If Engarde Body Armor Can Protect Plastic Saddam, It Can Protect You

Is he a plastic Saddam Hussein or a 1970s Porn Star? We don't know, but either way he's protected with Engarde Body Armor.

Is he a plastic Saddam Hussein or a 1970s Porn Star? We don’t know, but either way he’s protected with Engarde Body Armor.

Today’s work project is shooting plastic Saddam full of holes. Well, I think he’s supposed to be Saddam, but he kinda looks like a 1970s era porn star. Either way, it’s a service to humanity.

But it’s not as unfair as it sounds. You see, he’ll be wearing Engarde Body Armor. So he has a fighting chance.

Stay tuned for the results…

Oh, by the way, thanks to the folks at Engarde Body Armor, we’re giving away a FREE bullet proof vest to a lucky Facebook fan. No catches, just like our Facebook page here, and it could be yours!

But we wouldn’t want to give our valued readers anything not street proven. So we’re going to dress up our plastic Saddam in a second, identical set of Engarde Body Armor (don’t worry, the prize set will be un-shot!) and shoot him with all sorts of pistols. .357 Sig, .45 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W and even a classic James Bond Walther PPK in .32 ACP.

Read the full contest rules here. Like our Facebook page. And check our Facebook wall on November 23rd. That’s it.

How To Peep Through A Glock: RAPS Rear Aperture Pistol Sights

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

Have you ever shown someone how to shoot a handgun for the very first time?

If so, how did you explain the proper relationship between front and rear sights? Did you use the two fingers on one hand and single finger on the other to illustrate the concept? One of those drawings you see on the wall of shooting range classrooms? Or perhaps a custom Lego structure?

While second nature to experienced shooters, standard notch rear sights are a little tough to explain to someone who’s never handled a gun.

“Hold the gun so the front sight is exactly centered in the notch of the rear sight. Good. Now make sure the top of the front sight is exactly level with the top of the rear sight. OK, now turn back around and face the target. Yes, but now the front sight is not centered sideways anymore. OK good. Now make sure all that lines up with the target. Say what?”

Battle rifles like the M1 Garand, Springfield Armory 1903 A1s, M1 Carbines, M14s, M16s and many more use an aperture sight system. So do long-range iron sighted competition rifles. And those World War II ship-mounted anti-aircraft guns.

Why?

Mainly because aperture sights work half-automatically. When you look at a post or dot on the front through a ring in the back, your brain kicks in to mega-OCD mode and wants to automatically center the front sight in the aperture circle. It’s a biological process called “magic.” It means you don’t really have to think about anything. Look through the hole at your front sight and place it over the target. The rest is auto-magical. Your brain subconsciously makes sure that the front sight is in the center of the rear sight circle.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

While I’ve shot lots of rifles with aperture sights, I’ve never shot a pistol with aperture sights. Until now.

I mounted a RAPS (Rear Aperture Front Sight) on a Glock 17 Gen 4 to test it out.The RAPS is a new offering available through White Raven Communications and it sells for about $30.

So how did it shoot?

The RAPS configuration is fast. Scary fast. There is no conscious process of sight alignment. Bring your gun up, look for the front sight and the rest is automatic. One of the unexpected benefits, and reason for the speed, is that there is nothing on which to focus on the rear sight. It’s just a big hole. You simply can’t help but to immediately focus on the front sight and front sight only. With standard rear sights, you may think that both front and rear sights are in focus, but they’re not. That’s just your brain rapidly switching focal points between the front and rear.

I had no problem with precision using the RAPS. My outdoor range is chock full of fun, and small, targets like golf balls, tennis balls and spent shotgun shells. I was easily able to hit any target I’m capable of hitting with any other type of sight. The large rear aperture may look imprecise, but it’s not. Your brain deals with it. In short, the sight didn’t limit my shooting accuracy.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

One other thing to note. The forward edge of the RAPS is milled flat. So, in a pinch, you can hook this on to a belt or holster and rack the slide one-handed should you need to.

