Monday, May 25, 2020

Cheap & Awesome Handgun Training with Airsoft

Cheap & Awesome Handgun Training with Airsoft

We live in an amazing time where we no longer need to bang away with high priced ammo and can now reach for many of our same gun models chambered in cheap-to-shoot caliber options. For handguns we have numerous clones of popular defensive caliber handguns now in airsoft options hit the market in the last few years. Let’s take a look at a few of the great options available. 

UMAREX Options - Umarex offer various air-powered pistols from Beretta, Browning, Colt, Elite Force, GLOCK Airguns and Airsoft, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, T4E, Tactical Force, Umarex USA, UZI, and Walther. If you want to train cheap, Umarex delivers really great quality and reliability with a legacy of great support. 

Walther USA also owns Umarex USA which is the definitive source for air powered BB, Pellet, Airsoft, Training, and paintball marker pistols that mimic the look and feel of the real defensive pistols. In fact all are licensed versions of each respective firearm company. 

Walther PPQ M2 - The PPQ has a well renowned reputation as the world's most comfortable handgun. My PPQ 9mm gets shot a lot, but thankfully I have options that are less expensive to shoot. Among those options within the Walther family is a complete series of Walther PPQ M2 pistols in various 9mm & .40 S&W PPQ defensive pistols, PPQ .22LR models, and then a host of PPQ pellet, BB, airsoft, and marker pistols from Umarex for training use. One of the primary reasons I love my PPQ format is that I can seamlessly train from the same holster with my 9mm, .22LR, airsoft, and paintball marker pistol versions and for the most part they all give me a similar weight to the 9mm version.

With the airsoft and paintball models, I can move into a backyard, or urban training environment with a high margin of safety for more dynamic and realistic person to person training. In the midst of COVID backyard airsoft training has been such an amazing tool. In most cases you can shoot airsoft for about $20 per 5000 rounds which is exponentially lower in cost than even .22LR ammo. My personal favorite backyard targets are the Rubber Dummies rubber targets. Even Airsoft rounds will flake off paint and indicate hits on this target. I probably have 50K+ rounds through the three PPQ airsoft models I own - phenomenal training fun.

Walther also offers BB, Pellet and .43 caliber Marker pistols. I recently picked up a Marker pistol to add as a backup for paintball but it is a much more serious training option. The PPQ Marker is part of the Umarex/Walther T4E training solutions for LEO and military departments. For force on force training, airsoft hurts and delivers the needed indicator that a shot has landed. The .43 Caliber Marker pistol pictured here is even more of an incentive to think about how you are engaging opponents with the option of both paintball and the even more painful reusable .43 caliber hard rubber ball ammo. For those that are extremely adventurous there are also aftermarket .43 caliber pepper mace ammo available which could be used as deterrent ammo in a defensive situation. Umarex markets the marker pistols and airsoft line as significantly less expensive options to expensive simunition rounds. Across the PPQ training stack, there is a model to choose to fit your training needs even if you prefer a pellet or BB option.

Glock - At one point Glock took itself way too seriously and would not consider .22LR or airsoft versions of their G19 and G17 pistols and the result were knockoff pistols that lacked a lot of reliability. Times have thankfully changed and now there is a Glock G44 .22LR for cheap and reliable range training and licensed partnership with Umarex offers a variety of GLOCK Airguns and Airsoft branded models in airsoft, pellet and BB pistols. Our Glock trainers shown in this article are the G44 which has already had thousands of rounds of .22LR pushed through it as a low cost range training and plinking option of the G19 format pistol. The G44 has been a fantastic little pistol, however I do wish I had a suppressor option for it. 

When we get into non-lethal training options, I personally love the sub-cent cost option of the Umarex Glock Training airsoft G17 especially for room clearing training and doing drills which could be potentially dangerous such as very close target draw, charge, and shoot drills. 

There are plenty of options on the market now, but these are some fantastic options. In the midst of our global containment, many of us are not getting to the range as much as we would like. The result is either not training or getting out to training with non-lethal options in our garages and backyards. When we do get to the range, why not save a bit more cash with a rimfire option. Get out practice, train, and save some cash.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Holster Modifications for Comfort and Safety

Holster Modifications for Comfort and Safety

If you are a new concealed carry owner, one of the most frustrating things is to find a holster that fits, is safe and comfortable to fit your daily lifestyle. There are a ton of great holsters out there, however every body shape is different and even the most incredibly comfortable holsters on the market can benefit from a little tuning to make them fit better, chaff less, and remain comfortable longer.

I have been doing leatherwork since I was about eight.. so a while, and have done a bit of kydex work as well. Over the years, I have learned a few tips for holster modifications that can transform an uncomfortable chafing holster to one which seems like it was made for me. There really are only a couple key inexpensive tools I use: a lighter, combo 180 & 240 grit nail black files, Bick’s Leather conditioner, threadlock, and occasionally a ¾-inch piece of shrink wrap. Generally I like to wear a holster and mark the pain or discomfort generating areas with a Sharpie, some of these will be sharp edges, some will be over-formed kydex, stiff leather, or pop out areas of kydex that can be sanded down flatter. Other times that will be non-skin side areas that are delivering unusual wear to my cover garment, belt or pants.

Lighter - Kydex is an extremely forgiving material. A little heat on each side of an area of the holster that is digging into you, an over-formed contour, or an edge that could be bent inward a bit can easily be heated and adjusted again and again. A lot of times I am heating and bending in the top and edges of holsters and tucking in other edges. Some holsters have gaping openings which can be molded into the gun a bit better for increased comfort. A lighter is an amazing tool to tuck in those edges and deliver huge comfort gains.

Combo 180 & 240 Grit Nail File - Leather will break in and round naturally and Kydex can be heated and bent. Often I find that the edges of kydex and leather are cut with sharp edges and sanding a rounded 45-degree bevel can deliver a life-changing comfort level. Sand a bit and try it. It is hard to believe that a simple nail file can really deliver huge improvements with a few sanding tweaks in areas where you are chafing. A small strip of sandpaper or round file can be used to round plastic and kydex belt loops to prevent them from chewing up your belt.

Bick’s Leather Conditioner - For hard or stiff leather a good soak down with Bick’s Leather Conditioner can clean up and condition a sweat stained leather or loosen up stiff new leather. The awesome part about owning a bottle of Bick’s is that anything leather will look spectacular again with a wipe down. For hard leather holsters there is no quicker way to get them broken in and comfortable.

Shrink Wrap - Steel belt loops can tear up pants and belts. An appropriate large sized shrink wrap over the steel belt loops can prevent pants and belts from getting chewed up. 

Threadlock - If you have any holster with screws you need to use red permanent thread locker to lock every screw down. Even if they seem tight, they will loosen at some point. Pull every screw and thread lock them.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Why Arlo Cameras Suck for Security and A Few Great Alternatives

Simpli-Safe is a better option
Why Arlo Cameras Suck for Security and A Few Great Alternatives

A few years ago, we decided that in addition to our security system we wanted to add some Arlo cameras for wireless flexibility beyond our wired system under the assumption they would be easy and flexible to use - We were wrong.

