Archive | Guns

AR-15 Weight Calculator

Vuurwapen Blog has done every AR-15 shooter a service by creating the AR-15 Weight Calculator. This easy to use tool allows shooters to determine what a potential build will weigh by entering the planned components into the calculator. It is quite accurate and there is already enough data that, even if your specific component isn’t listed, there is something close enough to get you into the ballpark.

This is a very useful page.

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Night Sight Considerations

Night sights are an invaluable tool for anyone who has a handgun for self-defense. They allow the user to see his sights even in low light situations. Realistically, any set of night sights of good quality will allow you to see your sights in low light but there are some considerations that may help prevent you from having a set of sights that are working against you.

What Are They?

“Night sights” are sights that have small vials of a radioactive element called tritium embedded into the sights. These vials or elements glow without having to be “charged” with an external light source. Tritium has a half life of 12 years so the sights will loose half their brightness in 12 years. It is not unusual to get 15-16 years of usable brightness from a set of sights.

Can They Work Against You?

There are two fundamental elements to accuracy. The accurate shooter must be to be able to control the trigger and align the sights. Your choice of night sights has no bearing on your trigger control, but it does affect your sight picture. Sight alignment starts at the front sight. The shooter must be able to focus on the front sight while maintaining sight alignment. Anything that obscures, obstructs, or interferes with this front sight focus is working against you and the fundamentals of accurate shooting.

For several years now, most night sights have been made in 3 dot configuration. This means that the front sight has a single tritium vial and the rear sight has 2 tritium vials (a total of three) on either side of the notch. The problem with this configuration is that the “dots” are usually identical in size, intensity, and color.

The two dots on the rear sight are closest to the shooter so they appear larger and brighter. This runs counter to front sight focus. The front sight should be the easiest to see since it is the sight that we must focus on but a traditional 3 dot configuration makes the front sight harder to focus on.

Since the dots are the same color, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate the front from the rear sight. Some shooters claim that this can lead to situations where the sights are aligned improperly. The front sight can be aligned so that it is to the side of the rear sight and it can appear to be a good sight picture since all three dots will appear to be in a line. I am not sure how likely this is, but it is worth mentioning.


Traditional 3 dot night sights work, but, as with many things in life, they can be improved upon. Thankfully, there are several night sight manufacturers with excellent alternatives and many of them cost about the same or even less than traditional 3 dot nights.

Solution #1 – Different Colors

One solution is to make the two rear elements a different color, like yellow. The yellow tritium elements also have the added benefit of being slightly dimmer than their green counterparts. This allows you to quickly and easily differentiate between the front and rear sights in low light. It also makes the front sight easier to focus on since it is brighter than the rear sight.

Ameriglo Classic Sights with green front and yellow rear.

Ameriglo has offered traditional 3 dot night sights with this option for years. Ameriglo also offers their Operator sights which do not have white outlines on the rear elements. The front element retains its white outline which promotes front sight focus during full lighting conditions.

Ameriglo Operator Sights do not have white outlines on the rear sight. These are also available with the green/yellow configuration.

Solution #2 – Single Rear Element

Another increasingly popular solution is a single rear tritium element. The element is located directly under the notch in the rear sight. Instead of lining up three elements horizontally, the shooter simply lines up 2 elements vertically.

Heinie Slant Pro Sights show the single rear dot configuration.

Heinie and Warren Tactical offer sights in this configuration. Warren Tactical takes this a step further by making the rear element smaller, yellow, and without a white outline. This greatly improves front sight focus in all light conditions.

Solution #3 – Front Element Only

The least expensive option is to have a tritium element in your front sight only. Do not confuse less expensive with less functional. Many very serious shooters actually prefer this set up because of how simple and uncluttered the sight picture is.  Some shooters find a rear element in nearly any form to be distracting.

The 10-8 Performance Sights typify the single front element configuration.

Warren Tactical, 10-8 Performance, and Ameriglo all offer sights in this configuration. Additionally, Heinie sells all the parts you need to piece together sights in this configuration. You can also find a replacement front sight that has a tritium element that will work with the factory rear sight of many handguns. Ameriglo and Trijicon offer tritium front sights for several makes and models.


It is important to remember that night sights are not a replacement for low light training and they are definitely not a replacement for a flashlight/weaponlight and the skills to use them in conjunction with your handgun of choice. Night sights are certainly useful in some low light situations but not necessarily all low light situations. They will not allow you to ID a target. Get a light and get some training from a trainer that is experienced in low light training.

