How To Build Your Own Lasergrips

The author looks confident, but only because Tong is really in charge.

The author looks confident, but only because Tong is really in charge.

I always thought I was pretty handy, at least until today. Then I got humbled.

You see, I had the opportunity to build my very own Crimson Trace LG-401G Lasergrips for a 1911 pistol. I was visiting the Crimson Trace factory in Wilsonville, Oregon, just south of Portland, and those crazy folks seemed to believe that even a klutz like me could make something high tech like a four milliwatt green instinctive activation pistol laser. But they didn’t have enough faith in my technical ability to turn me loose on the factory floor unsupervised.

Tong was the engineer who humbled me, but he was really nice about it. He let me make some mistakes, then gently corrected my little messes while teaching me the right way to do things. I actually worked with Tong on two sets of grips. He built the first set, while carefully instructing me on the intricacies of each step in the process, and there were a lot of them – 13,729 I think, but who’s counting? I then took the drivers seat and started on the Lasergrips that I would build, then take home with me, to install and use on one of my 1911s.

Making your own Lasergrips is easy. In fact, pretty much anyone can do it. Just assemble the following tools and facilities, then we’ll walk through the process together here. Go ahead, I’ll wait til you’re ready.

An armory

I’m assuming you have more than one gun, so you’ll need at least a dozen guns of each type for the laser you want to design and build. Some of them will be used for performance testing. You see, a laser has to be built to absorb massive g-forces of recoil in the x, y and z axis – tens of thousands of times. Oh, the grips and electronic components inside have to deal with rotational forces also. You’ll wear out a few guns until you get the laser and interior components design just right.

Some of the guns you’ll need to chop apart into pieces. This is the part where you and I both cry. Chop up perfectly good guns? Yep, it’s all for the cause. See, when you assemble the grips, you’ll want to do it on the actual gun frame you’re making the laser for, not a copy that might have slight dimensional variances. The best way, how Crimson Trace does it, is to chop off the grip end of the frame of an actual gun to make construction jigs. Of course you’ll need to make multiple sets of these so you can meet the required production volume.

An indoor shooting range

You’ll want to install an indoor shooting range, hire an armorer to keep all the guns in the armory running, then train staff members to perform the hundreds of thousands of rounds of live fire testing. Believe it or not, there will be too much shooting for just one person to handle. Don’t forget to install lead management ventilation systems – and soundproofing so you don’t tick off the neighbors.

An engineering testing lab

If you’re going to do it right, you need testing facilities in house for non-shooting performance testing. You’ll need electrical testing equipment to make sure your battery and power management designs are up to par. You’ll also need moisture and immersion testing equipment, because a laser on a gun wouldn’t be of much use if it stopped working when it got a little wet. Don’t forget environmental testing equipment. Your Lasergrips will need to perform in exceptional hot and cold conditions. Not only environmental temperature changes, but operational temperature changes. Guns get hot when you shoot them a lot.

A collimation lab

Direct green laser diodes are a raw material that need to be directed, tuned and tweaked before they’re capable of projecting a neat green dot on target. After you line up your German diode supplier, you’ll need to construct special housings and install the diodes in them so they don’t get smashed to bits by recoil. Oh, and you’ll need to design an adjustable lens that takes the broad, rectangular green light output of the diode and focuses it into a sharp dot at a range of 25 feet. For this application, you can do what Crimson Trace does and construct mirror mazes, so you can focus each and every diode in a smaller space because you’re bouncing the beam out and back via the mirrors. Distance is distance, regardless of how many turns there are.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

A Galco Gunleather Tour: How Many Holsters Can You Make From 44 Miles of Cows?

Got leather?

Got leather?

Got cows?

Galco does. Lot’s of them. You know Galco, right? They’ve served billions and billions of holsters. Well, maybe not billions, but at least dozens of boatloads, judging by the size of their factory and activity level of all the folks in there.

I recently had the distinct pleasure of a factory tour. You see, I’m a self-admitted holster geek. I even wrote an entire book on methods of concealed carry and gun holsters. Yes, I’m hopeless on holsters, so when I had the opportunity to visit Galco, I jumped on it like Kanye West to the nearest microphone.

