Shooting Accessories Archives -
February 20th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Having compensators on pistols is not exactly new. Competitors have been porting pistols for a very long time. Go look at any open division pistol in USPSA or IPSC. However, since the Roland Special came out, we have seen an increasing trend in compensators for Glocks. This has led to companies like Archon Mfg to make compensators. As a fan of compensated pistols, I got the opportunity to check out their Glock compensator.

Compensating For Something

For those who have not had the pleasure of shooting a compensated pistol, You are missing out. With a good comp design, the gasses help mitigate muzzle climb and recoil.

Archon Mfg’s take on their compensator is actually different than their competitors. While many other comps do screw onto a threaded barrel, Archon’s comp does not require thread locker or set screws against the threaded barrel. Instead, they split the female threads and have two screws on either side. So all you need to do is screw the comp onto the barrel, then time it to the right position and tighten the two screws so the comp clamps onto the barrel.

One added benefit to a comp on a Glock is that now your weapon lights don’t get coated in muzzle blast residue. Most of the gasses are going out the sides and top. Very little of it is blowing down to the light.

One minor issue is what threaded barrel you use. I am using a Lone Wolf Gen5 Glock 19 threaded barrel. Some threaded barrels have different lengths.

The gap between the Glock Comp and your slide will vary due to variations in barrel length on aftermarket barrels.

This is as close as I could get the Archon comp onto the G19X with the LW barrel. Notice there is a gap and the rounded corners of the Gen 5 disrupt the look. If I used a Gen4 or lower Gen Glock, the aesthetics where the slide meets the comp would look better.

Archon Comp, It’s Not Just For Glocks

While their compensator was designed for the Glock pistol, it is not limited to just the Glocks. You can mount this compensator onto any pistol with a threaded barrel.

Beretta 92A1 with Archon Mfg Comp

Sig Sauer P938 with Archon Mfg Comp

Does It Actually Do Anything?

Archon Comp redirecting gasses

So I am a bit spoiled as my benchmark for compensated pistols is my STI Steel Master race gun. It is the flattest and softest shooting 9mm handgun I own or have ever shot. So how does the Archon Mfg compensator compare? It is not in the same league. Is the disparity just from the compensator design? I don’t think so. The STI Steel Master is a purpose-built race gun. It was designed to run compensated. Adding a compensator to a pistol does not mean it is a race gun now. Just like adding a spoiler to a car does not make it a race car. So does the Archon comp work? Yes. There is an appreciable difference with the comp than without.

Take a look at the video below. It is a side by side comparison of the Glock 19X with and without the compensator. The left side has the Archon comp and the right side does not. Both shots you can see there is still muzzle climb. However, pay close attention to the position of the 19X after the recoil. The gun is physically higher and I have to bring the gun back down on target. With the compensator, the 19X does not jump as high and is quicker to bring back on target for the next shot.


The difference is very noticeable on smaller guns like my Sig P938. I think it is because the barrel is so much shorter and there are more gasses to make the comp work better. Just like a spoiler, you need more air/gas for them to be effective. In open division pistols, shooters typically load hotter rounds just so there is more gas to act on their compensators.


Is It Perfect?

No, it is not. But it is pretty good. The best part is their split design. It was very easy to swap between guns and since there is no set screw, the threaded barrels are not messed up. The overall length of the Archon compensator is a bit long.

  • Precision machined from 7075 Billet Aluminum
  • Type III Hardcoat AnAnodizedlack
  • Weight: 0.9 oz.
  • Dimensions: W: 1.000″ L: 1.375″ H: .800″

Mounting it onto a Glock 19 gives the overall length similar to a Glock 34. I would have preferred a Glock 17 profile as holsters would be easier to find. Luckily I have my holster for my Glock 35 and this fits perfectly.

One idea I had would be to alter their design so that the compensator does not need a threaded barrel. They could get a batch of long barrels and mill a slot on either side. Similar to the KAC Hush Puppy Beretta barrel. Reposition the set screws to line up with those slots and now you have a compensator/barrel set up for states that ban threaded barrels on handguns.

The Archon Mfg Glock compensator is quite affordable at just $69.99. Check out their website for more info.

