Testimonials

G-Code RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform: Make Your Belt Adaptable

Introduced in late 2019, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform by G-Code Holsters is the latest edition to its Rapid Transition Interface (RTI) line of products. The RTI interface allows immediate and interchangeable attachment of any associated RTI hanger to the RTI base, thus holsters, IFAKs and pouches to be easily added or removed.

The RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform enhances any current belt-mounted G-Code holster (with an RTI hanger) by relocating the (optional) RTI wheel an additional 2” down off the belt, thus allowing the user to transition their belt-mounted holster, to a leg-drop.

Made from a rigid polymer frame, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform can accommodate belts up to 2” in width. The interior face of the belt loop itself has a panel of (female) hook-and-loop to correspond to most current tactical belts with (male) hook-and-loop liners for accessories. This ensures a solid placement of the platform regardless of belt width.

Each RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform has the option of coming with the Leg Strap Adaptor Kit (with Standard Buckle or an optional AustriAlpin original Cobra Buckle) for an additional cost. The Leg Strap is an elastic nylon strap with two bands of silicone material to help add grip.

RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform is available in Green (featured), Black, Coyote, and Grey.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): Starting at a base price of $35.50, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform comes as a standard mount, with the option of adding an RTI wheel ($10) and a Leg Strap Adaptor Kit ($20 with a slide-release buckle, or $40 with a Cobra Buckle). Thus; depending on the needs of the user, or mounting hardware desired, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform can cost up to $85.50 (without holster). In comparison, some alternate leg-drop platforms (without holster) include Safariland’s MOLLE-Capable QLS Receiver Plate ($90), Stealth Gear USA’s Single Strap Leg Drop Platform ($129), or Blackhawk’s SERPA Holster Platform ($53.95). In all consideration, while some options for the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform do push its cost upward, the overall platform’s cost still below most other market competitors offering a similar platform on which to add a separate holster – thus making G-Code’s leg drop very well priced.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): From a comfort aspect, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform was evaluated against the criteria of providing a comfortable position of the holster off the belt, and the leg strap’s ability to keep the holster retained despite the force of the draw to otherwise pull the platform up the leg. The platform relocated the holster to approximately the front pocket position just off the hipbone, placing it closer to the natural position of the hand at rest. While G-Code does make its holsters to exact tolerances, the leg strap also helped to keep the overall holster and platform in place during the draw with no flex, and ensured a smooth draw. The adjustable leg strap helped find the preferred blend of retention and comfort, so the user did not need to tie the leg strap tourniquet-tight to ensure the overall platform stayed in place. The RTI Wheel and Cobra Buckle provided a clear and audible lock and at no point unlocked unnecessarily.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform was made from the same durable polymer as other G-Code products; and indeed, the material remains well known throughout the market for its use in magazines, holsters, and other accessories. The Cobra Buckle itself is made from a 7075 aluminum alloy and featured solid brass and stainless steel components for maximum strength and retention. While the weakest element within the overall platform, the elastic leg strap itself did not weaken despite being stretched and adjusted, nor did the fibers themselves break or fray.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): Functionally, the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform was very stable, keeping the platform against the hip and thigh, while maintaining a solid lock on the holster. The ability of the overall unit to convert an otherwise belt-mounted holster into a leg drop was a nice additive vice having to buy an entirely new setup. G-Code has made a reputation for itself in making its products adaptable and interchangeable, and the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform gives the user that flexibility. Some may find the leg strap unnecessary if their holster is loose or minimalist (such as in competition rigs) but for the unit provided for evaluation, it aided in keeping the platform stable during dynamic movements. The RTI Wheel allotted for interchanging of any holster or pouch with the associated RTI Hanger.
  • Weight Average (3/5): Coming in at 10.8 ounces, the evaluated RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform was extremely light for its carriage. The heaviest aspect to the overall unit was its Cobra Belt Buckle, so the standard slide-release buckle would likely be more balanced (but have a far less breaking point). As stated, the added functionality of transitioning your RTI-enabled holster from belt mounted, to leg drop without needing an entirely new platform meant that the minimal increase in weight was more than a very adequate payoff. In comparison, the MOLLE-Capable QLS Receiver Plate (4.6 ounces), the Single Strap Leg Drop Platform (roughly 10 ounces), and the SERPA Holster Platform (3.52 ounces) all reflect just how lightweight blank platforms are without a Cobra Belt Buckle, and it is most likely that without that single element the RTI Optimal Drop Pistol Platform would be of comparable (or of average) weight (even though it is still extremely minimal).

Overall Rating – Good (21/25)

Product Link: https://www.tacticalholsters.com/product/gca200-rti-optimal-drop-pistol-platform/

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.

 

Spectre Kydex Holster: Quality Kydex From a Local Vendor

Introduced in our “What Goes Into a Product” series, kydex has any number of applications and configurations. Local Saint Louis holster manufacturer Spectre Holsters, LLC has been in operation since 2015, and recently acquired by Americas Armory, Inc. in 2018 to offer an expanded variety of standard and custom kydex holsters.

Specifications for Spectre Holsters

One featured Spectre holster is a custom OWB “Apparition” blended design for a Sig P226 with Trijicon RMR and suppressor-height sights; and a custom 2+1 pistol and rifle magazine combination that merges both stand-alone carriers into one unit. Both OWB holsters are in the officially licensed Multicam pattern, and cut from .8″ kydex. The design for the OWB pistol/magazine holsters combine the traditional taco/pancake style of holsters with a competition cut that retains an overall duty functionality. Spectre also included an IWB “Phantom” concealment holster for the same handgun in a low-profile black.

The OWB pistol holster features dual adjustable retention screws for customized pressure. The OWB magazine holster also has an adjustable retention screw for both pistol magazines, while the AR slot has enough stand-alone retention. The hardware used in the OWB design includes large CKK Combat Loops for both the pistol and magazine carriers, while the curve in the magazine carrier keeps the platforms close to the body. The IWB holster uses the standard belt loops that are angled to press the handgun into the body and reduce overall printing. All kydex edges are rounded and polished to maximize overall comfort.

Spectre Holsters, LLC offers a variety of product line to include; folded one or two-piece OWB kydex holsters, IWB concealment holsters, thigh-mounted handgun rigs, competition setups, or custom designed kydex holsters for large-frame hunting handguns.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): Spectre offers a variety of holsters at prices that are consistent with the rest of the industry. As an added bonus, Spectre offers a number of unique kydex patterns and designs such as officially licensed multicam, carbon fiber in varying colors, or other specialty prints.
  • ComfortExcellent (5/5): The retention screws on the OWB “Apparition” pistol and magazine holsters provide customizable pressure, and enable me to adjust for positive control and security. The curvature of the custom 2+1 magazine holster is excellent in maintaining its position close into the body. The use of CKK Combat loops allow easy adjustment in the width of the loops from 1″-2″ and maintain a positive and secure hold on either a competition or duty/tactical belt. Likewise the soft edges to the IWB “Phantom” also made for a comfortable carry against the body.
  • DurabilityExcellent (5/5): The durability of kydex relates to the use of the owner; the harder you run it, the more it conforms for the purpose needed. The only factor for either the OWB or IWB holsters provided involved fitting the interior dimension of the kydex holsters, with the dimension of my P226’s suppressor-height sights. As the holster wore in to my personal draw mechanics, the sights carved out the necessary clearance to the interior and achieved improved fit. Spectre backs up its holsters with a 100% satisfaction guarantee that addresses any concern in durability or functionality.
  • FunctionalityExcellent (5/5): Kydex provides for a large array in customization, and in this case the ability to create custom holsters for an RMR-mounted handgun, and preferred magazine carrier make the only limitation the user’s imagination and kydex maker’s skill. In this case, the functionality of an OWB shield holster blends with a competition-ready design to provide improve function. Draws and re-holstering were solid and the magazine holders had an almost buttery-smooth feel to them.
  • WeightGood (4/5): At .8″ kydex, the overall weight of the “Apparition” holster, 2+1 mag carrier, and “Phantom” holster are all around 1lb each (to include hardware). This is consistent to the weight of other similar holsters throughout the industry. Kydex is consistent in weight-to-thickness ratio so unless a manufacturer adds accessories, the weight of the carrier is very minimal.

Overall Rating – Excellent (23/25)

Product Link: https://spectreholsters.com

Spectre Holsters, LLC has provided a special discount for readers of STL Shooting Enthusiasts, use the promo code “MilSpecIA” and receive $5 off orders of $99 or more.

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.

Sig Romeo 5: Big Performance In a Budget Optic

Sig has been refining its emergent optic line since it first debuted them in 2016. As I discussed in my initial post on the Romeo 5, the little-optic-that-could has all the characteristics of an inexpensive, yet reliable, Red Dot Sight (RDS) that could give even some Aimpoint or Trijicon RDS’ a run for their money. With few marks against it, the Romeo 5 would be a solid choice for any novice shooter, or even an experienced one.

I’ve been running this optic since February; and its been out in the cold, through our (very) brief Midwest eight-day spring, and right into the summer heat. I’ve had it through static drills, stressors, and competition. And while I could continue to put the optic through its paces, fact is it is unlikely to change the results more than what I have concluded. Plus I have more optics coming in to test and I need the rail space.

If you’d like to review the optic’s full specs, those and my initial zeroing observation is posted here.

Sig Romeo 5 Highlight Features Include:

  • Motion Activated Illumination (MOTAC) – shutting down the optic when not in use and instantly activates the system when it senses the slightest vibration or movement. This feature extends the battery life to reportedly 40,000+ hours
  • Spectracoat – Described as a highly efficient, ultra-wide broadband, anti-reflection lens coating that reduce surface reflections to extremely low levels across the entire visible spectrum providing superior light transmission
  • Stealth ID – Design features inspired by our legendary firearms; trapezoidal surfacing that breaks up the shape and visibility of the optic

Some Sig Romeo Specs:

  • Dot: 2 MOA with 10 illumination settings (eight for daylight, two for night vision)
  • Integrated M1913 Picatinny mounting system
  • Waterproof up to 1m and fogproof
  • Box includes one CR2032 battery, one low-riser mount and one co-witness (1.41″) mount

romeo5_1x20mm-specs

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): Initially at $129, the Romeo 5 was very well priced for the capabilities offered. Had Sig invested a little more into hardening the exterior coating (which seems to be a recurring issue among the Romeo optic line) the added cost per unit would have been minimal. But when put in comparison to the market of RDS optics, such as Holosun, Aimpoint, Trijicon and more, the Romeo is clearly marketed as a budget-friendly optic. Sig recently transitioned the Romeo 5 to a “Tread” version featuring their interpretation of the Gadsden snake for $149, while bumping the original model up to $219. You can still find the original $129 on sites like Amazon, but be vary cautious as there are knockoffs and sellers with ulterior motives (like selling a broken or floor optic that is advertised as “new”).
  • ComfortGood (4/5): The 2MOA dot was clearly visible indoors and out, with only minimal pixelation around the dot at the higher brightness values. While this is notable in comparison to higher-end RDS systems like RMRs or a C-More, it is not to the point of effecting accuracy or function.
  • DurabilityFair (2/5): The Romeo 5 earned split marks in durability. While there is extensive evidence into the robust design of the RDS (a simple internet search reveals owners freezing it in ice, driving over it with trucks, dropping it, and shooting it with a shotgun), the exterior coating is marginal at best. During my time utilizing the optic, I picked up several deep scratches down to the metal when the optic contacted the sling’s metal hardware, during transition drills, or in general use. At one point I swiped my thumb across the “Sig Sauer” logo and some of the white paint smeared off with it. My initial premise that the rubberized lens covers would be the first to suffer proved correct as the plastic attracted all manner of debris and warped similar to a rubber band. Through it all the Romeo 5 optic maintained zero and the lenses remained clear and unblemished.
  • FunctionalityGood (4/5): As an RDS, the Romeo 5 is very straight forward and simple. Easy to turn on, and in the event you forget, the optic’s MOTAC will automatically turn off the device for you (a feature that can be disabled if you choose) thus maximize battery life. The adjustment caps have an integrated tab to assist in adjusting the windage/elevation dials, which have a clear and tangible click to them. The included mounts at varying heights are an extra bonus.
  • WeightGood (4/5): At just 12.2 ounces (excluding your choice in mount) the Romeo 5 is very light, and in comparison to other micro RDS systems is equatable in weight.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://www.sigsauer.com/products/electro-optics/red-dot-sights/romeo5/

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.

