Editorial: Modernizing the Wheel vs. Newly Invented

I was talking with someone the other night about guns (Yes, I do talk about other things than guns… sometimes) when they asked what I thought was the 5 top new innovations were in the industry. This is a topic I have been wanting to write about for a while, I just have never had the words.

M1 vs SCAR

When it comes to the gun industry we have cycles we go through. The inventing and learning cycle and what I call the modernizing of the wheel. In the inventing and learning cycle we have invented things like the tube sights for long distance shooting and learned things like rifling. With the modernizing the wheel cycle, which we are currently in, we are just finding ways to make these older designs fit the 21 century.

In the 1950s and 1960s the .308 Winchester and the .223 Remington made their debut in the in the shooting world and we are still using them as a our standard calibers. The FN-H SCAR is a modernized version of the FAL. The target cameras are the updated version of a spotting scope.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with the advancements we have made. However, I want to see something new. I want to live in a time like my grandfathers era when a lot of new things were introduced.  He saw the explosion of “modern guns with the invention of the  “plastic gun” or “black gun”, He also saw the invention of the standardized 30 round magazines as well as being able to control the muzzle climb with an intermediate cartridge.

I am not saying we don’t live in a time without people like Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov.  I am just saying we haven’t really seen something that has made a small arms like the M16 or M14 go almost obsolete. We saw the M16 quickly replace the M14 as the US service rifle in the 1960s.

As strange as it might seem, history shows us that the government is the main reason for innovation and invention in this industry. Until a government demands a new product to suit their new need, we do not see new creations. A government contract can be in the price range of billions which goes towards R&D and eventual release to the general public.

While some might think with the increased use of drones, it may be a long time before we see anything new.  I am a believer that we will always need boots on the ground, if for no other reason than for intelligence gathering, for aid and for maintaining goodwill.  I am excited and hopeful for the future of our industry.

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308 Review

For those of you not familiar with Windham Weaponry and would like more history on them, you should visit  The Windham Weaponry Story…

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308 Review

Introduction to the .308 AR Style Rifle

I have always preferred the larger .30 caliber round over the 5.56×45. While the military finds the 5.56 round “adequate” it leaves much to be desired for more applications in the civilian market. For everyday plinking the 5.56×45 (.223 Remington) is fine but if I want to take that caliber for other hunting type purposes I might not legally be able.

The AR-15 style rifle is Legos for the adult world. You can customize it to make some really interesting firearms. With thousands of different products designed for this platform, the possibilities are endless. As each year passes, people are inventing better and better products for the AR.

The issue that I have with the AR platform is the caliber. While it is true that you can build an AR in every caliber known to man, the staple calibers are the ones we want more of.

While the AR-10 style rifles have been year for years, The magazines use to be outrageously expensive until the DPMS/SR-25 style mags started getting manufactured by companies who knew how to make great magazines. This was part of what I saw as the awakening of the .308 AR rifles.

Specs   

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308
Rifle 16 Shaved Front Site (SIC) w/Telestock (found on the invoice shipped with the rifle) R16SFST-308 L

Caliber: .308 Win. / 7.62x51mm
Action: Semi-Automatic, Gas Impingement System
Capacity:  20 + 1- Ships with one 20 Rd Magpul Magazine (accepts all std. sizes)
Safety:  Manual Lever with Indicator Markings on Both Sides of Receiver
Receiver: Flat Top Type Upper w. Mil Std 1913 Rail / QD Sling Sockets in Lower
Receiver Material: Forged 7075 T6 Aircraft Aluminum with Integral Trigger Guard
Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Black Anodize Finish
Bolt Material:  Carpenter 158 Steel
Barrel: 16.5” Medium Profile, Chrome Lined with A2 Flash Suppressor
Barrel Material: 4150M Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E Steel
Rifling: 1 in 10” – Right Hand Twist – 6 Lands & Grooves
Stock: 6 Position Telescoping Buttstock with Windham Weaponry Logo
Forend:  Midwest Industries 15” SS Key Mod Free Float Handguard w. Rail Segment
Pistol Grip: Hogue Beavertail Overmolded Grip
Rear Sight:   None – Ready for optics or other type accessory sights
Front Sight: None
Weight / Length:  8.0 lbs. (without magazine) / 38” (34.1875” with Telestock collapsed)

Packaging: Hard Plastic Gun Case with Black Web Sling, Operators Manual. Transferable Lifetime Warranty.

The Quick Detach Points and Keymod

The lower on this rifle comes with two QD sling attachment points located below the charging handle. The Midwest Industries Keymod handguard has 5 QD points located on the left and right hand sides of the handguard as well as one at the muzzle end of the handguard. This gives the user multiple points and configurations for their needed sling setup. I personally only like single point slings so this was right for that setup.

This was the first time using the keymod rail system and overall I really like the design. It is simple and easy to install the rail pieces where you want and need them in a very short amount of time.

