Wednesday, December 24, 2014

LAG Tactical The Defender VP90 Holster Review

LAG Tactical The Defender VP90 Holster Review

Back at the point where my H&K VP90 arrived, I realized that this great gun needed a great holster setup. The problem was that literally no one had a holster option. Then a friend mentioned LAG Tactical where I was excited to find out that LAG could take my VP90 and create a wonderful holster option around their Defender IWB/OWB design. I jumped at the chance especially considering the $70 price because how else are you really going to train with a pistol without a holster.  The VP9 runs on the same magazines as H&K P30 so magazine carriers were available. LAG Tactical products are priced very competitively however what makes them stand out from the mass of Kydex sheaths is their quality and customization offered.

I have owned, used, and handled a huge number of Kydex sheaths over the last decade. Kydex is Kydex so it really comes down to the quality of the forming, finish, and hardware used. Some of those Kydex holsters I have experience with have been rough almost ameturish quality. Some are downright horrible. LAG Tactical is on the other spectrum in the top end premium side of the manufacturing quality plus a level of customization options I have yet to see from a Kydex holster manufacturer.

In my case I choose LAG’s Defender holster model for my new H&K VP90. The innovative Defender is LAG Tactical’s most popular design due to its flexibility to swap between a IWB (In Waistband) and OWB (Out of Waistband) configuration. Beyond very heavy coat weather, I rarely carry a OWB holster, however that configuration does get used quite often during training sessions or in some cases competitions. From a simple economy perspective, it does make a heck of a lot of sense to have one holster you really like that you can swap between both configurations… you know instead of wasting money buying yet another $70 holster.  LAG Tactical includes both belt loops required for the swap from IWB to OWB, so all that is needed is to just unscrew one set of belt loops and install the other loop set on the other side of the holster.

Beyond customization options of gun model, holster position (left, right hip position), front Kydex color, and back Kydex color, LAG also asks other questions to increase comfort to your body and understand your firearm configuration such as magazine release position, weapon carry angle, belt size, primary use, waist size, and whether the shooter is male or female.

All this data delivers a really well fitting holster vs just yet another blocky Kydex holster. In fact my LAG Defender is the single most comfortable Kydex holster I have owned and even edges out many of my leather holsters. I will say that the butt ugly CrossBreed holster still holds my top spot for comfort however the CrossBreed does not offer the flexibility of the LAG Defender design. I am VERY happy with the overall comfort of the Defender and the quality is extremely well made with wonderfully buffed edges that do not catch on anything or do not dig into flesh like so many other Kydex designs. LAG Tactical has really put a significant amount of attention into the comfort of the holster instead of just creating another “Me Too” holster offering. Even after all those initial ordering customization options, the shooter still has the option to move the belt positioning up or down as required with the holes in the sheath. Grip force can also be adjusted by the user with just a screw and without the need for a heat gun.

Equal in quality is the Double Mag carrier. I doubt many people are loading up for their CCW firearms with two extra magazines on a regular basis, however I know for me there are times where it seems like a prudent idea. With the body hugging design of the LAG Carrier, an un-tucked t-shirt is all that is required to provide coverage. Also for training, range time, and competitions, a double mag carrier is a necessity. There are cheapo carriers out there, however I decided that it would be nice to have a complete setup for my VP90 which covered all the bases.  Like the holster, the mag carrier also asks for your customization options includes which way you want the magazines to face, the grip force, hip side, waist size, belt width, carry position, and individual color choices for the back and front materials. The result is the single most comfortable magazine carrier I have ever owned.

Now to looks. Honestly I am at the point in life where I have seen enough enough black holsters and believe the world needs another color option. So I choose grey for the outside color on the Defender and Double Magazine carrier and black for the inside color. The final result was a really nice contrast of color and something which screams a little less "Hey I have a holster here" if my shirt does slide up a bit while carrying. Mentally pretty much any other color than black does this for you, however I love the looks of the Grey Kydex.

Functionally both the LAG Tactical Defender and Double Magazine Carrier really are quite amazingly comfortable. The major reason for this comfort is that each carrier and holster is contoured to your personal body shape versus assuming everyone is dimensionally the same size. The prices are very competitive at $70 for the convertible IWB/OWB Defender holster and $45 for a Double Mag Carrier. Add in the premium top end quality of these holsters and its my perspective that LAG Tactical is one of the best value in top end Kydex holsters. If you plan to carry concealed, LAG Tactical offers one of the most comfortable IWB designs I have tested and owned and they are the only holster manufacturer I know of who offers a flexible holster option for the VP90. Can't recommend these holsters enough.

