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Review: TacPack February 2017 Edition

The February 2017 TacPack is here and I’ll tell you right up front that this is my favorite one to date.

Hopefully you are familiar with the concept of TacPack by now. If not, you can read the reviews of the previous TacPacks for some background on this subscription box.

Like I said before, this month’s box is my favorite to date. The perceived value is high. The usefulness and/or cool factor of the included items is high. It has a very high, I’ve-Been-Wanting-to-Try -One-of-Those factor. The TacPack has no weak items this month.

LiveFire Gear 550 FireCord – You can never have too much paracord and you can never have too many emergency firestarting materials tucked away in your EDC or various kits. LiveFire Gear’s 550 FireCord is both. It’s paracord with an inner strand that serves as an excellent emergency tinder. 25 feet is enough to make a ton of zipper pulls and lanyards.

TricornE Spool Tool – If you have paracord, you want/need a Spool Tool. This ingenious tool allows you to wrap 100 feet of paracord on it where it sits, ready to be used in projects. The tool also has an integrated cordage cutter, a bracket for holding a Mini Bic lighter, notches for holding the cord while you fuse the end, and a lanyard hole.

Bull Moose Tactical Muzzle Device – This brake is threaded 1/2×28 so it should fit a variety of rifles. I haven’t tried it yet but I will.

North Shore Kustoms Equalizer – I like knucks. I used to sell them back when we operated Edge/Equipped and I even had occasion to design one. I’ll probably never use one in any sort of defensive way. To me, they are a novelty that represents a craftsman who translates a design directly into metal. They are interesting objects that are cool to own, cool to talk about, and that is enough of a purpose for… Hold on… This one has a bottle opener!

TacPack Patch – You like patches don’t you? Of course you do.

LiveFire Gear 40% Off Coupon – The final item in the box is a 40% coupon for LiveFire Gear. I’ll put that to use for sure!

If you want to try TacPack, you can check them out at TacPack.com. They are saying that the items in the March box will have a total value of $115 and a TacPack sometime in the near future will feature the debut of a new item from Hexmag.

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The EDC Tool Roll: Lobster UM24SS Shorty Adjustable Wrench

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.


The Lobster Shorty Adjustable Wrench (UM24SS) is a compact adjustable wrench that is well suited to everyday carry. The wrench is just over 4.5″ in length but has large jaws that can open wide enough to handle a 1″ diameter nut or bolt.

These drop forged steel wrenches have had great care taken to ensure that they remain light weight. The handle has been fluted and skeletonized and the jaws are tapered, relatively thin, and fluted to removed weight. Those thin jaws are part of why I prefer this wrench over other adjustable wrenches I have tried. Cheap adjustable wrenches often have chunky jaws that are difficult to use on small fasteners.

The Lobster Shorty is available with a number of different colored handles. Be advised that the “red” handle color (shown) looks more pink in person.

These wrenches are made in Japan and usually imported. I ordered mine through Amazon but they are also available from a number of sellers on Ebay. I’ve never found a local, brick & mortar source for them.

Where to Buy: Lobster Shorty Adjustable Wrench (UM24SS) on Amazon

If you are looking for an alternative, consider the Channellock 804 (chrome) or 804N (black oxide). You are likely to find them locally, they are more affordable, very compact, and made in Spain. I’ll profile one in a future edition of The EDC Tool Roll.

Do you have a compact adjustable wrench that you prefer? Tell us about it below.

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The EDC Tool Roll: Knipex Cobra Pliers 87 01 125

The EDC Tool Roll is a new feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown won’t be multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn!


German tool manufacturer, Knipex, makes a number of my favorite tools but their 5″ Cobra Pliers (87 01 125) are at the top of that list. These extremely compact pliers are extremely big on usefulness.

I bought the Cobra Pliers because I was tired of the pliers on my multi-tools never quite being the right tool for the job. The 5″ (125mm) Cobra Pliers are only slightly longer than most multi-tools in the folded position but they boast all the same features as Knipex’s larger pliers including drop-forged steel construction, push-button adjustment, and hardened jaws that self-lock into nearly anything you are trying to turn.

