Swamp Thing: The Immersion – A ZCORR Storage Story…

Some time ago, Jason from ZCORR Zero Corrosion Products left a comment on MyGunCulture.com. Something about his corrosion-proof storage bags for guns, ammo, supplies – most anything one might need to keep intact and rust-free for long periods of time in, let’s say, less than ideal storage conditions.

We (pridefully) told Jason that if we were going to evaluate something and write about it, that we were going to do it on our terms. Surprisingly, he agreed.

We live on the edge of a swamp. Real estate brokers call refer to this as “scenic wetlands” but we all know it’s just a swamp. It’s complete with all sorts of swamp critters: deer, raccoons, fox, snakes of all varieties, and gators. We thought that a good old fashioned swamp would be the perfect place to bury one of Jason’s bags for a while.

We can think of lot’s of scenarios where one might want to bury tactical stuff. Didn’t tell your spouse about that new gun you bought? Secret weapons cache in the yard in case your house is overrun by the undead? Those handcuffs that you sawed off late one night? The list goes on and we won’t ask questions or pass judgment on things you might want to bury.

Anyway, we quickly agreed to the challenge. As Jason seemed so supremely confident about the protective capabilities of his bags, we joked that we might even bury a sandwich and eat it at a later date when the package was dug back out of the swamp. Unfortunately Jason double-dared us and now here we are – trapped into either accepting the challenge or being exposed as trash-talking wimps.

With some trepidation, we assembled our version of a survival kit to submerge in a ZCORR Vacuum Pistol Bag…

Post Apocalypse (choose your favorite type) Survival Kit

  • Gun: Post thermonuclear war, zombie virus outbreak, global economic  collapse, or 30 straight days of cable TV downtime – it doesn’t matter. When civilization breaks down and you’re going to want a gun. We really trust Jason, but let’s be real. We’re not going to bury one of our favorite guns in a swamp just for this article. However, we found a reasonable compromise. We’ve been working on a restoration of a low cost, .25 caliber pocket pistol for a friend for, umm, a few years now. Since the frame is eternally getting polished, why not bury that? Worst case, out comes the Dremel tool once again.

  • Zippo Lighter: Yeah, we know, lighter fluid will be in short supply when the zombies come, but it seemed like a good idea to bury this. Will it still light? Will it explode from some freakish reaction with the ZCORR protective molecules? Will American Horror Story ever come back for season 2?
  • Macaroni and Cheese: Boxed macaroni and cheese takes a close second in importance to our least favorite gun. Plus you’ll want at least one more synthetic packaged meal before you enter a lifelong diet of insects and berries.
  • Metal Spring Puzzle from Cracker Barrel: Yeah, basic survival is important, but what are you going to do with your new-found leisure time with no X-Box, cable television, or Words With Friends? Bet you didn’t think of that did you? We’re packing hours of engaging entertainment with the puzzle. Oh, and it’s metal so we can see if it rusts in the swamp.
  • Black Powder Pistol Pellets: You guessed it. We packed these loose and unprotected, kind of like Paris Hilton, in the bag. And we’re going to shoot them out of a Remington Bison .44 cap and ball revolver replica post swamp-emergence. Does anyone know a good insurance agent? By the way, our policy got canceled recently with no explanation. Hmmm.
  • Primers: You’re gonna have to reload if you want to stand a chance against Mad Max. Until the supplies run out anyway. We packed a box of Federal Pistol Primers and we’re gonna load up some .38 Swamp Specials to see how they work. Still waiting on a referral to a good insurance agent by the way.
  • Official SHOT Show Media Day Notepad: We’re dedicated to this web site and fully intend to keep writing after the total breakdown of civilization. So we’re packing a notepad. Granted, we haven’t figured out how we’re going to handle worldwide distribution…

ZCORR Vacuum Seal Bags

The vacuum seal is one tough cookie (bag.) It features what we reluctantly describe as a zip-lock seal. We say reluctantly because its nothing like the sandwich, or even freezer bag type. It feels about 1/2” thick and locks together in clamp like fashion. If we had access to a fragmentation grenade, we would love to set one off inside the bag just to see if the seal held. 50/50 chance that it would.

Once you have your survival kit in the bag and have zipped the seal shut, it’s time to vacuum out the excess air. Just place most any vacuum hose over the waterproof seal and draw out the air.

