A while back, my partner in crime wrote a post on modifications he has made to his beloved Beretta 92FS. I myself am also a grand fan of Beretta’s handguns, in case you couldn’t tell by now, and have recently acquired a model 96FS Inox (Stainless Steel) for myself. I carried an M9 during my 8 years in the military and was among the apparent minority that loved it. I feel as though the M9’s reputation among service members is entirely undeserved (but that’s for another time).
After purchasing the used 96, I discovered that there were a couple issues that need to be fixed so I proceeded to get the Italian masterpiece back up to duty condition. Included in this was performing my signature trigger upgrades for Beretta handguns. This includes a lighter weight hammer spring courtesy of Wolff Springs and the INS trigger spring upgrade, also from Wolff. With these two new springs installed, the double action trigger pull on the 96 was tamed to an incredibly manageable level (Granted my Cougar still has a much nicer double action pull) and based upon my incredibly accurate trigger finger scale, is in the comfortable range of around 9lbs. The very crisp and short single action trigger pull is in the 3-4lb range with a very short and positive trigger reset.
There has however, always been a glaring issue with the 92/96 that many people just can’t get over. You need to have huge hands and an unnaturally long trigger finger in order to overcome the very long reach to be able to manipulate the trigger when in double action. I just so happen to have such oddly shaped hands so that was never a big issue for me. That’s not to say however, that it couldn’t be improved.
I saw recently online that Wilson Combat had gotten into the Beretta game and was very impressed at their catalog of parts. The spring sets appear to be re-packaged Wolff items but I have no way of verifying that with certainty. The item that really caught my eye was the Short Reach Trigger. Thanks to clever marketing by Wilson Combat, I didn’t have to work hard to figure out what that particular item does. The price was indeed very nice at $28.95 so I decided to make the purchase.
Around a week later the very underwhelming package arrived at my mailbox and I immediately opened the package, removed the old trigger to compare and installed the Wilson Combat trigger. I’m well versed in working on these guns so it took me all of 15 minutes from start to finish. As soon as I had everything all put back together and made that first dry fire trigger pull, my whole world changed. Angels sang, flowers bloomed, church bells rang … and I’m pretty sure my wife should have been jealous at that moment too. For the first time ever, I experienced what can only be described as true perfection in a double action trigger pull on a semi-auto. While the overall weight of the trigger pull felt the same, the change in the geometry of the trigger seems to allow more leverage on the trigger which makes the pull feel so much more smooth and controllable.
Later that week I was able to make it to the range to run a few rounds through the 96 for function testing and to really get a good feel for the new trigger. I must say that I think this trigger is a true winner. Follow up shots were so much faster, the reset so incredibly short into single action and it’s nice and positive thanks to the altered geometry and upgraded plunger style trigger spring. I just can’t say enough, the trigger changes the dynamics of how the gun handles for the better. It retains all of the reliability and durability necessary in a defensive or duty gun while having a trigger that feels like it might belong on a competition gun. This is easily one of the best $30 upgrades I’ve seen for a handgun.
So the idea of the hybrid holster has been around for several years now and they have been just about universally accepted as the most comfortable way to carry concealed. Generally speaking I have almost always been a fan of OWB holsters, they just have been the most comfortable way to carry for me. Around a month ago, while scoping out the Alien Gear Holsters website, I saw that there was a new model being released. They have ditched the leather backer and have gone with a neoprene/plastic/vinyl sandwich. That was very different, I hadn’t seen that before…nobody had really. I placed my order (around $45 including shipping $35.88 is just the holster cost.) and waited the obligatory lead time, which was right at 3 weeks for my holster (I was quoted 4-6 weeks).
Upon opening the package, I was impressed with the quality of the holster. Good stitching, thick and sturdy kydex, sturdy belt clips. Inside the bag is a small bag of extra hardware to replace any of the pieces should they fall off or should you lose a screw. It also contained extra rubber spacers to permit the end user to change retention on the holster.
Wearing the holster can only be described as comfortable. The neoprene backing against the skin is just the right amount of padding on the back of the pistol to allow it to ride very comfortably. There is no jabbing or prodding from the safety on the slide of my Beretta Cougar which for some reason is hard to accomplish. It also permits the double stack .40 S&W to disappear under a light t-shirt when I wear it from the 3:00 to 5:00 positions. Retention is fantastic as I received it from the manufacturer, as is the cant and ride height but all of these things are changeable by the end user to tailor the holster to their individual needs.
