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Garmin BaseCamp

Garmin GPS devices typically come packaged with their MapSource Trip and Waypoint Manager software. It is used to move maps and waypoints from your computer to your GPS. In my experience the MapSource software works but it seems to be geared more toward on road use rather than on trail use.

Thankfully, Garmin now has their BaseCamp software available to download for free. BaseCamp is a more wilderness oriented product that offers some very nice functionality for those who take their Garmin GPS outdoors.

The best feature of BaseCamp for me is how easy it is to create routes and waypoints. You can plan an entire trip on your computer before you ever set foot on (or off) a trail. There is also support for Google Maps and Google Earth. BaseCamp lets you print professional looking maps that even have automatically generated map details, lat/lon or UTM grid lines, magnetic declination information, and maps scales. Sadly, the maps do not necessarily print in a common scale, but they are still very useful. I have found that it handles large topo map sets much better than MapSource Trip and Waypoint manager. It works great with the free maps from GPSFileDepot.com.

Garmin updates BaseCamp fairly regularly and there has been talk of upgrading the printing so that users can print in common scales like 1:24K. Product support and free software like BaseCamp is part of the reason that I own several Garmin GPS units.

Download BaseCamp from the Garmin website.

Review: Waterford Press Duraguides and Pocket Naturalist Guides

It has been said that knowledge is power. That is especially true when you turn your ankle on a remote trail in a secluded wilderness – you are injured, hungry, and faced with spending a cold wet night in the middle of the woods. It would be nice to have some knowledge about surviving the night, tending to your injuries, and getting something into your stomach when you are you are still miles from your car with the sun already below the tree tops. Wouldn’t it be nice, in that moment, to have a library of basic survival information at your fingertips?

I have been keeping Waterford Press Guides in my hiking kit and car kits for years. I started with their Pocket Naturalist Guides and now have added a few of their newer Duraguides. These guides contain a wealth of basic survival, first aid, and other practical information. Each guide folds open like a brochure and covers a single topic like Medicinal Plants, Animal Tracking, or Field Dressing Game. They contain text and plenty of useful illustrations. They only weigh a fraction of an ounce and are 8 1/4″ tall by 3 1/2″ wide. A stack of them takes up very little space and weighs next to nothing.

The Pocket Naturalist Guides have been around for quite a while. They are printed on card stock and laminated for durability. I have been using the same set of guides for more than 3 years in my hiking bag and they show very little wear. The lamination lets them shrug off most dirt and even light rain.

The Duraguides are printed on a waterproof, rip-proof paper that has proven to be extremely durable. They are also more flexible than the Pocket Naturalist Guide so they tend to pack a little bit easier. They cost a little more than the Pocket Naturalist Guides and there are fewer topics available, but I find them to be worth the small extra cost. The paper material that they are printed on is excellent.

These Waterford Press Guides won’t turn you into a survival expert worthy of your own reality TV show, but they might be enough to refresh your memory on techniques and information that you have already practiced or at least to convey basic survival skills that are capable of being attempted with little or no practice. I don’t hit the trail without them.

You can view all of the available titles on the Waterford Press website.

KRG Bolt Lift

The Bolt Lift fromKinetic Research Group (KRG) is a very clever product for precision shooters. It is a user installed over-sized bolt knob for the ubiquitous Remington 700.

Over-sized bolt knobs are one of the most popular additions to a precision rifle. They provide more grip for the shooter to operate the bolt in cold, wet, muddy, or any other less than desirable condition. You used to have to send the bolt off to a gunsmith who would thread your bolt so that a new over-sized knob could be installed. The KRG Bolt Lift can be easily user installed.

The KRG Bolt Lift consists of two halves that can be screwed together. There are some internal spacers that can be used to fine tune the fit. The Bolt Lift can be installed in such a way that it is easily removable (one screw) or it can be epoxied in place using the epoxy that KRG includes with the Bolt Lift.

The KRG Bolt Lift is available in black only (for now) on the KRG website.

Review: American Rifle Company (ARC) M3 Scope Rings

In this review I will be looking at the M3 Rings from American Rifle Company (ARC). These rings were loaned to me by SexyWeapon.com for the purposes of this review.

The best optic in the world is only as good as the rings that connect it to your rifle. Your scope rings are the interface between your optic and your rifle. They allow the optic and rifle to work together in an efficient manner. Poorly made rings can damage an optic, lose their adjustment, or make a rifle impossible to zero. Quality rings are not an option – they are a necessity.