They are just under 5″ in length and just under 3 ounces in weight. This makes them easy to carry in pocket, small bag, compact tool roll, or in the built in admin organizer of your pack.

In spite of that small size, they can be used to turn nuts (or round material) up to 1″ in diameter. They grip material so tenaciously that I have used them to turn nuts that were nearly completly rounded. The forward portion of the jaws lets me do fine work like gripping webbing to pull through a tight tri-glide, while the inner portions of the jaws are recessed to mate with nuts, bolt heads or round stock like pipes and caps.

These have a place in The EDC Tool Roll because they are the pliers that I wish came in my multi-tool.

I have purchased these locally from Sears Hardware stores or online from Amazon. See the Knipex Cobra Pliers at Amazon.

Review: Scalarworks LDM/CompM4

Before Scalarworks, you had two choices in optic mounts. You could have QD, return-to-zero performance or you could have light weight. Then Scalarworks dropped the LDM or Low Drag Mount on the gun world and gave shooters a third choice: BOTH. Since their initial release of the LDM/Micro (for Aimpoint Micros and other compatible red dots), they have released a number of other mounts with the same ratcheting thumb wheel and radically skeletonized design. The LDM/CompM4 is one of the most recent and the subject of this review.

Overview

Like previous Low Drag Mounts, the LDM/CompM4 has Scalarworks’ ratcheting thumb wheel QD mechanism. The wheel has a toothed circumference kind of like a gear that interfaces with a ball detent in the mount. This adds a level of repeatability not found in a simple friction thumb wheel. The wheel drives telescoping mechanism that opens and closes a clamping surface that runs the full length of the mount.

The LDM/CompM4 is machined from 7075-T6 aluminum (an upgrade from the 6061 aluminum on my early LDM/Micro). It also features a hard anodized finish on all the aluminum parts.

There are a number of other durability enhancing features that you can’t really see with the naked eye like cold formed threading and 4140H alloy steel hardware.

Observations from Use

I think what impresses me most after having spent a lot of time with Low Drag Mounts, is that the design isn’t just something made to be different. Scalarworks didn’t just make a thumb wheel because everyone else was using levers. The ratcheting thumb wheel is a means to an end… it serves a purpose. Without it, the mount couldn’t be so compact. These mounts are often narrower than the optic they are attached to. The mechanism also couldn’t be as light as it is while also being durable without the thumb wheel. A round shape like the thumb wheel can be made both small and strong.

The radical skeletonization of these mounts is another key to their lightweight. The optic basically sits on 4 pillars of material and a bunch of nothing. As you might know, nothing weighs very little. The LDM/CompM4-LDM310 that I have (lower 1/3 co-witness) weighs just 1.49 ounces. The CompM4 in the original mount weighs in at 11.8 ounces. It weighs 9.76 ounces with the LDM/CompM4.

It is tempting to think these mounts aren’t durable or at least there seems to be a perception that lightweight can’t also be durable. Well, just like I did with the LDM/Micro, I dropped this mount directly onto the optic from shoulder height. I did this 3 times with no ill effects (accept to the finish of my CompM4 – see image below). You simply aren’t going to hurt a Low Drag Mount in normal use or even with some abuse.

I also removed and reinstalled the mount from the host rifle several times to test the return to zero performance. Just like the LDM/Micro that I tested before, there was no shift that could be detected with the LDM/CompM4. I don’t know that I have proven that there is no zero shift at all but it would seem that, if there is a shift, it is well within the margin of error in my precision shooting ability with a red dot sight. I am comfortable saying that there is no practical zero shift.

I should also note that I appreciate how easy it is to install and remove the Low Drag Mounts. Some lever equipped QD mounts require a lot of tension on the lever to truly grip the rail. This makes them annoying and sometimes even painful to remove. The LDM’s ratcheting wheel only requires the user to turn the wheel as tight as they can with their thumb. It’s easy and repeatable.

The LDM/CompM4 cantilevers the optic forward which leaves plenty of room at the rear of the upper receiver rail when mounted on an AR-15. There is more than enough room for an Aimpoint 3X magnifier or night vision device.

Wrap Up

This mount saw well over 1000 rounds, 3 drops, several remove and reinstall cycles, and more than a few walks in the woods. It performed perfectly.

