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Author Archive | Matt

Review: New Short Hybrid Lever for the B.A.D.-A.S.S.

Battle Arms Development (BAD) places a tremendous amount of importance on the feedback of their users. So, when their users asked for a new lever for the BAD-ASS, Battle Arms Development delivered. The new “Reverse Hybrid” lever is the result of direct user feedback.

The new lever is referred to as the Reverse Hybrid because it is essentially the opposite of the previously reviewed Hybrid lever. The Reverse Hybrid lever is thin for most of its length except for the end which has a bump (for lack of a better term).

BAD provided me with a prototype of the new lever to try. I was able to use it on both sides of the selector during testing. On the weak side, I like how the bump worked as a pivot point for moving the BAD-ASS with your index finger. It was very easy and intuitive to use. However, the bump is in the worst possible place in terms of interference with your trigger finger. If you are used to using an ambi-safety with standard size levers it probably won’t bother you, but others may want to consider a shorter or thinner lever which, thankfully, the BAD-ASS allows.

The Reverse Hybrid really seems like it works better as a strong (or thumb) side lever. The bump really rotates naturally under your thumb. It feels like a pivot point and just seems natural. It is long enough to reach easily. I did find that it wasn’t as easy to “ride” as the standard lever which has more surface area on which to rest your thumb. I can see the draw of this kind of lever since it does seem to rotate so nicely but it just doesn’t have everything that I look for in a selector lever.

All in all, I am not sure that the Reverse Hybrid is for me, but Battle Arms Development has been very up front about the fact that this isn’t for everyone – it was specifically requested by current users of the BAD-ASS. It may be perfect for you, especially if you are a fan of the popular “star” selectors. No one can say that Battle Arms Development doesn’t respond to their customers (the best companies always do).

The Reverse Hybrid will be available on the Battle Arms Development website soon.

Ameriglo I-Dot and I-Dot Pro for the M&P

Smith & Wesson M&P shooters have a great new sight option. The I-Dot and I-Dot Pro sights from Ameriglo that I like so much on Glocks are now available for the M&P.

Ameriglo I-Dot

Ameriglo I-Dot Pro

The I-Dot series of sights from Ameriglo features a 2 dot design. There is 1 dot on the front sight and 1 one on the rear sight. In order to align the sights, you place the front sight dot over the rear sight dot. I find this to be much more intuitive than the typical 3 dot sights.  For more detail you can read my full reviews on these sight sets for Glocks on the Handgun Sight Review page.

The sights are available from Ameriglo on their website.

Capacity Counts

When discussing magazine capacity, it seems to be impossible to avoid oft repeated (and rarely thought about) statements like “If I need more than X number of rounds, I haven’t done my job” or “Large capacity magazines make you ‘spray and pray’ instead of making each shot count.” Who hasn’t heard that “The typical gun fight is over in 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4) shot anyway, so I don’t need anything other than this [insert low capacity handgun here].” All three of these statements are probably repeated in guns shops and on internet forums every hour (usually by someone who is justifying their particular choice in handgun). Saying something often doesn’t make it true and it certainly doesn’t make it any less absurd. Logic has no place where ego and machismo reign.

“If I need more than X number of rounds, I haven’t done my job.” I’ll assume that the job that is being referred to is stopping a threat from harming or killing you or a loved one. This statement might be reasonable if there was a set number of rounds that would incapacitate someone intent on doing you harm. The reality is that one shot stops are nearly mythical (especially with handguns) and that determined attackers can and have soaked up 10 or more rounds of just about every caliber before ceasing their attack. A prudent man plans to shoot accurately and often until the threat is stopped whether that take 1 round or 15.

“Large capacity magazines make you ‘spray and pray’ instead of making each shot count.” This is perhaps the most absurd of the above mentioned gun counter philosophies. Magazine capacity is no more responsible for inaccurate, volume fire than large gas tanks are responsible for people accidentally driving past their destinations or than large refrigerators are responsible for people over eating. Those who miss with all 15 rounds in their magazine under stress, would have also missed with all 5 in their revolver’s cylinder. Should we then take this to its logical end and only carry single shot firearms? After all, wouldn’t we then really make our only shot count? That is, of course, absurd. People miss because of a lapse in training, stress, and lots of reasons other than having too many cartridges in their magazine.

“The typical gun fight is over in 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4) shot anyway, so I don’t need anything other than this [insert low capacity handgun here].” All gunfights are typical except for the ones that aren’t. We have seen groups of terrorists, gangs of home invaders, and “flash mobs” become the norm. These things are not rare and they aren’t always confined to any one part of town. Today’s responsible shooter may face any number of situations that can not be solved without plenty of ammunition.

