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Author Archive | Matt

4Sevens Maelstrom S18

To say that the new Maelstrom S18 from 4Sevens is bright would be an understatement. The baseball bat sized flashlight that your grandfather keeps under his bed is bright. The Maelstrom S18 is face meltingly, eye searingly, hair singeingly bright and yet it still fits easily into your hand.

So how bright is it really? Well, it uses a cutting edge SST-90 LED that puts out 1200 lumens! Keep in mind, that is 1200 lumens after the losses to the lens and reflector – not the less honest lumens at the emitter that some other brands advertise. 1200 honest to goodness out the front (OTF) lumens. Perhaps the most impressive part is that the Maelstrom S18 can put out those 1200 lumens for .6 hours or a 1200 lumen strobe mode for 1.5 hours!

The Maelstrom S18 also sports an 80 lumen low mode that runs 17.5 hours, 400 lumen medium mode for 3.5 hours, and an SOS mode that runs for 12.5 hours. The modes are accessible by simply twisting the tailcap to the desired mode.

It is powered by 6 CR123A or 6 RC123A batteries and features reverse polarity protection in case you accidentally load one of those 6 batteries in the wrong direction. Speaking of protection, a light this bright needs beefy thermal management and the Maelstrom S18 has it. Thermal management allows the Maelstrom S18 to regulate its own output to protect itself from the heat that the LED generates.

This light is just ridiculously cool.

The Maelstrom S18 has a ton of other features that you will want to check out on the 4Sevens website.

Cane & Derby Paracord Survival Bracelets

Cane & Derby is known for their kydex holsters but they also make Paracord Survival Bracelets. Everyone loves paracord for its versatility and having some with you in an easy to carry way is a great idea.

Image property of Cane & Derby

Paracord Survival Bracelets aren’t really unique. You can get them from any number of places. There are two things that set Cane & Derby’s bracelets apart from most others. First, they are made in the USA. Second, Cane & Derby will donate a portion of the proceeds from each bracelet sold to a specific charity based on which bracelet you purchase (National Breast Cancer Foundation or Wounded Warrior Project).

Cane & Derby’s Paracord Bracelets can be found on their website. Check out the Cane & Derby blog for more details.

Eberlestock X3 LoDrag and X4 HiSpeed

Eberlestock has introduced a pair of new packs: the X3 LoDrag and X4 HiSpeed. Both packs are variations of Eberlestock’s X1A1 pack. Both packs are very similar with the main difference being the X3’s integral scabbard for carrying a rifle or shotgun.

The packs both feature plenty of internal and external MOLLE webbing for adding additional pouches. They offer easy access via a top opening and a front loading panel. The top panel has a mesh pocket to keep small items organized and accessible. There are internal portfolio pockets that are sized to carry documents and a full sized laptop and external water bottle pockets to keep your water bottle close at hand when you are on the move.

The thing that interests me most about these packs is the shape. They have a wedge shape that places the widest part of the pack high on the back. This promotes proper weight placement by putting the bulk of the storage capacity in the correct place on the back to distribute the load. That is some very clever design that, until now, I have only seen on more traditional backpacking packs.

You can find both the X3 LoDrag and the X4 HiSpeed on the Eberlestock website.

Review: X-Concealment “C” Series Compact OWB Holster

The leather pancake holster has been around for a long time because it works. Pancake holsters allow the handgun to be carried high on the belt and tuck the grip in very close to the body which makes them ideal for outside the waistband (OWB) concealed carry. As well as the leather pancake holster works, it can still be made better and that is where the “C” Series Compact OWB Holster from X-Concealment comes in.

Classic Design, Modern Execution

The “C” Series Compact OWB Holster is made from kydex rather than leather. It bridges the gap of the leather holsters of the past to the modern kydex holsters of today by combining classic design and aesthetics with modern functionality and manufacturing. It may look like a simple re-creation of a leather pancake holster in kydex but there are some interest updates that really make the most of the properties of kydex.

The front panel is molded from .093″ thick kydex for durability while the rear panel is molded from .06″ thick kydex. These panels are then glued together and rivets are used to reinforce the bolt loop area. The construction is very sturdy. The front and rear pieces are actually machined rather than being hand cut and this level of precision is obvious with the finished holster. The front panel can be ordered in either black or coyote brown. These colors, along with the attractive and unique faux stitching that is engraved on the front of the holster, make the “C” Series Compact OWB Holster look like a leather holster at first glance.

X-Concealment has really leveraged the unique properties of kydex in the creation of this holster. Kydex can be machined which gives a great level of fit, finish, and consistency to each holster. Kydex is also very rigid which allows the “C” Series Compact OWB Holster to be made more compact than its leather forerunners. It is about 2/3rds the size and weight (2.65 ounces versus 4 ounces) of a comparable leather pancake holster that I own. The holster provides all the coverage that you would expect from a good pancake design but there is far less material around the gun. This can be done without the collapsing and sagging that you might see with a leather holster. Obviously, trimmer and lighter is better for something that is designed to be concealed.

