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NOT YOUR DADDY’S (OR GRAND DADDY’S) AR Modern Carbine’s 6.8 By Fred Mastison



TACTICAL JUGGERNAUT Wilson Combat’s CQB Shotgun Delivers on Performance By Garrett Lucas


NIGHT ASSAULT SOF Teams Prove Their Mettle Engaging the Taliban in a Low Light Assault By Michael Golembesky


ALL-PURPOSE DEFENSE Key factors the pros use in selecting tactical handgun ammunition. By Bob Campbell


YOU GOTTA HAVE THICK SKIN TO SURVIVE The Whys and Hows of Buying Body Amor By Steve Lieberman


CODE YELLOW Knowing the Threat Environment: What to Know about the Current Jihadi Movement in the U.S. By John Guandolo


QUICK ON TARGET Introducing the Kriss Vector Gen Ii Crb In 9mm Caliber Semi-Automatic Carbine By Richard Schutz


STEEL WILL Former Green Beret Explains the Keys To Mental Tenacity By Grady Powell with Doug Jeffrey


CONSUMPTION OF CARROTS NOT REQUIRED Night Vision – Explained By Gordon Meehl


RANGE TIME Ten Tips for Next Level Defensive Shooting By Rob Pincus


SIG SAUER MCX Modular/Adaptable Piston Driven Perfection Breaks Away from the Norm By Todd Burgreen


15 WAYS TO BE A BAD ASS Top Tactical Products for Your Wish List By Steven Lieberman


CUSTOM CRADLES FOR YOUR FAVORITE ROSCO Custom Holsters from zZz Custom Works Show an Eye for Perfection By Steven Lieberman


NIGHT VISION GEAR Twelve NVDs that will Help you See in the Dark By Landy Young


STRONG SILENT TYPES 5.56 and 7.62 Silencer Buyer’s Guide By Gordon Meehl



THE PARADOX OF SPEED The Razor’s Edge Between Speed and Accuracy By Shoji Hattori

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COVER CREDITS: Cover photo: Straight 8 Photography Cover Design: Eric Knagg

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EDITORIAL Gordon Meehl Editor Wendy Wilson Managing Editor Henry Z. De Kuyper Senior Staff Photographer DESIGN Eric Knagg Design Director CONTRIBUTORS Todd Burgreen, Bob Campbell, John Guandolo, Shoji Hattori, Doug Jeffrey, Steve Lieberman, Garrett Lucas, Fred Mastison, Grant McGarry, Robert Pincus, Gary Powell, Richard Shutz ADVERTISING Gabe Frimmel Ad Sales Director (714) 200-1930 Casey Clifford Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1982 Mark Pack Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1939 Charles Dorr Account Executive (714) 200-1931 Joe Galloway Account Executive (863) 370-4376 John Bartulin Account Executive (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746 John Cabral Advertising Design Gennifer Merriday Advertising Traffic Coordinator Eric Gomez Advertising Traffic Coordinator

When I hear someone say, “That’s good enough,” I cringe. What exactly is “good enough?” Where is that line drawn? Good enough means you’re settling. Good enough means you’re not willing to reach your potential and have resigned yourself to mediocrity. Good enough numbs us and convinces us that we don’t need to work harder. I’m not speaking from on high; I’m the first one to admit I catch myself all too often spending time in the kingdom of “Good Enough.” I don’t think there are many of us, when choosing a new firearm, who find it acceptable to spend a lot of money on something that will just get us by. We demand a lot from the manufacturers to meet our high expectations. When they fall short, we are vocal about our frustrations and want others to hear about the injustice. However, we are more willing to accept “good enough” from ourselves without protest.

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That same passion we have when receiving less than the best from our purchases needs to be taken to the development of our skills and how we seek out others to help us perfect them. There are untold rewards in stepping up and pushing ourselves to the next level – to never letting ourselves settle for good enough. In this issue we’ve worked to find manufacturers and individuals who are driven by that standard. You’ll find it in the drive and willpower of a young soldier striving to become a top-tier Green Beret, and you’ll find it in the work it takes to create world-class custom holsters. It’s evident in a company stepping up and creating a platform around an uncommon caliber that is just now gaining increased popularity. We’ve also enlisted top instructors to share their knowledge and encourage you to keep pushing yourself to be at the top of your game. Enjoy the winter issue of “Tactical World,” be inspired and keep pushing yourself. Ignore the devil on your shoulder that’s whispering in your ear, “Relax, that’s good enough” Gordon Meehl, Editor TW

EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250 Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 Tactical World is published by Engaged Media Inc., LLC, 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614. © 2016 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. CUSTOMER SERVICE Engaged Media, Inc. 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250 Irvine, CA 92614 Subscriptions, Address Changes, Renewals, Missing or Damaged Copies (800) 764-6278 (239) 653-0225 Foreign Inquiries Back Issues: Books, Merchandise, Reprints (800) 764-6278 • Foreign (239) 653-0225 Letters to Editor, New Products, or to Contribute a Story or Photo

ENGAGED MEDIA INC. Mike Savino CEO Celia Merriday HR and Office Management Philip Trinkle Newsstand Sales Director Jason Mulroney Director of Content Kris Roadruck Director of Marketing Pinaki Bhattacharya Vertical Manager Bob Husly Director of Business Development This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Engaged Media Inc., as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy.



s a writer, and especially as an editor, words matter. More precisely, the attitude defining properties of particular combinations of words matter. There is a combination of words that I think is particularly destructive: good and enough.

OPERATIONS Robert Short IT Manager Parveen Kumar Newsstand and Circulation Analyst Shailesh Khandelwal Subscriptions Manager Alex Mendoza Administrative Assistant Jeno Torres Administrative Assistant Victoria Van Vlear Intern Program Manager

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In 2004, the FBI raided the Annandale, Va., home of a senior Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas leader and seized his archives. Much of what was discovered was entered as evidence in the HLF trial. A revealing piece of evidence was a recording of a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader speaking to a group in Missouri. The recording revealed that the MB has numerous active training camps inside America. It specifically called out Islamic Centers and Mosques to be THE places in which they are planning, training for and will launch jihad. In the United States the “nucleus” for the Islamic Movement is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) whose subsidiary Islamic Societies include

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Jihadis have currently penetrated U.S. federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, gaining access to sensitive intelligence systems and shutting down agency threat-based training programs. The former director for the DoD’s office for Irregular Warfare publicly stated that jihadis already “control” the U.S. decision-making process. The Global Islamic Movement says 2016 is the year they turn their attention from creating sharia-compliant Muslim communities and begin to focus on “converting” the West. When this happens it will be at a coordinated scale unlike anything we’ve seen before before.

ilitarily, the Islamic Movement in the U.S. is coalescing its forces and preparing for war. The evidence is clear. In Dallas in November 2008, the largest terrorism financing and Hamas trial EVER successfully prosecuted in American history was adjudicated (U.S. v Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development or HLF). HLF was the largest Islamic charity in America and was a Hamas organization. The evidence in the HLF trial, as well as other evidence about the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., reveals that all of the prominent Islamic organizations in America are dedicated to waging what they call a “civilization jihad” aimed at destroying our society from within. In the past eight years, they have only become more resolute in that mission.

sharia-compliant Muslim TSA officers, baggage handlers and airline/airport employees at U.S. airports.

Understand that we are facing an insurgency in the United States that is already deeply entrenched in our society. Community leaders who are tactically savvy need to forge deeper relationships with law enforcement and discuss how to create a tactical support system and implementation plan. With this in mind, a viable and dynamic action plan needs to be developed.

TOP:) Coming off the plane in New York after capturing the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the Nairobi Embassy Bombing. BOTTOM:) As an FBI SWAT team leader on an operation with the Presidential detail. (Name of President withheld)

organizations like the Muslim Students Associations (MSA). The MSA serves as a recruiting arm for jihadis. There are over 700 chapters on nearly every major college campus in America. Additionally, there are a large number of new Islamic non-profits being created in America, which appear to be working directly in line with the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to wage civilization jihad. We should be on guard as several reliable sources reveal that Mosques and Islamic organizations are being built near key infrastructure facilities, military bases and positions in communities. There is also a noticeable increase in

Current LEO training should be supplemented with advanced tactical training, integrating snipers. Training to work in pairs instead of tactical columns HAS to be part of the recipe. Additionally, citizens need to make their support for law enforcement clear and pastors need to speak the truth about the true nature of Islam’s theocratic world vision. We are in a real war and need to be prepared. Mr. Guandolo is a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a retired Marine Infantry/Reconnaissance officer. He served many years as a team leader of the FBI’s Washington Field Office SWAT Team, and was recruited out of the FBI by the DoD to conduct strategic analysis on the Islamic threat. Learn more at Mr. Guandolo’s website TW

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SIZE // Accepts Medium or Large ESAPI plates up to 10.25” x 13.25”

The Condor Vanquish Armor System is a versatile system to meet the needs of the operator. The base system is a compact, low profile platform that goes unnoticed under a loose fit jacket. On the go customization is the key with the Vanquish. With the addition of various accessories, the platform can be configured quickly to meet the operators specification. › › › ›

Front map/document pocket with hook & loop closure Adjustable shoulder straps Loop panel in front and back for ID/morale patches Easy access plate pockets








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WILL FORMER GREEN BERET EXPLAINS THE KEYS TO MENTAL TENACITY By Grady Powell with Doug Jeffrey • Photo courtesy of Blackhawk!


e was meant to be a soldier. Grady Powell knew it as a child. But he was determined not to be just another soldier.

“I had a vague understanding of what it meant from my father, but even though I saw his uniforms and such, I never knew what he really did. Later in life I found a goofy green hat in his closet and discovered that my father was a Green Beret.” That’s where life ultimately took him, but it was no ordinary path getting there. “My parents raised me to never strive

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Former Green Beret Grady Powell says a positive attitude is a key to success as well as survival.

GOING IN What were your thoughts about the qualification courses before you began? This is going to suck. What were your thoughts after? Well, that sucked.

for success; instead, they raised me to strive for greatness.” In the following story, this 29-year-old retired Green Beret and co-star of “Dual Survival” shares some of the secrets that enabled him to become one of our elite fighting soldiers. — DJ

01: The Inspiration for the Green Berets

It wasn't so much wanting to become a Green Beret that pushed me. It was the drive to always hit the top. If I had joined the Navy, I would have pushed to be a SEAL; if it were the Marines,

MARSOC. Strive for greatness. Never leave good enough alone.

02: Following His Father The SF Liaison approached me three times between Basic Training and AIT. As someone who knew what it took to be a Green Beret, I did not see myself worthy. I was a punk kid off the streets. So two of those times I respectfully declined their offer to “come give it a shot.” The third time I was approached, I asked for a day to think over it, and I called my father with the news. He said, “Grady, are you telling me that the Green Berets have come to YOU three

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“THE WORD ‘QUIT’ SHOULD NOT BE A PART OF YOUR VOCABULARY.” Special Forces, but that is a common misnomer. I was not the youngest or really all that close to the youngest. To be a Green Beret, you have to be at least 21. There were guys that were far closer to their 21st birthdays than me. But honestly, I knew as such a new and young soldier that I did not bring much in the way of military knowledge, tactical proficiency or experience to the table, if any at all. But what I did have was my ability to control my own mind and drive. I was what you would call a “strong ranger.” What I lacked in skills and experience, I made up for in tenacity and brute strength. There were days where I wanted to quit. Hell, nearly every day. But I always told myself, quit tomorrow. Eventually tomorrow became graduation, and I got that little green hat.


Inherent Risks

times, and you have declined them?” “Yes, sir.”

I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse, but I am not one to typically think about the negative outcomes. Yes, I always run my risk mitigation procedures and come up with the best course of action. But not making it home from a mission was never in the equation.

“Are you a [expletive] idiot? They don't just come to people with that opportunity. Give them hell, son.”

05: Teamwork & Missions

The proudest moment in either of our lives had to be when we first shook hands and shared a hug after I donned the beret. The tears in my rock solid father’s eyes said it all.

Fluidity as a team and being able to anticipate each other’s moves is key. Practice makes perfect, constant cross training, training together as a cohesive unit and alone as an individual are all important to a successful ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha).


Youth, Qualities, Success Discovery Channel reported that I was among the youngest to get into the

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06: Mental Qualities Needed Only those who HAVE to be Green Be-

FAST FACTS Grady Powell appeared on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes.” He was paired with WWE star Eve Torres. They went beat out two Navy SEALs to win the show. One of the Navy SEALs he beat was Chris Kyle.

rets should even bother trying, nothing against those who don't make it. Being in the Special Forces is for many, literally, in our blood, many legacy operators among the teams. The word “quit” should not be a part of your vocabulary.

07: Dual Survivor

Powell also competed in National Geographic’s "Ultimate Survival Alaska." He and his team finished third overall.

I live my life for the challenges. You never know what you're truly capable of until you do something you “can’t.” A primitive survivalist was never something that I aspired to be, but when approached with the opportunity, I saw it as a challenge to write a new chapter.

Before joining the Army in 2007, Powell was studying to be a graphic designer at the University of Missouri.

08: SERE & Survival

The minimum age at which the Army allows soldiers to become a Green Beret is 21. Powell passed selection when he was 21. Powell is in charge of the civilian instruction program for Assymetric Solutions based in St. Louis. The green beret was first worn by British Commandos in World War II. U.S. Army Commandos were issued green berets after completing the Brit's intense special forces training. The green beret was unauthorized headwear until 1961 when JFK permitted the green beret to be part of the uniform, calling it a “badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.”

In SERE School, the physical survival skills we learned were not anywhere near as important as the mental survival skills. The “never quit” mentality, being able to think our way out of nearly any situation or making something out of nothing, those are the tools that I have really found handy while filming “Dual Survival.”

09: Composed During Danger Laughter. It seriously is the best remedy for nearly any situation. My old team used to get pretty pissed at me for always joking and laughing. They would often say that even though they hated it, it helped.

10: Must-Have Qualities Survival is less of a skill set and more of a mindset. You would be VERY surprised at how hard our bodies really are. They want to keep going. It’s up to us to decide in our minds and hearts whether we push on or not. TW

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hether it’s in social media or while being interview in traditional media, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “What’s the one tip you have for people interested in training for armed defense?” The truth is that without knowing something about the person in question, it is awfully hard to give one tip that I can be confident will help them. So, when Tactical World asked me to share ten tips, I was quite pleased. While all of these tips may not be for you, I am confident that at least a few of them will help any reader be better prepared to defend themselves and those they care about.


Lower Your Center of Gravity

The number of people I see practicing for personal defense while standing in an upright position still amazes me. While every Marine worth the cost of his uniform can stand perfectly upright and still at attention for as long as he’s ordered to, none of them fight in that position… in fact, no human fights while standing up straight. Humans naturally lower their center of gravity when they are startled, when they are in danger or when they are doing anything athletic. Fighting is an athletic act. Your training should reflect this natural tendency to bend forward at the waist and bend the knees. It doesn’t matter if you are “more comfortable” standing up straight of even if you can be a better shooter in that position. You need to figure out how good a shooter you are in a natural position.

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Visualize Your Threat

When you are standing in front of the paper, cardboard or steel target, you should be visualizing a real threat, or potential threat. The idea is to give yourself a context for the shooting you are about to do. If you are standing in the ready position, for example, there should be a reason you are in the ready position. Is there someone trying to break down your door? Are you hiding in the back of a convenience store during a robbery? Is there a person with a knife in their hand 15 feet away, threatening you and your family? Give yourself a reason for being in the ready position. When you decide to shoot (a command to fire from an instructor, for example), be sure that you visualize an actual reason for shooting. Using the earlier examples: the door bursts open, the robber begins hurting people, the person charges at you. Be sure that you are also visualizing the end of the fight. Why did you stop shooting? The threat falls to the ground, the threat surrenders, the threat runs away.


Carry a Tourniquet

Having emergency medical supplies isn’t just for the range. If you are shooting guns, you should have the knowledge and equipment to respond to a gunshot wound. The most common places to get shot at the range are the legs and the hands; both could require tourniquets to control bleeding so that you (or one of your fellow shooters) can make

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it to professional medical care. For many years, it has been my policy to open the emergency medical kit before any live fire class and review the contents with the students. If nothing else, seeing the medical gear and knowing where it is should remind you that there is always the chance of a life threatening injury when you are using your firearms.

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In the above images, the top and bottom left photos show the proper way to engage a threat, while the remaining photos illustrate the wrong way.


Toss the Timer

Far too much time is spent trying to cut time on choreographed drills during what is supposed to be defensive firearms training. You may hear plenty of people tell you that without “metrics” or “standards” you have no way to track your progress or push yourself. But I


can assure you that my two decades of teaching thousands of students, at all levels of skill, on hundreds of ranges around the world have proven that timers can just as easily get in the way of practical skill development. The problem is that you end up chasing tenths of seconds in very controlled conditions. You begin choreographing your skills, your techniques and possibly

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even your gear, to the drills instead of to the situation you are supposed to be preparing for. Compare the shooting range to a racetrack. You will always get a faster lap time in a purpose-built race car with track tires and by taking up all the space on the track that you can, including going deep into the left hand turns. If you drove that way in your everyday life, or if you mount racing slicks on

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your daily driver, you’re not going to be a very successful driver… and you could very well get yourself or others very seriously hurt. Don’t train for range. Train for the real world. Toss the timer and work on developing applicable skills by pushing your ability to shoot at reasonable targets while processing a variety of different types of information in a variety of different circumstances.

Shooting squared up to a piece of paper doesn't prepare you for real world defense. Situational training prepares you to adapt to your surroundings.


Stay Beyond “Two Arm’s Reach”

In most cases, if someone can get their hands (or weapon) on you or your defensive tool, they are much more dangerous to you. This is especially true if you already have a gun in your hand. The last thing you should want if you are capable of defending yourself without being in contact is to get into touching

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distance. This distance is referred to as “Two Arm’s Reach” (TAR), though it may actually be a further distance based on athleticism, length of tools and reaction times. There have been several cases of police officers and individuals who drew their guns but did not use them to defend themselves before the threat was able to get their hands on it… in some cases with very tragic results, as in the case of the would-be Good Samaritan in a Walgreens parking lot in Texas in 2016 who had his own gun knocked offline after a threat closed a significant distance. That man was killed by the threat, despite having had his gun out and ready long before TAR was breached. Not only should you try to stay outside of TAR when confronting a specific threat, but you should also try to keep yourself and/or the muzzle of your gun outside of reach when approaching corners or other places that someone could be hiding.


One-Handed Ready Position Near Danger Areas


I.C.E.: INTEGRITY, CONSISTENCY, EFFICIENCY I.C.E. Training is a full service company offering training to armed professionals and those interested in self-defense. I.C.E. is owned and operated by author Rob Pincus, the developer of the COMBAT FOCUS Shooting program. I.C.E. offers training in firearms, tactics and unarmed defense as well as consulting services for range operations, instructor development and training program management. Check out or email for more info.

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If you do need to get within Two Arm’s Reach of someplace that a person could be hiding (a “danger area”) or a potential threat that you aren’t ready to defend yourself against, be sure to transition to a one handed ready position, keeping your gun close to your body and using your other hand to shield, preparing to fend off any attempt to grab your defensive tool. Better to take a knife strike to your support arm and be capable of shooting the attacker from a retention position than to have your gun taken or have the attacker move inside your muzzle and be in a position to attack your torso with your best defense rendered useless. On the range, you should practice shooting from one-handed retention positions as well as quickly transitioning from a one-handed ready to a two-handed extended shooting position.

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Don’t Look at Your Gun While Reloading

Have you ever had to stop your car very quickly because a deer jumped out in the road, someone ran a red light, or an inattentive driver started out of a parking spot without looking? If so, you probably didn’t look at your brake pedal, did you? Chances are, if you didn’t have both hands on the wheel, you quickly got them there without needing to take your eyes off of the imminent threat of collision. In an emergency situation with a tool (your car) that you have practiced using to a high degree of competency, the last thing you should have to look at is the tool. You have been integrating with tools by feel for most of your life: pens, utensils, hammers, bats, racquets, musical instruments, keyboards, phones and machines like cars and firearms. In a fight, there are many variables that are important to keep an eye on: the location of the threat, the threat’s actions, any other potential threats, bystanders, responding police officers, positions of cover or concealment and exits from a dangerous area.