All in all I’m thoroughly impressed with the holster, in particular at it’s price point, it does everything a crossbreed does just as well if not better at half the cost. What’s not to love? It has a no questions asked lifetime warranty and they offer free replacement kydex shells should you ever decide to change your carry gun.
If you are like me, you may have heard of the Agrip but have never used one. Personally I had seen a few over the last twenty or so years but had never had the chance to put one through it’s paces. That changed when I talked to Brooks and he sent one over for me to review.
There are only a few types of wrap around grips on the market. The first is the rubber slide on types with and without finger grooves. I had tried these a few times over the years but they add a lot of bulk and never were secure enough for my taste. The second is the paper backed rubber or skateboard tape style. These have always had ill fitment in my opinion. They never stand up to abuse and I had to replace them rather often.
Then there is the Agrip! The Agrip is a completely different grip altogether from attachment to texture. The Agrip is soft to the touch, similar to suede in texture, there is no stiff paper backing, and it actually works as advertised!
This thing flat out works, period. Wet, dry or dirty, it increases grip and stays where you put it. I was actually considering getting some rather expensive stippling work done at around $200, but not anymore. I love the fact that I got what I wanted without permanent modification to my gun.
So far I have 1000 rounds down range with this grip with zero complaints. Installation takes a little patience, but a sharp edge and a few minutes gets the job done. There are grips made for specific weapons and you can also get sheets that can be used for custom applications.
Made in the USA, quality product, and works as advertised…what else can you ask for???
The good folks over at LaserLyte sent me one of their compact mount lasers to try out and review. It is definitely a quality piece and the battery lasts forever. It comes with all hardware needed to mount it as well as spare batteries. Mounting is quick and easy and there are step by step instruction inside the packaging on how to zero the laser after you get things set up
Windage and elevation are adjusted using using the included hex wrenches at the distance 21ft. I mounted the SCV4 on my Smith and Wesson 9c and headed to the range. This laser is bright! It works well in daylight and even better at night or in low light conditions. The diameter of the beam is large enough that it is easily detected and matched up well with my 10-8 fiber optic front sight in red.
One of the things I liked most is the size, it fits this handgun perfectly. Nothing hanging out past the muzzle, and it fits snug enough that I never lost zero. For the average shooter this is a great high quality product, but there are a couple of small grips that I do have.
Activation of the laser is by small push buttons. My concern is that under stress they are a little difficult to actuate, and I did fail to turn on the laser once during stress drills. This is easily remedied by using your support hand thumb during initial grip engagement. Smaller hand shooters will definitely have to train this method as the firing grip would have to be broken to activate the laser otherwise.
All things considered this is a great product that will increase speed and accuracy for just about anyone with a small frame handgun.
So a few months ago, a few friends of mine and I decided to up our game with communications capabilities. It has become apparent over the years that in the event of a mass emergency, one of the first things to go down is the cell phone network. We wanted to have a backup method that wouldn’t fall victim to this particular phenomenon. There was some back and forth as to what the best plan of action would be, with one camp firmly staked in the CB radio option and the other in Ham radio. At the end of the day, the benefits of Ham radio far outweighed CB. So we were then left with what to do next. A lot of research was done on radios and it came to pass that the best option for us, for both cost and capability, would be a small handheld model also known as an HT. The model we chose was the Baofeng UV-5R, a very inexpensive VHF/UHF handheld that is made in China. These radios run around $30-$40 on amazon.com and are very accessible. The reviews of these radios are just amazing. For what you pay, there just isn’t a more capable radio out there. You can get two of the Baofeng radios for the cost of a blister back of FRS/GMRS radios from Walmart, with 8x the power and ability to communicate extremely far distances through the use of repeaters.
I went on to the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) website and found a test date and location close to me and then immediately began studying for my Ham test to get my technicians license. The test is fairly easy and I was able to study for it and pass it within 4 days, although in full disclosure I have some significant radio experience from the my time in the service. You will need to take practice tests that are available online, as well as read through the multitude of free information available online. The test covers basic antenna theory and electrical components, not really applicable for someone like me who will never get more in depth with the radio then plugging in different antennas and changing out the battery but it’s what the FCC requires so it had to be learned long enough to be regurgitated in multiple choice test form.
