If you ever work on your own tactical nylon projects, you’ll appreciate these Camo Seam Rippers from OC Tactical. They are handmade, in a garage, by OC Tactical’s neighbor and they are top notch. They feature replaceable blades that are ground in Japan. Each one comes with a small and large blade.
Today’s Tactical Handyman post comes to us from Ivan at KitBadger.com, which has quickly become one of my favorite new outdoor and tactical gear review sources.
When solutions are not provided, do we go without, or innovate…? For a number of years I had been disappointed with the lack of true low profile under/inner belts. Backpacking, without some way of keeping your pants in place, results inevitably in the waist belt of your pack pushing your pants down. Running around kitted up with a battle belt has the same results.
What does the Tactical Market offer us? Buckles, stiff webbing, and a outer cover of male velcro ready to abrade jackets. And the Outdoor Market? Internal belts or sizing tabs (both with buckles) and usually really thin webbing. And lets not forget that I might not want to wear a $299 pair of Gamma MX pants today.
So with a 1.75” wide piece of fairly light webbing, 12” of female velcro and 5” of male velcro… I have the Inner Belt. Anything with belt loops will be kept in place, no buckles to stack, no hot spots on the trail or the range…
Ivan is a Marine and Air Force veteran, a former police officer, a former security contractor, a Baja 1000 racer, a shooter, and a lifelong outdoorsman. You can find his outdoor and tactical gear reviews at KitBadger.com and the Kit Badger YouTube channel.
In addition to their line of AK accessories, Echo Nine Three is a full-service gunsmith with a ton of experience with the AK family of rifles. E93 occasionally shares easy, DIY AK improvements that you can do at home and I always learn a lot from them. The most recent is an fairly easy way to add a QD sling swivel socket to your AK Triangle Folding Stock.
You’ll just need a 3/8″ drill bit and a 1/2″ drill bit. A drill press would probably be nice but a vice and handheld drill will suffice.
You can find the tutorial on Echo Nine Three’s Facebook page. Each image has its own included instructions so be sure to click through the whole gallery before beginning.
You can spend a lot of money trying to accomplish the seemingly simple task of attaching your knife sheath to your belt in a way that is concealable and easy to access. Yet, in spite of all that money spent, you may not be able to match the comfort, concealability, flexibility, and reliable deployment of the lowly, dirt cheap, static cord.
Static cords aren’t exactly a secret but they also aren’t really a product that can be sold because they are so easy to make. That means no one really talks about them. It is literally just a loop of some kind of cord that is fixed to your knife sheath. The concept is so simple and so dirt cheap that I think it leaves some people feeling skeptical that it can actually be good.
I am not sure I need to post instructions for how to make one. The pictures in this post should be pretty self explanatory but I will include some caveats (later in this post) that will help you be more successful in tailoring the cord to the knife you carry.
How it Works
The static line is simply a cord that is fixed to your knife sheath. It serves two purposes. First, it prevents the knife from falling down inside your pants while carrying. Second, it deploys the knife by limiting the travel of the sheath.
Once you have the static cord tied to your sheath, you simply loop it onto your belt. This can be accomplished without even removing your belt with a simple girth hitch. Now you tuck the sheath into your waist line like you would an IWB holster or sheath with the handle exposed and oriented the way you want it for easy deployment.
When you draw the knife, you simple grab the handle and pull away from your belt. The cord is attached your belt so that once the full length of the cord is reached, the sheath pops free of the knife. It works every time.
Why it’s Good
Static cords are dirt cheap – you probably already have everything you need to make one. They are also easy to make and reliable. Best of all, they are actually really functional. They really work.
If you are carrying a fixed blade knife inside your waist band, you are probably concerned about any additional bulk from both a concealment and comfort standpoint. Static cords can be as slim and bulk free as the cord that you choose. Gutted paracord works well and has little bulk. Just about any cord that you can fit through the eyelet on a knife sheath will be far less bulky than a steel or plastic clip of any kind.