Initially, the idea of the Arlo camera marketing hype is easy setup, HD video, and remote anywhere video monitoring all with the convenience of wireless battery operation. The Arlo system has a lot of limitations that make it almost useless as a security system; notable problems are significant live video latency, very short battery life, poor night vision, very limited range, flaky app and overall system, requirement for high number of resyncs, and some truly mind-reading mystical stuff that seems to shut the system down any time you actually want to use it for something important.

We bought the Arlo system via a Costco value pack and once we had laid out that $300, we added to it with replacement, upgraded and newer camera versions - looking back we should have just returned the whole thing. With that noted, if you want a completely wireless system that is battery operated the Arlo Pro is still a horrible choice with better options being the Blink XT2 and EufyCam E with solar panel option for significantly less money.

The dependency on the very limited range of the base station is problematic at best in a realistic home setup. The overall latency on the system with live video is pretty bad at about 10-30 seconds depending on the teenage-girl mood swing of the Arlo system that day. Arlo also seems to have an extremely sketchy voodoo-esk ability to sense when you need to see what is going on the most and then go completely offline. There is also the insanely short battery life on the Gen 1 models which eat CR123 batteries at a rate that was shocking. The Gen 1 cameras also had a high failure rate for me of 50% in the first two years. The newer rechargeable versions with audio were better, but the range was still horrible with the base station and a new updated based station did nothing to improve my performance. 

When they do work, the Arlo system is still problematic, only working 20-30% of the time and are slow to respond even when they are working right. The joke in our household is to shoot first and look at the Arlo later and a friend jokingly noted that Arlo cameras are basically to record the aftermath. Access to Arlo has three major problems, the range and connectivity to the base station is horribly short, when Arlo video does work it is slow to start up with a huge lag between the live feed and reality and the entire system mysteriously goes offline with high frequency. If you do have power failures, mini-blackouts like we do, each Arlo has to be power-cycled individually and sometimes completely re-synced with each power cycle. There is also an obvious scaling issue - the more cameras the slower your camera response will be.

So I don’t get deluged with Technical Tom to the rescue of how awesome Arlo is, be assured I already went the route of working with the retailer, working with Arlo support, and spent weeks online cruising support sites. The reality is that hundreds of others have the same issues I have experienced. The problems are not isolated to the Arlo components I have, my network, my wireless carrier, or the app on my phone. In short “I” am not the issue, the Arlo system is just extronarily lacking compared to many other systems like wired systems, Simplisafe or other wireless options I have tested in my home. For the money SimpliSafe seems to be leagues better with video when you need it, but a wired system is the way to go for reliability and speed every time.

Troubleshooting my base station’s range issues required me to relocate a hard wired connection to a geographically central base station location to allow connection to the cameras around the house and accommodate the ridiculously short base-station range. That did resolve the range issue, but every camera still has average level connectivity. It is ridiculous a system designed to be used in a home that requires the base station to be moved around to tune in the cameras like an old fashioned TV antenna. Not sure how I can have triple the range of my WiFi around the outside of my home, but a security camera manufacturer only has a realistic 25 ft range in a home - the Arlo tech is just a bad system all around.  Simpli-Safe has a base station and does not have this issue at all. 

Response, lag and latency - Whatever the lag or delay is, the battle is over to see who is at the door before the Arlo image comes online. Even your more patient friends are screaming “WTF dude answer the door”. When the system is actually online, it is a good 30-60 second wait to see what is going on 90% of the time.  Arlo will not deliver the information you want to see at the speed you want to see it when bumps and bangs happen in the night. If this is why you are buying Arlo move on to something else.

The night vision is OK but very limited in the range, the Gen 2 with talk-back and listen features is marginally better. If you think that you can put an Arlo on your deck overlooking your driveway, the built in IR light is just not powerful enough to deliver visibility. My workaround was to leave my drive lights on all night and it actually did work well, but there was no night vision involved. Realistically the IR night vision is good across one “smalls” room only.

The last problem is so infuriating it makes me want to turn all the cameras into skeet fodder for my shotgun. The problem is that somehow Arlo seems to sense when I have left the house and have a pressing need to remotely see if the delivery was left, why a sensor alarmed, or just to check that my Dad and dogs are alive while traveling. Arlo works perfectly when I am home, but any time I really want to see what is going on, ARLO is freaking OFFLINE. Why it does this apparently Arlo or no one on the internet knows, however there is another work around for a system that has worked somewhat. We use a Wemo WiFi plug and remotely reboot the Arlo base station and hope like hell that it comes back online and that the cameras do not need to be resync’ed when they come back online. It works about 40% of the time, but the rest of the time Arlo requires multiple reboots and sometimes requires an insanity inducing process of pulling down all the cameras and resyncing all the cameras which never…. ever want to sync up the first time. 

Here are some options that I think work well as alternatives:
Run the Wire for wired Camera System - If you want reliability and fast response without latency, just run the wire for a $1000+ multi-camera wired system. I have yet to talk to someone who notes these wired systems do not work right. My recommendation is to stick with POE - Power Over Ethernet using CAT5e or CAT6 ethernet cable. This is basically network cable but carries power. Almost all the outdoor security systems use this as a power source - thought they may need a power adapter. CAT5e and CAT6 cabling are thicker wire cables than standard CAT5 and in theory can carry more current/power. I used all CAT6 in my wiring and have never looked back. As I added SimpliSafe cameras to my wired system, you can buy POE power adapters to run anything that is USB powered, so even the USB plug-in powered SimpliSafe cameras can be powered via some remotely located POE CAT6 Ethernet network cable. You can daisy-chain things together with POE CAT6 like also powering an outdoor wireless hotspot or support very long runs for wired security cameras. If you have long-runs and want to support longer ranges, I would go with a wired system. A word of advice, if you are going to take the trouble to pull one CAT6 wire, pull two or three as spares.

USB Powered System - We recently added a Simpli-Safe system as a replacement for Arlo and it worked well, but has the condition that it needs constant USB power provided via a very long USB power cord and AC adapter. I have powered a few exterior Simpli-Safe cameras with POE adapters and overall been really happy with the system overall and the camera doorbell is excellent.

Other Wireless - It is too bad that the Arlo system just does not work as advertised, the idea is cool, however with competitors like SimplySafe, XT2 and EufyCam E with solar panel option, there is no reason to consider Arlo as the only option.

