CRKT TAO Tactical Pen Review
There are many times where one cannot carry a firearm, such as a church or in government facilities. If you fly these days, you cannot carry a knife either like we could in the past. So beyond carrying some knitting needles and a pair of scissors with blades under 4”, but being a frequent traveler, hassles usually ensue with scissors and knitting needles in the backpack of middle aged white guy. This is where the concept of a tactical pen makes sense as a defensive impact tool option. CRKT’s new TAO Tactical Pen not only delivers high quality, convenient ink delivery for writing checks and signing receipts, but also can deliver defensive striking abilities that is quick to deploy.
CRKT - Columbia River Knife and Tool was founded in 1994 by Rod Bremer in Oregon. By working in unison with the top knife designers around the world, CRKT delivers a broad line of innovative custom knife designs in affordable production knives and tools. The result is that the hottest custom designs are available to the consumer for daily use at affordable prices.
FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, FUNCTIONS
The TAO is a simple but elegant device designed by Allen Elishewitz. The pen features 6061 billet aluminum construction, a variety of hard anodized finishes, a Fisher Space Pen cartridge insert, and spring steel pocket clip. As with all Elishewitz designs, the TAO has a classy style which delivers a high end look with enough striking points to get the job done as a defensive tool.
The CRKT TAO rides well in the pocket. Whether capped or closed, the pen screws together to deliver a rugged fixed striking object on the tip or crown. Although I have not been attacked lately in my travels, I have signed hundreds of receipts and the pen has performed well and received loads of compliments as well.
The CRKT TAO is another tool which anyone can use to strike pressure points which delivers a significant advantage over bare hands in a fight. Beyond the tactical side of this pen, I should add that I am a pen lover… I have dozens of top end pens, fountain pens, and pencils and this pen has been a pleasure to own and show off. Even if you are not into the tactical aspects of the pen, this is a stunning pen to own and even includes a beautifully made zippered case to go with it.
Open Overall Length 5.75 inches
Weight 1.7 ounces
CRKT - http://www.crkt.com/
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
|A custom engraved Bond Arms .45ACP|
I am fortunate that my real job takes me all across this great country and I found myself on the far Southwest side of Dallas Fort Worth and close enough that a trip to Granbury Texas was not an epic adventure. The trip to Bond Arms facility was both fun and educational where I met the owner, Gordon Bond, many of his staff, and of course his robots… yes, robots.
The first task is to actually find the Bond Arms facility which is actually a task in itself. Gordon loves his customers but his secure facility is not equipped to handle visitors. In fact, the facility is surrounded by a security fence with electronic gate, and the entry is also secured by a giant thick steel gate with Bond Arms handgun handles.
Once pulling open the massive door, Gordon greeted me and pulled me into his office to talk about the background of Bond Arms and describe and walk through the idea of how his handguns are produced. You will notice I keep saying Bond Arms "handguns" and not Bond Arms "derringers".
Gordon noted that the “derringer” name has been really tainted as a cheap/junk gun which in some cases lack the durability to safely shoot the round they were intended for. Bond Arms handguns are a different class altogether. From my perspective, Gordon is not blowing smoke on that claim, Bond Arms’ handguns are among the finest “derringer style” handguns ever made and some of the most highest craftsmanship handguns of any type.
Part of that quality is due to Gordon’s brother, the original founder, taking a derringer design and then completely redesigning nearly every aspect of the firearm. The Bond frame itself is not a cheap alloy or inexpensive carbon steel, each Bond handgun is made from wax loss stainless casings. This delivers a superior frame to any other double barrel handgun on the market.
The safety was also redesigned to move from left to right versus the other way around to allow the safety to be kicked off with the right hand thumb. The hammer was widened to ease cocking, and a completely new rebounding hammer design was created to deliver the safest and fastest double barrel handgun on the market. The Bond Arms hammer transfer bar auto-indexes to the next barrel so all you need to do is shoot-cock-shoot versus worrying about kicking a switch over to another barrel. Additionally, the hammer will not hit either top or bottom firing pin without the trigger being fully depressed. A removable trigger guard was added for those that wanted an extra margin of safety.
