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Tag Archives | Tactical

Fight and Flight Tactical 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel

The Fight and Flight Tactical 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel has been a big hit because its ability to carry a wide variety of small items like handgun magazines in addition to displaying patches. Fight and Flight Tactical has further expanded that capability to include larger items like rifle mags with the addition of the new 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel.

The 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel’s larger size means that it can hold more and larger patches. It can also carry larger items like AR-15 magazines, flashlights, and first aid items. It lays very flat like a typical patch panel when all you need it to do is hold patches and yet it offers plenty of space for extra gear when needed.

The 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel gets its name from its 5 columns and 6 rows of MOLLE webbing. It is 5″x9″ in size and is available in Multicam (with Multicam Velcro) and Coyote brown.

Check out the 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel on FightandFlight.com.

Review: UW Gear AK Minuteman MKII Chest Rig

I am blessed to have a lot of interesting gear pass through my hands. I have been able to handle gear that I like a lot and some gear that I don’t like much at all. Sometimes, though, I am lucky enough to get my hands on gear that I immediately connect with and wonder if I may be looking at one of the next big things. That has certainly been the case with UW Gear and their Minuteman MKII Chest Rig.

AK Minuteman MKII in Pencott Badlands with 3 pouches and 2 columns of MOLLE

About UW Gear

UW Gear is a small nylon tactical gear maker that was formed to specifically to address the needs of the “Armed Citizen.” John and Diz are both shooters who have an absolute ton of gear making experience between the two of them. Many of you gear hounds out there will immediately recognize Diz and know his past work.

I have really enjoyed getting to know John, Diz, and UW Gear for one big reason: They are very transparent with the reasoning for why they make their gear the way that they do. They have always been willing to share with me why they design their gear like they do, why they choose certain materials, what they tried that didn’t work, and how they are thinking of improving. I have never really seen a more open gear maker.

Minuteman MKII Overview

The Minuteman MKII Chest Rig was UW Gear’s first official product. Their product line has grown to include other items but the Minuteman MKII is still the flagship and serves as a showcase for their innovative flap design.

It is available in several formats that can customized at the time of purchase. The main format is a 3 pouch design that holds 3 magazines but a 4 pouch design is available by request. The user can customize the width of the chest rig by specifying how many columns of MOLLE webbing they would like on either side of the magazine pouches (none, 2, and 3 columns are the standard configurations).

The construction of this chest rig is top notch. 1000 denier nylon is used throughout. There is double and triple stitching through out. Every single spot where webbing is joined to the rig utilizes a box stitch. The materials are top notch. From a pure craftsmanship standpoint, these rigs are as good as I have seen.

UW Gear designed the Minuteman MKII to be bomb proof in durability, compact, to ride comfortably without padding, to ride close to the body, be field repairable, and to offer excellent magazine retention. Those goals dictate many of the design details of the rig.

Magazine Pouches

The pouches are by far the most eye catching part of these chest rigs. If you don’t like covered magazine pouches, these might convert you. If you love covered mag pouches, these will spoil you.

Most of the magic of these pouches stems from the flap. You will not find any metal hardware or hook and loop on this rig. UW Gear purposely avoided them when they designed this rig because snaps can pull out, rust and rattle. Hook and loop is noisy and clogs with mud. Instead of the well traveled path, they designed an innovative, unique, and extremely functional flap closure that I really, really like.

Each flap has a stiffened tab on it that mates with a slot that is sewn into the pouch. The tab is simply pressed up into the slot to lock the flap closed. This can easily be done with one hand and it is extremely secure. When you need to open the pouch, you simply grab the tab and pull up and slightly away from you just like you would with a hook and loop flap. It opens quickly and easily and with no noise. This flap closure system is durable, repairable with needle and thread, completely quiet, operable with one hand, more secure than most any pouch that I have ever seen, and just down right cool.

Each flap has a stiffened tab...

Each pouch has a sewn on slot that accepts the tab.

You simply press the tab into the slot.

It's easy to close the flaps, even with one hand.

The pouches themselves are very tall. They offer nearly full coverage for the magazine (retention was chosen over speed). The webbing this sewn into the slot for the flap tab is continued all the way to the interior bottom of the pouch which gives it some structure and makes it easier to insert magazines with one hand.

UW Gear was also able to avoid the use of hardware like grommets which has many of the same problems as the snaps mentioned above by sewing drainage holes into the pouches. There is a small, reinforced gap at the base of each pouch that allows the pouches to drain quickly and shed debris. This is just another one of the innovative touches that seem to abound on this rig.

