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Author Archive | Matt

FirstSpear Surefire Magazine Pockets

I recently profiled a new ATS Tactical shingle for the 60 round Surefire High Capacity AR15 magazines. If open top pouches aren’t your preference or they won’t work for your application, then FirstSpear has you covered… with flaps. They have new Surefire Magazine Pockets for both the 60 and 100 round Surefire High Capacity AR15 magazines.

FirstSpear was selected by Surefire to make these pouches and they will be available in coyote brown directly from Surefire. However, if you want other color options like ranger green, Multicam, or black, they are available from FirstSpear.

The pouches feature MOLLE webbing on the exterior so you can attach other pouches to them. You probably won’t want to build out too far by stacking pouches on top of these but the webbing does wrap around the sides so it may be a good place to mount a tourniquet or something else that is compact. They also feature a flap closure that covers the magazine well to protect it from the elements and retain the magazine.

The version that fits the 100 round magazine is the only pouch that I am aware of right now made specifically for this magazine. If you own a Surefire 100 round magazine, it would be prudent to have a way to carry it when it isn’t locked into your AR.

You can check out the 60 round version and 100 round version on the FirstSpear website.

Review: Flowfold Billfold

Wallets are simple things… or at least they should be. Too many wallets on the market have Velcro straps, snaps, zippers, bellowed pockets, and all sorts of other stuff that has nothing to do with organizing some credit cards, IDs, and bills. Typically, the more features a wallet has, the thicker it is and I have no tolerance for thick wallets.

Several months ago, my leather magnetic money clip type wallet began to loosen to the point that cards were falling out, so the hunt was on for a new wallet. I searched high and low for a wallet that was thin, durable, and that would retain my credit cards well. That search lead me to Flowfold.

The Black Pearl color scheme is now discontinued... too bad for you.

Not Leather and That’s a Good Thing

The first thing that you notice about Flowfold Billfolds is that they are not made from leather. That is probably obvious but it is one of the keys to what makes this such a great wallet. Flowfold makes the billfolds from sailcloth which is a great material for wallets because it is very thin, very durable, very lightweight, and water resistant.

Thin, Like Really, Really Thin

My favorite thing about this wallet is how thin it is. Back when I bought the Flowfold Billfold, I had a rough idea of when it would arrive in the mail. On that day, I checked the mailbox and was disappointed that it didn’t contain a package. I walked inside and sorted through the mail only to find that the wallet did arrive. It was packed inside a standard business letter sized envelope. The envelope containing the wallet was thin enough that it looked and felt like any one of the other letters that arrived that day. This wallet is thin and I mean thin.

It's thin when it's empty.

It is still thin when it's full of 8 cards/IDs and $12 in cash... That's right, $12 cash.

Tactical Level IV Credit Card Retention… or Something

I also like that the Flowfold Billfold’s credit card slots are basically loss proof. The bifold design keeps this wallet thin but it also allows the credit card slots to open in toward the fold of the wallet. When the wallet is folded, the card can not come out unless you pull them out. I was surprised at the number of cards that this could hold without becoming bulky thanks to the 2 separate cards slots. Each slot easily holds multiple cards rather than some designs that have a separate divided slot for each card.

ID Slots – 2 is 1 and 1 is None

There is a transparent ID slot on each side of the inside of the wallet (2 total) that is perfect for an drivers license or that credit card that you use most often. That second ID slot is especially convenient if you work somewhere that requires you to carry identification that is specific to your job.

Double ID slots all the way! What does it mean?

I Sit on This Wallet All Day and It Still Works

The workmanship is very good. All of the edges of the sailcloth are finished with nylon ribbon. The wallet may feel unsubstantial at first (especially if you are used to thick leather wallets) but that is just the nature of the thin plastic sailcloth. Experience has proven to me that this material is not unsubstantial at all. I have seen just how durable it is. My wallet started off fairly rigid but it is now breaking in nicely. It isn’t showing any serious wear and tear. It is just starting to conform to the shape of my backside.

Get One

I would be thrilled with this wallet if it was just thin. The fact that it is very durable and water resistant is just bonus. I have never owned a wallet that I actually liked until now. So it isn’t made from 7000D Multicam printed nylon, but it the best wallet that I have ever owned and that is saying something. The Flowfold Billfold would make a worthy addition to anyone’s EDC gear. It would also be a great gift for those of you who like to do your holiday shopping before Christmas Eve.