The Defender - IWB/OWB - My Selections
Gun Model: H&K VP9
Holster Position: I choose Right Hip 3:30 - 5 o'clock
Righty or Lefty: Righty
Mag Release: Standard (left side of gun)
Angle of weapon: Slight Angle 10°
Belt Size: 1.5"
Primary Use: Inside the waistband
Waist Size: Used to dimensionally mold the holster to your body shape.
Male, Female: Male
How did you hear about us? Other
Front​ Colo​r: Dark ​Grey
Back ​Color​: Black
-Lightweight, durable kydex
-Includes a set of inside and outside the waistband belt loops
-Adjustable retention
-Compatible with our M.O.L.L.E. backplate for a wide variety of carry options
Double Pistol Mag Carrier - My Selections
Mag type: H&K P30
Carrier Position: I choose Left Hip (7 - 10 o'clock)
Round orientation: Choose Rounds facing forwards or backwards
Your waist size: Used to dimensionally mold the holster to your body shape.
Belt width: 1.5"
How tightly should the carrier grip the magazine? Standard (secure - easy draw)
Front​ Colo​r: Dark ​Grey
Back ​Color​: Black


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HiperFire Trigger Shoes Back in Black

HiperFire Trigger Shoes Back in Black

If you have not heard about the HiperFire line of Single-Stage triggers, you should seriously consider them. They are absolutely awesome and the HiperTouch 24C competition model represents a game changing trigger design. Yeah, I know you have heard it all before, however this time it is different. The HiperFire 24C comes with a sharp looking bright red trigger shoe, however now the offer a black trigger shoe as well.

HiperTouch’s founder, Terry Bender, had an idea to overcome many of the shortcomings of “match” triggers. Terry is not just some guy filing down sears and swapping out low power springs in his garage, he is a mechanical engineering consultant. The approach to the HiperTouch design was new from the ground up.

The ultimate challenge for a great tactical/hunting trigger is to deliver a smooth, fast, and flat pre-travel, very fast trigger reset, minimize lock time, assure a crisp light break, and with no noticeable overtravel all while delivering a high hammer fall impact.  With match target triggers, the goals are the same but with even more refinement of all the above, with no perceptible pretravel.

The problem is that many of these trigger design goals are all opposing forces. A smooth, fast, and flat pretravel and crisp light final break all require low forces at the sear which equates to the need for lighter hammer and trigger springs which can lead to light hammer strikes and less reliable ignition. In standard trigger designs, very fast trigger resets, minimized lock times, and high hammerfall impact require heavy springs which creates a crappy feeling heavy trigger. The final dimension is tuning out pre-travel, overtravel, and ensuring a crisp trigger break which are all impacted by the above light or heavy springs. Bad tuning can further impact reliability and safety. The end result is that trigger engineers have their work cut out for them to strike a balance for a great trigger.

The compromise has been either a great single stage trigger that may have a light hammer strike here and there with hard primers, or a 2-stage which delivers a 1st stage pre travel which some claim slows down followup shots.

The magic is delivered via spring cam-ed pressure on the hammer which counteracts much of the hammer spring force within the first couple of degrees of movement around the point of sear engagement. This delivers the perfect situation for a great feeling trigger and break. After the hammer begins to move forward the cam applies pressure the other way and greatly increases the hammer force. This increases hammer fall force, decreases lock time...etc. it's a best of both worlds design and its a totally new trigger design.

The HiperFire has three spring sets (light, medium-light, and medium). Initially, I though the heaviest strongest spring would deliver the heaviest trigger pull however it is the other way around. The strongest spring exerts more pressure on the cam and delivers the lightest trigger feel. This is what the dual spring and cam design of the HiperFire triggers does. It's a mind screw when you first pull back the extra force hammer and have such a light trigger pull.

The Hipertouch 24, 24E & 24C all shared many key features. All of the triggers are AR15/AR10 fire-control compatible with any lower receiver with industry standard .154" receiver pins. The triggers are screw-less "hard" tuned with static precision springs which inherently makes the trigger more reliable than a screw tuned design which can go out of "tune".  The user can tune the trigger at 2,3, & 4 pounds with the three supplied spring sets.

Essentially all three of these semi-automatic HiperTouch HiperFire triggers are identical once the hammer begins to fall and all deliver best in class hammer fall force.  Of course with all these similarities, many will ask what is the difference between them and why woud not just opt for the best automatically. The answer is trigger tuning feel.  You certainly do not want a super sensitive trigger on a duty/defense rifle and similarly you would not want a longer pre-travel trigger on a precision match target rifle.

Many shooters including me will say the 24Competition Model has no pre-travel, no over-travel, and a stunningly light break.  Obviously there is some sort of travel, but it is so little the finger cannot perceive it. Adding the flat straight trigger blade and adjustable shoe increases trigger control significantly.