Magazine Retention Pouch

Using the “admin” pouch that can be found on the back of many chest rigs to retain a partially depleted magazine isn’t necessarily a new concept but UW Gear has taken it to a whole new level by designing their admin pouch to actually support this technique. This is another one the features that you won’t find anywhere else.

The webbing tab opens the pouch for you as you index it with the magazine.

The pouch on the back of the Minuteman MKII can be used to store what ever you want: maps, shooting gloves, a pad and pen for note taking during your carbine course – but it is designed to do a lot more than that. The pouch features a wide webbing tab that sticks up slightly above the top of the chest rig and runs all the way to the bottom of the pouch. This webbing allows you to press open the pouch with a magazine as you insert the mag. It basically acts as a target or index point to quickly lever open the pouch during a reload where you retain the partial magazine.

There is room for 2 magazines, side by side, in the magazine retention pouch.

This simple webbing addition to the pouch makes it suitable for partial magazine retention for up to 2 mags. It can be used much like a dump pouch but more efficiently since the magazines are hold in a bullets down position, ready to be grabbed and reused if needed. Gone are the days of frantically digging through a dump pouch for a magazine and hoping it comes out oriented in a way that makes it easy to insert into the magazine well. The Minuteman MKII lets you store your partial magazines in a way that makes them usable immediately.

Harness

The Minuteman MKII’s “H” harness is one of the best that I have used. It is comfortable without being padded. UW Gear purposely set out to build a comfortable harness that wouldn’t need padding so that the rig would work better with a backpack. Great care was taken to make sure that the harness and its hardware would not get in the way of shouldering your rifle.

The well designed "H" harness offers comfort without bulk.

It consists of a wide double layer of the same nylon material that the rest of the chest rig is made from, a layer of 1.5″ webbing, and then a final layer of 1″ webbing that is sewn like MOLLE webbing. The result is a harness that is wide enough and has enough structure to distribute weight very comfortably with adding a lot of bulk to your shoulders. Since the top layer of 1″ webbing is sewn on like a row of MOLLE webbing, it can be used to attach various items – possibly even a small pack that UW Gear may be introducing in the future.

I am starting to sound like a broken record but, again, I have never seen anything quite like the construction of this “H” harness and it works unbelievably well.

Observations from Use

This rig wears very well. It rides close to the body and is not overly wide. Even the 4 magazine pouch version that I have feels compact in comparison to many rigs. The harness fits like it was made for me.

Having used both, I can see why UW Gear is standardizing on the 3 pouch design versus the 4 pouch, especially with the AK rigs. AK mags are long and have a somewhat severe curve which can make them difficult to manipulate in and out of the pouches. You generally have more dexterity around your body’s center line because of how you have to bend your arms to reach the magazines. The 3 pouch design, places all 3 magazines close to your center line for easier manipulation and it keeps the weight down. Additional magazines can be carried in the magazine retention pouch if your situation dictates the need for more magazines.

Look mom, no grommets! The pouches have reinforced drainage gaps.

I like to wear my chest rigs high on my chest. This keeps my handgun and draw stroke unimpeded. It also allows the chest rig to slide up into the natural gap that is formed between your high chest and the ground when you are shooting from prone. The Minuteman MKII is designed to ride high or low depending on the wearer’s preference. To support a nice high ride, the top corners of the rig are angled to allow the body of the rig to ride higher without digging into your underarms. This is just another example of UW Gear’s cleverness.

All that adjustability usually leads to a ton of unsecured straps flapping in the breeze, but that isn’t the case with the Minuteman MKII. All of the excess straps are secured with elastic keepers or pinned between your body and the rig. There are zero unsecured straps to flap around.

The flap system is very, very cool and very, very functional. It works. It retains the magazines tenaciously and clears out of the way quickly. You really can’t ask any more from a mag pouch flap. The potential down side here is that these flaps might not handle anything that adds length to the magazine like Magpul Ranger Plates. They also aren’t going to lend themselves to a double magazine pouch which is fine for me since these were designed from the start as single mag pouches and I prefer single mag pouches.

This rig is definitely different from a lot of what is out on the market right now. The magazine pouches are the complete opposite of the low cut open top pouches that are the norm these days. There is no denying that they are not as fast as an open top pouch but they are far more secure. There is always a trade off, and when you need security, nothing but a covered mag pouch will do. These are the best covered mag pouches that I have used.

The admin/magazine retention pouch works well. It is definitely an improvement over a dump pouch in terms of how it keeps the magazine ready to be used again but it does feel slower than a dump pouch. This may not be an issue since a reload with retention is typically only done when you have time. I think the pouch might benefit from a little bit of bellowing at the bottom to allow just a bit more space so the mages aren’t pushed up by the tightness of the pouch.

