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ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge

I recently mentioned the accessory scales that are available for the Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 from Hinderer Knives. Well, now ZT 0551 owners have another option –  ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge.

These scales are made by Hinderer Knives exclusively for Monkey Edge. They feature the “Frag Pattern” which is used with permission from the noted 1911 and AR-15 smith, Ned Christiansen. Ned uses this pattern as a checkering alternative on his custom 1911s.

You can check out these and other Frag Pattern scales at Monkey Edge.

Spike’s Tactical Melonite Gas Tube

Now here is an interesting product. Spike’s Tactical is offering a Melonite treated gas tube. My initial thought was, “Why?”

It would reduce any potential reflection from the gas tube which are typically fairly shiny but that is easy to fix with Krylon. It would also improve the resistance to heat but that is difficult to quantify and I have never melted a gas tube. However, where this product really comes into its own is corrosion resistance.

I have seen gas tubes pick up some mild corrosion even though they are made from very corrosion resistant stainless steel. I shudder to think of what the corrosive ammo used in a 5.45×39 or 7.62×39 conversion upper might do to a gas tube. These Melonite treated gas tubes only cost $2-3 more than a typical gas tube and might just be cheap insurance if you are running corrosive ammo.

In the end, as with anything, it is up to you to decide if it is worth using. Check them out on the Spike’s Tactical webpage.

Scrap Yard Knife Company 511

The newest knife design from Scrap Yard Knife Company, the 511, is available now. It continues Scrap Yard’s tradition of offering a very functional hard use knife for a very reasonable price.

The 5.11 features Scrap Yard’s excellent Resiprene C handle. I have three knives with this handle and find it to be very comfortable and easy to use. It also sports a 5.5″ blade that is ground from 3/16″ thick SR-101. SR-101 is a very tough carbon steel that holds an edge reasonably well while still being very easy to sharpen. The blade size, coupled with SR-101, make this knife a great choice for general camp chores.

As usual with Scrap Yard knives, they are only around for a limited time before they are gone forever (or at least a long time), so act fast. You can get yours on the Scrap Yard Knives wesbite.

Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay

Council Tool has released the second axe in their premium Velvicut line which I mentioned previously here. The newest addition is a true classic – the Hudson Bay Axe.

The Hudson Bay axe is one of the all time great pack axe patterns. This axe would be at home tucked away in a canoe or lashed to the side of your favorite pack. It has some truly premium features like a 24″ American Hickory handle, a forged 5160 head that has been hardened to 50-54 Rockwell, and leather sheath. The head is even hung in the traditional way – a soft wood wedge with a metal cross wedge.

The most important thing to consider about the Velvicut axes might be that they are made here in the USA. The US axe market is in shambles. Many once great axe and tool manufacturers have been out of business for years. Those of us who wanted premium axes have had to buy used axes to refurbish or buy an imported axe. The Velvicut line represents the return of the premium American axe.

Check out the Velvicut line on the Council Tool website.

Review: Arc’teryx Baller Ass Cap

I consider a hat with a brim an almost mandatory safety item when on the range. It keeps sun and hot brass off your face and out of your eyes. Ballcaps are the most common type of hat you see on a range due to their proliferation in our everyday lives and because they work. However, since I was a young man playing soccer and even now, my body temperature tends to run fairly hot which makes some hats nearly unbearable to wear in the warmer months. When I set out to find a better ballcap my search lead me to Arc’teryx and the Baller Ass Cap (BAC).

The mesh construction is what drew me immediately to the BAC. 4 of the 6 panels used in the construction of the hat are made from a slightly stretchy mesh material. The mesh lets the hat breath far more than a typical ballcap. The difference in how quickly this hat allows me to shed heat versus an all cotton hat is very noticeable. This hat solved a problem for me. That is what good gear does – it solves problems.

The BAC is also extremely comfortable to wear thanks to the FLEXFIT design. Most of you will likely be familiar already with FLEXFIT hats. They look like fitted ballcaps from the outside but inside they feature a comfortable elastic band that fits the hat to your head.

While the BAC is similar to some off the shelf offerings from FLEXFIT, it isn’t exactly like anything that you can buy from FLEXFIT. Arc’teryx made sure that this had some features that set it apart and made it more shooter oriented. It is available in either black or tan unlike the typical FLEXFIT hats which are more brightly colored. The BAC also lacks a button on the crown which is an important feature for those who wear ear muff style hearing protection on the range.

Finally, the BAC features a patch panel for name tapes or patches. The panel has the Arc’teryx logo embroidered into it in color that matches the hat for a very low profile look. If you dislike garish logos on your gear, you will appreciate this hat.

