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Gunstruction April 2016 User’s Choice Builds

Gunstruction compiles the most popular parts from each category in their virtual AR building tool into a single User’s Choice Build every month. These builds are always an interesting look into consumer trends since Gunstruction’s user base and part selection is fairly broad.

Once again, the AR-15 User’s Choice Build features an EOTech optic. This is a trend that has continued, uninterrupted, for nearly a year in spite of EOTech’s recent and very well publicized issues during this time. The vast majority of these builds feature a Magpul grip and this one follows that trend. I also find it noteworthy that many of these builds feature a barrel with a fixed front sight base in spite of their seemingly waning popularity.

gunstruction april 2016 ar15

The AR308 User’s Choice Build continues the overwhelming trend of precision oriented parts rather than treating the rifle as more of a battle/general purpose rifle. I find it interesting that while the AR-15 build frequently features a fixed front sight base, the AR308 never does.

gunstruction april 2016 ar308


Buyer Beware: Counterfeit RATS Tourniquets

YouTube user Shortbarrel Shepherd posted a very useful video that catalogues the differences between the real RATS Tourniquet and the counterfeit RATS that can now be found on the market. In short, the fakes are a mess.

The fakes have many material differences that lead to major functional differences and that certainly isn’t good when dealing with something purposefully designed to serve as life saving equipment. As is usually the case with knock-offs, it is easy to make something that looks like the original product but actually making something that works like the original takes real effort and know-how that the counterfeiter just doesn’t possess.

Kudos to Shortbarrel Shepherd for creating this useful resource. I have been a long time subscriber to his channel and I suggest you do the same. You can check out authentic RATS Tourniquets at RE Factor Tactical.


Battle Arms Development MRO Mount

We’ve been following the development of Battle Arms Development’s .78 ounce Trijicon MRO mount for a while now and I am happy to report that it is now available. This mount is machined from 7075-T6 aluminum with a hard anodized finish. It provides an absolute cowitness and mounts via two cross bolts. It’s a lightweight but durable mount for a lightweight but durable optic.

Check out the BAD MRO Mount.

bad mro mount


Blue Force Gear Pouches on Your Bike

Attaching tactical/military pouches to bicycles is nothing new but I have found that Blue Force Gear’s Utility Pouches with Helium Whisper backing work particularly well. They are very lightweight by design and the Helium Whisper backing has a rubbery texture that, when woven tight, really grips the bike and prevents the pouch from moving.

BFG Pouch on Bike

The image above shows a BFG Small Utility Pouch attached to the handlebar of a mountain bike so that the pouch rests on the stem. The picture makes it appear quite large but it actually fits in the space very well. It is a great place to store some bike tools, a pair of gloves, a spare tube, and any other items you may need.

I have also used the same pouch attached to the support members of a rear bike rack and attached to the frame in various ways. Basically, as long as you can be a little creative with how you weave the straps, you can find a ton of ways to mount these pouches to a bike.

I use this Small Utility Pouch because I just happen to have a couple in my gear box. My next step is to order some of the larger pouches to see how I might be able to use them. For instance, the Medium Horizontal Utility Pouch or Large Utility Pouch might work well as a front mounted handlebar bag.


Unity Tactical CLUTCH Belt Update

Unity Tactical released the initial details of their CLUTCH Belt and showed a working, per-production unit at SHOT Show 2016. The belt has received some revisions and is now in full production with the black color option coming first, followed by grey. This low-visibility, heavily configurable belt should be available in starting in June.

See our earlier post for additional details on the CLUTCH Belt’s functionality.

unity tactical clutch update


Interesting Product or Blatant Copy: Thoughts on the Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount Lights

You may remember Streamlight’s SHOT Show 2016 announcement of the expansion of their ProTac line to include new rail mountable versions of these popular lights. The internet took one look at them and cried bloody murder about them being a copy of Surefire’s Scout series of lights. The opinion was likely based on the similar rail clamp and it did, in fact, turn out that the lights were compatible with Scout mounts.