If you are really concerned with concealment, you can even tuck in your shirt over a static corded knife and tuck the cord right up against a belt loop on your pants. It will pretty much disappear – especially if you have chosen a narrow cord that doesn’t contrast much with your belt.
A static cord lets you position the knife anywhere on your belt at almost any angle. I like to use it to place a knife near my center line so it can easily be accessed with either hand. I can easily and discreetly adjust the angle for comfort simply by pushing the knife around on my belt.
You’ll be surprised at how well the knife stays in place. It is normal to be a bit wary that the knife will fall down your pants but if you size the cord correctly, this can not happen.
Choose a cord without much stretch and that has a reasonably stout break strength. The cord will see some stress when you draw the knife quickly. If it stretches or is fragile, deployment may be compromised. You may also want to consider a cord that is close to the color of your belt for concealment purposes.
Experiment with the length of your cord. Smaller knives typically require shorter cords. The cord should be short enough to prevent the knife from following down your pants but long enough to allow as much of the knife as you want to slip below the waist line of your pants. Things like where you attach the cord to the sheath, the length of the knife, whether you loop or hitch the cord to your belt, the angle you carry the knife at, and other factors can effect the length of the cord. The only way to get it right is to experiment but it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You’ll likely settle on an acceptable length on your first or second try. It is a very forgiving carry method.
You can add a little bit of grip tape or a scrap of bicycle inner tube (ranger band) to your sheath to help it stay put on your waist band though I never do. It usually stays put just fine with a reasonably tight belt which you are likely already used to from carrying a gun.
Knives with bent handles like the Ka-Bar TDI or push knives work well because they can positioned at an angle so the handle rests on top of the belt. They are easy to grab, never move, and are very low profile in this position.
If you can’t wear a belt for some reason, a static line my be hitched to a stout belt loop (hard to find these days), the eyelet for the button on your jeans, a button, or even a stout safety pin somewhere on your pants.
As with ANY form of inside the waistband knife carry, you should be sure your sheath has suitable retention. You don’t want the knife coming out of the sheath below your waist line.
This carry method can be used in almost any style of dress, with almost any knife sheath with a place to tie a cord, and in almost any setting. It is secure, discreet, reliable, flexible, and dirt cheap. It works as well or better than just about any ready-made solution I have tried.
I used a wide, brass tip from a wood burning kit and a rotary tool to create a stippling tool that laid down several points at once and I outlined my ghetto process for creating it here on JTT. That was written in 2011 and I still get emails asking to buy the tips (which were never for sale). I am grateful to Oregon Trail Defense (OTD) for finally giving me a place to send to people to find a tool like the one I made.
OTD is now offering a Waffle Stippling Tip. It is much, much nicer than the janky one I made for myself. A tip like this is very efficient because it allows the user to lay down multiple points each time they contact the frame with the stippling iron. This greatly reduces the time you must spend inhaling the acrid little wisps of smoke that roll off the polymer frame of your favorite handgun.
These tips are available separately in two different versions – 12 lines per inch and 20 lines per inch. They are also available with an entire kit including the stippling iron and multiple other tips. Check out all of the stippling tools at OTD LLC.
Note: To head off the emails and to be clear – I am not saying OTD LLC ripped off my idea. People have been making and using tips like this long before I made mine. It is about time someone brought one to market.
I reviewed the Zulu Nylon Gear MOLLE Visor Panel a long, long time ago. It was a full size panel that really works best on vehicles with larger visors. Now Zulu Nylon Gear has released the Micro Visor Panel that is compact enough to fit just about any vehicle with a visor, large or small.
The Micro Visor Panel has everything that made the MOLLE Visor Panel great. That includes the very versatile Velcro/PALS/elastic grid on the front of the panel. This MOLLE compatible grid consists of normal PALS webbing in the center row, 1″ elastic loop webbing for the outer two rows, and loop Velcro in between the rows.
The back of the panel features large elastic loops and a single slip pocket which is perfect for maps or other documentation.
