About Joe

Joe currently serves active duty with 10 years in Special Operations with deployments to Iraq, Afghan and Pacific Theaters. His qualifications include Sniper, Breacher, Post Certified Pistol instructor, MACTAC Instructor, Range Officer, and Master Training Specialist. Joe has two years as a military small arms instructor teaching marksmanship and tactics. He actively works with southern California local SWAT units as a consultant and also shoots competitive tactical long range competitions when he has time off of work. In addition, Joe is deeply involved with the tactical long range industry actively consulting with many industry leaders.

Sharp Things: Knife Makers to Watch

Some Matt Helm Knives, different tools for different uses.

Some Matt Helm Knives, different tools for different uses.

At least when I grew up, knives were a rite of passage. In today’s overly protective, sheltered world that statement alone is probably going to put me on some watchlist. I remember many Christmases and birthdays opening gifts to find another Swiss Army or Buck knife. Every boy should sharpen some stick spears, cut his hand a couple times, learn some lessons and learn to respect a tool for what it is. I’ve lost my fair share of knives I’ve collected over the years, given away a lot to close friends who needed a quality blade, and a few are still tucked in the back of my gun safe to someday hand down to my son. As I moved into my current profession I, like most young men growing up watching Rambo or Commando, started with a large fixed blade knife strapped to my gear in some fashion. Of course you attempt to strap it upside down to a shoulder strap of your load bearing equipment hang it off your belt before you realize that it is the way of any actual functional movement and gets in the way far more then it benefits you in any way.

Continue reading

Gray Guns Sig Sauer P226 Competition Action Package


Its hard to argue the fact that the Sig Sauer P-series pistols are some of the best combat pistols every produced. Putting the argument or preference aside of double action/single action versus current current striker fired pistols or single action only the reliability and accuracy is well known and respected around the world. With a vast majority of the pistol rounds I’ve sent downrange being out of a p226, I had to have one in the safe. The trigger and action on the sig are designed for reliability, not necessarily a light or crisp trigger pull so I decided to upgrade my personal gun a bit. I made the obvious decision and went to the first and really only serious name in Sig Sauer action work, Bruce Gray of Gray Guns. Continue reading

Garrett Industries Silent Thunder Holster

12391844_10156346563250427_2603277386313586537_nThe market seems to be absolutely loaded with kydex holster makers these days. Your options seem to be endless with everyone trying to separate themselves from the pack for one reason or another. Recently receiving my HK45c back from Gray Guns (review to be done later), I was in the market for a new inside the waistband holster for concealed carry. Initially I actually went and looked at the G-Code Incog simply due to a few friends carrying their carry weapons in them already with no complaints. Sadly G-Code doesn’t make a Incog for a HK45c. Through a Friend I was told about Garrett Industries, who quietly seemed to be making some really nice holsters for some very serious people without attaching their label to the closest bearded internet personality. Offering a decent military discount and offering some really nice leather lined kydex options, I ordered up the Silent Thunder holster with a single mag holder for the compact HK. I received emails verifying my order, telling me when it went into production and within two weeks I had my order in hand. Continue reading

REVIEW: Prime .260 rem Precision Rifle Ammunition

Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.

Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.

The biggest hassle with precision shooting is reloading to try to keep cost down with quality and accuracy of ammunition up. Now that is my opinion, while I find reloading calming and almost therapeutic at times, finding the time to do it between a strenuous job schedule and a family doesn’t allow for much time to be behind the reloading press. If you look to factory ammunition your choices tend to be limited with many popular precision rifle calibers just not being offered regularly without having to spend quite a sum having someone else load it for you. During a range day with some friends I was introduced to one of the people behind PRIME Ammunition. Their representative had some questions about calibers I would like to see more of in the factory ammunition market, bullet weights I preferred, my thoughts on the industry and ammunition market and its problems in general. Haven’t had many conversations with people behind the scenes of a large ammunition retailer who has cared as much about what the shooters wanted as the people at Prime. Continue reading

Your Next Weapon Mod: FITNESS

I’ll bet you don’t see this at your next carbine course.