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The Trigger

The trigger is built by Windham Weaponry. The say they take great pains to make the trigger as smooth and crisp as possible but if you are unhappy with their trigger they do offer other replacement triggers from companies like CMC, POF and Geissele.

The trigger pull is a bit heavier than I like, but I never found myself jerking the trigger or having any other trigger related accuracy problems with the installed trigger.

The Pistol Grip

At first when I saw the Hogue overmolded grip I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. After getting some heavy range time in all kinds of temperatures, this is now my second favorite grip of all time. With gloves on, this grip wasn’t tacky but when I had sweaty hands in the heat it was.

The Stock

The stock is the standard 6 position stock with the Windham Weaponry logo. The stock is nothing to write home about. But I like the fact that using a stock like this helps keep the rifle at a very consumer friendly price. 

The Barrel

The 16.5 inch barrel is the perfect length for shooting from the bench, to run and gun, or stalk hunting.

This length is my ideal length for a .308 semi auto rifle. It keeps the weight down so the rifle is more versatile.

The Bolt Catch

This was my only “problem” with the gun. When the bolt was locked to the rear just tapping the barrel against the rifle rest would send the bolt forward.

The Charging Handle

I have trained on the stock charging handles and all I have to say is real estate, real estate, real estate! I like my charging handles to have as much real estate as possible. The more grip I can get on the charging handle the better in my mind. If I have to rack the gun back, I want to go with as little effort as possible. The small stock charging handle is something I would change if I owned this rifle.

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Sights

This rifle does not come with any sights.

Shooting

This gun looks like a tank and is built like one too. It can take a beating and still come back for seconds.

In the 500+ rounds we shot through this gun, we never had a hiccup or anything. It just kept begging to be fed.

We had this rifle on the 25 yard bay out to the 300 yard bay and I always kept 1-3 inch groupings. This is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of what the gun can produce but more of a mark on my shooting abilities.

Cleaning

This rifle is like any other AR style when it comes to cleaning. The 500+ rounds had very little carbon build up. The barrel stayed relatively clean. I would bet we could have shot another 1000+rounds  before it even started slowing down.

Overall Thoughts

For the price I have not seen a better .308 AR. Flat out, Windham Weaponry knows their sh*t. They know how to build quality rifles at a great consumer price point. They don’t focus on the bells and whistles because they know you are going to want your own bells which is where can see your savings. 

Out of the box, the only thing you need to add is a sight. You can buy .308 rifles for the same price and you are going to end up wanting to replace the other companies “quality” parts. Windham Weaponry, from what I have shot and seen are not like that. You might find something you want to change, like the stock or the charging handle. But let’s face it, if you are working on a budget, the Windham Weaponry .308 line, as is, will impress you with their quality.

The firearm industry is made up of a lot of really great people who are just trying to make the best and toughest products in the world. I have met the people at Windham Weaponry a few times at SHOT Show and was impressed by the great people. I believe that they are always trying to make something that is going to stand the test of time. .

Talon Grips for Glock 21 Review

I have been provided the materials needed for this review. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

I was contacted by Talon Grips to review their product for my Glock 21.

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Introduction

Gun stippling has become a main stream feature that people get on their pistol grips for pistols and rifles. It is for better hold of the grip in all situations. Although some people will stipple their grips at home, most choose someone with more experience in the field, so they don’t damage the grip. Talon Grips has a more cost effective method with their self adhesive gun dependent grip tape.   

Testing

I am not a competitive shooter, in the military or law enforcement. The times I am holding my firearms are not typically really tense moments where I am feeling like I am losing the grip of my firearm. I normally prefer the manufacturers stippling on my rifles and pistols because they are not intrusive and I know if I pick up an identical pistol they will feel the same which helps with faster target acquisition.

Applying the Talon Grip to the Glock 21 was as simple as peeling a sticker and wrapping it around the grip. I wear a leg drop holster at the range and I did noticed the Talon grip started to peel when I would quick draw from my holster.

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Overall Thoughts

I plan to keep the grips on this pistol for the foreseeable future to see if over time I grow more accustom to use them. This is definitely a product you might want to look into as an alternative to  firearm stippling.

At this time, I do not feel that the Talon Grips improved or benefitted my grip with and without gloves.

The MSRP for the Pre gen 4 Glcok 21 is $17.99. That is considerably less expensive and non damaging to its counter part (stippling.)    This product is a cost effective alternative and it can give you experience as to what stippling would feel like on your firearm.

Repost: Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener Review

I wrote a review on the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener over at AtticusJames.com. I review how I was able to get a razor edge on all my knives with relative ease after learning how to use the Work Sharp sharpener.  

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I designed AtticusJames.com to be review site for all things guy. I publish new guy stuff reviews every Monday

Mossberg ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN™ 27204 .308 Bolt Action Review

I have been provided the materials needed for this review. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Normally I don’t put the model number in the title but with the number of different options Mossberg offers  for the rifle I want to be specific on which rifle I reviewed.

