SOLO: Lynx Defense Rifle Bag

Lynx Defense Rifle Bag in FDE

Lynx Defense sent out their latest rifle bags, the Solo for me to review. It just became available in FDE, which is right up my alley.

Single Rifle Bag
The original Single Rifle Bag. Lynx Defense/Facebook.

It takes over from their Single Rifle Bag. It was designed to hold a 16″ AR-15 with a collapsible stock. They are 100% made in Selma, NC, in the US of A, which I applaud them for doing because of how difficult it is to accomplish, especially in the tactical nylon business. Most companies outsource labor to cut costs. Having a USA made product supports fellow hard-working Americans and keeps our economy and industry strong.

Open Lynx Defense Rifle Bag with rifle

My Solo Rifle Bag came with a Certificate of Authenticity with initials from the person who sewed it, inspected it, did the final quality check, and then signed by Michael Savage, the President. It brings a very personal touch and connection to everyone involved with working on the end product, which you are about to use and, in this case, something you are trusting to protect your expensive hardware. I also appreciate certificates of authenticity in the products I use because it shows that the people behind it put a lot of care and pride into what they make.

Front of the Lynx Defense Solo

I usually run double rifle bags so I can carry more guns with me to the range. I never really thought much about having single rifle bags for that reason. After picking up the Solo Rifle Bag, I immediately felt and understood why having one is beneficial. This bag is deceiving because it is so much lighter than it looks, and it is a good-looking bag, too. The quality of materials and workmanship is quickly apparent throughout the bag. It is one of the nicest bags I have had.

Here are the Dimensions:

  • Length – 36″
  • Height – 12″
  • Width – 4″

It is very simplistic, with a nice black velcro ID panel in the center, below the carry handles. The panel has tan cross-stitching, which gives it a nice touch. Below that is a velcro-sealed admin pouch. To the left and right are bigger, zippered storage compartments.

Velcro panel of the Solo.

Onto the main compartment. The front panel has two zippered storage compartments that run the entire length inside and are split in the middle. The back panel is black velcro, similar to the exterior ID panel. There are three tan retention straps that will help keep your rifle stable.

On the back, there are D rings at each corner of the bag. There is a good amount of padding in every place in the Solo Rifle Bag, and it does so very well. there are no edges that get folded in or collapse at times. It is a very solidly designed and made bag. It does an excellent job at keeping your rifle safe from impacts, not that most rifles can’t handle being tossed around, but why not keep it in the best shape if you can, during transport?

Rifle secured in the Solo

There was one thing I really wish it had, and that would be having lockable zippers for the main compartment. I like to be able to lock the zipper. Even if small locks are easy to defeat or cut, it’s something that I prefer. I relayed this suggestion over to them for some feedback.

The bag is still very lightweight, even with my rifle inside. Carrying it is easy with the single carry handle. I do like to be able to have a single shoulder strap or two and wear it as a backpack. The straps for the present D rings will be available soon.

Back of the Lynx Defense Solo rifle bag

This bag is perfect for everyone who just needs to take one rifle with them to the range, as well as for Law Enforcement Officers and their Patrol Rifles if they carry them in their trunks.

The price of the Solo Rifle Bag starts at $299 with solid colors: Black, Tan (FDE), Wolf Grey, and Ranger Green. The prices go up to $359 for camo pattern colorways, depending on the specific pattern. There is Multicam Black and Tropic, Vietnam and Desert Tiger Stripe. I can see some out there asking why it is at that high of a price point. The answer to that is overall quality. That comes from quality materials, build quality, and attention to detail that is put into each bag, and done so with American labor. You get what you pay for, and I will say you will get your hard earned dollar’s worth with the Solo Rifle Bag.

Lynx Defense Rifle Bags in various colors
Lynx Defense Rifle Bags in available colors.

For more info, please visit

Nightstick SFL – An Excellent Shotgun Forend Light Option

Nightstick SFL – An Excellent Shotgun Forend Light Option

Mounting lights on pump-action shotguns is a real hassle. Working the pump back and forth makes most lights and remote switches tricky to use without proper planning. In the past, the best options always seemed to come from Surefire in the form of replacing the pump with a dedicated light. Now that’s it’s 2022, Surefire has competitors, and one that came out of nowhere was the Nightstick SFL or Shotgun Forend Light.

This particular Nightstick WML isn’t completely out of nowhere. I first saw it at SHOT and was fairly impressed. The fine folks at Nightstick gave me a card and promised to send one when available. They made good on that promise, and my Mossberg 590 now wears a Nightstick SFL. I’ve been kicking it around for a little over a month now, and I’ve got the full run down.

Before we dive in, let’s cover the logistics. The Nightstick SFL works with the Mossberg 500/590/Maverick 88 series and the Remington 870 series. Benelli fans like me are left out to dry, but the two biggest shotguns in North America are covered. The 590 model comes equipped to function on both the short and long tube, so it will fit on the Shockwave versions. On full-sized Mossberg shotguns, you’ll use the equipped spacer.

