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Author Archive | Matt

Nordic Components Compact Retractable Stock

If you have a dedicated .22LR AR-15 build, the new Compact Retractable Stock (CRS) from Nordic Components just might catch your eye. It is similar in design to the collapsible stocks that Heckler & Koch uses on many of their firearms. Nordic Components adapted the design to fit any AR-15 that does not require the use of the buffer tube, like those that have been converted to .22LR.

The stock is adjustable from a fully collapsed length of pull (LOP) of 5 7/8″ to six other positions varying from a LOP of 8-7/8″ to 13-7/8″. The stock weighs roughly the same weight as a standard M4 collapsible stock but it is significantly more compact. In its fully collapsed position it still allows for the bolt catch to function and will allow the dust cover to open far enough for the rifle to function.

This stock would be especially handy on a .22LR SBR build. .22LR uppers can be made with extremely short barrels without concern for gas system length. Those shorter barrels, coupled with a stock this compact, would make for a very trim, light weight, and handy firearm.

The new CRS is available now from the Nordic Components website.

Review: ESEE Navigation Cards

ESEE makes a variety of navigation cards that are designed to help you use a map, compass, and GPS more effectively. These cards are all credit card sized and printed on 30 mil thick plastic for durability. In this review, I will look at 3 different products: the Emergency Navigation/Survival Card, the Map Card 1:24,000 Scale, and the Izula Gear Nav Card Set.

UTM tools help you keep your map, compass, and GPS in sync.

Before I look at the details of the specific cards, I should talk about what they have in common. All of the cards are credit card sized (3 3/8″ x 2 1/8″). This may seem like an insignificant thing but it really does set them apart from anything else on the market. Most map tools of this type are square in shape and are much larger. The ESEE navigation cards will fit inside something that you probably already carry every day – your wallet.

All three of the cards utilize the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system (UTM). UTM is basically just a grid based method of indicating a location on a map. Unlike the Latitude and Longitude system which consists of lines laid over a 3 dimensional globe, UTM is a 2 dimensional grid which makes it much easier to work with on maps. Most GPS units can be set to display UTM coordinates which makes UTM ideal for syncing your map, compass, and GPS.

The UTM system is useful for transferring points from your GPS to your map (and vice versa) and for precisely indicating points on your map so they can be navigated to or shared with others. Even if your map is not marked for use with UTM, the tools can still be used as metric measuring devices.

ESEE Emergency Navigation/Survival Card

ESEE Emergency Navigation/Survival Card

The Emergency Navigation/Survival Card is a jack of all trades, master of none. It is designed to be be extremely versatile across many map scales but this versatility comes at the expense of precision. This is exactly the type of tool that you would want stashed in your wallet for emergency use when you can’t be sure of what, if any, map you will have access to. It is a quick and dirty tool for those times that you can’t have your entire navigation kit with you.

The Emergency Navigation/Survival Card features UTM corners or map rules for 3 of the most common map scales: 1:24,000, 1:50,000, and 1:100,000. It also features a 10 acre square (1:24K), basic survival information, and a simple compass rose with 22.5 degree increments. The card comes with a Tyvek slip cover that protects it from wear while it is being carried in a pocket or pack.

I used the Emergency Navigation/Survival Card on an orienteering course to get the hang of how it would work. The imprecise compass rose made determining an azimuth difficult but this card was not meant for navigating to small 4″ wide posts in the woods. It is designed to navigate from area to area. It was in its element when I used it to navigate from the last point on the orienteering course to the parking area. I was able to find precise points by using the UTM corner and a GPS.

If you are just using a map and compass, this card will easily allow you to determine straight line distances and rough azimuths. If you have GPS unit on hand you can be much more precise.

ESEE Map Card 1:24,000 Scale

ESEE Map Card 1:24,000 Scale

The Map Card 1:24,000 Scale is a full featured map tool. It can be used in concert with a map, compass, and GPS unit to navigate in a very precise manner.

The Map Card 1:24,000 Scale features several different tools on the same card. There is a 1 mile map rule that is broken into 1/4 mile increments. It also has a compass rose with 2.5 degree increments and 1, 2.5, 10, and 40 acre squares. The card also has a full UTM grid with 10 meter increment hash marks on the top and right side of the grid. The provided Tyvek slip cover prevents the card from being scuffed when it is in a pocket or pouch.

