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Author Archive | Matt

Give Terror the Axe Patches and Wrist Bands

You may remember the Give Terror the Axe Foundation that I profiled recently on this blog. You can read more at the link but basically, Give Terror the Axe is a foundation that raises the funds necessary to provide the axes and tomahawks that our Special Forces groups want and need. Now in an effort to raise funds, they have released a limited edition patch and a silicone wrist band. Purchasing these items not only raises funds for the foundation but awareness as well.

The patch is limited to 100 pieces. It features an ACU gray and black flag design with an axe graphic and the words “Give Terror the Axe”. 100% of the profits will go into the foundation. The patches cost $15 and are available through the Usual Suspect Network (This link requires a premium membership on the USN.

The silicone wrist band is made from 100% recycled silicone. It features a foliage green and black swirl color scheme and the words “Give Terror the Axe” embossed on the band. The wrist bands cost $10 and are available through the Usual Suspect Network (This link requires a premium membership on the USN).

If you are not a premium member of the Usual Suspect Network, you can get in touch with Give Terror the Axe on their new Facebook page. Go to the “Info” page to find Shawn’s email address (he is the founder of the foundation).

 

TAREINCO CSK (Compact Surival Kit)

It seems like everyone and their brother offer a pre-assembled survival kit. It takes a really good idea to set your kit apart from the crowd. The TAREINCO CSK has that really good idea.

The CSK uses many of the same off the shelf components that other high end survival kits use. You will recognize many of the items like Wetfire Tinder and Aquamira water purification tabs. This isn’t a bad thing. It can often be cheaper to purchase these kits as a starter for your own custom kit than it is to purchase all of the items separately. Many of these items are used in kit, after kit, after kit, for good reason – they work.

What really sets the CSK apart is the way three simple elements are brought together to make a really well thought out case.  Para-cord, an ITW Whisteloc, and an Otter Box case used together to make a case that can be attached to just about anything, can be used to signal help, and can provide cordage for survival tasks like shelter building. Three elements that are common in just about every kit (signalling, waterproof storage, and cordage) are melded together into something that is more functional than just the three items separately. That is pretty clever.

You can read more about the CSK on the TAREINCO website.

Review: OSOE AK/M4 Micro Rig

The best chest rigs are small chest rigs and the Original SOE (OSOE) AK/M4 Micro Rig is certainly small. Lets take a look.

OSOE AK/M4 Micro Rig

My Chest Rig Theory

For me, chest rigs are a necessary evil. What I mean is that I would rather not wear one but they are times when I really can’t do without them. For instance, many instructors are going to expect you to be able to step to the firing line with a minimum of 5 loaded rifle magazines on your person in an organized fashion. This ensures that you can concentrate on the instruction instead of stopping to reload your magazines. I can’t carry 5 magazines on a belt rig (I guess I could but it would be far from ideal), so I use a chest rig. However, this doesn’t let me off the hook in terms of “train like you fight.”

In my world, as a civilian shooter, I am far more likely to be reloading from a belt pouch or even a cargo pocket than I am from a chest rig. That is why when I train, I use the chest rig to reinforce my belt. What does that look like? Well, when it time to reload, I reload from the belt. When I have a moment when the drill is complete, I refill my belt pouch(es) from the hardest to reach part of my chest rig. This leaves the easiest to reach magazines handy just in case I use up what is on my belt and I have to reload from the chest rig. Learning how to rotate and manage ammo and magazines is a vital part of training.

All of what I just wrote above just means this: my chest rig is secondary to my belt which is my primary magazine carriage method. Because the chest rig is secondary, there is no reason to use a large one with a ton magazine capacity. The best chest rig for my purposes will be compact enough to stay out of my way so that I can train the way that I am most likely to fight – without a chest rig.

OSOE AK/M4 Micro Rig Details

I’ll jump right into the dimensions, since as you can guess by the name, the main feature of this chest rig is its compact size. The body of the AK/M4 Micro Rig is about 7″ tall which is fairly standard for many chest rigs. It is the width that sets this rig apart. It is only 14″ wide. That is 3″ narrower than my next most compact chest rig. Those 3″ really make a difference in how the chest rig feels and performs in certain situations.

