MADE IN THE USA : (Some) “Soft” Goods Makers

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For those who prefer to (or must) buy “Made in the USA,” here are some “soft” goods makers I favor (often after recommendations from full-time military or LEO users), along with my actual purchase examples.  These vendors make quality products with good fabrics and stitching; many are unique designs. Something (maybe everything) from each of their lines will likely interest you and satisfy your mission requirements and personal finickiness. Customer service is also top notch for all. Continue reading

First Look: Oakley PRIZM Lenses

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

For the better part of the past 20 years, I have been a big fan of Oakley eyewear for use on and off the range. They aren’t cheap, but good equipment is rarely inexpensive. Luckily for first responders or military, the price of much of the Oakley lineup is significantly reduced through their Standard Issue program. Those who prefer glass lenses look elsewhere, but I like polycarbonate lenses as the weight of glass tends to give me a headache over time. Oakley glasses are designed to be optically correct and offer industry leading protection against UV and debris. The only downside to polycarbonate lenses are that they scratch more easily than glass, so routine handling should be done with care.

Around the beginning of this year, Oakley released their line of PRIZM lenses, which were advertised to enhance contrast for various activities, including golf and shooting. In the past, I had preferred the VR28 lenses for high contrast, and eventually migrated to Positive Red Iridium, which also has a fancy reflective red coating. Having been happy with the Positive Red lenses, I didn’t rush to go out to try the new PRIZM offerings. Continue reading

The SIRT 107 M&P Model Has Arrived

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

Readers of MSW know that we are big proponents of SIRT training pistol, developed by Next Level Training, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it allows for a high volume of training, removing many barriers to entry, and removes the possibility of introducing live ammunition into your pistol when performing dry practice. In addition, when integrated into live fire training at the range, it can bring out and correct trigger control issues in an incredibly efficient manner. Up until now, the SIRT 110 model (Glock format) was the only format available. While shooting is 99% sights and trigger, and regardless of the external shape of the tool, the skills developed by the 110 will translate over to any format pistol, there was a continued demand for other common service pistol formats. After clearing more than a couple production and design hurdles, Next Level Training has finally released the SIRT 107: the M&P Model.

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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.

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The Movie Theater Active Shooter Equation

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Active Shooters in Movie Theaters

As we tune in to the news on just about any given week, we see more and more copycat “active” shooters in movie theaters in the United States.  This unfortunately is the new norm.   Because this is the new norm, our tactics are going to have to shift to combat these cowardly acts of seemingly random murder.

In examining the events of past theater shootings, the only constant variable is they occur in the darkness of a movie theater, aside from the constant that the shooter is mentally ill..  The scenarios have presented different targets, different responses by victims, and different guns involved used by the shooters.  The shooters have sat in different parts of the the theater, struck at different times in the movies.  Based upon that, our tactics must be fluid. 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

Raven Concealment’s Eidolon AIWB Holster

Raven Concealment’s Eidolon holster is one of the few concealed carry products that have actually lived up to its Internet hype.

Appendix-In-The-Waistband AIWB carry has been all the rage on the Interwebs and social media for quite a while now, and for good reason. It is fairly easy to conceal in this manner and it is extremely easy to deploy from the position. Though retention is a little different from this position than traditional strong side or behind the hip IWB, the carry position is viable if it is comfortable for you. Unfortunately, after trying about half a dozen different holsters, I have yet to find AIWB anything less than extremely uncomfortable. That is, until now.

Most of you have already heard of the Eidolon by Raven Concealment Systems. While AIWB holsters are certainly not new, RCS has taken a new modular approach and incorporated some innovative features into an amazingly comfortable design. When I first read about it, I was skeptical as to its claim as a game changer, especially since AIWB has always been uncomfortable for me. For whatever reason, after carrying the Eidolon in AIWB format every day since picking one up at SHOT Show this January (2015), I am continually surprised to find that this holster is quite comfortable to carry day in and out. Continue reading

Quick Look: Streamlight Microstream

The Streamlight Microstream is a small and functional flashlight that is significantly easier to carry than many other popular options.

As I get older, injuries from overall wear and tear pile up. Coupled with the strong desire to be able to enjoy day to day activities without carrying 20 pounds of bulk with me wherever I go, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to streamline my day to day load out. I am a strong proponent of carrying some sort of white light everywhere I go. In addition to any potential “tactical” uses, I find it at least as handy from a utilitarian perspective than a folding knife. For the past couple of years, I have been carrying the Surefire E1B Backup, which has served me well. It is durable and bright, but due to its width, I still find it somewhat cumbersome to carry when wearing casual clothing that isn’t made by a brand whose name starts with a 5 and ends with an .11.

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Dark Star Gear AIWB “Casual Carry”

SP101 w/Pachmayrs in DSG Casual Carry. Corbon 357 Magnum 125gr DPX in Safariland Comp I.