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Specs

Caliber: .308 WIN
Capacity: 5
Barrel: 22” Fluted
Rail: 6” Picatinny Rail
Scope: UTG 6-24x50MM w/ Illuminated Reticle, Sun Shade and Lens Protectors
Twist: 1:10
Length Of Pull: 13.25″
Finish: Matte Blue
Stock: Synthetic (Multi-Cam Camo)
Weight: 9.5 lb
Overall Length: 42″
MSRP: $891

Features:

LBA Lightning Bolt Action Adjustable Trigger
Free-Floating Button-Rifled Fluted Barrel
Scope and Bipod Included
4+1 Capacity, Top Load Magazine
Free Gun Lock/2-Year Limited Warranty

First Impressions

Growing up in the Boy Scouts, I knew Mossberg for two reasons. They made the Mossberg .22 bolt action rifles my troop owned for shooting sports and we had a Mossberg 500 12 Gauge shotgun we would use. When I was in the market for a new 12 Gauge I contacted Mossberg because they make the Mossberg 500 Flex which lets you customize your shotgun for your shooting needs.

You can pick up a wide range of different parts to make your gun more tactical or more home defense. If you want to keep it a normal bird gun, you can change the length of pull with different recoil/length of pull pads that snap in and out of the buttstock.  After a year of shooting the Mossberg 500 Flex 12 gauge, I wanted to do more work with Mossberg.

I requested the Mossberg ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN™ 27204 .308 Bolt Action Rifle for review. The gun, out of the box, makes you feel like you were just handed a sniper rifle and you are going to be able to take down all the bad guys from 4 miles* away. The scope is over a foot and a half long (w/ sun shade) and it has a the multi-cam stock fluted barrel and bipod.

Man, this Mossberg ATR looks like it can hit a dime from miles away*. (* The GEARs Crew understands that the max effective range of a .308 Win is 800-1000 meters. The distances named are for this writers dramatic impact only and should not be the expected results.)

Shooting and Feel

After getting the Mossberg ATR sighted and realigned I started out shooting 20 rounds at the 100 yard range getting the rounds to go through the same hole. When I felt comfortable, I moved on to the 300 yard range and noticed that the optic was fuzzy in the beginning. I had expected this, since it is not a very high end scope.

I had the steel gong as my target which I figured I would hand load each round and do a rapid engagement of 10 (3-5 seconds per shot to reload) back to the 300 yard target, even with my speed the rifle maintained about a 6 inch grouping. After about 80 rounds my shoulder was not fatigued. The rifle had the right length of pull for my size, making this rifle rather enjoyable to shoot with all day.

The barrel is threaded into the action and not one solid piece. This is normal, however the chamber is not as forgiving to someone who is hand loading each round vs. using the magazine to load the rounds. I would have liked to have seen a feed ramp on this, but for the price of the Mossberg ATR, it still feeds like it should.

The bolt does have good play and good flow when manipulating the bolt to load rounds.

The recoil as mentioned above is not overwhelming so if you shot more than 100 rounds you shouldn’t be running for the ice pack.

Scope

The UTG scope is good if you are not planning to shoot past 100 yards. The scope that Mossberg mounted on this rifle was fuzzy until we shot about 20+ rounds. The scope prisms must have moved to the correct spot and cleared up enough to shoot the 200 yard range. It was still fuzzy and hazy at 300 to the point you could not see your hits on high visible targets.

When we first took the rifle to the range the scope had not been zeroed and it took about 20 rounds to zero in. I never used the Illuminated Reticle since it was a bright sunny day every day we went to shoot.

With this being said, if I am able to continue reviewing this rifle, I would look at a relatively inexpensive scope upgrade to a Redfield Revenge 6-18x44mm scope with an MSRP of $314.  This upgrade keeps the look of the rifle and scope package with a better optic.

Bipod and Rail

The Caldwell bipod is “adjustable” however, when I tried adjusting the height, the legs never matched up enough to give a stable shooting platform. Thankfully, I did most of my shooting off the bench and not from prone, so the short legs were at the correct height.   I personally feel that Mossberg would have been better suited to have the bipod attached by picatinny rail verses the “permanently” mounted Caldwell. In keeping with how I would upgrade this rifle, I would unmount the bipod and have a gunsmith mount a 3” picatinny rail on the flat bottom of the stock allowing for a bipod and other types of sling mounts.

The scope rail is a 5” picatinny rail. This is nice, but in terms of upgrading this rifle I would change to Leupold dovetail scope rings and so I would have to change the rail. Mossberg does make this possible as the rail is not wielded to the action.

Modularity

Mossberg introduced the Mossberg flex line of shotguns and MVP rifles. Although this rifle doesn’t need to be changed into a pistol grip rifle, I would have liked to have seen the buttstock length of pull modularity added into the design of the of the ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN line of centerfire rifles.

