Review Posted: Vortex Spitfire HD GEN II: Compact But Powerful

Released for 2021, the Spitfire HD Gen II is the latest iteration of the Vortex line of rifle and carbine powered optics. It offers powered magnification, and Vortex’s classic ranged donut reticle for distance shooting that gives the user a broad range of application. 

Review Posted: Magpul Patrol 2.0: Protect Your Knuckledusters

Released in 2020, the 2.0 is the latest iteration of the Patrol Glove offered by Magpul that brings together dynamic materials and robust protection, while offering maximum dexterity possible. 

Review Posted: Vortex Fusion Pursuit: For the Mild In-Between Season

The new Fusion Pursuit spring/fall jacket by Vortex offers lightweight and breathable coverage for those on the range, trails, and just around town.

Review Posted: Magpul ACS Stock: Adjustability and Storage for All the Field Needs

One of the longest running variants of polymer stocks from Magpul Industries, the ACS Stock is a multi-use, multi-function stock for AR-patterned rifles.

Review Posted: Cloud Defensive REIN: Innovation, Technology, and All the Lumens

Cloud Defensive established itself, first with its tape switch controls and then with its Optimized Weapon Light. But in 2020 it released the REIN weapon light that builds upon the lessons and knowledge gained in producing some of the most durable lights on the market.

Review Posted: Longshot LR-3 Target Camera: Looking Down the Long Range

The LR-3 target camera from Longshot is a wireless device that helps eliminate the tedious effort of walking distances to check paper, mark hits, or record adjustment.

Developmental Drill: SSE Accuracy Card

Whether you are working up a new load for a competitive cartridge, or zeroing in a new rifle—you’ll need a target to track your progress. This Accuracy Card is a free-for-use target, […]

Review Posted: SME Wi-Fi Optical Scope Camera

Similar to the Spot Shot Wi-Fi Camera, the Wi-Fi Optical Scope Camera by Shooting Made Easy offers the same unique device for hunters and long-distance shooters—but includes the added feature of an integrated hi-resolution screen.

Review Posted: Lynx Defense Ankle IFAK: Always Have the Life-Saving Essentials

The Ankle Medical Kit by Lynx Defense is an ideal way to carry basic IFAK items, in a discrete fashion so that they are readily available when needed. Scoring 21 of 25 points possible the Ankle Medical Kit did well for its excellent cost to the consumer, and relative light weight while worn.

Review Posted: SME Spot Shot Spotting Scope Camera: Save Your Eyes and Watch the Game

The Spot Shot by Shooting Made Easy, is a Wi-Fi-enabled camera mounted to the end piece of the shooting scope. It alleviates eye fatigue and muscle tension, meaning you can spend more time doing what you want—putting those rounds downrange.


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RE Factor’s Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck & IQ Targets: Building a Thinking Shooter

Bringing a level of innovation and practicality to the everyday run at the range, the Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck by RE Factor is intended to challenge both the novice and professional shooter. Done in conjunction with RE Factor’s IQ Targets, or as a stand-alone challenge, the system will mentally and physically push shooters outside of their established comfort zones and into complex shooting iterations.

The Deck

In a standard 52-card playing deck, the Dead Man’s Hand comes with a different shooting drill for each card (meaning there’s 52 different drills total). Drills start off simple with the lower valued cards and become more advanced as the cards approach the Ace.

Designed to work in conjunction with RE Factor’s IQ Targets, the Dead Man’s Hand comes in a sized storage tin for ease of carrying in a range bag. Users can select between a pistol specific shooting deck, or rifle.

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The Targets

Using a variety of shapes (circles, squares, triangles) and combinations of letters (A, B, and C) and numbers (1, 2, 3), the IQ target system shifts colors and is intended to force the shooter to think through complex stages that highlight acquisition, transition, movement and fundamentals. Variants of the rifle (5”) and pistol (3”) IQ targets are specific to those platforms, but can be substituted if needed.

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Although it does not account for it, shooters can add a shot timer, such as the CED7000 or a Pocket Pro II, to the drills to induce the stress of balancing speed, accuracy, and fundamentals.


