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Training Plates – An Investment

Hopefully some of you who read my recent article on a High Value Armor Setup that consisted of TAP Gamma plates and the excellent Shellback Tactical Banshee PC were inspired to purchase armor. Even armor as inexpensive as the set up in that article is still a significant investment which is why you might want to consider expanding that investment with a set of training plates.

Training plates are the same approximate shape and weight as your ballistic plates but they lack any ballistic protection. Their purpose is to provide a realistic training experience without jeopardizing the integrity of your expensive ballistic plates. These should be especially attractive to shooters who spend their own money on their armor and will have to replace them out of their own pocket in the event of breakage.

You might think that because a ballistic plate is bullet resistant that is extremely durable. This is not necessarily the case. Ceramic plates can be subject to cracking and chipping that can reduce their effectiveness. You might not even be able to visually detect these flaws. It can pay to use training plates as a stand in for your ballistic plates when the ballistic plates are unnecessary.

I currently have 2 sets of Training Plates from Patriots-Choice. These are made from thick PVC plastic that is extremely rugged and provide a very realistic stand in for my more expensive plates. I picked up both sets on Ebay for a song.

There are plenty of other companies that manufacture training plates and Soldier Systems often has the skinny as new ones come to market. Here are some options that Soldier Systems has uncovered:

You have dropped a sizable amount of money on your plates. Consider protecting them from as much wear and tear as you can with a set of training plates.


SLiP2000 Pink Label Gun Lubricant

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and SLiP2000 is reminding us of that with their Pink Label Gun Lubricant.

The Pink Label bottles contain the standard SLiP2000 gun lubricant which I rely on extensively along with their Extreme Weapons Lubricant. They are available in 1 and 4 ounce sizes. I keep the 4 ounce bottles in my range bags and cleaning kit and the 1 ounce bottle in a pouch on my belt so I always have it handy while on the range.

SLiP2000 will donate $.25 for every bottle that is sold. There has never been a better time to pick up some more lubricant or upgrade your current lubricant to SLiP2000. Check out the Pink Label bottles on the SLiP2000 website.

Rainier Arms Urban Carbine (RUC)

The new Rainier Arms Urban Carbine or RUC is first complete rifle offered by Rainier Arms and it is heavy on features but light on weight.

The RUC features a few Rainier Arms exclusive components like the Rainier Arms XTC compensator and their Evolution Free Float System. The XTC is a high value muzzle device that compensates for muzzle rise and suppresses flash. The Rainier Arms Evolution Free Float System is a lighter weight version of the regular Evolution Free Float System manufactured by Samson MFG. The RUC also features other well thought out components like the BCM Gun Fighter Charging Handle, VLTOR iMOD stock, Magpul MOE+ grip, Geissele trigger, and the relatively new Diamond Head Back Up Iron Sights.

The barrel is cold hammer forged with a 1 in 7″ twist. It is available with a pinned 14.5″ or 16″ lengths. The low profile gas block is pinned which is a nice touch. The rifle should shoot very softly with its mid-length gas system and “H” buffer. The lower is forged and features a nicely flared magazine well. The bolt carrier group is everything you would expect from a premium rifle like this. It is an auto carrier that is MPI HP tested and features a properly staked gas key.

The component list is impressive and so are the specs but the most impressive things is that the RUC weighs in at a scant 6.5 pounds which is very impressive for a rifle with this many features. The shooter only needs to add a light, sling, and optic all of which can be added with very little weight penalty these days thanks to light weight options like the Aimpoint Micros and Surefire Scout lights.

You can pre-order your own RUC at a very attractive introductory price on the Rainier Arms website.

Patch Collecting: AO Medium Speed Moderate Drag

Advanced Outfitters (AO) has one of the best taglines in the business and it is a well known fact that great taglines make great patches. From the moment that Kevin at AO first uttered “Medium Speed, Moderate Drag,” he must have know it was destined for patch greatness.

The patch features green embroidery on a tan background. The “Medium Speed, Moderate Drag” tagline is embroidered on the face of the patch as is the AO website address. I like that this patch feels a little like an inside joke since most people have no idea what “High Speed, Low Drag” means so this patch is actually somewhat low profile.

You can contact Advanced Outfitters through their website, on Twitter, or on the Usual Suspect Network.