Vortex UH-1 Razor Holographic Optic: Built Tough

Introduced at SHOT in 2017, the UH-1 Razor is Vortex’s premier reflex optic and first model using holographic sight technology. Its robust build and overall design play a fitting tribute to its UH-1 “Huey” namesake that was the US Army’s workhorse in Vietnam.

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UH-1 ERB-CQB Reticle

Designed with the tactical consumer in mind, the Razor features an ERB-CQB Holographic Reticle using FHQ Technology that minimizes stray light emissions from the optic. The Razor’s exterior utilizes a matte black, aircraft-grade aluminum housing to minimize reflectivity. The high-quality optical glass is coated in ArmorTek to increase scratch resistance, then sealed in an anti-reflective coating. The interior of the optic is sealed with Argon gas to maximize performance of the overall system and minimize parallax. The Razor also comes with a built-in picatinny quick disconnect mount and throw lever for ease in mounting.

The power source for the Razor is a lithium CR123A battery (with an average 1500hr run time in the UH-1). Alternatively, the optic can also use an LFP123A rechargeable battery that can be recharged using a micro USB cable connected directly into the side of the Razor’s housing. The UH-1 has 15 different brightness settings, and the reticle will pulse when 25 hours of run time remain (but that feature can be cancelled). To prevent potential power drain, the optic has an auto shutoff feature that power downs the Razor after 14 hours of inactivity (but again that feature can be deactivated if desired).

Vortex also backs up its optic line by offering a transferable lifetime warranty that supports the optic, regardless if the owner is the original purchaser or not.

Specifications for the Vortex UH-1 Razor:

  • Power: 1x
  • Objective: 35mm
  • Elevation Adjustment: 0.5 MOA per click
  • Windage Adjustment: 0.5 MOA per click
  • Reticle: Red ERB-CQB; Red 65-MOA Segmented Circle; 1-MOA Red Dot
  • Length: 3.6”
  • Width: 2.05”
  • Height: 2.5”
  • Weight: 11.08 oz.
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $649.99 the UH-1 is a bit of an enigma. In comparison to the current market of holographic optics; EOTech, Leupold, Holosun, Sig, and yes…even Sightmark, holographic technology is only new for Vortex and not the greater market. The price point for the UH-1 at the time of this writing places it in the upper tier of the red dot market, and in the reviewer’s opinion out of consideration to most civilian consumers. Even in comparison, the price of the UH-1 places it on par with high-end EOTech XPS models that are specifically marketed to the military. With luck, in the future Vortex will offer something comparable at a more reasonable price range now that it has adopted the holographic technology into its optic line.
  • ComfortGood (4/5): The Razor mounts easily via its integrated mount, and the field of view looking through the optic is one of the largest on the market (though as a rectangle). This translates to rapid target acquisition when transitioning between multiple targets. The Razor’s red ERB-CQB holographic reticle shows up bright in full sun, but somewhat broken. In comparison, in low-light or indoor settings the reticle is bright and clear, a difference likely attributed to the volume of ambient light entering the optic.
  • DurabilityExcellent (5/5): The Razor’s aircraft-grade aluminum housing, and sealed internals makes it an extremely robust and durable optic. Some surface marring was attained during normal range stages and stressor drills, but none of these penetrated the hardened exterior coating. This supports the conclusion that the Razor is more an optic designed for customers within the Department of Defense and not civilians.
  • FunctionalityGood (4/5): The speed in which I was able to acquire the target with respect to the Razor’s ERB-CQB reticle was notable. In essence, lining up a 10-ring circular target within the circular design of the reticle made for quick follow-up shots that were easily center mass. This is a clear advantage over red dot optics like Aimpoint that feature only a single dot as the point of aim. Zeroing the optic was easily achieved and the audible/tangible adjustment dials provided easy movement of the reticle.
  • WeightFair (2/5): At an overall weight of 11.08 oz. the Razor is 0.06 oz. heavier than an EOTech XPS, and 0.03 oz. heavier than a EOTech 512. The Razor is also 1.58 oz. heavier than a Leupold Carbine Optic, but in comparison to Holosun or other holographic optics, the Razor is more than three ounces heavier. This weight is directly attributable to the military grade, heavy-duty design and durability of the UH-1.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://vortexoptics.com/red-dots/razor-amg-reddot/vortex-razor-amg-uh-1-red-dot.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.

SOFLETE Shooter Programming

Amid its various strength-based programming, the performance gurus at SOFLETE have developed a shooting program that offers individuals a wide array of improving one’s performance with firearms (to include concealed carry, carbine, and long-distance). It is a system that offers a simple user-interface, with easy-to-follow instructions by instructors who have demonstrated competency behind the trigger in both a tactical and competition setting. If you are looking to build basic familiarization or advanced carbine work, the Shooting Team program offers something unique for everyone.

IMG_0765.jpegI first joined the Shooter programming back in 2017 when SOFLETE emerged with its own redesigned mobile app and online store. It has since grown to feature programming and drills from intermediate to advanced, for all three weapon platforms (pistol, carbine, long-distance). The Shooting Team offers weekly dry-fire drills that culminate in a one-day live fire intended to emphasize that cycle’s purpose-driven training. Subscribers can download targets, or incorporate standard IDPA scoring targets, along with tutorials and stage setup designs for range day. The various Shooting Team cycles are diverse enough to allow users to choose those that best fit their needs, but all emphasize fundamentals that are applied to tactical or competition settings.

The mobile app itself is extremely user-friendly, offering ease of navigation and flexibility. Subscribers choose their “team” and then select which programming cycle they want to subscribe to (most shooting cycles running approximately 10-12 weeks). While participating in a cycle, drills are divided up into sequences based on what weapon platform you want to use (pistol, concealed, carbine, and distance). This prevents crowding to your limited screen size on the mobile device, or overload you with information. The SOFLETE app also features an internal bulletin board that allows subscribers to interact with one another or directly with the coaching staff for questions, guidance, or general tom-foolery among like-minded individuals.

The Shooter programming first cost $25 per month when released, then combined with one of SOFLETE’s other various fitness programs at the time as a Combat Athlete bundle for $40 a month. In 2018 it became part of the All Access pass for $34 a month, that in addition to the Shooter programing, grants subscribers’ access to all of SOFLETE’s programming (to include specialty programming like Women’s training, Selection Prep, Nutritional (food prep), and Backcountry (for pre-hunting season improvement)). The plus side is you can sign-up for your first 10-day trial session for free (which is over a week of dry-fire drills and one range day), try it all out and then decide if it’s for you. The only caution I have for subscribers is SOFLETE’s automated billing service will not warn you when your subscription is expiring – the system automatically charges you for another billing cycle until you initiate a subscription cancellation. This practice is common in other gym membership programs as well, so be aware of this if you have automated or other structured household payments.

Overall, I am very pleased with the Shooter programming by SOFLETE. There is enough flexibility between its schedule and mine that I often will combine two weeks worth of dry-fire exercises, and then dedicate an entire afternoon to running through both live fire drills. Drills are challenging and take about 30 minutes to complete, but the app allows me to track how I am progressing in speed (using my own shot timer with the app) and accuracy (via personal scoring). If your range (like mine) is in an area with questionable cellular coverage, I’d recommend either printing the range day drills in advance, or screen capturing them to work around your own limitations in infrastructure. I have noted an increase in personal reloading times and speed, but it’s more about growing as a competent shooter with training that expands your skillset. For folks who are casual shooters or in units that only hit the range for qualifications, taking the initiative and using this programming will defiantly improve your skills. Likewise, if you are in a unit that already does a good deal of range time, but thought about stepping out of your comfort zone and into another platform, the SOFLETE Shooter programming will guide you through that in a structured format.

 

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost Good. While the Shooting Team app no longer has its own subscription service, the price for All Access is extremely affordable given the extensive knowledge and access granted to the subscriber.
  • DurabilityGood. The revised SOFLETE app has proven very functional, with SOFLETE staff responsive to smart phone or subscription problems to ensure compatibility.
  • Functionality Excellent. The Shooter programming itself was invaluable, with a wide variety of drills and live fire exercises that emphasized fundamentals and advanced techniques not readily available to civilian consumers.
  • Overall Rating – Very Good

Product website: https://soflete.com

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.

S.O. Tech Tactical Mission Go Bag

fullsizeoutput_1adf.jpegI was first introduced to the concept of a “boom bag” amid one of my many overseas adventures, and since then it has been a mainstay of my time at the range. Done right, a boom bag (or satchel bag) can be a versatile and essential piece of every-day gear that has a wide array of applications.

The premise of a boom bag is pretty straightforward. They are small packs or bags that hold spare magazines (loaded or unloaded), loose ammo, grenades, aid kit, or whatever is essential for the mission at hand. The idea being its a bag that can be grabbed and thrown into use without a jumbled mess inside – where everything is easily accessible and secure. They need to be durable enough to last hard use, but not so bulky as to rival the added weight of another rucksack. Lots of folks use the typical range bag or every day carry bag to fulfill this role; but as I found, not all bags are equal.

After quite a bit of research, I came across S.O. Tech Tactical and their Mission Go Bag (MGB).

Mission-Go-Bag-A1-press-release-440x293The S.O. Tech MGB was introduced circa 2005 as a trauma bag, then revamped in 2015 as an A1 model with added features that celebrate S.O. Tech’s 10 years as the choice pack by US Special Operations. Its size makes it ideal as a medical bag, carrying radios and batteries, breaching tools, E&E components or anything you could need for the task at hand. Designed by founder Jim Cragg based on his own experiences in the military, the MGB offers two main compartments, smooth zipper closure, and 12 different carry configurations—but its real advantage is in its well-thought-out design.

Unlike its contemporaries, the MGB’s main compartment has a deep opening, so that when accessing the contents everything is visible in a single look (something that in a high stress situation can be critical). Inside the main compartment are four side pockets with drawstring and cinch closures. This allows you to keep an assortment of loose items or packages secure and separate from the rest of the contents in the main compartment. For example, if viewed for a medical purpose this design enables the MGB to have dedicated and secured pockets for Israeli dressings, hemostatic agents, bandages, and other aid elements while still leaving the main pocket compartment available for other use. The main compartment also features a divided sleeve along the back that can keep maps, notebooks, or other legal-sized documents.

The secondary compartment on the front is accessible via another zipper closure, and has two, eight-slot MOLLE panels stitched to the outside. Inside, the secondary compartment is rather straightforward with a legal-sized storage area and a Velcro panel for adding secondary accessories with a similar backing.

Another unique feature about the MGB is its ability to adapted to 12 different carry configurations that include:

  • Backpack
  • Belt pack
  • Brief case
  • Chest pack
  • Pack mount
  • Satchel
  • Sling pack
  • Vehicle wall pack
  • Vest mount
  • Waist pack

On the whole the MGB is amazingly versatile regardless of how you intend to use it. The 500D Cordura nylon construction gives it a proper blend between durability against hard use, and flexibility that allow it to conform against the body or pack as needed. On the back, the rubberized pad proved to be a lifesaver in preventing heat rash or excessive movement of the pack. The only noted negative was the shoulder strap itself may need some more padding given its width. In any of the over-the-shoulder methods you may find it rubs exposed skin a little raw. In addition, the handle straps don’t have significant padding to be carried as a briefcase throughout the day.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): At $130 the MGB is at a price point comparable to other packs on the market of similar size. For an additional $10 you can get a special operations edition with embroidery.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): The MGB was surprisingly comfortable in many of its configurations, especially as a backpack. However, lack of support material in the handle as a briefcase, and strap for over-the-shoulder use gave it negative marks.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The 500D Cordura material is very puncture and scratch resistant. It won’t stop a blade attack or isn’t bulletproof, but it will hold up against dragging, pulling, or field use extremely well.
  • Functionality – Excellent (5/5): The number of carry configurations make the MGB extremely adaptable, for any mission or role.
  • Weight – Good (4/5): The bag itself is merely 1.5lbs, but you can fit a lot more weight into it than that. Each pocket in the main compartment holds approximately 1k lose rounds of 9mm, or roughly 800 rounds of loose 5.56/.223, so it can carry a good amount. Your largest limiting factor on weight will be having to carry what you put in it.
  • Overall Rating – Very Good (21/25)

Product website: https://sotechtactical.com

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.