When it comes to reloading your gun, there shouldn’t really be any variables. The magazine release is always in the same place (like your brake pedal); the magazine well is always in the same place (like your steering wheel). By learning to reload confidently without looking at your gun (and this goes for clearing malfunctions as well), you will free your vision up to look at much more urgent and important things. On the range, you can look down at your gun for seconds at a time and nothing will change about the targets. In the real world, looking away for a split second can allow for any number of things to change without your knowing. In the fight, your attention will first be (and should be) on the threat… train to keep it there or to look for other things that are variable. Run your gun without visual reference.

Keeping your eyes on the target instead of the gun, even when you are reloading, allows you to be nimble and adapt to any changes in the threat.

bedroom of our kids in less than 15 seconds. You should be able to have a properly staged firearm out of its secure spot and ready to use in less than 30 seconds from the places in your home that you spend the most time. Older teens and adults should be able to carry (preferably) or drag any other household members from one spot in the house to any other (including stairs). You should be able to do pushups, sit ups, squats and jumping jacks. Fighting is an athletic endeavor. The better prepared your body is, the better you will be able to fight.


Be Fit

If you want to be best able to defend yourself and help others in emergency situations, you should be fit. You don’t have to spend hours each day in the gym, nor do you have to give up ice cream, grains or the occasionally candy bar. Unless you have a very large house, you need to be able to get up off your typical resting position on your couch and reach your bedroom or the


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New Recon MultiCam



Triple bellowed cargo pocket ® with VELCRO closure to house magazines and other needed accessories

Double reinforced knee with knee pad pouch and VELCRO closure

Two slightly angled thigh pockets and two side calf pockets with inverted pleat for ease of entry





Use a Section of Rail as an Index Point

Just about any defensive rifle – and certainly just about all AR-15 type rifles – can be fitted with a simple section of rail on the underside of the handguard or fore end. This rail section can be used to mount an accessory, of course, but I like to use them as low-profile index points as well. Rather than have a large fore-grip adding weight and size to your rifle, having a simple 3-inch section of rail to push or pull against, or simply to use as a point of reference for hand position relative to your light, laser, sling connection point or any other necessary item on your rifle. A simple and inexpensive rail section can also be used from either side as a brace against corners, ledges, tables or other flat surface angles.

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A simple and inexpensive rail section can also be used from either side as a brace against corners, ledges, tables or other flat surface angles.


Buy Two Carry Guns… of the Exact Same Kind

Far too often I hear from people who, after buying their first firearm for self defense, begin to anticipate their second firearms purchase because they are looking to get something “new.” For the person who has found an every day carry pistol that is a perfect fit, the idea that they would buy a radically different type of handgun as their second purchase should be discouraged. If one is a hobbyist, a “gun collector”

or a mere “shooter,” then having a diverse set of handguns with which to experiment, plink, compete or simply share with your family and friends at the range is fine. If you are serious about owning firearms for defense, you should stick to one type of operating style, if not exactly the same model. So, for the new defensive gun owner, buying two of the exact same gun makes much more sense than buying two different firearms. In addition to the consistent operation, your holster(s), magazines, quick access safes, ammunition, sights, tools and everything else related to your defensive tools will also be consistent and interchangeable. In some cases, it may make the most sense to buy two of the same type of gun in different sizes, one for carry and the other for staging in the home or work place. Combinations like a 5-inch XD and a 3-inch XD or a Glock 17 and a Glock 26 are perfect in those situations. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with being both a defensive firearms owner and gun collector… but, it is important to have some integrity in regard to which is your priority. TW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR … Rob Pincus is a professional trainer, author and consultant. He and his staff at I.C.E. Training Company provide services to military, law enforcement, private security and students interested in self-defense. Rob is the Developer of the Combat Focus shooting program, the most efficient defensive firearms training methodology available today.

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By Steven Lieberman • Photos Courtesy of Manufacturers


ere in Southern California, we have four seasons: hot, windy, flood and fire.

Instead of snowmen and icicles, the holidays in SoCal feature a series of


decorated plastic pine trees and the occasional palm festooned with a string of lights. Still, as the sun sets over the Pacific on these shorter days, the mind invariably turns to a single thought:


A few years ago, someone got bored playing with 550 cord. From making key fobs to slingshots, who knew that paracord had so many uses? There was also the utilitarian benefit of having a crap load of paracord on your kit when your cargo plane went down in sub-Saharan Africa. Problem was, other than shoelaces, where are you going to stow 20 feet of paracord? Well, that bored lad from way back when saved us all. He braided, melted and knotted that 550 string into a bracelet. Best of all, with a single pull (or cut) – voila! Your fashionable wrist accessory will unravel into a few yards of survival string. Then someone got the bright idea of embedding tools into the bracelet itself. I mean, why the hell not? If your intent is to carry a survival kit, why not be more efficient and keep said survival kit right on your wrist in the form of a survival bracelet? ReFactor Tactical Operator Bracelet Price: $60 +/-

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What cool stuff can I ask for this season? Forget peace on earth and all that crap … Here are 15 badass products to put on your tactical wish list.


A man is not a man – nor a woman a woman – without a knife. Knowing how to a use a knife beyond opening up a UPS box is kinda important, too. Like a firearm, you need training. Once you have that training, you need a great blade. Kershaw throws some love your way with the Blur Glass Breaker Knife. This sweet folding knife has all of the benefits of a quality blade. It also has an extreme low profile nub at the end. This hardened divot of metal allows you to break through the glass barrier that stands between you and freedom. Low profile, a textured grip, serrated edge and an assisted opening, this Kershaw knife makes a great – if not somewhat expensive – stocking stuffer. Kershaw Blur Glassbreaker Knife Price: $124

Be Knife Smart Knives are tools just like guns. Without proper training, they are massively underutilized. Be as passionate about your dedication to training with a gun as you are about training with a knife. YouTube may be interesting to watch, but it is not a replacement to quality training. Many tier-one trainers like the world famous Steve Tarani travel the training circuit, and sooner or later are going to be within driving distance of your bunker. Research, review and participate in reputable training seminars as often as possible. For more information, visit

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Col. Jeff Cooper’s fourth rule of firearm safety: Know your target and its environment. Well you can’t satisfy The Colonel’s commandment if you can’t see the damn target. Dust, dirt, sweat, glare… these are all enemies to target acquisition. Cover those eyeballs with the Alpha by Oakley. In extreme environments, the two-lens system of traditional glasses fail. Sure they may look good on Ponch and John as they drive down the highway looking to give tickets to unsuspecting drivers… but your mission is slightly more… “critical.” You need a single-lens system that has been fixed into a frame and a gasket. (Hell… that just sounds cool!) The Alpha is more then a set of goggles. It is a complete sight protection and visual continuity enhancement system. The kit includes the SI Ballistic M Frame, the SI Ballistic Halo Goggle, The Si Helo-Alpha gasket, a strap, anti-fog kit two micro-fiber bags, a lanyard and a strong box. Seeing is believing… and in a category-three sandstorm you won’t believe how well you will be able to see! SI Ballistic M-Frame Alpha Operator Kit – Square Case Array Price: $300 (less for current or retired military or law enforcement)

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Watches serve multiple functions, and frankly few of us even know how to set the date properly on them. Still, having a robust version of awesomeness on our support side wrist makes us look cool… and that which makes us look cool, makes us feel confident. Confidence is the main ingredient in success. You must therefore wear a cool watch to be successful. If you don’t, you are an abysmal failure. Period. Fortunately Bravo Company has decided to help you out. Its Mk15 Tritium Watch is an operator’s dream. Loaded with features, such as 316L stainless steel and finished in a PVD brushed black, she is water resistant to 200 meters/20 atmospheres with a 13 jewel, gold plated, Swiss-made chronograph movement, and a ratcheted unidirectional bezel. A brushed metal band matches perfectly with your tuxedo, and a rubber diver’s band is there for those evenings when you have to perform maritime ops. They are not cheap, and they are a limited edition so time is of the essence here.

Bravo Company BCM Mk15 Tritium Watch Price: $595

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Need to dehydrate the enemy? Have a pressing need to look for that eyeglass screw that you just dropped and watched roll under your car in the middle of that darkened parking structure? Just want to make sure that you have enough light to illuminate your way back to the trailhead? Surefire, the leader in tactical flashlights, both hand-held and weapons-mounted, has the 1,000-lumen P2X Fury waiting for you. This little bad boy easily clips to a pocket, or with the use of a single scope mount, can be attached to the rail of your carbine. There are three things everyone should always have access to every day: a gun, a knife and a flashlight. Surefire P2X Fury Price $229

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Illumination Training Using a flashlight in conjunction with a handgun or rifle requires special skill. From the FBI, Harris, Surefire or some of the hybrid methods out there, flashlights are specialized tools that require specialized skills. Skills are not innate; they come through evolutions of training. Don’t think that because you’ve got a torch, you now are done. Illumination only comes through training.



Some people go to the range with a rucksack they picked up at Wal-Mart. I get it. It’s cheap and works (sort of) for a single pistol. What if you are headed to the range, though, with your armory? G-Outdoors developed, and frankly enhanced, the tactical range backpack. Rather than rely on your support hand to carry 42 pounds of freedom to the firing line, the Tactical Range Backpack lets you literally shoulder that weight and free up your arms for other tasks. The best part of the backpack is that it looks like… well… a backpack. The lower portion uses a hard internal shell to allow each of your pistols a little home, secure and free from the damage that comes from being banged around in a traditional case. Made of a tough durable nylon, the Tactical Range Backpack marries form and function in a singular unit.

Get the Right Fit Fitting a backpack is more than just putting it on and checking yourself in the mirror. These are load-bearing units, and they must be fitted with the load present. Straps should be secure and, if possible, connected together with the chest retention strap. This allows for the weight of the load to be transferred from the top of the shoulders to the center of the chest. Aside from reducing fatigue from the load, it also helps secure the position of the pack. Remember… these ballistic packs need to actually be in front of the target to protect the target!

G-Outdoors Tactical Range Backpack Price: $124

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It is 30 degrees below zero. There is a 25 mph crosswind at the target, and you are at an elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level. Some would opt for a day in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. You are different than most. As you glance out the window, the only thing that crosses your mind is that this a perfect opportunity for foul weather distance training. There is one problem though. How do you keep your artillery launchers safe and secure in the back of your truck and out of the elements on the way to the range? Plano All Weather Tactical Gun Case is the singular answer. Many companies produce thermo plastic cases, and some are better than others. The Plano All Weather is frankly one of the best, and priced at a place where a normal human being can actually afford one. Strong, solid, easy to lock and, most importantly, easy to open, the case is an exercise in utilitarian functionality as well as solid good looks. It comes with the traditional foam insert that allows for virtually any configuration for a weapon as well as component parts. Plano All Weather Tactical Gun Case Price: $65

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{08) 10PENSTRIKE So… you have just been deployed to a hostile area, with serious limitations on the rules of engagement. Worse, the deployment theater is restrictive on personal defense weapons. You have two choices: rely exclusively on improvised weapons of opportunity, or bring your own. One of the most dangerous weapons systems in existence is the stylus. Patterned off the 16th century foil and refined into the modern pen, the stylus has one singular purpose: stopping a threat in a CQB environment with a well placed puncture wound to one of the seven lethal strike zones. Well… it can also be used, to... you know… write stuff on paper, too. This “secondary use” has allowed for enhanced concealment. Capable of daily carry, often in non-permissive environments the “tactical pen” is the perfect answer to the question “what if I don’t have my gun (or sword)?” The strike pen is a generic name, and there are many varieties out there, most checking at around $30. You way want to avoid the overtly tactical “widow maker” varietal. After all, the whole idea is that the weapon system is supposed to be stealthy. Also, because you will be claiming that this thing is really only a pen, you might want to make sure it actually writes. Strike Pen Price: $25 to $50

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So… way back in June, my wife and daughter decided to surprise me for Fathers’ Day with a piece of functional art: a large hand-painted American Flag, with the 13 stars, 1776 in the center of the blue, and the Second Amendment written in cursive across the lower stripes. The thing looks absolutely awesome – but Rough Country Furniture makes products for hiding stuff. With the wave of a small magnet (stowed behind the top stripe) both the field of blue as well as the lower six stripes fold down to allow access to a rifle and pistol case. I have this beast hung up in my office, and it is without question a centerpiece. Everyone loves the look as well as the message. The hidden compartments just make it that much cooler. Now, these are hand made, which means that it may take a little bit of time for them to show up. The family bought mine at the beginning of June, and the flag did not arrive until late August. Still… well worth the wait. Rough Country Rustic Furniture Concealment Gun Furniture Price $265 +/-

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You are a warrior. You are the physical embodiment of grim justice…. or you’re just some dude at the range who doesn’t want to get shot by that noob at the other end of the firing line. Either way, protection is critical. You wear hearing protection, you wear eye protection… why not wear thoracic cavity protection? 5.11 tactical gives you the TacTech Plate Carrier Vest. A low profile, load-bearing vest that, on one hand, allows you easy access to everything you need to stay in the fight. On the other, the plate pockets give you a second chance to actually survive the fight. Loaded with features, this plate carrier vest does it all – from plate retention to a deployable drag strap to let your buddy literally pull your sorry ass back to a cover position. The TacTech is one of the few pieces of gear that should be worn all the time, in both a training, as well as an operational environment.

5.11 TacTech Plate Carrier Vest Price: $189

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{11) 11)

{11) 11)


One of our clients wanted a method of securing his “trunk gun” (low profile, iron sighted AR-15) in some place other than a trunk. He noticed one of my rifles mounted on a wall in my Solo Vault by Shotlock. Twenty minutes later, he was on the way to his shop to install one these Solo Vaults under the rear folding seats of his Chevy Avalanche. This rig is sweet. Locked squarely in place, the gun is snug and the vault itself is immovable. Without the rifle present, it looks like some sort of audio equipment. With a push button combination the rifle is quickly accessible... and though I don’t recommend it…it could be stored with the magazine in the magazine well. Solid, functional and priced competitively, the Solo Vault secures your weapon and gives you serious peace of mind. Solo Vault by Shotlock Price: $199

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One of the most difficult things about methods of concealment is actually concealing the firearm. In colder climates or colder times of year, this becomes far easier because we tend to wear more clothing. The problem is, many of our standard jackets are not designed to quickly access a firearm. Worse, the ones that are designed for concealment often look like you are about to go head to head with Bruce Willis and start coping a Germanic accent. Concealment extends beyond actually hiding the gun. It incorporates blending into the crowd as well. Nineline straddles two lines, allowing us to blend in with the citizenry, while at the same time making us look flat out good. This is not an easy mission to accomplish. Nineline pulled it off though with their rugged CCW Jacket. CCW Jacket Nineline Apparel (concealed Carry Soft Shell) Price: $144

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TACTICAL BACKPACK WITH LEVEL IIIA BODY ARMOR {13) BULLETBLOCKER ability to escape and evade someone – or someones – who are intent on doing them harm.

Ok… let’s get serious for a second. Up until now I have been somewhat tongue in cheek with many of these products. With this one, however, there is no room for joking around. The consequences are frankly too dire. We all love our children, and we will protect our children… hell… anyone’s children at all costs.

the idea. Who would send their kid to school with body armor?

That is who we are, that is what we do.

We do what we need to do to protect our family.

The BulletBlocker Backpack is light, airy and, most importantly, low profile. Our goal with anything that is designed to “blend in” is that it actually “blends in.” This backpack is designed to give our loved ones the fighting chance to make it back to us safely.

The nice thing about backpacks is their scope of use. Children use backpacks to carry notebooks, adults use backpacks to carry their own stuff around. A backpack with level IIIA body armor allows for the user, be they 8, 18 or 48, the

BulletBlocker Backpack Price: $250-$300

Over the last few decades there have been incidents of evil where deranged individuals have sought to take our most precious things away from us. When the first bulletproof backpack came on line a few years back, many people scoffed at

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Please… Who would buckle their kid into a car seat on their way to the mall?

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Drones have become fairly commonplace over the last couple of years. From filming home movies in your backyard to filming movies of your neighbors from your backyard, drones have ridden the arch from amusing to downright annoying. Still, they have a legitimate and tactical benefit. Looking for a fallen comrade? Need to coordinate the moment among a group of confederates? Spend a couple of bucks and get yourself a remote-controlled friggen eye in the sky! DJI makes the best and easiest-to-fly eye bugs out there. Read the instructions, charge it up, spend about 30 minutes to get your bearings, and you’re off! Think of it as the iPhone of drones. When you just got to know what the Joneses are up to down the street, doing a flyby with this baby is going to beat the hell out of sitting in an oak tree with your spotting scope. DJI Inspire Black Edition Drone Price: $3,099



You just got shot in the friggen leg. Now you can’t move, you hurt like hell, and what is that? Oh great... looks like the bullet cut through an artery. Fantastic. You train to put on a tourniquet to yourself? You even know where you tourniquet is? Medical help is on the way, but you need to carry medical trauma gear, and you actually need to know how to use it. It is not reasonable to walk around with a full on trauma bag, but each and every one of us can easily stow and be equipped with an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit). MyMedics Sheild IFAK Kit is solid, reliable, priced competitively, and most of all, each of the component parts are easy to use. Like all things tactical though, don’t rely on YouTube videos… seek out specialized and professional training. For a more comprehensive multi-trauma kit, take a look at MyMedic’s slightly larger patrol model FAK. TW

MyMedic Sheild IFAK Kit Price: $199 to $249.95

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10/27/16 4:37 AM




6.8 Story by Fred Mastison Photos by Straight 8


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In an ocean of rifles, how can one stand out? One company has cut a path in this wilderness and made a name for themselves through the development of accurate and precision made rifles. Say hello to Modern Carbine.


s this article is being written, gun sales have hit a record for the 17th con secutive month. One major gun builder has seen a 40 percent jump in sales alone, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. One of the major purchases in this surge has been AR-15 platform rifles. With a looming fear over governmental uncertainty and anti-gun legislation, sales are booming. This perfect storm has also expanded the number of companies building rifles, which in itself presents a unique challenge.


A Modern World

The bolt carrier group is magnetic particle tested for integrity. The entire system is Melonite coated, making carbon residue much easier to clean off.

Modern Carbine has been better known in the industry via their sister company Modern Outfitters. Through Modern Outfitters, they have built a reputation of providing quality parts and gear to the serious shooting community. Unlike some other companies that make a one-size-fits-all rifle, MC (Modern Carbine) offers customers the ability to customize their rifle if they choose. To keep the price low, their basic rifle comes with standard mil-spec controls and charging handles. However, they

can be easily upgraded at the factory to meet the customer’s preferences. This dedication to the customer is the building block of their success. Another thing that MC does to win the hearts of many shooters is to step outside of the traditional 5.56 format. The most interesting rifle in this arena is their MC5 chambered in 6.8 SPC.

History Class The 6.8 SPC round has a dedicated and expanding following. The round is unique and it is worth our time to look at its development if even only briefly. Ever since the first M16 hit the ground, people have bemoaned the use of a 5.56 round. Many of the complaints flowed from those who had launched lead in the form of .308 or .30-06. While the Pentagon initially ignored

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the complaints, a trend seemed to be growing. Fast forward to the War on Terror and our fight with the Taliban. Reports began to surface once again about the standard 5.56 round’s inability to neutralize a target even when they may have been shot multiple times. This information spurred the 5th Special Forces Group to design a round to outperform the 5.56 as well as other


rounds that had been proposed. The design would be tagged as the “Enhanced Rifle Cartridge” (ERC).

the USAMU who assisted in developing loads and even building rifles for the project. The end product of a mammoth effort was the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge). The 6.8 SPC met all of the goals set forth in the original plan and performed well.

A team effort of MSG Steve Holland (5th SFG-A) and Chris Murphy of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit worked to improve the terminal performance of a round fired from the M4. The team also included Troy Lawton (Chief Ballistics Technician) and Cris Murray (Service Rifle and R&D Gunsmith) of

At this point the standard bureaucracy sets in and “studies” are launched. In short, the military future of the 6.8 SPC round is blurred by politics and money. Even with that, many U.S. military units are testing the round for potential use. In the civilian world the 6.8 SPC has developed a strong following including

Modern Carbine's self contained barrel nut is a proprietary design made of aluminum to reduce weight.

