Handguns & Pistols

A while back I did a post highlighting why firearms enthusiasts like myself, who love to talk about guns, sometimes hesitate when asked exactly which gun to buy.  Well, here I present two very specific, phenomenal handgun recommendations.  Whether you’re deliberating over your first handgun purchase, or adding a new pistol to an existing collection, these are excellent recommendations.  You can’t go wrong with the GLOCK 19, nor with the SIG SAUER P320, both of which are compact handguns chambered for the 9X19 NATO.

 

The GLOCK 19, aka G19.

GLOCK19

A Gen4 GLOCK G19 M.O.S.

The GLOCK 19 – EASILY my first recommendation.  Though, technically, they may not have  invented the genre, GLOCK certainly popularized the  polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun.  I actually remember when GLOCK pistols first hit the U.S. market, way back in 1986.  My Dad and I were early adopters of the then revolutionary, “plastic” handguns.  Now, 30 years later, (Happy Birthday GLOCK!), GLOCK polymer-framed, striker-fired, “Safe-Action” pistols dominate the U.S. handgun market.  In fact, the GLOCK 19,  chambered in 9mm, is one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols of all times, used widely by Military & Law Enforcement around the World.  In fact, roughly 2 in 3 law enforcement professionals choose GLOCK pistols as their primary duty gun. 

So, What Makes the GLOCK 19 so Popular?

  • GLOCK Ruggedness, Reliability, Ease of Use, & Ease of Maintenance.  They flat out work. GLOCK is the AK of the pistols in terms of ease of use, maintenance and reliability.  They are ultra-reliable.  They are also very easy to shoot well, even for new shooters, which instills confidence and promotes use.  Finally, GLOCK pistols are simple to field strip and maintain.

GLOCK19-FieldStrip

  • The outstanding GLOCK Safe-Action Trigger.  Any sharp-shooter will tell you the trigger is key, and GLOCK’s “Safe Action” trigger is a great trigger.  Though odd looking when first introduced, you don’t even feel the center tab, which is actually part of a built-in safety system, when firing the gun.  Instead, you feel very little take-up, the slightest bit of creep, and a great, always consistent pull, that breaks around ~5.5lbs.

 

  • The GLOCK 19 is the Jack of All Trades, & Master of Many.  Though considered a Compact (see NUTNFANCY’s “Compact It Ain’t” video), the GLOCK 19 doesn’t give up much in sight radius, barrel length or magazine capacity when compared to traditional, full-size guns.  The low bore axis of the ~4″ barrel, combined with the ~6″ sight radius and full, three finger grip make the GLOCK 19 very soft-shooting, which, like the excellent trigger, improves accuracy and confidence.  This makes the GLOCK 19 a great choice for new shooters, and overall just perfect for home defense, recreational shooting and even entry level competition use.  However, unlike most full-size pistols, the GLOCK 19 is still compact & light enough to easily carry concealed.  In fact, the GLOCK 19 fulfills so many roles, so well, it could be the only handgun you’d ever truly need.  (ha!  except for all the other ones you want, like something smaller and lighter for summer concealment…or maybe a wheel gun…)  Anyway, there are definite advantages to having one gun that flexes easily into a multitude of roles.  

If that’s not enough of an endorsement, check out who else favors the GLOCK 19:

That’s great company.

Honestly, I’ve shot a lot of different handguns over the last 35+ years, of all different types, of all different calibers, from all different manufacturers.  Some of my best shooting is done with GLOCK pistols.  To me, GLOCK pistols feel great in-hand; they point naturally, the balance feels right & the trigger is great.  It’s ready to go, right out of the box.

GLOCK19-Set

A Gen4 GLOCK G19 with most of its trimmings, as it comes from the factory.

So, considering how well I shoot GLOCK pistols, combined with their longstanding, successful track record of ruggedness and reliability, especially knowing who trusts their lives to GLOCK pistols, you can easily understand why the GLOCK 19 is at the top of my list.

Street prices range from just under $600 to around $660, for the base model Gen4 G19, and new-for-2016 Gen4 M.O.S. version, respectively.  Those prices include a lock, three 15 round magazines, unless restricted to 10 rounds in your state, and a set of backstops that enable you to perfectly fit the GLOCK 19 to your hand.  Additional factory GLOCK G19 magazines are available at a very modest cost of ~$25, and Magpul has recently released an extremely affordable line of their famous PMAGs for GLOCK pistols.  (One neat thing with GLOCK pistols is magazine compatibility, which in this case means G17 & G18 magazines will work in your G19.  Just make sure those magazines are legal in your jurisdiction should you decide to pursue increased magazine capacity.)  The M.O.S. version, which I believe is well worth the money, includes four adapter plates that enable you to mount your choice of best of breed reflex / holographic style optics, like your EOTECH, to your GLOCK 19.  That’s right, your AR-15 red dot optic now works on your GLOCK.  Click here to find out more.

GLOCK-G19-BackstrapSet

GLOCK G19 Backstrap Set

GLOCK-MOS-Set

GLOCK G19 MOS Adapter Set

The SIG SAUER P320. 

SIGP320-9-FDE

SIG SAUER P320C-9-FDE, for Compact, 9×19, Flat Dark Earth.

The P320 is SIG SAUER‘s GLOCK inspired, polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol, in a Modular Handgun System (MHS).  Developed as SIG’s entry into the U.S. Army’s XM17 competition for a new sidearm, the P320  was introduced at SHOT Show 2014, and has since been extremely well received by the civilian market.  In fact, the SIG SAUERP320 just received the 2016 Handgun of the Year NRA Golden Bullseye award.

So, Why the SIG SAUER P320?

  • Legendary SIG SAUER Quality and Reliability.  Judging from friends and family on the job, it seems that the U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies not carrying a GLOCK are carrying a SIG.  In fact, SIG SAUER is proud to report that nearly 1 in 3 law enforcement professionals use SIG SAUER firearms,” including U.S. Navy SEALs, Federal Air Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard.  That’s one hell of an endorsement from agencies that can choose any sidearm they like, and wouldn’t accept something that didn’t work.  As a result of their successful military and law enforcement heritage, SIG SAUER has earned a reputation for producing high-quality, rugged, reliable handguns, with an excellent fit & finish, or attention to detail.  While some may knock GLOCK’s blocky, utilitarian looks, a quick look through some of their different models will show you SIG certainly knows a thing or two about how to build some sexy, high-end looking guns.  Obviously, if you’re a die-hard SIG fan (and there are many), who wants in on the current polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun trend, then the P320 is definitely your gun.  (You had me at, ”polymer-frame, striker-fired SIG!).

SIGP320-FieldStripped

  • The SIG P320 Trigger is Amazing.  Right out of the box, the P320 trigger is simply fantastic!  There’s very little take-up, the slightest bit of creep,  then it breaks like glass, that seems to defy it’s 5.5-6.5lb stated weight.  This is high praise  from someone who for a long time believed GLOCK triggers were the best factory trigger for the genre, and they were, for a long, long time.

 

  •  The P320 Modular Handgun System (MHS) is the rest of the story here. Originally designed as SIG’s entry into the U.S. Army’s XM17 MHS contest for a new sidearm, the SIG SAUER P320 debuted at SHOT Show 2014, and has since been a home run with civilians.  I mentioned the XM17 MHS program, and specifically the SIG P320 in my post on 2016 Firearms Industry Predictions, but in case you missed it, the MHS is great for first time buyers, and for folks who live in more restrictive sates.  Why?  The MHS eliminates the risk of buying the wrong gun, and enables you to flex one gun into a multitude of roles.  Let’s face it, any firearms purchase is a big deal.  I mean, it’s a major responsibility, and buying high-quality, best of breed guns is not an inexpensive proposition.  So, the decision is usually preceded by a lot of research, reflection and analysis.  Depending upon where you live, the process may also involve a lengthy and potentially restrictive permit application process.  It’s a big deal, and there’s nothing worse than  realizing you’ve bought the wrong gun, which believe it or not, happens a lot.  It wrecks your confidence, and takes all the fun out of recreational shooting, which is the last thing you want to do, especially with new shooters. Again, the modular Sig Sauer P320 completely eliminates the risk of being stuck with the wrong gun, and allows you to completely change your gun, or just the COLOR of your gun, as your skills, experience, needs and wants evolve and change.
p320-rotate0

The SIG P320 Serialized Chassis; this is actually your gun…

SIG-320-Components

…and these are all the P320 compatible components that work with your gun.

