Sunday, September 18, 2016

STD Simple Threaded Device Brake Review

STD Simple Threaded Device Brake Review

After realizing that my fun time blasting away with my AR15 pistol was causing the stock price of Tylenol to raise, I decided something needed to be done to tame down that insufferable AR15 pistol muzzle blast.  Historically my prefered muzzle brake has been the PWS CQB which I find does a mighty fine job of the shooter perceived concussion of the blast on short barrels AR15 uppers and also delivers a braking effect as well. The problem is that these Krinkov and other similar brakes are usually well over $100 and I was in search of something less expensive, lighter and more compact. Someone suggested I get an STD - which lead into a whole different discussion.  The STD or Simple Threaded Device does have a rather catchy name for a really cool little brake that actually works.

The makers of the STD Simple Threaded Device muzzle brake cite reduced levels of sound pressure experienced by the shooter. I am not talking about suppressors, or mythical acoustic disintegration devices, the STD is just a really simple little brake which is designed to not increase noise to the shooter.

The problem is that these days we all screw on most effective muzzle brakes redirects the muzzle blast to 90-degrees from the shooter instead of 120 to 180-degree like a normal bare muzzle would. All these really effective brakes effectively redirect the muzzle blast closer to the shooter and therefore making it louder for the poor bastards to the left, right, and behind the gun. The idea of the STD muzzle device was to create a brake that would effectively move/direct the muzzle blast as close to 180-degrees from the shooter as possible. The result is pretty surprising and extremely noticeable on AR15 pistols and short barreled rifles.

The STD is not magic and there are compromises. It does not do a very good job with controlling muzzle rise, but really is not any worse than a bare muzzle. The STD muzzle brake is not a flash hider either and in fact can produce some freaking unbelievable fireballs out of really short barrels.  The STD has one singular purpose which is avoid breaking your eardrums every time your gun goes off.

On a rifle length barrel it does this pretty well and in fact could be a really nice muzzle device for hunters which will take the occasional shot or two without ear protection. One .22LR rifles the report was really quite pleasant, but hearing protection would still be recommended in all situations. AR15 pistols and SBRs are freaking loud and there is no way around it without a suppressor. The STD just makes it a little better and prevents the report from gettting amplified by other brake or flash hider designs. Testing has shown that the STD can reduce shooter perceived sound pressure levels by as much as 3db over a standard bare muzzle - that 3db reduction makes it seem like the report is half as loud to the shooter. If you swap from a typical vented brake, most people will perceive they have cut the perceived sound pressure by four times.

The other thing I really like about the STD is that it is tiny, short, light, and quite inexpensive. At around $60, the STD is one of the most affordable aftermarket brakes on the market and certainly one of the lightest and smallest. If you have an AR15 pistol this is an option the can bring the deafening roar into check.

Simple Threaded Device -

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Thursday, September 8, 2016



Warning these Vortex ranging monoculars will end up on your “stuff I need” list. Let me sum this up quick and then I will work through the features. The Vortex Recon R/T and Solo Tactical R/T deliver the shooter a compact, quick and robust observation, scouting and ranging solution that starts at only $169. It is a “damn it, I wish I would have thought of it” idea that combines an offset MRAD/MilDot ranging reticle with a simple-to-use high quality monocular. Vortex is offering these monocular models in 8x, 10x, and 15x magnifications. All the R/T (Ranging and Tactical) models feature the mil-dot reticle and pre-ranged 300, 400, 500 and 600 meter standard man sized silhouettes. Look, range, adjust turrets and shoot. The Mil-Based reticle also allows ranging via a standard mil-dot grid system.

Line up the silhouette with a human sized silhouette for immediate ranging or use the Mil-Dots for measurement and you can quickly calculate the range all without batteries. This method also prevents rangefinder errors because grass was waving in front of you while you were snuggled into a prone position. Ahh, good old fashioned manual ranging technology paired with enough magnification power to actually see details that an electronic 4x rangefinder would fail to deliver. In my opinion, this was one of the top optic products of the 2016 SHOT Show this year and after testing, I believe it should be in everyone’s kit.

A great pair of binoculars are handy, however there are a lot of times that they seem a bit too cumbersome or heavy and this is where a quality monocular makes perfect sense. Monoculars can be tucked into a jacket pocket or in the case of the Vortex Recon and Tactical R/T they can be clipped to the belt. Technically you are getting better optics in a monocular for the money than you would with binoculars simply because you are paying for just one eye-full of optics and not two. The clarity of these Vortex Monoculars is really outstanding considering the price. The only shortcoming in the lineup is a focus-free model, but all the current models do feature easy-to-use focusing and ocular adjustment.

