The Pistol Caliber Carbine

So much focus has been placed on the AR platform. It’s a fantastic system. It’s reliable, compact, powerful and plentiful. I think however that there is another choice in the defensive carbine game.


Beretta CX4 Storm

Pistol caliber carbines (PCC) seem to be overlooked a fair amount for one reason or another, I’m not really sure why frankly. The value of putting a pistol caliber round through a 16″ barrel with a long sight radius is extremely high. Terminal ballistics are improved, accuracy is greatly improved and ease of shooting is outstanding. A great resource to check is Ballistics By The Inch, they have painstakingly gone through a huge swath of pistol ammunition and testing its performance in various barrel lengths. On the average for a 9mm cartridge, the velocity is increased by 200fps and muzzle energy is increased by at least 100ft-lb. That’s an incredible increase in power from a pistol round! Straight walled cartridges feed very reliably in the available carbines as well. While these handy carbines are very useful, they are limited on range. The AR platform is easily effective out to 500yds or more depending on the operator. The PCC is good for 100yds in my humble opinion. The round will most certainly travel further and will travel with more than enough energy to do damage at great distances but I’m talking about effective range. The range at which the round is still going to do what it was designed to do.


Hi-Point 995TS

There are quite a few more available options for PCC’s than there were a few years ago. There are AR platform PCC’s which (depending on maker) can be spotty with reliability  depending on brand and use a myriad of different stick style magazines and tend to be on the heavy side, the JRC carbine is a nice and well thought out option that uses Glock magazines and has been reviewed here. It is offered in 9mm, .40S&W and .45 ACP. Hi-Point has produced a PCC for years and is reliable and incredibly affordable though it has a face only a mother could love, their customer service and warranty is second to none though. Beretta has a very nice and expensive carbine.  Hi-Point’s carbine is also available in the big 3 pistol calibers and uses proprietary 9-10rnd magazines. The futuristic CX4  uses a few different Beretta pistol magazines as options and with the aid of an adapter can be swapped out at will. Lone Wolf is now producing a PCC and components to manufacture your own that utilizes Glock magazines like the JRC Carbine but is all AR platform. I haven’t had the opportunity to get my hands on one but it looks incredibly promising with it’s only detractor being cost. The Kel-Tec Sub2000 is an incredible choice as well. The carbine sports a polymer receiver and the ability to fold in half for easy storage makes it really stand out. The lightweight Kel-Tec has models that accept Glock, Beretta and Smith & Wesson model 59 magazines. (The Model 59 mags work in their P-11 handgun as well) and is available in 9mm or .40 S&W.


JRC Carbine

There are more models coming to market these days as the awareness of how useful a PCC can be is increasing. The ability to share ammunition and possibly magazines is really excellent. These abilities simplify ammunition purchasing and storage and gear choices such as magazine pouches. These carbines allow for so much more accuracy than the pistols that shoot the same round and are easier to shoot than a handgun as well. Those looking for a home defense option would be well served with a pistol caliber carbine. With the right ammunition, these are more than adequate as woods guns and can be used to take small to medium game to put food on the table. For those of you that are reloaders, the straight walled pistol cartridges are easier to reload as well. Brass and projectiles are plentiful for handgun ammunition. These useful little carbines are absolutely worth purchasing and integrating into your systems.

Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 2.0

Beretta 8040 Cougar in Cloak Tuck 2.0

Beretta 8040 Cougar in Cloak Tuck 2.0

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. 

Brooks Tactical Agrip REVIEW

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???

Emergency Comms

baofeng-uv5rSo 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 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.

The Case for a Full Size Carry Gun

1911So today I wanted to talk about the benefits of carrying a full sized fighting gun. As many of you know there is, and has for as long as handguns existed, a trend towards carrying a small compact pocket model for defensive purposes. I sincerely want to change that, at least as much as I can. CCW methods are deeply personal things for many people, what I plan on illustrating works very well for me. I am not a small man, I’m 5’10” and about 220lbs on a light day so that tends to open up some concealed carry methods to me that I wouldn’t have had if it was back at my active duty military fighting weight of 170lbs but that was a long time ago.