 

CED7000 Electronic Shot Timer: The Right Tool for the Right Job

This article has been updated with feedback from the manufacturer. It includes corrections to funcationality and durability. 

The importance of timing, in any competitive training, cannot be over-emphasized. Without understanding where you are, you can never know what you need to do to improve.

IMG_3947Regardless if your preference is in the competition shooting sports, tactical, or defense—the use of an electronic timing device is as important as the ammo that feeds the gun, or batteries that power the optics. Introduced in 2006, the Competitive Edge Dynamic (CED) 7000 Shot Timer remains one of the top chosen timers in the industry. It accommodates a broad array of shooting styles and training modes that ensure consistently fast, reliable, and accurate timing to track your performance.

The CED7000 is like many of its competitors; a full-feature, audio-detection shot timer that can be worn in a number of configurations or positions. CED offers a full line of support accessories that complement the CED7000 to include; “big shot” display board, carry holsters, and colored cases. However, unlike any of the other leading shot timer on the market, the CED7000 is smaller than (most) modern smartphone (actually measuring 3.9″ x 1.8″ x 0.7″) and weighs just as little. Combined with its internal lithium rechargeable battery, this translates to hours of range time without worrying about the shot timer’s size or where to position it during stages.

By the numbers, the CED7000 comes with a two-year warranty and offers a host of features:

Nine different modes:

  • Range Officer Mode (a mode expressly for ROs)
  • “Silent” Operation (for Cowboy shooting)
  • Repetitive (for “turning” target systems)
  • Comstock
  • Combined Comstock
  • “Spy” Mode (good for a 2nd RO to use as a backup timer)
  • Stop Watch
  • Countdown
  • Alarm Clock

Four different Par Time settings:

  • Single
  • Custom
  • Automatic
  • Multi-Par (Up to 11 Par times)

Fixed (3 second), Random (2-5 second), Instant, or Custom time delay

Adjustable microphone sensitivity, shot filter, and buzzer volume

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): $119 – $129. In comparison to the current market of available shot timers, the CED7000 is reasonably priced. Occasionally, an online coupon or discount code is available for some of the larger distributors to further lower the cost. For an additional $10 you can get either the chrome or “tactical” model with the RF emitter pre-installed for the CED “big shot” board.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): At 80 grams or 2.9 ounces, the CED7000 is amazingly light, and if worn by a neck lanyard throughout the day, its weight is hardly notable. Its 110db+, 2500hz audio chirp is clear and very distinct. The only notable negative mark here is the small size of the LCD screen makes the corresponding times and other readings smaller than it would appear on other shot timers. The LCD does illuminate whenever a reading or entry is made, which aids low-light/no-light training greatly, then automatically turns the illumination off after 30 seconds of inactivity.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The exterior housing of the CED7000 is a commercial-grade plastic, and with the add-on silicone protective case and screen shield, the most questionable part of the CED7000’s design is the connection point between the rechargeable battery and the AC power cable. CED responded saying that despite 100,000 units sold since launch, they have never had a single issue in this regard, and less than 0.02% returns for failure of the power adapter.  CED does offer a subsequent battery exchange service that will likely address any potential issue, or when the rechargeable battery no longer maintains a sufficient charge. It should be noted CED has also only had a 1% return rate for button wear.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): And to be clear, the only reason the CED7000 did not make higher marks for Funcationality was because while it has a tremendous number of modes and features, navigating through them is limited to four buttons and a directional toggle. The consumer really needs to be familiar with how to navigate through the menus and change the settings, or find one they consistently want to use and leave it alone. The CED7000’s ability to adjust sensitivity and mitigate other shooters on the range, or echo is also a plus.
  • Weight – Excellent (5/5): As stated, the CED7000 is amazingly light and compact. This earns the shot timer solid marks in comparison to other market shot timers that can weigh upwards of three times in weight, and almost as much in size—yet still have the same functionality.

Overall Rating – Very Good (21/25)

Competitive Edge Dynamic 7000 Shot Timer: https://www.cedhk.com/ced7000-shot-timer

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.

Haley Strategic D3CRX Chest Rig: Mission Driven Function

Introduced in late 2016, the Disruptive Environments Chest Rig “X” is an evolution in the previous D3CR design, but offers the continued adaptability and multi-mission driven-design that put Haley Strategic on the map.

Specifications for the D3CRX:

Made in 500D Cordura, the D3CRX features the following:

  • An X-harness across the back, for improved comfort and adjustability.
  • Two multi-mission pouches to increase versatility and adaptability such as carrying spare batteries, aid supplies, or small GPS-enabled devices.
  • Full backing field of hook-and-loop allow for full-contact with plate carriers using a velcro panel on the front, or via using quick release systems like SwiftClips.
  • Accepts four AR or AK magazines, or any standard single or double-stack pistol magazines. All of which are secured by shock cord and Hypalon retention tabs.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $185, the MSRP for the D3CRX chest rig is comparable to other manufacturer’s of high quality gear to include SOE, Mayflower/Velocity Systems, Tactical Tailor, etc. However the use of 500D Cordura in the materials, combined with unique design aspects like the “X” adjustment straps on the back, or the heavy-duty magazine retention tabs show the level of quality put into the design of this chest rig.
  • ComfortGood (4/5): Even with four fully-loaded AR magazines and four double-stack pistol magazines, the D3CRX was surprisingly comfortable. The loaded weight of the magazines didn’t loosen the adjustment straps around the waist or shoulders despite physical stressors prior to shooting. The rig remained tight and held the overall platform close up into the chest. It takes a little of a trail-and-error to learn how to don and remove an “X” style chest rig as opposed to an “H” style, but I found the former distributes the weight across the upper torso more evenly. Elastic retention cuffs on the adjustment straps would have been a nice low-cost addition to secure excess material once adjusted, but those can be purchased separately.
  • DurabilityExcellent (5/5): The overall chest rig is constructed from 500D Cordura, meaning it will have the necessary abrasion resistance for longevity, but the flexibility to move and adjust with the shooter as they transition through various shooting evolutions. The Hypalon retention tabs will far outlast the corresponding shock cord, the latter of which can be removed and replaced as necessary. There is a fair amount of re-enforced stitching on high-abuse areas that will also ensure overall longevity.
  • FunctionalityExcellent (5/5): The overall functionality of the D3CRX isn’t just as a stand alone chest rig, though it does that in spades. It’s ability to also offer two multi-mission pockets expands on the chest rig’s application. But with the D3CRX’s added full hook-and-loop field backing (or by using quick disconnect tabs) the chest rig can be separated from the shoulder straps and directly mounted onto a plate carrier so as to add to that expanded functionality. Haley Strategic also offers a number of accessories or packs that further enhance the D3CRX’s applications.
  • WeightAverage (3/5): At an overall weight of approximately 1.5lbs. (with all pouches empty) the D3CRX is of an average weight for chest rigs, and consistent with the choice of overall materials used (Cordura). Alone the weight of the chest rig is hardly noticeable, and fully loaded the design distributes the overall weight evenly across the shoulders and around the waist.

Overall Rating – Very Good (21/25)

Product Link: https://haleystrategic.com/shop/soft-goods/chestrigs/d3crx

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.

Shadow Elite Bravo Fleece Hoodie: Comfort From the North

Manufactured by Canadian company The Requirements Group and sold in the United States via its subsidiary retailer Shadow, the Bravo hoodie is part of the company’s Elite line and one of its more practical items of tactical clothing.

Specifications for the Bravo Fleece Hoodie:

Constructed in a flexible, weatherproof, three-layer fleece the Bravo hoodie features:

  • An outer layer with a 10k hydrostatic weatherproof membrane
  • A fully adjustable hood via drawstring
  • Zippered pockets on both the left and right sleeve with hook-and-loop panels
  • Elastic banded cuffs
  • Oversized front pockets with two-way YKK zippers
  • Hidden internal pockets
  • Concealed shock-chord adjustable hem
  • Coats stitching

The Bravo hoodie comes in sizes from Small to XXXL, and in black, olive drab, and coyote.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): With an MSRP of $79.70, the Bravo fleece is accurately priced in a wide market offering a dearth of duty or tactical clothing. Yet when considering the Bravo is a three-layer system that maximizes weatherproofing, the hoodie is actually well marketed.
  • ComfortGood (4/5): The Bravo is extremely comfortable and the layered fleece was notably flexible in both the shoulders and chest. While the XL tested has enough length in the arms, the fleece is also slightly flexible to allow it to stretch slightly and accommodate those with a slightly elongated upper torso. The elastic cuffs stop just at/above the wrist bone. The hood does cover up to the crown of the head, although it would be beneficial if it were either removable or storable into the collar when not in use.
  • DurabilityGood (4/5): Designed by The Requirements Group and manufactured in Pakistan, the multi-layered fleece uses a method of fabric weave that enables it to attain a 10k Hydrostatic Rating and resistant to most major weather concerns. The seams are not stitch sealed however, so while the larger three-layer surface area is waterproof, with enough heavy saturation the seams will seep first. The Bravo did maintain durability during various stressor tests to include light fitness drills (burpees).
  • FunctionalityGood (4/5): Overall the Bravo met all functionality expected of it, which is as a lightweight, flexible, duty or tactical fleece. The added benefit of the hidden pockets and rubberized access point enabled for an iPhone with headphones to be threaded through from the inside of the pocket to the inner shell. The hook-and-loop panels also enable for a variety of morale, IR, or unit patches to be worn and be easily visible.
  • WeightGood (4/5): The XL Bravo fleece hoodie weighs approximately 1.8lbs. and is consistent with other light fleece jackets on the market. It is light enough to be worn as a daily wear light coat, or as layered duty apparel. The weight would also do well to serve as a light range fleece to ward off the cold of early morning setup, or late night/low-light range drills.

Overall Rating – Good (19/25)

Product Link: https://therequirementsgroup.com/she-3262/

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 Bail Out Bag: Rapid Response On the Go

Designed for rapid deployment and flexibility, the Propper Bail Out Bag offers a modern take on a way to pack for a short-term contingency.

Initially introduced during the Korean War by soldiers preparing “bail out” positions, packs were put together that were meant to sustain individuals 12-24 hours until they could get to a position or point of greater support. These packs became known as Bail Out Bags (BOBs). Today the concept of BOBs has expanded to include packs specific to a purpose, such as Boom Bags, 72-hour packs, or first responder/active shooter bags.

Specifications for the Propper Bail Out Bag

The Propper Bail Out Bag is 100% 600D Cordura and features two, full-sized access compartments (one wide, one thin) – both featuring a full panel of hook-and-loop in the interior, but the larger compartment also features a full panel of MOLLE webbing as well. This allows customization of the internal compartments to any pocket, holster, or pouch with the associated mounting system. Both compartments are secured via zippers using 550 cord with rubberized tubing.

On the BOB’s exterior, one side is completely lined with three bands of MOLLE webbing and one panel of hook-and-loop the entire length of the bag. On the other side are three AR-15 magazine pouches with elastic slide adjusters that will accommodate up to six magazines (two per pouch) and secured via hook-and-loop. The BOB features two side pockets; one mesh with an elastic enclosure band and the other with a zippered enclosure (using a 550 cord drawstring) and exterior MOLLE webbing.