The very first thing I learned about was cows. Did you know that every year, Galco turns 886,000 square feet of leather into first-rate gun holsters? That’s about 20,000 cows. If you lined all those cows up, they would reach from PETA’s headquarters in Washington DC all the way to the Chick-Fil-A in Warrenton, Virginia. Trust me, I did the math.

OK, so odds are you’re not reading this because you need to know how many cows it takes to block the highway from DC to Warrenton, so let’s get to the cool part – the making of holsters. It’s a fascinating mix of high-tech automation and skilled hand crafting.

The first challenge is shoes. See, we used to make lots and lots of shoes here in the US, so there were thousands of tanneries that supplied all that leather. Now, since most shoes are made overseas, there are only two major vegetable tanneries here in the US, and Galco buys the lion’s share of tanned leather from both of them.

Just some of the leather headed towards the factory floor.

Just some of the leather headed towards the factory floor.

Like yummy steaks, leather comes in different cuts depending on the intended usage. Galco orders back sections, which are about half a cow from the center of the back down each side. One of these sections is about the size of the hood of a 1970 AMC Gremlin, but not quite as wide and a little longer.

The handmade dies (upper left) are mashed through the leather sheets to produce desired shapes.

The handmade dies (upper left) are mashed through the leather sheets to produce desired shapes.

The older way of cutting leather involves use of hand-made dies. These dies are laid out over a sheet of leather and pressed through to cut the desired shape. It’s up to the experienced cutter to obtain maximum use of each sheet of leather while minimizing waste.

High-tech cutting. The leather is optically scanned to capture shape and flag areas of imperfection.

High-tech cutting. The leather is optically scanned to capture shape and flag areas of imperfection.

The new way is incredibly cool. As each cow is different, the incoming leather sheets are always different sizes. Imperfections such as discolorations or scrapes exist in different spots on each and every sheet. A digital scanner looks at each incoming sheet of leather and identifies shape, surface area and “marks” imperfection areas with a “do not use” status.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

The Making of a Timney Custom Trigger

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you’re in the business of eking every last bit of performance out of an already fine-tuned product, you have to have a relentless, bordering on obsessive, sense of attention to detail.

Looking at the factory floor of Timney Triggers, the compulsive behavior quickly becomes apparent. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you could eat off the floor” before. At Timney Triggers, you really can. Well, actually you can’t, because eating off the floor would get it dirty. This place is seriously clean and polished. Even the brass outlet covers and ventilation grates on the factory floor are shined. I suspect even a Marine Corps Drill Instructor would have to begrudgingly express satisfaction.

The folks at Timney wouldn't let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

The folks at Timney wouldn’t let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

According to Timney Triggers owner John Vehr, this fanatical approach to organization and cleanliness sets the tone for the level of detail that goes into product design, manufacture, testing, shipping and most of all, service. After all, he wants Timney to be known not for products and inventions, but their service. “I want Timney to be the Kleenex of triggers, so people say ‘Check out my Timney’ instead of ‘Check out my trigger.’” The company intends to get to that point my removing internal competition and focusing all efforts externally. “When we no longer compete with each other, but rather outside competitors, it turns out we’re competing with companies that are competing with themselves,” says John. Every one of Timney’s 22 employees signs posters on the wall that detail Timney’s five commitments and Collaborative way. The fact that Timney has virtually no turnover seems to indicate the corporate culture investment is working.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day touring the (relatively) new Timney manufacturing facility just north of Scottsdale, AZ to see just how Timney trigger parts and assemblies are made. Hint: It’s a fascinating process which is a lot different than you might imagine. Let’s take a look.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

The process starts in the spacious work area / lab / office / studio occupied by mad scientist Calvin. New gun candidates for Timney aftermarket trigger are racked up near Calvin’s desk awaiting scanning with a three-dimensional video imaging system. This captures exact dimensions of the internal receiver space that a potential Timney Trigger product has to occupy.milling machines along a back wall, we didn’t see any powered up the day we were there.

 

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

Need Fathers Day Gift Ideas? Crimson Trace Sale On Now!

Crimson Trace Beretta 92FS-1Just a heads up folks – Crimson Trace has most of their laser and light products on sale between now and Fathers Day June 15, 2014.

