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Author Archive | Matt

Modernizing the AK: Muzzle Devices

Arsenal SGL-21

The AK family of rifles have proven themselves to be reliable and durable weapons. They have also enjoyed tremendous aftermarket support in the last several years. Much of what is out there on the aftermarket is unnecessary junk, but a small percentage of it will truly improve the functionality of the AK. I am going to spend some time over the next few days discussing ways to make your AK more functional and efficient. I’ll start at the muzzle and work my way back to the buttstock.

AK users will have the choice of 3 basic types of muzzle devices – compensators, flash suppressors, and combination devices that do a little of both. It is important to understand the role, benefits, and drawbacks of each type before choosing one.

Manticore Arm Nightshroud MKII (installed) shown in comparison with an AK-74 brake

Compensators and Brakes

A compensator or muzzle brake redirects the gasses that escape the barrel as the bullet passes out of the muzzle to counteract muzzle rise. Many AKs will come standard with some form of a compensator like the relatively ineffective slant brake or the very effective AK-74 style brake.

A good compensator can aid someone who already has good technique in keeping the muzzle as level as possible. This leads to faster follow-up shots by minimizing muzzle rise which speeds sight acquisition. This can be a very good thing. However, this performance comes at a price.

By redirecting the combustion gasses, you are also redirecting the concussive blast and sound. Compensators are usually louder to the shooter and those around the shooter. When a compensator is used in confined spaces like a hallway, car or indoor range, the sound can quickly overwhelm your hearing protection and be quite painful and disruptive. Image what it can do if you are not wearing hearing protection.

The concussive blast can really wreak havoc. I have seen rifles with compensators, shot from a position that places the muzzle near the ground, spray a shower of gravel into the air around the shooter. I have seen them tear large gashes into heavy nylon bags that were being used as improvised rests. Shooting next to someone who is running a compensator can range from a mild annoyance to a very disorienting experience.

Compensators effects on flash can vary greatly. Some compensators can tame flash slightly, while others seem to increase it. This can be an issue with poor quality ammo (which can probably be said of most of what is on the market) that tends to create a significant fireball and a lot of spark.

If you decide to go with a compensator or brake after weighing all of these factors, you have several good choices. The previously mentioned AK-74 style brake can be an excellent and relatively inexpensive choice. They may even come standard on several rifles like the excellent Arsenal SGL-21 series. The J-Tac47 from PWS also works very well. I have found that this compensator is relatively quiet to the shooter which is a positive.

Flash Suppressors

Flash suppressors are designed to reduce muzzle flash (the burning gasses that exit the muzzle after the bullet). This serves two purposes. It reduces the chances that the shooter will loose their dark adjusted vision as a result of the muzzle flash, and it can conceal the position of a shooter in the dark.

Flash suppressors tend to be relatively quiet compared to a compensator. A flash suppressor also does not suffer from the same concussive blast issues. However, they offer no additional measure of control (beyond your technique) to the muzzle.

Flash suppressors are excellent all-around muzzle devices. They lack the significant downsides of a compensator (they lack the upside, too). Most shooters would likely be better served with a flash suppressor than a compensator.

Many AK accessory dealers sell inexpensive A1 and A2 style flash suppressors that work fairly well. YHM sells a couple AK flash suppressors in the Phantom series that work very well. The Smith Enterprise Vortex for the AK is extremely effective at suppressing flash. If the muzzle of your AK has 24mm threads, you will find that your choices are extremely limited. The best flash suppressor that I have found for 24mm thread is the excellent Manticore Arms Nightshroud.

PWS FSC47

Combination Devices

This category really only consists of one muzzle device that I know of. The PWS FSC47 is a very effective compensator and a fairly effective flash suppressor.

It does an excellent job of keeping the muzzle level when combined with strong technique. While the FSC47 does have many of the same downsides of a compensator, it seems to have them to a lesser extent. The concussive blast is not as harsh and it is not very loud at the shooter’s position. It suppresses flash as well as most AK flash suppressors. The FSC47 really does have an impressive combination of features.

It still is not pleasant to stand next to the FSC47, and there is definitely still a more concussive blast than a flash suppressor would generate. Many of the same cautions about compensators apply to the FSC47.

Conclusion

Compensators and flash suppressors both have strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you understand both before you lay down your hard earned cash.

Impact Weapons Components New Site and Giveaway

Impact Weapons Components (IWC) has a brand new website. It is a huge improvement over the old site and offers some really cool functionality. Most importantly, the new site is much easier to navigate than the old site.