So next time you are shopping for night sights, choose a set that enhances your ability to focus on the front sight instead of working against it.

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Budget Carbine Light: Streamlight's New PolyTac LED HP

The Streamlight PolyTac LED is becoming a popular budget weapon light for use on a carbine. Streamlight has recently introduced a new version which may be even better suited to carbine use – the PolyTac LED HP.

It shares several features with the regular PolyTac LED like a “clickie” tailcap, IPX7 waterproof rating, 3 hours runtime (to 10% output), and durable polymer construction. However, the HP model increases the brightness to 150 lumens (versus 130 on the regular model) and features a wider, deeper reflector. Wider, deeper reflectors capture more of the light from the LED emitter and focus it into a tighter beam which results in a beam with a tight hot spot, more throw, and useful side spill. In other words, it should be a heck of a weapon light.

I have seen them for as little as $40 (give or take a few dollars). You could mount one in the excellent VTAC Light Mount and have a high quality weapon light for $60-70!

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The Regular Guy Sessions: Earl at Impact Weapon Components

At Jerking the Trigger, one of our missions is to connect gear buyers with gear makers. We want to you know the people who are driving the industry, because if you can trust the person, you can trust their gear. I am happy to bring you this conversation with Earl Pittman of Impact Weapon Components.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

Sure. I grew up in California where I watched my father, a heavy construction equipment master mechanic, build and fix a variety of things. I learned a lot from him. I’ve always been mechanically inclined and a natural problem solver. I really enjoy the mechanical aspect of things like bikes, firearms, and automobiles.  In high school, I began racing bicycles and trained about 300 miles per week. I worked in a small custom bike shop after school and learned to build high-end wheels. After graduating High School, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career, so I began attending a community college for a few years, where I studied General Ed, and I did not graduate.

When I turned 21, I began shooting a Colt 1911 at a local range. It was a lot of fun and really got me hooked on firearm ownership and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

After college, I started working for a start-up company which built high-end custom wheelchairs, called Quickie Designs, Inc. At Quickie, I used my experience building bicycle wheels to create a product line of high performance wheels disabled athletes used to participate in wheelchair tennis and basketball. The wheels were lighter and faster than our competition and our sponsored athletes won events and we sold more and more wheels. I moved up in the company as they grew and when I left I was in the career I enjoyed, Purchasing and Supply-chain Management. Which basically means I delivered the parts, components and materials needed to build our product at the right price, in the right quantity when it’s needed in production.

After eleven years, I left Quickie and worked for Conagra in Gilroy, CA as Purchasing Manager. I worked for them for a couple of years, then moved to Ames, IA to work for a Water Quality Instrument Company. Soon after joining the Company, they offered me an opportunity to move to Colorado. This was in 2000.

Colorado is really great. The Company took off and my job as Director of Procurement was exciting and challenging. I was with the Company until May of this year, when I left to focus entirely on growing Impact Weapons Components, LLC.

How do you make the decision to start a business in economic times like these?

I know this may make some of your readers skeptical, but the decision to start IWC was one I knew was right. My family and I are Christians and we truly believe the idea for IWC came through inspiration. From the time when I had the initial idea for our first product, the Quick Detach MOUNT-N-SLOT brand Direct Attach Mount and through each point since then when I needed advice, or someone to advise us on our Patents, design, testing our packaging, the website, and how to begin advertising and distributing IWC’s products, the right people were placed before us and our Team who had the experience, and talent we needed to take the next step.

Financially and as a start-up, IWC did not require a great deal of money to get to where we are today. My Partner and I have been blessed to have lived conservatively within our means during our previous careers, so we are able to self fund IWC, which means we’re not indebted to anyone. We are able to pay as we go for the needs of the business. We are planning on writing a book or training program so we can share what we’ve learned with others interested in starting a business, but more on that later.

I also think timing has played a big part in IWC’s success so far. Jensen Arms in Loveland is a great place to buy all your gear. It’s also a great place to do VOC (voice of the customer) and Market Research. I spent a lot of time there observing customers and what they looked at and purchased, what new thing came to market and what was hot and what wasn’t.

I watched the large stock of basic AR-15’s fly off the shelf when it became clear that President Obama would win the White House. This told me there were a large number of customers who would be looking for accessories to trick out their AR’s in the next few years.

