July 6th, 2018 by asjstaff

Let’s say I wanted a rifle, chambered in 5.56, with a 16-inch barrel, and I wanted it to be about the same size as an SMG.
Well, look no further, the Austrian Steyer AUG fits that need.

The Steyr AUG is a bullpup rifle that manages to pack a lot in a little space. It does this by placing the action behind the trigger group. This includes the magazine, bolt, and ejection port.

Steyr AUG

Steyr AUG

Prices accurate at time of writing

What the engineers at Steyr did was create a simple rifle, that incorporated a 16-inch barrel in a gun the same size as an SMG. Seriously, let’s use Die Hard as a reference because we’re Die Hard fans.

The Steyr AUG is only 28.15 inches with a 16-inch barrel and its chambered in a rifle caliber. That’s a pretty substantial rifle in a tiny package. That’s the magic of a bullpup.

AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR
AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR

Smaller guns are easier to handle in close quarters, but in rifle calibers that usually means a shorter barrel.

A shorter barrel in a rifle caliber usually means less range and a drop in ballistic performance. The Steyr AUG is the best of both worlds in many ways.

AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15
AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15

Table of Contents

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My AUG

The Steyr AUG’s current incarnation is the Steyr AUG A3 M1. This particular rifle sports a 1.5x optic, but is available with a 3x optic, or no optic and a scope rail. This is the NATO model, so it does accept AR 15 magazines.

Best Magazine
Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

The downside is that you lose the ability to swap the gun to a left-handed configuration. With the standard model you can do that, but has to use the less common AUG mags. Although, the 42 round semi-transparent AUG magazine has a place in my heart.

The gun weighs 8.8 pounds with an optic, and in the world of lightweight ARs, it’s a little hefty. However, once you pick it up the balance is perfect. The slightly heavier than average weight isn’t that significant.

AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG
AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG

The optic on the gun sports Pic rails for attaching a small red dot, or whatever else you may want. There is also a small section on the left-hand side for an accessory. It is perfect for a light attachment.

A Streamlight TLR-1 with a simple switch lever works well here. It’s made for a pistol, but due to the rails placement near the support hand, it’s easy to turn on and off.

Not much room for accessories...
Not much room for accessories…

Other than that there isn’t much room for accessories. You can’t load this thing down like a traditional AR, but do you need to?

One of the cool features is how easy and quick you can remove the barrel. Right above the folding pistol grip is a small button, you move the button forward with one hand and pull the barrel with the other. Bam, it’s off.

In the past Steyr produced the AUG para kit which allowed you to convert the gun to 9mm with just a few changes, the barrel is one of them. Those kits seem few and far between these days.

You can swap the barrels out though. You can add a 20 inch, or even a 24-inch barrel to your AUG. This allows to convert the AUG to a DMR style weapon or pretend it is the squad support model of the AUG.

Ergonomics

This is my first real experience with a bullpup. I’ve played and toyed with some in the past, but this was my first time running and gunning with one. I’m keeping that in mind as I judge ergos.

Base Ergonomics

Everything feels right about this gun. The stock is nice and full and fits comfortably into the shoulder. The 15-inch LOP is excellent with or without armor. (Disclaimer I’m also 6’4” and have gorilla arms.)

The grip angle is perfect, and it better be because it can’t be changed. I’ve always like vertical foregrips, and this one works as intended. Without it, you wouldn’t have much space to grip the rifle.

AUG ADS
Aiming down the AUG optical sight

Since this gun doesn’t have a proper forend trying to rest it on barriers is almost impossible. Also if you don’t like the location of the VFG… Well too bad, because it can’t be moved.

Lastly, the gun is equipped with two QD sling swivels for right-handed users only. Perfect for my favorite Blue Force Gear Vickers sling.

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Reloading

As a Marine and AR owner, I’m used to a more standard layout, and my muscle memory was clinging to that style. It took a lot of practice both dry and live fire for me to master the ergos. Admittedly reloading is nowhere near as intuitive as an AR or standard layout rifle.

I did a lot of practice reloads and eventually found my way of reloading efficiently, but I don’t feel I’d ever be as fast as I am with a standard rifle. The gun has two mag releases and both work depending on your style of reloading.

Reloading the AUG isn’t the most natural of movements…but you can train into it

The first is a small button forward of the magazine well. The second is a rear lever placed right behind the magazine. I prefer the rear lever. If I keep my thumb pointing up on my fresh magazine my thumb presses the lever up and releases the magazine.

I grip it with the same hand, remove it, reload, and carry on.

Controls

The controls used outside of reloading are very simple and intuitive. The charging handle is placed on the left side and easy to reach and use. That being said it takes a little force to get that bolt back.

AUG Safety
Square cross bolt safety located back and above of the trigger

The safety is just a square push button, and it works as intended, is easy to use, and provides a tactile method of knowing what state your rifle is in.

Live Fire

The gun points exceptionally well. It feels so natural to take it from low ready to high ready and fire. It’s short size, and excellent balance comes into effect here. It points so well it’s honestly easy to fire with one hand.

I’m no physics buff, but the fact that most of the gun is to the rear and barely any barrel is forward of the shooter means the muzzle is much easier to control. Remember the exaggerated C-Clamp so many guys use with ARs?

AUG ADS Side
AUG cheek weld is easy to aquire

The same theory is in effect here. Recoil is typical of a 5.56 caliber weapon, so there isn’t much to say other than its minimal and pleasant.

The most prominent downside to the AUG is its trigger. If you run Timneys in your AR, then you will be aghast at the AUG’s trigger. It’s functional, but far from the match grade performance many of us are accustom to.

It’s squishy, the pull is long, and it’s quite gritty. It’s 9 pounds, and you feel every ounce of it. I wouldn’t take it to an NRA High Power match, or a precision rifle contest. With that said it’s not bad enough to make you miss, just bad enough to open up your groups a bit.

Uses

This rifle could be used for a wide variety of purposes. It’s certainly an exciting gun to bring to 3-Gun, albeit reloading may be a little tricky for speedy purposes. It’s certainly a great home defense weapon.

The compact size is perfect for inside the house and close quarters use. It’s balanced well, in a competent caliber, and even equipped with a suppressor it’s still roughly the same size as a standard AR 15.

AUG ADS Rear
Careful of that ejection port, lefties beware of righthanded rifles!

As a duty gun, it’s served several countries exceptionally well. At one point it was even adopted by the Department of Homeland Security. The AUG is one of the longest-serving bullpup rifles out there and its proven in terms of reliability and usefulness.

It’s an excellent gun for smaller shooters who want to exercise the most control over their weapon possible. It’s got a great length of pull, gives the shooter an excellent degree of control over the gun, and with a little time and effort put into training, the controls are flawless.

The last use is, of course, the best one, it’s fun. It’s fun to shoot, it looks like a space gun, and its a dream to shoot. Plus, it’s excellent for shooting glass. (last Die Hard reference I promise.)

Upgrades

We all like accessorizing our guns, but unfortunately, the AUG doesn’t have a massive aftermarket. There are a few companies producing some excellent, high-quality upgrades. Corvus Defensio comes to mind immediately.

The big problem is that the AUG itself doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization. It’s a simple weapon, and it was designed over thirty years ago.

AUG taking a nap on a tree
AUG taking a nap on a tree after a long day at the range

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

The thing never went click when it should have gone bang. I went through everything from nice TAP ammo to cheap Tula and it worked. No issues ejecting, loading, or firing. The AUG has been around long enough that any such problems would be corrected by now.

Ergonomics 3/5

The gun gets really high marks in some areas and low marks in others. The trigger kinda sucks and I’m taking a point away solely for that. Reloading is an iffy proposition, and will never be AR fast, but with practice, it’s intuitive enough. The other big flaw is that should the gun have a failure the placement of the ejection port makes squick access difficult.

Accuracy 4/5

The gun is quite accurate and capable of producing respective groups. It well beyond Minute of Bad Guy accuracy and out to several hundred yards I can hit the chest area of my targets. The trigger is kinda crap takes a point off.

Accessories and Upgrades 2/5

I’m going to give it one point for the barrel and bipod options and 1 point for potential. The Steyr AUG is so simple it seems like it would be easy to do caliber conversions, offer different forward grips, and really change things up. Unfortunately, the rifle isn’t popular enough in the US to receive the AR treatment.

Looks 5/5

So this is obviously subjective and my 5 rating is clearly based on a lot of inherent bias about this gun. It looks cool to me. Sorry, but it always will. Objectively I can say the finish is nice and evenly applied, and looks smooth and classy. The stock’s FDE mixed with the black metal gives a nice balanced look of colors.

Bang for Your Buck Value 2/5

This is not a cheap gun by any stretch. It’s not even really a cheap bullpup these days. On average it’s at least 500 bucks more than the base model of the Tavor. Compared to the AR market it’s even higher than some nice Daniel Defense AR rifles. I’m giving it a 2 because if you want an AUG it’s really your only option… and it’s not FN SCAR money.

Overall 3.5/5

The Steyr AUG is a great gun. It does have some flaws, and if it was available for around 1,500 bucks it’d be a real winner. This particular model typically retails for over 2k and that’s a hard sell. It’s a straight-shooting, compact, and well-designed platform that shows us what a bullpup can really do.

Do you have an AUG? How do you like it? What other bullpups do you love (Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns)? Most importantly, what is your favorite Die Hard movie? Let us know in the comments!

The post Steyr AUG [Hands-On Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

May 17th, 2018 by asjstaff

Many people associate SHTF gear with doomsday preppers, underground bunkers, and enough ammo to support a small army.

The truth is that everyone should have an emergency supply for when shit really hits the fan – not just people who like to plan hypothetical zombie apocalypse-nuclear winter scenarios.

PacRim Canceling the Apocalypse
You heard the man, the apocalypse is on hold…for now…

Speaking of zombies, if you haven’t read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) Zombie Apocalypse Plan you really should – no joke, it’s a great start to SHTF planning.

Setting aside some ammunition, extra weapons, and other survival gear is a great way to ensure the safety of you and your family in the event of an emergency.

Today we’re going to look at some SHTF gear essentials that every survivalist needs to have.

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The Essentials to Have on Hand

Above everything else, you want to have a self-defense handgun that’s powerful enough to neutralize any incoming threat.

This will be your primary pistol, so you want to make sure that it’s something you’re comfortable shooting;  don’t go purchase that .50 Desert Eagle just yet.

Golden Desert Eagles
This is NOT SHTF Gear!

Personally, I believe that the best SHTF gun is a 9mm – and this has nothing to do with the debate over which cartridge is better.

The truth is that the 9mm is one of the most commonly used cartridges in the world, so coming across ammo for it is going to be much easier than a 10mm or .41 mag.

Remember, even the best gun in the most powerful caliber in the world is completely useless if you run out of ammo.

I find the absolute best SHTF gun to be the Glock 17.

Some might argue that there are better guns on the market, but the G17 is built for durability and usability.

And in a survival scenario where you might not have the time to pamper your gun like you normally would, you want a dependable gun that will still shoot accurately and cycle through ammo even with some wear-and-tear.  

Another good choice is the .45 ACP, as it’s an even more powerful cartridge that’s also commonly used.  You can see our list of recommendations for good .45 ACP pistols and 9mm pistols.  

What about Rifles?

If you’re like most modern firearms enthusiasts, you’ve probably already got an AR-15 on hand.

If not, it’s a great home-defense weapon that you should consider adding to your arsenal.  You can learn more about buying your first AR-15 by checking out our AR-15 Beginner’s Guide.

Pew Pew Upgraded AR-15s
Pew Pew Upgraded AR-15s

Depending on what kind of shit hits the fan, you might want to have something a little more versatile (or at least harder hitting) on hand than an AR-15 – especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.

Some would say that a Scout Rifle fits that role, and it did…70 years ago.  While a scout rifle isn’t a bad idea, there are better options.

The AR-10 is a perfect example, get one chambered in .308 Win with a variable scope and you’ve got a great rifle for taking down game, protecting yourself from two-legged threats, and keeping the whole thing light enough to hike with and giving yourself 20 rounds on tap in case things go really sideways.

The Pew Pew Tactical Complete Buyer’s Guide to AR-10s will help you get started off right.

Best Semi-Auto Precision Rifle
Aero Precision M5E1 .308

Aero Precision M5E1 .308

Prices accurate at time of writing

Remember, part of what makes a good SHTF gun is being able to easily replenish ammo, even in a post-apocalyptic world.

You might also want to get you a .22LR rifle if you don’t already have one.

It won’t protect you against the bad guys, but it’s useful for hunting small game to eat… if need be.

Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle

Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle

The Henry Survival Rifle is a 3.5-pound .22LR rifle that’s portable, accurate, and perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.

Get a Compact Backup Handgun

As the saying goes, “a .380 in your hand is better than a .45 in the glovebox.”

While I recommend keeping your .45 ACP a little closer than the glovebox (or .357 Mag, 9mm, 10mm, .44 Mag, or whatever handgun you prefer), having a backup pocket pistol on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

The idea is to have a compact gun available that you can easily grab in a pinch.  I like the .380 ACP because it’s small and lightweight, but still powerful enough to neutralize a threat at close range.  

Glock 42

There are a number of excellent .380 ACPs on the market, but I prefer the Glock 42.

Most Reliable .380
Glock 42

Glock 42

Like most Glock models, the G42 is a functional handgun that’s designed specifically for performance. 

In other words, it’s not flashy and it doesn’t come with extra features.  But it is durable and extremely dependable, which happen to be the two most important things to look for in a backup handgun.

As the smallest of the Glock models, it should go without saying that the G42 is an incredibly easy gun to carry in your coat pocket or strapped to your ankle. 

One more thingAmmo is everything when it comes to the .380 ACP.  Unlike some of the harder-hitting cartridges that’ll stop any threat dead in its tracks, the .380 ACP is only as effective as its ammo.

Using it effectively in a high-stress situation means shooting premium, self-defense ammo – not cheap rounds.

One of the more popular choices is Hornady’s Custom 90-grain XTP Jacketed Hollow-Point .380 rounds.  They come highly recommend for self-defense by our friends at Lucky Gunner and they’re reasonably priced.

Best .380 Defensive Round
Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain 380 ACP

Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain 380 ACP

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38

If the .380 ACP isn’t your style and you’re looking for something a bit more tried and tested in the field, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned .38 Special.

The Bodyguard 38 is a modern take on a law enforcement classic – the .38 snub nose.

While the Bodyguard 38 (and other .38 specials) may not be popular services pistols in today’s generation, they’ve more than proven themselves to be powerful, dependable, and more than capable of acting as a backup pistol.

Keep in Mind When Choosing a Pocket Pistol

Overall, the pocket pistol makes a great addition to your SHTF Kit because it’s small enough to carry on your person at all times.  I recommend a .380 APC or a .38 Spl because both of them are small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to take down a threat at close range.

Ideally, the pocket pistol is something you’d only want to use as a last resort – like if your primary gun jammed or it ran out of ammo.

Storing Your Ammo Safely

The last thing you want to do is stockpile ammo for an end-of-the-world scenario, only to discover that it’s corroded and functionally obsolete when it comes time to use it.

A lot of people tend to forget that ammunition has a shelf life.  However, that shelf life is completely up to you.  Store it right and it will last long enough for your grandchildren to use, store it wrong and you’ll kill your stock before the next deer season.

One of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of your ammo is by storing it in safe, secure containers where it’s protected from dirt and moisture.

You can learn more by reading our guide on long-term ammo storage.

In the meantime, a simple Ammo Can will go a long way towards preserving the life of your ammunition.

Honestly, every SHTF prepper should have at least one Ammo Can lying around.  They’re cheap, easy to come across, and are worth their weight in gold if you ever are in a situation where you actually need to use your ammo stockpile.

Keeping a Silica gel packet in your ammo can will help ensure that your ammo lasts almost forever, they are cheap and easy to get – keeping one in every can is SOP for me.

Silica Gel Packets

Silica Gel Packets

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?

Readers’ Ratings

5/5 (7)

Your Rating?

Get a Good First Aid Kit

Ideally, every home and automobile should have a first-aid kit – especially people who’re outdoor enthusiasts.  For most situations, the standard first-aid kit found in most workplaces will get the job done.

But if you’re in a situation where you really did have to use your SHTF kit, there’s a greater likelihood that you won’t have easy access to paramedics and hospitals in the event of the emergency.  For this type of scenario, you’re really going to want to have a little more than a burn kit, some gauze, and antiseptic ointment.

The Grizzly Series First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits is a heavy-duty kit designed specifically for the survivalist and apocalypse prepper.

Grizzly Series First Aid Kit

Grizzly Series First Aid Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

It comes with everything you need to treat injuries, including QuickClot, syringes, and a tourniquet so that you can stabilize trauma victims until first responders arrive.

If you’re looking for something a little more extensive and are willing to pay more for its durable design, the Echo-Sigma Trauma Kit is also an excellent choice.

Echo-Sigma Emergency Systems Trauma Kit

Echo-Sigma Emergency Systems Trauma Kit

Designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day, the Echo-Sigma kit comes with all of the tools necessary to treat sprains, fractures, and cuts, as well as stabilize people who’ve experienced serious trauma from knife and gunshot wounds.

And as a bonus, it comes in a pouch that’s easy to carry around if you have to walk for extended periods of time.

We cover how to build the ultimate Range Med Kit too if you like customizing.

Heavy Metal Equipment

You’ll be surprised how much use you can get out of a good quality knife.

Not only does your survival knife act as your last line of defense, it can also be used as an important tool – especially if you’re stuck outdoors for an extended period of times.

Food prep, shelter building, making tools, and even first aid (cauterizing wounds and cutting bandages) can all be done with the help of your survival knife.

Ka-Bar 7" Knife

Ka-Bar 7″ Knife

The KA-BAR is a tried-and-tested survival knife that’s been a long-time favorite among survivalists – partly because it’s also the combat knife issued to members of the US Armed Forces.

Another popular knife for your hunting trip or bugout bag is Survival Knife by Ontario Knife Company.

Ontario Knife Company USN-1 Survival Knife

Ontario Knife Company USN-1 Survival Knife

Functionally, it’s similar to the KA-BAR except that it comes with a gut hook for cleaning game, as well as a sawback – the serration on the top of the blade just past the hook.  It’s made out of 1095 steel and has a 5” blade length, with an overall length of 9.26”.

And don’t forget a Whetstone for keeping your blades sharp without damaging them, like some of the other knife sharpening devices on the market.

Some other tools you might want to consider for your survivalist kit include:

If you ever find yourself away from your toolbox, each of these compact tools makes it significantly easier to set up shelter, make fires, and work on anything that needs tinkering.

Gun Equipment for Your SHTF Cache

As you already know, good gun maintenance is essential to ensuring that your gun is accurate and dependable.  If you happen to find yourself in a shit-hits-the-fan moment, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need on hand.

After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to trek to the nearest outdoors store and buy more equipment.

For this reason, I recommend keeping a few extra cleaning kits around.  Preferably one for your SHTF Bag and another for the trunk of your car.

Our favorite M-Pro 7 kit from Best Gun Cleaning Kits is perfect for handling most of you gun maintenance needs on the go, and it’s compact enough to be stowed away without taking up significant space.

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

I also recommend picking up a few packs of Break Free Weapon Wipes.  They will go a long way in keeping your guns, knives, and tools clean, lubricated, and protected against corrosion – especially if you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your weapons and tools daily.

CLP Break-Free Wipes

CLP Break-Free Wipes

And if you don’t already have one, you should think about getting a CCW holster so that you can carry your handgun on at all times.

You can see some recommendations by reading our concealed carry holster review.

For a survival scenario, I recommend something lightweight and effective, without any of the frills.  Concealment Express has a number of lightweight holsters for $35 that are durable and comfortable to carry around.

Food, Water, and Air

This really should be self-explanatory. You need food and water. You also need a way to get food and water after your stores have run out.

Getting food is where your firearms will come in handy, but water is a little more complex since you can’t just drink any water you find laying around – that is a quick way to get all kinds of nasty sicknesses.

For water purification, you need two options at least, one for you to get drinking water right now and one method for you to purify a lot of water.

Don’t forget – water isn’t just for drinking. You’ll also need it for cooking, cleaning, and treating injuries.

To get drinking water right away, I love my LifeStraw.

But when it comes to purifying larger amounts of drinking water you’ll need something like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.

Better Than a LifeStraw
Sawyer Gravity Flow Water Filter

Sawyer Gravity Flow Water Filter

Prices accurate at time of writing

Before the apocalypse strikes, you should have stocked up on food and water also.

I know a basement full of MREs is the more classic prepper thing to do but…anyone that has had to eat MREs for an extended period of time can tell you that…almost any other option is preferred.

Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

Prices accurate at time of writing

Each of these pails is a 30-day food supply for one person. That is a lot of food! Throw in the fact that each of these only weighs 23 pounds and what you have is a fairly lightweight option for long-term food supply.

Long-term water storage is a little more complex than food, you’ll need water – obviously, but you’ll also need a water preserver.

Combine these two so that your water supply will last long enough for you to get through whatever has hit the fan!

Prepping for air isn’t something that you may have thought off before – but it should be on your list. If you really want to be prepared then you’ll want to find yourself a full biological suit…

…but for more run-of-the-mill applications, a good respirator will do the trick.

3M Respirator

3M Respirator

Prices accurate at time of writing

Other Essentials to Have on Hand

Being stuck in an emergency situation means that you could be forced to pack up and move at a moment’s notice.

For this reason, you need to have a dependable backpack large enough to carry your essentials like water, knives, tools, and first aid kit.

I recommend a 60-liter backpack because it’s large enough to hold your necessary equipment but not too large that it starts getting bulky and in the way.

The Tactical Backpack by Trekking King is a popular 60-liter backpack that’s durable and comfortable enough to withstand long hikes and hunting trips.

Trekking King Tactical Backpack

Trekking King Tactical Backpack

Prices accurate at time of writing

Aside from looking cool, the Tactical Backpack has a number of extra compartments for maximizing your storage capabilities.  You can load it up with survival material and store it in your trunk, garage, or closet and grab it at a moment’s notice.

Here are a few things that you want to keep in your backpack to keep you prepared for the unexpected:

You should also think about buying a Shemagh from Condor Outdoors.

This traditional Middle Eastern headdress was made popular in the western world by the British SAS.  It’s a versatile cloth that can be used for a number of things including:

  • Protecting your face from UV rays, dust, and sand
  • An arm sling, emergency bandage, or tourniquet
  • A headscarf
  • An improvised bag, or “hobo sack”
Condor Outdoor Shemagh

Condor Outdoor Shemagh

Surviving Whatever Is Thrown at You

When you’re building an SHTF bag, your goal should be to anticipate and prepare for any situation – not just the apocalyptical, but also the more common such as an earthquake, tornado, fire, and whatever else is possible to your local area.

Choosing good survival gear isn’t always about maximizing your firepower.

It’s also about making sure that you’ve got clean water, shelter, and enough supplies in the event that you have to gather your things and leave at a moment’s notice.

Are you a prepper? Do you have a store of SHTF gear? Let us know all about it in the comments!

The post Essential SHTF Gear: When The World (Almost) Ends appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 9th, 2018 by asjstaff

The AR-15 as a platform is upgradeable to an extreme degree.

It seems like every part can be upgraded to be a little better. But that can often mean costing you an arm and a leg!

One of the smallest and easiest upgrades you can make to your AR-15 is swapping the charging handle.

Like every other AR-15 part in the world, the charging handle has dozens and dozens of different options.

Navigating AR charging handles can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to finding the right one for you. So we want to help you a bit.

If you’re in a rush, here is our quick break down table:

Charging Handle Role Note
Strike Industries ARCH General Purpose Best Mil-Spec
Strike Industries Extended Latch General Purpose Best Budget Option
Strike Industries Latchless General Purpose Best Latchless
Radian Raptor – LT Lightweight Best Lightweight Build
Radian Raptor General Purpose The Original Raptor
Radian Raptor – SD Suppressed ARs Best Suppressed Build
Aero Precision Ambidextrous General Purpose Best For Scoped ARs
BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 General Purpose
BCM Gunfighter Mod 4B General Purpose Best for Keeping it Simple
BCM Gunfighter Mod 4×4 General Purpose

Left Side Ejection AR-15 Pistol
Testing Charging Handles with a Left-Side Ejecting AR-15

Here are charging handles from companies far and wide, and through testing and evaluation from other gun enthusiasts, they’ve narrowed it down to 10 on this list.

1. Strike Industries ARCH – Best Mil-Spec

An upgraded charging handle doesn’t mean an extended charging handle, or a latch-less charging handle, or really anything crazy at all.

Even the most basic Mil-Spec style charging handle can be well made and can stand above other Mil-Spec options (Improving on Mil-Spec is easy when it isn’t being made by the lowest bidder).

Strike Industries in AR-15
Strike Industries in AR-15

If you want an affordable, and Mil-Spec option, then Strike Industries has you covered.

On the outside, this is a pretty standard looking charging handle, but upon closer inspection, you can tell Strike put some work into this simple charging handle.

