5.56 Timeline

Timber Vaults Concealment Shelf (part 1)

This company emailed us a few weeks ago and offered to send us something of our choice for a review. Looking around on their website I chose an oak shelf.

Once it arrived, I was impressed. This thing is not some pressed sawdust piece of walmart furniture. It’s exactly like they say it it.

Very strong and very sturdy.

Hardware for its moving parts are meant to last a lifetime. The bottom folds down as you can see. It goes from looking like a shelf to giving you access to firearms in a snap.

I got the model big enough for a 16 inch barrel carbine and a couple of handguns or whatever else you think should go in there.

It mounts to the wall with metal and isn’t going anywhere. Mounting instructions and various items included of course.

You use the RFID to open in it. No handle for kids to grab and nothing sticking down to catch the eye of a thief or some one suspicious.

Why RFID Is Better Than Just a Magnet

While many types of concealment shelves, mirrors and furniture offer magnet-based access, we believe RFID mechanisms offer a superior solution. RFID provides fast access like a simple magnet, but with much more security. We use this technology because the RFID card is the only way to access the hidden contents—without destroying the unit.

I haven’t gotten this mounted to the wall yet. It’s heavier and more solid than I expected. This is a heavy duty piece of .. Tactical furniture?.. The walls in the ol’ homeplace won’t support it. So I’m working putting something together to hold it. You are going to have to wait till part two to see it mounted and in action I’m afraid.

I can tell you right now though, I can recommend this thing if you been looking for a covert hide away for a gun or just for anything like this. It’s not a gimmick and it’s not cheap junk.

They also make some other nifty pieces that hide guns if the shelf doesn’t do it for you. Check it out below and come back for part 2 of the review once I got this mounted up on something.


Leatherman P4 Review

Guest post from friend of the site, C. Lopes

I’ve been obsessed with multitools for almost 30 years now.  My first was a Leatherman PST-I, given to me as a gift when they first came out.  I was skeptical at first and it looked like a cheap gimmick.  However, this thing really opened my eyes and quickly moved me away from the swiss army knives I grew up with.  I found I was using it daily to complete tasks.  While it was rarely the best tool for the job, it was always the most convenient and was almost always “good enough” to get the job done.  I used it instead of hunting down the best tool and saved a ton of time in the process.  I bought the Super Tool, 1st-generation Wave, and Crunch when they first emerged, and found the Wave to be the most useful of the 3, as well as the easiest to employ.  I’ve experimented with others, including the Surge as well.  Fast forward to today, and I own multiple New Waves, including one customized with parts purchased from Texas Tool Crafters that I’ve been carrying for years.  I know some will question Tim Leatherman’s politics, but I’m a machinist who has experimented with a huge sample of multitools.  I use them hard.  I fully believe that the Wave is the highest quality multitool in existence, and it’s not a close competition.  You might own a Gerber and you may like it, but if you actually use it hard daily (what you might consider “misuse”) it will fall apart.  The Wave will stand up, take it, then ask for more.

I write this as a review of Leatherman’s new offering, the “Free” series.   I recently purchased a new Free P4, and I want to compare/contrast it to the Wave.

At first glance, it may look like the Wave, but operates very differently.  The plier head is substantially similar to that used on the Wave, including the replaceable cutter bits.  I believe the only modification is to the hinge mechanism. The plier hinges are “free,” compared to the Wave.  The Wave uses tension to hold the tool closed when not being used, while the Free uses magnets.  It can be flipped open like a butterfly knife.  It’s a neat feature.  In fact every blade on the Free can be opened and employed using 1 hand.  This seemed at first to be an advantage.  After about a week of use, however, this advantage seems of questionable value.  The most useful tools, which to me are the blades themselves, are easily accessible with 1 hand on the Wave.  Also, in order to create the external opening feature for all blades on the Free, the blades are smaller and arguably not useful.  Most notably, the file itself is less than half the size of that on the Wave.  Also, the bit driver, present on the Wave, is gone.  In it’s place, fixed phillips and flathead screwdrivers have been added.  I miss the versatility of the bit kit.

As a machinist, let me say that with respect to the fixed screwdrivers, the phillips head screwdriver was obviously cut out on a CNC mill. But the way that it was done so left toolmarks that look like it was cut by a Chinese child laborer with a hand-file. Does a finishing pass really cost them that much in terms of time? Maybe it doesn’t matter because the steel quality is so low that after using it the tool marks will be covered up by scratches on any use because it wasn’t heat-treated. The PST-I phillips head was heat-treated. This is just weak. In fact, the finish on the whole tool is just not up to standard “Leatherman quality.” Also, the rulers stamped into the side of the Wave are gone. Overall, the quality of the Free is markedly lower than that of the Wave. The pocket clip loosened to the point of almost falling off within 1 week of unboxing this thing. In contrast, the Wave’s removable clip is solid even after years of use. There seems to be less steel used in the Free, and I suspect when you multiply this by thousands of multitools it saves Leatherman money. I fear that this will come at a cost to their reputation