I know that there are many of you out there will argue with me until you’re blue in the face that I’m wrong. Well I’m sorry you feel that way. I have always preferred a full sized gun. It offers so many more advantages over smaller pocket guns such as better ballistics, higher capacity, more reliability (bear with me here) all with not but a couple detractors. Size and weight tend to be the biggest issues cited when people decide against carrying a full sized gun, perhaps that it’s uncomfortable. I agree with those but a simple shift in carry method or minor modification of wardrobe can negate many of those complaints. When you’re carrying a large handgun your options for carry methods are pretty wide open. You lose pocket carry but maintain all manner of waist mounted options and then you have shoulder holsters which I’m fond of in the right circumstances. You also can consider off body carry. I could go into a lot of details about off body carry but there is only one big concern I have with that method of carry, and that’s maintaining positive control of the receptacle in which you’re carrying your handgun. There are whole host of backpacks, book bags, laptop cases, day planners ..etc that are available and designed specifically for off body carry. If that option suits you then do your research and have at it. For on body carry, the venerable and ever popular IWB hybrid holster is a very popular and comfortable option; and with many makers on the market today you’re sure to find one to fit your budget and your gun. But the big issue that you run into when you’re carrying a full sized handgun is printing (the visible outline of the grip of your pistol through your clothing). Its hard to get around printing but there are ways to help disguise it as much as you can. Wearing a heavier or thicker cover garment (whether it’s a t-shirt or button down or a polo) will help immensely, as will wearing a patterned button down shirt which is one of my most favorite methods. It doesn’t get rid of the print but it does help to break up the outline of the grip to fool the eye a little better. Generally speaking, a tuckable IWB holster will be a little harder to pull off with a full sized double stack handgun, there is just going to be some printing with this method.

cougarIf I can avoid it, I’d never want to deal with an armed confrontation with a small pocket gun. Don’t get me wrong, My LC9 has treated me well and it’s great to shoot and reliable, and I like to carry it as a backup but it’s my last ditch gun generally. It would never be my first grab when the chips fall. The capacity just isn’t there, the barrel length isn’t there, the heft and feeling of confidence isn’t there and the way I grip, my support hand thumb tends to drag on the slide if I’m not careful. I have that problem with every small gun I’ve shot, it’s the curse of having big hands. The LC9 is about as small a gun as I can shoot comfortably. A LCP/P3AT sized gun just wouldn’t work for me. So that brings me full circle back to the full sized gun. Well in full disclosure, when I say “full sized” I’m more talking about the frame size versus the barrel length. My go to gun for quite a few years now (even when I had a Glock 23 as my department issued duty gun) has been my Beretta 8040 Cougar. I have had the opportunity to use my Cougar as a duty gun and a CCW gun for a long time. It shoots beautifully but it’s not a small gun. It has many of the same controls and some interchangeable parts with Beretta’s 92 series and was a very comfortable transition gun for me from the military to the civilian world. I’ve already done a review of it so I won’t go to far into the details but it’s a boringly reliable gun and I can conceal it well and it’s above all comfortable to carry. A gun that’s not carried comfortably will get left behind when you may need it most and that is a big deal. Am I able to carry my Beretta all the time? Of course not. There are times where my attire or the situation dictates a more discrete carry or the inability to carry a firearm at all. That being said, the Beretta is never far away, or a rifle for that matter (if that’s legal in your area). The LC9 becomes my option to fight to a bigger gun if that’s all I am able  to carry.

I hope I’ve given you a few things to  think about here. There are so many benefits to the full sized fighting gun that carrying anything else just seems like an unnecessary compromise to me. I firmly believe that the gun you have is better than no gun at all but at the end of the day, a full sized gun can make a significant difference in your survival in gunfight.