That’s it.

If you’re going to do something ridiculous like bury stuff in a swamp, ZCORR recommends using an external container to prevent tears to the bag, but let us tell you, this bag is tough. We buried it in it’s birthday suit.

Check back in a few weeks. We’re going to:

  • Eat swamp macaroni and cheese
  • Make .38 Swamp Special reloads and shoot them
  • Fire a .44 Remington Bison with Swamp powder
  • Torch something with a Swamp Zippo
  • Play some puzzle games
  • And finally finish refinishing that gun…

Ammo Review: Hornady Critical Defense vs. SPAM

Will-it-expand-banner

Welcome back to our continuing series where we subject Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty ammo to all sorts of abusive and at times, ridiculous, tests. You see, it’s supposed to expand every time. And we’re going to find out if it does.

Our reader suggestion for this episode is… Spam. Yes, the simulated meat kind.

We thought this was a great idea.

People at our outdoor shooting range? Not so much. Mainly because they got covered with Spam. But hey, that’s why you’re supposed to wear eye protection, right? So our conscience is clean, if not our clothing.

Down here in South Cackalackee we got ourselves a problem – wild spam. It’s everywhere and we find them in all sizes – from 7 ounce cans to 12 packs. And when it’s allowed to roam free in the wild, it can reach 25 pounds – so caliber selection is a bit tricky.

Anyway, wild Spam are slimy, slippery, and basically a booger to catch, so we elected to shoot canned Spam. Both original and generic. Just in case there’s a difference. We hear that artificial spam has even less meat in it so we figured it would be interesting to see if there’s a difference in bullet expansion performance and Spam lethality. Well, obviously Spam is lethal to humans, but is Hornady Critical Defense ammo lethal to Spam?

First we tested the Hornady Critical Defense .22 Magnum round. We thought it would be a pretty good solution for Spam – not too much meat damage, no recoil, and lots of rifle and pistol options to launch it. With a 45 grain FTX bullet that included one of those cute little red flex tips to aid expansion we were hopeful for consistent expansion results.  We elected to use a Ruger Single Six with a 7.5″ barrel – a portable Spam solution that would keep velocity reasonable at closer Spam hunting distances.

We originally expected the .22 WMR to leave a little something edible when all was said and done, but unless we intended to scrape Spam splatter off other nearby shooters at the range, it was not to be. The .22 WMR round was somewhat, ah, explosive against both brand name and generic spam. And we got great expansion from all rounds through both real and plastic Spam. Not bad performance considering that the round had to pass through two sides of metal skin and a big hunk of gelatinous fake meat love.

Because you never know when you might encounter an especially irritable Spam while attending to more urban chores, we tested a couple of common personal defense loads. Will a quick shot from your every day carry gun put down a Spam? Will there be any left? Will the Grocery Product Defense League of Americacome after you with abuse charges?

We aimed to find out and tried both 90 grain .380 ACP and 115 grain 9mm Critical Defense rounds.

While the .380 rounds mortally wounded all of our test Spams with a single shot, we were a tad disappointed with the expansion results. We shot them from a very short barreled Ruger LCP so velocity was at the low end of the round’s potential. We noted some mild deformation, but no actual expansion.

The 9mm rounds out of a Glock 17 Gen IVwere another story altogether.

More weight + More Velocity = Spam Juice

While juicing Spam this way is cheap and easy, not to mention fun, you’re probably better off using the Jack Lalane Power Juicer if you’re one of those that appreciates the extra nutrients available from Spam juicing.

What we learned

  • Shooting canned food is fun, but can be expensive
  • Domestic, or canned, Spam is much easier to shoot
  • Don’t shoot Spam when other people are at the range. Unless you have lot’s of Handi-Wipes available
  • Spam is NOT more edible after shooting. In fact, it’s even less palatable.

 

If you’re into video, check out SPAM – The Movie

Spam, spam, spam, and spam.

You can buy Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty Ammunition here.

London Olympic Games to Debut Origami Pistol Competition

In a surprise announcement today the London 2012 Olympic Committee has reached a compromise on accommodation of the fifteen scheduled shooting competitions at this summers’ games.

