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FN 249S

S&W 1911






GO BIG or go home





U.S. $8.99




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22 Cobalt kinetics edge XL Exploring the upper range of the AR-15 performance spectrum


14 Stem the FLow


Looking at the life-saving basics of hemorrhage control


34 Mr. smith

The Smith & Wesson SW1911 Performance Center Pro Series in 9mm

46 SIg sauer mcx virtus SIG’s latest-generation service rifle: updated, modular & very precise

58 Breaks Like Glass

The World of Firepower high-performance AR trigger buyer’s guide

68 Going Gray

To be invisible: a primer on remaining hidden in plain sight

78 Ground Pounder

Going hands-on with the belt-fed, semi-auto FN 249S


88 Method to the Madness


How to DIY your own custom camouflage scheme affordably

96 ace in the hole

IWI Galil ACE—a ballistic hammer forged in international service

104 the eagle strikes

Zeroing in the astounding new Vortex Optics Strike Eagle riflescope


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06 10 12 112 114


First Words Reload Dual Blades Pocket Dump Five


Subject: Cobalt Kinetics Edge XL Stage II Photography: Ben Davis | Designer: Yekaterina Sverdlova

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well rounded Welcome to the latest edition of World of Firepower. If you are holding this magazine and reading these words, chances are pretty good that you are a firearms enthusiast. In light of that, we think you’ll like the array of firearms we have to show you this time around. America’s most popular sporting rifle is the AR-15/AR-10 platform. The reasons for this are many: relative affordability, reliability and modularity chief among them. In recent years, AR proponents, we the editors included, have been fortunate to see an explosion of support for the platform from both a manufacturing and aftermarket standpoint. In fact, it’s becoming harder and harder nowadays to keep track of all the companies that offer products and enhancements for AR-style rifles. And this month’s cover subject may well represent an apex in the AR’s history. As author Mike Searson describes it, the Cobalt Kinetics Edge XL is the Lamborghini of AR-style rifles, with fit, finish and performance second to none in this space. Elsewhere in the issue we take a look at a couple civilian versions of international military workhorses. The FN 249S is a belt-fed semi-auto based on the company’s full-auto M249 that is now available for the gun-enthusiast public’s consumption. In spite of a dialed-down nature compared to its military counterpart, the 249S’s suppressive-fire capability is a wonder to behold at the range. Further back, we look at the Galil ACE chambered in 7.62 NATO, a workhorse of a gun made famous by the Israeli Defense Forces and assembled at IWI US’s manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania, USA.

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We also take an in-depth look at the latest firepower from SIG Sauer—the highly configurable SIG MCX Virtus, which we were able to run through its paces at the vaunted SIG Academy in New Hampshire. For the pistol enthusiast, we take Smith & Wesson’s compact SW1911 Pro Series 9mm for a test drive. This baby brings CCW holders the best of both worlds: compact concealability in a reliable, high-performance package (and chambered for a manageable 9mm Luger payload). Of course, being a firearms enthusiast isn’t always just about the guns. It’s an all-encompassing lifestyle that incorporates no small amount of survival sensibility. In that vein, we bring you a few informational articles to help make you a more well-rounded self-defense citizen, including tips on how to remain anonymous in the public space both at home and abroad, and how to render medical aid should you find yourself (heaven forbid) in a dire disaster or active-shooter scenario. If you are a firearm-improvement aficionado and tinkerer—which we are willing to bet you are—we’ve put together a guide to performance aftermarket triggers for AR-style rifles. We also take a look at a quick and affordable way to DIY your own camouflage scheme using materials you can find readily available at your local hardware store. We hope you enjoy this edition of World of Firepower and find it as engaging and informative as we found it to be while putting it together. As always, stay safe, stay sharp, remain vigilant, and we wish you all the best in your hunting, shooting and gunsmithing endeavors.


EDITORIAL Jason Mulroney John Scott Kelly Nomura Karl Funke

Director of Content Technical Editor Executive Managing Editor Managing Editor

DESIGN Katia Sverdlova Louis Atherden

Design Director Art Director

CONTRIBUTORS Reuben Bolieu, Jason Davis, Ben Davis, Michael Furrer, Michael Penhall, Richard Schutz, Mike Searson, OC Armory, John Teator, Chris Tran, TracerX ADVERTISING Bob Hulsy (714) 200-1940 Casey Clifford (714) 200-1982 Mark Pack (714) 200-1939 Charles Dorr (714) 200-1931 Spencer Redmond (972) 448-4649 John Bartulin (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746 John Cabral Gennifer Merriday Eric Gomez

Advertising Design Advertising Traffic Coordinator Advertising Traffic Coordinator

MARKETING Michael Chadwick

Digital Marketing & Media Coordinator

OPERATIONS Robert Short Devender Hasija Shailesh Khandelwal Alex Mendoza Melinda Magde Victoria Van Vlear

IT Manager Newsstand and Circulation Analyst Subscriptions Manager Administrative Assistant Project Manager Intern Program Manager

Ad Sales Director Senior Account Executive Senior Account Executive Account Executive Account Executive Account Executive

EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 WORLD OF FIREPOWER (ISSN 2332-0281) is published bimonthly six times per year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by Engaged Media Inc., LLC, 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO WORLD OF FIREPOWER C/O ENGAGED MEDIA INC, VSI, INC. 905 KENT ST., LIBERTY, MO 64068. © 2018 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: Letters to Editor, New Products, or to Contribute a Story or Photo SUBSCRIPTION RATES $21.95/1 year, $34.95/2 years. Outside the U.S., add $26.00 per year payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $8.99. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for new subscriptions to begin.

ENGAGED MEDIA, INC. Scott Hall CEO Tom Conradi Group Publisher Philip Trinkle Newsstand Sales Director Jason Mulroney Director of Content Pinaki Bhattacharya Vertical Manager Syed Nazir Raznik Digital Marketing Director 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.

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THIS IS MY P320 — World Champion Competitive Shooter MODEL











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01. UCO Gear/ 02. KEEN/ Stormproof Sweetfire Men’s Targhee III 20 Pack Waterproof Mid The new Stormproof version of UCO Gear’s award-winning Sweetfire Strikeable Fire Starter will light even after being submerged in water. The advantage of the Sweetfire over a normal waterproof or stormproof match is that it includes tinder in the “point.” Light the point just like a match and it will burn for seven minutes to help you easily start your fire.

Keen’s iconic hiking boot for men brings an updated look to all-terrain adventures. It features a leather mud shield for resilient durability and Cleansport NXT for natural odor control. The boot is waterproof and has a breathable membrane that keeps your feet dry. Its laces can be quickly adjusted thanks to built-in speed hooks, and 4mm multi-directional lugs provide plenty of traction.



03. SIG Sauer/ ROMEO4T 1x20mm

04. Triumph Systems/ Pop Packs

Designed for modern semi-automatic pistols, MSR platforms and shotguns, SIG’s Romeo4T is perfect for short and medium range engagements and recreational shooting across a wide range of calibers and lighting conditions. Rugged and impact-resistant for the toughest environments, it comes with a 1.41-inch riser mount with additional lower 1/3 co-witness spacer. Also standard are see-through lens covers and a hex bolt mount. Runtime is rated in excess of 100,000 hours with solar and battery usage. Available in Ballistic Circle-Dot and Ballistic CirclePlex reticle options.

Developed with the input from a Navy SEAL to facilitate cognitive shooting drills, refine marksmanship and add another degree of fun to a day at the range, Pop Packs are available in boxes of 12 and can be used in 1 of 12 unique arrangements consisting of different colors, shapes and numbers thanks to an included sticker pack. Place the packs downrange, and when the variable is called out, race your friends to identify and engage the designated target. It makes for a fun exercise to reinforce positive identification. The end result is a highly visible pop!



05. V Seven/ 2055 Enlightened AR-15 Upper Receiver

06. Dark Hour Defense/GSOD Full Size (17)

This AR-15 upper receiver is constructed of billet 2055 lithium/aluminum alloy and is finished with hardcoat anodization. The result is a rigid and strong stripped receiver that weighs only 5.8 ounces. Its advanced lithium/aluminum alloy is lighter, stronger and has greater corrosion resistance than the standard 7075-T6 aluminum uppers. Shown here with V Seven’s Ultra-Light Port Door and Port Door Rod upgrades.

The GSOD stand-off device is designed to be mounted to the front of Glock pistols to keep the slide in battery and allow proper discharge in the event that it is pressed against a solid object or target. The GSOD is available for Glock 17 and Glock 19 pistols. It is made from 7075-T6 aluminum and coated with Mil-Spec Type 3 hardcoat anodizing. Available in black or clear finishes.



07. BSF Barrels/ .223 Wylde [o7]

BSF Barrels jackets these 416R stainless steel AR-15 match barrels in a roll-wrapped carbon fiber sleeve and load it under tension. The carbon fiber used is specially designed to move at the same expansion rate as 416R stainless steel. Holes in the carbon allow air to move around the barrel and vent heat more quickly without any delamination issues. This allows the barrels to maintain stiffness and strength while keeping each unit extremely lightweight. $499-599 BSFBARRELS.COM

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BLADE length 3.89 INCHES EDGE LENGTh 3.68 INCES blade thickness 0.138 INCHES blade CONSTRUCTION CPM S30V STAINLESS

Spyderco CHINOOK 4 The original Spyderco Chinook was designed by famed personal-defense expert James Keating, who instilled the essential qualities of the classic American Bowie Knife into a highly capable all-purpose folder. The fourth-generation, Chinook 4, is designed to revive this ground-breaking design and elevate its performance even further. Sleeker and “faster” than its predecessors, the Chinook 4 features an upswept, full-flatground, clip-point blade honed from CPM S30V stainless steel. The handle is designed to “bracket” your hand for a solid grip. It is built with skeletonized stainless liners, a stainless back spacer and high-traction G10 scales. The patented Power Lock mechanism is designed for extreme strength and smooth operation. A reversible hourglass clip provides right- or left-side tip-up carry and an integrated port in the handle allows for the easy attachment of lanyards or fobs.


lock type POWER LOCK

closed length 5.0 INCHES


$345 handle material G10

overall length 8.89 INCHES

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overall weight 5.6 OUNCES

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blade length 3.50 INCHES

blade construction CPM S35VN STAINLESS

overall length 8.20 INCHES

blade finish STONEWASH

blade thickness 0.156 INCH

closed length 4.70 INCHES

lock type FRAME LOCK


zero tolerance rexford 0801T1 Zero Tolerance’s 0801 is a Todd Rexford original design, and the TI imparts an updated look with a 3D-machined handle treatment. The shape of the blade and handle are identical to the original and the grip features a series of five machined cutouts on the front scale; additional machining provides a solid and comfortable grip. The drop-point blade is carved from S35VN stainless with a sleek stonewashed finish. Fortified with niobium, vanadium and chromium carbines, the blade is engineered to provide a sharp, long-lasting edge as well as high durability, resistance to edge chipping and great wear resistance. The handle is titanium with a bead-blasted finish. The sturdy frame lock is bolstered with a hardened steel lockbar insert, and the blade deploys manually using ZT’s KVT opening system and a flipper. The black Teflon-coated clip is left or right reversible for convenient carry. ZTKNIVES.US


overall length 8.20 INCHES

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overall weight 5.6 OUNCES

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the Life-saving basics of hemorrhage control

stem the flow BY J O E A LTO N , M . D.

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hether times are good or bad, anything from everyday accidents to unforseen disasters can cause injuries and death. Some are natural events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes; others are man-made, such as terror attacks and active shooters. Regardless of how casualties are caused, it’s clear that many deaths occur due to bleeding from traumatic wounds. It’s even clearer that some deaths might be prevented by the quick action of nearby Good Samaritans. In modern times, we have the benefit of emergency medical personnel and high technology. These assets aren’t always just around the corner, however. An injury causing damage to a major artery can kill a person in just a few minutes. If not treated immediately, some victims will be beyond help by the time the professionals arrive. In survival settings the situation is even worse—there is no ambulance on the way or rescue helicopter on the horizon. There might not even be a way to contact professionals to get instructions for treating an accident victim.

The Importance of Minimizing Blood Loss Oftentimes individuals at the scene must act, often with limited supplies, if they are to save a life. For someone who isn’t medically trained it can be a major challenge. Just seeing a good amount of blood or a limb deformed from trauma gives the average person pause and sometimes induces a temporary mental paralysis that can be fatal to the victim. Delay in rendering care makes bleeding control, also called “hemostasis,” more difficult. The lack of blood volume caused by traumatic hemorrhage has various effects on the body based on the percentage lost. The human body contains 9 to 10 pints of blood. It can tolerate the loss of a relatively small amount with little ill effect. For example, you can donate a pint of blood—10 to 11 percent of your total blood volume— to the Red Cross every eight weeks. Once you lose 15 to 30 percent of your total blood volume, however, physical signs become apparent. The purpose of red blood cells is to deliver oxygen to and remove carbon dioxide from the tissues of

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the body. When there are fewer of them to go around, the cells must travel faster to provide the same amount of oxygen. The heart must beat faster to accomplish this goal, so you’ll notice a rise in the victim’s pulse rate. The body begins to feel a lack of oxygen, so the patient will start to breathe faster as well. Skin begins to pale and becomes cooler to the touch and agitation might be noted. If bleeding is stopped, recovery may not require blood transfusion. From 30 to about 40 percent loss of blood volume, the victim’s ability to compensate for the loss of red blood cells begins to reach maximum capacity. The victim’s blood pressure becomes hard to maintain at normal levels and drops, while the heart rate increases to the point that it might no longer be efficient in pumping blood. The patient becomes confused, lethargic and might lose consciousness. Blood transfusion is usually required at this point. Beyond 40 percent blood loss the body can no longer compensate. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiration drop, and death is imminent without major intervention.