The entire bag measures 11″ length, 5″ deep, and 9″ in height. It has five drainage grommets and is carried via a single padded shoulder strap with two plastic carabiner clips and anchored at two plastic D-rings. The Propper Bail Out Bag comes in Coyote (featured) and black.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $34.99 the Propper Bail Out Bag is nicely priced for its size, features, and materials. I do think however given the market for similar BOBs, some improvements could be made with minimal impact to the overall cost of the product, such as reinforced hardware.
  • Comfort Fair (2/5): Fully loaded, the BOB resembles, and feels like it looks – a large square slung over your shoulder. While you can’t overload it weight-wise, if worn while deploying a carbine the pack does not contour to the body effectively and is only secured via a single shoulder strap. Additionally, I would have liked to have seen the underside of the shoulder pad rubberized for added grip. Access to the compartments and magazines was easy as the zippers felt smooth and the hook-and-loop was secure.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The 600D Cordura of the bag is on par with other similar priced BOBs on the market. The choice of material will ensure abrasion resistance and longevity regardless if the BOB is used on the range, in a patrol car, or personal vehicle. I do question the choice of using plastic for the carabiner and D-ring hardware, because it feels flimsy in relation to the weight of a fully loaded bag and its potential operational environment (one where it is supporting law enforcement and getting tossed around while worn or pulled at by vegetation). Other patrol bags and smaller dump bags do use similar plastics in their hardware, but as a BOB you want that added durability to key points.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): The design of this bag as a “Bug Out Bag” implies one (by nature of position or duty) regularly carries, or has immediate access to a carbine, such as a patrol officer or sheriff would. With the dedicated magazine pockets, and plenty of MOLLE webbing, the BOB has a large array of functionality for LEOs or members of the military looking for an active shooter or first response bag. However, from the standpoint of civilian application then this BOB would be better suited as a small range bag.
  • Weight Good (4/5): Weighing in at less than a pound, the BOB’s relatively small size and choice of materials help ensure the overall weight is minimal. Your ability to add weight is entirely up to you, but keep in mind that there are no carry handles so all the added weight will be on your shoulder.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

Product Link: https://www.propper.com/propperr-bail-out-bag.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.

Pocket Pro II Shot Timer: Simplicity and Speed

Depending on if your shooting interests are competitive, developmental, or personal a quality shot timer is essential. The Pocket Pro II by Competition Electronics offers a simplified timing platform that covers all the bases needed to accurately track skill progression. Initially introduced circa 2012 as a more ergonomic model to its predecessor the Pocket Pro, today it remains one of the most visible and readily found timers on the range.

The Pocket Pro II is a simplified, stand-alone audio-detection shot timer that can be worn in any number of locations (belt, pocket, vest) thanks to its integrated, large clothes-pin style belt clip. Additionally, it features a 3/4″ x 2.0″ LCD display screen that can be modified to three different shot time configurations. Because of the Pocket Pro II’s overall size (5” x 3” x 1.5”) it is clearly designed to be worn or hand-held, which makes it ideal for formal matches. The Pocket Pro II also comes with a 9-volt battery that powers the shot timer for 20 hours of run-time that is extended thanks to an automatic shutoff feature if the device records 10 minutes of inactivity.

Specifications for the Pocket Pro II

  • 1.5kHz (105 dB) start buzzer frequency transmits well through hearing protection
  • Accurate to 1mSec with times rounded to the nearest 10mSec
  • Separate and independent shot sensor and buzzer
  • Large buttons
  • Top-mounted display is readable from your belt or the bench
  • Review four shots at once, forward or reverse with split times
  • Large, easy to read lighted graphics LCD displays full words and description of functions
  • 2 year warranty

The Pocket Pro II comes configured in the “Quick Start Mode” that allows the user to power up and start shooting thanks to the platform’s factory pre-programming.

Start time for the Pocket Pro II can be customized between Fixed (.5 – 9.9 seconds), Random (.5 – 9.9 seconds), or Instant.

The main display can be customized between Review Direct, Rounds Per Minute, or Single Time Only.

The shot timer stores up to 99 shots per timing cycle, with customizable par time between 0 and 199.9 seconds. The sensitivity of the device’s “Shot Dead Time” can be adjusted to mitigate echo, while the audio-detection sensitivity of the timer itself can also be adjusted. Display backlighting can be customized between 0 and 99 seconds, but the longer it remains on, the shorter the battery life.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $136.95 the Pocket Pro is about the median for what a reliable shot timer costs in the current market. However, for its basic programming as a static shot timer the Pocket Pro II is in the higher end of that group given there are other timers available, with more functions at a lesser cost.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The size of the Pocket Pro II was very comfortable in the hand. As an RO or MD timing a shooter, it’s large enough you don’t worry about dropping it and the buttons are simple and large enough to maximize the user’s experience. The included belt clip allows you to determine the best placement so as not to interfere with shooting, were as a neck lanyard may.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): The Pocket Pro II is made of a commercial-grade plastic and does the LCD screen comes with a replaceable polycarbonate lense. But it’s large enough that it is unlikely to be damaged if dropped. Competition Electronics does offer a two-year warranty to cover any defect or damage to the unit shy of the owner purposely destroying it.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): As a simplified, basic shot timer the Pocket Pro II offers users the ability to skip the formalities and dive right into shooting. The ability to customize the main display screen allows one to determine what fits best for them in terms of displayed data. However, the lack of programming diversity in the unit does not allow for it to hold multiple shooting styles (Comstock, Cowboy, etc.) and requires the settings to be adjusted whenever changing between them.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At 7.2 ounces the Pocket Pro II is of average weight for its size and utility. When worn on the belt the unit is hardly noticeable, and when held its size and weight doesn’t make it difficult to keep raised.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

Product Link: https://www.competitionelectronics.com/product/pocket-pro-2-blue/

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 Summerweight Tactical Shorts: Just In Time For The Summer

As the temperature turns up, time on the range can translate to long hours in the sun. Thankfully the Summerweight Tactical Shorts by Propper can help keep you cool, while still giving you the flexibility for training. The additional pocket storage, and fabric design of the shorts help ensure that no matter how much you carry with you, you will still remain cool and comfortable.

Initially introduced circa in 2015, the Summerweight Tactical Shorts feature 11 overall pockets on an athletic-fit style short with an 11″ inseam. The material itself consists of a UPF 50 fabric, blended to a 94% nylon / 6% spandex ripstop that keeps the shorts light, and maintains moisture-wicking breathability.

At the waist, the Summerweight Tactical Shorts have a rigid waistband, and sit straight through the hip and thigh. The six, 1.5″ belt loops (four in the front, two on the back) coincide with an extended oversized button, and YKK zippered fly. The added gusseted crotch adds to the flexibility and movement.

On the leg are two flap-closure thigh pockets (one each side) secured with hook-and-loop, and with mesh lining. Above the thigh pockets are two YKK zippered pockets (one each side) to mid-thigh also with mesh lining. Each front pocket has re-enforced knife lining on the edge, and a partial mesh lining. The shorts also have two hook-and-loop secured watch pockets.

On the back are two YKK zippered rear pockets with a mesh lining, and a bonus concealed pocket between the two back belt loops wide enough to fit a spare AR magazine, notebook, or wallet.

The Summerweight Tactical Shorts come in sizes 28″ waist to 56″ and the listed colors include: Alloy (featured in review), Black, Khaki, LAPD Navy, and Olive.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $39.99 the Propper Summerweight Tactical Shorts continue the line of cost-effective clothing the company has been marketing with their EdgeTec products. Given that the clothing comes in a ripstop weave that will extend the longevity of the clothing, the shorts are very well priced in comparison to other tactical shorts on the current market.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): Amazingly breathable! The lightweight materials and the mesh lining not only keep the overall weight of the shorts to a minimum, but enable very good breathability amid high temperatures. During testing, the only mistake made was not using sunscreen because the shorts allowed the shooter to remain cool despite stressors and heat.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Despite the lightweight materials and ripstop design, the durability of the Tactical Shorts isn’t in question. No loose thread were found and the shorts have re-enforced stitching in high-stress areas. The YKK zippers felt smooth and didn’t hang up during opening//closing so it is likely the only risk to the durability will come from genuine hard use over time. I would have liked to see a little more re-enforcement to the belt loops or waistline given that you can store a lot of items in all the various pockets and you’d need a sturdy belt to help secure it.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): Legitimately, with 11 pockets (including a concealed pocket that fits a backup AR mag) you would be hard-pressed to find tactical shorts that could compare.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 4.2 oz. the lightweight materials and design translate to shorts that don’t feel heavy or pull at the waistline after an extended time worn, even with loaded pockets. With the summer months approaching, if shooters are looking for lightweight tactical shorts that will help ensure they stay cool, these would defiantly do it.

Overall Rating – Very Good (22/25)

Product Link: https://www.propper.com/mens/propper-summerweight-tactical-short.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.

Snake Eater Tactical War Belt: Flexability and Comfort

Nestled back in the upper potions of the Pacific Northwest, lies one of the more recognizable tactical and EDC belt makers on the market. Chris Calvert from Snake Eater Tactical (SET) has been producing some of the finest mission-driven belts for years. His recently upgraded SET War Belt offers one of the most secure, stable, and comfortable weapons/accessory platform available.

The SET War Belt is a custom-cut belt that comprises a three-part system; it includes an inner belt, mid-belt, and outer belt.

  • 1st Belt (Inner Belt) – This belt is cut from a single layer of 16oz. Hypalon, then stitched with 1.5” wide (female) hook-and-loop strip along the entire outer-facing side. This inner belt is intended to be worn through the beltloops, and has a thumb loop on one end to help tighten it while you use the hook-and-loop (male) belt-keeper on the other to hold the overall belt in place. The Hypalon material facing the body offers a tremendous grip against fabric.
  • 2nd Belt (Mid-Belt) – The second belt is the larger, padded portion to the SET War Belt and consists of ¼” closed-foam, cell padding with a heavy-duty mesh covering for ventilation, buoyancy, and drying. The pad has one full length of 1.5” (male) hook-and-loop on one side, and 1.5” (female) hook-and-loop on the other. Reinforced stitching is added in a diamondback pattern along the length of the pad. The premise being that the two-mating hook-and-loop panels on the 1st and 2nd belt join to form the base of the system and offer a large area of padding.

IMG_5733

  • 3rd Belt (Outer Belt) – The outer belt is where all the work gets done. It consists of an AustriAlpin D-Ring Cobra Buckle and a 2” channel for connecting carabiners, with the belt itself made from two layers of 1.75” Type 13 parachute webbing (with a tensile strength of 7,000 pounds). On the back is 1” (male) hook-and-loop material, stitched in 2.5” increments, resulting in a MOLLE-compatible pattern that allows the user to mount gear without interfering with the hook-and-loop integration.

Also provided for review were two Burro magazine pouches (two for pistol, and one for rifle). Each Burro is flared at the opening, made of an elastic material on the exterior, and has Hypalon lining on the inside and back of the exterior to give it positive retention. The Burro can expand to accommodate any single/double stacked magazine, or .223 rifle magazine (.308 Burro’s coming soon). Inside each Burro is a curved piece of kydex that aids in indexing the magazines.

Lastly, a nylon dump pouch was provided that uses the same mesh material as the mid-belt. It provides maximum drainage and drawstrings for carrying capacity that can be used to hold any number of range items (up to five AR magazines, brass, papers, pasters, flowers, etc.). The dump pouch features a strip of Type 13 material down the middle that gives the pouch an easy-access structure from the top.

