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Equinox Monarch Ultralite Travel Bag

Kevin at Advanced Outfitters first told me about these Monarch Ultralite Travel Bags from Equinox. These versatile bags are perfect for a number of different uses.

The Monarch Ultralite Travel Bag has 5 internal pouches of varying size and there is still enough room to store items loose inside the clamshell opening bag. The pockets are made from mesh so that you can see what they contain at a glance. The body of the pouch is made from ultralight 1.1oz silicone impregnated ripstop nylon to keep the weight to a minimum and provide some water resistance.

These make great first aid kit bags or gear organizers. I like to organize my smaller gear in this type of bag so that I can easily move it from one bag to another. The Monarch Ultralite Travel Bags are perfect for this “bag in bag” organization style because they don’t add much weight unlike other organizers made from heavier materials. They also come in several colors so that you can easily color code your gear.

The Equinox Monarch Ultralite Travel Bag is made right here in the USA. Check them out on the Equinox website.

Emberlit Stove

I have come to the point in my life where I do not relish the idea of rucking all of the tools necessary to process large pieces of wood for a cooking fire when I am in the woods. This means that I have to carry a stove of some kind to heat my meals. Carrying a stove means have to buy and carry fuel. In the end, I often just end up eating cold food on the trail. Fortunately, I recently came across the Emberlit Stove.

The Emberlit Stove is the best designed wood burning cooking stove that I have ever come across. It assembles and dissembles easily and packs almost completely flat in its disassembled state. In its assembled state, it allows you to build a clean burning, efficient, contained wood fire to quickly heat your trail food using only the fuel that can gather on the trail. All it takes is a handful of wood to boil water. You can easily process all the wood that you will need with a good field knife.

It may sound silly, but I think I am most excited by the fact that the Emberlit stove actually has a feeding hole. Most stoves of this type do not have this which means constantly having to lift your cooking container to add wood through the top of the stove. With the Emberlit stove, you can just add fuel through the feeding hole when means you can keep the temperature more constant.

The Emberlit stove can also be used with trioxane, Esbit tabs, and even candles to heat your food. You can carry a back up fuel source just in case your find yourself in a spot where you can’t harvest wood. That is a very nice bit of redundancy.

The Emberlit is made in the USA and is available in either a stainless steel or titanium version. The stainless version weighs a fairly scant 11.3 ounces and the Ti versions weighs an amazing 5.45 ounce. It collapses down to a mere 1/8″ thick for packing. There are also a handful of accessories available. You can check them out on Emberlit.com.

Stay tuned to Jerking the Trigger for a full review of the Emberlit Stove.

UW Gear AR Minuteman MKII

I recently told you about UW Gear, a new gear company with some familiar stakeholders that is coming up with some really innovative gear targeted for the Armed Citizen. Their first product was the AK Minuteman MKII and now the AR Minuteman MKII is officially available.

As you might have guessed from the name, the AR Minuteman MKII has all of the same features as the AK version but it is sized to work with the smaller AR magazines. It still has the slim, low profile design and the very cool magazine retention pocket on the back of the rig. It still features the innovative tab closure system on the magazine pouches. All of the features that make the AK Minuteman MKII so noteworthy are still intact.

You can order your own AR Minuteman MKII on the UW Gear weebsite. You will also want to check out the UW Gear Facebook page and their forum where you can interact directly with the owners and read more about the philosophy behind this rig.

Alternate Sight Alignment

This post will deal with alternative or hasty sight alignment which is a way to get quicker hits with iron sights at close range. This is not an “iron sights are better than optics post” There are a number of reasons that you might find yourself without an optic, so even if all your firearms have optics mounted, you should be familiar with iron sights. This is a basic technique that any shooter should be familiar with and yet few are.

Standard rear sight that has been widened with a small round file

The use of iron sights is becoming a bit of a lost art. They have been supplanted by the availability of ultra-reliable, fast, and easy to use optics like Aimpoints. Even handguns are being fit with compact red dot sights at an increasing rate.  I am not saying that this is a bad thing and I am certainly not one of those “everything other than iron sights will fail at the worst time” types. It would crazy to deny the advantages that quality optics have over iron sights.

In an ideal world, everyone would have an intimate understanding of how to use iron sights very effectively before they ever went shopping for an optic. It is difficult to really appreciate something like an Aimpoint until you have really pushed to your limit with iron sights. It isn’t necessarily that red dot sights are so much faster than iron sights, but that they are so much easier to go fast with than iron sights.