The manufacturer states that the RAPS sight “This sight should not be used for competitive shooting where finite accuracy is required.” I think that statement needs a big qualifier. If you’re shooting bullseye pistol events where you care about 1/10 of an inch at 50 yards, maybe. If you shoot the “speed” pistol sports like Steel Challenge, IDPA or USPSA, I completely disagree. All of those events have targets inside of 25 yards and I find the RAPS sight noticeably faster to acquire than standard sights. I’m not a bullseye target shooter, but I had no problem hitting golf ball size targets at 25 yards with the RAPS.

Installation is easy once you get the Glock factory rear sight off. If you have a sight pusher tool, or know someone who does, like most any gun store, cool – use that method. If not, you can use a brass punch to drive the factory sight out. Be careful, it’s tight in there. Once you get the Glock rear sight removed, the RAPS will slide right into place. Center it and tighten it to the frame using the small allen screw that is just forward of the aperture ring. If you need to adjust, loosen, move and re-tighten. Piece of cake.

This is a nifty upgrade. Given the price, and that it’s easy to reinstall the factory sight, give it a try. I got spoiled by the speed of these sights and intend to leave it on my Glock 17.

A Look Through The Redfield Battlezone Tactical .22LR Scope

For testing, I mounted the Redfield Battlezone 2-7x34mm on a Ruger 10/22.

For testing, I mounted the Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm on a Ruger 10/22.

I love shooting .22′s.

There’s just something pure and satisfying about blowing away teeny, tiny targets at moderate ranges without the expense, noise and recoil of a full size gun. While iron sights are purist and awesome, just because they’re so darn traditional, you can’t get really precise with itty bitty targets like golf balls, Tootsie Pops, Life Savers and bugs without some type of optic.

Having just picked up a new standard Ruger 10/22 for myself, I needed a fun – key word, FUN – scope for it. Enter the Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm.

It's a variable power optic with 2 to 7x zoom - plenty for .22 rifles.

It’s a variable power optic with 2 to 7x zoom – plenty for .22 rifles.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope is built around a 1 inch tube, so finding compatible scope rings is easy. That one inch tube is nitrogen-filled, so I didn’t have any fogging issues with rapid temperature changes. Normally when I take any kind of camera or optic from my comfy air-conditioned home out into the blast furnace otherwise known as South Carolina, I get a good ten minutes of fog. Not so with the Redfield Battlezone.

It’s variable power ranges from 2 to 7x, which is plenty given the maximum practical range of the .22LR cartridge. If you can’t see your target at 7x magnification, it’s time to take up a new hobby, like maybe the Yeti ring toss. Magnification is adjusted via a ring mounted just in front of the eyepiece.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope also features an easy to adjust eyepiece focus ring. I say easy as some scopes require so much torque to turn the eyepiece focus ring that the crosshairs come out of vertical alignment. Speaking of crosshairs, the reticle is a standard hash mark pattern, for both windage and elevation, with 2 MOA mark separation.

Ballistic Drop Compensation

This scope is pre-calibrated for a standard, high-velocity .22LR round. More specifically, it’s designed to be spot on at distances from 50 to 150 yards if you use 36 grain .22LR bullets traveling at 1,260 feet per second. There’s plenty of .22 ammo right in that range, or close enough for government work.

Turrets are fairly standard ¼ MOA per click adjustable for windage and elevation.

Turrets are fairly standard ¼ MOA per click adjustable for windage and elevation.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm scope comes with two different elevation turrets. The one pre-installed at the factory is the standard minute of angle (MOA) version. It’s calibrated for ¼ MOA per click, or ¼ inch of vertical adjustment per click at 100 yards. Where the .22 plinking fun comes into play is with the other included elevation turret. About 30 seconds with a small screwdriver and you can install that one instead of the factory default MOA version. Instead of being marked in minute of angle, it’s pre-graduated to show yardage for that standard high-velocity .22LR round.

The alternate (included) elevation turret is pre-marked for ranges from 50 to 150 yards.

The alternate (included) elevation turret is pre-marked for ranges from 50 to 150 yards.