This is an incredibly fast running trigger which I would love to see one of the top speed shooters run. The splits are incredibly fast. You are going to see more and more 3 Gunners running this trigger simply because it is so fast and light.  That said it is too sensitive for a defensive focused AR15 build in my opinion simply because the trigger seems to lack any perceptible pre-travel at all. To me it most closely aligns to a Geissele National Match trigger but in a single stage design.

The flat trigger design has become a favorite of mine in all sorts of formats from 10/22 rim fire rifles to this Ar15 design.  With the 24C, the tunable trigger shoe offers another advantage for both finger acement comfort and fine tuning of trigger weight. I mounted this in my SanTan Tactical lower receiver and clipped on a 5.45x39 upper which shoots extra hard Russian Surplus rounds.Generally, I will have 1 in 200 that will fail to detonate, however the 24C greatly reduced that soft strike failure rate to only about 1 in 500.  This shows that even the top end of the HiperTouch line can still bring it for both a stunning trigger feel and best in class hammer fall force. The 24C can be used with or without the trigger shoe, however using it adds comfort to the shooter and an additional degree of adjustment for the shooter. Now with the addition of the Black Trigger Shoe, the shooter can choose color as well.

For this build I used a SanTan Tactical Billet Lower with an American Spirit Arms Side Charging Upper and 16” match sub-MOA barrel with Apex Machine Gatorgrip forend. You will see these trigger quite a bit in builds going forward simply because I believe HiperTouch has delivered on a truly innovative design that actually works both theoretically and in practical use.  The price ranges are extremely competitive to other high quality triggers in the market as well... The 24 is a screaming great deal with no tunable trigger in the $185 MSRP price range.

The HiperFire HiperTouch is an outstanding line of triggers which is turning heads in the industry and changing minds about what a great trigger can be.

Shared Features of all Hipertouch triggers
No Screws, No Lower Modifications
AR15/10 Fire-Control
Robust Single Stage, Semi-Auto
User-Set Weights: Light, Med-Light, Medium (2-4lbs)
Small Pins: .154" Dia.
Best in Class Hammer Fall
24Competition Enhancements
Focus - 3Gun, DMR/match target
Straight Trigger, Use w/ or w/o Exclusive Shoe
HIPERSHOE™: Fine tune Travel & Weight
Fast Splits and Controllable Repeat Fire
Retains Best in Class Reset


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Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 Review

Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 Review

I am sure every word possible has been already said about the Remington 700 over the years. With the exception of the Remington 870 shotgun, the Remington 700 action remains the most popular gun in Remington's entire line up. Currently to date, Remington offers nearly 30 model versions with multiple caliber options in each model. The shear number of configurations is dizzying. Both the long and short Remington 700 actions have become the standard for everyone from the occasional hunter to pro hunting guides to target shooters to snipers. The Remington 700 Action is famous for its reliability and outstanding out of the box accuracy.

Remington responded to a huge public request for a Tactical model lineup. The request was simply for a straightforward Remington 700 action priced for the LEO or military shooter. For almost everyone that started with the value price Remington SPS (Special Purpose Synthetic) line. Remington's response was adding the Remington 700 SPS Tactical model in 2010 available in various barrel configurations with chamberings in .223 .308, and later adding 300 Blackout. I choose the insanely popular and combat proven .308 for this review. Of the barrel configurations availabe, I choose the 20" threaded barrel model with a faster 1:10 twist.

The Remington 700 SPS forgoes all the nice little surface treatments in favor of a fairly pedestrian grade black oxide finish.  The finish though plain is extremely durable, but does nothing to represent what the high grade Remington 700 rifles offer. Equally unimpressive is the Hogue style rubber stock in a world of Remington's own lustrous wood and billet sniper 700 stocks. So on the outside, the Remington 700 SPS Tactical is about as understated as it comes compared to pretty much any other rifle in Remington's line, but looks and exterior finish are where the quality differences of comparison end. Internally the SPS Tactical .308 feature all the same specs as the higher dollar more expensive 700s with hammer-forged barrel, and externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger (yes mine was post recall).

Chances are high that my Remington 700 SPS Tactical will end up coated with AlumaHyde II or some other coating, so I am not worried about surface finishes. The Hogue stock features dual-point pillar bedding to increase accuracy and a SuperCell recoil pad. The stock may not be fancy, however it is completely weather resistant, durable, will take an extreme amount of abuse, and will hold zero regardless of weather. For the price and intent, there simply is no other better stock on the market.

The heavy profile hammer-forged .308 barrel delivers everything you could ever want from any stock Remington 700 action from an accuracy perspective. Many note that the SPS Tactical is actually one of Remington's most accurate 700s.  