The SI ARCH is hard anodized and is exceptionally smooth.

Strike Industries ARCH

Strike Industries ARCH

Prices accurate at time of writing

This smooth finish allows it to glide rearwards with ease. The most significant difference you’ll see is near the rear of the charging handle.

It’s rounded off at the back but features a sharp straight angle on the inside of the charging handle.

Strike Industries Out of Rifle
Strike Industries Out of Rifle

The inside is also textured for a better grip, and the latch is only as large as it needs to be. While the differences are subtle, once you start running the charging handle, they are significant.

A textured grip is excellent for clearing jams when your hands are sweaty or if you are wearing gloves.

The smoother finish makes the charging handle glide backward, it reduces the effort needed to charge the weapon, clear jams, and more.

Plus it just feels nice, really lovely. The SI ARCH isn’t necessarily sexy, or fancy, but it functions and does so well.

2. Strike Industries ARCH With Extended Latch – Best Budget Option

Budget is relative to what you are getting for the money. So yes, cheaper charging handles exist, but they don’t deliver as much value as the SI ARCH with the extended latch.

For right around 30 bucks you get an excellent charging handle that takes the best features of the Standard ARCH and makes it a little quicker and easier to grasp.

Strike Extended Latch
Strike Extended Latch

The extended latch sticks out about an extra half inch that gives the user a little more space to grip the charging handle.

This additional purchase gives you the ability to quickly charge the weapon and clear malfunctions. It also gives you more room to grab the charging handle if you are rocking a variable power optic.

Strike Extended Latch on Rifle
Strike Extended Latch on Rifle

The Strike Industries ARCH is already an outstanding charging handle, we just covered it above, and all the same features there are present here.

Strike Industries Extended Latch

Strike Industries Extended Latch

Prices accurate at time of writing

One detraction from this design is that the extended portion of the handle is only on the left-hand part of the charging handle. This charging feature is somewhat useless for left-handed shooters.

Side view of the Strike Industries Extended Latch
Side view of the Strike Industries Extended Latch

The Strike Industries ARCH charging handle is a great option and comes in at a low price. It’s a lot like Starbucks, basic, but not bad.

3. Strike Industries Latchless Charging Handle – Best Latchless

Strike Industries likes to experiment and does so quite well. The latchless charging handle is one such experiment.

The lack of a latch is an interesting idea as it reduces the movements needed to release the latch and manipulate the weapon.

Strike Industries Latchless
Strike Industries Latchless

I could charge the weapon with a compromised grip. Compromised means rushed, crappy, and in a hurry.

The lack of a latch allowed to load the gun from either side with ease. If my left arm is out of the fight, I can still find a way to manipulate the charging handle.

Strike Industries Latchless Charging Handle

Strike Industries Latchless Charging Handle

This latch-less system uses a cool hidden spring mechanism in the center of the charging handle to make sure it stays put when not in use.

That spring holds it in place entirely, but you don’t even feel it when you charge the weapon.

Strike Industries Latchless in Rifle
Strike Industries Latchless in Rifle

Like the Strike ARCH, this is 7075 T6 aluminum charging handle and the finish is slick.

The Latchless charging handle can be extended via a simple add-on to the left or right side that makes the handle a little bigger.

If you wanted to, you could purchase two extended handles and have one on the right and the left side. They install quickly and are like ten bucks.

The charging handle also features side gas venting, which is great for my 7.5-inch barrel AR pistol. It tends to be a gassy girl.

4. The Radian Raptor LT – Best for a Lightweight Build

AR-15s are getting smaller and lighter. Guns come in at well under 6 pounds these days, and some builders are taking that to the extreme. My friend Rex Nanorum over at the Loadout Room has built his lightweight AR that comes in under 6 pounds when it’s outfitted with a suppressor and optic.

Radian Raptor-LT
Radian Raptor-LT

From talking with him I’ve learned that guys taking on these projects are looking to trim ounces, and even half ounces as much as possible.

If you are chasing this kind of build and still looking for a lightweight, but functional charging handle then the Radian LT is an excellent choice.

Coming in at only 1.2 ounces the Radian LT is a functional choice.

It’s got two massive wings on the sides that make the charging handle easy to grip and rip regardless of the situation. This is especially true when it comes to using the charging handle with an optic.

Raptor LT on Rifle
Raptor LT on Rifle

The Radian Raptor LT is made from 7075 aluminum and is hard anodized with a Mil-Spec Type 3 finish.

It is also reinforced with high strength reinforced polymer for saving weight, but maintaining strength.

The Radian Raptor LT is a lightweight, well made, and priced well. It’s a great option for your lightweight build or just a standard build that needs a great charging handle that’s priced affordably.

5. The Original Radian Raptor

If we are going to name the lighter weight choice we can’t leave out the classic Radian Raptor. The Radian Raptor was one of the OG modern, extended charging handles.

An ambidextrous design features two extended handles for lots of space to grip.

Original Radian Raptor
Original Radian Raptor

The extended charging handles are big enough to allow a blading technique for those of us with tough hands. Blading is when you are catching the charging handle with your palm and rapidly pull it rearward.

You need a nice, large charging handle to do this efficiently and quickly. The Radian Raptor allows that to be possible.

It also sports two different independent levers that will enable quick and easy charging and weapon’s manipulation.

Charging the Raptor
Charging the Raptor

The Radian Raptor is made from 7075 aluminum and comes in a multitude of colors.

The different colors make it charming and sexy, and I appreciate a splash of color here and there. As you can see, we went with the FDE Radian Raptor.

The Raptor is a classic extended charging handle that still keeps up with the young ones.

6. The Radian Raptor SD – Best For Suppressed Guns

The third and final Radian Raptor is one specifically designed for suppressed guns. The Radian Raptor SD is the same old Raptor grip we know and love but vented explicitly for suppressed ARs.

Left Side Ejecting AR-15 with Raptor Charging Handle
Left Side Ejecting AR-15 with Raptor Charging Handle

AR-15s have quite a bit of gas blowback when they are suppressed. This gas blowback hits the shooter in the face and occasionally carries carbon to the shooter’s face.

This gas can be a mild inconvenience that gets worse and worse the more rounds you put downrange.

Radian Raptor SD
Radian Raptor SD

The Radian Raptor SD is vented extensively down the sides to decrease gas blowback by venting it out the sides. This makes shooting your suppressed AR a much lovelier experience. If you are shooting suppressed, you can stop reading now; this is the charging handle you need.

Aero Precision

7. Aero Precision Ambidextrous – Best For an Optic Equipped AR – (Writer’s Choice)

If you want a massive charging handle, then Aero Precision has you covered. The Aero Precision Ambidextrous charging handle is quite likely one of the most significant charging handles on the market.

Aero Precision Charging
Aero Precision Charging

This makes it perfect for optic’s equipped AR-15s. Especially when it comes to large variable optics. These handles will clear the eyepiece of any modern scope and is my go to on my budget Recce rifle.

Aero Precision Charging Handle
Aero Precision Charging Handle

This ambi charging handle sports two massive latches, and it’s simple to blade the weapon, even with an optic on the gun. The Aero Precision charging handle is one of my favorite all around charging handles ever. I like it on any rifle, and its large size works with my massive hands pretty well.

Aero Precision Ambidextrous Charging Handle

Aero Precision Ambidextrous Charging Handle

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 7075-T6 aluminum design makes it a rugged and capable charging handle for your build. I love how it glides backward when pulled, and the extra size means extra leverage. This makes blading pretty easy, and not too painful on the hands.

Aero Precision and The Meme War
Aero Precision and The Meme War

The Aero Precision charging handle is my personal favorite, and it functions as an absolute champ.

8. BCM Gunfighter MOD 4

BCM redesigned the traditional charging handle to take the force off the roll pin and placing it to the rear of the charging handle.

The GFH MOD 4 features the medium latch on the left-hand side for right-handed shooters. This particular extended model is a little shorter than an inch past the main body of the charging handle.

BCM Gunfighter MOD 4 Ready to Rock (Get it Rock Sorry.)
BCM Gunfighter MOD 4 Ready to Rock (Get it Rock Sorry.)

The BCM GFH MOD 4 is primarily designed to be used with the blading technique and is designed so that the pressure applied via this technique won’t damage the charging handle or latch. 

BCM Gunfighter MOD 4

BCM Gunfighter MOD 4

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s not often that you see a firearms technique incorporated into the design of a part, this is the kind of extra-level of effort that I’ve come to expect from BCM.

The BCM Gunfighter MOD 4
The BCM Gunfighter MOD 4

It catches the hand perfectly and is perfect if you are new to this technique. The Gunfighter is a thoroughly modern option for your next AR-15 build and Bravo company has an outstanding reputation for producing high-quality AR components and even full rifles.

9. BCM Gunfighter MOD 4B – Best KISS

If you want to keep things simple, the BCM Gunfighter MOD 4B is the option for you. It’s a compact and small charging handle that meets the standard Mil-Spec dimensions. This charging handle is designed for shooters used to the standard manual of arms associated with military training.

BCM Charging
BCM Mod 4B Charging

While it functions as a standard charging handle, it’s made to last.

BCM Gunfighter Mod 4B

BCM Gunfighter Mod 4B

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s made from 7075-T6 aluminum so its strong as hell and outfitted with a type 3 hard anodized finish for long lasting durability. The MOD 4B is available in both a mil-spec design and an ambidextrous model.

BCM Mod 4B
BCM Mod 4B

This particular model is the mil-spec model, and it excels for those of us who’ve spent a little time in the armed forces. It’s also a great low profile option for those of you who don’t need or want an extended latch system. The MOD 4B is textured for a more comfortable grip and outfitted with BCM’s load eliminating design. This reduces wear on the pivot pin and paces it midline of the rifle.

10. BCM Gunfighter MOD 4×4

The 4X4 from BCM is an ambidextrous option for Bravo Company. It’s mil-spec size and dimensions makes it nice and compact, at least compared to the other charging handles on this list. Each side features a latch that releases the charging handle with ease.

BCM Mod 4x4
BCM Mod 4×4

The GFH 4X4 is a great option for lefties seeking a mil-spec sized charging handle. It’s straightforward to use and is made from 7075-T6 aluminum.

BCM Gunfighter Mod 4x4

BCM Gunfighter Mod 4×4

Prices accurate at time of writing

I’m a right-handed shooter, so maybe I can’t get the full effect of this charging handle, but I get the concept.

BCM 4x4 in Rifle
BCM 4×4 in Rifle

Even though it feels unnatural for me to charge the rifle with my right hand, I find it surprisingly easy to do with this charging handle. The MOD 4X4 is a great little charging handle, and it’s priced affordably for a premium grade charging handle.

Charged Up

I’ve gone through a lot of charging handles; I mean a lot of them. So much so that when testing these designs I got a nice case of tennis elbow and a bruised palm. Maybe it’s charging handle elbow?

Whatever you want to call it I got it. I did, however, learn a ton about charging handles, and there is more to learn than I expected. The best thing I learned was I have a ton of options when it comes to AR-15 builds of all kinds.

Interested in more AR-15 upgrades?  Check out Best AR-15 Upgrades for everything from triggers to handguards and more.

This is our Top 10 list, but we want to know if you think we missed any? If so let us know what we missed and why it deserves a place on the list!

May 6th, 2018 by asjstaff

The 1-6x scope can do almost anything.

Close-up shots at 1x is almost the same speed as a red dot.  And 6x allows you to hit targets out at several hundred yards easy.

Best 1-6x Scopes
Best 1-6x Scopes

I’ve bought and used a bunch of 1-6x scopes for competition and plinking over the past few years.

Here’s my favorites across a couple of price ranges.  All with real views and videos through the scopes.

3. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x

I was so happy when the Strike Eagle came out.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x
Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x

I was ready to move up from my 1-4x Burris Tac30 ($240) I used for a year and that was losing me time after my local rifle competition introduced ~400 yard targets.

This is a view of 1-4x for comparison aiming at 100 yard steel plates:

Burris Tac30 4x

There were some 1-6x scopes out but they were expensive.  The Vortex Strike Eagle made it accessible for normal folks at around $300 (just a little step up from 1-4x scopes).

It had everything you needed with decent glass.  Very minimal side distortion on the sides at 1x.

Vortex Strike Eagle at 1x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 1x

And acceptable clarity at 6x.

Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x

The illuminated reticle is also not daylight bright.  Fine for dusk/dawn but don’t expect it to be a red dot at other times.

I’d knock the reticle a little bit…I prefer a dot or cross for 1x shots.  But the bullet drop compensation (BDC) marks did help for the couple hundred yard shots.