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some federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The overall performance of the round is impressive as the development team shot one MOA or better at 100 and 600 yards. The performance was very similar to that of the 77-grain Mk262 5.56 round fired from the Army’s SPR (Special Purpose Rifle). It takes courage for a rifle company to commit to building a gun chambered in 6.8 SPC, as it may not initially appeal to the masses. Modern Carbine, however, is not focused on simply selling a million average rifles. The rifle at the center of this discussion is the MC5.

Features—like a wire EDM magwell with enhanced flare allowing for smoother reloads, as well as oversized controls for operation with gloves—prove Modern Carbine end user focus.

Leupold's VX-6 scope with 6.8SPC ballistically matched CDS turrets is a perfect match to Modern Carbine's focus on quality and accuracy.

I had the chance to visit with Eric Stubbs at Modern Carbine and asked him about the MC5 chambered in 6.8 SPC. “The 6.8 SPC has quickly become one of our most popular calibers,” Stubbs said. “We have found that the 6.8 SPC fills a gap between the 5.56 and the .300 BLK. Hunters are able to shoot at extended ranges with the 6.8 and kill game like pigs and deer with ease out to 400 yards. This exceeds the reliable killing range of the .300blk while offering more mass and energy than the 5.56mm. We generally shoot the Hornady 110-120 SST round and have

The butt stock of the CQB is an AR style Super-Stoc attached via a Wilson AR Stock Adapter. The stock adapter will accept any AR-style stock and includes a QD socket for a push-button sling swivel.


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had a lot of success with SST projectiles. We have even harvested Aoudad (Barbary Sheep) mountain goats with the 6.8spc.” While hunters are interested in the rifle, there is an equal interest for the law enforcement world. Right now, Modern Carbines are issued by metro police departments in Mississippi, Alabama and Texas for patrol and special operation divisions. They are also approved by many other departments for individual officer purchase as a patrol rifle. This is an impressive feat for a relatively young company.

The Recipe The MC5 I received for testing was their


standard 6.8 SPC rifle. A head-to-toe inspection came up with these details. The barrel on the MC5 was 14.7 inches, pinned with a Griffin Armament Universal Taper mount brake that made it suppressor-ready. The barrel is cut from 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel that has been button rifled with a 1:11 twist. Modern Carbine also air gauges the barrels and applies a Melonite finish. I have found this process to provide greater accuracy and more consistent results than the cold hammered forging process. When I dug around a bit I found that MC has an intense focus on proper harmonics in the barrel, and the company states that the life expectancy of its

Modern Carbine buyers "upgrade" their rifles by choosing their own flash hiders and iron sights (among other things).

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barrels is between 15,000 and 20,000 rounds. The gas block is a low profile Melonite coated unit. A quick note on the gas ports on this rifle: The company minimizes the gas port diameter to reduce blowback and improve service life of the rifle. When you invest in a serious rifle, it is good to know that the builders understand your investment and strive to make it last. The proprietary barrel nut is aluminum and self-contained. This improves accuracy because the barrel nut is not in contact with the rail system. The enhanced bolt carrier group is magnetic-particle tested for integrity, and the entire system is Melonite coated, making carbon residue much easier to clean. The rear travel for the bolt carrier is enlarged so that it fits precisely into the buffer tube. This ensures it locks into battery consistently and tightly every time to enhance accuracy.

a smoother and more detailed product. The MC5 comes with an ambidextrous safety and a mil-spec trigger. The overall story of the build of this gun is centered on quality. Modern Carbine is dead serious about its guns and states, “Every component of our rifles is designed and manufactured to work in harmony to decrease weight and improve accuracy. Our rifles are proudly made in the U.S.A. and backed by a life-time warranty.”

Modern Carbine's one-piece billet dust cover is designed to be a third of the weight of a mil-spec dust cover. A carbon fiber dust cover rod further reduces weight.

It does not get much better than that. The rifle included a Leupold VX-6 scope with Modern Carbine’s CDS turret. This allows shooters to quickly and easily range the target and turn the dial to the corresponding yardage. The CDS provides a worry free shooting solution

to save on time in a hunting situation or for helping out the person who is less inclined to study ballistic data and use ballistic applications. The last add on was a set of 45-degree offset sights from Dueck Defense.

Punching Holes The arrival of the MC5 provided a fantastic excuse to once again hit the range. The goal of testing would focus on accuracy and overall performance. A quick zero and we were off to the races. With every rifle that comes across the bench, I work to see what its baseline accuracy is. The test is straight forward and consists of three five-round groups shot at 100 yards from a supported position. While not a ransom rest or

The magwell is wire EDM cut with an enhanced bevel. While more labor intensive and expensive, EDM produces


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While a day of testing on the range will never tell us how long a rifle will last, it does give us insight into its design and general quality. The MC5 gets high marks in every category, and I am certain that with proper maintenance and lubrication that the MC5 will have an exceptional life span. This is exactly what Modern Carbine believes as well. MC provides a lifetime warranty with every gun they build. The only way a company can do that is if they know they are building a quality product.

secured sled, it provides a good look at what a rifle is capable of doing. The ammunition for our testing on a clear Arizona morning would be a variety of 115 grain and 120 grain rounds. Performance of the MC5 was as good as claimed. With every group coming in at 1 inch or less, the MC5 proved itself a serious performer. The gun also performed well as we rang steel at a variety of distances ranging from 50 yards out to 600 yards. Beyond its ability to deliver rounds on target accurately, the rifle was a pleasure to run. While not always an initial concern of many shooters, a focus by the builder to create a well profiled gun with few harsh edges matters. Long sessions behind any gun will quickly expose everything you don’t like about

Wrapping It All Up Every aspect of the MC5 is designed or selected to lose weight while reducing felt recoil without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

a rifle, and harsh edges are on the top of that list. Modern Carbine has taken the time to build rifles designed for extended use, and it shows. From the smooth motion of the safety to the ease of magazine changes, the gun was a comfortable fit. It would absolutely be a choice of mine for a long trek hunt.

Modern Carbine has successfully established themselves in the rifle market as a serious player. The MC5 is a good representation of their work and would be a solid choice as a hunting, personal protection or even tactical rifle. In a time when you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a new rifle company, it is refreshing to see a team dedicated to more than just pushing out guns. Modern Carbine and the MC5 are a welcomed change and absolutely worth looking into. TW



MODERN CARBINE Caliber: 6.8 SPC Action: Semi-auto Operation: Direct gas/rotary bolt Barrel length: 14.7 inches Barrel Twist: 1:11 Fire Control: Mil-spec Overall length: 32.5 inches (collapsed) Magazine Capacity: 25 rounds Weight: 6.2 pounds MSRP: $1,699 (without scope)


PERFORMANCE Load Hornady Custom Ammunition 120 grn SST Remington Premier Match Ammunition SPC 115 grn SMKHP Fusion MSR 115 grn Spitzer Boat Tail

Velocity 2,460 fps 2,800 fps 2,470 fps

Accuracy .85 inch .90 inch 1.0 inch

Notes: Patterns measured at 15, 40 and 50 yards.

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TWELVE NVDS THAT WILL HELP YOU SEE IN THE DARK. By Landy Young • Photos Courtesy of manufacturers


ver wonder what goes bump in the night? Well with one of these sets of night vision, you can now see in the dark.

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Night vision gear has multi uses for law enforcement to the varmint hunter. Take a look at some of the night vision gear here to see what just may fit your needs. TW

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Model: NYX7 Pro Gen 3, #NSGNYX7P01PSDA1 MSRP: $4,594 Website: Description: The Armasight Nyx-7 Pro is a very tough and compact bi-ocular night vision goggle. Built from the highest grade optics available – and with electronics that are simple, reliable – they provide clear, bright night vision images. They can be worn on the included flip-up head mount or optional universal helmet mount for hands free use. Optional lenses are avail-able for middle to long range observation for hand-held use, along with optional IR illuminators. Only requires only a single CR123 or AA battery for hours of operation, the Armasight Nyx-7 Pro comes with IR and low battery indicators displayed to the user in the eyepiece. Water and fog-resistant; waterproof is an option.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 3 ITT Pinnacle • Resolution: 64-72 lp/mm • Magnification: 1x standard, 3x, 5x, 6x, 8x optional • Field of view: 40 degrees




Model: ATN NVG7-3P, #NCGONVG73P MSRP: $4,099 Website: Description: If you’re looking for a lightweight, rugged night vision, the NVG7 is an exceptional choice for hands-free use. This model has a high-resolution image intensifier with auto-brightness and bright source shut-off. NVG7 goggles also come with a built-in IR for total darkness with indicator light to let you know they are on. One CR123A battery, case and manual are included. ATN NVG7 works well in handsfree night vision applications like predator hunting or tactical marksmen.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 3P • Resolution: 64-72 lp/mm • Magnification: 1x • Field of view: 40 degrees

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FIREFIELD Model: Tracker 3x42, #FF25028 MSRP: $599.99 Website:

Description: The Firefield Tracker 3x42 night vision binocular gives incredibly detailed observation in total darkness. These night vision binoculars are completely self-contained and able to work up to 10 hours on one 3V battery. The Tracker provides clear viewing in total darkness by utilizing a built-in IR infrared illuminator. The ergonomically designed rubberized body is lightweight, features a non-slip coating and can be taken on long expeditions easily and comfortably. The Tracker utilizes the Eclipse Lens Cover System, which uses flip-up covers that can easily clip back against the body of the binoculars and rotated out of the viewing area thus eliminating lens cap hassles. Pin holes in the lens caps allow the Tracker to be used in the daytime.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 1 • Resolution: NA • Magnification: 3x • Field of view: 30 degrees


Model: Discovery 8x Gen 2+QS Night Vision Binoculars, #NSBDISCOV8QGDI1 MSRP: $2,524 Website: Description: The Armasight Discovery is a great choice for long-range night vision binoculars. With enhanced performance and light weight, the Discovery enables users to view great distances comfortably for longer periods of time. The Discovery is the right tool for perimeter security, observing nature, even performing surveillance. Discovery Binoculars can be hand-held or mounted on a tripod. The Discovery comes with a detachable long-range IR illuminator with advanced electronic protection circuits. The body is both water and shock resistant, but still lightweight. A great choice for law enforcement. The Discovery is tripod mountable, and comes with hand straps and a neck strap.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: 2+ QS. (Quick Silver) • Resolution: 47-54 lp/mm • Magnification: 8x • Field of view: 6.5 degrees

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zt Firefield

Model: Tracker 1x24, #FF25025 MSRP: $499.97 Website: Description: The Firefield Tracker 1x24 night vision goggles allow for observation under the darkness of night that includes a head gear accessory for a flip-up, adjustable and hands-free unit. The Tracker 1x24 gives a clear view in total darkness by utilizing a built-in IR infrared illuminator. The rubberized body is lightweight and can be taken on long expeditions easily and comfortably. The Tracker utilizes the Eclipse Lens Cover System, which uses flip-up covers that can easily clip back against the body of the binoculars and rotated out of the viewing area thus eliminating lens cap hassles. Pin holes in the lens caps allow the Tracker to be used in the daytime. Also featured is a dual diopter adjustment with central focusing knob.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 1 • Resolution: NA • Magnification: 1x • Field of view: 30 degrees


ARMASIGHT Model: PVS14 Gen 2+ HDMG, #NAMPVS140129DH1 MSRP: $2,364. Website: Description: The Armasight Nyx-14 will set the standard for compact multi-use monocular. The Nyx-14 optics are equal to or possibly better than most military issue night vision units, built in a composite housing that is tough, compact and ergonomic. The body is built to surpass MIL-SPEC-810, so the Armasight Nyx-14 can withstand saltwater, rain, high humidity and temperature extremes. The Nyx-14 mini-monocular comes equipped with manual variable gain control so the image brightness level can be selected and adjusted for the ambient light level. The Armasight Nyx-14 has available accessories, and it is available in Gen 2+ and Gen 3 variants.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 2+-HD • Resolution: 55-72 lp/mm • Magnification: 1x standard 3x, 5x, 8x optional • Field of view: 40 degrees

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Model: ATN NVB3X-3P, #NVBNBO3X3P MSRP: $4,399 Website: Description: The NVB3 is a medium range night vision binocular. The NVB3 combines a high quality image intensifier tube with a two eyepieces. This allows the user to comfortably look through the unit using both eyes. The NVB3 provides the user with excellent resolution and a wider field of view. Good choice for the night time predator hunters or for tactical observation.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 3P • Resolution: 64-72 lp/mm • Magnification: 3x • Field view: 14 degrees


Model: Spartan 4x50, #FF24127 MSRP: $219.97 Website: Description: The Firefield NVMT 4x50 night vision monoculars are multi-functional units. Compact and lightweight, they weigh only 13 ounces, making this monocular versatile. It has a durable, rubber armored body, which makes the 4x50 weather resistant and capable of being taken off the beaten path. The NVMT is held in the palm of your hand, so it is small enough you can take it anywhere. The 50mm lens ensures powerful light gathering and light transmission for a clear image. High magnification with multicoated lenses offers crisp, clear viewing.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 1 • Resolution: NA • Magnification: 4x • Field of view: 15 degrees

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ARMASIGHT Model: Vulcan 8x Gen 2+ IDMG, #NRWVULCAB829DI1 MSRP: $3,559 Website: Description: Armasight Vulcan scopes have some of the best night vision weapon sight technology. Features include wireless remote control and a quick release Picatinny mount, and it can use CR123A or AA batteries. Small on dimensions, the Armasight Vulcan will not unbalance your rifle. It mounts on adjustable mounts that will fit Weaver or Picatinny rails, with no tools needed. The Vulcan has multicoated all-glass lenses with internally adjustable fine reticle, making precise shot placement easy. Comes with tactical rails for lasers or illuminators (high power IR illuminator is standard), the Armasight Vulcan is ideal choice a compact and light night vision riflescope.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 2+ ID (Improved Definition) • Resolution: 47-54 lp/mm • Magnification: 8x • Field of view: 5.4 degrees




Model: ATN NVM14-3P, #NUMPAN143P MSRP: $3,999 Website: Description: The ATN NVM14 is a multi-mountable night vision system. Each unit allows for vertical adjustment fore-and-aft adjustment, objective lens focus and eyepiece focus. The ATN NVM14 device comes equipped with an infrared light-emitting source. The optical system of the monocular consists of an objective lens, an image intensifier tube and an eyepiece. The eyepiece incorporates several LED indicators. If the bright light remains for over 10 seconds after the indicator turns on, the monocular will automatically shut off.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 3p • Resolution: 64-72 lp/mm • Magnification: 1x • Field of view: 40 degrees

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Model: ATN ARES3-WPT, #NVWSARS6WP MSRP: $2,699 Website: Description: The ARES series are rugged, accurate night vision weapon sight. Fast, infrared-sensitive optics with quality image tubes provide high-resolution, clear images for better target acquisition and aiming. An assortment of image intensifier tube configurations is available. Best performance for professional or sporting uses.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: WPT • Resolution: 60-74 lp/mm • Magnification: 6x • Field of view: 5 degrees


FIREFIELD Model: NVRS Titanium 2.5x50 Varmint Hunter, # FF26013WL MSRP: $499.97 Website: Description: The Firefield NVRS Varmint Hunter 2.5x50 has enhanced optics and titanium body that makes a durable night vision riflescope. The Varmint Hunter incorporates a long mount into its design for more comfortable shooting, while also enabling the scope to accommodate the widest range of rifles, including bolt-action rifles. A 50mm lens provides better light gathering capabilities. Quality multi-coated optics with illuminated reticle provides a clear image. A built-in, powerful Pulse infrared illuminator is easily activated to enhance image brightness and increase range in total darkness.

Quick Specs:

• Generation: Gen 1 • Resolution: NA • Magnification: 2.5x • Field of view: NA

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Low muzzle signature and complete reliability are demands of a service-grade load.

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hen choosing ammunition for your defensive handgun, do not let hype and false claims sway your decision. Instead, choose service-grade loads that will feed, chamber, fire and eject without fail as well as offer good accuracy and wound ballistics. The following are the steps the pros take in choosing the best possible loads for their personal handguns.

MISSION FIRST First, define the mission. If the mission is home defense or service use, there are different parameters. Adequate penetration is needed for home defense. Service-grade loads may have to penetrate vehicle doors or light cover if felons are behind cover. On the other hand, the load should not be so specialized that it proves worthless in other scenarios. The loads covered in this report are useful in practically every defensive situation.

ROLE OF RELIABILITY The primary goal isn’t wound ballistics. It is reliability. The cartridge must feed, chamber, fire and eject without fail. Make sure the manufacturer has a good reputation, and the load itself has been proven in the make and model of handgun you use. The National Institute of Justice defines service-grade reliability as 300 cartridges between cleaning. I regard this as a minimal standard; however, this is a standard and one that must be respected. A load that offers excellent wound potential but doesn’t function isn’t viable. The ammunition must also have a good case mouth and primer seal. How is this tested? By immersing it in water, oil and solvent respectively in individual testing. If the load doesn’t fire after this testing, it isn’t service grade. Quality ammunition isn’t inexpensive, but this simply must be done. If you do not proof the load yourself, then it is wise to choose a

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”A HOLLOW POINT BULLET, BECAUSE IT IS LESS LIKELY TO OVER PENETRATE, SHOULD ALWAYS BE CHOSEN AS A DEFENSIVE LOAD.” TOP:) The Black Hills Ammunition TAC +P offers excellent performance. Bottom:) The expansive properties of a hollow point create a larger wound cavity, ideal for neutralizing a threat in a defensive situation.

load and manufacturer that has met the rigorous standard of FBI testing protocol. The federal agency puts a premium on accuracy, reliability and a full powder burn. Proofing the handgun and the load are separate steps. The handgun should be proofed with quality ball ammunition and then the service load tested in a quantity of at least 100 cartridges. After reliability, the fullness of the powder burn is tested. In a handgun barrel, the powder doesn’t always burn completely. Yet, some loads, such as the Hornady XTP, often show a complete powder burn. This shows good engineering and design. A full powder burn results in limited muzzle blast. (Muzzle flash is powder burning outside the barrel.)

THE ACCURACY ISSUE Of course, accuracy is important. Quality handguns often prefer one load over the other, but do not let accuracy be the only criteria. As long as you are able to hit a man-sized target in the chest at 25 yards, the load is accurate enough for defense use. Some handguns and load combinations are more accurate than others. For example, I have fired a 4-inch group at 50 yards from a solid sitting position. The handgun was resting on my knees, and I used the CZ 75 9mm with Black Hills Ammunition 124 grain +P loads. But this is exceptional. A 4-inch group from a solid benchrest firing position is an acceptable standard for service use. This is all most guns and shooters are capable of demonstrating.

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The next generation, state-of-the-art CQB Bullpup design is here in the TAVOR X95®. Further refining the bullpup design to a more compact, familiar, modular and modern design. Tri-rail forearm, modular TAVOR style trigger guard, traditional AR-15/M16 ambidextrous mag release location, lighter trigger pull. IDF proven, now available for US customers.


IWI US, Inc. | | w w w. i w i . u s




WOUND POTENTIAL The body is a closed system. Only by creating blood loss will the adversary be stopped. This means accurate fire to the region that will do the most damage, typically the arterial region. The problem is that the threat doesn’t always accommodate by standing squared to you. The angle may be away or bladed toward you. The arms may be outstretched as he fires. Your bullet may have to penetrate the arms before reaching a vital area. Adequate penetration is always demanded.

Talk about stopping power! This Gorilla Ammunition 230 grain .45 ACP defense load has MASSIVE expansion when fired into a water jug.