The Remington 700 SPS actually has a several features I like which are exclusive to this model; namely the 20” heavy barrel, the threaded barrel, and the X-Mark Pro trigger. The heavy barrel delivers great accuracy over the thin profiles found on most 700 models. I wanted the threaded 20" barrel model because I had an intent to attach a brake or supressor later on. My experience has been that you can greatly increase follow up shot speed and even provide self-spotting with a quality muzzle brake attached to keep the muzzle flat and reduce recoil. The last thing I really wanted to do was to make my first stop on the upgrade train to be a $200 thread and muzzle recrown. Why not just click the button for the threaded model and in this case Remington offers the option in .308, but oddly enough the threaded barrel is not available in the .223 model. I think the X-Mark Pro trigger is one of the best factory single stage bolt action rifle triggers on the market and I like it far better than those from Savage for example.

All in all the SPS Tactical in .308 is one of the toughest models to beat at $650 from a value across the entire 700 lineup and even when compared to the competition.

I wanted to equip the rifle simply with quality components which I would not have to swap around too much as I upgraded the rifle trigger and stock later on. This build used a Harris bipod, and quality optics setup. The optics were set up with Lucid Crosso Over 4-16x44mm Scope, Brownell's steel Remington Short Action picatinny base, and American Precision Arms steel 30mm rings.

The Lucid 4-16 is an excellent and stunningly clear optic for the price which has all the features you would typically find on top end optics with the exception of a first focal plane. I think everyone knows that Brownell's has an excellent line of their own products and this all steel scope ring base is an exceptionally well made solid piece, however I do wish they offered it in a 20MOA version.  

The American Precision Arms 30mm rings are unique and I will get into their features in a future article and you can guess at $195, they are exceptionally well made and as high precision as I have seen in a set of scope rings. I did make a mistake going with the .856” rings as you will see in some future articles where I test other chassis/stock systems. You really need at least a 1.031” ring (Medium) height especially if you have a larger objective optic. If you plan on sticking with a standard open top stock such a the factory Hogue or a high grade open barrel McMillian stock a set of .856” low rings will work fine, however it you plan on using one of the billet “tubed” handguard chassis systems, then you will likely need higher rings.

One of the little "features" I would like to have included on this Tactical version is a threaded bolt handle. One of those first upgrades everyone does is to have the bolt handle milled and threaded to accomodate an oversized bolt handle. Usually this upgrade is done to speed the ergonomics and speed of the reloading cycle. I found a simple product called the Bolt Lift $28 from KRG which is a bolt on extended and enlarged bolt hand knob which just bolts on over your existing bolt handle. After the KRG Bolt Lift is installed, you have a hard time telling that you didn't spend the $50-$100 for a custom threaded bolt handle.  For around $30, you can overcome one of the annoying compaints people have with the ergonomics of the Remington 700 as a "Sniper system".

After some research and a few rounds down range, pretty much everyone's notations that the Remington 700 SPS Tactical delivered its best groups with 168gr rounds seemed correct. I opted to round up the usual Hornady suspects of TAP, Superformance, Z-Max and A-Max rounds in 168gr bullet weight and headed to the range along with some Nato spec XM80 149gr ammo.

The results did not disappoint me. My best group was a 5-shot 100-yard .51" group with almost every round delivering sub-1" 100-yard groups. The XM80 was a great inexpensive practice round which still delivered consistant 1” 100-yard groups. Playing around with the X-Mark Pro trigger netted a little tighter groups trimming about a tenth of an inch off all the groups which officially pushed my best groups under the .50” mark at 100-yards.

The Remington 700 SPS Tactical .308 is an amazing performing rifle which eats and spits out amazing groups downrange even with milspec ammo. With top end target and match ammo, the SPS Tactical is an amazing out of the box factory shooting gun which some folks have reported as good as ¼” 100-yards groups with. My best group approached those groups, however perhaps with a great aftermarket Timney trigger that extra .25” in group reduction may be typical.

For the upgrade bound buyer, the Remington 700 SPS Tactical represents a simple path for just upgrading the chassis/stock and trigger. Drop the rifle into a new free-floating chassis with a new trigger and shooters have a pretty nice little long range rig and for $650, the SPS Tactical .308 is a great place to start.

20" heavy barrel
X-Mark Pro Adjustable Trigger system
Hogue overmolded stock
Pillar bedded stock for accuracy
Durable satin black oxide metal finish
Hinged floorplate magazine
Caliber .308 Win
Average Weight 7.5lbs
Barrel 20" with Threaded Muzzle
Overall Length 39 5/8"
Barrel Twist 10"
Model  84203
Remington 700 SPS Tactical $650
KRG Bolt Lift $28
Lucid Optics 4-16x44 Cross Over Scope $419
Brownell's Steel Remington 700 Short Action Base $99
American Precision Arms 30mm Steel Rings $195
Total Build Price = $1391


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