I recommend starting with the Compact 9mm, which is essentially the same size as the above recommended GLOCK 19, and therefore provides many of the same benefits.  However, unlike the GLOCK 19, the SIG P320 can be changed into a Subcompact, a Full-size or even made to fire a different caliber without technically having to buy a new gun, and for a little less cost than buying a complete new gun.  It’s almost like having the GLOCK 17,  19 and 26 all in one “gun.”  It may not make sense for everyone, but the modularity of the SIG SAUER P320 is a major advantage for folks who live in states that have lengthy, potentially restrictive handgun application processes, which normally don’t allow you to exchange, or trade-in your new gun for a different model if you discover the gun you just purchased doesn’t work for you.  It’s also incredibly useful for NRA instructors, like myself, who may frequently work with new shooters of all different sizes and statures, or who may want to try shooting a full-size, compact and subcompact before making their own purchase decision.      

Street prices for the Compact 9mm with SIGLITE night sights are around $650, which is a great price for legendary SIG quality, and right in-line with the GLOCK 19.  The price includes a lock, two 15 round magazines, unless restricted to 10 rounds in your state, and a fairly nice, very usable holster.

SIGP320-Set

A SIG SAUER P320C-9-FDE, with most of its trimmings, as it comes from the factory.

SigP320-Holster

The included OWB (outside the waistband) paddle holster is actually quite nice and has decent retention right out of the box, that can also be adjusted if it loosens up over time.

The included holster is a nice touch SIG SAUER, though frankly I would have preferred an additional magazine.  Speaking of which, factory SIG magazines for the P320 are readily available, they just cost ~$50, because SIG is really proud of their magazines… 🙂 Regardless of whether you get the full-size, Carry, Compact, or Subcompact, most guns ship with the Medium size frame, but additional Small and Large grip modules are available in your choice of Black, FDE (Flat Dark Earth) or ODG (Olive Drab Green) for ~$50 so you can perfectly fit the SIG P320 to your hand size and color preferences.  Complete caliber / size conversion kits cost ~$400, and yes, we’re all hoping that number comes down a bit over time.

 

The GLOCK 19 and SIG SAUER P320: You Can’t Go Wrong with Either.  Get ‘Em Both if You Can’t Decide!

I’ve recently spent time on the firing line with both the GLOCK 19 and SIG P320, and I’ve subsequently field-stripped both, and given them a thorough cleaning.  Both are HIGH-QUALITY, EXTREMELY DEPENDABLE, RELIABLE, EXCELLENT PISTOLS that are easy to shoot well – so long as you do your part – and both will serve you very well, in a multitude of roles; be it home defense, recreational shooting, concealed carry, or even as a way to test your skills at competition.  Whether you’re choosing your first handgun or just expanding the collection, you can’t go wrong with either.  If you want the original, and are heavily influenced by what the NYPD & Navy SEALs carry, then get the GLOCK 19.  If you’re partial to SIG, or like the flexibility and “wrong-gun-risk-mitigation” provided by modularity, then get the P320.  And if you really can’t decide, then get em both!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2016 Inside The X Ring.

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was created with the purpose of safeguarding the freedom and security of its members, through political and military means.  As of mid-2016, there are 28 Member Countries across primarily North American and Europe, but also including Turkey, which straddles Europe and Western Asia.

…and Military Means”  NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes, but if diplomatic efforts fail, NATO has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations.  Such operations can be carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO’s founding treaty, or via UN mandate.  NATO countries may act alone, or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

As a result of the Treaty, NATO member countries have standardized use of certain ammunition for certain firearms:

  • 9×19 NATO is the sidearm, or handgun, cartridge of choice.
  • 5.56×45 NATO is the intermediate, or Assault Rifle, cartridge of choice.
  • 7.62×51 NATO is the longer-range rifle, sniper and medium machine gun cartridge of choice.  (Note that in some cases, other rounds are also used for long range sniping, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua Magnum.)
NATO-Catridges

7.62×51, 5.56×45 & 9×19 NATO

 

The Benefits of Ammunition Standardization & Alignment for NATO Members.

Standardization and common use of ammunition provides the following, extremely important logistical benefits: 

  • Interoperability & Ammunition Sharing between NATO forces. 
  • Commonality of manufacturing, and reduced manufacturing costs. 
  • Widespread, Global availability, which greatly reduces delivery costs and complexities.

Knowing brave men and women from the United States proudly serve all over the globe, alongside militaries from other NATO member countries, standardization is a key strategy for ensuring ammo is always available, in large quantities, when and where needed, and doing so in a cost effective manner.

 

Why is this Important to Firearms Enthusiast?

Quite simply, NATO spec ammunition is effective, ubiquitous, and relatively cheap.  Despite what you read in some corners of the InterWeb, and while everything has limitations and tradeoffs, major NATO countries wouldn’t have standardized around these rounds.  Nor would these rounds continue to remain the standard if they weren’t effective.  And since they are the standards, 9×19, 5.56×45 and 7.62×51 can be found just about everywhere in the World; in large quantities, and generally at reasonable prices since “surplus” ammo is often made available to the public.  So, until something drastically changes (like the .300 Blackout supersedes 5.56 as the intermediate round of choice), NATO ammo will continue to be mass produced, and continue to be available at reasonable prices, long into the foreseeable future.  The same cannot necessarily be said for non-NATO imported ammo, and that’s without even getting into the doomsday, SHTF, prepper arguments, which we’ll leave to other corners of the InterWeb.   

Another benefit of guns designed to fire NATO rounds is that they can generally also safely fire the “civilian” version of the NATO round.  Depending upon the actual caliber you choose, this potentially gives you more options, and options are always good.  For example, guns chambered for 5.56 NATO can safely fire .223 Remington rounds, but the reverse is NOT true.  This is because per SAAMI specs, the 5.56 NATO round is loaded to a hire pressure than .223 Remington.  It’s a similar story for 9mm NATO ammo, where true mil-spec 9mm NATO is loaded to a higher pressure than standard 9×19 Luger.  9mm NATO is actually closer to “+P” SAAMI spec commercial ammo.  That said, since there is one in every bunch, it’s important to note that .308 Winchester is the outlier, where the opposite is true.  Civilian .308 ammunition, designed for long-range, big-game hunting, is actually hotter than standard mil-spec 7.62×51 ammo.  Just note that while these are generalities, it is up to YOU, in EACH and EVERY CASE, to ensure you use the proper ammunition for your firearm.  Not using the proper ammunition is dangerous, and could result in personal injury or death. 

So, if you live in a NATO Member country, you can’t go wrong choosing a gun that fires a standard NATO cartridge.

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2016 Inside The X Ring.

The LONG awaited, and hotly anticipated GLOCK single stack 9mm, the G43, is finally here!  It’s certainly late to the extremely popular, highly-concealable, “pocket-9” party, but I’m still excited.  I, for one, tend to shoot Glocks pretty well, and I really like their triggers.  I know I’m not alone!

Since introducing the first, semi-automatic GLOCK service pistol in 1981, with its revolutionary polymer receiver, and the then new “Safe Action” system, GLOCK has attained quite a well-deserved following amongst both law enforcement and civilians in the United States.  In fact, GLOCK reports on their site that, “approximately 65%” of all US Law Enforcement agencies carry GLOCKs.

Will it be enough to make people switch from their S&W Shield’s, Beretta Nano‘s, Springfield XD-S‘s, Ruger LC9‘s, Kahr PM9‘s,  Kel-Tec PF9‘s, or whatever other “pocket-9” they’re already carrying?  Yeah, it’s a crowded market, and many of us, absent a GLOCK offering, may have made other choices.  

Will the late time-to-market, relatively high MSPR ($589.00), and early, but since resolved, issues with last year’s introduction of the GLOCK G42 .380 keep the G43 from becoming as hugely popular as it’s predecessors and brethren?

Will it prompt the .380 crowd to upgrade to the more powerful, yet less expensive 9mm?