The steel quality on the main blades is crap, but they are also crap on normal Waves. These crap blades generally are on all their offerings. It’s 440C steel, but this is mediocre for a blade that actually sees use. Call me a snob but if you can find the s30V versions I highly recommend doing so. They also offer some in a 154CM version. In both cases the steel is top quality and is noticeably superior to the “regular” offering. You can also purchase replacements on ebay, but installing them voids the warranty. While I don’t mind voiding my warranties, this is something that may be important to you. Texas Tool Crafters I believe remains an expensive option, as they sell customized Waves for a premium, including blades with quality damascus laminates that function well with that exotic look. They used to sell parts, but due to a legal settlement with Leatherman I believe they had to stop. This is unfortunate, and I wish Leatherman would provide better options. Some of us actually use these tools hard. Don’t get me wrong, the Wave is rock solid, but I wish the s30v offering was standard.

All in all, I don’t recommend the P4 free at any price when the Wave exists. Especially at almost twice the price of a Wave. And when the Wave doesn’t exist, get a SOG.


Kirk had some things to say about the rol;e of the US M LAW and the soviet RPG in the comments in the post about the LAW yesterday. They are so good its worth sharing here.

The role of the RPG is filled by both the LAW and the 40mm grenade. Not quite as well, mind you, but they are there. You usually issued two-three LAW rockets per soldier, if you thought you were going to need them. Basic load was usually something along the line of six or so per squad, dependent on need.

Now, the void that the lack of the RPG represents? That’s another thing, and a product of the way we fail to look at the squad as a system. We pay lip service to it, but the clear fact is that we badly needed something like the RPG in the squad structure for decades, but never bothered to procure it or even acknowledge the gap in capability. I wanted the Carl Gustav for years, but they didn’t ever get it on general issue until well after I retired. I can’t answer the “why” of it all, any more than I can answer the question of why these idiots-in-charge keep going after these blue-sky solutions to what are very mundane problems. Instead of the XM-25, with its ludicrously tiny little payload, they should have said “Yeah, we’re gonna actually f**k some sh*t up, downrange…” and packaged that rangefinding/fuse solution into much larger direct-fire weapons like the Carl Gustav. You put one of those into the air over an MG crew, and I guarantee you they are not walking away from it. Yet, they kept wanting that itty-bitty little payload package…

Other thing lacking is a decent light tripod for all these weapons. You are not lobbing a CG round into a window at 900m off of someone’s shoulder… The Army badly needs a good light tripod for the support MG and other things like the Carl Gustav, one that can be carried with a moving squad and rapidly set up for delivering fires out past what you can hit off the shoulder. Unfortunately, not one of the people making procurement decisions is really what I’d call “informed” on what the troops actually need.

You have to start thinking of things in terms of downrange effects, and how you most effectively generate them. We don’t think systematically about how our squads are armed and equipped, and it shows. To a degree, I think the Soviets did a better job at it, and that’s why they had the AK, the PKM, the RPG, and the rest of their suite. While we had whatever the fantasists in our lalaland procurement agencies stuck us with… I can’t think of a single f**king thing that was ever asked for that we actually got. Couple weeks ago, Shawn held up a perfect example here: The RAAW.

And, the crap they keep trying to develop? Laughable–There was a deal back during the late Seventies that was just ludicrous on the face of it all: The Infantry schoolhouse guys wanted what amounted to an “instant foxhole digger”, or EXFOD. It was supposed to be this little Claymore mine-size package that would be capable of producing a usable foxhole anywhere in the world, in any soil, instantly. Anyone who has even a little background in explosives work could come up with a half-dozen different reasons something like that was never going to work, but the idiots in procurement kept right on with the program until the mid-1990s. Millions of dollars wasted, and nobody blinked.

To my mind, the way this sort of thing should be thought about is by segregating things into downrange targets and effects. You class your targets by what sort of munition will be most effective against them–Individual weapons (rifles, LMG, grenade launchers) get used against personnel that are close in; Crew-served weapons like the GPMG, mortar, and Carl Gustav (think “direct-fire pocket artillery”) get used against structures, vehicles, and masses of personnel. You need to be able to deal with the categories of targets you are assigned to fight, with some overlap–The Infantry company needs mortars as well as access to the fire support network that is artillery, CAS, and whatever else might be available.

And, we sadly do not break things down like this, or think about how we’re going to engage these targets. The Soviets did, and that’s why they stuck the RPG down in the squads as a multi-purpose support weapon. Although, to be honest, it did kind of evolve by itself–Originally, it was seen as strictly an anti-tank tool.

Upgrading a cheap helmet – part 2

In part 1 I just sorta pointless rambled about some helmets I have.