Simply zero your rifle, with appropriate ammunition, using a 50 yard target. From that point on, you spin the wheel of fortune to the yardage desired. The turret is clearly marked with 50, 75, 90,100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 yard settings. Each click still represents ¼ inch adjustment at 100 yards, the turret simply allows you to dial in yardage instead of doing all that complex math between shots.

This just screams for a test doesn’t it? Between you and me, it was really more of a great excuse to do a whole ton of plinking with a hot scope on a Ruger 10/22, but at least I plinked (plunked?) somewhat scientifically. To take my wobbly hands out of the equation, I set up on one of the new Blackhawk! Sportster Titan III two-part rests. I’ll cover that gear separately, but for now it’s not only portable, but infinitely adjustable and stable.

Although I have collected a wide variety of premium .22LR ammo, I found that my Wal-Mart special Winchester bulk pack had the closest ballistic match. This is the 555 round box filled with 36 grain copper plated hollow point ammo clocked at 1,280 feet per second. Not dead nuts on for velocity, but darn close. And remember, the rifle here is a standard Ruger 10/22 and not an Anschutz 1913 Super Match, so close is good enough. Hey if we can build a national healthcare website for a half billion plus or minus a hundred million, that’s close enough right?

First, I zeroed the Ruger 10/22 and Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope at 50 yards. Although I had the scope zeroed properly by the third shot, I fired an additional 50 rounds or so just to be sure. Also because it was fun dialing up the Battlezone zoom to 7x and trying to hit spent shotgun shells out near the 50 yard mark on my range.

By the way, zeroing is easy and requires no tools. Just shoot and click away til you’re happy. Then lift the turret cap straight out until it spins freely, move it to the 50 yard mark, and drop it back down into place. Piece of cake. I didn’t even have any parts left over.

Next, I wanted to verify the pre-calibrated turret markings at different ranges. My range is marked pretty well out to 120 yards so I was able to plink away at targets 75, 100, 110 and 120 yards away. With this ammo, the scope was dead on.

The last test was a return to 50 yards to make sure there was some repeatability. Not a problem. 50 rounds later at 50 yards, I was still on target with the same point of impact.

Just for kicks, I switched to CCI Mini-Mag .22LR 40 grain rounds at 1,235 feet per second – heavier and slower than that specified for the BDR markings. No worries. While I did not shoot targets, I did plenty of dirt clod plinking at various ranges and found no significant difference once I re-zeroed this ammo at a 50 yard target first. So don’t get too stressed out about your specific ammo ballistics. Find one you like that’s close to specification, zero it and you’re off to the races.

Closing Arguments

This is a fun plinking scope. And it’s affordable. You can find it at Cabelas for about $190.

The only mistake I made with testing (so far) was not mounting it on something like a Colt / Umarex M4 Carbine .22LR rifle. It’s called a Redfield Battlezone TACTICAL after all. That’s next…

Some Pocket Carry Options: The Galco Pocket Protector Holster and PMC Magazine Carrier

A pair of pocket carry options from Galco.

A pair of pocket carry options from Galco.

Galco makes some handy pocket holster for pocket guns like the Springfield Armory XD-S. It’s a rough side out leather design, which helps keep the holster in your pocket when you draw. There is also a leather “hook” cut into the top of the stabilizing panel which is intended to catch on the inside of your pocket, making sure the holster stays put when your gun is removed.

Note the rough leather exterior and hook design. Both features help keep the holster in your pocket when the gun comes out.

Note the rough leather exterior and hook design. Both features help keep the holster in your pocket when the gun comes out.

The open top of this holster is molded to the profile of specific gun so re-holstering is easy. I also find that the extra-sturdy leather stabilizing panel keeps a fully loaded semi-auto stable in my pocket. I’ve had less sturdy pocket holsters that were not strong enough to hold a top-heavy gun in the upright position in my pocket.

Simple and effective. I use this one a lot.

Galco PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier

I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying a spare magazine in my support side pants pocket. No, it’s not some high-speed, low-drag tactical thing. I’m a high-drag kind of guy anyway. It’s more a result of ease and convenience. Having things to conceal on both sides of my body just seems like a chore and carrying magazines on my belt spoils the one comfortable side of my body that I have left.