If you are using a Mil-Dot ranging system, regular scouting optics would require you to find what you are looking for and then get behind your rifle to relocate the target and use the rifle optics’ reticle to measure objects in order to calculate the distance for the shooting solution. With both the Vortex RECON R/T and Vortex SOLO R/T you or a shooting partner can find and range a target and the rifle only needs to be used to deliver the shooting solution. Some people would say “why do I care?” The main reason is that the Vortex Monoculars get the measurement tool off a potentially loaded gun so that you can range all sorts of stuff at football games, golfing, and keeping an eye on that car down the street all without waving a gun muzzle around. The other valid reason is that it gives you a ranging and scouting tool which will never require batteries. Once you start burning into your brain the mil-dot sizes of typical animals, human, and environmental objects, ranging can be really fast without any math involved.

Vortex has though each of these monoculars out very well. Both have belt clips to make it easy and simple to clip to a belt or pack. Other accessories include lens covers, lanyards, and neoprene covers which are compact and protective. The larger RECON R/T also includes a hand strap, picatinny rail, tripod adapter, and mini tripod.

Vortex Recon R/T - Vortex’s Recon is basically a compact spotting scope with 40 mils of positive and negative ranging ability from center. The 10X magnification does require some type of stabilization or the image starts to jump around. Vortex does include a small flexi-leg tripod which mounts quickly via the included multi-mount. The included tripod is just barely strong enough to hold up the Recon’s weight, but it does work if you get the legs bent the right way. 

The Recon R/T also can be mounted to any screw-on type tripod on either side which would be a preferable mounting if used on a bench. At $689 the assumption is correct that the Vortex Recon R/T is a significantly better optic than its little brother. Notably the Recon is a significantly higher tier of optic with greatly improved clarity and brightness all around.

It feels more rugged and is a more featured packed kit compared to the slimmed down Solo. Where I see the primary use of the Recon R/T 10x and 15x models is taking the place of compact spotting scopes in the field while also reducing the weight burden of also carrying binoculars and ranging devices.

Vortex Solo R/T - The Vortex Solo is the little brother of the Recon but with 60 Mils of positive and negative of ranging front center due to the broader field of view 8x magnification. The Solo does not have the extra lens covers, the tripod, or the hand strap, however it is the perfect compromise of small compact usefulness that would make you carry it everywhere. 

It does not look “tactical” which I think is important as a multi-tool optics for residential, urban, and even public sporting environments.  It does not scream hey I am ranging you “mother-f&&*er”. The Solo R/T still packs in the ranging reticle, silhouette ranging, and pocket clip all protected by a simple slip in neoprene case. The 8x magnification is more forgiving and easily used unsupported single-handed while still delivering a stable image picture. I can say that I use the Solo so much I will likely buy at least another one. It gets used a lot at the range to see “Now where exactly did I hit that steel?” or just to check targets.

It is easy to whip out your laser range finder, but there are many situations where I have found these tools to deliver false or unreliable readings. Mil-based ranging may not give you the perfect accuracy of a laser range finder, but the Recon and Solo do provide a tool which can validate a range and double as a scouting tool. A brilliant idea by Vortex of offering this concept in an affordable package to the consumer markets.

Magnification 10 x
Objective Lens Diameter 50 mm
Eye Relief 19.5 mm
Exit Pupil 5 mm
Linear Field of View 280 feet/1000 yards
Angular Field of View 5.3 degrees
Close Focus 12 feet
Length 7 inches
Width 3 inches
Hand Grip Width 2.4 inches
Weight 15.2 ounces

Magnification 8 x
Objective Lens Diameter 36 mm
Eye Relief 18 mm
Exit Pupil 4.5 mm
Linear Field of View 393 feet/1000 yards
Angular Field of View 7.5 degrees
Close Focus 16.4 feet
Length 5.3 inches
Width 2.3 inches
Hand Grip Width 2 inches
Weight 10.2 ounces


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Friday, September 2, 2016

Extrema Ratio T4000C Review

Extrema Ratio T4000C Review

Last year I reviewed the Extrema Ratio Shrapnel and that 4” bladed knife has become one of my favorites for everyday carry.  The Shrapnel has a new brother; the new T4000 C Tanto bladed knife is now part of Extrema’s Back-Up Knife line.  

