There are more accessories available for the FN SCAR platform out today than ever. Thanks to many different companies including Kinetic Development Group. KDG makes the MREX rail for SCARs and now ARs, the ACR stock assembly for SCARs, and many other cool gadgets that are all well thought out, designed and manufactured. All made in the US of A. AXTS is well known for their Raptor AR charging handles and Talon Safety Selectors for the AR platform. Now the two companies collaborated to come up with a Talon selector for the SCAR platforms.
I had a minor role and got involved with the KDG/AXTS Talon SCAR selector by being in the right place at the right time. Owning a SCAR helped out. David Reeder from Recoil Magazine contacted me through a mutual friend and asked if Recoil could borrow my SCAR 17s for a quick photo shoot. Of course I said yes!
After sitting in traffic for a ridiculous amount time for the few miles I needed to travel (something that David got to experience in his time in SoCal) I met with the guys at Recoil headquarters. They’re all down to earth and extremely friendly, they even gave me some frozen Caribou that Iain Harrison had shot months before for an article on hunting. They took my SCAR and returned it a few days later with the SCAR Talon selector installed and a bunch of Recoil magazines and shooting targets. The set I got had the regular sized selector on the left side and a short sized selector on the right. Both had the black finish.
Immediately I started to function test it and found it extremely easy to manipulate with my thumb and best of all, my trigger finger. In my experience with the different selectors I’ve had on my SCAR, these are hands down the best. I didn’t really care for the stock selectors so I replaced those with Parker Mountain Machine metal selectors which were an improvement and well made. I have small and short fingers so I still found it a bit difficult to use my trigger finger to manipulate the selector on that side. Unlike the stock and the PMM selectors, which just replace the switches, the Talon Selector replaces the entire drum and holds the switches via detent springs. This makes it easy to switch out without any allen wrenches or tools. Another feature is that they can go 90° like a standard AR for those who prefer it that way. I kept mine at 45°.
There’s my SCAR in the latest issue of Recoil Magazine!
A few weeks later I got in some range time and shot my SCAR with the new Talons, manipulating them with every possible way and it was easily done. Here’s a video of my range testing: https://youtu.be/mmQzEckeLpw
In my opinion, the KDG/AXTS SCAR Talon selectors are the best aftermarket selectors available for this platform and will work on both 16’s and 17’s. I now want a set for my M6A2! They come in FDE or Black and should be available at www.kineticdg.com for $79-$89. I don’t know when they’ll be in stock but I believe it’ll be soon.
This post is to help all of the new shooters decide which handgun would be perfect for them to purchase for self-defense purposes. Let’s start with the Four Rules of Gun safety:
1.All guns are always loaded. (Treat them like they are)
2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot).
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
I have been asked a lot from friends and family members recently for this particular type of advice. This comes after the Paris and San Bernardino Terrorist Attacks. Those that were on the fence about gun ownership have decided that now is the time to obtain the right tool for the job: a firearm.
First I would like to recommend the caliber: 9mm. There’s a lot of reasons behind this:
It is easy to control recoil, making easier and fun to shoot and therefore you’ll shoot it more often. The ammunition is inexpensive compared to the bigger calibers. With the minimal recoil, there is less wear and tear on the weapon, making it more durable. For an actual self-defense role, it should be loaded with defensive ammunition and it will do it’s job well at stopping the threat.
Next would be the handgun size. It’s much easier to control a full size or compact handgun than a subcompact. The subcompact handguns recoil much more because of it’s shorter barrel and light weight. It’s just physics. The only reason to have a subcompact is for the purpose of carrying concealed. I still would suggest that you start with at least a compact sized handgun.
Lastly I highly recommend that you start with a striker fired pistol. The trigger pull is the same every time and you won’t have to learn different triggers. These pistols have less parts and are as simple as they can be: draw it, aim, and press the trigger. Under stress you don’t want to worry about whether your safety selector is on or off. This doesn’t make the pistols less safe. They have multiple safeties in place that will not fire unless the trigger is pressed. If you really want a manual safety there is a few models available for you.
