Smith & Wesson M&P40L Performance Center

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I bought my first Smith & Wesson M&P autopistol in 2008 and currently have five of them excluding the M&P40c my wife hijacked some years ago.  I carried that original M&P40 on regular duty and SWAT for several years.  However, Smith & Wesson just wasn’t satisfied with a good thing.  After the standard duty size models became successful, then the compacts were introduced.  The Competition Optics Ready Equipment (CORE) models represent another step forward for the M&P line.  They allow for the mounting of optics on the standard and longer slide models.   Most recently, the long slide versions hit the market.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  The S&W Performance Center makes both functional and aesthetic enhancements to otherwise stock handguns.  So, the natural next step in the evolution of the M&P is the Performance Center line of pistols. Continue reading

MADE IN THE USA : LEATHER GUN BELTS

 

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I heard on a podcast that sporting a nylon “tactical” belt is a “tell” that there is a concealed handgun not too far away.  I am not all on board with the “tell” analysis, but OK fine, we ( :) ) likely should all plead guilty. Doesn’t every serious gun-toter have at least one belt from The Wilderness, and one of those ultra-stiff, high-tech, superhero style belts made with indestructible fabric and a “special” bucklemaybe from AresGear? (Both are awesome — so I am told :) ).  For many however, leather has been and remains the belt king. For some, “tactical” may simply be inappropriate. Maybe you’re a federal agent, an LEO who no longer wears a uniform, a concealed carrying non-sworn who has to “dress-up,” or a former “operator” now in corporate security or executive protection. Or maybe you simply want a changed look and a bit more “comfort.” What to do? Go with a leather belt specifically made for handgun carriage. If the don’t go tactical podcast is correct, all the better.

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Rangemaster Instructor Development

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A .38 caliber hole fired by Tom Givens from a revolver held upside down in a demonstration.

     “Evil is real,” he said somberly, and he would know.  With decades of law enforcement experience in the Memphis area, specialized security work and dedicated research on the topic of armed self-defense, Tom Givens does know.  He’s an exceptionally experienced firearms instructor, author, competitor and student.  He is a longtime member of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, the National Law Enforcement Trainers Association, the International Wound Ballistics Association and the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.  As IDPA member number A00008, Tom was there during the creation of that organization and was among the first members of The Police Marksman Association.  Givens has investigated a staggering number of shootings over the last four decades, including dozens involving his own students.  With that knowledge and experience, Tom has served as an expert witness on firearms and police training on the state and federal level.  Tom has authored four books including his most recent, Fighting Smarter.  He and his wife, Lynn own Rangemaster Firearms Training Services.  In the firearms training community, Tom is nothing less than a legend.  Lynn is quite the shooter and instructor in her own right.  Each year, Rangemaster hosts The Tactical Conference.  That event culminates in a realistic shooting competition.  Lynn placed third in the 2015 match against some heavy hitters.  Underneath her kind, unassuming exterior is the blue twisted steel of a gunfighter.  I jumped at the opportunity to attend their three day Firearms Instructor Development class. Here are my thoughts.

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AR15 Gas Systems- Is there a practical difference in recoil management?

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You always hear quite a bit about how rifles with mid-length gas systems shoot “softer” than the carbine length brethren.  I bought one of my favorite rifles more because of the basic layout, and I like the dude that came up with the concept of the rifle, Kyle Lamb.  It is a 16 inch Smith and Wesson VTAC 2.  It came factory with a mid-length gas tube.  I changed out the brake for a Surefire brake, and then I just added ammo.  The rifle has always shot like a dream.  Dot travel is minimal.  I can hammer quick splits into discreet targets at will. Continue reading

Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center Talo

1       The J-frame Smith & Wesson revolver is a must-have carry gun in my book.  I’ve been carrying a model 642 as a backup both on and off duty for almost fifteen years now.  There are a lot of nifty little auto pistols on the market today, but none of them come out of the front pocket quite as readily an internal hammer J-frame.  Of course, there are drawbacks to everything.  If you want a quality, 15-ounce pocket gun, sacrifices must be made.  As is necessary for reliable ignition, the DAO trigger pull on these little revolvers is heavy and that makes them somewhat more difficult to shoot.  For the sake of concealability, the stocks are tiny and even the rubber ones are hard on larger hands like mine when firing +P loads.  Another negative of small .38 Special revolvers is occasionally sticky extraction of spent brass.  This is especially true when using the hotter defensive rounds.  These guns have been popular for so many decades, I think it’s safe to say that defensive handgunners have readily accepted these seemingly necessary compromises.  Maybe we don’t have to compromise as much anymore.  Continue reading

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 Apex Tactical M&P Barrel: First Look

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Several weeks ago, Apex Tactical owner Randy Lee and I were talking on the phone and our discussion turned to new products  coming down the line from Apex.  One of the major items of interest to me was the “Apex Grade” 9mm barrel for the Smith and Wesson M&P. My association with Randy goes back a bunch of years.  I still have the early 2006 M&P that we used for the prototyping of the original Apex Hard Sear that started it all. Well, he prototyped, and I was the ape that attempted to break it.  As the conversation evolved, some hints might have been dropped, and a semi-drop in barrel arrived at my door about three weeks ago. Continue reading

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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Gray Guns Sig Sauer P226 Competition Action Package

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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

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

AAR: Jerry Barnhart 2 Day Tactical Pistol

The Burner…I’m not talking about the little Bunsen burner we used many eons ago in Chemistry class (gen Xrs and up) but the guy named Jerry Barnhart who burns down stages and is one of the most winning competitive shooters out there.  I had the pleasure of training with Jerry recently for a 2 day Tactical Pistol course.  Now before the inter webs go a blazing on “competition will get you killed!” and such, please direct your anger to my four part series here at MSW and see why I don’t agree with that fallacy.

Anyway, bottom line, shooting is shooting.  Period.  The competition or tactical drills that follow are secondary if you can’t make the shot.  This includes: shooting for accuracy, shooting on the move, head shots, 50 yard shots, etc.  So, can it with the “yee gads, that there is foolish training” talk and learn how to shoot under pressure and maybe we can have a coffee.  But I digress… Continue reading

Pelican 1910B LED Flashlight

The Pelican 1910B is just slightly bigger than the Streamlight Microstream. It still disappears when clipped to a pocket or in your waistband. A convenient carry spot is in the dead space on the waistband directly adjacent to your holster.

Continuing with my never ending search for an ultra low profile, easy to carry, yet functional off-duty handheld light, we will be taking a look at the Pelican 1910B. Last week I wrote about the Streamlight Microstream, which worked well enough to get out of most jams. Some commenters on the social media page turned their nose up to Microstream’s meager 35 lumen output. While puny compared to some of the 500 lumen beasts out there today, let me point out that not all that long ago we carried lights powered by D-cell batteries that didn’t put out much more light than that of the Microstream, and with a crappier beam.

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