If you’ve already made a different “pocket-9” choice, and are unhappy with it, for whatever reason, the G43 may be just what you wanted all along.  The G43 is obviously the perfect, no-brainer backup, or off-duty gun for the men and women in uniform whose duty-gun is a GLOCK.  Likewise, it might be just the ticket for those situations where the double-stack G26 “baby GLOCK” is a bit too wide, or too heavy.

Personally, looking at some of the competitive offerings and the G42, I am surprised the G43 is not a bit shorter in overall length, nor a bit more narrow.  That said, we’re talking fractions of an inch, and I’m confident the team at GLOCK certainly knows what they’re doing.  Many, myself included, are willing to accept a slightly larger gun for better overall handling characteristics, and better shoot-ability.

It is, after all, a GLOCK!! I certainly can’t wait to shoot the G43.  If it shoots as well as other GLOCKS I’ve shot, and meets or exceeds my personal conceal carry criteria better than other options I’ve explored, a G43 will likely get added to the stable.

The G43 is slated to be built at GLOCK USA’s Smyrna, Ga. facility.  Look for it to hit the market soon, hopefully with a lower street price than the MSRP.

Click the links for other great coverage from TheFiearmBlog, The TRUTH About GUNS, and Shooting Illustrated.  Scroll down from some pictures, courtesy of TheFirearmBlog.

What do you think?  Will this make you trade-in your current pocket-9, or upgrade from a small caliber concealed carry / pocket pistol?  Post up some comments.

G43-Left-660x439

GLOCK G43 Single Stack 9×19 Picture courtesy of TheFirearmBlog

 

G43

G43 Dimensions Courtesy of TheFirearmBlog

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.

 

Earlier this month I was an official media guest of the NRA at the Great American Outdoor Show.  It’s  a big show, with plenty to see and do. The Great American Outdoor Show is open to the public, and open for business!  That’s right, in many cases, you can buy products and book trips right on the spot!

MediaCredentials

 

Direct form their site, The Great American Outdoor Show is a nine day event celebrating hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions that are treasured by millions of Americans and their families. The show features over 1,000 exhibitors ranging from shooting manufacturers to outfitters to fishing boats and RV’s, and archery to art covering 650,000 square feet of exhibit hall space! Not to mention a jam packed schedule including country concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and much more!”

A major highlight for me was ALL of the major firearms and accessory manufacturers in attendance, who brought plenty of guns and products for attendees to handle, and plenty of expert reps to happily answer your questions.

Another personal favorite were the many new, smaller, niche-market vendors I met, some with extremely innovative, exciting new products.  It’s the quintessential, grass-roots American Dream in action. 

I spent the better par of the day and evening at the show, but there were so many manufacturers and vendors to visit, products to see, demos to watch and seminars to attend, I wish I had at least two full days to cover everything!

 

Highlights, with Specials Thanks To…

Major Firearms & Accessory Manufacturers

Representatives from Mossberg, SIG Sauer, and Winchester Repeating Arms all spent a lot of time with me discussing their products, giving me detailed, hands-on demos, or even just finding product catalogs when they weren’t otherwise available.  I certainly appreciate their attention.

Geissele Automatics
Based in North Wales, PA, Geissele Automatics makes products for “the Competitor, the Warfighter and the Protector.”  In short, their triggers are the best you can put in your firearm!  This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the U.S. Government.  In fact, the DOD tapped Geissele for triggers for semi-automatic sniper rifles, and M4 carbines.  (Now you understand why a Geissele S3G found it’s way into my own AR.)  Geissele brought some great guns to the Great American Outdoor Show, all of which were, of course, fitted with Geissele triggers.  They also had a bunch of trick, innovative trigger housings that let attendees try out the triggers without having to install them in a firearm, and without damaging the trigger mechanism.  I spent a lot of time talking to James about their products, the guns they brought, and my own build.  The forest green AK they brought, with their new ALG AK-47 Trigger was lusted after by many!

Geissele2

Geissele

Up & Coming Firearms Manufacturers

Bond Arms, makers of the Derringer style Hand Cannon, and  IWI (Israel Weapon Industries), were on hand, and very happy to speak with me at length, about their products.

Since I had already highlighted Bond Arms in my 2015 SHOT Show coverage, it was great to get more hands-on with their product line, and to meet some of the key folks behind this innovative company, including President Gordon Bond.  As I examined all the different models of Hand Cannons, the interchangeable barrels, beautifully crafted grips, holsters and even Buck based knives, the words that kept coming to mind were, functional, overbuilt, high-class, and quality.  I can’t wait to spend some time at the range with a few of these models!

BondArms2  BondArms

 

IWI US, Inc. was also on-hand with an impressive selection of UZI PRO pistols, GALIL’s and TAVOR bullpups. In case your not familiar, IWI has an 80 year history, dating back to the (IMI) Israel Military Industries, of producing some of, “the most innovative, and legendary firearm brands used by militaries, law enforcement agencies and security personnel around the world.   IWI’s TAVOR SAR, launched in 2013, was the company’s first firearm squarely aimed (pun intended) at the US civilian / commercial market.  New 2015, after an almost 25 year hiatus, the AK-47 based GALIL ACE family of riles and pistols is coming back to the US civilian / commercial market. One of the IWI reps spent a lot of time with me reviewing their products – some of which I had never before seen up close, or wasn’t familiar with at all.  She even took the time to field-strip the TAVOR, right there, in mere seconds, with nothing more than a pen.  (The fact that she probably could have just as easily killed me with the same pen did not escape me…)  I can’t wait to get my hands on a GALIL for a detailed review!

IWIBooth

IWI_GALIL

 

 

Up and Coming Products

Viper Holsters, LLC.A good holster is like a comfortable pair of jeans.  If you don’t find a good, comfortable holster, you’ll likely start leaving your gun at home.  That’s not a good thing.  Unfortunately, you can’t test holsters until you buy them, and with an overwhelming array of choices out there – from super cheap to luxury items that are more fashion than function – most of us end up with a rather expensive box of “not quite right” holsters.  Well, Joe from Viper Holsters noticed this trend, and has created a line of Kydex and leather products to address the need for economical, high-quality, comfortable holsters.  Joe highlighted some of the product features that set his Viper Holsters apart from existing competitors, and it all makes perfect sense to me.  I did see both  quality and feature improvements in the samples Joe highlighted, when compared to commonly known competitors.  I’m hoping to get my hands on some of Joe’s Viper Holsters for a more in-depth review and  comparison.

TacticalWalls – This company’s “hidden in plain sight” idea is gonna make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  Let’s face it, if you have guns in the home, it’s a major responsibility to keep those guns out of the wrong hands.  At the same time, if you have guns in the home for protection, quick, easy access to your guns, and probably when you least expect it, is important for all the obvious reasons.  Made right here in the USA of high-quality (real wood), furniture grade components with high-end fit and finish, TacticalWalls has come up with a novel solution to both the security, and quick-access challenges.   I spent a lot of time speaking with Chris, and am really impressed by not only the basic idea, but how well it’s executed, the fit & finish, and the people behind TacticalWalls.  I’ll tell ya, even the Sig Sauer folks, who were right across the isle, couldn’t get enough, and helped make sure the TacticalWalls booth didn’t go unnoticed.  Look for an upcoming, detailed product review.

 TacticalWallsMirror TacticalWallsShelf

 

 

 

 

Knives, Holsters & Other Gear

Battle Horse Knives – Let’s face it, guns and knives go together like peanut butter and jelly!  If you’re into the shooting scene – be it for recreational, tactical, or hunting reasons –  you’re probably into the broader outdoor scene, to include fishing, camping, hiking and bushcraft.  This means, you’re probably  into knives.  WellBHK makes custom quality knives at production prices, so you won’t be afraid to actually take ’em out and use em in the woods!  Since I already have a couple of their knives and sheaths,  it was great to see them, and the rest of their product line in person, at the Great American Outdoor Show.  Look for some future in-depth reviews, and a special one-off project already in the works with BHK.   In the meantime, you gotta check ’em out: Battle Horse Knives


BHK_Booth

Ballistol – “The world’s most useful and environmentally friendly lubricant.”  I first learned of Ballistol from fellow firearms enthusiast and product reviewer Hickok45, and his Youtube channel.  (Hickok45 is on a very short-list of video bloggers, or vloggers, I find spot-on in terms of their logic & information, and first-rate in terms of quality.)  Supposedly good for firearms, knives, tools & hardware, leather, home & garden,  marine, road & trail, I’ve been seeking out Ballistol ever since.  I walked away from the Great American Outdoor Show with some product in hand, so look for an upcoming review.