Onto the make and models:
Glock is the most popular striker fired pistol and for good reason. They have great value and have the least amounts of parts and have a reputation for reliability and accuracy. As long as you practice and follow the gun safety rules, these guns are very safe. I mention the rules because you have to pull the trigger in order to disassemble the pistol.
The two Glocks I recommend are:
Glock 17 (Full Size)
Glock 19 (Compact)
The following pistols don’t require you to pull the trigger to field strip.
Smith & Wesson Military and Police series pistols are a newer version of reliable striker fired pistols that are a little more ergonomic than Glocks. They come with different sized back straps that you can interchange to fit your hand size. Some models have an optional frame safety.
The S&W models I recommend:
M&P9 (Full Size)
Springfield Armory XD’s are also nice striker fired pistols.
XD9 (Full Size)
The following are for those who are Full-time Peace Officers or non-California residents.
Heckler and Koch VP9 is currently my favorite pistol and happens to be my duty weapon. I wrote a review on it a few months ago and you can read it here:
Sig Sauer P320 (Full Size) & P320C (Compact) these pistols are fairly new and have a lot of features and a very nice trigger. I’m in the process of selling my P229 to buy a P320C.
As you can see, I am simplifying my weapons systems to striker fired pistols. Although I’m used to the DA/SA trigger pulls, it’s just so much easier to have the same trigger pull and never have to worry about decocking the hammer.
I hope this helps you make your decision on your first handgun/ pistol purchase. Do NOT think for a second that just because you have a firearm that you are safe from someone threatening your life! Firearms often give people a false sense of security. You must train and practice often to be able to operate it, let alone in a high stress environment (which will definitely be the case if your gun is out and drawn). I cannot stress enough that you seek professional training and practice dry firing and put in some range time as often as you can. Please be safe and if you have any questions at all, please leave a comment!
Trijicon has an excellent reputation in optics for all sorts of weapons systems. They’re known to be rugged and reliable.
The RX30 is a 1×42 6.5 MOA amber dot optic. It has been and still is the optic on my LWRC M6A2 5.56 rifle.
I remember why I choose to get the RX30 over an aimpoint when I was at the store many years ago. The first factor was cost. Back then the Aimpoint PRO didn’t exist. I didn’t have the budget for an Aimpoint plus a mount. I then picked up the RX30. It had a lot of features that I liked off the bat: it was more affordable and it came with a mount; it had a good field of view with a dot that was easy to find. The best feature I thought at the time was that it didn’t require any batteries, it uses tritium for low/no light environments and fiber optics to gather ambient lighting conditions to automatically self adjust it’s brightness. So I was sold and I still run with it on my rifle to this day.
All of the features sound great on paper, but in actual use over the years, I found some drawbacks with it as a system. None of it makes it a bad optic, it works well and holds zero. In almost everything you use, you will have to train with it and see how it works with you or how you can work around it. The RX30 is no different.
Let’s go over it’s drawbacks. First would be it’s 6.5 MOA dot. It’s perfect for quick acquisition and for close up shooting. I found that the dot size would obscure targets that were further away beyond a hundred yards. I’m confident that I can still send accurate shots further than 100-200 yards but to be honest, a smaller dot would work better with more precision.
The biggest drawback I found was the dot washing out. In certain conditions, the amber dot is not bright enough and therefore is washed out. There are two main conditions: the first is having the target area being brighter than where the shooter is. This happens if you’re under some shade or inside a building or structure while your target is under full day light. The second is in low/no light conditions when the dot is only illuminated by it’s tritium power source. When you use your weapon light, the dot will disappear; especially if you’re in your home.
It sounds like a big deal, but it isn’t. My work around is having my BUIS up at all times just in case the dot washes out.