I think Mossberg is really onto the next gen of designs by adding features like the modularity they have already introduced. It would be great if companies like MAGPUL who already make stocks for Mossberg shotguns started adding new stocks and parts to Mossberg Flex line of modular rifles and shotguns.

Trigger

For those of us who are trigger snobs, you should like the Mossberg’s no gunsmith needed adjustable trigger. I didn’t mess with this trigger adjustment as I was having issues with the scope and my review focus changed.

Final Thoughts

The Mossberg ATR was designed for someone getting into the art of distance shooting. This gun is for someone who doesn’t want to spend $800 on a bolt action rifle that won’t have a long life and then drop another $400 or $500 on scopes and rings and bipods just to get your first shot down range. This gun has it all for $891 MSRP.

Out of the box, this rifle is ready to be sighted in and taken on a hunting trip or just to the distance range. The upgrades I have talked about are not something you will have to get if you are starting out and learning how to shoot. As a shooter gets more proficient at shooting longer and longer ranges that is the time to start thinking about upgrading.

I have loved shooting the Mossberg ATR. As a proficient distance shooter, I would love to be able to report back with my findings after some simple upgrades to an already extremely well built bolt action.

Kel-Tec KSG (Kel-Tec Shotgun) review

If you haven’t seen or heard about the Kel-Tec KSG, it is a bullpup 12 gauge shotgun with 2 magazine tubes and one barrel.

Kel_Tec_KSG_-_01

Introduction

The Kel-Tec KSG shotgun is not your standard old faithful shotgun. It is not the shotgun that our grandfathers have been using since they were young pups. This is Kel-Tec’s entry into the modern day shotgun class. From first glance, you can see this shotgun is different. The KSG doesn’t have the look of that old American classic. This shotgun is part of the future of shotguns in both the LE/military market as well as the civilian market.

Specs

Caliber: 12 gauge up to 3” shell

Barrel length: 18.5″

Total capacity: 6+6+1 (using 3” shells)

Weight empty: 6.9lbs

Weight loaded: 8.5lbs

Length: 26.1″

Height: 7″

MSRP: $990.00

Materials: Hardened Steel and Glass reinforced nylon (Zytel)

First Impressions

The Kel-Tec KSG shotgun made its way on to the market a few years back. I had a number of opportunities to get some trigger time with this shotgun, prior to getting this one for review. I liked the look when I first saw this gun and I have always liked the bullpup design.

As I have mentioned in the past, I own a 20 gauge that is a bottom loader and ejector shotgun so I have had years of experience with that style. I have wanted to own the Kel-Tec KSG since day one.

Shooting and Feel

This shotgun is a 12 gauge and there is no denying that fact. Since this is a bullpup, there is not a lot of room to add things, like recoil dampeners, that you might have in a plastic butt stock of your favorite bird gun.

I am sure when Kel-Tec was building and designing this shotgun bullpup they weren’t designing this for a 10 year old child who might not be ready to shoot heavier recoiled shotguns. This shotgun has the recoil of a normal 12 gauge. For me, that doesn’t affect my personal take on this shotgun, because I own a number of shotguns and I have been shooting them for years. The compact size makes the gun easier to control because you are not sticking that 18.5” barrel past where it is comfortably maneuverable.

Operation and Controls

The Kel-Tec KSG is a pump action that offers the shooter dual 7 round (2.75 inch shells) magazine tubes so they can carry 14 + 1 shells in the shotgun. The magazine tubes are manually operated by a toggle switch behind the pistol grip. This gives you total control over the type of ammo the shotgun is shooting.

The most common question I have been asked is why do you need manual switch tubes? The best answer I have found, is that it was designed for someone in the LE/Military to use this shotgun to clear a building. The Kel-Tec KSG offers them 2 shotguns in one. You can load mag tube one with door breaching rounds or lethal rounds and load mag tube 2 up with something less than lethal. You can make the shotgun mission adaptable i.e. slugs in one tube and bird shot in the other to keep the spray pattern from over penetration.

For hunting, you might want that slug in one tube to take down your deer or hogs and buckshot or bird shot for varmint. For range commandos about 8 seconds of 12 gauge glory as you rain down fire and birdshot on your paper targets.

The pump release is right where you want it to be on the trigger guard. All you have to do is extend your trigger finger from a trigger control position to the lever to release your pump. The safety is a larger side to side push safety with clear written red “F” for fire and the left side a white “S” for safety.

Sights and Rails:

The KSG comes with a 12.25” picatinny rail on the top and a 5 inch picatinny rail on the pump. The shotgun does not come with iron sights or any kind of sight for that matter. The top rail offers the shooter a wide range of set ups from backup iron sights with a holographic sight as your main sight or even a shotgun tube sight. On the bottom of my KSG, I have put a Troy fore grip to assist in the pump action and keep my hands from being anywhere near the muzzle. There is enough room for a laser and fore grip on the bottom or even a fore grip/bipod combo.