When I received my callsign and license card from the FCC I immediately went to work. I spent hours looking around online and setting up a database in order to program my radio with all the local repeaters (Radio stations that relay your transmission with more power and range). I found quite a few active clubs in my area as well. There is one particular repeater that is close to me that is linked to quite a few repeaters state wide, thus allowing me to communicate from my living room to nearly anywhere in the State of North Carolina. That is an extremely exciting bit of capability. Most repeaters are set up with battery backups or generator systems that permit the system to be operational despite a lengthy power outage. There are a couple of programs you can use with your computer to program the radio. One is called Chirp (which will program many different radios), and the other is a proprietary program just for the Baofeng brand of radios. I found both to work quite well. Information about both can be found here, this page also has full users manuals for the Baofeng radios as well as a wealth of other information. If you purchase one of these radios, it is worth bookmarking that page.
The idea of Ham Radio has seemed to have changed from what some people picture in their heads of the young kid in his room or basement with the huge transistor radio setup, trying to talk to stations all around the world (which is of course still done) to the image of lots of dedicated and professional “amateurs” that are capable of setting up a large regional radio and data network at the drop of a hat to facilitate emergency communications in the event of some manner of disaster. That is why I have embraced Ham Radio as my backup communication of choice. There just is no other way to maintain communications in the event of an emergency that is better.
I was skeptical. I didn’t think it would work. I got proved wrong. It’s really easy to let your pre-conceived notions take over when you encounter something that is similar to products you’ve seen before that don’t have a very good reputation. I’m primarily talking about those cheap nylon holsters that have the metal clip on them that tend to fall apart and couldn’t stay on a belt if it’s life depended on it. You know the ones I’m talking about.
I’ll say it right off the bat, the Remora Holster isn’t that kind of holster, well it kinda is but it isn’t. Let me explain. It is a soft IWB holster that has no clip, or any other kind of belt attachment for that matter. It relies simply on friction and the textured rubber material of the outer skin to keep it in place, and it works very well and only seems to get better as it’s warmed by body heat. The holster’s body is made of a thin closed cell foam and the inner liner is a fairly slick high denier nylon material that offers a very comfortable and fast draw. Re-holstering can prove problematic but Remora does offer a reinforced top model if that’s a concern of yours. Remora actually offers a whole host of custom touches for their holsters. There is a leather lining option, a belt clip option, the reinforced top, a white one (like an iPhone), a bra carry option for the ladies, and more that are to come as time goes on I’m sure.
So I began my testing of the rig and I was immediately struck by two things, how comfortable it is and the quality feel of the construction and materials. Too many holsters out there really let you know they’re there. They poke and poke and poke and really make you have a bad day, especially when you carry a full sized gun like I do. You do have to wear a belt or something with heavy elastic or a drawstring to maintain pressure on the holster. With this kind of holster you have to keep it in place with tension but those of you that regularly wear a belt anyway won’t be put off in the least. The holster worked perfectly with jeans and the ubiquitous 5.11 tactical pants but the real test came with this pair of L.L. Bean hiking shorts that I have. They have an elastic waist with a built in belt and have a lining much like a bathing suit. They are insanely comfortable but aren’t really well suited for CCW given how thin and light weight they are. Well I’m here to tell you, the combo of these shorts and the Remora was a match made in heaven. The holster stayed tight to my skin and was held in place more than adequately by the elastic and built in “belt” of the shorts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not gonna run a marathon with it or anything but for day to day life this holster is quite secure. One very cool ability of this holster is that you’re not locked into a particular style of carry. If you want S.O.B, you’ve got it. If you want cross draw, you’ve got it. If you want no cant, well you’ve got that too. All is possible and all are very comfortable. One more method of carry I found that suited the Remora extremely well was tucking it in between the center console and seat in my car as a secure car carry method.
So let me get to the down side of the holster. I had a good friend of mine also test the holster while I was away in a state where I couldn’t carry a gun. He is a tow truck driver and is constantly in and out of his truck, crawling around on the ground and contorting himself into all kinds of strange positions on a daily basis. He also happens to be a rather skinny individual and initially had a difficult time finding a spot where the holster would hold secure. Once he was able to find a place to carry the holster it stayed firmly where he put it throughout his daily activities, but it would take a fair amount of training on his part to learn a draw from a new position. I don’t suffer from that same affliction and was able to find plenty of places where the holster could be comfortably secured, most importantly I was able to place it exactly where I position all my other holsters.
I found in my testing that the Remora is well suited for an EDC holster as I’ve been using it as one for a couple months now. If you require higher retention or a holster that will stay in place during more rugged activities then the Remora may not be for you however. As stated before Remora offers a few different options for their holsters so it’s worth checking out their full line up to see if they have one for you.