I have studied wound ballistics for many years. When a small-bore cartridge performs beyond expectation, it is because of adequate penetration. When a big bore fails, it is because of poor penetration. The defensive load should always be a hollow point, either

a jacketed bullet with a lead core or the all copper hollow point. When the bullet expands, it creates a wound of larger diameter. Because of this, a hollow point increases damage while reducing penetration. Over penetration can lead to unintentionally hitting an object (or person) beyond your intended target. A hollow point bullet, because it is less likely to over penetrate, should always be chosen as a defensive load. A minimum of 12 inches of penetration is desirable, with many professionals demanding 18 inches. I tend to err on the side of penetration. I do not carry the handgun for the average day; I

carry to survive the worst-case scenario. Good penetration means survival.

SCIENCE FACTOR Relying upon secret sources that are unverifiable and testing that is unrepeatable isn’t wise. These reports have a validity of zero. Even if the studies were actually conducted, which is doubtful, their validity in procedure is questionable at best. Only repeatable testing using best practice standards and proven methodologies will truly stand up to the test of science. This, my friends, is the only way ensure you have as many cards stacked in your favor, should you ever have to protect you and yours. TW


Based upon my personal testing, what follows are some of the best loads for all-around defense use. These loads have been fired in my personal handguns for reliability. Expansion was tested in water. The gallon water jugs were 6 inches wide, allowing easy measurement. On average, my results are within 10 percent of factory gelatin figures – a high standard for a simple medium. .380 ACP I do not consider the .380 ACP adequate for defense and neither should you. However, load testing with the Federal 99 grain HST loading is impressive. I have not changed my mind concerning the caliber, but if you must carry a .380 ACP backup, consider this loading: Handgun: Beretta 84 Ammunition Performance Load Federal 99 grain HST

Velocity 1,050 fps

Penetration 13 inches

Expansion .70 inch

9mm Luger The 9mm is a useful caliber with a good balance of expansion and penetration. Control is good and the cartridge can be accurate. Some of the finest and most reliable handguns are chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge. Handgun: CZ75B Ammunition Performance Load Black Hills Ammunition 124 gr. JHP Black Hills Ammunition 124 gr. JHP +P Hornady 124 gr. XTP Hornady 124 gr. XTP +P Winchester 124 grain PDX +P Gorilla Ammunition 135 gr. SIG SAUER Elite 124 gr. V Crown Federal 124 grain HST Federal 147 grain HST +P

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.40 Smith and Wesson The .40 Smith and Wesson is a powerful cartridge with an excellent track record. The pr mary drawback of the cartridge is snappy recoil in lightweight handguns. In service-grade pistols from the Glock 23 and heavier, the .40 offers excellent wound ballistics coupled with manageable recoil. Handgun: Glock 22C Ammunition Performance Load Black Hills 180 grain JHP Cor Bon 140 grain DPX Winchester 155 grain Silvertip

Velocity 1,009 fps 1,250 fps 1,152 fps

Penetration 18 inches 16 inches 15 inches

Expansion .70 inch .62 inch .68 inch

.45 ACP The .45 ACP offers an excellent mix of control and wound ballistics. Velocity 1,060 fps 1,220 fps 1,090 fps 1,180 fps 1,190 fps 960 fps 1,165 fps 1,155 fps 1,099 fps

Penetration 6 inches 16 inches 16 inches 17 inches 16 inches 18 inches 18 inches 18 inches 20 inches

Expansion .54 inch .68 inch .54 inch .66 inch .65 inch .70 inch .63 inch .72 inch .74 inch

Handgun: Springfield Operator 1911 Ammunition Performance Load Black Hills 185 grain TAC +P Black Hills 230 grain JHP Hornady 230 grain XTP +P Speer 230 grain Gold Dot Remington 230 grain Golden Saber Gorilla Ammunition 230 grain Personal Defense Gorilla Ammunition 230 grain FBI

Velocity 1,050 fps 870 fps 920 fps 830 fps 855 fps 780 fps 802 fps

Penetration 15.0 inches 14.0 inches 16.0 inches 15.0 inches 14.0 inches 13.0 inches 18.2 inches

Expansion .70 inch .70 inch .72 inch .68 inch .69 inch 1.1 inches .85 inch

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THE WHYS AND HOWS OF BUYING BODY ARMOR By Steven Lieberman • Photos By Henry deKuyper

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ah… I don’t need to wear hearing protection when I go to the range. I’m sure my ears are strong enough to withstand a few rounds of gunfire.” “Eye protection? Please. Why should I look like I’m working in my woodshed when I’m out at the range? If it’s sunny out then maybe I’ll wear sunglasses, but other that that don’t make me look like a wimp.” “Body armor? What the hell? I’m not going to war in Crapistan! Why in the world would I wear body armor? Isn’t that illegal anyway? Sigh. I hope we can all agree that the first two quotes are completely unacceptable. The last one though should give us all pause. Body armor is a safety device. Pure and simple. In the olden days (a few months ago) you had three basic choices when it came to armor. 1) Heavy and cheap. 2) Light and unbelievably expensive. and 3) Something that looked like you were wearing a personal flotation device.

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You would never go to the range with out ear protection. Why would you not want to protect your most vital organs?

When most people think body armor they think either the vests that cops wear under their uniforms (unless they are in plain clothes and in a really cool detective movie, then they put it over their dress shirts), or the plate carriers that our warriors wear into combat.

This is the same concept we use when we seek out cover. Cover needs to be robust enough to stop bullets (at least temporarily). If it is not, then it is simply concealment. That seems to beg the question: Why not carry the cover with us?

This thinking is flat out incorrect.

The basic concept of body armor has been around for eons. Knights used armor to stop a sword from penetrating flesh. Unfortunately for Sir Bleedsalot, the armor had to be light enough to allow for mobility, and while it was strong enough to at least temporarily stop a swipe from a sword, it was not strong enough to prevent the penetration of an arrow.

Body armor is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: To stop, or make less likely, the penetration of a projectile into the thoracic cavity. Just like shooting glasses have one purpose: stopping a projectile from injuring the eye. So… let’s look at those three originally choices one by one.

Heavy and Cheap There are two basic types of body armor. One type is based on theory that a woven combination of fabric and ceramic can reduce the terminal velocity of a projectile to such a degree that penetration becomes impossible. (This is soft body armor… more about this later.) The other type is based on the theory if an object is strong enough it will be impenetrable to an object up to a certain level of terminal velocity.

With the advent of modern metallurgical process we now have steel plates that are light enough to be worn across the chest and back, but strong enough to prevent the penetration of a bullet… (or an arrow, too, I guess). The other nice thing about steel plates is their price. They are cheap. You can spend as little as $50 on a plate. To hold them in place, of course, you will need some sort of vest. That necessity gives us the plate carrier vest. Basically a sandwich board made of fabric with

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large pockets that hold the plate in place. Of course for it to be effective you will need two plates, one for the front and one for the back. Smaller plates are also available for side armor. The downside is weight. These damn things are heavy. Worse‌ they get heavier throughout the day. I was doing a trial of AR500 plates in my 5.11 TecTac plate carrier vest back in the summer. We were at an outdoor range in Southern California and the temperatures had exceeded 105 degrees. After two hours of working with students in the heat I thought I was going to collapse under the weight of the vest. I finally made the decision that I had a greater chance of dying from exhaustion and heat stroke than I did by getting shot, so the vest came off.

Light and Unbelievably Expensive (or at least it used to be) Manufacturers have been keen to produce something that had the same ballistic stopping function as steel but was light enough to be worn for extended periods of time. Through the use of chemistry a plastic resin component was developed that allowed for plates to be made out of this magic mixture. The weight differential is spectacular. From 25 pounds a plate in steel, they have been effectively reduced to as little as 2 pounds. Literally you cannot tell that they are on your body. The

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Advances in materials and manufacturing are greatly reducing the damage to your wallet when buying lightweight armor.

problem was, that until very recently they were bloody expensive. Like, $650 and up for a single plate expensive. While safety is always key when at the range, dumping as much money into plates as you would an AR-15 becomes an economic calculus most of us have little interest in participating in. Prices though have begun to plummet. My original Gladiator plates checked in at around $600 a plate. Dfndr, a new manufacturer that uses patented Honeywell technology gave us a plate that had the weight of sheet of cardboard and sold for as little as $150 a plate. The market will continue to get cheaper, and as it does the justification for not

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“YOU WILL NEED TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK TO DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCT.” Anyhow, the ratings from NIJ are as follows. Armor designed to stop pistol rounds: • Level I (.22 and .380 rounds) • Level II-A (9mm - .40 S&W) • Level II (9mm - 357Magnum) • Level IIIA (High Velocity 9mm 44 Magnum) Armor designed to stop rifle rounds: • Level III - (7.62) • Level IV - (30 cal and “armor piercing”)


Safariland Body Armor

wearing plates while shooting will get weaker and weaker.

Soft Body Armor Soft armor is far more structurally forgiving then hard plates, there is no question about that. Unfortunately its ballistic stopping power is also reduced to an extent. Typically soft armor is inserted into a complete wrap around vest that uses Velcro at the cummerbund and shoulders. Depending on the type of shooting that you do, this maybe completely sufficient. While soft body armor is going to do virtually nothing to stop rifle rounds, they are very effective at stopping pistol rounds from penetrating.

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Chose body armor according the type of shooting you'll will be doing. Like insurance: It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.


Nomenclature This is where things can get a little complicated. Typically, body armor is given a number that dictates the level of protection that it provides. This number is provided by the National Institute of Justice, however certain manufacturers are starting to put their own nomenclature on their armor, which they claim roughly equate to the NIJ standard. If the armor is not NIJ rated it does not mean it is garbage… it simply means it is not NIJ rated. You will need to do your homework to determine the quality of the product. (If you are really concerned you can buy one and wrap it around a watermelon and take it to the range…. that is always fun!)

Price of the product is obviously reflected in the rounds that they are capable of stopping. If you know that you are going to be at the range and are legitimately concerned about the possibility of being subjected to an errant 30 cal round heading in your direction, then by all means pony up the dollars and get yourself some Level IV Soft armor typically is only rated Level IIIA and below. When you make the transition to plates you usually start at Level III. Like insurance… buy as much as you can afford, and mitigate the type of threat you might realistically be exposed, too. Gear is gear. It is a tool that is intended to perform a specific function. In the case of armor it is intended to keep you alive. If your employment dictates that you wear armor, you should definitely train in armor. But if your avocation is shooting you should seriously consider expanding your safety gear to include some form of armor. After all… what have you got to lose? TW

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RISS is well known for its submachine guns and short-barrel rifles. They are specifically known for their unique operating system and low perceived recoil. The KRISS Vector carbine was first introduced in 2011 in .45 ACP caliber. It is now also available in 9mm (9x19 Luger) and 10mm. For 2016, the Vector was given a rectangular barrel shroud.

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The KRISS Vector Gen II CRB operates using a closed bolt, delayed-blowback patented KRISS Super V Recoil Management System. This system is designed to minimize felt recoil by directing the bolt down instead of straight back into the operator when it cycles. The Vector’s lower receiver shows the Glock magazine and the compartment where the bolt assembly travels into when cycled.

The 16-inch barrel is manufactured from steel and the bore is chrome lined. Unlike the AR platform, the barrel

is part of the lower receiver. This allows caliber changes by simply removing three pins and switching out the lower receiver assembly. The rectangular barrel shroud is attached to the barrel using only a single setscrew at the receiver end so it moves with the barrel and does not touch the receiver. The lower receiver is made of polymer and is the serialized part of the gun. It

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houses the bolt with the steel frame system, the charging handle, the bolt hold/release lever, the front MIL-STD 1913 rail, threaded attachment points for the optional side rails and the magazine well. The internal frame that the

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barrel attaches to and which guides the bolt is securely attached to the polymer frame with flush socket head screws. The combined unit is very rigid. The upper receiver is made of polymer with steel components securely attached internally, with flush socket head screws and pins that hold the

Left side of receiver showing the Vector’s top and forward rails, flip-up sights, charging handle (collapsed), bolt hold/release lever, magazine release, safety and pistol grip.


upper and lower receivers together. The only components in the upper receiver are the fire control group. The M4 Defiance adjustable stock attaches to the rear of the upper receiver with a pinned adapter. The pistol grip and the trigger guard are part of the upper receiver. A polymer MIL-STD 1913 rail is molded into the top of the upper receiver and

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runs the full length of it. Magpul MBUS sights are supplied and are attached to the top rail.

Right) Sights, top rail and dinged-up ejection port on the KRISS Vector.

The trigger and hammer assembly is made by KRISS. The trigger pivots in the frame and on the initial pull, there is approximately .160 inch of take-up, which is built into the transfer mechanism. The trigger pull is a bit long but smooth. It breaks at 5 pounds, 7.3 ounces (an average of 10 pulls using a Lyman digital trigger gauge).

The KRISS Vector Gen II CRB tested is chambered for the 9mm (9x19, 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum) cartridge. Other versions are chambered in .45 ACP and 10mm. No restrictions regarding the use of +P or +P+ ammunition were given in the owner’s manual. The lower receiver of the carbine that I evaluated was marked 9mm.

MODELS and ACCESSORIES The KRISS Vector Gen II CRB is available in .45 ACP, 9mm (9x19) and 10mm calibers. It is also available in black, flat dark earth, olive drab green, alpine (white) and gray. Lower receiver caliber conversion kits make this carbine very flexible.

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Any accessories that you might want to add will mount to the top full-length MIL-STD 1913 rail, the lower front MIL-STD 1913 rail or one of the optional MIL-STD 1913 front side rails that can be attached at the provided points using socket head screws. A sling can be attached at the rear on either side of the stock using a Q.D. mount and in the front to an aftermarket mount attached to the top or lower front rails.


The MSRP of the KRISS Vector Gen II CRB is $1.499 for black. These are available, but don't expect to find a bunch of them sitting on the rack at your local gun shop.

A KRISS Vector Gen II CRB can be converted from one caliber by simply changing out the lower receiver. This is done by simply removing three pins, separating the upper and lower receivers, and then installing the new lower receiver onto the existing upper receiver. I can’t imagine a caliber con-

version being any easier.

Botom) The Vector’s stock is held in-place with a very substantial pin and the safety is in the “fire” position.

During range testing, I used ammunition produced by various manufacturers in full metal jacket, polymer tipped and hollowpoint configurations. Bullet weights ranged from 115 gr. to 147 gr. All full metal jacket ammunition that I tested functioned flawlessly. Hollow point ammunition (Corbon, Federal Premium JHP and Hornady JHP) all failed to feed (jammed into the feed ramp/bottom of the barrel) 30 to 40 percent of the time. Horned Critical

Duty #90236 135 gr. FlexLock was not tested for accuracy but did not jam when fired.

OPTICS A Nightforce SHV 4-14x50 F1 riflescope was used for accuracy testing. Tactical work was done using an EOTech model 512 holographic weapon sight.

CLEANING/FIELD STRIPPING Prior to field stripping and/or cleaning the Vector, make sure that it is unloaded and that all ammunition is removed from the area. Simple barrel cleaning can be performed without disassembly using the flexible cleaning rod provided, a Hoppes Bore Snake or an Otis Ripcord. More thorough cleaning and lubrication can be performed by disassembling the carbine as shown in the owner’s manual, in the handling and operation and maintenance sections. This is a very simple procedure requiring only the removal of four disassembly pins. I lubricated the carbine prior to use per the manual provided. I then cleaned and lubricated the barrel after approximately every 50 rounds during break-in. The barrel was

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cleaned and lubricated after every 15 rounds during accuracy testing and two fouling shots were fired prior to proceeding to the next type of ammunition. The gun was disassembled, cleaned and lubricated after approximately every 300 rounds.

AT THE RANGE During my first range session with the Vector, I sighted it in at 25 yards with both the Magpul MBUS flip-up sights and the 512 EOTech and broke it in with approximately 125 rounds of Aguila 124 grain FMJ ammunition. There were no malfunctions of any type. I then installed a Nightforce SHV 4-14x50 F1 riflescope and sighted it in at 50 yards for accuracy testing. I also checked to see where it hit at 100 yards. All told, I fired another 100 rounds during this process. Next I fired the Vector at 50 yards using Corbon 9mm +P, Aguila 124 grain FMJ and Winchester “White Box” 115 grain FMJ ammunition for accuracy and velocity. Three five-shot groups were fired for each type of ammunition. The barrel was cleaned and lubricated, and two fouling rounds were fire after each type of ammunition was fired.

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gr. XTP and American Eagle #AE9AP 124 gr. FMJ) for accuracy and velocity. Again, the barrel was cleaned and lubed and two fouling rounds were fired after each type of ammunition.

After this testing was completed, I reinstalled the EOTech and practiced several drills at 7 1/2 to 25 yards for a total of 60 rounds. The barrel was cleaned and lubed once again.

Collapsible stock by Defiance with Q.D. sling mount.

At my next range session, I reinstalled the Nightforce SHV scope and sighted it in at 50 yards. I then proceeded to fire three five-shot groups for each of four types of ammunition (Federal Premium #P9HS2 147 gr. H-S JHP, American Eagle AE9SUP1, Hornady #90282 Custom 147

The smallest five-shot group was with the American Eagle 124 gr. FMJ at .802 inch, and the largest was 5.617 inches with the Winchester “White Box” 115 gr. FMJ ammunition. Overall, the American Eagle #AE9AP 124 gr. FMJ ammunition performed best with a 1.490 inch average for 3 5-shot groups at 50 yards. The American Eagle 124 gr. FMJ Subsonic ammunition was second at 1.787 inches for three five-shot groups. The only issue encountered during this evaluation was the Vector’s inability to reliably feed jacketed hollow point ammunition. One statistic that I found interesting


Vector Gen II CRB

Manufacturer: KRISS USA Caliber: 9mm, 10mm and .45 ACP; future availability in .357 SIG and .40 S&W Barrel: 16 inch with full-length shroud Muzzle Device: None Trigger: KRISS Operating System: Closed bolt, delayed-blowback patented KSV System Rail System: MIL-STD 1913 steel top rail and MIL-STD 1913 molded lower rail; side rails optional Frame Material: Advanced metal components Advanced polymer components Colors: Black, Flat Dark Earth (FDE), Olive Drab Green (ODG), Alpine

Ammunition American Eagle #AE9AP, 124 gr. FMJ American Eagle #AESUP1, 124 gr. FMJ Subsonic Federal Premium #P9HS2, 147 gr. Hydra-Shok JHP Hornady #90282 Custom, 147 gr. XTP Corbon #SD09115/20, 115 gr. JHP +P Aguila, 124 gr. FMJ Winchester “White Box,” 115 gr. FMJ

was the velocity for the Corbon 115 gr. +P JHP ammunition. During this evaluation, it produced an average velocity of 1,527 fps for 10 consecutive rounds fired from the Vector’s 16-inch barrel. During a previous test of a handgun with a 4 1/4 inch-barrel, the Corbon 115 gr. +P ammunition produced an average velocity of 1348 fps for 10 consecutive shots. That is an increase of 179 fps or 13 percent. Next I reinstalled the EOTech and checked zero at 7 1/2, 15 and 25 yards in preparation for my upcoming 3-gun tactical match (International Infidel Gunfighter League at 37 PSR in Bunnlevel, N.C.). The total round count to date is 451.

COMPETITIVE USE My final evaluation of the KRISS Vector Gen II CRB came at 37 PSR in the Inter-

(white) and Gray (CGY) Sights: Low-profile folding, polymer Magazine Capacity: G17 – 17 rounds & G17 - 33 rounds (9mm) G21 - 13 rounds & KRISS MagEx 25 rounds (.45 ACP) G31 - 15 rounds (.357 SIG) G22 - 15 rounds (.40 S&W) G20 - 15 rounds (10mm) Overall Length: 38.5 inches extended; 35.25 inches collapsed Overall Height: 6.8 inches Weight: 8.6 pounds (unloaded w/magazine & sights) Warranty: Guaranteed to be free of defects in material, workmanship and mechanical function for a period of one year; this is extended to two years if registered online within 30 days of purchase MSRP: $1,499

Ave. Vel. 1,256 1,114 1,074 1,164 1,527 1,175 1,335

Velocity E.S. 26 60 148 62 26 81 25

S.D. 7.4 15.9 54.7 20.0 8.1 26.2 25.4

Lg. 2.172 2.197 2.329 2.984 3.625 4.663 5.617

Group Size Sm. 0.828 1.192 1.437 2.122 1.672 2.870 2.442

Ave. 1.490 1.787 2.080 2.451 2.549 3.932 4.013

E.S. - Extreme Spread; S.D. - Standard Deviation; Lg. - largest group in inches; Sm. - smallest group in inches; Ave. - average group size for 3, 5-shot groups. Notes: 1.) Velocity recorded is at the muzzle 2.) Distance to target was 50 yards 3.) Average Velocity is for 10 consecutive shots in feet per second Velocity and group sizes for 7 loads fired at 50 yards.