Take Action to Stop Blood Loss What can an untrained individual do to stop a major bleed? For our purpose here, we’ll assume the event that caused the injury has passed and the caregiver is not personally in danger. Knowing the level of danger is important, just as personal safety is your highest priority. If there is an active threat, you help no one by becoming the next victim. First aid steps for any injury should begin with identifying yourself and reassuring the injured person that you’re there to help. Stating who you are and your purpose will increase the chances the victim will cooperate with your efforts. Simple questions, like asking the victim’s name, can give an idea of the level of consciousness and gauge the ability to follow commands. The patient should be placed in the “shock” position—that is, lying supine (face up) with the legs elevated above the level of the heart. This might make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood out of the body. If the wound is in the chest or abdomen, however, bend the knees instead of raising the legs.


First « Aid Kit A good first aid kit for bleeding will be compact, lightweight and contain the following contents at a minimum.

Nitrileatgloves least two pairs

Modern assets like emergency medical personnel and high technology are not always just around the corner.

Stainless steel scissors or sturdy EMT shears to help expose wounds and to open packages made slippery by blood


two is better than one; sometimes, a second tourniquet must be placed above the first

Gauze dressings H&H makes a vacuum-compressed dressing that when opened is 4.5 inches wide by 12 feet long

Hemostatic bandages (QuikClot or Celox products stop even arterial bleeding)

6-inch roller gauze dressings for coverage Pressure bandage dressings to maintain pressure on treated wounds

Vented chest seals packaged in one double pack for entry and exit wounds in the chest

Mylar blankets to cover the victim and help prevent shock Other items, such as nasal airways, might be useful for those with training. You can find examples of several bleeding and gunshot wound treatment kits, including some designed for multiple casualties, at

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“Delay in rendering care makes bleeding control, also called ‘hemostasis,’ more difficult.”

more aggressive response is needed. The placement of a tourniquet 2 to 4 inches above the wound (between the wound and the heart) is recommended for arterial or other life-threatening hemorrhages. Arterial bleeding can be identified by the presence of bright-red blood spurting from the wound.

The placement of a tourniquet 2 to 4 inches above the wound is recommended for arterial or other life-threatening hemorrhages.

If you see this or a significant pooling of blood on the ground, placing a tourniquet should be the first course of action. Although tightening a belt or bandanna around a bleeding extremity might suffice, commercial tourniquets such as the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet), SOFT-T (Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet) and others are designed to be more effective.

Dealing with Open Wounds

Stating who you are and your purpose will increase the chances the victim will cooperate with your efforts.

Expose the wound(s) so you can see the full extent of injury, preferably with an EMT shears or bandage scissors, which are designed to avoid accidental injury. Don’t direct the victim to remove his or her own clothes; movement could cause additional injury if there are fractures or may cause unnecessary delay in treatment if the injured party is not fully alert. Once you’ve cut away clothing and removed loose debris over the wound, evaluate the injury. Is there an entry wound from a projectile? Is there an exit wound? (Be aware that exit wounds are dependent on the position of the victim at the time of injury and not always directly opposite the entry wound.) Is there a large object embedded in the wound, such as a knife? Objects stuck in the wound should not be removed, because doing so might provoke

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An open wound should be packed tightly with dressings. In the April 2017 issue of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), Dr. Peter Taillac and EMT-P associates Scotty Bolleter and A.J. Heightman put forth their recommendations for the packing of hemorrhagic wounds with plain and/or special blood-clotting gauze such as QuikClot, Celox and others. The American College of Surgeons (of which I am a retired fellow) found these specialized “hemostatic” bandages to be effective in 90 percent of cases. If you’re using regular bandages and need to place more to achieve hemostasis, don’t remove the old ones; simply pack

more bleeding. Don’t probe the wound with, say, your finger. Your job is to stop the hemorrhage. If there are gloves available, put them on. Use some kind of barrier to try to stop the bleeding—preferably a sterile bandage or at the very least a clean cloth. This will protect both the victim and the caregiver. Press the dressing firmly with your palm, one hand over the other, on the bleeding wound. Keep your arms straight, with your weight directly over the wound itself. Many wounds will cease bleeding simply with the application of direct pressure. For wounds to extremities, concentrate your efforts closest to the torso. In circumstances where direct pressure fails to stop the hemorrhage your bandage will soak through, making it clear that a

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the added bandages firmly on top. With blood-clotting gauze, however, old gauze should be removed so you can see where the bleeding vessel is. The hemostatic dressing should be packed directly where the bleeding originates. Packing of wounds is useful in many situations, but not all. For instance, wounds to the neck are problematic due to the risk of compressing airways and affecting the patient’s ability to breathe. Packing injuries in the abdomen, pelvis and chest might not be effective due to the remote nature of the bleeding vessels. This is one reason that in an off-grid setting, the death rate (called “mortality”) from these wounds is so high. Statistics from the Civil War put mortality rates for major injuries in these regions at close to 70 percent—a figure that might also be expected in long-term survival scenarios. According to Dr. Taillac’s team, proper packing of wounds with plain or hemostatic gauze should include the following steps. 1. Quickly and aggressively apply direct pressure with a gloved hand, clean dressing or cloth—or even a knee or elbow while breaking out your supplies. 2. Find the exact source of bleeding. Tightly (and I mean tightly) pack the wound cavity as deeply as you can while continuing to apply pressure directly on the bleeding vessel. Although hemostatic gauze is best, sufficient pressure with plain gauze might be enough in some cases. 3. Utilizing the presence of nearby bones to pack against might be useful in certain wounds. If there is a knife embedded in the wound, keep it in place and pack around it as best you can until you can get the victim to a more controlled setting. 4. Maintain pressure on the packed wound for at least three minutes and evaluate

The likelihood that you’ll have to save the life of someone bleeding to death tomorrow, next week or next month might be small. Nevertheless, over the course of a lifetime in these uncertain times, having the knowledge and supplies to stop bleeding makes sense. Add in your children’s lifetimes, and I think you’ll agree it’s time we instill a culture of medical preparedness in our citizens. If a disaster leaves us without modern medical care, have no doubt: Lives will be saved.

whether the bleeding has abated. If you’re successful in stopping the hemorrhage, cover the wound securely with a pressure dressing such as the Emergency Bandage (also called the Israeli Battle Dressing), OLAES Bandage or another brand. These are designed specifically to keep pressure on the injury and control bleeding if placed correctly. At one point or another, the victim should be transported to where further care can be provided, whether it’s a hospital or in a survival scenario wherever the bulk of your medical supplies is. The jostling that might occur during this process could cause bleeding to resume. Splinting the wound will immobilize it and help decrease movement that could disturb your packing or tourniquet placement. Commercial splints such as the Structural Aluminum Malleable (SAM) can be bent or cut into shape to conform to the injured extremity.

After Stopping the Bleeding A common issue that occurs in major hemorrhages is the loss of body heat. Keeping a person warm is difficult when he or she is lying on the cold ground, so a barrier of some sort between the casualty and the ground will help. A Mylar or other blanket should be used to cover the victim as well.


Internal Bleeding It might be obvious when a victim of a disaster is bleeding externally, but internal bleeding is more difficult to identify. Some signs include: 1. Abdominal pain 2. Distention (swelling) of the abdomen 3. Blood in the urine or bowel movement

4. Nausea and vomiting, especially if blood is present 5. Chest pain 6. Vaginal bleeding not related to menstruation

Covering the victim of a bleeding wound to maintain warmth does not mean your vigilance is no longer necessary. It’s imperative to frequently reassess the wound. Don’t remove the gauze or bandage unless blood is obviously seeping through. Of course, having a medical kit with the necessary items at hand makes the process much easier. Simply having medical supplies is not enough, however. You should practice, for example, using the tourniquet in your kit so you’re proficient in its use.

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the razor’s edge cobalt kinetiCS edge XL: go big or go home TEX T BY MIK E SEARSON / PHOTOS BY B EN DAV IS


few years back, I started to feel that the AR platform was getting boring. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the rifle; it was the platform I had cut my teeth on as a 17-year-old Marine rifleman, and in the 30 or so years since then I have lost track of the numbers I had built, borrowed or fixed. But it seemed as if the rifle hit a plateau— until Cobalt Kinetics flew me to a shoot to test out their new wares. At first glance, the rifles look like something you might see in a sci-fi or anime flick like Voltron, Pacific Rim or the Transformers. Yet when you look beyond the flash,

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there is real substance. Innovations such as repositioning the bolt catch to a dual forward assist, allowing empty magazines to drop automatically or the bolt to drop when a fresh mag is seated, plus an extremely effective muzzle brake and buffer system. At the time 5.56 was only available, but they shortly rolled out a 300 Blackout model and all we could think was, “Please, guys, build a model in .308 Winchester.” Cobalt Kinetics answered our prayers and unveiled their new rifles at the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Within a matter of weeks, they sent us a demo rifle for test and evaluation: The Edge XL, Stage II.

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“the xl’s bolt carrier is made of 8620 steel, which is a case-hardening steel with nickel, chromium and molybdenum as alloying elements.” The Build Cobalt builds its receivers and handguards out of 7075 aluminum, the strongest aluminum you can use in a rifle build. In turn, these are hard-anodized with a Type 3 coating and then Cerakoted. This makes for probably the most advanced and superior coating that we have ever seen on any firearm.

The medium-profile barrel is made from 4150 CMV Steel. This steel has a high carbon content, which makes it heat resistant (completely full-auto rated and the ability to withstand temps up to 700 degrees) and offers incredible abrasion resistance. These two factors promote a longer barrel life than a stainless steel barrel.

The rails are MLOK-compatible. Unlike earlier versions, the front tip of the rail is completely in line. Some of the 5.56 rifles have a half-inch riser at the front for a unique look that we found useful with a mounted light when shooting from behind a barricade in a low-light course. However, the consistent rail length on the Edge XL allows the shooter to run BUIS (Back Up Iron Sights) more easily.

Cobalt’s bolt carrier is made of 8620 steel, which is a case-hardening steel containing nickel, chromium and molybdenum as alloying elements. The camshaft in your vehicle may be made out of this same material. The bolt head is made of 9310 steel, similar to 8620 but more likely to be used in the construction of a tractor trailer crankshaft or landing gear on an aircraft. A Lithium-Iron

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Cobalt Kinetics builds its receivers and handguards out of 7075 aluminum, which is Type 3 hardanodized and then Cerakoted.

surface conversion (or LiFe) is used to treat these components and it increases the steel’s hardness, strength and resistance to erosion. Let us now turn to the Dual Drop bolt release. If you’re unfamiliar with Cobalt Kinetics rifles you may think there are two forward assists, and while I have always thought a forward assist was the most useless feature attached to the AR-15/M16/M4 platform, in this case it’s not. Each one will function like a forward assist, and if you think it is a good idea to force a high-pressure cartridge into a chamber that isn’t allowing it, then more power to you. In the case of a Cobalt Kinetics rifle, there is a

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Cobalt Kinetics Edge xl stage II



The Pro-30 Muzzle Brake utilizes a symmetrical array of intersecting spheroid cuts to vent the blast to the sides.


as a silencer mount and serves as a blast damper by absorbing the brunt of the flash to prolong the life of the baffles. However, in Cobalt’s case I can make an exception, having seen firsthand how the brake keeps the rifle shooting flat. The .308 Pro Muzzle Brake utilizes a symmetrical linear array of five intersecting spheroid cuts that vent the blast to the sides to reduce dust signature and prevent muzzle rise.



better reason for their presence: They allow the shooter to send the bolt home by using the thumb of the shooting hand without releasing the hold on the rifle. The trigger finger can remain indexed without having to search for a bolt catch extension. Speaking of the trigger, the Edge XL ships with a single-stage adjustable trigger that breaks like glass.

Pro Buffer System Cobalt Kinetics’ Pro Buffer System balances the rifle’s operating system to enhance performance and reduce felt recoil. The receiver extension is lined with a hard polymer film made of the same polymer that is in the body of the buffer to eliminate the kinetic

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forces before they transmit into felt recoil. As a by-product, it eliminates that springing noise found in most AR rifles. Because of the nature of the polymer film inside the receiver extension, you cannot have it Cerakoted due to the heating process as it will degrade or melt this film. Although Cobalt Kinetics now sells parts for the end user to complete his or her own rifle, we recommend that you order any fancy color schemes from them directly with regard to your receiver extension.

Pro Muzzle Brake I have never been a fan of muzzle brakes on a rifle as they tend to make the rifle louder. The exception is when a brake acts

At this point you may be thinking that somewhere on the Internet three is the magic number for ports on either side of a linear compensator or muzzle brake and that someone pointed out anything else is excessive, wasteful and so on. For the most part we agree with that assessment, but in Cobalt’s case the muzzle devices are tailored for the competitive shooter—and if those extra holes add as little as 0.05% of an improvement, that can be the difference between winning and losing a match.