When the economy collapsed in late 2008, I saw the traffic in the store fall off and at FRGC, people were more aware of the prices for ammo, when you could find it..

In late 2009, and going into the SHOT Show in January 2010, I asked my long-time supplier of the parts used at the Company I worked for and fellow shooter, Craig, to make a few prototypes of our MOUNT-N-SLOT. I filed a Provisional Patent on them and then gave to a large number of them to shooters I had became friends with. I asked them to break my part or at least tell me what we needed to change to make it better. They all loved the prototypes.

So I continued to look for a manufacturer to introduce a similar product at SHOT in mid-January. No one did. When Magpul announced that they would be making MOE Hand Guards in Mid and Rifle Lengths by summer, 2010, I knew the timing was right to move foreword with IWC.

The final factor in our decision to move forward with IWC was the retail pricing we’re able to offer. IWC will soon offer a full line of accessory mounting components for the gear people want to trick out their rifles at a fraction of the price, weight, and complexity as those based on a quad-rail. We can do this in an economic environment when money is tight, ammo remains expensive, and people really want value for what they buy. By offering a made in Colorado from USA made materials product line, IWC believes we have the quality and value people are looking for. Our pricing leaves them with more money to spend on the sling, light, VFG, and some ammo to enjoy their new or existing AR.

My partner and I, along with our family, prayed for confirmation of our decision to launch IWC, which we received beyond question. From then on, we’ve been working flat-out developing, testing, and manufacturing our current and new products which we hope meets the needs of our customers.

How did the idea for the Mount-n-Slot line come about?

The idea for our first product, the Quick Detach MOUNT-N-SLOT brand Direct Attach Mount came after I went out to the Pawnee Grasslands one day to do some long range target shooting with my AR. It had a MOE hand Guard and a rail section with a rail type QD Mount. I was walking out to place the target and stumbled and caught my had on the rail section, which kind hurt. In the car on the way back home, I thought about why the rail was there in the first place. Why couldn’t I just make a simple QD socket that weighs less, uses fewer parts, costs less, and is cool and different looking? So I asked my long-term business owner and supplier of parts for the Water Quality Company and fellow shooter at the FRGC, Craig, to make me a few prototypes, which he did. The ideas for the other products have been flowing ever since.

Does living in a state with such an outdoors culture like Colorado play a role in your products at all?

Oh yeah, for sure. Colorado, and Larimer County where we live and work, have some of the best firearms laws in the nation. There is a culture of gun ownership and shooting sports in the area and some of the best places to go shooting that I’ve ever seen are within 30 minutes of our facility. In 2004, the Clinton gun ban expired and I found a local Class 3 dealer in Loveland, Jensen Arms, who specialized in tactical gear. I enjoyed shooting and now that the ban had expired, I wanted to get an AR, which lead to a few more as well as a few suppressors and SBR’s that I’ve been fortunate enough to add to my collection.

I wanted to help others learn to enjoy firearms like I did, so I took an NRA Pistol Instructor’s course and became an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor. I worked out a relationship with a world class range, the Front Range Gun Club in Loveland as a location for training and last year, I taught over 50 people how to safely use firearms.

IWC is planning on promoting the Loveland / Fort Collins / Timnath area as a firearms manufacturing center as we grow and learn. We envision having an R&D Center combined with the Front Range Gun Club and offering our services to others interested in starting a business in our industry. IWC really wants to give back to our community by creating opportunities for others to achieve what we’ve done so far. But by no means are we even close to this today. We’ve got a long uphill road ahead of us, but like I said earlier, we know this is what we’re meant to do and we’re all-in!

I want to commend you on your commitment to not just making your products here in the USA but also sourcing your materials here. What drives you to do this?

So many products are made off-shore by countries and governments who do not offer their citizens the freedoms which we as Americans enjoy. These countries get stronger with each new product that is made off-shore and America looses a little each time.

Coming from a Procurement and Supply-chain background, I know that America has the industrial capacity, skilled workforce, and creative talent which is often superior to that in other countries. IWC wanted to take advantage of these resources by only sourcing USA made materials and then turning these materials into our products right here in Colorado.

The challenge was being able to make and sell our products for a cost which supports a retail price point that offers our customers value while still allowing IWC to invest in new products, advertising, and continue to grow.

