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New Stubby Vertical Grip by Gear Sector

The new Stubby VFG (vertical fore grip) from Gear Sector is now available. It is a no-frills vertical grip that is meant to serve as a reference point, especially when used in conjunction with a hand stop.

The Stubby VFG is machined from 6061 T6 aluminum. The center of the grip has been hollowed out to save weight. The surface of the grip has several rings milled into it that can hold rubber o-rings in place if the users needs more grip. The mounting interface allows the Stubby VFG to be rocked into position rather than being slid on from the muzzle end. This makes installation easier.

Gear Sector mountable accessories are machined in such a way that they blend seamlessly with Tango Down rail covers. This provides a less interrupted, more clean, and snag-free gripping surface. This is the kind of attention to detail that I have come to expect from Gear Sector.

You can read more about the Stubby VFG and all the available colors on the Gear Sector website.

M4 Double Magazine Pouch from Zulu Nylon Gear

If you were to gather a sample of double M4 magazine pouches from a variety of makers and remove their tags, you would probably have difficulty telling them apart. If that pile of magazine pouches included the new M4 Double Magazine Pouch from Zulu Nylon Gear, there would be no mistaking it for another manufacturer’s pouch. This is a very unique, very innovative, and very functional pouch that really stands out from the crowd.

The most unique feature of the M4 Double Magazine Pouch is the flap. Most double M4 pouches have a flap that is fixed at the back and runs to the front of the pouch. The flap always falls back onto the magazines when it isn’t secured. The flap on the M4 Double Magazine Pouch is integral to the front of the pouch. It folds down out of the way and stays there. This allows the pouch to be used as an open top pouch for speedier reloads. This is one of the most imaginative and functional innovations that I have seen in a magazine pouch.

I also like that this pouch has adjustable retention via shock cord. The shock cord is not actually tied to the pouch. Instead, it is routed through webbing loops on the side of the pouch. I mention this because I have older M4 magazine pouches that have worn out elastic retention which cause a very loose fit. If the shock cord on the M4 Double Magazine Pouch ever wears out, it can be easily and inexpensively replaced by the user. Not only can it be replaced, but it also completely adjustable.

The M4 Double Magazine Pouch allows the user to easily convert from a fully covered mag pouch to a speedy open top pouch based on the specific set of circumstances faced by the user. Everyone needs options!

The M4 Double Magazine Pouch is available directly from Zulu Nylon Gear.

Tactical Watch Covers

These Tactical Watch Covers feature a very clever design. Unlike other watch covers that are integral to the band of the watch, the Tactical Watch Cover slips over the watch that is already on your wrist. It features a cutout that allows the wearer to view the face of the watch and a flap that is secured over the face of the watch with hook and loop. Since the Tactical Watch Cover is not connected to the watch, it can easily be removed and moved from one watch to another.

The design of the Tactical Watch Cover is based on watch covers used by the Israeli Military. It covers the face of the watch to eliminate the chance of someone seeing the glow from your watch in the dark or reflections off the face of your watch.

The cover is made from neoprene which is the perfect material for this application. Neoprene provides more impact protection than other bands that have covers made from webbing. It also stretches and moves freely with the wearer which makes it very comfortable. The tight fit that the stretched neoprene provides also serves to retain your watch even if a watch band pin breaks.

Even if you are a cubicle dweller who doesn’t really need to worry about the visual signature of their watch, you will appreciate how this cover protects your watch when you shooting, hiking, hunting, or any other outdoor pursuit that tends to be hard on your watch. They also happen to be extremely reasonably priced.

Members of the Usual Suspect Network can purchase the Tactical Watch Covers on the forum or the seller can be reached via email at fosters@socal.rr.com.

I have some of these inbound for a full review. Stay tuned.

ClayMORE Bag from Arclight Systems

UPDATE: Read the comments below and weigh them carefully before purchasing.

The original M18A1 Claymore Bag is renowned for its simplicity and utility. It is a versatile bag with two compartments that can be used to carry a variety of support gear. Now Arclight Systems offers an updated version of this classic called the ClayMORE Bag.

The ClayMORE bag looks much like the original M18A1 from the outside except for its updated materials and larger size. The interior hides an additional slip pocket behind the two main pockets. The bag can be carried via a fixed nylon strap.

The ClayMORE is available in standard and custom versions. The standard version has the features listed above and will be available in limited colors as a stock item for just $30. Arclight Systems intends to keep a steady stream of the standard bags in stock.

The custom version has many possible customizations like Velcro interior in any of the pockets, various sizes of elastic organization/magazine loops, additional strap options, additional material and color options, and a Velcro patch field on the flap. There are a ton of functional options that add to the base price of $30. There is a 4 to 6 week lead time on custom work.

Mike, of Arclight Systems, is quick to point out that this bag not built to be an EDC bag or a primary load carrying gear. It is built to carry ancillary items and magazines. Think of this as bag that is purpose built to replenish your primary load carrying gear.

You can find both versions of the ClayMORE on the Arclight Systems website.

UPDATE: Read the comments below and weigh them carefully before purchasing.


Ferrocerium is a metallic material that produces a shower of hot sparks when scraped. This ability to produce sparks without the need for fuel and in spite of environmental conditions is what makes ferrocerium rods (ferro rods) so popular as survival fire starters. However, even the most effective survival items are useless if you don’t have them with you when you need them. The best survival tools are not only effective but are also easy to carry daily.

The nanoSTRIKER from EXOTAC is a ferrocerium based fire starter that is both easy to carry and easy to use. It features a modular design that allows it to be carried in a smaller, self-contained collapsed form and then reassembled into a ferro rod with a full sized handle and an included scraper. The modular design is the genius of the nanoSTRIKER.