“Our panties have been in a wad like you wouldn’t believe” complained Neville Wiltchamberlain, Minister of Irrational Worrywarting. “We thought it would be awesome to have the Olympics here in London until we found out that guns would be involved in some of the events.”

Earlier in the year, the London Olympic Committee attempted to minimize attendance to the shooting competitions by excluding them from the 175,000 tickets distributed free to schoolchildren. “Can you image the trauma our country would have had to deal with if the children, yes children, saw .22 calibre competition shooting pistols and rifles?” queried Wiltchamberlain. “Next thing you know, they would have wanted us to re-legalize Nerf guns!”

Fortunately, with the aid of a Japanese crisis mitigation consultant, a compromise was reached. Instead of using real guns and shooting at targets, competitors will compete with Origami guns. As origami guns don’t actually fire projectiles, competitors will be timed on how quickly they can re-fold NRA membership brochures into paper pistols. A panel of judges from The United Kingdom, France, and Chicago will score contestants on style and efficient use of paper.

“This is a much better example for the children” explained Wiltchamberlain.

Review: Crimson Trace Lasergrips for Glock Full Size and Compact Gen 3 LG-417

Beam me Scotty…

Suggested Retail Price: $339.00 www.crimsontrace.com
The Good
Love, love, love that the newer model Lasergrips for Glocks have a positive on/off switch for the laser.
The Bad
Given the solid molded grip design of the Gen 3 Glocks, it will add a bit of circumference to your grip.
The Ugly
There are still “gun dude” know-it-alls out there who believe that lasers are a gimmick bound to get you ‘kilt’ in a real gunfight. You have to explain to them that you also know how to use sights.
Our Rating
3 Nuns Four Nuns! No problems with any of our holsters, no accidental activation, and rock solid mount. A nice piece of equipment.

First Impressions

The thing we like best about the Crimson Trace Lasergrip design is the instinctive activation. Grab your gun, and the laser is pointing at stuff you’re going to shoot. No levers, switches or internal parts replacements – just an instant and somewhat sexy improvement. It’s kind of like a Botox treatment for your gun, although you don’t have to replace it every six weeks.

Installation

Putting these on was a snap. We didn’t even need the instructions. Well, not at the beginning anyway. The steps are pretty simple.

  • Unload your gun
  • Now unload it again, and check the chamber this time to make sure its empty
  • Slide your snazzy new Crimson Trace LG-417 lasergrip over the bottom of the frame
  • Make sure the bright red shiny light part is facing forward
  • Choose the proper mounting clamp for your particular Glock (see below)
  • Screw it down tight using the enclosed tool
  • Go look exceedingly cool at the range

See? Pretty simple. No removal of pins, springs, or other itty-bitty parts from your gun.

Front activation button – Protects important things…

The LG-417 features a front activation button. This is a good thing for concealed carry guns. We’ve had lasers in the past with side activation buttons. Unfortunately, we’ve found that pressure from inside the waistband holsters can activate the laser, thereby sending a blazing hot beam of gamma mega-death laser power right at your, ummm, sensitive areas. Actually Crimson Trace assures us that their lasers are harmless in that respect, but it does tend to wear the batteries faster. And avoiding this problem altogether means that you don’t have to explain why your pants are glowing red.  Yes, you could crack plenty of off-color jokes about being hot to trot or making a great addition to any city’s red light district, but we feel its better to avoid the situation entirely.

To zero or not to zero – That is the question…

The Crimson Trace Lasergrips come with adjustable windage and elevation settings that allow one to line up the laser ‘dot’ with a specific point of impact at a specific distance. The laser lens is of course not physically located in the center of the bore – generally bullets go there – and that might cause damage to your Lasergrips. So thinking back to Mrs. Finglebaum’s 9th grade Geometry class, if you set the ‘dot’ to match the point of impact at a given distance, the projectile line of flight and the laser beam converge to the specified point of aim, then continue to diverge again after that. Mrs. Finglebaum would call that an example of intersecting line segments that have different slope-intercept equations. Or would she refer to them as rays? Rays go on forever. A bullet stops traveling at some point so it’s more like a line segment. But then again it’s constantly falling, making it technically more like some type of parabolic curve. Does a Crimson Trace laser extend forever? Is it a line segment or a ray? Will it Rendezvous with Rama a few billion light years from my pistol range? Wow, geometry is hard…