The SET War Belt and Burro pouches come in six different colors; Ranger Green (featured), two variants of A-TACS, Black, Coyote Brown, and Multicam. Sizing instructions for the custom belt cut are provided on the website.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $183.00 for the SET War Belt, $25-$28 per Burro, and $45 for the dump pouch, the cost of the system reflects the high-quality craftsmanship and materials used. Between the nylon, Hypalon, and Cobra buckle there are a lot of unique and quality materials at play that are seldom offered elsewhere. In comparison to the market, the cost of the belt and pouches are equally comparable to other American custom manufacturers who emphasize direct, hands-on manufacturing over industrial or overseas mass-production means.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): The flexibility of the overall belt, combined with the width of the mid-belt padding makes for an extremely comfortable system. The draw from the Burro is smooth, and the kydex makes for positive retention regardless of magazine type. Re-inserting magazines is easy and smooth thanks to the oversized flare at each opening.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): It’s difficult to judge the long-term durability of the belt and components. With reinforced stitching, X-patterns, and bartack—the Type 13 belt and Cobra buckle are most likely to outlast all other the accessories, and will handle most heavy usage you throw at it. In Google searches some folks have tested the system on the range or in general use for over a year with no stated adverse effects. Snake Eater does offer separate purchase of the inner Hypalon or padded belt should those wear out.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): The functionality of the SET War Belt is without question as the MOLLE-compatible slots on the inside of the belt allow for full customization of any holster or accessory. You can even add a Burro on top of the dump pouch to save space on the belt, or for an additional magazine. The oversized mid-belt pad helps ensure that the body is not pinched against the belt when bending, or by other equipment. The three-layered system also is extremely rock solid and does not afford any movement in the belt or pouches itself. If you want to reconfigure the belt or add accessories, you do need to break the belt down. In truth, the only negative is more aesthetic as the sleeve-like Burros have a somewhat lackluster appearance, but this did not play a factor into evaluating them for function.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 1.7 pounds overall, the three-part SET War Belt is very lightweight thanks in part to the overall materials, and this comes in under the weight of other notable quality belt manufacturers. Burros weigh 1-2 ounces each (depending on pistol or rifle) and the dump pouch weighs 4 ounces. Taken into context of ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain and the SET War Belt is at less weight than most complete systems on the market so long-term wear of the system will not be as painful as others.

Overall Rating – Very Good (22/25)

Product Link: https://www.snakeeatertactical.com/product/set-war-belt-3-part-system-copy/

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.

 

Tuff Products Competition Belt: Get Those Alphas!

Initially introduced in 2016, the Surefit Competition Belt is Tuff Products effort to provide competitive shooters a secure means to carry their equiptment. With a dual inner/outer belt system, the Surefit belt will hold up a lot more than just holsters.

With an inner belt layer made with flexible 1000D nylon and lined on the outside with large sections of hook-and-loop, the inner belt features a six-panel extension that can be cut to ensure complete fit to the user’s waistline.

Likewise, the outer belt is also constructed with 1000D nylon and has an accent layer that can be customized per the user’s interest. The accent layer comes in: Multicam (featured in this review), Coyote, Gray, Purple, Teal, Red, Blue, Black. The outer belt also is lined on the inside with corresponding sections of hook-and-loop, and features a six-panel extension that can also be cut to ensure proper fit. Unlike the inner belt however, the outer belt features a 1.5″ rigid polymer core that gives the overall Surefit belt its rigidity to maintain form no matter how many holsters you put on it.

The Surefit comes with one spare belt keeper and one “Team Tuff” belt keeper with a PVC logo. The company also offers a set of “bruise bumpers” as separate accessories, which are simply pads that attach to the Surefit’s hook-and-loop and protect the hip from the weight and/or holsters.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): At $49.99 the Surefit belt is a two-layer system that is comparable in design and construction to other similar competition belt systems currently on the market. The cost however, places it in the upper tier of these systems. If one makes the effort however, you can find the belt offered through Amazon and other online dealers for approximatly $32-$34.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): As a whole, the two-part system makes wearing pistol, mags, and a medical pouch very comfortable. The rigid polymer core of the outer belt carries a large percentage of the overall load, while the hook-and-loop sections help ensure no excessive movement of attached items.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): In comparison to competitors, the Surefit has important elements in durability that others do not. Right out of the box there were no loose/excessive threads, and the amount of material along the outer belt edge was noticeably larger in surface area than other competition belts. This translates to longer use in the repetitive action of peeling the outer belt off of the inner, and less chance of separation between the belts and hook-and-loop sections. The 1000D nylon in the belt’s design will also ensure long-term abrasion resistance.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): Overall the functionality of the Surefit belt is pretty straightforward. It should be noted here that while trimming the six-panel extension sections to cut inside the six squares and not along the gray stitching. Then use a heat gun or lighter to melt any excess cut nylon.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At approximately 8.8 ounces, the overall Surefit belt is amazingly light considering the amount of materials. The use of the polymer core to the outer belt and the overall 1000D are the dominant elements to the overall weight of the two-belt system.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: http://tuffproducts.com/9017-tuff-surefit-competition-belt-set/

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.

Lightning X Hybrid Range/Patrol Bag: A Bag For Everything

Range bags come in a variety of configurations and designs, but good ones fill a variety of different roles not limited to just carting around your firearm and ammo. Enter the Hybrid Range/Patrol Bag (PB10) by Lightning X, a multi-use bag that would be just as comfortable on the range as it would in a patrol car, or your personal vehicle. With innumerable ways to configure it, the bag will fit whatever purpose you need it to.

Exterior

From the front, the PB10 features two “horseshoe” pockets with a nylon snap-clip and key hook on the exterior. Behind those pockets is an accessory compartment secured with an oversized 2″ zipper. The accessory pocket itself features three standard, double-stack covered magazine sleeves and two rows of three, elastic pen sleeves. As an added bonus, the back of the front accessory flap features a rubberized coating and excess material at the zipper that can double as a small workspace and ensure parts or bullets don’t roll away. Adjacent to that on the exterior is an elastic mesh pocket in front of a pocket sleeve intended for radios or other accessories.

Both sides of the PB10’s exterior feature large 10″ x 10″ accessory pockets that are zipper secured. However, while both sides features a re-enforced leather-wrapped drag handle, one side also features an identification card window.

The rear of the RPB has a 16″ zipper-secured “stash” pocket perfect for targets, papers, or other documents. On top of which are two hook-and-loop tabs intended to secure flashlights, batons, or other accessories. The main interior pocket is accessed via an oversized zipper enclosure from the top, while the overall ergonomic shoulder strap is anchored via spring-loaded clips to either end of the PB10’s top.

The bag can also be carried by two re-enforced handles that can be secured together via a hook-and-loop sleeve. Lastly, not to be outdone, the bottom of the PB10 features a 2″ double nylon/PVC cover that not only adds to water resistance, but abrasion protection.

Interior

Moving to the interior, the PB10 features a fully customizable, and removable, padded divider. On the interior of the access flap are four pen/pencil sleeves and two smaller utility pockets secured via zippers.

Additional PB10 Specifications

  • All straps and compartments are heavily reinforced with thick stitching and bar tacs so you can depend on it to carry a heavy load of gear
  • All compartments can be locked due to double zippers which feature cordage zipper pulls
  • Dimensions – 20″(L) x 10″(W) x 10″(H)
  • Made from 600D nylon

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $54.90 the PB10 is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other dual-use range/duty bags on the market, such as from 5.11, Galls, or Blackhawk. Then considering its overall size, the added poly covering, you’re getting a lot of 600D material for the cost.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): Fully loaded, the PB10’s ergonomic shoulder strap is also thickly padded, thus making it comfortable to carry over-the-shoulder. The top-carry straps, once combined, also provide a thick and padded handle by which to carry it.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): Overall the PB10 has sufficient re-enforced stitching in key areas, and bartac stitching in high stress points that will improve overall strength. But key questions remain on the source/quality of the overall material, such as the plastic lining inside the pockets and brand of zippers, that directly relate to its long-term durability.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Pockets galore! There are so many pockets and options to PB10 that it can be fully customized to whatever your intended purpose is. The removable interior dividers help ensure not only organization, but that items inside are well protected. The only negative would be that it would be advisable if handles were added to the divider shell to make removal or insertion easier. Additionally, it would be advisable to add a plastic shell or sheets to the main interior pocket to keep the bag’s overall form from collapsing due to added weight.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 3.1 pounds (empty) the PB10 is relatively light and comparable to other bags of similar design. The mitigating factor is the more items you add, the heavier the bag becomes, and the less “square” the bag is when carried.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://gearbags.com/shop/tactical/lxpb10/

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.

Shadow Individual First Aid Kit: When Seconds Count

Designed with input from members from 3rd Special Forces Group and Canadian Special Operations, the Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) by The Requirements Groups (TRG) and sold via their distributor Shadow offers a compact, rapid-access, minimalist pouch to life-saving essentials.

Made of 1000D Cordura, the IFAK features a YKK-zippered IFAK pouch inside an envelope-style mounting flap with a YKK silent release buckle. The mounting flap secures to the user via three rows of MOLLE and/or two belt loops, and uses combination hook-and-loop and button connections to ensure the aid pouch remains in place but can be disconnected when needed. All major stress points to the mounting flap are either double stitched, bartacked, and/or ‘X Box’ stitched for added strength.

Inside, the IFAK pouch consists of a taco-style design with two elastic cuffs per side, behind which are two elastic envelope sleeves for documents or flattened items, such as Celox or other hemostats. The IFAK aid pouch itself is wide enough to contain one tourniquet and one battle dressing (Israeli) to one side, and smaller/flat items (such as an NPA or pen light) on the other (medical items not included). On the top of the IFAK, is a high-grade cell foam padded handle, and overall the IFAK with mounting flap measures 7” (W) x 6” (H) x 3” (D).

The Shadow IFAK comes in Coyote (featured), Black, OD Green, UTP, UTP Temperate, Woodland Digital, and Italian Vegetato.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $33.10 the price of the IFAK is comparable to other internationally manufactured IFAKs (US products sometimes tend to be higher). But for the 1000D Cordura material and design, the cost is about what should be expected.
  • Comfort Fair (2/5): The aspect of the enclosing envelope-style flap feels a bit awkward, like you’re having to access a pouch to get to another pouch. Most IFAKs on the market don’t feature this two-pouch design; and that plays an aspect into the product’s purpose, but it just feels like a clunky approach if you were in dire need of a tourniquet or your hands slick from blood and needed direct access.
  • IMG_5194Durability – Good (4/5): The 1000D Cordura is on the higher scale for abrasion resistance, so TRG’s IFAK is going to stand up well if worn or mounted to a vehicle. With the addition of X-style and bartac reinforcement, the IFAK will likely stand up for a long time. In fact, the only negative that affected the IFAK’s score was a missed stitch line to the IFAK itself, and it is uncertain how that will be affected over time. This is most likely a QC-related issue that TRG would resolve if desired.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): As noted above, the functionality of the envelope-style flap and tear-away IFAK is a bit awkward, particularly if one is in a high duress situation. Otherwise the internal design of the IFAK is very compact and with the elastic cuffs it will ensure the medical items remain secure. It would be nice if there were a means of visually denoting on the exterior that this is an aid pouch (medical cross or hook-and-loop field for an associated medical patch) so others can know at a glance what is inside. But if necessary one can draw one in using a sharpie.
  • Weight – Average (3/5): At 9.1 ounces (empty) the IFAK is of reasonable weight considering the high denier rating of the material and comparable to other IFAKs on the current market.

Overall Rating – Average (15/25)

Product Link: https://therequirementsgroup.com/she-24047/

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.

Shadow Fast Fit Tactical Gloves: Protect the Digits

Designed as a lightweight, breathable and tactical glove for use in varying conditions the Shadow Elite Fast Fit Tactical Gloves by The Requirements Group (TRG) give the shooter not only an added layer of protection, but keep their tactile sense and dexterity.

Made with a synthetic leather palm and printed silicone padding in key areas, the Fast Fit (FF) gloves are one of several varieties in hand protection offered by TRG. The design of the silicone “Gel” and other foam-padded areas will reduce friction and impact. Elsewhere, the fingers and palm feature silicone prints for added grip.