Simple Math, 2 is Less Than 3

The shooter must align objects in 3 different planes when using iron sights in the traditional manner – the target, the front sight, and the rear sight. The human eye cannot focus on objects in 3 different planes so we typically train to focus on the front sight. This process of finding the target and then aligning it with both of the sights takes some time, though it can be done quickly with practice.

The gray circle represents the target in this illustration of traditional sight alignment.

The shooter only needs to align objects in 2 different planes when using a red dot optic – the target and the red dot. Since the human eye can only focus in one plane at a time, the shooter focuses on the target while looking through the optic. This superimposes the red dot over the target. There are less objects to align so it takes less time. This isn’t the only reason that red dot optics are generally faster (or easier to go fast with) but it is a big reason.

So, to align iron sights you must align 3 objects and to align a red dot optic you must only align 2 objects. The more objects you have to align, the more time it takes to align them. If you want to use iron sights as quickly and effortlessly as a red dot optic, you must remove or reduce the need to align one of the objects on which the shooter must focus. You can’t remove the target from the equation. The front sight is closest to the muzzle and therefore our best indicator of where the gun is pointing so we still need it. However, we can greatly reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the dependence on the rear sight.

How it Works

The technique is very simple but like many skills it requires practice to be used as efficiently as possible. Typically, when a shooter is able to take his time and align the sights, he levels and centers the front sight in the rear sight notch (or aperture) while keeping both the sights aligned with the target. When the target is closer to the shooter and the time available to engage the target is shorter then the shooter should employ an alternate or hasty sight picture. This technique will work on every type of iron sights that I have tried.

The shooter looks over the rear sight and places the front sight roughly centered over the rear. Very little attention is given to the rear sight. The entire front sight assembly becomes the aiming point instead of just the tip of the front sight post. This image isn’t the best representation of what you should see since the rear sight will actually be blurry.

The technique is simple. The shooter simply looks over the rear sight, places the front sight on the target, and squeezes the trigger. By using this method, the shooter greatly reduces the need to be aware of the rear sight. The front sight does not need to be perfectly aligned with the rear sight vertically and horizontally in order to achieve a fast accurate hit at close range. The front sight only needs to be just over the rear sight from the shooter’s point off view. As long as the target appears wider than the rear sight from the shooters point of view, the horizontal alignment does not need to be very precise – anywhere over the rear sight will do.

As long as the target appears larger than the sights, an accurate hit can be achieved even with imprecise alignment.

In this technique, the entire upper part front sight assembly can act as a front sight. On an AR this means that the front sight and both protective wings act as an aiming point. On an AK it means that the front sight and the semi-circular protective wings act as an aiming point. In fact, this technique is especially applicable to the AK with its tiny rear sight notch. Using a larger aiming point helps to draw the eye more quickly.

By looking over the rear sight and placing the front sight above it, rather level with it, the shooter also reduces the need to be mindful of mechanical offset to some degree by canting the rifle up slightly. Simply put, mechanical offset is the distance between the sights and the bore which typically results in the point of impact being lower than the point of aim at close range. The degree to which this technique compensates for mechanical offset will depend on the shooter and the specific rifle so it must be tested at the range.

Practice, Practice, Practice

A shooter can become even more proficient at this technique as they become more practiced with the particular firearm that they are using. With practice, the firearm can be presented consistently enough that the index point of the shooters cheek on the stock and a view of the front sight is all that is needed to achieve a hit at close range. When this level of proficiency is reached, the shooter can achieve red dot optic-like speed.

This isn’t anything new, unique, or original. It is just something that is useful. Take some time to practice this technique on the range. While it is very simple on its face, it must be practiced in order to execute at full efficiency. This is the kind of technique that will grow with you as you continue to hone your skills.

Echo Nine Three AK Sling Mounts

It isn’t necessarily difficult to mount a sling on an AK as long as you are willing to live with the predefined mounting points. If you prefer to mount your rear sling attachment somewhere other than the end of the stock, that is when things can get difficult. Until recently, there wasn’t a good way to mount your sling at the rear of the receiver like so many shooters prefer. Echo Nine Three (Echo93) has changed all that with the introduction of their AK sling mounts.