The extraction system was also redesigned to actually work and the action itself was designed to lock more securely, deliver a more ergonomic opening, and offer barrel interchangeability. One of “the” features of the Bond Arms handguns is that any barrel length and caliber offered by Bond Arms can be swapped out with any Bond Arms frame. Gordon went a step further and created sets of various grips and grip sizes which can also be swapped between the frames. Technically, all the Bond Arms frames are the same, some models feature different finishes or have a removable trigger guard, so if you have a Bond barrel, it will fit on any Bond lower receiver. This firearm interchangeability is one reason Bond owners keep coming back for more barrels, more handguns, and more accessories.
Bond’s accessories are impressive as well. I can not think of any other firearms manufacturer who has put so much thought and care into their accessory line. In fact, I doubt any other manufacturer has an accessory line as comprehensive. Bond Arms features a huge array of gun barrel options ranging from .22lr to .410/.45 Colt in many different lengths, grips that range in size shape, material, and color, knives, leather hand crafted CCW purses, very high quality holsters that include CCW, Nylon apparel, the "Bond Girl" accessory line, and display boxes. Bond has everything you need to accessorize, carry, load, and show off your handgun.
WAIT A MINUTE... A TWO SHOT HANGUN AS A DEFENSE GUN?
I will get into this on a deep follow up review article, but the answer is the Bond Arms two double barreled handgun is a viable defensive handgun with substantial stopping power in the larger range calibers. One of Bond Arms customers used a .410/.45 Colt chambered version to instantly incapacitate an attacker with one shot. Moments later the attacker died - the .410 Buckshot load has proven to be a devastating man stopper statically beyond that one attack.
Statistically, 99+% of attacks only involve 1.25 shots from the defender; which indicates that almost no attacker likes to get shot twice. Personally, I would rather have an G20 10mm on my hip with my DPMS GII .308 over my shoulder with hard plate body armor on however, sometimes concealment, rational judgement, or convenience dictates just a Glock 26, a slim Walther PPK, or in this case an extremely concealable double barreled handgun is slipped in a front pocket. I generally prefer to have my Glock 19 on my side, however there are times where that does not work with my wardrobe and I feel perfectly well armed with a Bond Arms handgun. I like them so much I have two handguns with barrels in .45ACP, .410/.45 Colt, and .357 Magnum. Shoot them once and you will be smitten.
BACK TO THE FACTORY TOUR
After the production overview we headed out to meet his staff, see the production process in action and say hello to his robots.
The raw wax lost casings come in and are precision CNC milled to exacting dimensions, after that they are handed off to the yellow robot twins. Gordon wanted to employ robotics to deliver about 60% of the frame and barrel’s precision grinding, finishing, polishing. The main drive to robotics for Bond Arms was that it would take nearly a year for a person to reach the level of speed, precision, and accuracy that the robots can achieve on this extremely critical high skill finish step. A major issue Bond Arms was able to overcome with robotics was removing the potential for sickness, personal schedules, vacations, turnover, and personnel issues to impact this critical production step which did previously halted and backed up the entire production process.
Gordon has been working for over four years with a robotics team to create this use of robotics in the firearm industry - to my knowledge it is an industry first. That effort and the production capacity and efficiency has allowed the set of robots to pay for themselves in just over a year. I was certainly fascinated, however the robots deliver entertainment value as well. Gordon's granddaughter also loves to set and watch "yellow", as she has named them, for hours according to Gordon.
After that step, the frames are handed over to skilled finishers who perform the final 40% of finishing and polishing before firing control and grips are installed. The barrels follow a similar CNC milling and finishing process, however they begin as billet stainless steel, versus cast wax loss forming. The barrels are CNC machined bored, rifled, chambered, finished via the robots, and then passed to final assembly.
The barrel and receiver meetup and are paired based on customer and dealer orders. Although Bond Arms has established quality control steps along the production process, they perform one last complete inspection along with functionally test firing each handgun in their in house test range.