It held zero for the 2 years I used it as my primary rifle competition optic.  And the magnification ring was easily turned for speed since it has a protruding fin.

Strike Eagle 1-6x
Strike Eagle 1-6x

Here it is in action (some range sounds):

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/bb2n4o9iip.jsonp https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

At the end…my runner-up recommendation for a budget 1-6x scope.  With Vortex you also get a transferable lifetime warranty.

Runner-Up Budget 1-6x
Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle

Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle

Recommended Accessories:

2. Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS

My new recommendation for the best budget 1-6x scope is the PA 1-6x with ACSS Reticle.

PA 1-6x Closeup
PA 1-6x Closeup

I’ve always heard of Primary Arms having affordable optics that perform great.  Now I’m finally a believer after using their 1-6x and 4-14x scope that they sent me for testing.

Primary Arms 1-6x and 4-14x with Mounts
Primary Arms 1-6x and 4-14x with Mounts

It’s the same price range as the Strike Eagle at under $300.  But if you purchase directly from Primary Arms you get free rings or a discounted single-piece mount.

So far both have held zero admirably…although a little heavy.  I’d opt for the single-piece over the rings since it’s much easier to take on and off without losing zero.

Primary Arms 1-6x with ACSS
Primary Arms 1-6x with ACSS

Now…how does it look through the glass compared to the Strike Eagle.

Primary Arms at 1x, ACSS Reticle
Primary Arms at 1x, ACSS Reticle

Less distortion at 1x.  And much clearer at 6x.

Primary Arms at 6x, ACSS Reticle
Primary Arms at 6x, ACSS Reticle

Here is the Strike Eagle at 6x again:

Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x

I also like the ACSS reticle a lot more.  It has a single dot for precise work but also the bigger bold circle for hosing targets.  The BDC also worked well for several hundred yard shots.

ACSS Reticle
ACSS Reticle

I haven’t shot the PA as much as the Strike Eagle but so far so good.  Zero has held for several range trips but I’ll report back if anything changes.

Magnification ring is also easy to manipulate but illumination shown at the beginning of the video is only useful for dusk/dawn.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/2stfqi3j6g.jsonp https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

For under $300 to get decent glass and a free mount (although heavy)…you can’t ask for anything better than that.  Plus PA offers a lifetime warranty.  I had a damaged red dot and they look care of it quickly & easily (Best Budget Red Dots).

Note that PA’s stock goes in and out since the 1-6x sells like hotcakes.

Editor’s Pick Budget 1-6x
Primary Arms 1-6X24 ACSS

Primary Arms 1-6X24 ACSS

1. Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x

If you want to spend a little more to get much better glass and a day-time bright red-dot.  I would heavily recommend the Vortex Viper PST II.  I saw it at SHOT Show 2017 and had to buy it as soon as it was available.

It’s my current competition rifle optic.

Testing Vortex Viper PST II
Testing Vortex Viper PST II

Forgiving eyebox (how specific your eye placement needs to be) and little distortion at 1x and 6x.  When you’re actually on the rifle it’s like having a thin black circle and a floating reticle.

Hard to replicate that through a cell phone camera!

PST II at 1x
PST II at 1x

And here it is at 6x.

PST II at 6x
PST II at 6x

I also really like the reticle because of the red dot.  I’ll try to get a better picture of it later since it was a super sunny day.  It even washed out the reticles in my Best Holographic Sights article when they were fine to my eyes.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/x7he5twll5.jsonp https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

Zero has held well in the Aero mount and magnification ring manipulation is fine too.  I’ve been putting off on getting a scope lever since my competitions usually require only one change.

Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x
Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x

My current recommendation for the best bang-for-the-buck higher end 1-6x scope.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck 1-6x
Vortex PST Gen II 1-6x24

Vortex PST Gen II 1-6×24

Recommended Accessories:

Honorable Mentions

There’s a lot of scopes out there…and these honorable mentions are for the higher end ones.  These are the ones I’ve shot at ranges or borrowed a fellow competitor’s rifle for use on a stage.

When a slight edge in performance is worth a few hundred (or thousand) more dollars over the PST II…

Editor’s Pick Premium 1-6x
Vortex 1-6x Razor HD Gen 2

Vortex 1-6x Razor HD Gen 2

The highest end Vortex has a much more forgiving eyebox and better glass while still having the daylight bright illumination.  My favorite for a future upgrade.

Lightweight and awesome describes the Kahles.

Swarovski 1-6x24 Z6i

Swarovski 1-6×24 Z6i

Daylight bright and awesome glass you can expect from the name Swarovski.  If money were no object.

Conclusion

Scopes have come a long way in the last few years.  Quality glass for plinking and competition doesn’t have to break the bank now (but always can).

Bunch of 1-6x Scopes
Bunch of 1-6x Scopes

My go-to recommendation for a budget 1-6x scope is the Primary Arms.

Editor’s Pick Budget 1-6x
Primary Arms 1-6X24 ACSS

Primary Arms 1-6X24 ACSS

Runner up is the Strike Eagle 1-6x that has served me well and will still live on in a backup competition upper.

Runner-Up Budget 1-6x
Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle

Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle

And my best bang-for-the-buck optic is Vortex’s Viper PST II.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck 1-6x
Vortex PST Gen II 1-6x24

Vortex PST Gen II 1-6×24

Let us know if we missed any that we should try out in the future.  And for more of our favorite guns & gear…check out our Editor’s Picks.  Or for more optics…check out From Red Dots to Magnified.

The post Best 1-6x Scope [2018 Real Views] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

May 3rd, 2018 by asjstaff

Want to protect your auditory organs?

The percussive vibrations of each gunshot actually kill vital little hairs deep in your inner ear.  And that can open the door to a high pitch ringing or humming noise that can last forever.

Three Electronic Earmuffs
Three Electronic Earmuffs

We’ve got the 411 on the best shooting ear protection…from affordable passive ones to the top of the line electronic earmuffs.  We’ve tried them all over hundreds of hours at the range as shooters and range officers.

We’ll quickly cover our top picks in each category and budget.  Then round it out with our research and more in-depth info on each pick at the end.

Ready?  Let’s start with some passive ear protection.

Shotgunner & Optime Ear Muffs
Shotgunner & Optime Ear Muffs

1. Disposable Foam Earplugs

The most affordable of the bunch and really protective at 32dB NRR (noise reduction rating).  Remember to compress them before sticking them into your ears.

Best Foam Earplugs
Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs

Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. 3M Peltor Optime

Big, affordable, and protective at 30 dB NRR.  My first set of hearing protection earmuffs/headphones.  Great if you don’t like things inside your ear.

Most Protective Passive
3M Peltor Optime

3M Peltor Optime

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. 3M Shotgunner II

Slimmer profile for a good long-gun cheekweld and adequate protection at 24 dB NRR.  What I used for many ears (sorry).

Editor’s Choice Passive Protection
3M Shotgunner II

3M Shotgunner II

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now, let’s dive into electronic ear protection that cuts out harmful shooting sounds but amplifies regular sounds like people talking.

4. Howard Leight Impact Sport

14K reviews on Amazon with a 4.5 star average.  It’s the first pair of electronic earmuffs people get when they are tired of yelling “WHAT?!?” when someone speaks to them at the range.

Affordable, decent protection at 22dB NRR, slim for rifle/shotgun shooting, and reasonably comfortable.

Most Affordable Electronic Protection
Howard Leight Impact Sport

Howard Leight Impact Sport

Noisefighters Gel Caps…this upgrade makes the HL’s super comfortable.

Best Earmuff Upgrade
Noisefighters Gel Pads

Noisefighters Gel Pads

Prices accurate at time of writing

These feel like the pads used in my favorite $200+ earmuffs further down the list.  AND they have cutouts for eye protection since after a few hours your glasses really dig into the side of your head.

5. Howard Leight Impact Pro

If you’re ready to jump up a notch you get 30 dB of protection and ability to hear people around you and range commands.  Note that I would use these with pistol shooting only…they are pretty thick and will mess up your cheekweld.

HL Impact Pro with Noisefighters
Howard Leight Impact Pro with Noisefighters

Plus…since they also fit the Noisefighters Gel Caps!

Most Protective Electronic Earmuffs
Howard Leight Impact Pro

Howard Leight Impact Pro

Prices accurate at time of writing

6. Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold

For most you’ll be well-served with any of the Howard Leights with the possibility of upgrading to gel caps.  But if you want better sound quality and shutoff (plus the ability to change it for each ear), I like Pro Ears’ Pro Tac Slim Gold with 28dB NRR.

Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold

Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold

7. MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

Most of my fellow competitors wear these bad boys for their comfort and sound quality.

I finally caved after I became range officer for a couple competitions.  That meant constant blasts for hours while still needing to hear everything.

Editor’s Pick Electronic Protection
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

They allready has built in gel caps and there’s a couple colors.  I of course went with the camo…

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

It’s ok protection at 22dB NRR which is fine for pistol competitions…but if you have compensated rifles going off around you…they have enough room in them for some lightly put-in earplugs.

Well that’s the quick list of my favorites…check out our research and more in-depth reviews of each.

The Research

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Shockwave, Meet Inner Ear

Everyone always talks about the middle ear.  That’s mainly the eardrum and those three little bones with cool names: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.

But what really causes hearing damage though is what happens in the inner ear.

Anatomy of the Ear
Anatomy of the Ear

Inside, picture a spiral staircase.  Only this passage is just 2 millimeters wide and maybe 30 millimeters long all coiled up.

Sound races along the outside of the staircase, but in the middle are the organ of Corti (yup, sounds ominous) and the basilar membrane.  Both are long and thin, with the organ resting on the membrane.  All along this little assembly are tiny little hairs.  They register sound and transmit it through the auditory nerve to your brain.

But—and here’s the kicker—exposure to an intense sound—that’s 140 dB or more—can make segments of the organ of Corti separate from the basilar membrane.  Portions of it actually tear away and float around.

Sound Decibel Chart
Sounds you hear all the time can have a huge effect your hearing.

So you end up with an inflamed lesion that causes an accompanying chemical reaction.  Hairs die.  Scar tissue forms, and even with rest, the tiny hairs typically continue to degenerate.  A cascade effect takes over, and the entire auditory central nervous system goes deaf.

Researchers suspect that tinnitus—that high pitch noise inside your head that won’t go away—“begins as a result of the brain trying to regain the ability to hear the sound frequencies it has lost by turning up the signals of neighboring frequencies.”

One more thing: noise exposure is cumulative.  Each loud sound is killing ear hairs, so you need to be thinking about total exposure over the course of days, weeks and years.

Ready for some hearing protection yet?

Proper Hearing Protection

First of all, forget cotton balls, tissue, packing peanuts, or my personal old-shooter favorite, cigarette filters.  While they are better than nothing, they are also next to nothing.  At best, you’ll get a reduction of maybe 7dB.

Cotton Balls as Ear Plugs
Cotton Balls are Barely Better than Nothing

Effective choices for hearing protection come down to

  • earplugs
  • earmuffs
  • combinations of the two and
  • some techy alternatives with sound-circuit technology.

There are so many options, there’s no reason not to protect your ear hairs.  From neon foam-on-strings to high-tech headphones, there’s something for everyone. 

What you should be looking for is a minimum noise reduction of 15dB, but 30dB is preferable.  Pair a good set of plugs with muffs and you might shut out another 10 to 15dB or so.

Decibel Comparison of Different Rounds
Decibel Comparison of Different Guns and Rounds

You know the load you like to shoot, but a conservative 140dB is a common figure for an average muzzle blast.  A .22 will be less, a magnum more.  With quality protection, you can start approaching a range that’s still loud—as in chainsaw- or sandblast-loud—but may be up to 1,000 times quieter.

Best Earplugs

Traditional earplugs fit inside the ear, forming a seal that blocks sound.  They come in a range of sizes, configurations and materials—from foam to hypoallergenic rubber and moldable polymers.  Earplugs tend to be more efficient at handling low-frequency noise.

Pros:

  • Least expensive option.
  • Highly effective.
  • Disposables available in bulk at pennies per pair.
  • Some rated 30dB or better.
  • Available strung or unstrung.
  • Reusable models washable.
  • Some models moldable for custom fit.
  • Compact for transport.
  • Good for tight spaces; no snagging.

Cons:

  • Fit constraints for narrow or wide ear canals.
  • Comfort varies widely.
  • Muffles all sound indiscriminately; works too well.
  • Foam models require proper roll-down insertion, removal and reuse.
  • Some models difficult to pair with muffs.
  • Moldables more expensive; may be difficult to alter.
  • Fumble-and-loss factor in dirty environments.

I like these because they are comfortable for a few hours and are 32dB NRR rated.