  • 52-card playing deck
  • Protective case
  • Card dimension: 2.5 (W) x 3.5 (H)
  • IQ Target dimension: 23” (W) x 35” (H)

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $19.99 for a Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck, the associated IQ Targets vary in price depending on quantity selected, but start at $2.50 per sheet. This would be in comparison to more traditional target pages that incorporate the standard silhouette ($0.16/per), VTACs anatomical target ($0.75/per), or the LE Police Silhouette ($0.50/per) that often do little to encourage mental development of a shooter aside from “center mass”. But truth is the value of the Dead Man’s Hand and IQ Targets are in what they will impart to the shooter beyond just paper to poke holes into. In the event shooters want a challenging variety of drills they can complete themselves or as a team, then the shooting deck and targets provide a good balance between the materials and skillset for the cost.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The cards in the Dead Man’s Hand were the size of standard playing cards and thus fit accordingly. The deck’s light weight and protective tin made it an easy add to the range bag without becoming a burden or taking up excessive space. While progressing through the various cards/stages the drills did progressively get more challenging—often incorporating movement into the higher ranked cards. But the drills did not progress to the point of being impossible to complete (although some of the rifle “bonus” drills got rather complex). The corresponding IQ Targets had enough spacing, color, and number/letter that forced the shooter to think about the course of fire and not just blindly fire away.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): The cards in the Dead Man’s Hand had the same appearance and texture as current cardstock found in Hoyle or Bicycle playing cards. If so, then the material is most likely compressed layers of paper and retains the same level of durability (meaning avoid getting them wet). During selection of drills, the cards were just as flexible as standard playing cards, and using a riffle shuffle, easily mixed. The included protective tin ensured that when not in use, the cards would remain secured.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally, the drills found in the Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck were diverse enough to not overtax the novice shooter, but in the higher cards the drills challenge the more experienced. The core fundamentals stressed were target acquisition, sight picture, trigger squeeze, and breathing. At the higher face cards, the drills incorporated body movement to add complexity that made the drills very challenging. The cards between the rifle and pistol decks had enough of a design difference to readily identify between the two (although the tins were identical).
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 5.3 ounces per pack (with tin), the Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck is extremely lightweight considering the amount of drills contained within. Add into the complexity that you can either work through the drills with partners, or with a shot timer, then the savings of needing less training materials to cover the variety of instructions was even more valuable.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


Lockdown Puck: Keeping an Eye Out, Even When You’re Away

Secure monitoring of your home, and specifically your firearms, is often paramount to accepting the responsibility of being a gun owner. For those with multi-gun safes or vaults, the Puck by Lockdown offers a variety of monitoring features that connect to your smartphone device and help deliver 24/7 peace of mind.

The Puck is a small square device with logic-enabled software and a variety of sensors that monitors the current conditions to your safe or vault interior. The sensors monitor; temperature, humidity, vibration, and the current state of the safe/vault door. That data is then sent via Wi-Fi to the Lockdown app to be securely accessed by the owner anywhere in the world, at any time.

The sleek exterior hides an outward facing screen that is used during the sync process to the app, as well as can be used as a dumb switch to press and deactivate the door alarm. The housing appears to be made from aluminum to give the device some level of rigidity as well as strength. Working in tandem with the main Puck sensor, a small magnetic cube (with posts of varying height) helps provide sensor readings to detect when the door is open or closed.

The Puck is powered by two alternative power sources; either four AA batteries or a nine-foot Micro USB power cord that can be plugged into an outlet located inside the safe or vault for continual monitoring. The AA batteries will yield approximately 45-days of monitoring on the associated Power Save mode in the Lockdown app. It also includes optional mounting hardware although the Puck can also be mounted using simple hook-and-loop (not included) strips.

At any point where the Puck detects variances in temperature or humidity beyond the user preferences, movement, or the door opening while the device is armed, it will immediately push alerts to the user’s smartphone and detail the type of activity. In the case of tampering while armed, the Puck can also emit an audible alarm to announce the activity.


