Another January has come and gone, and with it was once again the largest event of its kind in the world… The 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center from January 23rd through the 26th. Covering nearly 6 hectares (14.8 acres) of flooring, an excess of 2100 exhibitors displayed their products and services for some 60,000 attendees of the 4 day event. 2018 signified the 40th anniversary of the SHOT Show which started way back in 1979 with 290 exhibitors covering a comparatively miniscule 0.48 hectares (1.1 acres).
This year’s SHOT Show also marks the 20th time that SHOT has been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada; and city that is larger than life seems to be a prefect fit for the SHOT Show. Last year saw nearly 3.2 million kg (3,500 tons) of exhibits moved onto the show floor. To put it mildly, the SHOT Show is unbelievably huge. However there is always a catch when it comes to the biggest and best; the SHOT Show is not open to the general public. That is correct, it is only open to members of the industry and trade. Manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, retailers, training, non-profit organization and media, all of which are involved in Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoors are able to apply to attend SHOT Show.
The SHOT Show is preceded by Industry Day at the Range on the Monday before the show. This day allows only exhibitor-invited media and buyers to come out to Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club and experience first hand the products offered by over 160 companies. Everything from crossbows to handguns, throwing axes to fully automatic rifles and everything in-between. With over 1400 media and 800 buyers potentially being on site during this day, Industry Day continues to be the premier hunting and shooting event in the industry providing hands-on experience for attendees. The one caveat is the same as during SHOT Show itself, members of the public are not allowed.
This was the author’s 12th year of attending the SHOT Show and I was accompanied by some long time attendees who had an additional dozen or more shows under their belts. The SHOT Show is now less fun and exciting than it used to be, likely due to the more structured and business oriented planning now done by the author. However, attending the event has always left the author with a sense of awe at the sheer scale of firearms and accessories that are even out there. In perspective; Canada’s outdoor hunting, sporting market brings in roughly $6.5 billion in annual revenue. SHOT Show has that value of product and exhibits on display. Damned!
Now SHOT Show does bring in companies that have absolutely anything remotely to do with the firearms industry, and that includes law enforcement as well as other enterprises. However in a dozen years this had to be the first time the author noticed certain things that never had been at the show previously or escaped notice. With an excess of 1800 exhibitors, you will always miss something when attending, but some stuff is also new…
IF you thought that the Industry Day at the Range would be the favourite of the author’s annual pilgrimage to SHOT, you would be very close indeed. However, it is the now huge Canadian event that keeps the author coming back every year. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) once again stepped up and hosted the 5th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception, with the support of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). This event has literally blossomed from a dozen people gathered in a hotel room, to a huge event that draws in Canadians from every aspect of the firearms community. Hosted at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, the event was held towering above the city of Las Vegas 108 stories in the air. The view was incomparable, the food was great but extremely short-lived, and the casual atmosphere allowed for the Canadian contingent of SHOT Show attendees to unwind a bit and relax and talk to other Canadians about anything including shop talk. This past event hosted in excess of 300 individuals that otherwise rarely, if ever, communicate to each other except through emails and phone calls. However this reception in its current state is only possible through the sponsorship of multiple firearms related businesses and individuals. TPF would like to personally thank each of these for their support and will list each and every one here.
Tactical Ordinance Inc.
Double Tap Sports
Holosun Technologies Inc.
Firearms Legal Defence
Korth Group Ltd.
Thanks to these sponsors for making the Canadian SHOT Show Reception possible and for being a part of the event. Here at TPF we will be sure to visit each of the sponsors and look at what they have to offer to our Canadian firearms community. We hope that you would do so as well.
As preparations have already begun for next year’s 41st SHOT Show, which will return to the Sands Expo on January 22-25, 2019; so to have the preparations for the 6th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception. Companies and potential attendees are asked to contact CSSA Director Mike Duynhoven.
