Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 Pandemian Product of the Year Awards

2014 Pandemian Product of the Year Awards


Unlike many of my editorial counterparts, I like to actually wait for the year to become reflective before I announce my Year’s Best selections for Firearms & Accessories. After my 2014 reviews wrapped up, I broke down what was the best of the best products of the 155 articles published and decided which deserved special recognition.  I call these awards the “Pandemian Product of the Year Awards”. Pandemian Award Winners were categorized three categories; “BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK”, “BEST PREMIUM PROJECT”, and “Innovation Award”.  I have also had the great pleasure to work with a few of these companies on charity projects for Lone Survivor Foundation and Mercury One such as Barnes Precision, Black Rain Ordnance, San Tan Tactical, HiperFire, Burris, Mission First, and PWS.

PANDEMIAN BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK AWARD
The “Pandemian BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK “category awards was by far the toughest for me to rank as there are some outstanding products out there without breaking the bank. Winners in that category delivered the challenging mix of extreme quality and value.


PANDEMIAN BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AWARD
If your wallet has no limits, the “Pandemian BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT” category award is where you need to skim to. Each product in this category delivered some of the most feature rich products with exemplary quality. Even though some of the products in this category were not “the” most expensive I tested/featured, they proved themselves to be better in some way.


PANDEMIAN INNOVATION AWARD
“Pandemian Innovation Award” winners took the route less traveled and delivered something truly innovative to the market beyond another “Me Too” product. Winner in this category should be saluted for their innovation and out-of-the-box designs.


WHO WON WHAT?


BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK RIFLE - BARNES PRECISION MACHINE BPM-15 NP5 Marine Coated Rifle - 2nd Year in the Row
Barnes Precision Continues to deliver the highest quality and most accurate rifle for the money and still manages to include innovative features that most high-end AR-15 still lack. You can spend more money and get fancier, however it will likely not out-shoot or deliver higher quality than the BPM. At the very tail end of 2013 I published a review of this NP5 coated BPM-15, but I really developed a deeper love for the rifle through 2014. This year I reviewed the BPM NP5 coated rifle and it delivered everything I loved about the original BPM-15, but with a full NP5 Nickel Boron coating on every part on the gun including detents and trigger group.
Review Here - http://www.majorpandemic.com/2013/12/barnes-precision-machine-np5-ar15-review.html



BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT CUSTOM RIFLE - BLACK RAIN ORDNANCE 308 REVIEW - 2nd year in a Row
Over the last couple years, the tricked out and feature loaded Black Rain Fallout-15 reviewed back in 2011 continues to take my abuse and still deliver smiles from all the custom touches on this AR15. Then I reviewed BRO’s NY Compliant rifles and it was awesome and then I reviewed their BRO-308 which finally delivered reliability in a 308 platform. I also like that fact that beyond the custom greatness of the rifles, they generously support charitable organizations.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AR15 RECEIVER - SAN TAN TACTICAL STT-15 LOWER RECEIVER & UPPER
Without question, the San Tan Tactical receivers are the finest, highest detailed, most feature rich AR15 lower receivers in the industry. They are spectacular and are also one of the most expensive in the industry with the exception of total custom receivers, but worth every penny. If you want the top end in AR15 receivers, San Tan is it. Recently they just released a new matching billet upper as well.



BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK HANDGUN - H&K VP9 9MM
The $600 price range is very competitive with the likes of Glock, Ruger, S&W, and Walther all delivering top notch guns in this price point… and then H&K dropped the VP9 on the market like a monkey wrench thrown into a machine. H&K delivered a top notch premium 9mm with arguably some of the best ergonomics in the industry (2nd only to the H&K P30) with a striker fired trigger that is just a hair less crisp than the reigning Walther PPQ M2 pistol. On top of all its striker fired greatness, the VP9 is even completely magazine compatible with the famed and popular P30. Paired with expected H&K reliability and accuracy, the $600 retail pistol is changing minds about what is expected in this category.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT HANDGUN - H&K P30L 9MM
The P30 is hardly new, however it was new to me and the P30L (Longside) was new to the market. This is the finest most high quality defense pistol on the market from my opinion. The ergonomics are sublime and once you understand the defensive ideas behind the P30 design and experience the amazing accuracy, you never want to carry anything else.


BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK CONCEALED CARRY PISTOL - Glock G42 .380 ACP
Despite all the whining, Glock introduced yet another gun no one ever said they wanted. The G42 .380 ACP chambered single stack pistol was the single biggest disappointing Glock release ever… and then we all went out and bought one. The volumes were so high that the G42 model outsold the sum total of all other Glock models combined in 2014 according to inside Glock sources. The G42 is everything we want the Walther PPK to be, but in a total reliable and lighter shooting format. It doesn’t matter what you think of this gun initially, just buy one, install a clip draw and carry it everywhere and fall in love with a gun you never knew you needed.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT MAGNIFIED OPTICS - Burris XTRII 1.5x-8x-34mm Fast Fire Combo SCOPE
Late in December I finally put my hands on a Burris XTRII 1.5-8 Fast Fire combo on my Ultimate AR15 build which is a review coming shortly. This optics features stunning clarity a d 2nd focal plane with a reticle that zooms with the magnification and assures perfect ranging at any magnification. What makes this set up a great deal in the premium product category is that it combines a premium top end optic with a mount and reflex piggy back sight.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT SHOTGUN - FN SC-1 SHOTGUN
From full adjustability from comb to trigger length the FN SC-1 delivers everything you could possible need for any professional clays competitor. The SC-1 packs more top end features into an over under clays gun than any competitor on the market. It is a spectacular gun which I have pushed over 1000 rounds through at this point and every time I shoot it, I like it even better.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AR TRIGGERS - HyperFire HyperTouch Triggers
There may be new versions of the same cartridge match AR15 triggers, and the same for single and two stage match triggers. Then Terry Bender came along with a totally new and innovative AR15 trigger which has pushed the envelop of trigger feel, speed and reset with a design that is nothing like any trigger design on the market. HiperFire’s 24C has just dominated the 3Gun industry this year. If you have not tried one of these new trigger designs then you are completely missing out.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT CUTTING TOOL - CRKT Shizuka Noh Ken Folding Knife
I love the knife designs from James Williams and almost exclusively carry one of his CRKT knife designs daily.  The Shizuka Noh Ken is the newest CRKT James Williams design and is just a little smaller than the larger Otanashi. From my perspective the perfect size to maximize defensive use and still remain within most jurisdictional blade length limitations. Add in the performance of this knife in a smaller blade size with top end features such as G10 handles and brass bearings and you have in my mind a spectacular cutting tool.


BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK PACK - DRAGO Sentry Pack for Ipad/Tablets
Noting that Drago packs can often can be found for under $40, they are an amazing value that mandated recognition. This tablet focused pack delivers more features than packs three times the cost in a 1-day sized pack that will handle daily commutes to cross country day trips. 

The single sling pack features plenty of space for a small laptop or tablet, cell phones, lights, handgun and more.  If you own a tablet you owe it to yourself to pick one of these extremely inexpensive packs up. For the money there is nothing better.

INNOVATION AWARD  - Mission First Tactical Torch Light
This is another why didn’t I think of this idea. Image a tiny little light that delivers more than enough light for navigation in a CQB setting and plenty of light for target identification all in a size that you don’t even notice it's there.

Every defensive firearm I own has one of these on it.


INNOVATION AWARD - PWS CQB Brake
I used the PWS CQB brake on a number of builds over the last year and you will see it again prominently featured in more reviews to come. The PWS CQB brake is a modified and patented Krink style brake which deliver an unsurpassed level of sound redirection compared with any other similar brake I have tested on AR15 pistols. If you want to move the bark and sonic bite away from the shooter, the PWS CQB brake design is the best I have tested or shot.


INNOVATION AWARD - LAG Tactical Holster
LAG Tactical Holsters are unique not necessarily just because of the design of the holster, but because of the vast array of custom options the buyer can set up during ordering.  

There are a ton of Kydex holster manufacturers, however none that I am aware of offer all the custom options LAG Tactical does in their production holster design. If you have a special need, they can meet it. My IWB/OWB LAG holster version was for my H&K VP9 and it has been an incredible holster for not a lot of money.


INNOVATION AWARD - Resco Patriot & Manus Watch Review
There are literally 100s of “Military Watches” out there, however Resco delivers a super premium watch movement in a watch design which is durable and gorgeous dive style watch. 

Not only does Resco offer $10,000+ watch quality at around $2000, each and every watch is made by the owner of Resco who is a real life active duty Navy Seal.  Beat that every other company who says they are military “rated/approved”.


INNOVATION AWARD - Dolos Quick Release Barrel Handguard
The Dolos delivers the ability to remove or attach an AR15 barrel instantly with just a quarter twist for storage and then quickly re-assemble with no perceptible re-zeroing required. 

Many have tried to deliver this level of simplicity, however the Dolos does it and its an amazing innovative product that completely changes the stowable size of the AR15 platform.




INNOVATION AWARD - FEDERAL VITAL SHOCK 10mm FULL POWER AMMO
Without going into a history lesson on 10mm, the 10mm was neutered after the FBI whimped out on the full power of the 10mm. The Federal Premium Vital Shock 10mm Auto 180 Grain Trophy Bonded JSP features the only full power hunting focused JSP bullet option I am aware of. The 10mm Auto round is an extremely viable deer round especially when this round is delivering about 20% more power than your typical .357 magnum round which is impressive. Consider that there are a number of “Lite” .44 magnum rounds that this Federal Premium Vital Shock 10mm Auto 180 Grain Trophy Bonded JSP overpowers and you start to really appreciate how this round sits nicely between hot .357 Magnum and standard loaded .44 Magnum rounds.


INNOVATION AWARD - WMD Ultimate CHassis Review
WMD didn’t modify the design of the AR15 platform, nor did they offer a upgraded page full of model to fit every need. What they did do was deliver an innovative product which took a great AR15 base chassis and coated it entirely in WMD’s NiBx Nickel Boron coating and then provide that Ultimate Beast Chassis to buyers so that they can finish the chassis with the furniture grip, stock, forend of their liking. Great innovative idea that saves the user from buying something that sort of fits their needs and then wasting money replacing existing components. WMD’s NiBx treatment delivers a totally impervious solvent, salt, corrosion, and weather proof AR15 platform which is insanely slick operating.


INNOVATION AWARD - IWI TAVOR
I was possibly the last editor in the world to review the IWI Tavor in 2014 however I think I was one of the very few who received training by Israeli Special Forces. After that training I get this gun, I love this gun, if you break into my home at night this will be the last thing you remember having pointed at you before you are laying on the floor. I have pushed well over 7000K rounds through this Tavor equipped with an Eotech 912 and it has never been cleaned or lubed since it was pulled from the box, never jammed, or failed to cycle. The IWI Tavor is phenomenally reliable. It is such a great innovative platform that I ordered another one in Black just to have another to play my version of Tavor Barbies accessorizing and modifying without tearing down my home defense gun. If you buy one gun this year, it should be a Tavor.


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