Of note, Bond Arms attempts to reuse and recycle almost everything. Packing is reused and even the massive crates from the robotics were recycled to create portions of the shooting range and the range table. They specifically added the indoor test range to cut down on the drive time required to test fire the guns at a local range. Bond Arms is cutting edge from many aspects and even a bit green as well.
It's a funny thing to be out in Granbury, Texas and meet two robots. In fact what Gorbon Bond is doing is nothing short of amazing as I could find no other reference to automotive robotics being used in the firearms industry. He actually was told by over a half dozen robotics firms that it could not be done, however one company shared his vision and now Bond Arms could be the most technically advanced manufacturing firearms company anywhere because of it.
Bringing a firearm to market is tough, even in the current gun sales bonanza environment, however Bonds Arms has continued to grow since it was founded in 1995. Part of that recipe has been the quality and service they continue to offer at a premium level plus a drive to continue innovation far beyond the norm of even very large firearms industry giants. Really… the titans of the firearms industry should be touring Bond’s facility. Pick up a Bond Arms handgun and you will immediately be impressed with the quality of the firearm. Bond Arms have delivered thirteen SASS - Single Action Shooting Society world championships, so there must be something to these firearms, beyond just showpieces.
Look for an upcoming review on these great high quality handguns. The factory tour left me impressed to say the least.
Bond Arms - http://bondarms.com
Labels: Bond Arms Factory Tour
I am a huge fan of adjustable gas blocks and have then installed on nearly every AR15 and AR10 format rifle I own. I maintain that an adjustable gas block is the single most impactful upgrade you can make on any AR15. It is my opinion that an adjustable gas system will do more for you than any other single upgrade you can add on an AR15 with less recoil, faster shot follow up, less shooter and part fatigue, cleaner operation, and altogether a better shooting experience than you have ever experienced. Why? Simple; nearly every AR15 is severely overgassed to assure part interoperability reliability. The result is the gas port on the barrel ends up being oversized, the gas block hole is oversized to assure alignment issues are not a problem and now we have way more red hot gas being blasted back into the action to cycle everything than realistically needed. To counterbalance this, we have gone to heavier M16 carriers, H2, H3 heavy buffers and even in some cases heavier buffer springs. Then answer to this engineering challenge is an adjustable gas block to bring everything back into equilibrium.
My original All About Adjustable Gas block article has been one of my most popular articles to date and luckily it has grabbed the attention of a few manufacturers who noted that they should not be left out. One of those newcomers is MicroMOA who offers a very unique designs unlike anything else on the market.
Two of the biggest challenges with any gas block, including adjustable version, is that they can on rare occasion become clogged during full auto fire or fall out of adjustment. For those adjustable gas blocks without a detent securing the adjustment screw, full auto fire from an M4/M16 can literally shake the screw loose. MicroMOA adjusts gas pressure via orifices on a steel plate which slides and clicks in two or three positions, depending on the plate used. This unique adjustment method can never go out of adjustment while still allowing for adjustment.
THE MICROMOA CONCEPT
Over the years, I have had many emails and comments asking what about reliability as gunk and round count builds up. Assuming you appropriately back off the tuning of an adjustable gas block by ½ turn after you just get the bolt to lock back, I have never had an issue. That noted, I can see where extreme environments or too light of an adjustment setting may cause blockages and that is where I really like the MicroMOA Govnah gas Regulation System.
Typical AR Adjustable gas blocks are basically a screw that restricts the flow of gas at the gas block into the gas tube much like a spigot restricts water. If you have it tuned just barely over functional requirements as many 3Gunners do, build up can throw everything off. In most cases, the worst thing I have ever seen is that cycling still occurs but the bolt does not lock back. So the question is that if we are switching between a very low suppressed gas setting, to a medium/optimal regular setting, to a full open harsh environment setting, how do we go about that consistently. Generally that means counts rotations or clicks with an adjustment requiring a hex key. MicroMOA has an easy and simple solution. If you want the ability to swap to different gas regulation setting on demand, the patented MicroMOA Govnah Gas Regulation system is your only option that allow instant swaps back and forth between settings.