In Use

The particular holster that I have for evaluation is made for the Glock 17. I have used it for concealed carry as well as dry and live fire with a Glock 17 and 19 for the last several weeks. In that time, it has done nothing but impress me. The holster is molded with a very generous sight track that cleared my tallest sights with ease. The molding is very precise which allows a nice friction fit and a positive click when the gun is holstered.

The draw stroke is not unlike any other pancake design in terms of speed. However, it does feel smoother than leather which can tend to have more friction. The shot timer showed no real measurable difference is speed on the draw which is good news – it performs just as well as other classic pancake designs. The draw and re-holstering both feel more positive. Keep in mind that feelings are subjective.

It will be difficult to convey just how much of a joy it is to carry this holster. It holds the gun very close to the body and rides at just the right height on the belt for me. This, combined with its compact size, make for a very concealable package. This is easily the most concealable OWB holster that I own. It doesn’t pretend to be convertible to inside the waist band carry or have multiple bolt-on belt loop styles. It just excels at being a belt holster. It does everything a leather belt holster should, but it does it with less bulk, less weight, no sagging, and no collapsing. It is refreshing to find a holster that is so compact and comfortable at a time when holsters are getting bigger and bigger in the name of modularity (not that there is anything wrong with that).


The X-Concealment “C” Series Compact OWB Holster is manufactured using modern techniques and modern materials and the result is increased functionality. It leverages the lessons of the past and the technology of today to create a holster that is functional and attractive. This is a great holster from a company that is a joy to deal with. Where else can you find a kydex maker with a 3 day turn around time?

You can check out the “C” Series Compact OWB Holster on the X-Concealment website, it is only available for Glocks right now but more models are in the works. X-Concealment offers other great holsters and mag pouches as well.

Disclosure: I was provided this holster by X-Concealment, free of charge, for review.

Patch Collecting: 8.6.11 Tribute Patch from ITS Tactical

Normally, these patch collecting posts are a lot of fun but this one is going to be far more somber. 30 members of the Special Operations Community (22 of which were Navy SEALs) were killed by an RPG attack on the Chinook helicopter that they were flying in on August 6th, 2011. This represents the largest loss of life in a single day since Operation Red Wings. 30 families lost husbands, fathers, and brothers and our country lost 30 of its finest fighting men.

ITS Tactical has quickly stepped up to help the families of these 30 heroes. They have designed a patch that will serve as a remembrance of that costly day and a fundraiser that will help the families that were directly effected by this tragedy. The proceeds from this patch will be donoted to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

The following is ITS Tactical’s description of the patch:

These custom 100% embroidery patches measure 3.5″ wide x 3.5″ tall and feature a gold VI and 23 stars for men and lone K-9 of DEVGRU and Naval Special Warfare who fell. The 31 with the black band symbolizes the 31 members of the combined efforts of the Naval Special Warfare Command, Army National Guard and the Air Force Special Operations Command who gave their lives on August 6th. The red star marks the location in Wardak Province, Afghanistan the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) Chinook was struck with an RPG.

You can read more about the patch on ITS Tactical and it is available for pre-order in their webstore.

Giveaway: Revision Military Patches

I have 5 hook and loop backed patches from Revision Military to giveaway. You can’t buy these patches anywhere, but you can win them here. These patches are pretty large at 3″x2.75″ and they have some of the nicest embroidery work that I have seen on a patch.

To Enter:

All that you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post that contains a number between 1 and 1000 and your favorite style of Revision eyewear. Example: “332, Vipertail″


There will be 5 winners chosen randomly. The giveaway will be open until 8PM (EST) Friday, Ausgust 26th. 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 the same number is chosen twice, the first person who posted the number will win.

Comments are now closed. Winners will be posted on Facebook and contacted via email.

Patch Collecting: Bacon, Raw

Take a mental snapshot of your surroundings. Someday you will want to be able to tell your grandkids where you were when you first saw the greatest patch in the world – the Bacon, Raw patch.

These patches are the brain child of a friend on the Usual Suspect Network, Ninjamaster. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase one of the prototypes of this patch and now I finally have a production version to show all of you. It took every bit of my self control to keep from sharing pictures of the prototype!

The patch features everyone’s favorite super food – bacon. It features the lighter brown, pink, and off-white coloring that is typical of raw bacon. This patch looks good enough to eat and is sure to make everyone who sees it hungry.

You can get your very own Bacon, Raw patch from the good folks at EDC Knives.