Arc’teryx has created a near perfect warm weather training hat with the BAC. Now that I have worn one for a while, it is hard to imagine wearing a different hat during a hot summer day on the range. Sure, its just a hat but it also an example of combining the right features to make an everyday object more functional.

You can read more about the Arc’teryx Baller Ass Cap on the Arc’teryx LEAF website. I purchased mine at Grey Group Training.

ZT 0550/0551 Scales from Hinderer Knives

The Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 knives are a smash hit due to their combination of near custom quality, extremely modern materials, and the excellent designs skills of Rick Hinderer. Now you can buy accessory scales to customize your ZT 0550 or 0551 directly from the man that designed the knife.

The Hinderer Knives ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available in several colors, including my favorites: orange and translucent green. There are even camouflage options. The scales are machined from G10 which is resistant to just about everything (chemicals, heat, breakage, etc). The XM texture that Hinder Knives uses on these scales is touted as being easy on the hands while still providing plenty of grip and, based on the XM-18s that I have handled, I believe it.

The ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available on the Hinderer Knives website.

New Low Profile Bezel from Elzetta

As if the mix-and-match options of the Elzetta ZFL-M60 lights were not already extensive enough… Elzetta has announced a great looking low profile bezel option. If you think this is just a cosmetic feature, you don’t know the folks at Elzetta.

The new low profile bezel option adds functionality to an already impressive series of lights by reducing weight, reducing bulk, and allowing the use of many common filters. The new bezel is .15″ less in outside diameter than the standard bezels. This makes the diameter of the bezel at 1.25″, a very common size for flashlights, which makes it compatible with many color or IR filters.

Oh, don’t worry, I am pretty sure it will still hurt when you smash someone’s the face with it even if it does lack crenelations.

The new low profile bezel will be available as an option for the ZFL-M60 lights on the Elzetta website.

HSGI TACO Adapters

HSGI has introduced 3 new adapters for their HSGI TACO magazine pouches. These adapters add even more versatility to what is probably already the most versatile magazine pouch on the market.

The first adapter is a belt adapter. It allows you to attach a belt loop that is adjustable for different sized belts (from 1.25″ to 2.25″).The second adapter is a paddle adapter. The paddle allows you to easily slip the TACO onto any belt without having to thread it onto a belt loop. The third adapter is an RTI adapter. The G-Code RTI system allows you to easily remove the TACO from a number of different styles of attachments – everything from MOLLE to belt loops. This system allows you to move the TACO quickly and easily from one piece of gear to the next simply by having pre-placed attachments.

These new adapters make the TACO, a pouch that works with just about any rifle mag, into a pouch that works with just about any attachment method. That is some serious versatility.

The new adapters are available from HSGI.

New and Improved GBi from NukoTools

You may remember that several months ago I did a review of the NukoTools GBi. That version of the GBi is made from durable G-10 material. Now there is a new version of the GBi that is made from titanium and as you well know, everything is instantly cooler when made from Ti.

I found the G-10 version to be very durable but I suspect that this new Ti versions will be even more durable. Ti is also extremely light weight and non-ferrous and non-magnetic, so all of the properties that made the original GBi such an attractive last ditch defensive tool are still intact.

Each GBi has a hand applied brushed finish and heat colored. This makes each one unique. You can think of them as art that will chew the skin off of your face.

The new GBi is available at the NukoTools website.

Chicom Chest Rig from 762Tactical

Simple, functional, low profile, effective, rugged, inexpensive… These are all words that can be used to describe the original Chinese Type 56 Chest Rig. The Type 56 chest rig and its variants are sometimes just called Chicom chest rigs. The venerable Chicom chest rigs are so well liked, that you occasionally see present day pictures of members of the Special Forces community wearing them for use as a simple lightweight chest rig. While the Type 56 is very functional, it is not very modern. It uses buttons to close the magazine flaps, heavy canvas material that retains moisture, and the straps must be tied around the wearer.

Now there is a custom gear maker that is making a name for himself by creating modernized versions of the Type 56 chest rig. The maker is 762Tactical and the chest rig is the Chicom Chest Rig. Just like the original, the 762Tactical Chicom Chest Rig is simple, functional, low profile, effective, rugged, inexpensive. Let’s take a closer look.

The Chicom Chest Rig's pedigree is clear the moment you look at it.

More Modern, More Functional

When you look at the trapezoid shape and criss-cross straps of the Chicom Chest Rig it is immediately clear that it pays homage to the Type 56. However, when you take a closer look, there is little doubt that this is a thoroughly modern chest rig.

The user no longer needs to tie a thin strap behind their back. Now they can simple use the durable National Molding side release buckle (SRB) to quickly put on or take off the chest rig.

The heavy canvas material of the original has been replaced with 1000D Cordura nylon which makes the rig more durable and more water resistant. It is also available in an assortment of modern colors. The rig that I have been testing features the Multicam pattern.