The Micro Visor Panel is fairly compact at 9″ x 6″ but don’t think of it is as being made just for small cars. Depending on how much stuff you want to organize, it may be all you need – even for larger vehicles. These visor panels have a lot of adjustment and it should fit in just about any size vehicle.
Check out the new Micro Visor Panel from Zulu Nylon Gear.
I recently moved 3 timezones away from most of my family and my physical workplace. It is nice to be able to tell what time it is at a glance so I don’t rouse people from bed with a text message about my latest high score in Frogger. I started looking for a timezone clock and all the options that I found were decidedly untactical. Sure, I could just look at my tactical watch and do the tactical math but the Tactical Handyman isn’t about to let an opportunity to make something more tactical than it needs to be.
- Velcro Patch Panel or any other hook Velcro surface – I use the panels from OC Tactical.
- Timezone or city marked nametapes – I generally go to MilitaryNames.com because they make it super easy to create any color combo I need, they ship fast, and the tapes are solid.
- “Automotive” LCD Clocks – These are usually small, inexpensive clocks that are meant to be stuck on a car dashboard. They work well for this because they are very lightweight. You will need one for each timezone you plan to display.
- Adhesive backed hook Velcro – The scratchy side. If you are not sure if you have the hook side, you can do the following simple test. Drag the Velcro across the surface of your cornea. If it hurts, you have the loop side. If it completely removes the cornea and renders you blind, you have the hook side.
- Scissors – According to the Department of Homeland Security, scissors are a more convenient option than a gun for defending against active shooters in the workplace. They are also useful for cutting Velcro. Just make sure you never run with them.
- An unquenchable desire to make things more complicated (and tactical) than they have to be – Trust me. This helps. Otherwise you would just buy a cheap timezone clock and be done with it.
If you can’t look at the above picture and figure out how to make this you’re probably also blind from dragging Velcro across your corneas. I’ll write instructions anyway but you can tell your friends you totally didn’t have to read them.
I am going to assume that you already have your nametapes in hand. I went with “LOCAL” for local time and “EST” for Eastern Standard Time – the timezone that most of my family and work interactions revolve around. I am also going to assume that your patch panel is already on the wall.
1. Decipher the poor English that you are likely to encounter in your clock’s instruction book so that you can learn how to set the time to correspond to the timezone you wish to display.
2. Cut a small piece of adhesive backed hook Velcro with the scissors for each clock that you plan to display. They only need be 1-2 square inches in size due to the light weight of the clocks.
Note: Make sure your mommy says it’s okay to use the scissors!
3. Peel the backing off the Velcro pieces. If you don’t, step 4 is more difficult.
4. Stick the Velcro to the back of the clocks.
Caution: Don’t cover the battery compartment with the Velcro. The fact that I even have to type this is an indictment of our schools.
5. Stick the clocks and nametapes to your patch panel and admire your handywork.
Note: It would probably be smart to pencil in a little time for the lady in your life. She is probably impressed with your work…
If you have any difficulties, feel free to call or email anyone but me to ask questions. Now go make your own!
I know a lot of you have been waiting for these. Magpul officially released their Armorer’s Wrench and BEV Block today.
Magpul Armorer’s Wrench
It is amazing to me how few top quality AR-15 armorer’s wrenches there are on the market. The majority of them are junk and I have seen several that didn’t make it through a single build. Magpul’s introduction of their Amorer’s Wrench is important because it is well designed, I expect that it will be very well made, and Magpul has the resources to distribute it widely (which is an issue with many of the better wrenches available now).
Here is what Magpul has to say about their wrench:
The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench: Requirement Driven, Purpose Built
The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench is an exceptional product in a number of ways; its design, construction, and intent are a level above what has traditionally been available in a dedicated AR15 assembly and maintenance tool. However, one of the most unique things about the Armorer’s Wrench is the product development process that brought it to market. The Armorer’s Wrench was actually a product requested for Magpul’s internal use and then developed into a commercial product.