At the Range We mounted an EO-Tech 512 on the top rail with a LaRue QD riser. Love them or hate them, we find the EO-Tech to be a great optic on a variety of rifles. This one has served us well for over a decade and a half. Zeroing the EO-Tech 512 was an easy task. The center dot is 1 MOA. We used it at 100 and 200 yards because it is a 1x scope. The rifle came with three 20-round Magpul PMAGs and we tried a variety of ammuni-

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tion that we already had on hand to test the rifle’s reliability. After firing 200 or so rounds of mixed .308 rounds without a single malfunction, we tried two boxes of Black Hills 175-grain Match .308. At 100 yards our groups were not much better than the mixed-up Milsurp

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The Dual Drop bolt release allows the shooter to send the bolt home by using the thumb of the shooting hand without releasing hold of the rifle.


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ammo. It was at this time that my shooting partner said, “Run it out to 200… the bullet is probably still trying to figure out where it needs to be while it’s heading downrange.” We posted a clean target, packed up our stuff and moved back another 100 yards. At 200 yards that target looked a lot smaller than I remembered and I was regretting not having an optic with magnification, but I went back to iron-sight mindset with the dot, aimed a little

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“At first glance the rifle looks like something you might see in a sci-fi or anime flick like Voltron, Pacific Rim or the Transformers. Yet when you look beyond the flash, there is real substance.” higher from the bench and rode down to check my target after a magazine of the Black Hills ammo ran dry. This time the proof was in the pudding and I measured my four 5-shot strings with the smallest coming in at 1.48 inches, or just less than ¾ MOA. I was tempted to run it out to 300 yards, but the lack of a magnified optic have would obviously been a detriment to a real accuracy test. However, it is making me want to attempt more long-range shots with the Cobalt Kinetics Edge XL.

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The receiver extension is lined with the same polymer film in the body of the buffer to eliminate kinetic forces before they transmit into felt recoil.

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“the lack of a magnified optic is a detriment to a real accuracy test, but the rifle’s performance at 200 yards does make us want to attempt more long-range shots.”

The Downside While the Cobalt Kinetics Edge XL Stage II might seem like the perfect large-bore AR, it comes at a price. In this case, that price is close to $3,000. That does seem like a lot of cash, but when you consider the quality and cost of the materials, plus the hand-fitting of just about every component on one of these rifles, the cost becomes more justified. We place these in the top 1% of all ARs manufacturered in the industry today. These are the Lamborghinis of the modern sporting rifle world. They exceed anything in use by the military and in our opinion might be the first NASA-grade rifle. This is definitely not your father’s AR.

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Considering the quality and cost of the materials, plus the hand-fitting of just about every component, the Edge XL’s high cost becomes more justified.

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MA R S G E AR .C O M USE CODE: wfp2018













VULCAN FLX PANTS » » » » » »

2-way stretch ripstop fabric 12 strategically placed pockets Articulated knee & gusseted crotch Elastic waistband 1” belt loops Drawstring leg ties



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MR. SMITH Smith & Wesson SW1911 Performance Center Pro Series 9mm pistol TEXT & P HOTOS BY R I C HAR D S C HUTZ


hat shooter doesn’t like the feel of a 1911 in the hand? The grip angle, the smooth pull and crisp break of the trigger, and the solid feel all combine to create a pistol that many think is the finest ever made. Now think of that 1911 as a smaller, but not too small, EDC pistol chambered for a slightly less intimidating round than the .45 ACP and you have the subcompact Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series in 9mm Luger.

UP FRONT The Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm pistol is a non-typical 1911 in that it is small enough for almost anyone to carry concealed, yet large enough to shoot comfortably and accurately. Chambered in 9mm Luger rather than the traditional .45 ACP, follow-up shots are easier to control with the SW1911 Pro Series 9mm. Built by Smith & Wesson’s outstanding Performance Center, the SW1911 Pro Series build quality is excellent. Throughout the 542 rounds we fired, there were no malfunctions of any type. This is especially noteworthy given the difficulty associated with getting the 9mm Luger round to feed reliably in a shortened 1911 platform.

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At left, the S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm rides in a Galco Fletch high ride belt holster. EDC gear includes a spare magazine, Spyderco’s new Chaparral Gray FRN lock-back folding knife (C152PGY) and Coast’s new HX4 Cliplight white + red flashlight (21077).

FUNCTION The single-action-only Pro Series 9mm operates like a traditional 1911 with the exception that it uses a full-length guide rod and there is no barrel bushing. It also has a firing pin block not found on some 1911s. This firing pin block is operated by the grip safety and does not affect the trigger operation or feel. Smith & Wesson sees its Pro Series as a bridge between production guns and its Performance Center models. On the exterior it is difficult to distinguish the three lines other than barrel porting found on all but one of the Performance Center models. The Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm pistol comes nicely appointed and the fit and finish are excellent. As with all of the SW1911 models, the Pro Series 9mm includes a lowered ejection port and oversize external extractor to assure that spent cases make a clean exit. On the rear of the barrel hood there is a notch that serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator. A three-hole curved aluminum trigger with an over-travel stop screw enhances the trigger feel. After approximately 0.02 inches of take-up, the trigger breaks cleanly at 6 pounds, 4 ounces with no perceptible over-travel. Trigger reset is short and tactile. The 9mm Pro Series’ round-butt, scandium alloy frame and white three-dot combat sights enhance its use-

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“As with all of the SW1911 models, the Pro Series 9mm includes a lowered ejection port and oversize external extractor to assure that spent cases make a clean exit.”

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“What shooter doesn’t like the feel of a 1911 in the hand?” fulness for concealed carry. An ambidextrous thumb safety makes operation easier for the left-handed shooter. It can only be engaged when the hammer is cocked. When engaged, the thumb safety also locks the slide. The grip safety works seamlessly and must be depressed at least 3/4 of the way before the gun will fire.

ALTERNATIVE VERSIONS The Smith & Wesson Performance Center offers one other subcompact SW1911 Pro Series model, that one chambered in .45 ACP. Similar full-size SW1911 Pro Series models are also available.

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FEEDING THE PRO SERIES 9MM We observed no ammunition preference from an operational perspective. There were no failures to feed, chamber or eject with any of the 14 different loads fired. Both magazines also functioned without a problem but were a bit difficult to load, and the bullet nose of some loads tended to point straight ahead rather than up when the magazine was full. Other than being a bit disconcerting, this did not affect the operation of the pistol. From an accuracy perspective, the average for three 5-shot groups at 15 yards for five

In the Condition One position (“cocked and locked”), the external thumb safety is engaged and the slide is locked in the forward position.

of the six loads had a spread of only 0.62 inches. SIG Sauer’s 147-grain V-Crown JHP was the most accurate load at 2.06 inches for the average of three 5-shot groups at 15 yards. The 115-grain metal case Remington UMC ammunition trailed the others at 3.14 inches.

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HOW DOES IT SHOOT? As you might have figured out by now, we found the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm both fun and easy to shoot accurately. Unlike many subcompact EDC pistols, the Pro Series 9mm is a pistol that you can take to the range and shoot all day without any ill effects. When drawing from concealment and engaging the target, the grip angle and balance put the Pro Series 9mm right on target every time. The three-dot sights are easy to align on target as long as there is sufficient light available. Tritium night sights would be a welcome addition. There is no rail on the dust cover on which to mount a light, so remember to carry a flashlight along

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The Galco Gunleather Fletch high-ride belt holster is an excellent choice for OWB carry. The thumb strap provides an extra level of security when the pistol carried “cocked and locked.”

There are many holsters to choose from for 1911s, even subcompact models. Galco Gunleather offers several versions in both IWB and OWB styles. We used the Fletch high-ride belt holster (MSRP $112) for outside-the-waistband carry and the Summer Comfort (MSRP $83) for inside-the-waistband carry. Both are high-quality leather holsters. When carrying a 1911 pistol in Condition 1 (“cocked and locked”), we prefer a holster with a thumb strap that rides between the hammer and the slide for an extra layer of security. Of the two holsters used, only the Fletch had this feature. It also has a forward cant for easy access. The Summer Comfort depends upon friction, with the trigger guard for retention. There is no tension adjustment, but we didn’t find a need for it either. The Summer Comfort design does not provide protection for the ambidextrous thumb safety. For concealed carry, we primarily used the Fletch under a vest or light jacket. Outside-the-waistband carry generally provides the quickest access in an emergency. If done correctly and once it is broken in, the thumb strap doesn’t impede the draw like one might think. As the draw is initiated, the thumb slides down between the strap and the back flap of the holster, causing the two halves of the snap to separate. Next, obtain the correct grip on the pistol and complete the draw, bringing the pistol to bear on the target. URL: GALCOGUNLEATHER.COM

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The disassembled slide assembly shows the slide, barrel, dual spring full length recoil rod and bushing.

“the SW1911 Performance Center Pro Series 9mm is both fun and easy to shoot accurately.”


with your Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm. We fired the Pro Series 9mm off of a sandbag rest for accuracy and from multiple positions while shooting off-hand. During off-hand shooting, follow-up shots were quick and accurate. Much of this is due to the grip size and stippled grip panels. The length of the grip allows the shooter to obtain a full grip; your little finger is not wrapped under the bottom of the magazine. Having a nearly 4-inch sight radius also helps one shoot more accurately. Smaller pistols are easier to conceal but that can come at the expense of accuracy, especially with follow-up shots.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series













































Drawing from concealment and engaging your target is the name of the game with an EDC gun. With the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm safely tucked away in a Galco Fletch OWB holster under a windbreaker, we practiced drawing and engaging a full-size B-27 silhouette target at seven yards with

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performance Testing Results




Velocity and group sizes for 6 factory loads fired at 15 yards using a sandbag rest. Vel.-velocity in feet per second at the muzzle; E.S.-extreme spread; S.D.-Standard Deviation; Group Size-average of 3, 5-shot groups; Sm. Grp.-smallest 5-shot group of the three groups fired. The velocity, extreme spread and standard deviation were measured/ calculated using a LabRadar device.

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Perfectly sized 380 protection. Light slide-pull, low perceived recoil, light crisp trigger and enhanced grip texture.

The New M&P 380 SHIELD™EZ Pistol ®




Above: “Pro Series” is proudly displayed on the front right side of the slide. Below: On the underside of the assembled slide, the dual spring full-length recoil rod and the firing pin block are clearly visible.

“Built by Smith & Wesson’s outstanding Performance Center, the SW1911 Pro Series build quality is excellent.” eight shots. Initially the first shots were a bit slow, but with limited time to practice we managed a first shot in 2.84 seconds with split times of 1.01, .79, .79, .61, .60, .61 and .64 seconds for seven subsequent shots. The hits resulted in a 4.5-inch group with 2 hits in the X zone, 5 in the 10 zone and 1 in the 9 zone.

FINAL WORDS FP-1803-Caracal USA 1/5/18 10:13 AM Page 1

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If you like 1911s and are looking for a reliable subcompact 9mm EDC gun, the Pro Series 9mm may be the one for you. The

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combination of the basic 1911 package, a size that is subcompact but not too small, and a weight that is light enough to carry comfortably but still heavy enough to absorb some recoil gives this EDC gun the best of all worlds, especially for a 1911 aficionado. Of course, if your EDC must be chambered for a round that begins with a 4, then just go with the Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series in .45 ACP (SKU 178020). If you go this route, you just have to be prepared to do without a bilateral thumb safety, round butt frame and one round of ammunition, as well as paying $101 less.

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The three-dot combat sights are highly visible as long as there is sufficient light. Note that the ledge on the thumb safety is wider on the left side than on the right.


“If you like 1911s and are looking for a reliable subcompact 9mm EDC gun, the Pro Series 9mm may be the one for you.�

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Short Stroke Piston Modularity & Precision TEX T & P HOTOS BY C HR I S T RAN

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“The MCX VIRTUS is a highly adaptable, highly configurable platform Built off a smart shortstroke piston design.”

configurations and calibers ranging from a standard 16-inch 5.56, to an 11.5-inch in both 5.56 and 300BLK, to 9-inch barrels in 300BLK. To increase performance and adaptability even further, each barrel configuration also boasts a suppressed/unsuppressed switch at the gas key to properly regulate gas flow so the end user can go quiet(er) in any configuration as mission parameters dictate.

The MCX is offered in different barrel configurations and calibers ranging from a standard 16inch 5.56, to an 11.5inch in both 5.56 and 300BLK, to 9-inch in 300BLK.

The MLOK handguard is more oval than rounded, with traditional Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position and MLOK slots at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.


had recently had the privilege to write about SIG Sauer’s Ammunition Factory for the March-April 2018 issue of World of Firepower. I discussed SIG’s new factory in Jacksonville, Arkansas, the company’s dedication and commitment to quality, and its goal to truly become a “complete systems provider” branching into virtually all realms of industry production—firearms, suppressors, optics, ammunition and even training. I came away impressed by the production capabilities of the ammunition facility. Unknown at the time, a few weeks later I’d have the opportunity to see how well the SIG ammo actually performed in a recently released and updated version of the SIG Sauer MCX platform called the Virtus.