TrailCams -  If you really just want to capture what happened from a historical perspective, I highly recommend a HD Trail Camera. There are now about $100, deliver higher resolution and better night vision than any security camera I have tried and can record hours and hours of video and thousands of pictures. Most people use security cameras to see what happened in the past versus to see real time feeds, so in my mind this is a better option for most people.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Weight There's More - Bullets vs Backs

Liberty Ammo 9mm +p
Weight: 50gr, Velocity: 2000 FPS,
Kinetic Energy: 450 FPS
Weight There's More - Bullets vs Backs

About seven years ago, I was at a launch event for Liberty Ammo and was pretty blown away with their ultra-light 50gr 9mm defensive rounds which are actually more powerful than super heavy rounds. We shot into ballistic gel, full pork bone in shoulders, through car doors, through car windows, and a lot of different household building materials. The result of that testing was rather fantastic to see what a 50gr 9mm round can do traveling at 2000+ ft/sec delivering a whopping 450+ Ft/lbs. of energy. It makes sense, after all the 5.56/.223 round is built on the same concept of a light bullet traveling at high speed. I have continued my personal performance testing of various lightweight bullet rounds including Interceptor ARX, Liberty, and HPR ammo.

What is interesting is that these rounds perform similar or better than heavier rounds, but they are obviously a whole lot lighter and this started me thinking - Weight there’s More. The heavier the bullets, the more weight my back has to carry and the weight based in grains is a simple linear weight increase from 50gr to 147gr math but what does a grain weigh.

For example, a 50gr bullet is 0.114 ounces and a 147gr bullet is 0.336 ounce. If we look at this from a purely bullet weight perspective of a 17+1 Glock G17, 18 rounds of bullet weight that is 6 ounces for the 147gr rounds vs 2 ounces for the 50gr rounds. With one full mag in the grip. and an extra carried, that is a ½-lb difference in carried weight between the light and heavy rounds. Considering a backup Ruger LCP only weighs 9.4-ounces you can almost carry a spare LCP as a backup with the weight difference or …. your pants won’t sag as much.

The weight difference gets worse if we start looking at the ammo quantities carried in bug-out and get-home bags when packing some type of AR pistol or PCC - Pistol Caliber Carbine. Usually people are packing four 30-round magazines where weight can add up quickly and especially if someone is packing a 300 Blackout or PCC with heavy bullets. 

Including only the bullet weights without cases powder and magazine the below 30-round bullet weights would make me want to carry the lightest bullet weight available in a get-home bag.  
30 - 40gr bullets = 2.74 ounces, X four mags 11oz
30 - 63gr bullets = 4.25 ounces, X four mags 17oz
30 - 110gr 300 BO bullets = 7.5 Ounces, X four mags 30oz
30 - 220gr 300 BO bullets = 15.09 ounces, X four mags 60oz

A friend of mine notes regularly he carries a 300 Blackout in his get home bag with heavy subsonic rounds so he will deliver heavily hitting and lower noise. Not at bad concept at all, but the weight is a back killer for a lightweight get home bag. The reality is that I could carry five mags of 40gr 5.56 defense ammo for the same weight as one 220gr 300 BO magazine which is a whole boatload more firepower. That is a substantial 3-lb weight difference if four mags are carried is the equivalent of being able to carry an extra loaded Glock G19 + one extra full mag of even super heavy subsonic ammo. If you load down to the typical 6-8 magazines carried by the military, the weight differences get worse. 

Everyone has to do their own testing and not believe everything that they read on the internet, but I am impressed with what 40gr varmint rounds deliver for a defensive need with significantly less over penetration risk than other rounds. Pass through shots on targets are a big concern in dense urban environments and especially in chaotic situations. I own 300 BO guns and know the awesomeness of the caliber; however, I don’t like it enough to carry three extra pounds during a duress based 20-mile sprint home or make the choice to shed extra ammo.

The 40gr ballistic tip is also my preferred round for a get home bag and saves weight. I also like the very deep penetrating high weight retention copper alloy 50gr GMX Full Boar Hornady hunting round rounds as an option for woodsy outdoor type get home situations. The 40gr ballistic tips are super flat shooting with a lot of power and extreme power delivery and insanely accurate in my 10.5” barreled Faxon backpack gun. 

What I learned is that weight is weight and math matters. After playing around with some get home bag options, my hope is that I am on the move and ahead of anything potentially really baddies that shoot back. If I want to be light and save my back I can or I could use the weight savings on light rounds to add a mag of M855 rounds to punch through barriers, an Angle Armor backpack Level III panel, a spare G17 magazine and an extra bottle of water.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Masks Filters and Cleaning Explained for Coronavirus COVID-19 Protection

Masks Filters and Cleaning Explained for Coronavirus COVID-19 Protection

As of February, 2020 it would seem the Coronavirus COVID-19 is no joke of a virus. It has reportedly infected tens of thousands and potentially killed hundreds with a kill rate of greater than 2% with modern medicine. Experts are saying it may be the most deadly virus ever including the Spanish flu of the early 1900s and even the legendary European Black Plague which estimates note killed 30%-60% of the European population. Sadly as of early February, we know very little, however we do know the pandemic spreads and that is by air, aerosolized spray and direct fluid contact. With the exceptionally obvious rules of don’t touch stuff and wash your hands insanely frequently, what other precautions should be taken.

My site, Major Pandemic, was founded on a common sense preparedness strategy, so I am not advocating taping doors and windows, pulling out the Tyvek body suits and covered face respirators just yet for COVID-19 .. but you do have those, right? Here in the US, we fortunately have a much higher standard of hygiene than most other countries. Though I did really second guess that assumption after watching a few Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen episodes.

This should be in the no shit category, however it is most likely the most missed obvious part of hygiene and the biggest threat in a pandemic. Wash your freaky little hands… and not that splash and three rubs before hitting the paper towels just so your buddy does not think you are gross; I mean a real thorough hand washing.

After recently visiting Paris, I would say our US hygiene is still WAY higher than France’s for sure. Those friends who have been to China have all noted the obvious, that the country as a whole is not at the hygiene standard of the US and terrifyingly far below Paris. Hygiene can prevent catching a crapload of viruses, bacteria, and infections and also prevents them from spreading. Ten out of ten doctors will say that ritualistic meticulous hand washing for a full 30-seconds and attention to general daily hygiene is the greatest tool in the protection against the spread of all things we think of in the realms of Pandemics. What else can we do to step our daily hygiene to prevent the spread of a disease, virus or infection? Before we break out the hardware of masks and gloves, let’s look at cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers.

Without getting into weird industrial cleaners and sticking to the most common available cleaners, the next set of tools are generally topical antibacterial disinfectants with alcohol contents of 60% or higher and bleach based cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers and sterilization.

First it is important to understand that there is a difference between each group of cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers, sterilization, and barriers. Lets say your dog drops one on the carpet. The glove provides a barrier while you use “cleaners” help get the brown out after you scoop up the turd. Of note not all disinfectants/sanitizers or sterilization are good cleaners, so often you need to use a combination of barriers, cleaners, disinfectants/sanitizers and sterilization to things to both look clean and become sanitized or sterile.

The disinfectants kill a huge amount of germs, are generally cheap, and make you feel better that it is clean or smells clean, but you still would not likely stick your tongue on the carpet after disinfecting/sanitizing.  Disinfecting/sanitizing is the step hospitals take which technically reduces organisms significantly by up to 99.99%, but up to could be a big variance. Still though, 99.99% is still not tongue to carpet worthy.