As a FYI to readers who are not Canadian, or are not familiar with our listed organizations; the CSSA is similar to the USA’s National Rifle Association, only more polite eh? They are the organization that represents the firearms consumers across Canada with training, and political outreach; but only have two decades under their belt compared to the NRA’s 150. The CSAAA represents the Canadian firearms industry and looks after their interests, similar to the National Shooting Sports Foundation which organizes and runs the SHOT Show.
Here is a few images showing some of our Canadian companies that are exhibiting at SHOT Show! Make sure to visit ALL of them and help them all out.
There are currently over 30 Canadian companies that exhibit at SHOT Show with more and more doing so every following year. We at TPF will strive to get you a list and images of every single one of our Canadian exhibitors next year at SHOT Show 2019. Thank you for reading all the way through this small write-up of the 2018 SHOT Show. We will soon have more reviews and look forwards to future events for 2018.
Fun Fact: Canada, while only a tenth of the population of the USA, has a substantial number of legal firearms owners. For every 1000 firearms made in the USA, 95% of those remain in the USA for domestic sales, Canadian markets account for 80-90% of the those exported from the USA. That means out of every 500 firearms exported from US manufacturers, Canadian markets get 400-450 of those. This is the reason that most firearms manufactured have a slightly longer barrel to meet Canadian Restricted status instead of Prohibited, such as Ruger GP-100 is 108mm (4.2″) in length.
As a person whom has introduced scores of individuals to shooting, the author’s favourite handgun is his workhorse Ruger Mk II. Crude, reliable and other than the incredibly annoying disassembly lever, this handgun has delivered over 100kg (220lbs) of lead downrange by this author’s hands alone. With over 45,000 rounds through it, it has been cleaned, repaired, rebuilt a few times but is a great tool in an instructors arsenal to bring the shooting experience to those whom otherwise have never shot a firearm. There are many different models and makes of handguns that are just as reliable and long lived as the aforementioned Ruger, it just happens to be the firearm most used by the author for introducing shooting virgins to our passion.
Now over the decades, hundreds of people have shot this handgun whose ages range from attendees of junior high-school, to great grand parents of those kids. In general they are able to manipulate the firearm very well with proper coaching and instruction, however in some cases, they are physically unable or have difficulty performing certain operations on the handgun. The number one issue? Racking the slide back to chamber/clear a round into/from the chamber. Now some of you are doing a double take and thinking how can you not be able to rack a .22 rimfire pistol! The author has seen dozens of people lack the finger/grip strength to pull the recessed bolt tabs and do just that. It usually occurs with younger children and those of very slight build, usually female, but not always.
This past SHOT Show, the author came across a company called Tandemkross. Founded in 2012 by a pair of software developers. Yes. Software developers. Bryan Haaker and co-worker Jake Wyman went out to try Wyman’s brand new Ruger Mk III 22/45 to unwind from their software programming work. Functional issues and subsequent difficulties in acquiring performance part upgrades for this handgun ensued. The resultant firearm performance improvements once these upgrades were installed started the duo on the path of manufacturing these upgrades and making them far more common, affordable and available. Tandemkross manufactures accessories and markets other aftermarket products that span nearly all areas of a rimfire pistols. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Charging Handles
- Magazine Bumpers
- Magazine Releases
Coming back around to the occasional inability of some to pull the charging handle back, TPF-Online was able to aquire one of Tandemkross’ “Halo” charging rings, specifically for the Ruger Mk II. These handles are currently available for the various Ruger MK II’s, Mk III’s, and Mk IV’s; as well as the S&W SW22 Victory and the Browning Buckmark. The “Halo” is quite simply a ring machined from aluminum which clamps onto the specific serrations that are used for chambering/clearing rounds. The contoured inner fingers are machined for the specific model of firearm. In the case of the Ruger Mk II, the fingers have a dished internal seat that corresponds perfectly with the bolt’s racking tabs. The Halo ring is secured into place with a recessed #5-40 socket head cap screw that draws the fingers of the Halo together through tension and creates a solid lockup with the Mk II’s bolt ears. On the inside flap of the product package for the Halo, Tandemkross states the following:
This product is protected by the TANDEMKROSS lifetime guarantee. If the product at any time does not perform as advertised, TANDEMKROSS will provide a replacement part of equal or greater value.