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Barrel interchangeability means that the Virtus’s rail systems must also be flexible and adaptable. The MLOK handguard is unique in shape; it is more oval than rounded, with traditional Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position, and MLOK slots at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions for all of your accessory needs. What I really appreciate about the rail is that it flows seamlessly into the upper of the Virtus and lends itself to an uninterrupted monolithic look. SIG offers MCX handguards for each barrel designation, as well as properly lengthed handguards for running a build with or without a suppressor. Removing the handguard requires no tools, as it is secured to the upper receiver with tension and locked into place by the front takedown pin. All the end user has to do to remove the handguard is to pop open the front takedown pin, apply a hearty squeeze

In August 2017 I was invited to attend a two-day writer’s event at the esteemed SIG Sauer Academy in Epping, NH. Along with several other industry writers, we spent two range days with SIG staff, ran through several different configurations of the MCX Virtus rifle and learned to appreciate the different iterations of the weapon platform. After introductions, safety briefings and SIG program discussions, we got into the meat and potatoes of what the MCX Virtus platform was all about, and got a chance to take our assigned rifles into the armorer’s room for a mechanical runaround. The MCX Virtus, as we quickly learned, is a highly adaptable, highly configurable platform. Built off a smart short-stroke piston design, the MCX is offered in different barrel

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and elbow grease to the handguard, and it’ll pop off the upper receiver. Swapping the barrels is almost just as easy. The barrel is inserted into the upper receiver and clamped into place using two captured Torx T27 screws. Simply unscrew the Torx screws, firmly grasp the barrel, and pull it out to swap to a different barrel length or caliber. Once the barrel is seated, simply re-torque the captured screws to their prescribed tightness and re-install the proper-length handguard. That’s it. Due to the design of the short-piston system, a traditional AR-15 style bolt carrier group and buffer tube assembly is not needed. In its place at the rear of the receivers is an integrated section of 1913 rail

to which different folding stock options can be attached. This inherent design advantage allows for folded-stock operation, as well as fixed stocks, pistol braces and even PDWtype stocks offered by SIG. The company currently offers several stock options to be custom-tailored to the end user’s preferences. In a nutshell, the user can reconfigure barrel lengths, calibers, handguard options, stock options, and run the build suppressed or unsuppressed all from one weapon platform, and all changes can be made with a single Torx T27 driver. Aside from the modularity of the system itself, the Virtus comes with a few standard options that I found very appealing as a lefty shooter. The integral ambidextrous mag release and

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safety selectors are a win for user-adaptability and a reduction in aftermarket accessory costs. Also new to the SIG MCX Virtus is a TwoStage Match Duo trigger system. The Match Duo is pretty darn smooth right out of the box, and while it won’t win any awards, it is definitely a step up and in the right direction. Are there better two-stages out there? Yes, there are, but

Day 1 We started our courses of fire with a 16inch barrel configuration using SIG’s SRD556 QD suppressors. The suppressors were amazing, but that’s for another article. With the 16-inch barrel configuration we started off with a basic 50-yard zero and spent the rest of the morning stretching out using SIG’s Tango6 1-6x24 rifle scopes. From our 50-yard zeros, we finished the morning ringing steel out to 700 yards.

The end user can reconfigure barrel lengths, calibers, handguard options, stock options, and run the build suppressed or unsuppressed all from one weapon platform.

for an already solidly priced piston rifle, it’s nice to not have to immediately think about swapping in aftermarket parts to replace minimally acceptable components that many companies will just throw in to save a couple production dollars. Now that we were familiar with the multitude of end-user configuration options, how did the Virtus shoot?

The writers in attendance were long-time industry writers with backgrounds in law enforcement, international armed forces and one former Group guy. All of us were having an easy day with the 16-inch rifles,

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especially with the SIG 77-grain match ammo. We wrapped up the morning session, had a lunch break, and then went to the armorer’s area to swap to a 11.5-inch 5.56 barrel. We replaced the Tango6s with Romeo4T red dots and headed back out to the short range for some close-quarter work for the rest of the day.

we gave the Virtus a break to spend the rest of the morning on the then-secret SIG MCX Rattler.

Once there, the staff ran us through a series of exercises and drills to get us used

The short-piston system allows for folded-stock operation as well as fixed stocks, pistol braces and even PDW-type stocks.

to more up-tempo weapon manipulations. The Virtus, despite the forward-biased weight of the piston system and suppressor, was very nimble. On the faster courses of fire, I quickly noted how much the Virtus shot like a standard DI gun; recoil was just as minimal, follow-up shots were easy, the rifle shot exceedingly flat, and the integral ambidextrous mag release button worked smoothly, with great ergonomics for my medium-sized hands. I also learned very quickly that I had been neglecting my long gun skills. The Virtus definitely shot better than I did that day.

Day 2 The morning of Day 2 was all about 300BLK. I am a big fan of the 300BLK cartridge and have built a few AR pistols in that chambering on my own. Despite the larger round, the Virtus ate everything we threw at it. I experienced a few hiccups, but that was only because I forgot to throw the gas key to the “suppressed” setting. A few friendly dueling tree competition rounds later and

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After lunch we had a chance to run the 9-inch shortie versions through an engaging Hogan’s Alley with courses of fire behind and through vehicles on steel targets from varying ranges, positions and left- and right-handed shooting stages. Competition heated up as we raced the clock and each other. We were hot, sweaty and in some cases a little humbled, but we all had smiles on our faces by the end of the course. I for one definitely need to get back to SIG Academy to give it another go! We ended the day with the “Jungle Run.” We ran the scaled-down course, which was






“We started our courses of fire with a 16-inch barrel and using SIG’S SRD556 QD suppressors. The suppressors were amazing, but that’s for another article.” a good thing because I hadn’t been working on my cardio in a minute and was definitely feeling not so fleet of foot in my worn-out sneakers. Poor footwear choice on my part. The course started at about 300 yards with

required hits on steel using the Virtus in the 16-inch barrel, 5.56 version. We would complete our hits at 300, run a wooded trail, take more shots from different positions and then swap to a shorter 300BLK

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configuration for 200 yards and closer. From there it was another short trail run back to Hogan’s Alley, where we engaged multiple targets at 50 yards using the MCX Rattler. We wrapped the day up with many handshakes, business card exchanges, fond memories—and for me, a realization that I needed to do some serious work on my long gun skills.

Continued VIRTUS Follow Up Into 2018 A few weeks after I returned to the Pacific Northwest, SIG sent me its Patrol version of the Virtus—the standard 16-inch barrel model with muzzle brake, telescoping stock, iron sights and rail accessories. As the weeks went by, the company continued

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to send out accessories; a Romeo4T/Juliet magnifier combo, and a Tango6. I started out my continued evaluation at my department’s range using the Romeo4T/Juliet combo. The familiar feeling of contentment from the low-impulse Virtus rushed back, and I spent a few quality range sessions shooting and moving between different positions ranging from 25 to 3 yards on targets of varying sizes. I already knew from my time at SIG Academy that the Virtus was a shooter in various configurations, so my time at home with the rifle was more enjoyable than anything else. Flash forward a few weeks, and the Tango6 arrived. This couldn’t have happened at a better time, as work and some local greasy

SIG Sauer provided verious courses of fire to illuminate the Virtus’s capabilities in a variety of real-world situations.

politics had me stressed out and not loving life. Some range therapy was definitely needed. I mounted the Tango6 with some high rings, levelled everything and finally got some much-needed range time (and some sunny weather for a change). Again, as recalled from my time in New Hampshire, the Tango6 is a money scope to be sure. Its glass is super-clear edge to edge, and the horseshoe reticle, although not my favorite design (this is just one of several reticle options SIG offers with its Tango6 line), made for very easy target acquisition up close or at distance. I’ll definitely get into this scope a bit more in the future. Zeroing at 50 took about 7 rounds to get exactly where I wanted, and again, the SIG

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“the sig 77-grain Performance Ammunition made for an effortless 0.5-inch group at 50 yards.” The integral ambidextrous mag release is a great touch, especially for LE and tactical applications.

Sauer 77-grain Performance Ammunition made for an effortless 0.5-inch group at 50 yards. I ended my extraordinarily satisfying range trip by shooting out six 1-inch circles at 100 yards as quickly as my sights could settle, and I was on them for all six. Not wanting to jinx anything, I packed up and called it a day.


The SIG backup iron sights are hefty, durable and require no tool to adjust for elevation.

The SIG Sauer MCX Virtus should be a crowd pleaser right out of the box. Ergonomically, it feels great for my small frame, and even as a piston rifle, with the weight inherently biased slightly to the front, the advertised 7.9-pound initial weight is easily managed. The weight-forward feel may also be slightly enhanced by the lack of weight in the stock assembly as there is no buffer tube/ buffer/buffer spring to counterbalance the piston system. Out of the box, the SIG backup iron sights are hefty, durable, and I love how the front post requires no tool to adjust for elevation. Much like the Magpul PRO sight series, the front sight post has an integral dial system for quick adjustments in the field. As mentioned, the Two Stage Match Duo trigger is a quality two-stage trigger— some users may not even switch it out for a different aftermarket trigger package. It definitely gets the job done with minimal grittiness, and its advertised 4.5-5 pound pull feels more like 4 pounds to my trigger finger.

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“The Sig Sauer MCX Virtus should be a crowd pleaser right out of the box. Ergonomically it feels great. the advertised 7.9-pound initial weight is easily managed.”

The integral ambidextrous mag release is a great touch, and frankly, I don’t see why more manufacturers haven’t moved in this direction as well. Although the left-handed shooter market is one-tenth that of the rest of the shooting population, shooters overall are becoming more savvy. We realize that operating a rifle left-handed either out of positional necessity or in an injured shooter situation demands an equally flexible weapon platform, especially for LE and tactical applications. The MLOK accessories such as QD sling plates, both inline and offset, are an excellent touch. While I opted to use a Blue Force Gear U-loop for my sling setup (more for additional exposure and trigger time using it), the fact that SIG also offers those accessories for the discriminating buyer just further demonstrates the company’s thinking for the end user. The only downside of the system is the included stock system. SIG offers multiple stock configurations and hat’s a good thing, as I disliked the included stock. I found the adjustment lever to not be intuitive, and due to its rectangular shape, quickly adjusting it on the fly was difficult as it tended to bind which pulling it to lengthen the pull. I also found that while prone, even for someone as short as I am (5’3”), I wanted at least another inch to 1.5 inches of pull to really settle into a solid shooting platform.

We had a chance to run through numerous courses of fire, including through vehicles on steel targets from varying ranges, positions and left- and right-handed shooting stages.

While at SIG Academy, I was able to swap different stock models around, and I much preferred the more traditional M4-style stock option. It just worked better in multiple shooting positions. I would like to see SIG allow for the prospective buyer to have the option to choose their initial stock configuration prior to purchase. All in all, the Virtus is a solid platform. Keep in mind that this is an initial review and I only have in total about 1,500-2,000 rounds down on this system, and out of those only 200 rounds down with the Patrol that I shot following the SIG Academy event. SIG Sauer claims that the Virtus’s internal parts will not need servicing or replacement until 20,000 rounds, which I didn’t come close to, but the longer the Virtus is in consumer hands out in the wild, we’ll see how it lives up to the claims of service longevity. For now, I am having a very hard time boxing the Virtus up and sending it back.

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Folding pistol brace also available





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Breaks Like Glass JULY-AUGUST, 2018



here’s a lot to be said about training and shooting with the trigger your rifle comes with right out of the box. Factory stock triggers tend to require more effort to break than aftermarket units and are many times not very smooth either. In a way, their deficiencies are what make them excellent training tools—to an extent. Some trainers believe that mastering a rough and harder-to-pull trigger can improve your skills as a shooter. We’re not here to debate that line of reasoning, but we are here to point out that a subpar trigger can only take you so far. There’s a good reason why gunsmiths and shooters the world over have been obsessed with refining triggers to improve everything from pull weight to reset feeling and all points

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in between. Not only do they tend to allow you to shoot more accurately, faster or both, they tend to feel much nicer to use too. There’s nothing like breaking a shot with a trigger that makes the act feel as crisp and smooth as glass. If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying out an aftermarket trigger yet, you’re missing out. If you already have one or a few installed in your rifles, you know why we are raving about them. Due to the popularity of the AR-15, AR-10 and their derivatives, many companies specialize in creating the perfect trigger for the platform. Our friends at Rainier Arms provided us with a selection of the latest triggers to hit the market. Some triggers are complete drop-in units while others offer total trigger customization. The choice is yours.