Ballistol

Cold Steel – I’m a big fan of their products, which can easily be summed up as High-Value.  The Cold Steel Recon 1 and Voyager knives, both with the Tri-Ad lock, are regarded by many as two of the best hard-use folders on the market.  Cold Steel was in attendance with product on hand, and some phenominal pricing.  In fact, the Cold Steel Recon 4 and Lawman products I wanted were long gone.

OK Auto 4WD & Tire While guns, knives, related gear, fishing equipment, hunting guides, and taxidermy services dominated that show, there was a section dedicated to ATV’s, RV’s, 4×4’s and boats.  The guys from OK Auto 4WD & Tire spent a lot of time with me showing off tricked out vehicles from their shop and AEV.  If you’re not familiar with OK, click this link for a great, in-depth write-up.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank the NRA, America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group, for not only such a great event, but also for being such gracious, easy to work with media & press hosts!  I’m certainly looking forward to the next large scale NRA event!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.

Shot2015Logo

That’s right, this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show just wrapped-up.  I’ve scoured the Web, watched hours of videos, and checked out the latest posts from other blogs.  Here are the trends I noticed, and the products I’m excited about.

 

The AR-15 craze is slowing, but customizable offerings, 3-Gun ready models & AR-10s are still extremely popular.  

colt6920-oem1

Image courtesy of Looserounds.com

 

Don’t get me wrong, the AR-15 is still the most popular rifle in America, and for great reasons!  (Click here to understand why the AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America.)  Make no mistake, AR’s were still hot at SHOT, but they didn’t seem to dominate the show like in recent years.  Colt’s OEM1 & OEM2 bare bones offerings, the four new FN-15‘s and out of the box, 3-gun ready, affordable rifles, like those from Armalite all piqued my interest.  18″ barrels are again popular.  Makes sense to me!  AR-10s continue to gain popularity.  Same familiar, reliable, accurate, quick handling form factor and manageable recoil (at least in semi-auto), just delivering a bigger 7.62×51 payload?!  Yeah, I’m in.  Finally, just Right Carbines also has some cool looking pistol caliber AR based carbines.

 

AK-47’s – American Made AK-47’s!!

72L_RI2245-N C39v2.jpg

 

 

 

So, while the AR-15 continues to be the most popular rifle in America, the AK-47, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov is the most popular rifle in the World!  Why? They’re cheap and easy to produce.  They’re easy to use.  They’re effective.  Finally, they’re reliable.  Unbelievably reliable.  Loose tolerances that negatively impact accuracy, allow the AK to just keep running in the harshest, muddiest, dirtiest, dustiest, sandiest conditions.  Though traditionally seen by some as a “bad guy’s gun“, the AK-47 has always enjoyed some popularity in the United States.  This year the AK’s popularity has increased exponentially.  In part due to current Russian sanctions, which prevents importation, and in part due just to the increase in popularity of the platform, I’ve noted several “American Made” AK-47s, an AR-AK combination, and AK accessories from some of the best in the business.  Century ArmsPalmetto State Armory and former importer RWC Group all plan to produce American made AK-47’s.  Century Arms has incorporated a clever bolt hold-open into the safety selector.  Purely an admin feature, but helpful to those of us who like to comply with range safety practices.  Geissele’s got a new AK-47 trigger. Magpul’s got new AK furniture and magazines.  There’s even a mutant AR-AK combination; late 2014 CMMG released an AR-AK hybrid.  Mossberg also has a new .22 rimfire rifle, called the Blaze-47, styled after – you guessed it – the AK-47.  I shot a friends AK-47 back in 1994, and it was a blast!  (pun intended).  Such a fun gun to shoot, and I just had another friend, and fellow “good guy” pick one up.  Personally, I want one, but can I can get past the “bad guy gun” stigmatism??  (Does knowing some of our brave men and women in the armed forces have allegedly used AK’s as far back as Vietnam, and certainly in more recent conflicts help justify the decision?  Does buying an AK manufactured and assembled completely in the U.S. help?  I guess only time will tell.) 

 

Concealed Carry Handguns & Pocket Pistols Continue to Reign Supreme

the-all-new-taurus-curveNo surprises here.  People want personal protection.  Yes, even outside the home…  After all, isn’t that a basic right?!  There are still tons of great, and ever increasing options, but unlike the past few years, there was no specific, hotly anticipated new concealed carry gun.  Bond Arms has some new CA legal Hand Cannons amongst other things, S&W introduced ported variants of their very popular M&P line, Ruger increased the size of the LCP with various new offerings, and Taurus introduced the curve.  Still no return of the Remington R51, though I read on Guns, Holsters And Gear that it might be mid-summer.  Nor was there any sign of a single stack Glock 9mm. (Would a G42 in 9mm be any more concealable than the existing, and ever popular G26?  Is the striker fired, polymer framed, 9mm pocket pistol market too saturated?  Are they possibly working on it now?)

 

 

 

Colt Clearly Wants Consumer Business, Our Business!

ColtRailGun_BlackDespite history dating back to a manufacturing plant in Paterson, NJ in 1836, a long, successful history supplying firearms for the military & law enforcement, and one of the most iconic names in the business, I think it’s fair to say it’s been a while since Colt has been an “A” player in the consumer / civilian market.  Technically, they may have re-entered the civilian / off-duty concealed carry market back in 2007, but for the first time in a long while, at least in my opinion, Colt now clearly wants our consumer / civilian business, and this is a great thing!    Just look at their AR-15 and 1911 based product offerings, with features inspired by both the success of their USMC adopted CQBP (Close Quarters Battle Piston), and customer feedback.  Colt’s Rail Gun is 100-plus years of proven performance and historical significance, in the familiar 1911 battery of arms, combined with the modern convenience of a M1913 Picatinny Rail. I have to admit, I want one!

 

People Like to Customize Their Guns & The Manufacturers Have Noticed!

Ruger-LCP-Custom

Customized sights & trigger.

Let’s face it, people like to differentiate themselves from the crowd.  To make their things work better for them, based on their application and use.  To make things distinctly their own.  We do it to our houses, cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, computers and even our bodies.  Why not customize our guns, either with custom accessories, or even just custom colors & accents!  It’s a growing trend I don’t see slowing down anytime soon.  It’s also a trend that hasn’t been lost on the manufacturers.  While many mainstream firearms manufacturers have traditionally offered “custom shop” variants at significantly higher prices, some – Strum, Ruger & Co., Inc. in particular – now offer many more options than ever before for customizing production guns, either at time of order, or via owner / gunsmith installed accessories.

 

 

Double-Taps (aka quick-hit updates):

  • 1911’s, 1911’s & More 1911’s!  Still riding high from it’s 2011 Centennial, John Moses Browning’s timeless classic is as relevant and popular as ever.  Remington R1’s, Colt .45’s, Sig 1911’s, Ruger SR1911‘s, S&W 1911e’s and many, many more.  Though originally seen by die-hards as sacrilege, Full-size and Commander model 1911’s in calibers beyond just .45 ACP, particularly 9mm,  had a strong showing at SHOT 2015.  There was even a polymer 1911 from American Tactical Imports (ATI).  Personally, I’ll stick to classic .45 ACP, in some kind of metal based frame and slide.

 

  • 10mm Handguns.  Favored by handgun hunters and brown bear backcountry explorers, 10mm fans have two new options in the Glock 40 MOS and Sig 220.

 

  • Optics on handguns, and factory slides milled for them.  Putting red-dot style optics on handguns is becoming more and more popular.  So it seems natural that certain manufacturers are making this easier than ever, milling attachment points right into the factory slide, while retaining the traditional iron sights.  Glock’s MOS (Modular Optic System) is just one example.

