5 Tips for New Concealed Carriers

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

Maybe you have recently completed the NSSF First Shots program or recently acquired your concealed carry permit. Alternatively, perhaps you are considering getting a carry permit. In any of these cases, there are a few things you need to know in terms of your next steps.

1. Get The Right Holster!

The right concealed carry holster will inspire confidence. You should be able to go about your daily business, whether your style is sedentary or active, without worry that your gun will move or fall out of your possession.

What do you look for in a “good”concealed carry holster? That’s simple. Focus on three things.

First, a good holster will help you access your gun quickly, easily and safely. It will hold your gun in a consistent position, so if you ever have to reach for it under stress, it will be exactly where you expect. A good holster will not move around and won’t require you to “check”the well-being or position of your gun as you move throughout your day.

Second, a good holster protects the trigger. No matter what your method of carry (waistband, ankle, purse, pocket or other), your holster needs to prevent stray objects or fingers from engaging the trigger. It is amazing how keys, change, chairs and other items can interfere with a trigger, potentially causing a negligent discharge.

Third, a good holster will ensure that your gun remains under your control at all times. It will not allow your gun to work its way out. It will not detach itself from your belt or clothing. If you have an active lifestyle, you may even want to consider a retention holster that requires a specific operation to release the gun from the holster.

If you don’t know anything at all about holsters and different ways to carry a gun, you might check out this book.

2. Practice with a purpose!

If you need to use your gun for self-defense, it won’t be much like your outings to the range. Most attacks are sudden and unexpected – initiated and resolved in seconds. Your attacker will be moving. You will (hopefully) be moving. If guns are involved, that means hitting moving targets while moving, and all while under enormous stress.

Standing at the range plinking at cans and paper targets is fun and satisfying. By all means do it! Just don’t think that prepares you for self-defense. If you want to start practicing skills that might help you in a defense situation, be sure to practice drawing from a holster, evaluating targets and what’s behind them, shooting quickly, but accurately and dealing with malfunctions in your gun. Have a friend load your magazines with random numbers of bullets so you might have to unexpectedly change magazines. Get some snap caps and have your friend insert them in your magazines randomly so you can practice what to do if your gun goes click instead of bang.

You also might create scenarios to track your progress. Try using a paper plate for a target and seeing how fast you can hit it from a draw with 5 straight shots at certain distances. Track your progress and set goals for improvement in both time and accuracy.

The very best way to practice is to make sure you complete step 5 in this tip list. Your instructor will give you lots of ideas for effective practice after your class.

Read the rest at NSSF First Shots!

 

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Transforming A Basic AR-15 To A Home Defense Rifle

The "after" version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It's all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

The “after” version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It’s all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

A few weeks ago, I discussed my plan of using the upcoming Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational to choose, equip and practice with guns I’ll use for home defense. Since then. I’ve decided to use a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR for the rifle. It’s a standard AR-15 design with a notable exception. Instead of the classic A2 fixed front sight and gas block, it comes equipped with a rail gas block. And as a home defense choice? Absolutely. M&P 15’s run – reliably – and are cost effective to boot.

The before photo.

The before photo. When doing gun work, you’ll want a proper set of gunsmithing screwdrivers like this

Gearing it up for both the night 3-gun competition and home defense use requires some tweaks. Here’s what I decided to do.

Rail for lights and lasers

Installation of the quad rail was easy - I didn't need any tools.

Installation of the quad rail was easy – I didn’t need any tools.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR comes with the standard round plastic handguard. It’s comfortable and does a good job keeping your support hand cool when the barrel gets hot, but doesn’t have attachment points for rail accessories. I chose to replace it with a Blackhawk! AR-15 Carbine Length 2 Piece Quad Rail Forend. It offers rails on top, bottom, left and right and has great ventilation in between to let the barrel cool. You can also get it in rifle length if your gun is longer than mine but enough about that.

Installation is a snap. You don’t need tools, not even a hammer. Just remove the existing handguard by pulling down the delta ring in front of the receiver until you can pry the existing handguard halves out. The new Blackhawk! handguard also comes in two pieces, so put them in the same way. After they are pressed in place, you bolt the two halves together. It’s not a free-floated solution, but it’s rock solid and you don’t have to do any serious construction work to install it on your rifle.