How many times have you gotten a dirty look or worse from your significant other for cleaning your gun at the dinner table? I have more than once! Usually I have an assortment or rags spread out with various gun parts and chemicals before me. I still get the dirty looks, but I don’t scratch the table any longer. I recently invested in several Tekmats that are specific to my guns.
We all have to clean our guns, or want to lay out our gear before shooting. If you shoot a high-end piece of equipment, then why not protect it and look cool at the same time? Tekmat makes high quality mats with a soft polyester top and neoprene bottom. They are tough as nails and gentle on your gun and any surface you place your gun on. I rather like the exploded view of my guns and also have a Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me”.
There are mats for both short and long guns as well as statement mats that are pro 2nd amendment. If you want to look like a pro or have a nice gun you don’t want scratched, Tekmat is the way to go. I personally have one for every weapon I own. Let’s face it in the world of guns most things are over priced, but these bad boys are extremely affordable and cheap insurance for your gun as well as furniture surfaces. Go check out the website, http://www.tekmat.com/, and find a few for your guns as well.
So like many of you, I’ve got a dog. Actually I’ve got 4 dogs but only one is obedient and trained well enough to work as my partner so to speak. His name is Wyatt (as in Earp) and he’s an Australian Shepherd, which is one of the most spectacular dog breeds I’ve had the pleasure of having as a companion. As I’ve said before I’m prior military and law enforcement and I have worked around lots of working dogs but I’m not a law enforcement K9 handler or a SAR K9 handler though, I have worked in SAR as well. I am however, a very enthusiastic dog owner and have been trying to find a good way to better incorporate my K9 friend into my outdoor pursuits and bad day planning. I decided that the best way to do that would be to find a load carrying vest for Wyatt. There are a few options available for various harnesses and vests for dogs out there that are more or less acceptable, but very little exists out there that is truly custom and tailored to fit. What you usually wind up with is something that needs to constantly be adjusted and doesn’t quite fit your dog as well as it could.
This is where Paul at ForceK9 comes in. Paul makes some pretty outstanding vests for dogs. Vests that range from SAR vests with reflective panels in place that are made in the standard colors for the job, to full on MOLLE tactical vests built in most any camo pattern or color that would make the most hardened of tactical operators a little jealous. I chose the latter to better suit Wyatt’s and my needs. In order to have the vest tailored for your dog, obviously you will need to provide measurements and that process is well described on the ForceK9 website, and if you get a measurement that may be a little off, Paul will double check it with you. Then you wait. ForceK9 is a one man operation at the moment so there is a lead time but it’s very reasonable. So lets dig into the details of the vest here.
Drop-forged V-ring for leash/harness attachment
Control handle integrated into harness
Multi-use Adjustable Mission Platform (staggered MOLLE-compatible PALS webbing/Velcro Loop/Elastic Cord) on top for mounting equipment/lights/strobes/accessories
MOLLE-compatible PALS webbing (6 columns by 3 Rows) on both sides
Loop fields on sides for mounting ID/name patches
Fully adjustable front and belly straps
Secure ITW Hardware, Mil-Spec webbing and Thread
Durable 1000 denier Dupont Cordura™ fabric
Compact, custom QuickFit™ design
Semi-tailored to fit your dogs body
Lots of thought went into this vest. The quality of the stitching is well above par and the vest is supremely durable, without stifling your buddy under the vest. There is a nice mesh stitched inside the vest to give a nice offset from the fur. The MOLLE is covered in a loop field so if you don’t want to attach pouches to the vest you can attach patches and ID panels for the LEO and rescue types. The whole spine of the vest is also covered in a staggered MOLLE webbing with a loop field and a very useful elastic cord criss cross. The control handle is a fantastic tool on the vest and the drop forged V-ring is an extremely durable anchor point for leads. It’s the exact same piece that’s used on the ever popular riggers belt for rappelling. The buckles are very strong and durable and hold very well.
It took about a solid day of wear for my buddy Wyatt to get used to the idea of wearing a vest around. He did very well with it however. We went on a few solid day hikes to really break it in. With the adjustment straps cinched down (not too tight of course) the vest stayed right in place. I experimented with various pouches to attach to the vest (a Maxpedition admin pouch and an IFAK) to add a little load to the vest and increase carrying ability. One of the most useful things was the elastic cording on the spine of the vest. I was able to slide in a light rain jacket that was held very securely, and allowed me to keep my load nice and light. The other night, we were out and about and it was dark where we were so in order to keep Wyatt visible, I was able to easily weave a chemlight into the staggered MOLLE webbing along the spine of the vest for easy location purposes. By attaching pouches to the vest you permit the dog to carry their own food, water, medical kit and any other necessary gear for any trips longer than a day hike. This is a pretty awesome ability, when weight needs to be kept to a minimum in your pack. One thing to keep in mind though is that much like you, your dog needs to work up to being able to carry a load so conditioning prior to your trip is important.
