Thursday, November 14, 2013

Burris AR-F3 Fast Fire III AR15 3 MOA Red Dot review

Burris AR-F3 Fast Fire III AR15 3 MOA Red Dot review

Way... way back when I first started this crazy testing endeavor, one of my first reviews was the Burris Fast Fire II and loved it. At that time it was the only quality automatic brightness red dot on the market and it has continued to deliver flawless functioning in all lighting conditions even today on my Mega Arms ultralight build.  The problem was that it did not come with a co-witness height riser and the sight needed to removed from its base to change the battery. The result was some pain to find just the right riser height and occasionally rezeroing with a battery replacement. 

Burris had its ears to the ground and listened to customer feedback. A large majority of customers were mounting the previous Fast Fire II to AR15 rifles and liked the extra armor “wings” the AR mount provided, but hated the battery replacement thing and also not having a rise included. Burris went one step further beyond curing this issues with some creative solutions that no other manufacturer has offered on a red dot projection sight.

Burris updated the Fast Fire II with the new Fast Fire III 3 MOA version to now include all the things users were asking for plus a few surprises they did not know they needed.  Burris fixed the bottom loading battery with a top loading unit, but kept a lower cavity under the sight to house a last ditch spare battery. Sure accessing it will require sight removal from the base however at least you have a spare carried on board. Burris also engineered the sight to key into the base, so even if you do remove it to access that spare, you will still return to zero.

The new AR-F3 mounts right up to either Weaver or Picatinny mounts.  Burris also integrated an AR15 specific co-witness height mount with the armored protection wings everyone liked, so you not only get a perfect height rise you have built in protection for the sight. Burris even went one step further and provides a slip-on UV/Polarized sight cover which offers further sight protection along with a sight hood that prevents glare during very bright sunlight situations - many of the military refer to this now as a sand shield.  

Along with the 3-MOA auto brightness red dot, Burris added three manual levels on off-mode to assure you can tune the right auto-brightness range and of course actually turn the power off when not in use.

Other extras are on-board stored wrench to secure the sight on the rifle and a combo Torq wrench/screwdriver tool to remove the Fast Fire III sight and adjust the zero.  You will never find yourself in need of the right tool to tune your AR-F3. Carried over are the rugged steel body construction, 100% waterproof case, and 1-year warranty.

I mounted the Burris Fast Fire II AR-F3 sight to my Houlding Precision Custom AR15 and set about zeroing.  This is where another enhancement surfaced - zeroing adjustment now also have detents. The old Fast Fire II was painful to zero… really painful, like you wanted to throw the gun down range painful. Thankfully the AR-F3’s zeroing adjustments now gleefully clicks into each position which made zeroing as easy as zeroing any scope. Once zero’ed at 25-meters and verifying zero at 100-yards, I was able bang away easily on the 300-yard 12” steel gong. Over in a secluded tactical training bay I was able to set up left, right, and forward targets and give the Burris AR-F3 a workout at short distances.  The biggest advantage I saw was that the sight offered far more peripheral vision and field of view than typical tube red-dot sights.

Burris has answered the original complaints of the still extraordinarily successful Fast Fire II with the updates delivered on the Fast Fire III powered AR-F3. It has  

Style: Reflex
Magnification: 1x
Sight Window: 21mm x 15mm
Adjustment Range @ 100 yards: 190"
Reticle: 3 MOA Dot
Reticle color: Red
Housing material: Steel
Recoil resistance: 1000 G's
Battery Type: (1) CR1632 3V or (2) CR2016
Length: 1.8"
Weight: 0.9 oz.
Warranty: 1-year factory warranty
$299 Street Price

Shop a huge selection of optics at and support

CMC Single Stage Drop in AR15 Trigger Review

CMC Single Stage Drop in AR15 Trigger Review

One of the quickest and least painful accuracy upgrades to an AR15 is trigger upgrade. The challenge becomes that people tend to go way overboard thinking they need an adjustable trigger to get great performance and so they can “tune” it. The problem is that very very few of us have the talent to actually tune a trigger safely. The other issue is that multi-piece replacement triggers can be a bit tricky to install for the first timer. CMC solved these issues with a design that offer defense and military level durability and reliability with a maintenance-free un-tunable design that still delivers one of the best feeling match AR15 triggers on the market.