A little detail that makes a big difference

I also chose to install a Blackhawk! Offset Safety Selector. This is one of those “oh duh why didn’t I think of that” inventions. It relocates the safety lever itself 45 degrees so you can easily reach it with your thumb without shifting your grip. A great aid for safety and usability, and for competition, it might just help you avoid a procedural penalty for not engaging the safety on your rifle.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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

Winchester’s PDX1 Defender 12 Gauge Buckshot and Slug Ammunition

Winchester's PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

I was working with a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I have in for review and brought along a box of Winchester PDX1 Defender Personal Defense shot shells. Winchester makes a couple of varieties of this product line in 12 gauge. One is a segmenting slug design, where the slug is designed to fragment into three large chunks as it impacts the target. This load is a buckshot and slug combination, but with a twist.

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

As you see by the illustration here, there are three 00 Buckshot pellets loaded on top of the one ounce slug. This has the effect of dispersing the three .30 caliber pellets in a broader pattern while the slug continues along a straight path.

I shot it at a target placed 15 yards downrange, and as you can see by the target photo, the slug hit center while the three 00 buckshot pellets created a triangle pattern. The pellet impacts are just about 10 inches from each other measured along the sides. That’s a pretty broad pattern even from the cylinder bore of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun used for this test.

Winchester advertises one feature of this as “compensates for aim error.” This certainly appears to be true. As with any ammo choice, you need to carefully consider your environment and desired performance. If you live in a crowded environment, you may not want ammo that expands into too large a pattern, as you’re responsible for where those projectiles go. On the other hand, if you’ve got space, you may want ammo that performs exactly this way. This load is designed to create a big pattern of large projectiles, so if that’s your desired result, then check it out. It’s an interesting load.

Cabelas has it in stock.

Turn Your Handgun Into An Effective Home Defense Tool

Why not add a light and laser to your nightstand gun?

Why not add a light and laser to your nightstand gun? This Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro gives you both.

When it comes to home defense, cheating is an acceptable, and desirable, strategy. If you’re ever forced to defend your loved ones in your home, and you find yourself in a fair fight, you tactics suck, or so the saying goes.

Put into practical and actionable terms, when preparing your home defense strategy, it makes sense to identify all reasonable advantages and put them into action.

One big advantage you can easily implement is the addition of lights and lasers to your home defense gun. Neither of these tools replaces good gun handling technique nor are they designed to. They are designed to give you more options in a bad situation.

Benefits of a weapon mounted light

Should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of hearing the proverbial bump in the night, it will be dark. Funny how that works isn’t it?

Darkness and handguns don’t work well together, even if you have fancy tritium night sights on yours. While you might see your sights glowing, you really don’t have a clear view of what you should or, more importantly, should not shoot at. A weapon-mounted light gives you the ability to see clearly what’s in front of your muzzle, and that’s crucial information to have before you pull the trigger. Even though a weapon mounted-light faces forward, it will help you see regular (non-tritium) sights too.

A pistol-mounted light is not intended to replace a handheld light. A handheld light is for searching and a weapon mounted light is for shooting. It’s as simple as that. Remember Rule 3? Never point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy. If you’re using your weapon light to look around, you are, by definition, pointing your gun at unknown things. Since they’re unknown, you’re not sure if you’re willing to destroy them, right?

Benefits of a lasers

A laser gives you more aiming options. It’s as simple as that. Especially in low light or dark conditions, you will see exactly where your shot will impact, assuming you pull the trigger correctly.

Use of a laser supports the natural tendency we have to focus on the danger when we’re threatened. Yes, lot’s of training will teach one to revert concentration back to the sights when ready to fire, but the brain’s desire to focus on a threat is a powerful habit to overcome. When using a laser, you can focus on the threat and aim at the same time.

A laser also provides flexibility in shooting positions. When using standard sights, the gun must, by definition, be up high and right in front of your eyes. Using a laser, you can safely and accurately fire from more unconventional positions where the gun is lower and not blocking your direct vision. In night training exercises I’ve done, I’ve found that ability to search, with your gun held lower out of your sight, makes a big difference in overall situational visibility.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Shooting Myth: A Laser Will Only Give Away Your Position!

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of "giving away your position" when using a firearm-mounted laser.

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of “giving away your position” when using a firearm-mounted laser.

I’ve been a big fan of lasers on handguns for years. At first, this was because they sounded great on paper. After actually running around shooting in the dark at various training events and nocturnal competitions, my “fanboy” meter has maxed out.