Sling:

Kel-Tec ships a webbing and connectors to give the KSG a 2 point sling which is my biggest con of this gun. I have the sling attached and have had it attached since day one to insure I gave everything Kel-Tec sent a fair and honest review. I don’t like the connection points at the muzzle and at the butt stock. I have found I have almost shot my sling off a few times. The KSG hasn’t been designed with quick detach slings in mind and so you will not find QD points on the shotgun. I think that is something that would give this shotgun more to offer, having more freedom of sling options. I did find on the Kel-Tec website a metal single point attachment bracket for $21. If I keep this shotgun that is definitely one of the extras I would like to get.

Extras/Accessories:

As I mentioned about the single point adapter there is one more accessory I would want. That is the choke tube adapter. My other con I have for the KSG is that is it neither rifled for slugs nor choked for spread pattern. While the choke isn’t really a bad thing, as a hunter a rifled barrel would better serve the gun. Part of the reason I want a choke adapter is to allow me to thread on the new Silencerco Salvo 12 gauge suppressor.

Final Thoughts:

I have loved every second of reviewing this Kel-Tec KSG. This bullpup is fun to shoot, fun to show other shooters and most of all an extremely well built 12 gauge. There are other 12 gauge shotguns in this class that might not always be able to stand up to the forces that is modern day 12 gauge range commandos shotgun does. The KSG has even more applications than what I have mentioned. That to me, makes this shotgun such a nice tool to be added to anyone’s gun collection.

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Leatherman MUT First Impressions

I have been provided the materials needed for this review. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

This is my first impressions of the Leatherman MUT (Military Utility Tool). I plan to release my full review later this month, after I have had a chance to use the tool more. I have had the Leatherman MUT for about a week now. I haven’t used it much in the field and it has spent most of the time in its pouch on my person or in the desk next to me.

SPECS of the Leatherman MUT

MUT SPECS

The Leatherman MUT weights in a 11.2 oz. or 317.5 g so it falls on the slightly heftier side of what I normally carry (Leatherman Wave 8oz).  The weight is not that noticeable on my hip.

I did take the 3/8 wrench/ AR front sight tool out of the pouch as I am afraid of losing it. I have been carrying the Leatherman Rail to the range since I got it Christmas 2013 which has the sighting tool on it. I think if maybe there was a way the wrench combo could have been added to the MUT that might have been better. I don’t know yet and I will get back to you on my finding later.

Serrations VS. Straight Edge

The Knife has serrations which I have never been a fan of on the same blade as your straight cutting blade. Since Leatherman was trying to make this the best battle tool they could, I get it, as there are a lot of people out there that like that. It is all about getting the tool to fit your hand and not weight 400 pounds.

A Gunsmiths Point of View

The carbon scraper will be nice when I am cleaning the review guns as they tend to be more worn than my firearms. I took this tool into my gunsmith who agreed that this was designed nicely for taking your guns down.

The pouch is sewn to handle even the heaviest of wear and tear. I will talk more on the webbing and how it adjusts for your belt or molle gear in the next article.

Overall Thoughts

I am very happy with this new (to me) Leatherman MUT.  I can see this replacing my Leatherman Wave for everyday carry.

 

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Howard Leight Impact Sport E-Earmuffs review

I had planned to just review the Howard Leight*1 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs but plans changed.

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Customer Care

A few months back I got in contact with Howard Leight about getting some earmuffs to review for shooting but what I didn’t know at the time was that I was going to review the company as well. When I contacted the company, instead of my normal getting bounced around and transferred five times until I talked with the right person, I talked with ONE person. I had the pleasure of talking with Customer Care Rep Laraine from Howard Leight.

Empowered Reps

Normally I have to talk with someone in marketing or another division who handles media requests such as this one. With Howard Leight, I only worked with the customer care rep who the company has empowered to be able help the customer not like a number of other large (non-firearm) corporations.  Most companies keep sending you to the next tier up because all the first tier customer care rep can do is ask you if you have turned the product on and off.

I am not going to get on my soap box and talk about that because I really want to just talk about Howard Leight and how I had such a pleasant experience with them.

skip to Earmuff Review

I called Howard Leight and spoke with Laraine about getting the earmuffs and she was more than willing to help me out with this not just because I am a blogger but because Howard Leight seems to only employ customer care reps who CARE. I know this to be a fact because in the few times I did have to call the company and ask for Laraine I would always be greeted by one the of reps who would try to help me in any way they could before I would ask to speak with Laraine.

Consistency

I have contacted Howard Leight a couple of times since my first contact and have spoken to different customer care reps who were just as helpful and knowledgeable as Laraine.

Lifetime Customer

Howard Leight makes great ear protection but they have also made me a lifetime customer because of how they work with the customer.