Sterilization is the process of hot steaming and object usually in a vacuum or with pressure continuously for about 20 minutes which does kill all - 100% of all organisms.  One reason I love industrial steam cleaning services for carpets - its not only clean, but it is really insanely close to sterile. After the carpet was sterilized, it would be cleaner than before the turd hit, yeah mentally I am pretty sure you could get the point of tongue tip to carpet. Sterilization is so clean that surgical instruments that were stuck inside one patient in the morning, are stuck in another in the afternoon after being sterilized. Steam sterilization is what my germaphobe wife deems as clean and we are on our sixth steam cleaner I believe.

Cleaners - The range is wide from foaming cleaners, to orange oil and natural cleaners. They get the brown out, clean the surface, but usually have little or no disinfecting abilities. Due to pressures of moronic uninformed consumers, many previously great every day cleaners that did kill 99.9% of germs have now removed disinfecting alcohol or bleach additives. For example, ever notice that Scrubbing Bubbles no longer notes “kills 99.9% of household germs”.

Disinfectants/Sanitizers - Alcohol, Bleach, Electric Steam Mops
Good old drug store isopropyl alcohol or the right ratio of regular laundry bleach or just 212-degree steaming H2O in contact with a surface for a period of time does an excellent job of disinfecting/sanitizing surfaces and objects. The amount of time any of these sanitizers are in contact with the target surface is critical though.

Isopropyl Alcohol 70% is available at any drugstore or superstore and in gel form as a hand cleaner. There is a reason pretty much every hospital, doctor, dental office and even the TSA use this as a disinfectant in a simple spray bottle. That reason is it works extremely well for simply disinfecting is due to being almost completely effective to its potential in just 10-seconds on contact. It is not hard on skin, tools, and equipment with constant use, is cheap, but it does not work well on super viral viruses. Of note, no matter how long you soak something in alcohol it will still not be sterilized… maybe close, but the really bad stuff can live through a soak. You will see that alcohol is often combined with other slower acting cleaners such as bleach to enhance the instantaneous cleaning power. Overall a fantastic cleaner that I even use as a general purpose gun parts cleaner that is also very handy for household/automotive/shop cleaning, and good for quick cleanups when returning to a vehicle. Currently experts are saying 15-second exposure to 70% isopropyl alchohol effectively kills the Coronavirus, however we still know so little about this virus.

Bleach - First I will not that Ammonia is also a good cleaner, but really only good for hard surfaces and if accidentally combined with bleach creates hydrochloric acid which is not something you want to made accidentally inside a home without protective equipment. I generally recommend bleach first. In the right proportions, bleach is super effective up to 99.9% in laboratory tests. Good old Clorox wipes still have enough bleach to kill pretty much anything around us from a bacteria or virus perspective, however again time is critical. Clorox wipes recommend a 4-minute saturation to assure the maximum effective sanitizing/disinfecting power is achieved. Typical laboratory tests note 4-5 minutes of a diluted bleach solution sufficiently kills 99.9% of germs and viruses.

  • Bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (Standard Clorox Bleach is about this concentration) is super flexible and could be used for everything from making potable water, to general cleaning, to sanitizing. For each use, common bleach should be diluted as follows:
  • Emergency Water Purification - 2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart of water OR 8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water OR 1/2 teaspoon Regular Clorox Bleach per five gallons of water.  If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages of Clorox Bleach. Only use Regular Clorox Bleach (not Fresh Scent or Lemon Fresh, etc).
  • General Disinfecting/Sanitizing - 1:99 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 1litre of water) can be used for general household cleaning.
  • Heavy Duty Sanitizing with Bleach - 1:49 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 0.5litre of water) is used with a full 5-minutes wetting of surfaces to kill 99.9% of germs surfaces or articles contaminated with vomitus, excreta, secretions or blood. Used cleaning tools should have a 30 minute soak in the higher concentration formula above.
Electric Steam Mops - The Bissel model has been rated continually as the best and after owning four in our home, the Bissel has held up better than the other brands. The idea is simple, add water, it is heated to a germ/virus annihilating 212-degrees F steam. A washable cotton mop cover is added and you work back and forth over the floor. These things are rather fantastically amazing and clean surfaces you “thought” were clean before to a disguising level. Kind of like when you first got one of those new high suction vacuums with the clear chamber. You saw how filthy everything was with your old vac. The steam cleaner is like that during the first couple uses. For actual sanitizing, you need a full 30-secs minimum of contact or repeated passes. 

Sterilization requires either submersion in a full rolling boil for two minutes or use of some type of heat, steam and pressure contraption. A pressure cooker is basically what the hospital uses with the Autoclave. However, some autoclaves are vacuum pressurized. Water is a good sterilizer, but again it does take the appropriate heat and time. 

Barriers & Filters/Respirators
Barriers are pretty simple devices that include Tyvek body suits, googles, shoe booties, and rubber gloves. They also include surgical masks, because these masks have little ability to filter, have non-sealing gaps and are only designed to provide a barrier between the wearer’s exhalation and others. Again they are designed to provide an inexpensive simple device to protect you from the wearer. An update from a reader who is a DR was to assure readers understand that basic surgical masks DO NOT provide inhalation protection against viruses because of the typical gaping fitment and filter micron rating and are only a cough/spit/expelled fluid barrier to offer simple barrier protection for others from the wearer. To be clear, basic surgical masks are of little value in protecting yourself from inhalation of a virus or bacteria.

Filters/Respirators are something different and seal against the face completely, allow preferably 0% air leakage and filter, are N%, R% or P% rated and filter the intake air for the wearer. Exhaled air is usually unfiltered and directly vented through a simple valve assembly to ease breathing. When we talk about protecting ourselves from others with a pandemic we are talking about wearing filtered air respirators which come in a disposable packs in the paint isle of the hardware store, to dual filter 3M 6001 rubber respirators, to those full face mask versions they wear with rubber suits you see on the virus plague movies. If the survivors have to slip on a $140 6000 series 3M full face mask respirator, I figure we are all screwed, so that leaves the first two options.

These are relatively cheap, however there is now some hoarding going on so prices are bumping up. What to look for is a N95 rated mask at a minimum which is NIOSH approved (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). This means you have a N (Not rated for Oil) filter that will filter out 95% of all .3-micron or larger contaminants, viruses, bacteria. SARS was a .1-micron virus, so it could technically get through, however most doctors say this is unlikely since you will likely not just have one virus cell. Its probably going to come in a droplet form which a N95 respirator would capture. 