But to be really clear, I want to stress that I am talking about gun laser applications for home defense and self-defense. Not door kicking in Afghanistan. Or serving no-knock warrants with the Department of Education’s new SWAT Team. Or anything else “offensive.” See what I did there?

I’ve had all sorts of responses to my discussion on lasers for home defense. One commenter informed me that a laser would clearly show my position and a sniper positioned 600 yards away, who would subsequently easily take me out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t anticipate this event in my home defense scenario—at least until civilization breaks down into a post-apocalyptic battle zone. I’ll take the risk that my burglar has not had the foresight to set up sniper overwatch in the nearest cell tower.

To put the discussion in perspective, let’s walk through a potential home defense scenario. It’s the middle of the night. It’s pitch-dark. You are sound asleep in your bedroom. You are awakened by the sound of crashing glass, which indicates someone has just entered your house. By the time you wake up and figure this out, they are probably already in your house. This is a defensive, not offensive, situation.

Now what? I don’t know about you, but my goal is simple. Get that person and/or their friends out of my house before they cause harm to me and/or my family. If that person happens to get hurt in the process of achieving the goal, then that’s an occupational hazard of breaking into peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. But that’s not my primary goal. Encouraging them to turn tail and leave is far easier for all involved than splashing them all over my new duvet cover.

Pretty simple goal right?

In order to think through my best plan for home defense, I’ll take this goal into consideration first, then apply the most likely scenarios I might encounter. Most likely scenarios. This is where folks get all wrapped around the axle when it comes to using gun-mounted lasers.

Stop and think for minute about the most likely scenario you could encounter in your home. Who is that person that just broke into your house? Is it a team of trained ninja marksman who intend to engage in a cat-and-mouse running shootout in your home, just like on TV? Were you waiting in your laundry room sniper hide anticipating their arrival? Maybe, but not likely. The more likely scenario is that some crackhead is looking to steal your Xbox to fund their next fix. And they woke you up. And they’re already in your house by the time you get your wits about you and get moving.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Winchester Ammunition’s Long Beard XR: Turkey Hunting or Home Defense?

Note how the shot column is standing on it's own as a result of the "shot lock" resin.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR: Note how the shot column is standing on it’s own as a result of the “shot lock” resin.

While at the professional outdoor media conference range day I had the opportunity to check out some new shot shell loads from Winchester Ammunition. Winchester’s Long Beard XR is designed to create a tighter pattern at longer distances, resulting in twice the number of pellets in a 10 inch circle at distances up to 60 yards, according to the company.

Here’s what’s interesting about Winchester Long Beard XR: It uses a “shot lock” resin to bond all of the shot pellets together into a solid plug. As the load is fired, the resin disintegrates and turns to dust, leaving the shot pellets to fly on their own. The purpose isn’t that the pellets are bonded together in flight but rather that there’s no airspace between pellets at lift-off time.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

In a normal shot shell the pellets are just piled on top of each other and only held in place by the wad and walls of the shot shell. When you fire it, the pellets get all smashed around as they are pushed to supersonic velocity from a standstill. This somewhat violent process creates mis-shaped pellets. Pellets flying out of round tend to spread out more rapidly, thereby creating a larger pattern. Because physics and aerodynamics.

The shot lock resin fills the air space, so the sudden acceleration doesn’t create a mashing effect. The pellets don’t get all squashed and therefore fly straighter in a tighter pattern.

So what happens when the pellets stay round?

The Winchester Ammunition folks set up targets at ranges of 25, 50 and even 60 yards. As you can see the patterns were perfectly usable for turkey hunting all the way up to 60 yards.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR was designed for turkey hunters and is currently available in 12 gauge shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6.

I have to think this might also make an interesting home defense load for those concerned about over penetration inside. The 4, 5 and 6 shot sizes could help the penetration issue, while a tighter pattern might reduce risk of stray pellets. I’ll test this out against simulated walls soon and share the results.

You can find Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR at Cabelas.

10 Worst Examples of Gun Advice From the Internet

Apparently I’ve taken on a task that is simply not possible without violating several laws of our physical universe – picking only 10 of the worst pieces of shooting advice from across the vast and vacuous expanse known as the internet.

I stopped counting at 32,987,412,318. But no worries, I’ll persevere.

If someone starts talking to you about "knockdown power" they better be talking about one of these.

If someone starts talking to you about “knockdown power” they better be talking about one of these.

