, keep reading friend, we're in the same boat.

I'll admit, the dual illumination feature (using internal tritium vials or a light gathering fiber optic rod as a backup to battery power) is an attractive and distinctive feature of the ACOG that is great for our armed forces who perform many low light and night operations with their rifles. As a part of the average AR-15 owning civilian populous, I am satisfied with the trade-off that is spending under $500 and just carrying extra 2032 batteries as part of my essential gear.

The windage and elevation adjustment is pretty standard, with coin-slotted turrets with marked increments for tracking your rotations. What really shines, is the decent tension to the adjustment rotation and the actual "click" you can feel and hear. Tack on the tethered, knurled caps with integrated ledges incase you have no tools or lose change... and thats about everything you could ask for in the adjustment controls department. 

The Spitfire uses a base clamp with two cross bolts for mounting to picatinny rail. There is a mount riser between the base and the optic that contributes to the 40.4mm height off the rail. If you needed a shorter height, just unscrew the two mount screws, remove the mount riser, and install the shorter mount screws included in the box. This should give you  30mm height over the rail. I guess this would be handy if mounting to a non-AR-15 rifle with a different rail to comb height ratio... like a tavor with a taller aftermarket rail, an AK with a railed dust cover, etc. OR I had a bright idea: since the base clamp isn't quick detaching at all, you might use a scope riser like a Kinetic Development universal SIDELOK scope riser and convert your Spitfire to a QD mount, hoping the end result isn't too tall for your purpose. OR just buy a QD mount from American Defense MFG.

The factory height is about what is needed to cowitness with back up iron sights... but theres no way you can focus on the front sight through the prism lens. It just doesn't work that way. However, if you find you need a secondary way of aiming without magnification, the Spitfire has two offset rails on the top, one on each side. This way you could run a micro red dot like the Vortex Viper, Venom or other optics in that category. Then all you'd have to do is cant the rifle and lift your eye level to meet the auxiliary red dot optic.

Needless to say, the Spitfire is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof (what Vortex product isn't?). The tube is sealed with an O-ring to prevent moisture, dust and debris from getting in, while keeping the nitrogen gas purging on the inside. These features make an optic suitable for actual use out in the elements, and I honestly don't buy any optics without them.

Did I mention the included scope caps? Well, I hate them. After awhile these style of caps get worn or stretched out, and the lens caps don't want to stay retained in the close position. I typically leave them in the box, and instead use a bikini style cover when in transport or storage.

Overall, the Spitfire 3x is an optic worthy of being mounted on your home defense / range AR-15. Its got all the features I would expect from a $300-400 prism scope, and the VIP warranty from Vortex really can't be beat. I mean, you could beat the optic to hell, but the manufacturer will just fix or replace it for you any how. My Spitfire pretty much rotates between my AR-15s and the IWI SAR-21 Tavor, and I've enjoyed the results on whatever it gets mounted on.

FIREARMS INSIDER REVIEWS – 8 KEY POINTS

Claim to Fame:  Designed specifically for the AR platform, the 3x Spitfire™ combines an impressive array of high-performance features into a rugged, ultra-compact package.

Target Market: AR-15 (and other modular sporting rifles) owners

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Includes 2 picatinny offset rails

  • Includes 2 Flip Caps

  • T-15 Torx Wrench and 2mm Hex wrench included

  • Red/Greem Illumination with 5 levels of brightness intensity for each color

  • CR2032 battery life is 250 hours at max brightness and 3,000 hours at min. brightness

  • Multi-Coated with anti-reflective coatings to increase light transmission

  • Single-Piece Chassis

  • Waterproof, Fogproof, Shockproof

  • Hard Anodized Finish

  • Operating Temperature -22 degrees to +122 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Variable Mount Heights for lower 1/3 or absolute cowitness height (BUT WHY?)

  • Eye Relief is 2.8 inches

  • Field of View is 31.5 feet/100 yards

  • Adjustment Graduation of 1/2 MOA

  • 120 MOA Max Elevation Adjustment

  • 120 MOA Max Windage Adjustment

  • Parallax Setting preset to 100 yards

  • Length is 5.5 inches

  • Weight is 15.4*

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black Only. 1X Prism available

What others are saying?: "This is a really good optic. In fact, it is pretty much perfect. I like Red Dots because they are fast and allow a gun to be used when its dark out. The vortex has all the benefits of a red dot and all the benefits of a small fixed power scope. Most red dots, aren't magnified which means that if your vision isn't perfect it can be hard to hit small targets or targets that are farther away. Since I am a civilian and spend most of my shooting time on the range (not clearing houses in Afghanistan), I'll trade the little extra speed that comes with having a zero magnification red dot in exchange for being able to shoot more accurately. Because this is a low power scope you can see objects clearly at across the room distances (less than 10 feet isn't the greatest) and very clearly from 10 feet out to a few hundred yards. Of course you could buy a flip up magnifier for an eotech or aimpoint, but they cost twice as much, take up your entire rail, unbalance your rifle and are generally just bulky. Besides 3x seems to work fine at close range and distance so there is no need to switch back and forth.

As a red dot and a magnified scope the vortex is a perfect compromise. However, this setup isn't perfect if you want your back up iron sights to co-witness. First, the magnification is sufficiently high to mostly obscure the front sight to the point where it is barely visible, and 2nd, the eye relief on this scope isn't infinite, your eye must be no more than 2 inches or so away for the site to work properly... Because I'm pretty big, I had to remove the flip ups so that the scope could sit further back and be used more naturally. However, because of the etched reticle, having no backup irons is not at all problematic they way it would be on most red dots because if your battery dies or the lights stop working you can continue using your optic just as you would a normal scope... it doesn't disappear into oblivion.

I considered buying an ACOG, but simply couldn't justify the price. Furthermore, in many ways the vortex is actually better. The light is brighter because it uses batteries and there is no tritium that slowly dims until it dies out entirely in ten years or so requiring a costly replacement. Besides, you can buy 10 years worth of batteries for no more than 10 bucks. After all, the batteries are available everywhere and I stock them for a whole host of other equipment.

I also love the fact that I didn't have to mount the scope on a base... which is much more of a pain than most people realize. Another extremely positive feature of this scope is the picatinny rails. My AR is a basic model (no fancy hand guards)... So this scope provides a place for me to put a flashlight (just by attaching scope rings to it) and a laser (if needed) without crazy Frankenstein mounts. Finally with the life time warranty you really just can't go wrong. 1/4th the price of an ACOG with equal functionality." Amazon User Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Brownells or Amazon

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Bright light transmission
  • Rock solid mount
  • Ambidextrous pic rail for offset micro red dot mounting
  • Lower Third and Absolute cowitness compatible (again, WHY?)
  • Decent
  • Lens caps

Cons:

  • No QD mount available
  • Reticle can be small/thin for older eyes
  • No custom reticle systems for non 5.56/223 calibers (Why not 300blk, 7.62x39, 6.5, 458 Socom)
  • Lens caps suck, will wear and loose retention over time with use

Score: 8.0 Great

 

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design