An observation of mine in recent months looking at pictures of people online attending competitions, shooting courses, training events etc is the there is a huge variety of fitness levels represented in our sport. I use the word “sport” lightly as obviously that means something different to different people. This would seem as an obvious observation but then again lets take a few steps back. I grew up playing traditional sports such as baseball and football, where fitness is a direct contributor to you ability on the field. I then carried on into college and again to play sports we had strength coaches and trainers focused on keeping us conditioned enough to compete at a high level. I have no experience with professional sports but I would take an educated guess to say that it only becomes more important at that level as well. Continue reading

Robar to the Glock Rescue

Robar grip work, 10-8 sights and mag base pad, slide work done by Mars Armament. Axe is an RMJ Shrike

It would be safe to say that the Glock as a pistol is almost, or dare I say as big an “icon” as the 1911. Glocks are being used by law enforcement and military personnel all over the world as well as being one of the best selling pistol manufacturers in the US. A good majority of gun owners, especially those who frequent shooting courses or instruction, all seem to own at least one Glock. With its popularity comes an exploding aftermarket with an endless list of companies making parts or modifying/machining the guns themselves. Some are worthy of mention and many are hacks with a hot piece of metal deforming the frames almost to the point of failure on unsuspecting owners looking to emulate the professionals for a fraction of the cost. I personally had a Glock stippled by a friend, and while not a hack job by any means I found the texture too aggressive and didn’t quite know how remedy it without just buying another frame. This is the point where Robar comes in. Continue reading

Robar NP3 AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

If you have more than a couple rounds down the barrel of the AR15 platform, you should know the system works but isn’t necessarily the cleanest. For anyone who actually shoots their gun instead of keeping it clean and pretty, the cleaning of the bolt carrier group in particular is always a fan favorite. Your choices are to soak it in solvent of some type of spend a good amount of time with a scraper of some type trying to break through the layer of fossilized carbon built up around the gas rings on the bolt. This is where aftermarket finishes and treatments have come into play in recent years in an effort to battle the carbon buildup. I have never been a fan of the flashy silver bolt carriers shining through the ejection port of a AR. I made a habit of writing them off as flash as my AR’s had always run just fine without them. Continue reading

Rogers Precision 1911

My first pistol I bought when I was 21 was a Kimber TLE/RL 1911 (external extractor) which I thought was pretty nice, being young and really having no other exposure than what the guy behind the counter at the local gun store had told me. Between the counter guy’s amazing advice and the gun magazines pushing the latest and greatest, it seemed like a solid choice. Fast forward a few years and more than a couple issues with my Kimber, I was at a range with a few friends of mine when out of one of their pistol bags came a small colt commander unlike anything I had seen before. This pistol was solid black with high power cuts, and one of the most unique textures I had ever seen on a pistol. I was quickly educated that I was holding a Chuck Rogers Built 1911 with his signature golf ball grip treatment. My opinion of stock 1911’s would never be the same again.

For anyone who has been into custom 1911’s in the last two or three decades you will have most likely heard of Chuck Rogers and his shop, Rogers Precision. Chuck has been quietly making some of the most beautiful, functional, and durable pistols ever built. Working out of Prescott, Arizona Chuck acquired his skill as a machinist from a long career as an aerospace prototype machinist in Phoenix. Chuck explains;

“1911’s had been a hobby of mine for several years prior. I was an active competitor in action pistol style matches. Many of the tricks of reliability and longevity were learned in competition. “.

Quickly establishing himself with his unique style and skill as a machinist, Chuck’s guns became more and more popular until reaching the high demand they rightfully deserve today.

I started talking to Chuck long before I had a gun built by him, and I have the great honor of calling Chuck a friend as well. After a couple years my name finally came up in the long list of people impatiently waiting for to be called. My great passion for custom 1911’s lends to my choice of having builds done in what I would consider the individual smith’s “style”. I like to order options that I believe set that smith apart from other builders. With that in mind I had a very specific carry gun in mind for Chuck and his amazing ability to melt the edges on his guns as well as some of his special touches. So, choosing a Springfield mil spec as a base gun for their slanted classic style serrations, the gun left for the Rogers Precision shop and the waiting game began. Chuck is fairly active on more than a couple online forums and a post fairly regularly with pictures of his artistry during the build process. So, I was able to follow the progress and watch with great interest as my base gun was transformed into the image I had built in my head.

Finally I received the call for final payment and the gun was on its way home to me. As you would expect with any high dollar purchase, the expectation I had set for this pistol was extremely high. I will say that Chuck’s reputation as an inventive and top tier pistol smith is absolutely warranted. Having pistols from more than a couple other high end builders, I would venture to say that Chuck is in a level all his own. Not a machine mark to be found and the attention to detail in every part of the gun was evident. The quick lowdown on major options I chose are:

-High Power slide cuts

-Ball cuts

-Rear of slide serrations

-Beveled magwell with lanyard loop rear mainspring housing

-Rounded mainspring housing

-Rogers Precision Sights

-Golf-balled front and back strap, slide stop and mag release

-An option Chuck calls his “bob nose” treatment to the front of the slide to match the angle of the serrations and the high power cut.