Mossberg variant close up.
The Mossberg variant comes ready for the Shockwave and full-sized fighting shotguns.

Installation took no time, and Nightstick includes the batteries, the tube wrench, and an optional strap. It’s all in one package that makes everything quick and easy to install.

Nightstick Shotgun Forend Light: Specifications

The Nightstick Shotgun Forend Light (SFL) comes with not just a light but a laser as well. Visible laser might serve a dubious nature in the age of red dots, but on a pistol grip firearm like the Shockwave, they make close range aiming easy and a ton of fun. We’ll talk about that a little later. Let’s look at the specifications of this thing.

dThe SFL is rather large and in charge.Lumens – 1200
Candela – 10,315
Length – 7.1 inches
Weight – 17.5 ounces
Width – 2 inches
Drop Rating – 2 meters
Waterproof Rating – IPX7

Specs-wise it’s fairly impressive. 1,200 lumens is a fair bit of light, and a 10,315 candela isn’t too bad. It’s fairly standard as far as lights go but packs more power than most shotgun lights. It’s not the smallest light and is a little heavy. The durability ratings might not make it ship to shore ready, but for bumps in the night, it can bump back.

Ergonomics, Controls, and More

The big problem with these shotgun forend lights is the weight. The longer the shotgun, the more noticeable it became. At 17.5 ounces, the Nightstick SFL is fairly heavy and will make a big 590A1 feel a little off balance. That’s not especially heavy for a shotgun forend light, but it’s not impressively light.

Close up of the SFL's tactile buttons.
The tactile buttons are a nice touch and provide ambidextrous controls.

Most of the light is made from high-impact polymer and features a fair degree of texture. This gives you a non-slip grip, but more importantly, it gives you leverage for that push/pull recoil mitigation technique. That no-slip grip makes it possible for me to really push forward on the pump to better control the gun.

The controls are a cross between the Streamlight TL Racker and the Surefire DSF. The Nightstick SFL comes equipped with an ambidextrous button system to control the light and laser. The buttons are big but not massive, and they are easy to engage. Nightstick positioned the buttons to be easy to reach with my pointer finger or thumb.

SFL tactical buttons are easy to avoid.
The buttons are easy to avoid if you don’t want alight ND.

If you want a tactile action, you get it with the Nightstick SFL. Those buttons are clicky and audible. You know when they get pressed. With the buttons, you can use a constant or momentary mode. A long press and then release gives you the momentary mode, and a short, single press turns it to constant. Simple and easy to remember and implement.

The Power!

Swapping between laser only, light only, and laser and light are easy and requires holding one button while pressing the other. In-person, that big bright light is impressive and capable. Indoors the light is huge and fills a room with bright white light that sits in the middle of the cool and warm spectrum. A bright white hot spot sits at the center that will cut through most normal photonic barriers.

The SFL illuminating the camera.
See the bad guy, shining a flashlight at me?

Indoors, you won’t have issues establishing positive identification with the Nightstick SLF. Outdoors the light works fairly well for shotgun ranges. It’s no Cloud Defensive OWL, but it’s damn sure bright enough to toss light out to 50 yards and fully illuminate a threat. Back to 100 yards, you can spot a person, but it might be tough to see if they are armed or not.

SFL light on target.
Well, mine beats his.

The light is certainly more tuned to close range with a wide beam than a super tightly focused one. That makes a lot of sense for a shotgun. Barrel shadow isn’t a huge issue because it’s mostly upwards and out of your normal cone of vision.

Laser It Up

My Nightstick SFL came with a green laser, and holy crap, is it big and bright. It’s an impressively capable beam. It’s also a ton of fun for blasting clays from the hip. Clays on a berm, not in the air. Most lasers get lost fairly easily in the bright sun of Florida, but this one can be seen from 25 yards away on a target in the sun.

The SFL is easy to manipulate.
Manipulating the SFL is quick and easy with minimal fuss. The SFL provides a solid grip for manipulations.

Sure, it takes some looking, but it can be seen. At super close range, a laser can act as a secondary aiming point, especially indoors. They make steering stockless shotguns on target a fair bit easier as well. The problem is that there is a fair bit of slop with a shotgun pump, especially on the Mossberg 500 series.

Zeroing it and having it move an inch from pump slop isn’t inspiring. I prefer a good red dot over a laser anyways. That being said, when combined with birdshot, it can be fun. Also, various models of the Nightstick SFL can be purchased without a laser to save a few bucks.

On the Range with the shotgun forend light

The shape and design of the Nightstick SFL lend themselves well to modern, action shooting. You can run the pump rapidly and easily without your hand slipping as you work the action. The non-slip grip keeps your hand in place as you run the gun and work the action.

The SFLs encourages good push and pull.
The texture encourages a good push/pull technique.