Overall I’m satisfied with my RX30. It has been proven to be rugged and has held it’s zero ever since I zeroed it in years ago. I’m pretty rough with my weapons, I don’t abuse them but I don’t baby them or would care if they got dinged up. Remember that they are tools and not artifacts in a museum. This optic is a good combat optic and serves my needs well. I can quickly engage targets out to a few hundred yards. I don’t expect to engage targets further out with this weapon system, but I still could still fire rounds further if I had to with less accuracy.
With the different advancements in technology over the years, there are many different options available today that I would probably get instead of the RX30. The two that come to mind are the Aimpoint PRO, which comes with a mount and battery life of 3 years on a certain setting; and the Trijicon MRO that also comes with a mount and has an advertised battery life of 5 years. Both also have a 2 MOA dot. I have picked both of them up but have not shot with either so that’s the extent of my knowledge with those optics.
I get a lot of questions regarding body armor. I used to have those questions myself and it took a lot of research on my own to get the answers. There are many types and levels of body armor; each designed to counter a specific threat. The best body armor for you will be determined by what you are going to use it for. There’s a lot of information out there and I will do my best to explain it all in the simplest way I can. I am going to describe the different levels of body armor by what the threats they were made to defend against. Hopefully this will help you make an informed decision in what body will work for you. Please don’t rely solely on what I have to say, do some research on your own because you can’t have too much information on something that your life depends upon. Also, I’m not the know-all expert in this area, I’m just the end user who uses multiple levels of armor everyday and have done so for over a decade. All of these levels come from NIJ (National Institute of Justice) they are the ones that come up with each rating that is required at each level. You yourself have to decide on the mobility vs. protection level each has to offer; it is an issue that you have to figure out for yourself.
Sharp Threats (Knives)
Level I. (Soft Armor)
This level of body armor is not well known because you would only see it in jails and in prisons. It is used by jail deputies and Department Of Corrections officers and usually the higher risk response teams in these facilities. In jail or in prison, there isn’t a firearm threat, but the likelihood of a knife or shank is very high. This body armor is light and usually thin (half as thick as ballistic body armor) but it will stop a sharp object from penetrating. That’s where the protection ends, it will not stop any ballistic threat. When I say ballistic I mean bullets and threats from firearms.
Handgun Threats (pistol caliber)
Level II (Soft Armor)
This is the first level of protection to defeat a ballistic threat coming from handguns. Most Peace Officers are issued this type of body armor. This includes .22lr 9mm to .45 ACP. Level is limited to certain velocities coming from different calibers that usually include magnum rounds. Magnum rounds are more powerful than standard rounds by being heavier bullets with a lot more gun powder behind them meaning they go a lot faster. These rounds may defeat this level of body armor.
Level IIIA (Soft Armor)
This level covers almost all handgun threats where Level II protection ends. This is the highest level of protection that comes from soft body armor. It is more resistant to ballistic threats coming from handguns by have more layers of Kevlar or Spectra etc. This level will stop everything level II and beyond to include .44 magnum to 12 gauge slugs (although it’ll stop a slug, it doesn’t mean that you’ll survive the trauma). This is the level of protection that I’m issued at work and I wear it every second I’m 10-8. Levels II and IIIA will not stop a sharp threat like Level I. This is why a knife threat to most Peace Officers is a deadly threat. So far all the levels above are soft armor and don’t offer much protection from blunt force trauma. They’re designed to keep a round or knife from penetrating it’s panels but expect some bruising or broken bones if you’re shot in your armor. To give yourself some better blunt force protection, you can get a hard trauma plate. I have a hard plate in my vest that will actually stop handgun rounds by itself and do a lot more to keep the blunt force trauma at a minimum.
Photo Credit: Muzzle Flash Media
Level IIIA (Hard Armor)
This comes in the form of ballistic helmets. It is the highest level of protection that is available today with the technology of body armor where it is. The military is working on a Level IV helmet but they are trying to get it light enough to be worn. Even though it wasn’t designed to stop rifle rounds, there have been a few cases where soldiers have been very lucky with a helmet stopping an 7.62×39 round. The technology has gone a long way by making the helmets lighter.