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

February 20th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

After posting up the article about the Unique AR’s self-adjusting grip, Unique AR reached out and asked if I wanted to review their Unique Grip. I was intrigued by this grip and wanted to see what it could do.

Unique Grip Modularity

As advertised the grip does adjust to your hand. You just loosen the set screw at the bottom and grab the grip. The grip is divided into two sections of shifting plates, the front and back. Grabbing the grip closes the shifting plates and the grip changes its shape to fit your hand.

However, you don’t always have to just grab the grip. You can push or pull sections to shift your hand position in relation to the trigger.

Look at the grip set up below. I left the rear section of shifting plates to reposition my hand rearward.

Unique grip showing the plates in the wrong position.

I made a mistake and the Unique grip plates had rotated 180 degrees so the top plate was in the wrong position.

Depending on your grip shape, the plates approximate the curvature. In some extreme cases, there will be gaps where the curve is not as smooth.

This is as small as the Unique Grip plates can collapse on itself.

The set screw is actually the same screw you use to mount the grip to the AR lower. When adjusting and setting the grip you can actually twist the grip and get some interesting angles.

If you loosen the set screw enough, you can rotate the shifting plates 90 degrees to the grip. You can see that the plates are hollow and inside are a series of rubber tubes. The tubes are what provides resistance and what allows the plates to expand when the set screw is released. You are basically squeezing the plates to squish those tubes. It is somewhat like a hand grip exerciser tool attached to your AR.

Issues With The Grip

There is one issue I have with the Unique Grip and it is how I prefer to grip my ARs. I like to choke up on the grip and get my hand position as high as possible. This is a problem for me due to the gap between the trigger guard and the grip.

See where my middle finger sits? There is a hard 90-degree angle between the grip and trigger guard. No amount of shifting grip plates will fix this problem.

I thought maybe this might be an issue with my Salient lower so I tried a different lower.My Troy Carbine lower is mil-spec and the problem is still there.

The other problem is that now I am engaging only 2/3s of the grip. Take a look at my hand position below. Notice where my pinky finger rests, it is just below the middle of the grip. There are six plates that I am not even using my hand.

Since my middle finger sits in that 90-degree corner, then only my ring finger and pinky finger are engaging with the grip.

Another issue to be aware of is the top of the grip that slides over the lower receiver. The ears of the grip may be tight and need coercion to fit on your AR lower. It appears the grip I was sent was slightly warped out of the mold and made the ears of the grip a little too narrow. You can see in the photo below how the gap between the ears is narrower than the ridge in the lower.  But since it is polymer it was not too difficult to force the grip on the lower, it just took a bit more effort than I am used to with other grips.

Final Evaluation

I was hoping the Unique Grip would be more modular than it is. Since the plates can shift position, I naively hoped that I could change the angle of the grip. Sadly that is not the case. I found the Unique Grip interesting but it does not fit my needs and shooting style. I did not have any issues shooting my AR with the Unique Grip, however, I prefer a different angle since I like to have the AR closer to my body. I normally have a more vertical angled grip and find it to be more ergonomic for how I shoot. As I mentioned above, my hand position makes the Unique Grip not that useful for me.The grip is advertised as comfortable but I found certain shapes to be rough and not that comfortable. this usually occurs when there are drastic changes in plate position. With a big enough shift between two plates, you can get a considerable gap which accents the hard corners of the shifting plates.

Looking at the way the grip is designed, I don’t see why they could not have shortened the top section and brought the shifting plates closer to the trigger guard and eliminate that hard 90-degree corner.  When the Unique Grip was announced it was advertised to cost $95. This is no longer the case and the grip is now $65 on Unique AR’s website.  I suppose if you have large hands, then the Unique Grip maybe for you, but as it is, I don’t find it to be all that useful to me. Your mileage may vary.

Edit: I reached out to Unique AR and they addressed the issues I had. Here is what Unique AR’s Founder Jim Corbet said.