  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Free Lockdown app in Apple Store or Google Play
  • Puck dimensions: 3.25” (L) X 3.25” (W) X 1” (H)

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostExcellent (5/5): At an MSRP of $109.99, the Puck is one of the market’s current security devices intended to monitor saves, vaults, or doors using Internet-of-Things (IOT) technology (in this case labeled as LOGIC technology that can be accessed via smartphone app). While the sensors residing in the Puck are relatively traditional (motion, humidity, temperature, etc.) their application into a singular device that can be further accessed Wi-Fi securely by the user is very new. In comparison, Liberty Safe offers its SafElert device ($199) and Simtek ($250) has a similar sensor but with less capability. The Puck still comes in below the price of all of these and thus while there are few market competitors, it is still excellently priced for its capability.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): From a durability standpoint, the housing of the Puck was a combination of a lightweight aluminum frame and ABS plastic. This gave it some good level of accidental crush protection, but the ABS plastic-formed top (which doubles as a screen during the sync process and for manual operation) was most at risk. The idea being that placed out of the way the Puck should be unobtrusive and would survive an accidental drop or bump. But for those with vault doors or very heavy safe doors, if the Puck were to accidentally get caught during closure then it will sustain some exterior damage. The Puck came with the necessitating hardware and embedded magnets in the frame to mount the device in a semi-secure fashion—but the bracket does require the user to screw the bracket into the safe’s interior wall or door. There is also the option to use hook-and-loop (not included) as means of expanding the mounting options.
  • Functionality Fair (2/5): Functionally, over a 30-day evaluation the Puck held a fair performance that was best broken down into several categories:
    • Setup: The Puck has a sync process that necessitated Wi-Fi connectivity. As discovered, if the 5G/2G wireless router is not in close proximity to where the safe or vault is (such as a router upstairs in the family room and the safe in the basement), then there were problems syncing the Puck to the Lockdown app on the smartphone. The Lockdown app itself also could only identify the 2G signal, and did not identify the faster 5G. It is speculative, but this may be due to the Puck not having 5G compatible hardware as it is the newer technology. Several attempts were needed, by completely resetting the Puck, to get it to complete the sync process on the slower 2G network at a reduced signal strength.
    • Mounting: This again was problematic because based on the interior design aspects of the safe, it may be difficult to find a space that allows the Puck to be in very close proximity to the magnet that operates the OPEN/CLOSED door sensor. The manual made no recommendations or specifications, so the user is more or less left to be creative. The underlying issue was that the physical magnet itself, must be either touching the Puck when the safe door is closed or within ¼” of the noted triangle on the exterior housing. The further the magnet is, the less reliable the function of the sensor until ultimately the Puck could no longer detect the magnet and function reliably.
    • Performance: The Lockdown app was extremely simple and intuitive, with an easy to use interface that allowed the user to specify desired values for sensitivity, temperature, humidity, as well as check the status of the Puck’s Wi-Fi connectivity, power, and volume. All of which was readily monitored over the course of its 45-day evaluation and whenever something was amiss, an alert was sent via text message to the synced smartphone for the user’s awareness. During this time, approximately 15 false alerts were sent centric to the current status of the safe door or secure status. These increased notably after the batteries dipped below 20% power. All other sensors functioned normally and without incident. Attempting to open the safe door while the Puck was armed did result in the audible intrusion alarm.
  • Weight Fair (2/5): The Puck itself weighed in at a mere 6.6 ounces, which meant that its relative light weight was easily supported by hook-and-loop (not included) or the mounting bracket. Once mounted it became just another accessory mounted to the interior of the safe and supported by the safe’s frame itself. In comparison, the SafElert device (2.5 ounces) and Simtek (3.4 ounces) are also similarly light weight, but illustrate that the Puck still remains the heaviest of such security devices available. Given that all these devices are still supported by the safe itself, and generally still weigh mere ounces, the Puck and the SafElert were the only two that offer such extensive monitoring. If Lockdown could slim its design further, and bring its weight closer in-line with the weight of other similar devices, then its fair scoring in relation to the weight of other such devices would improve.