These options along with more than a few other small additions, a reliability package, 45acp Kart barrel, all tool steel parts and a covering of black cerakote finished off one amazing looking full size carry gun. The slide to frame fitment feels like they are on ball bearings and the fit of every part on the gun is top notch to include, barrel bushing, grip safety, thumb safety, mainspring housing, etc.

Currently I have had the gun for about 7 months and have only been able to send 2k rounds through it, sadly haven’t been able to get to the range as much as I would like. I’ve only done a very casual wipe down and light lubrication job before each range trip. With a combination of Tripp, CMC and Wilson mags I have had no failures of any kind and it produces little tiny groups.

I would love to nit-pick and complain about something but I can honestly say I can’t think of anything. The pistol is flawless and my overall experience from the ordering, interaction with Chuck and shooting the pistol is awesome in every way. The only negative thing I can think of is, I’m not wealthy enough to own 2-3 guns from Chuck. The wish list would be one of everything.

If you are given the opportunity and have the budget to afford a Rogers Precision 1911, they are truly exceptional pistols. I will not attempt to say they will give you the ability to levitate or walk on water, although my pants do seem to fit a little tighter. I will say for someone that enjoys a hand built 1911 there are few peers to one assembled in a small shop in Arizona by the one and only Chuck Rogers.


Borka Tool Kit/ Torque Wrench

The Contents of the Borka MG17

While not nearly as sexy as a new rifle, pistol, optic, or other fancy accessory, tools are a very necessary part of any shooting sport. This is especially true of sports requiring scopes and all the mounting options that accompany them. Usually along with any number of required items that I dump into my bag for the day, is a good tool kit which has a tendency to be much bigger then it probably needs to be. Continue reading

Battle Tested Equipment:

Battle Tested Equipment trigger installed in a Spikes lower with Badger Ordnance selector.

Walking around shot show this year I happened to stumble upon a company I hadn’t heard of before. Battle Tested Equipment offers AR accessories made in the USA and designed with function over form in mind. Their products aren’t shiny, gold, or polished and are built to last and be used hard. Which for me at least draws my attention much more then a new organic coating designed for the outside of the space shuttle, dipping something in multi cam, or having a guy with an amazing tactical beard tell me about it on Youtube. After playing with some of their accessories I ended up picking up their charging handle and single stage trigger to try out. Continue reading

Equipment vs. Skilll

Too many people focus on reducing group size or speeding up their shooting by purchasing gadgets and less by training.

The firearms industry is driven by the aftermarket, not necessarily the weapon manufacturers themselves. Through advertising, aftermarket manufacturers convince the average shooter that they “need” every trinket and gizmo to make themselves a better shooter. This seems to be a never ending battle I have with people, convincing them which is more important, the software or hardware. Continue reading

Rustick Knives

Happy to be back from overseas, I figured I really needed to catch up on some stuff I’ve been playing with. During deployment, my platoon decided to do a unit knife. Platoon knives have been something I have done in the past and have seen other units do that usually seem to go over well if there are no issues with the purchase. A little apprehensive on where to go, I was recommended Jack Stottlemire of Rustick Knives from a friend and decided to give him a call. Besides being a ex-marine (a gentle jab at Jack), Jack was awesome to do business with. Now for anyone looking to do a unit order, sometimes its just easier to make a executive decision. Just a gentle recommendation because getting twenty operators to make a decision on something is next to impossible. So after my best efforts of getting a agreement, and failing, I made a executive decision and placed an order.


Jack retired as a Sergeant Major in Special Operations after twenty six years in the US Army and Marine Corps. He is the man behind the knives and uses all his military experience in designing and producing his blades.


We decided (or I decided) on a smaller fixed blade with a small of the back kydex sheath. Counter to popular belief the vast majority of operators do not carry large bowie style cleavers hung upside down on their shoulder strap like something Arnold would do in the movie Commando. For me personally I find a small folder and a good multi-tool ideal for 99 percent of what I do at work. For those in the know, a small fixed blade comes in handy for jobs one might not think of using a knife for – like sifting through dirt or other substances looking for contraband, popping open locked cabinets, opening up loop holes from a hide site, or any other number of unforeseen tasks one might encounter. I find a 4” blade to be ideal with a fairly thick blade giving me a nice tough tip to use. That was exactly what we ended up with from Rustick. The G10 texture of the handle is perfect for work with gloves, he also offers more extreme handle textures I look forward to trying on future purchases. The knife is hefty and made for work with a subdued cerakote job on the blade to limit rust and shine. The feedback across the board form all my guys has been awesome with everyone in agreement we made the right choice for our order.