Now what I am going to talk about applies to many helmets, even the expensive ones. I did three simple upgrades and made world of difference.


I’m staring with a Chinese made “LongFri” brand helmet, ACH style but high cut. Runs about $200 new. The $212 Kota helmets appear to be effectively identical.

Would it be better to have a high quality American made helmet. Of course, but your budget might not afford or you might already have one of these laying around like I did.

What is most important about a helmet is the shell. Inspect it for damage like delamination. You can replace the suspension, internal pads, accessory or night vision rails, but if the shell it self is bad, you need to replace the helmet.

This helmet comes out of the box all tricked out. Side accessory rails, a copy of the OPS-Core OCC-Dial suspension system, and a night vision bracket. Even some Velcro on the outside One would think it would be perfect out of the box.

Put it on your head and you will find that not to be the case. It is plenty useable, but uncomfortable and not very steady.

The OPS-Core style suspension system is suppose to be great. But remember this is a Chinese knockoff of a good product. And even if it wasn’t a knock off, there are plenty of people out there who don’t like they dial system. With some of these knockoffs they will not stay adjust tight. I had the other problem, it was too tight on my large head. With the straps all the way out, I could barely snap it on. Talking was painful.

Then there was the issue with the pads. The pads were mostly a hard Styrofoam with a thin pad on that. Wearing this helmet, even with the tight chin strap unsnapped, was very VERY uncomfortable. After about 10-15 minutes of wearing it, I would have a headache.

I’m sure there is someone who would say to suck it up. I think a headache and head pain are major distractions interfere with the ability to function well.

I read of people making similar complaints with the real OPS-Core helmets, so they figured out a better way. I followed their advise.

The suspension system was replaced with a H-Harness, and the pads replaced with 4D Tactical pads.

First we un-Velcro the stock pads and unscrew 4 screws to remove the old harness.

This was a good time to look over the shell, and check it for damage. All good here.

Shopping around, I got an “improved H-Nape” harness for $25 shipped.

This screws right in place of the old suspension system. While the H pattern is simpler than the old dial adjustment. This lets me move my head quickly with out the helmet flopping around. The original system would let the helmet tilt upwards and downwards, and rotate on my head, this keeps it where I want it. A critical improvement when using night vision.

This helmet will still rotate slightly if I turn my head very quickly, but no where near as bad as it was.

I paid $65 shipped for a basic set of 4D Tactical pads. These are so much more comfortable I lack the words to truly explain the difference. These are like the pillow on your bed, the old pads were like resting your head on a 2X4 beam. I’m told that people have managed to get this set for about $50 from various eBay sellers. There is also a ninety something dollar kit that includes a wider variety of pads to allow for greater customization and fitting.

These pads changed the helmet from being borderline painful to wear, to being something I can wear for extended periods of time with out issue. 4D Tactical says these pads improve comfort and they are not lying. These pads are also suppose to improve blunt impact protection and provide moisture wicking.

Make sure to have your pads cover up the mounting hardware. This exposed screw will screw into the H-Nape harness.

If you use a helmet with an older leather headband, spend the money to replace it with these pads. It is well worth it. I know I spend money out of pocket to replace the headband in the helmet I deployed in, and that was some of the best money I ever spent.

These two upgrades have complete changed the feel and usability of the helmet. For less than $90 dollars I turned this $200 cheap helmet into something I would readily rely on.

Still I’d prefer to have the latest and greatest U.S. made helmet, but I can settle for this import.

But as long as I’m doing upgrades, might as well do one more. For $16 dollars shipped, I can get a helmet cover from Amazon. I got this particular one:

Now once again I am forced to say it would have been better to buy American, etc. You know the drill. But for this might as well stack the cheap stuff on the cheap helmet.

Why a helmet cover? I know that it isn’t cool to have a helmet cover. That all the high speed low drag guys are just painting their helmets. Why should we run a helmet cover.

Three reasons.

One is to protect the helmet. Helmets are tough, but there is just a coat of paint over those layers of Kevlar protecting your head. Scraps and bumps can abrade off that paint and start damaging that protective material. Some of the companies that make helmet covers write about their protective abilities as if a helmet was as fragile as an egg with a soft creamy filling. I think that is excessive writing, but I do acknowledge that if I damage my helmet, I have to buy new one. I can’t trade it in at supply. I want to protect what I have with an expendable/replaceable cover.

Two, I can attach stuff to the cover. If I need to run an IR strobe for identification I can use the cords and Velcro on the cover. Etc. On a tangent, please don’t break branches off bushes and stick them in your helmet cover. It looks stupid. Also bushes don’t much. You tend to move your head more than a bush moves. So putting a few branches of leaves on your helmet actually draws attention to you.

Lastly, it does look cool. You can get these covers in any number of patterns and colors. Who doesn’t want to look cool?

For $106 this helmet got completely overhauled and turned into something I want to use and is comfortable to use.