Capacity counts. I become more convinced of this every day. I see evidence of this when I watch the news and when I learn about natural stress responses. Even a cursory study of modern terminal ballistics confronts me with the fact that capacity counts. I can’t tell you how many rounds are enough any more than you can tell me when or where you will need to use a handgun in defense of your life. I can tell you that having a reload (spare magazine, speed loader, etc) for what ever you carry is a good idea. Practicing your reloads until they are second nature is an even better idea. Taking an honest look at the capacity of the firearm that you carry wouldn’t hurt either.

I am not saying that more ammunition can make up for less skill. I am not saying that all problems can or should be solved by the liberal application of ammo. I am saying that the old “wisdom” deserves to be rethought and that you, as a responsible shooter, should take a long and honest look at your gear and training to determine whether it is sufficient for the situations that you are likely to face.

Just think about it.

Review: Omnivore Blade Works Tomahawks

The tomahawk is a versatile tool. It is at home in the woods with a camper or on the belt of a soldier. Its uses are many. The typical tomahawk has changed very little over of the years. Tomahawks from Omnivore Blade Works (OBW) are far from typical tomahawks.

I was lucky to be part of a “pass around” that was orchestrated by OBW on the Usual Suspect Network. A few weeks ago a box arrived on my door step and, inside, I found a brand new, pristine Jackal model tomahawk and a rough but ready looking Recon model tomahawk. I set about playing with both of them immediately.

The Jackal

The Jackal is a smaller, trimmer, lighter tomahawk at just 14″ overall. It has a finer edge and excels at cutting as well as chopping. It featured a digital camo paint scheme and beautifully machined and finished natural color micarta handle slabs. The paint and handle materials can all be customized at the time of ordering.

One of the most distinctive features of the Jackal are the “teeth” on the pommel. They are reminiscent of the the teeth that you might find on the the tomahawk’s namesake. The Jackal also features a very blade like spike that comes to a very sharp point.

The Recon

The Recon tomahawk is a full size tomahawk at 18.5″ overall that has been stripped to its barest essentials. It is slim, light, and very fast. There are no handle slabs, only an aggressively skeletonized haft of steel that can be cord-wrapped if the user chooses. The name Recon speaks to its spartan style, light weight, and speed.

The rear of the Recon features an impressive spike that is designed for piercing strength and durability. The spike has a series of thick edges that will pierce readily without being fragile and prone to chipping and rolling. The Recon that was sent to me had been through OBW’s testing. It was beat up, ragged, worn, and rough looking but still just as functional as ever. Before it was sent to me it spent 2 weeks out in the elements to prove that the coated 1095 steel could handle it.

I used the mouse pad backed sandpaper method to sharpen and polish the edges of the Recon. There was some surface rust to remove but nothing that compromised the function. After just a few moments the cutting edges were fairly clean and had a fresh working edge.

In Use

Apart from the dimensions, both of these tomahawks share a lot of characteristics so I will talk about their uses together. Both ‘hawks are made from a classic hard use cutlery steel, 1095. It was easy to sharpen and held up well to all of the tasks outlined below.

First, lets state the obvious. A tomahawk must be able to chop and these ‘hawks can certainly do that. They easily limbed trees and snapped through smaller branches. They delivered all of the chopping performance that you would expect from a tomahawk.

What really surprised me was the uses for all of the other cutting edges that I found. Both tomahawks have cutting edges that run along their top edges from the bit to the spike. I found tons of uses for this. I found that it was actually easier to use this edge to create “fuzz sticks” for fire starting. It could also be used like a ulu with rocking cuts to quickly prep jute twine for tinder. The uses were limited only by my resourcefulness.

A spike can be a useful thing in the woods. The spikes on both ‘hawks could be used like an awl to bore holes but the more blade-like spike on the Jackel was easier to use for these tasks.

I found that the Jackal was much easier on the hands with its hand filling micarta handle slabs. The Recon’s handle was made more comfortable with gloves, but I would definitely want to cord wrap it if I planned to use it for a long period of time.

The Recon was a great thrower. It stuck pretty readily even though I am a lousy tomahawk thrower. I am not sure there is much of a practical reason to throw a tomahawk, but it is certainly fun and it did put the durability of the Recon to the test. The Recon shrugged off throwing with no ill effects. The Jackal’s edge geometry is thinner and it is not suitable for throwing. It is a more pure cutter.

I used both tomahawks to split wood into kindling. Both tomahawks split wood easily. The camo finish on the Jackal held up surprisingly well during this test.