Echo93 Sling Mounts from Left to Right: V1, V2, V3

Echo93 makes 3 different sling mounts for AK pattern rifles (and 1 for AK pistols). Each one is ambidextrous and works on nearly any AKM stamped receiver that is commonly available. They are as rugged and simple as the AK itself. Each one is cut from thick carbon steel and each version features a different type of sling attachment point and position.

The V1 is completely ambidextrous and allows the sling to shift from side to side as the user transitions the rifle from weapon side to support side. The V1 will work with most side folding stocks.

The V2 provides a low profile side loop and is reversible. The V2 will work with many side folding stocks if you disconnect the sling.

V3 provides a canted loop that is also reversible. The V3 may preclude the use of side folding stocks depending on which side you mount it.

While these are billed as single point sling attachment points, it should be noted that they make an excellent attachment point for 2 point slings as well. I like the rear sling attachment point of my 2 point sling to be as close to the receiver as possible. This gives a much greater range of motion and makes things like tucking the buttstock under your arm during reloads or malfunction clearance much easier.

You have to love a device that is as simple and rugged as the AK itself. You can order your own Echo93 Sling Mount from the Echo93 website. Echo93 is also working on some other interesting products like a very cool sling, so keep an eye on their Facebook page. Stay tuned to Jerking the Trigger for a full review of the Echo93 Sling Mounts.

Beez Combat Systems SVD Chest Rig

One of the best things about smaller gear companies is that they can take on less mainstream projects. Beez Combat Systems (BCS) is a shining example of that with their SVD Chest Rig.

The SVD Chest Rig is a collaboration between BCS and Marco Vorobiev, a Spetsnaz Dragunov marksman who has emigrated to the USA and teaches DMR tactics with Behind Lines. This rig will work with many different ComBloc DM (designated marksman) type rifles like the the SVD, PSL, M76, and the Saiga 308. It draws some very obvious inspiration from the well known Russian Chamelion SVD chest rig but it is far from a stitch by stitch copy.

10 magazine version shown in A-TACS camo

The design of the BCS SVD Chest Rig replaces the spotting scope pouch of the Chamelion with PALS webbing so that the wearer can add pouches like a blow out kit or radio pouch. The magazines are retained via an elastic pull tab system that will hold one or two magazines per pouch. You can choose between a 6 and 10 magazine version of the rig and choose your harness style (“X” or “H”). The 6 magazine version replaces the pouches with additional PALS webbing.

The biggest improvement is the construction quality. BCS uses far better materials (1000D nylon) and attention to detail than the original Chamelion rig can ever hope to have. BCS also offers a wider array of colors including all the standards as well as A-TACS, A-TACS FG, and even Russian Surpat.

The SVD Chest rig is available on the BCS website. You can read more about it and see a video review on the BCS blog. I don’t own an SVD, but this chest rig makes me wish that I did.

FirstSpear Missing Link

Gear makers often make two different versions of the same pouch – one that is MOLLE compatible and one that can be mounted directly to a duty/gun belt. The Missing Link from FirstSpear does away with the need for two different types of pouches.

The beauty of the Missing Link is its simplicity. It is just a small section of webbing with hook Velcro on one side and loops at each end that allow it to be slipped onto the integral MOLLE straps on the back of a pouch. This creates belt loops that lock the pouch in place on a Velcro lined belt like a duty belt or gun belt.

The Missing Link is patent pending and comes in packs of 6. You can read more on the FirstSpear website.

Review: Fight and Flight Tactical 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel

You only have so much space to carry the gear that you need. The best pieces of gear will be versatile enough to serve multiple functions and maximize that limited space. The 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel from Fight and Flight Tactical is just such a piece of gear. It is simple concept with many applications.

4x4 Hybrid Patch Panel in Coyote Brown

Overview

The 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel is about 4″ tall by 6″ wide. The front of the pouch is covered with 4 rows and 4 columns of PALS webbing, hence the 4×4 part of the name. That PALS webbing is sewn over with loop Velcro, hence the patch panel part of the name. There are two sleeves integrated into the body of the pouch that are sized to carry a number of different items, hence the hybrid part of the name.

The back of the 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel is also covered with PALS webbing that allows you to attach it to any other PALS webbing using the 2 included short MALICE clips. It also comes with 2 bungee retainers with pull tabs that are adjustable for length or completely removable.

