Tag Archives: Review

The Dirty Little Secret Ammo Makers Don’t Want You To Find Out

The Dirty Little Secret Ammo Makers Don’t Want You To Find Out
By Andrew Betts

Every year we see several new “advances” in ammunition. These new products are invariably hailed by their makers as revolutionary. Sometimes the whole company is new. They promise something with ammunition that has never been done but they rarely deliver. You see, ammunition is a mature field. There are occasionally incremental advances in metallurgy or propellants, like the use of bonded bullets and low flash powders that began more than a quarter century ago, but more often, these “advances” provide no actual performance advantage.

Often, the claimed advance amounts to absolute snake oil such as the ARX Inceptor. The bullet is powdered copper in a polymer matrix. It supposedly takes advantage of some hydraulic alchemy to create wounds similar to those created by a rifle. That is not hyperbole, the manufacturer actually claims that pistol ammunition is capable of producing rifle-like wounds. In reality, it functions like a FMJ, at least when it doesn’t fragment.

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Samson flip to side Aimpoint 3X magnifier mount

Samsun FTS Aimpoint

I pickup an Aimpoint 3X mangifer in a Samson Flip To Side mount to play around with.

Samsum FTS Aimpoint

The Samson FTS mount has a cross bolt so you screw it onto your rail. A lever is on the left side to flip the magnifier over.

I had to swap out the Matech rear sight I was using with a KAC 300m rear sight. The Samson mount did not have enough height to clear the Matech sight.

Samson FTS Aimpoint

The spring in the mount quickly pushes the magnifier out of the way. It also hold the magnifier off on the side pretty well. If you violently shake the rifle, the magnifier will move, but it stays out of the way pretty well.

Samson FTS Aimpoint

After playing with this mount a bit, I don’t like it. It appears to be well made, but it isn’t right for me. Flip to side mounts like the LaRue can be used by either hand while this one has its lever on the left side. I also don’t like how it screws to the gun, I would prefer to be able to take the magnifier off quickly. For me, this mount isn’t right, but I would recommend it to someone who wants a dedicated FTS mount.


Article by Mark Hatfield.

A little while back I repeated a course which was this time given by Rick Klopp representing Suarez International, the course was Fighting in Structures. It was my first class with him and I would attend one by him again. The presentation had changed from when I had taken it two or three years earlier under another of the S.I. instructors. With the special facilities of Double Tap the course could be done differently, we did less action than previously but more time on the ‘why’ of what we were going to do and then analyzing what we had actually done.

Double Tap is a privately owned and constructed facility which has an outdoor range designed for tactical training but the heart of the facility is the ‘shoot house’. The ‘shoot house’ is not a live fire facility but designed for use with Airsoft, Simunitions, or even paintball if desired. It is a complete multiroom, two story facility contained within a warehouse type building. There are movable interior walls designed such that the floor plan can be easily changed. There are closets, furniture, and a staircase to negotiate. The lighting can be completely controlled so if you want to simulate approaching the structure at night and room clearing by flashlight, this can be done at any time of the actual day or night. Further, the facility has its own camera and video system so most of the action can be captured then reviewed at the control room. This is a big plus for determining what may have gone wrong or right. There are even ‘catwalks’ for observers if desired.

Another ‘plus’ is the classroom and yet another are the ‘bunkhouses’. Quarters are simple, clean, and have microwave ovens and hot showers. There are both male and female sections. Bedding is provided. This is all in the same building as the shoot house making for great convenience and the cost per night to stay there is a huge savings over that of a hotel. If all students of an activity bunk on site then they can take breaks or use the facility at any time around the clock. This is a big advantage compared to having to stop at five or six in the evening then meeting up again in the morning.

I got to spend some time with the family who owns and operates the facility. They can assist with guidance on how to use the structure and can assist with video or leave you alone as you desire. They built this themselves and with no prior experience with such designs. They are due much credit for this creation.

Most people who are not military or police SWAT team members never get to train in facilities like this. Do it if you have the chance. I can strongly recommend this facility and the class. Note, the course attended, instructor, and the sponsor are independent of the Double Tap facility.

Training with ‘The Beard’.