If you look at a Scalarworks LDM like this one and only see the weight reduction, you would be missing most of the point. Yes, these mounts are far lighter than any other QD mount. They are also more compact, exceedingly well made, and truly functional in that they return to zero well and are easy to use.

I am someone who happens to think Aimpoint’s factory mounts are actually very good. They work. So, if I am going to pay my hard earned cash to replace a perfectly good mount, it is going to be a mount that is durable, lighter in weight, and functional like the Low Drag Mounts.

Check out the LDM/CompM4 at Scalarworks.

Review: TacPack January 2017 Edition

The January 2017 TacPack has landed. Let’s take a look!

Hopefully you are familiar with the concept of TacPack by now. If not, you can read the reviews of the previous TacPacks for some background on this subscription box.

Before I dig into the review, I want to note that I have turned down the opportunity to review a number of other subscription boxes. I continue to review TacPacks because they provide items that I find useful and the quality is good. Other boxes that I have seen are either very expensive, provide a poor value, include mostly junk, or all of the above. TacPack has maintained a level of quality that I can appreciate.

This month’s box is another solid one. There are a number of items that are interesting with three that really stand out for me and form the basis for the usefulness of this month’s box. This isn’t one of the boxes that makes me say “wow” (there have been a couple of those) but it the sort of solid value I have come to expect from TacPack.

5.11 Tactical Alpha Scout Tanto Knife – This is probably the nicest knife included in a TacPack yet. These 5.11 knives are designed in conjunction with Blade-Tech and have a host of solid features. They just work and everyone can find a use for a knife that just works. This is a standout item… one that provides a very good perceived value in a box like this.

Breakthrough Clean Battle Born Grease – This is several years worth of grease for me. I am not really picky about oil and grease but Breakthrough Clean seems to make a good product. I’ll certainly put this to use. This is another stand out addition – the kind of thing everyone can use.

Sawtooth Barrel Floss – Everyone needs bore snakes… lots of them. This one seems nice and comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage (I’ve broken other brands before). If you break it, they replace it. That’s nice. You simply can’t go wrong with an item like this.

LighterBro Stealth – This is where we get into the sort of novelty items that always come in these boxes. The LighterBro may be useful to some but I am not likely to use it since I carry a Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool separately. This is basically a case for a lighter that integrates a few Swiss Army Knife-like tools into it. It could be a good addition to a survival kit or bug out bag.

Martin Hammer – It looks like an AR-15 hammer but its actually a keychain bottle opener. It works well and isn’t overly huge like some novelty bottle openers so in those regards, it is a good one. If you subscribe to a service like this, you can expect to never be short of bottle openers.

Check out TacPack to get in line for the February box which TacPack is saying will contain an American-made CNC machined EDC products worth $60 on its own along with a bunch of other slick kit.

TangoDown BG-18 – Familiar Like an Old Friend

I purchased by first AR-15 shortly after leaving college and finding gainful employment. That was about 15 years ago. The first thing I added to that AR-15 was a TangoDown BG-16. I liked its comfortable contoured design, clever battery storage, and pebbled texture so much that I ended up with 4 of them as my collection of AR-15s grew.

Later, some wrist injuries would lead me down the path to more vertical and hand filling grips but I missed those old BG-16s. Few other grips I tried could match the comfort of the simple contours and just-right texture on the BG-16, until… The BG-18 came along.

The I’ve been using a BG-18 for a while now and I am thrilled with it. It has everything I love about the BG-16. The flowing contours are intact and so is the excellent texture. In fact, I think the texture may even be slightly improved over my earlier BG-16s. It does however lack the battery storage, which I don’t really miss that much.

While the BG-16 was more raked back and slender, similar in size and angle to the A2 grip, the BG-18 is more vertical and hand filling. TangoDown has designed it with a tang that rides up over “beaver tail” area of the lower receiver to let the shooter get a higher grip while also moving their hand back for better trigger finger placement. Overall, the grip looks and feels just like a BG-16 but even more comfortable.

Putting a TangoDown BG-18 on one of my most shot AR-15s feels a lot like meeting an old friend again.