Fight and Flight Tactical makes these in all the usual colors including Multicam. The Multicam version is pretty slick since printed Velcro is used to cover the PALS webbing on the front. It is cut and then realigned during sewing so that the camo pattern is intact.

Shown with a Glock 17 and Glock 21 magazine

Quality

The 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel is very well made. The body of the panel is constructed from folded over 1000D nylon. All of the cloth edges are covered with binding tape which is always a very nice touch that increases durability by preventing fraying. The PALS webbing is triple stitched to the body of the panel. This should be a very long wearing piece of gear.

The back is identical to the front except for the loop Velcro so this 4x4 Hybrid Patch Panel is actually reversible.

In Use

The key to the versatility of this pouch is the sizing of the two internal sleeve type pouches. They are sized larger than you might expect so that they can be used to carry items like pistol magazines, multi-tools, flashlights, folding knives, medical shears, tourniquets, energy bars, or anything else that you can find to fit in the sleeves.

Even larger multi-tools like my favorite, the Multitasker Series 2, fit perfectly. The belt case on some multi-tools like the Leatherman Wave can used to turn the sleeve into a flap covered pouch.

It works very well on plate carriers or chest rigs. I don’t always carry pistol magazines on my plate carrier or chest rig since I prefer to reload from the belt but it is nice to have the option of carrying them. The 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel can be mounted high center on a plate carrier and used much like a compact admin pouch or it can be mounted lower in much the same way that you would mount a pistol mag pouch. It can be used to carry so many different types of gear that you will only be able to determine a mounting location based on what you are carrying in it.

Knives and flashlights are easily retained by the bungee straps and pull tabs. The split design of the pull tab allows the light to be held without activating the tail switch.

It also works very well on a backpack. It lets you attach a few patches can keep your multi-tool and flashlight (or other items) handy on the exterior of the pack. I found that some multi-tools could be carried by placing their entire belt pouch into the sleeve and then the flap on the belt pouch could be fastened to the Velcro on the front of the panel. It effectively turned the sleeve into a flap covered pouch.

The 4x4 Hybrid Patch Panel can be mounted and used like an admin pouch (shown with a knife and flashlight).

I tested it with Glock 17, 19, and 21 magazines. The sleeves are large enough to easily accept the Glock 21 magazines. Glock 17 magazines work perfectly but Glock 19 magazines are just a bit too short to be able to easily remove from the pouch. The included bungee retainers work very well with handgun magazines and they are necessary to retain the magazines since the sleeves are too large to retain the magazines on their own.

I really appreciate how low profile the 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel is when there is nothing loaded in the 2 internal sleeves. It really isn’t much thicker than most patch panels but it offers a ton of additional utility versus most patch panels. It isn’t obtrusive at all when it is empty so you won’t mind keeping it on your gear, even if it is just to hold some patches. It also saves space on your gear by virtue of all the different items that it can carry. This one pouch may be able to cover much of your admin pouch and pistol mag pouch needs.

It also works well when it is mounted and used like a pistol magazine pouch.

Conclusion

The 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel is versatile enough that every person that uses it is going to be able to find something unique to carry in it based on their specific needs. It is simple and low profile enough to serve as a great patch panel until you need it for something more. This is just a very simple, well executed pouch that serves a wide variety of purposes.

Read more about the 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel on the new and improved Fight and Flight Tactical website.

Battle Arms Development Swag Giveaway

How about a giveaway to kick off the new year? I have 4 BAD INC t-shirts and a BAD INC hat to giveaway.

Head over to the Jerking the Trigger Facebook page for more details about how to enter the giveaway. Follow the rules carefully!

Good luck and Happy New Year!

 

Review: White Sound Defense Glock Guide Rod

White Sound Defense (WSD) has quietly made a real name for themselves in the world of serious Glock shooters. Their previously review HRED has put them on the map in a big way thanks to its performance in helping to cure the extraction woes of some late Generation 3 and the Generation 4 Glocks. Between the HRED and their excellent Glock magazine springs, they are proving to be the Glock spring experts. Now they have focused that expertise on another spring assembly, the recoil spring and guide rod.

White Sound Defense calls their guide rod the “Steel Guide Rod for 3rd Gen 17, 22, 31, 34, 35 & 37 Glock Pistols.” For brevity sake, I will refer to it as the WSD Guide Rod. The WSD Guide Rod shows all the typical attention to detail that I have come to expect from WSD. While most manufacturers are content to make a stainless steel rod that fits the dimensions of a guide rod, WSD applies their experience in materials to enhance function.