The fit and finish of the CMC triggers are excellent with no sharp or roughly finished edges. What has impressed me is that the entire cartridge/unit is the spec’ed to precisely fit snuggly inside the trigger cavity on the lower. The fit is perfectly tight and after tapping in the oversized retainer pins lock in the trigger rock solid. This wiggle free rock solid mount adds to the accuracy and crispness of the trigger feel.

The CMC Triggers are non-adjustable which is a huge plus from my perspective. I will guarantee that if there is an adjustment, someone will attempt to adjust it. The problem is that triggers tuned incorrectly, can cause a huge safety risk. CMC circumvents this issue by delivering a perfectly tuned design what does not allow or require tuning.

CMC Triggers are famous for durability and safety. Part of that design is due to the screw-less design - which makes the CMC Trigger Unit less prone to damage, loosening, or failure. The self contained and functioning cartridge/trigger-unit based design is also in theory safer than one which pivots on stock trigger pins. Stock trigger pins and placement and be slightly oversized which can lead to slack and wiggle between the hammer and trigger sear. The CMC trigger design is perfectly locked down and aligned inside it’s self contained unit and only uses the retainer pins to lock the trigger unit into the receiver.

Front a tolerance perspective, CMC maintains a .001” +- tolerance on every surface. All these little details all add up to a perfectly crisp 3.5lb trigger. Keeping in mind the super pro Camp Perry shooters are limited to 4.5lbs, so 3.5lb is plenty light even for the super picky.

The trigger has zero take up and no overtravel. You could get a lighter trigger in a very high dollar adjustable match trigger, however I doubt the trigger crisp feel would be better and I would not want any lighter in a defensive/3Gun competitive focused trigger anyway.  

The CMC triggers are available with either flat or curved trigger designs. I picked up one of each; the curved is installed in an Aero Precision ambidextrous lower receiver featuring an Anderson Upper, charging handle, BCG, and barrel build with Fortis muzzle brake and Sampson handguard.

The flat trigger version was installed in my Robar NP3 coated Barnes Precision Machine Patrolman’s Carbine. Installation was simple and easy which is the cornerstone of the simplicity of the CMC Trigger unit. Simply tap out the stock trigger pins, remove the hammer assembly, remove your pistol grip, selector spring and detent, selector and trigger blade assembly.  Installation is a lot simpler; drop in the CMC trigger unit, slip in the selector, reinstall the grip, detent and spring and tap in the CMC oversized trigger pins and secure with the anti-walk e-clips. The entire trigger upgrade process takes less than 15 minutes.

The CMC Triggers are highly durable, precision and deliver what every shooting is looking for in a crisp match quality trigger. CMC does it for at least $50 less than any other comparable competitor trigger and in some cases for $150 less.  It is a mighty fine trigger design overall however the flat design has really become a favorite of mine on my Barnes Precision AR. It is very fast when moving around during 3Gun style and extremely precision on the bench.  Overall this is a great upgrade for the price which can be easily moved if you swap ARs.

Curved or Flat Trigger Style
One Piece Drop In Trigger
AR15 and AR10/DPMS/SR-25 compatibility
Captured Trigger Pins
Trigger Pin Size .154” (Standard AR15 Pin Size)
Street Price $172

Buy CMC triggers at and support

Other Featured Products
Aero Precision Ambi-Lower & Flatside upper -
Anderson Manufacturing Barrel -
Fortis Muzzle Brake -
Samson Forend -

Barnes Precision Machine Robar NP3 coated AR15 -

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Safeguard Armor Stealth Body Armor Review

Safeguard Armor Stealth Body Armor Review

Most of us would like to believe that bad and evil will only attempt to do us harm when we are home with our AR15 slung over our shoulder with one in the chamber, the Eotech sight on, and two insane dobermans to prevent any surprises. As we have seen over and over, “it” happens anytime and anywhere and you need to be prepared and trained to save yourself and your loved ones. Part of that is the realization that the bad and evil shoot back or attack with edge weapons while you fight for your life and this is where Safeguard Armor Stealth makes perfect sense as a layer of protection for both ballistic and stabbing threats. For me, I wanted to know that I had an acceptable concealed armor option for home use even outside the home in a high risk situation.

