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SB Tactial SBA4 Brace: Bringing Adjustability to the Fixed

Released at SHOT Show in 2019, the SBA4 is one of the newer AR pistol braces offered by SB Tactical, and among many along its AR, AK, and shotgun models. Highlight features to the brace include an adjustable length, a wider polymer body for increased support, and a QD mounting point that all provide improved comfort and function for shooters.

The SBA4 is intended as a follow-on to its predecessor, the SBM4, with the A4 having a more rigid forearm support sides, and a 1” hook-and-loop strap to secure the brace to the arm. However, where the A4 differs is the newer brace now accepts any 7075 mil-spec carbine buffer tube (included with brace) and thus has a 5-position adjustable length.

The older SBM4 only accepted pistol buffer tubes and was not adjustable. And unlike the older SBM4, the newer A4 brace now also includes a metal ambidextrous QD mounting point for slings forward of the buffer adjustment pin.

Fully collapsed, the A4 has a minimal length of 7.5”, while on a fully extended carbine buffer tube measures 10.25”. Understanding these measurements can become impetrative when determining the overall length of an AR build to meet ATF regulations on AR pistols.

With its wider angled polymer body, the A4 also enables an improved cheek weld for the user. This is an improvement over the SBM4, and for comparison an improvement over the smaller, thinner, and lighter Magpul CTR buttstock.

The SBA4 is available in Black, OD Green, FDE, or Stealth Grey.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At an MSRP of $169.99, the SBA4 is also available at secondary sites for approximately $129, with some retailer coupons or sales during holiday’s providing the brace for even a lower cost. Given that SB Tactical is the market leader for firearm braces, there is no direct competitor for comparison to the A4. However, its predecessor the SBM4 ($99) with a similar design, does include many of the same stabilization aspects, but the SBM4 is only for use with pistol buffer tubes and as such is not adjustable. Even the more recent SBA3 ($169) is lighter and adjustable, while the SBPDW ($299) is one of the heaviest AR pistol braces on the market. In all this gives the A4 an average price range for its time on the market and amount of materials involved.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): For its comfort factor, the sides of the A4 were very rigid and gave support to the forearm rather well. This prevented the AR pistol from canting, while the support strap kept the overall brace secured despite the weight of the firearm held out at full extension to the body. Indeed, users with thicker forearms may find it more difficult to get a deeper position within the brace at first, until the rubber has had time to adequately break in. The nylon support strap was slightly elastic which made getting a positive/tight bond somewhat difficult, but not unattainable. One notable improvement for the A4 was the wider 2.8” angled polymer body that gave the user more surface for a positive cheek weld. This was an improvement over the SBM4’s width of 2.0” and thus narrower angle/less surface for contact. Internet research showed a number of aftermarket replacement straps to most SB Tactical braces, including the A4 and the recommendation to the manufacturer would perhaps examine improving or offering alternate straps for improved comfort and function.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The SBA4 was made with dominantly a polymer body; which gave it a similar profile to a A2-style stock but with more rigidity than the SBA3 brace, and provided a stable platform for a positive cheek weld. The forearm support sides were made from a rubberized ABS material that gave the sides sufficient flex to contour around the arm. Over time and use the SBA4’s support sides did not collapse nor overlap, a problem that was a common concern for the SBA3, and rather the A4’s sides were molded to form and maintain a wedge shape when not in use, rather than loop. It is most likely that over time, the element of the A4 that will wear out first will be the hook-and-loop material to the 1” support strap (another reason there are aftermarket straps available).
  • Functionality Average (3/5): From a functional aspect the SBA4 was a little tricky to don on the forearm, it being necessary to fully loosen the support strap and push the arm through the sides. This was the same process similar to securing the older SBM4. The newer A4 also had more rigidity in its forearm support sides. These defiantly improved support to the AR pistol given its wide, angled dimensions that contoured around the arm once the support strap was tightened. Adjusting the position on the carbine buffer was a little tight, most likely attributed to variances in buffer tube dimensions and that not all tubes are a one-size-fits-all. But with a little effort the A4 was able to move across all five (of six) positions on the carbine buffer tube. The ambidextrous QD mounting points were full metal and accommodated a variety of mounting accessories. The feel of the QD point (forward of the adjustment pin and closer to the receiver) gave the overall AR pistol a tighter feel on the sling, and was a little distracting when raising the brace up to the cheek as it put the hardware right there by your face. Some adjustment of your sling may be necessary to accommodate this QD location.
  • Weight Fair (2/5): Weighing in at just 10 ounces (without buffer tube) the SBA4 is relatively lightweight, and among the line of other SB Tactical braces had a fair scoring. As noted above, once secured to the arm, the brace balanced the AR pistol and helped alleviate the weight of the firearm forward of the body. In comparison, the heaviest AR pistol brace in the SB line is the SBPDW (18.14 ounces) while others, such as the SBM47 (15.5 ounces), SBM4 (8.7 ounces), and SBA3 (6.75 ounces) demonstrate the weight of the SBA4 is towards the heavier side given most other AR pistol braces trend to a more minimalist approach with less materials that achieve the same results. The added weight is the payoff for the SBA4 to have that five-position adjustability.