The header card style of package contains the CNC machined Halo pull ring, a #5-40 x 3/4″ socket head cap screw and a 3/32″ allen wrench.
A small addition of Loctite to the screw threads is recommended for this model, and a warning to only torque the screw via the short end of the allen key. This makes it easier to not over tighten the tension screw. The material is only aluminum and a #5 thread is not what TPF-Online would call a robust bolt for reefing upon. If you can, try and keep the torque less than 0.6 Nm (5.3 lbf-in).
The Halo unit is meant as an aid for racking a handgun, and in the case of this review, the bolt of the Ruger Mark II. It is not a leverage multiplier, nor does it claim to reduce the required force to actuate the bolt/slide. It does allow for an enhanced ability to grip the bolt, even with gloves and in less than ideal conditions. However, the perceived decrease in required effort has more to do with the ability to use greater grip on the bolt to apply force through. Instead of using one’s fingertips to grip the raised bolt wings of the Mark II, being able to hook an entire finger through the Halo, means a much larger area to directly pull against. The perceived effect is that of an easier ability to charge the handgun.
The gloss black anodized aluminum Halo, adds a definite increase in length to any attached firearm. The visual appearance of the attached unit is very sleek and, in the author’s opinion, compliments the profile and look of the handgun. Obviously the Halo shown in this review’s images has next to no wear marks and as of this review has only a couple boxes of ammunition through it. The author promises to increase that to several bricks worth over the 2017 year.
The addition of the Halo to the author’s handgun was a very simple endeavour. The added mass was negligible and did not affect bolt performance, nor cycle times to any level that could be detected through usage. As the focus is through the sights of the firearm, the reciprocating Halo ring did not distract from the user’s sight picture. What was very apparent was that during the brief evaluation, the ring allowed the author to perform jam clearing at a much faster speed than with the “Halo-Free” configuration.
The Tandemkross Halo is available for a selection of popular .22LR handguns, but the reviewed component was specifically for the Ruger Mk II. The model number is TK01N0167BLK1 and has an MSRP of $44.99 USD. Brick and mortar stores such as Select Shooting Supplies, in Cambridge, ON, stock Tandemkross products and can order them if you require a specific model. The Halo is a light weight accessory that is designed to improve the ease of manipulating one’s .22LR handgun, but which category does it fall into for you? Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical? Leave a comment and let us know!
Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.
The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.
The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.
Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.
Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.
You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).
So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
The most common .22 semi-auto rifle in the world; the Ruger 10/22 is a fully customizable firearm which can be modified nearly as much as the AR-15 platform. Relatively cheap to shoot, and fun to shoot, the biggest chore of owning this popular little rifle is feeding it. The .22 long rifle cartridges are notorious for being hard on the fingers for manually loading in past the 10th round, and unless you have a loading tool, the owners of all of these 10/22 magazines likely will not enjoy shooting off a brick (500 rounds) of cheap rim-fire.
So if TPF were to tell readers that there is a new magazine for the 10/22 which has a 25 round capacity, metal feed lips, an easily controlled follower for loading, they may say that is a good thing! Now, on that same magazine, add in a 20 round pocket and a built-in stripper clip to speed load those extra rounds in just a few seconds. The answer is “TAKE MY MONEY!”. There is good news as such a magazine exists in the form of the HC3R magazine from HC Mags. The HC3R is a short form from HC Rapid Rifle Reload, and just from that title the designed product’s end abilities are fairly obvious.
The HC3R magazine actually has several features which have been desired over the years in a 10/22 magazine, and while many aftermarket magazines have one or more of these features, very few, if any have all of them.