Adams Arms Evo Ultralight Uppers

One of the big knocks on AR-15 piston uppers is that they are noticeably heavier than their traditional direct impingement (DI) counterparts. Adams Arms’ new Evo Ultralight piston uppers attempt to buck that trend by shaving weight from several key places.

The uppers feature a lightweight .625″ barrel profile. Light weight barrel profiles are very uncommon on piston uppers. Adams Arms has also chosen to install the very light weight Samson Evolution Rail. The Evolution rail is actually lighter in weight than many plastic hand guards. Finally, the Evo Ultralight uppers feature a new low profile gas black from Adams Arms that is 1 ounce lighter than their normal gas block. Typically, gas blocks on piston ARs are blocky and heavy. This new low profile block is more svelte and lightweight while still retaining full functionality.

While the Evo Ultralight uppers are still not going to be quite as light as a similarly outfitted DI upper, it is the lightest piston upper on the market today.

Check out the Adams Arms website.

Walk Back Drills

I am always looking for new drills to use on the range. I recently tried a “Walk Back Drill” and found it to be challenging and valuable (as any good drill should be). Too often, we tend to choose drills that we are good at instead of drills that humble and challenge us. Walk Back Drills can definitely humble and challenge a shooter. I have found that a walk back drill can be a great way to wind down a day on the range.

Walk Back Drills come in all shapes and sizes but the basic premise is that the shooter starts close to the target and then moves incrementally further from the target with each subsequent part of the drill. The goal is to reach your failure point, which is the point at which you can no longer hit your target. The shooting is generally done off hand. For instance, a shooter might staple an index card to a target backer and shoot with the goal of hitting the index card from 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards, and so on (this is well suited for indoor ranges). The shooter might shoot at a 12″ steel gong at 50 yards with a rifle and move back 25 yards with each shot.

One of my favorite ways to wind down a long handgun training session is to do a Walk Back Drill with a pepper popper or reduced size steel silhouette. I start at 25 yards and walk back 5 or 10 yards after each hit. This is similar to a “dot torture/death by dot drill” in that it will force you to really work on the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger control. It also has the added benefit of teaching you a lot about your ability to use a handgun at extended distances, the relationship of your sights and point of impact at extended distances, and just how well your sights are regulated. Eventually, the target will appear to be far smaller than your front sight but you will find that hits are still attainable. You might be surprised at your ability to hit with handgun at ranges of 100 yards and further.

Walk Back Drills can also be adapted a number of ways to add pressure. You can shoot for speed against another shooter – the first hit wins (it helps to have a “judge” who isn’t shooting or use pepper poppers). You can use par times so that you are shooting against the clock. The drill can also be adapted to large groups by having everyone start at the initial yard line. Anyone who gets a hit moves on and anyone who misses is out of the competition. The group keeps moving back until only one shooter remains.

So next time you are at the range, consider winding up your day with a Walk Back Drill. You will get a chance to work on the fundamentals and you will learn a lot about your skills and gear.


TacStrike has a lot to offer serious shooters. They offer innovative steel targets, a very cool gear consignment service, and even high end training through their affiliation with Pat Goodale of Practical Firearms Training (PFT).


The thing that drew me to TacStrike originally was their 1/4 Scale Steel Target System. I know from experience that shooting steel can take your training to the next level. It allows you to be much more efficient on the range than if you are shooting paper. Paper requires pasting, replacement, and gear like staplers and tape. Steel targets can be set up quickly and can take round after round without maintenance during your range time.

The 1/4 Scale Target System is one of the most training friendly and versatile steel targets that I have seen (which is exactly what you would expect from a target designed with Pat Goodale and PFT). It is compact and can be moved by just one person. The target is made from AR 540 steel and it floats in the frame which allows it to soak up the impact of round after round. The 1/4 size silhouette target forces the shooter to concentrate on getting a hit unlike many larger steel targets which are too forgiving of marginal hits. The vertical post that holds the target up is armored to protect it from damage. Everything about this target is well thought out, including the base which can also accept 1×2 or 2×2 boards for use with paper targets.

Gear Consignment

TacStrike also offers a service that I am sure many busy shooters will appreciate – gear consignment. So what do you do when you have a bunch of gear that you don’t use anymore? Well, you could hit the classified section of an online forum and spend your time taking pictures, answering goofy questions from goober after goober, getting low-balled, and standing in line at the post office… or you can just send the gear to TacStrike. They will take pictures, list the gear on their site, handle the shipping, and then cut you a check when your gear sells. Now that is convenient. Of course, since this is a consignment service, that means you can also find some great deals on other people’s unneeded gear. That is a win-win.

Be sure to check out TacStrike’s Youtube channel for videos of their targets in action and their Facebook page for updates on the latest consignment gear.

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