At Magpul, our diverse and ever-expanding product line necessitates a tremendous amount of testing. Some of these tests include tolerance of environmental conditions, chemical and UV resistance, and controlled scientific strength testing among many others. As to be expected, one extremely crucial part of our product validation prior to bringing a new item to market is high-volume live fire testing. We are fortunate to have a wide selection of high-quality firearms and access to great industry partners and suppliers to maintain these firing schedules, and the world-class armorers at Magpul stay very busy repairing, refitting, reconfiguring, and maintaining our armory.
The Armorer’s Wrench was purpose designed and built to provide our armory with a tool that would stand up to the volume of use that other tools could not sustain, as well as providing optimized functionality for the tasks it had to perform. The cost and lost time of breaking tools at an unacceptable rate came led to our armorers asking the company to apply our proven design and manufacturing expertise to solving their problem, and the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench is the result. While the cost was slightly higher than some other armorer’s tools, the function and durability more than offset the cost difference. Once the wrench proved its worth in our shop, the Armorer’s Wrench transitioned to a production item with a singular goal made possible by its many functions: to provide the professional, institutional, or recreational armorer the finest commercially available AR15-pattern tool ever produced.
American-Made, solid steel construction with grip-enhancing phosphate finish engages both Mil-Spec and pin-style barrel nuts. Fits standard sized flash hiders. Installs and removes rifle receiver extensions and carbine castle nuts, with extended teeth for use with ASAP plates. Two hammer faces. Works with 1/2” torque wrench, relevant torque specifications included on Wrench for quick reference. Convenient Bottle Opener for refreshments after the build is complete (fits both Metric and SAE bottle caps.)
The BEV Block is just a clever, clever tool. It just makes sense to secure the barrel at the lugs, rather than the upper, when doing certain common tasks like installing flash suppressors or torquing a barrel nut.
The BEV Block (Barrel Extension Vise) is an all-in-one, compact vise block tool for AR assembly operations of barrel nuts, flash hiders, etc. Mounts securely in a vise and provides support for both billet and forged upper and lower receivers. Engages barrel extension with solid steel lugs and full length support shank to prevent flexing. Steel hardness is optimized for durability yet won’t damage barrel extension, and Magpul Polymer for all other engagement surfaces to protect aluminum receiver. O-ring post uses bolt carrier for additional stability and included Pin keeps upper in proper position.
You can check out both the Armorer’s Wrench and BEV Block on Magpul’s website. Both tools are part of their Armorer’s Tool Series. Hopefully that means there are more tools to come.
Echo Nine Three recently posted this image which shows a 1″ cap plug being used to close the end of an SB47 AK Pistol Brace. If you shop around, it appears that there are a number of similar products designed to close the ends of metal tubing that would work as long as their diameter is 1″.
Dry fire practice can be a great way to keep your skills sharp between range trips but some firearms just don’t tolerate it well. This is especially true for most older rimfire firearms which can allow the firing pin to peen the chamber if you pull the trigger on an empty chamber. There is often conflicting information available on how tolerant some rimfires are to dry fire which further complicates makes. That is why this Tactical Handyman chooses to use snap caps any time I dry fire a rimfire firearm.
The problem with store bought .22LR snap caps is that they cost way too much for what they are and they don’t really last that long. That is why the Tactical Handyman stopped buying them and started buying #4 drywall anchors.
As you can see in the included image, #4 drywall anchors are a dead ringer for a .22LR cartridge. They are dirt cheap, each one lasts a few dry fire sessions, and they will even extract and eject from every rimfire in my inventory including the Ruger 10/22, S&W M&P 15-22, Ruger 22/45, and Advantage Arms Glock Conversions. Unfortunately, they may not always feed from a magazine.
Don’t buy .22LR snap caps! You can get a lifetime supply of #4 drywall anchors for next to nothing and they are handy to have on hand anyway. You might even have some lurking in your junk drawer now!