The magazine pouches will fit 2 AK or 2 M4 magazines.

I suppose that it doesn’t really matter how small your chest rig is if it doesn’t carry what you need. The AK/M4 Micro Rig carries an impressive amount of gear thanks to its pouch layout. It features two magazine pouches that are sized to carry 2 AK magazines or 2 M4 (AR-15) magazines and a 6″x6″ general purpose pouch. There is also a large admin pouch inside the body of the rig (behind the magazine pouches). The interior of the 6×6 pouch and the admin pouch are lined with hook and loop material so you can add accessory organizers. The exterior of the general purpose pouch also has a generous hook and loop field for adding name tapes and patches. The flaps on the magazine pouches are generously sized and adjustable for length.

The general purpose pouch is lined with hook and loop material...

The interior of the internal admin pouch is also lined with hook and loop.

The AK/M4 Micro Rig comes standard with a typical x-harness made from 1.5″ webbing. It also has a waist belt made from 1″ webbing. The x-harness actually does a very good job of carrying the relatively light loads of such a compact chest rig but many users find the Slim Padded H-Harness to be a worthwhile upgrade. This harness is very comfortable and provides a means for mounting the OSOE Hydration Carrier.

The Slim Padded H-Harness is an upgrade in terms of comfort.

The sides of the magazine pouches and the general purpose pouch have MOLLE webbing that allows you to attach a single pistol magazine pouch or flashlight pouch. The bottoms of the pouches feature heavy duty elastic loops that are designed to hold pocket smoke grenades, tourniquets, or whatever else you need. I tested the loops with C-A-T and SOF-T tourniquets and they worked perfectly. The tourniquet is held in a very out of the way location that is still very easy to access.

Quality

If you haven’t handled an OSOE product, you won’t really be able to appreciate how over built they are. I can’t tell for sure but it seems like every surface is made from 2 layers of 1000D Cordura nylon (certainly most of them are). There are no raw edges. All of the edges have either been taped or meticulously folded and sewn down. The tops of the magazine pouches of have been reinforced with heavy webbing. The pouches are quadruple stitched to the body of the chest rig and even quintuple stitched in some places. There are actually very few seams that are only single stitched. Suffice it to say, this rig is built to last.

I dare you to wear out this rig.

Versatility

One of the things that drew me to this rig is its versatility. It can be used with multiple weapon types. The magazine pouches are sized to allow 2 AK or 2 M4 magazines. This is very unusual and it just works. In fact, if OSOE made stand alone pouches just like the ones on this rig, I would have 2 of them on order for a plate carrier right now. The AK mags are tight but they do fit and they can be removed easily.

It can also be used as a bandolier. Lets say you want to keep this in your trunk with your “truck gun” and you may have to access it quickly. Rather than taking the time to put on the chest rig, you can configure the straps so that the AK/M4 Micro Rig can be worn like an over the shoulder bandolier. It is very clever and very handy.

The 6×6 general purpose pouch also adds versatility. The flap on this pouch has quite a bit of leeway with how loosely it can be closed. This allows this pouch to carry any number of items. It can carry common range items like earplugs, a pen, a notebook, gloves, or other common items. It can carry a very complete blow out kit. Some users will even insert a hook and loop holster and use it as a rig mounted flap holster for their handgun.

In Use

Reloading from this rig is easy. An open top pouch will always be faster than pouches with flaps like the ones on the AK/M4 Micro Rig, but I am willing to give up some speed for the extra options and retention that flaps provide. I also do my speed reloads from the belt when possible so flaps on the chest rig don’t bother me. The flaps allow me to run my AK mags with the bullets up. This makes the AK mags much easier and faster to access and manipulate.

The pouches are tight on 2 AK magazines but they appear to be breaking in a bit with use. This doesn’t make the magazines hard to remove, but they can be somewhat tough to insert. This is a small gripe. The pouches really do work as designed. There is plenty of space for two M4 magazines.