Right now, if you buy a Flowfold Billfold in the “Nori” color scheme, 100% of the profit will go to Hurricane Irene Relief which is near and dear to my heart considering what Irene did to northeast Pennsylvania where I grew up. Check out “Nori” and all the other great color schemes on Flowfold.com.

ShootersConsignment.com

My friends at TacStrike have been offering one of the coolest services around to shooters. They will consign your shooting and tactical gear! The service has been going so well, that they are splitting it off of the TacStrike site and giving it its own site.

Here is how it works. You package up all of your unwanted gear and send it to Shooters Consignment. They take high quality pictures of it and list it on their site. This gives you very broad exposure and takes all of the headaches of dealing with buyers out of your hands. When your gear sells, they pay you. It’s easy.

So if you are tired of low ball offers, stupid questions, off-the-wall trade offers, pushy buyers, people who don’t keep their word, and every other of gear selling annoyance, check out ShootersConsignment.com. Their site will be live soon. You can watch their Facebook Page for the latest information on the site.

White Sound Defense Recoil Spring and Guide Rod for Gen3 Glocks

White Sound Defense (WSD) is quickly becoming the Glock spring specialist. Many recoil spring products on the market for Glock handguns are made with the competition market it in mind but WSD is building products with more serious users in mind. They recently introduced two new products that exhibit the typical attention to detail that I have come to expect from them.

The Recoil Spring for 3rd Generation Glock pistols from WSD comes in just one spring weight that is identical to the factory spring weight found in the G17/G22 and others. This ensures reliable operation across a broad range of ammunition. The spring is made from music wire and plated for corrosion resistance. This spring is made to handle less than optimal conditions and hard use.

WSD also introduced a Steel Guide Rod for 3rd Generation Glock Pistols which has some really unique features for the self-defense/law enforcement/military user. As someone who has used non-captured guide rods in Glocks before, I really appreciate the transverse hole that lets you use your armorer’s tool to “screw” the spring onto the guide rod (see the video). I really prefer non-captured guide rods if I am going to use an aftermarket guide rod since they are far simpler than their captured counterparts.

The guide rod is also slightly extended so that it sticks out the front of the slide to act as a stand-off. This features reduces the likelihood that the slide will be pushed out of battery if the muzzle is pressed into something when you shoot. I have never seen a Glock guide rod with this feature and I really like the simplicity of it. Other companies have made stand-offs for Glocks before but they are overly stylized, overly bulky, and preclude the use of most holsters, lights, and suppressors. The WSD guide rod is purposefully designed not to interfere with those items.

In this first video, you can see the tool-less installation method of the recoil spring and guide rod. You also get a good look at how far the guide rod protrudes from the muzzle:

In this second video, you can see how incredibly easy it is to install the guide rod with an armorer’s tool or allen key:

As usual with White Sound Defense, there is a lot more thought that went into these items than I have mentioned here. Be sure to check them out on the WSD website.

ATS Triple Surefire 60Rd Mag Shingle

What if you could put 240 rounds of 5.56 down range with only 3 reloads? That sounds pretty good doesn’t it? That is what Surefire’s 60 round High Capacity Magazines for the AR-15 and ATS Tactical’s new ATS Triple Surefire 60Rd Mag Shingle let you do.

The new 60 round Surefire High Capacity magazines for the AR-15 are making a serious splash. Several high profile trainers are coming forward and saying that the mags run very well in their classes. While these mags will fit in most double AR magazine pouches, their additional length and different shape can benefit from a dedicated pouch.

The new pouch from ATS has a shingle format. There are three pouches side by side that allow you to carry 3 60 round Surefire magazines. The magazines are retained with bungee pull tabs and have elastic straps around the mid section of the magazines. It needs 6 columns of MOLLE webbing to mount which is perfect for the front of most plate carriers or chest rigs.

This isn’t the first pouch for these magazines that I have seen but it is the first shingle style pouch that I have seen. It is nice to see gear makers supporting a new magazine that has a lot of potential. Check out the Triple Surefire 60Rd Mag Shingle on the ATS website.

RADIAL Millennium Scout Light MOUNT-N-SLOT from IWC

Impact Weapons Components continues to pump out one exciting product after another. Their latest is the RADIAL Millennium Scout Light MOUNT-N-SLOT.