Founded in 1986 SafeGuard ARMOR is a world-leading premium body armor designer with manufacturing operations in U.S. and Europe.  The company has have been selling body armor to thousands of individuals and companies across the world and has grown from a small operation selling bullet proof vests to local companies, to being one of the largest body armor companies in the world providing body armor to military, law enforcement and civilians worldwide..

Contrary to common belief, purchasing and owning ballistic and edged threat body armor is not illegal in all but a very few select states.  Check with your state and local state's attorney or police office and if they "claim" it is illegal have them provide the state or local statute that limits/outlaws it. Referencing a specific statute prevents the officer or paralegal from mis-stating the law. In my state there is no legislation limiting the possession or use of body armor, other than the Federal mandate that no felon own body armor. In the US, a non-felon in a free state can purchase hard or soft body armor, however only soft armor can be legally imported without working for law enforcement or military. If a US citizen attempts to import hard body armor, you will get into some hot water.

Not being a felon, I placed my order with SafeGuard without hesitation. Although Safeguard has operations all over the world including the US, my order was fulfilled via their UK headquarter location, cleared customs, and was delivered via FedEx to my doorstep.  I purchased the SafeGuard Stealth, a soft body armor vest with 360 degree Level II ballistic protection and Level 1 stab protection.

Following the fitment chart on the site I selected the appropriate size. When worn, I was very surprised how thin and undetectable the Stealth armor was under a jacket or secondary long cover shirt. If I was just wearing around a long sleeved dress shirt, you could guess I was not that bulky, however with one size up in the dress shirt the stealth was invisible.  The Stealth does make you look like you put on 10 lbs, but it does not stand out like the thick "overt armor" life preserver look the cops are wearing around.  The vest was also very lightweight compared to other vests I have worn and handled which just adds to the overall comfort of the vest.

Another feature is that this is a full 360 degree coverage vest and not just a front and back strike zone coverage. So if you were to get stabbed or shot in the side or ribcage covered by your vest, the vest would provide protection to that area.

The fit and finish of Safeguard is top notch and much higher than I generally see in the market. From a comfort perspective, the Stealth is extremely comfortable for all day extended wear. The integrated velcro adjustments allow a full range of adjustment within each size range to accommodate for any extra sub-layer you might want to wear. The Stealth arrives packaged in a very nice quality black zippered carry bag which not only protects the vest when not in use, but provides a discreet option for transportation.

Most body armor requires a Coolmax t-shirt under the vest to improve comfort both when temps heat up or cool down, however SafeGuard has already integrated that Coolmax comfort layer into the armor to reduce the added bulk for the wearer.  The SafeGuard Stealth was specifically designed for covert/concealed use and offer white or black options.  Thick and heavy is easy to do when it comes to body armor, however thin, comfortable and light is a tough mix to get right. SafeGuard hit the mix with the development of the Stealth delivering on all those goals to maximize comfort, protection and conceal-ability.

SafeGuard has a variety of body armor options available from the very light Ghost model to the heavy full groin, shoulder, and arm Military models. The Stealth is ideal for users who want to hide the fact they are wearing a piece of body armor, such as door supervisors and close protection officers.

SafeGuard's protection ratings conform to NIJ ballistic protection standards. The Stealth is offered in a variety of protection options including ballistic protection II - stopping handgun fired 9mm 124gr Remington and .357 158gr SJSP Remington rounds or Level IIIa - stopping  up to .44 Magnum rounds. You can find  more about each of the specific threat rating on their site. The Stealth armor is also offered in several Stab and Spike protection levels.

Source National Safety Council - 2009 Study
Note that Assault by firearm is not a shooter but refers to a threat with firearm 1 in 340
Firearm Discharge -1 in 7229  is actually a situation where a firearm was fired

Both the Virginia Department of Justice and Pennsylvania Medical Center studies of their respective state homicides found that roughly 80% of all firearm related homicides were from handguns. Of those homicides both of their data indicated that over 98% of handgun deaths would have been prevented by a NIJ Threat Level II protection stopping handgun fired 9mm 124gr Remington and .357 158gr SJSP Remington rounds.