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national Infidel Gunfighter League. Here I used the Vector during the CQB, 25- to 40-yard cover and concealment, moving while shooting and 100-yard accuracy stages. I fired a total of approximately 125 rounds during this match without a hitch. The carbine functioned flawlessly during this event and even shot reasonably well at the 100-yard stage. One benefit of using the KRISS Vector for this match was that I carry a Glock 17 for my secondary weapon so the magazines were interchangeable. I used the EOTech for most of the match but I did install the Nightforce SHV for the 100-yard stage.


The interchangeability of magazines This carbine is well made and reliable. Vector’s barrel shroud. with the Glock 17, 17L and 34 models Accuracy is adequate out to 100 yards. enhances the value of this platform It would make a good addition to an since many agencies and individuals agency or individual’s arsenal. I may 1 add one to mine. TW useTW-SPR16-Rock the Glock 17 pistol.River Arms 12/18/15 8:16 AM Pagejust

The carbine was quick on target and handled well. With a little more practice getting used to the controls, I could have done even better.

CONCLUSION The only issue that I had while shooting the Vector during the tactical match, tactical drills and plinking was where to place my support hand. The lack of a sturdy handguard does not allow the support hand to be extended as you might on an AR-15. The forward lower rail is short and may be occupied with an accessory. To compensate, I installed a vertical grip on the forward lower rail. If you do this and wish to install a laser and/or light, it will be necessary to install short rail sections on one or both sides of the lower receiver.

LAR-15 IRS MID IRS1815X with RRA Operator CAR Stock


The KRISS Vector performed well for its intended role as a carbine during accuracy evaluation and during tactical drills, and it was fun to shoot to boot. It balances well, is quick on target and functions flawlessly with FMJ ammunition and various generations, types and manufacturers of Glock 17 magazines.


LAR-15 IRS MID** With its integrated folding sights, multiple accessory rails, and RRA performance-tuned engineering, trustworthy backup is always at arm’s length.

Further Information: • KRISS USA • Glock • EOTech • Nightforce • American Eagle • Federal Premium • Hornady • Corbon • Aguila • Winchester

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EXCLUSIVE: RRA Helical Muzzle Brake

LAR-15 IRS MID QUICK SPECS: * Prices are subject to change. ** Also available in CAR, Standard, and XL Handguard Configurations.


LENGTH: 34.5”



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NIGHT VISION – EXPLAINED Story by Gordon Meehl

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f you’ve seen any action movies in the past 50 years (I’m assuming if you’re reading this magazine you’ve seen your fair share), you’ve seen the green glowing images depicting what the heroes see as they move through a pitch black compound to get the bad guy. In the movies – especially earlier ones – the “special” tech is bestowed upon the lucky team by a “Q”-like character from some DARPA-esque government lab no one knew existed. To get this sort of advanced tech, it’s implied that you need to be on an elite tac team with access to secret government toys or be a billionaire with a penchant for dressing up like a winged mammal. That may have been the case in the not-so-distant past, but today, with increasing advancements in technology and the ability to manufacture this tech more cheaply, anyone can have access to cat-like night vision.

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A US soldier from the 4-320th Field Artillery Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, seen through night vision, is silhouetted by an infrared illumination round fired by an A-10 Warthog on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border during a nighttime attack by insurgents on January 22, 2009 in Bak District, Khost Province, Afghanistan. Jonathan Saruk/Getty Images

Practical Uses Night vision isn’t reserved for covert ops or spy games. There are a number of practical uses for this type of enhanced vision. Beyond the tactical uses, night vision ups your game when hunting at night. Search and rescue is no longer limited to daylight conditions. Use it for scouting out the perfect hide to take down that trophy buck, undetected in the pre-dawn hours. If you have ever walked in the dark wishing you could see more than what your flashlight falls on, then you need to have a night vision device, whether it’s night vision goggles, night scopes/ binoculars or night vision cameras.

The Guts Before running out to buy or order the coolest NVD you can afford, there are a few things you need to know about the guts inside. The term “night vision” paints a broad stroke covering three

types of devices: image intensifiers, digital enhancing devices and thermal imaging devices. Though the technologies used to produce the final image are vastly different, the basic construction of each device is fundamentally the same. Like any scope, night vision devices bring in light, in this case infrared light, through an objective lens. The light then moves through the optical tubes to a sensor that converts infrared to visible light to make an image that exits through an eyepiece or screen to be viewed by the user. The path from objective lens to eyepiece is where the difference lies. The first type of Night Vision Device (NVD) is “simply” an image intensifier. Infrared radiation (IR) is around us all the time, but, being below red in the light spectrum, it lies just outside our visible range (remember ROY G. BIV?).

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The IR travels through intensifier tubes made up of photocathodes, an anode and phosphor screen. There’s a fair amount of quantum physics involved in how the light travels through the intensifier tube, but frankly the physics makes my head spin. Simply put, IR hits these electrically charged electrodes, and light particles are accelerated and intensified, and end up stimulating the photosensitive particles on the phosphor screen. The amount and manner in which the “intensified” electrons hit the screen produces a visible image. Advancements in technology have led to increases in resolution, clarity and image quality without necessarily adding to the expense of getting quality optics.

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The path the light travels through an NVD is not unlike any other optic; what's during that is what's special.

Generations of Tech Over the years, there have been many advances in the technology that makes up image intensifiers. That technology can be broken down into distinct generations: Gen 0 – Gen 3. Generation 0 is where it all began. As one would expect, these are the great-grandfathers of image intensifier technology. This is the technology that was first developed and used in World War II, not by the U.S. but by Germany. Manufacturing technology and techniques hadn’t quite caught up to what scientists had envisioned, so the final image was dim, had a short range of visibility and couldn’t convert infrared light very effectively. Gen 0 intensifiers often required the use of larger active infrared light sources. During Generations 1, 2 and 3, the family evolves. The basic proof of concept seen in Gen 0, i.e. taking infrared


• Even if it’s not your habit, read the instructions. • Intensifiers should not be exposed to bright lights or daylight. • Touching the optical elements will ruin them. • When not in use, turn it off. • Just like a baby, do not drop or shake. • Always store in a cool, dry place. • Take out the batteries when traveling or storing the device. • If the NVD isn’t specifically made to be waterproof, do not expose it to any form of moisture. • If your NVD didn’t come with a case, get one, because any knock or bump can damage the device. • Cover the lenses with the included caps. • Keep the device – especially lenses – clean and dust free.


At night, image intensifiers take the ambient IR light given off by the moon and stars and, well, the device intensifies it to be visible to the human eye in the form of the familiar green and black images we’ve all seen in the movies.

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“ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY HAVE LED TO INCREASES IN RESOLUTION, CLARITY AND IMAGE QUALITY.” light converting it to electrons and projecting on a phosphor screen, remains the same. Successive generations, however, furthered the advancement of the technology. Gen 1 devices amplify the ambient light even more by using intensifier tubes, which accelerate the electrons hitting the phosphor splat. Gen 2 NVD adds a micro-channel plate to multiply the number of electrons hitting the phosphor screen. Gen 3 is not unlike Gen 2, but it uses a different photocathode material to multiply the number of electrons. You can still buy devices from each of the generation, but keep in mind the cost rises as you move up in Generations.

Digital Night Vision Not very many people are familiar with this segment of the NVD market. As the name implies, the images from these devices are not provided optically. Instead, the image is produced using digital sensors (CCD or SMOS) similar

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TOP: With each generational evolution of image intensifiers, more electrons make it to the phosphor screen. Gain, clarity and overall image quality increases. BOTTOM: Advanced thermal imaging uses subtle differences. An object's heat signature creates a highly readable image even when there's no ambient light available.

to your digital camera. The sensors are adjusted to be very sensitive to the IR spectrum. Digital NVD have several advantages over their optical brethren. Digital sensors resist damage from bright light and they do not “burn out.” Digital NVD also tend to be able to withstand a beating while being less expensive. It is also worth noting that because they are digital they can be easily integrated with digital recording and storage capabilities. Being more reliable, less expensive and easy to use make digital night vision a great choice.

Infrared Illuminators Both intensifiers and digital night vision devices are what we call passive devises, meaning they use existing ambient light to produce an image. Because they are only as good as the light available, they are not effective in situations where ambient light is restricted, moonless cloudy nights, a cave or a blacked out building for example.

When there’s no infrared light available it must be provided artificially. Today many NVD’s have these illuminators built in. Illuminators project a beam of IR light much like a flashlight or laser would. The main difference is the naked eye can’t see the light emitted by an IR illuminator. The use of illuminators, however, is not restricted to use in no-IR-light situations. They can be used to increase visibility, improve sensitivity and give the user increased range. Because of the lower costs, most of the IR illuminators found on commercially available IRs are either laser or LED sources.

Thermal Imaging Thermal imaging takes night vision to the next level. Unlike the other NVDs, thermal imaging devices do not use ambient or illuminated IR light to create an image. Instead thermal imagers use heat emitted from an object to create an image. Thermal imagers are classified with other IR

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devices because heat actually emits its own IR signature. With out getting too technical, intensifiers, digital and IR illuminators use short wave IR (SWIR) whereas thermal imagers are sensitive to long wave IR (LWIR) The more heat an object emits, the more LWIR radiation it emits; the cooler an object is, the less LWIR it emits. Thermal imagers, because of their use of complex and sophisticated detectors (bolometers), are sensitive to these differences in temperature. The differences in temperatures between objects and their backgrounds create what is called a “thermal profile,” which is what shows up on the device’s electronic display. The optics used in thermal imagers, unlike the previous NVDs, block out visible and near infrared light and will not detect it. Therefore, unlike other NVDs, they are not as susceptible to flares of visible light. Due to sophisticated technology used in thermal imaging they are a little pricier than most NVDs, although as with most tech, the price is coming down.

Gun mounted thermal imagers make nighttime stalking and hog hunting even more fun than it is in full light.

If you think you don’t have a need for an NVD, you’re sorely mistaken. To prove it, buy an intensifier, digital NV or thermal imager and you’ll discover just how much you’ve “needed” to see all the things that have been kept in the dark. TW

“WITH INCREASING ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY AND THE ABILITY TO MANUFACTURE THIS TECH MORE CHEAPLY, ANYONE CAN HAVE ACCESS TO CAT-LIKE NIGHT VISION.” NVD GLOSSARY Before buying an NVD, it will help to know some of the terms and jargon that is used to describe NVDs and the metrics to compare and evaluate them.

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Active Devices: Devices used to project additional Infrared light on to a targeted area. Also known as IR illuminators. Anode: A positively charged anode used to accelerate electrons toward the phosphor screen. Gain: A measure of signal amplification; the ratio of visible output to infrared radiation coming in.

ITAR: “International Traffic in Arms Regulations” determines what technologies may and may not be sold outside the U.S. MCP: Micro Channel Plate; used to amplify photoelectrons. Noise: The part of output on the phosphor screen that is not related to the image. Noise makes the images harder to view by distorting and blurring them.

Passive Devices: NVD that use ambient infrared light for imaging. Phosphor Screen: Converts the electrons emitted by the MCP into an intensified image. Photo Cathode: A negatively charged electrode coated with a photosensitive material that converts infrared radiation to electrons. Sensitivity: The lowest amount of infrared radiation that can be detected.

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IG SAUER has evolved into a recognized industry leader in the development and manufacturing of rifles, SMGs and handguns – and the company has entered the rifle market in force over the last several years. SIG SAUER’s exponential growth in the U.S. rifle market is typified by its various models: SIG556 (direct descendant of legendary Swiss 550 series assault rifle), SIG516 (epitome of piston-driven AR), SIGM400 (classic Stoner direct-impingement AR operating system), SIG716 (piston-driven AR-10 type variant), SIG MPX (next generation SMG) and – the topic of this article – the SIG MCX (multi-caliber mission-adaptable platform).

It is no secret that the AR is the best-selling civilian and law enforcement rifle in the U.S., and that it is popular with the U.S. equipping/training so many armed entities. This has caused many manufacturers to jump on the AR bandwagon in recent years by offering their versions. Of late, the most attention seems to be on “improving” the

Ambidextrous safety and magazine release is standard on the MCX.

AR platform via developing piston-driven ARs in lieu of Stoner’s original gas-impingement design. Whether piston-driven ARs are superior to their gas impingement brethren often generates heated discussion. This leads us to SIG SAUER’s latest rifle entry – the MCX. The MCX represents the latest approach to rifle methodology. While sharing similar aesthetics to the venerable AR, the MCX is a new approach blending adaptability of caliber and configuration.


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SPAWNED FROM SPEC OPS REQUEST Typical of the Swiss/German engineering background of the company, the MCX design was not hastily introduced in knee-jerk fashion. SIG SAUER decided to enter the fray only after thoroughly exploring the topic and by designing a self-regulating short-stroke piston. The process took more than three years before SIG SAUER was ready to introduce MCX to the market.

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The MCX spawned from SOCOM request to develop a lightweight, compact multi-caliber rifle that from the beginning was intended to be suppressed. Based on this, it is not surprising that the MCX’s initial chambering was the .300BLK with the 5.56mm (evaluated herein) and 7.62x39 quickly following. It must be noted that one MCX is capable of accommodating all three cartridges thanks to the ability to quickly switch barrels and bolts accordingly. MCX operating controls and basic ergonomics are similar to the ever-prevalent AR-15, an important consideration for training/orientation purposes. ARlike ambidextrous magazine and bolt release along with centrally located non-reciprocating charging handle will be instantly familiar to any AR user. A flat top upper allows for any AR type sighting system. This AR-centric theme

Full-length rail on the upper receiver with Leupold LCO red dot mounted.

is reinforced by using an AR-type fire control system. The bolt carrier group, however, is different from an AR’s BCG. This stemmed from the initial user’s request to use a folding stock in lieu of a typical AR buffer tube set up. SIG installed dual recoil springs above the bolt carrier group. Due to recoil spring placement, the charging handle sits slightly higher on the MCX compared to an AR. Not only did the dual recoil springs enable the folding stock, but they also had other benefits: smoother/softer recoil impulse, elimination of buffer tube wear associated with AR piston driven rifles and an increase in overall reliability/durability.

NEW AGE OF MODULARITY The SIG MCX can be viewed as an amalgamation of some of the better

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improvements made in rifle design since the field became dominated by the AK and AR designs. The MCX operates via short-stroke gas piston system. As the bullet passes the gas port in the barrel, a portion of propellant gases is routed through the gas regulator to the gas piston. The MCX gas port locations change depending on caliber chosen. Much of the SIG SAUER MCX development focused on finding placement of the gas ports to optimize reliability. The gas pushes rearward against the piston, which drives the bolt group assembly rear-

MCX thin profile barrel features a SIG signature tapered contour near the muzzle to facilitate use of SIG suppressors if desired.

A skeletonized SAS folding stock is standard on the rifle version of the MCX. With no buffer tube, the MCX's recoil assembly consists of recoil springs placed directly over the BCG.

ward to eject the fired case and load a new cartridge from the magazine. The short-stroke gas piston’s advantage is that heat, soot and carbon from propellant combustion are not routed into the bolt or chamber, keeping these critical areas cooler and cleaner for greater reliability – especially now with the increasing use of suppressors. Do not forget all the recent efforts in creating piston-driven ARs, in lieu of Stoner’s original direct impingement design, are made with the goal of making the AR platform more robust. SIG SAUER chose to go with a more complete approach with the MCX. The MCX features an adjustable gas regulator with the first position for normal operation, while the second position is for when using a sound suppressor. As stated previously, the MCX was designed from the beginning to accommodate suppressor use – an obvious reflection of its adaptation to current trends in fighting rifles. The SIG SAUER short-stroke gas piston operating rod system proved its worth in keeping the bolt carrier group cooler and cleaner compared to direct impingement rifles. While not trying to be unrealistic or overly harsh, the SIG MCX was exposed to multiple magazine dumps. The method was not mindless ammunition wasting, but rather wanting to confirm beyond a doubt that the SIG MCX delivered as advertised under the most extreme circumstances of operational functioning. It was quickly noticed how little heat

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was transmitted not only to the MCX action, but also into the quad rail forend with shooters able to grip the weapon without resorting to gloves or installing a vertical forward grip. Anyone with experience with AKs or direct impingement ARs knows how fast forends can heat up after burning through only a few magazines.

QUALITY OPTIC & AMMUNITION One aspect of the MCX T&E that I was looking forward to was the chance to utilize the Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO) red dot. The LCO’s 1-MOA Dot reticle has 16 brightness settings to let you find the exact intensity you need in any conditions. At its highest setting, the dot will shine bright in the middle of the day, and it is night-vision compatible on lower settings. The manual push-button on/off switch with integrated brightness control puts all the power at your fingertips. The LCO, which weighs 9.6 ounces, has a battery life of up to five years using a common CR123 lithium battery. It has the big field of view, making it ideal for use on a quick-handling rifle like the MCX. The LCO’s housing disappears and the dot just floats superimposed over the target. I like the small 1-MOA dot and it is bright at its highest easily seen in the brightest sunlight. The Leupold LCO sight offer the capability to engage multiple targets in rapid sequence compared to open sights, while at the same time providing adequate accuracy out to a couple

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“THE SIG MCX IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN TERMS OF AN EFFECTIVE WEAPON.” hundred yards. As many “maturing” shooters can attest to, a single focus plane is easier to shoot accurately than coordinating front and rear sights. The 5.56mm’s flat trajectory aids in making hits out to 300 yards without having to compensate excessively for bullet drop; a 200-yard zero provides for +1.5 inches at 100 yards and -8 inches at 300 yards. Ammunition tested with the SIG MCX was a combination of multiple 5.56mm/.223 Rem loads from Black Hills Ammunition, Hornady and Federal loads. A SIG SAUER 3-18x SIG Tango 6 optic was mounted for initial accuracy testing. No load tested produced greater than 2.25-inch groups at 100 yards. Premium loads typified by Federal Match 69 grain Match punched five rounds into a 1.5-inch group. Remember, the MCX is a fighting rifle, not a match target rifle affair,

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making this performance even more impressive. Accuracy testing was surely negatively impacted by the gritty heavy trigger that arrived with the MCX. As well as the other aspects of the MCX impressed, the trigger was a disappointment. The good news is that any standard AR upgrade trigger can be used a replacement.

The modularity of a quick change barrel system allows the user to switch calibers by loosening and tightening only two bolts.

Several magazines worth of ammunition were spent engaging plate racks and man-sized steel targets. Drills quickly moved past stand and deliver drills to more dynamic drills involving movement, magazine reloads, and firing from behind cover.

RANGE EVALUATION The minimalist nature of the SIG folding stock caused initial skepticism as to ergonomics and effectiveness. This was quickly dispelled once the shooting started.

“The MCX was designed from the beginning to accommodate suppressor use, an obvious reflection of its adaptation to current trends in fighting rifles.”

The folding stock proved rock solid and provided excellent cheek weld for sighting with any optics. The MCX lived up to the task of being a lightweight, fast handling rifle. Drills moving around barricades and training evolutions involving firing and evacuating from vehicles clearly bore this out. The light and handy MCX is what individuals will choose to work with in such environments. More than 500 rounds were fired for this T&E. The piston driven MCX proved utterly reliable with only minimal effort given to wipe down the bolt carrier group and lubricate sporadically. One nuance noticed during MCX manipulation during magazine changes was that the charging handle is best done with two fingers on each release so as to keep pull to rear linear and not off to the side. One could feel binding when using only one side of the

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“THE MCX DESIGN WAS NOT HASTILY INTRODUCED IN KNEE-JERK FASHION.” charging handle. Most likely this is due to the dual springs on top of bolt carrier compressing unevenly when using only one hand. Even with two fingers, the charging handle manipulation on the MCX is definitely stiffer than your typical AR.

