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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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Review – Bogota Titan Entry Set

Matt at SerePick.com graciously provided me a set of the Bogota Titan Entry Tools. My recent review of the Stainless Bogota Entry Tools turned into one of the most successful posts we have ever had here on Jerking the Trigger. That is due in large part with how impressive these tools are.

 

This is how your picks look when you remove them from the shipping container. Everything is neatly bagged.

 

 

Lock Bypassing Simplified

How do you know when you have been successful at improving a tool? When you have simplified it without losing any function. Bogota Entry Tools do just that. These two small tools effectively replace an basic pick set and in my experience they are just as functional, if not more. This extreme functionality comes from the innovative design of the Bogota rake.

Purpose Built

The Bogota rake is purpose built to bypass 5 pin locks. These are the type of locks that you typically find in an entry door or a padlock. The shape is reminiscent of the mountains in Bogota, Columbia for which the rake is named. That sounds cutesy but the shape is for good reason.

If you could see inside the lock that you are trying to bypass with the Bogota Entry Tools you would see the the rear most pin is sitting inside the first “peak” of the rake. The next pin would be sitting in the “valley” between the first and second “peak”. The middle pin would be centered on the middle “peak”. The fourth pin would be in the “valley” between the second and third “peak”. And finally, the last pin would be sitting just inside the last “peak”. All of that means that you can quickly move all pins through their full range of travel just by using small movements of the rake. These tools are very efficient.

Effective

The user has two options to bypass a lock using the Bogota Entry Tool Set – you can pick or use the Bogota rake. The Bogota rake is the main attraction to this set. Each of the two pieces of the set is two tools in one. The first piece is a feeler pick and a tension wrench. The second piece is a Bogota rake and a tension wrench. When you are using the rake to bypass the lock, you use the feeler pick as your tension device and vice-versa.

There is no shortage of information about how to use a feeler pick so I will focus on using the rake. The user simply sets the tension on the lock. I find that lighter tension is better though with older, dirty locks you may have to apply more tension. Developing a touch for setting the tension can be one of the most challenging parts of learning to bypass locks. After the tension is set, the Bogota rake is inserted and moved up/down and in/out quickly, almost as if you have had too much coffee. Eventually you will feel the lock core start to turn as the pins are pushed up to the sheer line. It sounds simple but it take practice.

If you already know how to bypass locks, you will be amazed at how simple and effective these tools are. The Bogota Entry Set won’t make you a lock picking wizard. These tools still require a practiced hand to be used most effectively. However, I am always amazed when I put the Bogota Entry Tool Set in the hands of someone who has never bypassed a lock and they are able bypass a 5 pin lock with minimal coaching.

 

 

Note the small size of the Bogota Entry Tool Set. They are shown with a standard business card for scale.

 

Size

These tools must be held if you want to truly understand their size. They are little longer than a house key (see the pictures HERE) yet they offer all of the grip you need in order to bypass a lock. In fact, their handles are very intuitively shaped. They lend themselves well to excellent feel and to the motion that is required to use the rake.

Why Titanium

So far, everything I have written about can be said of both the Stainless and the Titanium (Ti) Entry Tool Set. So why would anyone spend extra for the Ti version? There is one BIG reason. Titanium is non-ferrous, which means that there is no iron content. The lack of iron makes them rust proof. It also makes them non-magnetic which can be useful for certain people.

The rust resistance is excellent news for those who plan to carry these using the safety pin method (shown in the pics). You can carry the Bogota Titan Entry Tool Set all day, close to your body, and sweat all over them. They will not rust. Even “stainless” steels are more accurately stain resistant. They can and do rust. These tools are designed to be discreet and being rust proof makes all the sense in the world for a tool that may be carried close to your skin.

 

 

The Titan set (bottom) has a slightly darker gray finish than the stainless set but still exhibit a high degree of polish which helps them glide inside the lock.