With every extra layer of protection comes more weight and bulk, so I opted for the Level II ballistic protection and Level 1 stab protection which is designed to protect the user from the vast majority of ballistic and edged threats. The protection thickness to threat curve it non-linear which means that each extra level of protection provides an incrementally smaller increase in protection but a noticeably increasing thickness of the vest. There is always a compromise however based on the above statistical probability of being shot (1 in 7229) and pairing that with a my Stealth Level II armor can stop 90% typical threats, I feel well protected unless I suddenly found myself in a war zone.

Those that are uber paranoid may want to opt for and armored personnel carrier, just bump up to the next threat level rating, or pick up a supplemental hard armor plate to tuck into the vest.

For covert discreet and concealable armor the Safeguard Stealth is of the best and thinnest I have seen or worn. Generally I do not live, work, shop, or play in high risk homicide ridden areas, however bad things happen everywhere. There have been situations what I feel safer with an added layer of protection. I also love the ability to slip on the vest when investigating that random bump in the night. In my rural neighborhood we have a 40 min police response time and the ambulance is not much better… any extra chance I can give myself while defending myself during an encounter or surviving it after the fact is a great investment from my perspective for home defense all for only $476. Is your life worth $476?

NIJ Level II Ballistic Protection
NIJ Level I Edged Blade Protection
Delivered in 1-2 working days
Brand new cover worth $100
Weight: Approx. 5.5lbs
Made from DuPont Kevlar
MSRP $476 

Warranty Info
This product comes with a 5 Year Warranty. All SafeGuard ARMOR™ products are tested in full compliance with the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 0101.03/04 standards. If any SafeGuard ARMOR™ products under warranty are deemed to be defective or faulty then SafeGuard ARMOR™ will replace or repair it free of charge. This is done at our own discretion.

Do not fully immerse the vest in water.
Do not dry in direct sunlight.
Store body armor flat at all times.
Do not put DuPont™ Kevlar® panel inserts through the wash (can be lightly sponged with warm, soapy water if necessary).
Inspect armor for damage or defects prior to every use - NEVER WEAR DAMAGED ARMOR.
Always ensure DuPont™ Kevlar® panels are inserted the correct way (instructions on the panels).


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AP Custom AR15 Carbon Fiber Handguard Review

AP Custom AR15 Carbon Fiber Handguard Review

If you read my recent article - The Great, the Good and The Ugly 5.45x39 AR15 Builds you saw the very custom build prominently featuring the AP Custom AR Carbon Fiber Handguard. Without question the handguard put the custom build over the top… way over the top. 

Based on the background of the Russian surplus ammo powered 5.45x39 review, I set off piece by piece to create the ultimate 5.45x39 build which scream to be shot constantly.  In the end I used a “Naked” un-anodized American Spirit Arms upper and lower receiver set, Ace Ultra Light stock, AXTS/Rainer Arms ambi-charging handle, Fail Zero carrier, Ace Ultralight stock with a custom tied paracord tube cover, AP Custom 15” Carbon Fiber forend, Houlding Precision Curse Muzzle Brake, a Barnes Precision parts kit, and topped it all off with an Eotech EXPS2 sight & G33.STS 3X Multiplier multiplier combo. Fully loaded the build weighs in at a feathery 7.2lbs with the optics.  Ok yeah I may have gone overboard a bit on this build which totals around $2800 with the Eotech optics setup or around $1300 without the optics, however keep in mind I can convert this back over to .223 anytime. Meanwhile I will save around $240 per 1000 rounds - 5000 rounds and I come close to paying for this rig free and clean in ammo savings.

There are a number of carbon fiber handguards out there however AP Custom is unique from a couple perspectives. Most carbon fiber handguard nix rail options and sometimes even lose the top sight rail options, however AP offers two based handguard options; a “Tactical” model with a top sight/optic rail and another “Standard” lightweight version naked.  Since I was following the “naked” theme, I opted for the lighter version without a top rail and picked up a couple short accessory rails for a bipod mount and tactical light mount. Along with various accessory rail options, they also offer QD-sling and bi-pod/sling studs for the handguard. 