Slow toggle buttons have been replaced with hook and loop on the magazine pouch flaps. The flaps are also completely adjustable for magazine height. These flaps make the magazines much easier to access quickly and provides great protection from the elements.

The original Type 56 chest rigs had 3 magazine pouches and 4 small pouches for things like grenades. The Chicom Chest Rig from 762Tactical replaces the small pouches with something far more versatile – MOLLE webbing. It can be used to add a pistol magazine pouch, an admin pouch, or a blow out kit. If it is MOLLE compatible, you can add it.

The shoulder straps are made from a double thickness of 1.5″ wide webbing. This help distribute the load far better than the straps on the original Type 56.

Mags from left to right: 20 round AK, 30 round AK, 30 round AR

The same magazines as above but with the flaps secured.

The magazine pouches on the original Type 56 chest rigs were very deep. This made them difficult or impossible to use with just about any magazine other than 30 round AK magazines. The magazine pouches on the Chicom Chest Rig are sized in a far more versatile way. The pouches on my example (a 3 mag version) were useful for 20 and 30 round AK mags and 30 AR-15 magazines. In fact, the Chicom Chest Rig makes a great chest rig for use with an AR as well as an AK. It is very versatile.

There are other touches that let you know that you are dealing with a well made chest rig. For instance, the fabric on the lip of the magazine pouches is folded out and sewn down. This is a must for an AK rig that is often overlooked. If the fabric is folded into the pouch it creates a snag point for the locking tabs on AK mags. You will also find appropriate reinforcement of straps and stress points everywhere you look on the Chicom Chest Rig. Many of the rows of stitching have been gone over as many as 4 times to ensure that they never come loose.

In Use

I ran drills with this chest rig with both an AK and an AR. It performed admirably for both weapon types.

I found the pull tabs on the magazine pouch flaps to be large and easy to grab even with gloved hands. The pouches are generously sized, so inserting and removing magazines is easy.

The hook and loop that secures the flaps is also generously sized which makes it easy to angle the flaps to more tightly secure 30 round AK magazines. This also allows plenty of room to adjust the flap up and down to adjust for different magazine lengths.

Many people prefer open top pouches on their chest rigs but I really don’t mind flaps. Open top designs are faster, but I use my chest rig as a support item to my belt. I train to go to the belt for my reloads and my two fastest reloads are there in HSGI Taco pouches. I use the chest rig to keep my belt topped off and reload the rifle only when necessary so any small amount of extra time that a flap might add is not a big deal. In fact, it can be a plus with an AK since the flaps allow you to consider running your AK magazines with the bullets oriented up. This makes removing the AK magazines much easier and positions it better in your hand for insertion into the magwell.

The harness is wide enough to carry this chest rig’s light load very well. You really just can’t overload this rig and the harness is more than sufficient. It works very well.

The Chicom Chest Rig is very low profile and rides very close to the body.

I haven’t added any pouches to my Chicom Chest Rig (at least for now). I have really come to appreciate just how trim and light it is without any additional pouches. It is really only marginally thicker than the magazines themselves. The whole rig rides very close to your chest and is quite compact.

The trapezoidal shape puts a minimum of fabric around your body and makes the rig feel more compact than typical rectangular chest rigs. The shape also positions the waist strap midway up the chest rig rather than at the bottom as with most other rigs. I think this plays a role in how close to the body the magazines seem to ride. The higher waist strap doesn’t allow them to lean forward and away from your chest. It is a small but noticeable and welcomed difference.

Price

I typically do not comment about price on this blog. I prefer to let you, the reader, determine what something is worth to you. I am going to break that rule here because price is part of the point of this rig. It is based on the very inexpensive chest rig (the Type 56) and it is very inexpensive itself – prices start at 44.99 which is a steal for a handmade rig of this quality. It may lack a few complexities that can be nice to have, like an internal type storage pouch or more side release buckles on the straps, but in the end these are NICE to haves, not NEED to haves for me. Again, the price is a steal for a rig made from these materials, with this quality, and this well thought out design.

Remember, 762Tactical is a custom shop. They can make modifications to this rig to your specs if it missing something that you just have to have. It may add to the cost though.

Conclusion

The 3 magazine version of the Chicom Chest Rig is a thoroughly modernized version of an already functional design. There is also something extremely cool about a modern chest rig based on a historic design. This chest rig might be the best value on the market.

The Chicom Chest Rig comes in 2 flavors for you to check out on the newly renovated 762Tactical website – the 3 mag version like mine (and the original Type 56) and the 6 mag version.

Disclosure: This chest rig was provided to me by 762Tactical, free of charge, for this review.

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