The coolest feature is the ability to shop by hand guard/rail. You can choose your hand guard from the list on the left side of the screen and the site links you directly to all of the MOUNT-N-SLOTs that will work your hand guard. No more guess work! You can also compare features and prices of IWC’s MOUNT-N-SLOTs to products from other manufacturers. This new site should really empower you to make an informed decision about your gear.

IWC has provided me with a couple of 2 to 1 Point Triglides to giveaway in celebration of the opening the new site. I have a 1″ and a 1.25″ version to giveaway. Long time readers will remember my review of “The Triglide” a few months ago. These things are hot and they are showing up at several sling manufacturers as OEM gear. Now is your chance to win one free of charge from IWC and Jerking the Trigger.

To Enter:

All that you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post that contains something that you like about the new site and something specific that you think can be improved about the new site. Please be specific and thorough. IWC will be using this input to make the new site even better. 

Rules:

The giveaway will be open until 8PM (EST) Saturday, May 28th. There will be 2 winners chosen randomly. Your comment number is your entry number and numbers will be chosen using a random number generator. Please follow the instructions carefully. Incomplete entries will be discarded. Please use a valid email address when you leave a comment so I can notify you if you win.

Good luck!

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

MOLLE Visor Panel from Zulu Nylon Gear

When ever Zulu Nylon Gear (ZNG) turns out something new, I take note. Joel, the owner/operator of ZNG, always puts a really interesting spin on his designs. The new MOLLE Visor Panel is no exception. There have certainly been other MOLLE panels made to fit on sun visors but, as usual, the one from ZNG is loaded with features that make it unique and functional.

The ZNG MOLLE Visor Panel features a MOLLE panel on one side. This panel is 3 rows tall by 8 columns wide. This is tall enough and wide enough to fit most pouches on the market. Top and bottom row of MOLLE webbing is made from color matched elastic! This allows the user to easily store things like chem lights or pens. There is hook and loop material sewn between the MOLLE webbing rows that allows the user to affix hook and loop backed pouches or patches. That is three different ways to stow gear on the same the MOLLE panel.

If that doesn’t offer enough storage and organization potential for you, then you are in luck. The opposite side of the panel features slash pockets that would be perfect for storing maps, notebooks, a parking garage ticket, or anything else that you can fit. There is also another set of elastic loops that are suitable for storing a flashlight.

Both sides of the MOLLE Visor Panel are accessible because it actually wraps around the sun visor. I guess that if you like to check yourself out in the mirror often this may not be for you. If you aren’t worried about the mirror, this design is really efficient. It expands your storage and organization potential and allows you to store things that other panels might not accommodate.

It adjusts to a wide variety of visors via adjustable hook and loop straps. This would also make it fairly easy to take in and out of the vehicle if you are concerned with theft.

Zulu Nylon Gear continues to impress.

New Products from Mountain Ridge Gear

Mountain Ridge Gear (MRG) has rolled out a ton of cool stuff since I last wrote about them. I’ll highlight a few of them here.

TMP-W Extreme

TMP-W MOLLE

The most notable of the new crop are the 2 new versions of the Tactical Man Purse – Wide (TMP-W) which I previously reviewed. The TMP-W is one of the most impeccably made pieces of nylon gear that I have laid my hands on to date and I have no doubt that these new versions are going to be just as bomb-proof. Both new versions appear identical to the original TMP-W on the outside. It is the inside that sets them apart. The TMP-W Extreme has an interior that is completely covered with hook and loop material which offers the user nearly endless ways to quickly and easily organize the bag. The TMP-W MOLLE has an interior that is lined with MOLLE webbing which also allows a high degree of customization – especially if you already own a stash of MOLLE pouches like I am sure most of you do. The TMP-W has also seen some improvements in the form of available A-TACS camo and a new rubberized bottom panel.

Backpack Straps for the TMP

MRG also has a slick new set of backpack straps for the Tactical Man Purse. They attach to the carry handle of the TMP and allow the weight to be distributed between both shoulders instead of one like you would have with the standard shoulder strap. They also allow easy access to the TMP by simply taking one arm out of the strap and pulling the bag around to your side. These would be ideal to keep packed away inside the bag until you need them. They wouldn’t be my first choice for an overnight trip but they would sure beat having to carry a heavy bag on the single shoulder strap over long distances. This is a very clever idea.