The RADIAL Millennium Scout Light MOUNT-N-SLOT is made to mount a Surefire Millennium Series light (and others). It is designed to allow the light to be mounted in such a way that the tail cap falls easily under your support hand thumb and the bezel of the light sits well forward to reduce shadowing by the barrel and front sight.

As with other products from the MOUNT-N-SLOT line, the RADIAL Millennium Scout Light MOUNT-N-SLOT does away with the need for rails. It can be mounted directly to the tube on hand guards like the Troy TRX Extreme and Samson Evolution. It can even be mounted between the rails of some railed hand guards.

There are many applications for a mount like this. You can find out more on the Impact Weapons Components website.

Remember to use the code “triggerjerk” at checkout to receive 5% off at IWC.

Granite Gear MOLLE Converters

Have you ever wanted to place a MOLLE pouch horizontally but the webbing would only allow the pouch to mounted vertically? This problem is common enough that several gear makers have panels that can convert vertical MOLLE webbing to horizontal or vice versa. Granite Gear has a different solution.

Most solutions for mounting pouches horizontally require a panel that is attached to the bag, chest rig, plate carrier, etc. and then the pouch is attached to the panel. This approach works but it can add quite a bit of weight and you are limited by the size of the panel.

Granite Gear’s MOLLE Converters are far simpler. They make tabs that can be threaded into the MOLLE which turns the space between the rows into columns for horizontal mounting. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. The picture should make it clear just how simple of a solution this is. It is far lighter than any panel type solution and it is completely scalable to any size pouch – just install as many converters as you need for your specific pouch.

This is so simple that it seems strange that I have never seen anything like this from someone else. Check out the MOLLE Converters on the Granite Gear website.

 

Lumens Factory E Series LED Conversions

Many people revere the Surefire E Series lights for their compact size and durability. For years, these lights were only available with incandescent bulbs and the selection was fairly limited. Lumens Factory stepped in and began providing a variety of quality bulbs that were compatible with the E-series lights. Now they are doing the same thing with LED conversions.

The Lumens Factory E Series LED products are different than any other conversion that I have seen for the Surefire E Series lights. Rather than a self contained drop in head that can never be upgraded, Lumens Factory gives you options. They make an E Series bezel that accepts a number of LED modules that have a variety of features and outputs. These features include different input voltage ranges so that they can be used with different battery configurations and different output modes like single or 3 (high, medium, low) mode configuration. These head use Cree XP-G, R5 LEDs so the output should be impressive.

LED technology seems to improve daily so users who like to have the latest technology will appreciate the modular nature of these heads. Rather than buying a whole new head when the latest LED comes out, you can simply replace the LED module.

These are some impressive LED conversions. Check them out on the Lumens Factory website.

Review: Blue Force Gear Project Helium Whisper

Some gear makers are content to make a piece of gear the same way as everyone else. Some makers innovate small changes that tweak the functionality of a piece of gear. The best gear makers seem to be able to completely re-imagine a piece of gear from the ground up and create something that is extremely functional, very unique, and demonstrably better than anything else on the market. Blue Force Gear (BFG) is cementing themselves as one of those rare gear manufacturers that fits the last, best category.

You can look at the BFG Ten-Speed line to see a great example of the kind of innovation that I am talking about. When everyone else was making nylon box shaped magazine pouches, Blue Force Gear made theirs from heavy duty elastic. The result is a pouch that is extremely functional and completely different than anything else – not different for the sake of being different, but different with a purpose.

Now it seems that BFG might be set to turn the tactical gear market on its ear again with Project Helium Whisper. Helium Whisper is an effort to make the lightest possible load carrying gear without sacrificing durability through the use of modern technology, design, and materials. The project is getting a ton of attention (for good reason) and I am happy to have gotten my hands on a few examples from the new line to review.

Helium Whisper Overview

Project Helium Whisper represents the convergence of several factors like new light weight materials and innovative design, but the key is the entirely new way of manufacturing a MOLLE pouch’s backing. Most MOLLE pouch backings consists of several pieces of webbing, snaps, and stiffeners. The backing for the Helium Whisper line is made from a single piece of CNC laser cut laminate. This laminate is very light weight and very durable. By cutting the backing from a single piece, BFG also cuts out several manufacturing steps and eases the challenges around aligning and sewing the webbing.