 

  • Ruger 10/22 Takedown Bull Barrel & Stock Option.  Honestly, if you don’t have a Ruger 10/22, you need to get one!!  Ruger’s iconic, rotary-magazine-fed 10/22, introduced to the public in 1964, is one of the most popular, and customizable rifles of all time.  Since being announced in March 2012, the Ruger 10/22 takedown, like all other variants, has enjoyed tremendous popularity.  Well, the aftermarket is finally catching up with the takedown.  Popular 10/22 barrel & accessory manufacturer Tactical Solutions teamed up with famous grip and stock manufacturer Hogue to offer this new, very cool looking bull-barrel / stock combination.
TacSolHogueTakedown

Courtesy of Tactical Solutions

 

Knives & Flashlights… The future’s getting sharper, and looking brighter!

Knives – There are great new offerings from familiar names like Spyderco, Benchmade, Gerber, Kershaw / Zero ToleranceSOG, ESEEBuck, Condor Knife & Tool, CRKT, Emerson, Mora Kniv and Victorinox (Swiss Army).  Across the board, steels, handles, grinds, designs and features continue to get better.  (Honestly, I’m still enamored with some 2014 models; the proven Spyderco Manix 2 in CPM S110V with Dark Blue FRN handles, and Benchmade Hunt Series Grizzly Creek folder are prime examples.) There’s always a place for hard-use, no BS tactical / self defense blades.  They are, and will always be popular, especially with military and law enforcement personnel.  The same can be said for the never-ending need for good, high-quality EDC (Every Day Carry) blades, whether they be Chris Reeve Sabenza style ‘Gentleman’s Folders’ or more basic, utility type blades.  I couldn’t possibly cover all the new models here, but the good news is there’s really an overwhelming array of great choices available, so you almost can’t go wrong.  On the general public, mass-marketing end, focus seems to have shifted away from the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, Doomsday, Rambo Survival Knife, towards more practical, Outdoors, Bushcraft and Hunting knives. The Zombie Apocalypse phase was fun for a bit, but I think this new trend is a good thing.  While not exactly breaking news, ESEE’s Camp-Lore line is a prime example.  That RB3 is something I’m really hoping to get my hands on for a review.

 

Flashlights – By now, everyone knows LED’s are, no doubt, the way to go!  The lights keep getting smaller, lighter and brighter, while packing in more features.  There are handheld flashlights available today brighter than most automobile headlights.  Think about that… As if the ability to carry the sun in your pocket wasn’t enough, waterproof ratings & USB charging capabilities top the list of 2015 highlights.  Surefire and Streamlight have traditionally topped the list for Military, Law Enforcement and EMS professionals, for good reason, and of course they have new 2015 models.  In my own experience, and while there are some newer players to the game, I’ve found FOURSEVENS and Fenix Lighting to offer, high quality, competitive alternatives – sometimes even at a lower price point for more lumens.  While not exactly new for 2015, take the Fenix UC35; aircraft grade aluminum construction, waterproof, USB rechargeable, 960 lumensall for under $100?!! Seriously, how do you beat that?!!  There are also very interesting options, some at even lower price points, from EagleTac, ThruNite and Nitecore.  Though to-date I’ve no personal experience with those three brands.  (Look for that that to change in the very near future.)

 

That’s clearly not everything at SHOT 2015.  I didn’t even get into the many new, or improved more traditional, hunting / sporting and tactical marksmanship rifles.  Nor did I get into all the bags, packs, pouches or clothing.  There’s just not enough time in the day!  Anyway, that’s my initial take on this year’s SHOT Show, the products I’m looking for, and a bit on where I think the Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Industry is going.

 

What caught your eye?  What’s on your 2015 Guns, Knives, Flashlights & Gear Wishlist?  Let me know what you think!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.

Seriously, you’d think gun guys and gals love this question, and we do.  As a general firearms enthusiast, Blogger and NRA Instructor, it’s a question I get a lot, and I can certainly talk to it at length.  However, it’s a tough one to answer, because there are so many great choices, and so many different factors involved.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say. 

For defensive POU’s, the answer is, “Get as much gun as you can comfortably and repeatedly shoot accurately.”

But there’s actually a bit more to it.

First of all, why do you want a gun?  What’s your purpose, or philosophy of use (POU)?  Personal protection carry gun? Personal protection home defense gun?  (Though both focused on protection, some of the key factors that go into each are vastly different.) Recreational target shooting? Hunting? Competition?  Perhaps a jack-of-all trades?  Do you live in a Shall Issues Carry State?  Will you actually carry the gun beyond trips to the range? 

Will you be the only one shooting this gun, or do you want something the wife (or someone else) can also shoot effectively?  (Are you 6’5”, 250lbs, married to a 5’3”, 100lb woman?) 

Is this the first, only and last gun you will ever buy?  (You may think so now, but I doubt it…)

What’s your tolerance for recoil?  How about your wife’s, or other shooters?

What battery of arms are you comfortable with?  A cocked-n-locked Single Action Only (SAO), Double Action Only (DAO), Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA)? 

Wheel gun or auto pistol?  Hammer or striker fired?

How do you feel about safeties and nanny devices?  Do you want a gun with a safety lever that must be manually manipulated, or something with just internal safeties associated with trigger manipulation?  Do you also want a grip safety?  Do you want a decocker so you don’t have to dry fire the gun before field stripping, or to make it safer to carry hammer down with one in the pipe on a DA/SA gun like the Sig P226?  How do you feel about those new nanny features (that actually do more harm than good because they don’t teach fundamentals) like loaded chamber indicators, or the inability for some guns to fire without a magazine in the gun?  (Learn how to properly check the chamber and unload the gun. NEVER rely on nanny features.)

Ergonomics should be important to you.  So, how big are your hands?  What feels comfortable?  Can you reach and easily manipulate all of the gun’s controls?  (As I hinted above, those tiny, micro guns great for deep concealment carry are often difficult for shooters with large hands to manipulate and shoot accurately beyond a few yards.  They may not make great home defense or jack-of-all-trades type guns.)  If your wife or anyone else will be shooting the gun, you’ll likely want something that can be adjusted for different hand sizes by using different back straps or grip panels.  Do you have any physical limitations or disabilities that need to be considered?

Are aesthetics important?  Of course! Who spends hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t appeal to them at some level.  That said, I’m a HUGE fan of Glock firearms.  Though there are plenty who just can’t get past the no frills, all business, utilitarian looks.  (If this is your first or second gun, focus on purpose of use, functionality, fit and feel over looks and coolness factor…)

OK, OK, I Know You Want Specific Recommendations…

When it comes to auto pistols primarily for home defense and recreational target shooting use, I steer most towards a full size (4″ – 5″ barrel) 9mm, aka the 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, 9×19, 9x19mm, and sometimes with the “+P” designation.

The .40S&W has a snappy recoil.  The .45ACP has a heavy recoil.  The snappy and heavy recoil make it a challenge for some new shooters to get comfortable with, and master those calibers, especially if you go with something smaller or lighter.  Do your research and you’ll discover the 9mm has a proven track record as a defensive round.  (I believe it is also the most popular military handgun cartridge in the World.)  And while in an emergency defensive situation any gun is better than no gun, even a .22lr, I personally don’t see any compelling reason to go smaller than the 9mm for home defense.  With its mild recoil, especially in a gun with a 4″- 5″ barrel, I find men and women, the tall and the small, novices and experts alike all shoot the 9mm well.  It is a round that in many instills confidence, and is a pleasure to shoot at the range.  The round is so popular you can get ammunition anywhere in the World, and usually at reasonable prices.  Likewise, due to its popularity, everybody in the game produces at least one 9mm variant, so you’re sure to find the pistol that’s just right for your needs, budget, and your tastes; regardless of whether you want a micro sized, super light pocket pistol like the Kel-tec PF-9, or a full-sized, full-featured battle pistol just like the ones used by our Navy Seals, like the Sig P226.  Recoil aside, you also usually get 1 – 2 more rounds in the 9mm than in the same gun chambered for 40S&W, or 45 ACP.  In fact the 9mm is so popular, and there are so many great choices, watch out for “analysis paralysis“.  As my boss used to say, “That’s a high class problem to have.”  Still want more  direction?  I can tell you from hands on experience that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, and Springfield Armory all make fantastic choices.  If I were now in the market for a new 9mm, I’d add FNH USA, Ruger and Smith & Wesson to that short-list.

Want a wheel gun?