Hey Nick,

Thanks for taking a look at our grips.  We truly appreciate any and all feedback.   The upper part of the grip that slides onto the receiver should be tight the tighter the better but it should not be difficult to put on. we are are working on making sure the quality control inspections are catching anything like the upper grip tolerance being too tight.  We have the injection molders do an initial inspection and we have our assembly and packaging staff do a final inspection.  Unfortunately, it seems we have had a couple of grips that are tight sneak through our final inspection.  We believe we have that completely rectified and we will not ship any more components like that.
As to the slider being closer to the trigger guard, we had to make some engineering decisions that precluded us from getting them to be any closer.  The primary concern was the large variety of lowers that have various size trigger guards.  We had to decide that it was better to have slightly less adjustability at that point of the grip and fit on every receiver then to have full adjustability and not fit on some receivers.  I wish we had a way to accommodate both.  We worked on this particular problem for quite some time trying to devise the best solution and we feel that overall this was the best way to go.  We have found that relaxing your middle finger slightly while adjusting the grip if you have all the way on the trigger guard that it will form a more comfortable shape.

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

February 8th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

As much as I love my silencers, I still end up wearing some sort of hearing protection when shooting. Without rehashing a topic we’ve discussed multiple times in the past, hearing-safe doesn’t always mean no hearing protection required. As a general rule, using subsonic ammo in many hosts can mean dropping the muffs or plugs. Supersonic ammo, on the other hand almost always requires additional protection – much like a trip to Bangkok in the 80’s. Today, we will take a look at the M31 EARMOR electronic hearing protection from OPSMEN.




The debate over ‘plugs vs muffs’ has been around for years. And while some research shows that earplugs can be more effective than muffs in reducing damaging noises, combining the two gives you the benefit of an added safety net during training. Most electronic hearing protection I have experience with can be used in conjunction with foam or silicone earplugs.

The OPSMEN M31 EARMOR comes neatly packaged in a cardboard retail box. My unit came shipped directly from its country of origin: China. Some buyers may take issue with Chinese-made products, however, keep in mind the iPhone or Android device that is likely in your hand or pocket was made and assembled in the same country.







The M31 is made from think polycarbonate plastics and seems generally well made. My test unit had a small spot of glue left from the manufacturing process attached to the outside of the shell. It wiped away cleanly with just the pad of my thumb.

The controls on the M31 are intuitive and large enough for manipulation with gloved hands. The middle button is power on/off, the forward button decreases the amplification and the rear button increases amplification. Pushing the buttons results in an audible beep in the headset, which I thought was a nice touch at this price point.



The battery compartments open with a quarter turn counterclockwise; the unit uses two AAA batteries. It is recommended that the batteries be removed when the unit is not in use which is common with devices like night vision and optics where the risk of damage due to corrosive batteries exists.



The battery port doors and the retention straps seem a little light for being an integral part of the unit. But a few months of range time will determine its overall durability – I’ll keep you posted. The head strap is pushed on to the muffs and held by friction nubs (Friction Nubs is a registered trademark of Pete @ TFB) which could be a failure point, but the overall construction of the M31 is stout, so I’m not sure that I am concerned. Again, hopefully, I’ll be able to come back at the end of spring with a longer-term review.


After the batteries are installed, everything else is pretty straightforward: press the ‘+’ button to increase amplification; press the ‘-‘ to decrease amplification. The power button turns the unit on and off.



OPSMEN has included an aux-in jack and cable allowing for the addition of outside audio sources. There is no dedicated mic, however, so if you are planning on narrating your 3-Gun match on Snapchat look elsewhere. OPSMEN does have another model that incorporates a headset mic if you need radio comms.





The foam insert is comfortable as is the rings that fit around the ear self. The head strap form-fits to the head and I didn’t sense any impeding fatigue. Besides shooting, I used the M31’s while using standard garage power tools without issue.



The M31 touts “360-degree” hearing amplification and voice isolation. Without sensitive measurement devices, I’m not sure how to quantify its performance. I did feel that the amplification was more than adequate on normal levels with some background my opinion, this unit on par with other electronic hearing protection I have owned that costs twice as much as the M31 EARMOR.




Although I have only fielded the OPSMEN M31 EARMOR for a few weeks, I will be following up with a longer-term review as the shooting season progresses. Right now, I feel that the M31 is a low-risk, high reward investment – for $40 you really can’t go wrong if it continues to perform at a level that my test unit has displayed.