The problem with carrying a magazine in the pocket is that it flops around as you walk, sit and do whatever else it is that you do. If you ever need to grab it quickly, it is almost guaranteed to be in the “wrong” position. For example, when I use a belt magazine carrier, I want the spare magazines oriented with bullets facing forward when mounted on my support side. Then, when I grab a spare magazine from that location, my index finger is already lined up on the front of the magazine. Inserting it into the pistol is then smooth and effortless. When that magazine is flopping around in my pocket, it might be facing forward, backward or even upside down. I’ll almost certainly have some fumbling to do to get it into my pistol.

Galco build the PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier from sturdy to keep a loaded magazine oriented properly in your pocket. The rough exterior and “hook” design help keep it in your pocket as you remove the magazine.

Galco build the PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier from sturdy to keep a loaded magazine oriented properly in your pocket. The rough exterior and “hook” design help keep it in your pocket as you remove the magazine.

The Galco PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier holds the magazine at a 45 degree angle exactly how I want it. Galco makes the carrier out of sturdy leather that is “inside out” and full pocket width. The firm leather keeps the whole thing stable inside of your pocket, while the rough outside creates a friction grip on the inside of your pocket. This helps prevent you from pulling the carrier out with the magazine. That would certainly be embarrassing in a life or death self-defense situation.

This works great in pants pockets, but helps with other carry locations too. I’ve used it in larger cargo pants pockets and it’s large enough so that it doesn’t spill over sideways. You can also use it in a coat or blazer pocket. Ladies, it also makes a great purse carry accessory. Put this in an interior pocket and you’ll know exactly where your spare magazine is.

 

Learn more about lots of other holster solutions in our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters.

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

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

Is That A Gun In Your Pocket? Or Are You Some Kind Of Recluse?

There are lot’s of pocket holsters on the market, but what I really like about the Recluse Holster design is that it completely hides the profile of your gun. I mean completely – it hides a gun even better than the White House has been hiding Benghazi witnesses – and that’s saying something.

A pair or Springfield Armory XD-S pistols with Recluse holsters. The one on the left is designed for larger cargo style pockets.

A pair or Springfield Armory XD-S pistols with Recluse holsters. The one on the left is designed for larger cargo style pockets.

The large, flat and smooth front panel prevents any outline of your pistol from “printing” through the fabric of your pocket. While someone looking closely may see that you have something in your pocket, there is no hint as to what that something is.

Recluse Holsters feature a large front panel which completely hides the profile of your XD-S.

Recluse Holsters feature a large front panel which completely hides the profile of your XD-S.

All of the leather in the Recluse holster is somewhat stiff and sturdy. In addition to helping hide your gun, the structure helps keep your gun in the proper orientation in the pocket.

Here’s the stand-out feature of Recluse Holsters - the hinge flap which hides the profile of your gun, yet still allows you to obtain a firing grip on the gun while it’s holstered.

Here’s the stand-out feature of Recluse Holsters – the hinge flap which hides the profile of your gun, yet still allows you to obtain a firing grip on the gun while it’s holstered.

One other difference in the Recluse design is the “hinged” operation. Since the entire outside of the gun is covered with the leather panel, there has to be a way to get your fingers around the grip in order to draw, right? The interior leather flap is slit about ¾ of the way from top to bottom, allowing the trigger guard pocket, and your gun, to push away from the front panel. There is plenty of room to slip your fingers between the front leather panel and your gun, so you can get a proper firing grip before drawing. As I would say with any holster, be sure to practice this motion – a lot – with an unloaded gun. You want the draw motion to be completely instinctive.

But what if you have a laser mounted on your pocket pistol? According to Tod Cole at Recluse, no worries. They will be offering models compatible with Crimson Trace, LaserMax and Viridian lasers. Status on availability of the Recluse with various gun and laser combinations can change frequently, so be sure to check the web site for the latest offerings.