It’s easy to hold onto and launch all the buckshot, birdshot, and even slugs you could ever want. The Nightstick SFL provides shotgunner an affordable, easy handling, bright, and capable shotgun forend light. It doesn’t fail in being a pump or a weapon light. When it comes time for home defense, the Nightstick SFL offers you a mighty good option without costing Surefire money.

About the Author:

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor. is the world’s Okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Author Travis pike

The SIG P322 Review – Rimfire Perfection?

SIG P322 Review pistol

For a long time, SIG seemed stuck on the P320 and P365 as far as handguns go, so the release of the P322 was a pleasant surprise. They could have just released some quasi variant of the P320 or P365 but chose to go a different route. Going all original allows them to break from an established pistols design. In my SIG P322 review, I determined that the P322 can be many things and occupies a very versatile position in the world of handguns. 

SIG P322 Review pieces
These are all the goodies you get with the P322.

To me, it’s an excellent weapon for training. You can save some cash and train with .22 LR and have a gun that resembles and functions like a modern semi-auto handgun. The SIG P322 certainly looks and feels like a modern striker-fired handgun. It will be a fun plinker and a great way to introduce new shooters to firearms for others. To others, it might be a practical choice for the woods and dealing with pests or hunting small game. 

Everyone needs a good .22LR pistol, and the P322 offers you a thoroughly modern example at a reasonably low price. 

The P322 Under the Hood 

  • Barrel Length – 4 inches
  • Overall Length – 7 inches
  • Height – 5.5 inches
  • Width – 1.4 inches
  • Weight – 17.1 ounces

The specs show that the P322 swings into the realm of compact pistols like the P320C and Glock 19. It’s not tiny, but not large either. It’s that just-right size for many of us. My hand fits nicely on the grip, and I have plenty of room. My fingers aren’t stuffed together, and I can get that excellent high grip I want on a handgun. 

SIG P322 Review magazine
20 rounds in a flash-fitting magazine? Yes, please.

The SIG P322 comes with two 20-round magazines and a magazine load-assist device. It latches onto two little attachment points and helps you pull down the spring and follower for easy loading. Without the device loading, 20 rounds into the magazine get tiresome, and the device is a great addition. 

SIG P322 Review magazine loader
The magazine loader makes life oh so much easier.

We also got a curved trigger shoe and a flat trigger shoe. Then to round it all out, you get a thread adapter to make tossing on a can easy to do should you so choose. The gun has a Picatinny rail and is optics ready with a Shield RSMc footprint optic like the Holosun 507K. 

SIG P322 Review optic
The rear sight can be removed and replaced with an optic.

SIG used the tried and true straight blowback action for the P322. It makes a lot of sense for a little gun like this. The barrel remains fixed for increased accuracy, and the blowback design doesn’t have the typical downfalls for a .22LR. The weapon uses an internal SAO hammer to fire the gun. 

Tossing Lead 

SIG releasing the P322 at this time must mean they read my LiveJournal. I’ve been in the market for a more modern and traditional semi-auto .22LR. I was leaning heavily towards the FN 502 and Taurus TX22, but, for this SIG P322 review, the P322 slid in right under the wire and hit me with the features I wanted at a price point I wasn’t offended by. 

SIG P322 review firing
The P322 has no recoil to it.

With pricing only going up, I’ve invested heavily into .22 LR and I have a pile of various brands and figured running a few different brands would be the best way to test its reliability. So I fired Winchester bulk pack, Winchester Super-X, Federal AutoMatch, CCI Mini-Mag, Remington Golden Bullet, and Aguila Super Extra hollow points. 

SIG P322 on wood
The P322 is an easy shooting gun for all ages.

After a few magazines of each, the P322 proved it eats almost everything. My Remington ammo provided the most malfunctions, with six in three magazines. However, it should be noted this ammunition is pretty old and came out of the .22 LR drought we had years back. Everything else ran well without any noticeable problems beyond the occasional failure to fire. That’s relatively common with .22LR ammo. 

Ringing Steel 

For this SIG P322 review I am glad to announce that I want a gun that hits where I aim, and the SIG P322 does that well. The high visibility sights are exceptional and very easy to see and orient. SIG gives us a fully adjustable rear sight, and out of the box, mine was firing a little high. I made a minor adjustment, and bam, I was dead on. 

SIG P322 disassembled for review
It’s a fixed barrel, blowback design, and works exceptionally well.

The gun’s accurate, and the sights are incredible, but the trigger leaves something to be desired. The pull is quite stiff, and the trigger is spongy. Luckily the pull is short, and the reset is quick as well. It’s not a great trigger, but it’s good enough. 

SIG P322 review shooting stance
Optics ready, rail equipped, and with a 20-round magazine… it’s a tough-to-beat rimfire pistol.

At 10 yards, I ran a 10-10-10 drill in 6.38 seconds with every round in the black. At 15 yards, I ran my gong rack and went from large to small on a series of gongs. The smallest being 4 inches, the middle being 6 inches, and the largest being 8 inches. I scored all three hits in under 2.5 seconds. The lack of recoil makes it easy to achieve those fast follow-up shots. 