Why not a better or finer filter. There are N99 filters which capture 99.9% of .3-micron contaminants, however unvented N95 and N99 respirators reduce breathing efficiency by up to 37%. If you have any breathing issue you should not be using a respirator without consulting a doctor because you could suffocate. Vented respirators improve breathing efficiency but breathing is diminished by about 15%. The bottom line is that any finer filter is really hard on the breathing of a wearer and usually if there is that concern for really minute filtration, tanked air is the favored option along with powered respirators. Again if we see government folks with tanked air or powered respirator units, it is already too late.

For the general public N95, and R rated (resistant to oil particulate) R95 and P (oil proof) rated P95 respirators are the only option. For disposable options that do not make you look like you are imitating my logo, N-rated filters are about the only option. 3M and other industrial and healthcare suppliers deliver top rated products such as the 8511 N95 respirator disposable mask, however if you want something cooler looking there are options like RZ Mask which do not carry the NIOSH or N rating, have published independent laboratory results which exceed those ratings. 
The next tier of respirators are almost exclusively thought of as spray paint respirators. These are usually half masks made of rubber and/or silicon and feature a large full vented nose and mouth coverage with dual filter attachment points. These filters usually combine a replaceable ¼-inch p95 filter pad with an longer use activated carbon filter that further filters scents, and containments.

There are some specialized filters including the 3M 60923 which has a P100 rating plus Organic Vapor (OV) and AG (Acid Gas) rating, but just the replacement filters alone ar $20 a pop and still are only rated for 90 minutes. This is about as good as it gets for a public option for a filtered respirator. The N and P rated half mask filters are allegedly more than adequate to protect from airborne viruses. I will be the guy wearing these if I have to fly for work in the next few months. 

So there you have it. Keep clean, get some barriers and filters and live to fight another day. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Piston vs Direct Impingement AR15 Testing

Piston vs Direct Impingement AR15 Testing

One of the things I have always wondered was how two identical AR15s would run with the only difference being that one is a direct impingement (DI) system and the other, a piston system. For those that are newer to AR15s, the vast majority of AR15s and military M16s run on a gas pressure bleed off port on top of the middle of the barrel which blows hot gas back through a small tube. That pressure blows the carrier back, unlocking and cycling the bolt, and carrier.

With gas piston systems, the process is similar however the gas bleed-off from the barrel pushes a piston and op-rod assemble located inside the gas block. The piston is pushed which moves the attached op rod which in turn pushes on a special bolt carrier and ultimately cycles the bolt. Most AR15 piston systems are either short or long-stroke systems. 

PWS’s is a long stroke system which is nearly identical to typical AK designs but is a proprietary system than cannot be retrofit to any AR15. The Short Stroke retrofit piston systems such as Superlative Arms, used in this test, can be retrofit to nearly any 5.56/.223 AR15. The long stroke piston systems have a stroke that extends the majority of the carrier stroke where the short stroke provide a quick short push to the carrier.

DIRECT IMPINGEMENT - The advantage of the DI system is that it is simple, lower cost, and does not require the precision setup for reliable operation that the piston systems does. The assembly precision is not as critical and the gas port alignment and fore-aft gas tube length can be off by a little and everything is still likely going to work just fine. The most significant disadvantage to the DI systems is they blow hot gas and burnt cartridge debris back into the action to power the cycling process which ultimately gums things up a bit and mandates cleaning ever 1500 or so rounds. With the addition of an adjustable gas block to allow tuning of the gas pressure, recoil can be greatly reduced (typically by about a third), less gas pressure, heat and debris is blown back into the action. In theory an adjustable gas block can deliver a \clearer and longer running DI gun. See my other article here on Adjustable Gas Blocks. With the use of suppressors though, gas pressures rise again and excessive gas is blown back into the shooter’s face if they are not re-tuning and lowering the gas block pressure for suppressor use.

PISTON - The main advantage is that piston systems do not blow hot gas or debris back into the action even with the addition of a suppressor. The cleaning interval can be greatly extended to 5000 or more rounds without a significant impact on reliability. Many shooters have noted 7000-10000 round cleaning intervals. My experience with previous builds and article has been that a piston driven gun seems to run so deceptively clean that I tend to forget completely about routine cleaning. Most piston systems also feature adjustable gas blocks which allow tuning of how much gas pressure the op rod piston sees. Piston systems overall have more mass in the system which means they soak up a bit more energy during each cycle. The result is a different recoil impulse… sometimes sharper and sometimes softer than DI systems. That extra mass can be problematic when working with lower pressure calibers such the 300 Blackout and especially with subsonic round. Some have figured out workarounds to increase gas pressure to drive the piston system to get 300 BO to work well in a piston gun. Suppressor shooters ideally want a 300 BO piston gun to have cleaner running gun that does not constantly blow hot gas back in their face. For this test I stuck with .223 builds.

THE PISTON VS DI QUESTION - The interesting question I had in mind was that if you had an optimized DI system with a properly adjusted gas block, how would that compare to a properly tuned piston system.  For this test, I built a custom mirror polished Barrett billet lower with a Hiperfire Elite Trigger and Ace UL rifle length stock and buffer. The uppers are both custom naked polished PWS Bootleg uppers with Faxon Match Series- 16" Pencil, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length, 416R, Nitride, 5R, Nickel Teflon Extension, and a .625-inch gas block size. These Match grade Faxon barrels are phenomenally accurate for their skinny super light profiles.

Both upper builds used PWS FSC compensators though I did test a number of different compensators with the system to see if there was some difference between certain comps and each system. For the record there was no magic combination of system vs compensator, each comp performed similarly on each respective upper.

The adjustable DI gas block was a Superlative Arms adjustable gas block and the retrofit Piston system for the piston upper was also Superlative Arms. The DI system featured a Faxon Lightweight Bolt Carrier to allow lower gas pressure setting and recoil reduction. The piston system features a Faxon Bolt with a Superlative Arms piston system (gas block, piston, and carrier).

In the scope of this test, the handguard, charging handle and optics really do not matter as long as the weight is not drastically different. In this case, I swapped between the Sig Romeo4T Red Dot, Holosun, and an Eotech XPS on each upper and saw no perceptible difference between the recoil impulse due to the optic weight swaps.

There really is not a big difference in cost assuming you are buying quality DI components. A DI Adjustable gas block retails for around $100 and a quality Bolt Carrier Group is another $150. On the Superlative piston retrofit side of the equation, the complete kit minus bolt is $280. Add in $100 Bolt and the difference between the two systems is only around $130.

DI Left Piston System Right
I do have several other another Superlative Arms Piston uppers and one in particular has over 7000 rounds with an action that has never been cleaned and the bore has only had a foam Swab-It cleaner pulled through the bore. I knew what to expect on how clean the system runs.

DI System 
Both uppers were tested with 500 rounds each - 1000 rounds total. It was not a huge ammo load; however, the 500 rounds were more than enough to see the chamber crude build up difference between the two systems and get a feeling of each upper.  I used two sets of dry paper towels and wiped down the bolt and carriers, the inside of the action and the charging handles.