Best Foam Earplugs
Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs

Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs

Prices accurate at time of writing

There’s tons of other foam options but I would stay away from cylindrical ones…those are not very comfy.

Best Passive Earmuffs

Traditional earmuffs come on a headband and have foam pads that cover and form a seal around the entire ear.  For those who don’t like the over-the-head fit, a few versions have back-of-the-head wrap designs.  Muffs typically are better at screening out higher frequency sounds.

weak hand only shooting
Weak Hand Shooting Drills with Ear Muffs

Pros:

  • Convenient to put on and take off repeatedly.
  • Comfort level.
  • Easily paired with earplugs.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Foldable models compact.
  • One size usually fits all.
  • Durable.

Cons:

  • Can be bulky, heavy.
  • May snag or bump in confined spaces.
  • Comfort issues, especially in humidity, hot or wet weather.
  • Can interfere with proper cheek weld.
  • Issues with safety or prescription glasses and proper ear seal.
  • May not provide as much noise reduction as earplugs; can require pairing with plugs.
  • Hats or long hair, anyone?

My favorites and what I wore for a long time are the 3M Optime model and Shotgunner model.

Shotgunner & Optime Ear Muffs
Shotgunner & Optime Ear Muffs

The Optime is super protective with 30dB NRR but is also quite bulky.  It’s not heavy but it will seriously cramp on your cheekweld situation for rifles and shotguns.  Use if you’re shooting handguns…and especially if you’re at an indoor range where the sound reverberates.

Most Protective Passive
3M Peltor Optime

3M Peltor Optime

Prices accurate at time of writing

For going slim…I really like the Shotgunner.  I painted mine over and it served me well for years.  It’s less protection at 24dB but you can always double up if it gets really loud with compensated rifles.  Comfort is average but I found it to be fine for a few hours if I can take it off my ears during downtime.

Editor’s Choice Passive Protection
3M Shotgunner II

3M Shotgunner II

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best Electronic Shooting Ear Protection

High-tech electronics are stepping up the game for earplugs, ear cuffs, ear muffs, and every smart device in between.  These focus on screening out the loud booms while letting you still hear conversations and the sounds of the great outdoors.

MSA, Walker Razor, HL Impact Pro
(Left) MSA Sordin, (Center) Walker’s Razor Slim, (Right) Howard Leight Impact Pro

Pros:

  • Noise filtering; loud noises muffled but conversation and subtle noises amplified.
  • Comfort.
  • Small, compact.
  • Lots of options, including Bluetooth to enable smartphones.
  • Available in stereo.
  • Variety of formats—muffs, earplugs, semis and cuffs.

Cons:

  • Price point—usually $50 and up, up, up.
  • Batteries required.
  • Not always water-resistant.
  • Expensive to lose; fallen electronic cuffs and earplugs hard to find in the field.
  • Comfort.
  • Some models are bulky, heavy.

My go-to recommendation is the Howard Leight Impact Sports.  They are super popular for a reason.  They are affordable and they work.  The only thing I could knock them for was their comfort.  But with the newly released gel caps…I have nothing bad to say anymore.

Most Affordable Electronic Protection
Howard Leight Impact Sport

Howard Leight Impact Sport

These usually go head to head against Walker’s Razor Slim.  But I give the win to Howard Leight because it’s usually cheaper and are super comfortable with the gel cap upgrades.

Best Earmuff Upgrade
Noisefighters Gel Pads

Noisefighters Gel Pads

Prices accurate at time of writing

I’d say get the Howard Leight’s if you want to experience electronic ear protection.  See how you feel after a few hours at the range.  And you’ll always have the option of having sweet gel on your ears down the line.

If you want to step up a little in the world of electronic earmuffs…there’s the Impact Sports Pro which offers 30db NRR protection and good sound cutoff.

HL Impact Pro with Noisefighters
Howard Leight Impact Pro with Noisefighters

They are large, bulky, but surprisingly light and comfy to wear even for longer range sessions and provide amazing noise reduction.  I’d recommend these if you are shooting large caliber handguns or shoot at an indoor range.

Most Protective Electronic Earmuffs
Howard Leight Impact Pro

Howard Leight Impact Pro

Prices accurate at time of writing

And they fit the Noisefighters Gel Caps.

Next up is a bigger jump in price.  But with that you get much better cutoff and amplification.  Pro Ears has a stellar reputation and I like their Pro Tac Slim Gold edition.  They don’t make my Editor’s Pick because they fit a little tight for people and the ears aren’t as comfy as the MSA Sordins.

Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold

Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold

Ah…the MSA Sordins Supreme Pro X.  A mouthful to say…but like a heavenly cloud on your ears.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

I simply asked my competition buddies “what are the best electronic ear muffs” and the MSA’s got the majority of votes.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

They are comfy for hours with their gel caps, have easily accessible button controls, great sound cutoff and compression, and allow for earplugs if the decent 22db NRR doesn’t cut it.

Gel Seals
Gel Caps

Plus they can attach to ballistic helmets and comms if that’s your thing.

Editor’s Pick Electronic Protection
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

What I wear when I shoot for hours and my main recommendation for when people want the best.

Conclusion

How did we do?  Did you get the Howard Leights or MSA Sordins?  Let us know down below.  And for our other favorite hands-on-tested guns & gear…check out Editor’s Picks.

The post Best Shooting Ear Protection [Electronic & Passive] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

May 2nd, 2018 by asjstaff

Deer seasons in most of the USA doesn’t start until September – but if you’re looking to harvest some whitetail this year you’re probably already planning your hunt now.  

Hopefully, you’re planning on shooting and developing your loads for upcoming hunts and maybe spending some time hiking, working out and getting ready for long days in the field and packing that hard-earned venison back to the trailhead. If you haven’t started yet, get going.

Hunting Is Never This Easy
Hunting Is Never This Easy

This fall some 10 million hunters will go afield in search of the whitetail buck of their dreams.  On average, about 6 million deer will be harvested.

Though the numbers seem astronomical, consider this.  In 1900 it is estimated that less than 500,000 whitetail deer remained in the US.  As of 2013, there were an estimated 32,000,000 whitetails.  

A true conservation success story and one that points to the hunter as the true conservationist.

The whitetail deer is the most popular big-game species to hunt.  Partly because of the sheer numbers, but also because the whitetail can be found from as far north as the  Arctic Circle in Canada to Brazil and Peru in South America.

From the east coast to the west coast whitetails can be found in every state in the Lower 48.

Whitetails live in vastly different habitats.  You may find them in the edges around agricultural operations such as beans, corn, and alfalfa.  Some you find at high elevation in the aspens in Colorado and Wyoming. Others prefer the tight, close confines of the river bottoms.  

Because of the adaptability of whitetails, where you hunt will largely determine the rifle and ammo combination needed to be successful.

The whitetail is the smallest of the deer species in North America.  On average a mature buck will weigh about 150 pounds, and a doe about 100 pounds.  They are thin-skinned and have a relatively dainty bone structure.

So cleanly killing a whitetail does not take a specialized or heavy rifle and cartridge.  A well-placed bullet from nearly any centerfire rifle will allow you to ethically take whitetail deer.

What About The Guns?

There are a lot of options when it comes to rifle and cartridges, let’s take a look at some good choices for whitetail hunting to get you started down the path to a whitetail hunting career.

(top to bottom) Tikka T3 Lite .308, Savage Model 99 .300 Savage, Winchester Model 94 Trapper .30-30
(top to bottom) Tikka T3 Lite .308, Savage Model 99 .300 Savage, Winchester Model 94 Trapper .30-30

 

.30-30

You’re kidding, right?  With all the fast new and sexy cartridges out there, why do I list the .30-30 first?  

In all likelihood, the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire has taken more whitetail than any other cartridge.  Often packaged in a compact, light and easy to carry lever-action rifle, the .30-30 makes a lot of sense.  

There are a lot of whitetail in the river bottoms and thick forest and swamps.  Shots will be short. You’ll likely be on a stand or stalk hunting and catch a glimpse of a whitetail sneaking through the woods.  

Traditional open sights or a peep sight are quick to acquire and quite accurate for 50-100 yard shots.

Any good bullet designed for tubular magazines will be fine.  My Winchester Model 94’s prefer 150-grain flat-points. 

Normally you need to use round nose or flat nose bullets in a tube magazine for safety reasons, however, Hornady now offers a tube magazine safe spitzer cartridge using their FTX bullets.  Although these cost a bit more than standard .30-30 rounds, they offer better penetration, better accuracy, longer range, and more reliable feeding.

Hornady LeverEvolution .30-30

Hornady LeverEvolution .30-30

.308 Winchester

The .308 was originally designed as a military cartridge.  Sportsmen quickly realized that the .308 cartridge design was very accurate and could be housed in short action rifles, making them quite handy in the field.  

The .308 gives up very little performance as far as velocity and energy compared to the 30-06. What it doesn’t do is recoil very much. A .308 with good 165 – 180-grain bullets will easily handle all your whitetail hunting from very close cover to 300+ yards with good optics.  

I am a fan of Nosler Partitions and have never had one fail me.  My hunting partners use Barnes TTSX and Hornady GMX with equal success.

Federal Vital-Shock .308 Win 180gn Nosler Partition

Federal Vital-Shock .308 Win 180gn Nosler Partition

.30-06 Springfield

Another military cartridge adopted for sporting use.  The .30-06 is a do-it-all cartridge.

With the exception of big bears and the dangerous game of Africa, you would be well-served with a quality bolt action rifle in .30-06 to take on virtually any big-game species on the planet.  

In fact, in his book “One Man, One Rifle, One Land”  JY Jones writes about his quest to take all 43 North American Species with the same .30-06 rifle.

Loaded with bullets from 150-180 grains, the .30-06 is a solid choice for someone who wants to hunt big game and do their hunting with one rifle.

Winchester .30-06 180gn AccuBond CT

Winchester .30-06 180gn AccuBond CT

The Modern Sporting Rifle – AKA:  The AR-15

I know, ‘who hunts deer with an AR?’.  Truth be told, lots of folks do.

The AR is one of, if not the fastest selling rifle platform available today.  The simple fact is the AR is today’s modern sporting rifle. 

Light, handy, ammo is stocked in every gun store in the nation and in all different loads, and priced so an AR-15 is within reach of nearly anyone.

However, several states require deer hunting to be done with a cartridge larger than .23cal and/or have magazine restrictions for what can be used in a hunting rifle – check your regulations before deciding on your rifle!

If it is legal and you do choose standard .223/5.56mm as your cartridge you should be aware that although possible, these cartridges limit you greatly. Choose heavy grain, soft tip ammo and keep your range within 150 yards and a standard AR-15 will serve you well.

Federal Power-Shok .223 64gn SP

Federal Power-Shok .223 64gn SP

But if you’re looking to expand your options – you can always choose a new upper for your AR-15 and unlock a whole new world of ballistic possibilities!

Uppers in cartridges such as 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 Remington SPC are fine options – however, the far more popular is the .300 Blackout.

The .300 Blk gets a lot of press for use in AR’s and some specialty handguns.  It was designed in part to work well in AR’s as well as for use in suppressed weapons systems.

If you want to hunt with the .300 Blackout, stick with bullets that 150 grains and you will get adequate energy and penetration on deer-sized game out to 200 yards.

Winchester Deer Season .300 Blackout 150gn XP

Winchester Deer Season .300 Blackout 150gn XP

Prices accurate at time of writing

While the above cartridges will likely serve the vast majority of whitetails hunters just fine, there are those who may wish to stretch the yardage a bit or pursue bigger game.  If you want to stay in the AR platform look closely at the AR-10 platform and move into the .308 Winchester with 150 or 165-grain bullets. 

We’ve laid out the differences between the AR-15 and AR-10 and should Help You Decide Between the AR-15 and AR-10.

Now you have a powerful cartridge in a semi-auto package capable of taking game cleanly at extended ranges.  You will pay a penalty in weight and cost, but it is a viable option if you plan to hunt in areas where shots may be long.

(Left to Right) .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from 350lbs Black Bear, .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from Cow Elk
(Left to Right) .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from 350lbs Black Bear, .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from Cow Elk

These are the only 2 bullets I’ve recovered from game shot with a Nosler Partition.

While not at all an exhaustive list, I believe anyone looking to start big game hunting with whitetails will be well served with the above choices.  

As for what rifle to buy, you have to decide.  My personal experience has been mostly with bolt actions;  Remington Model 700, Tikka T3 Lite, Ruger Mod 77, Ruger American Predator and semi-custom Mauser 98’s.  All work well. All are accurate. All kill whitetail deer just fine if you place your shots correctly.