SIG P322 review firing
The P322 is incredibly reliable and easy to handle.

At 25 yards, I landed easy shots on the six and 8-inch gong, but the four proved problematic. It’s tough to see beyond the sights, but a red dot will fix that. So my first addition to this gun will be a red dot, likely a Holosun 407K. 

The SIG P322 In Hand 

The P322 feels excellent in hand and provides a solid experience ergonomically. The grip is right size-wise and has the same texture on the P365. The magazine release is a bit triangle like the P320 and reversible. The manual safety and slide lock/release gives right and lefties a choice when it comes time to go bang. 

SIG P322 pistol
It’s a compact-sized weapon in the size range of the Glock 19. Not too much to handle at all.

This is one of the few times my big thumbs don’t pin down the slide lock is with the P322. The slide locks back, placed a little further forward to accommodate the safety. That safety mounts to the frame and is easily activated or deactivated by the thumb. 

Firing the thing is an absolute joy. It doesn’t move. Recoil is nil as you’d expect, and it’s so much fun to shoot. After 50 rounds of 9mm, you’ll feel fatigued. After 500 rounds of 22LR, you’ll still feel fresh. Keeping it on target is super easy, making it a solid first gun or trainer for a new shooter. 

SIG P322 front sight
The sights are very nice and easy to see.

Drills like the failure to stop, box drill, and even the El Pres are easy. The two magazines mean you can practice those reloads, and I did just that. The SIG P322 has a built-in magwell that makes those mag swaps speedy. 

The .22 LR For All 

It is clear to see from my SIG P322 review that this gun gives the world a .22 LR pistol that everyone can use. It’s great for plinking, training, instructing, or competing in steel challenges. The little gun can do it all. In terms of holsters, SIG has one, but it also fits the Phalanx Defense Stealth Operator, so you have an affordable and available option. 

I think SIG has a real winner with the P322. It’s reliable, accurate, ergonomic, and a fair bit of fun. For 400 bucks, it’s a lot of gun.

About the Author:

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor. is the world’s Okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Travis pike

The Mantis X Blackbeard Review

Mantis X Blackbeard

Aaaargh, what be the best AR dry firing tool of the seven seas? The Mantis X Blackbeard answers the call!

Mantis Tech has been sailing through the industry headlines with their innovative dry-firing devices, and for good reason. Ammo shortages and price hikes have made the already important practice of at-home training with your defensive firearm all the more vital. Filling the void has been the Mantis X series. These devices directly attach to your firearm and offer precise shooting accuracy and technique diagnostics. 

Honing in on your shots is the first important step for developing yourself as a competitive shooter. What about consistent follow-up shot training? For obvious reasons, this presents a technical barrier. The natural mechanics of your typical AR platform prevents you from doing so without physically resetting the trigger each time. At which point, you might as well be using a bolt gun. 

That’s where the Mantis Blackbeard comes in. The Blackbeard uses a unique design that allows the user to conduct realistic and consistent dry firing sessions.

Following Up on Your Shots

If there’s one thing gun owners like, it’s simplicity. Luckily, the Mantis X Blackbeard is idiot-proof, being as simple to install as it is to operate. The system is a dedicated AR-15 dry firing solution. It replaces your bolt carrier group and charging handle with a solid, drop-in electronic device that emits a laser at the end of the barrel. The red color indicates that the device is a non-ballistic, dry firing tool. This can be seen easily from the ejection port side.

Mantis X Blackbeard
Drop-in, plug-in-play! The Mantis Blackbeard replaces your BCG, charging handle, and magazine.

You can make adjustments using the included Allen key to give yourself some semblance of a zero. Make sure to get as close to your sighting system as possible. Keep in mind there is no such thing as an exact zero to your reticle or sights from a laser bore alone due to the fact you’re matching up a laser from the barrel end and not actual ballistic trajectory from a live round. 

The Battery Pack

The separate magazine is a rechargeable battery pack, allowing 100,000 shots per full charge. So you can safely “mag” dump to your heart’s content. With every pull of the trigger, the device’s piston will automatically reset it. The product comes in four different variations: red laser, green laser (what I use since I was feeling festive), infrared laser, or no laser. The visible lasers are great for general use as you’ll clearly indicate shot placement with just your naked eyes. The no laser model is fine for those looking only to get the trigger reset function. The infrared is for the Gucci operator Bois with NODs (jealous). 

The package includes the Blackbeard laser device, the magazine battery pack, instructions, and a charging cable in a sleek case.

Zeroing in on Your Training with the Mantis X Blackbeard

So what does the Mantis X Blackbeard actually add to your training routine? As mentioned before, my fellow AR shooters will be delighted to know their trigger will now automatically reset at every pull. Gone are the days of awkwardly breaking your shooting form to rack the charging handle just to make another shot happen. Instead, the user is able to make rapid follow-up shots without any alterations to their technique. This prevents the development of certain training scars. Additionally, no changes are made to the trigger weight, so your pristine Geissele gets to perform in all of its glory.