Piston System
The piston system’s chamber was basically spotless to the degree that it could be cleaned with a paper towel. The piston system was so clean that much of the material on the paper towel was just clean oil. The DI system on the other hand was as expected with a fair degree of carbon inside the receiver. It was cleaner than what a shooter would expect without an adjustable gas block. This DI system was adjusted to have about a third the pressure of a typical stock barrel, so it had about a third less crud in the action.  The DI upper is pictured on the left and the piston system on the right. You can clearly see the difference on the paper towels on who won this test - clearly the piston system.

The piston system is heavier by not by much. The two handguards weighted in at the same weight. Technically the carbon fiber handguard was lighter than the hyperlight aluminum forend, however the Dolos quick barrel detach system added back some weight to the carbon fiber handguard. As tested without optics, the Piston system complete upper was 3-lb 12 oz and the DI complete upper 3-lb 1oz. The piston system is not that much heavier, the main weight difference is due to the DI system had an ultralight Faxon Bolt Carrier group. The realistic difference is the weight of the solid Op rod and marginally heavier gas block on the piston system. If the carriers were both the same weight, the difference would only be in the weight of bulkier piston gas block and op rod.

When it comes to weight, at the moment DI is the clear winner simply because a builder has the option to use a lightweight or ultra-light carrier with an adjustable gas block which can drop a huge amount of weight. If you are adjusting the gas pressure down and have a lighter carrier, you certainly do not need a heavier H2 or lardy H3 extra heavy buffer and can stick with a lighter standard carrier. All the way around the DI has the advantage to shed weight in a way that the piston systems do not.

This was a rather interesting test because from an overall recoil impulse perspective, both felt very similar but the DI felt smoother and the piston system recoil... felt longer. The piston system always felt like something mechanical was happening all the way through the cycling process. I could literally feel the shot impulse, the op rod pushes back, the action cycling and the op rod and bolt resetting back into battery. The piston gun impulse feels like a process is going on vs just a recoil pop.

With that noted the recoil itself was similar between the two it just felt different. The DI system you identify the cycling process at 80% recoil and 20% carrier resetting into battery which overall felt lighter. The piston system was about 25% shot impulse, 25% op rod push back, 25% action cycling, and 25% the op rod and carrier final lock up. The piston system is different recoil feel that some will not like and some will. This was really a tie between the systems.

Strapping on a Burris 4.15-14 XTRII scope, the accuracy was so statistically similar, it is pointless to compare them. What I will note is that with plain old 40gr Fiocchi VMAX rounds I could consistently deliver ¾” 100-yard groups with either upper. These Faxon Match barrels, skinny or not, are super accurate.

In addition to the un-natural weight reduction options, the caliber world is far more open to DI than the picky about pressure piston guns. Piston guns need the extra pressure to operate, but DI are much more flexible. Rounds like the 7.62x39 and 300 Blackout subsonic are still problematic for piston guns. Another trick the DI guns do is with the take-down kits like the Dolos system. The Dolos system allows the barrel to be removed from an upper still attached to a lower and as you can see with this kit stowed in small Hazard 4 Plan B sling pack, it delivers something exceptionally small and packable. Piston system are extremely sensitive to precise alignment and spacing of the op rod in relation to the bolt. A system like the Dolos cannot be used with piston guns due to the tolerances it requires for operation.

After 1000 total rounds, I wanted to shoot the piston system more than I did the DI system. The recoil was the same, but there was something about that mechanical almost steampunk feeling that made it fun to shoot. All along, I knew the piston upper would stay clean and keep shooting.  From a reliability perspective, both systems ran perfectly which might have changed as round counts increased.

Would I rather have a piston gun in the zombie apocalypse? Yes. The biggest problem I have with the short stroke piston retrofit kits is that they literally have to be set up perfectly, exactly, precisely or they do not run right. Once setup and locked down, they run perfectly and amazing and worth the effort. Once they are set up, they seem to deliver a gun that can run what seems like forever. If you have not tried a Superlative Piston retrofit piston build, it is a worthy build.

There are a lot of different gas blocks on the market, however Superlative Arms versions are absolutely the only ones I recommend to people. Over the years I have actually weeded out all the other gas blocks I have and converted over to Superlative simply because of several reasons. They are the only adjustable gas block which has not failed, reliably holds the setting, and has a unique venting feature which vents the excess gas instead of restricting it. This ultimately delivers a DI adjustable gas block which stays clean and does not carbon over like other gas blocks.

Superlative Arms has also developed one of the easiest and most reliable retrofit piston kits available on the market. They provide good instructions and a very premium tier quality product that I personally have run well over 10K rounds through one of the conversions I did. If you are thinking about a Piston system, you might want to just convert your existing rifle or use this system for a new build.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

CAA Micro Roni V4 Testing - Proving the Value

CAA Micro Roni V4 Testing - Proving the Value
Answering everything you ever asked yourself about the Micro Roni

The CAA Micro Roni has been one of those products I've been wanting to test for some time. The question that crosses everyone’s mind is whether the Micro Roni is just a fun tacti-cool product or a realistic defensive option. During this last Black Friday, I finally relented on a deal from the Israeli retailer called YRS who sells the CAA Micro Roni products. YRS had an incredible deal for about $250 including the add on tactical light on the newest Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST for Glocks. To be clear YRS is not a product sponsor and they did not provide any discounts… in fact they have no idea I am even doing this review. About two weeks later, I had my Micro Roni shipment here in the US and a Glock 19 clicked in about five minutes later after reading the somewhat marginally vague instructions.

The intent of the Micro Roni Gen 4 is not to take the place of a rifle, short barreled rifle or even an AR pistol, it is first and foremost designed as a very compact handgun caliber PDW - Personal Defense Weapon. PDWs classically are chambered is handgun and small caliber soft armor piercing rifle rounds. 

The MP5 and Uzi formats both popularized and proved the value of a submachine gun size chambered in a 9mm handgun rounds with 2”-8” barrels. The intended ranges of these handgun caliber PDWs was 0-25 yards and this is where the Micro Roni fits from a realistic perspective. Yes, of course you can ring steel torsos at 100-yards all day until your heart's content, however typical 9mm rounds lose about half their energy at that distance and most consider 50-yards at the limit of realistic stopping power for most 9mm rounds.

One of the reasons I hesitated so long on trying the Micro Roni was concern about the overall lockup between the Glock firearm in the Micro Roni. Glocks are good combat guns with good combat accuracy, but there is some engineered slop to assure when the gun is dipped in mil-spec mud it will not seize up and still shoot. 

Considering the polymer Micro Roni mounts to the polymer lower Glock rail and is secured via a rear polymer wedge/hasp, I was skeptical on the lockup points. Would polymer on polymer lockup and mounting be solid enough to deliver any real accuracy improvements or would it actually degrade accuracy due to all those potential movement points.

Though it only takes a tiny amount of wiggle to destroy accuracy, the lockup feels rock solid and I think it would take some high dollar measurement gear to discern the actual play between parts. My only real concern on fit was the top picatinny polymer rail which has some noticeable side-to side flex when pressure is applied to a riser mounted red dot or scope. Based on what I saw the flex “returns to zero”. The solution for me was to mount the optics on top of picatinny rail screw mount points which are solid.