Other new items include the extremely handy Quick Sac organizers in a variety of functional fabrics and the Hanging Pockets which will also work in your Kifaru bags.

UCO Micro Candle Lantern

I am a sucker for cool gadgets like the UCO Candle Lanterns. They are compact, simple, well designed, useful items that can really be handy in a vehicle emergency kit, when the power goes out at home, or even when camping. Now, UCO has released a new, smaller version of the lantern called the Micro Candle Lantern.

The Micro Candle Lantern is even smaller than UCO’s “Mini” Candle Lantern. Like the Mini, the Micro uses “tealight” style candles. The Micro compacts down to just 2.5″ tall for storage and it only weighs 4.2oz with the two included candles. Both candles can be carried inside the lantern itself thanks to a storage compartment in the bottom that can hold the spare candle.

The candles that UCO makes for their lanterns have excellent burn time. The small candles in this lantern should easily provide you with 7-8 hours of light and warmth. That kind of performance makes them perfect for adding to a car kit if you live in colder climates. The heat from a candle might be just enough to take the edge off of a cold night spent stranded in a vehicle or a tent.

The Micro Candle Lantern is not on the UCO website yet but is widely available at UCO dealers.

762Tactical Launches New Website

762Tactical is known for offering well designed, handmade tactical gear at a very reasonable price. They are especially well known among AK shooters due to their reasonably priced AK specific chest rigs. Now, they have a new website that really showcases their wares.

762Tactical’s previous website showed only images of some of their products. The new site shows several additional items with product images, descriptions, and prices. I found it easy to navigate and read. I also noticed that there are a few items on sale.

762Tactical is now accepting orders through the new site and you can check it out HERE.

Review: Retro-Tactical Rimfire Pouches

Tony at Retro-Tactical has made it his mission to provide tactical gear for the weapons that the majority of the tactical gear makers have forgotten, ignored, or never even heard of. I first came across his work when I was looking for a MOLLE mountable 10/22 magazine pouch. He makes some really interesting items for everything from 1911s, to PSLs, to revolvers… that’s right, tactical gear for revolvers. When Tony offered to send me some pouches to review, I jumped at the chance.

Loose Ammo (top) and 10/22 Magazine Pouch (bottom)

10/22 Universal Gunsaddle

Overall Quality

The quality of these pouches is immediately apparent. The stitching is straight and clean. Many of the edges and seams are taped (though not all of them). The materials that Tony uses are top notch. The pouches are constructed from double layered 1000 denier nylon. It should take you a lifetime to wear a hole all the way through one of these pouches.

Attention to detail - The loose ammo pouch has a smaller drainage grommet to prevent .22LR cartridges from dropping out.

The attention to detail is very good. Tony uses two layers of nylon in the construction of the pouch and sews them so that the stitching from the hook and loop closure won’t show through to the front of the pouch. This gives a very clean look. This is the kind of detail that most users will never notice, but Tony took the time to think about.

The hook and loop closure on these pouches is very well designed. The hook side is oriented vertically on the underside of the lid and the loop side is horizontal on the front of the pouch. This allows the lid to be fastened as tight or loose as the user wants. The design and execution of these pouches is very thoughtful.

This hook and loop orientation allows the user to keep the lid as tight or loose as they want.

Loose Ammo Pouch

The first pouch that I tried was the MOLLE version of the Loose Ammo Pouch (there is a belt version as well). This is one clever pouch. It is designed to hold loose ammo in a way that is secure and easy to access. As you can imagine, designing a pouch that holds loose rounds as small as .22LR without spilling the while the user is moving takes some time at the drawing board. Tony designed this pouch with a flap of lightweight ripstop nylon that is secured at the front of the pouch (the side away from the wearer). The other side is secured with a piece of elastic. The flap completely covers the mouth of the pouch but is easily pushed to the side as you access the ammo. It is ingenious.

The interior flap helps keep the loose ammo inside the pouch, even when the flap is open.

The flap is easily stretched out of the way to access the ammo.

I tested this pouch several ways. I loaded it with 50 rounds of .22LR ammo, turned it upside down and shook it. It did drop some rounds but that was to be expected. Next, I conducted the same test but with the pouch right side up. The pouch retained all 50 rounds. This is more accurate test of what it will be like when worn. I also did the same tests but with the flap secured tightly. Nothing escaped. Finally, I secured the pouch to an out of the way spot on my MOLLE belt rig and ran through carbine drills on the range. I didn’t access the pouch for the drills. I just wanted to see how it would perform while the user was running, dropping into prone, and doing other shooting related activities. At the end of the day, all 50 rounds were still in the pouch.