If you’re interested in the newest iterations of hunting rifles, check out our Best New Hunting Rifles of 2018.

Gear For Your Hunt

Now that you have a rifle in hand, what else do you need to have to be able to spend the entire day in the field hunting?  

I’m a little over-the-top in what I carry. I grew in the Scouting program and I am a firm believer in Being Prepared.

Also, being from the Northwest I carry more gear than the average hunter because we have wide temperature swings, it will most likely be raining and/or snowing and I want to be sure I am 100% able to function on my own and not be a burden on my partners.

Let’s take a quick look at the very minimum I would have in my pack for a day of whitetail hunting in northeast Washington.  I will not go too much into clothing since that is a regional and seasonal variable that everyone needs to deal with on hunt-by-hunt basis.

In the photo below is my gear:

Hunting Gear
My Hunting Gear for NE Washington

Here’s a quick run-down of what you see and why.  Starting in the upper left of the photo:

  • Sawyer water filter to make more water as needed.
  • Food.  You need to stay fueled all day.   The colder the weather, the more you need.  I always have soups, coffee, tea, etc to help me warm on a cold day.
  • GSI Bottle Cup.  Stainless steel.  Can be used on a stove or over a fire.
  • Esbit Folding Stove.  Quick and easy way to heat water for lunch.
  • Fire starters:  At least 2 lighters, matches, flint and steel and fire starters.  It is critical you learn how to make fire and do it every time.
  • Leatherman Multi-Plier.  There is always something you need to hold, cut, bend.  My multitool has been in my pack since 1994.
Leatherman Wave Multitool

Leatherman Wave Multitool

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • Space Blanket:  Use it as a tarp, a ground cover or a sleeping bag.
  • Rangefinder and binoculars.  I like the compact models.  The ones shown are both Leupold brand products.  You need to be able to glass at distance and in thick cover.  The rangefinder is handy if you are in a more open area or are shooting cartridges or a muzzleloader with less range.
  • A headlamp and a flashlight.  Ever boned out a deer trying to hold a flashlight with one hand?  I like the Zebra Light for my headlamp.  A single AA battery gives me 200 lumens at the top end and multiple lower settings.  A great tool for traveling early morning and at night. I like Surefire flashlights because they always work.  I use the G2 series.  Relatively inexpensive and very bright and durable.
  • 50 feet of paracord.  Get real, made in the USA cord.  It has a multitude of uses and always comes in handy.
  • The little bottle is a Nalgene with a flip-top filled with cornstarch.  I use it as my wind-puffer. An easy way to keep track of the breeze and thermals as you move during the day.
  • Stoney Point shooting sticks.  This size is perfect for sitting or kneeling shots.  Any rest in the field will help make your shots more accurate.
  • Map and compass.  Yep, I have a GPS.  I never use it for navigation.  The GPS will crap out at the most inopportune time.  Heavy snow and thick timber will not allow a signal. Carry a topographic map of the area you are in.  Get a good quality compass. LEARN HOW TO USE THEM TOGETHER! A compass does not tell you where you are.  It only points North.
REI Map
Outdoor Co-Op REI Has Some Great Articles on How to use a Map and Compass!
  • Meat care:  the long white bag like the Kifaru Meat Baggie.  These 1 ozs. bags will hold 75 pounds of boned meat.  You can usually get an average whitetail in one bag. The bag holds the meat in a vertical tube to make it easier to pack out in your backpack.  I use two bags for my deer hunting. All the meat that will be ground goes in one. The big cuts go in the other.
  • Meat Knife – Havalon Piranta: A changeable blade knife.  You should be able to easily skin, bone, and process a deer with two blades.  I also carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves to keep my hands dry and a bit warmer.  The nitrile also provides a better grip.

Again, this is what I have found works for me.  Every area and every hunt is different, so adjust your gear accordingly.  But you will find after a few trips there are some things that always get used and will go in your pack every time you go hunting.

A note on meat care:  I mentioned boning your deer.  I am a big proponent of quick and quality field care.  I will go out on a limb here and say that most ‘gamey’ meat results from poor care of the animal in the field.  

With any animal the number one enemy is heat. Get the animal broken down and cooling immediately. That means skin off, and meat off the bones.  There is a tremendous amount of internal heat and the quicker the meat is separated from the bones, better.

Because nearly all of our hunting is done in the backcountry we bone our animals on spot using the ‘gutless method’.  Check the link and do some research on your own.  I think you will find it’s a quick, clean and easy way to care for deer.

They even have videos taking  you step by step as they clean a Bull Elk!

Large-bull-elk-on-the-ground-guided-by-Jay-Scott
Large Bull Elk, photo by Jay Scott

Tips and Tactics

Because whitetails live in such vastly different habitats, tactics must be adjusted depending on the location.  However, there are a few things that remain constant that will help you tag a whitetail this year.

Be Patient

Whitetails are creatures of habit.  They stay pretty close to one area and tend to use the same trails and routes.  My preferred method of hunting is to find an intersection of two or more trails in the timber or edges of food crops. I’ll then find a good place to sit, usually on the ground with a tree or log to my back.

Then I get comfortable and wait. Be sure to situate yourself so you are downwind of the prevailing winds in the area.  If you have too much scent blowing across or down the trail you may alert the deer.

Stay out all day

Take another look at my pack list.  Once I leave camp I intend to stay out until dark.  I have my lunch, a closed-cell foam pad to sit on and appropriate clothing.  Yes, I get cold. Yes, I get bored. Yes, I have sat in the pouring rain and wet snow all day.  

But here’s the deal. Most hunters go back to camp in early or mid-morning. Most go back when the weather sucks.  I have found that whitetails, especially in cold weather tend to get up and mosey around about 11 in the morning. They get stiff and cold too.  

They will get up, eat a little, take a leak and maybe look for an area in the open if the sun is out. I have killed the majority of my whitetails mid-morning.

Use your binoculars

Whitetails like thick stuff.  Human eyes are good, but not great.  For the most part, we detect motion.

So if a whitetail is moving through heavy timber or brush you may notice the movement, not necessarily the deer.  With binoculars, you can pick apart the timber. You see more color. You see shapes.

Schwarzenegger binos
Use Your Binoculars!

One of my PH’s in South Africa taught me a lot about thick cover hunting.  He always said, “look through the bush.”  Meaning, look beyond the stuff on the edges.  

Look through the screen. Change the focus on your binoculars so you see through different layers of the cover.  You will be surprised how much more is out there than if you just sit and watch.

Hunt late 

Whitetail bucks are solitary creatures.  However, if you can hunt a late season, your odds go up.  

In general terms, the rut begins to crank up in mid to late-November and will run through December and January in many parts of the country.  As the rut approaches, the bucks begin to wander more in search of ladies.

As such, they spend more time on the move and are a lot less wary.  They are intent on breeding. Not necessarily paying attention. That said, if you are hunting a late season and you have some does or youngsters walk past your stand, get ready.  

Often a buck will be following behind to determine if a suitable mate is ahead of him. Be sure you are dressed for the weather this time of year. It will be cold and often wet.

Shoot fast

While in your sitting spot keep your rifle across your lap and at the ready.  

You will often only have a couple of shooting lanes and even if the deer are just walking you only have a few seconds to make your shot.  

If you have to reach for your gun and make noise or sudden movements, you will very likely not get a shot. You must be ready to quickly identify if your buck or deer is legal and then make a very quick decision to either shoot or not shoot the deer.

Cold Buck
Cold Buck

I shot this buck on cold November day after I had built a fire to warm up and have some coffee.  It was 11 am.

Have fun

How can you not?  You are hunting. You are in the woods, with a rifle in your hands, a tag in your pocket and a whitetail somewhere in the neighborhood.  

Yeah, you may walk miles. You may freeze on stand. You may get wet.

So what? You’ll likely be in camp or home sometime tonight. You can get dry, warm and fed when you get back.  

Take a camera and shoot photos of your gear, your stand, your rifle. Shoot a pic of that pesky squirrel telling the whole basin you are under his tree.

Hunting is about making memories and enjoying your outdoor heritage.  Tying your tag on a whitetail and enjoying the pure organic protein the venison provides is a bonus.

What deer have you harvested? Planning your first trip? Let us know in the comments!

The post Introduction to Deer Hunting appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

May 1st, 2018 by asjstaff

What sight combines a red dot and old school irons?

SeeAll Open Sights
SeeAll Open Sights

The answer is…SeeAll Open Sights ($99).

I heard about these a few years ago but their initial reviews weren’t that great due to ugly lettering in the sight picture and a weird set screw mount.

They’ve fixed all that AND added tritium for some glow-in-the-dark goodness.  Let’s see if that’s enough for redemption.

SeeAll Open Sight

SeeAll Open Sight

How Does it Work?

The SeeAll is electronic free but still offers nearly parallax free targeting like in red dots.  That means when you move your head around…the reticle stays on the target.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/cvodbbpd3q.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

It does this with a magnifying lens in the front…and a smaller green/tritium section more forward that holds the reticle.  In my case…a nice triangle that makes it very easy to figure out the point of impact.

SeeAll, Inside
SeeAll, Inside

Original versions had some lettering visible in this view so you can see how that would be distracting.  There’s still a “R” to the bottom right but it’s barely visible when you’re on target.

How’s It Shoot?

SeeAll sent me two versions of their MK2 tritium models for testing.

Pistol Version

One for pistols which attaches via a dovetail insert.  Make sure you have a pistol sight pusher since it took a little while to go on my Glock slide.

SeeAll Open Sights
SeeAll Open Sights

I shot with the pistol version at the range a few times and also once for low-light competition.  I figured that way the tritium could help out.

Here’s how the tritium insert looks in a dark closet.

SeeAll Tritium
SeeAll Tritium

And it with me in action.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/xd9t2nlxo3.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

Since I was running a TLR-8 flashlight I depended on that more instead of the tritium (see the Best Pistol Flashlights article for more).  But it’s as bright as my normal tritium night sights.

I didn’t practice TOO much with the SeeAll on my pistol and I found it took more time to find the triangle.

My best explanation is that when you have a “U” or two-dot rear sight plus the front sight post, you can see how to adjust your handgun to line everything up.

With only the triangle to look for, especially in low-light, I found it more difficult than regular night sights to acquire the sight picture.

Therefore, I suggest pistol use only if you really train with the SeeAll, or if speed isn’t that much of a concern (the triangle system does seem plenty accurate).  I can also see it great for beginners that are having some trouble with focusing on the front sight in a traditional rear/front system.

However…it’s different with a rifle.

Rifle Version

The rifle version of the SeeAll comes with a good large knob Picatinny mount.  No more set screw nonsense.

Note that you’ll need a riser for the AR for a comfortable shooting position.

I used the UTG .5″ Riser ($14) but have also tried the .83″ Super Slim Mount ($12) which will save you a few ounces since you don’t need all that rail space.

SeeAll, Outside
SeeAll, Rifle Mount

On a rifle, I can get pretty consistent with my cheekweld and buttstock position.  That made it a lot easier to acquire the triangle target.

Hitting 100-yard steel plates became a breeze.

This is where the SeeAll really shined.  Now you get something that doesn’t need batteries…but still offers nearly parallax free shooting.

Here’s a video from SeeAll themselves on what it looks like when you’re actually shooting.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJJvsEFAEIU?rel=0&start=4]

However, for both versions of the SeeAll…I wished it didn’t obscure the bottom part of the target as much.  For something called the SeeAll…it needs to do better in that department.

By the Numbers

Function: 4/5

Pistol requires some more extensive training to acquire the target at my normal speed…but was easy on a rifle.  The sight also cuts off too much of the target…especially when you’re comparing it with red dots.

Reliability: 5/5

I didn’t torture test it but it seems pretty robust in a machined metal casing and the lens is really beefy and recessed.  Plus tritium has its great half-life of 12 years.

Accuracy: 5/5

The triangle target is more precise than standard pistol irons.  And it was more than enough to hit plates at 25 yards.

Looks: 4/5

Most people have never seen one…so be prepared to get asked what it is.  Fit and finish were great.  But I do wish that it was a little shorter in profile…especially when on a pistol.

Bang for the Buck: 4/5

The tritium version sells for $99 on SeeAll’s site but it looks like near $200 on Amazon.  Not bad for something tritium based.  And there’s a lifetime warranty…AND a 30 days no-questions return policy.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Conclusion

If you’re looking at a non-powered optic that gives you nearly parallax-free viewing…AND has tritium for low-light shooting.  You should give the SeeAll a try.

SeeAll Open Sight

SeeAll Open Sight

If you’re looking for more traditional…take a look at our Best Budget Red Dots and Best Holographic Sights articles.

