April 15th, 2018 by asjstaff

Perusing the photo-pandemic known as Instagram, my heart rate kicked up and my finger slid to an abrupt stop on an unlikely image. It wasn’t the latest innovation in arms – I was getting my first look at the Hold Ur Fire Kit – a slick system for organizing, storing, and transporting your smaller arms and accoutrements!

Maybe it’s just me and my possibly undiagnosed OCD, but keeping my firearms organized, dry, and easily accessible / deployable is a priority – especially for the EDC kits I use weekly. It is true, there are many pistol storage systems out there but the simplicity, apparent ease of use, variety of mounting options and availability of extra components drew me to try this USA-made system.

Hold Ur Fire’s Complete Kit includes:

• 1 Docking Station

• 5 Transport Panels

• 20 Cinch Straps

• 4 Rubber Feet for Docking Station

Also pictured above are the Magazine Cuff and Mini-magazine Cuff (available soon).

The Hold Ur Fire docking station is molded black ABS polymer featuring five vertical slots with stopping bumpers at the rear. It’s not some cheap, thin and flimsy base; it has some decent weight to it to help keep it in place and is quite sturdy with clean and smooth edges.

The four provided black rubber feet are of great quality with 3M® adhesive backing. The foot housings are well-recessed, which helps greatly extend the life of the feet.

Or, if so inclined, you could technically drive a screw through the holes in each corner of the docking station and secure it to a shelf, floor, drawer, or other surface.

The five black ABS polymer panels that come with the Hold Ur Fire kit are 1/4-inch thick and measure 9.5″ x 11.5″. They are very rigid, even with the eight strap and accessory slots, four corner holes, and generous 4/5″ x 1 1.8″ oval handle hole. The molded arrow above the handle indicates the proper orientation of the panel.

With all five panels inserted into the base, there are 1 7/8-inches of room between each panel. If needed for larger pistols and items, forgo a neighboring panel to double the leg room. Or move panels with larger items to the outside slot.

Without any items, the assembled system measures 11″ W x 12″ D x 10.5″ H.

To attach firearms, magazines, and other items, feed the provided hook and loop cinch straps strategically through the panel – or take advantage of one of Hold Ur Fire’s mounting accessories.

The Magazine Cuff features a rigid backer with padding and slips through a panel and secures on the back side with a hook and loop closure. The eight elastic loops are designed to hold four to eight short or long single and/or double-stack magazines, or any other smaller items that may find their way into your kit.

While the Magazine Cuff is well-made, functions just as intended, and is an extremely useful accessory, some of the materials used – in particular the layer of padding behind the elastic loops – give moisture more places to gather than I’d like.

Hold Ur Fire’s soon-to-be-released Mini-magazine Cuff is also a must-have accessory when using the system. But I’m baffled as to why they chose a cotton material for the strap – it will only absorb and retain moisture. Given they provided a pre-release version, I’m hoping their final version has nylon straps.

As someone who overtly enjoys organizing, the Hold Ur Fire system was one of the most fun products I’ve tested so far this year. I had an absolute (but not literal) blast creating specific panels for the items I routinely put to use. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I could easily fit onto just one side of a single panel!

Large frame EDC w/ light panel: SIG Sauer P226R EE, Streamlight TLR-1 HD, and two fifteen-round magazines.

Small frame EDC w/ holsters panel: SIG Sauer P238 in Ultimate Holsters Cloud Tuck Hybrid holster and two seven-round magazines, one in an Ultimate Holsters Single Clip Mag Carrier.

Suppressed conversion kit panel: SIG Sauer P226 .22 LR conversion kit, Dead Air Mask HD silencer, two ten-round SIG .22 LR magazines.

Backwoods carry panel: Glock 20C and two fifteen-round magazines, one in G-code magazine holster.

Suppressed Kalashnikov panel: Dead Air PBS-1 Wolverine silencer, two Kalashnikov variant thread pitch adapters, PBS-1 tool, one thirty-round 7.62×39 magazine.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a ton of stuff!…it can’t possibly card in and out of the docking station, right?

But it does. And does so extraordinarily well!

In the configuration above each board can easily be removed without snagging on its neighbors.

As previously mentioned, the system also works really well for related items, like the non-pew parts of an EDC kit.

Or for those pistols that simply don’t see range time anymore but aren’t worth parting with. Yup, that’s a bulb light on an xD sub-compact! Thank goodness LEDs are standard place nowadays.