SIG's modular barrel system allows for a quick change from a 16-inch to a 9-inch barrel.

Prior training experiences with Orion Applications, Tactical Response, Redback One, Pat McNamara, etc., assisted in providing a baseline foundation of what qualities are desirable in a fighting rifle. The SIG MCX is an excellent example of what to look for in terms of an effective weapon.

FINAL THOUGHTS The modular nature of MCX design could raise concerns over its durability in terms of wear and “loosening” up

with use. The SIG SAUER designers needed to meet a 50,000-round-count criteria to satisfy the initial solicitation that brought the MCX to life. Obviously, quality materials are a must along with a full understanding of high wear parts on the rifle. SIG has designed the MCX with certain key wear components upgraded to steel versus aluminum; these parts, like the cam path insert and feed ramp insert, are also easily replaceable. The charging handle latches move over steel pins as opposed to aluminum pins. Barrels for the SIG SAUER MCX are hammer-forged and receive a nitride treatment for increased barrel life. The MCX utilizes a fully locked and closed rotating bolt system minimizing any chance of out of battery failure/ malfunction. Calibers, barrel lengths, forends, buttstocks and suppressors are

all options on the SIG SAUER MCX that are capable of being changed based on user desire. The modular nature of the SIG SAUER MCX is not a gimmick or applied to only a handful of custom rifles. The MCX is a fully vetted production rifle backed up by one of the most reputable firearms companies in the world. SIG SAUER’s decision to go the extra mile in designing and manufacturing the MCX to military like specification establishes a baseline of quality separating the SIG MCX from other rifles. Along these same lines, the SIG MCX is not only more marketable to private citizens, but also any US law enforcement department or foreign governments looking to equip military or police units due to this stringent quality standard. TW




CALIBER: 5.56mm tested (Also available .300BLK and 7.62x39) BARREL: 16 inches, 1:7 twist OA LENGTH: 35.75 inches (27 inches stock folded) WEIGHT: 6.1 pounds SIGHTS: Flat top ACTION: Short stroke piston CAPACITY: Detachable AR-15/M16 magazines MSRP: $1,900 PERFORMANCE LOAD Black Hills 55gr FMJ Hornady 75gr TAP FPD Federal Gold Medal Match 69gr

VELOCITY 2,785 fps 2,715 fps 2,708 fps

Black Hills Ammunition Leupold&Stevens Inc

AVG. ACCURACY 2 inches 1.85 inches 1.2 inches

AVG@100 yd Best 1.6 inches 1.75 inches 0.9 inch

Notes: Accuracy test protocol consisted of three five-shot groups with each ammunition type @ 100 yards; group sizes were averaged. Velocity figures obtained by averaging three rounds fired over RCBS chronograph.

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Echo Valley Training Center Hornady Federal Cartridge Company

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STRONG SILENT TYPES 5.56 AND 7.62 SILENCER BUYER’S GUIDE Text by Gordon Meehl • Photos Courtesy of Manufacturers

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SUPPRESSOR SYSTEMS Built in the U.S. by former SOF, Army and Marine veterans. These guys know how to build suppressors because they’ve been in the thick of things and know how equipment can mean the difference between life and death. The HELIX 5.56 IFM6 and 7.62 IFM7 suppressors are integrated flush-mount systems that regulate backpressure and reduce sound and flash signature in a single unit. They offer a greater modularity for use on multiple rifles. Built with titanium, stainless steel, aluminum and cobalt, the HELIX IFM suppressor yields a great strength-toweight ration. The IFM6 and 7 each include separate mounting devices – the STS-Muzzle Brake. No need to place two separate orders.


5.56 Helix IFM6 • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 8 inches • Diameter: 1.75 inches • Weight: 22.8 ounces • Suppression Level: -33 dB reduction • Mount System: Quick mount to OSS STS muzzle brake • Material: Titanium, stainless steel and cobalt • MSRP: $1,299

7.62 Elite IFM7 • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 8.75 inches • Diameter: 1.75 inches • Weight: 25.6 ounces • Suppression Level: -32 dB reduction • Mount System: Quick mount to OSS STS muzzle brake • Material: Titanium, stainless steel and cobalt • MSRP: $1,999

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5.56 Helix IFM6

7.62 Elite IFM7

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02 GEM TECH The GEMTECH SHIELD is the company’s flagship titanium Quickmount Extreme Duty suppressor. The SHIELD features an upgraded baffle stack with an Inconel blast baffle for increased durability on short barreled, full auto rifles. Gemtech Silencers are made to exceed the standards developed by the most demanding operators.

Shield • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 7 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 16.3 ounces • Suppression Level: -32dB reduction • Mount System: Quick mount to Gem Tech Flash Hider • Material: Titanium, Inconel with black Cerakote finish • MSRP: $995

One • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 7.5 inches • Diameter: 1.625 inches (with shroud) • Weight: 16.3 ounces • Suppression Level: -32dB reduction • Mount System: Interchangeable quick mount and thread mount • Material: Titanium, Inconel with black Cerakote finish • MSRP: $1,099

5.56 shield

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7.62 one

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SILENCERCO. The Saker features SilencerCo’s proprietary MAAD cap for user adaptability. The cap can be replaced with the standoff/rebar cutter or a compact flash hider front cap. The patent-pending Trifecta MAAD mount and Trifecta flash hider are some of the industry’s best quick detach mounting systems. The Saker uses Stellite baffles, which are approximately 30 percent stronger than baffled made from the industry standard Inconel.

Saker 556 • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 6.76 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 18 ounces • Suppression Level: 132.2dB at muzzle • Mount System: Quick mount to Silencerco Trifecta muzzle brake • Material: Stellite steel and stainless steel, black oxide finish • MSRP: $1,260


Specwar 762 • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 9 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 24 ounces • Suppression Level: 134.4dB at muzzle • Mount System: Quick mount to Silencerco Trifecta muzzle brake • Material: Stellite steel and stainless steel, black oxide finish • MSRP: $972

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5.56 SAKER

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04 YANKEE HILL MACHINE CO. These suppressors feature titanium and Inconel 718 construction for increased strength. YHM's Phantom Flash Hider eliminates 99 percent of muzzle flash while the Sound Technologies baffle design reduces muzzle noise by up to 35 dB. The Phantom Flash hider supports the sound suppressor in two places, helping reduce misalignment and point-of-impact shift.

Phantom M2 • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 6.875 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 18.5 ounces • Suppression Level: 135dB at muzzle • Mount System: Quick mount to YHM flash hider or muzzle brake • Material: 300 Series stainless and heat treated Inconel 718 • MSRP: $1,068

Nitro30 • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 7.75 inches • Diameter: 1.56 inches • Weight: 20.2 ounces • Suppression Level: 145dB at muzzle • Mount System: Quick mount to YHM flash hider or muzzle brake • Material: 17-4Ph stainless steel • MSRP: $890

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05 DEAD AIR Sandman-L uses one of the most secure QD systems that eliminate seizing of the silencer to the mount while minimizing point of impact shifts. The Stellite baffles create an extremely durable solid core. The front cap is detachable, revealing an integrated flash hider. The exterior is finished Cerakote, which helps reduce the corrosion. Each Sandman-L comes with a Dead Air key mount muzzle brake, so there’s no need to buy additional parts to complete your system. The Sandman TI is direct thread version. It has the same Stellite baffle core and detachable front cap. The direct thread further minimizes point of impact shifts.


Sandman-L • Caliber: Available in 5.56. 7.62 shown • Length: 8.9 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 21.8 ounces • Suppression Level: -31dB reduc ion • Mount System: Quick mount to Dead Air key mount muzzle brake • Material: 17-4 stainless steel, nitride finish • MSRP: $1,199

Sandman-TI • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 8.2 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 16.8 ounces • Suppression Level: -31dB reduction • Mount System: Direct thread attachment • Material: Stellite steel, titanium • MSRP: $849

7.62 Sandman-L (Available in 5.56)


7.62 sandman-ti

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06 SIG SAUER SIG assembled some of the top names in the silencer game to turn the industry on its ear. The first thing you notice about their silencers is there’s no outside tube; the circumferential welds are exposed. This a visible clue as to how tough these silencers are and the confidence SIG has in its design and materials. Not having an outer tube allows the baffles to be that much bigger. Bigger baffles mean quieter guns. SIG uses grade 5 titanium to enable the increased volume without increasing weight.

SRD556Ti-QD • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 7 inches • Diameter: 1.75 inches • Weight: 13.2 ounces • Suppression Level: 134 dB • Mount System: Quick mount to Sig Taper-Lok muzzle brake • Material: Grade 5 titanium • MSRP: $845

SRD762Ti-QD • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 8.4 inches • Diameter: 1.75 inches • Weight: 16.9 ounces • Suppression Level: 138 dB • Mount System: Quick mount to Sig Taper-Lok muzzle brake • Material: Grade 5 titanium • MSRP: $1,028

5.56 srd556ti-qd

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07 LIBERTY CANS The newly developed flagship can for Liberty is the Titanium Chaotic Ti. Now made with a titanium tube and core, as well as an Inconel blast baffle to increase durability and longevity, the Chaotic Ti is now rated for any jacketed round from 300 Winchester Magnum and down. At 6 inches in length and a 2 inches diameter, this can sits nicely at the end of a hand guard and helps maintain overall firearm balance.

torch qa • Caliber: .223/5.56 • Length: 8 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 20 ounces • Suppression Level: N/A • Mount System: Quick mount • Material: 300 stainless steel and Inconel • MSRP: $680


Chaotic • Caliber: 7.62/300BLK • Length: 6 inches • Diameter: 2 inches • Weight: 16.9 ounces • Suppression Level: N/A • Mount System: Thread mount • Material: Titanium, stainless steel, Inconel • MSRP: $750

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5.56 torch qa

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ARMAMENT CORPORATION The SR-5 and SR-7 are the next evolution in the company’s fast-attach silencer for 5.56mm and 7.62 hosts, respectively. Using a variant of the AAC 90 Tooth Ratchet Taper fast-attach system, users are able to securely install or remove the silencer using intuitive, gross motor skills. Each silencer includes a 90T 1/2x28 Blackout flash hider mount.

SR-5 • Caliber: .223/5.56 223/5.56 • Length: 6.7 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 17.5 ounces • Suppression Level: 34 dB reduction • Mount System: Quick mount to AAC 90T Blackout flash hider • Material: Inconel 718,316L SS • MSRP: $849

SR-7 • Caliber: 7.62 • Length: 7.6 inches • Diameter: 1.5 inches • Weight: 19.6 ounces • Suppression Level: 39dB reduction • Mount System: Quick mount to AAC 90T Blackout flash hider • Material: Inconel 718,316L SS • MSRP: $949


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bout three years ago, a gentleman walked into our lobby at the Artemis Defense Institute and asked for a favor. His name was Marty Zatrapa and he is the owner of zZz Custom Works LLC, a small kydex holster company in Oceanside, Calif. He wanted to give me a holster to wear. How do you say no to that? One of his associates had come to Artemis for training a couple of weeks earlier and told Zatrapa that he should stop on by to check us out. Zatrapa understands the training world and the value of product placement. He asked that I try out one of his holsters not only for my “feedback”… but so that students at our place might sort of… you know… ask where they can get one, too. I get it.

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zZz Custom Works LLC can create a holster form fitted to any firearm, knife or magazine. The holster can be further customized to your carry preference and choice of kydex color or pattern.

“IF YOU GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO MAKE SURE A DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER IS HAPPY, HE WILL TELL HUNDREDS WHAT A SPECTACULAR BUSINESS YOU HAVE.” Frankly, if the gear that the instructor is wearing is quality and the instructor can recommend it wholeheartedly, why not? After all, as instructors we can choose what gear we want, and as a student you better believe I’m looking at what other instructors are wearing.

The Ideal Holster I decided to put Zatrapa to the test: I asked him if he could make me a holster for my 1911 Kimber Desert Warrior (with my surefire X300 ultra light) that I could wear outside the waistband, along with a matching magazine carrier for two magazines. Oh… and I wanted

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the whole system to be “concealable,” meaning that with only a cover shirt I could wear the system outside the shop. Two weeks later a package showed up at my door. I have been wearing his holster ever since. Actually, truth be told, I have been wearing that holster, along with a slew of other holsters he has since made for me. zZz Custom Works has become my primary source for weapon retention systems. (Hell, he even made a small of the back holster for my Ruger Vaquero single action cowboy pistol… because who doesn’t need a kydex small of the back holster for their cowboy gun?) Some of his holsters for me have been prototypes for other methods of carry that he has experimented with. Some

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Most holster manufacturers only provide standard-shaped holster options, especially when it comes to knives. zZz Custom Works specializes in truly custom holsters even for non-traditional shapes, like a Karambit-style custom knife.

failed, others succeeded out of the box. The ones that failed, though, went back to Zatrapa and his team, and new improvements were introduced to fix the failure points. When confronted with a problem, zZz Custom Works tackled it head on. They don’t mess around with quality. They would rather have a guy like me beat the crap out of their product before they release it to the market. Kydex holsters generally have two drawbacks depending on their configurations. If they are outside the waistband (like I prefer) the belt loops can potentially have a structural failure. Secondly, if your pistol has that ultra pretty cerakote Tiffany blue, constantly drawing and re-holstering can wear the finish right off of your gun. Let’s take both of these issues one at a time.


KNOW YOUR NOMENCLATURE Inside the waistband (IWB)… the way it sounds. The holster clips or fastens to the belt and the bulk of the holster sits between the fabric of the pants and your tucked in shirt or skin. Outside the waistband (OWB)… The holster is left exposed outside the pants. This is typical for open carry, but with a cover shirt it works well with concealed carry, too. “Kydex”… a thermoplastic resin that is typically produced in sheet form. Holster manufacturers draw a template on the sheet and cut out the form of the holster. Then through an application of heat, the kydex is molded around either the customers gun for a custom fit, or a blue gun for a more general application. “Retention”…. every holster should have some method of retaining the firearm. Some use straps to secure it in place. Kydex typically uses friction (the tight fit) of the holster to keep the gun secure.

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Better Belt Loops Inside the waistband, holsters typically use a “J hook” or looping system to secure the holster to the belt. Because of the friction between the pants and the body, the holster typically stays secure in place. The hooks function to keep the holster from moving around and to ensure that it stays secure during the draw. When the holster is an outside the waistband unit, the belt loops serve a third function: keeping the holster attached to the user. Unfortunately, depending on the weight of the gun, this can create stress points where the belt and loops make contact. I carry a full frame 1911. That means we have some weight issues to deal with. zZz uses an innovative angled design on their belt loops. This allows the holster to sit more flush to the body while at the same time allowing the user to get a full “master grip” on the gun while holstered. Unfortunately, with all engineering… if you get something in one area… you give something up somewhere else. In the case of these holsters, after repeated draws, (and when I say “repeated draws,” I’m talking thousands upon thousands of draws), the belt loops can eventually fail by cracking at the point where the bottom of the loop meets the belt. My grandfather once told me a sage truth in business: “A dissatisfied customer is a golden opportunity. If you let a customer leave your shop upset, he will tell hundreds what a lousy business you have. If you go out of your way to make sure a dissatisfied customer is happy, he will tell hundreds what a spectacular business you have.”

SEE FOR YOURSELF zZz Custom Works LLC 760-704-7384

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“…QUALITY CONTROL, AND R&D ARE [MARTY ZATRAPA’S] TWO PASSIONS…” Zatrapa at zZz and I might have had the same grandfather. When Zatrapa met me, he informed me that for 99 percent of his customers this “belt loop failure” thing would never be a problem. He did, however, know how often I draw my gun, either performing a demo for students or shooting on my own time. He let me know up front that this might be an issue. He also provided me a handful of additional belt loops that could easily be swapped out for a broken one. Regardless, if something did not work he wanted to know about it… (quality control and R&D are his two passions)… also, each of his holsters comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Preserving the Finish Let’s talk about the second issue… the cosmetic one. Honestly, this is kind of a tough one for me. Years ago I met a fellow hunter who showed me his collection of large bore hunting rifles. They were spectacular looking. The wood was kept oiled, and not a blemish or mar were on any part of the barrel, action or stock.

Adding a soft holster liner like felt can reduce wear marks on your pistol caused by repeated drawing and reholstering.

My primary hunting rifle is a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 30.06 that I named the “Congo Queen” in memory of the time I worked at Disneyland on the Jungle Cruise back in the late ’80s. The Congo Queen looks like I took a hammer to her. She has scratches, mars, marks, divots and dings. I would not have her any other way. She is a hunting rifle, and each blemish has a story behind it. My 1911 is the same way. My pistol is a work gun. It is banged, bruised and marred. I keep it clean, but it is definitely used. Again, it says something about me. I shoot a lot. It also shows signs of wear where the cerakote has been removed from the friction points where the gun meets the kydex while holstered. There is really not much you can do about this. If you have a ceraktoed gun and you have a kydex holster, this is simply going to be an unavoidable issue. Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all. (Quite the contrary as I’ve mentioned above.) However for those of you who want to keep your Sunday guns looking… well… good for Sunday… zZz has a solution.

These were not hunting rifles. A soft lining. These were pieces of artwork. Artwork that had never been afield.

zZz will line with felt the inside of your

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(1) What is your body type? The

bigger you are, the more versatility you get… to a point. It is relatively easy to bury that inside-the-waistband holster for your 1911 in your pants if you wear a size 42 waist. If you are a diminutive size 30… well it may look like you are sporting a tumor on your waist.


custom holster to ensure that any point of contact between the holster and the gun allows the firearm to be ensconced in a gentle layer of luxurious felt or, if you prefer, satin.

Create the ideal holster for your carry style and attachment preferences.

Basically, it’s the awesomeness of a game skin holster with the rigidity and smoothness of a kydex one. The best of both worlds.

Custom – Really Custom

zZz does not stop at gun holsters. They also fabricate custom sheaths for knives, as well as specialty holstering equipment for law enforcement and other professionals.

One thing that zZz also does, though I have not taken them up on their offer to do it for me (yet), is to make a custom kydex outside-the-waistband holster and using my game skins from one of my hunts as an external “shell.”

When you are ready to make the move into the custom holster market I highly recommend you at least investigate the fine products at zZz Custom Works. TW

It’s not for me… but if you’re into that type of thing I won’t judge.

Drawing from a secure, well-fitted holster is the foundation of getting on target quickly and consistently.

Where you like to carry? Each of us has a unique body type. That body type lends itself well toward one method of carry over another. You need to assess your own individual strengths and weakness in determining where you are going to carry.


What type of clothes do you wear? If you are typically wearing a suit, a holster that requires a 2-inch belt to keep it secure will probably not fit well with your half-inch Nordstrom dress belt. Make sure that the holster you get is designed for the clothing you wear.

TACTICAL VERSUS DAILY CARRY • Train like you fight, fight like you train. Why have a range holster and a daily holster? That just doesn’t make sense. If you are going to carry your gun at the 4 o’clock position during the day, why would you switch it to the 3 o’clock position for your time on the range? Range time is practice time. If you are a pianist you practice on the piano…. you don’t set aside the piano for a guitar during your practice time! • Train at home. Don’t just practice your draw at the range. Dry fire practice is not about pressing the trigger and seeing if your sights move. Dry fire practice is much, much more. Your practice should include your draw, your magazine manipulations, and yes… your trigger press. • Draw like you mean it each and every time. Every time you come out of the holster it is an opportunity to practice. Whether that is because you are drawing to shoot a piece of paper, drawing to shoot a piece of steel, drawing to save your life or drawing to put your gun into your safe…. each draw stroke reinforces muscle memory… make each one count!

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tudents at every level always ask, “How do I get faster?” For competitive shooters “faster” is the means to getting a better score. For a tactically minded shooter, self defense and law enforcement, “faster” can mean the the difference between life or death. In both situations, however, “faster” is only effective if rounds are sent down range exactly where you want them to go.