None of the levels above are rated for rifle threats. Rifle rounds are usually pointed and have higher velocities that double or even triple that of pistol rounds.
Level III (Hard Armor)
Yes this gets a little confusing for some. This is III, not IIIA and is the basic rifle protection that is the most prevalent type and level to face this threat. They come in the form of hard plates that are inserted into plate carriers. There are a lot of manufacturers that make these plates and each have their own capabilities. Level III is rated to stop most rifle caliber up to .308 or 7.62×51 excluding AP (Armor Piercing) rounds. There are three main types of Level III Hard Plate armor: Steel, Ceramic and Dyneema. Each has it’s own pro’s and con’s:
Pro’s: the most affordable option. Will stop most threat without a lot of deformation, giving more blunt force protection. It is capable of stopping multiple hits.
Con’s: it’s heavy with most plates weighing in at 7+ pounds per plate! Depending on the type of cover, Steel plates are known to spall or deflect rounds. Some companies have taken care of this problem by applying special coatings on their plates that take care of this issue.
Pro’s: it does a good job at keeping blunt force trauma by breaking in the process of getting hit. It’s also affordable, although not as inexpensive as steel plates. Sometimes lighter than steel.
Con’s: some are as heavy as steel plates. Most Ceramic plates won’t stop multiple hits because it breaks when hit. Since it is brittle in nature, its is very fragile and can crack if dropped.
Pro’s: it’s light weight, with some plates weighing less than 4 pounds! It will stop multiple rounds. It is durable and not prone to cracking.
Con’s: these plates are usually the most expensive per plate because of it being light weight. They might be degraded by high temperatures, I have seen some research that states this but it is more prevalent to level II soft dyneema armor failing at point blank distances. I haven’t seen or read anywhere where a level III dyneema hard plate failed due to heat.
Some of these plates will exceed the Level III rating but for AP threats, we move onto the highest level.
Armor Piercing Rifle Threats.
Level IV (Hard Armor)
This is the highest level of protection from any type of armor available today with technology where it is at. This comes in two types, but mainly it is in the form of Ceramic plates. Like I said earlier, some level III Steel plates will stop these AP threats even though they aren’t rated for them. The Ceramic plates are heavy at this level but it is to my knowledge the only option available for this threat.
My armor. I have a lot of body armor that I personally own. I have a retired level IIIA vest that stays in my trunk. In addition, I have two plate carriers: a Level III (dyneema) that is at work with me; a Level IV (ceramic) that lives in my trunk. I have three surplus ballistic helmets: an old PASGT Kevlar helmet (from desert storm), two ACH’s (Advanced Combat Helmets) the current ballistic helmets that are available today. I have one at work and one in my trunk. I will do a separate post later on helmets.
All of these armor systems have a service life, (most 5 years) but I can’t afford to keep replacing my plates and armor so I keep them in use. They should still function regardless of their expiration dates.
Beware of where you buy your armor. I personally do not buy any armor that isn’t made in the USA nowadays. There’s a lot of Chinese made knock offs that have poor quality control and I wouldn’t trust my life with those products. Again you get what you pay for, how much is your life worth?
I hope everyone had a safe and Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!
My last post of 2015 focused on being very efficient with the weapons that you own. This post is about your personal knowledge of the many different weapon systems that are out there and why you should have that knowledge.
Weapons have been around since the beginning of time and they have improved drastically over time. This is especially true with firearms. Firearms technology has advanced quite a bit; starting out with single shot pistols and muskets that had a rate of fire at 7 shots per minute if the shooter was good to miniguns that fire 4,000 per minute.
Me shooting with my first AR15 many years ago.