Recluse offers lot’s of other models, so check out their website for more information.

Learn more about the Recluse, and lots of other holster solutions in our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters.

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

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

Choosing Ammunition for the Springfield Armory XD-S & Other Short Barrel Handguns

The performance of any gun is only as good as the ammunition you put into it. And I’m not just talking about using any quality self-defense ammunition.

One of the reasons that 9mm guns are more effective today than ever before is the performance of modern 9mm ammunition. Of course, improvements are not limited to 9mm – .45 ACP performance, at it’s lower velocity, is also in a golden age.

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

Before we talk about some great ammunition options for the Springfield Armory XD-S, we need to spend a minute discussing bullet design.

Modern self-defense expanding ammunition considers opposing factors to gain the best overall performance – penetration and expansion. Both of these attributes are impacted by velocity. More velocity tends to drive expansion at a faster rate. At any given velocity, a bullet can expand less rapidly and penetrate more, or expand more rapidly and penetrate less. It’s kind of like diving into a pool. If you enter the water vertically, with your hands pointed in front of you like an olympic diver, you’ll go deeper. If you jump off the board and do a spectacular belly flop, you won’t go very deep, although you may wish you would quietly sink to the bottom, thereby ending your misery.

When ammunition companies design a specific round, say a 9mm, they will create a bullet that will travel a certain depth into standardized ballistic gelatin at an expected average velocity for the caliber in an “average” gun. So, as an example, ACME Road Runner Blaster 9mm ammo might be expected to fire at 1,150 feet per second from something like a Glock 17. ACME might design the bullet to penetrate somewhere in the 10 to 14 inch range while expanding fully.

Why all this diversion into ammunition design? Here’s why. While there are numerous ifs and caveats, the shorter a handgun barrel is, the lower the velocity of any given bullet. A rule of thumb is that a handgun will generate 50 feet per second less velocity for each inch lost in barrel length. The Springfield Armory XD-S has a 3.3 inch barrel, so when compared to a full size gun with a 5 inch barrel, you might see velocity for any given ammunition reduced by as much as 80 to 100 feet per second. So, when fired from a shorter barrel, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,100 feet per second may not expand at all when traveling at 1,000 feet per second. Conversely, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,000 feet per second may over-expand, and not penetrate enough, when fired at 1,100 feet per second. Is this bad? No, just different.

With the huge popularity of compact pistols similar to the XD-S, some ammunition companies, like Speer have designed ammunition optimized for proper performance in shorter barrels. For example, rather than designing a bullet to expand at a desired rate when traveling 1,100 feet per second, they design bullets to expand at the desired rate when traveling at 1,000 feet per second.

What does all this mean? It’s not enough to just buy any old self-defense ammunition off the shelf. You need to carefully choose your ammunition, considering the gun you’re buying it for. In my testing, I’ve found that Speer’s Short Barrel ammunition line is an outstanding option for guns like the Springfield Armory XD-S. Let’s take a look.

Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I wanted to test multiple Speer Short Barrel loads, in multiple calibers, from the same gun. The Springfield Armory XD-S presented the perfect opportunity. Except for caliber, capacity and a very slight weight difference, the .45 ACP and 9mm XD-S are identical.

Almost any bullet will expand almost every time if you just shoot it into water, gelatin or even soaking wet newspaper. As I care about at least trying to replicate some degree of real-world performance, I always shoot through some type of barrier like layers of clothing.

For the Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel test, I got somewhat cranky and put two layers of leather and four layers of fabric in front of my super-duper sophisticated soaking newsprint bullet catcher. That’s a pretty tough barrier, but when you consider things like jackets and coats in cold weather environments, it’s more realistic than nothing.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

As you can see from the photo, the projectiles expanded perfectly – even with the leather and fabric barrier. Being a bonded design, where the jacket of the projectile is chemically bonded to the interior lead core, none of the bullets came apart. Just what you want.

Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I’ve found that full weight .45 ACP ammunition is tricky when it comes to expansion. Given the “standard” velocity of a 230 grain .45 ACP projectile at somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 to 900 feet per second, expansion is tough. Every few feet per second of velocity matters when you want the metals in a projectile to spread apart as it travels through tissue. Of course, lots of folks don’t really care as the .45 ACP is a large and heavy bullet even when it doesn’t expand.

But hey, we’ve got modern ammunition technology at our disposal, so I tend to favor ammunition that expands anyway – big .45 bullet or not.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel hollow point has advertised velocity of 820 feet per second out of a three-inch barrel gun. The difference is that the projectile itself is designed to expand with less velocity. I fired the bullets shown here through four layers of denim into a big bucket of thoroughly soaked newsprint. As you can see, expansion was right on target. Pun intended. Like all other Gold Dot projectiles, these bullets are bonded so they stay together except under the most extreme circumstances.

Other Ammunition Options

I test a lot of ammunition and continue to be a big fan of most Speer Gold Dot loads, because they work. I’m especially impressed with the Short Barrel offerings based on how they perform in the Springfield Armory XD-S.

With that said, there are plenty of other options out there. Generally speaking, in a gun with a short barrel like the XD-S, I would personally choose a lighter weight .45 ACP bullet in the 160 to 185 grain range. Why? Velocity. All else equal, a lighter weight bullet is easier to push faster. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, velocity aids expansion. So, in theory, a 160 to 185 grain bullet, moving faster, is more likely to expand when shot from a short barrel gun like the XD-S.

We’re entering opinion territory here and I’m just sharing my personal preference based on the testing I’ve done. Non-expanding, full metal jacket .45 ACP ammunition has performed well for over a century, so you may not care whether your particular choice of bullet is an easy expander or not. That’s OK. My goal here is to help you make a more informed decision, as all ammunition is not the same.

This article is an excerpt from our soon to be released Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S. Be sure to check out The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

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

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

Why Green Lasers Aren’t Green – New Native Green Technology from LaserMax

While at a LaserMax media event, I learned a lot about lasers. Like most everything else with a battery or plug, the technology is evolving at a dizzying rate. One of the things I learned was that green lasers aren’t green. Actually, they’re invisible (to the human eye) as they are derived from infrared light.

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

Allow me to explain. To produce green laser light, you need to shoot an infrared laser beam through some seriously mysterious conversion crystals. It’s a process called diode pumped solid-state technology or DPSS for short. The invisible infrared light goes in one end of the crystals and comes out the other side green. It’s a process called “magic.” Make sense?

While DPSS works, and does produce bright and easy-to-see green light, there are some drawbacks.

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

First, those magic crystals add bulk and weight. Not much, but when you’re trying to build a laser device small enough to work on a gun, every little bit counts. Think about those Ghostbusters Proton Packs. While not technically lasers, they generated some awesome light shows, but required a full-sized backpack particle accelerator. That would never be practical on a carry pistol as concealment would require a cover garment the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

The other consideration is efficiency of the DPSS system itself. At high and low temperature extremes, the conversion process starts to break down and the light becomes less effective. For example, standard DPSS lasers (which use the crystal conversion process) operate beautifully at temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures don’t cover the full range or normal field environments. Any area north of the Florida border is likely to experience near freezing temperatures for a large part of the year. And while 100 degrees sounds like a reasonable top end, think of our men and women deployed in sandboxes around the world, where temperatures reach 120 degrees. Or, consider interior environments like those spooky shipping containers and warehouses prevalent on TV crime dramas. Those non-air-conditioned places get insanely hot in the summer, right?

Native Green lasers generate green light right off the bat using a green laser diode. With a native green light source, there is no need for the extra bulk of crystals to convert the light beam to green. Additionally, the effective temperature operating boundaries are extended. For example, a Native Green laser retains operating efficiency all the way down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. At the high-end, they continue to generate bright green light up to about 150 degrees.

Read the rest at Outdoorhub.com!