You can’t go wrong with a 4” barreled .357 Magnum, with 6, 7, or even 8 shots.  Simple to understand.  Easy to operate and use.  It’s something pretty much anyone can shoot, and shoot well, especially when loaded with light 38 Special ammunition, which shouldn’t to be discounted for defensive purposes.  (You know they make 38+Ps for when full powered .357 Mag loads may be a little much, or when rockin’ a snubbie…)  Here again, and from personal experience, Smith and Wesson and Ruger are at the top of my list, though Taurus is certainly also worthy of a look.

calibers

.38 Special, .380, 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP

 

My Final Thoughts & Recommendations…

Talk to fellow gun enthusiasts.  Surf the net.  Buy the gun rags.  Read as many reviews as you can.  See what your friends have. (Get lost in some analysis paralysis for a bit.)  But in the end, and while I certainly hope my thoughts are helpful, it really doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else thinks.

Finalize your POU.  Think about who else may be shooting the gun.  Narrow down your caliber choices.  Decide if you want a wheel gun or an auto pistol.  Finalize your short list.  Then find out which Local Gun Stores (LGSs) have them in stock.  Go to as many different guns stores as possible.  Get hands on.  Handle as many of your choices as you can.  Always practice gun safety, and be advised that many LGS owners don’t want you to dry fire their guns – so ask first.  Hit the range with friends as much as possible.  Hit a range that rents if possible – especially if they rent the choices you’re considering.  Send lead downrange.

In some cases, you’re going to find that what feels best in hand, and what you shoot best may NOT be the same gun you fell in love with from just pictures and specifications.  I’ve seen it happen.  Better to know before you fill out all that paperwork and plunk down all that hard earned cash.

It’ll come to you.  Again, it’s a high-class problem to have – and we are VERY lucky to live in this Great Country, where we can have such a problem!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

2012 SHOT Show Wrap-Up (Part 2) – Finally!

In case you missed it, here are links to my previous 2012 SHOT Show posts.

Anticipation – What I’d really like to see this year!

Part 1 – How we did against what we wanted to see.

In those posts, I talked about what we wanted to see at this year’s show, covered some overall industry trends, and basically judged how SHOT 2012 delivered against our wants.  (All-in-all, we did pretty damn well, especially for an evolutionary, not revolutionary year.)  To finish our SHOT Show 2012 coverage, this post highlights other guns, gear and equipment that peaked our interest, or further exemplify the industry trends we highlighted.

 

The Springfield XD-S in .45acp.  Furthering the trend of ultra concealable, small form factor pistols in larger calibers

Like the rest of the XD line, this is a polymer frame, double action only handgun, using Springfield’s Ultra Safe Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System, with a 1911-esq grip safety, and a loaded chamber indicator.  Dimensionally, the XD-S is 1″ wide, 6.3″ inches long overall (with a 3.3″ barrel), 4.4″ inches tall and weighs in at 21.5oz unloaded.  It even has an accessory rail for a light and/or laser sight built into the frame – a pretty cool feature for a gun this size.  At first glance, you’re likely to guess this is just another new entrant in the red-hot “pocket” 9mm niche.  You’d be wrong.  The XD-S is chambered in .45acp.  I find this to be a really great looking little gun.  Pleasing to the eye, it definitely has that “Second Kind of Cool” appeal.  With only a 5+1 capacity, round count seems a bit light.  I also want to shoot it myself before I pass judgment on things like recoil and follow-up shots.  It might be perfect for those guys that just like .45 acp, and want something smaller than what they’re carrying now.  Who knows, maybe there’s an XD-S in 9mm or 40 on the horizon??  Check back in after I get my hands on one at the range and shoot it, but in the meantime, here’s a link to Springfield’s site so you can check out the XD-S for yourself:  http://www.xdspistol.com/

 

Modularity

The trend of high-quality, user configurable, accurate and versatile firearms continues to evolve.  I think it’s great!!  Sure, ‘kit guns‘ have always been around.  Likewise, the military has always been focused on modularity for quick and easy combat and machine gun barrel changes, an/or quick, low-cost caliber changes.  However, current factory offerings are taking things to an entirely new level for the civilian market.  The custom hot-rod, ‘pimp my ride‘ craze has finally hit the firearms market…and why not?!

The Mossberg Flex

I’m a huge fan of O.F. Mossberg & Sons.  My first shotgun was a Mossberg 500 with interchangeable barrels; a 28″ bird barrel with threaded chokes, and a 24″ rifled slug barrel for deer and bear sized game.  It was a recommendation from my LGS owner, and a great one at that!  It is the definition of high-value, and it’s made right here in the U.S.A.  I couldn’t be happier.

While maybe not as popular as some other well known brands, Mossberg has successfully passed the stringent US Army’s Mil-Spec 3443E test and as such, has a very proud history of use in Military & Law Enforcement applications.  Additionally, Mossberg shotguns have always had some great design features, like the easy to reach, easy to operate, ambidextrous tang safety.  In my opinion the tang safety is a superior design to those offered by most of the competition.  (Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you start losing birds and other game  – or worse – because you couldn’t get that safety off fast enough.  I’ve seen it happen on at least a few hunts.)

Now, anyone who currently owns a Mossberg 500 already knows how versatile of a platform it is.  You’ve got 18.5″ home defense barrels, all kinds of different length and configurable choke bird barrels, various rifled slug barrel choices (with & without the cantilevered scope mounts) and muzzle loader conversion kits. Yes, I can make my Mossberg 500 pump gun a muzzleloader!  Hell, I think they even have a line thrower conversion kit.  O.F. Mossbertg & Sons has always been about high-value and versatility.

With the FLEX, Mossberg is capitalizing on this platform, making the 500 even easier to customize, and more versatile than ever.  Compared to a standard, or old school 500, the FLEX has some design changes to make stock and forend changes easier for the end user.  Expect numerous accessories to customize the look, operation and performance of your ride…err, shotgun.

The Thompson-Center Dimension

Thompson/Center Arms (now a subsidiary of Smith & Wesson) conjures up one of two images for most firearms enthusiasts; muzzleloaders, or break-open, single shot hunting firearms, available in both handgun (The Contender) and long gun (The Encore) configurations.  Now, if you’re familiar with these platforms, you already know that like O.F. Mossberg & Sons, T/C has a long standing history of providing high-quality, high-value, and user configurable (modular) platforms.  Nothin’ new there.  What was new back in ~2008, was T/C’s first attempt at a bolt action gun (The Icon).  It was a resounding success.  Then in 2010, T/C released an everyman’s version of that bolt-gun (The Venture), touting similar high-quality craftsmanship and accuracy in a more affordable, high-value package.  For 2012, Thompson Center has released something new that is a combination of the high-quality, high-value, modular firearm platforms they’ve always been known for, with their more recent experience and success for producing bolt-action hunting rifles. The Dimension is born.  If O.F. Mossberg & Sons just ‘pimped’ your ole’ pump-scatter-gun, Thompson/Center Arms just did it to your bolt-action rile:

 

Everything Old is New Again…

Colt Manufacturing – At one point in the not too distant past, and for a long while, Colt was synonymous with high-quality handguns – with plenty of military and LE support.  The Colt Single Action Army, aka ‘The Peacemaker’.  The Colt Python.  The Colt .45, M1911.  In the late 70’s and early 80’s, many believed that if you had a S&W revolver, and a Colt .45 M1911, you pretty much had the best-of-the-best – almost all your handgun bases covered.  Then unfortunately, at some point around the late 80s and early 90s, Colt kinda’ lost their way a bit.  Like the “bad” Harley years under AMF, it was generally accepted that Colt’s Quality Control suffered.  In ~April 1985, the Beretta Model 92 beat out the Colt .45 to become the U.S Armed Forces chosen handgun.  Around the same time, a rash of ‘new‘ companies, with some ‘revolutionary‘ handgun designs began entering the U.S. handgun market (like Glock in ~1986).  Yeah, between the perfect storm of QC issues, and then-new “space-aged” designs, people drifted away from Colt.

Well, now Colt Manufacturing is making somewhat of a comeback and enjoying a bit of renaissance.

While not new this year, except for the black finish, the Colt Rail Gun 1911, chambered in traditional .45 acp was on-hand at SHOT 2012.  Michael Bane, of ‘Shooting Gallery‘ highlighted that gun in his segment on “Most Significant Guns of the Year“.