- Larger round capacity than factory magazines
- Steel feed lips for enhanced durability and increased lifespan of the magazine for feeding ammunition
- A means of dis-assembly for cleaning the magazine
- A follower retraction stud, large and lockable into retracted position for spring free loading
Point number one. More rounds readily loaded equals more fun and less time between shots for extended periods and the HC3R has an increased capacity over the original ten (10) round Ruger rotary magazines. While its twenty-five (25) rounds is not among largest capacity magazines available for the 10/22, with one hundred and ten (110) round drum magazines topping those available, it is in line with the majority of aftermarket magazines. The author finds that even a couple dozen rounds can go downrange extremely quickly… What joy!
Feed lips are essential for two reasons, they align the cartridge into proper feed positions and ensure a smooth extraction from the magazine into the firearm’s chamber. Older plastic/polymer feed lips have a history of wearing out after a few thousand rounds. Current generations of polymer are improved in durability but steel, or alloy, feed lips are a heavily desired feature as it greatly enhances the lifetime of a magazine before extraction issues become noticeable. HC Mags knew this and incorporated stainless steel feed lips into the HC3R magazine design.
As anyone who shoots thousands of rounds of .22LR will attest, it is a very dirty round which leaves soot and carbon all over, and if left to build up over time, can cause malfunctions and possibly damage to the firearm itself. Magazines are no exception to this and it is a problem that many 10/22 aftermarket magazines fail to address. With extended usage and hundreds, even thousands, of rounds cause magazines to accumulate crud and can even trap water and dirt and it becomes nearly impossible to clean if the magazine is manufactured by fusion processes, such as sonic welding two plastic halves together. The HC3R is a fully bolted together magazine which allows for unparalleled access to clean every nook and cranny from dirt, carbon, and water. A great plus
A well-known feature in most if not all .22LR magazine fed handguns due to the small component manipulation. In this respect the HC3R shines ever so brightly. The huge thumb stud allows for easy tension control as you load ammunition the common method of through the feed lips. You can easily hold it slightly back to allow for the next round to be loaded without worry of misalignment, or lock it completely back at a fully collapsed position. Be aware that rounds, if not inserted properly, can experience misalignment and stack incorrectly with the cartridge perpendicular to the feed lips instead of parallel.
With all of these features, readers may think that these magazines by themselves are very desirable due to the comprehensive features included in the magazine. So here comes the additional bonus. On the side of the magazine is a slot which stores twenty (20) rounds of ammunition. The back component of the HC3R magazine is a speed stripper clip which has two features. The first is as a cover to retain the side stored ammunition when mounted onto the magazine. The second feature is that in addition to aligning loaded rounds in the magazine, it functions as the speed loading strip for quick reloads. So on a fully loaded magazine you will have a total of forty-five (45) rounds available from a single magazine.
Lets start with how to fully load the magazine to maximum capacity by following these steps:
- Take a quantity of your preferred .22LR ammunition, at least 45 rounds obviously and have them readily available. Have the empty HC3R magazine present.
- Using the thumb stud on the magazine, retract the spring and follower completely and rotate the stud a quarter turn to lock it into position.
- Take hold of the speed stripper on the HC3R magazine and pull it away from the magazine. The bottom edge is retained by a spring-loaded guide.
- Load up 20 rounds into the clip. The speed stripper clip has a pair of guide channels on the inside of its curved profile. The indicator for a total of twenty rounds is easily visible on the inside of the clip. Loading the clip to 20 rounds is very easy and fast with no need to use force or leverage, as the rim of the .22LR round simply slides into the clip’s aforementioned channels. Loaded rounds can only enter and exit the clip on one edge. Ensure that the clip is oriented such to prevent rounds from falling out of the clip due to gravity and movement.
- Ensuring that the rounds do not fall out of the clip, place the rounds into the side storage pocket of the magazine and slide the clip down and away. Now ensure that the orientation of the magazine is such that rounds do not fall out of the magazine.
- Load up another 20 rounds into the clip as per step 4.
- With the magazine positioned to not drop any of the side storage rounds, and so that rounds do not fall out of the clip, insert the clip into the magazine by pushing the bottom end into the spring-loaded guide, and snap the clip into the retaining notch. That is forty (40) rounds so far!