Mantis w/ Optic

Mantis X Blackbeard Green
Show me the green! Always good to see what you’re hitting.

I had a blast endlessly dumping into my makeshift targets and doing my usual routine throughout my testing. It cannot be overstated the importance of being able to pull the trigger multiple times without interruption. Suddenly, the practice of dynamic drills and advanced methods is possible. One of my favorite drills is the Failure to Stop. In this drill, the shooter is tasked with placing two shots to the target’s chest and one to the head in quick, accurate succession. This is simply not feasible in a dry fire setting without the Blackbeard auto-resetting trigger system.  

Another subtle but equally important feature is the responsiveness of the trigger reset itself. For those worried about possibly “outrunning” the Blackbeard’s trigger reset speed, fear not. I may not be the Flash, but I did my damnedest to make this thing choke up on me with my trigger finger alone and experienced no issues.

Mantis X Blackbeard
Simple and efficient, the Blackbeard gives you an instant dry firing solution almost immediately out of the box.

Indicating Accuracy

Of course, there’s no use in having a shooting tool that has no indicator of accuracy. The laser emitter feature is essential for at least serving as a reference point for your shot placements. Other than simply tracking your overall groupings, the laser really shined when I began conducting on-the-move target transition shooting and simulated CQB drills. Call it LARPing, but doing my usual room-clearing drills felt cooler than ever before! I, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to test this alongside the Laser Academy system. However, something tells me I’d spend even more time violently invading my room than usual if I did. 

As far as reliability goes, the Blackbeard keeps on truckin’. You may have heard of earlier models failing after a few hundred shots or having tolerance issues. I experienced none of the above after thousands of shots. Mantis has made it clear these errors have been fixed with later generations.

Some Holes Need Plugging

Products are rarely perfect out of the box and the Mantis X Blackbeard is no exception. I will get the obvious out of the way and confirm that you will not be able to perform your standard reloads using this device. Core mechanical weapons manipulations such as racking the charging handle, inserting standard magazines (excluding the Blackbeard magazine battery), or flipping up the dust cover are impossible. Nothing on the device reciprocates outwardly, and the presence of the device in the chamber prevents any magazine from being fully seated. If you want to practice reloads within shooting drills or malfunction clearing, you’ll need to do so with your base BCG and charging handle.

Mantis Tech products should all be compatible with one another (hopefully, you have better luck than I did!).

The second issue I personally encountered was the Blackbeard’s inability to integrate with the Mantis X dry fire software. As it is advertised, the Blackbeard should be compatible with any of the current generation models of the Mantis X Shooting Performance System by using the universal magazine adhesive mount. Unfortunately, despite going through the X3 and X10 models, the most I could get were two or three shots to register in the dry firing diagnostic software. Upon speaking to multiple reps from Mantis, I was told the next generation of the Blackbeard will come integrated with a software feature. Hopefully, solving this problem altogether. However, I do believe I could have a defective model and am in talks with their customer support team to solve the issue.

The Mantis X Blackbeard Verdict

On the whole, the Mantis X Blackbeard is a fantastic addition to any AR owner’s training arsenal. The ability to have a safe trigger reset in combination with a laser emitter elevates the at-home, dry fire training experience. The hiccups I did encounter are not in any way disastrous. Fortunately, Mantis Tech is already improving upon the original design. It’s a pricey tool but think of this device as not just another accessory but as an investment for yourself.

Eric Huh

About the Author: Eric is a writer, everyman-level, critic, gamer, martial artist, firearms enthusiast, social media marketer, and desultory, half-assed comedian. When he’s not cranking out good ole fashioned gun content, he’s likely playing one or more of the latest FPS games du jour. That or teaching friends not to shoot themselves in the foot and wishing he had better time management skills. Follow him on Instagram at @ground_floor_korean.

The XD-E 3.3 9mm from Springfield Armory

Springfield XD-E

[Guest author] Over the years, I’ve owned several of the Springfield Armory XD series of pistols. A few standard XDs, a few XDm versions, and an XD-S. One thing they all had in common was that through thousands of rounds (remember back when we could afford to shoot, back in the “Olden Days”?), I never experienced one single stoppage. Even the .40 Caliber XDm that I took to a shooting school right out of the box, never having lubed it, and proceeded to put 1,300 rounds through it in two days, the thing functioned perfectly. Not too long  back,  Springfield introduced another in the XD line, the XD-E (the “E” stands for external hammer). Here’s a rundown.

Springfield XDE 9mm

XDE 3.3 With External Hammer

by Jim Davis

So why in the world would anyone want an external hammer in this world of striker-fired pistols? Well, maybe that’s the point. Everything new these days seems to be striker-fired.

Not Quite A Pocket Pistol

The way I see it, the external hammer will appeal to a few segments of the shooting community. The “purists” cut their teeth on handguns that had exposed hammers. That crowd likes options, such as being able to carry “cocked and locked,” i.e., with the hammer cocked and a manual safety activated (which this pistol does allow).