I have found that this rig works perfectly with the way I use my gear. My primary way of carrying magazines is my belt. The belt is a comfortable place to carry a small load of magazines and it is a very fast place to reload from. My emergency reloads come from my belt. Admin loads and top offs (“tactical” reloads) come from the chest rig. This basically means that I reload my rifle from my belt and reload my belt from my chest rig (see my post on magazine management). It is nice to have a chest rig that offers the security I want since I don’t necessarily need extreme speed from it but that is efficient enough to emergency reload from if I need to.

AK Minuteman MKII in Pencott Greenzone with 4 pouches and 3 columns of MOLLE

Conclusion

The AK Minuteman MKII is a bomb proof chest rig that is dripping with unique features and unique functionality. It is comfortable, low profile, and well suited to any shooter but especially for the armed citizen. It works perfectly for me and the way I use my gear. I think it will probably work for you, too.

The Minuteman MKII is available for the AK-47, AK-74, and AR-15 on the UW Gear website. You will also want to check out the UW Gear Facebook page and their forum where you can interact directly with John and Diz and read more about the philosophy behind their products.

Disclosure: One of the two chest rigs shown was given to me free of charge for review. The other was purchased by me.

Review: Retro-Tactical Rimfire Pouches

Tony at Retro-Tactical has made it his mission to provide tactical gear for the weapons that the majority of the tactical gear makers have forgotten, ignored, or never even heard of. I first came across his work when I was looking for a MOLLE mountable 10/22 magazine pouch. He makes some really interesting items for everything from 1911s, to PSLs, to revolvers… that’s right, tactical gear for revolvers. When Tony offered to send me some pouches to review, I jumped at the chance.

Loose Ammo (top) and 10/22 Magazine Pouch (bottom)

10/22 Universal Gunsaddle

Overall Quality

The quality of these pouches is immediately apparent. The stitching is straight and clean. Many of the edges and seams are taped (though not all of them). The materials that Tony uses are top notch. The pouches are constructed from double layered 1000 denier nylon. It should take you a lifetime to wear a hole all the way through one of these pouches.

Attention to detail - The loose ammo pouch has a smaller drainage grommet to prevent .22LR cartridges from dropping out.

The attention to detail is very good. Tony uses two layers of nylon in the construction of the pouch and sews them so that the stitching from the hook and loop closure won’t show through to the front of the pouch. This gives a very clean look. This is the kind of detail that most users will never notice, but Tony took the time to think about.

The hook and loop closure on these pouches is very well designed. The hook side is oriented vertically on the underside of the lid and the loop side is horizontal on the front of the pouch. This allows the lid to be fastened as tight or loose as the user wants. The design and execution of these pouches is very thoughtful.

This hook and loop orientation allows the user to keep the lid as tight or loose as they want.

Loose Ammo Pouch

The first pouch that I tried was the MOLLE version of the Loose Ammo Pouch (there is a belt version as well). This is one clever pouch. It is designed to hold loose ammo in a way that is secure and easy to access. As you can imagine, designing a pouch that holds loose rounds as small as .22LR without spilling the while the user is moving takes some time at the drawing board. Tony designed this pouch with a flap of lightweight ripstop nylon that is secured at the front of the pouch (the side away from the wearer). The other side is secured with a piece of elastic. The flap completely covers the mouth of the pouch but is easily pushed to the side as you access the ammo. It is ingenious.

The interior flap helps keep the loose ammo inside the pouch, even when the flap is open.

The flap is easily stretched out of the way to access the ammo.

I tested this pouch several ways. I loaded it with 50 rounds of .22LR ammo, turned it upside down and shook it. It did drop some rounds but that was to be expected. Next, I conducted the same test but with the pouch right side up. The pouch retained all 50 rounds. This is more accurate test of what it will be like when worn. I also did the same tests but with the flap secured tightly. Nothing escaped. Finally, I secured the pouch to an out of the way spot on my MOLLE belt rig and ran through carbine drills on the range. I didn’t access the pouch for the drills. I just wanted to see how it would perform while the user was running, dropping into prone, and doing other shooting related activities. At the end of the day, all 50 rounds were still in the pouch.

The pouches can be closed very tightly to prevent any ammo from being lost.

This pouch is perfect for those who have tube fed rifles chambered in .22LR. It could be attached to the MOLLE belt pad of a pack (like those from Mystery Ranch or Kifaru) or a belt to keep your ammo right at your finger tips when you are small game hunting or hiking. It can even hold boxed .22LR ammo. I found that it would fit 2 boxes of .22LR with room to spare.

