The Importance of Quality

Springfield XD Sub Compact (with Galco ITW Hol...

Springfield XD Sub Compact (with Galco ITW Holster) (Photo credit: jeffgunn)


Good Afternoon All,

Today I wanted to get into something that I find to be a very important but often disregarded habit. The habit of seeking out quality over convenience or price. This is a particularly common theme over at The Art of Manliness, which is an excellently written and maintained blog that I’ve been following for a few years now. Too often we will need an item and simply go to the nearest Wal-Mart and pop on in and get whatever it is that we wanted. The question however, is what you bought going to serve you well for years to come or is it just going to get you by for a little while? This isn’t to say that this particular retailer doesn’t sell some quality items but I’m sure you’re seeing my point. The philosophy is simply that I’d rather buy something that is “expensive” once than buy a cheaper item many times. Too often these cheaper items will give you the illusion of saving money, but in the long run is that really the case? With a cheaper, lower quality item the propensity to go wrong is usually going to be higher, thus forcing you to replace that item an unfortunate amount of times. This dismal event could possibly have been avoided if you had simply just spent the little bit of extra money on the front end and perhaps had some delayed gratification but ended up with a far superior product that will last a lifetime. Very simply the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings very true in our world……most of the time of that is.

This philosophy brought into the tactical/outdoor world will often times make for a very expensive investment and drive many to make poor decisions when it comes to gear. One thing I have taken notice of for some time now is cheap holsters. Many people are quite content to purchase a $500-$700 handgun and then put it in a $15 holster or one they got for free when they purchased the firearm. I’ve never really understood this practice. If you have a firearm that your life or the life of another may depend on and you carry it around in a cheap floppy nylon or plastic holster with an awkward and flimsy Velcro strap as your only means of retention. Do you really think that is going to serve you well? What if you have to run and evade with that weapon holstered? What if you are engaged in a struggle with an attacker and that flimsy holster gives way because it offered zero retention qualities? I could play the “what if” game all day but as I said before, I think you see my point. A good quality leather or kydex holster is a fairly inexpensive piece of kit these days. Manufacturers like Don Hume and Gould & Goodrich (a local to me NC company) produce fairly inexpensive and high quality leather goods that have served me well for years. Kydex holsters can be found all over the place these days and can even be made at home by you with a little care and time invested at a reasonable cost investment. Just remember that when carrying a holster on your hip, a good quality belt is of the utmost importance. Simply using a standard leather dress belt won’t do the trick. I find myself using my Blackhawk! rigger’s belt that I’ve had for the last ten years and it is still very sturdy and quite serviceable. The kydex option is particularly attractive if you own a handgun or other gear that isn’t exactly a standard. Everyone makes holsters for 1911’s, Beretta 92‘s, Glocks and the like but if you aren’t in that mainstream then you may want to take the time and make the investment in crafting your own gear. YouTube videos abound for making kydex gear to hold everything from your favorite handgun to AR magazines and even your iPhone. Bearing this philosophy of  quality vs. price in mind, I am not confusing price with quality. There are many items out there that fall into the quality category without breaking the bank. These items require a little research and determination to find but will often times be quite worth the effort. Craigslist and eBay have become great resources for good quality tactical/outdoor gear and will allow you to find what you need at a reasonable price, particularly if you opt for purchasing used equipment. Gear that has been well maintained or used very little will often times be an excellent bargain with a little cautious buying. A very cursory search on my part found some excellent deals on tactical gear from Blackhawk!, 5.11 Tactical, and Condor. It also produced some excellent deals on quality flashlights and knives so some searching on your part should prove fruitful, just take your time. Realistically it will still take a somewhat significant amount of time to build your kit, this is just how it works. We don’t have a large supply depot to draw our items from.  It will take a little ingenuity and patience, but if done correctly you’ll have a high quality set up that will serve you well when the time comes to need it. For now stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.

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FrogLube CLP a Natural Alternative

Hey Folks,

I used to use this for my Beretta mostly.

Shooter’s Choice Grease. It works very well but it’s expensive for what you get.

Today I’m going to get going on a category that is near and dear to the hearts of all shooters everywhere.  Cleaning and lubricating products. For years I was an uncommitted user of many different products to clean and lubricate my firearms. I’ve used many different options, from the standard CLP (Cleans,Lubricates,Protects) from my military days on up to using automotive greases and some purpose made lubricant greases for firearms. I will say that everything that I’ve used works and works fairly well. I certainly can’t complain about any of the products that  I’ve used because they all work. Each lubricant used is purpose made to lubricate machinery or engines or of course firearms in particular.

Ed's Red made from several different automotive lubricants.  Works well and cheap, but you don't want to breathe it.

Ed’s Red made from several different automotive lubricants. Works well and cheap, but you don’t want to breathe it.