One of the coolest features that you might not notice in the pictures is that the circular cutout under the bit and beard area of the tomahawk is sharpened. This was awesome for hooking and cutting cord. It was also really great for limbing. You could reach up over head, hook a branch, and then pull down sharply to easily remove branches that were out of reach. The same technique could be used closer to the ground for clearing brush, much like a bill hook machete. Just make sure to keep something like a ceramic rod on hand to sharpen this area since typical square stones won’t work.

A typical tomahawk has a straight haft. The OBW ‘hawks have a slight curve and contours that make them comfortable to use and very aggressive when chopping. The slight curve allows you to really snap the ‘hawk with your wrist for an extra little bite when you are chopping. These are shaped very well for prolonged use.

Amazing Sheaths

The sheaths that come with the Jackal and Recon are works of functional art in themselves. They are a combination of kydex, micarta, shock cord, and metal that work together to make some seriously innovative sheaths. Both sheaths have locking mechanisims that keep the tomahawk in the sheath until you are ready to produce it. The kydex work is impeccible and there are amazing details like precisely machined micarta used as spacers to allow for the thickness of the ‘hawks and aid in retention. I have never seen micarta used this way with kydex.

The Jackals sheath worked by placing the spike in first and then the bit. A small pin that was tensioned by shock cord could be slid up to release a disk that rotates in such a way that it locks the bit in place. It sounds and looks complicated but it was actually quite easy. I must have spent 10 minutes just playing with the mechanism.

The Recon’s sheath is a bit more simple. You place the bit in first and the the spike. Once the spike is in place, a pin could be slipped into a place that locked the ‘hawk in the sheath. The pin is captive and kept under tension with shock cord. It is a very elegant solution. This sheath also featured a large belt loop.

As enamored as I was with the amazing locking mechanisms and workmanship on these sheaths, I did find myself wishing they were smaller. I think that the locking mechanisms required much more material than a simple friction or click type sheath would have required. There are also many cutting edges that must be covered so that also adds to the size. Still, the sheaths were extremely functional and easy to use. you can not help but be impressed with them. They almost steal the show.


These tomahawks from Omnivore Blade Works are just too cool. They look and perform extremely well. The sheaths will keep you entertained for hours and they will keep your tomahawk safe, too. I am extremely impressed with the whole package. It was hard to send these tomahawks on to the next person in the “pass around.”

Check out the full line of tomahawks and knives on Omnivore Blade Work’s website.

Panteao Productions

Digital technology has greatly improved the production value and usefulness of DVD training courses. Several of the biggest names in the shooting industry have capitalized on this technology to create highly successful instructional DVDs. Now there is a new company, Panteao Productions, that is taking this new digital technology to the next level.

What if you could receive one on one training from respected trainers like Louis Awerbuck, “Super” Dave Harrington, Paul Howe, Travis Haley, Bill Rogers, and others? What if you could access this training from your home computer? What if the training was constantly evolving and adding new instructors? That would be pretty phenomenal and that is exactly what Panteao Productions is offering.

Panteao Productions will offer DVDs and online accessible subscription content in their “Make ready” series. You can order DVDs of the individual trainers or pay a monthly or yearly subscription to watch the HD video content online. The content has tremendous production value and features all kinds of invaluable information on tactics, techniques, and gear from some amazing instructors. The list of instructors and available content is growing monthly.

I think this is a really interesting, innovative, and well executed venture.

You can get a ton of additional information and some really great free content at PanteaoProductions.com.

Simonich Gunner Grips by VZ Grips

The Gunner Grips for 1911s that were designed by the late Rob Simonich were instant classics. Their use of G-10 laminate and golf ball like dimples was very innovative and it made them very functional. These grips were often copied but many feel that Rob’s originals were never duplicated.

They have been made under license by other companies in the days since Rob’s untimely passing, but now VZ Grips has taken over production under license from Christine Simonich, Rob’s wife. They have gone back to Rob’s original drawings in order to produce a grip that is as close to the original as possible. They are also offering some options that were never available on the originals like magazine release options, ambi cuts, beveled bottoms, and custom colors.

If anyone can do Rob’s original vision for these grips justice, it’s VZ Grips. The Gunner Grips are on the VZ Grips website now.

Daniel Defense Lo-Pro Gas Blocks for Lightweight Barrels

Daniel Defense is now making low profile gas blocks for .625″ lightweight profile AR-15 barrels. They will be offering a pinned model and a clamp model. Now users of lightweight barreled ARs will have more options when they want to extend a free float rail out over the gas block.

Lightweight barrels make all the sense in the world for the majority of shooters. For most purposes, they perform just as well as a “government” barrel profile but with a reduction in weight (and don’t even get me started on the sham that is the HBAR). A lighter rifle is almost always a good thing. However, until recently there have been very few low profile gas block options for these barrels.