CAA does offer an aluminum top rail option which could help improve accuracy a little, but I do not think it is needed based on my testing. If there is concern about that, a few dabs of Devcon 2-ton epoxy would lock that rail on so tight it would never move again. I would suggest going over all the seams and edges with an emery board (aka manicure file) to remove all the sharp casting edges to improve comfort.

There are a few problems with how many variants are out in the market of the CAA Micro Roni. There are CAA versions, plus MCK knock offs, plus international versions, plus dealer accessorized versions, plus old version with updates, plus different Sig/Glock/H&K variants plus concept photos which do not match the final production… it is all very confusing.

Add it that CAA does not even have the Gen 4 STAB listed on their site yet and also really does a poor job of helping you mentally sort that out - the result is that you can get frustrated pretty quick when shopping. YRS is one of the largest CAA official dealers and has the best prices and longest list of options. Yes, they are in Israel, but shipment was fast. What I would look for to match the reviewed Roni model here is the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 and specifically the “MIC-ROXG4ST” on the YRS site. 

Notably the white version was the only one on the site that had the right photo and the only one which did not show a concept photo of the Gen 4. The MIC-ROXG4ST is the only version that supports full size Gen 3, 4 & 5 Glocks including G17, G22, G31, G19, G19X, G23, and G32. I could not find anyone in the US that was stocking this newest version of the CAA MIC-ROXG4ST.

The add on tactical light is highly recommended and well worth the upgrade and is a very high quality and bright LED CR123 powered Olight tactical light - you will consider it a mistake if you do not buy it to start with.

This newest Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST version addressed many complaints of the original designs and offer shooters pretty much everything they've asked for in the Micro Roni over the years. The newest version has a longer folding brace which makes it more comfortable to shoot and overall much more usable. 

There is also a simple and unobtrusive trigger guard that covers the trigger on a loaded and cased gun which the earlier versions did not have. The ejection port has been enlarged to prevent jams and the charging carrier is now captured within the frame, so you do not have the opportunity to lose it. The slide release is now also exposed which drops the problematic slide release linkage of previous versions and reduces some cost.

The Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST has a new added feature that allows an integral lower rail to swap between an NFA legal angle forward grip or allegedly NFA legal angled magazine holder. This swap process requires two flathead screwdrivers to be simultaneously levered at the same time to release both the very stiff tabs for the swap - this a good thing because once clicked-in, it is literally impossible to move. 

The magazine holder is from my perspective an interesting feature, but logistically it is way faster to snag a belt mounted magazine on the reload. The mag holder is very secure and requires a push button release - that sounds cool, but in practice, it is slow. The other issue with the mag holder is that even a shorter G19 magazine mounts so far out of the holder that the Micro Roni loses a lot of it compact format which is its primary benefit. It sure looks cool, but I would stick with the forward angled grip and skip the magazine mount.

What is very unique about this newest version is that it will accommodate full size Gen 3, 4 & 5 Glocks including G17, G22, G31, G19, G19X, G23, and G32. Yep, one Micro Roni for 90% of the Glock models. This offers a single super versatile platform across a variety of guns. In my case, I tested with several Glock Gens and models including Gen 3, 4, & 5 G17, G19, and a Gen 5 G19X, however zeroing does change a little between the gun swaps so I would pick your favorite.

Mounting up a Glock to the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 entails using the included hex wrench to adjust the blast shield/compensator to the appropriate model mark/length. I drilled a small hole in the rubber brace to hold the hex wrench for later use to assure I always have the needed tool with me. The chosen Glock model then snaps into the rear charging serrations, slides forward to then click into the rail lock. The final and third click is heard after closing the rear grip hasp and sliding it forward until it clicks. If everything has clicked in properly you should see green though a little side window at the rear grip hasp area.

The process is fast enough and with practice takes just a few seconds, however installation would not be something I would want to do under fire, but removal is pretty quick. The whole process is more of a pre-configured for shooting type setup in my mind. I can see where someone would have this Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 in a daypack and wants to leave the pack in the car but avoid leaving a gun in a vehicle. 

The shooter could take a few seconds to remove their Glock from the Roni chassis to convert back to a CCW gun and that removal could all be done clandestinely within the confines of a pack. One annoyance is that the QD swivel is proprietary and is only available from YRS or CAA, why they would do this I have no idea.

Reloads are slower any way you slice it. For at least my hands, I need to do the tilt and shift movement which means that I need to rotate the brace from inside to the outside of my shoulder and then back again after the reload. A naked Glock is faster on the reload. From a reliability perspective we had zero issues testing through six types of brass and steel cased ammo of all various qualities. I would not hesitate at all in using the Micro Roni for self-defense applications where reliability would be critical.


The big question everyone has is does the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST make a Glock faster to shoot and/or more accurate. The short answer is yes, but with some caveats. To give the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST the best fighting chance I tested for accuracy with Leupold 1.5-4 Hog Plex reticle scope - it was what I had in hand already in a QD mount for testing. Later I replaced the scope with a spare Vortex Sparc green dot because I thought the scope was overkill after seeing the accuracy results.

First I will note that the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 does not somehow magically enhance all the greatness of a Glock into a 100-yard precision sniper system upon insertion… it is still a Glock but with a shooting brace and a more precise single plane sighting system assuming you have a red dot or scope attached.

To set the expectation for accuracy, Ransom Rest fixtured groups will scientifically show the capabilities of handguns. From my experience, locking in a stock Glock into a Ransom Rest will deliver average groups in the 1” range at 25-yards which is a great group most really good shooters can deliver at 7-yards offhand. Glock’s official factory accuracy test is passing a 1-inch 25-yard group from a ransom rest type fixture. Yes, some Glocks shoot better than others and aftermarket triggers, barrels and upgrades can greatly change that accuracy. A few years back I shot a 10-shot 1.1” 20-yard group from a factory Glock and match ammo I was extremely proud of, but by contrast I can do that almost any day with my GP-100 revolvers. A few years ago, a friend and I would take turns ringing the 100, 200- and 300-yard gongs with our Glock 9mm and .40 S&W models. Shockingly, it was not that hard to hit with some regularity once you figured out the number of feet to hold over and get the sight zeros tweaked - possible but not precision. The Roni will provide more fun with these type of range antics.

If weight was not an option, which would you choose? A Micro Roni, MPX, or Galil

No amount of Roni magic will deliver better than 1” overall average groups at 20-yards or 12” at 200 yards. The only thing the Roni delivers is a braced format and single plane sighting system - both of which help improve your ability greatly to shoot your Glock accurately more quickly while reducing recoil to almost zero. The benefit is that someone with far less practice and experience can deliver more accurate hits faster with the Glock Roni combo than with a Glock alone - it is extremely easy to shoot. For the experienced shooter who can shoot to the limits of Glock’s accuracy, the immediate accurate benefits are there but much harder to see.