2 AK mags make for a tight fit at first but the pouch will break in with some use.

There are no seams or folds on the interior of the pouches. This is especially important for AK users. There is nothing for the locking tabs on AK magazines to catch on when they are being retrieved from the pouch.

The original x-harness is more than sufficient for this rig, but the Slim Padded H-Harness takes the comfort to the next level. I am very impressed with it. User who intend to use the rig as a bandolier will need to stick with the original x-harness.

The 1.5″ side release buckles (SRB) on the top of the rig can be a little annoying when you are shouldering the rifle. I had the rig adjusted to ride very high on my chest and found that I was frequently hitting the buckles with the buttstock of my rifle. Because of the slim nature of this rig, these buckles can end up right over the part of your shoulder that you would hold the buttstock of your rifle in a more squared up shooting stance. This was solved by simply adjusting it to ride lower (it is still quite high).

I really like how this rig carries a tourniquet. Tourniquets are central to my gunshot wound care preparation and training. It is vitally important they are are able to carried in such a way that they are accessible with one hand from a variety of positions and the elastic loops on the bottom of this rig accomplish this nicely.

These loops keep the TQ out of the way and easy to access.

This rig wears very well with a backpack. It is narrow enough to fit in between the straps of the pack. It also wears nicely over a plate carrier.

The only real annoyance that I have with this rig is that my sling tends to catch on the bottom of the Slim Padded H-Harness. This could probably be solved by moving the “cross-member” portion of the rig all the way to the bottom of the shoulder pads. As it is now, there are some corners that the sling tends to slip under. Then, when I bring the rifle up, it pulls against the rig and I have to fight against it a bit. It is annoying but it never prevented me from shouldering the rifle.

Conclusion

I really, really like this rig. It is very small and very versatile. The mag pouches are so well proportioned that it makse me wish they were offered separately. It is completely over built and should last a good long time. Most importantly, it fits perfectly with my idea of what I need a chest rig to do – carry what I can’t carry on my belt and stay out of the way.

Check out the AK/M4 Micro Rig on the OSOE website.

New from BCS: IOTV Carriers and A-TACS

Beez Combat Systems is offering a new line of vests that support the IOTV armor. These new options are lightweight and very modular. The user can easily add addtional protection like groin protection, lower back protection, deltoid protection and neck-throat protection. This line is designed to be lightweight, affordable, and configurable to meet the end user’s mission. Check out the IOTV carrier line on the BCS website.

While you are checking out the site, you might notice something else that is new for BCS. They are now offering A-TACS material as an option for all their products.

A-TACS Name Tapes from 1800NameTape

A-TACS camo users now have a source for name tapes. These name tapes feature black or OD green embroidery on a background of genuine A-TACS camo fabric. They are backed with Velcro so that they can be affixed easily to your gear.

It is great to see A-TACS getting this kind of support. Order your A-TACS name tapes from 1800NameTape.com.

ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge

I recently mentioned the accessory scales that are available for the Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 from Hinderer Knives. Well, now ZT 0551 owners have another option –  ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge.

These scales are made by Hinderer Knives exclusively for Monkey Edge. They feature the “Frag Pattern” which is used with permission from the noted 1911 and AR-15 smith, Ned Christiansen. Ned uses this pattern as a checkering alternative on his custom 1911s.

You can check out these and other Frag Pattern scales at Monkey Edge.

Spike’s Tactical Melonite Gas Tube

Now here is an interesting product. Spike’s Tactical is offering a Melonite treated gas tube. My initial thought was, “Why?”

It would reduce any potential reflection from the gas tube which are typically fairly shiny but that is easy to fix with Krylon. It would also improve the resistance to heat but that is difficult to quantify and I have never melted a gas tube. However, where this product really comes into its own is corrosion resistance.