I will always prefer the reliability of a taper pinned front sight base, but it is nice to have options like these low profile gas blocks from Daniel Defense. Check them out on Daniel Defense’s website.

X-Concealment Kydex Gear

I recently came across X-Concealment’s “C” Series Compact OWB holster and was immediately struck with its interesting features. It can be hard to differentiate yourself in today’s Kydex market but X-Concealment seems to have the features to stand out.

Their “C” Series holster adapts a classic leather pancake design with some improvements that the Kydex construction allows. The holster is more trim and lighter than a typical pancake design. The belt loops have been relieved to allow them to flex. X-Concealment uses thinner Kydex for the backing of the holster than the front in order to allow the holster to ride ever so slightly closer to the body. The holster features screw adjustable tension and comes with a properly sized hex wrench. X-Concealment tops it all off with a really cool stitch pattern that is engraved into the surface of the holster.

I am very impressed with their new website. The “C” Series holster isn’t their only product. They have a full line of holsters and accessories. They also have a guaranteed 3 business day turn around time. You read that right – guaranteed 3 business day turn around time. If that isn’t enough to get you to check them out, they are running a 25% off special now when you use the coupon code “SUMMER25” at checkout.

I have one of the “C” Series holsters inbound for review. While you are waiting for the review, check out the X-Concealment website.

GEMTECH Silencer Subsonic .22LR Ammunition

Several manufacturers makes subsonic .22LR ammunition but it is mostly just normal ammo that has been downloaded to subsonic velocities. The new Silencer Subsonic .22LR Ammunition from GEMTECH is actually built from the ground up for supressed .22LR chambered firearms.

They use a heavier, 42 grain projectile to deliver harder hitting performance at subsonic velocities. This isn’t some anemic mouse fart of a load either. That 42 grain projectile is being pushed to 1020 FPS to ensure performance while still remaining subsonic.  GEMTECH also saw to it that a cleaner powder was used which is especially important with all the junk that is blown back into the action when using a suppressor.

All in all, this looks like some pretty well thought out ammo. I suddenly have the urge to go crow hunting.

Check out the Silencer Subsonic .22LR Ammo on GEMTECH’s website.

Review: Carlson Comps Mini Comp

I’ve been able to spend a little time recently with the Mini Comp from Carlson Comps. The Mini Comp isn’t for everyone but it does a very good job of serving a couple of specific niches.

One of my favorite things about checking out Carlson Comps muzzle devices is talking with the proprietor of Carlson Comps, Greg Carlson. He is a straight shooter that won’t yank your chain. He readily admits that the Mini Comp isn’t anything earth shattering. He designed it for just a few specific purposes: it adds little to the barrel’s overall length, it is ban compliant for this in ban states, and it does provide a little compensation for muzzle rise.

I mounted the Mini Comp on a 16″ BCM BFH lightweight mid-length upper and set about testing it against a standard A2 flash suppressor. The Mini Comp is similar to the A2 flash suppressor in that it has open slot shaped ports on top and a closed bottom. It is essentially a shorter, lighter version of the A2 and it performs much like one as well, at least in terms of compensation for muzzle rise. That means that it helps a bit, but it certainly isn’t doing as much as a dedicated compensator like the Carlson Comp.

Greg likens the Mini Comp’s performance to an AK slant brake and I found that comparison to be accurate. I could feel that it is doing something versus a bare barrel but it really doesn’t do a lot to control muzzle rise. The closed bottom port did prevent the muzzle blast from scattering dust and debris on he ground when the carbine was being shot from prone and in terms of noise coming from the muzzle the Mini Comp is no more intense than an A2.

The device did seem to suppress some flash though it is not classed as a flash suppressor by the BATFE which is key to one of the niches that this device serves. The Mini Comp is classed by the BATFE as a compensator, which makes it legal for those who live in “assault weapons ban” states.

The main purpose of this device is to minimize the addition of length to the barrel. Many flash suppressors are designed to be long enough to bring the length of a 14.5″ barrel up to 16″ when the device is pinned in place. The devices don’t necessarily need to be that long to perform but they are made longer so they can fulfill a specific role. Carlson Comps went the other direction with the Mini Comp. It is shorter and lighter for the purpose of being short and light. It is designed to keep short barrels short and it does that. It is about 1/2 the length of many muzzle devices and 2/3rds the length of the A2.

If you are living in a ban state and want a device that performs similarly to an A2 flash suppressor or you have a barrel that you want to keep as short as possible, the Mini Comp may be for you. Check it out on the Carlson Comps website.

Disclaimer: The Mini Comp was provided to me for review, free of charge, by Carlson Comps.


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