We’ve been able to achieve these seemingly competing objectives through simple designs. Take our single-piece box as an example. When we looked at the packaging used by others, it consisted of a part in a poly bag, with an instruction sheet, with maybe a printed card, which is stapled to the poly bag. This is placed in a corrugated carton, maybe with some packing material, a packing list, and then sealed with tape and shipped to you, the customer.

The IWC Team looked at this, and conversationally tore each component in the box apart, questioning why it was there and the value it added to you, the customer. We began to consolidate each component into what became our single piece instruction sheet, product protection packaging, and shipping box which held our brand. We worked with the talented Team to family owned Warneke Paper Box Company in Denver to bring our concept to reality. They improved our initial design, further refining the concept, while reducing cost and complexity.

We estimated a cost of over $2.00 for the others packaging materials, while our package costs a fraction of this amount.

This process is used by the Team at IWC for everything we do. How do we do it better than the others at a lower cost to us and especially, our customers.

You state on your website that you don’t have a Quality Department but choose instead to take a more holistic approach to quality. You state that quality is part of every area of your business. What does that mean to your customers?

The fact that we don’t have a “Quality Department” means that every person at IWC who is involved with the our product, interacts with our customers, or has anything to do with our brand has an obligation to make sure… no, guarantee, that the quality of our product, service, and experience meets the standards which IWC has documented for these areas. So, in effect, quality is built into what we do.

How much does feedback from users of your products play a role in how you refine existing products or develop new ones?

Feedback is central to the Team at IWC. That includes good and bad feedback, feedback about what needs improved, what we can do better, and what we are doing well.

Our customers trust us, a start-up without a long history, by spending their hard-earned cash on our products. We want them to be satisfied so that they tell others, their friends, family, co-workers, fellow shooters that they found this great new product that works better than the other products that they considered buying. So our challenge is to continue to create new products, to reduce the costs of manufacture while improving the quality of the components, to test them, to offer them to our customers to use, try to break them and evaluate them, so that we can continue to grow and improve the experience for our customers.

Do you have any plans for Mount-n-Slot accessories for other hand guard systems like the VTAC rails?

Yes… IWC has a New Product Portfolio outlined which will have many new PATENT PENDING mounts designed for many of the hand guards currently in use on AR-15 type rifles.

By Fall, we plan on announcing a Patent Pending line of accessory mounting products which attach to:

1. MOE-style flat surface hand guards

2. 2″ OD Round Hand Guards made by Midwest Industries, JP, PRI and Viking Tactics

3. 1.75″ OD Round Hand Guards made by Troy and Viking Tactics

What products can we anticipate seeing in the future? Flashlight mounts? Handstops?

All I can say today is that IWC will offer a complete line of MOUNT-N-SLOT brand Direct Attach Mounts which will be backwards compatible with any of our currently available mounts, so our customers do not have to buy a replacement mount for one they already have to be able to take advantage of our new product offerings.

Thank you Earl and IWC for taking the time to answer our questions.

Check out our previous review of their Mount-N-Slot Direct Attach Mounts.

Visit the Impact Weapon Solutions store to see all their Mount-N-Slot mounts.

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

Vickers Tactical Glock Extended Magazine Release

This is a product that I have been using since it hit the market. The standard Glock magazine release is small, low profile, and can be somewhat difficult to hit without really shifting your grip. Glock makes an extended magazine release that may be fine for competition but it is too large for a carry gun. I have seen it interfere with holsters or even cause the magazine to be dropped when the Glock was gripped aggressively or laid on a flat surface.

Larry Vickers recognized the need for functional Glock magazine release that was larger than the stock part but not so large that it causes more problems than it solves. The result is the Vickers Glock Extended Magazine Release which is made by Tango Down for Vickers Tactical. It is available for the 9mm/.40S&W/.357SIG/.45GAP sized frames and the .45ACP/10MM sized frames.

The Vickers magazine release is on the left.

This release is perfect for a carry gun. It is long enough that it makes reaching the release much easier but no so long that it interferes with grip or holstering. All of the edges are nicely rounded which is nice considering how sharp some aftermarket magazine release can be. This is basically the only extended magazine release that I know of for Glocks that is suitable for carry.

This magazine release, along with a good set of sights, and maybe my favorite trigger set up is all that a Glock really needs.

Check out the Vickers Extended Mag Release For Glock at Brownells.

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