The post SeeAll Open Sight Review appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

April 29th, 2018 by asjstaff

Seeing if a holographic weapons sight is for you?

Top Holographic Sights
Top Holographic Sights

We bought the two most popular holographic sights right now…plus a third underdog contender.

And we break them down into what we think is the best.  If you can’t wait, here’s our picks:

  1. Editor’s Choice: EOTech EXPS2-0 ($490)
  2. Runner Up: Vortex AMG UH-1 ($499)
  3. Most Worth It: Holosun 510C ($299)

Holographic vs Red Dots

Without going too much into everything…why would you even want a holographic sight compared to a red dot?

Red dots (or reflex sights) operate by having an LED project a dot towards a lens, which is specially coated so that it bounces back towards your eye.  Check out our Best Red Dots Under $200 article.

Best Budget Red Dots
Best Budget Red Dots

Holographic sights use a laser transmitted hologram of a reticle through a series of lenses back to your eye.

Holographic Sight Light Path
Holographic Sight Light Path

Since it’s laser based instead of LED, the battery life is significantly less.  But it allows for more specialized reticles (the big difference in my mind) and also does not need a specially coated lens.

Budget Red Dots All On
Red Dots All On

You also tend to get a bigger view window with holographic sights.

Tested Holographic Sights
Tested Holographic Sights

Now onto our favorites…

1. EOTech EXPS2-0

EOTech is the giant in the holographic sight game.

Sure, they had a little snafu a few years back about thermal drift (where the reticle doesn’t return to zero if subjected to extreme temperatures).  But they are back and better than ever.

John Wick I'm Back
John Wick I’m Back

If you’re still worried about the thermal drift (all sights, red dot or holo, have them)…check out EOTech’s response for their new sights.  When put through temperatures of -4 to 122 degrees F, there is a max drift of 3.5 MOA.

My favorite is their new EXPS2-0 which is shorter than the most popular previous model…the 512.

EOTech EXPS2-0
EOTech EXPS2-0

It has a big rectangular window that is very clear.  And the famous 68 MOA circle with a 1 MOA dot in the center.

EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom
EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom

The perfect blend of quick acquisition and fine-tuned accuracy.  Note that the above is 3x magnified using a Vortex 3x to show the reticle (Best 3x Magnifiers).

Here it is at the range.  I had trouble getting clear shots of the reticle in high brightness.  But it works great even in the sunniest of days in the desert.

EOTech EXPS2-0 At the Range
EOTech EXPS2-0 At the Range

And a better image of it inside.

EOTech Reticle
EOTech Reticle

The shorter EOTech’s have a couple variants…but I like the EXPS2-0 compared to the regular XPS line since it is 1/3 co-witness which doesn’t get in the way as much if you have irons or backup irons (Best AR-15 Backup Irons).

Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third
Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third

It also has a robust quick detach (QD) rail system and the buttons on the side (essential if you’re going to run magnifiers).

EOTech EXPS2-0 Side
EOTech EXPS2-0 Side

The 2-0 designates that it is the 68 MOA circle with 1 MOA center.  A must if you ask me.  If you’re running night vision, opt for the EXPS3-0 which has some settings for NVGs.

Here’s a video of it in action with a little simulated head movement to show how it’s devoid of almost all parallax.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/fm4jzt1fuw.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
The reticle makes it super easy for close up shots when I used the optic for pistol caliber carbine (PCC) competitions.  While the 1 MOA dot was useful for farther plate racks.

I even took it on and off a couple of times while testing and it always stayed in zero (plate racks at 25 yards).

My choice for best overall holographic weapons sight.

EOTech EXPS2-0, Adjustment
EOTech EXPS2-0, Adjustment

Stats

  • 11.3 Oz
  • 10 ft waterproof
  • CR123A Battery
  • 600 hours battery life
  • Not NVG Compatible

2. Vortex AMG UH-1

The AMG UH-1 is a newish sight from Vortex and is the only real holographic contender to EOTech.  It’s affectionately known as the “Huey” because of the UH-1 designation.

Vortex AMG UH-1
Vortex AMG UH-1

Built like a tank…it looks like it’s much bigger than the EXPS but it’s about the same length.  It’s the extra hood that protects everything that makes it seem that way.

Since it’s new, it doesn’t have the military track record of the EOTech but so far no major complaints besides a first initial batch that had some reticle flaring that is now fixed.  Plus it’s Vortex so it has a lifetime transferable warranty.

Vortex UH-1 Reticle, 3x Zoom
Vortex UH-1 Reticle, 3x Zoom

Speaking of reticles…the Huey’s reticle is my favorite out of the bunch.  Still has the large circle for CQB but also has a nice chevron at the bottom for shorter engagements.

I set my zero at 25 yards for the shorter PCC competitions…but if you zero at the standard 100 yards…the triangle will really help.  Also has a great integrated QD mount that maintained zero between testing.

Vortex UH-1 Reticle
Vortex UH-1 Reticle

One thing I gotta knock it down for is…the greenish tint.  It’s a lot more apparent than the EOTech which if it has one…is nearly imperceptible.

Vortex AMG UH-1 At the Range
Vortex AMG UH-1 At the Range

It didn’t matter too much during actual shooting…but looking at it by itself it bugs me a little.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/memlo34369.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
Another is that the buttons are on the back so it might also interfere with magnifiers.

However, one cool thing is that it has a rechargeable battery inside that you can charge through USB.

Vortex UH-1, USB Charging
Vortex UH-1, USB Charging

I tried it out to see if it works…and it does.  But realistically I’m not sure if I’m really going to be plugging in my upper to my computer when swapping batteries seems so much easier.

Speaking of batteries…the AMG UH-1 has a sweet 1500 hour battery life compared to the EOTech’s 600 hours.

Overall, my runner-up if you want to get into the holographic sight game at a slightly lower entry fee.

Stats

  • 11.8 Oz
  • 10 ft waterproof
  • CR123A Battery
  • 1500 hours battery life
  • Not NVG Compatible

3. Holosun 510C

Holosun 510C
Holosun 510C

Ok…it’s not technically a holographic sight.  But instead the Holosun 510C brings together the best of both worlds of red dot and holographic.

Long battery life and a sweet reticle that isn’t “fuzzy” like normal holographic sights.

Holosun 510C Reticle, 3x Zoom
Holosun 510C Reticle, 3x Zoom

The center is a 2 MOA while the outside ring is 65 MOA.  You can also cycle between using the dot only, ring only, or the combo.

Holosun 510C Reticle
Holosun 510C Reticle

Has a greenish hue on par with the Vortex.  Again, it was hard to get good pictures at the range.

Holosun 510C At the Range
Holosun 510C At the Range

If you’re solely looking for the circle and dot reticle…you can’t go wrong with this optic.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/5pzuqp0psm.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
It’s crisp and nearly parallax free like its brethren.

AND with a 50,000 hour battery life since it runs off LED and not lasers.  PLUS it has solar capability that switches in the sun so you aren’t running off batteries.  Finally, it’s lighter and has a smaller profile.

Holosun 510C Side
Holosun 510C Side

Buttons are on the side for easy access and also has a QD attachment system that also maintains zero.  Has NVG capabilities but is less waterproof than the others.

My pick for the best worth-it “holographic-esque” sight.

Stats

  • 8.3 Oz
  • 1 meter (IP67)
  • CR2032 Battery
  • 50,000 hours battery life
  • NVG Compatible (10 day and 2 NVG)

Conclusion

Three Mounted Holographic Sights
Three Mounted Holographic Sights

If you’re looking for something more than a simple red dot…holographic sights are the way to go.

The big player and my favorite model is the EOTech EXPS2-0 which has the clearest glass, great button placement, and decent battery life.

My runner-up is the Vortex AMG UH-1 which is built tough, has my favorite reticle, has a longer battery life, but has a greenish hue.

Lastly…if you’re interested in the holographic reticle, go with the Holosun 510C which sports an impressive 50K battery life.

Did we miss any holographic sights out there?  Find out more of our favorite optics and scopes in our Gear Reviews section.

The post Best Holographic Sights [Real Views]: EOTech, Vortex, Holosun appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

April 24th, 2018 by asjstaff

Do you carry extra mags for your CCW?

Better question, do you know about all the options available to help carry extra ammunition?

Rows of cartridges
Ammo, ammo everywhere…

Even better question, do you understand the differences between the different styles and brands of CCW mag holders?

If you don’t know, I have good news…

We are going to explore the idea of carrying extra ammo and the practical considerations of a concealed carry magazine holder, including what features a mag holder has to have to be a great addition to your carry lineup.

We are also going to suggest a few of our favorite methods of carrying an extra mag or two, and where to buy them to best save your hard-earned dollars

Now, you six gun guys and gals may be feeling a little left out, but don’t worry!

Single Action Revolver, Fistful of Dollars
Single Action Revolver, Fistful of Dollars

I get it, I really do, but today we are focusing on the folks who carry automatics.  Your time will come, and we’ll discuss practical carry of extra ammunition for six gunners soon, but for now, let’s see talk about mag holders.

Why You Need One

Carrying a semi-automatic is generally the more popular option for concealed carriers.  With little effort, you can carry a relatively substantial amount of ammunition in a tiny package.

One of the other main benefits of this is, of course, the ability to rapidly reload should you need to

Now, to be completely realistic the likelihood of ever needing to reload your firearm in a defensive situation is very, very low.  Clear statistics aren’t really out there, but there is a general consensus that the majority of defensive firearms uses do not involve extensive gunfights.

However, the likelihood of ever really having to pull your firearm is low in the first place.

With this in mind, we all still conceal carry – correct?  We carry because it’s a right, and because if we ever fall into that statistical outlier of being in a violent situation we want a means to defend ourselves.

With that in mind, I’ve always found it bizarre that half the gun community seems to think to carry an extra magazine makes you are a mall ninja.

Yes, it is superbly unlikely I’ll ever need an extra magazine. However, it’s superbly unlikely that I, a normal, law-abiding, reluctantly-tax-paying citizen will ever need my gun, but I carry it anyways.

Mall Ninja AR-15
Too much of a good thing is still too much

The same goes for an extra magazine.  Maybe it’s just from my time as a Machine Gunner in the Marine Corps, but more ammo is always better than less ammo in my simple grunt mind.

That Other Reason

The other big reason to carry an extra magazine is in case of malfunctions.

First and foremost, magazines fail. Some more than others, but it can and does happen.  In a situation where you have a magazine malfunction, you don’t have time to try and fix the magazine.

Drop it and reload with your spare.

An extra magazine makes it easier to recover from a malfunction and to get back into the fight and can aid in clearing nearly any complicated malfunction.

Handgun Malfunction
Handgun Malfunction

If you get a complicated malfunction like a double feed, the best thing to do to remedy the situation is to remove the magazine to clear the malfunction.

It’s quicker to drop the magazine, clear the malfunction, and then reload with a fresh mag. Plus you now have more rounds on tap.

Carrying an extra magazine isn’t hard, it’s much easier than trying to carrying a gun, and not that much different than carrying a pocket knife. Since most guns come with two or more mags anyway it just seems like common sense to carry one extra.

The 5 Desirable Features of a CCW Mag Holder

Concealed carry mag holders, like holsters, are available at really any quality and price point. Some out there are better suited for range use, or to use when shooting airsoft guns. Others are better suited for tactical use.

In the middle somewhere we have CCW mag holders designed for concealed carry. There are 5 features I think every CCW mag holder needs to have to be effective and worth the money.

Easy to Conceal

The key to a CCW mag holder is the big C in CCW. C being concealed of course. Your magazine pouch needs to be easy to conceal.

There are a few options for concealed carry and follow most holster configurations. This includes IWB, OWB, and pocket carry methods. Some systems are more suited for duty belts and are often wider, and easier to access for sure.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnrtrXFCHeY?feature=oembed&w=640&h=360]

However, when worn on the belt they tend to print a helluva lot more than a purpose-built concealed carry magazine pouch. Typically a pocket or IWB option is naturally very easy to conceal carry.

A concealable OWB option is typically designed to be held tight to the body and can ride high if worn vertically. Horizontal is another concealed carry option with OWB that’s a bit odd, but extremely effective.

Durability

The last thing you want to happen while carrying an extra mag is for the pouch to break. Especially if you spent hard earned money on it. Concealed carry mag pouches are exposed to everything you are exposed to.

This includes your sweat, rain, varying temperatures, as well as tons of movement, vibration, and stress. So you want to buy one that’s made to last, from a material that’s resistant to these stressors.

The best materials are generally leather and polymers, but a few high-quality synthetic cloth materials options out there.

