Blackhawk! AR-15 Vertical Grip: For Stability, Tactical Lights & Low Heat

Adding The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Moving right along with the Blackhawk! custom AR-15 project…

This time, I’m going to try out a complimentary accessory to the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Rest I installed last episode. The thumb rest can operate on its own to help grip, control and consistent hand placement. It also works great with a vertical grip.

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip will work on most any rifle with a standard rail up front. Of course, if you want the grip to be on the bottom of the forend, you must have a rail on the bottom.

But first, why does one need a vertical grip?

  1. The grip is one layer removed from even the rail, so it’s not gonna heat up with lots of firing. Keeping freshly manicured hands away from that softness-robbing heat has got to be a benefit. Along with a daily soak on Palmolive.
  2. Control. The vertical grip presents a modified weapon support method. It’s especially handy for short-stock configurations, like indoor use.
  3. If you want to add a tactical light, it provides a great way to grip the rifle AND easily control a tail cap activated light. We’ll explore that in a future article.
  4. You have to admit, it looks cool. That counts for something right?
Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Here the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is installed with the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Shelf – they play well together.

 

Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip: Installation and features

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip parts

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is modular in design, so you can customize the height of the grip. The standard vertical grip measures about 3 inches from the bottom of the rail. You can just fasten the included bottom cap to get a short post vertical grip configuration. This works great if you like to use the vertical grip as a partial hand support as shown in the photo later in this article. The kit also includes a grip extension that screws into the primary grip. This adds about 1 ⅝ inches so the total height of the vertical grip, with extension, is about 4 ⅝ inches. All of the parts are hollow and both the flat cap and extension grip piece include rubber gaskets to help seal the interior. This makes a handy place to safely store spare light batteries, small parts, cleaning supplies or maybe a few pieces of Bazooka Joe’s Bubble Gum. Your choice.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation

Since it’s a rail mount grip, installation is a snap. The grip itself has one half of a rail clamp molded in and a separate clamp for the opposite side. Two included hex bolts are used to fasten the grip to your rail. This provides a little extra flexibility for out of spec rails – you’ll still be able to get a solid mount.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation  1

The two included hex bolts are spaced to slide through grooves in the rail for forward / backward stability.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip water tight storage

The flat end cap has a rubber gasket to help keep moisture out of the storage area. Since there is not much surface on the flat one, there’s a large slot on the bottom to make it easier to remove. The extension piece also includes a gasket, but does not need a bottom slot and has a slightly rounded bottom.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest  2

Here’s the standard 3″ vertical grip installed with a Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb rest installed above and just forward of the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest

The combination of the short vertical post and thumb rest works great. The thumb rest allows a little stable forward pressure and the vertical grip post allows a little backward pressure. The overall support-hand grip is rock solid. Of course, if you add the vertical grip extension, you have the additional option of using the vertical grip only with your support hand. In that configuration, you’re grasping the vertical grip more like a hammer.

One of the reasons I elected to install a vertical grip is that I’ll be trying out the Blackhawk! Offset Flashlight Rail Mount with a Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V tactical light. That one has a maximum output of 570 lumens, so maybe I’ll try it out at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Match

Buy the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip Here

 

Half-Cocked: Off-Body Concealed Carry…

Briefcase Gun Holsters - Off Body Concealed Carry

Learn about all sorts of off-body concealed carry methods in our new book – The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters!

 

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – How To Carry A Gun In Your Underwear And More!

At long last, we’ve just published The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters! You can keep up to date with our forthcoming series of Insanely Practical Guides at InsanelyPracticalGuides.com.

Here’s the scoop on The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters:

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - Now available at Amazon.com

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – Now available at Amazon.com

Let’s face it. Choosing the best way to carry a gun can be a daunting task. Whether you’re new to guns or have been shooting since you were a wee tot, this book can help you understand concealed carry methods, how to carry a gun safely, and the relative pros and cons of over 120 specific gun holster models. We’ll even teach you several ways to carry a gun in your underwear.

This book will help you make the right gun holster choice – saving you time and money – while offering a dose of humor while you learn.

“Leather sixgun holsters became popular when a series of low budget spaghetti western films are produced like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Early design ideas are scrapped when it is determined that spaghetti does not ride well in leather holsters. And it makes many holsters soggy.”

Why do you need a book to choose and buy a gun holster? A few reasons really.

  • At last count, there are 4,187,237 different holsters on the market. Well, that might be an estimate, but there are a lot. If you had a dollar for each of those holsters, you could almost cover the Kardashians’ weekly clothing budget. So how do you choose the right holster with all those choices?
  • Hardly any stores carry a wide selection of holsters. Sure they might carry a couple of brands, but will they have a brand right for you and the model specific to your gun? It’s kind of like trying to find just the right shade of Morning Tropical Ocean Breeze Sunrise interior house paint at your local convenience store. It’s just not likely to happen. And that leaves you the option of having to search and buy from… the internet. And we all know that you can’t always believe everything you read on the internet. Well, except Youtube comments. Those are almost always true and thoughtful.
  • You can’t really try holsters out before you buy. Especially those underwear holsters. Gun store sales staff tend to get a little cranky when you start shedding clothes next to the ammunition aisle.
  • There are many different styles of concealed carry. Every day, innovative gun folks are inventing new ways to safely and discreetly carry guns. The variety of options is great, but how do you know which style of carry is right for you?