Firearms today, in my opinion, is advancing on at a similar rate with computer technologies. It’s hard to keep up sometimes but it’s a hobby and a huge area of interest for me.
Firearms are as diverse as there are people because people are their creators. You can see that in each modern firearm, there are traces of lineage of you will, of features that go way back in time.
With this, there are many different weapons systems in existence. Most gun owners may own just one firearm and know only how to operate that one. There’s nothing wrong with that. If they know how to use it and it works for them, perfect. That’s not me however. I have several different types of weapon systems because each of them was designed for a specific purpose. I don’t own firearms just for the fun of it, although they are fun to have; they are tools that I will use to defend my family, myself and others from anyone who wants to harm them whether it be a criminal, terrorists it doesn’t matter.
It is widely known that members of our special forces units train with as many different weapon systems as they can and usually fire thousands of rounds through each system in order to familiarize themselves with weapons that they might come across in the battlefield. This is important knowledge for them because they’re usually deep inside enemy territory without backup or resupply and may have to pick up a enemy weapon to continue the mission.
This knowledge isn’t just useful for special operations units; it’s also very critical for Law Enforcement Officers as well as civilians whether they have CCW or not. Think about it. Although it’s more prevalent today than ever that LEO’s are issued patrol rifles, most LEO’s still only carry a pistol on their person and their long guns are either in a rack or the trunk of their unit. An off-duty officer and citizens who carry concealed only have a single pistol on their person, most likely a compact/subcompact pistol or revolver and hopefully with a few spare mags. If you’re one of the above or even a unarmed civilian, you really don’t have a lot of firepower or any at all.
Firing a friend’a AR15 with an ACOG
Firing an AK47 type rifle a few weeks ago.
Now put yourself in a critical scenario that is all too common unfortunately: an active shooter/terrorist attack. These mass murderers or terrorists usually are armed with a long gun of some sort, usually an AR15/AK47 semi automatic rifle. The pistol that you’re carrying is obviously no match against these weapon systems so your best chance at survival is to get out of the “X” or the target zone. If you’re law enforcement, you don’t have a choice but to move in. If you can’t get away, you’re going to have no choice but to fight or die taking it in lying down. You already know what I’ll do. I’m going to fight or die fighting. Hopefully I won’t lose my life but I’m never going down without a fight. If you’re able to take out of the shooters with your pistol, you’re probably running low or are out of ammunition. Now it’s time to even up the odds a bit by picking up the dead shooters weapons and magazines and move to take out the remaining shooters. Now isn’t a great time to figure out how that weapon system works; its time to reload that mag and go to work. I was taught in the academy to never use a suspect’s weapon because you may not know what condition it is in. If the shooter was shooting and killing innocent people with this weapon, I’m pretty sure I know it works so throw that stupid SOP out the window and go get the job you signed up for done!
Now what’s the best way to get familiar with different weapons systems without spending a fortune buying all of them? The answer isn’t playing Call of Duty or anyone of those first person shooter games, I will say that they do show with some degree of accuracy how to reload the weapons. I’d say to start, you could watch training videos, there’s a ton of videos on YouTube that are useful, I like to watch Vickers Tactical and hickock45 for my research. Nothing compares to having the real weapon in your hands so you can fully manipulate it and it’d be even better to shoot with it so you can see how the sights work and how the weapon recoils. Many gun ranges have rentals that you can try out. If you have friends who shoot, chances are they will have different weapons than the ones you own and vice versa, have a range day and shoot each other’s weapons and share the knowledge. If you at least know how to load, fire and reload a certain weapon system, you’re much better off than not knowing. It’s some more knowledge to throw in your tactical tool box. I’m not going to go into each and every system out there, that’s your job. What I suggest would be to familiarize yourself with these types of weapons: semiautomatic pistols, pump action shotguns, semiautomatic rifles AR15’s and AK types. These are the most commonly used weapons by these cowards who attack innocent civilians, let’s turn it around on them and take them out before they can do more harm.