A Really Pointy Knife: The Spyderco Des Horn

I wouldn’t consider myself a knife guy, but I seem to be amassing quite the collection of them. Probably because they’re so darn handy. I use a pocket knife at least ten times a day for something or other. You know, all that tactical stuff like opening boxes and letters, getting steak out from between your teeth and as an impromptu screwdriver or pry tool. Ken Onion, please forgive me, for I have sinned…

At a LaserMax event at Gunsite last week, I picked up a new one – the Spyderco Des Horn folding knife.

The Spyderco Des Horn is nothing if not sleek.

The Spyderco Des Horn is nothing if not sleek.

When open, this pocket folder just looks sleek and, well, medical. That’s probably because designer Des Horn is a practicing dentist. I have no verifiable information as to whether Des uses this on his patients. When opened, the total length is just under 7 1/2 inches.

Even the clip is unique and has a light and airy feel.

Even the clip is unique and has a light and airy feel.

Closed, the Spyderco Des Horn measures about 4 1/4 inches. The cutting edge of the blade is just a hair over 3 inches. The clip is easily removable if you like and the handle is made from sturdy G10 material.

The spear-style point is aggressive to say the least.

The spear-style point is aggressive to say the least.

As cool as it looks, the Spyderco Des Horn standout feature is the very pointy spear tip. No, it’s not suited for removing screws or prying things. On the other hand, it might be the world’s greatest junk mail opener. Heavily taped boxes? No problem, that sharp point slides right in there as easily as a politician finds a TV camera.

Yeah, it’s a nifty tactical knife too. The cutout for the lock makes a great finger groove and the hole in the blade allows for one-handed opening. And the best part? The whole thing weighs only two ounces.

You can pick one up for about $110 if you shop carefully.

Shooting Gelatinous Pig Juice With Mike McNett Of DoubleTap Ammunition

The slimiest part of our agenda at the recent Gunsite Academy event hosted by LaserMax was a ballistic testing demonstration by Mike McNett, founder of DoubleTap Ammunition.

Mike brought along some standardized 14 inch long gelatin blocks for destruction testing with a variety of DoubleTap loads, most of which use the Barnes TAC-XP all copper projectiles. I’ve had really good experience with these in my own testing. They expand reliably, and being solid copper, they don’t come apart when passing through barriers.

Mike arranges two 14 inch blocks end to end. As you'll see, some of the loads penetrated well into the second block.

Mike arranges two 14 inch blocks end to end. As you’ll see, some of the loads penetrated well into the second block.

First up on the agenda was a 10mm load using the Barnes TAC-XP bullet. The 125 grain projectile hums along at 1,600 feet per second out of a five-inch pistol barrel.

The DoubleTap 10mm TAC-XP load uses a light for caliber 160 grain projectile.

The DoubleTap 10mm TAC-XP load uses a light for caliber 125 grain projectile.

As you can see, penetration is excellent, even with the 125 grain bullet. The TAC-XP passed completely through the first 14 inch block, bounced against the second and fell to the table between the two.

Penetration of the 125 grain 10mm load was exactly 14 inches.

Penetration of the 125 grain 10mm load was exactly 14 inches.

After starting off with a bang, we moved to the other end of the spectrum and shot a .380 ACP loaded with a Bonded Defense projectile. DoubleTap uses Speer Gold Dot projectiles in their Bonded Defense line, so you can expect great expansion performance and no bullet jacket separation issues.

The 90 grain Bonded Defense .380 ACP bullet performed as advertised.

The 90 grain Bonded Defense .380 ACP bullet performed as advertised.

One of the more unusual rounds tested was the DoubleTap 9m+P Equalizer. This round features a total projectile weight of 165 grains, but is comprised of two distinct bullets – a jacketed hollow point designed to expand at lower velocities and a solid wadcutter with sharp edges. The hollow point is stacked on the top in front of the wadcutter, so both fire at the same time. From a range of about 20 feet, both projectiles hit the gelatin block within an inch of each other. Once in the gel, they followed completely separate tracks with the jacketed bullet traveling about 22 inches (it didn’t expand) and the wadcutter penetrating about 10 inches.

The ultimate DoubleTap? Two projectiles with each shot of this 9mm +P load.

The ultimate DoubleTap? Two projectiles with each shot of this 9mm +P load.