 

Stainless Versus Titanium

The one thing that I really hoped to accomplish in this review was to determine if there was much of a difference in the feel of the steel sets versus the titanium set. I was afraid that the titanium set would lack some of the excellent flex and feel of the stainless steel version. Feel is everything when it comes to bypassing locks and I am happy to report that the Bogota Titans lack nothing in terms of feel. They have just a bit of spring or flex when used as a tension wrench which I like and you can easily feel the pins as you manipulate them. They feel remarkably like the stainless set that I already know and love.

Conclusion

If you start with something that is already excellent, like the stainless Bogota Entry Tool Set, and then add the unique functionality of titanium; you have created something really special. These tools work. Setting aside function for a moment, let’s just admit that anything made from titanium is automatically cool. I do not know of a more compact, easier to carry, or more effective set of lock bypass tools than the Bogota Entry Tool Set.

You can purchase your own Bogota Entry Tool Sets at SerePick.com.

DisclaimerJerking the Trigger does not advocate using these for anything illegal. Never bypass a lock that the owner has not given permission for you to bypass. Check your local laws before carrying these tools.

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Danger Close Consulting Handstop

You may remember our interview with Jon at Danger Close Consulting. In the interview he let the cat out off the bag about their upcoming handstop. This great looking handstop is available now!

You can read about Jon’s development process at his blog. It is interesting to see how he took the best from the few handstops that are already on the market and added a good bit of his own minimalist style to come up with what looks to be an excellent end product.

It has a bit of hook shape to help you generate some serious grip without the size and weight of a full size vertical grip (which most people use more like a handstop anyway). The edges are nicely broken and since it is constructed of hard anodized aluminum, it should be just about indestructible.

Check out the Danger Close Consulting site for more details and to purchase.

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Brunton 15TDCL – A Little Dissapointed

I recently bought a Brunton 15TDCL Compass based on online research. An old, beat up, second hand Silva Ranger was my first “good” compass as a boy and I loved it. I wish I knew where it was.

The compasses that are sold in the USA these days as Silva compasses are not true Swedish made Silvas at all. A company called Johnson Outdoors Inc owns the rights to the Silva name in the US. They sell compasses that are made in various Pacific countries that are branded with the Silva name. I have a couple of recent Silva products that work very well but they have a reputation for poor quality control so you might be rolling the dice when you purchase a Silva compass.

People in the know knew that if you wanted a real Silva Ranger, you could purchase a Brunton 15TDCL (AKA Elite 360 or Nexus Elite). The 15TDCL was the Swedish made Ranger type 15 compass, brought into the USA under the Brunton brand. I thought this was the case when I purchased a 15TDCL recently.

Sadly, it appears that now the 15TDCL is also not made in Sweden. My recent example states that the compass was made in China on the packaging. The older models used to state “Sweden” proudly right on the baseplate of the compass. Now they list no country of origin on the compass itself.

The good news is that the 15TDCL appears to be a decent compass in spite of the manufacturing change though it is definitely not the equal of my old Silva Ranger. If I were going to spend the money all over again, I would have just purchased another Suunto MC-2.

I hope to do a review of the 15TDCL and the EXCELLENT Suunto MC-2 Global in the future.

If you are looking for a quality compass that is not made in the Pacific somewhere you could choose a Suunto (Finland) or a Cammenga (USA).

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Jerking the Trigger on Facebook Giveaway!

Jerking the Trigger is giving you the chance to win a BSA Hot Spark fire starter to celebrate the creation of our new Facebook page!

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.

Viking Tactics Brokos Battle Belt

The new VTAC Brokos Belt has an interesting feature that I have never seen before on a battle belt. The MOLLE webbing is broken into 2×2 panels which allows you to thread the belt under or over a panel. This allows users to mount both MOLLE and belt mounted pouches. That is some serious innovation.

It also makes more use of mesh than I have ever seen in a battle belt. The pay off is that it weighs less than 8 ounces and should breath better than any other battle belt that I have used. The use of 500 denier nylon also helps keep the weight down.

Kudos to Kyle Lamb and VTAC for bringing some truly new and exciting features to the battle belt concept.

It is available on the VTAC website for pre-order.

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ATS Low Profile Chest Harness – Compact Chest Rig Perfection?