WHAT IS SPEED? WHAT IS ACCURACY? All of us, when we picked up a gun for the first time, were primarily concerned with accuracy. We all wanted to hit the center of the target, knock down the cans or hit whatever was down range. Our first instructor, whether it was mom, dad, a street-smart cop or just an average Joe, taught us the basic fundamentals so we could consistently hit the target. Once we could hit the target at close range, we started moving it farther away. Accuracy can be defined

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02 01) Ensure that the magazine is seated all the way. 02) Magazine exchange should be done at eye level so that even your eyes are looking at the mag well. You can still maintain peripheral vision forward for threats and obstacles.

as hitting what you want to hit where you want to hit it, at the distance at which you need to hit it. Earlier, I put the word fast in quotes because fast means something different in different situations and circumstances. For an Olympic athlete running the mile, 3 minutes 50 seconds is fast, while a fast mile for a world-class marathon runner is around 5 minutes. Even though the times over the same distance vary by more than 25 percent, both are fast within their context. The same applies to shooting. Fast is relative to the situation and task at hand. Speed is how “fast” is perceived. So for our purposes we will define speed as the rapidity of movement or action in the context of the given situation. More simply put, speed is how fast you make intentional hits on the intended targets as those targets present them-

selves without making a mistake. So which is more important, speed or accuracy? The answer is both, but only as far as the situation dictates. There’s an old adage, “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.” But this doesn’t tell the whole story. If you’re in a gun fight that lasts 3 seconds and you take 4 seconds to get off a perfectly accurate shot, you’re dead. Conversely, if you can draw, acquire the target and squeeze off three rounds in 2 seconds but all three are wildly off their mark, you’re dead. The same as it was in the old west, gun fights are won by those who can come out on target and get off an accurate shot first.

The Chicken or the Egg Which comes first, being fast or being accurate? Do you go out and shoot as fast as you can, and “walk in” your

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03 shots until they are accurate? Do you break down every shot and take your time until you are creating quarter-inch groups at 25 yards? The paradox is that neither training method is going to make you fast AND accurate. Only shooting fast makes you good at only shooting fast. Slow and deliberate bull’s eye shooting all the time makes you good at slow and deliberate shooting. So where’s the starting point? Master instructor Massad Ayoob says it best: “The person who starts with accuracy then accelerates the pace will reach the grail of fast accuracy the soonest.” In other words, like everything else in shooting, it boils down to a mastery of the fundamentals. Nail down your fundamentals, and then start increasing the pace of executing those same fun-

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“NAIL DOWN YOUR FUNDAMENTALS, AND THEN START INCREASING THE PACE OF EXECUTING THOSE SAME FUNDAMENTALS. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, YOU’RE SHOOTING PRECISELY FAST.” damentals. Before you know it, you’re shooting precisely fast. How fast can you go? I’m not sure, but I do know that you can only go faster if you’re focusing on technique before speed. The launching pad is the mastery of the three pillars of basic training: drawing the weapon, acquiring and engaging the target, and

03) Tactical shooters may want to positively verify that they do, in fact, have a new magazine to reload before ejecting the old magazine. 04) Keeping your eyes down range, even when reloading, is a critical tactic that all shooters should train.

manipulating the firearm. No matter how quickly you can do two, a failure in any one of these three will dramatically slow you down. Experience and training make the biggest difference in obtaining your performance goals. Experience is good in and of itself. But learning is accelerated if you study under someone who

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“IF YOU CARRY A GUN FOR A LIVING OR TO PROTECT YOUR LIVELIHOOD, AUGMENTING YOUR TRAINING WITH COMPETITIVE SHOOTING WILL IMPROVE, NOT IMPEDE, YOUR CHANCES OF COMING HOME ALIVE …” not only knows what he or she is doing but can also transfer that knowledge to others. As an instructor, my goal is not to get everyone working at the same speed. Every shooter has a different level of readiness. The key is to get everyone to operate with sound fundamentals within each of the three pillars. As these movements are repeated, muscle memory becomes more refined and they will naturally get faster. A good instructor will also watch and slow people down if they are moving faster than their ability level. It is important to intervene quickly to curb sloppy trigger control, and slow down a trainee who is rushing his movements. To do this, the instructor has to know what the correct movements look like and have an eagle eye for dysfunction in other people’s training performance. In training, missing a target, fumbling though a mag change or failing to clear

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01) When you sense that the situation has escalated, put your hands in front of you to act as a barrier. Separating yourself from the threat can give you a little extra time to react. 02) Acquire the best grip possible while the weapon is still in the holster.

01 a malfunction aren’t bad things. We learn a great deal from our mistakes. Mistakes let us know when we’ve exceeded our limits and tell us when to back off. We learn the source of our mistakes, make the needed corrections and push the limits once again. It’s then that we start to see speed being defined in the context of accuracy, or how quickly we can we precisely perform task and get a round on target, in the right spot, without making a mistake. Eliminating the mistakes naturally increases our speed.

Tactical Versus Competitive Speed If you train to shoot for defensive purposes – as a serviceman, law enforcement officer, security professional or as a concealed carrier – you might wonder how this competition will benefit you. Most law enforcement officers are not and do not have the habits of competitive shooters. Does training competitive shooting improve your tactical shooting ability? Or does it make it worse? I have heard some seasoned LE firearms instructors tell pupils that competitive shooting techniques will them you killed. Is this true? It depends.

02 The reason why there is no easy answer is because, at first glance, the goals of competitive shooting and the competitive shooter’s training regimen differ from those of the tactical shooter. When you take a deeper look, however, you may begin to see how each skill set can ultimately complement the other. Before we look at the synergy between the two, we must address the elephant in the room and discuss how different they are. Training for competitive shooting tends to be more dynamic than what you do on a square range. Once a novice shooter is acclimated to the environment, there is very little adrenaline stimulation on a square range. However, keeping heart rates in check during the rapid movements and race-the-clock environment of action pistol competition challenges even a seasoned shooter. On the other hand, unlike tactical shooting, in a competition, no one shoots back. So if you fail to use cover there is no physical consequence. Run around and reload in the open; there’s no chance you'll be taken out by a well-aimed counter attack. Even In IDPA where the use of cover is mandatory, the worst consequence you’ll face is a penalty for not reloading behind cover. You won’t take a bullet.

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03 In competition, you know the layout of the course ahead of time. There are little or no surprises. You have the opportunity to plan your course of movement ahead of time. In fact, “gaming” the course is must to shoot fast and score well. But as anyone who has been involved in a gunfight will tell you, that “gaming” is not a luxury afforded to those on patrol or on the streets. Competition is, for all the adrenaline it stimulates,

04 totally predictable, compared to having a shooter jump out of a car armed with a Kalashnikov, during what you thought was a routine traffic stop. Ultimately, the goal of competition is to complete a course of fire with the best score possible. In a tactical shooting, the goal is to leave the engagement alive with no leaks to patch up. Whether you’re a tactical shooter or solely focused on competition, you are faced with making specific and

03) Once the weapon clears the holster, bring the muzzle toward the threat as soon as possible. 04) Compared to competition-oriented draw, tactical presentation is bit more cumbersome for safety, liability and constant assessment. 05) All sight pictures must be accompanied by proper trigger control and follow through.


05 purposeful decisions on how to equip yourself. Because there’s no perfect load that meets both tactical and competitive goals, certain tradeoffs will need to be made to excel in each venue. At the highest levels of competition, people wear an open-top holster with minimal or no retention to hold “race guns” outfitted with compensators, optics, feather-light trigger weight and often using hand-loaded ammunition that is low-recoiled. These are compromises made in the name of speed but would be impractical for EDC or duty gear. Preparing for use-of-force also involves choosing the right equipment. For instance, a loose-fitting Glock trades down accuracy (compared a tightly-locking M1911) for reliability. A double-action/single-action SIG trades first-shot accuracy for a reassuringly stiff trigger to deter accidental discharges. The 9mm cartridge versus larger caliber trades muzzle energy for lower recoil, faster follow-up shots and more ammunition capacity.

Competitive shooters react to audible stimulus like the beep of the timer, whereas tactical shooters are usually reacting to visual stimulus.

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Each gear kit requires and different muscle memory to become proficient. There are, however, people who can excel at the race gun level and then transition to every day field work in

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a uniform. But they are experienced enough to know how the disciplines differ. They must be dedicated enough to their craft to train with all of the different types of gear that they will ever use, so that what they do in one situation does not hinder them in another. One thing that does not vary, however, is the fundamentals. Ultimately, shooting is shooting. The three basic pillars of shooting are the commonality between the disciplines: drawing the weapon, engaging the target and manipulating the firearm (reloads and malfunction management). A failure in any one of the three will dramatically slow down the shooter.

Benefit of Competition With respect to speed training, I have come to the conclusion that the benefits of competition outweigh the drawbacks. If you carry a gun for a living or to protect your livelihood, augmenting your training with competitive shooting will improve, not impede, your chances


The fundamentals of grip, stance and sight picture are the foundation of learning to shoot faster.

of coming home alive, provided you learn the fundamentals correctly and maintain the proper mindset – the right mindset being not to treat a real-life shooting like an IPSC competition. Competition gives you much more of a workout and stress load than merely shooting on a square range. The surge of adrenaline fueled by the sound of the timer and the need to engage targets and transition between them under the watchful eyes of peers and spectators induces a healthy level of anxiety. Shooting under this time type of stress elevates the heart rate that can simulate the stress a shooter. Competition also gives you instant feedback on your progress. Its ability to measure and rate your improvement is a great training tool. It is a good measuring stick to find out how you compare to other shooters but, more importantly, helps you to track how you are progressing – drawing, shooting, operating and moving faster an more accurately – over the course of time.

Physiology of Speed

Three pillars of basic training:

So let’s return to the question at hand: How do you shoot fast?

• Drawing the weapon • Acquiring and engaging the target • Manipulating the firearm

First, you have to be able to get the gun out fast by drawing quickly.

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Whatever holstering system you use, make sure it allows for fast, consistent weapon retrieval. Getting your weapon drawn easily allows you to present the weapon, acquire the target and get the proper sight picture faster. Getting the first shot off quickly and accurately starts with un-holstering your weapon. Speed in and of itself is not a singular goal. It must be accompanied by accuracy. Accuracy comes from fine-tuning the fundamental sequence of muscle memories. Pressing the trigger fast is not difficult. Ask any new shooters to close their eyes, and tell them to press the trigger and shoot as fast as possible into a berm. The splits are meaningless. All shooters have the ability to press the trigger quickly. That’s not the problem. The problem usually lies in their visual and their psychological preparedness. In his book “Practical Shooting: Beyond the Fundamentals,” Brian Enos discusses the importance of visual preparedness. “You can only shoot as fast as you can see, and you just see what you need to see to make your hit,” he wrote. In other words, the proper sight picture, the relationship between your eye, sights and the target. To shoot quickly,

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the shooter must develop the ability to aim the gun with only the “flash” sight picture, a quick verification of where the sights are in relation to the target. When dealing with multiple targets, multiple assailants, or transitioning from target to target smoothly and effectively, it involves rapidly changing the sight picture as our desired point of impact changes. The time it takes you to disengage a target and reacquire a new sight picture on a different target is what is called “dead time.” In other words, it’s the time spent not pressing the trigger. Often a shooter must move to another position to be able to engage multiple targets in succession. Minimizing the amount of “dead time” will mean the difference of being first or second place in competition, getting shot or effectively eliminating a threat on the street. The national average of officer-involved shooting is between 3 to 5 feet. That’s an arm’s length. Some officers had told me that when they were involved in a shooting, they did not see the sights at all or remember seeing them. My good friend who served as a SWAT operator for more than 25 years once told me about his shooting incidents. I won’t use his name as he is still actively serving the city of Los Angeles as a PO. “My first two shootings, I don't remember seeing my sights and I missed,” he said. “But one was a good distance away and the second was more of a reflex reaction. The next five, that's all I saw was my sights and didn't miss. They were also a good distance away … 20 yards or more. I remember saying to myself between the ‘oh f*cks’ ... ‘Sights, sights, sights, squeeze’ … maybe a few more ‘oh f*cks’ in between.” His first two shooting experiences had taught him the importance of quickly acquiring and maintaining a good sight picture. A lesson I’m sure he applied diligently from that point forward.

Putting in all together What’s more important, speed or accuracy? Competition tells us that both are important. In the life or death world of

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Speed in a tactical sense is to gain time by using cover and concealment.

DEFINITIONS Accuracy: Hitting what you want to hit where you want to hit it, at the distance at which you need to hit it. Speed: How fast you make intentional hits on the intended targets as those targets present themselves without making a mistake.

tactical shooting, however, the balance depends on the situation. Sometimes, you just need to get the shot off. If it’s inside of 5 yards, you don’t need perfect sight picture. Other times, you need to take your time and be accurate. At 20 yards, if you don’t see your sights, you most likely won’t hit your target. Traditional police training that emphasizes only marksmanship without recreating the stress and of combat is frankly, inadequate. The low hit rate in officer-involved shootings (officers not hitting their targets), the unacceptable number of officer deaths and bystander casualties are proof. I believe the reason for these errors is not that police officers are bad marksmen. Rather it is because marksmanship training alone does not provide the breadth of skill to ensure survival. A focus on pure marksmanship does not come close to replicating the stress of combat shooting, nor does it require fast reaction time, quick decision

making, accelerated trigger press, fast problem solving (like reloading and clearing malfunction) or the challenge of shooting on-the-move. Supplementing traditional marksmanship with the speed training of competitive action shooting can only help to increase survivability. An instructor told a friend, “A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.” Truer words have seldom been spoken. Ultimately, learning to shoot fast is an acquired skill not unlike learning to shoot accurately. Unless the only shooting you plan on doing is standing shooting at paper trying to put holes as close together as possible, then shooting faster while maintaining accuracy must be a fundamental aspect of your growth as a marksman. So get out there, go to the range, find an experienced instructor, stay focused and have fun as you keep pushing yourself to be a better, well-rounded shooter. TW

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still a fairly easy pill to swallow since the user is getting one of the very best 1911 pistols available.

hroughout various industries, certain names make us perk up our ears when spoken, whether it’s BMW, Rolex or even Pappy Van Winkle. For most of us, these are things we covet because they are the benchmark of excellence.

In another corner of the shop, however, Wilson Combat works on an entirely different type of firearm and has been doing so almost as long as it’s been building custom pistols. Wilson Combat acquired Scattergun Technologies back in 2000 and has been doing custom shotgun work ever since.

There’s a certain expectation of a mythical quality that instills in us a desire to have the very best, even if it’s just one thing in our lives. One such brand that stirs up such yearning is Wilson Combat. One of the top-tier gun manufacturers in the industry, Wilson Combat is probably best known for its offering of custom 1911 pistols and aftermarket parts for the same. While full builds with all the bells and whistles can command a stiff price for the average person, it’s

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The Mesa Tactical side-saddle carrier keeps a complete magazine’s worth of Federal Premium’s Vital-Shok loads on hand should a quick reload be necessary.

A customer can send in his own Remington 870 for a makeover and tune-up, or more simply order one of Wilson’s (anything but) standard packages letting them do all work of putting a brand new, high-end shotgun together. One of those packages is their 870 based CQB Shotgun model which we just happened to get in for review.

FIRST NOTES The CQB model sits at the head of the table for the different shotgun packages. The main difference between it and the others is the Wilson AR stock adapter, which allows the user to add (via a mil-spec buffer tube) any AR-compatible pistol grips and butt stocks available on the market. Wilson conveniently offers the collapsible Super-Stoc Carbine butt stock and a Wilson/BCM Starburst pistol grip. The integration of a telescoping/ collapsible, AR-style stock allows the CQB Shotgun to adjust to each user’s preferred length of pull, and it makes the gun more maneuverable when the stock is completely collapsed—hence the CQB moniker. The goodies don’t begin and end with the stock, however. There is a suite

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“… THE ACTION ON THE CQB HAD THE SILKIEST MOVEMENT I’VE EXPERIENCED.” improve the shooter’s performance but also give the shooter the edge in a real-life threat engagement. The first, and most prominent, accessory is the SureFire Tactical forend.

of add-ons and custom work done to make the CQB a must-have tactical shotgun for those that demand the very best tool for the job. Before we get into the things we can see, let’s start with the stuff we can feel, specifically the internal work done with the slide-action and the trigger group. The smiths at Wilson Combat polish the rails and action of the pump mechanism to the point where it feels like a drawer rolling on buttered ball bearings. Having shot a number of pump shotguns, including Remington 870s, the action on the CQB had the silkiest movement I’ve experienced. There’s no rough movement or catching; it’s just a fluid movement to cycle each round. Another spot received special attention

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inside is the trigger group. Again, some polishing and tuning is done here to provide a crisp and clean trigger break with minimal effort. After a few test pulls, the average (and consistent) pull weight of the trigger was just 4 pounds. While it’s probably not very manly to giggle, there are just moments when you can’t help yourself.

THE TACTICAL SUITE For a shotgun of this type, there are a number of add-ons that will not only

The Wilson Combat CQB Shotgun is an elegant tactical weapon that provides all the necessary tools for threat engagement and does so on a platform that has been expertly tuned for ease of operation.

In many ways, the inclusion of the SureFire forend could well be the most important of all the accessories included in the CQB package. Built into the forend is a tactical LED lamp that can throw out either 200 or 600 lumens of light. Not only will it assist the user in identifying threats in the darkness, or the strobe can also be used to disorient a threat. Another important feature on any weapon is the sight system, and Wilson Combat put an excellent system into place for the CQB. The rear sight is their adjustable Trak-Lock ghost ring, and

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shotguns that I’ve used in the past have always had a bit of a rearward slant to the grips. The Wilson/BCM pistol grip, however, sits at a near perfect 90-degree angle to the receiver. This put my hand and index finger in an unfamiliar position in relation to the trigger.

the front sight is a ramp with a highly visible fiber-optic insert. Additional touches for the CQB shotgun include an extended magazine tube for 6+1 capacity, an Extra Power magazine spring, a non-binding follower, a Jumbo Head safety and a rigid magazine tube sling mount. Along with this mount, quick detach mounting points are also on the stock adaptor and the butt stock. Rounding out the added gear is a six-round Mesa Tactical sidesaddle carrier for a complete magazine reload, and the Armor Tuff finish, which is OD green on our review sample. The foundation on which this work and extra gear is the 870 platform with a 3-inch chamber coupled to an 18-inch cylinder-bore barrel. As they say, half the job is just showing up, and the Wilson CQB Shotgun does

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Working in tandem the fiber optic front sight and the ramped ghost ring rear site provide and excellent sight picture.

that with both style and an assertive posture to boot.

DELIVERING THE GOODS No matter how good the reputation of a brand is, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating—or in this case—the shooting. Testing was, of course, necessary to confirm the performance of the CQB. Never mind that lots of fun lay ahead.

The butt stock of the CQB is an AR style Super-Stoc attached via a Wilson AR Stock Adapter. The stock adapter will accept any AR-style stock and includes a QD socket for a push-button sling swivel.

We had a good assortment of 12-gauge rounds to feed the CQB, including Federal Premium’s LE Tactical 00 Buck and Vital-Shok 00 Buck, Remington’s Express 00 Buck and a smattering of Brenneke’s K.O. slugs. All loads were 2 3/4-inch, and rounds that we’ve used before with great success. For the sake of honesty and objectivity, I will admit that I found using the CQB a bit awkward at first. The Pistol-grip

This arrangement made holding the CQB Shotgun in the low-ready position very comfortable but took some getting used to when shooting. In the beginning I thought this would be an issue I wouldn’t be able to work through. After a few dozen rounds it became more natural. I also found that I didn’t have to hold my hand and arm up quite as high as I might with a “regular” pistol grip. I was able to let my arm relax, allowing the bottom side of my wrist to pivot forward a bit, thereby relieving unnecessary strain. By the time the first range session was over, I actually liked the angle of this grip much more than originally expected. Live and learn. The handling and performance of the CQB Shotgun was exceptional during the shooting trials once we became familiar with its design. The pump action was easy to actuate on the polished rails and the 4-pound trigger pull made quick, precise shots effortless. There isn’t much in the way of padding

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on the Super-Stoc, so having it properly seated with a forward-leaning stance is crucial to mitigating felt recoil. The user can’t get sloppy on this point unless he wants to feel a jackhammer pounding into his shoulder. The gun does have some heft to it, considering the addition of the SureFire Tactical-light forend and a fully loaded Mesa Tactical sidesaddle. The entire package is a solid and professional affair, so the extra weight is unavoidable if the user wants the requisite gear for a complete tactical shotgun.



pellets within a 6-by-6 inch area at 15 yards. That was an impressive display, and was was due to the slick pump-action that required little effort to cycle. This allowed us to maintain our point of aim between shots during the rapid-fire exercise. While we have experienced similarly tight patterns with this load at 15 yards, the CQB had a significant impact on our ability to do it quickly with multiple rounds.