As a fan of tanto blades for defensive use and was excited to see the T4000 C introduced with a fat high aspect ratio tanto point angle. From a comparison perspective, the Shrapnel delivers a modified 4.3” drop point blade and the T4000 C delivers esthetically the same knife with a marginally shorter 4.1” Tanto blade.

Extrema Ratio not only makes beefy well designed knives, but also adds features and style not found on other knives which make them easy to use and and delivers a lot of pride of ownership. A bit futuresk, yes, however once these unique handles and knives are in hand, you really appreciate the out of the box thinking of the Extrema Ratio design team. The focus of the Extrema Ratio T4000 C is designed with the focus as a pure defensive backup knife.

The T4000 C features a cordura sheath versus the multi-mount kydex/polymer sheath for the Shrapnel. The T4000C is compact but not particularly slim. From a concealment perspective it can be difficult to conceal without a dedicated concealment holster. 

I formed a custom deep concealment carbon fiber kydex appendix sheath which does allow me to conceal the knife. The concealment challenge is the rather large but extremely comfortable handle.

Included with the Extrema Ratio T4000C is a cordura sheath which I found particularly useless for the intent of the knife with the primary limitation being speed of access. The very well thought out hard plastic click-in and click-out Extrema retention sheath better from the other Back-up Knife models is just a better sheath system. At this point I carry the T4000 C in my custom Kydex sheath, so it really is not an ongoing issue for me.

The Extrema Ratio T4000 C features the same Fornprene handle with hardened glass break tang with lanyard hole as the rest of the Extrema fixed blade line. The edge holds extremely well thanks to the N690 cobalt steel.  

As an EDC knife, this would not be the blade or blade shape I would reach for first for utility tasks or bushcraft. The Tanto blades do an excellent job at excelling at penetrating jabs and slashes, however the shape is less versatile for than a typical drop point blade. Conversely I would rather have a historically proven tanto blade shape than a drop point for a defensive knife that bites and cuts deep.

The T4000 C is not a slim, tiny, and light knife as you see with the BlackHawk/MOD Razorback, but a heavy duty beast of a blade featuring hard use full tang knife design with a full sized handle.  This focuses the knife squarely as a defensive knife.  

The blade contours are consistent and edge grind is perfect with very minor casting seams on the Forprene handle. The Austrian N690 steel is a cobalt based stainless steel similar in performance to the expensive VG-10. Notably the blade is wicked crazy sharp.

This is the top and of production tactical knife making. To date I have tested a number of knives from Extrema Ratio and although I am a very picky guy when it comes to blades, they have continued to impress with every knife. 

If the Extrema Ratio T4000 C had a slimmer overall handle profile for to allow for more discreet concealed carry it would be “the” perfect knife. 

After a few months carrying T4000 and I did round off the pommel and of the handle to make the knife conceal a little better.  Sure Extrema Ratio knives are expensive, however the knife is the most essential and basic of survival gear and I believe you should always buy the best knife available when your life may depend on it.

Weight g.:196.0
Weight oz.:6.9
Blade Length (mm):104
Blade Length (in):4.1
Total Length (mm):208
Total Length (in):8.2
Blade Thickness (mm):4.0
Blade Thickness (in):0.16
Blade Material:BöHLER N690 STEEL (58HRC)
Blade Finishing:MIL-C-13924 BURNISHING
Main Grid:FLAT
Handle Material:FORPRENE


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Holosun Paralow HS503C Red Dot Sight Review

Holosun Paralow HS503C Red Dot Sight Review

We are now very lucky as shooters with the proliferation of really good and really affordable red dot sights. The technology and quality is on the rise while prices are falling into a reasonable price range. At one time a quality red dot that would take the abuse of tactical training once cost the same price as the rifle itself. Today we have brands like Holosun which are offering quite a few technical innovations.

I can actually hear the sound of people’s eyes rolling with a non-American name like Holosun, but the company is actually an American company based in California. Holosun was founded by one of the largest international OEM optic manufacturers which does mean overseas manufacturing but also means a price we can all afford. In reality Holosun’s overseas manufacturing is not doing anything different than most optics companies are these days. Holosun’s tag line is “Military Grade Quality without the Military Price.” I tested the Holosun HS503C Red Dot which I was impressed with. Holosun is not an $800 Aimpoint however it is an amazingly durable optic for $285.

The first feature of the Holosun HS503C is the 20,000 hours of run-time on the circle dot reticle and over 50,000 hours on the single dot when solar and battery power are used. Keeping in mind the runtimes of other circle-dot reticles is significantly less than 20,000 hours even when powered with huge AA or CR123 batteries, but remember the Holosun HS503C runs on just solar or CR2032 wafer battery. Holosun does have a couple red dot only models which are rated for 50K hours, so those numbers are expected to be the low and of run times.