Additional details, specifications, links, and pricing can be found below.



Product Link:

  • Low profile cup design
  • Noise reduction rating + NRR22
  • Amplifies low-level sounds
  • Suppresses harmful noise above 82 dB
  • EMI/RFI shielding increased RF immunity for EMI environment
  • Conformable ear cushions for tight seal
  • 3mm thick high-impact resistant polycarbonate shell
  • Comes with 3.5mm AUX audio input cable for media devices
  • Dynamic voice tracking, improve speech intelligibility
  • Foldable for storage and protection
  • IPX-5 water resistant
  • Runs on 2 x 1.5V AAA batteries, approx. 350 hours of operation
  • 4 hours auto shut-off mechanism
  • Tested and approved in accordance with CE/RoSH/ANSI S3.19-1974Standards/EN352-1:2002/EN352-4:2001/A1:2005/EN352-5:2002/A1:2005/EN352-6:2002/FCC
  • $39.99

Order on Amazon here – affiliate link to support TFB.

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

February 7th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

When it comes to typical range shooting and training, almost nothing beats the ring of a steel target when that bullet hits it’s mark. So while punching paper for those clover leaf groups is cool, practicing techniques like body armor drills is much more useful with proper steel. I started doing my research on quality target kits about six months ago and came up with a few solutions: today we take a look at the Complete Target Solutions – AKA CTS Targets – ABC ZONE AR500 Silhouette.

I. Introduction:

Before we dive in, I think it would be useful to talk about steel and its use in firearm targets. Despite what Hollywood action movies tell us, not all steel is created equal when it comes to bullet resistance. So without getting into the weeds of metallurgy and materials science – steel composition, manufacturing processes, heat treating and other techniques all contribute to a steel’s hardness. Again, as an oversimplification, hardness in terms of steel refers to its resistance to deformation when an amount of force is applied.

Levels of deformation (indentation) are what target (and armor) manufacturers use to determine what rounds in which their targets are rated. When it comes to centerfire rounds, that is commonly called AR500 steel, a trademarked designation. There are other levels of steel used in the manufacturing of targets – AR400, AR300, etc, some of which are used on rimfire-only targets.

A. AR500 Steel:

  • AR500 refers to the hardness of steel on the Brinell Scale. Using a 10mm* steel or tungsten carbide ball at 3000 kilograms of force, the indentation hardness is tested and measured. The 500 in AR500 is referring to a 500 on the Brinell Scale – the higher the number, the higher the hardness. * 10mm fans will love this little fact. 

B. SAFETY BRIEFING – (Read the CTS FAQ here):

  • Eye protection is a requirement for all shooters and bystanders.
  • Steel Shooting Rating: Overall guidelines for minimum shooting distance is 15 yards for pistol and 100 yards for rifle.
  • 3/8” thick plates can handle projectiles hitting plate under 2,700 fps up to 30.06 but if you’re careful and drastically increase the distance you can use higher calibers.

Long story made short, when shopping for steel targets, always read the manufacturers ratings for ammunition calibers, types, and standoff distances. Failure to heed the warnings can result in injury or death to the shooter or bystanders.

II. Unboxing And Setup:

I was extremely impressed with the way CTS fit all the steel pieces, neatly wrappped into a compact shipping pack. Being nearly indestructible metal, it would have been easy to toss the whole kit haphazardly into a box and send it on its way. But the CTS Target ABC Zone Silhouette showed up in a normal size shipping box packed like clever origami. Heavy, but normal.

The ABC target kit came complete in three basic sections:

  • The Silhouette
  • The Pro Hanger
  • The X Ground Base

You’ll need to provide the following tools and supplies:

  • Box wrench set/socket set/channel locks.
  • 2×4 approximately three feet in length

Estimated setup time: 20 minutes


Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

The proper use of most steel targets involves the angling of the target face down towards the ground slightly in front of the target base. This ensures that the bullet deflection is down and into the soft dirt or sand rather than another angle that could cause dangerous ricochets.

In the case of the CTS Target, the Pro Hanger is held at a distance out and away from the stand, with an attachment point 2/3’s of the way up the silhouette. The kit also includes a heavy-duty spring that acts as a dampener as well as keeping the target face slightly forward.