That said, there is also a unique, new segment to our firearms community that is glaringly different: new shooters. They’ve arrived in droves, given the recent political developments. Finally, it has dawned on a massive segment of the American public that they may need to protect themselves in the very near future. They’ve finally concluded that seasoned shooters have long known, and that is that the government cannot protect us and that anarchists enjoy attacking people.

As a result, new shooters have joined the ranks like never before. I don’t know about you, but I think that maybe a pistol with an exposed hammer might be easier to learn on, and quite possibly, safer in the hands of a newer, less experienced shooter. An example is a revolver; when the hammer is cocked, it is evident that the revolver is ready to fire in single-action mode—the same situation with this pistol.

Springfield XD-E 9mm
The controls operated smoothly, including the takedown lever (far left), slide release, and safety/decocker. The safety is mounted slightly high for the author’s taste. Here, the XD-E is shown in “cocked and locked” mode.

XD-E 3.3 Specifications

At any rate, it’s time to take a look at the technical aspects of the XD-E. This particular model has a 3.3-inch barrel, which is hammer forged. The slide is forged steel with a Melonite finish, which is black. 

The pistol’s length is 6.75 inches, and the height is five inches. It is relatively thin overall, with the grip being one inch thick, contributing to its concealability. Make no mistake, though, this is not a tiny pocket pistol, by any stretch. Springfield classifies it as a “Compact,” which is reasonably accurate, as it’s smaller than a service pistol. The weight is 24.8 ounces with the nine-round magazine inserted.

The Magazine

There are two basic options of Springfield XD magazines available: eight or nine-round, both single stack. This contributes to the pistol’s thinness.

The eight-round magazine comes with a base plate with a finger rest, although a flush fit base plate does come with the pistol if the owner wishes to change that out.

The nine-round magazine comes with an extended floor plate, making the grip slightly longer, though not dramatically so. 

The magazines eject very nicely, in that when the release is pressed, they come shooting out! Magazines are constructed of stainless steel and are sturdily made. The XD-E will fire without a magazine inserted.

Springfield XD-E 9mm
A well-rounded carry package. XD-E, spare magazine, Federal Hydra-Shock Tactical ammunition, and a Strider SnG Tanto knife.

The Safety and Mag Release

A nice touch is that both the safety/decocker and the magazine release are ambidextrous. Not that they can be installed ambidextrously, but there is one on each side of the pistol! Southpaws will like that, and it’s handy for when a shooter is using his weak side. 

The safety/decocker works well but is mounted slightly high for my taste in that I have to adjust my grip to take the weapon off safe. Not a lot, but enough that it’s not at optimal efficiency for me. On the other hand, my wife wasn’t bothered by this in the least, and it worked great for her. If I had my way, it would be mounted lower in the fashion of the 1911. Being able to carry cocked and locked (that is, with a round in the chamber, hammer back, safety on) is a nice option. Others will prefer carrying with the hammer down and having the choice of the safety on or off. 

A loaded chamber indicator is on the top of the slide just behind the breach block that sticks up when a round is in the chamber.

A dual captive spring with a total length guide rod is used in the recoil system, and it does a nice job taming recoil.

The Sights

The sights on the pistol are very nicely done, consisting of a three-dot configuration that is pretty standard these days. The front sight is a red fiber optic that takes the sights to the next level into the highly effective category. The fact that the sights are steel is also a plus. All in all, high marks in this department!

The bore axis on the XD-E is relatively high, unlike many other pistols on the market these days. I prefer a lower bore axis, but this didn’t prove detrimental in actual shooting.

The Trigger

The double-action trigger pull is long and incredibly smooth, stacking at the end, just before the break. The smoothness of the pull is surprising. There is a pleasingly short trigger reset, which will allow quick follow-up shots. The single-action trigger has some takeup before it breaks but is not excessive. Overall, it’s a decent trigger. I wish that my trigger finger was a fraction of an inch longer because the bottom corner of the trigger grabs the edge of my trigger finger.

The Grip

An essential part of any pistol is the grip, and the XD-E will fit a wide range of shooters in this aspect. My hands are on the smaller side, and I found the slim group to fill my hand well. However, shooters with larger hands will probably like that; although the grip is thin, it is also wide enough to accommodate their bear paws comfortably. Springfield was rather ingenious in how they managed to construct a grip that would appeal to so many shooters. 

The grip texture is rough enough that it seems to offer a positive purchase and yet not be so abrasive as to chafe the skin when carrying the pistol concealed. It seems they’ve arrived at a sensible compromise here.

Stripping the XD-E

Field stripping is accomplished in the same fashion as most pistols on today’s market; the slide is retracted and locked to the rear, the takedown lever is flipped up. From there, the slide is removed, and then the recoil spring and barrel can be taken out. Reassembly is in the reverse order. It all goes very smoothly with no hidden surprises. 