The editors at MyGunCulture.com have painstakingly documented all the holsters we’ve tried over the years and provided helpful commentary about pros and cons of different holster styles. In other words, we’ve tried just about everything. We’ve had great successes. We’ve experienced colossal failures. We’ve listened to so many gun show huckster sales pitches that the late Billy Mays would be impressed. And the result? The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters.

“Hugging Aunt Martha can be really weird if you’re not careful. If you carry the gun on one side of your body or the other, you can adjust your hugging style to be more angular. If you carry a gun on one side, and spare magazines on the other, then you have to quickly develop a serious case of Aphenphosmphobia. That’s fear of being touched, which should cover the bases for most hugging encounters.”

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters topics Include:

  • A brief, entertaining and not entirely true history of holsters
  • Weighing concealment versus accessibility
  • Open or concealed carry? How to start a good bar fight.
  • Ladies only gun holster solutions
  • Belt carry gun holsters – inside, outside and underneath?
  • Body carry solutions. Undershirts, belly bands and harnesses.
  • Ankle holsters. You think your ankles were swollen before?
  • Pocket gun holsters. Don’t worry, we keep things PG rated.
  • You too can carry a gun in your underwear!
  • Stashing guns in your clothing. Pants, shirts and jackets.
  • Off premises parking. Ways to carry a gun not attached to your body.
  • Home, office and car holster options.
  • Magazine carriers and pouches. Ways to easily carry spares.

Loaded with pictures and the occasional comedic illustration, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters will tell you just about everything you need to know regarding styles of carry and the pros and cons of dozens and dozens of gun holsters from numerous manufacturers.

“As famed concealed carry and armed combat instructor Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes to say, “beware the person who only has one gun, for they likely know how to use it.” Hang on a sec, we may have attributed that quote incorrectly. On second thought, Mayor Bloomberg might have said “beware the person who has a gun, for they scare me to death as I am a panty-waisted, elitist, wimp who relies on others to provide security for me while depriving you little people of your basic rights.” We’ll get that quote straight and report back later.”

Holsters are expensive. And important! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters will help you make the right choice for your needs and lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Enjoy!

Buy The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters at Amazon.com

Remember to keep you with new guides at insanelypracticalguides.com!

Holster Review: N82 Tactical Concealed Carry Holster

Let’s clear something up right off the bat. How do you say “N82 Tactical?” The “tactical” part is pretty easy, so we’ll focus on the “N82” part.

En – eight – two? Nope.

En – eighty two? Nope.

Nate two? Nope.

It’s “Nate Squared.”

N82 Tactical Professional Series Concealed Carry Holster

N82 Tactical Professional Series Concealed Carry Holster

We know this because we met a whole slew of Nates at this years SHOT Show – and they were all holster makers. In fact, it seemed that the whole booth was full of Nates.  Well, at least two, and that’s plenty for most legal uses. We’re not going to get into the political ramifications of whether high-capacity Nate’s should be legal, but common sense will indicate that two is plenty. Can’t we all just agree on that?

Fortunately, we got the name thing cleared up pretty quickly and one of the Nate’s gave me a thorough rundown on their concealed carry holster designs.

It’s a good thing, because we had previously only seen these holsters in advertisements and from (an admittedly very unfair) first glance, we had a bit of a ho-hum reaction.

And, as frequently proven by our readers and former math teachers, we were very, very wrong. Here’s why.

The N82 Tactical holsters have come interesting innovations. Spurred on to entrepreneurial enterprise by the belief that holsters should be both comfortable and comforting, the dynamic Nate duo and a rental squad of Oompa Loompas created a basic design that makes for an inherently wearable, yet solid and secure inside the waistband holster.

The N82 is a multi-layer affair. A large backing panel goes between the gun and your tender midsection skin areas. The panel is large enough to completely cover the gun and all or most of the grip – depending on the specific model. This keeps sharp and abrasive metal and wood stuff away from your belly. A belt clip is affixed to the gun pocket so the whole holster with gun is tucked inside the waistband with the clip securing to your belt. Pretty simple.

Here’s where the layering comes in.

The body side of the panel is made from soft suede. N82 Tactical chose suede for several reasons. It’s a natural material, so it allows your skin to breathe and feel cool – even in hot and humid climates. Another reason for the suede lining is that it has a friction coefficient. Yeah, I told you we wouldn’t get into quantum physics in this article, but hang in there for a second. Since the whole suede area has some “grip” it serves to spread the weight of the gun over a broader area. Not that we’re calling your area broad or anything. OK, Enough of the fancy science.

Sandwiched in the middle is a layer of neoprene. If you saw the movie Jaws, or have been to Sea World, you’ll know that this is the stuff that diver’s wetsuits are made of. It’s waterproof. While you probably won’t be diving with your N82 Tactical holster, the neoprene barrier does in fact create a moisture barrier between your sweaty broad area and your expensive gun. Even if you sweat, your gun stays dry. Within reason of course. The other reason behind the neoprene moisture barrier is to prevent the leather portion of the holster from becoming mushier and mushier over time. All of the Nate’s believe that leather doesn’t break in to the right point and then stop breaking it. It continues to get softer and softer over time, especially with exposure to moisture.