I urge any blade fans or someone just looking for a 100 percent US made hard use knife to go check out Rustick Knives. Jack is a one man shop with no website, so you have to look him up on Facebook. It is worth the effort and you don’t need an account to access his page and look at his work.




My GAP built Surgeon actioned 6 Creedmore with Vortex Razor 5-20 scope

The amazing thing about the firearms industry currently is the vast array of options a person has to modify his/her weapon to their tastes or preferences. This variety is not limited to the adult Lego® of the firearms world, the AR15. There is now also a great market of accessories and options for precision bolt action rifles that’s growing rapidly. The biggest mistake I see many new shooters make with their first bolt action rifle purchase is making the assumption that all rifle stocks or chassis will fit everyone. This is sadly not the case. Each individual shooter’s length of pull, cheek structure, hand size, forearm length, and a number of other factors play into each shooter’s fit to a stock. There is always someone more than willing to tell any new shooter that the stock or chassis that they have is the only way to go. More often than not I watch online as shooters go from a stock to a chassis and back, continuously buying and selling stocks until they finally settle on one that is comfortable for them and fits their shooting style. Continue reading

Emerson Knives

Emerson CQC7 and CQC8 showing their wear from use, as they should.

I remember growing up watching my grandfather pull out his Case pocket knife regularly to do any myriad of tasks. I remember getting my first pocket knife and carrying it with me everywhere I was allowed and some places I wasn’t. A knife in your pocket just becomes part of your routine, just like carrying a wallet or your car keys. Fast forward to joining the military and getting to my first command, I was introduced to Emerson knives. Half my platoon seemed to carry them, all well worn and treated like prized possessions. Of course wanting to emulate my mentors I purchased my first Emerson knife about eight years ago and haven’t looked back. I have been issued, carried and used knives from just about every quality manufacturer out there, each one making its way into my pocket for a short time only to be replaced by an Emerson again.

Known as one of the elite hard-use knives on the market, Ernest Emerson started Emerson knives in 1979 and since the company has grown to its current state. Offering a large variety of different size and style folding and fixed blade knives, Emerson’s style shows their intent for their knives to be used with their black handles and basic finish options. While Ernest still makes full custom knives, the company focuses on their factory offerings. Emerson also runs a training center for self defense both with knives and without. Another thing emerson is known for is their patented “wave” feature, which is a hook on top of the blade allowing for one handed opening when drawing from a pocket or pouch. All their factory offerings feature G10 epoxy handles, 154cm steel blades and Titanium locks. Finishes offered are black and satin blades with most models being offered in serrated and non serrated versions. Recent developments has led Emerson to do a Multi-tool as well called the EDC, adding to their line and offering another great option to the market owned by Leatherman, SOG and Gerber.

I have owned at least six different emerson knives in the last eight years, sadly losing a couple over time. Currently I’m running a CQC7 and CQC8 with black blades on a regular rotation depending what i’m doing. The CQC7 is a medium sized tanto folding knife and the smallest of my Emersons but seems to be the one I tend to carry the most. Their slim profile allows for very comfortable daily carry. This is a big thing for me as many “hard use” knives on today’s market seem to be built so if you attached a chain to them you could use them as a boat anchor. This is not the case with Emersons, even their larger models are slim and fairly light making daily carry painless. I cannot say enough good things about their customer service, always being treated amazingly well. I will never say a company is the ONLY way to go but an Emerson Knife will be a regular companion of mine for the foreseeable future. New “high speed” knives come to the market regularly touting feature or options that nobody even knew they needed. The true test is to put out a product that lasts and built for a very demanding end user. Emerson has been and will continue to be used by the worlds elite military and law enforcement units for that reason.

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Victor Company Viper Skins Stocks for AI Rifles

Remington 700 in 300wm in an Accuracy International chassis with Viper skins.

Accuracy International is one of the premier military hard use rifle manufacturers in the world. Known for making no nonsense, purpose built weapons and chassis for bolt action rifles, their AI Arctic Warfare (AW) and AI chassis system shape is one of the distinguishable shapes in the firearms industry. With its square fore end, folding option, and wealth of adjustments its a very capable Mil/LEO bolt-in option for the R700 platform. With that being said their thumb hole design fits some shooters more then others, leaving some to shy away from the design. This is where Michael Victor came in with his design for the Viper Skins in 2010. Victor Company’s Viper skins are replacement skins/ stock sides for the AIAW/ AIAE and  AI chassis systems replacing the thumbhole with a pistol grip. Other added features to the viper skins are a widened fore end and integrating picatinny rails for additional accessories. Continue reading