The reticle automatically switches between solar and battery power depending on the light available. If you do have a dead battery, the red dot will still work in where ambient light is available. If you are of the prepper mindset, the Holosun HS503C optic will still be running after all the batteries on earth on dead… but only in the light.

In full sunlight the HS503C reticle is bright and useable and in most cases the reticle transitions well between light and dark environments. The only significant issues that required me to switch to manual mode were looking out into a bright environment from inside a dark room and at night.  The HS503C flips over to a pretty dim battery powered circle dot reticle. For most situations this is fine, but at night I would likely just hold down the “+” button for 3-seconds and go into manual (battery only) mode. This is an issue every auto adjusting optic is challenged with. Manual mode is what we are used to anyway - right?

To further conserve battery life, the Holosun HS503C even shuts off automatically after there is no movement for a period of time.  After a few months of use, I do not see any signs that the battery will need to be replaced this year… or next.

The Holosun HS503C reticle features a unique 2 MOA Dot; 65 MOA Circle which gives the appearance of a Eotech style reticle. The unique part is that you can swap between the dot or dot plus circle reticles in manual mode. In auto sunlight mode only the circle dot reticle can be selected.
If you are a control freak and want to just run off battery and set all your own brightness settings manually, the Holosun HS503C allows running in full manual mode. In manual mode users can select between a 2MOA dot or the combo 2MOA and 65 MOA circle reticle among different brightness settings depending on needs.  I found the circle-dot to be extremely fast shooting but the dot itself cuts down the clutter and improves run-time.

The quality is extremely high quality which has survived a beat down on my AR15 pistol, Sig MPX 9mm pistol, and even my C308 Century Arms .308 rifle. I didn’t beat on it with a rock or anything, but I certainly was not careful and it did get more than a few bumps, knocks, and drops.

There is a lot packed into a small space on this optic. There are the electronic button controls, windage and elevation adjustments, solar panel, and the battery still has to go somewhere and I am not in love with the screw-in battery tray idea. The battery compartment works just fine and is waterproof, however I do not like that it needs a micro phillips head screwdriver to change batteries. With the run times at an insanely long time and solar backup power, changing batteries is not something that will be done a lot, however when it does come time, you will have to find a tiny little screwdriver to make the swap. Holosun even provides a screwdriver and spare battery tray and extra screws in case you lose something. For the Holosun HS503C, I would recommend stashing that screwdriver and spare battery tray and spare battery into a grip storage compartment.

The Holosun HS503C is a well built red dot with a reasonable discounted $285 price available from The optic is extremely clear flexible red dot which even includes an extra battery tray, mounts for low and lower ⅓ co-witness mounting. The optic is rated to survives all the typical stresses including being shock and dust proof plus waterproof up to one meter.

The Holosun HS503C is a very nice quality optic for the price and the unique features and solar power make it a handy optic even when the batteries run dead. I can say from experience that some of these red dots run so long that you sometimes forget to replace batteries until you need them for training. The solar backup is appreciated. The final home for this great optic was a Devil Dog Arms AR15 pistol which gets a lot of use both as a training gun and home defense gun. If I did not have confidence at this point in the Holosun, I certainly would not have put it on this pistol. Excellent affordable feature packed optic.

Holosun HS503C: PARALOW HS503C Circle Dot Sight, Black, 133X54X72mm
Reticle 2 MOA Dot; 65 MOA Circle:
Light source: LED
Magnification: 1X
Battery: CR2032
Battery Life: 20,000 hours for circle dot at mid brightness setting 50,000 hours for single dot at mid brightness setting
Brightness Setting: 9 DL & 2 NV compatible
Storage Temperature: -40C to 70C
Working Temperature: -10C to 50C
Color: Black
Dimensions: 133x54x72mm
Weight: 120g
Features of Holosun Paralow HS503C Circle Dot Sight, Solar/Battery Power:
Parallax free with unlimited eye relief
Clean sight picture with push button controls and streamlined housing design
Fully multi-coated lenses
Solar and battery power supplies
Switch between circle dot and red dot reticles
Battery tray
Low mount and 1/3 Co-witness mount included
AR riser included. Adaptable to Picatinny and Weaver rails.
CNC machining with T6061-T6 aluminum housing with PEO/MAO finish
Waterproof to 1m


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