According to the company,

“The discounts apply on: Rail Masters®, Lightguards®, Defender Series®, Rail Master Pros®, Lasergrips® and Laserguards®. Further discounts apply to the Master Series™ that are designed for the popular 1911 handgun. The deepest discounts of this annual Father’s Day Sale apply to laser systems designed for Glock and Sig Sauer handguns, plus the MVF-515™ Foregrip that is designed for rail-equipped AR rifles. Yes, shoppers will also find that many models of the popular green laser sights are now on sale.”

Shipping costs are also waived during the same time period, so if you’re thinking of adding a laser or two, now is a great time.

Git it while the gittin’s good…

Astroturf? Not. NSSF Breaks 10,000 Member Mark

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports that it has recently surpassed the 10,000 member mark, reflecting strong industry support for its efforts.

No, these new members were not paid with a pack of cigarettes, bussed in to enrollment centers or counted multiple times. The best part? All of these new members are actually living. These are companies, media organizations and individuals who have made the effort to join, and pay dues, to support the industry.

As big as it is, the NSSF SHOT Show is only a small part of what the National Shooting Sports Foundation does for the industry.

As big as it is, the NSSF SHOT Show is only a small part of what the National Shooting Sports Foundation does for the industry.

“NSSF membership continues to climb because more industry connected companies, organizations and individuals are aware of the many ways NSSF works to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports,” said Chris Dolnack, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer. “Such growth empowers NSSF to speak with a single, powerful voice on behalf of the industry inside the Beltway and in state houses across the country.”

To better accommodate the volume of membership renewals, the NSSF has changed their renewal terms. Now, renewal dates can be anniversary, rather than calendar date, driven. The NSSF membership team hopes that this change will speed up the process of distributing membership and renewal packets.

“We appreciate this incredible support,” said Bettyjane Swann, NSSF Director, Member Services, “and we similarly thank our members for their patience in awaiting their membership renewal packets. If a member has not received the packet and has any questions regarding this, they can certainly contact me.”

The NSSF offers a variety of membership types including voting, supporting, non-profit, retailer, range and individual media. Contact nssf.org for more information.

Gearing Up for SHOT Show 2014!

In preparation for next weeks SHOT Show, we’re packing, planning and setting up more meetings than Lindsay Lohan appearances on COPS.

If you’ve never been, SHOT Show is huge. I mean monstrous. Epic. Ridiculous. And maybe boundless. It’s always been a challenge to accurately describe the scale of this shooting, hunting and outdoors trade show.

Fortunately, the National Shooting Sports Foundation released an infographic that helps accurately describe SHOT. Some spoilers…

  • If you walk by each booth, you’ll put a minimum of 12.5 miles on your shoes.
  • The exhibit halls are equivalent in size to the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • If you filled up the entire Super Dome with shooting industry vendor booths, that would be the same as SHOT Show.

We’ll be posting lots of news and updates on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages throughout the show. Stay tuned!

how-big-is-the-shot-show_52caf4735d725

Black Friday Sale – No Camping Out Required

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun EditionWe were going to have an in-person Black Friday (and today and Saturday) sale event, but the thought of all those people camping out for days outside the office was kind of weird. We decided to be Insanely Practical about the whole thing instead.

Today, tomorrow and Saturday, our newest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition, is not 10, 20, or even 40, but 60% off!

That’s right, the Kindle version is just $3.99 for these three days only.

Recently featured in American Handgunner magazine, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting is the perfect resource to help you, or a friend, develop safety, confidence and skill with handgun shooting. Filled with tips, ideas, products, lots of photos and even a few cartoons, this book will get you up to speed in no time.

American Handgunner Magazine - Insider column feature

What our readers have to say

“Tom does a great job, in a comedic fashion, of explaining firearms and shooting in general.”
Hank H.

“This is a fun yet serious read. Great for anyone new to guns as well as those with some experience.”
Richard H.

“This a great tongue-in-cheek look at sometimes serious problems in becoming a gun owner. Everyone from rookie to veteran gun owners should read this.”
SixFourCop

Pick up a copy of The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting today! Whether you’re an experienced handgunner, or just starting out, there are plenty of helpful tips, photos, ideas and more that will help you become a better shooter. And it’s all delivered with a dose of fun.

Win This LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack

Tis’ the season for giving right?