The outer layer is leather. This provides structure, stability and a safe backing for your gun – whether it be steel or polymer.

For the gun pocket itself, N82 Tactical offers a couple of separate options – the Standard and Professional Series.

The original model, or Standard Series, utilizes a stetchy material to secure the gun to the leather holster panel. N82 got a lot of feedback from law enforcement customers. They loved the comfort of the tuckable design with its stretch band holster pocket, but needed additional positive retention for more active situations.

On the Professional Series models, the gun pocket is made from a polycarbonate material. Yes, the same material that is used to make impact resistant glasses, bulletproof glass and Justin Bieber CD’s. The polycarbonate is molded to that it protrudes slightly into the trigger guard of the gun to provide positive retention. When wearing the holster, your body presses the gun even more into the trigger guard mold. To draw the gun, use a rotating motion along the axis of the barrel. This releases the trigger guard and allows the gun to exit the holster. It sounds complicated, but when you wear this holster just behind the hip bone, your natural draw motion tends to rotate the gun exactly as needed to release the gun. After a couple of tries we had it down pat.

We were pleasantly surprised at the engineering involved in this concealed carry holster. While it looks simple, there’s a lot under the covers. So to speak.

Read about more carry styles and over 120 different gun holsters in The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Top 10 Shooting Products from NSSF SHOT Show 2013

Doing a Top 10 list for SHOT Show is ridiculous. Kind of like trying to fit all the amazing things that have spilled out of Joe Biden’s mouth into a single leather-bound book. It simply can’t be done.

But as you probably already know, we’re kind of ridiculous around here, so we’re going to highlight our Top 10 shooting gear finds of SHOT Show 2013.

Here goes:

 Trijicon 300 AAC Blackout ACOG
Trijicon 300 AAC Blackout ACOG Optic. This is cool, cool, cool. We’ve a got a 300 Blackout rifle coming in for testing and can’t wait to spend more time with this optic. We shot it at the Media Day event and loved our first experience. The neat thing about this optic is the graduated reticle. It’s got normal elevation hashmarks calibrated for supersonic 300 AAC Blackout loads out to 600 yards. It also has indicators for subsonic rounds. Just zero the optic with supersonic ammo and everything falls into place. You’ll also notice the scope is slimmer than standard ACOG’s.
 Kestrel Meter 4500 Ballistic Bluetooth Nightvision Kestrel Meter with Horus ATRAG Ballistics Software. This is one cool device. You may be familiar with Kestrel’s pocket weather meters that provide instant data on humidity, temperature, wind, etc. This one adds a full ballistic computer to the mix. You can store multiple gun and load configurations with bullet type, ballistic coefficient, weight, and velocity. This information is combined with automatically collected atmospheric data to calculate a perfect long-range shooting solution. A new model is coming out soon with even more advanced ballistic software and load storage capabilities. Technology is cool.
 Black Rain Ordnance AK-47 Black Rain Ordnance AK-47. What’s the big deal about another AK-47? Look closely at the photo. This baby is a MILLED receiver, not a piece of metal stamped out like a Yugo fender. If memory serves, it’s going to be called the Freedom Fighter when it’s available in a couple of months. Oh, and we found out that one of Black Rain’s Pro Shooters, Sandra Orvig, lives virtually across the street from us. You’ll know a couple of other Black Rain Pro Shooters from Top Shot – the always energetic Gabby Franco and really huge guy Greg Littlejohn. This gun shot like a dream. Solid, heavy, and gentle. Fun!
 Tracking Point Laser Targeting System Tracking Point Networked Tracking Scope. Why yes, that is a laser targeting system on my .338 Lapua Magnum! I have no long-range shooting skill. Mainly because there’s no place nearby with a long-range facility. So when that crazy guy from Tracking Point asked me if I wanted to shoot a .338 Lapua Magnum at a steel gong 967 yards away in a freezing, howling wind, I thought he was a little nuts. With the Tracking Point, you simply lase the target with a red dot on the reticle using a button near the trigger. The system already knows your load ballistics and gathers atmospheric conditions for trajectory calculation. Once the target is lased, you can move the rifle around in an moderate-sized zone around the target center. Just press and hold the trigger and try to cover the laser indicator again. When your scope passes over the exact spot, the rifle fires automatically – you don’t have to hold on the target, just pass over it. A secondary benefit is there is no trigger flinch. You don’t know exactly when the gun will fire. And yes, I did hit the steel gong ⅔ of a mile out there on the first try. Through no fault of my own.
 NSSF First Shots Reception SHOT Show 2013 Crazy Fun People. Ok, so this isn’t actually a product, but most of our shooting industry friends are more or less products of insanity. That’s what makes the people so great and all of this so much fun. Here’s a photo from the First Shots reception, run by the NSSF’s always entertaining Tisma Juett. She’s coordinating First Shots events all across the country and getting thousands and thousands of people introduced to the shooting sports. You might recognize some of those wild and crazy huntresses from The Women’s Outdoor News, Stephanie from XS Sights, Kelle – the better half of Hot Caliber Jewelry, Team Archangel – tactical trainers extraordinaire, and @GlamGunGirl.
 Flashbang Eva Holster and others in the Pin Up Collection women's holsters Flashbang Eva Women’s Holster. A number of companies that are more dude-oriented are making hybrid holsters like the Galco King Tuk and CrossBreed. Lisa and Bart Looper have some up with a model just for the female form. The Eva has an exceptionally well made leather backing, gun-specific kydex shell, and best of all, a colorful suede backing. Fun and functional!
 Blackhawk AR Rail Thumb Shelf Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Rest. Sometimes the simplest products are the most valuable. This is a nifty accessory for virtually any rifle with a forward side rail. The thumb shelf helps you achieve a perfectly consistent and firm grip with your support hand every time. Reversing it creates two different thumb shelf heights. A lower position is great for rifles with a vertical fore grip. The upper position is better if you don’t use one. You have to try it to believe the difference it makes.
 US Optics SR8 Rifle Scope U.S. Optics SR8. This is one gorgeous optic. It’s obviously built like a tank. It offers 1-8x zoom with a true 1X so at closer ranges it works like a red dot. It features two different ranging reticle options which are in the first focal plane so ranging is not affected by zoom level. It also offers a red dot in the second focal plane which can be turned on or off. The red dot features variable intensity controls. Or you can get a not-red dot as the optic is orderable with your choice of red, green or blue illumination. Can’t wait to spend some quality time with this one.
 SilencerCo Saker 5.56mm silencer SilencerCo 5.56mm Saker. This dedicated 5.56 / .223 silencer was just downright fun to shoot. Less blast, less noise, accurate, and light. What’s not to love? The neatest part of the Saker design is the MAAD, or Multiple Accessory Attachment Device. This simply means that the attachment mechanism is not proprietary. Which means you can mount this over other vendors flash hiders. The end cap is removable, so if you manage to blow the end off, you can simply replace the end cap and there is far less risk of damage to your suppressor.
 Slidefire 22 Stock Slidefire .22LR Stock System. Here’s a great way to clean out your local Wal-Mart’s supply of bulk .22LR ammunition. Last year, SlideFire introduced bump-fire stocks for AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. This year, they’ve managed to get the system to work on certain .22 rifles. Available soonish is a trigger set for the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22. The stock is the basic AR-15 stock. The lighter trigger set is required to make the SlideFire system work with the reduced recoil impulse of .22 ammunition. Soon, SlideFire will introduce a solution for the Ruger 10/22 platform. We shot the M&P 15-22 system at Media Day and it was a hoot! And affordable :-) Get one.