Remora IWB Holster

Beretta 8040 in Remora IWB

Beretta 8040 in Remora IWB

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.

Gunfighter Mods Pt.2

So when I last left you I was recommending modifications for true a gunfighter, those that train with their weapons and carry them daily. Let me start with what I don’t feel you should do. Don’t spend several thousand dollars on a custom gun with extremely high tolerances. A $4500 1911 may be a sweet piece to brag about and may shoot the nuts off a gnat, but they also fail on a regular basis due to the extreme tolerance levels they are built to. Obviously not ideal for daily carry or a real shootout situation. What one needs is a weapon that will work every time no matter what, period. You don’t need a Barstow barrel installed by a gunsmith in your Glock to win a gun fight. You don’t need the latest and greatest in optic either. What you need are simple usable modifications that compliment your weapon and shooting abilities.



This post may explain why I carry what some consider an antiquated handgun on a daily basis. Many consider a 92 series Beretta to be less than ideal. I obviously disagree with the nay sayers. When I recommend guns to students and clients I always explain the  fact that whatever you carry it needs to be time tested and proven (none more so that the Beretta 92 series). A good example is the NC Highway Patrol. They traded from the Beretta 8000 series Cougars to S&W M&P’s in .357Sig. Guess what, they had issues from the “latest and greatest” on the market. I’m by no means bashing the M&P line, I own one and adore it! There were issues with the gun because it was new and because of the high pressure cartridge that was chosen.

The issue was the extractor in the M&P, it failed due to the abuse of the sheer pressure of the .357Sig cartridge on the weapon. Conversely, the NC Dept of Corrections also carries the M&P but in 9mm and has had zero issues. This brings us to the first recommendation when it comes to daily carry gun; Buy a solid platform that has been around the block, experienced the routine recalls and had  all the issues addressed. Smith and Wesson addressed the issues of the extractors as well as the trigger safety and have one hell of a fine weapon now! Apex also makes solid aftermarket parts for the M&P line that  up the game to a whole new level.

Speaking of APEX, these guys make several iteration of triggers for several guns. From “duty” to “smoothed”, to “competition” trigger set ups they have you covered, as do many other manufacturers. Which brings me to my first real modification, triggers! From the factory guns are similar to automobiles in that they are built from a one size fits all, let us not get sued standpoint. Trigger weight is assigned for the sake of so-called safety so that litigation doesn’t occur, and not so that the weapon is optimally primed for daily use or even reliability. I’m by no means saying that everyone needs a 3lb. trigger set up. What I am saying is that the mechanism can be tuned and smoothed, or possibly lightened to assist in the speed and accuracy of your shooting.Rogers_Glock_Gri_4fedc8daa239b

The usability of your weapon is another reason for modification. Usability can mean a lot of things to people as it is subjective to an individual. In my case I felt that the magazine release on my gun was too small to be activated under high stress and therefore replaced it with a much larger one from Beretta. For you it may mean installing an aftermarket magwell extension, or contouring the back strap of your polymer pistol. It may be as simple as installing night sights. Each person is different and the uses of their weapons are just as different.

The main goal in any modification is to make your weapon an extension of your body so that it is as accurate and reliable as possible. My recommendation is that you learn about your gun, find areas of weakness, and fix them with reliable parts. I could give you a laundry list of must have modification, but that in my opinion is cheating. Fads come and go, but a weapon built for you will fit you for a lifetime. So if you want to put a set of grips on your gun to see if its more comfortable to shoot, DO IT! If you want to install that over sized front sight on your baby Glock, by all means have it done. Parts are cheap and life is priceless. Find what works well for you and makes your gun part of your person, and keep in mind to never install a modification that could compromise your firearm’s reliability.

Combat vs. Competition…The real facts.