The backhand material to the FF gloves comprises of Nylon Lycra, a lightweight and moisture wicking mesh, that affords flexibility and breathability. The index finger and thumb also feature touch-pad sensitive tips that are compatible with most touch-based electronics.

The FF gloves will secure above the wrist bone by an adjustable hook-and-loop strap. Inside of the wrist strap are two retention lanyards.

Sizes range from Small to XXL, and come in Coyote (featured) or Black.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $18.20 the FF gloves are very will priced considering the materials and design. In comparison to other similar shooter-style gloves, the Fast Fit actually cost less for the same design used by other manufacturers.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The flexibility and breathability in the backhand material make the gloves very flexible when donning or removing. There is also a an added guset material between the thumb and forefinger that improves the range of motion.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): Given the thickness of the lycra/leather materials, these gloves will most likely only last sustained hard use for a short time, much like SKD’s PIGs, and then need replacing. But that is per design and not an indictment against the Fast Fits. Gloves that have greatest tactile function like the FF gloves will wear out over hard use. One notable issue however, was the hook-and-loop of the wrist strap on one glove will catch and fray the material of the other glove between the leather and lycra when contacted.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): Overall the Fast Fit gloves functioned as intended as shooter gloves. Positive tactile sensation was maintained to the trigger and dexterity during magazine changes and function drills were not impaired. It would be nice if the retention lanyards were made of parachord rather than a thin strip of material, as using them for storage or to assist donning the gloves feels frail at best. The only negative note would be the touchscreen pads were difficult to use as the contact pad on the glove moved to the side while wearing them, but would still function.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At 2.2 ounces for the pair, the FF gloves are actually lighter than SKDs or Mechanix variant of the same glove. But otherwise its weight is comparable to other similar style shooter gloves.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://therequirementsgroup.com/she-2369/

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.

Shadow Elite Range Bag: Pack Everything You Need

From Canadian designer/manufacturer The Requirements Group (TRG) comes undoubtedly one of the largest, and most capable range/patrol bags available. The “Range Bag” offers enough pockets, sleeves, and space that if Batman himself needed a dual range/patrol bag for the Batmobile—this would be it.

Constructed overall of 600D Cordura with closed-cell padded foam, the included rigid inserts/dividers provide customizable storage space to the main storage compartment and assist the bag overall in maintaining its integrity when fully loaded. The range bag can be carried either by the provided padded shoulder strap (anchored via plastic speed clips on either end), or the carrying handles that can be joined together via a padded hook-and-loop cuff. The Range Bag measures approximately 17” (L) x 10” (W) x 11.5” (H) and features reinforced “X” type stitching or bartac where needed. The range bag only comes available in Black (featured).

Exterior

On the front is one 7” (L) x 8” (H) open-ended notebook-sized pocket (with ID card window), between two 3.5” (L) x 9” (H) open-ended accessory pockets. On one end is a curved, open-ended pocket for water bottles upon which is also a secondary zipper-secured pocket for documents. The other end features five rows of MOLLE straps for added customization of other pouches, holsters, or other items.

On the rear of the range bag are two hook-and-loop straps for securing gear, and six additional MOLLE straps that run the entire length of the bag—a feature that makes securing the range bag to vehicle interiors extremely easy, or adds to the flexibility of the overall bag.

The top of the bag features an 9” (L) x 14” (H) expandable zipper-secured pouch (with 4” (L) x 13” (H) hook-and-loop field), three pen slots, and a hook-and-loop strap to secure flashlights, gloves, or batons. The main storage compartment inside the range bag is accesses from the top via an oversized “chunky” zipper designed for rugged field use—the same zipper style on the top expandable pouch.

On the bottom of the bag are four textured rubberized pads to help keep the bag from moving.

Interior

On the inside of the range bag lid is one small, zipper-secured accessory pouch (5” (L) x 6” (H)), one small hook-and-loop secured accessory pouch (5.5” (L) x 6” (H)), four pen sleeves, four individual MOLLE straps, and another hook-and-loop strap. In addition, on the inside lid is a zipper-secured pocket that runs the length of the lid and gives access to a second mesh pocket inside the pocket. Lastly, the lid also has a headrest strap that enables the bag to remain open and accessible while in a vehicle.

The main storage compartment to the range bag is fully customizable using the removable rigid dividers. This not only allows you to prioritize what needs to be protected, but how the inside of the range bag is organized.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): At $118.40 the Shadow Elite Patrol Bag by TRG is well priced considering both its size, and amount of materials that go into making such a large bag. It does come in slightly under the price point of other premium styled range/patrol/gear bags of similar size from makers like Hexmag, 5.11, and others.
  • Comfort Average (3/5): When fully loaded, and you can store a lot in it, the range bag is a bit unwieldly mainly due to its size/bulk. But the padded shoulder strap helps make carrying it from vehicle to range comfortable. The “chunky” field zippers felt very smooth and slid easily.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The use of 600D Cordura, and extensive double/bartac stitching throughout, gives the range bag a high degree of overall durability. In fact, the only things that appeared somewhat flimsy were the side plastic inserts themselves that, although rigid, were easily bent/folded. The rest of the hardware appeared well reinforced into the bag.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): The number of uses and applications to the range bag are extensive! This was the first time in memory that I was able to actually fit all my range/photography gear into one bag. Given that the MOLLE and headrest straps add to that functionality gives the range bag incredibly versatility. The only minor note here is that the headrest strap itself cannot be removed nor stored (you can slide it into a pocket to get it out-of-the-way, but then only partially close that pocket).
  • Weight Average (3/5): At 4.7 pounds (empty) the range bag is of average weight for a large premium bag, and the denier of cordura used. In comparison to the few bags of similar size on the current market, it is comparable in overall weight. While empty this 4.7 pounds is incredibly deceiving, because if one is not careful you can quickly add in a large amount of weight to it not realizing that you’ll next have to actually carry it.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://therequirementsgroup.com/she-595/

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.

TRU-SPEC® Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack: Ready to Explore the World

Designed to carry large quantities of equipment while maintaining equal weight distribution, the Pathfinder 2.5 by TRU-SPEC® is an evolution over its predecessor by offering improved compartmentalization of essential items and features for expanded capability.

Introduced in 2015, the Pathfinder 2.5 is made from 1050D nylon that offers mid- or high-end abrasion resistance. At approximately 19” (H) x 13” (W) x 7” (D) its overall carrying capacity is approximately 39 liters of cubic space.

Exterior

The adjustable, contoured, dual shoulder straps featurean over-the-shoulder design with sternum strap and padded air mesh for increased comfort when the pack is fully loaded. The air mesh padding is extended throughout the pack’s back panel and weapon concealment pouch as well. On either side is an 8” (H) x 6” (W) accessory pocket secured via drawstring zipper for immediate access to essential items.

On the exterior of the main compartment, is a 10” (H) x 12” (W) admin pocket that includes; a retention lanyard for keys, one 7” (H) x 10” (W) zippered pocket behind a 6” (H) x 10” (W) sleeve, a small hook-and-loop secured accessory pocket, two card sleeves, and two pen sleeves. Above the admin pocket is a 5” (H) x 7” (W) accessory pocket with mesh lining/pocket on the interior side of the access flap. On the external side of the access flap is a 3” (H) x 5” (W) hook-and-loop field for identification patches.

The kidney pad of the pack’s back panel doubles a weapon concealment pocket and is secured via a curved pull-string zipper. On the bottom of the pack are two drainage grommets and four MOLLE panels.

On the pack’s right side is a concealed laptop pouch designed to accommodate most 15” laptops that is protected by the air mesh padding on the back panel and interior compartment, then secured via pull-string zipper.

IMG_5616

Throughout the exterior of the Pathfinder 2.5 are multiple MOLLE straps for added compatibility

At the top of the pack is a padded drag handle that is reinforced via bartac stitching, and on either side are hook-and-loop access panels to the interior storage compartment for headphones or hydration tubes. Between the drag handle and shoulder straps is a 4” (H) x 6” (W) fleece-lined sunglasses pouch secured with another pull-string zipper.

Internal

The internal storage compartment to the Pathfinder 2.5 is reinforced on either side of the exterior with side cinch straps and slide-release buckles to ensure the stored items remain secure. The main storage space includes a rigid backboard for stability and support, a hydration sleeve with MOLLE straps on the exterior, and two mesh lining/pockets on the interior side of the access flap.

The Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack comes in Black (featured) and is made of 1050D nylon. While the website still lists Coyote and Multicam as alternatives, those options have been discontinued.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the time of this writing, the cost of the Pathfinder 2.5 is $119.95 and comparatively priced within the market for similar-sized (approx. 39 cubic liters of storage space), dual-strap backpacks. This is due mainly to the amount of nylon used that ensures long-lasting abrasion resistance.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): With regards to comfort in packs, really it comes down to how the design in the shoulder straps mitigate the weight and strain of the pack on/against the body. In the case of the Pathfinder 2.5, the padded air mesh carrying straps have a unique over-the-shoulder design that ensures the weight of the pack remains close and high to the shoulders. Furthermore, the carrying straps have offset seams so to avoid pressing that up against the neck/spine. Add in the thickness of the overall shoulder strap pads and the padded panels on the back of the pack, the end result is an almost pillow-like feel that helps mitigate carrying a large amount of weight for extended time/distance. By design, there is no waist strap to help further balance the weight of the pack, so the entire load will be on the upper torso.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Pathfinder 2.5 comes in 1050D nylon that will be stiffer and have a tighter weave than lesser denier rated packs and play into the overall increased abrasion resistance. With reinforced stitching and bartac at all key stress points and MOLLE straps, it will have a significant amount of durability regardless of how the user employs it. Likely the hardware will wear out long before the pack does.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): A significant amount of functionality went into the design of the Pathfinder 2.5. The side accessory and eyeglass pockets give you immediate-ready access to essential items, while the MOLLE straps throughout give you added capability for expansion to other accessories with similar mounting devices. Even the side cinch straps have hook-and-loop retainers to keep the excess under control (though it would have been nice if such feature had been extended to the shoulder and sternum straps). The hidden compartment for a laptop is an added bonus for any field researcher or traveler. The firearm pocket is somewhat awkward to access unless you have the pack off, so there is no immediate-access while wearing it (somewhat defeating the purpose of it as a concealed carry pocket). One noted design aspect was when accessing the main compartment, and placed on the straps, the zipper to the main compartment is at the top—thus negating the risk of smaller items spilling out.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 3.35 pounds (empty) the Pathfinder 2.5 is comparable in weight to other packs of similar size, this is due to the amount of nylon and other materials that go into making it.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.truspec.com/backpacks/double-strap/pathfinder-25-backpack

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.

PLATEminus V4 Plate Carrier: Minimalism Meets Compatability

Designed to be a minimalist plate carrier for low-visibility work, or as a base platform to individually customize, the PLATEminus V4 is the next iteration by Blue Force Gear to further advance its plate carrier lineup.

The V4 incorporates the compatibility of the original PLATEminus MOLLE ptaltform, with Blue Force Gear’s proprietary ULTRAcomp™ laminate material, which is half the thickness of a dime and four times as abrasion resistant as 1000D Cordura. The V4’s ULTRAcomp laminate is laser cut to create a fully MOLLE compatible matrix of slots and voids to reduce weight, complexity, and potential failure points over traditional platforms.

The front and back carriers are designed to fully enclose SAPI/ESAPI armored plates (not included) and include integrated shoulder harnesses. The rear cummerbund adjustment panels, and rear side of the side panels feature Ball Loaded Index Points (BLIP) that aid in tactile sensation when donning or adjusting. The interior lining of the V4 features a moisture-wicking Tweeve lining that help assist in mitigating heat from the body. Both the front and back carrier feature a (female) hook-and-loop panel for identification panels or morale patches.

The fully adjustable shoulder harnesses secure across the shoulders via hook-and-loop, and include retention bands for securing hydration lines or communication cables. The V4 also features a fully adjustable cummerbund in front or back with Blue Force Gear’s military grade Ten-Speed elastic, and secured by wide hook-and-loop panels.