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Specs: Impact® SportFolding

  • Sleek, extremely low profile earcup design allows for full clearance of firearm stock
  • Automatic 4 hour shut-off increases battery life
  • AUX jack connects to MP3 players and scanners
  • Automatically shuts off loud impulse noise to a safe 82dB while amplifying conversation and range commands
  • Convenient folding design for easy storage
  • One single power and volume control knob
  • Air Flow Control™ technology
  • Black leatherette headband with sporty hunter green earcups
  • Water resistant
  • Easy access to the external battery compartment
  • 2 AAA batteries included

Source: The Howard Leight website

Impact Sport E-Earmuff Review

For a number of years now I have used the surefire earplugs or my good old non-electronic over the head earmuffs because both offer me what I need for shooting.

The surefire plugs are great if I am going to be just shooting and minimal talking on the range and when I have a rifle stock glued to my face.

My  non-electronic over the head earmuffs offer me noise dampening but they are quick to slide off if I need to make a video or hear what the crew is saying, they are overly bulky and you hear every tap of the buttstock to your earmuff.

Adjustable Volume

The Howard Leight electronic earmuffs give me the best of both worlds. I can adjust the volume when I need to listen or almost turn the sound off when I am firing on the line with the three .30-06 rifles going off. The muffs are low profile so the overly bulkiness is minimized to the point it is comfortable to run and shoot with a rifle or to sit on the bench and shoot long distances.

Long Battery Life

We have been using the muffs for about 5 months now and haven’t had to change the batteries yet.

Increased Range Communication

I like the fact that I can adjust the volume easily when I am shooting from the bench and we have other shooters near us.  The spotter and shooter can almost whisper to each other adjustments without having to listen to everyone on the range. I can also turn the volume all the way up and hear the crew from a distance without anyone having to scream commands.

 

Overall Thoughts:

The earmuffs will run about $50 but for the safety of your hearing and still being able to hear what is going on around you,  they are well worth the investment.

 

*1 Howard Leight is owned by Honeywell, An American multinational conglomerate company that produces a variety of commercial and consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments.
Source: Honeywell’s Wiki page

Panzer – Magellan eXplorist 350H reviewed

At shot show 2013 I was called over to the Magellan booth by Atticus because Magellan was interested in Gears of Guns reviewing their new Magellan eXplorist 350H. This was perfect because I was planning an elk hunt for the following October. So I listened very attentively to the 30 minute presentation Carol Bardia had for me and the Crew. I will be up front with you, I was unfamiliar with Magellan, as well as GPS systems designed for outdoor enthusiasts, so the learning curve was steep at first. Fast forward to August 29th 2013 when the product arrived and I immediately discovered my lack of experience did not matter. The applications in the field and at home after the trip are so numerous it is difficult to list them all but here it goes.

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The eXplorist  350 H is above all else very user-friendly and within the first 10 minutes I had already begun planning my trip by locating the exact area I would be hunting within 10 feet. I had topographical data, county roads and game management areas (GMU) all loaded with the push of a button. The five button control panel was easy to use, with or without gloves and I liked the way you could quickly access trip information without excessive toggling.

Field Functions:

Upon arrival to the campground I mapped out the my various points of interest using several of  the handy custom marker icons specially created for hunters including; campsite, blinds, stands, glassing areas and trail heads to name a few. Or you could mark way points using specific game icons, bedding locations, scat, blood trails, scrapes, rubs, sheds and many more.  I also used the text function to enter field notes when a custom marker wasn’t enough. My first few days before the hunt I was glad to have the eXplorist on hand because it allowed me the chance to get oriented and to map and section out the large area quickly and effortlessly. After taking a long ride on my 4 X 4 with the eXplorist on board, I had all my ATV trails marked without having to do very much but enjoy the ride. At no point during my two weeks there did I have to worry about finding my way back to camp day or night.

In an effort to conserve battery life I utilized the active suspend function which worked like a sleep mode but with continued tracking. Also the screen saving mode turns off when not in use within 20 seconds. It takes two double A batteries of which I replaced once the entire trip. While it is stated to have a battery life of 18 hours (if you use lithium), if you fail to use active suspend don’t be surprised if the hours of battery life vary. Another annoyance is that the Duracell alkaline batteries got down to 25% remaining and a message would appear telling you to change them and soon after that the device would shut off. The batteries I used after the first change were (Duracell AA alkaline), however Magellan recommends using two AA lithium batteries.

Once I had my hunting area mapped I could track prey, mark glassing areas and establish which group members were hunting where. The stated temperature range for this device is between 14 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While it continued to work for me at 20 degrees F your experience may vary, however at times it was cold enough for my smart phone to stop working while the eXplorist continued to worked. Magellan has used the IPX7 waterproof standard for this device. During my trip I exposed the device to rain and snow and had no issues with it working properly.