Part of the Whole

The nanoSTRIKER consists of 4 main parts: the ferro rod, the rod holder, the cover/handle, and the striker. The ferro rod is made from ferrocerium and threads into the rod holder. The rod holder and cover/handle are made from anodized 6061 aluminum. The cover/handle can be threaded into either side of the rod holder so that it can act as a cover for the ferro rod or a large handle when the nanoSTRIKER is in use. The striker can threaded into the rod holder when the nanoSTRIKER is collapsed. It sounds complicated, but it is extremely simple to assemble.

Modular Design

The modular design offers 4 main advantages. It makes the nanoSTRIKER compact enough to carry every day, large enough to use comfortably in all conditions, is user serviceable, and protects the ferro rod from environmental factors.

The benefits of being compact enough to carry every day are obvious. If something is small enough and convenient enough to carry all the time, then you will have it when you need it. The nanoSTRIKER is less than 3 1/2″ long when collapsed. It about the same diameter as a typical ball point pen. It comes with a small split ring that makes it very easy to attach to your key chain. In fact, it is very similar in size to keychain lights that take AAA batteries. The best survival tool in the world is of no use to you if it is sitting at home on a shelf when you need it. The nanoSTRIKER is compact enough to leave you without excuse for not carrying a fire starter every day.

Small tools are often a compromise. You accept a tool that is harder to use in order to have a tool that is easier to carry. Small handles are difficult to grip when your hands are cold and wet but the nanoSTRIKER, when fully assembled, has a large gripping surface. The same piece that serves as a cover when collapsed can be reinstalled on the opposite side of the rod holder as a handle. The handle is large enough to be useful in just about any condition. The bit holder also has deep groove around its circumference that is a natural pinch point for your thumb and forefinger. The nanoSTRIKER is easy to hold and easy to use.

If you were to misplace any part of the nanoSTRIKER, you could easily replace the missing part. Most ferro rods must be discarded when they are completely used. However, the nanoSTRIKER’s modular design allows the user to replace components like the ferro rod or striker very inexpensively.

Ferrocerium is a metallic material it will corrode when exposed to the elements. The rods are typically coated to protect them, but once the rod has been scraped, the exposed material is vulnerable. Over time, an unprotected ferro rod can become difficult or even impossible to use due to this corrosion. The nanoSTRIKER protects the rod from the elements by sealing it air and water tight inside the handle. The threaded junctions of the nanoSTRIKER are o-ring sealed (spare o-rings are provided). When you need it, the nanoSTRIKER will be ready.

Working Parts

The two working pieces (ferro rod and striker) of the nanoSTRIKER are just as impressive as the modular design. The ferro rod component is of very high quality. It throws an impressive volume of sparks. It is very easy to determine the quality of a ferro rod once struck. Lesser quality rods produce lower volumes of sparks. The nanoSTRIKER produces plenty of spark. I had no trouble lighting fatwood shavings, cotton balls, dried grass, and jute twine. The ferrocerium material used in this rod is of excellent quality.

The striker is one of my favorite things about the nanoSTRIKER. It features a small handle with a lanyard hole. There is a short section of para-cord included in the box that can be affixed to the lanyard hole. This is my one disappointment with the nanoSTRIKER. EXOTAC designed the rod portion so well to be large and easy to use but then provided such a small handle on the striker. This is a small issue however because the lanyard helps with grip. The part of the striker that actually does the scraping is shaped like an I-beam which gives it 4 striking surfaces. If one begins to dull, you simply rotate the tool to use one of the other surfaces. Then, when you have a chance, the striker can be sharpened so that all 4 points will be usable again. It is a very clever design.


The EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER is an example of how modular design can really improve a product. The modular design allows the same object to be both compact and full sized which is pretty amazing if you think about it. The ferrocerium material used in the rod is of excellent quality and the striker design is ingenious even though the striker’s handle is a bit small. Overall, this is an amazing tool that you are very likely to actually have with you when you need it.

Check out the different color options and the titanium version of the nanoSTRIKER on the EXOTAC website.

Thank you EXOTAC for providing the nanoSTRIKER for review.

Trijicon HD Night Sights

The new Trijicon HD Nights Sights are now available. Interestingly, they look very much like the Ameriglo I-Dot Pro and Hackathorn sights with some small differences. The Trijicon HD’s rear sight is serrated and has a true “U” notch. They are available in both orange and yellow colors.

You can find more information on the Trijicon website.


Noted handgun course instructor Todd Green has started a new internet forum called Pistol-Forum.com. The new forum is a sister site to his blog, Pistol-Training.com (which is also part of the GunUp blog network).

Shooters of all skill levels are welcome and it is free to join. The forum already boasts some well known and very knowledgeable SMEs (subject matter experts) as members so it is already well on its way to becoming anĀ  invaluable resource for those who are dedicated to honing their skill with a handgun.

You can join the discussion on Pistol-Forum.com.

New Rant Models from Benchmade

The Rant series from Benchmade is one of my favorite inexpensive fixed blade knife options. They have comfortable handles, functional sheaths, and very versatile blade shapes. Until recently, Benchmade offered the Rant with either a Drop Point or Bowie blade profile. Now they have released two new blade profiles: Tanto and Clip Point.

All 4 blade profiles are 4.48″ long, .170″ thick, and have an overall length of 9.11″. They are ground from 440C steel. My experiences with Benchmade’s 440C have all been very positive. The included MOLLE compatible sheath is very functional.

You can find more information on the Benchmade website.

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.

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