Overall Rating – Average (12/20)

Product Link:

IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


Vortex Strikefire II: Performance Glass For Your AR

Released in 2014, the Strikefire II represents one of several red dot reflex sights currently in the Vortex Optic lineup, and an evolution over its predecessor in terms of battery life and design. Powered by a CR2 lithium battery, it offers shooters a ruggedized and reliable reflex optic at an affordable price.

From the exterior, the chassis of the Strikefire II is made from a single piece of aluminum, resulting in a shock-proof housing. The outer layer of the chassis is then hard-coat anodized in a matte black to provide the shooter with a low-glare surface. Both lenses in the Strikefire II are sealed in multiple anti-reflective coatings that maximize clarity. Both fixed endcaps to the optic cannot be removed in lieu of other aftermarket designs. Finally, the internal space is purged with nitrogen gas to cut down fogging at all extreme temperatures.

The Strikefire II comes in two models (one Daytime Red Dot reticle and another in dual Red/Green) with each featuring a 4MOA dot (the only ones offered by Vortex at a 30mm lense diameter) that is ideal for reflex target acquisitions. The reticle has 10 intensity settings (with the lowest two compatible for night vision devices). Power life for a single CR2 battery in the Strikefire II is approximately 300 hours on the brightest setting, and 6,000 hours on the lowest. To give you an idea of some of the improvements to the Strikefire II’s design, the previous Strikefire model only had 100 hours of battery life on the brightest setting.

The picatinny rail mount for the Strikefire II is a lower 1/3 co-witness, cantilever-style.

STRIKEFIRE-RSpecifications for the Vortex Strikefire II include:

  • Magnification 1x
  • Objective Lens Diameter 30 mm
  • Eye Relief Unlimited
  • Adjustment Graduation 1/2 MOA
  • Travel Per Rotation 25 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Length 5.6 inches
  • Weight 7.2 oz

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): At $239.99 the Strikefire II is of significant value for a mid-level, red dot optic with quality glass. Given the size, lenses, hard-coat anodization and other aspects of the optic (in comparison to the market of other similar optics), the price is affordable to most shooters looking to move from iron sights to red dot reflex sights.
  • Comfort – Average (3/5): With its 30mm objective lens, the Strikefire II gives a large amount of eye relief, and is comparable on an AR to an Aimpoint PRO in terms of field of view. Yet given the size of the optic and mount, the Strikefire II is best suited for a full-length rifle, and not an SBR or AR pistol because of rail space limitations when considering other accessories (such as a magnifier).
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): There is an excessive number of videos on the internet speaking to the durability of Vortex optics, and the Strikefire II is no exception. The single piece chassis, O-ring gasket seals, and anodizing ensure the optic will continue to function regardless of impact, temperature, or moisture. But one of the areas Vortex shines over its competitors is its no-questions-asked Vortex VIP Warrantee where if the optic becomes damaged accidentally at any time, they will replace it (although they will want to hear the story). The only note impacting the overall durability of the Strikefire II is its lack of an automatic shutoff feature (found in the original Strikefire version) to extend battery life. With only 400 hours of battery live at max brightness, the CR2s won’t last long.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): In our “Daytime Red Dot” model tested in this review, functionality was easy and straightforward. Adjusting the brightness via the left-side button console was smooth and each button had a slight tactile feel to each click. Likewise, adjusting the optic to zero was easy with both windage and elevation dials having a clear audio and tangible 1.2 MOA click to them. Really the only negative factor to functionality is the limited 400 hours run-time to the CR2 battery, but considering the vintage of the optic and technology at the time, that is to be expected.
  • Weight – Average (3/5): At 7.2 ounces the Strikefire II is comparable to other 30mm lens optics in the current market, and indeed within Vortex’s own red dot line. Yet for its weight and size, the Strikefire II remains very well anchored on the cantilever mount and retains zero. You can’t test the stand-alone center of gravity on the optic due to the cantilever mount, but the user will find a comfortable spot for it on their rail.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link:

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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