And, as seen in the photo above (supplied by Hold Ur Fire), you can most certainly strap two pistols to a panel. In many cases you can even strap the pistol’s accompanying magazines to the other side of the panel.

However, I’m wholly unwilling to store any weapon with the muzzle pointed at me so that particular orientation isn’t on my list of options. Thankfully you can just flip the orientation of most pistols ninety degrees so they face up and down.

Of course, some pistols are just too large to fit within the confines of the board. One of the things I enjoy about Hold Ur Fire’s design is that it doesn’t box you in (literally). If you have the clearance around the system, there’s no reason why a pistol can’t protrude a little.

If you have a securing ring inside your safe, book case, or drawer, a simple 1/4″ cable lock can add an additional, albeit fairly useless if not rigged correctly, layer of security to your bundled items. Simply feed the cable through the holes located in the corners of the panels.

Those holes also double as hangars for anyone who wishes to mount the panels directly to a wall or other vertical surface.

Throughout the course of a month I put Hold Ur Fire’s system to the test, trying any configuration I could think of and often putting outfitted panels straight into my range bag. And while the docking station, panels, and magazine cuffs stood strong, I broke two of the hook and loop straps without much force.

In each case the heat seal simply didn’t hold and gave up the plastic buckle. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but it would be great to see higher-quality stitched straps available in the future.

Hold Ur Fire’s Complete Kit storage and transportation system, accompanied by the Magazine Cuff and Mini-Magazine Cuff, makes storing pistols, magazines, suppressor systems, EDC kits, and any other small-to-medium sized items a breeze. The system is sturdy and well-designed to allow for seemingly limitless configurations of firearms and accessories on a panel.

But there are some areas where the product could be improved. Without question, the moisture-absorbing materials used in the magazine cuffs are a concern that could be easily addressed. It would be great to see additional magazine cuffs with just two or four elastic bands. And redesigning the panels to be symmetrical would allow users to mount two bases facing each other on vertical surfaces, creating horizontal shelves that slide in and out.

Critiques aside, the Hold Ur Fire system is certainly one I won’t be giving up; in fact, I can’t wait to employ several more of these kits for weekly use and long-term storage. Shooting schools that provide pistols to their students will find the system very advantageous and even FFLs might get good use out of them. And for the average guy or gal who likes to be organized, clean, and ready to deploy their tools at a moment’s notice – even if just for some weekly range time – Hold Ur Fire is a simple and efficient choice!

Specifications: Hold Ur Fire Storage System – Complete Kit

Price as reviewed: $64.99 MSRP

Design: * * * * *
Simple, easy to use, and highly flexible, the Hold Ur Fire system is well-designed for everyday use. The system is “open”, allowing larger items to protrude from the top and sides of the panels and docking station. Configuring the panels is extremely intuitive and can be quite fun.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Durability: * * * *
Hold Ur Fire didn’t skimp on the thickness of the ABS polymer docking station and panels; they will hold-up to tough conditions, heavy pistols, and loaded magazines. However, the hook and loop straps that come with the kit are somewhat weak due to their heat-sealed manufacturing process.

Effectiveness: * * * * *
The system’s flexibility in regard to mounting orientations, as well as hook and loop closure and elastic strap types, and options for mounting the docking station come together to create a system that will secure your items very well for storage and transportation.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Hold Ur Fire system has a simple design, yet is built tough and offers nearly limitless flexibility in terms of items and their orientation. The system also does not box you into a completely confined space – it allows for items to stick above and out from its base. Unfortunately, I have to take a half-star off for the weak hook and loop straps.

Specifications: Hold Ur Fire Magazine Cuff

Price as reviewed: $19.99 MSRP

Overall: * * * *
The Magazine Cuff is a nice reprieve from the standard hook and loop straps. Storing full or empty pistol magazines of all sizes, or any slender small and medium-sized items, is quick and easy. However, it takes up an entire board, only orients in one direction, and there’s no good way to cut it down. The reinforced and padded backer is nice, but draws concerns of water retention.

Specifications: Hold Ur Fire Mini-Magazine Cuff

Price as reviewed: MSRP TBD – PRODUCT AVAILABLE SOON!

Overall: * * *
The Mini-Magazine Cuff is a nice accessory for the Hold Ur Fire system. It can easily be mounted to the storage board in a multitude of ways and retains the majority of pistol and rimfire magazines very well, as well as slender silencers and many other “pocket sized” items. A significant deduction was given for the use of moisture-absorbing materials used in its construction.