I’ll say it again: This is one clever pouch.

Ruger 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch

The next pouch that I tried was what Tony calls the Ruger 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch. I had the MOLLE version to test (there is also a belt version). It is essentially a revolver speed-loader pouch which I have found to work very well for the 10/22 10 round rotary magazines. I have been using a belt mounted speed-loader pouch for years to carry my 10/22 magazines so I was very pleased to find that Tony offered a MOLLE mount version.

The webbing straps help retain the magazines when the lid is open and keep them from noisily banging into each other.

Magazines oriented this way make for quick and easy reloads.

The interior of the pouch has webbing straps (just like a speed-loader pouch) that help retain and stabilize the magazines. They work well to stabilize the magazines but they can be a bit of a pain when you are trying to insert a magazine into the pouch. They tend to smash down under the magazine instead of wrapping around it. However, once the mags are in place, the straps do a fine job of retaining them. I also found that it become easier over time to insert the magazines. I am not sure whether that was because the straps loosened a bit with use or because I got better at inserting them.

It might also be nice if this had a split lid so that one magazine could be removed without fear of accidentally dumping the other magazine. That didn’t happen to me in testing but I could see how it might.

This pouch is great for mounting on the MOLLE belt of my favorite packs – the Kifaru MOLLE Express and the ZXR. It allows me to easily carry a couple of spare magazines for my 10/22 when small game hunting or hiking. The pouch allows very smooth reloads. The user clears the flap and presses up on the bottom of the pouch under the magazine that they wish to remove. The magazine slides up into the hand is ready to be inserted into the 10/22. It is quick and smooth. I envisioned this pouch on the waist belt of a pack all along and I am very pleased with how it worked out.

The rear of the pouch shows the 2x2 MOLLE webbing configuration.

Attaching the MOLLE Pouches

I should say a few words about attaching these pouches to MOLLE webbing. MOLLE pouches are threaded onto the MOLLE platform and typically this requires at least 3 rows of webbing vertically on the back of the pouch to do effectively. The above pouches are so compact that there is only room for 2 rows vertically.

I found 3 methods that worked very well for attaching them. The first was to use zip ties which actually worked really well. Tony has written about this on his blog.

The pouches can be tricky to mount. Annex Clips were used to mount the pouch on the left and MALICE clips on the right.

Annex Clips are the perfect solution for mounting these pouches.

The next method that I tried was the use of short MALICE clips. This worked but quite a bit of the clips were visible below the pouch. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it did render an extra row of MOLLE webbing useless.

Finally, I remembered that I had some ITW Annex Clips. These were the perfect solution for the short pouches. I attached them to the lower row of MOLLE to prevent the pouch from rocking up when I tried to lift the flap. They hold very securely while still allowing the pouch to be moved easily.

Universal Gunsaddle

The final pouch is easily my favorite of what Tony sent me (and that is saying a lot). Retro-Tactical makes the Universal Gunsaddle for several rifles, including the 10/22 version which Tony sent me. This pouch is just too cool. It is essentially the same pouch as the 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch above except it is sewn to buttstock saddle. It allows you to carry 2 spare magazine for the 10/22, unobtrusively, right on the buttstock of the rifle.

The Universal Gunsaddle lets you keep 2 spare magazines on the 10/22 itself.

Like the 10/22 Dual Magazine Pouch above, I believe that the Universal Gunsaddle could also benefit from a split lid. However, in my testing, it worked fine as is.

Attaching it is simple. You just loosen the cord-lock, slide the whole Universal Gunsaddle onto your rifle, and then tighten the cord-lock (more detailed instructions can be found on the Retro-Tactical Blog). There are webbing loops on the saddle portion of the pouch that has para-cord routed through them. This creates the “Universal” part of the pouch because it can be readily adapted to fit a wide variety of stocks. I tested it on a factory birch stock, the old style factory polymer stock, the new style factory polymer stock, and a Hogue stock.

The saddle part of the pouch is only as thick as 2 layers of 1000 denier nylon so it doesn’t interfere with the cheek weld at all. In fact, it is an improvement over the Hogue stock which can feel a bit slimy on a hot day. It would be cool if Tony could offer these with closed cell foam padding in the saddle to act as a comb riser for those who need it. Since Tony does do custom work, I suspect that he could easily accommodate that.

This Gunsaddle is just so handy. You can carry all of the ammo you need for an afternoon of small game hunting right on the gun. If you keep a 10/22 as a truck gun or a survival rifle, this pouch would be perfect for storing the ammo in such a way that it was always with the gun.