Article Submitted by Mark Hatfield.

Chris Costa aka ‘The Beard’, has got quite a reputation, knowing, doing, teaching. When I learned that he would be teaching a class only fifty minutes from my home I couldn’t pass that up. What a deal, big name trainer, no long drive, no hotels. I signed up and paid in full, then it was canceled.

The cancelation had nothing to do with Costa, it was due to problems at the facility, caused by the owners. I was impressed by the effort of Costa Ludus (his organization) to make things right. They used more than one means to assure that I received the word including calling me at home to be certain. They also offered a complete refund or if I chose to let them hold my money towards a different class they added to it and increased the amount in my account, not just by ten or twenty bucks either. I let my money ride with them. It was some months later when I signed up for Vehicle Elements Theory, a three day class to be held in a location about three hours away.

Fighting from inside a car or starting from in or near a vehicle, usually in groups of two or four, this was a hoot, and ammo intensive. I had done some of this type of training previously but not firing from inside the vehicle nor as physically vigorous, such as crawling out from a vehicle. The old knees were troublesome and I was not yet recovered from a problem with the ribcage. Only two days before the start of the class I could again hold a handgun in the Isosceles position but not without some awkwardness and pain. Two days before that I could not do that position at all. Moving from positions such as standing to kneeling was painful so in all, that made the class a bit more challenging.

Firing from inside vehicles, using vehicles as cover or concealment, exiting vehicles, working in pairs or teams of four, coordinating with others (an important thing), and putting out lots of firepower, that’s pretty much what we did. It had been recommended to bring at least eight hundred each of carbine and handgun rounds. I estimated that I fired seven hundred of one and nine hundred of the other. We did not work from moving vehicles but The Beard did discuss with us the complexities of that. He did relay that some organizations spend two weeks doing these drills and those more complex.

When under fire and crawling out of a vehicle to the opposite side what do you do with your gun? If in a passenger car seated in the rear behind the driver and have a holstered handgun on your right side, how do you draw and fire out the window to your left without having your muzzle sweep the driver or some part of yourself? These are some of the problems we faced and practiced repeatedly.

A side note was the discussion of a particular hand position with the handgun and some variations of this position. The position is well known and laughed at by serious shooters. It was explained that there actually are some situations where this position can be of value, further, that there are certain scenarios where certain personnel are taught to use this position and he gave the reasons why. Agree with it or not, there actually may be some justification for it in some specific situations. So controversial is it though, that he chooses to not be photographed demonstrating it to avoid hassles or be thought of as an advocate of it’s use.

It was interesting that he explained he made no distinction in teaching whether for the military, law enforcement, or private citizens, he believed in giving each the same material.

There was a period in the first day where I felt like ‘That Guy’ as some say, meaning that I was the problem person, or the one who ‘just didn’t get it’ or get up to speed. I had become accustomed to using always the same guns and gear in such classes and was going to try some variants on this occasion. Also, rather frustrating, when packing, I could not find my usual holsters. In my hotel room the night before the class I discovered that guns and holsters I intended to use were not compatible so on the first day I used a holster which I had rarely worn. Because of this, on that first day of class when reholstering I discovered that because of only a slight difference in my holster, my hand could not slip the gun in automatically as I had for so many years, I had to search for and find the opening of the holster for the muzzle to enter. During our warm-up and assessment drills that really slowed me down. I had decided to not wear web gear for the rifle mags but just to place extra mags in my pants pockets. I had done this some before however I did not realize what a huge difference there would be between different pairs of pants in how difficult it might be to remove those mags.

Also in that period on the first day we did some rifle drills which I know about but don’t practice and he was pushing for speed. There was one skill drill which I essentially gave up as we had to immediately prepare the gun for the next repetition but then later also had to be ready for a possible variation. If you stayed ready for the possible variation then then he might only call for the main drill for which your gun was not ready and could not be made ready in time. If you made ready for the main drill then it was not possible to do the variation if called. I honestly wondered if he forgot what drills he was having us do. It seemed that others may have been having the same problem. Or maybe it was just me. There were no other such complications throughout the class.