Perhaps one of the cheapest solutions I came across in my research of cleaner/lubricants was a homemade option known simply as “Ed’s Red”. This product is a concoction of several different automotive lubricant products all put together to create a very large amount of homebrew gun oil. I have a supremely large amount of it still sitting in my garage ready for widespread use on lots of guns for a long time. All of these products have a flaw however, if you can really call it that. Everything I’ve used is all petroleum based and toxic (albeit in large amounts) which as I get older and spend more and more time with my 4 month old son isn’t all that desirable. For 8 years I used solvent tanks and copious amounts of Gov’t issue CLP with bare hands and often times I would take my chow break… or more likely at that point in my life, a smoke break without washing my hands to clean off these hazardous chemicals that had been absorbing into my skin for the last couple hours. I never gave this a second thought frankly and I shudder to think about all the chemicals I’ve ingested over the years. Don’t worry though, there is another option.

FrogLube 4oz tub $9.99 from

FrogLube 4oz tub $9.99 from

Today we’re going to go over a fairly new product simply known as FrogLube. This is a CLP product that is made from an all natural and non-toxic compound of plant material.  I initially dismissed this product to be honest. I thought to myself that there is no way this could be as good as my old tried and true methods. I can report today that my initial thoughts were incorrect. I had done some more research on the product and found it to be a very interesting idea and my mind went back to those days sitting on a bench cleaning tons of M-4’s without gloves and the idea of a non-toxic, non-petroleum based product was looking very good. I bit the bullet and ordered a 4oz tub of the paste variety of the FrogLube. I was excited to try this stuff out so since I had just purchased a new firearm I thought that this would be a perfect platform to test this lubricant. FrogLube is a product that requires seasoning of the metal, kinda like a cast iron skillet. You heat up the metal gun parts and apply the FrogLube all over and let it sit for about a half hour to an hour and once cooled you simply wipe it off. When the firearm is shot and warms up, the FrogLube leeches out of the pores in the metal creating a liquid barrier for the friction points. This allows you to run your firearm “dry” or with only a very thin film of lubricant applied to the friction points. The paste variety of the FrogLube will melt its way into all the nooks and crannies of your firearm, making it pretty easy to apply. In my research I found that it is recommended to apply two treatments of this product initially for optimal performance. I broke down my Kel-Tec SU-16C and began the cleaning and treatment process. Using my wife’s hair dryer I heated up the metal parts of the rifle and began to apply the FrogLube. The application process went very quickly and easily as this rifle was brand new and only required minimal cleaning as I went. After the parts cooled I wiped off the excess lubricant and found the parts to have a very slick feeling to them, almost as though they had been well broken in from hundreds of round of shooting. The very next day I treated the rifle with FrogLube a second time and the results were similar to what they were yesterday. There was a very nice slick feeling to the metal parts which as I have discovered is also a water resistant protective coating as well. The next day I took the Kel-Tec to the range to break the rifle in. This particular rifle is noted in the owners manual to require a 200 round break-in session to ensure subsequent reliability. Since treating with the FrogLube the rifle ran flawlessly only having a double feed malfunction, I wasn’t the shooter during that string of fire and can’t comment on that malfunction and after it was cleared there were no more hiccups with the rifle. I got this rifle very hot and after it cooled down and I brought it home I broke it down to clean and it simply wiped clean without scrubbing or excessive effort.

froglubeMy final impressions of this product are that I’m excited about it.  It’s a Non-Toxic U.S. made product from a veteran owned business that has a fantastic wintergreen smell to it.  You can apply it with your bare hands safely (be cautious though since the parts you will apply it to are going to be very hot). Very simply this product works and works well. Since my test at the range the other day I have since treated two of my pistols and my daily carried CRKT M-21 knife. The CRKT is prone to rust from moisture and sweat from wearing close to the skin in my pocket. I haven’t seen any rust on the blade since FrogLube was applied. If this product meets the criteria that you are looking for, I have no reservations recommending it to you for whatever use you can find for it. As for now stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.

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The Kel-Tec SU-16C


AR-15 (Photo credit: robscomputer)

Ok folks, today I’m going to get us started off with perhaps one of the most widely adopted weapons platforms in the U.S., the 5.56mm/.223rem semi-automatic sporting rifle/defensive carbine.  When most think of this platform, they immediately jump to the AR-15 series of rifles.  These are a battle proven design that I carried for many years in the U.S. Army and placed my life on the line with on more occasions than I would have liked.  The AR-15 today is one of the most reliable and adaptable platforms known to man.  There are pistol variations and sniper variations and everything in between.  Perhaps the most widely used is the 16″ barrel model which is the shortest legal barrel length for a rifle under the National Firearms Act, that is without paying for a $200 tax stamp and registering it as an SBR (short barreled rifle) but we will get to that another day.

This is a common work around for the “dirty” gas impingement system.