Review: SIONICS Weapon Systems Patrol III Upper

I have been using SIONICS Weapon Systems products for years – especially their barrels. When I heard that they were updating their entire line recently with new parts from the likes of TangoDown and Centurion Arms, I quickly placed an order for a Patrol III Upper. I have had the upper in hand for several months and have 1535 document rounds through it. Let’s dive into what I’ve learned along the way.

Details

Before I get into my experience with the upper, lets looks at the details of the upper that I purchased. The Patrol III Upper, starting at the muzzle device and working back, has the following features:

  • A2 muzzle device
  • Purchaser’s choice of Medium or Lightweight contour (I chose Lightweight)
  • Both barrel choices are 16”, chrome lined, 41V50, 5.56mm NATO Chamber, 1:8, Air-Gauged, Radiograph and MP Inspected
  • Centurion Arms CMR M-LOK 13″
  • Low profile gas block in the midlength position
  • 7075 aluminum upper

I also added an optional NP3 BCG which is another SIONICS product that has served me well in the past.

Observations from Use

Let’s get to what you came here for first – reliability and accuracy.

Reliability – This upper has had exactly 1535 rounds through it spread over several range sessions. The upper has never been cleaned though oil has been added as necessary. The vast majority of the ammo used was 55 gr. Wolf Gold .223 that I purchased specifically for this test. The rest of the ammo was Prvi Partisan 75 gr. .223 which was used to check the accuracy of the rifle with 10 shot groups at various points during the testing. There were no stoppages of any kind. It ejects both ammo types to 3-4 o’clock on the dial with a standard carbine spring (CS spring from Brownells) and an H buffer.

Accuracy – I have this recurring problem with SIONICS barrels. I buy them for builds thinking that I’ll just drop an Aimpoint on them and call it good. Then the barrels shoot so darn well that I end up buying more glass to take advantage of it! It happened with the previous medium contour barrel that I purchased from them and it happened again with this one.

I intended for that rifle to host an Aimpoint CompM4 with Scalarworks LDM/CompM4 mount and it did serve as a test rifle for that mount for about 100o rounds. However, the accuracy that I was seeing was so promising that I now have a 1-4x optic installed.

I used Prvi Partisan 75 gr. .223 and a Leupold MR/T 1.5-5x optic for accuracy testing at 100 yards. Accuracy was tested at 300 rounds into the test, roughly 700 rounds into the test, and finally at just over 1000 rounds into the test. I shot two 10 shot groups at each of those intervals for a total of 6 groups. There was no time left for cooling or anything like that. I just aligned the sights and squeezed the trigger 10 times for each group. The target used was a grid square (1.9″) from the 50/200 yard zeroing target that I use.

I never had a group larger than 1.293″. The average across all 6 groups was 1.281″ and you can see what turned out to be a roughly average group for this rifle below. Eventually, I would like to test this with a true “match” ammo as I suspect it will shoot very well. In my book, a lightweight barrel that will shoot consistent 1.2 MOA 10 shot groups with ammo (and a shooter) that is just decent, is darn impressive.

Speaking of the barrel, you really should consider the SIONICS Lightweight Barrel if you are considering a lightweight build. It is not radically thinned pencil barrel. It has a bit more meat on it than some which I like – it is still quite light at 1 pound, 6 ounces. It balances nicely if you care about such things. This combination of accuracy, reliability, and general handiness make it great all-around barrel for general purpose carbine.

The inclusion of the Centurion Arms CMR on this upper is icing on the cake. It is slim, light, strong, and functional rail that compliments the lightweight barrel very well. It lets the upper work well across a variety of shooting positions, makes it easy to carry and hold, and keeps weight to a minimum.

The SIONICS NP3 bolt carrier groups are excellent and I own a few. I have owned NiB coated bolt carrier groups before and they all tend to collect carbon. Most of it will wipe off but before long, they have taken on a dingy gray tone from carbon that can’t be cleaned. The NP3 coating that SIONICS uses doesn’t seem to suffer from the same issue in spite of the fact that it is a similar coating – on paper at least. These BCGs are slick, easy to clean, and have always run well for me.