People who are not military, Secret Service or such tend not to realize how much of their life involves the car or other vehicle. What was taught and practiced in this class is not just for those special guys but can apply to everyone. Some of the more physical stuff I was tempted to opt out and sit those out but I am very glad that I did not. What most of the other students would have done in some of the vehicle drills was not possible for me and I’m glad to have found what I could do while under supervision and in a controlled environment. Never think that ‘it’ can’t happen to you. As I learned also in the military, even a small amount of rehearsal can make a big improvement in your response when something happens ‘for real’. I’m glad I went.

My first impressions of the Colt 901SE

Colt 901SE Leupold MK6

I fired a few rounds through a 901SE (modular) upper on my 901 lower. The difference in weight between the two uppers are very apparent when you handle them. The 901S handles much better than the Armalite and the LMT MWS I previously owned. The 901SE feels very close to my M4A1 SOCOM barreled carbine.

The 901S has a quad rail that is narrow and tall. This isn’t a bad thing, but it has a different feel than most handguards. The 901SE slick handguard feels much rounder in the hand, and I find it much more comfortable in the hand.

The new slick forearm on the 901SE makes the gun noticeably lighter. When I was firing from the bench I did find the rifle moved more than the heavier 901S. In offhand rapid fire the rifle did move more than the heavier full quad rail version. It is still very pleasant to shoot, and very controllable.

I think the standard quad rail 901 is a very handy controlable gun. The 901SE modular rail gun gives up very little by way of control ability and feels and handles so much more like a heavy barreled M4. If you are thinking about getting a 901 and plan to mainly shoot from the bench, get the 901S as it moves less when shot. If you plan to carry it and do run and gun, get the lighter 901SE.
Colt 901SE

More sillyness: bridge rails.

Above is pictured a Beretta I owned, on it is a Survival Consultants International WOR4 rail.

Every so often someone pushes the bridge rail for pistols as a new invention.  Mounting an optic on the fixed rail is easier on the optic, and the bridge rail does not require permanent modifications to the gun.

Then come the downsides.  You end up with a pistol nearly impossible to holster, unweildy and sometimes awkward to manipulate.  There are several very major reasons why you don’t see many people use bridge rails on pistols.  Outside of competition race  guns and toys, they are just not practical.

Quick thoughts on the Haley Strategic D3CR Chest Rig

Haley Strategic D3CR


When the D3CR was announced I didn’t think much of it.  However later I grew to like the idea of having a few mags, along with the ability to carry a pistol and pistol mags all in one small rig.  So I went to order one and found it was out of stock.

Quite a while later they finally got back in stock and I was able to get one.

Initially the mag pouches were very tight.  After a little use they have loosened up a bit and have not been an issue.  I find USGI mags slip out the best, but it can sometimes be a pain in the ass to get PMags in there.  While the rig isn’t slow, it is no where near as fast as something like a set of FastMags.  I would not want to use non-AR15 mags in those 4 main pockets.

The two General Purpose pouches are rather small.  Putting in a bandage and a tourniquet filled one up completely.  They are much smaller then I expected.

Construction appears excellent, well assembled and well thought out.

The Stuff-It pouch is awesome for holding odds and ends.  A single Saiga12/Vepr 12 mag, water bottle, Surefire 60 round mag, or SR25 mag all fit in it well and were easy to extract from it.  Inserting items was slower as they often caught on the elastic cord that makes up the sides of the pouch.

The pistol mag pouches appear to be designed for a full sized double stack mag.  My Glock 30 mags sat low in it and were slower to extract and the 1911 10 round mags high enough that using the retention elastic didn’t seem practical.  A magnet in the pouch held a lone single stack 1911 mag in place well and the pouch could fit two single stack 1911 mags in it easily.

I tried carrying a pistol(G19, G26, M1911, and an aluminium trainer as shown above) in a cheap holster in one of the side pockets.  I liked the draw and the accessibility of the pistol in that location, however I found that it flopped around too much and got in the way of using a rifle.  This set up using that cheap leather holster would not work for me.  I do not know if the recommend INCOG holster would make a difference there.

I like and would recommend the D3CR with the caveat that it is not the do every thing rig or the fastest gear available.  However if its capabilities fit your needs, it is rather nice and well made.