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RA-434 High Performance Trigger MAKE: RISE ARMAMENT STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 3.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: The mid-priced, accuracy-enhancing RA-434 combines smoothness and speed for upgraded performance. The straight trigger blade is available in black or silver and shaped for enhanced control and lighter-feeling pull weight. The single-stage trigger system promises to help you shoot more accurately with less effort. It features a friction-reducing premium nickel boron coating on its interior parts for smoother contact surfaces. MSRP: $169 URL: RISEARMAMENT.COM


RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger MAKE: RISE ARMAMENT STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 3.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: If you’re looking for a quick shooting trigger, you’ll want to take a good look at the RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger. With a crazy-fast reset, nearly nonexistent over-travel and a smoother, crisper, lighter trigger pull, the RA-535 helps you fire more quickly and accurately. A lightened trigger pull is combined with a super-crisp release to improve accuracy. The trigger combines straight trigger functionality and comfort with curved control. The drop-in single-stage trigger group is easy to install and includes anti-rotation pins. MSRP: $259 URL: RISEARMAMENT.COM

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Hipertouch Elite MAKE: HIPERFIRE STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 2.5-3.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: STANDARD ADJUSTABLE: NYES NOTES: Hiperfire describes the Hipertouch Elite’s pull as smooth, flat, fast and precise. From what we felt, we couldn’t agree more. The trigger is user adjustable between two pull weights, 2.5 pounds and 3.5 pounds. It only has a hint of take-up and pre-travel that leads up to a very smooth, no-flinch trigger break. The Hipertouch Elite features Hiperfire’s Cam-Over Toggle Engine, which provides both a hard-hitting hammer and Soft-Start Lock-Up for pre-ignition stability. MSRP: $200 URL: HIPERFIRE.COM


Hipertouch ECLIPSE MAKE: HIPERFIRE STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 2.5-3.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: STANDARD ADJUSTABLE: YES NOTES: Hiperfire’s top-of-the-line trigger features the company’s Nickel Bliss coating. The Electroless Nickel Boron treatment combines an exceptionally smooth feel with enhanced corrosion protection and a slick, polished look. Hiperfire’s Cam-Over Toggle Engine provides both a hard-hitting hammer and Soft-Start Lock-Up for pre-ignition stability. The Eclipse’s straight trigger bow is fitted with their Hipershoe Finger Pad Revolution. This pad allows the shooter to change the trigger lever length for fine weight adjustments as well as pre-travel. MSRP: $275 URL: HIPERFIRE.COM

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JMT SABER Single Stage Drop in Trigger MAKE: JAMES MADISON TACTICAL STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 3.5-4.0 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: With a fast reset and a smoother, crisper, lighter trigger pull over factory triggers, this JMT Saber single-stage trigger group is also easy to install and affordable. The curved, skeletonized trigger not only looks good but is also comfortable to use. It, along with the hammer and disconnect, is made from 17-4 stainless steel. The trigger unit is contained in JMT’s signature metallic silver anodized aluminum housing for easy installation. Just drop it in and you’re ready to go. No fine-tuning necessary or required. MSRP: $100 URL: JAMESMADISONTACTICAL.COM


AR TARGA 2-STAGE SHORT TRIGGER MAKE: TIMNEY TRIGGERS STAGE: TWO TRIGGER PULL: 2 LB. / 2 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: Timney’s AR Targa 2-Stage Short trigger is a self-contained, drop-in unit that is ready to install in your AR-15 if you’re looking for smooth, crisp, two-stage trigger pull capability in your rifle. Because it is a drop-in design, no gunsmithing, fitting or adjusting is required. Its pull weight is factory calibrated for a two-pound first stage and two-pound second stage trigger pull. For lubricity, its hammer is Teflon-nickel coated and made by wire EDM cut from S7 tool steel, which combines hardness to resist wear with superior impact resistance to withstand heavy use without chipping or breaking. MSRP: $238 URL: TIMNEYTRIGGERS.COM

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AR-15 COMPETITION TRIGGER MAKE: TIMNEY TRIGGERS STAGE: TWO TRIGGER PULL: 3, 4, 4.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: Timney’s quintessential drop-in AR-15 Competition Trigger is housed in a self-contained module that is ready to install in your AR. Timney says that it will deliver a smooth, crisp, creep-free single-stage trigger pull that feels more like a traditional bolt-action than combat-rifle trigger. Because of its drop-in design, no gunsmithing, fitting or adjusting is required. Its engagement surfaces are precision-ground to ensure reliability and a crisp, clean hammer release. The trigger is available in your choice of 3, 4 or 4.5-pound pulls. MSRP: $238 URL: TIMNEYTRIGGERS.COM


2-STAGE TRIGGER CURVED MAKE: CMC TRIGGERS STAGE: TWO TRIGGER PULL: 5 COMBINATIONS AVAILABLE INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: CMC has been at the forefront of AR drop-in trigger development since the early days. Always improving on trigger development and manufacturing methods, the latest models of CMC’s innovative drop-in triggers yield exceptional trigger pull dynamics combined with reduced cost and increased quality, function and reliability. The 2-stage triggers are available in a variety of trigger pull weight combinations ranging from one to five pounds each stage. MSRP: $240 URL: CMCTRIGGERS.COM

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SINGLE 1 STAGE DROPIN TRIGGER— FLAT BOW MAKE: CMC TRIGGERS STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: DROP-IN ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES: CMC’s AR-15, AR-10 compatible Single 1 Stage Drop-in Trigger is fitted with CMC’s patented “Signature Flat” trigger for enhanced trigger pull feel and break. Designed so that the shooter’s finger comes to rest naturally on the shoe, every pull of the trigger is the same as the one before it. This allows the Flat Trigger Bow to render a linear feel unlike most curved triggers. CMC points out that the trigger has an exceptional lock time and lighting-fast reset, which give it remarkable performance. MSRP: $196 URL: CMCTRIGGERS.COM


HI-SPEED NATIONAL MATCH MAKE: GEISSELE AUTOMATICS STAGE: TWO TRIGGER PULL: 1.9-6.5 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: STANDARD ADJUSTABLE: YES NOTES: Geissele’s reputation is well-founded and for good reason. Their quality triggers are sought after by the shooting community and this trigger is no different. This adjustable trigger is designed for competition, hunting, tactical and military use, or wherever both accuracy and robustness are critical. The Geissele Hi-Speed National Match Trigger Series is designed for NRA High Power Rifle competition with highly modified match-grade AR-15-type rifles. It comes with three spring sets that allow you to adjust the trigger pull to suit a variety of purposes. The spring sets included are Service Rifle, Designated Marksman Rifle and Match Rifle Spring. MSRP: $279 URL: GEISSELE.COM

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The accuracy potential of your rifle and scope is totally dependent on the integrity of your mounting system. Warne has become the industry standard of discerning hunters and shooters worldwide for technical precision, scope-holding strength and ounce-counting efficiency. Trust our full range of products to deliver uncompromising performance in the toughest conditions and throughout a lifetime of hard use. All are backed by Warne’s Lifetime Warranty.




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SUPER DYNAMIC COMBAT (SD-C) TRIGGER MAKE: GEISSELE AUTOMATICS STAGE: TWO TRIGGER PULL: 2.5 LB. / 2.0 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: STANDARD ADJUSTABLE: NO NOTES:Dependable and packed with performance, Geissele’s SD-C trigger is a rugged, non-adjustable combat trigger designed to provide a wide margin of safety against unintentional discharges. Even so, it still gives the shooter a crisp and repeatable trigger release. Look to the SD-C if you require extreme reliability from your smoothfunctioning trigger in harsh and demanding environments. Geissele recommends this trigger for Close Quarter Battle and Squad Designated Marksman applications. MSRP: $240 URL: GEISSELE.COM


ADVANCE COMBAT Trigger MAKE: ALG DEFENSE STAGE: SINGLE TRIGGER PULL: 4.0-6.0 LB. INSTALLATION TYPE: STANDARD ADJUSTABLE: YES NOTES: Think of this trigger as an enhanced factory trigger. For those who have reliability concerns for more complicated trigger designs or have limitations placed on what they can use on their duty weapons, ALG’s Advanced Combat Trigger (ACT) could be the trigger you’re looking for. The ACT is designed for those shooters for whom tradition, value and regulatory concerns are of primary importance. The pull of the ACT is very similar to a standard Mil-Spec trigger, albeit sharper with the grittiness of the stock trigger pull removed while the traditional reliability of a stock trigger remains. The pull weight is not lower than the M4/M16 minimum weight specification of 5.5 pounds. Included with the ACT is a reduced-power hammer spring as well as a full-power hammer spring. MSRP: $69 URL: ALGDEFENSE.COM

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how to remain Hidden in plain sight


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“Your goal is to go unnoticed and be forgettable.”

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“You need to look around your environment and see what the norm is so you won’t be remembered as someone who didn’t belong there.”

can make your way without attracting too much attention. In simple terms: Watch and learn to figure out the norm.

Being the gray man (or woman) means not wearing clothes or acting in a way that will make you stand out or be noticed and remembered.

If you believe you have been targeted by terrorists or criminals more sophisticated than street thugs, seek protection at the nearest police station, American consulate or U.S. embassy.


eeping a low profile, or being the “gray man” or “gray woman,” means you don’t dress, act or speak in a way that makes you memorable or stand out in a given environment. It doesn’t mean you need to dress in gray, just that you try to blend in with your surroundings. If everyone is dressed in bright colors and dancing around as if it’s Mardi Gras, you need to dress and act that way, too. You need to look around your environment and see what the norm is so you won’t be remembered as someone who didn’t belong there. When you move from one place to another you need to notice what people wear and how they behave. Then you should dress as closely to that

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You should avoid acting in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. Your goal is to go unnoticed and be forgettable. “Staying under the radar” also includes your posture and movements. Think of these as steps in a dance, and do your best to keep time with the local tempo. Don’t speak loudly if it’s out of the local character, because that will draw attention your way and make you stand out. The same goes for speaking too quietly for the situation. If everyone is speaking Arabic, don’t speak English loudly, because that will make you stand out and possibly become a target for surveillance.

Why Is It Important to Blend In? Your inadvertent visual cues can pique the interest of people around you. They’ll recognize an American and listen to your conversation in the hope that they can deliver a valuable target to their organization—criminal, terrorist or otherwise. Be careful not to tell the person sitting next to you where you’re staying. If the wrong person overhears that information, you’ve just targeted yourself. Resist the urge to be so friendly that you wind up sharing information that someone you just met has no right or need to know. Don’t make yourself look significantly different from the average person you’ll be around. One good example I recall was

norm as possible. And remember: Normal is relative. Normal in Salt Lake City will not be the same as normal in New York City. In each place, people dress, speak and act in a different manner. Normal in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival is a whole lot different than normal in Baghdad. If you are planning to travel outside your home area, you should take some time to check out the local dress and as much else as possible about how people at your destination live and act. The Internet makes it pretty easy to get started, but you’ll need to be prepared to make some adjustments after you arrive to “step into character.” If the locals speak another language, it’s also a good idea to pick up at least a few common phrases so you

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“A large part of keeping a low profile depends on your ability to keep your mouth shut and do so politely.” when I was in Mexico and saw a couple that was sorely out of place. They both wore American flag t-shirts and American flag emblazoned shorts. In addition, they both had cameras with a big telephoto lens hanging from their necks. To top it off they were very boisterous, loud and annoying. They seemingly worked extra hard to make it obvious they were the stereotypical crass American travelers. Did their clothing and behavior choices, which might have been okay back home, serve to target themselves? Hell yes! When you’re in public, especially in unfamiliar or potentially hostile environments, you do not want to attract the attention of a single panhandler, let alone the hundreds or thousands of people who might have seen these two walking through the plaza. I can’t stress this enough: Keeping a low profile is very important.

Who Would Target You?

The best way to blend into a crowd is to minimize contrast in the way you look and act from everyone else around you.

Before you pack your bags and fly off to travel abroad, learn how to avoid standing out and making yourself a target for terrorists, criminals and others who might want to do you harm.

There are a number of reasons an outsider is sought after in public places. A lot of security experts concentrate on terrorism as a prevalent motivation because that is the “flavor of the month.” The truth is, more people are kidnapped in the world for simple monetary reasons than they are for reasons related to terror groups, political causes or other highprofile reasons. In reality, even terrorist organizations that have fundamentalist motivations capture people for potential

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“Be cautious when you don’t know to whom you’re talking or who’s within earshot, and with what you say about your employer, your occupation and where you’re going.”

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“By following a few simple rules your exposure to risks should be limited, and your experience ought to be positive and uneventful.” ransom, because that’s one of the ways they fund their operations.

Don’t Flash the Cash Some other keys to keeping a low profile include driving plain, unremarkable vehicles people are less likely to notice as you drive by, and that includes the vehicle’s color. In both the United States and around the world, white is the most common color for motor vehicles. Don’t rent an orange car unless you want to be noticed and remembered. Don’t leave big tips when you go out to eat. Americans don’t realize this is one of the behaviors that calls attention to them when they travel abroad. In our society we consider it normal to leave gratuities of 15 to 25 percent for a good meal and service, but that is very unusual outside the United States. In some places, leaving a tip after a meal is actually considered rude or insulting. Once again, understand the local customs before assuming your habits are accepted universally. What can be perceived as overpaying for a meal can mark you as a high-value target for theft or kidnapping.

Mum’s the Word During even a simple casual conversation you can end up giving out a lot of information about yourself. Without even thinking about it you could share why you’re in the area and what you’re doing there. You might even use terms that would allow others to surmise your political, social, religious or other beliefs— which might be enough to mark you as a person of interest for inquisitive minds around you. Be careful what you say when you’re chatting away to fill the time on a long flight. Be cautious when you don’t know to whom you’re speaking or who is within earshot, and with what you

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say about your employer, your occupation and where you’re going. Do your best to refrain from giving specific answers when people ask you questions, however harmless they might sound. It’s best to be as vague and uninteresting as possible without providing specific information that may identify you as a potential mark. If they know where you’re staying and how long you’re going to be there, they can make a determi-

If you feel as if you are being watched, move into a crowd of people and blend in. Change your appearance if need be and do so as quickly as possible.

nation at that point as to whether you’re a target worth pursuing because of the information you gave them.

Stay Gray A large part of keeping a low profile depends on your ability to keep your mouth shut and do so politely. There is no advantage or benefit to be gained by sharing your life story with a stranger you will ideally never see again. Focus on simply getting from point A to point B safely and

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efficiently without engaging in small talk with everyone you encounter. At the same time don’t be rude, because that will make you memorable as well. You can be nice and courteous, but keep your appearance and interactions about as exciting and interesting as shades of gray and you should be able to avoid becoming a victim of criminals or terrorists.

Be careful to whom you’re speaking and what you say when you’re sitting in a seat on a long flight, bus or train ride. You never know who may be listening and what their intentions are.

“Resist the urge to be so friendly that you wind up sharing information that someone you just met has no right or need to know.”