1. Run the bolt through the hole in the target face.

2. On the back, drop on the heavy duty green spring.


Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

3. Now drop on the Pro Hanger

4. And thread the nut onto the bolt


Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

5. Now align all four parts of the X Ground Base so that the “claws” are curving into the ground and the bolt holes all line up with each other.

6. Thread the bolts through the two right side “feet”, through the stand and then through the left side feet.

7. Tighten the two X Ground Stand bolts as needed


2×4 X Ground Base – Installation

8. Drop a 2×4 into the ground base and use the finger screw to hold it in place.

  • The height of the 2×4 should be about chest high, but know your range, if you are shooting on a downward slope, you may want a shorter setup and the reverse for an upward slope.

9. Drop the hanger on to the 3’ 2×4 and use the finger screw to hold it in place.

10. You’re done.

The included instructions were complete, although minimal – but honestly, if the pieces showed up without any guidance at all, most competent shooters could still assemble the kit without issue.

III. Observations:

The CTS kit is very well made, with precision cuts, rounded edges and powder coating to prevent corrosion. The hardware is not off-the-shelf big box, but instead grade 8* bolts, which is important because they hold static loads, endure dynamic impact forces and possibly direct bullet impacts. If I had to guess, the complete setup weighs in at about 50lbs, divided in half (top and bottom) for transport, is heavy but manageable.

Credit: Bolt Depot – Proof Load, min. Yield Strength, min. Tensile Strength

Everything else was straightforward and intuitive, making it time to ring the bell.


CTS TARGETS: ABC Zone Rifle Steel Silhouette


Pro Target Hanger


Pro Target Hanger

CTS Targets

2×4 X Ground Base

CTS Targets

ABC Zone Rifle Steel Target


ABC Zone Rifle Steel Target

As expected, 9mm bullet impacts only removed the powder coating. My hope is that CTS will allow me to keep the ABC Zone Silhouette target for a few more months so that I can bring you a long term report on resistance to rifle rounds and other calibers.


From the packaging to delivery, to set up and shooting, CTS does an excellent job of presenting the shooting community with a high-quality steel target. Obviously, there are a handful of other steel target manufacturers to choose from and we might get a chance for some comparisons, but as it stands, my CTS  experience was overwhelmingly positive and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their products.

Specifications, details, and pricing are listed below,


CTS competition grade AR500 targets. Designed for the competitive shooter and weekend plinker alike! This laser cut, heavy duty, reversible target is designed for years of use The ABC Zone target is adapted from the standard IPSC silhouette to cover only the A, B and C scoring zones. Made of 3/8” AR500 steel to last and with an audible feedback that will not disappoint. Simply apply a fresh coat of spray paint for a new target every time.


  • 3/8” AR500 Steel Construction
  • Laser Cut for Improved Hardness Retention
  • IPSC A, B and C scoring zones
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • Dimensions: 12”x24”x3/8”
  • 24lbs


The CTS X Ground Base is an excellent option for those looking for a wide, sturdy base for their steel targets. This stand is great for the shooter looking for a mobile target set up or has ground not suitable to pound spikes. It pairs perfectly with our 2×4 Pro Hanger for an ideal steel setup.


  • Heavy Duty Powder Coat Finish
  • Thick Mild Steel Construction
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • Accepts Standard 2×4 Lumber
  • Dimensions: Approx. 22”x25”


The CTS 2×4 Pro Hanger is the perfect accessory for your CTS targets. The hanger is designed to hold a steel target at a slight angle to deflect bullet splatter downward. The spring assembly helps absorb some of the energy of your bullets reducing wear on your target. Pairs perfectly with the CTS Spike Base or Ground Base.


  • Holds Target at Slight Downward Angle
  • Heavy Duty Powder Coat Finish
  • All Steel Construction
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • ½” Grade 8 Bolt
  • Steel Spring for Impact Absorption
  • Includes:
  • Hanger, grade 8 bolt, steel spring, lock nut and set knob.

Coupon: CTS was nice enough to give TFB readers a discount on your entire CTS order. Use TFB15 at checkout when ordering

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