Overall

I am very happy with these pouches. The materials are top notch and the construction is very good. The designs and attention to detail are excellent. They function well and fill a void in my gear. Tony has shown that he definitely knows how to fill a niche. I had an absolute blast reviewing these pouches.

You can check out Tony’s whole niche filling product line at Retro-Tactical.com.

Disclosure: I received these pouches free of charge for review from Retro-Tactical.

Impact Weapon Components OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot

This will be the first of two posts about some of the newest Mount-N-Slots from Impact Weapon Components – the OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot and the Weapon Control Mount-N-Slot. Today, I’ll be writing about the OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot.

The Mount-N-Slot experience starts with the innovative packaging. The OCP is on the right.

Fit and Finish

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot is as well finished as every other Mount-N-Slot that has passed through my hands. The machining is flawless, even on the back of the mount where no one will see it. The hard anodized finished is evenly applied and looks great. You won’t find a sharp edge anywhere because great care has been taken to radius the corners. The quality shows when you look at the details.

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot is angled to increase functionality.

Similar

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot looks and feels like an evolution of the Snap Hook Mount-N-Slot. Both mounts work very well with HK style snap hooks and, my preference, the ITW Mash Hook. So, while they are somewhat similar, they each have some unique features.

But Different

First, the OCP mounts differently. It mounts via single screw and threaded plate while the Snap Hook Mount-N-Slot uses two screws. The OCP also has two tabs that fit tightly into the slot to prevent it from rotating.

Second, the OCP is angled so that it is higher on the loop side and lower on the non loop side. This angle is what makes the OCP unique. The angle presents the loop in such a way that makes it easier to attach the sling. This works well with slings like the Magpul MS2 and the Emdom Gunslinger that offer the ability to quickly transition from single point to two point configuration. The OCP helps you leverage all of that functionality as efficiently as possible. The angle also makes the front of the mount more snag-free.

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot works perfectly with the excellent ITW Mash Hooks.

How to Choose

So how do you decide between the Snap Hook Mount-N-Slot or the OCP Mount-N-Slot? It basically comes down to mounting options. The Snap Hook Mount-N-Slot can be oriented so that the loop faces in up, down, forward, and back. The OCP can only be mounted so that it faces forward or back. So, if you need more mounting options the Snap Hook Mount-N-Slot is for you. If you need the lowest profile option, you need the OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot.

Conclusion

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot is a very slick addition to the Mount-N-Slot line. It is snag-free, efficient, and it just works. Who would have thought that the addition of a simple angle could make such a difference. mnn

The OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot is available for the Magpul MOE Hand Guards, Bushmaster ACR, and slotted free float tubes with an outside diameter of 1.75″ or 2.00″.

I would like to thank Impact Weapon Components for providing the OCP Sling Mount-N-Slot for review.

Remember to use the coupon code “triggerjerk” at checkout to receive 5% discount at IWC.

The back of the OCP has two tabs that fit tightly into the slot and prevents the OCP from spinning. The OCP is on the left.

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Review: Stark Equipment SE-1 AR-15 Pistol Grip

A friend recently gave me a Stark Equipment SE-1 to try out. I have to admit that I started this review a little biased against the SE-1. Many people object to the SE-1’s unconventional looks but that wasn’t my issue. I didn’t think that I would like the way the grip forces the hand lower since I generally tend to grip my ARs very high. Now, having spent some quality time with the SE-1, I can say that my concerns were unfounded. This is an excellent grip and it may even solve some problems for some users.

The SE-1 offers some very unique features among AR-15 pistol grips. Click any image to enlarge.

 

Function Trumps Form

The Stark Equipment grips certainly don’t look like anything else that is on the market right now. The design is different enough to elicit a lot of negativity on the online forums. Thankfully, there are people like you, who are willing to give something a try before they completely disregard it. Once you see the SE-1 in person and actually try it, you will see that it is all about function and ergonomics. This grip works.

The SE-1 is more vertical than most AR-15 grips which tend to rake backwards. This may be the single best feature of the SE-1. Think of how you hold a carbine. Generally the strong side (weapon side) hand is on the pistol grip and the elbow is tucked down close to the body. This requires that the wrist to be bent forward at a relatively extreme angle in order to hold the grip. Reducing the angle of the grip allows the wrist to be held in a straighter, locked position.

The SE-1 also forces the hand into a lower position. You can not ride your hand up as high behind the grip as you typically can with other grips. The conventional wisdom is that a higher grip helps control the weapon. The SE-1’s lower grip brings the trigger finger straight behind the trigger which should help your trigger pull mechanics feel a bit more natural. On some grips, I tend to grip so high that I am actually pulling the trigger back and up. This is not the case with the SE-1. It positions the trigger finger so well, that this would make a great choice for an AR geared toward precision shooting. I also find that the lower position helps to further straighten the wrist because it reduces the angle at the elbow.