DoubleTap likes to use Barnes TAC-XP projectiles in many of its products for good reason. The solid copper projectiles penetrate deeply without fragmenting and deliver great expansion results, even after passing through barriers. The 110 grain .38 Special +P load still achieves over 1,100 feet per second velocity from the shortest barrel snub-nose revolver.

This .38 Special +P load was comfortable to shoot from a snubby, yet delivered excellent penetration and expansion.

This .38 Special +P load was comfortable to shoot from a snubby, yet delivered excellent penetration and expansion.

Another less traditional load tested was the “Mann” load named after Richard Mann. A standard pressure .45 ACP load, it uses a 160 grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet that exceeds 1,000 feet per second from a Government model 1911.

The Mann .45 ACP load penetrated almost 16 inches into ballistic gelatin.

The Mann .45 ACP load penetrated almost 16 inches into ballistic gelatin.

Velocity rules with hollow point projectiles. A .40 S&W 155 grain Bonded Defense load achieved absolute maximum expansion with velocity over 1,200 feet per second.

Bullets don't expand much more than this DoubleTap .40 S&W 155 grain Bonded Defense offering.

Bullets don’t expand much more than this DoubleTap .40 S&W 155 grain Bonded Defense offering.

To finish things up, we talked Gunsite Range Master Ed Head into launching a beast of a .500 S&W DoubleTap load at the pig juice. The 275 grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet hit at somewhere in the 1,600 feet per second range and literally knocked the first gelatin block into the air. When Ed regained feeling in his hands, we measured final penetration right at 20 inches. Yes, it was dramatic.

A 275 grain .500 S&W monster. I think it expanded to a diameter of about three and a half feet.

A 275 grain .500 S&W monster. I think it expanded to a diameter of about three and a half feet.

Not exactly a pocket gun solution...

Not exactly a pocket gun solution…

You can find more information at DoubleTap’s website.

The Automatic, Systematic, Hydromatic M3 “Grease Gun”

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

This week, rather than talk about “This Goofy Gun” we’re going to change things up a little and take a look at “This Greasy Gun.”

Most folks think that the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun of World War II fame was created in response to the success of the German MP38, MP40 and British Sten machine guns. While partly true, that’s not the whole story. Here’s the rest of the storied, and musical, history of the M3 Grease Gun.

Many people know that the M3 was produced by General Motors’ Guide Lamp Division. What they don’t know is that the design was envisioned much, much earlier, or so I hear. By 1940, GM was getting a little worried about competitive pressure from AMC’s Gremlin impacting sales of their Cadillac LaSalle. That Gremlin was a beast of a car wasn’t it? Anyway, to add some kick to the planned 1941 model, GM hired long lost brother of the infamous Edward Hyde of Dr. Jekyll fame, George Hyde, to design some killa’ glovebox accessories for ’41 model sales incentives. Having the same family wild hair as crazy man Mr. Hyde, George took to designing prototypes of the M3. “Heck, I just wanted to amp up the “Boom!” factor for our customers. Most companies were putting a flashlight mount in the glovebox, but I figured a .45 ACP submachine gun would be way more spiffy,” commented GM Engineer George Hyde.

Alas, GM discontinued the Cadillac LaSalle in 1941 and the M3 Glovebox Submachine Gun was never marketed. But the story did not end there. In 1941, the Ordnance Department asked the Army to submit requirements for a new submachine gun. In addition to specification of .45 ACP caliber, inexpensive stamped-metal construction and  automatic fire control, the new gun must have a really catchy theme song.

Seeing opportunity to resurrect Hyde’s previous project, and do a little contract work with a very young John Travolta, GM’s Guide Lamp Division started stamping out prototypes of the M2 and finally M3. As for the theme song? That was Travolta’s job. And now you know the real story behind that catchy jingle from the movie GreaseYou’re the One That I Want. Not having been born yet, Olivia Newton John was not available for promotional campaigns. Besides, those skin-tight pants were way too risque for pre-war America.

Read the rest at Outdoorhub.com!

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