Springfield XD-E 9mm
Field stripped, the XD-E disassembles just like most other pistols on the market. Note the double captive recoil spring.

When the pistol is stripped down, the quality of construction that we’ve come to expect from Springfield Armory is in evidence, with no tool marks being apparent. The pistol works very smoothly overall.

Range Time with XD-E

We hit the range with the XD-E on a rare warm day to see how it would fare. I started at 25 yards resting the pistol on a bench to test the accuracy. Well, I won’t post a photo of that group because…I was getting used to the gun! Yes, I’m sure that was the case!

During rapid-fire, it was easy to keep hits inside the target. Headshots from 25 yards were no problem.

After my first dismal group, though, it came into its own. No, it wasn’t shooting one-inch groups at 25 yards. Still, it kept everything nicely centered on a man-sized target at a remarkably rapid rate of fire. Headshots were also possible at 25 yards. I didn’t shoot beyond 25 yards, but I’m sure it would perform admirably well past that range.

I did some drills transitioning from double action to single action. It felt pretty much like every other DA/SA handgun I’ve ever fired, except that the XD-E’s DA (Double Action) pull is smooth as glass. Of course, single firing action was easier and increased accuracy.

The Recoil

The recoil was pleasantly moderate (not light, but far from heavy). The grip offers enough area that the shooter has an excellent surface to grasp, which spreads out the recoil impulse. However, it was not snappy, and the sights settled right back to the target after each shot. As a result, rapid-fire drills with the pistol were easy to accomplish; you can quickly put a lot of lead on target with this pistol. 

Rapid-fire drills on bad guy targets. Recoil was quite manageable, with sights returning quickly to the target.

The pistol points quickly, and the sights seem to come onto target naturally to make matters better. That fiber-optic, glowing red sight makes acquiring the sights a no-brainer, and these are easily among the best sights that I’ve ever used in a pistol.

Reliability and Comfort

Reliability was impressive because I put some of the lowest quality ammo that I have ever used through it (“Perfecto” brand, bought at Walmart a few years back for $5/box). Perfecto sometimes has light-charged rounds and is just the junkiest stuff I’ve ever used. However, the XD-E ran through it perfectly, as well as the higher quality ammo that I fed it. So rest easy that this is a reliable handgun.

My daughter tried her hand with the XD-E and gave it high marks; she also thought very highly of the sights. Aside from that, one other aspect of the pistol is enamored here: it is easy to rack the slide. She has a disability with her left hand, and even with that, she could retract the slide to chamber a round. This might be an essential consideration for those who don’t have a lot of arm or hand strength and those who are…ahem…aging. Arthritis in the hands, wrists, and arms can do a number on our strength, and having a pistol that is friendly to our impediments can mean a lot.

Springfield XD-E 9mm
Putting the pistol through its paces. It handled very well! Smooth, accurate, and fast.

Post Range Time with the 3.3 XDE 9mm

The XD-E does have an accessory rail on the dust cover for those who wish to mount lights, lasers, and other accessories. It is a standard Picatinny rail. 

I’ll be honest; I was lukewarm toward the XD-E when I first unboxed it. In my book, it’s not an exciting pistol for me to look at, sort of a “plain vanilla” pistol. But after getting it to the range and putting rounds on target, my excitement for the XD-E tripled. It’s accurate, 100% reliable, smooth, fast, and user-friendly.

All controls functioned as they should, including the slide release. Usually, I don’t use slide releases because they demand fine motor skills, which we lose when adrenaline affects us. As such, I typically rack the slide using my hand, which utilizes gross motor skills. Those slide releases on many pistols, especially new ones, can be very stiff and difficult to operate. Not so with the XD-E; it was easy to manipulate and large enough to do so comfortably. All controls on the XD-E were smooth and easy to operate; they get a 100% from me.


At the time of this writing, the retail of the pistol is $542, so it will be available for considerably less from suppliers. Nevertheless, Springfield Armory has certainly priced this one reasonably, especially compared to some offerings from other manufacturers.

In summary, the XD-E is a winner; given its ease of use, accuracy, reliability, and comfort, it is a solid choice for defensive carry. I would feel comfortable carrying it for defense. 


About the Autor: Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.


ASP Raptor DF Flashlight review

ASP Raptor DF Flashlight review
ASP Raptor DF with Holder

By: Fifty Shades of FDE

For my profession in Law Enforcement, a handheld flashlight is a must have tool on a sam browne or duty belt. It’s often is an overlooked piece of equipment and it shouldn’t be at all. Over my years on the job, I have heard many excuses for not having a flashlight and none of them were logical to me and to them after I started with some follow-up questions. The number one reason that I’ve heard the most is that, “working day shift, you’ll never need a light!” They couldn’t be more wrong. A handheld flashlight is for illumination, that helps you with information gathering for your eyes and brain to process when you’re in low light or no light conditions. None of us have the ability to control our lighting conditions in every environment so it’s best to be prepared with your own source of light when you need to find something, someone, directing traffic…you get the idea. In this line of work, you rarely get a heads up about what’s going to happen next. So deciding not to carry a flashlight on your person puts you at a great disadvantage. For those who are fortunate to have a weapon light attached to their duty pistol, that light should only be used when there is a reason to have your duty weapon drawn and not for any other purpose. That is why you still need to have a hand held light on your belt. Having a quality flashlight that has performance to back it up is important too. I see too many home depot and in some occasions, dollar store lights in the duty role and that is definitely better than having no light at all but not much at all. Those inexpensive lights usually don’t have much output and weren’t designed for hard use so relying on these with your life doesn’t seem like a wise choice.