This card works extremely well on an orienteering course. The compass rose is marked in 2.5 degree increments which is more than precise enough for most map and compass work. I found that I was able to accurately estimate the azimuth when it fell between hash marks. The 1 mile map rule worked very well to estimating distance but I usually just use the UTM grid as a meter map rule since that works better with my 100 meter pace count.

The UTM grid on this card is excellent. It is one of the few UTM grids that I have used that has 10 meter hash marks. This allows a very high level of precision that isn’t easily obtained with grids that lack these hash marks. Since the hash marks are located on the top and right side of the grid, it can also be used as a very precise UTM corner tool. This is accomplished by placing the upper right corner on a navigation point and then reading the easting and northing where the edges of the grid tool crosses the UTM lines on the map.

Izula Gear Nav Card Set packaging

Izula Gear Nav Card Set

The Izula Gear Nav Card Set is a complete navigation solution for many of the most common map scales. It contains 3 map cards and 2 informational cards. The map cards cover 5 different map scales: 1:24,000, 1:25,000, 1:50,000, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000. The information cards cover topics like map reading, declination, pace count, use of UTM, determining an azimuth, conversions and general survival information. This kit is compact and comprehensive. If you could only have one set of map tools, this would cover a lot of bases.

Each of the 3 map cards feature a compass rose with 2 degree increments around the perimeter of the cards. The 1:24,000 map card features 1, 2.5, and 10 acre squares, a 1/2 mile map rule, and UTM grid with 10 meter hash marks. The 1:25,000/1:250:000 card features a 3 mile map rule for the 1:250,000 scale and UTM corners for both scales. The 1:50,000/1:100,000 card features a 1/2 mile map rule for the 1:50,000 scale, a 1 mile map rule for the 1:100,000 map rule, and UTM corners for both.

The inner strand of a piece of para-cord can help you determine an azimuth.

The Izula Gear Nav Card Set information cards contain enough informationt to refresh you on the basics of map and compass work.

I took the whole kit to the orienteering course. However, the only maps that I had access to were 1:24,000 scale. The compass rose allowed for very good precision. I used the awl from a multi-tool to puncture the center of the card and then attached a short piece of inner strand from para-cord. This works as a pointer for finding the azimuth between two points. It was very easy to take precise azimuths using this method.

The UTM grid on the Izula Gear Nav Card Set 1:24,000 card works exactly the same as the one on the Map Card 1:24,000 Scale above. The hash marks really make this grid stand out from other UTM grids.

The best thing about this kit are the information cards. They aren’t going to teach someone with no experience how to navigate but they will very effectively refresh someone’s memory. Skills like navigation can be somewhat perishable. If you don’t use the skills often, you will lose them. These information cards offer just enough information to bring someone who already knows the basics back up to speed.

Izula Gear Nav Card Set 1:24K

Izula Gear Nav Card Set 1:25K/1:250K

Izula Gear Nav Card Set 1:50K/1:100K

Conclusion

All three of these items are extremely well thought out and functional tools in trained hands. There are similar tools available but these offer the ease of carry that comes with their credit card size. The Emergency Navigation/Survival Card is perfect for your wallet or E&E/survival kit. The Izula Gear Nav Card Set and Map Card 1:24,000 Scale are right at home with your dedicated navigation gear or in a bug out bag.

Available from ESEE:

Available from the ESEE Dealer Network:

Troy Nav Stock

It has become very common for those who carry both an AR-15 and a GPS to attach the GPS to the stock of the AR-15. This is usually done in a field improvised way or by using a wrist strap that is also designed to attach the GPS to an AR-15 stock. The most common GPS device used for this application the Garmin Foretrex 401. It’s compact size make it ideal.

Troy has a clever solution that does away with the field improvisation. The Troy Nav Stock actually has a Foretrex 401 embedded into the stock. It is mounted upside down so that the user needs only to glance downward and roll the rifle slightly to view the display or operate the GPS. The Foretrex utilizes a patch antenna that will function very well even when the unit is upside down in this manner.

This is specialized gear that not everyone needs but it definitely a clever solution for those who do need it.

Image is property of Troy Industries.

Next Generation Arms X7 – Gray is the New Black

Next Generation Arms (NGA) is about to unleash a new AR-15 pattern rifle called the X7. The X7 is what an AR-15 would look like if every part was scrutinized, modernized, and optimized for function. It combines innovative features and premium parts to make a rifle so unique that can’t even be called by the name “black rifle” – it’s The Gray Rifle.