Overall Rating – Average (16/25)

Product Link: https://www.sb-tactical.com/product/sba4/

***Editor’s Note: The history and ruling of AR/AK pistol braces is a sordid one. From the initial ATF ruling in 2014, the “clarification” letter by Max Kingery (then-acting Chief of Firearms Technology Criminal Branch) in 2015, and a second ATF ruling in 2017, and the most recent ATF clarification in 2019 the regulation agency has struggled to provide a clear ruling on the application of such devices. Specifically shouldering, the topic of proper use of braces has caused more internet arguments among “internet lawyers”. Currently ATF guidance as of 2019 states as follows:

“To the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational ‘use’ of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute a ‘redesign,’ such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which it has historically been enforced.”

As such, Per the ATF the use of an AR/AK pistol brace comes down to intent. Thus, accidental or “sporadic” shouldering of an AR pistol brace is not illegal. When consistently shouldered however, it demonstrates the intent to subvert regulations on SBRs by utilizing the AR pistol and brace as an impromptu work-around (and thus illegal). The same is said by adding accessories intended for precise accuracy as found with an SBR, such as scopes or utilizing irons. During the course of evaluations, any shouldering of the SBA4 was purely accidental, as efforts are made to test the brace within various range iterations to the extent of design, while still adhering to ATF regulations.

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I 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.

 

The Personal Utility “Go Case”: For Those On The Move

Introduced in early-2019, the Go Case by Pelican provides a low-profile, reinforced, crush-proof personal items case that can store small sensitive electronics, keys, a wallet, or any other essential items safely and securely.

The Go Case comes in two different sizes, the G10 and the G40, sized differently to accommodate different brands of cellular phones or similar electronics. Both variants are constructed from ABS polymer. The result is a container with an abrasion and impact-proof shell, that has also passed IP67 submersion testing and is rated waterproof (to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes) and protects from water, dirt, snow & dust.

External

The G10/40 has an external, low-profile shell made from ABS, with rubberized protective bumpers to protect the shell from accidental droppage. The shell also has an integrated carry handle for easy carrying or attaching a carabiner clip to.

Each utility case has a single hinge latch for easy one-handed opening, and stainless-steel pins that ensure smooth movement.

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To prevent water and dust penetration, the Go Case also has a single built in pressure valve, similar to other Pelican protective cases, that also allows balance of air pressure.

Internal

Internally, the Go Case distinguishes itself over previous personal electronics cases in that it includes a rigid divider tray with rubberized protective lining on the interior. The rear of the divider has an elastic band for credit cards and a bill fold.

Inside each Go Case is a rubberized O-ring that ensures moisture or dust does not penetrate the storage space.

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Specifications:

  • G10
    • External Dimensions: 7.05” (L) x 4.37” (W) x 1.81” (D)
    • Internal Dimensions: 4.80” (L) x 2.80” (W) x 1.60” (D)
    • Internal Volume: 0.01 ft³
  • G40
    • External Dimensions: 10.63” (L) x 5.39” (W) x 2.42” (D)
    • Internal Dimensions: 7.00” (L) x 3.50” (W) x 1.60” (D)
    • Internal Volume: 0.02 ft³