New Attack Racks from US PALM

The original AK Attack Rack from US PALM is widely regarded as one of the best AK specific chest rigs on the market. Now there are two new versions of the Attack Rack for shooters to choose from – the AK Attack Rack V2 and the Multi-Platform Attack Rack.

Both of the new Attack Racks share some features including the ability to add level IIIA soft armor. This is a feature not often seen in chest rigs. The Attack Rack with ballistic insert provides a very broad area of coverage. Both Attack Racks also have similar horizontal handgun magazine/flashlight/multitool pouches.

The AK Attack Rack V2 offers a nice alternative to the original AK Attack Rack. The V2 adds the features mentioned above as well as a few other notables. The fronts of the AK pouches now feature MOLLE webbing for the attachment of additional pouches. The 4 handgun magazine pouches on the sides of the original are now replaced with MOLLE webbing so that the user can add items like a general purpose pouch or first aid kit. There will also be optional accessories available like medical and general purpose pouches sized to fit the side MOLLE fields perfectly and a universal holster insert.

The Multi-Platform Attack Rack supports weapons other than the AK. It can carry 5 AR-15 or .308 magazines. The entire front of the Multi-Platform Attack Rack features a uninterrupted MOLLE webbing field for attaching additional pouches. It can also accept the universal holster accessory.

Check out the whole line of Attack Racks on the US PALM website.

Review: Fiocchi 7.62×39 FMJ

To my knowledge, none of my AKs have ever digested a single piece of brass cased ammo… until recently. The folks at BulkAmmo.com offered to send me some Fiocchi 7.62×39 123 gr. FMJ for testing and I jumped at the chance.

This Fiocchi 7.62×39 123 gr. FMJ features boxer primed brass cases.¬†The boxes are marked “Made in Hungary.” I was given 2 boxes that contained 20 rounds each which isn’t a lot of ammo for a test but I was able to form some immediate opinions.

My first impression was that the ammo looked much, much nicer than the typical AK fodder that I shoot. The cartridges were clean and seemed to be consistent in overall length (not always the case with some 7.62×39).

When shooting, my impression was that it seemed a bit hotter (sharper recoil) than some of the steel cased ammo that I typically shoot. This was also seen when I checked the targets since the Fiocchi ammo’s point of impact (POI) was higher than that of the typical steel cased ammo that I shoot. I am actually very pleased that this is the case since much of the steel cased ammo on the market is under-loaded. There were no signs of over pressure.

The ammo was also noticeably more accurate than what I typically shoot. In the target picture above, there are two groups. The photo above shows two distinct groups. The lower 8 shots were shot relatively quickly from a rest at 50 yards. Accuracy was good save for the two pulled shots at 3 and 4 o’clock. I made some adjustments, slowed down, and fired a final 3 shot group (I generally prefer 5, or better yet, 10 shot groups, but I was out of ammo). Those are the 3 shots that you see around the bull. The rifle used was a converted Saiga with an Aimpoint H1 mounted on an Ultimak rail. This rifle shoots well with good ammo and the Fiocchi proved to be good ammo.

It looks nice and it shoots well, but I was probably most struck by how clean it was. This ammo is not nearly as smoky as much of the steel cased 7.62×39 that is on the market. It also doesn’t smell as bad. Steel cased ammo often smells terrible, almost like cat urine, when it is being shot but the Fiocchi smells normal. With the lack of smoke and smell, it should come as no surprise that this ammo shot much cleaner than steel cased ammo. There was very little clean up to be done after 40 rounds of the Fiocchi versus 40 rounds of steel cased ammo – granted, it was just 40 rounds but the difference was noticeable.

40 rounds is a small sample size with which to form an opinion on the quality of ammo, but the hallmarks of quality are there. This Fiocchi 7.62×39 ammo is clean and consistent externally, it features boxer primed brass cases, it shoots accurately, and doesn’t leave a mess. It is definitely a very different and much better experience than what I am used to with the typical steel cased ammo on the market.

You can check out this Fiocchi 7.62×39 and other 7.62×39 Ammo at BulkAmmo.com.

Disclosure: This ammo was sent to me by BulkAmmo.com, free of charge, for review.

Revision Military BATLSKIN Video

Revision Military released a new video that outlines the details of the BATLSKIN for AUSA. In the video there is a brief explanation of how the system works and a few of the various accessories are seen.