We did not see all these benefits at the 7-yard or even 10-yard range or even a big difference at the 25-yard range. Where we were finally able to see a big clear accuracy, difference was beyond 50-yards with most of our testing at the 75-yard line with Sig FMJ 124gr rounds and an unfired brand-new Gen 5 G19. The other shooter and I are both confident with shooting 10-out of 10 on steel torso targets at 50 yards with our preferred Glock, but the pace was faster with the Glocks mounted in the Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 MIC-ROXG4ST chassis. At 75-yards, the pace differences and accuracy differences were significant with shot times well over twice as long with the bare Glock where the Roni system allowed solid shots quickly. A

t 75-yards we were seeing 8-12” groups with the Glock Micro Roni and 10”-20” groups with the bare Glock. Our best groups with the bare Glock were in the 8” range and we printed on very nice 4” group with the Micro Roni on a hostage target with Sig 147gr FMJ through the group moved high and right about 6 inches with that ammo. Ideally with Federal 147gr match rounds all these groups would have been tighter at this range, but the Sig 124gr and 147gr ammo worked for testing and proved the accuracy assumptions on the Micro Roni.

One thing people have noted is that the Roni dirties up the front and of your Glock pretty quick. I really had no issues with just wiping off all this powder residue with a Clorox wipe. yeah, they work really well for that. Dirty yes, affects function? No.

Whether you are shooting a $2800 H&K MP5, $2000 SIG MPX, or a used Glock clicked into a Micro Roni, I didn't see any difference at all between these guns out to 25-yards. The Roni can help you shoot a Glock more accurately especially for less experienced shooters - but for longer pistol ranges there are better tools with more precision and higher velocities thanks to longer barrels or tighter lockup.

The Ruger PCC is an extremely reliable and accurate take-down rifle that accepts Glock mags. AR formats such as my 10-inch barreled PWS 9mm AR format PCC pistol fed by Glock mags can deliver consistently solid 1.25” groups a 100-yards, but that is a $1200 rig. Admittedly, I have several Sig MPX PDWs and they are about 2x more accurate at above 25-yards than the Glock Roni rig all thanks to a fixed barrel and more precise metal AR format - but is that worth $1500 extra premium on the MPX for 99% of buyers? I bet not. The popularity of MRO red dot optics on Glocks and other handguns also offer pretty substantial improvements in accuracy. A recent test of an IWI Massad 9mm with Burris FastFire III delivered incredible easy to shoot near single hole 7-yard groups so you might make the case if you can do that with just a pistol, why do you need the Micro Roni.

The problem with 9mm ammo at the longer 50 and 75-yards distances out of a short pistol barrel is that the point of impact and accuracy moves around a lot with various ammo - in our case, point of impact would shift as much as a foot and accuracy would jump from huge 24” groups down to 4” groups with ammo changes. Ultimately, I would say a scope is way overkill because at shorter distances you do not need it and at longer distances the accuracy and precision of the Glock Roni with varied ammo is more of a “shooting at the target” vs shooting with precision. A red dot is more than enough on this platform.

I think buyers have to look at the Micro Roni as simply an option to get into the PDW feel without a lot of investment, have some fun, and potentially shoot their Glock better. I would be cautious to artificially promote a bare Glock or a Roni equipped version to “as good as” status with the MPX and MP5’s of the world. Those gun on a different level… the Roni is just a convenient and far less expensive option. Where this setup does have a pretty big advantage is weight. Any of the above more accurate firearms are nearly twice the weight of the Roni plus Glock - if you are concerned about weight, the Micro Roni has a big advantage.

If we say that there is little difference in accuracy for the highly experienced Glock shooter under 25-yards between a naked Glock and a Micro Roni and that power and precision trails off so fast after that same distance, you start to ask why in the world should I buy one? There are several really good reasons.

The whole concept is cool fun and a blast to shoot. It is a fantastic gun to use for training new shooters. Everyone loves it and it is super easy to shoot. The one other person helping out on this test was my 80+ year old father who noted a huge difference in recoil. He also noted that something like the Micro Roni would be a really great home defense option for someone who did not have the upper body strength to properly control a handgun, maybe has some joint or muscle problems or where a rifle may be too heavy - excellent point. The brace afforded another point of contact and allowed a lot more stability. 

My father’s perspective was the Roni system delivers a ton of confidence around the handling and shooting of a handgun you may already own in a short format. If you already own a Glock, this is a simple and inexpensive add on that could keep you shooting a Glock format you like even if you do not have the strength to continue properly control a handgun. This is a great point for new and younger shooters… the Micro Roni makes it easy to shoot.

Size of Micro Roni vs MPX

Un-experienced shooters get to start seeing a huge jump in their Glock shooting precision which can be a big confidence booster when shooting from 7-25 yards. For example, my father has never been a great shot with a handgun, but with something like the Micro Roni, I would be confident that he could hit what he is aiming at with reasonable accuracy and in a defensive situation it would be my strong recommendation for him.

A PDW without the PDW cost. The other buyer for this is the single firearm owner on a budget who also wants to have a PDW format as well. Used Glocks and LEO trade-ins are super cheap these days to the point that anyone can afford to pick one up. The same cannot be said for the PDW market with most quality PDW firearms starting around $1000 all the way to the $2000+ Sig MPX and $2800 MP5 H&K formats. Even the CZ Scorpion starts around $900. Good lord, my mags alone for my MPX are $60. The Micro Roni X Stab Gen 4 is a cheap option to get into a PDW format for $300 + the Glock you already own. As a side point, if you are not enamored with the PDW concept in the Micro Roni, you are going to be ticked you spent $1800 to get basically the same functional concept. It is a fantastic starting place.

Of course, check your local laws first, but in most states and cities if you have a CCW license, the Micro Roni is just as legal transport as your pistol ...because it is still a pistol. The Micro Roni Gen 4 is legally just a holder for your Glock, so carrying it in a backpack while shopping is no less legal than carrying your Glock concealed and holstered through the same venue. It is a light-weight carry-it-anywhere option and depending on your backpack could be brought into play pretty quickly.

The final reasons for buying a Micro Roni is that it is just fun. Who would not want to take the great Glock format and have some fun with it beyond what it was designed for? We are all waiting for a factory Glock rifle that is unlikely will ever come. While Ruger, Keltec and the AR15 market finally delivered to us a Glock fed PDW and rifle, the CAA Micro Roni is a Glock powered option that is fun, reliable, and inexpensive. It may have its limits, but somehow none of us could stop shooting it.

Any concerns I had about reliability were addressed during the perfectly reliable performance during testing and would certainly have no concerns using the setup from a defense perspective. This is a fantastic home for a good used Glock 17 to just hang out in a Micro Roni. With the optional light, a used G17 with an extended +3 magazine extension, it is a fantastic light little setup, reliable, fun, inexpensive, and defensively practice.