Computer Application:

Even though I enjoyed using the GPS in the field once I returned home and plugged the eXplorist 350H into my computer and downloaded the Vantage Point software onto my PC, my experience only got better

You must be using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to use the Vantage Point software or if you are running a MAC you can use the Magellan communicator for MAC which is compatible with a website called Geocaching.com. Once installed the Vantage Point software took all the data I had collected on my two-week trip and plugged it into the DigitalGlobe format where I could play back  every movement I made while the device was active using either  satellite images or the topographical map. There are countless ways you can use this software from planning available routes, tracking animal movements or  measuring distances. The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing the user to plan, track and view all movements in the field. So when I was ready to relive the experiance, Vantage point software painted the picture for me. When I am ready to plan my next trip I can easily build of the info gathered by the eXplorist and displayed on Vantage Point.

Having access to such a great tool takes your hunting or hiking game to a whole new level and I highly recommend it for everyone from the beginner to experienced outdoor enthusiast.

Pros:

  • The five button control panel is very easy to use when scrolling through the various menus.
  • Can be used with or without gloves without much difficulty.
  • Thirty custom markers for hunt mode plus ability to add custom field notes.
  • Active suspend mode conserves battery life while continuing to track  your movement.
  • Screen is bright and display is clear with sharp contrast.
  • The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing user to plan, track and view all movements in the field.
  • Cons:

  • One  con was that the 350H is a bit bulky when carrying it around in my pocket so I eventually started keeping it in my day pack which was not always convenient.
  • The screen size was a bit small but the display is bright and clear and it did come with a screen protector.
  • Stated battery life is 18 hours but when left on not in active suspend much less battery life.
  • When alkaline battery life got down to 25% remaining, a repeating message to change batteries appeared and the device would power down, however Magellan recommends using a AA lithium battery for optimal battery life.

Aaron – Steyr M9A1 first impression review:

This is my first impression on the Steyr M9A1

Technical Specs
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 10,14, 15 or 17
Barrel Length: 4 inch
Method of Operation: Short recoil, locked breech
Sights: Fixed iron sights, trapezoid notch and triangular front blade
Overall Length: 6.9 in
Overall Width: 1.2 in
Overall Height: 5.4 in
Safety Type: Multi-stage safety system consisting of two automatic internal safeties, two external trigger safeties and a manual lock safety.
Weight w/out Mag: 26.3 oz (1.6lbs)
Trigger and Tigger pull weight: Double Action trigger – 5.6lbs

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The first thing I noticed with this handgun was it was just beautiful. It has the lowest bore axis of any polymer handgun, which helps with follow up shots and bring the gun back on target.

This is a medium frame pistol which fits my hand nicely.

When I first held this gun it was love.To me it felt like a Tempur-Pedic mattress that conforms to you. It was like the grip was custom made for my hand.

The front sight is a triangle while the rear is an inward facing trapezoid notch. I got used to them

very quickly and I almost prefer these to any sights out there.

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The trigger pull is fairly light at 5.6 lbs and breaks very cleanly.
The takedown of the M9A1 is very quick and easy without any tools.

(Note: this is a random youtube video and was not made by the GEARS crew)

Personally I’ve never got the point of a trigger safety and having no manual one. Since owning this pistol I have fired 200 rounds through it and still love every shot. Muzzle climb is very minimal with the firearm being muzzle heavy and allows for quicker follow up shots.
The shell ejection is mostly uniform launching up and back to the right. Shooting at 6 to 10 yards away I’d say this is one of the more accurate pistols I have shot. A Steyr fan for sure.

Check back for more reviews on this gun in the coming months.

Bullseye Camera System

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SwedishPhish338 sent us this link (Bulleye Camera System review) to check out and I have to say this is a really cool system.

The Bullseye Camera System is designed for shooters and archers to help them track their shots.

Panzer: Good Articles

Atticus and I are heading to the range to work on a few more reviews for you all so I figured I would post a few interesting articles from other bloggers.

 

.17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Review – GunsAmerica

First look: X Products Skeletonized AR drum – TheFirearmBlog

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Ruger Announces American RIMFIRE Rifle – RTB

What’s in a name –TheBangSwitch

 

The coolest thing you will see ever… – GunMartBlog

TDSA: The new GEARS Range

For the past year I have been looking for a new range to move my company to.

Since before I was blogging I always shot at a public range and after almost 3 years trying to write the best reviews I could with the amenities that range had I was frustrated. I would be working on a review and want to make a video to show the different parts of the gun or how the gun works and when I would get back to the office I would watch the video and it would sound like *BANG* Hi, my name is Attic- *BANG BANG BANG* *ONE SHOT A SECOND!* -sofguns.com *BANG*. that just doesn’t make for quality videos.

This article is by no means a diss on that range or even public ranges in general. I know that they have their place and for most gun owners are the best place in the world.