SIRT Training Pistol – Are Eunuch Guns Firing Blanks Or Banking Firing Practice?

Productive (and fun) gun neutering

The SIRT Training Pistol from Next Level Training

The SIRT Training Pistol from Next Level Training

Most people think of neutering in a bad way. My dogs run away for days when they hear that word.Recently we had to retrieve them from a snow cave just outside the town of Alert, located in Nunavut, Canada.

In the case of the SIRT Training Pistol from Next Level Training, there really hasn’t been a neutering of a pistol, technically speaking. More accurately, it’s been designed as a eunuch.

Eunuch [yoo-nuh k]
noun
- a man who has been castrated, primarily for some office or duty such as a guard in a harem or palace official. 

Although painful, and kind of weird, our use of the term Eunuch here doesn’t necessarily imply weakness. Think about all those beefy palace guards in old Cleopatra movies. In this case, it implies strength and singularity of purpose.

You see, the SIRT is a practice-only pistol, made from the ground up as a practice-only pistol. It has a magazine, but you can’t put cartridges in it. It has a slide, but the slide doesn’t move. It has a trigger, but nothing fires – except a laser. Well two lasers actually. It has a magazine release button which drops the inert, but realistically weighted, magazine. It has a rail for tactical gun lights, rail mounted lasers, or even bayonets. If you want to make your eunuch dangerous.

In short, it has most of the components of a real pistol. But it’s designed not to fire. Ever. And that’s exactly what you’re paying for.

This ‘firing challenged” capability makes the SIRT Training Pistol a great training aid.

You can draw. As fast as you like.

You can run around the house yelling things like “Freeze!” and you won’t hurt anyone.

You can aim at things (not people, people!) and pull the trigger. Thousands and thousands of times.And you will have zero risk of shooting the furniture. I shot the dining room table once, and I still hear about it at family gatherings.You won’t experience this type of social embarrassment if you practice with the SIRT.

What is the SIRT Training Pistol?

Our test SIRT fit all of our Glock holsters and magazine carriers

Our test SIRT fit all of our Glock holsters and magazine carriers

SIRT has a name. It’s Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger training pistol. Get it?