Here we go, drum roll please…

1. A weapon light or laser will just give away your position!

If the self-defense scenarios swirling around your brain involve moving ninja fights in the dark that emulate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moves, you’re absolutely right!

A weapon light will give away your position, and your tactical pose hanging from the chandelier will be compromised. (Tweet This)

In real life, the benefits of seeing where and / or what you’re shooting at far outweigh any realistic disadvantages of “giving away your position.” One more thing, make it a point to tell the hundreds of thousands of military and law enforcement personnel who mount weapon lights and lasers on their guns specifically for the purpose of fighting in the dark that this is a tactical blunder. What do they know anyway?

2. To defend your home, blast your shotgun through the front door!

We all know that politicians are (self-defined) experts in all things. Some of the best (worst!) gun advice in recent history comes from our very own Vice President. “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” While blasting your shotgun through the door may help you drill a hole for one of those handy peep holes, it won’t help your legal cause in any way, shape or form. Most likely, this strategy will send you straight to jail. Just ask the Virginia Beach man who actually did this when confronted with two armed and masked home invaders. The bad guys escaped, but the Biden disciple was charged with a crime. The “Biden Defense” is just not likely to yield a positive outcome. Come on, we all know politicians are immune from repercussions of bad behavior. It’s an expected part of the job.

3. Don’t use an AR-15 for home defense!

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

You might have heard from internet commandos that a “high-powered” .223 round will go clear through your interior and exterior walls, Margaritaville machine, and most of Montana!

Or maybe that if you torch off a .223 round indoors, the building will explode! (Tweet This)

Actually, most standard AR-15 ammunition will only go through a few pieces of interior drywall with any significant energy. The projectiles are light and traveling extremely fast. This combination results in rapid tumbling and fragmentation when barriers are hit. While there may be other factors in the pro / con debate of using AR-15’s for home defense, over penetration is not one of them – especially when compared to pistol ammunition and buckshot. Of course, exceptions apply if you choose to use ammunition designed to penetrate.

4. You should carry your self-defense gun with the chamber empty.

Unless your self-defense gun is a single-action revolver with a hammer mounted firing pin, that’s almost always bad advice. If you think you can simply keep an eye on things around you so you have plenty of time to draw your gun, and rack the slide, in the event of an attack, try a Tueller drill sometime. It’s enlightening and will quickly relieve you of any security gained by carrying with an empty chamber.

Also, please write Hollywood and tell them to stop racking the slide every time someone is about to fire a gun. It’s a waste of perfectly good pretend ammunition. (Tweet This)

5. I only train for head shots.

Some of the couch commando elite speak of training for head shots to defeat body armor and perhaps save ammunition during these tough economic times. On the range, a cardboard target is pretty darn easy to hit anywhere you like. Now try that while running full speed. Then try that while you and the target are running full speed. Then try it when everyone is running full speed, shouting, and the target is trying to kill you. Enough said.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Top 10 Reasons SHOT Show Is Awesome

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

SHOT Show is an annual pilgrimage of fun, friends, work, pain, exhaustion, more work, more fun and certainly a lot more pain.

It’s infinite, seemingly boundless and more crowded than a buy one get one free bordello, but you still manage to frequently run into people you know among the 68,000 attendees.

I love it.

I got to thinking, which is always dangerous, about why it’s my favorite event of the year and came up with this list…

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

1. The people. There’s always a low-end, like the guy walking around with a t-shirt that said “Vagitarian.” Fortunately, the true class acts use most of the oxygen in the Sands Convention Center. Like this year’s Energizer Bunny, Pro Shooter Todd Jarrett. He was everywhere, all the time. Must be cloned… And this years Best Disposition Award goes to Team Smith & Wesson’s Julie Golob. I know she had an exhausting schedule, but you couldn’t catch her without a glowing smile. Theodoric of Nooge spottings are always a popular pastime and the rocker didn’t disappoint this year – he was all over, gun groupies in tow. Architect of the LaPierreCare Affordable Gun Act, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made time for some floor walking. But the very best part is catching up with industry friends – especially the ones you haven’t met yet.

2. Truth in reporting. It’s a refreshing break from the mainstream media. I looked and looked, but to no avail – Piers Morgan and Chris Matthews were nowhere to be found. Also, you’re too busy to turn on a TV, so you get a much-needed break from the state network propaganda political machine. Oh, and the press room? I did some quick math and estimated that the average reporter there owns more firearms than pairs of socks. My kind of company for sure.