MicroMOA’s idea of gas regulation aligns with all the testing I have done over the years. “IF” you have the right setting it should not change.. ever. Tuning is a one way street. Increase the gas pressure/port size until the bolt locks back on the last shot with your lowest powered rounds and then increase by one full turn. Lets say you had to drill your own gas port in the gas block. In that case you would slowly move from the smallest drill bit you had to the largest until you found the port size that locked back the bolt and then go up one more drill size to assure reliability. This is essence what MicroMOA has done with plate that slides back and forth in the gas block. Position 1 detent one can be an optimal port setting and Position 2 detent can be a wide open port for harsh environment reliability all you need to do is slide the plate back and forth with a bullet poked through the handguard or you can make up your own combination. No twiddling with Hex wrenches needed.
|The MicroMOA gas blocks were tested|
on the MMC Armory Recon
FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
MicroMOA can provide their Govnah gas block equipped with either a plate with typical orifices in a variety of configurations or a drill-your-own version like the ones I picked up. The Drill-your-own option requires tuning which entails bringing a set of small drill bits and a cordless drill to the range and following a standard gas block tuning process. This process is - drill a hole in the plate starting with your smallest drill bit (usually 1/32") load a single round in the magazine and fire. If the bolt locks back, rejoice, otherwise pull the detent retainer spring back on the gas block, pop out the plate, widen the hole by going up one drill bit size, pop the plate back in and repeat the tuning process until the bolt locks back. Once this is complete, you have a hard tuned gas block setting customized to your AR15 which will never come loose or loose adjustment.
Obviously having a two or three position plate allows for multiple gas adjustment options. MicroMOA recommends tuning one port position for the best soft competitive shooting performance and drilling the other position wide open for defensive applications from the same gun. If you have a supressor, the third plate position can offer an even lower gas adjustment due to the increased back pressure from a supressor. I do not own suppressors, so I like setting up the three position plate to be optimized on the center position and wide open on the left and right positions. If I ever do run into a reliability issue or want to assure total reliability for defense, all I need to do is push the slide with a bullet tip from either side to have my AR15 in a high reliability mode with wide open gas pressure.
If you were going to install a gas block on a machine gun, the MicroMOA Govnah would be the one simply because it is the only adjustable gas block which is full auto rated. The Govnah is also a solid steel beast of a gas block compared to any other gas block in existence. The Govnah was not designed to be light, but it was designed to handle the most brutal environments on the planet.
MicroMOA also has another very interesting $20 "adjustable" drill-your-own gas block model called the Baby Govnah. It is actually more of a hard tunable gas block than being considered "adjustable". Basically this is a low profile gas block without the gas port drilled, so it gives the owner the ability to drill whatever gas orifice size they need. Obviously, the tuning requires the removal of the gas block to drill out and tune the gas block between each testing/tuning cycle is painful, the process guarantees that the adjustment will stay exactly where you left it. For those with the patience for the process, the Baby Govnah is a very inexpensive option to get the gas properly related on your AR15 and an option which delivers.
I am excited we are seeing more entrants into the adjustable gas block market. I continue to believe that an adjustable gas block remains the most important upgrade you can make to your AR15. There is no other single upgrade which can net more advantages to the shooter with softer recoil, less parts fatigue, cooler running bolt carrier group, cleaner running, a flatter shooting rifle, and faster follow up shots. Above all other upgrades I recommend an adjustable gas block, and MicroMOA has believed a few new innovative options which we can choose from in the market that give you permanent adjustments which will never fall out of adjustment.
Govnah - MicroMOA has 2-position and 3-position plates that can be slipped into their gas block available in pre-set port based on in house testing or the drill-your-own options. I choose the 3-position drill-your-own option - $149
Baby Govnah - The Baby Govnah is pure and simply a drill-your-own gas block. - $20
MicroMOA - http://micromoa.com/
Friday, April 18, 2014
One of the most critical items you need to get you and your family out during a “Bug Out” situation is the ability to get all the stuff out you supposedly want to bug out with. A large duffle is one of the most flexible bags on the planet. A large duffle can haul firearms, food, clothing, shelter and all manner of items.