Wrap Up

Bottom Line: This is an affordable upper that is completely reliable through more than 1500 rounds and shoots consistently at around 1.2 MOA in spite of it’s lightweight profile barrel. I think SIONICS is turning out some of the best uppers and complete AR-15s on the market right now. This upper and every other product I have owned from them has proved that to me.

Check out the Patrol III Upper at SIONICS.

Review: TacPack November 2016 Edition

The November 2016 TacPack is one of the coolest and most interesting yet.

Hopefully you are familiar with the concept of TacPack by now. If not, you can read the reviews of the previous TacPacks for some background on this subscription box. I recently received the November 2016 TacPack. Here are the details…

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This month’s box is a very solid value. The items seemed to strike a great balance between value, quality, usefulness, and level of interest. This is probably my favorite box yet in part because it exposed me to an interesting product that I am still trying to wrap my head around.

Nelson Precision Manufacturing AR.5 – All of these subscription boxes come with bottle openers. If you subscribe for long, you will end up with a ton of them and they are easy to forget about. Every once in a while you get one that stands out and the NPM AR.5 certainly stands out. It is basically an accurately crafted half scale 80% AR-15 lower that opens bottles. I have tested it thoroughly on a variety of bottles and can confirm that it works VERY well. Best. Bottle Opener. Ever.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug – This mug rocks. I happen to like Black Rifle Coffee Company. I also happen to like enameled steel coffee mugs and early American history. This mug hits all those notes. It is a lot nicer than most of the enamel ware I see these days. Hint: You can also drink whiskey out of it.

Burnproof Gear Boot Laces – Burnproof gear makes cool stuff, especially if you have a suppressor you need to cover. They also make really nice boot laces. These kevlar laces are super strong and have a great texture so they don’t slip which makes them very good boot laces (good boot laces are hard to find). They offer heat resistance and high tensile strength so they have all sorts of survival applications.

Exotac polySTRIKER – I own and use several Exotac products. You can never go wrong with putting one of their products in these boxes. If you don’t have a ferro rod, you need one (or two, one to practice with and one to carry). You can always find a place to tuck a good ferro rod. Inclusions like this rank just about as high as possible on the usefulness scale as it pertains to subscription boxes.

ReadyMan Home Defense Hand Grenade – You know ReadyMan for their survival cards but they actually have a lot more than that going on. They offer a variety of products and advocate readiness in all forms. This Home Defense Hand Grenade isn’t on their website currently but it is extremely interesting. It is basically a puck shaped object that has bright strobes and screeching siren. You push a button, there is a short delay when you can throw it, and then it goes off with the intent of working as a distractionary device. In the confines of a dark room or hallway, it would be very disruptive.

I need to think more on how best to use something like this. On one hand, it makes a certain amount of sense on its face and I can see how it would be useful. On the other, the home owner is already faced with an interesting conundrum when confronting the bump in the night… You have two hands but need to carry a gun, a cell phone, and a flashlight at a minimum and there may not be time to jock up with gear. Something like this has merit and I have enjoyed thinking through how it might be used effectively.

There is also a coupon included so you can save 20% off at ReadyMan.

Check out TacPack to get in line for the December box which TacPack is saying will contain a high value knife along with a bunch of other slick kit.

Review: PIG FDT-Delta Utility Glove from SKD Tactical

I have owned at least one pair of every glove offered in SKD Tactical’s PIG FDT line and in the case of what is now called the FDT-Alpha, I’ve owned several. My wife even has a pair of the FDT-Charlie Gloves. I’ve worn these gloves for years and, with all that experience, I would say that the FDT-Delta Utility Glove is the best yet. It also happens to be the least expensive. Go figure.

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Fit

The fit on the FDT-Delta Utility Glove is excellent. It fits extremely close to hand if you follow SKD’s sizing instructions and I have come to expect that from the FDT Gloves. They always seem to have a nice slim fit with no excess bulk.

If you hold your hand out at rest, you’ll notice that it isn’t completely flat. The fingers curve to varying degrees. Yet, most glove makers design their gloves as if your finger were straight all the time. The PIG FDT Gloves have curve designed right into them which is part of why they feel so natural on the hand.