Bottom line? You have two choices on ways to ‘zero’ your Crimson Trace Lasergrips:

  1. Be precise – at a distance. Pick a distance where you want the bullet impact and the laser dot to occupy the same physical space on your target. One of the primary advantages to this method is that it feels exceptionally cool to put the laser dot on some small target, like a jobless mosquito, and blow it away. Many people at your shooting range can be impressed by this. The disadvantage is that for both longer and shorter ranges than your zero setting, the bullet will not impact exactly on the dot. It will be close, but not exact, depending on how far your actual shooting distance is from your zero distance. Dig up Mrs. Finglebaum’s book and you’ll see what we mean.
  2. Get parallel. By our unofficial measurements on a Glock 32 Gen 3 with the LG-417 mounted, the laser beam lens is just about 1/2” below the center of the bore and about 3/4” to the right of the bore. So, if you take a whack at adjusting the laser to remain parallel to the bore, then distance becomes a non-issue. Your bullet will hit a smidgen high and a couple hair lengths to the left of where the shiny red dot is. Then you can have some extra fun at twilight trying to whack targets at 100 yards or so.

Two good options and all personal preference. Crimson Trace sets a reasonably good zero for 50 feet. So take your choice. Tinker or not.

Read those instructions!

Apparently the Gen 3 full size and compact Glocks can have some slightly different frame configurations on the beavertail right below the slide. The LG-417 laser grip kit comes with two different sized mounting clamps to account for your particular version. It’s important to identify your variant per the diagrams in the Installation Handbook because as we, umm, found out the hard way, you can get a less than secure mount using the wrong clamp. We initially used the larger clamp and installation seemed to work fine, but we quickly noticed that the laser grip would not hold a zero after holstering and un-holstering. A quick look at the instructions led us to swap out the larger clamp for the smaller, and voila, problem solved. That myth about guys not needing to read instructions? Still not true.

Positively engaging!

The newer LG-417 series features a positive on/off switch mechanism – a great improvement over the earlier Glock models. We like to do other daytime stuff that’s not so laser friendly like Steel Challenge, IDPA, and general range plinking on nice sunny days. It’s nice to be able to disengage the laser without dismounting it. This model has a deeply recessed pressure switch on the left grip panel, just above the battery compartment. A small pinky can be used to turn the laser off entirely. If you have fat fingers like we do, just use a bullet to get to that recessed switch. That method looks mucho more macho anyway.

Closing arguments

One of the most interesting findings about the LG-417 laser grips is the relatively minor impact of practical grip circumference. This sounds dirty already, but we’re going to plow ahead and hope for the best… The grip itself technically covers 3 of the 4 sides of the Glock grip, but the only finger that is fully impacted is the road rage (middle) one. For us, the ring and pinkie fingers did not come in contact with the laser grip on either the front or left side of the Glock frame – they naturally positioned just beneath. So, while the laser grips appear to add noticeable width, in actuality, only the right side impacts shooting hold.

One more thing. Just hypothetically speaking, if we had forgotten to renew our concealed carry license, and had to re-take the entire state mandated training class, we might have done that while testing the Crimson Trace Lasergrips. And while shooting the living crap (hypothetically speaking) out of the center of the huge target during the qualification stage (it is only 3-5 yards after all) the state certified instructor expert might have smugly inquired “Well hot shot what are you going to do if those laser sights don’t work?” Again, hypothetically speaking, we might have answered, somewhat sarcastically, “well that’s what the TruGlo TFO sights are for numbnuts.” Hypothetically speaking of course.

We like it. Especially because the old shooting fart thinks we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Ammo Review: Will Hornady Critical Defense Ammo Expand in Rocks?

Will-it-expand-banner

We’ve had great success getting Hornady’s Critical Defense ammo to expand after passing through all sorts of crazy things – plastic, old garage rags, honey bears, Wal-Mart house brand grape jelly, spam, flour, e-mail, leather boots, canned vegetables, and more. So we figured it’s time for the ultimate test.

Rocks.

Rocks are hard and as we figure, tough on ammo. And you need to know if your ammo is going to perform should you ever encounter an evil d00d wearing a protective vest made of rocks.