The idea behind SIRT is to make quality training easy. A quick look at before and after shooting practice scenarios will give you a good idea of what it does…

Before SIRT

  • Get your gun.
  • Drop the magazine and empty the rounds. Assuming you want to practice magazine changes during your session.
  • Rack the slide to clear the chamber of live rounds. Do it again. And again. Now look inside and make sure the chamber is empty. You really don’t want to shoot the sofa. It’s new and they’re not on sale again until Labor Day.
  • Put your now loose ammunition in another room. I like to set it up on a shelf and use it as an aiming target for dry fire practice. This just gives me an extra assurance that the gun is not loaded as I am looking at its ammunition in the next room. If there are no loose rounds over yonder to aim at, I better check my gun’s status again!
  • Rack the slide to achieve trigger set.
  • Aim at something really, really, really safe. This IS a real gun, and although you’re pretty sure it’s actually unloaded, you have to assume it will go off when you pull the trigger. A word of advice here. That antique clock on the mantle? Yes, it has a target-like round face, but perforating it during practice may cause undue stress for your significant other. And you’ll have great difficulty telling time. Find something that makes a better bullet backstop and is less expensive.
  • Pull the trigger. Assume you hit the imaginary target. You really don’t know however, as (hopefully) no projectile launched and made a vacuous circular indicator of where your muzzle was pointed at the exact picosecond of trigger break.
  • Next, depending on your style of pistol, you can partially rack the slide to reset the trigger. If you use a double action pistol like a Beretta, Sig, or Walther, you can either partially rack the slide or cock the hammer to get a simulated “light trigger pull” shot. Or, if your pistol has a decocker, you can flip the decock lever after you rack the slide to get prepared for another double action trigger pull. Of course, if you have a single action pistol like a 1911, you can just cock the hammer. We’re not addressing revolvers in this scenario as the SIRT is a semi-automatic pistol training device.
  • Repeat at least a few times before you get tired of the hassle.
  • When finished, retrieve your ammo, fill your magazine, chamber a round, safe your gun if applicable, and top off your magazine if you so choose. Store your loaded gun back in a safe place.

After SIRT

  • Pick up your SIRT Training Pistol.
  • Aim at something safe. Eunuch gun or not, we never point at anything we don’t want to destroy right?
  • Pull the trigger. Watch your hit via high-tech laser beam. Yell “whoopee” or maybe something less strange.
  • Repeat until you are either bored or achieve Master Class.

That’s the basic idea. If you have a SIRT, pick it up and practice. If not, be really, really careful. As the SIRT pistol automatically resets its trigger, you can get a lot of quality trigger pulls completed in a very short amount of time.

SIRT Training Pistol features

SIRT Training Pistol lasers

Look Ma! No muzzles! Well, just little ones for the lasers.

The SIRT is modeled after a Glock 17/22. Same basic size, same basic weight, and same basic grip angle. The magazine is even the same size and approximately the same weight as a loaded Glock 17 magazine. Why a Glock? Well, at last count, 4,627% of law enforcement officers across the country use Glocks, so the potential LE training market for SIRT Training pistols is huge on this platform. Will Next Level Training offer other form factors? Perhaps, but I suppose that depends on market demand for specific models. What is announced on the Next Level Training web site is a variation with a similar grip angle to the Smith and Wesson M&P. This is scheduled for ‘soonish’ but that’s all we know right now.

While we’re talking about how the SIRT looks like a Glock, feels like a Glock, and smells like a Glock – well, maybe not smells – we should mention that all Glock holsters we tried fit the SIRT perfectly. We also tried a number of magazine carriers for Glock magazines and those worked perfectly too.

The slide on our tested SIRT is bright red. For most users of stock guns, this clearly differentiates the SIRT as a practice gun. If you’re one to paint and personalize your real guns, simply do the same to your SIRT in a color that you recognize as “safe.” So if your real gun really is red, make your SIRT blue. Or mauve. Or Hawaiian Sunset Lagoon Mango.

The SIRT features a standard front rail, so if you use a rail mounted light or laser on your real gun, you can put one on the SIRT also. Or you can mount a bayonet. And stab the sofa as you won’t be accidentally shooting it.

One of the really big deals about the SIRT Training Pistol is the adjustable auto-resetting trigger. This means you can get as many trigger pulls as you want without doing anything to reset the trigger. It automatically resets just as a real trigger would when firing a real cartridge from a real gun. Want to practice double taps? Triple taps? Emptying the magazine to reload? No problem. As far as adjustment, depending on the model, you can tweak the initial trigger location, overtravel, take up force, and trigger break force. The trigger break can be adjusted from 2.5 to 12 pounds.

SIRT Training Pistols actually include two lasers. A take up laser lets you know when trigger pressure is applied prior to the shot break. This allows you to practice and program your finger to allow the trigger to move forward just far enough to reset. If the take up indicator laser goes off, you have let off too much pressure from the trigger. The shot indicating laser pulses when the trigger sear releases. This indicates the exact moment of the shot. If you see a dot appear right where you were aiming, good job! If you see a line or other indication of movement of that same dot, get back to practicing! With a small lever switch on the top of the slide, you can activate or disable the trigger take up indicator. I preferred using the shot indicator laser only as I found the take up laser distracting, but that is a personal preference. If you want to work on optimizing your trigger reset technique, the take up indicator is a great tool.

The SIRT comes in a durable hard plastic carrying case and includes an instructional DVD.

Model Variations

You can get the SIRT Training Pistol in a number of variations. The Next Level Training website features a product comparison page to help you find the model right for your specific requirements.