Generally though, they are about as waterproof as your average pasta sieve. When I was at this year’s SEMA trade show (Automotive Speciality Equipment Manufacturers Association), I saw a pretty neat item. Beyond the $40,000 Duck Dynasty trucks and branded accessories, $2000 high polish rims, and $3000 camouflage axles, I saw a great $70 product, a simple waterproof 36”x18”x13” duffle which could be mounted cartop.
Right Line offers a variety of external hauling carriers for cars and trucks. Among the many variations and model, they have a simple waterproof duffle which is perfect for almost any bugout purpose. 4.9 glorious square feet of storage space which will easily contain most AR15s, plenty of ammo, food, tarps, a tent, and even a camp stove… or two. There is a ton of room in this simple duffle.
Now here is the really cool part about the RightLine Gear Car Top Duffle… its waterproof. Yes, OK, I think I already mentioned that. But the reality is that it is actually really waterproof. You know, pack it full of toilet paper and run it through a carwash and there is not a drop of water on the paper type waterproof. The Duffle features welded seams, a urethane coated zipper, and a Velcro-close zipper cover.
Unlike the giant strap on cargo options, this duffle can actually be lifted when properly loaded. You can pack it, strap it on, and then carry it what you need it. Beyond tossing the Car Top Duffle in the back of your truck bed, it can be locked down with the included straps to your truck’s tie downs or rooftop on any vehicle with or without a roof rack with the supplied adjustable straps and rubber coated hooks.
Ok, neat, its a waterproof duffle, so what? Well the big revelation for me was that I had been shopping for waterproof duffles/sacks and the good ones are far from cheap. In fact most are in the $125-$200 range for models far less than half that the size of the RightLine gear Car Top Duffle. I could pick up three for the price of one of the other comparable models I was looking at and they were not equipped nor designed with tie down straps for cartop carry. The RightLine Car Top Duffle is not a revolutionary idea or terribly unique, it is just a stunning great deal which I stumbled on which can fill a critical need for those that want something for preparedness, the next camping trip, or just hauling all your kids stuff to college on a rainy day.
Capacity: 4.3 cu ft
Dimensions: 36” L x 16” W x 13” H
Designed for any size vehicle, WITH or WITHOUT a roof rack
100% Waterproof with welded seams, urethane coated zipper, and Velcro-close zipper cover
PVC Coated Mesh - a stiffer nylon re-enforced PVC
Includes: Car Top Duffle Bag, (2) nylon straps, (4) Car Clips and complete set up guide
Retail Price: $69.95
Right Line Gear - http://www.rightlinegear.com
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Around the Pandemic household, we have always been dog lovers. Generally, where possible, we attempt to adopt rescue puppies. Our late lab/doberman mix was a one in a million terrific dog who was easy to train, understood and immediately responded to English and Japanese commands and hand gestures, and rarely did anything remotely aggressive or out of line... and then there are the two idiots, AKA the Doberman wonder twins, we adopted a little over a year ago.
These two poor dobermans were both severely abused, physically and mentally, over 30 lbs underweight each, and generally so full of energy they were horrifically destructive. Let's see, they broke my wife's knee, ran through a wall (because it was in the way), rounded most of the drywall corners off in the house, and barked at every bird, butterfly, and car in such a manner than you would think aliens were attacking. Oh yeah, I forgot that because of the beatings they had previously, every time you did try the newspaper on the nose thing or reached for them to correct them, they would submissively pee on the floor in terror.
There were the deafening barking in the car, an instigated aggressive looking behavior which would escalate if left unchecked around ANY percieved threat, charging/clipping people and children (the male Doberman's butt at 30MPH is what broke my wife's knee), and generally acting like buttholes around other dogs. On the leash, these behaviors could be managed, however dobes are a stubborn breed and we would nearly have to throw them to the ground to get them to stop and focus on commands and then... ya know, they would pee. It was kind of like disciplining your kid in the middle of a grocery store for trashing a food aisle and was quite the spectacle with little headway being made on training. We needed another solution.