3. Gun Control Debate. The only gun control debate was whether you can fit one or two fingers on the new Beretta Pico without the magazine extension.

4. New inventions! While new products from established companies are well publicized, SHOT Show is where you find the startups with a new idea. For example, this year, I ran across LabRadar. They offer a portable radar kit to track bullet velocity. Brilliant. Or perhaps Adaptive Tactical – makers of the Sidewinder Venom drum magazine kit for Mossberg pump shotguns. Can you say home defense innovation?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

5. I spy. If you looked really, really carefully, you just might spot tiny stickers of flying, ummm, body parts, placed strategically by Top Shot’s Chris Cerino.

6. Dinner. Yes, there are lot’s of great dining opportunities in Vegas, but I’m talking about the NSSF State of the Industry Dinner. I started doing this a couple of years ago and now it’s a “must do” on our schedule. It’s a great opportunity to dine and schmooze with a couple thousand of your best friends. And the entertainment rocks. This year, it was the magic duo of Penn & Teller who pleased the crowd with a dose of humor and their always impressive magic bullets trick. They must know their audience!

7. Perspective. The announcement of a drum magazine for pump shotguns (Adaptive Tactical) was perceived as a good idea, not the end of all life on planet earth, as might be reported by MSNBC.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

8. Wagyu beef. Wolfgang Puck had the foresight to open a Cut restaurant in the hallway between my hotel room and the show floor. Can you say steak butter? I don’t mean butter-flavored steak, I mean a steak with the consistency and flavor of warm butter. Thanks for lightening my wallet, Wolfgang. #SteakGasm

9. Contagion. It’s the most fun way there is to get the cold or flu. Picking up the same guns as 67,999 other people is a surefire way to do your own live rendition of the movie Outbreak.

10. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) crew. These folks kill it. Every year. Having done far too many trade shows from the vendor side, I know exactly what it takes to organize and pull off an event of this magnitude. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find an NSSF staffer not wearing a big grin and looking to help you find your way. Not only is SHOT Show the place for vendors and gun retailers to meet and do business for the coming year, it generates “profits” for the NSSF that are turned around into productive programs like Project ChildSafe. Gotta love it. Thank you NSSF!

P.S. – If you’d like to check out more photos of SHOT Show 2014, just check out our Facebook SHOT Show album. We’re also adding pictures to our Pinterest SHOT Show board.

Do You Like It Flat? Your AR-15 That Is…

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

Do you like it flat?

Meaning the front of your AR rifle? Perhaps you don’t want a vertical fore grip laser and light assembly up front. If you frequently shoot at longer ranges, from sandbags or perhaps from a prone position, a vertical grip can get in the way. If you still want a laser attachment, there’s a great alternative that won’t get in the way of that nice, clean front hand guard.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES is technically a multi-purpose product – it can switch teams with only a little bit on tinkering. Through a little rearranging of internal (and included) parts, you can convert this from a rifle laser with a remote activation pad to a pistol rail-mounted laser.

For pistols, you install the toggle switch that enables laser on / laser off from either side. With a rifle installation, you can certainly use the toggle switch if you like, but the momentary activation switch option is even better. This is a remote pressure pad which turns the laser on as long as you squeeze it. With judicious placement of the pad according to your personal preference, it’s a very natural motion to turn the laser on and off as desired. Just to be clear, while you can reconfigure this laser, it’s not something you would want to do daily as it will take you five minutes or so. The purpose is to give you flexibility over time to move between different guns.

Let’s talk about that “flat” configuration. The laser unit itself only extends 1/2 inch from a standard picatinny rail. So even if you mount it on the bottom of your rifle hand guard, as shown here, it hardly extends downward at all. Of course, if you want zero footprint, you can mount it on either side of the barrel and keep the bottom rail completely clean.

Here’s what I prefer. I mounted the laser unit on the bottom rail so that there are no “side to side” issues between the laser dot and point of impact. On the Daniel Defense rifle shown here, the laser and bore are only about 1 1/4 inches apart, so it’s not a big deal either way. I’m just being picky. All I have to worry about is an elevation difference of just over an inch between the laser and the point of impact at short distances. That’s nuthin’ right?