3I am not Anti-competition shooting, but I do find fault with most of the competitions out there. The reason being is that they are not realistic and cause the shooter to form extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street. Now I realize that most gun owners will never be involved in a shooting incident, but it can happen at any moment to any of us. Hence  my passion to train in a realistic manner so that I am prepared as well as those I regularly train. I also despise indoor ranges that don’t allow realistic shooting. If one can’t even draw his weapon from the holster, how can he be prepared for a real life shoot out?

Competition shooters are on the whole amazingly fast when it comes to getting off accurate shots. In and of itself that is a great thing. however there are some huge down falls. To start, all targets are single shot targets for the most part. Training yourself to fire one bullet at a target can mean your death in real life. Regardless of what caliber you shoot, in a real life gun fight you will generally need multiple shots on target to end a threat to your life. Training to fire once and then look for more targets can be a deadly habit to form.

Secondly, speed reigns supreme in competition. Speed is important, but not at the expense of accuracy and tactical technique. A good example of this is the goofy overhand grip you see many 3-gun shooters using. It’s said that this grip helps them steer  the gun. Ok, whatever works for them is fine because no one is shooting back! The problem is that many people see this technique and adopt it without considering real life situations. The most solid offhand shooting platform is using a vertical or horizontal grip that allows you to pull the gun tight into your shoulder pocket with your arms tucked in tight. This helps reduce muzzle rise, make quicker follow up shots, and assists in overall control of your weapon. What’s  even better is the use of the kneeling or prone position if possible. By doing so you reduce your profile and make yourself a smaller target as well as form a more solid shooting platform by having the ability to triangulate your limbs for support. In a real life shootout if the rifle or carbine has come out it is pretty damned serious and likely everything is happening at a distance where cover can be chosen, so this isn’t necessarily a hindrance to be prone because you have dug into your position and it’s safe. If you only practice off hand you will remain standing when you should be looking for cover and making yourself as small a target as humanly possible.GSLDTIntermediate38

Speaking of cover, competition shooters never use cover in a tactical manner. They use the cover in a manner that facilitates speed. There is never any “slicing the pie” technique. What I normally see is peek and shoot at  best or the shooter leaning out as far as possible to engage as many targets as possible. My other huge gripe with competition shooting is that there are only so many configurations for a  shooting stage in a match. A person can become like a trained pony and expect certain things when shooting rather than reacting to the clear and present danger at hand. No matter how you cut it, this can be a bad habit to form that will get you killed. Muscle memory is what controls your ability to shoot under extreme stress. If  your muscles remember doing the same things over and over then that is what they will do. Shooting two close targets, five medium range target, and four long range targets at varying heights is great for a match, but isn’t very realistic.  What happens when your strong side is injured in a fight and you have to shoot with your weak hand? Or you trip and have to shoot from your back? Did you practice these things while preparing for that 3-gun shoot? Of course you didn’t. A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.


Finally, competition shooting breeds an environment of gizmos, gadgets, and race guns. Reflex sights are great,  but batteries fail. Any electronic gadget can and will fail, especially under harsh conditions. Daily carry is harsh! My gun gets wet, dirty, and beat up daily. The other big consideration  is that the more there is hanging off your gun the more likely you are to snag your gun upon drawing it from the holster. Competition shooters usually have belts set up for just that competition. Everything on the belt is easily reached and even the holster is built for speed. You aren’t going to carry your gun in the same manner that you shoot it in a competition. You’d walk around looking like Wyatt Earp at best and an idiot at worst.

Now I said at the beginning of this that I am not against matches or competition shooting, and I’m not. My point in this post is to make you think. If you shoot IDPA or any other discipline, that’s great! Just don’t neglect real world training for real world situation that can and will occur. Mix things up, find new and different ways to challenge yourself and don’t live life preparing for a competition when your life is on the line!

Tekmat Review

17-gadsdenHow 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”.

17-swmp_2There 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,, and find a few for your guns as well.

ForceK9 TACVest


Source: ForceK9

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.


Source: ForceK9

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
  • CoolSoft™ Technology

fiveLots 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.

threeIt 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.

photo 5This 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!