I will give my pros and cons to public ranges

PROS:

· Range officers everywhere to keep everyone safe.
· Safety rules like one shot a second to keep people from thinking they are Rambo the first time they ever pick up a MSR.
· Public ranges are relatively common in populated areas in the USA.
· Some have pro shops that can help you with basic questions about shooting and there is a good chance they have shooting clubs that meet out there if you are looking to get into that.
· For the gun owner who doesn’t get to the range but just a few times a year this is an inexpensive way to shoot.
· Typically there are experienced shooters who might be able to lend a hand if you are having problems.
· Safe for all types of shooters
(If you have a pro or con I might have missed please comment and share your thoughts)

Cons:

· Gun owners who shoot a lot can get bored.
· Public ranges typically have restrictions on types of guns and ammo that can be shot there (This is for safety reasons).
· Public ranges can get crowded at anytime.
· The noise level can get intimidating for new shooters.
· If you have more than one gun, space for cases and gear can be limited.
· Some ranges have a max amount of time you can shoot.
· If you are a frequent shooter cost for the range fees get overly expensive.
· The length of the ranges may not give you the distance you are looking for.

With all of that being said I have my own cons as a gun blogger that make working from a public range rather difficult.

Cons:
Space for guns, gear and crew.
Cost
Noise
Safety rules that stop us from testing triggers,holsters,over 10 rounds in a magazines, etc.

Since this has been making reviews and shooting more difficult I started looking to friends of the GEARS crew for help to see if they had a ranch we could shoot at and every time the answers were the same. No, we don’t know of a place or sure but it is a 5 hour drive out there.  I googled ranges in my area before and most were unable to help me any better than my current public range and that was when I spotted TDSA.net.

For any of you who follow Colion Noir on YouTube or watch Video Tuesday here on our site you might have seen Colion shooting targets from a golf cart and thought hey that is really cool… Well the cat is out of the bag. He was at TDSA in Ferris, TX.

I had seen when he released his video what range it was and never really thought about it again until I came back across the site when I was searching for a new range again and read the amenities they offer there.

7 Pistol Ranges:

  • Roughly 25 yards by 25 yards in size.
  • Rapid Fire is allowed.
  • Moving while shooting is allowed.
  • Drawing from holster is allowed.
  • Transitioning from rifles to pistols is allowed.
  • We also allow you to set up scenarios using barrels or barricades.
  • ***Upon request you may park your vehicle in the bays and shoot from inside your vehicle. (Remember this is based on request and approval ONLY).
  • ***We allow FULL AUTO FIRE in our pistol bays after a short Shooting Proficiency Test.

Rifle Ranges:

  • Shooting Proficiency Test required at 100 yards.
  • Full Metal Jacket is allowed
  • Steel Core is allowed
  • .50 and .338 caliber is allowed
  • All shooting done from a bench or prone position ONLY.
  • No Tracer or Incendiary rounds allowed.
  • Distances: 25 yards, 50 yards, 100 yards, 200 yards, and 300 yards.

Other Ranges (used for training and shooting matches):

  • 200 yard STREET with multiple cars lining each side.
  • 40 foot shooting TOWER with 4 floors and multiple ports on each floor.
    • TOWER can be used to train sniper initiated entries into STREET and CITY.
  • 200+ yard CITY with multiple rooms all around to shoot into and out of.
    • One large area is designed to resemble and Afghan village commonly seen by soldiers.
    • The CITY can be used for live fire, force on force training, and can take up to and including .50 caliber rifle fire.
  • Both CITY and STREET may be used to shoot from moving vehicles.
  • Rifle range can also be used as 270 degree 300 yard assault course.

Classroom:

  • There is a 1,300 sq. ft. classroom available upon scheduling. A white board and 60 inch TV monitor is included.

Other Information:

  • We allow Binary Exploding targets to be shot UPON REQUEST AND APPROVAL.
  • Night Fire is allowed on a “special needs basis” and UPON REQUEST AND APPROVAL.
  • Law Enforcement Discounts for Individual officers.
  • Corporate Membership Discounts.
  • Law Enforcement Agency Memberships.

[Taken from the TDSA website]

 

After reading all of that I was amazed and had to set up a meet with the Owner of TDSA, Len Baxley.

A few Mondays ago Panzer and I drove down to meet with Len and see this range.  The drive is about 45 minutes from where I live and the whole time I was thinking about the new and different reviews I could post on the website.

We pulled up and met Len in the classroom/his office and we sat down and started talking and getting to know each other. After 30 or so minutes of talking with Len and reading about his range I knew this is where the GEARS Crew would be shooting from. I told him that I didn’t need to see the range that I was ready to just sign up as a member. We talked for another 30 minutes when he said we should go and at least look at the range. He gave us the introduction/safety tour.  About halfway through the tour, I looked around and saw no other members were at the range. It was the most quiet and peaceful gun range I had ever been at!

Len is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He has built a range that is designed with a different kind of shooter in mind. This range is not for the gun owner who doesn’t shoot all that much or for the shooters who aren’t looking to take their shooting abilities to new levels. Len stresses that you are not going to have that range officer to keep you in check, this is the kind of place were you have to be in the mind-set that safety is your job.

I like this range because it opens new opportunities to the GEARS Crew and to the reviews we can offer.

If you live in North Texas and this sounds like the kind of range you are looking for, than CONTACT Len Baxley and tell him Atticus sent you.

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