When it came time to head to the range, we found actual rocks to be a bit problematic as they are big and heavy and somewhat uneven. And you know how scientific we are are about these things. We need repeatable uniformity. Sounds sophisticated doesn’t it? Repeatable uniformity.

So we elected to use some stone floor tile that we had laying around in the garage. Because it offers repeatable uniformity. And because it doesn’t seem to match any of the floor in our house. Apparently we stole it from the neighbors while they were distracted by the True-Green lawn guy.

As we’ve already discussed, rocks are hard. So we went full octane – .357 Sig and .40 S&W. Out of a Glock 32 and Beretta PX4 Storm respectively.

We used our standard high tech methodology:

  • Take random stuff to the range
  • Bring lots of Hornady Critical Defense ammo
  • Place cameras out there
  • Get strange looks from people at the range
  • Shoot through said random stuff
  • Catch the bullet in our special wet pack blend (soggy newspaper and cardboard)
  • Dig out the bullets

Surprisingly, both the .357 Magnum and .40 S&W Critical Defense loads expanded properly after passing through, well, rock more or less.

What’s the point you may ask?

The point is… Now you know not to put stone floor tile in your ballistic vest. It won’t help you.

You can buy Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty Ammunition here.

Corn Guns, Dentures, and Parrots: A Chat with Brownells Tech Team Leader Dave Bennetts

Today’s featured “interesting gun person” is Dave Bennetts, who leads the world-famous Brownells Gun Tech Team. In between helping us regular folks reassemble guns that we’ve, umm, fixed, helping customers find the right accessories and parts, and providing generally helpful advice, they produce an extensive library of videos. No, not that kind! We’re talking about videos that feature new products, demonstrations, and how-to videos for do-it-yourself projects. In between calls, we caught up with Dave to answer a few of our more pressing questions.

My Gun Culture: Tell us about the primary mission of Brownells Gun Tech team. I mean besides the obvious one of being the top-secret Q Branch supporting our special forces community. Ummm, should I not have mentioned that?

Dave: Wow! The primary mission of the Gun Tech Team, good question! Sometimes we’re not to sure what it actually is. On Monday, it’s to keep people from shooting themselves in the foot. They think of ways all weekend to do that! By Wednesday it’s changed to “how do I fit night vision onto my 2 1/2 inch barrel Taurus, without drilling and tapping?” Got to keep it original you know. But by Friday we are in development mode for stuff that your imagination can’t comprehend, so we won’t discuss it.

My Gun Culture: I don’t know Dave, I can comprehend a lot… For instance, and just hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to build a 2,000 foot per second potato gun, would the Brownells Gun Tech team be able to help me? Have you developed any supersonic spud lab data to share with your customers? I always thought that a sturdier vegetable like a radish might do better at super sonic speeds. Thoughts?

Dave: Come on Tom! Spud guns are so “like old”!! As you know, we are an Iowa company, so all of our R&D revolves around corn. We are developing a new cartridge made entirely of corn. Everything! The projectile, the propellant, the primer, and the case. One of the problems we have run into, is finding the proper thickness corn husk required for rolling the case. We always have the reloader in mind, and I’m sure you all remember rolling your own with a corn husk, right?

My Gun Culture: Wow! The ultimate in renewable green ballistics. I see a mini-Green Giant gun on the horizon – maybe 2,500 kernels per minute? I’m guessing the trick is avoiding a creamed-corn result. I bet there are some home gunsmiths out there who might be, let’s just say a little light when it comes to caution and safety. Have you ever heard any explosions on the other end of the phone line?

Dave: No explosions, just toilets flushing, showers running, dogs barking, and this damn parrot that screeched into the phone every 5 seconds. My favorite is the guy who has his wife call, and he’s in the background telling her what to say!

My Gun Culture: Hey I only did that once, and it was because, well, umm, I had laryngitis. Yep, laryngitis. Moving on… I see that Brownells carries some Zombie specific AR rifle custom parts including uppers, receivers, stocks, etc. What if you’re wrong and the world is overrun by some other type of undead – like vampires for instance. Will Brownells still stand behind the effectiveness of these products?

Dave: No guarantees on anything except zombies. We feel that if the customer is worried about vampires, werewolves, or any other un-dead, they better do a Google search, and do their own research. We can’t do everything.