The pouches can be closed very tightly to prevent any ammo from being lost.

This pouch is perfect for those who have tube fed rifles chambered in .22LR. It could be attached to the MOLLE belt pad of a pack (like those from Mystery Ranch or Kifaru) or a belt to keep your ammo right at your finger tips when you are small game hunting or hiking. It can even hold boxed .22LR ammo. I found that it would fit 2 boxes of .22LR with room to spare.

I’ll say it again: This is one clever pouch.

Ruger 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch

The next pouch that I tried was what Tony calls the Ruger 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch. I had the MOLLE version to test (there is also a belt version). It is essentially a revolver speed-loader pouch which I have found to work very well for the 10/22 10 round rotary magazines. I have been using a belt mounted speed-loader pouch for years to carry my 10/22 magazines so I was very pleased to find that Tony offered a MOLLE mount version.

The webbing straps help retain the magazines when the lid is open and keep them from noisily banging into each other.

Magazines oriented this way make for quick and easy reloads.

The interior of the pouch has webbing straps (just like a speed-loader pouch) that help retain and stabilize the magazines. They work well to stabilize the magazines but they can be a bit of a pain when you are trying to insert a magazine into the pouch. They tend to smash down under the magazine instead of wrapping around it. However, once the mags are in place, the straps do a fine job of retaining them. I also found that it become easier over time to insert the magazines. I am not sure whether that was because the straps loosened a bit with use or because I got better at inserting them.

It might also be nice if this had a split lid so that one magazine could be removed without fear of accidentally dumping the other magazine. That didn’t happen to me in testing but I could see how it might.

This pouch is great for mounting on the MOLLE belt of my favorite packs – the Kifaru MOLLE Express and the ZXR. It allows me to easily carry a couple of spare magazines for my 10/22 when small game hunting or hiking. The pouch allows very smooth reloads. The user clears the flap and presses up on the bottom of the pouch under the magazine that they wish to remove. The magazine slides up into the hand is ready to be inserted into the 10/22. It is quick and smooth. I envisioned this pouch on the waist belt of a pack all along and I am very pleased with how it worked out.

The rear of the pouch shows the 2x2 MOLLE webbing configuration.

Attaching the MOLLE Pouches

I should say a few words about attaching these pouches to MOLLE webbing. MOLLE pouches are threaded onto the MOLLE platform and typically this requires at least 3 rows of webbing vertically on the back of the pouch to do effectively. The above pouches are so compact that there is only room for 2 rows vertically.

I found 3 methods that worked very well for attaching them. The first was to use zip ties which actually worked really well. Tony has written about this on his blog.

The pouches can be tricky to mount. Annex Clips were used to mount the pouch on the left and MALICE clips on the right.

Annex Clips are the perfect solution for mounting these pouches.

The next method that I tried was the use of short MALICE clips. This worked but quite a bit of the clips were visible below the pouch. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it did render an extra row of MOLLE webbing useless.

Finally, I remembered that I had some ITW Annex Clips. These were the perfect solution for the short pouches. I attached them to the lower row of MOLLE to prevent the pouch from rocking up when I tried to lift the flap. They hold very securely while still allowing the pouch to be moved easily.

Universal Gunsaddle

The final pouch is easily my favorite of what Tony sent me (and that is saying a lot). Retro-Tactical makes the Universal Gunsaddle for several rifles, including the 10/22 version which Tony sent me. This pouch is just too cool. It is essentially the same pouch as the 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch above except it is sewn to buttstock saddle. It allows you to carry 2 spare magazine for the 10/22, unobtrusively, right on the buttstock of the rifle.

The Universal Gunsaddle lets you keep 2 spare magazines on the 10/22 itself.

Like the 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch above, I believe that the Universal Gunsaddle could also benefit from a split lid. However, in my testing, it worked fine as is.

Attaching it is simple. You just loosen the cord-lock, slide the whole Universal Gunsaddle onto your rifle, and then tighten the cord-lock (more detailed instructions can be found on the Retro-Tactical Blog). There are webbing loops on the saddle portion of the pouch that has para-cord routed through them. This creates the “Universal” part of the pouch because it can be readily adapted to fit a wide variety of stocks. I tested it on a factory birch stock, the old style factory polymer stock, the new style factory polymer stock, and a Hogue stock.