The list of features on this rifle is impressive and it seems that nearly every part has been tweaked in some way to increase function. The hand guards are slim to allow a large variety of grips. The 6 and 9 o’clock rails on the hand guards have been set back slightly from the end of the hand guard to allow for an extended support arm grip. The magazine well is cavernous to speed reloads and give more space for the fingers when clearing double feeds. There are integral QD sling mounts in the optimal locations – on the fore end near the receiver and on the center of the receiver end plate. Ceramic coatings are used through out for extreme corrosion resistance and easier maintenance. The barrels are made by Noveske and are guaranteed to hold 1 MOA. I could go on but I think you are starting to get the picture.

It should be no surprise that a rifle this well appointed, this well thought out, and this innovative is the result of input from some of the best trigger pullers in the industry. NGA had independent advisers like Mike Pannone, Ed Santos, John Farnam, and others helping them throughout the process of bringing this rifle to market.

The X7 won’t be cheap but it is definitely going to be impressive.

You can read more about the X7 on the NGA website.

Image provided by Next Generation Arms.

Convertible Slings from Tactical Link

Jerking the Trigger first showed you the 2 to 1 Point Triglide (AKA The Triglide) from Impact Weapons Components about 1 month ago. Since that time The Triglide has made some serious waves in the industry.

Tactical Link is the first company to unveil new slings designed specifically to leverage the unique functionality of The Triglide. They have introduced two slings: the Convertible Sling and the Convertible Bungee Sling. Tactical Link is already well known for their excellent sling mounts that utilize push button QD sling swivels. So, incorporating The Triglide into slings made specifically for use with their sling mounts is a perfect fit.

Both slings allow the user to quickly and easily transition between 1 point and 2 point configuration. If you need extra maneuverability you can configure the sling as a 1 point. As soon as the need arises for more stability, you can transition on the fly to a 2 point configuration. These slings give you the best of all worlds. You can tailor these slings to your specific requirements at a specific moment.

You can read more about these slings and other great sling products at Tactical Link’s website.

Jute Twine – Para-Cord’s Old School, All Natural Cousin

Cordage is an important part of any Tactical Handyman’s EDC (every day carry) or survival kit. The cordage of choice in these types of kits is often para-cord due to its compact size, decent tensile strength, multiple uses, and relatively low price. I carry para-cord whenever I am in the woods just because it has come in handy so many times, but, recently, I have found myself using jute twine just as often.

Jute twine can be used for many of the same survival applications as para-cord.

Jute Twine is useful for many of the same tasks that you would typically use para-cord like lashing branches when building shelter, or stringing up a tarp or poncho. In fact, I have found that it stretches less than para-cord under load. I actually prefer it for keeping the lines on a tarp shelter taught even though I might have to double up the lines to keep them from breaking on windy days. It weighs less than para-cord and costs less too.

Jute Twine’s versatility comes from the fact that is an excellent fire making aid. It can be shredded easily with a knife or sharp rock. Once the jute twine is sufficiently frayed it can be lightly folded into a bundle that will readily catch fire when it catches a spark. You can also add small wood chips, twigs, fatwood, pine resin, shredded bark, or other tinder to the  jute twine to make a tinder bundle. A few feet of jute twine and a ferro rod make an excellent fire starting combination.

Cut a short section of jute twine.

Shred the twine by mincing, scraping, and slicing with your knife.

Roll the shredded twine into a bundle. You can add other tinder to the bundle if you wish. This bundle will readily catch a spark like those from a ferro rod.

Sadly, jute twine is not perfect. It is not as strong as para-cord and it can begin to rot in just a few days, especially if it gets wet. The ends can also fray very easily and can not be melted to control the fraying like para-card. However, given its versatility as both cordage and a very efficient fire making aid, there is definitely room for several feet of jute twine in anyone’s kit.

Review: NukoTools GBi

The NukoTools GBi (or Grin and Beat It) is a discreet impact tool that will make you smile right before it bloodies your face. At first glance, it appears to be a cute,  stylized skull but further investigation reveals that it is actually an effective set of 2 finger “knuckles”.