Whether you’re visiting a nearby town, another part of the country or a destination on the other side of the planet, keeping a low profile—and staying safe—is the goal of becoming the gray man. By following a few simple rules your exposure to risks should be limited, and your experience ought to be positive and uneventful. Know what to expect wherever you go, keep your head on a swivel the whole time, exhibit an appearance and demeanor that blend into your surroundings, and keep your interactions with the locals civil and benign.

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Be careful not to give up sensitive information to people such as your hotel or specific times you plan to be away from your room.

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ground pounder The FN 249S is a Semi-Auto Belt-Fed Bruiser BY TODD BUR G R EEN

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“It’s a safe bet that everyone reading this magazine has been drawn by some inexorable force into considering a weapon that made no sense when one’s ‘needs’ are analyzed empirically.”


N has upped the ante in the U.S. civilian market of late with numerous introductions. Of special interest is FN’s Military Collector Series. Mil-Spec M16, M4 and 249S rifles are offered in civilian-ready, semi-auto forms; except for the fire control group the rifles are as close as you can get to what the U.S. Armed Forces utilize. It’s a safe bet that everyone reading this magazine has been drawn by some inexorable force into considering a weapon that made no sense when one’s “needs” are analyzed empirically. Oftentimes these firearms are sentimental favorites based on an affiliation with an original model not readily accessible. A civilian-legal, semi-automatic, belt-fed FN M249 would definitely fall into this category. FN has obliged with the FN Military Collector 249S (FN M249S).

Background The FN M249 SAW is a Light Machine Gun (LMG) adopted by the U.S. military in the mid-1980s, first by the Army and then by the Marines, and has served in every conflict since. As the SAW acronym implies (S—Squad, A—Automatic, W—Weapon), the M249 is a weapon designed to augment the firepower of the infantry squad. For clarity’s sake, the M249 SAW was re-designated as the M249 Light Machine Gun in 1994; however, SAW is still a frequently used sobriquet. The M249 SAW/ LMG is the U.S. version of the Belgian FN Herstal Minimi with alterations to satisfy specific American design requests. The M249 (and other variants such as M249

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FN’s Product Improvement Program (PIP) addressed issues related to the exposed hot barrel, sharp edges, bipod, pistol grip, flash hider, carry handle and front sight adjustment procedures.

Para and Mk46) is manufactured in the United States at the Columbia, SC, plant owned and operated by FN Herstal’s U.S. subsidiary, FN. In basic terms, the M249 provides belt-fed, switch-barrel automatic firepower to small units, combined with a portability not all that far removed froma rifle. With FN, users do not have to worry about dealing with a company that’s not familiar with producing a quality replica rendition. FN production of the FN M249S takes place in the company’s South Carolina facility where the military-bound M249 and M240 belt-fed machine guns are produced. You can’t get any closer to the source than that. FN has dedicated production lines for building the M249/Mk46 variants. Stringent protocols, proofing and testing procedures are designated in the government contracts that create the standards that create true Mil-Spec rifles. The FN M249S shares 80% parts commonality with its military siblings, the fire control group being the obvious difference between them. The military M249 family tree contains multiple versions and product improvements. In fact, early into its service the M249 underwent a major Product Improvement Program (PIP). The PIP addressed issues related to the exposed hot barrel, sharp edges, bipod, pistol grip, flash hider, carry handle and front sight adjustment procedures, along with adding an M240 -style rear stock with hydraulic buffer and elimination of dual

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Top cover raised showing FN M249S bolt group.

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The PIP also added an M240-style rear stock with hydraulic buffer and the elimination of dual gas port settings, reducing cyclic rate of fire, which was established at approximately 700-750 rounds per minute.





Accuracy Testing Results LOAD





2,685 FPS




3,010 FPS



gas port settings, reducing cyclic rate of fire. Cyclic rate was established at approximately 700 -750 rounds per minute with the PIP modifications. A subsequent updating program was the Soldier Enhancement Program and Rapid Fielding Initiative that produced an improved bipod, 100 - and 200 -round “soft” fabric magazines for the linked ammunition belts and various Picatinny rail options for the feed tray cover and forend for the easy addition of mission-specific optics and accessories.

The Goods The FN M249S is an air-cooled, gas-operated-piston, closed-bolt-functioning semi-automatic weapon chambered in 5.56 NATO. It weighs just over 17 pounds

bolt itself still engaged with the barrel extension, allowing for chamber pressure to drop before bolt disengages via cam by rotating and moving rearward with the bolt carrier. Escaping gas is directed upward, eliminating the dust “swirls” typifying the M60, which has its escaping gas directed downward. This is an important improvement in minimizing position signature when firing. The M249’s extraction process begins after the bolt rotates and unlocks, giving the fired case time to expand and contract and thus minimizing problems with the relatively straight-walled 5.56mm case hanging up in the chamber and resulting in a malfunction. A recoil spring returns the bolt carrier group into battery,

*All shots fired at 100 yards from a sandbag rest using a Vortex 4-12x scope. Ambient temperature 32 degrees. Group size is the best of five-shot groups fired.

“With FN, users do not have to worry about dealing with a company that’s not familiar with producing a quality replica rendition.” FP-1807-FN249.indd 82

empty and gains about 7 pounds when combined with 200 linked rounds. The 1:7 twist, chrome-lined, hammer-forged barrel length is 18.5 inches with the FN M249S. Even with the FN M249S’s altered closedbolt functioning compared to its military sibling’s open-bolt style, its function is simplistic and a major reason for its reliability. The 249’s gas piston is forced to the rear by tapped gas captured by the barrel port when a round is fired. The bolt carrier begins rearward motion with the

chambering another round. This happens at a listed 750 rounds-per-minute pace with the military models and as fast as your finger can pull the trigger with the FN M249S. The M249 lugs that interact with the bolt are in the barrel extension, allowing for more positive headspace and lighter construction of the receiver. The

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M249’s stamped receiver is welded versus pinned and riveted. The bolt carrier group rides along rails welded into the receiver walls, which also assist with reliability and smoothness of operation. User manuals and other training literature list 85 rounds per minute as being sustainable for long periods of time in the open-bolt M249 without having to change barrels. The 249S firing from a closed bolt translates into an operator having to use good firing discipline, as the rifle heats faster than the open-bolt M249. The FN M249S alleviates some of this concern

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moving with his teammates if desired and not be confined stationary to a strictly overwatch/defensive role.

thanks to the ability to change barrels if sustained fire is undertaken.

Engaging Targets Our evaluation at Echo Valley Training Center involved firing from “dug-in” prone and other positions at targets of opportunity out to 350 yards. These targets consisted of cars, manhole lids, man-sized steel silhouette targets and so on. Inverted 36-inch concrete culvert pipes aided in simulating dug-in positions allowing for a gunner to stand behind the FN M249S. While prone or dug-in is definitely the superior method of use, the FN M249S proved capable of being fired from the shoulder and from kneeling positions. This allows for the 249S gunner to stay


The 1:7 twist, chrome-lined, hammer-forged barrel length is 18.5 inches.

A Leupold LCO red dot was affixed to the M249S feed tray cover’s Picatinney rail. Iron sights were also present for use. The FN M249S proved as accurate as any rifle. Out of curiosity, we linked 100 rounds of 77-grain Match and then bench-tested the gun at 100 yards. Sub-MOA groups were the norm even without the benefit of a magnified optic. The trigger on the 249S was a pleasant surprise in terms of a 4-5 pound pull. With that said, the 249S has a long-travel stroke and reset that, once you’re familiar with it, can be managed for rapid fire. It proved simple to keep multiple rapid-fire rounds centered on a

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Historical Search for Squad Automatic Firepower

On our example, a Leupold LCO red dot was affixed to the M249S feed tray cover’s Picatinney rail.

The M249 system can be considered the heir to the venerable Browning BAR in its effort to supplement the infantry’s firepower and avoid using a medium or heavy machine gun such as the M2 .50 cal, M1919 .30 cal., M60 or M240. The M249 benefitted from the lessons learned with the M60 GPMG. A couple of advantages found in the M249 system over its predecessors is the quick-change barrel and being belt-fed, which the BAR did not have, and being chambered in smaller caliber than either the BAR or M60, allowing for more rounds to be carried per soldier. The quick-change barrel allows the M249 to fulfill the light machine gun role even though it is chambered in the lighter 5.56mm round versus the 7.62x51 found in the M60 or the M240 series of medium/general purpose machine guns. For comparison’s sake, 200 linked rounds of 5.56 NATO weigh 6 pounds and 200 linked rounds of 7.62x51 NATO weigh in at 12 pounds. The M249 can be adapted for tripod or vehicle-mounted use; however, this is not what is was designed for and frankly this role is better served by the FN 240 series of medium machine guns chambered in 7.62x51 NATO. The FN M249S has all these positive characteristics.


man-sized target at 200 yards when firing from a stable position. Man-size targets were engaged at the range’s furthest distance—350 yards—with the same ease as an AR-type rifle. The FN M249S uses M27 linked belts of 5.56 NATO ammunition generally 200 rounds in length. The amount of damage rendered upon an automobile body in relatively short time frame reinforces the no-nonsense impression the belt-fed FN M249S proj-

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“The M249 is a reliable performer based on reports streaming from battlefield experiences over the years.” ects. The ability to be as accurate as any rifle for pinpoint targeting, yet still being able to suppress an area with 5.56 NATO rounds, is unique and beyond understanding unless witnessed in person. Testing of the 249S indicated that the mounting of a magnified optic would be justified considering how accurate it is. Targeting individual wheels on vehicles placed 200 yards downrange was not a challenge, with each riddled in quick order. The wheels were specifically targeted to get an idea of the penetration capabilities of the M855 5.56 NATO round, as the car body itself offered no protection whatsoever. The only areas revealed that could be considered as effective cover would be the engine block and axles, neither of which is consoling to hide behind if you’re getting hammered by an M249S. The M249 is considered a reliable performer based on reports and anecdotal information streaming back from training and battlefield experiences over the years. It certainly augments the squad’s available firepower, which is the M249’s raison d’être. The FN M249S follows in

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Stonewall Arms & Echo Valley Training Center We were fortunate to have access to three different military versions of the FN M249—the standard M249, M249 Para and Mk46—to compare against the FN M249S for this article. This was accomplished through Stonewall Arms, a Class III dealer located in Winchester, Va. Based on side-by-side comparisons, the FN M249S is truly as close as it gets to these military-grade machine guns. Stonewall Arms has been in business for several years handling Class III items for individuals, law enforcement and commercial customers. Stonewall Arms is also a successful FFL dealer specializing in long guns, pistols, accessories and ammunition in the tactical/personal defense realm. Many are probably aware that very few non-military ranges exist that would facilitate the testing involved with a belt-fed automatic weapon. Fortunately, Echo Valley Training Center, a private range, is located within easy driving distance of Stonewall Arms. Echo Valley Training Center is properly set up to handle extensive test firing of the FN M249S. In conjunction with the individual training bays, Echo Valley Training Center features multistepped target berms that are strewn with reactive steel targets, fluid-drained automobiles and moving targets at ranges varying from 150 yards out to 350 yards. Echo Valley Training Center is further enhanced by the existence of prepared firing positions. This allows for more realistic prone and “dug-in” trench-style firing points ideal for all types of training scenarios with belt-fed weapons. One aspect of FN M249S T&E we looked 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 brightly 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 has a battery life of up to 5 years using a common CR123 lithium battery and weighs 9.6 ounces. It has the big field of view making it ideal for use not only on a typical rifle, but also on a weapon like the FN 249S. The LCO is built to withstand the punishment dished out in a high-volume weapon like the 249S. The LCO’s housing disappears and the dot just floats superimposed over the target.

The FN M249S uses M27 linked belts of 5.56 NATO ammunition generally 200 rounds in length.


the same path as the military M249. Firing the FN M249S during training scenarios showed a potent weapon.

The FN Military Collector M249S is an exacting replica of what the U.S. Armed Forces utilize afield.

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SKB waterproof iSeries cases are built to military spec and feature a virtually indestructible construction that’s lighter and stronger than the competition. With over 50 sizes and many interior options to choose from, you can bet that if you’ve got something worth protecting we’ve got a case for the job.




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Method to the MadnesS Painting Your Own Camouflage Scheme T E X T & P H OTOS BY J O H N T E ATO R

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“We call this type of camo job ‘freestyling it’ since we are not duplicating any known camouflage such as MultiCam or any of the shades of Kryptek.”


« Free Styling It

With what seems like an infinite number of camo patterns in existence, we can’t possibly get into how to paint every one of them. You’ll need to do some research on your own if your aim is to duplicate a particular scheme. We will cover how we “freestyled” the camo that you see in the pictures that accompany this article.

Step 1: Cutting stencils Cutting stencils out of paper or masking tape and using objects as stencils, such as plant leaves or fishing nets, is a time-honored method of camo rattlecanners for creating the shapes seen in camo patterns. In our case, we simply used a pair of scissors to cut up some cardboard. We call this type of camo job “freestyling it” since we are not duplicating any known camouflage such as MultiCam or any of the shades of Kryptek. We’re just spraying as we go. In our example, we are spraying a Hexmag magazine to match a rifle that we have previously sprayed using the same technique described here.