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

July 21st, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

It’s Too Easy To Crack Your Gun Safe

 

Story and photographs by Dave Goetzinger

 

Not long ago, I was in the market for a small handgun safe. After visiting a local gun shop and bringing home my new gun safe, I took it out of its box, and wondered if I’d spent too much. Up close, the device looked insubstantial. A nagging suspicion motivated me to go online, where I quickly discovered research by Marc Tobias and Tobias Bluzmanis of Investigative Law Offices and Security Laboratories. Their work confirmed my suspicion about the safe. It could be broken into easily.

I started thinking of these safes as Chinese-made, battery-operated toys for gun owners.

Tobias and Bluzmanis, who specialize in evaluating security systems, did an analysis of handgun safes in 2012. Their investigation began with a product called the Strong Box. About 200 of these had been issued to personnel of Clark County Sheriff’s Department in Vancouver, Wash., after the ten-year-old daughter of a Clark County Deputy was accidently shot and killed by her brother who had managed to get a hold of his father’s department-issued handgun. The Sheriff’s Department instituted a policy that all department-issued weapons must be secured in gun safes. Thus the safes, which were issued to personnel between 2003 and 2004. In 2010, however, the three-year-old son of Detective Ed Owens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the boy’s sister was able to remove a handgun from their father’s department issued safe.

Figure_3-min

Some safes were readily accessed by using a common household item such as a paper clip.

Tobias and Bluzmanis found that the safe in question could be vibrated open. Lifting it by one side several inches from a floor and dropping it was all that was needed. Their investigation then broadened into an examination of other safes. None of the safes they examined proved secure. Tobias wrote a piece for Forbes magazine on their findings, and posted video of their examinations on his YouTube channel. He also filed a class-action lawsuit against a safe manufacturer in 2012, prompting them to settle out of court. Tobias and Bluzmanis are now examining that manufacturers latest product designs and are considering filing another lawsuit.

 

Among the safes Tobias and Bluzmanis compromised was my safe. The product was still for sale, unchanged, as of 2015. The salesman who sold it to me claimed ignorance about the product being defective and processed my return without objection. Several days later, I purchased a more secure safe by Fort Knox, by which time I was convinced that someone needed to do follow-up research on handgun safes. So I decided to do it myself. I went to Cabelas and selected a several product by multiple safe companies, then set up an iPhone at home to record my examinations.

Neither safe posed any challenge to my attempts to break in. With video on my iPhone, I went to a different retailer and negotiated a low price on another safe to break into. In the end, I broke into seven safes. The skills needed to accomplish this were no different than the skills I developed in childhood taking my toys apart. Indeed, I started thinking of these devices as Chinese made, battery-operated toys for gun owners.

Figure_4-min

And some safes simply required gentle coaxing while others could be accessed through the solenoid behind the front panel.

Design problems with these safes fell into two main categories. They nearly all had keypads set into rubber or plastic fittings that could be pried or peeled up, exposing holes into the interior of the locking mechanisms. At the very least, there would be one hole allowing a cable to connect the keypad with the mechanism inside. These holes were easily exploited. Another shared characteristic was that none of the interior components of the locking mechanisms were arranged in ways to thwart probing with wires. If I couldn’t directly access a concealed reset button or a latch release, I could poke a solenoid with a paperclip or pull out wiring to actuate a locking mechanism from the outside. Finally, all the safes shared the characteristic of cheap construction, such as loose hinges, ill-fitted joints and extraneous holes.

“Manufacturers couldn’t care less,” Tobias says, “nor do they have any expertise in gun-safe design. It is all about money. That obviously trumps the safety and security of the consumer.” In April of 2012, Tobias contacted the Vice President of Marketing for a safe manufacturer and offered to go to Chicago and brief the engineering team on the design problems he and his colleague uncovered. They were uninterested in his input. The spokesman for Walmart was equally uninterested in hearing from Tobias about his concerns regarding the products they sold.

Gun owners need to understand that Chinese-made, battery-operated toys are being marketed to them as safes, and a series of governmental oversights in the United States have created an environment conducive to marketing these products. Four of the products I tested for this article are advertised as being approved by California’s Department of Justice (DOJ), meaning they meet California’s DOJ Regulatory Gun Safe Standards. The fact is cited on the manufacturer websites and on the boxes the safes come packaged in. Some of the websites even sport official-looking seals to draw attention to the California DOJ approval, though California has no official seal to designate this.