The deciding factor for SportDog Dog Training Collars was when the now large 100 lb male broke out of the dog park and chased a truck for over a 1/4 mile. It put him in danger and of course was a pain for me and the truck which was nice enough to drive all the way back to escort the dog in pursuit back to me.
|SportHunter 1825 Top|
FieldTrainer 425S Bottom
THE GENERAL IDEA & OPERATION OF DOG TRAINERS
Many people mistakenly think the dog trainer shock collars are cruel because they believe they can only be used to shock/correct the dog and that is not true. The SportDog models offer a tremendous amount of training and correction options which, depending on model, include an audible collar beep, 7-99 levels of correction (stimulation/shock), and some models also can deliver a vibration.
Neither of my dogs responded to the vibration on the FieldTrainer 425S model except to spin around and a circle to find the bug or alien that were circling them. They did learn very quickly that a beep is followed by a correction, so they better respond to the verbal command. They now know that even off leash, the game of keep-a-way to avoid correction now does not work, they come when they are called, and for the most part they have drastically improved simply due to the seemingly magical beep and correction which seems to occur only when they do not obey the verbal or hand commands.
|"Are you sure I need this?"|
The SportDog collars are all molded rugged polymer designs that have sustained quite a bit of tumbles, crashes, scuffles, and water. They are not waterproof, but they are highly water resistant. Normal field uses around water should not affect the collars function.
Generally the longer the range the larger the dog mounted receiver and the handheld receiver. The SportTrainer 425S is about 20% smaller in size, of both the transmitter and receiver than the SportHunter 1825 model which is about the size of your average walkie-talkie.
Both models come with their own proprietary chargers. I was a little disappointed that the chargers were not interchangeable, however, given the various run-times and power, I can understand the difference in chargers. The FieldTrainer 425S includes a simple wall charger with two charging ends that key into the receiver and transmitter. The SportHunter 1825 has a base the receiver unit snaps into to charge while the transmitter plugs in similar to the other unit.
|SportHunter 1825 with charger|
Both models are expandable should you have multiple dogs, however the SportHunter model allows you to specifically switch between each dog should they both be out and about together. My personal preference is to have two remotes otherwise I found I inadvertently corrected the wrong dog.
|FieldTrainer 425S with Charger|
The SportHunter 1825 provides eight levels stimulation plus the beep. My male doberman has never been over "3". My wife and I made bets who could reach the highest number and still hold on to the receiver. Dumb idea, but a great way to kill an evening after sipping tequila and experiencing the correction levels you apply to your dog.
|SportHunter 1825 Top|
FieldTrainer 425S Bottom
The final though I will leave you with is that we tried training the old way and it just didn't work for these dogs. We didn't need this option for our old dog. In fact my wife was pretty upset with me when I brought the SportDog training systems, home because "that is just cruel". That noted, both of us are in love with the system and it has allowed us a training option to make our two sizable dogs behave and live a happy safe life.
The SportHunter® 1825
FieldTrainer 425S Stubborn Dog Model
Up to 1 mile
Up to 500 yards
Expandable up to 6 dogs
Expandable up to 3 dogs
MODES OF OPERATION
DRYTEK™ waterproof and submersible to 25 feet
DRYTEK™ waterproof and submersible to 25 feet
BATTERY CHARGE TIME
2 hour quick charge
2-hour quick charge
Compatible with UplandHunter® Accessory Beeper SD-BEEP
Compatible with UplandHunter® Accessory Beeper SD-BEEP
Select from 8 stimulation levels each within low, medium, or high setting
Ergonomic, slim-profile collar design
Compact Remote Transmitter
SR-300, ST120-SA, SDT00-12494, ST-101, SDT00-11963, SDT00-12490, ST-101SA
FT-125, SDT54-13889, SDT00-13857, SDT00-13861, SR-225
SportDog - http://www.sportdog.com/