Good stuff from ASP

The new ASP Raptor DF (DF stands for Dual Fuel) was designed specifically for duty use. It’s definitely bright and powerful enough to light things up with a maximum output of 1,900 Lumens and has a range of 240 Meters with a runtime of One and a half hours. It also has a low output mode of 15 lumens and a strobe feature with 300 lumens. Those are some really impressive stats for a flashlight. It weighs in at 9.2 Ounces and has a rather large profile with a length of 6.5″ and bezel diameter of 1.57″ making it ideal for duty carry or in a backpack or around your home, it wouldn’t be ideal for an EDC flashlight. As a duty flashlight, it works great, it is easy to grab and takes some features from the ever popular ASP Batons with the foam located at center of body body. The bezel is heavy duty and makes the Raptor DF available as an impact weapon if needed. My sample came with the available Tactical Light Case and it is a nice rotating belt mounted holster that is similar to that of the Baton cases, it allows for an easy draw and reholstering of the light.

Having the option to use CR123s is nice if you run your 18650 dry!

The Raptor DF can be powered by the included 18650 Rechargeable battery or two single use CR123s. This comes in handy if your 18650 dies and you don’t have the ability to recharge it. Just throw in some spare CR123s and continue on with the task at hand. Both the Raptor DF and the included 18650 battery have a micro-usb port to charge. It came with a micro usb charging cable but any would work. This is a great feature for duty lights as it gets expensive to use CR123s and having to replace them over and over. Having a more powerful light and ability to recharge the batteries makes it a very practical and cost-effective light. The bezel rotates to uncover the charging port. It has a color led gauge, it blinks red while charging and displays a solid green when fully charged.

Charging the Raptor DF

The Raptor DF has a unique tail cap that rotates in to three positions. On the far left, marked ‘0’ is for momentary, the middle is Off so there won’t be any accidental activations and on the right, marked with a solid ‘0’ for constant. The push button itself is programmable and I have it on the Maximum Output with the first press and Minimal Output with a quick second press. This works on both momentary and constant positions. There is a strobe mode that can be programmed but I prefer not to use that function on any of my lights. It’s just my preference, however it’s there if you want it.

Evening with some ambient light.
Full power from the Raptor DF.
A little later that night with near dark conditions.
It illuminates a nice large area evenly with a good center hot spot.

The Raptor DF is by far, the most powerful hand held flashlight that I’ve used for work. The beam is wide and it has a good sized hot spot that goes far and it does well at illuminating at closer range at the same time with a decent spill. Some flashlights have better throw and be terrible at spill or vice versa, the Raptor DF does a great job at both. Is 1,900 Lumens too much? I definitely don’t think so, the more, the better. If you’ve heard from anyone who has said that there is such a thing as too bright a light and that you’ll blind yourself; to that, I say get some more training behind the use of lights tactically and then come back at me. The more light output you have, the better you can see, which gives your eyes and your brain more information to gather and then react to. For sure the Raptor DF will be blinding to whoever is on the business end, giving you a brief tactical advantage if you are faced with a deadly force situation.

Raptor DF on my duty belt next to the ASP Collapsible Baton.

I have had the Raptor DF on my duty belt for a good few weeks of receiving it and have taken it with me while outdoors. It has continually impressed me with it’s raw power and ability to illuminate in low light and no light conditions. It’s like having a portable spotlight without in a manageable size and weight.

One serious and heavy duty bezel.

The engineers at ASP know what it takes to make hard-use duty equipment and the Raptor DF lives up to the excellent reputation of tools that are 10-8 everyday all over the world. The Raptor DF is a great light that is also very practical and with the rechargeable 18650 battery, it’s also very cost effective. With all of these features, the Raptor DF is the perfect light for your duty belt as well as any other task that requires a good amount of illumination.

For more information and to order:

Here are some other reviews on the Raptor DF!

Goat Guns Miniatures

Goat Guns Miniatures
Miniature M4 in FDE

If you’re into miniature weapons for decoration, check out Goat Guns! They sent me two M4s in FDE. They are about a foot long in length at a 1:3 Scale. All the parts are die cast metal and the attention to detail is excellent. The rear A2 sight on the carry handle is adjustable, charging handle is functional as well as many other parts. Here is the link to the same M4s that I have:

Their selection is huge, it includes the Barrett M107 and more are coming!