The V4 comes in Coyote (featured), Black, and Multicam and is sized to match the following:

  • Small – 8.75″ wide x 11.75″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Small SAPI / ESAPI plates
  • Medium 9.5″ wide x 12.5″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Medium SAPI / ESAPI plates
  • Large 10.25″ wide x 13.25″ high x 1.25″ thick – For large SAPI / ESAPI plates
  • Extra Large 11″ wide x 14″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Extra Large SAPI / ESAPI plates

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): The market for minimalist plate carriers averages between $100 and $300 depending on the quality and quantity of materials used. Although the V4 has not yet been released, it is estimated that based on the design and use of proprietary Blue Force Gear materials, the cost for the PLATEminus V4 will be approximately $180-$200. This would place the V4 at an affordable range for most individuals looking for a quality plate carrier to customize, without taking a substantial hit in the wallet.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): With no excessive materials or design, the V4 was a very sleek and lightweight plate carrier that afforded a high degree of comfort and range in motion. Obviously this would vary depending on adding more magazine carriers or accessory pouches, but as a minimalist platform the V4 was very comfortable. The adjustable shoulder harness and cummerbund were made from the military-grade elastic that allowed the wearer to find the perfect height and compression level around the torso. The BLIPs on the back corner of the rear plate carrier and rear of the cummerbund were readily tactile, although it would have been an improvement in the design if it had been on both the front and back corners of the side panels rather than just one—or better yet on the fold-over flap on the front plate carrier since that will be the one you use the most.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The V4 is made dominantly from Blue Force Gear’s proprietary ULTRAcomp™ laminate which has an amazingly high degree of abrasion resistance, minimizes materials needed, and maximizes flexibility. At no point in testing did the carrier separate, plates slide, or adjustment areas not retain their setting. There was extensive bartack stitching throughout the V4 that reinforced all key stress points. The elastic bands in the cummerbund did not fray nor warp, and retained their overall tension levels. The retention bands on the shoulder harness were a little weak on grip, because they are a different hook-and-loop material than the cummerbund, so hydration tubes or communication cables may actually work their way loose. This could be resolved by Blue Force Gear by making the retention bands wider, to afford more contact surface for the hook-and-loop. Some fraying in the (female) hook-and-loop material was observed when opening/closing of the V4s side panels and attributed to normal wear (it was in the center field of the material, not at the stitching).
  • Functionality Good (4/5): From a minimalist standpoint, the V4 is about as functionally sound as you could imagine. The design featured no excessive hardware or materials, and the laser cut MOLLE pattern into the ULTRAcomp™ laminate ensured widest compatibility to preferred magazine or accessory pouches without excess stitching. Additionally, the V4 has a legacy-type design wherein the cummerbund of the plate carrier is secured around the wearer’s torso to the front carrier, on top of which a fold-over flap is secured on top of the cummerbund. This approach in design has been used for some time. It would have added to the V4’s overall Functionality score if the outer side of the fold-over flap had a corresponding field of (female) hook-and-loop to allow additional non-MOLLE mounting systems (such as the D3CRX Chest Rig by Haley Strategic) to be added.
  • Weight Excellent (5/5): Coming in at an amazingly light 1.8 pounds (without plates), the V4 is obviously a very lightweight design thanks in part to its materials and minimalist intent. This helps spare the overall wear and strain on the user due to excess materials. In comparison, other plate carriers from 5.11, Condor, Tactical Tailor, Shellback Tactical and others with the same legacy design are a full pound heavier or more. The V4 actually comes in closer to the weight of other minimalist carriers, such as by Crye, which puts the PLATEminus V4 on-par with other performance manufactures.

Overall Rating – Good (21/25)

Product Link: No product link at the time of this writing. Product coming soon!

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.

TRU-SPEC® 24-7 Xpedition Pants: Comfort and Design

Released in 2018, the 24-7 Series®, 24-7 Xpedition® Pants by TRU-SPEC® are one of 12 variants in that line of tactical trousers. With all the features and flexibility into these pants, users will be ready for any environment be it the range or field.

Constructed from a polyester/cotton blend in a rip-stop weave pattern, the principle fabric in the Xpedition pants are also dipped in a DWR water repellent. Accents on the pants are a 91% nylon, 9% spandex, and double weave for added flexibilty and breathability.

At the waist, the Xpedition pants have six 2” wide belt loops (two on the front, four on the back) with a comfort-fit slide waistband that adds an extra 2” overall to the waistline. Both front belt loops feature a small carabiner loop to hang keys or clip. The cut of the Xpedition pant is a straight hip-to-ankle, with articulation designed into the knees to match the natural movement range of the body. The two front pockets are a deep slash pattern with reinforcement to the bottom edge for carrying EDC items or items with retention clips. The rear pockets consist of a flap pocket on the left side and secured via snap button, and a zipper-secured pocket on the right. The Xpedition pant have a French-style fly with double button and YKK zipper for added security.

Mid-thigh features two cargo pockets made of the elastic accent material, inside which is a D-ring to hang keys and thereby prevent them from balling up at the bottom of the pocket, with both secured by a hidden snap button. Behind the right cargo pocket is a DropN pocket intended to accommodate most modern smartphones (even in a hardcase), and behind the left is a zipper-secured pocket for added security. The outside-facing edge to both cargo pockets feature zippered mesh ventilation material, a feature that repeats at the calf and overall adds to airflow within the Xpedition pant.

More added features include a large gusset in the groin for range of motion, and at the pant cuff an added band of nylon webbing for added strength and durability while wearing duty boots. Lastly, each cuff features adjustment snaps with boot hooks to ensure the overall length of the pant does not ride up or down.

The Xpedition pants come in nine colors including OD Green/Black (featured), Khaki, Navy, Black/Charcoal, Multicam/Coyote, and more. Its sizing runs from 28” – 44” waistlines with a 30”, 32”, or 34” inseam, or 34” – 40” waistlines with a 36” inseam.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): With an MSRP of $116.95, one can often find sales for these pants down to even $95 making them extremely affordable for all the features, design, and material. Given the applicable range of tactical pants out there, from Crye Precision to custom manufacturers, TRU-SPEC® offers a great deal on these well-designed trousers.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): For moderate to high-temperature environments, the Xpedition pants offer a great deal of breathability and comfort. This is in large part to the four-directional accent material that not only aids in moisture control, but airflow regardless of position. Obviously, these pants were not designed for cold-weather, but that’s not to say you couldn’t just dress in layers and still take advantage of the Xpedition’s flexible material. The elastic waistband material ensures that regardless of changes to waistline, you will still find a comfortable fit. It should be noted for the consumer, the Xpedition pant runs on the long side of inseam measurement, and TRU-SPEC® confirmed this is on purpose so as to accommodate for rise in the pant while taking a knee or wearing boots, so the buyer need not add to their current inseam length when ordering.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): While TRU-SPEC® does not list the denier rating of the material in the Xpedition pants, the 6.5-ounce polyester/cotton blend used is among some of the industry standard for tactical clothing, and offers a balance between abrasion resistance and flexibility. The added rip-stop pattern used to weave that material ensures that if any damage does occur, it does not compromise the overall garment. Added reinforcement stitching and nylon in high-use areas, like the pant cuff and gusset, will ensure longevity.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): I couldn’t imagine more functionality in a pair of pants, shy of changing the knee pads slots and moving them to the outside where the pads could be easily added/removed (necessitating impact knee pads instead of neoprene inserts). Otherwise with all the pockets, rings, snaps, and flexibility, the Xpedition pants don’t hedge back anything on functionality.
  • Weight Good (4/5): The weight of each pant varies depending on size due to mass of material used in different waistline and inseam measurements. In this case, the featured pants were a 38” waist and 36” inseam that weighed 1.7 pounds. The use of both a polyester/cotton blend, with elastic accents, allow the Xpedition pants to reduce the weight of the tactical pants while retaining its greater functionality.

Overall Rating – Very Good (22/25)

Product Link: https://www.truspec.com/24-7-series/pants/men-s-24-7-xpedition-pants

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.

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: https://vortexoptics.com/red-dots/vortex-strikefire-2-red-dot.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.

EOTech XPS2: A Little Revision, Same Legacy

The XPS2 is a compact holographic tactical sight offered by EOTech, and its size makes it ideal for competitive, tactical, or defensive shooters.

Introduced in 2012, the XPS line of holographic weapon sights (HWS) was a progressive step forward by EOTech over its former 512 line. The XPS2 is a non-QD version of the EXPS model which remains part of the Department of Defense contract to military forces. Per the manufacturer, the HWS system “…is for the M4A1 carbine and CQBR in Close Quarters Battle” but is not limited to those applications.

The XPS2 comes in five different models based on functionality and weapon platform:

  • XPS2-0: 68 MOA ring w/1MOA dot reticle
  • XPS2-1: 1 MOA dot reticle
  • XPS2-2: 2-dot ballistic reticle
  • XPS2-300: 300 BLK 2-dot ballistic reticle
  • XPS2-0GREY: Gray exterior housing, 68 MOA ring w/1MOA dot reticle
  • XPS2-0GRN: Green exterior housing, 68 MOA ring w/1MOA dot reticle
  • XPS2-FN: FN Herstal less lethal reticle
  • XPS2-SAGE: Targeting and ranging reticle

reticle

In the XPS2-0 (featured) the 68 MOA outer ring enables for rapid target acquisition of threats within 7m and less, while the 1 MOA dot is intended for mid-to-close range targets. The XPS2 body measures 3.8” x 2.1” x 2.5” (97 x 54 x 64 mm) and has 20 levels of reticle illumination. The window dimensions are 1.2″ x .85″ and the front window material is 1/8” glass, while the rear window material is 3/16” laminate.

The XPS2 shares the same body-style as the XPS3, which is the model that offers night-vision compatibility. The XPS2 uses the standard 1” weaver or MIL-STD-1913 rail as a mounting platform. Using a 123-lithium power source, the XPS2 can run for approximately 1000 hours at a brightness setting of 12 at room temperature.

LitepathSpecifications for the XPS2-0

  • Magnification – 1x
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Powersave: Auto shut-off at 8 hours, programmable to 4. Auto battery-check (reticle flashes) indicator at start-up signals 2-5 hours battery life remaining
  • Fog-resistant and anti-reflection lens coating
  • Adjustment (per click): Approx. 0.5 MOA (1/2″ at 100 yds) when zeroing
  • Adjustment Range: +/-40 MOA travel
  • Water resistant to 10 ft. (3 m)

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At a current cost of $555.00, the XPS2 and its variants can be found on any number of online second or third-hand retailers for less. It should be noted however, that there is a dearth of overseas counterfeits on the market and purchasing through retailers such as eBay runs the associated risk. Ensure that you buy through a vetted dealer. Otherwise, in terms of HWS optics the XPS2’s most direct competitors are the UH-1 Razor from Vortex ($649), the Leupold Carbine Optic ($909), and the Holosun 510 ($352). The price point of the XPS2 places it in the mid-price range of these optics and one that has built a longstanding legacy over years of service in Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): With its large 1.2″ x .85″ window, the EOTech line has one of the largest fields of view on the market. The XPS2 allowed to easily identify the target while still maintaining situational awareness around the periphery. The larger 68 MOA reticle made lining up off the front/rear irons easier and quicker in that it was basically lining up matching circles. The 1 MOA dot allowed for easy focused shooting on smaller targets. The variable brightness of the green reticle on the XPS2 appeared bright and clear, but not as crisp as other red dot or HSW optics that have come out to market after the XPS was first introduced.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Much like other EOTech HWS optics, the XPS2 has a protective aluminum shroud that covers the main housing and optic glass. This shroud is connected into the main body through a slotted groove and two, star hex bolts. Because of its size and prominence, the shroud did deflect a lot of incidental contact and received some surface marring. The demo model did arrive from the vendor a little loose, but was easily tightened. The optic glass was of similar thickness as other combat-style optics and ensured ejecting brass or other debris did not damage the surface. The XPS2 has an extensive history behind it for military applications, and wouldn’t have that lineage if its durability were in question. EOTech has taken great strides in its HWS quality control following the 2015 L3 lawsuit, sacrificing none of the XPS’s durability in the process. This is in large part why in 2019 it was awarded another contract to USSOCOM for further EOTech optics. Newer generation EOTech optics can be readily identified by the revised logo on the protective shroud.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): The XPS had rather straightforward functionality, with its adjustable brightness settings, and powersave function. The XPS2-0 (featured) did have some measurable range finding functionality built into the design of the 68/1 MOA reticle. That is consistent with its purpose of being a mid-to-close range optic. The XPS2-0 did not have any nightvision compatibility, but other models of the XPS do. The battery cap does have a cable-attached lanyard that prevents loss. The rubberized button back panel does protect the switch controls and allows for “scrolling” between brightness settings, but did not have any tactile feel when pressing. The most awkward function is the XPS necessitating a two-button press to power down the optic. It was nice that the XPS didn’t take up as much space on top of the AR rail as its previous 512 models, an improvement that is especially beneficial to SBRs.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 9oz. (255g) the XPS is one of the lightest of electro-optics in its class, but not the heaviest (that distinction is reserved for Vortex’s UH-1 at 11.08oz.). Other optics, such as the Leupold Carbine Optic weigh 9.5oz. and are almost a third more expensive. In comparison, the Holosun 510 is 9.3oz. and less expensive, but does not have the large field of view or durability. Thus, there is a tradeoff in terms of weight and the XPS, whereas the XPS was near the upper range of weight, but had some of the largest gains in field of view comfort and robustness.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://www.eotechinc.com/holographic-weapon-sights/model-xps2

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.