Better Materials Make Better Parts

Rather than make their rod from stainless steel like nearly every other guide rod on the market, they chose 4340 alloy steel for its toughness and slightly better corrosion resistance than other carbon steels.Stainless steel can actually be a poor choice for a guide rod because it runs the risk of accelerating corrosion (galvanic corrosion) when kept in contact with a non-stainless steel spring. Then, to make the WSD Guide Rod just as corrosion resistant as the rest of your Glock, WSD has the guide rods finished with a ferritic nitrocarburizing process (otherwise known as Tennifer or Melonite). The end result is a corrosion resistant and very tough recoil guide rod that has a blackened finish.

Captured Versus Non-Captured

WSD also weighed whether or not to make this a captured or non-captured spring module. Captured units retain the spring via a small screw and washer that is threaded into the muzzle end of the guide rod. Their advantage is that they offer the ability to change springs, with a fair amount of difficulty, while being easier to take in and out of the gun, but this comes with additional complexity and a weaker guide rod due to the large threaded hole in the end. Non-Captured units are harder to insert into the position under the barrel but they make changing springs easier and they are made from one solid piece of steel.

In the end, WSD went with the simpler, more reliable method which is the non-captured approach. They did add a small transverse hole near the end that allows the user to insert a paper clip or similar object (I found it to be too small for an armorers tool, contrary to what WSD states) and wind the spring onto the guide rod. It works incredibly well and makes installation a snap. There are also ways to insert the spring and guide rod without an any tools in the field. It actually isn’t that hard at all.

Beer Gut Resistant

The most striking thing that you will notice about the WSD Guide Rod is that it extends out the front of the slide about 1/4″. This allows the guide rod to act as a CQB stand off in the event that a contact shot must be taken. Semi-auto handguns, like Glocks, can be pushed out of battery and rendered unable to fire when the muzzle is pressed into something (or someone). Many attempts have been made to dress Glocks up with “CQB Stand Offs” before which usually ended up with the Glock being adorned with something that looked like a meat tenderizer hanging of the front. I suppose that these devices worked in some sense, but they also brought their own problems. They precluded the use of weapon mounted lights and suppressors and worse, they could actually magnify the out of battery problem if clothing became trapped between the device and the slide. Now it has become difficult to even find those old meat tenderizers since serious users found that a pistol mounted light made a pretty decent stand off device. Unfortunately, I don’t always carry my Glock with a light installed.

The WSD Guide Rod is a far more sensible approach. It can’t get caught on clothing or anything else thanks to its well rounded edges. It will still allow the use of lights and suppressors and it does provide some protection from pushing the slide out of battery. The simple addition of 1/4″ worth of steel adds some useful functionality to the Glock for users who need this type of functionality.

In Use

I have somewhere between 250 and 270 rounds (I flubbed up my logs) through a Gen2 Glock 17 with the WSD Guide Rod installed. I have been using it in conjunction with WSD’s recoil spring which deserves some text devoted to it. The spring is flat wound and coated to prevent corrosion. They also match the spring weight of the Glock recoil spring modules. It handles much like the factory unit thanks to the matched spring weight and I saw no degradation of reliability with this spring.

The WSD Guide Rod and spring was completely reliable in my testing. I had no stoppages. Time will tell more, but I wanted to put at least 250 rounds on it since that is a typical “break in” period. There was no undue wear on the barrel, slide, or guide rod.

I didn’t notice any real change in how the Glock shot. The Glock 17’s muzzle seemed to stay just as flat under recoil as it does with the factory unit. There was no measurable change in my split times.

Conclusion

This guide rod and spring have proven to be reliable so far. Their construction and finishes are a testament to White Sound Defense’s experience with various materials and attention to detail. I can’t say that it makes a noticeable difference in how I shoot but it does give me stand off functionality that my Glock did not have before. Now that I have proven to myself that I can trust it, I have added it to my full time carry Glock. Since I do not carry with a light attached, it is comforting to have the stand off functionality that it offers. If you are a Glock user that prefers a steel guide rod, then this one is about as well thought out as it gets.

Check out the Steel Guide Rod for 3rd Gen 17, 22, 31, 34, 35 & 37 Glock Pistols on the White Sound Defense website.

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