Ease of Use

Ease of use generally refers to how easy it is to draw the magazine from the pouch. This has to do more with what standard the user is willing to train to. If you want an active retention device you’ll have to train to overcome it.

You’ll need a model that is appropriately sized for your handguns magazine. Take a look at these Glock magazines. They are the same width, but of course, one is way longer than the other.

Glock Mags
Glock Mags Image Source

If your magazine is too long the weight of the ammunition will make it unstable, and easily fall out of the pouch. If it’s too short it will be nearly impossible to remove the magazine with ease. So remember to find an appropriately sized magazine pouch.

Proper Retention

We mentioned retention a little above, and there are two types of retention, active and passive. Active retention means there is a physical device you have to defeat to access your magazine. Passive retention means the magazine is retained without an active device.

With CCW mag holders the only real retention device is an overhead flap. These are typically secured via a button and hold the magazine in place effortlessly. The mag is highly unlikely to accidentally fall out of this style pouch.

Active Retention Magazine Holsters
Active Retention Magazine Holsters

The downsides to active retention holsters are they are slower to utilize and take more training time to learn to effectively use.

Passive retention is most often friction based. The magazine pouches are slightly smaller than the magazine, but can still fit the magazine. The tension and friction from the magazine pouch keep it in place.

Passive retention devices are easier to use and are often sufficient to retain the magazine. It is more likely you’ll drop a magazine, but still unlikely with a well-made mag pouch.

When it comes to passive retention it’s critical you choose a magazine pouch designed for the magazine you are using. Glock 19 magazines, for example, are wider than CZ 75 magazines. So you need to pay attention to the width of the magazine the mag pouch is aimed at, or passive retention is useless.

Comfort

Lastly, like any gun holster, a mag pouch needs to be comfortable while being carried concealed. Sharp corners and abrasive materials are a big no-go, as are ill-placed seams. You need something comfortable if you are going to be carrying it tight to your body.

If it’s not comfortable then you won’t carry it. If you don’t carry it, it’s worthless.

IWB, OWB or Pocket?

So there are three main ways to carry an extra magazine. Just like a firearm, you can carry it inside the waistband (IWB), outside the waistband (OWB) and Pocket carry. There are additional options, like the mag pouches built into certain shoulder holsters or attached to IWB Appendix holsters.

Today, however, we are going to talk about the magazine pouches that are independent of holsters. The most common CCW Mag holders are the styles listed above.

IWB

IWB magazine holders offer the most concealment, especially mag pouches that can be worn with a tucked in shirt. These are called tuckable options. Since they sit in the waistband they often have incredibly effective passive retention devices.

Courtesy of Snake Eater Tactical
Courtesy of Snake Eater Tactical

The downsides to IWB carry is a lot of people find it uncomfortable in general. I’m incredibly picky about IWB carry and only trust a few companies to really give me a comfortable option. That might just be the price I pay for a tactical fat guy.

Your mileage may vary.

OWB

OWB is my preferred style of concealing an extra ammo pouch, and my gun, and my knife. I find it to be the most comfortable and quickest to access. Of course, to do so I have to say goodbye to a tucked in shirt.

Photo Courtesy of Mas Ayoob
Photo Courtesy of Mas Ayoob

Outside the waistband, carry is the most popular option for magazine pouches and what you’ll traditionally find the most options in. OWB options need to be made to conceal since many are made for tactical applications.

You’ll also find both active and passive retention choices in this category. As far as I’m aware this is the only category that features active retention options.

Pocket carry

Like a handgun, you don’t want to throw a magazine in your pocket and call it a day. The dirt, grime, and lint in your pocket will make you instantly regret that decision. It’ll gum a magazine up pretty fast without a popper pocket carry mag pouch.

Kydex Magazine Holster
Kydex Magazine Holster

This method of carrying is gaining steam due to convenience. Unlike a handgun, almost all magazines can be pocket carried. There are a wide variety of pocket carry options and it’s a very comfortable way to carry.

The downside being reaching into your pocket is not as always possible in some positions. Trying to dig into my left-hand pocket while kneeling simply isn’t gonna happen.

Some Modest Selections

If you are looking to for a concealed carry mag holder I have a few suggestions. I’ll suggest specific models, but the companies I’m suggesting in general produce very high-quality mag pouches, so feel free to explore the other options they produce.

Gould and Goodrich

If you are a classic leather lover you can’t go wrong with Gould and Goodrich. They produce awesome holsters and awesome magazine pouches. They do have a focus on OWB mag pouches and offer models with both active and passive retention.

Could & Goodrish Magazine Holsters

Could & Goodrish Magazine Holsters

Prices accurate at time of writing

For Concealed carry, I’d suggest the Gold Line Single Mag case. This leather mag pouch is very versatile and comes with an adjustable tension device that will allow you to carry almost any double stack magazine. This is an OWB device and is cut low enough to access a compact magazine.

This simple little case is quite affordable, easy to use, and simplistic.

The Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed Single Mag Pouch

I as a rule generally stay away from most synthetic cloth based anything when it comes to concealed carry. I’m not a big fan of universal nylon gear. However, Blue Force Gear does it right with just about everything they do, so I trust them.

Blue Force Gear Belt Mounted Ten-Speed Pistol Magazine Pouch

Blue Force Gear Belt Mounted Ten-Speed Pistol Magazine Pouch

Prices accurate at time of writing

Their Ten Speed Single Mag pouch is made from a combination of ULTRAcomp and ten speed elastic. The Elastic front allows you to utilize nearly any magazine, be it a single stack, or a double stack.

It’s an OWB option and can be worn vertically or horizontally. Horizontal carry is very easy to conceal, and quite intuitive once you train with it. Blue Force Gear makes great stuff and this CCW Mag holder is no different.

Desantis Mag Pack

Desantis makes some pretty awesome pocket holsters for guns. When in my day job work attire I utilize one to conceal carry my little Walther. The Desantis Mag pack is made from the same synthetic material they make their holsters from.

Desantis Mag-Pack

Desantis Mag-Pack

Prices accurate at time of writing

This material is textured to keep it in the pocket when you draw the magazine from. This mag pouch fills your front pocket and presents the magazines at an excellent angle for easy drawing. The Desantis Mag pouch is also quite affordable, and the design naturally breaks up the outline of the magazine.

Carrying Spares

Carrying a little extra ammunition isn’t a difficult thing to do. With the right mag pouch, it’s comfortable, easy to do, and concealable. Just remember, like a holster you want a quality option, not the cheapest option.

If you’re want to learn more about CCW, take a look at our Definitive CCW Guide for all of our reviews and recommendations.

We want to hear from you, do you carry spare ammunition? If not why? If you do, how do you carry it?

The post Best CCW Mag Holsters appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

April 19th, 2018 by asjstaff

Looking for a perfect all-in-one gun cleaning kit?

Bad news…there isn’t one.

All Gun Cleaning Kits
All Gun Cleaning Kits

But we’ll help you get the best one for your end-use…and suggest some standalone products to truly make your kit perfect.

I’ve used a bunch of cleaning kits throughout the years and this is only a snapshot of the ones I haven’t thrown away.

Follow me as I cover what’s needed for pistol and shotgun up to precision rifle shooting.  I’ll also cover my favorite cleaners/oils, cleaning rods, AR-15 specific tools, and more.

If you can’t wait for the results, here are our favorite gun cleaning kits:

Winchester 32 Piece Universal Cleaning Kit

The Winchester Kit is a good deal for a little over $20 since it is pretty universal…covering everything from .22 to 12 gauge shotgun.

The box looks good but keep in mind the whole thing is around $20 so there’s a distinct China feel to it.

Winchester Cleaning Kit Box
Winchester Cleaning Kit Box

There are two sets of brass rods that won’t scratch your barrel’s harder steel and all the copper brushes are actually pretty good quality and marked with the caliber.

Winchester 32 Piece Cleaning Kit
Winchester 32 Piece Cleaning Kit

There’s an ok amount of patches but you’ll need to add your own oil and gun cleaner (and there’s no room to fit it in the box).  My specific suggestions at the end…but hint…it’s M-Pro 7.

Winchester 32 Piece Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Winchester 32 Piece Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

Real Avid Box Handgun Cleaning Kit

Only have a handgun for now…or want a super compact kit?

The Real Avid kit is great and covers everything from .22 to .45 caliber handguns.

Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit
Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

It’s tiny since the rods are long enough just for handgun length barrels.  Everything feels sturdy and the box can take a beating in your range bag or trunk.

The only fault I can find is that it doesn’t come with oil or cleaner…and you’ll be hard-pressed to fit anything in the box beside eye drop sized droppers.

Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

Green Canvas Gun Cleaning Kit

There’s a lot of this kind of kit being sold…probably one factory that makes it and a bunch of people brand it as a something else.

But it’s my go-to range kit if I don’t think I’ll actually need to clean.

Gun Cleaning Kit
Gun Cleaning Kit

It’s small, slim, and is supposed to have an empty bottle to put some cleaner or oil.

I’ve modified it through the years to have extra bronze brushes, a dental pick, Allen key, and Q-tips/patches.  And yes I’ve lost the bottle but I tend to keep my cleaner and oil separately.

It’s not my cleaning kit for home since the rods seem to be steel and could damage the barrel if used a lot.  But it’s great for getting things unstuck!  Can’t go wrong as a backup cleaning kit for around $10.

Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

M-Pro 7 Soft Sided Tactical Gun Cleaning Kit

From my favorite gun cleaner comes their cleaning kit that has everything you need…including the oil and cleaner.

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit
M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

The kit rocks since it has individually packaged brushes and tips (.22 to 12 gauge) so you can keep everything tidy and the case has more pouches to add additional cleaning items.

Even comes with a silicone cloth to wipe down the surface of your guns.  Throw in some Q-Tips and this kit is ready for anything.

Editor’s Pick
M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best Gun Cleaner, Oil, Grease, & Copper Solvent

Everyone and their mom have a favorite gun cleaner and oil.  Here’s a sample of what you’ll see if you try to find out more:

  • Hoppe’s No. 9…enough said.
  • They issued me _____ and I’ve been using it for _____ years.
  • I can eat my gun oil…can you?
  • I bought 1 gallon of (insert motor oil) and it will last me a lifetime.

I’ll admit…I started with Hoppe’s No. 9 and it’s an awesome cleaner.  Problem is that I like to clean indoors and though I really LOVE the smell…I’d get dizzy and also it started eating away at my nails (now I wear gloves no matter what).

Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Cleaner

Prices accurate at time of writing

I switched to M-Pro 7 cleaner and didn’t look back.  It’s nearly as good at cleaning but without the caustic effects.

M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner

M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner

Prices accurate at time of writing

For oil…I also like M-Pro 7, but I also like Militec 1 for the smell.

M-Pro 7 Gun Oil

M-Pro 7 Gun Oil

Prices accurate at time of writing

The following are also popular ones (including some combo CLP which stands for clean, lubricate, preservative):

I also like to use gun grease for rails since it stays on longer…and I go by the old adage “oil if it turns, grease if it slides.”

Now, how about copper cleaners (for when you start seeing some accuracy degradation).  I’ll admit…I almost never do this except for my precision rigs.

Additional Stuff

For my precision rifles, I like using a one-piece cleaning rod to make sure nothing scratches my lands & grooves.  I stick with the ole standard…Tipton.

Tipton Rifle Cleaning Rod

Tipton Rifle Cleaning Rod

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now some of you might be asking where are the bore snakes?  Frankly, I don’t really use them since I don’t like the idea of running something previously dirty back through my barrel.

But some swear by them…especially as the ultimate space-saving cleaning “kit” for a range bag.

Hoppe’s Bore Snake

Prices accurate at time of writing

And you’ll be sure to run out of patches sooner or later.  In a pinch some cut up t-shirts or boxers will work.  But I like going with Hoppe’s.

Hoppe’s Cleaning Patches

Prices accurate at time of writing

Lastly…for the hard to clean carbon-fouled parts of AR-15’s…there’s a scraper tool that’s been a godsend.  And also our AR-15 Cleaning & Maintenance Guide.

Real Avid MSR Scraper

Real Avid MSR Scraper

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

All Gun Cleaning Kits
All Gun Cleaning Kits

To sum it up, this is my Editor’s Pick for best cleaning kit:

Editor’s Pick
M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re doing handgun only and want a super small kit:

Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

A nice backup:

Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

And a good starter kit that will get you through everything from .22 to 12 gauge:

Winchester 32 Piece Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Winchester 32 Piece Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

That’s it on my end…let me know if I missed some kits.  And if you must…your favorite oil and cleaner.  Lastly, be sure to check out our Editor’s Picks for more guns & gear that we love. 

The post Best Gun Cleaning Kits [2018]: Hands-On Tested appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,