The highlights are that the shot indicator laser is available in either red or green. Our evaluation model had a green shot indicator laser and a red trigger take up indicator and this seems the way to go as you won’t confuse which dot indicates trigger take up and which shows shot placement. Other model options include additional trigger adjustments, magazine weight adjustments, and metal or plastic slides. The metal slide model is recommended for any active motion training use. The metal slide version is also very near to actual loaded pistol weight.

10 ways you can use a SIRT Training Pistol

Based on our time evaluating a SIRT Training Pistol, there are many, many productive and safe ways to make good use of a SIRT Training Pistol. Here are a few we found useful.

  1. You can perfect your trigger pull motion. Due to the low overhead of getting ready for practice, you can get hundreds of trigger pulls completed per day with ease.
  2. Give a safety and pistol basics lesson to a new shooter before taking them to the range where it’s noisy and distracting. You can safely show a new shooter a proper grip, have them practice it, and start the process of getting their finger off the trigger until ready to fire! It’s also a great way to illustrate and practice inserting and removing a magazine.
  3. The SIRT is a great tool for transitioning a younger shooter from something simple like a .22 rifle to an auto-pistol.  They’ll safely learn the basic operation and get the hang of a proper trigger pull at a cost per round of, well, nothing!
  4. Stuck on a marathon phone call? Practice a few hundred trigger pulls. Clearly this works better in home offices than corporate high rises.
  5. Teach someone how to properly draw a gun from a holster without risk of firing an unintentional shot.
  6. Practice your own holster draw. Try new holsters and methods without risk. To you or the sofa.
  7. Ever thought about how you would handle the proverbial bump in the middle of the night? With a SIRT and a rail mounted or hand held light, you can safely wander around your house testing out locations, cover, lines of fire, and of course light and or laser techniques. Yes, your family may think you weird, but it’s great preparation. And the dogs will be amused.
  8. Pinch your 11 year old nephew while he shoots. That is if you happen to have an aspiring young shooter in the family who is working on getting rid of a tendency to trigger slap. Editors Note: No actual child abuse occurred with this training method. Certified observers from Health and Human Services were present at all times. As I recall.
  9. Just for fun and profit, you can practice non-standard position shooting. You can even practice point shooting if you’re into that. We won’t get into the debate of relative merits or not, we’ll just observe that you can do it. So go ahead. Draw and shoot from the hip. The SIRT laser will tell you where the SHOT would have gone. And you won’t have run the risk of launching lead into the neighbors yard. Or the sofa.
  10. Bad day? Shoot the sofa over and over and over. Until you feel better. No harm done.

Closing arguments

We were somewhat skeptical about investing time to evaluation the SIRT Training Pistol. The idea of spending a couple hundred dollars on a gun that doesn’t shoot seemed just a little weird. But we persevered. And guess what? The value of this training method became clear in about 5 minutes of use. I’ve been using it every day. It’s safe and convenient. And your shooting skills WILL improve noticeably. And you won’t be explaining to anyone why you need a new sofa.

Next up – The SIRT-AR Bolt

Our Rating

4 Nuns Three Nuns! This is one of those things that really grew on us. Once we started using the SIRT, the value of being able to safely practice thousands of repetitions of draws and trigger pulls became apparent. You can literally program your body to dry fire correctly, get good feedback on aim, and go a long ways towards eliminating any tendency to flinch. Practice with draws was equally valuable. The only minor drawback was the fixed slide. There must be engineering limitations to this, but it would be a real nice to have for the slide to operate in order to practice full magazine change and malfunction drills. I know, we’re being nitpicky and impossible. But it would be nice…

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Does Hot Caliber Jewelry Make You Hawt? We Ask Founder Manos Phoundoulakis

Manos Phoundoulakis - Hot Caliber

Manos Phoundoulakis – Hot Caliber founder busting some clays at the Hot Caliber station at The Shooting Industry Masters

We’re talking with Manos Phoundoulakis, founder of Hot Caliber Jewelry and master inventor behind the flattened bullet jewelry concept. Well, actually, when you dig a little deeper into the story, most of the credit for the idea goes to his partner and bride Kelle. Isn’t that the way it always is?

While shooting with Team Hot Caliber at the 2012 Shooting Industry Masters event, we were able to pick Manos’ brain about being ‘hawt’ with Hot Caliber jewelry. As a side note, the Masters event served as the launch for the custom edition benefitting USA Shooting.

My Gun Culture: Right off the bat, I need to clarify an important question. Do you need to actually be ‘hawt’ to wear Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry? Or do you have to at least perceive yourself as ‘hawt’ to wear this stuff?

Manos Phoundoulakis: No, actually that’s what’s great about Hot Caliber. If you’re not hot, and you wear Hot Caliber, you will become hot. We guarantee it! Be careful of not wearing your Hot Caliber jewelry though, you can lose your newly found hotness.

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant - USA Shooting Benefit Edition

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant – USA Shooting Benefit Edition

MGC: I understand you put together a special benefit program for USA Shooting. Can you tell us about that?

Manos: Earlier this year at the NRA Annual Meeting, we decided to put together a benefit program around the Shooting Industry Masters event.  The FMG Publications (editors note: American Handgunner, Guns Magazine, and American Cop Magazine) folks came up with the idea to benefit USA Shooting and right off the bat it was clear to me this was a great idea. You see, I’m Greek. The Olympics started in Greece. They weren’t shooting back then, but they were throwing stuff, and that counts for something. We didn’t invent the gun, but we do take credit for shot put.