There are other benefits to this new thin, flexible laminate backing. The MOLLE tabs are flexible enough to be able to fold onto itself and they are cut to be narrower where they pass through the MOLLE webbing that it is being threaded to. This allows the pouch to be attached to webbing with out-of-spec spacing like in cases where a row is cut short because of a zipper. Pouches with stiff MOLLE tabs could never be mounted in these narrow columns, but this becomes usable space with the Helium Whisper line.

An additional benefit is that the laminate material can be laser etched. This means that the additional weight and manufacturing complexity of a label is unnecessary. The manufacturer name, pouch name, NSN, etc. can all be etched directly onto the pouch. So, if you think about it, instead of adding weight with a tag, they are actually reducing the weight of the pouch when they laser etch it.

All of the above means that BFG has created a durable and versatile line of pouches, some of which weigh as little as half of what their similar current issue MOLLE pouches weigh, and they hope to be able to deliver them at around the same price or perhaps less. Amazing.

Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch

The regular, non-Helium Whisper, Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch is already a lightweight at around 40 grams. The Helium Whisper version of the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch weighs an astonishingly light 30 grams! To put that in perspective, I weighed several other manufacturers single M4 magazine pouches that I had access to and they weighed anywhere from 59 grams to 77 grams. The lightest single magazine pouch that I own weighs 1 gram short of double what the Helium Whisper pouches weighs. Two large MALICE clips weigh 28 grams. The Helium Whisper Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch which includes MOLLE straps weighs only 2 grams more than just the mounting system of other pouches. The numbers tell the story.

I own other Ten-Speed pouches so I knew what to expect. These pouches are far different than anything else on the market. They are soft like nylon but function much like an open top kydex magazine pouch in terms of ease of access. The elastic is very heavy duty and has proven to be extremely durable. It almost has a slightly toothy texture that seems to help it grip whatever you can fit in the pouch. I have used the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch to carry everything from a Motorola radio, to a GPS, to a tourniquet. The unique properties of the elastic allow it to fit and retain a wide variety of items and yet still lay completely flat when not in use.

This magazine pouch has so many applications thanks to its extremely low profile and feather weight. The most obvious is to build an entire load carrying system using these pouches, but there are tons of other possibilities for those who just need to update or expand the capabilities of their current gear. Let’s say you have a 3 magazine shingle on the front of your plate carrier and want the ability to occasionally carry more than 3 magazines. Add a few of the Ten-Speed M4 Magazine Pouches and now you have the ability to carry additional mags with negligible additional weight and almost no bulk. If you aren’t using the pouch(es), you will not even notice that they are there.

If you like open top magazine pouches, you will like the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch. The elastic retains the magazines aggressively, almost like kydex. The pouch presents about 3″ of a 30 round PMAG above the top of the pouch so retrieving it is fast and easy. The pouch would basically swallow a 20 round magazine, but the hold is so aggressive that you can just insert the magazine part way and it works. I spent part of the testing time with this pouch on a plate carrier and part of the time with it on a MOLLE belt. It worked great in both locations, but it really shined on the belt. There might not be a faster way to reload than from the belt with a well designed open top pouch like the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch.

The biggest (and really only, in my experience) potential downside to the Ten-Speed line for some users is that it can be difficult to insert a magazine into the pouch with one hand. It can be done, and I do it all the time, but it does take some practice. However, I do not train to put empty or partially loaded magazines back into pouches, so it is not something that I need to do in a hurry. Insert magazines into pouches are almost entirely an administrative action. So, for me, this is a complete non-issue.

There is no lighter, lower profile, or more versatile magazine pouch on the market than this.

Ten-Speed SSE Pouch

The Ten-Speed SSE Pouch weighs in at just over 65 grams which means it is the lightest stand alone dump pouch on the market… or, at least it used to be the lightest. The Helium Whisper version of the same pouch weighs only 53 grams!

This pouch is just too cool. In its compacted state it packs into a 3×4″ package. The thin ripstop nylon bag packs into a small elastic faced pouch with only a rip tab protruding. When you need to use the dump pouch, you simply rip down on the tab to release the bag. It takes up almost no space on a belt, chest rig, or plate carrier but provides a very usable dump pouch.