I have seen gas tubes pick up some mild corrosion even though they are made from very corrosion resistant stainless steel. I shudder to think of what the corrosive ammo used in a 5.45×39 or 7.62×39 conversion upper might do to a gas tube. These Melonite treated gas tubes only cost $2-3 more than a typical gas tube and might just be cheap insurance if you are running corrosive ammo.

In the end, as with anything, it is up to you to decide if it is worth using. Check them out on the Spike’s Tactical webpage.

Scrap Yard Knife Company 511

The newest knife design from Scrap Yard Knife Company, the 511, is available now. It continues Scrap Yard’s tradition of offering a very functional hard use knife for a very reasonable price.

The 5.11 features Scrap Yard’s excellent Resiprene C handle. I have three knives with this handle and find it to be very comfortable and easy to use. It also sports a 5.5″ blade that is ground from 3/16″ thick SR-101. SR-101 is a very tough carbon steel that holds an edge reasonably well while still being very easy to sharpen. The blade size, coupled with SR-101, make this knife a great choice for general camp chores.

As usual with Scrap Yard knives, they are only around for a limited time before they are gone forever (or at least a long time), so act fast. You can get yours on the Scrap Yard Knives wesbite.

Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay

Council Tool has released the second axe in their premium Velvicut line which I mentioned previously here. The newest addition is a true classic – the Hudson Bay Axe.

The Hudson Bay axe is one of the all time great pack axe patterns. This axe would be at home tucked away in a canoe or lashed to the side of your favorite pack. It has some truly premium features like a 24″ American Hickory handle, a forged 5160 head that has been hardened to 50-54 Rockwell, and leather sheath. The head is even hung in the traditional way – a soft wood wedge with a metal cross wedge.

The most important thing to consider about the Velvicut axes might be that they are made here in the USA. The US axe market is in shambles. Many once great axe and tool manufacturers have been out of business for years. Those of us who wanted premium axes have had to buy used axes to refurbish or buy an imported axe. The Velvicut line represents the return of the premium American axe.

Check out the Velvicut line on the Council Tool website.

Review: Arc’teryx Baller Ass Cap

I consider a hat with a brim an almost mandatory safety item when on the range. It keeps sun and hot brass off your face and out of your eyes. Ballcaps are the most common type of hat you see on a range due to their proliferation in our everyday lives and because they work. However, since I was a young man playing soccer and even now, my body temperature tends to run fairly hot which makes some hats nearly unbearable to wear in the warmer months. When I set out to find a better ballcap my search lead me to Arc’teryx and the Baller Ass Cap (BAC).

The mesh construction is what drew me immediately to the BAC. 4 of the 6 panels used in the construction of the hat are made from a slightly stretchy mesh material. The mesh lets the hat breath far more than a typical ballcap. The difference in how quickly this hat allows me to shed heat versus an all cotton hat is very noticeable. This hat solved a problem for me. That is what good gear does – it solves problems.

The BAC is also extremely comfortable to wear thanks to the FLEXFIT design. Most of you will likely be familiar already with FLEXFIT hats. They look like fitted ballcaps from the outside but inside they feature a comfortable elastic band that fits the hat to your head.

While the BAC is similar to some off the shelf offerings from FLEXFIT, it isn’t exactly like anything that you can buy from FLEXFIT. Arc’teryx made sure that this had some features that set it apart and made it more shooter oriented. It is available in either black or tan unlike the typical FLEXFIT hats which are more brightly colored. The BAC also lacks a button on the crown which is an important feature for those who wear ear muff style hearing protection on the range.

Finally, the BAC features a patch panel for name tapes or patches. The panel has the Arc’teryx logo embroidered into it in color that matches the hat for a very low profile look. If you dislike garish logos on your gear, you will appreciate this hat.

Arc’teryx has created a near perfect warm weather training hat with the BAC. Now that I have worn one for a while, it is hard to imagine wearing a different hat during a hot summer day on the range. Sure, its just a hat but it also an example of combining the right features to make an everyday object more functional.

You can read more about the Arc’teryx Baller Ass Cap on the Arc’teryx LEAF website. I purchased mine at Grey Group Training.

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