MGC: So without divulging too many trade secrets, how do you make Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry?

Manos: After more than 4,000 rounds of testing, we now know what it’s going to take to create a perfect flattened bullet. Normally, we shoot 100 rounds of a specific ammo type, depending on the type and size of piece we want to make, at a big heavy piece of steel. Over time, I’ve figured out what exact brand and load will produce perfect flattened bullets of a given size. Then I get to sift through the dirt and retrieve the flattened bullets. At this point, I pick the three best and run them by a small committee to help identify the best overall bullet impression.

MGC: So people have to be small to be on the committee?

Manos: No, but they do have to have really good eyesight. The committee is small in number, not in size! At this point, I take the flattened bullet and mold it in a rubber molding compound. From there we cast the initial model. If it’s our general Hot Caliber product, that model gets cast in silver or gold, then it gets put into the jewelry. We use a lost wax casting method. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are many important steps involved in creating a piece of silver or gold jewelry with this technique. I’ll go ahead and claim that the Greeks invented the lost wax technique also – even though that probably isn’t true. Sometimes we use an oxidation technique to help bring out the visual texture. For the Masters Edition, we have to take one more molding process to engrave one or both sides, depending on the piece.

MGC: Since you use actual bullets to come up with these designs, when did Mayor Bloomberg contact you about outlawing Hot Caliber Jewelry in New York City?

Manos: Well I don’t know him personally. And quite frankly, he’s not very attractive, but he would be much more attractive if he were to be wearing Hot Caliber jewelry. Then he might lighten up a bit.

Hot Caliber flattened bullet cufflinks

Hot Caliber offers a variety of flattened bullet jewelry for men and women – pendants, rings, cufflinks, keychains, and more.

MGC: Hot Caliber jewelry is already pretty elegant stuff, but do you have plans to enter the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” market? Maybe something Paris Hilton would wear?

Manos: Just between us, we’re thinking about a “Haute Calibre” line. But that’s secret.

MGC: If other organizations or companies want to create special Hot Caliber editions to sell or fundraise is there any way they could do that?

Manos: We do offer special editions and licensed manufacturing for sale on other websites/catalogs. I would personally love to make an edition for any of the US Armed forces, or a Soldiers Angels Edition…anything that could help support the people that risk their lives for our freedoms. I’d make a Nancy Pelosi edition, but she would probably use the money to take my guns away.

 

Be sure to check out the Hot Caliber collection at www.hotcaliber.com. Better yet, order a special edition piece to support USA Shooting!

Latest Shooting Buyers Guide Additions

My Gun Culture Shooters Buyers Guide

We’re introducing a new weekly article feature, and a whole new section of MyGunCulture.com this week. Our Shooters Buyers Guide provides a quick and easy reference to stuff that is a solid value – and works. Think of it as shooting tips for buyers.

We check out a lot of shooting gear – tactical lights, gun lasers, optics, red dot sights, ammunition, reloading supplies and equipment, shooting bags, holsters of all kinds, and much, much more. While we can’t do an in depth review of everything that crosses the shooting bench, we can help filter out what works well – and what doesn’t. If you see an item listed in our buyers guide, we’ve used it, we like it, and we believe in it.

Here are this weeks picks:

Sights, Optics, Lasers, Lights

TruGlo TFO Fiber Optic / Tritium Handgun Sights

Crimson Trace LG850 Lasergrips – Glock Compact and Full Size Models

Aimpoint Micro H-1 Red Dot Sight

Crimson Trace Lightguard for Glock Pistols

Crimson Trace Lasergrips For Glock Full Size and Compact Models

Holsters

Blade-Tech IDPA Competition Pack with SRB (Sting Ray Belt) Holster

5.11 Tactical COVRT Z.A.P. 6 (Zone Assault Pack)

Galco Ankle Glove Holster

Blackhawk Leather Magazine Pouch

Galco Ankle Glove Holster

Blackhawk Sportster Standard Concealment Holster

Ammo

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P 135 grain Flexlock

Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP +P 185 grain JHP

CorBon DPX .357 Sig 125 Grain Ammo

American Eagle .223 Ammo – Reloaders Bargain

Federal’s Guard Dog .45 ACP – Expands Like All Get Out

Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special +P 100 grain

Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P Bonded Hollow Points

CorBon 9mm +P 115 grain JHP

Shooting Accessories

Gunzilla Gun Cleaner, Lubricant, and Protectant – Look Ma! No Stink!

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields – Eye Protection with Style

Slipstream and Slipstream STYX Weapons Lubricants

Books

Shoot! Your Guide to Shooting and Competition by Julie Golob

The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob

American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North

GunDigest Shooter’s Guide to the 1911 by Robert Campbell

Reloading Equipment

Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph

Forster Case Trimmer

Laser Review: Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock LG-452

The Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock Handguns

Green with envy. The brand new Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glocks

Green with envy. The brand new Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glocks

My Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips is now green with envy. Because of my Glock 17 Gen 4 that is now sporting the hot off the line Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452.

