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Mountain Ridge Gear

I came across Mountain Ridge Gear recently. They make some extremely interesting gear right here in the USA. The quality looks great and the prices are very reasonable.

The Tactical Man Purse looks especially interesting. There is some serious functionality built into these bags. I especially like the mesh interior pockets and the “pull-out” pocket (ala Kifaru). The exterior looks somewhat low profile even though there is some PALS webbing on on one side.

Eric at Mountain Ridge Gear has graciously agreed to loan me a Tactical Man Purse for review. Stay tuned for the upcoming review.

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Surefire KX-4

The Surefire G2L is getting an upgrade. The Surefire G2L has become popular for weapon mounting thanks to it’s quality at a reasonable price and light weight. It is also a popular carry light among those who see the value in carrying a light daily.

Now, with the release of the KX4 conversion head, Surefire is increasing the output to an impressive 120 lumens while still delivering decent battery life. There is also a crenellated version called the KX4D.

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Battle Comp – A Comp Without the Blast?

Traditionally, there have been issues with using compensators (comps) on rifles that are used in military, police, and defensive roles. Comps tend to increase the blast that can be heard and felt by the shooter and those around them. This is a very bad thing for those working in team situations. Also, the blast from a comp can be deafening indoors. There have been several comps introduced in the last couple of years that minimize the noise that is directed to the shooter but are still quite loud to those around the shooter. This is an improvement but still isn’t ideal.

The Battle Comp from Battle Comp Enterprises claims to have changed all that and they have some pretty impressive reviews to back it up. They appear to have created a comp that can reduce flash to a level similar to the A2 flash suppressor and reduce muzzle flip greatly without increasing concussive blast to the shooter or those around the shooter. The decreased muzzle flip should will allow faster follow-up shots while the lack of blast increase makes this viable for military, police, and defensive use. This is an important advancement for AR-15 muzzle devices.

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Bargain Bokers – VoxKnives Gnome and Rhino

Boker has slated a ton of excellent looking collaboration knives to be released in 2010. Two of the more interesting knives (at least to me) are the VoxKnives designed Gnome and Rhino. VoxKnives is run by Jesper Voxnaes in Denmark. Jesper has a very recognizable style and tends to create very utilitarian designs.

The Gnome is a small neck knife. It has a small 2 finger grip and comes with a kydex neck sheath. It would make a great little EDC (every day carry) knife or a back up to a larger knife. It features a 12C27 blade, full tang construction, and green canvas micarta scales with red spacers. I have seen street prices on these as low as $16!

The Rhino is larger than the Gnome but still a very compact knife. It is designed more as an outdoors knife than an EDC. It also features a 12C27 blade and full tang construction. The handle slabs are black micarta with red liners. Street price is $40-$45.

Both of these designs are now at retailers. I am not sure how Boker does it, but these are a great value.

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Patch Collecting: Send a GI a G2

Do you like helping worthy causes? Do you like unique morale patches? I thought so. The Peace Keeper Support Network has a program that puts quality Surefire G2 flashlights in the hands of deployed soldiers that really need them. All you have to do is make a donation or purchase a patch.

Click here to purchase a unique morale patch and help send deployed soldiers Surefire G2 flashlights all at the same time!

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Reminder: BSA Hot Spark Facebook Giveaway!

This is just a reminder that Jerking the Trigger is giving you the chance to win a BSA Hot Spark fire starter!

Everyone who “Likes” the Jerking the Trigger Facebook page will be entered to win. The winner will be chosen randomly at 9PM on July 1st, 2010.

Review – Kifaru MOLLE Express

I think I have finally spent enough time with my Kifaru G1 MOLLE Express (Mollex for short) to be able to talk about it with a reasonable amount of depth. I have used this pack on several day hikes, an orienteering course, car travel, air travel,  car camping, and a multi-day hike. It has seen rain, snow, heat, and cold. It has been on the trail and it has been out breaking brush. I haven’t spent years under it yet but I have formed some opinions.

Note the wedge shape and zippered access at the top and bottom. This is part of the magic of the Mollex.

Overview

The Kifaru Mollex is a newer version of their well loved Express. The main difference is the addition of MOLLE webbing on the body of the pack. The Mollex has a pocket on top of the lid (with a Velcro field for patches) and an mesh pocket on the underside of the lid. The regular Express lacks these two pockets but adds a front slip pocket.

The Mollex features 1000 denier Cordura nylon construction. The lid and body of the pack are constructed from a single layer of nylon, while the bottom of the pack is constructed of 2 layers of nylon for added durability. The top and bottom zippers are large, durable #10 YKK brand zippers that have para-cord pulls instead of noisy metal pulls. All hardware (buckles, sliders, etc.) appears to be from ITW Nexus. The construction and materials used in the pack are confidence inspiring.

There is a hook & loop field for affixing patches and name tapes on the top of the lid.

The Mollex blurs the line between day pack and 3 day pack. It boasts 2300 cubic inches of storage space which can easily be expanded through to use of additional MOLLE or “Dock & Lock” pouches. I especially like to use the Kifaru E&E to quickly add 1000 cubic inches of storage. The magic of the Mollex is that it feels small when you are wearing it but will surprise you with how much gear you can cram into it.

Unlike most packs this size, the Mollex has a true suspension system, not just a plastic panel stiffener. The suspension system is designed to transfer the weight of the pack off of your shoulders and onto your hips. It accomplishes this with 2 long aluminum stays that run vertically from the top of the pack to the bottom. These stays are ergonomically shaped and can be bent to fine tune the fit to the individual wearer of the pack. The stays run from the top of the pack, down to the waist belt. I opted for the padded MOLLE belt on my Mollex. The waist belt is wider and thinner than many people expect from a “padded” belt but the extra width effectively spreads the load of the pack over the hips without the need for the heavy padding. It doesn’t need the heavy padding that larger packs use since the loads will be somewhat limited by the size of the pack.