 

I can admit that I am guilty of just grabbing a snubby, a speedloader and my keys to run errands.  I’m not promoting the practice.  I recently went  almost exclusively to carrying Ruger as my revolver of choice.  A Wiley Clapp inspired SP101 bumped my longtime custom 642 out of the rotation.  That meant I needed a new holster to tote my little blaster.  A thread on Pistol-Forum lead me to Dark Star Gear.   DSG bends some pretty nice Kydex with some interesting options.  The DSG AIWB “Casual Carry” with its simple design and optional toothed spring steel IWB clip seemed perfect.  Just one problem.  DSG didn’t list my little SP101 as an option.  So I emailed Tom of DSG and asked if he could make one for me.  A few emails back and forth to make sure he had found the correct molding prop and I was getting a holster made.  Tom was great to deal with and only asked that I pay up front due to having to purchase the molding prop for the project.  Knowing I had the HiTS Close Quarters Pistol class coming up Tom bent over backwards to get my holster shipped in time.

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Gear review: PHLster holsters

Yes, there is another great alternative in appendix holsters. In my quest to find a great appendix holster, I’ve search and tried pretty much all that’s is out there..until a friend recommended to me a new holster from a Philly area company called PHLster (pretty catchy).

I tried two of their holsters for my Glock 19.  One, full size named the Access and the other, more minimalist called the Skeleton.  Both are inside the waistband and designed for appendix draw.

I’ll start with the more minimalist Skeleton.  I was very happy when I opened the package and saw my thoughts realized in a holster without me talking with the designer.  On my last holster review (The Q-Series) I liked the fact you could carry with basically a trigger guard cover and some belt retention device (clip or strap).  The benefit of the Q-Series was the ability to re-holster the firearm.  Of all the choices (at that time) I couldn’t find anything as good…until now. Continue reading

BODY ARMOR AND BALLISTIC RATED MATERIALS : FOR THE NON-SWORN?

                                             

Body armor and ballistic rated panels (for use in packs, briefcases, or other off-body use) are described best by the well-known Kafkaesque adage:  It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  I don’t mock the “tacticool” nature of body armor, and I avoid debating the SWAT or military “wannabe” aspects of owning it. (I readily acknowledge you are not alone if you do). I think armored materials are something worthy of consideration for anyone who frequents gunfighting classes, shoots regularly, or because of employment or other lifestyle particulars, has concerns of going where negligent friendlies or armed hostiles might be present.  The days of body armor being only for LEOs passed (somewhat quietly) years ago.

Executive Summary:  Let’s default to my deadly force paradigm:  If you CAN afford it, and CAN do what you need to do when it is deployed (adequately conceal it, run and move effectively, maybe in confined space, and shoot, with additional bulky kit, maybe 18 pounds worth), go for it.  If you acquire it, study up on and observe the manufacturer’s storage and care specs for the particular product.  Unless a specific federal, state, or local law prohibits the ownership of such products, the non-sworn MAY own/wear body armor and ballistic-rated materials.  SHOULD you buy such products?  That is for you the reader to answer, as is how/when to use it.  If you buy, buy the best-tested you can afford which is convenient to deploy, fits properly, and can be stored and maintained to suit your lifestyle. Expect some ribbing from “friends.”  How about the MUST?  It is beyond question the products save lives.  Yours and/or the life of someone you “cannot live without,” regardless of who is slinging shots. At the very least, overt soft armor and plate carriers provide convenient, user-friendly platforms to attach identifying patches, pouches, and other “things.”  And plates do provide a good weight-bearing workout. Continue reading

Why I Choose Aimpoint

These Aimpoints are over a decade old and have been treated in the worst ways. Despite their external appearance, they still hold zero and work like new.

Loyal readers of MSW and the old 10-8 Forums know that Hilton and I have been longtime fans of Aimpoint red dot sights. Having seen all kinds of optics show up in classes and on the range, along with how they perform through training cycles consisting of fairly high round counts, Aimpoint really has set themselves apart from the rest in terms of reliability and durability. Continue reading

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”- Charles Dickens Continue reading

SHOT Show mini reviews

Although I did not get to venture through the halls of splendor and witness the new hotness of every gun, gear and gadget, I did have the opportunity to look at a few items that piqued my interest.

I like clever and ingenious.  When someone looks at the mousetrap and says “I can do it better” that excites me.  I had the pleasure to sit down with some of these designers and take the opportunity to learn more about their nifty new thing.

First off, the Leupold D-EVO (Dual-Enhanced View Optic) http://www.leupold.com/tactical/scopes/d-evo

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MADE IN THE USA : THE TEK-LOK™ (U.S. PATENT 6,145,169, NOVEMBER 14, 2000)

                  

It’s true. The well-known holster and magazine pouch attachment device shown above was designed by two knife guys.  If you are into knives, you likely recognize the names Tim Wegner and Robert (Bob) Terzuola.  If you ever spent serious time at a national knife show (BLADE, Knifemakers Guild) you might have met and even chatted up one or both. It is indeed the very same Tim Wegner who is a co-founder of this very well-known maker of carry, duty, and competition holsters and accessories  —

        

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