Interestingly, this is not necessarily a new idea. The military has long seen the value in full face protection as evidenced by helmet prototypes of the past like the Model 8. The BATLSKIN is certainly better executed and more practical than past attempts at more broad face coverage for warfighters. A protection system like the BATLSKIN could probably prevent a number of injuries and deaths.

You can find more information on the BATLSKIN system on the Revision Military website.

Blue Force Gear Helium Whisper

Blue Force Gear (BFG) is already known as an innovator within the realm of tactical gear but their next product line has the potential to fundamentally change what we think we know about tactical gear.

BFG embarked on Project Helium Whisper in order to deliver durable gear that is very light weight. The key to the extreme weight reduction is the technology that BFG uses to build the pouches. The backings on these pouches are CNC-laser cut from a single piece of extremely lightweight and strong material. By cutting the backings from a single piece, many of the challenges associated with producing (alignment and assembly) a typical MOLLE backing are eliminated. Even the markings are laser etched into the material so that the additional weight of a tag is unnecessary. The results are pouches that weigh as little as 50% of what current issued MOLLE pouches weigh.

The BFG Helium Whisper line has the potential to be nothing less than revolutionary in terms of construction and weight reduction. This is definitely something that you will want to keep your eyes on.


Stag Arms 3G

3-Gun competition, especially the rifle component, has really taken off recently. It was really only a matter of time before manufacturers began to tailor products specifically to this market. Stag Arms is the first production AR-15 manufacturer that I have seen market a new AR-15 specifically to 3-Gun competitors.

The new Stag Arms 3G has many features that are popular with 3-Gun competitors. the difference is that they come standard on the rifle instead of as custom additions. These features include a 18″ stainless steel fluted heavy barrel with a 1 in 8″ twist. The barrel also features a 5.56 chamber, rifle length gas system, and it is threaded for a muzzle device.

The rifle also features a Samson Evolution free float hand guard, Geissele Super 3-Gun Trigger, Magpul ACS stock, and Magpul MOE pistol grip. This is a very well appointed rifle. Users can also add an optional set of Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights.

The rifle component of 3-Gun can be a fairly practical form of rifle completion. It often involves solving scenarios with targets anywhere from contact distance to several hundred yards. It has served as a breeding ground for many practical techniques and pieces of gear that have found their way into the military/law enforcement realms. So, it should come as no surprise that this rifle has the potential to be useful for more than just competition. It actually looks like it could be a great semi-precision or hunting set up in addition to its obvious role as a 3-Gun rifle. In fact, if you think about it, 3-Gun rifles like the 3G are not all that different from the military SPR concept.

You can find more information at the Stag Arms website.

Ares Armor Aspis Plate Carrier

The new Aspis Plate Carrier from Ares Armor is designed to do just two things – carry plates and accept MOLLE pouches. That is all any plate carrier really has to do. Any extra material that would complicate or hinder these two functions has been stripped away, leaving just a compact, lightweight, and functional piece of gear.

Many lightweight carriers on the market now use 500D nylon to achieve their light weight. The Aspis is made from 1000D nylon yet it still manages to weigh less (less than 2.5 pounds) than some plate carriers made from 500D nylon. The side of the plate pockets that faces the user is lined with spacer mesh for comfort.

The external cummerbund is removable and has the ability to add soft armor. It consists of two sections tied together with shock cord which allows some flex for comfort. There is also an adjustable internal cummerbund that is not removable. The internal cummerbund utilizes side release buckles for quick donning and doffing.

Fitting it’s spartan design, the Aspis shoulder straps are not padded but there will be optional shoulder pads available. There will also be an optional 3 magazines insert for the kangaroo pouch and the Aspis will work with Ares Armor’s Plate Carrier Silencer. Additional features include a drag handle on the rear plate pocket and hook material covered webbing on the top of the front and back plate pockets.

I am glad to see more options like this coming to market. As a non-military and non-law enforcement shooter, a simple carrier like the Aspis makes a lot of sense. It allows the user to carry everything they might need for a carbine course without the extra bulk or cost of more complicated plate carriers.

The new Aspis Plate Carrier from Ares Armor is now available for pre-order from Ares Armor at a discounted price. It can also be pre-ordered from PredatorARMAMENT who will have versions with Multicam and A-TACS camo matched webbing.

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