I’ll take a second to say a few words about dump pouches. Many dump pouches on the market simply stink. You either have to cinch them so tight that you can’t easily drop anything into them or it looks like you are leaving a yard sale in your wake as soon as you start move. If a dump pouch is mounted to rigidly to your body, it will move with your body while the contents of the dump pouch knock around freely until they happen to find the opening and fly out. The best dump pouches, like the Helium Whisper Ten-Speed SSE Pouch are mounted only at the top of the pouch. This allows them to swing freely and move with the items that they contain. I dare you to try to get something to pop out the top of this dump pouch by jumping around or running. It just isn’t going to happen and that is a very, very good thing.

Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small

At first, I didn’t think that I would have much to write about when it comes to a simple utility pouch, but I was wrong. This pouch is actually packed with features.

The laminate material that is used for the backing is extended down to make the bottom of the pouch. The bottom of a utility pouch is going to take the brunt of the wear from shifting objects inside so having a bottom made from this durable material is a real plus. It also eliminates an entire seam which saves weight.

The Helium Whisper Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small weighs only 82 grams. A pouch with the same linear dimensions that I own from a different manufacturer weighs 101 grams. 20 grams here and 20 grams there can really add up when you have to carry several different types of pouches.

This pouch also has two interior loops made from gutted para-cord. These can be used as lash points for important items that you might store in the pouch like a compass or flashlight. The ability to dummy cord items to the pouch can be especially useful in the dark or over water to prevent loss.

The Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small also features a Multicam printed zipper. This is the first zipper with camo printing that I have seen in person and it is a really nice touch.

So, while the Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small is the most traditional of all the pouches that I received for review in terms of shape, it also one of the most feature rich. The way that the backing is extended into the bottom of the pouch makes it the perfect showcase for the weight savings and durability of this new laminate backing. BFG says that in the future, they may be able to print camo patterns onto the laminate backing which would allow them to extend it on the front of the pouch, saving even more weight.

Conclusion

If you can’t tell by now, I think these pouches are amazing and maybe even revolutionary. This blog has afforded me the privilege of being able to check out some really innovative gear and I am not sure that I have ever handled anything more innovative than these BFG Helium Whisper pouches. On one hand, they are just simple load carrying devices, but on the other, their combination of design, technology, and materials seem like the future of nylon gear.

I’ll leave you with this… Blue Force Gear has shown that the average soldier’s load carrying gear can be reduced in weight by 1-3 pounds by replacing the current issue pouches with Helium Whisper pouches. That means that an additional 1-3 30 round M4 magazines or an additional 32 ounce container of water could be carried with no weight penalty versus what is currently issued right now. Wow.

You can read more about the Helium Whisper line on the Blue Force Gear website.

Disclosure: These pouches were provided to me by Blue Force Gear, free of charge, for review.

US PALM AK30 Rebuild Kits

Do you have any AK mags laying around that refuse to function or do you have some AK mags that you just want to upgrade? Then you will want to check out the AK30 Rebuild Kits from US PALM.

The AK30 Rebuild Kits allow you to use the excellent follower and stainless steel spring from the AK30 in your surplus magazine bodies. The follower is low friction thanks to its polymer construction and it is also extremely easy to clean since it is vented to allow debris to pass through simply by flushing the magazine with water. Stainless steel springs just make good sense on a gun that might spend time in the elements. Even the floor plate latch is parkerized for corrosion resistance. This kit upgrades every internal part of the magazine.

I can already hear some people groaning that this kit costs more than some complete surplus AK magazines. I think that is extremely short sighted. US PALM develops and makes their products right here in the USA. That means when your supplies of your favorite surplus magazine are dries up and it is no longer being imported, US PALM AK30 mags will still be available. It also means that if you have a problem, there is actually someone there to back up their product. This kit is an upgrade and people have been paying extra to upgrade AR-15 magazines for years. This also makes good sense if you prefer a certain type of AK magazine that isn’t readily available any more (which is often the case with AK magazines since they are imported in batches and sometimes never seen again once they are sold out). Rather than throwing those worn out mags that you love into a pile, you can use this kit to rejuvenate them.

I am thrilled to see US PALM continue to innovate new products for the AK-47. The AK30 Rebuild Kit gives AK shooters some very nice options when it comes to upgrading or rejuvenating magazines.

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