From the initial announcement, I have never thought of these lights as copies. In fact, I think that the opinion that these are copies of Scout lights is actually very shortsighted. I have now been able to handle a ProTac Rail Mount 2 and I have some of the lights inbound for my own testing. This has confirmed my opinion that these lights are not copies.

The lights themselves are very different from Surefire Scout lights. You would never confuse one for the other. The Streamlight products are very much like Streamlight’s current ProTac line which many people (including Frank Proctor) have been using successfully on rifles for years. The family lineage is obvious.


The rail mount is extremely similar if not identical to Surefire’s Scout Light mounts. This may be the source of much of the consternation but I look at it as a very strong positive. This could signal a move toward an industry standard light mounting interface. We already have a host of aftermarket light bodies on the market that use this same mount interface and no one is crying about those. End users now how the choice of Surefire Scout Light, various after-market Scout compatible components, or the new ProTac Rail Mounts with all of these options using the same wide selection of mounts. This, I believe, is very good for the consumer.

The Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount Lights are not copies at all. They are a budget oriented light option that makes use of what is hopefully becoming an industry standard mount.


Review: TacPack April Box

When a TacPack arrives on your doorstep and you know that box is going to have some cool stuff in it but you aren’t quite sure what it will be… That is exciting. I recently received TacPack’s April box and it was a good one.


What is a TacPack?

Before we get into the contents of the box, I should explain what TacPack is. TacPack is a subscription box service not unlike those found in other industries like fashion or cosmetics (fortunately, TacPack won’t send you makeup). You pay a subscription fee and then receive a box full of mystery items that are worth more than what you paid for the box. They deliver value by working out volume discounts and securing promotional items.

What’s in a TacPack?

The April box delivered very good value and had some great items in it. TacPack’s boxes cost $49.95 each and the actual value varies based on what they were able to work out for that particular box. In the case of April’s box, it delivered a value of over $120 but that is at MSRP. Even shopping around for good prices, the box value well over the $49.95 cost. I have seen other TacPack boxes and it is my opinion that they are doing a good job of delivering value and that is probably the most important thing for services like this.


The April box included 5 items and, to me, none of them were throw-aways which is impressive. The items included:

RATS Tourniquet – I have a love hate relationship with the RATS. I like the form factor that lends itself to easy carry in a variety of methods. However, the testing shows that while it does stem bloodflow, it is not as effective as other TQs. In spite of that, I own a few of them because it is the type of tourniquet that can be carried in ways others cant which means I am more likely to have it with me. I think you can’t have too many TQs when you start distributing them between your kits so this safety orange RATS is an awesome addition to the box.

Gang Bangers Anonymous Patch – Everyone likes patches including me. This one is a lot of fun and it appears to be a well made PVC patch with great detail in the rendering of the AR-15 SBR. I dig it.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug – This mug is pretty darn nice. The handle is large enough to fit more than 2 man fingers through (seriously, why can’t mug makers do this more often). It’s made from stainless steel and insulated. It also happens to feature the logo of Black Rifle Coffee Company who you should definitely check out (I like the Just Black Coffee Blend because I am a pretty boring dude when it comes to coffee). Bottom line: This is a great mug from a great company and everyone can find a use for a good mug.

Pro Tip: Mugs can hold beer too.

Gerber Uppercut Push Dagger – This Gerber Uppercut is not terrible. In fact, it is actually a pretty neat little self-defense knife except for the sheath which isn’t great. It is light, slim, sharp, and like any push dagger, very intuitive to use. I think push daggers are underappreciated. They can be carried comfortably and accessibly on the wearer’s center line with a short static line. They are very easily retained in the user’s grip. Finally, if you know how to punch, you know how to use it. If you want to, you can do a light cord wrap on the handle, have someone whip up a simple sheath for use with a static cord, and away you go.