The original mini-1911, the Colt Mustang Pocketlite, is also back.  Like the original from 1986, it has an aluminum frame and is chambered in .380.  It was on-hand at SHOT 2012, and from all the coverage I saw, it was pretty well received.  (Though personally, I’d have rather seen a 9mm).  No doubt, between Sig’s p238 and 938 offerings, Colt has some serious catching up to do… That said, you have to give them credit for bringing back an “old favorite” design. One that is as welcomed today as when the original debuted – if not more so.

Rock River Arms Polymer 1911

Rock River Arms is known for custom quality, yet affordable (high-value) AR Platforms.  Handguns?  Not so much.  Maybe until now.  The polymer 1911 in .45acp is nothing new, not even in double stack variants, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t caught on as much as other polymer framed handguns.  New for 2012 RRA has jumped into the handgun market…and their first offering is a polymer frame 1911.  From all the research I’ve done, I’m a fan of their AR platform.  Some of their AR offerings and parts ranks high on my list, so I’m anxious to see how this poly 1911 is received.  That said, and while I’m certainly no 1911 expert, I just can’t get excited about “ole’ slab sides” that is anything but….well, ole slab sides….  You can check it out here: RRA 1911 Poly 

 

 

Holsters, Knives and other gear:

Blackhawk  – High-quality gear, but probably best known for their SERPA Holster system.   New for 2012, and debuted at SHOT is their women’s line of holsters.  I’d swear I also saw a convertible IWB / OWB holster…  Check em out here: http://www.blackhawk.com/

ESEE Knives – Outstanding, hard-use survival blades.  New for 2012 are the Cadiru and Laser Strike Series – as well as the Venon Green series.  Check em out here: http://www.eseeknives.com/index2.htm

Spyderco Knives – Outstanding blades of all kinds.  Let’s just say that at a minimum, I’ve got a Delica 4 FFG VG-10 that’s with me at almost all times.  Need something for defensive, utility, everyday carry, fishing / hunting, marine or other purposes?  Spyderco has you covered.  Check em out here: http://www.spyderco.com/

SOG Knives – I won’t argue with Gunny!  SOG offers some great blades for defensive, utility, hunting and survival purposes.  Check em out here: http://www.sogknives.com/

Gerber – Innovative, high-value products, and not just great blades – entrenching tools, axes, survival kits, etc.  Check em out here: http://www.gerbergear.com/

Leatherman – Looking for something significantly more hard-use and heavy duty than the average multi-implement knife?  Hey, sometimes you need a real set of pliers with your blades and drivers – and wouldn’t it be nice if the blades and other implements locked open?  Back in the early 1990s, I bought what was then their completely revolutionary original version.  I’ve been a huge fan ever since; upgrading or getting different variants and giving them as gifts on more than a few occasions.  While there is a lot more pretty good competition these days, you can never go wrong with an original!  Leatherman is contnually innovating and improving their products, with some new offerings for 2012, and they’re all made right there, in the U.S.A.  Like my Spyderco Delica 4 FFG, you can bet there’s a Leatherman almost always on my person, or very close at hand….   Check ’em out here: http://www.leatherman.com/

Victorinox – The classic Swiss Army Knife.  Possibly a “first” or only knife for many. For 2012 are some “new” twists and re-releases of old favorites.  Victornox is also getting into the fixed blade market aimed specifically at hunting and survival.  Check em out here: http://www.swissarmy.com/us/content/swissarmy/category/1

FourSevens Flashlights – Very high-quality, high-value LED flashlights.  Because who doesn’t need a flashlight?!   For 2012 they’ve rebranded from 4Sevens to FourSevens.  Otherwise, it’s the same great products with slightly different names, and a few new, high-end offerings.  Word to the wise, if you can snag some Quark, Mini or Preon 2 products on sale with the old branding DO IT… DO IT NOW!  (That is if you can still find them with the old branding.)  Even if you don’t find a sale, FourSevens lights offer almost unbeatable value.  You’ll be amazed at the amount of light you can get from something so small and light weight – yet still tough as nails.  I got Mini 123’s for every member in my family, who promptly put them on their key chains.  Never be without a flashlight again.  Check em out here: http://foursevens.com/

MaxPedition – Hard-Use Gear Everyday.  Being an evolutionary year overall at SHOT, MaxPedition continued to show-case current favorites (like the Jumbo Versapack) and new variants on those favorites.  If you need a new adventure bag for every day carry, travel bag, backpacking or survival, give these guys a good look.  Check em out here: http://www.maxpedition.com/

 

Again, this wasn’t everything at SHOT – there are literally thousands of things at SHOT.  But beyond what I really wanted to see for 2012, this is just the stuff that caught my eye and gear I always stay current with.   Look for product reviews and links to other reviews as content expands.  Post comments, questions or check my links for additional coverage.

We’ve added a ‘Links‘ page, and it does a couple of important things:

  1. It explains a bit of the ‘method behind the madness‘, or the process I go through to bring you, my subscribers and readers, the best information possible.
  2. It gives an overview of my personal network of seasoned professionals and contacts, all of whom provide me valuable input and insight.
  3. Last, but not least, it introduces you to, and provides direct, ‘one-click‘ access to some of the best gun, holster, knife and associated gear reviewers from around the Web.  All of whom:
    • have been vetted and fact checked to ensure they provide accurate information, and
    • have demonstrated safe firearms handling, which helps continually drive home the principles for basic firearms safety.

 

So, what exactly can you expect from these links?

Write-ups and videos on Guns, Firearm Accessories, Holsters, Knives, Flashlights, Ever Day Carry (EDC) Gear, Tactical Gear, ‘Bug-Out‘ or ‘Go‘ Bags, and Survival Gear.  All delivered in the form of:

  • General observation, and quick overview reviews.
  • Detailed, and extremely thorough table-top reviews.
  • Head-to-head product comparisons.
  • In-action segments from ‘Live Fire’ shooting ranges and other real-World scenarios.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to concealed carry.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to female firearms enthusiasts and women shooters.
  • Specific videos on safety – firearms safety, basic first aid kit design and use, survival, etc.
  • Educational segments that focus on mindset, philosophy and terminology.

 

The point is, our links provide direct, easy access to a wide variety of high-quality, accurate information covering the wide spectrum of the products most firearms enthusiasts are likely to be interested in.  So before your next Gun, Firearm Accessory, Holster, Knife, Flashlight, EDC, Bug-Out, Survival or related gear purchase, be sure to check out some of my secret sources

And yes, as content expands, will absolutely roll-in specific review, head-to-head comparison and other videos from each of the folks on our links page.  Stay tuned! 

SHOT Show 2012 – Wrap-Up!

SHOT Show 2012 is in the rear-view.  YouTube videos abound. Blogs are updated.  Print rags are readying future articles.  We were looking for some very specific things this year at the SHOT Show.  (In case you missed it, click here to read my previous post on what exactly the SHOT Show is, what we were hoping to see.)

 

Overall Thoughts & Some Trends I’ve Spotted

I’ve watched countless YouTube videos.  I’ve read all kinds of blogs.  This could just be a function of what I’m “tuned-into” at the moment, but here are some trends I’ve noticed from SHOT Show 2012 coverage:

  1. Likely somewhat of a function of the overall economy, but overall, it seemed like an evolutionary year, as opposed to being revolutionary.
  2. Highly concealable, pocket pistols rule the day!  Increasing numbers of ‘pocket pistols’ are being chambered in larger calibers – like the 9mm, .40S&W and even the .45ACP.  This isn’t a new trend, but it certainly continues with offerings like the Sig p938, the Beretta Nano, the Springfield XD-S and Colt has even gotten back in the game with the everything-new-is-old or everything-old-is-new-again Mustang.
  3. Modularity!  Modularity across the board in ARs (of course, where ‘ya been), but also in pistols, rifles and shotguns.  One gun value.  One gun versatility – HUGE versatility.  One gun training / muscle memory.  More gun for less money.  Empowered owners; no gunsmith required to change calibers.  Start small and expand over time based on needs and budgets.  It’s a trend I really like, and I’m very happy to see.  Perfect handgun examples include the Beretta Nano, a new Rock River Arms pistol offering, the Thompson Center Dimension and the Mossberg FLEX top the non-AR platforms for me.
  4. Better triggers.  Most shooters know trigger squeeze is one of the keys to accuracy.  The modern [r]evolution in better factory triggers arguably started almost ten years ago with the Savage Arms then new AcccuTrigger, but more and more manufacturers are putting high quality triggers in their factory guns.  This is something that not too long ago, a typical intermediate or expert shooter would pay good money for, after the initial purchase, and requiring the work of a qualified gunsmith.
  5. An increasing number of firearms, accessories and related products aimed squarely at women shooters.  It’s a trend I welcome.  I’m happy to see it!
  6. Factory competition firearms.  Handguns and long guns setup for 3 Gun, IDPA an other forms of competition, like Stag Arms 3G, as well as offerings from Ruger and CZ.
  7. Airsoft!  YouTube video and blog updates about Airsoft guns seemed to everywhere.  Why not?  They’re cool. They look like the real thing.  The shooting fundamentals are the same and you can practice shooting them arguably many more places than your real guns.