Specifications and Features

The M3 Rings have many of the hallmarks of quality that we have come to expect from similar products. They are precision machined from 7075 aluminum and feature a black, mil-spec hard anodized finish. They are made in various heights (low to extra high) and sized for 1”, 30mm, 34mm, 35mm, and 40mm diameters. These are the kinds of features that we have come to expect from quality mounting systems but the M3 Rings have several features that really separate them from the crowd.

The most obvious feature is what ARC calls their Tangential Scope Clamp. The part of the ring that clamps on to the scope tube consists of upper and lower parts that are hinged together on one side and connect of the other side via an overlapping surface with 2 screws. The overlapping surface provides a hard stop so that the ring can not be over tightened. The 2 screws are placed on a tangent to the scope tube so that the ring is not distorted in a way that damage the scope tube when the upper portion of the ring is tightened. When the hinged side, overlapping surface, and 2 screws on a tangent are combined you end up with a ring that very evenly disperses the clamping pressure over the entire contact area of the ring to the scope. When you have them in hand and can see how they work, it is very impressive. You can read a more technical explanation of what is happening on the ARC website.

Some scope rings have their weight reduced by milling away parts of the ring where it contacts the scope. This reduces the contact area between the scope and ring which can lead to slipping or scope damage from the clamping forces being concentrated on a smaller area. ARC lightened these rings by milling deep recesses into the surface but not all the way through the material. The result is a lightened ring that doesn’t compromise the contact area between the M3 Ring and the scope. It is a subtle but important touch. The .965″ width of the M3 Rings also helps to provide plenty of contact area between the scope and rings.

One less obvious feature of the M3 Rings is the way that the rings interface with the rail. The crowned interface of the ARC M3 Rings allows for rail variations which are very common among rail manufacturers while still providing very precise contact. Each ring has 2 recoil lugs milled into the bottom of the ring to distribute recoil forces over a large area. ARC has a full explanation along with diagrams and comparisons on their website.

In Use

I was provided a set of extra high, 30mm rings for my review. These rings are a good height for use on an AR-15 flat top upper (they might be a touch short if you have a fixed front sight). I mounted an Aimpoint M2 and a Leupold MK4 1.5-5×20 MR/T for the test. The first thing you will notice is that the hinged upper portion of the rings make mounting the optic extremely easy. Installation is a breeze. You can simply lay the scope in the rings, close the top portion, slide the scope forward and back to set eye relief, and then tighten the two tangential screws.

Since these were loaners rings, I didn’t apply a thread locker as I usually do with all my rings. It was also a good chance to see how the rings would behave without an thread locker. They performed admirably. I wasn’t able to witness mark the screws (like I usually do) but I noticed no loosening of any of the rings under recoil. Once a zero was established, it was held. There were no surprises which is a very good thing when it comes to scope rings. I would still apply some a mild thread locking compound if I was keeping these rings. It is cheap insurance.

I generally do not take notice of whether or not a mount or rings scuffs the rail that they were attached to but since ARC claims that their M3 Ring’s crowned interface will not disfigure the rail, I decided to check. I noticed no marring after the first install and only minimal scuffing after installing and removing the rings a handful of times. This marring probably had more to do with me moving the rings around on the rail than it did with the rings themselves.


These M3 Rings from American Rifle Company really seem to represent an evolutionary step in scope ring development. The hinged, tangential design is amazingly efficient and well executed. It not only protects the scope from damage, but it makes installation simple. These rings represent the culmination of so many good ideas that they just seem to be on a completely different level than other scope mounting products on the market. Everything from the hinged interface and tangential screws to the improved rail interface and construction materials represent quality and innovation.

You can read more about or purchase the M3 Scope Rings from American Rifle Company on SexyWeapon.com.

BattleComp 2.0

BattleComp 2.0 is here. It has the same external dimensions as the A2 flash suppressor which allows the BattleComp 2.0 to integrate with most of the same devices that are meant to work with the A2 flash suppressor. The interior dimensions are nearly identical to that of the BattleComp 1.0 and 1.5 which means that it delivers all the performance that you have come to expect from BattleComp. It comes with a shim kit and Rockset.

You can check it out on the BattleComp website.

Tula Ammo Interview at LuckyGunner.com

Did you know that Tula can produce 500 million rounds of ammunition in a year? That is about 16 rounds every second, 365 days a year. Did you know that their 7.62×39 is tested to work in temperatures ranging from -58⁰ F to 122⁰ F?