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation switch pressure pad on the right side of the hand guard. I’m right-handed, so my left hand is up front. Holding the hand guard from underneath, my fingers are used to press the pressure pad. I find it to be a very natural position. Squeeze a little tighter and the laser comes on. Release a bit of pressure and the laser goes off.

LaserMax includes a MantaRail cover with the Uni-Max ES, which is 2 3/4 inch section of textured rubber rail cover with an internal slot for the cord connecting the laser unit and momentary activation switch. So the cord comes out of the laser on the bottom rail, feeds underneath the rubber MantaRail cover and bends up to the side mounted momentary activation pad. All in all, there are only two one-inch sections of cord exposed, so there aren’t loose wires hanging around to get caught up on stuff. A side benefit of the MantaRail placement on the bottom rail is that it provides a grippy and comfortable rail cover where you hand goes. Nice touch.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

The laser body itself also has a single-slot picatinny rail section on the bottom, so you can hang something else, like a light, just below the laser if you like. The laser unit is small and light, weighing just 2.5 ounces, so there is virtually no bulk up front on your rifle. It’s powered by two Silver Oxide 357 batteries and will run continuously for about an hour and a half.

I’m digging the LaserMax Uni-Max ES setup on a Daniel Defense DDM4V5 300 AAC Blackout rifle. A traditional optic is up top for longer ranges. I have the laser zeroed for 10 yards, but shorter and longer distances work just fine as the laser is so close to the bore line. So, in one package, you can have it all. A laser for home defense (or perhaps night hog hunting use) that’s preset for shorter distances and optics for reaching out.

The best part? Your laser configuration is pretty much out of the way when you want to use the rifle outdoors.

Is The AR-15 Appropriate For Home Defense? Part 1: Penetration Issues

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some---and then shot 'em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some—and then shot ‘em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

Is an AR-15 appropriate for home defense? That’s a really big question, isn’t it? Way too big a question for a single article to address in adequate detail. So we’ll look at one issue at a time.

First, since AR-15 rifles cause all nature of mainstream media histrionics, we’ll consider the “high-power” issue, which in a practical sense, translates to penetration. If you torch off a .223 Remington or 5.56mm round indoors, will the building explode? Listening to the news, you might think so.

More rational, and less pants-wetting thoughtful consideration yields a different conclusion when we look at penetration specifically. If you shoot an AR-15 inside your home or apartment, and miss your target, will the projectile continue to pass through interior walls, exterior walls, cars, dump trucks, and eventually the nearest ocean before embedding itself deep under the sea floor?

These are curious questions. Being curious, I decided to build some very small walls and shoot them with an AR-15. I shall call them mini-walls.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

When considering home defense options, from strictly a penetration point of view, the basic question is: what will over-penetrate through walls, furniture, and your shiny new Ninja Blender? A heavier and slower pistol round, or a very light and fast rifle round?

The thing about light and fast bullets is that they tend to get upset–specifically, fragment or tumble—when they hit harder things like walls or furniture. Tumbling and fragmenting both result in a very rapid loss of velocity and energy, therefore a lightweight rifle projectile going somewhere around 3,000 feet per second may actually have less unwanted penetration than a pistol round traveling in the 1,000 feet per second range.

Before sharing results, I should present a couple of disclaimers.

  • I suck at construction, so if you are a professional carpenter, just hold your lunch down while looking at the photos of my mini-wall construction efforts. I’m only shooting them to pieces, not putting them in my house.
  • I didn’t paint the walls. This may sound trivial, but several coats of dried paint are hard, and likely to make some difference in the rate that lightweight, high-velocity bullets break apart.
  • The walls are close together. As you’ll see, some of the projectiles started fragmenting pretty quickly. If they had more time to spread out before hitting the next wall, I suspect they would have lost a lot of energy. Think of a shotgun pattern. When the pellets are still “clumped” together at short-range, there’s more penetration than when they spread out to a three-foot pattern a little further out.
  • I’m not a ballistic scientist. I just got curious, decided to do some basic testing, and share what I found. Do with the findings what you will.

With all that said, I looked at two different “interior wall” simulations. In one scenario, I used drywall (Sheetrock) only. I assumed the projectiles only hit drywall material of multiple walls. For the other scenario, I added a piece of 3/8-inch particle board between walls one and two—just to simulate junk inside walls like cross beams, furniture, or any number of other things besides wallboard that may be inside a home. All shooting was done from “indoor” ranges of five yards.

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