Step 2: BEFORE After making sure the magazine is clean and free of oils, grease, dirt and lint, we first laid down a coat of our lightest colored paint, which was a desert tan. After the base coat dried thoroughly, we carefully and lightly misted our next darker shade of paint, a coyote brown, while using the cardboard stencil to block portions of the tan. We were careful not to spray too much coyote, otherwise we’d even up with a mostly coyote-colored camo, which wasn’t our intention.

f feels like just about everywhere you look, there’s a nifty new camo pattern coated or hydrodipped onto a gun or other piece of equipment. Sometimes camouflage is applied for practical purposes; other times it’s just for aesthetics. If you like the look or utility of a professionally coated camouflage scheme, but are on a budget that won’t allow you to splurge hundreds of dollars on firearm coatings, there is another way to achieve the look. We’re talking about spray paint. No, rattle-can paint jobs are not a secret by any stretch of the imagination. We’re sure you’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of painted guns online by now. But as you have undoubtedly noticed as well, not all paint jobs are created equal. Some turn out amazing while others look like drippy messes. Why is this? Understanding how camouflage patterns are applied with spray paint will help you duplicate your favorite scheme or even create your own custom camo job and elevate it to professional standards.

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Step3: FINISHING UP Now that all three shades have been laid down and are dry, we examined our work. It’s not too shabby, but the contrast of each of the shades does make it look harsh. To soften up the edges of each of the tones, we applied a mist of tan to the entire magazine. This helps break up the edges of the darker colors and ties the whole scheme together. If you wanted to, you could use one of the darker shades to apply as the mist instead.

Step 4: CONCLUSION This is not the only way to apply camo to your item of choice, but it is cheap, simple and pretty quick. It’s a great way to change the look of your gun or other equipment to match your environs or season. Again, the more you spray, the more experience you will gain and the more complex your camo jobs can be. Don’t be intimidated by taking on a camo project. It’s just paint after all!

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“camouflage by definition is organized chaos, but to successfully apply a pattern some organization is required.” Camouflage by definition is organized chaos. The lines, or lack thereof, are created to break up hard lines and silhouettes to fool the eye into unseeing what it is being presented. While it looks like you would simply go full blast at random with a couple of spray cans, to successfully apply a camo pattern some organization is required.

Let’s Remember While this article isn’t meant to be a stepby-step “DIY” as such, we’ll review essen-

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paint, on the other hand, will scratch, flake and generally wear off after some use. But it is much cheaper. In fact, you can find cans of paint that don’t cost more than a buck in some stores. If the paint wears off, you can simply hit it with another coat of paint quickly and cheaply if you wish.


tial concepts and present you with some helpful tips for when you do tackle your own camouflage painting. We’re dealing with spray paint here, not the much more durable alternatives such as Cerakote, DuraCoat or Gun Kote. Those finishes generally require more prep, some sort of curing process usually involving an oven, and many times an airbrush. Those coatings do offer impressive protective qualities, however, and look good even after they take the roughest treatment. Spray


Make sure the object you're painting is completely free of grease, oil or dirt and that you apply the paint in a well-ventilated area with plenty of fresh air.

Before we begin, it’s important to understand that there’s an order to the layering of camouflage paint. Counterintuitive as it may seem, choosing the order in which camouflage colors are applied matters. Generally speaking, you will want to paint the lightest shade first and follow it up with the darker colors. So in our example, a light tan is sprayed as the base coat, followed by a medium-toned coyote brown and finally finished off with a few highlights of a shade of dark rust. Light to dark, it’s easy to remember. Dark-colored paint can cover light colors easily with only a thin coat, so this method helps keep the layers of paint as thin as

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possible. The opposite does not usually apply, however. Spraying a light color on top of a dark color can lead to a muddled look that isn’t what you intended. You may end up spraying too much paint, layering the light colors over and over again over the dark base and often leading to thick and drippy areas. We don’t want that. Depending on your chosen colors, a second method to camo paint layering is to paint the

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Generally speaking, you will want to paint the lightest shade first and follow it up with the darker colors.

“This is not the only way to apply camo to your item of choice, but it is cheap, simple and pretty quick.”

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colors in the order of how much area they cover regardless of shade, beginning with the largest area and working down to the smallest. Wait, regardless of shade? But you just said… Yes, keeping in mind the lighter-to-darker shade method that we just mentioned might make this second method confusing, and honestly it can be. Sometimes the two guidelines don’t mix and can contradict one another. What if the darkest portion ends up being the largest? In that case are you still supposed to paint the lightest shade to darkest? It really depends on the camouflage scheme, what

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Depending on the scheme, another method is to paint the subject according to how much area each shade covers, beginning with the largest and working down to the smallest.

you’re painting and even the kind of paint you are using. Experience will eventually help you judge all these variables. In the meantime, following the first method is a safe way to go.

Getting Started What’s that saying? Cleanliness is close to godliness? Well, in the case of this topic, cleanliness means better paint adherence. This means you want to make sure whatever you’re painting is free of surface contaminants such as grease and oil. Don’t be lazy about this. Make sure your chosen item is degreased and free of dirt and even lint.

You’ll also want to use quality masking tape to tape off any parts that you don’t want painted. Overspray can get everywhere rather easily, so when in doubt don’t spare the tape. Find a suitable place to spray, which means an area where you have plenty of fresh air. A disposable respirator mask is recommended. We want our stuff camo’d, not our lungs, after all. Cover the painting area to protect it from overspray too. You’ll also notice that we hung our magazine on a wire coat hanger. As opposed to laying it down flat, hanging it allows you to access all sides of the object you’re spraying.

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ertain characteristics are considered essential for a rifle used in a tactical environment: reliability, portability, ruggedness, accuracy, ease of replenishment (i.e., ammunition, parts and magazines) and effective firepower for all situations likely to be encountered.

Literally hundreds of books and articles have chronicled the history of rifle cartridges being shrunk after WWII. Our own path was 30-06, .308 Win and 5.56mm. However, an interesting twist in this story was that the 7.62 NATO/.308 Win was never finally put to rest; it held onto a role in many military armories around the world. In fact, 7.62 NATO/.308 Win-chambered battle rifles have remained favorites among LE, special operation units, non-military entities and civilians. The IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO joins the growing number of battle rifle platforms chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. These rounds’ potency in terms of ballistics and terminal effect makes them favorites among troops and law enforcement personnel in more rural environments. A quick look at the resurrection of the M14 and steady introduction of several ARstyle rifle models all support this observation.

These parameters were reinforced in the crucible of World War II combat in all theaters of operation. Lessons were garnered, with each combatant nation having its own ideas on how to cope with post-WWII conflict. Engagements that result in exchanged rifle fire usually happen at closer than 200 yards, with the superior rate of fire often deciding the outcome.


IWI US Galil ACE 7.62 NATO CALIBER: 7.62MM, .308 WIN

A Legend Updated


High Speed Gear patrol belt and TACO pouches assisted in T&E of the IWI US Galil ACE.


Accuracy Testing Results LOAD


































NOTE: (Three-5 shot groups. RCBS Chronograph used)



The IWI US Galil ACE rifle variants are now steadily arriving on dealer shelves after the platform's 2015 introduction. The Galil ACE joins other notable IWI US offerings such as the Tavor X95 and Uzi Pro making waves in the U.S. market. The original Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Galil was choked out of this market in the early 1990s due to Federal import laws. IWI US is making available the highly respected Israeli Galil via the enhanced Galil ACE. This is achieved by assembling the rifles from a combination of Israeli and American manufactured components at the company's Harrisburg, Pa., facility. The Galil ACE is not merely a copy of the 1960s design. IWI took full advantage of the passage of time to improve and update the original. The current IWI US Galil ACE 7.62 NATO rifle seeks improvement over the original IDF Galil in a number of ways. The Galil ACE makes use of a polymer lower for the magazine well, trigger guard and pistol grip. The upper receiver containing the action and hinged folding stock trunnion is milled from ordnance steel. The railed forend on the Galil ACE is also

“it’s not merely a copy of the 1960s design—IWI took full advantage to update the original Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior design.” FP-1807-ACE.indd 99

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“assembled from israeli and american components, here in the USA.”

SIG Sauer Elite .308 Win Match ammunition provided excellent accuracy with the IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO.

The Galil ACE rifle features a folding adjustable stock along with a removable cheek piece riser if needed based on optic choice.

Removable rail covers provide the user options on how best to use the tri-rail forend.

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derived from high-strength polymer. This translates to a rifle weighing less than 9 pounds that compares favorably to other 7.62 NATO/.308 Win rifles on the market. The trigger originally developed for the IDF Galil sniping variant is used with the Galil ACE 7.62 NATO, offering a pull weight of 5.5 pounds. The use of Magpul PMAG LR/ SR magazines (10-, 20- and 25-round) with the IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO is a real plus as well in terms of availability, reliability and pricing. Besides shaving weight, the Galil ACE has its reciprocating charging handle moved to the left side of the steel receiver for easier/simpler weak-hand manipulation. A spring-loaded gate on the left side minimizes the chance of dirt/grime entering via the charging handle pathway. The original Galil had a distinctive vertically upturned handle on the right side. The absence of a rightside charging handle facilitated creation of a metal recess in the bolt carrier body’s right side, which acts to further enhance reliability in harsh environments by preventing dirt, mud, snow or ice clogging and/or jamming the bolt group while functioning. The Galil ACE gas tube is dovetailed into the receiver’s front block. This limits movement of the gas tube that can influence barrel vibration and thus degrade rifle accuracy. A recoil buffer is also present on the recoil spring. This serves multiple roles: cushioning impact of recoiling parts, easing wear on the rear trunnion and taming vibration to assist accuracy potential. All these details related to top cover and gas tube differ from the original AK method. Attention to detail is found with the ability to easily remove the rear aperture sight if an eye-relief-dependent optic is utilized, avoiding the necessity to mount the optic uncomfortably high to clear. Another nice touch is the triti-

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um vials installed in the front post and rear aperture sights for night use. One note here is that orientation of the front sight needs paid attention to when sighting in. A further half-turn may be needed to keep the tritium vial focused rearward.

No Replacement for Displacement The combination of the Galil ACE platform with the increased power represented in the 7.62 NATO cartridge is the key to the rifle’s appeal. This is speaking in terms of the lethality and effective range while still allowing for multiple rounds to be sent quickly downrange if needed in a close-range melee. In training courses experienced involving LE, military and private security contractors, the mantra of “one mag, one kill” is often repeated in relation to the M16/AR-15. While the 5.56mm round is often chided in terms of lethality, the 7.62 NATO/.308 Win does not suffer from this reputation. Reports from Afghanistan and Iraq have exposed the 5.56’s poor performance in putting an adversary down quickly with minimal rounds fired, especially at distance. This is why rifles such as the IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO are gaining popularity with the upgrade in power it offers. When faced with the possibility of confronting heavily armed and highly motivated terrorists, there is an affinity for the ability to lay down serious suppressive fire or to engage suspects with heavy body armor, behind barricades or in vehicles that may resist the effects of .223, buckshot or even slugs.

WInchester PDX 1 DEFENDER .308 WIN


Enhancement via Key Support Gear

In an effort to maximize the IWI Galil ACE’s potential in terms of accuracy and flexibility, a Trijicon AccuPower 1-8x28mm 34mm tube optic was mounted on the Galil ACE’s railed top cover. The 1-8x power range offered by the AccuPower solves any conundrum posed by other, more limited optic magnification options. Continuing the theme, a Trijicon quick-release mount was also utilized. One criticism often leveled against the AK-based rifle models is the difficulty of mounting scopes over the receiver. The IWI Galil ACE addresses these concerns with its railed upper receiver dust cover. IWI US has accentuated previous Galil designs by securing the railed upper top cover tightly/ securely via oversized release button at the end of the recoil spring protruding out of the top cover. A rubber grommet/gasket is also included. This ensures the rear aperture iron sight stays zeroed as well as other optics that may be mounted. The top cover exhibits no wiggle. In fact, removing and reinstalling

“Engagements that result in exchanged rifle fire usually happen at closer than 200 yards, with the superior rate of fire often deciding the outcome.” FP-1807-ACE.indd 101


The combination of the Galil ACE platform with the increased power represented in the 7.62 NATO cartridge is the key to the rifle’s appeal.

Concerns related to over-penetration could be addressed with ammunition selection. For example, the Winchester PDX 1 Defender loads for the .308 Win featuring the Split Core Technology 120-grain bullet comes to mind. The Winchester Split Core .308 has a forward section where the lead core is not bonded to the jacket. This is done to enhance rapid and massive expansion. The lower portion of the core is welded to the jacket to hold the bullet together even though the nose section opens violently upon impact, dumping energy into the target and making sure the round does not over-penetrate a soft target such as a human adversary. This Winchester offering could prove a favorite load for law enforcement or even civilian personal defense when the ballistic advantage of the 7.62x51mm/.308 Win with minimal concern of over-penetration is required. Ballistic gel demonstrations witnessed in person and also via Internet indicate the Winchester .308 Split Core comes to rest after 12-14 inches of travel in the gel.

takes some effort, but it’s worth it considering the advantage gained. Products I have discovered helpful in testing the myriad rifles I’m fortunate to handle is the High Speed Gear (HSG) Sure Grip patrol belt and TACO magazine pouches. Many train and operate with multiple calibers either by choice or necessity. Others are tasked with training different weapon systems as part of their job description. The logistics of maintaining different belt systems or switching magazine pouches on one belt repeatedly is daunting. Imagine having to accommodate AR magazines one day, AK-47 magazines the next, AR-10/ SR25 magazines another training evolution, AK-74 magazines another time and so forth. You get the picture. High Speed Gear’s TACO magazine pouches and patrol belt were developed with this set of circumstances in mind.

