Friday, April 29, 2011

Finally Ruger's SR1911 .45 - Ruger Introduces a 1911

Ruger just announced their new SR1911 .45 at the NRA Show.

See my Full Ruger 1911 Review Here

With a retail of $799 !!  Now this I am excited about.

We have all talked about it, pontificated an even rumor'ed a Ruger 1911 .45  for years and now it's finally here.  Yes Ruger has just released their feature loaded SR1911 a Government style 1911 with the most popular upgrades like:
  • Aluminum skeleton'ized target trigger
  • Skeleton'ized hammer
  • Beavertail safety
  • Hardwood grip
  • 70 Series design for easy takedown
  • Checkered backstrap
  • CNC machining
  • Same bar stock/same machine CNC stainless barrel & bushing for tighter fit
  • Over-sized ejection port
  • Extended magazine release
  • Novak sights
  • Extended thumb safety and slide stop
  • Titanium firing pin
  • Visual ejection port.
  • 100% made in the USA
All Models:
Caliber: .45 Auto
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Sights: Fixed Novak® 3-Dot
Length: 8.67"
Height: 5.45"
Width: 1.34"
Grooves: 6
Barrel Length: 5.00"
Twist: 1:16" RH

Knowing Ruger and seeing the features loaded into their 1911, it could be one of the best deals yet on a performance competition ready 1911 all for under $800 retail.  Now could you whip out a 9mm version as well?

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Mako AG-43 Grip for AR15/AR10/M4/M16 Rifles & Carbines - Testing & Review

Mako AG-43 Grip for AR15/AR10/M4/M16 Rifles & Carbines - Testing & Review

Stock AR grips leave a lot to gripe about and for me are quite uncomfortable in all but a gloved hand.  Major improvements can be had in comfort, grip and accuracy with a simple grip swap.  There are now a ton of grip options out there and the perfect grip is out there for everyone. In my case after using a Hogue AR grip for a while on my AR's, I decided to try out a Mako AG-43.

One of the reasons I am trying something different was that the Hogue grip forced my smaller hands lower than it naturally wanted to be on my DPMS 308 AP4.  I do not have big mitts and without tac gloves, the Hogue's was not as comfortable with higher recoil .308 as I would have hoped. The Hogue grip will definitely find a home on a lighter recoiling AR.

The Makogrip also features a nice little chamfer on the left and right sides of the trigger index finger area.  If you shoot a lot you can end up with a blister in this guard meets grip area.. The Hogue grip fell into this blister arena for me and it was a feature I noticed on first grip of the grip.

The Mako AG-42 grip is made from a MIL-SPEC reinforced polymer composite which has a non-rubberized but grippy texture.

The built in storage compartment easily holds 2-CR2032 (or 2-AA/CR123A) batteries, hex and Allen wrenches and still has room to spare.  The compartment is not watertight however if you vacuum pack the batteries that is not an issue. 

The grip is made to take a beating and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee like most of its other products and it comes in black, green, and dark earth.

One thing that bugged me initially was a gap as shown in the picture to the right just above the grip beavertail only when mounted on my DPMS 308 receiver.  This gap is not present on AR15 sized receivers.  An annoyance from a aesthetic perspective only when mounted to larger 308 receivers, but did not cause any functional or ergonomic issues. The other little issue which could be a plus or minus depending on personal preferences.  The storage compartment latch is tough to unlatch.  On one side the latch will not pop open, on the other the latch has to be opened with a bullet or screwdriver.

After running drills and some short term testing at the range the Mako AG-43 grip's high backstrap seems much more comfortable for my stumpy hands both with and without gloves.  My hand does sits higher and more comfortably.  The result is a bit better control and less recoil fatigue, especially in the big calibers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Best AR Magazine Coupler - How to Make a Magazine Coupler

Best AR Magazine Coupler - How to Make a Magazine Coupler

After buying, trying, and returning a Buffer Technologies AR magazine coupler, I decided to make my own.  Why - you ask would I send back a perfectly good magazine coupler for a DIY coupler?

Although the plastic and metal AR magazine coupler looked impressive construction straps and bolts, it did not work with my Magpul 308 mags at all... even though it said it would.  Both 308 and 5.56 magazines could be twisted out easily or would free themselves after a couple rounds of recoil. To be fair it should be used with metal mags and I am a Magpul magazine whore so that product was useless to me. This would be an example of a product I would not recommend.  The solution came in the form of a comment from one of the Israeli instructors during my Mako Defense Training.  His observation/comment was that he has yet to see a magazine couple which did not eventually fail, but "duct-tape will never fail and it's free."

As it turns out the guy who served in a top Israeli special forces with decades of experience in defensive fighting was correct. For over six months my home brew DIY AR magazine coupler has taken a beating and has never come close to failing.

I sized a piece of 1/2" high density foam some custom parts came packaged in.  Then it was as simple as placing the magazine together and duct-taping them together with about 5-7 layers of duct tape.