Aside from the overall handling and shooting experience itself, the CQB Shotgun delivered in spades with regard to accurately putting rounds downrange. We enjoyed the same performance from other loads, as we have with other models. That’s a reflection of not only the excellent sight picture obtained with Wilson’s Trak-Lock Ghost Ring sight, but the ammunition as well.

The Federal Premium Vital-Shok delivered a strong performance at 40 yards, with all pellets going into a 13½-inch area. Federal’s Flitecontrol wad helps hold the group of pellets together for a longer period going downrange, thus keeping the pattern confined even at longer distances. For a tactical shotgun, that’s a valuable performance point, as it minimizes the chances of stray pellets from going off target and striking unintended targets.

One test we consistently like to do with a shotgun is to fire all rounds in the magazine as quickly as possible and check to see how tightly we were able to keep the shots on target at an intermediate distance. Using the Federal Premium 2 ¾ inch Vital-Shok 00 Buck, we were able to keep 53 of the 54

The LE Tactical 00 Buck’s overall best spread was 16 inches at 40 yards. It uses the Flitecontrol wad as well but travels at a lower velocity than the Vital-Shok. Oddly enough, one pattern had eight pellets within 8½ inches at 40 yards, with a single pellet opening the spread to 19 inches. So, there’s


To prevent accidental activation of the forend light, there is a power switch on the bottom that turns the unit completely off. At the head of the forend light is a rigid sling mount that is affixed to the magazine tube.

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“THE WILSON COMBAT CQB SHOTGUN IS THE TOTAL PACKAGE FOR THOSE THAT WANT...AN EXCEPTIONAL TACTICAL SHOTGUN.” definitely no issue with getting the majority of the payload on target at longer distances with these loads. Sometimes, you need a little more punch, and that’s when you reach for some slugs. The CQB shotgun also did quite nicely with Brenneke’s K.O. slugs, with a 2-inch group of five rounds at 30 yards, and a 3-inch group at 50 yards. That’s not too shabby because the CQB has a ghost ring sight, which isn’t quite as precise as a scope or a set of threedot sights. But it’s more than accurate enough to get a center-mass shot on a man-sized target at 50 yards.

Top: The Trak-Lock ghost-ring sight allows for fast target aquisition and is easily adjustable for both windage and elevation.

FINAL WORDS Based on Wilson Combat’s reputation, I had little doubt that their CQB Shotgun would perform admirably. What I didn’t expect was the overall synergy of the package as we discovered during our tests. The experience can be described as the CQB being greater than sum of its parts.

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Right: The controls for the SureFire DSF-870 forend light are located on both sides of the forend. From left to right, the first panel is a momentary switch, the second is a regular on/ off switch and the small square panel changes the output level.

To my surprise I actually began to appreciate, a design I hadn’t encountered before, the almost-90-degree Wilson/BCM pistol grip. The Wilson Combat CQB Shotgun is the total package for those that want or need an exceptional tactical shotgun. Aside from the carefully chosen accessories to make it a tactical juggernaut, the internals are expertly tuned to allow efficient deployment of the firepower on hand. There is an adage that says, “You get what you pay for.” But, on occasion, as with the Wilson CQB Shotgun, you get even more than what you pay for, that’s what I call real value. TW

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CQB (Base Model Remington 870)

Chambering: 12 gauge Capacity: 6 + 1 Overall Length: 38.8 inches Barrel Length: 18.4 inches Weight: 8 pounds, 9 ounces Sights: Adjustable Trak–Lock ghost ring rear sight, ramp-type front sight with red fiber optic insert Finish: Armor-Tuff finish Grip: Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter Grip Frame Material: Steel Stock: Steel MSRP: $1,695 Website: Wilson PERFORMANCE LOAD Federal Premium 2 3/4 inch Vital-Shok 00 Buck Federal Premium Vital-Shok 2 3/4 inch Vital-Shok 00 Buck LE Tactical 00 Buck’s

• Adjustable Trak–Lock ghost ring rear sight • Ramp-type front sight with fiber optic insert • 18-inch cylinder bore barrel with 3-inch magnum chamber • Extended magazine tube; total capacity: 6+1 rounds • Aluminum collapsible stock adaptor with quick detach swivel sling mounts • Mil-spec buffer tube and Super-Stoc carbine butt stock • Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter grip • SureFire Tactical forend with 200- 600-lumen light • Aluminum shell carrier by Mesa Tactical, extended capacity: 6 rounds • High-visibility, non-binding follower • Extra-power heavy-duty stainless magazine tube spring • Jumbo Head safety • Rigid magazine tube sling mount • Armor-Tuff finish

PATTERN 6-inch diameter pattern at 15 yards 13.5-inch diameter pattern at 40 yards 16-inch diameter pattern at 40 yards

Notes: Patterns measured at 15, 40 and 50 yards.

Contact Wilson Combat PHONE 1-800-955-485 WEB

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For illustrative purposes, Lance Cpl. Login Loftis, a machine gunner with Company F, 2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, fires a M240 medium machine gun as Lance Cpl. Krikland Harrington, a machine gunner with Company F, 2/5, looks through his night vision optic to guide Loftis onto his target.

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y name is Michael Golembesky. Ski is what the guys on the team would call me. I was assigned to Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) during the winter of 2008, where I served with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion (2nd MSOB) as a tactical air controller at the team level. In December 2009, plans were developed to conduct a major operation to seize territory controlled by the Taliban. Dubbed Operation Buongiorno (good morning), it was a joint effort to capture two key positions on the western side of the Bala Murghab Bazaar. Our team, along with a detachment of paratroopers and Afghan soldiers, was tasked with securing and holding a hilltop location until a permanent outpost could be built there. This objective was named Pathfinder. The 82nd and Italians were responsible for securing Objective Prius, a compound located at a strategic road intersection near the Bazaar. Together, the seizing of both of these objectives would effectively cut the valley in half, restricting the Taliban’s freedom of movement north and south. I tried to get some rest before the operation kicked off, but it was hope- less. The pre-firefight vibe was in the air. Gear was checked, and then rechecked. All we could do was sit and wait for the ground assault force (GAF) to exit out of the west gate of the FOB. Operation Opportune Strike had officially begun. Violence was the only thing waiting for everyone involved, on both sides. The GAF looked like a long black snake as they weaved through the drop zone toward OP South. No one spoke; only the faint sounds of footsteps in the grass and gear jostling could be heard. The large file of gunfighters moved quickly, but cautiously. Maintaining noise and light discipline was critical to getting a force of that size—about 70—to the south end of Daneh Pasab undetected. Out of the trench and skirting along the wall toward the roadway, Mark kept a close eye on the ground. Because this route had been used twice before, he looked for any signs that the Taliban had planted an IED in the area. The explosion would serve as an early warning,

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Poor roads and weather limit mobility. Slow moving troops become more vulnerable targets.

alerting them to someone trying to enter the village. They were now deep inside a Taliban-controlled area, along the west side of the village. It was just before 0100, and the cloudy night sky provided very little ambient light to help the NVGs pierce into the darkness that lay around every corner. The minutes felt like an eternity for all of us waiting in the TOC for someone to break the radio silence. We knew it would take them about 25 to 30

minutes to make the tactical march to the release point, granted they didn’t encounter anyone. Air support was on standby. The night sky needed to remain still and calm, letting the Taliban think it was going to be just another quiet night on the front lines.

GAME ON “RAIDER eight-one, this is SNAKE EYES one-four, we are at the release point. We are Game On at this time, over,” Phil’s familiar voice came through the speaker as he transmitted the update via SATCOM to the SOTF.

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“THIS WAS SETTING UP TO BE AN UGLY BRAWL, A CLOSE-QUARTERS IN-YOUR-FACE KIND OF FIGHT.” Unsure of where or when the threat will re-appear, a shoulder keeps his weapon at the ready.

I breathed a sigh of relief. They did it. They were able to move more than 70 troops undetected deep behind enemy lines. Pat and Corey (ODA operator) peeled off with their 15 commandos and set up an overwatch position while Mark and Goodnight—a Marine assigned to ODA 1314— took their recon element and left the release point. Their element was responsible for repelling any reinforcements. The remaining commandos and operators were already separated into two clearing elements. And once they began

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“CRACK, CRACK, CRACK! POP! POP! TRACE ROUNDS AND BULLETS WHIZZED BY AS THEY CONTINUED TO BACK OUT ...” fanning out through the village, all of the Taliban fighters in the village would be trapped. This was setting up to be an ugly brawl, a close-quarters in-your-face kind of fight.

TIME TO ROLL The two clearing elements had 15 commandos and at least two ODA operators acting as handlers. Each element also had one Dagger 22 team member. It was 0120 when the two clearing elements separated and disappeared into the dark maze of the village. The muffled sounds of footsteps began to fill the night air. The first hundred meters of wandering the narrow alleyway yielded nothing—no open doors into compounds, no smoke or scent of a cooking fire, nothing. The small village subsection was turning out to be a dry hole; both elements continued. George and RJ’s element began to move northward into Daneh Pasab, while Billy and Hunter continued heading east, in the direction of the river. After a few more minutes of walking through the

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To a wounded commando, the familiar thumping of a Blackhawk's rotors means help and relief is close at hand.

dark labyrinth, they had reached the eastern edge of Joy Kwoja. It was a dead end. This left them with no other option but to start heading northeast into Daneh Pasab. “We can step over this wall and head for that alleyway over there,” said Hunter as he pointed across the corner of the field to the first row of compounds in Daneh Pasab. “Right, let’s go,” Billy responded. He silently led the way. The grass in the field was tall and wet with late-night dew. Hunter followed behind, trailed by our team medic, Ryan, an interpreter, and 15 commandos. Straddling over another goat wall, Billy exited the field and stepped into the entrance of the alleyway. It was pitchblack, even with NVGs on. The alleyway was narrow, about 15 feet wide, and encased with high mud walls on either side. With Hunter close behind him, Billy began walking while commandos were busy getting over the low wall. About 20 meters in Billy stopped. Something had caught his eye along

the right wall. There was a dark figure standing in a doorway with a weapon down at his side. Hunter and the interpreter paused a few feet behind. “Americans, friendlies,” Billy spoke softly. Unsure of who it was, he tightened his grip on his M4, which was at the low-ready position in his shoulder. Had they accidentally crossed paths with the other clearing element already? The interpreter took a step forward and spoke a few words in Dari. The lone figure was partially exposed in the doorway, with only 30 feet of dark alleyway separating them. It felt like a Mexican standoff. The person stepped back into the compound, disappearing from sight. A long 15 seconds passed. “What the fuck is going on here,” Billy thought to himself as he slowly began to raise his rifle. The dark figure appeared in the doorway again with his weapon shouldered . . . CRACK, CRACK, CRACK! The muzzle flashed repeatedly as the gunman sprayed bullets down the alleyway at them. Hunter stepped up next to Billy as they both immediately began to return fire

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with their suppressed weapons. POP, POP, POP, POP, POP! Billy rapidly pulled the trigger until the gunman slumped and fell to the ground. Everyone in the alleyway quickly began backing out as voices could be heard on the other side of the wall, emanating from the compound the gunman had stepped out of. A second gunman leaned out of the doorway and began firing. CRACK, CRACK, CRACK! POP! POP! Trace rounds and bullets whizzed by as they continued to back out of the alleyway while returning fire. Billy rounded the corner and continued to push further away from the opening as the last few tracers spit out of the end of the alleyway into the field. All went quiet. Everyone heard the gunfire and froze in position and waited for radio traffic to figure out what the fuck was going on. The first gunshots of the operation rang out into the blackness just after 0200. There was no more hiding the fact they were in the village. The message began to filter out to the different Taliban bed-down locations via two-way radios and runners.

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Even when a compounds is occupied, everyone needs to keep their head on a swivel.

50 STRONG The Taliban force within the village was estimated to be at 40 to 50 loyal fighters, and they were all waking up. George and RJ halted their element as Phil got an update on the situation. They had been moving along the high wall of a compound next to a large field, not completely sure where they were inside Daneh Pasab. The sound of footsteps could be heard on the other side of the wall . . “Shhh. Do you hear that?” George whispered to RJ, putting his finger to his lips. The faint sound of people talking could be heard coming from the large compound they were standing next to. By the sound of the quiet commotion, there were at least three or four people directly on the other side of the high wall, less than 10 feet away. “They are Taliban,” James, the ODA interpreter, said after listening to the chatter over the wall. “They are talking about if they should stay or get out of the village.” Hearing that, George motioned for Yuri to come over as he pulled out one of the 15 grenades he was carrying. RJ stood ready with one in hand as James motioned for George




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to give him a grenade. George pulled the pin from his grenade to signal the others to get ready to toss them over the wall. There was no turning back now. For good or bad, once those grenades went off the fight was on.

AK SPRAY Billy and Hunter’s element sought cover and went silent to observe their surrondings. Again something caught Billy’s eye as he scanned the area. Four individuals were running out of the village, heading south across the large open field. Billy shouldered his weapon and identified one of them

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Rare breaks in the action provide an opportunity for commandos to assess and evaluate the current plan of action.

carrying a weapon in his hand. They were about a hundred meters out and were hauling ass. Adjusting for their speed of movement, Billy placed a generous lead with his optic and quickly squeezed the trigger four times in rapid succession. The bullets struck the armed man in the upper body, sending him collapsing down into the tall grass. The three remaining individuals ducked to the ground for cover and began scrambling around in different directions. “Let’s f***ing go,” Billy said to the commandos. Hunter instructed the interpreter to tell the commandos that they were going to find the dead body and remaining runners. They quickly moved across the field to the area where Billy had seen the gunman fall. As they drew closer, Billy pointed south into the field to signal the commandos to search for the rest. But the grass was too high and the commandos gave up their search in the dark. But they didn’t have time to play hideand-seek. The three others had evaded them, hiding in the tall grass and shal-

low ditches. Hunter told everyone to start collapsing back out of the exposed area and head toward the alleyway again. He knew the shit was about to hit the fan and they needed to have a secured area to hold. Hunter led the way back into the narrow corridor with his weapon drawn. Closing in on the doorway that nearly proved fatal, he noticed that the body of the gunman was gone. Was he dead? Did someone drag his body, or had he staggered off severely wounded? A large puddle of thick blood soaked the dirt at the foot of the doorway and trailed back into the compound. Billy moved up and held his weapon on the door while Hunter tried to get information over the radio. Clink. The metallic sound of spoon handles flying off grenades could barely be heard as they reached up and tossed them over the top of the wall. The tone of the voices talking changed to a fearful panic of the unknown as the baseball-size objects hit the ground at their feet. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! A large bellow of smoke rose over the

10/27/16 11:26 PM


George waved his hand angrily at the commandos to keep moving back, resisting the urge to yell at them. He didn’t want the Taliban inside to know they were at the main entrance. Phil, who was standing across the narrow dirt road, diagonally from the doorway, could see George’s frustration. He could also see that the commandos were not 100 percent on board with rushing into the compound as the situation was quickly unfolding. “Get the f**k out of the way!” Phil yelled at them, trying to prod them out of their current state of confusion. CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! PING! SNAP!

wall as small pieces of debris rained down on them. George followed the wall all the way to the corner where the main entrance to the large fortified compound was. A set of double doors painted red indicated where they would make entry. Following the explosion of the grenades, Taliban fighters within the dwelling began spraying their AKs and PKM machine guns wildly at the top of the wall. Rounds hit the mud crest, chipping small chunks down onto RJ and James. The orange trace rounds looked like fireworks going off from inside of the compound. There were a lot of fighters in there.

Hearing Phil’s voice, the Taliban opened fire on the door from the other side. It sparked as bullets ripped through the thin sheet metal, sending the commandos scrambling.

COMMANDO HESITATION George reached down into his right cargo pocket and pulled out a small piece of C4 he already had primed and wired up with a short time fuse. Peeling the backing and exposing the sticking strip, he pressed the small claylike block next to the lock in the center of the double doors.

“Breaching, breaching, breaching!” George pulled the plunger on the igniter cap and backed away along the wall for cover. BOOOOOOOM!

“Back up,” he said to the handful of commandos milling around in close proximity. They took a few steps back. The frantic spray of gunfire from inside the compound had stopped, but they could still hear people yelling and moving around.

TW_EXCERPT.indd 129

Variations in structure and materials make breeching and clearing a compound an exercise in patience.

A large flash went off as the doors flew open inward. The area was consumed in a thick cloud of smoke from the explosion as RJ led a small group of commandos through the breach. They disappeared as the gun- fire exchange inside the compound ignited. TW


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From Dagger 22 by Michael Golembesky. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC;

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GO, NO GO In this issue of Tactical World, we launch a new column, Real Life. In it, we’ll take you into the world of the elite. You’ll read about tactics, strategy and more. We begin with the U.S. Army Rangers.


o outsiders, one might think the physical and mental demands put on individual soldiers are the most important metrics in evaluating whether a he “makes it to Regiment” and earns the Ranger title. Truth is, the most important part of being a Ranger is knowing how to both lead and be lead. A Ranger candidate’s leadership ability is constantly being evaluated. Former Ranger Grant McCarry gives us some insight into the reality of being labeled a “Go” or a “No Go.”

For illustrative purposes, Army Rangers of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, prepare to enter an MH-47 helicopter. (US. Army photo by Spc. Coty Kuhn)


ment. From there I saw that the PL of the mission made the decision to walk the lead squad through an open field instead of utilizing the cover and concealment of the wood line for security. I knew that if I did not stop this I would get a “No Go” and be done.

This meant I could finally lead from the front. Unlike the leader in the previous exercise, I used the cover and concealment of the wood line to lead my team to the target point. I wasn’t going leave my guys exposed walking through an open field.

I got on the radio and tried to get the PL to direct the platoon back into the wood line. The PL took it as a sign of insubordination and continued on, eventually exposing the platoon in the open field. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t; I was going get a “No Go” whether I said something or not.

Taking up point, I started to lead out toward the target. It took 20 minutes to get there and have our security set in. I radioed that we were good to go, at which time the platoon commenced the assault. From our vantage point we were able to watch the assault in is entirety. The best part was when I looked down at my watch and noticed that we beat the NLT.

Halfway through the field training exercise of the Florida phase of Ranger School, we learned our roster numbers. My number was called out, “187!” I was assigned to be the leder of an assault squad. My leadership skills would be put to the test and I was to be under intense scruntiy.

A few days later my roster number was called out for another graded patrol. This time I was the security squad leader for Ranger School Class 10/07’s final mission of this evolution. The Platoon’s mission was to conduct a raid while my squad remained on security patrol at an insurgent compound. Our platoon would have to work within the constraints a very strict timeline. If any team was even just 30 seconds late everyone in a graded position would receive a “No Go.”

After navigating my squad down a winding river and through a swamp, we beached our Zodiacs and began to maneuver inland to the target. My squad was last in the order of move-

The infiltration plan was to insert us, via helicopter, approximately 4 kilometers away from the target. As squad leader I was the decision maker. I chose myself to take point.

TW_CLOSE_CX.indd 130

By Grant McCarry

Once we finished the exercise and got back to Camp Rudder, we were given some time to do our peer evaluations before we would be called in to fnd out our “Go, No Go” status. When my roster number was called, I walked through the door and nervously remained at attention as the RI sat across from me in his chair. I think I remember hearing, “At ease,” but I was anxious to receive my peer evaluation report. My future as a Ranger would be revealed to me in a few short moments. Time slowed down. I was finally able to breathe again when the RI casually said “You’re a Go.” TW

11/1/16 12:12 AM

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