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“use of highstrength polymer translates to a rifle weighing less than 9 pounds.” Range Time Multiple 7.62 NATO/.308 Win loads were tested from SIG Sauer Elite, Hornady, Winchester, Black Hills and Federal. Winchester steelcased FMJ loads hovered in the 3-inch range at 100 yards. SIG Sauer 150-grain HT and Hornady 165-grain SST loads delivered 1.75 inch groups at 100 yards, while Federal and SIG Sauer 168-grain Match loads impressed with 1.25-1.5 inch groups. Range tests consisted of moving around barricades and simulated cover while engaging an assortment of paper and steel targets, including automobiles located at Echo Valley Training Center. One immediate positive comment was the ambidextrous safety/fire lever found on the Galil ACE. The right-side safety lever has been reduced in size as it is no longer required to act as dust cover. This is due to the Galil ACE’s reciprocating charging handle being moved to the left side. The right-side safety/fire lever is accessed via the right index finger or removing your hand from the pistol grip and using multiple fingers. On the left, just above the grip, there is another safety/fire selector meant to be operated by the shooter’s thumb. This was our favored method of use in terms of ergonomics. After initial inspection and light lubrication, no cleaning of the rifle was performed. No issues were encountered in terms of reliability with 300 rounds fired. Special focus was paid to maintaining iron sight and optic zero by removing and reinstalling the top cover numerous times between evaluation scenarios. Initial concern was raised about heat transfer to the railed polymer forend. This proved a non-issue thanks to the effective heat shields and spacing between barrel/gas block and

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GALIL BACKGROUND The current Galil ACE can be traced back to the IDF Galil, which in turn was inspired by the Finnish Valmet Rk62. The Valmet Rk62 itself is an improved AK derivative. Finland is a country of serious riflemen with a large, aggressive neighbor they’ve eyed warily for centuries: Russia. The Russian AK’s rugged reliability and ability to adapt to harsh operational environments earned begrudging respect from the Finns. The Valmet Rk62 sought to maintain AK reliability while improving accuracy. This was accomplished with the use of a quality barrel, extended iron sight radius, higher quality manufacturing techniques, tweaks to the gas tube and long-stroke gas piston operation. Israel’s Galil followed the Valmet Rk62’s path after IDF found the FAL wanting in terms of size, recoil and more importantly reliability. The Galil in 5.56mm was officially adopted by the IDF in 1972. However, the Galil immediately faced competition within the IDF by the large numbers of M16/M4s acquired from the United States. It made more fiscal sense to make the most use of the relatively inexpensive American rifle versus exclusive reliance on the Galil.

The right-side safety/fire lever is accessed via the right index finger; on the left side, just above the grip, is another safety/fire selector meant to be operated by the shooter’s thumb.


forend. In fact, even after multiple rapid-fire magazine dumps, the forend proved able to be gripped with a non-gloved hand. One observation is that the forend seemed short and could have been lengthened to better accommodate hand placement further out toward the end of barrel.

Final Word Israel’s appreciation of the AK as a fighting rifle carried over into the Galil and then the Galil ACE. The Galil ACE 7.62 NATO further accentuates these characteristics with an

upgrade in ballistic horsepower. The fulllength upper rail and forend is a nod to the advantages offered by red dot optics or possibly mounting a tactical light/laser without succumbing to the urge to hang items that are not necessary and ruining handling. The extended sight length and aperture rear sight are subtle refinements intended to upgrade the AK platform. The higher quality barrel, trigger and manufacturing found in the Galil ACE further enhance performance. All of this is accomplished without compromising rugged reliability in real-world environments.

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the eagle strikes The Vortex Strike Eagle1-8x24 riflescope is astounding for a few reasons TEX T & P H OTOS BY STEV EN K. LEDIN

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irst, the ginormous 8x magnification range it offers is still pretty new on the market, and there are few players offering such technology. In fact, even 6x scopes are still relatively new, with manufacturers introducing this new-to-them technology every year. The 6x-range scopes still have a lot of staying power, and new introductions are not yet late to the game. But the 8x range has been offered by select few others so far—and fewer still

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below the nosebleed-high price level. Several of these 8x scopes deliver significant distortion and tunnel vision at lowest powers. The Strike Eagles do not. I first used a 6x magnification range scope when preparing for an elk hunt in Colorado with Burris Optics in 2009. That newly


introduced Six X 2-12x40 on my Weatherby helped me collect a nice elk. My confidence on that hunt was increased by using the then-new 6x magnification range technology that produced a huge field of view at 2x, to an image large enough at 12x for comfortable shots at 300 yards and beyond.

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The Amazing Strike Eagle What a very useable difference from the older, favorite 3.5-10x scopes I used a lot. And the Strike Eagle featured here has an even greater 8x magnification range. Another reason the Strike Eagle is astounding is the sub-$400 street price. New technology costs money, and to be one of the first on the market with it costs even more. For an 8x scope from a reputable company to be this affordable should make your head spin. The flip-up caps are included, but the Vortex SV-2 Switchview (made by MGM Targets) throw lever shown here is available as an accessory for about 50 bucks. The attractive Strike Eagle has a pleasing and uniform satin-black color. I play with or test most scopes on the market eventually for some reason or another, and there’s a lot more to scopes than meet the eye, so to speak.

Like Butter Actually looking through the scope is the last thing I do. I first go about moving the magnification ring from stop to stop,

feeling through my fingertips for grinding, hard spots or loosening from initial use, how it positively stops when at the limits— and, overall, how happy it makes me feel. This scope was exceptional and better than the several 1-6x Strike Eagles I’ve gotten to know. It was silky-smooth from “low” to “high” power, with nothing in between but butter. The Switchview throw lever makes it feel even silkier. The next thing I do it test the turrets. These turrets have no fancy stuff; just solid tactile and audible clicks—exactly how you hope they would be on all scopes but rarely are. These move as surely as the clicks on a mini Snap-On ratchet. The turrets are low and capped. The retail price is kept as low as possible by omitting frills, and the turret is a case in point. The minimalist in me appreciates how they only move the centered reticle and don’t pull up, twist or have a zero-stop, buttons or anything unnecessary. Once your gun is sighted in, use your fingernail or screwdriver to rotate the adjustment dial on the turret top to zero and recap. Shoot. Repeat.

The 1-8x24 scope itself grew a bit over the 1-6x version by about a half-inch in length and a little over 1 ounce—not much to notice.

“This scope was exceptional and better than the several 1-6x Strike Eagles I’ve gotten to know. It was silky-smooth from ‘low’ to ‘high’ power, with nothing in between but butter. The Switchview throw lever makes it feel even silkier.”

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« “Another reason the Strike Eagle is astounding is the sub-$400 street price. New technology costs money, and to be one of the first on the market with it costs more.” FP-1807-VORTEX.indd 108

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x24 The Strike Eagle is silky-smooth from low to high power; the Switchview throw lever makes it feel even silkier.


I tested the adjustments on a tape measure at 100 yards. A full revolution of the turrets moved the reticle the correct 46 inches (44 real MOA). They were perfectly repeatable. The 100-yard factory

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“The scope’s no-frills approach appeals to the shooting minimalist as well as keeping its price point low.” parallax setting made little difference, even when using it at much nearer .22 LR ranges—although parallax error is apparent at high power at closer distances. The Vortex Precision cantilever mount I used to mount the scope was made by American Defense Manufacturing and returned to zero within an inch every time.

The scope features an extra CR2032 battery holder neatly ensconced in the windage turret cap.

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The third turret on the left side adjusts reticle brightness. It is marked from 1 to 11 and has no “off” position between numbers. Install your CR2032 battery here for 150 hours of use. There is an extra battery holder neatly ensconced in the windage turret cap. The glass-etched second focal plane AR-BDC2 reticle corresponds to most 5.56/.223 and 7.62/.308 ballistics, and the large circle that Vortex calls a “halo” draws your eye to the center for quick acquisition on large or moving targets.

Top Contender The 1-8x24 scope itself grew a bit over its older brother—the 1-6x version of the Strike Eagle. More magnification range means more parts, so the 1-8x grew by about a half-inch in length and a little over 1 ounce. Not much difference to notice. The field of view on “low” power lessened by 0.1 inch, and the 3.5-inch eye relief stayed constant. Optical quality is also very good. This Strike Eagle would be a perfect match for an AR and the way most shooters use them. It will be a fun choice for plinking and range use, as well as a great starter competition optic. The versatility makes it a superb choice for pig hunting in most conditions. If you’re looking for the most useful and enjoyable single AR optic to spend your hard-earned money on, this would be a top contender.

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Pocket DUMP




hen you empty out your pockets at the end of the day, what do you expect to find? A few receipts, a candy wrapper and some lint? No, not you! We suspect your pockets’ contents would look something like what’s spread out here. Tools that you carry with you daily and can help get you through the day. Whether it’s the knife to help open a package or a flashlight to help find the screw that rolled under your workbench, each item you carry can be helpful in taking on the most mundane daily tasks.

Every Day Carry Items



A good wristwatch should feature at least several uses and look good while doing it. 5.11 calls its Sentinel Watch a “tactical dress watch” and that description fits it to a tee. It features phosphorescent hour and minute hands for easy viewing in low light and an anti-reflective coating when the sun’s out. It is water-resistant to 100 meters and has a unidirectional ratcheting dive bezel that is ready for action when you are.

Many of these EDC items also have uses outside of their day-to-day duties. Both the knife and the flashlight can be great defensive tools if needed in a pinch. What other items do you carry on a daily basis that can serve a defensive purpose?


Keys, Pen, Carabiner

This keychain holds a car key and several house keys and is clipped with a Nite-Ize S-Biner carabiner. This small carabiner is useful to keep gear in order and within reach. Here, the slim PicoPen by TEC Accessories is attached to the S-Biner.

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The Nit-Ize Financial Tool doubles as a wallet and multi-tool. It helps keep cash and cards together and comes in handy whenever any of its seven tools are called to use.

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Those who choose to carry a pistol daily know that they are ready for whatever threat might come their way. Ever vigilant, the CCW practitioner needs to depend on his or her pistol even under the most unexpected circumstances. This SIG Sauer P320 Subcompact is fitted with night sights and has a capacity of 10+1 9mm rounds.


The Q-Series Stealth is compact and gets the job done. It’s easy to put on and take off and always feels secure.


A pocketknife is essential to any EDC setup. Useful for everything from cutting open packages to whittling wood down for tinder, the knife is a natural defensive weapon as well. Shown here is Gerber’s Sharkbelly folder.


This is Multitasker Twist—probably the slimmest firearm-specific multi-tool we keep in our arsenal of tools. After years of service, it is still going strong.

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Overall Condition

If you’re very familiar with guns you’ll already know what to look for, but as a reminder let’s go through a few key items. If you’re new to guns, the following should give you a general idea of what to look at—but it’s always recommended you have a gunsmith check it out as well. You’ll want to inspect the exterior condition to make sure that the gun’s fit and finish are acceptable. Minor wear from holsters or light scratches is to be expected, but be wary of rust, pitting and even cracks. Chewed-up screw heads can be an indicator that at least one of the previous owners was not careful with the gun.


Pay Attention to Details


Aftermarket Accessories


Too Good To Be True

If you’re buying in person you’ll get a chance to function test the gun and, with permission from the owner, dry fire it. Make sure no live ammunition is present when you do inspect the firearm, but a snap cap can be handy. The gun’s trigger and action should function smoothly and you should not sense any unusual tightness or binding. Nothing should be excessively loose, either. Ask to field strip the gun or have the seller do so to allow you to inspect its inner components. Inspect the bore for rust, pitting and worn-out rifling. If you’re buying online, asking for a quick video and detailed photos should help you further determine the condition of the gun .

Modifying guns is a popular thing to do nowadays, and as a result it’s getting harder to find used firearms that have been left untouched from the factory. Some used guns are offered with aftermarket parts installed and some will have been configured back to stock configuration. If parts are found on the gun, take a look to make sure that they have been properly installed and are not loose or misaligned. An improperly installed accessory can damage the host gun and decrease its value— and in some instances affect its performance or even safety. Be sure to verify that the accessories are genuine and completely functional. For guns that were once modified but turned back to stock, be sure that no original parts are missing and that the job was done competently.

$150 for a G17? $500 for an M1A? Once in a blue moon you’ll run into a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but those are few and far between. If you find a listing online for a gun or gun accessory that is priced way below what it usually goes for, beware. Buying from reputable shops, sellers and websites is recommended. We’ve made plenty of successful purchases over auction sites such as and online forums as well, but do your homework on the items being sold, as well as on the seller. And again: buyer beware.

Tips for 05 Buying A Used Gun

have fun, stay legal

The laws regarding used firearms sales can very from state to state and even from local jurisdiction to local jurisdiction. Federal laws can differ from state and even county and city laws. Do your research to make sure you’re doing it right. Gun shops that offer transfer services are versed in the legalities and can help you through the process. If you haven’t bought a used gun before it may seem intimidating, but don’t let the process turn you off. There are plenty of great deals out there to be had. It may take some patience, but it almost always turns out to be a fun and rewarding experience.

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Meet your next rifle.

Experience 3-inch groups at 100 yards, from a crossbow measuring just 6 inches from axle-to-axle. Introducing Ravin with HeliCoil™ technology, a revolutionary cam design that fires arrows downrange with dead-straight nock travel and zero rail friction – for devastating precision. See the crossbow that shoots like a rifle at


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Profile for Vadim Koval

World of Firepower - July August 2018  

World of Firepower - July August 2018