The straighter angle and lower position of the SE-1 may actually help alleviate the wrist pain that some shooters experience while shooting. It certainly seemed to fatigue the wrist less than some of my other grips.

The grip also features some very nice contours. It reminds me a lot of the old “Coke Bottle” grips on S&W revolvers. It is narrower at the top and bottom, with a nice palm “swell” in the middle. This palm swell area has a very nice medium texture that provides plenty of purchase without being abrasive. The texture is positioned in a place where it will make maximum contact with the part of your hand that is on the grip at all times. The areas under your trigger finger, which doesn’t provide grip, are left without any aggressive texture. There is also a subtle thumb shelf that promotes consistent thumb placement. This grip was made to fit the human hand.

The SE-1 features an integral trigger guard that replaces the flat trigger guard that most ARs use. Like other products on the market, the SE-1’s trigger guard provides some extra room for gloved users and covers the irritating gap behind the trigger guard. However, unlike any other trigger guard that I have seen, the SE-1 completely covers the “ears” that hold the trigger guard roll pin. This makes much more surface area for contact with the middle finger than any other product that I have used. It is very comfortable.

It only takes a minute with the SE-1 to see that the designers were more concerned with making something that worked well with the human body than they were concerned about making something that looks cool. I haven’t really seen a decline in control from the lower grip, so perhaps the straighter, locked wrist position that the SE-1 affords, offsets any perceived difference in control.

The SE-1 completely covers the "ears" that holds the trigger guard roll pin in place.

 

Fit, Finish, and Other Features

The SE-1 certainly seems to be well made. It is made from polymer that has a very slight pebble texture to it which makes for an attractive and functional finish. The injection molding lines are clean, even, and do not abrade the hand. It certainly seems on par with other quality plastic products on the market.

There is threaded metal insert that accepts a small screw to secure the front of the trigger guard. Most other grips and trigger guard products use a metal screw that threads directly into the plastic so a metal insert is a welcome addition.

Extra items, like CR123 batteries or a spare bolt, can be stored in the grip using the provided rubber plug. The plug is very secure when empty and, once items are placed in it, it becomes even more secure. The items stretch and expand the rubber plug which makes it an even tighter fit in the grip. I have a hard time imagining how you could lose this plug.

There is also an SE-2 version of this grip that features a sling mount on the upper back extension. This positions the sling exactly where I prefer it – the rear of the receiver.

The SE-1 features a rubber insert that can hold a spare bolt or batteries.

 

Conclusion

Is the SE-1 strange looking to some people? Yes. Are looks the most important thing when you are choosing what to use on a tool that might save your life? Not even close.

If you are someone who will gladly exchange function for form, you know, because you actually shoot your carbines. Then you may want to give the Stark Industries SE-1 a try. This grip is has a lot of unique features that really make a lot of sense. I am very impressed with this grip.

You can read more about the SE-1 on the Stark Equipment website.

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Mountain Ridge Gear Redesigns Their Tactical Messenger Bag… Again!

Last week I mentioned the newly redesigned Tactical Messenger Bag from Mountain Ridge Gear. Well, Mountain Ridge Gear wasted no time in refining the design once again.

The newest version features two huge improvements. First, there is some additional MOLLE webbing on the front of the bag, under the the flap. Second, the rear pocket that is closest to the wearer now has Velcro loop material for use with holsters and other hook backed accessories. Of course, the same overbuilt craftsmanship and functional organization that you have come to expect from Mountain Ridge Gear is still intact.

Check out the newly redesigned Tactical Messenger Bag while it is on sale!

 

MOLLE webbing has been added to the front of the bag.

Hook and loop material has been added to the rear compartment.

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Mountain Ridge Gear Redesigns Their Tactical Messenger Bag

Mountain Ridge Gear, maker of top quality nylon gear like the previously reviewed Tactical Man Purse, just introduced an updated version of their Tactical Messenger Bag. This bag looks much like any other messenger bag on the outside but offers bullet proof construction and some very well versatile organization. Like all other Mountain Ridge Gear bags, they are made right here in the USA by a real craftsman. The price will surprise you (in a good way) for a bag of this quality.

Check out the Mountain Ridge Gear website for more pictures, information, and pricing.