CRKT Edgie – The Edgie is a weird little knife but a cool little knife. Its a slip joint (non-locking) folder that actually sharpens itself when you close the knife. It’s just the kind of knife you would want to drop into a kit somewhere. Mine is sitting on my workbench now because the sheepsfoot blade is great for utility work. This is a solid value.

Wrap Up

Overall, I am really pleased with this box. The RATS TQ and the Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug are my favorites but I will use everything in the box. That isn’t really common with subscription service so I think TacPack deserves some kudos here.

Check out TacPack!


Blue Force Gear – May Trade Show Schedule


Blue Force Gear was out and about in a big way in April. They aren’t slowing down one bit in May. In fact, from May 25 t0 May 26, they will be in three places at once!

You can find them at the following shows:

  • May 4 to May 5: ADS Warrior Expo West, San Diego, CA
  • May 19 to May 22: 2016 NRA Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY
  • May 23 to May 26: 2016 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, Tampa, FL
  • May 24 to May 26: LANPAC Symposium and Exposition, Honolulu, HI
  • May 25 to May 26: CANSEC, Ottowa, Canada

You can contact sales@blueforcegear.com if you would like to make an appointment with the BFG team.


Desert Camo in the Woods

John at UW Gear recently posted an interesting video on his vlog channel, Alpha-Charlie Concepts. The video discusses and shows graphically how an effective desert camo pattern like PenCott Sandstorm can still be effective even in areas with heavy green foliage elements.

There is more to camo than just color matching. Remember that an effective camo will also use shape and depth to break up your outline. No camo pattern is perfect or universal but when coupled with fieldcraft, most can be quite versatile.


How Stiff is Stiff Enough for a CCW Belt?

I received an email this week from a reader who purchased a belt that I have mentioned on this blog. He had not actually worn the belt yet when he sent the email. He was concerned when he actually put hands on it, that it wasn’t stiff enough (that’s what she said). It was a good reminder of an article that I have been meaning to pen.

Just how stiff does a CCW belt really need to be?

ares belt stiffness

The Superior Stiffness

If you could only choose that your belt be stiff one way, you should choose that it be stiff from top to bottom as shown by the red arrows in the photo above. It must be stiff in this direction to support the weight of the firearm which is key for comfortably wearing full size firearms all day.

Typically, if a belt is stiff from top to bottom, it will also be relatively stiff around the circumference (as shown by the green arrow) too but this is less important for how the belt handles weight. Remember too, that wearing the belt tightly will effectively “stiffen” it. That doesn’t mean that a sloppy belt should be made to work by wearing it tightly, just that there is not always that big of a difference between belts that possess varying degrees of acceptable stiffness.

How Do You Know If A Belt is Stiff Enough?

If you can handle the belt before you buy, put your forefinger on one edge of the belt, your thumb on another (like the red arrows show) and squeeze. If it collapses/buckles fairly easily, it likely isn’t stiff enough. It should resist crushing. In fact, I can not crush or collapse the webbing in the Ares Gear belt shown above… not even a little.

If you can’t handle the belt look for materials like double layers of thick webbing (especially scuba webbing), thick biothane, multiple layers of thick layer, or leather belts stiffened with HDPE or even spring steel. These will all typically exhibit acceptable stiffness.

You can also look for belts that are stiffened via rows of tight stitching joining two layers of belt material. Both vertical and circumferential stitching will very effectively stiffen a webbing belt. Snake Eater Tactical uses some very cool stitch patterns to adorn and stiffen their belts. Their belts are a good example of how belts can be stiff the right way, without being overly stiff around the circumference which makes them very comfortable.

A lot of the voices online will tell you that you need a “good” gun belt or a “stiff” gun belt but it isn’t always apparent what they mean. The above has been my experience and I hope it help you more closely hone in on how stiff a gun belt must be… or rather how a gun belt must be stiff.


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