The GBi is hand made from G10 which is an extremely durable, non-metallic material. It is very compact at about 2 1/4″ in diameter and 3/8″ thick. The edges of the GBi that will be in contact with the user’s hands are carefully radiused for comfort while the impact area of the tool is kept sharp to maximize discomfort. The surface of the GBi is hand ground in a shallow random pattern that gives an attractive textured look and serves to create sharp random edges on the teeth. The texture is very subtle, very clever, and very effective.

The GBi is easy and intuitive to use. You simply slip two fingers through the “eyes” of the skull so that the teeth are facing out from your hand. The index and middle fingers or the middle and ring fingers both work well. Once the GBi is slipped into place the top of the skull should press into the palm to support the 2 fingers at impact. It can be used to punch, scrape, gouge, and even deliver pain by grabbing and squeezing the wrist, arm, etc. of the person you are defending yourself from.

Unfortunately, the GBi doesn’t really fit my hand well. Even though the finger holes are the same size as the excellent NukoTools Punch Ring, the extra thickness of the GBi makes it very difficult to put on and take off my fingers. The size of the GBi will not accommodate larger finger holes so oblong finger holes might be the only way to give more clearance for users with larger hands. Oval or oblong finger holes are a good idea on knuckle type impact tools anyway. Also, the GBi is just a little too small to fully reach my palm. This leaves the finger unsupported at impact. Norman at NukoTools told me that he may bring a slightly larger version of the GBi to market. I hope that he does because that would make this tool even better.

NukoTools has more information about the GBi and all their other discreet impact tools on their blog.

If you want to learn more about the effective use of tools like this, I highly recommend reading and attending training from Modern Combative Systems.

Familiarize yourself with the legality of such tools in your area before purchasing.

New from Insight Technology: WL1 AA Powered Weapon Light

It was only a matter of time before someone made a dedicated weapon light that was powered on AA batteries. The someone is Insight Technology and the light is the WL1.

Insight Technology claims that the WL1 is the first tactical light to run on AA batteries. It features a quick-release rail grabber interface, 90 minute runtime, 150+ lumen output, momentary activation, strobe function, and an optional visible red laser. These lights also feature Insight’s split rocker switch which I am very familiar with from the Insight Technology Procyon and WX-150. It is a very nice system that allows the switch to function identically with both left and right hand manipulations.

While this light will run on alkaline AA batteries, lithium AA batteries will be the smart choice. Lithiums have a longer shelf life and can handle a wider temperature range. Lithiums batteries will be ideal but it is very attractive to have a light that can be run on grocery store AA batteries in a pinch.

I have been using Insight Technology products since the original M3. I have owned the M3, the M3X, the SSL-1, the Procyon, and the WX-150. If the new WL1 works as well as those lights did, it will be a very popular light.

It appears that there is some limited information about the WL1 on Insight Technology’s website. Hopefully, more information will be available soon.

New IR Lasers Available for Commercial Sales

Laser Devices Inc. and Tactical Night Vision Company (TNVC) have announced a new class of IR pointers that are legal for commercial sales. These Class I IR lasers will have reduced range versus their Military/LE only counterparts, but they will still offer solid 75-100 meter performance for night vision users.

One of the biggest road blocks to non-military/LE night vision users has been the difficulty in purchasing a quality IR laser system. Now these systems have been made available to everybody, though in a somewhat neutered format. This should be an exciting development for night vision users.

TNVC is already taking orders for the following models:

  • DBAL-I2 ($966.00) – Dual Beam – Vis. Red Pointer/IR Pointer
  • EOLAD-1I ($1440.00)
  • ITAL-Classic ($678.00)
  • OTAL-Classic ($678.00)

You can read more in TNVC’s product announcement on AR15.com, on the TNVC website, and the Laser Devices Inc. website.

60 and 100 Round AR-15 Magazines from Surefire

One way to reduce the time spent reloading is to do away with the reload all together. Surefire’s new high capacity AR-15 magazines seek to do just that.

The new magazines come in 60 or 100 round capacities. The magazines use an ingenious follower that allows them to hold and feed ammo in 4 columns. The 60 round magazine will fit in many standard double magazine pouches which makes them relatively easy to carry. The 1o0 round magazine is a bit unwieldy, but military users may find that the extra capacity is well worth the ease of handling trade-off.

Everyone that I have talked to who have put hands on these have been impressed with the build quality. Surefire is well known for their no compromise approach to quality and function so I expect these magazines will be well made and reliable.

You can read more about these magazines on the Surefire website.

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