This vest is fantastic. It allows for endless customization based on your mission or task at hand. It’s made as well or better than any of the high quality tactical gear that I’ve used as a professional. It’s comfortable on the dog and very stable and STRONG! I can pick up my 60+lb dog by the vest to put him in my vehicle (he doesn’t like to jump in the Jeep for some reason) or over a fence or in a window for that matter. If your working dog or companion dog is in the market for a little tactical upgrades, then look no further than ForceK9, their products will do you right!
You could probably tell that I liked this product from my initial review. The fact is that this is an extremely affordable, useful pack that just about anyone can use. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the product.
The overall size of the Outlaw is 684 cubic inches that translates to a lot of storage space is a very useable size that you can carry on a daily basis. The main compartment is 5” H x 8”W x 4”D (480 cubic inches) and has internal organizer pockets that can be used if needed. They are definitely helpful and don’t get in the way when folded flat. The top front storage area is 4.5″ H x 7.5″ W x 2″ D (68 cubic inches) and the bottom front is8.5″ H x 8″ W x 2″ D (136 cubic inches)both also have internal organizers as well. One of the great features that I love is the hydration sleeve. It can be used with a hydration bladder or you can stow your weapon in the same area for off body carry without anyone noticing.
The Outlaw is made of heavy-duty 600D PVC nylon.There are others similar products made of thicker nylon, but honestly I prefer this weight as it is easier to work with, more pliable, and quieter. Another thing that I expected not to like was the buckle hardware. It’s thin and pliable unlike some similar packs I have used in the past. I thought it was cheap, I was wrong. I beat the things with a hammer in an attempt to break them…. didn’t work! The buckles are still in great shape, no cracks and no distortion. What I though was skimping was actually a great feature for hard use.
This particular pack is best suited to three civilian missions in my opinion, the first is as an EDC pack for CCW holders that want to have a lot of gear just in case all hell breaks loose. At one point I carried a pack with a change of clothes, medical kit, and basic survival gear if I became stranded while out and about. This pack is perfect for that and could be stowed in the trunk or behind a seat easily.
The second use would be for hunters that don’t want or need to be weighed down. The shoulder strap is designed for the left shoulder for better weapon shouldering and the bag can be worn in front with contents comfortably accessed while sitting if you decide to take it on a hunt and use it while in a tree stand. Again it has the hydration bladder and plenty of room for anything you need if the weather turns or your transportation breaks down.
The third would be for hiking. I enjoy getting out, especially when it begins to cool down, and spending some time just walking around in the woods. The size is perfect as you don’t need a full 3 day pack, but definitely need some gear in case of a fall or just somewhere to keep your gun that doesn’t scream I’M ARMED! If you’re a pet owner it would even work great to keep some gear for fido as well. A dog on a hike is always more fun if ya ask me.
Thus far I have used the Outlaw mostly as a range bag and to keep my gear out of the weather. I’ll be testing it out on hikes and beating it up as much as possible very soon. At this point, I expect it to perform extremely well. I’ll give another update to let you know how things go during real world testing over a long period of use. Until then check out 3V Gear and put some lead down range.
First let me say thanks to Zak for his generosity in providing Laymen’s Tactical with the Outlaw to review. I’ve had a chance now to use this bag a few times, and let me say I love this bad boy! The uses for the Outlaw sling pack are almost endless and it swallows a ton of gear despite it’s small appearance.
The main purpose I have used the bag for to date is training and range days. It was truly amazing how much fit into this pack. All joking aside I fit two handguns, two holsters and mag holders, five hundred rounds of ammunition, eye protection, ear protection, and had room to spare. I’m serious when I say this bag has the ability to swallow up gear like there is no tomorrow.
I don’t usually use a pack of any kind for EDC, but I’m definitely rethinking that decision. For the CCW crowd, this is a very viable and affordable route to go for off body carry or just keeping additional gear handy while out and about. I’ll be carrying this pack daily and using it for anything and everything I can think of, so stay tuned for an all encompassing review in the future. If you haven’t checked them out yet, go to http://3vgear.com/ .
These guys know what they are doing, their gear is top quality, and they have a lot to offer. If you’re a knife lover like myself, they offer those as well.