The AR platform is of course not without it’s drawbacks.  First and foremost is that they are generally expensive.  It’s not uncommon to see rifles on the rack at your local dealer with a base price of over $1,000.  Now I don’t know about you but  I don’t really have a grand sitting around that’s really all that disposable for a firearm purchase.  The other problem with the cost is that generally that $1,000 will only get you a base rifle with no bells and whistles that are so popular today. They also work off of a direct impingement gas system which is a fairly dirty way of doing things.  This system uses a tube from the gas block to vent hot gasses and carbon from the barrel back into the upper receiver to push the bolt carrier group back against the buffer and recoil spring.  This causes a buildup of carbon and fouling inside your upper receiver and in your trigger group in the lower receiver as well.  There are short stroke gas piston models that utilize a piston to drive the bolt carrier group instead of the hot gas along which certainly run cleaner.  I myself have zero experience with this particular system as it was not adopted by the U.S. Military and they are cost prohibitive for me to own (take that $1,000 price tag for a base model and jack it way up).  There are also conversion kits to a gas piston system for the AR-15 which seem to be well received.

English: Kel-Tec SU-16C with stock in folded p...

Kel-Tec SU-16C with stock in folded position. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enter the Kel-Tec SU-16C.  At $575(Price paid, MSRP is listed at $770) this 4.7lb firearm is a long stroke gas piston operated carbine with a 16″ threaded barrel.  It accepts the same reliable magazines that feed the AR-15 platform which range in capacity from 5rds on up to 100rds and any muzzle device that the AR platform accepts.  This firearm is constructed of a glass reinforced polymer known as Zytel where possible and steel where necessary to save weight and reduce cost.  It sports a parkerized finish on the steel and the barrel is chrome lined (earlier versions were unlined and newer versions I’m told, will be salt bath nitride treated).  It has an integral picatinny rail on the upper receiver for optics mounting and the fore end converts to a bipod to stabilize longer shots.  The “star” bolt will look familiar to those of you who know the AR platform.  This model also has the underfolder stock that permits the carbine to be fired while folded, and stored very compactly.  The front sight was borrowed from the AR platform as well.  The operating system for this rifle however, is pure AK-47.

Just last week I took my SU-16C to the local range to put it through it’s paces.  Prior to my range time I took the time to fit the carbine with an A2 flash hider.  Ammunition used was 55gr American Eagle Tactical 5.56mm.  The owners manual very clearly states that the carbine requires at least a 200 round break in and that you may experience a few malfunctions during this process.  I experienced none, although in full disclosure my buddy that went to the range with me experienced a double feed during his string of fire.  The double feed was cleared and no other malfunctions were experienced.  Being as my local range is an indoor facility, the range only goes out to 25yds, so that is the distance to which this carbine was zeroed.  Sight adjustment is simple and straight forward.  If you shoot high adjust the front sight post up.  If you’re shooting right, adjust the rear sight to the right.  I was able to get a good zero in 9 rounds.  Kel-Tec includes a tool to adjust the windage, they do not include a tool to adjust the front sight elevation, so I was left to make adjustments with a pick from my OTIS cleaning kit and a Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool.  You can buy a tool to adjust both windage and elevation from Kel-Tec for around $15.  This kinda bothered me though.  If they are going to include a tool to adjust one sight, why not include the ability to adjust all of them?  One issue I experienced was heat.  This carbine does get hot, although so does an AR when you put 200 rounds through it in fairly rapid succession.  If you intend to do a fair amount of shooting I highly suggest a good pair of shooting gloves and judicious hand placement.

My final impressions of this little lightweight carbine are quite favorable.  Accuracy is on par with any AR type rifle I have fired.  This carbine is well suited for outdoor use when you’ve got miles to cover and weight is a concern.  It also makes a pretty outstanding truck/ranch gun.  The durability remains to be truly seen as I’ve only done the initial break-in on this rifle but it’s looking promising.  Just prior to writing this review I did notice upon a teardown and cleaning that just in front of the hammer, it appears as though the hammer had impacted an area of plastic in front of the trigger housing group and has caused some stress to the plastic.  A phone call to Kel-Tec support left me with the answer that this is a common wear point on the SU-16 series of rifles and will not impact the performance of the rifle in any way.  I will however be keeping a keen eye on this and make any updates necessary.  All in all I’m satisfied with this carbine and look forward to using it for years to come.  As for now stay safe, train and, have a good ‘un.

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Hey folks,

I wanted to take a moment here to welcome you to Laymen’s Tactical and introduce myself.  I’m Steve, I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army and law enforcement and very simply, I have a love of the outdoors and shooting and all the gear that goes along with these life long pursuits.  I have a simple outlook on the gear that I select for myself, it just has to work.  I don’t have brand loyalty or any sense of superiority in the gear that I have chosen.  I’m not what you might call a “tactical elitist”.  I choose things that work for me and my ever so low budget, and discard those that don’t.  I sincerely look forward to sharing my experiences and knowledge with you in this project and I’m even more excited to get your feedback and to learn from you all as well.  As for now stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.


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