If you look at most slip-on type mechanic’s gloves or shooting gloves, they have a bit of elastic sewn into the cuff in a zig-zag pattern with a very wide cuff. This creates a weird little skirt on your wrist that bunches up under a long sleeve or gapes open. The PIG FDT-Delta Utility Gloves take a different approach with a “triangle” gusset of stretch material sewn into the wrist of the glove. This allows the gloves to lay perfectly flat even on slim wrists. It’s basically magic.

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Dexterity

Dexterity always sets the FDT Glove line apart and that is true of the FDT-Delta Utility Gloves too. The finger tips are designed so that there are no bulky seams on the tips. This allows you to actually feel something other than the glove chafing against your fingers when you are squeezing a trigger and provides the dexterity necessary to pick up small parts.

The pre-curved finger design also aids in dexterity. With some gloves, you feel like you are doing some kind of grip exercise when you close your hands into a fist. The gloves are sewn flat so they resist you when you try to close your hand. The PIG FDT Gloves have some natural curve already sewn in so they move very naturally with your hands.

Finally, the material on the palm side of the glove is very thin on the FDT-Deltas and all of the FDT Glove line. Unlike the rest of the line, the FDT-Delta Utility Gloves also features rubbery, silicone printing on the fingers and parts of the palm which aids in grip.

Durability

I have found the FDT Glove line to be generally about as durable as any mechanics style glove with a synthetic leather-like palm. You will eventually wear through the material – usually at the finger tips. If you need a more bomb-proof glove, you can check out the FDT-Bravo but I have always felt like I get my money’s worth out of the FDT-Alpha and FDT-Delta.

skd-pig-fdt-delta-3

Wrap Up

I have come to prefer the FDT-Delta Utility Gloves over all other FDT Gloves and other shooting gloves in general. They fit closer through the wrist than anything I have tried. They are more comfortable and natural feeling that anything I have tried. They are light, durable, and provide excellent dexterity. They also happen to be the most affordable in the FDT Glove line. Those are wins all around.

Check out the PIG FDT-Delta Utility Gloves at SKD Tactical.

Disclosure: I was provided a pair of these gloves free of charge by SKD Tactical. I have since purchased more of them at full price.

Review: TacPack October Edition

Hopefully you are familiar with the concept of TacPack by now. If not, you can read the reviews of the previous TacPacks for some background on this subscription box. I recently received the October TacPack. Here are the details…

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The October Box is solid in terms of value but the usefulness of some of the items may vary. This box contains a handful of items that retail higher than the fodder included in most subscription boxes so there are fewer items than you may find in a typical box but the quality is also better the most.

BreakThrough Clean Battle Born Grease – You can get by with just gun oil in most cases but grease is always good to have on hand. It stays put better on handgun slide rails, trigger engagement surfaces, and similar places that are hard to access or prone to leaking out all over you. This 12cc syringe makes application easy and could last you a few years in most cases. This is a solid inclusion.

Tactical Oatmeal Mag Carrier – This kydex magazine carrier is pretty slick. It is designed to accept a wide variety of belt hardware or MALICE clips (included). Additionally, it may be stacked with other Tactical Oatmeal Magazine Carriers in a variety of ways. The included MALICE clips will let you mount it on PALS webbing (though it can’t really be weaved) or your belt. I am not sure if this example is indicative of all Tactical Oatmeal products but while the design and molding is solid, the finish could use some work. The edges are left sharp and there is still bits of kydex left in the mounting holes. It isn’t pretty but it is functional.

Cittac EDC Beetle Buster – Cittac makes steel targets and very slick flat-pack target stands. They also make these little steel Beetle Busters. If you like knuck-like bottle openers or EDC tools, you’ll like this.

Trayvax Wallet – While I do not care to carry an exotic wallet, I can admit that this Traywax Wallet is pretty cool. It is actually of made thin steel with an adjustable strap to carry cards. It also has a place to stow a key and it blocks most RFID signals by nature of its steel construction. It’s very slim and I suspect it will last a long, long time.

Gang Bangers Anonymous Patch – Another patch for the patch wall!

Check out TacPack to get in line for the November box which TacPack is touting as the highest value yet.

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