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Review: Multitasker TUBE

It isn’t always practical to carry a fully stocked tool box to the range and it is almost never practical to carry one into the field. However, if you have been shooting very long, you have probably run into a problem on the firing line that makes you wish you had a tool box with you. In that moment, when your carbine seems to be coming apart in your hands, you can either put it up for the day or you can reach for your Multitasker Tool.

Multitasker Tools offers multi-functional tools that are specifically designed with AR-15 shooters in mind. I first became aware of them a couple of years ago when they started offering a multi-tool (the type that folds open into needle nose pliers) that was specifically designed to service the AR-15. It was the first of its kind to my knowledge and it made some serious waves on AR-15 related forums. Since that time Multitasker Tools has continued to innovate and improve their compact, portable, and multi-functional tools, which brings us to the subject of this review – The Multitasker TUBE.

The Multitasker TUBE's pen-like form factor makes it easy to carry. Click to enlarge.

The Multitasker TUBE is a modular, expandable, and functional AR-15 tool set that, when fully assembled, is little bigger than a Sharpie Marker. Even if you add the optional Expansion Pack (and you should) it is still only about as big as two double stack pistol magazines. You may not be able to carry a complete tool box, but you can always find room for the Multitasker TUBE.

In this review, I will be looking at the Multitasker TUBE and the Expansion Pack as a total package. The TUBE is a pen shaped tool that can be unscrewed into three main pieces and provides a ton of functionality on its own. The Expansion Pack is a specially designed carrying case, a set of ¼” screwdriver bits, and a holder for the bits. When you combine the TUBE and Expansion Pack you end up with a very functional and compact tool kit.

Construction, Fit, and Finish

The TUBE is CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. It consists of three main sections that are threaded together. The threads operate smoothly and feature an o-ring at each junction to seal out moisture. The finish is hard anodized matte black which very attractive and very durable (a flat dark earth finish is also available). There are also scallops around the center section of the TUBE that improve grip enough to make gloved use possible.

Often, on poorly made aluminum items, the threads will be gritty or undersized and the finish will be thin in spots, especially on the corners. The Multitasker TUBE exhibits none of these flaws. Instead, the TUBE shows excellent quality and attention to detail. For instance, the pocket clip is not just attached with a screw, there is actually a shallow recess that the clip sits in. This allows the body of the TUBE to absorb some of the stress that light prying would otherwise put completely on the screw.

The construction and quality remind me of a high end flashlight. It is so solid that it would probably make a very decent kubotan in a pinch.

Functions

The MULTITASKER Tube has many functions. Some are obvious. Some are improvised. All are invaluable.

Removing the shorter cap of the TUBE reveals a ¼” magnetic bit holder. This bit holder can hold the well designed front sight tool that is included with the TUBE or any other ¼” bit. The front sight tool can be a finger saver on a cold day. It works perfectly.

The standard 1/4" bit holder makes the TUBE customizable to the user's needs. Click to enlarge.

The included front sight tool works great and definitely beats mangling the tip of a bullet. Click to enlarge.

The Expansion Pack contains a selection of bits that are well suited to a variety of tasks like tightening a scope ring or zeroing an optic. The beauty of this standard sized bit holder is that you can add any ¼” bit that you need. These bits are readily available at hardware stores and firearm oriented bits can be purchased from Brownells. I have several Glock related bits from Brownells that work perfectly with the TUBE.

The cap features a “bump” at the top that functions as a take down pin starter. It allows you to push out a stubborn take down pin far enough to get your fingers on the pin’s domed head or use the pocket clip on the cap to lightly pry under the domed head.

Even the TUBE's cap has multiple uses! Click to enlarge.

The pocket clip, which is made from tough spring steel, also makes an excellent flat head screw driver. It is well sized for adjusting Aimpoints or the older ACOGs with slotted turrets. I found that the clip is tough enough to be used to retract the bolt through the ejection port which is the only way to clear a malfunction where the spent brass finds its way between the bolt and the charging handle. Many trainers suggest keeping a fixed blade knife on your gear to accomplish the task of retracting the bolt so using the pocket clip of the TUBE  can be an attractive, safer option. This is just one of those improvised uses that you will find when you spend some time using the TUBE.

Removing the longer cap of the TUBE reveals a threaded post. This post can be used to attach the included scraper, the included cleaning pick, or the cable from an OTIS cleaning kit (not included).

The TUBE's round scraper tool is very effective at scraping variety of spots on the bolt carrier group. Click to enlarge.

The pick is perfectly shaped for cleaning around the bolt lugs or hooking the firing pin retaining pin. Click to enlarge.