Per the suggestion of some of the instructors at the Mako Defense training, I also secured in a simple para-cord loop for both easier extraction and for securing the dual magazine to the AR.  I can get this the rational into why you want to attach a dually to you weapon in another article, however the idea is that it prevents you from dropping/fumbling the mags during clearing maneuvers.

The other thing you want to avoid in setting up dual coupled AR magazines is to assure you appropriately stagger the magazines.

Magazine #2 (the right-most magazine) should be low enough that when magazine #1 (the left-most magazine) is fully inserted that magazine #2 will allow the ejection port cover to swing fully open with blocking it's path.  Most folks forget this detail until they start having jams at the range.

In the photo I show the optimal magazine #2 staggering, however many people do push that mag a little higher  which leaves the ejection port cover with a horizontally slanted position.  My observation is that the higher the ejection port cover it the higher number of jams you will have related to ejection port cover interference.

Below is a picture showing the difference in the heights of the magazine after they have been properly staggered.

If you are setting up a 5.56/.223 AR with coupled magazine you also have the option to use one 20 round and one 30 round magazine instead of two 30's.  This give the base plate a none staggered flat base which may be better for some shooting situations.

So far my original/non-knock off duct tape has held up just great.  I was thrilled and found some digital camo Duck Tape and put a band around magazine to add a little camo look and allowed me to mark and number the magazine with a sharpie permanent marker.

Shop the complete selection of mags at 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mako GMG Universal Rifle & Carbine Brass Catcher - Testing & Review

Mako GMG Universal Rifle & Carbine Brass Catcher - Testing & Review

Chances are if you shoot anything that goes bang larger than a rimfire you have probably thought about reloading.  If you are an avid larger volume shooter, ammo can get expensive which leads to reloading which leads to damn I am tired or picking brass up off the floor, snow, weeds, grass, and dirt.  What you need is a Mako GMG Universal Rifle & Carbine Brass Catcher for less than $15 at

The brass catcher is a really simple concept... stiff Nylon bag at the top, mesh nylon material toward the bottom, with a wire sub-structure that attaches to the barrel with a very long velcro strap. Attach to rifle and/or carbine and empty brass cases drop nicely into the evidence brass catcher.

I have heard of people having issues where the brass catcher prevents full exit from the ejection port and causes a jam, however I have yet to experience any of those issues.  The metal sub-structured opening is definitely large enough for my 308 and actually allowed me to clip the front of the bag lip under my forward assist and I could still work the forward assist through the bag.  I did also assure the bag did not obstruct the ejection port cover and on both of my AR the inside cover opened fully without being interfered with by the catcher.

I have used this on a variety of guns including AR15 rifles, 308/7.62x51 AR rifles and even my Ruger 10/22 to assure my wife does not find the empty casings after shooting critters off the back deck, out the bedroom window, or out the front door.

The brass catcher has a zippered bottom so you can easily empty the casings.  I also like to just keep it unzipped when benchrest shooting so the cases drop lightly on the bench instead of ricocheting off the guy's head on the next to me just to drop on my arm and burn a 2" scar.  This will indeed improve your range language.

The brass catcher is sized for rifle calibers and does work but not as well for carbines such as my Keltec Sub2000 or Henry Lever Action rifle.  It's hard to fault the design as it is not sold for these applications.

The brass catcher is a great accessory for any rifle/carbine shooter and comes from me highly recommended... because I am just too old at this point to be bending over for 30 minutes with my butt crack showing scrounging for brass just to save enough money to continue shooting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inova T1 & X5 Series LED Tactical Flashlight Review - What to look for in a quality tactical light

Inova T1 & X5 Series LED Tactical Flashlight Review
What to look for in a quality tactical light

T1There are about a thousand brands of "tactical flashlights" available however there there is much that separates the backyard toys from a flashlight that you would feel confident staking your life on when equipment abuse is high and you only have once chance at enlightening your situation.  Everyone in my opinion needs a quality tactical light.  Sight is after all our primary survival tool and without being able to see what the hell is going on, it's tough to be able to react.

If you are not hip on what has happened in flashlight technology in the last 10 years then.. let me enlighten you. The new bread of high performance LED flashlight outperform the largest 2 foot long 4+ cell Kypton bulbed Maglites everyone is familiar with in every respect and are so small they can fit in your back pocket.  A good light is not cheap and start in the $50+ range.

When you look at premium weapon/tac lights in an affordable range a couple names come to mind including Surefire, Streamlight, and Inova. Blackhawk and others have super premium higher strength more feature rich lights as well, however I have yet to find a quantifiable performance difference between a $200 flashlight and one less than half that price such as the Inova X3 and T1 lights I am reviewing here. Features most premium flashlight brands integrate is what makes them preferred for hard use mission critical environments.