LuckyGunner.com just posted an interesting review/interview with the manufacturers of Tula Ammo.

Boker Plus Vox Access Tool

Knives are for cutting, not prying. However we all still occasionally find ourselves in situations where we have to pry something and a knife is the only suitable tool that we have on hand. The risk is that you will break the tip of the knife, ruin the edge, or slip and get a nasty cut. If you had a light weight, easy to carry tool that was purpose built for prying, there would be no need to risk ruining a knife (or loosing a finger).

The Boker Plus Vox Access Tool, or VAT, is made from 5mm thick titanium which makes it very strong but still very light weight. It weighs less than 1 ounce and is 3 5/8″ long so it should be very easy to carry in a pocket or on your key ring.

The VAT has several functions. It has a pry tip, a bottle opener, a carabiner, a nail puller, and a glass breaker that is protected by two rubber o-rings. A tool like this also tends to have many improvised uses that you will discover as you use it.

Save your knives for cutting. Consider adding a pry tool to your every day carry gear.

Double and Single Finger Knucks from Afrankart

I recently came across these Single Finger Knucks (SFK) and Double Finger Knucks (DFK) that are made by Afrankart. At first, I was struck with how unique they look – they have a very distinctive style. However, it is also very apparent that these knuckles are very functional.

Double Finger Knucks

Single Finger Knucks

The knuckles were obviously made for striking. They are .625″ thick which is quite thick compared to many knuckles on the market. Thicker knuckles transmit impact over a larger area of your hand which means they hurt less and have less potential to injure the user. Great care has been taken to round all the edges to increase comfort and there appears to be plenty of material behind the finger hole to support the finger during a strike. The striking surface of these knucks is tapered so they concentrate the force of the strike.

The DFKs are available with 2 different striking surface configurations: pointed and rounded. The pointed version looks brutal. The SFK is available with the rounded striking surface only.

These can be made from several different materials and finishes. Aluminum and brass are available with a machine finish or bead blasted. G-10 is available as a more discreet, non-metallic option. Andy tells me that these will be available in Carbon Fiber soon.

The finger holes measure .950″ which should comfortably fit up to a size 13 ring finger. That should be large enough for most users.

If you are interested in purchasing a set of these reasonably priced knucks, contact Afrakart via email at afrankart@woh.rr.com.

If you want to learn more about the effective use of tools like this, I highly recommend reading and attending training conducted by Modern Combative Systems.

Familiarize yourself with the legality of such tools in your area before purchasing.

Troy BattleRail Alpha

The Troy TRX Extreme BattleRails have been a big success with shooters thanks to their light weight, small outside diameter, and reasonable price. The new BattleRail Alpha builds on the success of the TRX Extreme by refining the mounting system and adding new features.

The BattleRail Alpha is a free float hand guard for the AR-15 family of rifles. Like its predecessor, it is light in weight and has a very slim outside diameter. This smaller outside diameter allows the support hand to wrap around the rail more effectively which increases grip and control.

The BattleRail Alpha features a new mounting system that attaches via the standard AR-15 barrel nut. There were occasional problems with over torqued/stripped screws on the TRX BattleRails, but the system has been improved to preclude that from happening on the BattleRail Alpha. The most obvious addition is the built in spring loaded front sight. This will be a useful addition for some users, but it may interfere with some ways of mounting a weapon light.

This has all the makings of another big hit from Troy Industries.

PWS Precision Rifle Compensator (PRC)

PWS continues to turn out muzzle devices for a wide variety of applications. The new Precision Rifle Compensator (PRC) is purpose built  to reduce felt recoil on precision rifles. There are many compensators on the market that can do the same thing, but the PRC is designed for rifles used for more serious tasks than hunting and competition (though it would work just fine in those roles too).

Like other compensators, the PRC reduces muzzle flip which allows the shooter to maintain their sight picture throughout and after the shot. Seeing your shots go down range and seeing the effect of your shot is obviously better than not seeing it. This can be vital to a shooter’s situational awareness. Unlike other compensators, the PRC is designed to reduce the shooter’s ground signature by directing the blast in a such a way that the amount of dust and debris kicked up around the muzzle is minimized. Ground signature reduction is an important part of remaining unseen.

The PRC helps the shooter see more of the target while being seen less by the target.

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