 

Vortex Razor: An Optic for Cross-Platform Compatibility

If you are looking for a precise mini-red dot optic for your rifle or pistol, the Razor provides a crystal-clear field of view and rapid acquisition for any environment.

Introduced in 2012, the Razor Red Dot Sight (RDS) by Vortex is designed as a high-quality, open reflex optic for competitive or defensive shooters. It can be mounted to either rifle or handgun for improved cross-compatibility.

The housing of the Razor is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, giving it a high-degree of shock resistance. All threads and battery compartment are sealed with rubberized O-rings that make the Vortex waterproof from moisture. Overall the exterior is in a hard, matte-black anodized finish. There is an included lockout feature built into the rear of the optic that will prevent slippage to the adjustment dials, and requires a hex key to tighten/loosen.

The diode inside the housing is projected on XR™ Fully Multi-Coated glass, and sheltered by the optic’s flared shroud. It projects either a 3MOA reticle (intended for rifles), or 6MOA (for pistols) based on your selection at the time of purchase. Intensity is adjusted by a two-button polymer switch at the base of the glass with nine levels of brightness, while the ON/OFF function is done by press-holding the up chevron (ON) or down (OFF). The glass itself is further protected in an ArmorTek ® coating to fortify scratch resistance.

The CR2032 battery provides approximately 150 hours of life on the brightest intensity (or 30,000 hours at the lowest), and is side-mounted off the RDS’s right side to facilitate changing power sources while leaving the optic mounted. There is a powersave feature that after six hours of inactivity, the Razor will automatically power off and thus conserve battery life.

RZR-SUB-3MOASpecifications

  • Mount Type: 1913 Picatinny
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Dot Color: Bright Red
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Adjustment Graduation: 1 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment: 170 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment: 114 MOA
  • Parallax Setting: Parallax free
  • Length: 1.83 inches

It should be noted various mounting plates are available by Vortex or other retailers to mount the Razor directly to handgun slides, thus negating the need for a picatinny rail. As all its products, Vortex covers the Razor under a lifetime VIP warranty coverage.

dim_rd_razor_RZR-2001

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At an MSRP of $499.99 the Razor is comparatively priced for a high-end optic. It doesn’t come with the legacy of other RDS optics, such as Leupold’s Delta Point Pro ($519) or Trijicon’s RMR ($419-$546) with its extensive Government contracts, but those also come with the associated intrinsic price tag that can be unrelated to the optic itself. The Razor does offer improvements in design and materials, as well as a larger field of view than more inexpensive RDS optics of similar purpose. Considering that it came with an included picatinny rail adapter, then the price point is well placed.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): With a 28mm x 17.5mm field of view, the Razor was slightly larger than other RDS optics (such as Trijicon’s RMR with a 22mm x 16mm field of view), and was wider than the Vortex Viper. For carbine, the added height-over-bore from the rail adaptor made for a perfect fit and put the rounds right on target without any necessary adjustment. The ability to see the dot, and the peripheral target area allowed for rapid transitions. The 3MOA dot was not as bright nor crisp as a Trijicon RMR04 in full daylight, but was comparable to an Aimpoint PRO in intensity and was still readily tracked. It was an uncomfortable placement of the intensity buttons under the shroud, specifically when turning the RDS ON/OFF. This was made all the more complicated when gloves were introduced. There was a slight bluish tint to the glass that is shared by other optic manufacturers, but not to the level as being a distraction to the shooter.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The Razor is comprised of high-quality aluminum and during evaluation took a significant amount of abuse in terms of contact from weapon manipulation and contact to other gear/hardware. Some superficial marring of the exterior finish was noted, but not to a significant degree so as to penetrate the base metal. Overall the glass quality was very high and resisted any scratching or other marring. The weakest point in the durability of the Razor will be from stripping the hex bolt that secures the picatinny mount to the rail if overtightened, but it is made from the same high-grade aluminum and should last through some level of abuse (within reason). But to extend the durability, should anything happen Vortex has its no-questions-asked VIP Warranty coverage that will replace the optic should something beyond owner’s neglect happen.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): From the standpoint of functionality, the Razor did what it needed to do, and did it well (which was consistently place rounds on target and maintain zero). The robust housing and the optic’s height-over-bore made it easily compatible to either pistol or rifle given the appropriately sized MOA reticle. During the course of evaluation, only the 3MOA dot was tested, which given the smaller dot, may have played a factor into the lack of brightness at full intensity in full sunlight. RDS optics with larger MOA reticles, such as the Razor’s 6MOA option, often are much easier to pick up but lack that precise shot placement for rifles. The curved angle of the protective shroud ensured gear or other objects contacting the top of the optic deflected away from the glass and front of the housing. As noted in Comfort, the biggest negative to functionality was the placement of the polymer switch under the optic’s shroud. Vortex could potentially mitigate this by moving the switch to the side, such as in its Viper RDS model.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 1.4 ounces without the included picatinny rail adaptor, or 2.4 ounces with it, the Razor is perhaps only slightly heavier than its Trijicon RMR (at 1.2 ounces without a rail adaptor) or Leupold’s Delta Point Pro (1.9 ounces without a rail adaptor) competitors. But at such a minor weight limit to begin with, the differences are really inconsequential in comparison to other accessories or gear. In comparison to the market of other similar RDS optics then the weight is typical for its size and design.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://vortexoptics.com/red-dots/razor-red-dot/vortex-razor-red-dot.html?vortex_reticle=942

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.

SWATCOM Active8 Tactical Hearing Protection

In mid-2018, MSA finalized its divesture of Sordin to Wikmanshyttan Safety. As a result, the longtime MSA product line of electronic hearing protection (Supreme Pro, Pro-X, and other) was rebranded back to Sordin. Talking Headsets, Europe’s largest distributor of hearing protection, updated the Sordin model with the latest technology and new features and dubbed it the SWATCOM Active8 line of headsets. Today the new SWATCOMs represent the future direction of electronic hearing protection for professional and recreational shooters and is offered exclusively at the USA and Canadian distributor for Talking Headsets, SRS Tactical.

Externally

The SWATCOM Active8 headsets feature the same housing design as the former MSA Sordin models, but with a few upgrades. While the traditional three-button functionality remains the same (ON/OFF, Volume UP/DOWN), the battery cap on the external power compartment now features an attached lanyard to prevent loss. A new battery save feature will give the supplied AAA batteries an estimated lifespan of 600 hours by automatically turning off the electronics after four hours of continual runtime. A leather headband protects the cabling and supports the ear pieces.

Internally

Featuring upgrades to its Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) and microprocessor, the SWATCOM Active 8 combines low-current audio signals with high performance cutoff that instantly compresses external sound impulses at a safe 82dB(A) level, while reducing them to 18dB level at the ear. The independent twin speakers provide 360-degrees of audio attenuation while maintaining clarity and awareness. Between the lowest and highest audio settings there are four levels of audio signal to choose from.

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 8.05.25 PM

Specifications for SWATCOM Active8

  • Waterproof electronics and microphone up to 1-meter for 30min
  • Auxiliary input jack for compatible communication devices
  • GEL ear-seals to ensure complete protective seal around the ear and to the head
  • Leather headband
  • Five-year warranty

The SWATCOM Active8 currently comes in Green (featured), Black, Sand and Multicam.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $330 for high-quality hearing protection, the SWATCOMs are worth every penny. Add into the cost that you are buying the same legacy as the MSA Sordin headsets (which are currently $299), but with updated technology, then the consumer will see the Active8’s value grows. In the end, your hearing is irreplaceable and if you spend a significant amount of time in high-noise environments, then protecting it with a quality product shouldn’t even be a question.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): If you have been wearing lower-cost electronic headsets, such as Howard Leight that use foam cell padding in the ear cup, then stepping up into active electronic hearing protection with Gel ear pads is almost orgasmic. The dimensions of the SWATCOM ear cup completely enclose the ear, so the gel seals against the head rather than pinching on parts of the ear (a constant problem for me with Howard Leights). Wearing the SWATCOM for long durations is almost unnoticeable whereas other electronic headsets will cause headaches or soreness in the jaw from excessive pressure as the headset is attempting to clamp the foam earcups against the ear.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Advertised as waterproof to a degree (and with the AUX cap installed), the long-term durability of the SWATCOMs remains unclear. But the overall system won’t fail in outdoor rain or splash of the occasional water. Otherwise much of the same durability that made Sordin Pros popular is carried over in the current SWATCOM line. The leather headband and gel ear pads will likely bear the brunt of most wear, and sanitation kits are available to keep them clean and functional.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally the SWATCOM headset is pretty straight forward. When ON the sound mitigation is almost immediate, and the button adjustments provide a tangible feel/click/audible beep when adjusting. But with advancements in the ASIC technology, added lanyard to the battery cap to avoid loss, and automatic power shutoff, the headset has a very good level of improved functionality for both professional or recreational shooters. The 360-audio awareness is notable as the dual speakers in the SWATCOM give an almost surreal level of hearing sensitivity in all directions. It should be noted that while shooting at an indoor range at a pratical 2-Gun match I observed others needing to double up their hearing protection, while I fould the lowest audio setting provided the mest mitigation of the indoor sound mitigation while still being able to hear verbal commands.
  • Weight Average (3/5): Weighing in at 1 pound, the SWATCOMs are hardly noticeable when worn (thanks in part to even pressure holding the weight of the headset against the ear rather than leaving it to pull down on the head). In comparison to other electronic headsets, the SWATCOM is heavier than lower-cost models, but comparative in weight to other professional-grade systems, such as from Peltor or Safariland.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://srstactical.com/all-products/headsets-and-hearing-protection/swatcom-active8-waterproof-headsets.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.

G-Code Assaulter’s Belt System: Ready For Battle

Introduced in 2017 as a complete system, the Assaulter’s Belt by G-Code includes all the components necessary for ready-use professional or practical use.

The Assaulter’s Belt includes; the two-part Contact Series Operator belt, two softshell Scorpion pistol magazine carriers and two rifle. In addition, the system has an RTI rotating belt mount and drop platform that can integrate to any G-Code RTI holster. The G-Code Contact Med Pouch on an RTI mount backs up the user, while all Scorpion pouches are anchored to the belt using G-Code’s new R2/P2 mounting clips.