Features I look for in a real flashlight are:
  • LED light "bulb" diodes - LED lights are virtually indestructible compared to bulb based lights and can take huge amounts of impact and not fail.  Additionally they typically burn exponentially longer, are virtually replacement free and then of course they provide the brightest whitest light of any bulb.
  • Thick machined billet aluminum body - Extruded bodies are nowhere near as strong. Another option are the new High strength  polymer bodies which are tauted to be as strong as aluminum.
  • Electronically controlled LED and power control. - These flashlights run longer and can also feature various functions including momentary on, click on/off, strobe, and low output options all via one button.
  • Precision machined aluminum reflector - High output LEDs do generate a lot of heat and if the reflector is not aluminum it will meat with long run times.
  • Dual side coated anti-reflective coating makes the light brighter.
  • Waterproof construction keeps the light running even during wet times.
  • CR123A Battery Power - These lithium batteries power all sorts of tactical equipment and deliver more power longer than nearly any other battery and have a near indefinite shelf life.
Inova X5
X5Inova was the first flashlight manufacturer to utilize LED technology in flashlights with the introduction of the X5, a pioneering legend among flashlights. The machining is stunning and the flashlight is still in the Inova line up. Someone thought it was so sexy it is in a modern art museum.    Many years ago I purchased a X5 flashlights simply because it was the most compact high output flashlight ever featuring high 56 lumen output runtime for up to 10 hours and was rated to handle over 3000lb crush force. I still have mine today and am only on my third battery swap.  This light is specifically designed as a flood task light to provide a very long run time with output that rivals large multi-cell flashlights in a indestructible package.  Because of it's flood light pattern and run time I use it as a ambient and general purpose light. If you are looking for long distance midnight critter spotlight when letting the dog out this is not the flashlight, however as a general purpose light for anything else including figuring out what that bump in the night was it is excellent value and best buy and the battery life is nothing short of stunning. Suggested Retail $36.99 

Inova T1 Series Flashlight
T1The Inova T1 series is a huge value in the flashlight market designed as a a cutting edge super premium spot flood light.  It has a intense refocused spot light with a gentle flood light at the edges.  The run time is about 5 hours on high output setting which is still very long however what you trade off in less run time is over twice the output of the original X5 flashlight  to a stunning 120 Lumen output for 5 hours.

The new T1 version offers high/low/strobe/ and light lockout settings and a 120 lumen output.  On the low setting for ambient light, this flashlight can an amazing 38 hours at a 16 lumen output.  The advantage is that you get two flashlights in one.  Blinding and I do mean blinding light, low output map reading light, and a tactical disorienting strobe for defensive use.

Inova also makes several tactical lights starting with the small 2-cell CR123 powered T1 to the big T5 3 cell flashlight with a 200 lumen output.  I choose the Inova T1 because of its small single profile (one size from reflector to end cap) which still offers full power output and runtime.  I carry the light constantly and wanted something which would ride well in my back pocket or jacket pocket and the single profile makes it more comfortable to carry. If you can spare the extra dollars, the T1 is one of the best buys for a super premium flashlight abailable for defense, military, and just to see what is in your purse. Suggest Retail $67.99

Final Thoughts
In the realm of premium flashlights there are certainly brighter lights however there is always a direct relationship between high output and length of run-time.  For me the power and size the Inova X3 and T1 pack into an affordable tactical light makes me believe this is a light everyone can afford.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Modifying DPMS 308 magazines

Modifying DPMS 308 magazines

If you are a fellow DPMS 308 owner and have replaced all your magazines with Magpul LR20, you now are wondering what to do with all those factory magazines they don't work right.

A couple of the issues with the factory metal magazines are that the loaded height varies over 1/8", the front of  the magazine is too high and catches the case edges during chambering as well on the rear of the feed lips, and finally the follower retaining clips are square and smack into the case shoulder during chambering.  All this equates to poor feeding, lots of jams and FTF, and cases that are beat to hell.

The solution is pretty simple with a little Dremel tool work.

First mark a line 1/16" below the the front of the magazine.  Mark the follower retention clips.

I used a drum sanding bit on my Dremel tool to provide a little more clearance on the front of the magazine and the follower retention clips.

After I finished I hit all the ground surfaces with a polishing bit and re-bluing solution.  The result are magazines that function nearly as well as my Magpul magazines and don't beat up my brass so much.

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Kel-Tec Sub2000 Integrated Laser Pressure Switch Modification

Kel-Tec Sub2000 Integrated Laser Pressure Switch Modification

Just when I thought I had made every modification possible, I seemed to have found yet another modification to do.

Back when I integrated my high output green SightMark laser into the handguard I made it a push button design. I did this for one main reason, the switch never work, however after realizing that I had a short in the switch itself vs. wire connection issues inside the end cap, I was able to repair the issue and put the entire pressure switch activation back in place.

The problem was that I didn't want to have a pressure switch on the side that triggered any time you set the S2K down.  After thinking long and hard, I decided to pull out the Dremel and do a recessed integrated pressure switch.  The Switch is held in place with Black High Temp Silicon.

The other little upgrade was to screw on a small piccatiny rail on the bottom of the SightMark Laser.  This was something for some gun that came with some clearance ring I purchased long ago. Although I didn't mind the flashlight mounted on the side Magpul rail, for folded storage it works better to have it under the laser.