My Gun Culture: Tell us more about the basic training program for prospective Brownells Gun Tech team members. After they complete the rigorous warehouse obstacle course, 200 hours of ‘Gears of War’ simulation, and blindfolded M249 SAW assembly and disassembly, what else must they do to become certified and join Brownells Team Six?

Dave: This is a pretty simple answer actually. If you don’t know everything, about everything. you just won’t cut it.

My Gun Culture: Recently we had an editorial examining whether the MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher was appropriate for home defense. Would the experts of the Brownells Gun Tech team like to weigh in on this?

Dave: I don’t know about you, Tom, but my home is my castle. If all I had was a MK 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, sitting in the corner, to defend myself with? You bet! Look out, it’s coming at ya! Kinda feel sorry for the neighbors, though.

My Gun Culture: Can you tell us about a couple of your more ‘interesting’ tech support calls? I can’t even begin to imagine some of the questions you get…

Dave: There was one phone call in mind, that really stands out. I was pretty new at Brownells, and took a call from a gentleman somewhere in the southern US, who proceeded to explain to me, that he had attempted to re-line his dentures with one of our premier rifle bedding products. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, as I think the pictures are starting to form in your head!

We would like to thank Dave and the great team over at Brownells for humoring us and telling us a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes. If you haven’t worked with Brownells before, check them out. When it comes to accessories, parts, gunsmithing supplies, and ammunition, if they don’t have it you probably don’t need it!

Ammo Review: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo: These Boots Were Made for Shootin’

Will-it-expand-banner

This week’s episode of ‘Will It Expand’ undresses the heaviest of outerwear – leather. As we had no interest in perforating our nice leather coat, we elected to use an even tougher leather barrier – an old pair of Justin Boots.

So – stick with us here – the idea is to shoot hollow point ammunition through not one, or three, but two layers of very heavy leather and into our sophisticated special blend of ballistic testing material called wetpack which consists mostly of thoroughly soggy newspapers. Will traditional hollow point ammo expand? Will Hornady Critical Defense expand? Every time? Will we ever be able to wear these boots again? Is ammo-induced ventilation covered under warranty?

First up: Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special +P 110 grain

We shot the boot with a couple rounds of Critical Defense and a couple rounds of Cor-Bon .38 Special +P 110 grain JHP and Speer Gold Dots. We’ve found the Cor-Bon load to be excellent with sporadic observations of jacket / core separation. Gold Dots don’t separate due to their bonded construction and have an excellent record of expanding in reasonable material. Both the Cor-Bon and Gold Dot loads failed to expand properly after passing through two thick layers of foot-conditioned leather. The projectiles showed early indications of expansion but by no means blossomed to anywhere near their full potential. Kind of like Lindsay Lohan. Both Critical Defense rounds expanded, although one was far more photogenic than its sibling.

Next up: Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 grain

Increased velocity helped all the 9mm contestants. The combination of a hotter and heavier load and a longer barreled pistol (Beretta 92FS) made a noticeable difference. We happened to have a box of Federal Premium 9mm Luger +P+ 124 grain Hydra-Shok on hand. These are marked ‘Law Enforcement Use Only’ but we figured this was important enough work to bend the rules a bit. Let’s keep that just between us, OK?

Anyway, everybody expanded AND was photogenic. Conclusions? Beats us, but it sure was fun.

And last but not least: Hornady Critical Defense .40 S&W 165 grain

This last test makes us wonder why we bother carrying anything but a .40 caliber. Lined up next to the .38 Specials and 9mm rounds, these all looked mighty impressive. Especially since all the tested rounds expanded perfectly.

We used three. The Critical Defense .40 S&W 165 grain, a DoubleTap Ammunition .40 S&W 165 grain Gold Dot, and a Winchester .40 S&W 165 grain T Series.

All performed as intended and seemed completely unaffected by conditioned and highly-polished boot leather.

What’s next? Let us know and we’ll shoot it.

You can buy Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty Ammunition here.