Additionally, the Mollex features an internal hydration compartment so you can easily add the bladder of your choice. There is a covered hydration port that make routing the hose of your hydration bladder easy. You will also find numerous other external loops for attaching Kifaru accessories like Pods and Cargo Chairs. The Mollex comes with a Chamber Pocket that can be suspended inside the pack. There are also provisions to hang a second Chamber Pocket and mounting points in the bottom of the pack for Lock and Loads that can be purchased from Kifaru.

The interior of the Mollex is more cavernous that you would expect on a pack this size.

The Good

The Mollex carries very well. The size and shape of Mollex is where the magic starts. It is not just a basic cylinder or cube shape like most packs. It is narrow at the top (about 30 inches in circumference) and flares at the base (about 40 inches in circumference). The resulting shape is like an upside down funnel or a wedge. This shape promotes placing the largest, heaviest items at the bottom of the pack where they will be riding directly on the waist belt. This low center of gravity makes the pack feel like part of you which is especially nice when you are off the trial. This is probably the most important asset of any pack. If a pack is unwieldy or uncomfortable, it fails as a pack.

It holds more than you think. As I said in the overview, the pack feels small when you are wearing it but carries a surprising amount of gear. It is small enough to use as a day pack and large enough to pack out for 3 day trips (it might be tight multi-day trips in the winter). If you find yourself running out of space, you can just bolt on more storage in the form of a MOLLE or “Dock & Lock” pouch. The suspension should keep you pretty comfortable up to 60-65 pounds (and probably more).

The top pocket on the lid provides some much needed organization capability. You can also see the covered hydration port below the pocket.

The Mollex gives you great access to its contents. There are two zippered access points to the main compartment (one at the top and one bottom of the pack). If you pack in a somewhat organized way you should be able to access anything in the pack using one of these two access points without having to dig around too much. I tend to prefer the least amount of zippers possible so a bottom zippered access point makes me a little nervous. However, Kifaru uses top quality zippers and has provided some redundancy to the zipper in the form of 2 side release buckles. Even if the zipper fails, you can buckle the bottom of the pack closed.

The wedge shape of the pack also makes it an excellent field improvised shooting rest. I turn the Mollex on its side which allows me to adjust how high I have to sit up in the prone simply by shifting left or right. This is great in the field or when you are zeroing your rifle at the range.

The mesh pocket under the lid and included Chamber Pocket add more organization potential.

The Bad

It can be warm to wear. The Mollex is designed to ride right up against the wearer. There is no mesh between the pack and the wearer to promote airflow. It is not unbearable thanks to the padding in front of the stays which raises the pack slightly off your to allow some airflow. It just doesn’t breathe as well as some packs.

Organization of small items is a bit lacking. This isn’t as big of a deal for those who are using this pack outdoors but those who wish to use it as a travel bag or EDC will find it lacking organization features. The Chamber Pocket and 2 top lid pockets do help but some pen slots or small slip pockets might be appreciated by some users. You may want to check out this organizer from TAD Gear if you need more organization (yes, it works perfectly with the internal chamber pocket hangers in Kifaru bags).

There are no provisions for strap management. Once the Mollex is adjusted to you and your load, you will find that you have the excess ends of several straps dangling everywhere. This can be a pain when you need to adjust something while wearing the pack and you give a strap a pull only to find that you are pulling the wrong strap. It can be partially cured using a ITW Web Dominators or by wrapping the excess straps up in duct tape. The amount of straps on a Kifaru bag is a blessing and a curse. They provide a lot of adjustment but they end up dangling everywhere.

The bottom access to the main compartment of the Mollex opens all the way back to where the waist belt connects to the bag to give amazing access to your gear.

Conclusion

Kifaru makes some great gear, but it is not inexpensive. I never dreamed that I would ever own a Kifaru pack but thanks to the G1 closeout sale (still going on) and some buying/trading on the secondary market, I have had the pleasure of owning 5 different Kifaru packs and several accessories. The Mollex is my favorite of the sub 3000 cube packs that I have tried. It is over built, offers great access, carries a reasonable load very comfortably, and offers extreme modularity. I am very happy with this pack.

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Sharpie Mini – Handy on the Range

I always try to bring writing implements with me to the range. For me, they are a necessity for recording times, scores, drops, holds, and taking notes. This is especially true when you are in a training course. I spend hard earned dollars on training and want to get the most out of it. Surprisingly, at least to me, not everyone brings something to write with to the range.

 

 

Sharpie Mini shown with a familiar full size Sharpie for scale.

 

One of the handiest writing tools for the range that I have found is the Sharpie Mini. A pen or pencil might be better for writing things in your notebook but you can’t beat a Sharpie for marking hits on a target between strings, for scoring targets, marking magazines with your initials, and many other tasks. I have even used the end to start stubborn take down pins. The Sharpie Mini is a little more than half the size of a full size Sharpie so it tucks away easily into your admin pouch.

Remember to bring your Sharpie Mini next time you hit the range.

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Patch Collecting: FUBAR Jolly Roger

I like to collect are Velcro backed morale patches and I’m always on the look out unique patches to add to my collection. So, in this series called Patch Collecting, I will highlight patches that I own or come across in my travels.

The first patch in this series is from a friend on the Usual Suspects Network and it is one of my favorites. I love the Stanley FUBAR tool and always have one in my truck. This patch features two FUBAR tools in place of the crossed bones of a typical Jolly Roger flag. Sadly, I don’t think these are available anymore.

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