The G10/40 is available in Anthracite/Gray (featured), Slate/Teal, Lime/Gray, Blush/Gray, White/Aqua, Surf Blue/Gray.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): For $39.95 the evaluated G40 is perhaps the more reasonable of the two Go Case models in that it is large enough to accommodate most modern smart phones and other items commonly carried. The G10 ($29.95) is really only large enough to accommodate a wallet and/or keys, and for its smaller size is still somewhat expensive for a case with limited storage/functionality for most people. In comparison, The Nanuk Nano 330 ($34.99) has the equivalent dimensions of the G10 while the 903 Small Case ($44.95) is approximately the same dimensions of the G40. Both market alternatives are still more expensive than their Pelican variant. Thus, while the G10/40 is less expensive than market alternatives, their respective utility for the cost is a draw and best determined by the need of the consumer.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The low-profile shell of the Go Case made it much more comfortable to carry/hold, and it easily fit inside a backpack or between gear. The larger, integrated eyelet/carrying handle was also a nice additive in that you could easily hold the Go Case by it, or attach a D-Ring or carabiner to it. Some personal hard cases only include a cheap nylon cord or plastic D-ring that will do little to actually hold the case to anything.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Again, the Go Case is similar to the Go Ruck except for a lack of any exo-skeleton reinforcement. The shell of the Go Case was made from ABS polymer, similar to other Pelican products, so the experienced durability was similar to other hard cases. It’s small size and design helped aid in the security of the contents. Aside from using it with near abandon, the Go Case was rattled around in the back of a truck for a few weeks (unsecured), and the hinge latch proved secure enough to survive even an ambitious 4yr old (likely good testament to the stainless-steel pins that anchor it). If you pack sensitive items in the case however, ensure you do not allow for excess space otherwise the items may rattle around inside the case and become damaged.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): Functionally, the Go Case is pretty simplistic. The interior of the G40 will accommodate most full-sized modern smartphones, and the tray will allot for most wallets and/or a few keys (Note: If you have a protective case on your cell phone it may not fit in the tray but will fit in the bottom of the case). It is unlikely the G10 will fit anything more than a wallet and key FOB—so keep your needs in mind when considering the Go Case. Given that the interior size is limited, it was impossible to overload the Go Case to the point of the ABS’s failure. The hinge was a bit problematic, in that if struck just right from the bottom, it will inadvertently pop open—a legacy issue with this type of hinge design. The rubberized O-ring, much like in other Pelican products, helped ensure moisture did not penetrate the interior despite sitting in a sink submerged for 10 minutes to test its buoyancy and seal.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 0.93 pounds (empty) the G40 is the larger of the Go Case series (the G10 is listed as weighing 0.57 pounds) but its total weight is very minimal. Again, the interior size of the Go Case dictated how much could be stored, and as such the items you could fit (cell phone, wallet, a few keys, etc.) did not add a substantial amount of weight to the overall case. Alternatively, the Nano 330 has a stated weight of 0.8 pounds and the 903 Small case is 1.3 pounds. Thus, the G10 Go Case has a listed weight that was slightly heavier than other market alternatives, but the larger G40 weighed several ounces less than its competitors and thus is likely the more efficient deal for the price.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.pelican.com/us/en/products/cases/personal-utility-cases

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.

 

Propper EdgeTec “Slick” Pants: Tactical On a Budget

Introduced in 2019 at SHOT Show, the EdgeTec clothing line by Propper Apparel is designed for professional and civilian use, and offers weather resistance and comfort in a low-cost option.

The EdgeTec pants come in three different styles to meet different needs: slick, tactical, and EMS. The “slick” pants are intended to give the wearer a low-profile appearance while still offering the necessary coverage, flexibility, and storage. Constructed of a 4.7oz polyester ripstop, the material will offer a large degree of abrasion and water resistance be it on the job, at the range, or just as an every-day wear.

At the waist, the EdgeTec slick pants have seven 1.5” wide belt loops (four on the front, three on the back) with an elastic slide adjuster on both sides that adds for an extra 2” in the waist line to both sides. Inside the waistline the EdgeTec has two beads of silicone that run the entire length and act as a shirt stopper.

The cut of the EdgeTec slick pants offer a wide pant-leg from hip to ankle that maximizes maneuverability. It also has the standard four-pocket layout at the waist, with the front pockets having a re-enforced lining that accommodates for clip-items (such as a pocket knife or flashlight). In addition, there is a 4” wide low-profile pocket on the right thigh that will fit most modern smartphones.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $29.99 the EdgeTec line is meant to represent a balanced blend of no-frills, budget friendly tactical clothing. Its slick pants achieve that with design simplicity, while still providing a low-profile tactical pant. In comparison to the rest of the market, the price point of the EdgeTec slick pants is comparable.
  • ComfortExcellent (5/5): Given its 100% polyester, the slick pants are amazingly light and comfortable. An added plus is they are also very breathable, which will be of great benefit in hot climates or the summer months here in the Midwest. The elastic slide adjusters on the waist are a proven plus with any tactical pants.
  • DurabilityGood (4/5): While in a ripstop weave pattern that will improve longevity of the pants overall, it has been my past experience that the silicone bead on the inside waistband will be the first point of failure if proper cleaning instructions are not adhered to. Propper maintains that while this has never been an issue, you should take care to clean the clothing per instructions. Otherwise the silicone provided good retention of the shirt regardless of prone, kneeling, or standing.
  • 17-MEN_S-PANT-SIZE-CHART_CLASSIC-FIT_10JULY_1FunctionalityGood (4/5): Functionally the slick pants accomplish exactly what they are intended to be, a low-budget tactical pant. With plenty of room in the leg, groin, and waist, the polyester fabric easily repels liquids (such as rain) to a point. There is no gusset in the groin, nor means of securing the rear pockets. I would recommend that consumers consider ordering at, or one size below, their actual pant sizes as Propper seems to run a little on the plus side in measurement. I physically have a 36” inseam, but prefer a 38” to allot for boots and extra leg room when kneeling or other leg movement. In these pants that was unnecessary, and there is a little excessive length in the back of the leg when standing.
  • WeightExcellent (5/5): Its polyester construction means that overall the pants feel amazingly light, even when saturated with water. Persons needing that ultra-light performance wear would be well served with this material.

Overall Rating – Very Good (21/25)

Product Link: https://www.propper.com/spotlight/edgetec/propper-mens-edgetec-slick-pant.html

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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