Following up on the sneak previews at this years NRA Annual Meeting, Crimson Trace is just about to release a whole slew of green laser models. In September, we’ll see Laserguard models for Kimber and Smith & Wesson 1911’s, GLOCK Full-Size & Compact, and Springfield XD & XD(M) pistols. Based on our earlier experience with the Lightguard for 1911’s, we’ll bet it will fit the Springfield 1911 models as well. Also on the soon to hit the shelves list is the Rail Master unit with a green laser. We just finished reviewing a Rail Master with a light and found it to be versatile enough to fit every gun in our safe that is equipped with a rail. AR rifles included.

Crimson Trace Green Laserguard Specs

As stated, the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard will run for about 2 hours of continuous use. Considering that the unit is equipped with a positive on/off switch that disables the instinctive activation button, this is plenty. Going to an outdoor range to plink or practice? No problem, you decide if you want to chase the dot. If you would rather work with iron sights and save your battery, just flip the switch off and shoot normally.

Green laser vs red laser in daylight

Note how bright the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is compared to a red laser in broad daylight

The Laserguard also features windage and elevation adjustments so you can set your laser zero to preference. When I mounted it on the Glock 17 Gen 4, the green dot was just above the front sight, so it had a usable zero right out of the box. The included tool is dual purpose. It fits the mounting screws that fasten the two halves of the Laserguard together and is used for windage and elevation adjustments.

The Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452 uses a single CR2 Lithium battery. The first one is included with the unit. For future replacements, CR2 batteries are available at most any grocery or drug store,

The Living Daylights

The whole point of green lasers is visibility. The human eye picks up green easily – more so than other colors. In the same manner that human eyes are immediately drawn to members of the opposite sex, so it is with green lasers. It’s simple biology.

Installation of the Crimson Trace Green Lightguard LG-452 is easy

Installation of the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is easy

The big benefit to the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is high visibility – in all conditions. While operating indoors, the green laser really shines – noticeably more than a traditional red laser.

The biggest difference, however, is visibility in daylight conditions. I generally don’t bother trying to practice with a red laser at outdoor ranges unless it’s getting to be end of day and the light is fading significantly. You just can’t see that red laser dot more than a few feet away in direct sunlight. The green laser is an entirely different story. I had no problem clearly seeing the green dot, in broad daylight, on targets 100 feet or more away. It’s an amazing difference that you have to see to believe.

Our Review Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Green lasers suck power like Rosie O’Donnell sucks at talk shows. But somehow, Crimson Trace has figured out how to pack 2 hours of super bright runtime into this small package. That’s plenty and batteries are cheap. We can’t wait to see what’s next…

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Review: Are You Hung? I am.

I finally am.

And all for the low price of $19.95.

One of those neat inventions I found at the NRA Annual Meeting was Handgun Hangers by Gun Storage Solutions. These amazingly simple devices help make efficient use of the space in your gun safe while protecting your guns from gun-safe-bumper-car abuse.

As you can see from the photo, I had a problem. I was not hung. Knowing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery, so I stopped by the Gun Storage Solutions booth and boldy informed the young ladies working there that I had a problem. I was not hung, and I was miserable as a result.

safe-before-photo

After a quick diagnosis, the folks at Gun Storage Solutions offered a treatment regimen. And it didn’t even require little blue pills.

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The Original Handgun Hangers turned out to be my favorite. Simple to use, they allow you to hang handguns below virtually any shelf of normal thickness. Maybe an inch thick plus or minus. A ‘U’ shaped coated wire frame simply slips over the front edge of the shelf and a ‘U’ shape facing the other direction presents a coated road for the barrel to slip over – thereby hanging the gun. The coating protects the interior of the barrel.

DSC_0006 (3)

The Back Under Handgun Hangers slip over the back side of a shelf and allow long handguns like big revolvers to hang without the grip projecting past the front of the shelf as they would with the front mounted Original Handgun Hangers. This worked great for our Ruger Super Blackhawk and long barreled Ruger Single Six.

DSC_0002 (6)

This view shows the top side of the Over Under Handgun Hangers. A coated wire points up at about a 45 degree angle. It works pretty well for small profile handguns with reasonably short barrels. You can easily bend the angle of the coated wire up or down to create a better mount for specific guns.By the way, I can’t count. The Ruger LCR, second from the left, is simply resting between two others that are mounted using the system as I bought one pack too few of hangers. Unlike the folks at NBC who have no problem doctoring audio and video, I felt it only fair to include all the guns that were in the ‘before’ picture.

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Here’s the bottom of the Over Under Handgun Hangers. The bottom side works exactly like the Original Handgun Hangers. I found the Over Under hangers to be a bit wobbly. Make no mistake – the setup was still uber-better than the pile-o-guns I had before. Perhaps addition of a stabilizing bend on the bottom side like the one on the top side of the mount would improve the the situation.

Having tested most of the available configurations, my preference would be to do the whole setup with the Original Handgun Hangers. I would hang all pistols below the shelf and use the shelf tops for magazine storage as in the first picture.

All in all, hats off to the folks at Gun Storage Solutions for creating a simple and flexible system to organize your guns.

A side note – my particular safe has very little space between the inside main door panel and the front edges of the shelves. This means that I have not been able to find a inside-the-door handgun mount solution. The Handgun Hanger method overcomes that challenge.

It feels much better to be hung.

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