Win this LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack laser

Win this LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack laser

Thanks to the nice folks at LaserMax, we’re going to give away a LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack to one of our lucky Facebook fans. That’s right, just head over to our Facebook page to enter, or you can do it directly from here. That’s all there is to it.

Keeping with our Insanely Practical philosophy, there are no strings attached. All you have to do is Like our Facebook page. The contest entry asks for your email, but that’s only for notifying the winner. We won’t even add you to our mailing list if you enter. Of course, if you would like to get our weekly email, packed with tips, product reviews and fun commentary on all things shooting, you can do that here.

This is an awesome addition to your AR-15 rifle, or any other rifle that has a rail up front. Heck, since it’s modular, you can even mount it on a pistol. We reviewed the LaserMax UNI-MAX ES recently if you want full details.

Enter here!

Deal Alert: Brownells AR Magazines On Sale For $9.99

Brownells AR MagazineJust saw this folks – a great time to stock up on Brownells AR magazines. They’re excellent and reliable.

Want Free Body Armor From Engarde USA?

Hey folks, I’ve got some exciting news that may cheer you up in these troubled economic times. Great, now I sound like a G. Gordon Liddy commercial…

The good folks at Engarde USA donated a free set of body armor for us to give to one of our lucky readers. Yes, that’s right. Free. No charge. And it’s not even used! Just kidding… but seriously, it is new in the box. And it’s never been shot at. If you win, it’s our recommendation that you try to avoid getting it shot at also.

Win this Engarde USA body armor. A $625 value, it can be yours just for sharing a little "Like" on your Facebook page.

Win this Engarde USA body armor. A $625 value, it can be yours just for a little “Like” on our Facebook page.

We’ve actually got a second identical set of Engarde Body Armor that we’re going to shoot at with all sorts of pistol calibers. So you can see exactly what you’re getting and how it performs. Look for a separate review article here in the next week.

But, just to tide you over, here are the basic features:

  • External configuration designed to wear over your shirt.
  • The carrier fully encloses front and back panels that overlap on the sides.
  • The panels are constructed from Dyneema SB-21. You can read more about that here, but for now, know that it’s designed to stop most pistol rounds.
  • Separate pockets allow insertion of ceramic plates to help stop rifle or machine gun rounds. Ballistic plates are not included in this giveaway, but you can buy them from Engarde USA.
  • Generous hook and loop panels allow attachment of gear on the exterior – front and back.
  • The carrier features hook and loop straps over the shoulders and around the sides for a perfect fit.
  • The interior features mesh construction to help keep you cool and comfortable.
  • The carrier is navy blue.

This is an incredibly awesome opportunity! The Engarde USA armor we’re giving away retails at $625! Yes, six hundred and twenty five dollars! 

How to win:

  • Like our Facebook page.
  • Yes, that’s it. No catches. Nor do you have to attend a brief seminar educating you on vacation property investments in the swamps lowcountry of South Carolina.
  • We’ll fire up the Google machine and use Random to pick the winner from all of our followers on Saturday November 23rd. So, instead of going shopping after Thanksgiving, make sure to get on Facebook for a minute and like My Gun Culture.
  • If you already like our Facebook page, you’ve already entered! And thanks for checking us out before this contest!

The fine print:

  • The size is large. If you win, you can choose any size you want, as long as it’s size Large. Don’t worry, be happy, the Engarde Large size fits the broadest variety of humans. I myself take an extra large, but I’ve really been enjoying the Butterscotch Krimpets recently. Sorry, no substitutions. I have one set here, in the box, waiting for you, but it’s a size large.
  • The color is Navy Blue.
  • State laws. It’s up to you to make sure there are no stupid laws in the place of your residence that would prohibit me from sending this to you. If your laws won’t allow you to win, we have to pass you by and go to the runner-up. Sorry, no substitutes or cash equivalents. Write your congress-critter and get the laws fixed so you can win next time.
  • We’ll post the winner on our Facebook page. Depending on your specific Facebook privacy settings, we may not be able to message you, so it’s up to you to check our page to see if you won. If a week goes by and we can’t contact you, we’re going to the next name generated by Random.
  • That’s about it. We’re going to keep this pretty simple. Because we believe in insane practicality.

While you’re waiting to win, why don’t you check out our latest books, available in print and eBook format. They’re insanely practical too.

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

 

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