 

So, how’d we do with what we really wanted to see??!! 

 

The Sig Sauer p938 is Here!!

Hoped for by many for a while, rumored as early as September 2011, then formally confirmed by the company in November, the Sig Sauer p938 is in fact a reality, and it sure to be a home run!!  It is exactly what the market has been demanding from Sig.  This highly anticipated,  mini-1911 pocket gun is now chambered in 9mm.  As expected, it is the p238’s slightly bigger brother – same height, same width, same single action trigger and battery of arms, just .4″ longer overall and ~2 ounces heavier.  Aimed squarely at the concealed carry, personal defense market the Sig p938 was on-hand at SHOT Show 2012.  From what I’ve read four variations of the p938 will hopefully hit the market around April.  I think we all hope street price is well below the ~$795-823 list, and that the p938  doesn’t suffer from some of the initial growing pains experienced by it’s “Little Brother”, the Sig p238.  Click here for more pictures, spec and information.

 

 

While on the topic of Sig, the Sig Sauer p224 and p290 were also on-hand.

  The Sig Sauer p224 is considered by many to be Sig’s answer to the Glock 26 / 27 sub-compact, double-stack backup or concealment guns.  If the p226 is the “Father” of the the p224, this is the “Grandson”.  It is intended as an on-duty backup gun or an off-duty / civilian concealment gun.  It will be offered in traditional Sig DA/SA or DAK, which is Sig’s version of Double Action Only.  Click here for more.

 

 

 

 

New for 2012, the Sig Sauer p290 has double-strike capability.

Highly anticipated in 2010, released at SHOT Show 2011 and then unfortunately not the hot seller Sig had hoped for (due to its weight and perceived bulk), the Sig p290 Double Action Only (DAO), polymer frame, hammer fired “pocket” pistol now has double strike capability.  Certainly a welcome feature, especially give its intended defensive purpose. Click here for more.

 

 

 

 

The Beretta Nano

Announced in early September 2011.  Released at the end of October.  The single stack, polymer frame, striker fired Nano with no external controls from the World’s Oldest gun maker was on-hand at SHOT Show.  Judging from all the coverage via YouTube vids and other blogs, this pocket gun is certainly a big hit.  In one YouTube video I watched of this year’s SHOT Show, Beretta representative Ben Cook mentioned that new color, and NEW SIZED grip frames will be available.  However, Beretta didn’t have any of those new grips frames at the SHOT Show, and Ben didn’t go into much detail.  (What new colors will be available?  What new sizes will be available?  Will the new sizes be minimally different, to accomodate different sized hands – or fundamentally and game-changing different – like giving users the ability to drop a serialized, stainless steel Nano frame into a full-size double-stack frame or anything in between ? )  Nor did I hear anything about a .22lr conversion kit or extended magazines.  I keep watching closely for updates, and will post when there is news.  Click here for more from Beretta on the BU9 Nano.

Glock! 

Unfortunately (but as generally expected), there was no surprise of a new single stack, smaller G26 / G27 to compete with the likes of the Nano, the PM9, CM9, PF9, etc.  That said, there was plenty to be excited about from Glock, with two “new” Gen 4 models: the full-size G21 in .45 ACP and the mid-compact G32 in .357 Sig.  The first Gen 4s were released at SHOT Show 2012 and every model in the Glock Gen 4 lineup offers multiple, adaptable back straps, new gripping surface, an ambi-magazine release, and the new recoil system.  All of these modifications are in response to customer feedback and demand. They are geared towards making this rock-solid, reliable performer more user friendly and comfortable to shoot.   Click here for more.

 

The Black Rifle – The Stag Arms 3G 

So what it announced a couple ahead of the SHOT Show? The Stag Arms 3G was on-hand, and it was a HUGE hit.  Aimed primarily at the 3-Gun competition shooter, it features a stainless steel, heavy fluted  18”, a rifle length gas system, the new Stag Arms 3G compensator (said to reduce recoil to provide faster, more accurate follow up shots), a long, free floated Samson Evolution handguard (which supports multiple modular rail sections in various positions), a Geissele Super 3-Gun trigger (specifically developed for 3-Gun competitions), Magpul MOE pistol grip and Magpul ACS collapsable buttstock.  The Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights (RTS) are optional.  While pricier than some of their previous models, the Stag 3G is still very high-value!  You get a lot of high-end features for the extra dollars.  3-Gun shooter or not, this is one hot, top quality AR.  I imagine it will serve all AR shooters well, except for maybe the those in Close Quarters Battle, but I want one in my gun case!  I anticipate this will be one of the hottest ARs of the year, and you can check it out here: Stag Arms Model 3G  Hmmmm, my AR Build Vs. Buy decision is no longer so easy…  

 

 

So, that’s SHOT Show 2012 Wrap-Up, Part 1. Please stay tuned for Part 2, and thanks for reading!

Once you decide between semi-auto or revolver and finalize your caliber choice, your next question will be, “What brand of Handgun should I buy?!?”  Fortunately today, there are a ton of great options.  Assuming a working man’s budget, with a focus on value, and based on my own personal, hands-on experience plus extensive research:

  •  For semi-autos, I have significant hands-on experience with, and am partial to Beretta, Glock, and Sig Sauer.  There are also many great offerings from Smith & Wesson’s M&P line, Springfield Armory, FNH USA , CZ USA, Heckler & Koch (pronounced ‘coke’) and Ruger.  All reputable, qualified reviews, articles and videos I’ve researched on those have been very positive.  Many of the brands I’ve presented here have an extensive pedigree including Military and/or Law Enforcement use – and that definitely says something.  These are your ‘mainstream’ semi-auto gun manufactures and you generally can’t go wrong with a weapon that has been successfully tested and put into use by a major Military or Law Enforcement agency.

 

  • When it comes to Double-Action revolvers, I recommend Smith & Wesson and Ruger.  This is the stuff of endless Internet and gun forum debate.  Saving you a ton of reading, the prevailing thoughts seem to be that Ruger firearms are over-built, but Smiths are The Cadillac of Guns, having better triggers which lend themselves to better accuracy.  Honestly, you can’t go wrong either way.

 

  • Taurus, what about Taurus?!  Taurus International Manufacturing makes both semi-auto pistols and revolvers.  I have no personal experience with Taurus beyond handling a few at my local gun store.  Again hopefully saving you a ton of reading and research time, the bottom line seems to be that Taurus offers great value for your money.  Fit, finish and attention to detail will not likely be on par with some of the other manufacturers I’ve mentioned above, but you’ll get a working, reliable gun for a very reasonable amount of money.  If you are on a very tight budget, Taurus might be the way to go.

 

This is a bit like “Ford Vs. Chevy” or even “Blonds, Brunettes or Redheads” in that with so many good offerings from so many reputable manufacturers – and many made right here, in the U.S.A. which is something important to a lot of people these days.  You almost can’t go wrong with an offering from the list I’ve recommended, so is really your call, and should be based on personal preferences.  You’re the only one who must be happy with the decision.  Check out different makes and models.  Surf the Web.  Visit your local gun.  Try to get experience shooting your choices by finding a local range with a rental program or by going shooting with a friend.  Pick the one you are most comfortable with, the one that feels best in your hand, and the one that best fits your budget.

 

While we plan to post some gun and gear reviews in the future, check out our links page for some excellent resources to help with your research.