Experience changes your perception of what works. When I first started shooting, I built a MOLLE chest rig in anticipation of my first carbine course. Nearly every column of webbing on that rig was filled with a pouch of some sort. I could cram 8 magazines into it and it looked awesome. That chest rig didn’t survive the transition from looking cool in the living room to actually being used on the range. It was bulky, heavy, and hot. It interfered with my draw stroke, my sling, hydration back pack straps, and anything close to natural movement. Lesson learned.

I am a slow learner and, while my chest rig choices have gradually gotten smaller, simpler, and lighter, I feel like I have still been trying to learn the lesson from that first chest rig… until now. Several months ago I picked up an ATS Low Profile Chest Harness. The “Low Profile” part of the name is very fitting. It is a very different rig from that first rig all those years ago.

 

 

The ATS Tactical Low Profile Chest Harness is everything you need and nothing you don't.

 

The ATS Low Profile Chest Harness (LPCH) is definitely an exercise in “everything you need, nothing you don’t”. It can hold 3 primary magazines in “shingle” style on the center of your chest. There easy to use shock cord retainers on each magazine pouch. On either side of the magazine pouches is a utility pouch that is roughly the size of a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. These pouches can be used for your blow out kit (in fact, ATS makes a medical insert for the pouches that is sold separately), various range items, extra magazines, or what ever else you can fit. The body of the rig is made from double layer 1000 denier Cordura and the space in between the layers can be used for storage as well (small, flat items work best here). The entire rig is covered with PALs webbing so you can add additional pouches.

 

 

Note the Velcro field on the harness and the way the straps are adjusted with no loose ends.

 

The harness on the LPCH is basically perfect in my opinion. It features a non-padded “H” harness with a generous Velcro field in the center of the back for adding patches. The loose ends of the straps can be tucked into the body of the body of the chest rig which is an excellent feature. Many chest rigs have heavily padded shoulder straps or harnesses which may be necessary for an over loaded rig but they make using wearing a backpack a real pain. “X” harnesses also tend to pinch the neck, especially when you are wearing a pack so the “H” harness design of the LPCH is a welcome change. I tend to prefer flat, wide, non-padded shoulder straps, especially now that I have learned my lesson about overloading a chest rig. For those who feel that they need a padded harness, ATS makes one that can be purchased separately.

 

 

The utility pouches will nearly close on a 32oz Nalgene bottle.

 

The LPCH is lightweight and very compact. Its footprint is very small on your chest. This is what initially drew me to this chest rig. The chest rig is small enough that it doesn’t really wrap around your chest like many chest rigs. It almost fits perfectly between the straps of my backpack. That, coupled with the thin “H” harness, makes wearing a pack with the LPCH much easier than with other rigs.

The magazine pouches are well designed. They are deep enough to retain the magazine quite well (even without the shock cord retainers) but they still allow you to get a good grip on the magazine body. A good grip on the magazine is essential to a fast and sure handed reload. No one wants to be the guy who is throwing magazines down range because their magazine pouches only allow a finger tip grip. The pouches even work reasonably well with AK Magazines (though some AK mags will be a tight fit).

 

 

If you need to carry more magazines, you can easily fit 3 spares in a utility pouch.

 

I like to wear my chest rigs pretty high on my chest. This accomplishes 2 things: 1) it is more comfortable in the prone position and 2) it minimizes interference with other gear like your handgun holster. Some rigs are limited as to how how they can be run because of their padded shoulder straps or harness. This is not the case with the LPCH which can be adjusted to ride very high on the chest. The LPCH works very well with a belt rig. I find that I reload fastest from my belt, so having a chest rig that can be used effectively with my belt rig is big positive for me.

 

 

You can utilize the pocket inside the body of the chest rig for flat items like maps and field note books.

 

The ATS Low Profile Chest Rig probably won’t make your reloads any faster. It won’t make you lucky with the ladies or help you re-grow hair. It will do a very good job of carrying magazines and other essential gear on the range without over loading you or getting in the way. If you too have learned that less is more when it comes to chest rigs, then you might find it to be a good choice. I liked it so much that I bought one for my wife too. Even she likes it.

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