Review: 5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backpack

5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 BackpackWe put the 5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backpack through the ringer. It’s one of three packs selected for our 2012 SHOT Show Challenge. We even ran the TSA gauntlet with it - sans detainment or other embarrassing incident. Our standard luggage was far less successful and every single piece got molested by the feds. Once at SHOT 2012, we stuffed it full of food, water, shooting stuff, and tech gear for Media Day at the Range. Then, for three more days, we crammed obscene amounts of SHOT Show marketing and press collateral into them. And a veritable boatload of cool giveaway goodies. Then we brought it all home. In other words, we subjected it to a regimen designed to create a high risk of pack destruction.

A look at the 5.11 COVRT 18

5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backback laptop sleeveThis is a full size combination cubicle-tactical bag – suitable for use in the field, on the road, or for your office junk. It’s got a really interesting combination of features that make it a great crossover pack for field gear AND electronics.  The COVRT is designed to “blend in.” Offered in 5 different color schemes, it looks right at home in any urban environment – by design. While loaded with plenty of tactical features like drag handle, concealed weapons compartments, QuickTact straps, and lots of external attachment points, the COVRT does not scream tactical. While it offers the features, it’s not nearly tactical looking enough for fully qualified mall ninjas. Only real covert operators and regular folks looking for a quality backpack need apply for this one.

Internal laptop sleeve

The COVRT 18 fits a 15″ MacBook Pro perfectly in the vertical position. Just for reference, this computer is just about 14.3 inches wide and 9.82 inches deep. Oh, and this sleeve is padded. The internal laptop sleeve also offers a strap that will hold smaller notebooks, netbooks, iPads and the like in place. it wouldn’t fit around the MacBook Pro, nor was it needed for larger devices like full size notebooks.

Dedicated sunglasses / goggles pocket

5.11 COVRT 18 sunglasses pouchThis is located at the very top of the pack behind the grab handle and is lined with soft fluffy material that won’t scratch your ESS Crossbow Eyeshields. The pocket is sized for just the eyewear and won’t fit extra large cases. The whole point however, is that you don’t need to lug your eyewear case around. This is a feature that sounds unimportant, but turns out to be really handy.

BBS weapons pocket

5.11 COVRT 18 BBS holsterThis pack uses the 5.11 Tactical Back-up Belt System. That allows you to carry a gun holster, magazine pouches, and other gear compatible with the system in a hidden pouch. The BBS pouch is accessible through zippers on both sides of the COVRT 18 so it’s handy for both righties and lefties. This weapon storage method appears to be more useful for transport and deep concealment – it won’t help you win any speed draw contests.  We tried it with a Glock 32 and a couple of spare magazines and there was plenty of room and the gun was held securely. 5.11 offers a variety of pouches compatible with the BBS System – holster, magazine carrier, handcuff pouch, collapsible baton pouch and a mace / pepper spray or flashlight pouch.

Quick access flex-cuff channel

Sorry but as this is a PG rated publication, we can’t comment on our use of flex cuffs while in Vegas. But if you’re a law enforcement, military or private security type, it’s a nice added touch to have quick access without rummaging through the pack.

Pockets, pockets, pockets…

5.11 COVRT 18 backback rearThe COVRT 18 offers enough pockets to keep us organization freaks busy for months. Main compartment; laptop sleeve; two mesh zipper pouches in the main compartment; hydration bladder compartment; four additional zipper-enclosed exterior pockets; and more. We’re pretty sure that the COVRT 18 can handle more gear than the Bat Utility Belt. As we recall, even Batmans belt did not have specialized storage for beverage containers (or smoke grenades) in exterior mesh pockets, Tide-To-Go pens, or business cards. Not that Batman ever needed business cards – those sexy tights were always a dead giveaway.

Straps

One of the standout features of the 5.11 COVRT 18 is comfort. Not only are the main straps wide and well padded, they make use of cinch straps to secure the main compartment load. An adjustable sternum strap helps keep the shoulder straps right where you want them. The integrated grab handle has both tactical and non-tactical uses. Mounted between the shoulder straps just before they connect to the pack body, the grab handle is thick and well padded. And sturdy. After three days of SHOT Show, the My Gun Culture staff had to resort to dragging me off the show floor in a comatose state. Oh, it’s also handy for quick moves and carries without fully mounting the pack over one or both shoulders. Nice feature – not just because it’s there, but because its well designed.

The final word

This is one of the most functional and diverse packs we’ve every used. Equally great for toting office gear around airports and shooting gear around the range. Love it.

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