The saddle part of the pouch is only as thick as 2 layers of 1000 denier nylon so it doesn’t interfere with the cheek weld at all. In fact, it is an improvement over the Hogue stock which can feel a bit slimy on a hot day. It would be cool if Tony could offer these with closed cell foam padding in the saddle to act as a comb riser for those who need it. Since Tony does do custom work, I suspect that he could easily accommodate that.

This Gunsaddle is just so handy. You can carry all of the ammo you need for an afternoon of small game hunting right on the gun. If you keep a 10/22 as a truck gun or a survival rifle, this pouch would be perfect for storing the ammo in such a way that it was always with the gun.

Overall

I am very happy with these pouches. The materials are top notch and the construction is very good. The designs and attention to detail are excellent. They function well and fill a void in my gear. Tony has shown that he definitely knows how to fill a niche. I had an absolute blast reviewing these pouches.

You can check out Tony’s whole niche filling product line at Retro-Tactical.com.

Disclosure: I received these pouches free of charge for review from Retro-Tactical.

Ruger SR556E and BX-25

Ruger always holds a few announcements for the annual NRA Show. They intended to make three big announcements this year but the SR1911 was leaked early which left only two: SR556E and the BX-25.

The SR556E is a new version of Ruger’s SR556 Autoloading Rifle. It is an AR-15 with an adjustable piston operating system. The SR556E features a new Troy rail option. It also lacks the back up iron sights and Hogue grip that come standard on the standard SR556. This gives the SR556E a lower price and the user will have more latitude to choose their own accessories. Sadly, the hammer forged barrel still has 1 in 9″ twist (instead of 1 in 7″) and, even with a lighter rail, it is still relatively heavy due to the piston system.

The BX-25 magazine for the 10/22 is going to be a huge hit. It is a 25 round extended magazine that has some very nice features. it can be disassembled for cleaning by removing only two screws and it is designed to feed the .22LR cartridges at the proper 30 degree angle which should aid reliability. If it is anywhere near as reliable as the venerable BX-1 10 round rotary magazines, it will be a must have for those who use their 10/22s as a carbine training supplement.

Midwest Industries #17 Drop In Handguard Gen. 2

When it comes to fighting carbines, less weight is better than more weight. When it comes to wallets, more full is better than less full. The new Midwest Industries Generation 2 #17 Drop In Handguard can help you make sure your carbine stays light and your wallet stays full.

The biggest draws with this handguard are that it is light in weight and low in price. That is a pretty good combination. It is available in carbine and midlength lengths and weighs in at only 7.5oz and 9.7oz respectively. That is less weight that the standard plastic handguards with heat shields! That is really impressive for a handguard that retails under $140.

On top of low price and light weight, these handguards also feature 4 anti-rotation push button QD sling swivel receptacles, 4 “T” marked rails, a “monolithic” top rail, hard anodized 6061 aluminum construction, and they are made in the USA. I had a Gen. 1 #17 Handguard and they exhibited excellent lock-up. I have heard that these lock up even better than the originals.

Installation is a snap. They simply install in the exact same manner as standard plastic handguards.

Check out the new Gen. 2 #17 Drop In Handguards on Midwest Industries’ website.

Boker Plus CLB MICROCOM

Knife users everywhere should be thankful that the Boker Plus brand has given Chad Los Banos (CLB) a venue to show his knife design prowess. The collaboration of CLB and Boker Plus has resulted in several excellent high value knives, and the new MICROCOM seems to be more of the same.

CLB has stated that the MICROCOM is an homage to Fred Perrin. It is very easy to see the influence. Like many Perrin designs, the MICROCOM features compact dimensions, a chisel ground edge, and a deep finger groove to maximize retention. The Perrin influence is certainly visible if you read between the lines, but even a cursory glance leaves little doubt that this is a CLB design.

The MICROCOM is ground from 440C steel. It features a compact 2″ blade and a 4″ overall length. The scales are skeletonized G10 with a checkered texture. It comes with a Kydex sheath that is set up for neck carry but could easily be adapted to other methods of carry.

This would make a phenomenal EDC fixed blade and last ditch defensive tool. The price is excellent considering all of the the features. I have seen these at various sellers for around $20.

You can read more about the MICROCOM and other CLB designs at the Boker website.

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