The handguards are slotted at 2, 3, 6, 9, and 10 o’clock for additional clocking and to allow attachment points for the handguard accessories.  The AP Custom handguards attach to the gun using a proprietary trunnion system via a standard mil-spec barrel nut. You can use your standard barrel nut which can be attached with a standard Armorers wrench - no special tools required. The Clark Handguard requires epoxy, the AP Custom does not. If you are doing a new build just note that the Mil-spec barrel nut is not included.

The finish is stunningly gorgeous, but a light wipe down tiny bit of oil on a rag makes the beauty of the carbon fiber pop. That cool factor of carbon fiber noted, carbon fiber offers way more to the shooter beyond just looks and delivers extreme light weight, very high strength, stiffness, and most importantly instant heat dissipation.

For me this is the key feature of carbon fiber is the heat dissipation. Most people never shoot an AR15 to the point a glove is required to to hold the handguard. I will guaran-damn-tee that if you put five mags worth of any 5.56/.223 or 5.45x39 through a gun in pretty quick fashion your aluminum handguard will be so hot that it cannot be held with bare hands. Carbon fiber has the almost magical property to dissipate heat instantly so even if the gas block is glowing, a carbon fiber handguard will be exponentially cooler feeling than an aluminum forend. 

You tend to get carried away hammering super cheap 5.45x39 rounds downrange but even after the barrel and gas block is nice and hot, I can still keep shooting bare handed. This is one reason I am now moving more and more to carbon fiber handguards… this is my forth.

The 15” length is dramatic but is still only 6.2oz, but I love it because I have plenty of room to move my hands around, shoot of barricades at odd positions and still have room to mount bipods and tactical lights out of my way. If you want something shorter AP Custom offers Carbine length, Mid length, and Rifle length models as well in both the Tactical and Standard configurations.

Readers know I try my hardest to accurately review and compare produces. That said the 6oz Clark handguard I tested previously is lighter, and even the carbine length AP Custom is an ounce heavier simply because you need to add in the weight of the required Milspec steel barrel nut where the Clark’s is inclusive. 

All that noted I like the AP Custom a bit better because it offers the ability to add accessory rails and the slots line up well to access the adjustment screw on an adjustable gas block I added later on.  Cutting into carbon Fiber is not a simple or easy exercise and technically should only be done in a fully ventilated and respirated environment. The AP Custom is the way to go if you need access to adjustable gas blocks, need a few extra holes, or want to add accessories.

The AP Custom also does not require the use of epoxy like the Clark which allows the AR15 builder to remove, reuse, re-tweak, and re-install the AP Custom handguard as needed by just removing a couple screws. To me the ability for removal is a huge benefit when compared to the permanent one way install of the Clark. 

The AP Custom handguard offers users an awesome option for a practical high performance option for handguards. I believe we will see a lot of 3Gun competitors using these very quick. Looks great and performs even better.

AP Customs 15” Standard Carbon Fiber handguard
$199 - From Nordic Components

Standard Carbine Length: 7.0 in., Wt.: 3.5 oz. $145 (Nordic Components)
Standard Mid-Length: 9.0 in., Wt.: 4.5 oz. $155 (Nordic Components)
Standard Rifle Length: 12.375 in., Wt.: 5.4 oz. $185 (Nordic Components)
Standard XL Length: 15.0 in., Wt.: 6.2oz. $199 Street (Nordic Components) (FEATURED)

Tactical Carbine Length: 7.0 in., Wt.: 5.4 oz. $145 (Nordic Components)
Tactical Mid-Length: 9.0 in., Wt.: 6.3 oz. $155 (Nordic Components)
Tactical Rifle Length: 12.375 in., Wt.: 7.8 oz. $185 (Nordic Components)
Tactical XL Length: 15.0 in., Wt.: 9.3 oz. $199 (Nordic Components) 

Nordic Components -

Other Products Featured
Ballistic Advantage -
ASA - American Spirit Arms -
Ace Ultra Light Stock -
AXTS - Rainer Arms Ambidexterous Charging Handle
Barnes Precision Machine lower parts kit -
Eotech - EXPS2 & G33.STS Multiplier  -
ALG - Trigger -
Houlding Precision - Curse Brake -
Fail Zero Carrier -