Figure_5-min

The California Department of Justice does not have an official emblem for safe’s they have tested or deemed safe by their standards so companies created their own versions giving their products a more official appearance. These are just some of the examples.

To get California DOJ approval for a handgun safe, a manufacturer submits four of a given model to be tested by a Certified FSD Laboratory that has been vetted by the DOJ. FSD means firearm safety device. The safe manufacturer must also provide the name and model number of the device, a description of the device, a description of the product’s intended use, including a description of how to operate the product safely, and the type, make, or model of firearm(s) the device is designed for. The safe must also meet California’s gun-safe standards, which is easy to do.

 

Testing procedures are outlined in California’s Penal Code, Chapter 6, Section 4095. All tests are intended to replicate forces exerted through the use of common household tools — like screwdrivers and paperclips — for approximately ten minutes. In addition to describing the conditions under which tests are performed (at temperatures between 16 and 27 degrees Celsius, with a primed case installed in a locked firearm, etc.), the statute describes a long series of tests to be performed on gunlocks. Only subsection (e) of the statute describes tests for what it calls lock-box-type devices that can completely contain and enclose a firearm. They’re dropped on a concrete slab. They’re dropped from a height of one meter and one centimeter with the locking mechanism facing up, and with the locking mechanism facing down.

Figure_2-min

California DOJ gun-safe certification guidelines only test the security value by dropping the safe from a height of 101 centimeters with a firearm inside.

Following these examinations, the lab submits testing results to California’s DOJ, which performs no additional tests. Upon approval, the device is listed on California’s Roster of Approved Firearms Safety Devices. The manufacturer is then free to cite the approval on product packaging — complete with official-looking seal.

One problem with this process, which Tobias has commented on in his writing, is that California’s DOJ Regulatory Gun Safe Standards do not address methods of covert entry or mechanical bypass techniques. Another glaring problem is that Certified FSD Laboratories are set up to test gunlocks, not safes. The tests performed on locks are done to specific purpose (for example, manipulating cylinders to determine how resistant they are to picking), the dropping of so-called lock-box-type devices is done to no specific purpose. A device is simply deemed to have failed the dropping test if it is disabled, if the firearm is made functional or if the firearm discharges the primed case during the test.

Obviously, the word disabled could meaning anything, including that a lock box is rendered inaccessible by being stuck closed, in which case security is no longer an issue. Furthermore, a modern center-fire handgun won’t discharge when dropped from a height of one meter, so dropping a lockbox with a center-fire handgun inside tells an examiner nothing. All of which is to say that California’s Penal Code, Chapter 6, Section 4095, is inadequate to address safes and is outdated by over two decades.

Figure_1-min

It required very little effort to compromise several models of gun safes.

To complicate matters for the consumer, manufacturers of portable handgun cases often claim their devices meet Transportation Security Administration guidelines. Yet the Firearms and Ammunition guidelines established by the TSA also make no mention of covert entry. According to TSA guidelines, “Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.” The phrase “pulled open with little effort” is the only language in the guidelines that might be construed to address unauthorized entry, forced or otherwise. Since TSA does not endorse products (or services, or entities), responsibility is left to manufacturers to decide — or to make the claim, anyway — that their products are TSA compliant.

California’s DOJ Gun Safe Standards and TSA’s Firearms and Ammunition guidelines are easy enough to satisfy that, for manufacturers of cheap safes, they’ve become inadvertent marketing ploys. That manufacturers of these products know nothing about security doesn’t prevent them from seeking California DOJ approval, or from invoking TSA Firearms and Ammunition guidelines if they think they can get away with it. Who can deny the incentive? The gun owner market is a specialty market rife with gadgets and gear, and toy handgun safes are good money.

One can argue the semantics of what constitutes a “lock box” or a “safe,” but that won’t change the situation. Toy safes are being foisted on gun owners, people who’ve taken upon themselves the responsibility of owning firearms. Any effort to take that responsibility seriously by securing a gun in a device like the ones I tested would be undermined by the device itself. This means the gun owner who is looking for a small handgun safe has few choices. Fort Knox and V-Line make handgun safes with pushbutton mechanical locks. These are sturdy and have few of the weaknesses I found in other safes, but they could be better. The gun owner market is still waiting for the handgun safe that gun owners deserve. ASJ

Posted in Just Plinking Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,