Many scrapers have a flat edge which isn’t really a good choice for the many curved surfaces of the AR-15 bolt and carrier. The TUBE’s scraper is rounded to work with the specific contours and crevices that you have to deal with while cleaning an AR-15 bolt carrier group. I don’t scrape the carbon off my bolt group very often but when I do, it is nice to have a tool that makes it easier. If there is a corner that you can’t clean with the scraper, you can certainly get at it with the pick. The pick’s point is oriented at 90 degrees to the shaft, not a hook like some picks. This makes it much easier to use (especially when you are trying to remove the firing pin retaining cotter pin from your bolt carrier).

The Expansion Pack includes an excellent carrying case, assortment of bits, and bit holder. Click to enlarge.

The Expansion Pack is a very nice addition to the TUBE. The carrying case is made of a semi rigid ballistic nylon type fabric. It is very similar to the Oakley Soft Vaults. There is a single zipper that allows the case open completely and lay flat. Once open, you will find several elastic loops on one side of the case. The largest loop is for the TUBE and the others are for other smaller parts like the pick or OTIS cleaning parts. The opposite side of the case features some mesh dividers. The small mesh slot pocket is perfect for holding the included bits and bit holder. There is a large space behind the mesh that is secured with a hook and loop closure. This space is perfect for storing the OTIS cleaning cable or a multi-tool, like a Multitasker Tool. There is more than enough space in the kit to add several useful items like an extension for the bit driver, a wrench for your LaRue mount, or a small flashlight. The carrying case is versatile enough that it is almost a tool unto itself.

The case neatly organizes the TUBE and its accessories. Click to enlarge.

There is also plenty of space for additional tools. Click to enlarge.

Carrying the TUBE

The TUBE’s biggest strength is its compact size and very light weight. The pocket clip and carrying case make the potential carry methods nearly endless. I found that the entire kit fits nicely into just about any MOLLE utility/admin pouch and it can be used to organize the type of things that you likely already carry in a utility/admin pouch (weapon lube, a light, multitool, etc). If you need to go even lighter than that, you can clip the TUBE into your pocket or a column of MOLLE webbing. The clip provides a very secure hold on the webbing. This is especially handy for those times that you need the TUBE at arms reach like when you are zeroing a new optic.

A tool with all the functions in the world are of no use if you won’t carry it. The TUBE is easy to carry, doesn’t take up much space, and won’t weigh you down.

The TUBE clips securely into a MOLLE column. Click to enlarge.

The carrying case fits the utility pouches of the excellent ATS Low Profile Chest Harness with loads room to spare. Click to enlarge.

Conclusion

The Multitasker TUBE is a worthy addition to any AR-15 shooter’s tool kit. Its extreme versatility and functionality along with it’s compact size and light weight make it perfect for the range or the field. The modular design means you will be finding improvised uses for the TUBE every time you are on the range. It is an excellent compliment to a multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife. The Multitasker TUBE flat out rocks.

Check out the Multitasker Tools Facebook page for all the latest information on their top notch tools. You can purchase your own Multitasker Tube Tool from Brownells.

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Princeton Tec Remix Pro – Now in Multicam!

Here is some big news… Keep an eye on Princeton Tec retailers and you will soon see a familiar camo pattern – Multicam. Princeton Tec is now making the Remix Pro with a tan light body and a Multicam strap. If you look closely you can also see the improved, taller “fence” around the switch. I will post a full review on this light soon.

The new Remix Pro features a tan body and Multicam head strap. Click to enlarge.

I also have a new and improved version of the Princeton Tec MPLS in hand. Stay tuned for pictures and a complete review.

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Rainier Arms Select 5.56MM Barrel

We all know precision barrels for the AR-15 don’t come cheap and you generally get what you pay for. The Rainier Arms Select 5.56MM Barrel turns that convention on its ear. It offers features and performance that can usually only be found on barrels that cost twice as much.

Click to enlarge.

These barrels feature polygonal rifling which is a functional feature that is usually reserved for more expensive barrels. Polygonal rifling forms a tighter seal around the projectile which leads to higher velocities, and, because it lacks the grooves of typical cut rifling, it tends to suffer from less copper and lead build up. Barrels with polygonal rifling also tend to last longer than their cut rifling counterparts.

Other features include:

  • Bead blasted stainless or black oxide finishes
  • 416R stainless steel construction
  • 1×8 Twist
  • M4 feed ramps
  • 5.56 chamber
  • Midlength gas system
  • The Rainier Arms Select 5.56MM Barrel
  • 16″ length

The Rainier Arms Select 5.56 Barrel offers some pretty staggering features for a barrel that sells for just $189.95! Check out these barrels at the Rainier Arms webstore or visit the Rainier Arms Industry Forum on AR15.com.

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