- Turn the magazine over to ensure rounds in magazine are aligned and release the thumb stud. This is the hardest part to ensure that the rounds sit properly in the feed lips. It is due to the rim overlap and position in the magazine. It took TPF several attempts to get it to work properly every time, by practice makes perfect.
- Use the thumb stud to relieve tension and load the remaining five (5) rounds to maximum capacity. Total time for the author to load up with practice? Under 90 seconds.
Now that the magazine is loaded to full capacity with reserve twenty rounds:
- Install the magazine, and shoot the first 25 rounds. FUN!
- Remove the magazine. Why? Spinning the 10/22 around to ensure magazine orientation is sure to give you many funny looks if not yelled at for unsafe firearm manipulation.
- Using the thumb stud on the magazine, retract the spring and follower completely and rotate the stud a quarter turn to lock it into position.
- With the magazine held with the stripper on top, take hold of the now empty speed stripper on the HC3R magazine and pull it away from the magazine
- The side storage has twenty rounds waiting for the clip to slide over. Remember the channels holding the rims of the cartridges? It is that easy.
- Retract the loaded stripper clip, then with the magazine positioned so that rounds do not fall out of the clip, insert the clip into the magazine by pushing the bottom end into the spring-loaded guide, and snap the clip into the retaining notch.
- Turn the magazine over to ensure rounds in magazine are aligned and release the thumb stud. Voila! 20 seconds and another twenty rounds ready to shoot.
- Install the magazine, and shoot the remaining rounds. MORE FUN!
Loading forty-five rounds took 90 seconds. Reloading to use all 45 rounds extended that to under two minutes. How long would it take to load two typical 25 round magazines? Longer than a couple of minutes without any tools or loading accessories. Plus the ten seconds to reload. The HC3R is all about time and thumbs saved in loading magazines so that 10/22 users can enjoy more time putting rounds downrange with the least amount of effort loading. The only negative possible is the width of the magazine with the side pocket which may limit the fit up of some aftermarket 10/22 rifle stocks such as the previously looked at Archangel Stock.
But wait! There’s even MORE!
If your 10/22 is an extremely hungry rifle like the author’s, chewing through a brick of ammunition per session is not unheard of. The balance of buying multiple magazines versus loading them to go through several hundred rounds in a session of rimfire therapy is an eternal dilemma. Or rather was… HC Mag’s understands the need to feed the rimfire hunger, and released the Tactical Pack for the HC3R magazine.
The case itself is thermo-formed with a robust zipper and has both a flexible carry handle as well as a pair of shoulder strap rings on its exterior. The internals are two-fold, with the base filled with EVA foam that is pre-cut to hold all its contents securely. The battle pack contains one complete HC3R magazine, 5 extra speed loader clips with retaining caps, and a quick strip loading box for fast loading of the speed loader clips. Plus multiple pocket cutouts for typical small boxes of .22LR ammunition and a small cutout arrangement for the included set of hex keys for magazine dis-assembly. The upper portion of the case has a zipper closed mesh pocket that encompasses the entire case cover in size, and can be used for targets, bore snakes, and other items that you may wish to include.
The loading box for fast speed strip loading takes couple minutes to fully load up with 100 rounds, five rows of twenty, and setup for usage. Once setup, it takes less than a half minute to load up the five speed loading clips.
If fully loaded up with ammunition, the entire case securely holds 545 rounds of .22LR, which makes the Tactical Pack heavy enough to warrant the usage of the shoulder strap included in the package. Of those rounds 245 are ready to use, with an additional 300 rounds in reserve. Unfortunately the reserve ammunition box cut outs are designed for use with paper boxed ammunition, not plastic boxes which are larger and may not fit properly if at all.
The Tactical Pack when fully kitted delivers:
- One fully loaded magazine with side pocket filled. 45 rounds ready to use
- Five fully charged speed loading clips. 5 x 20 = 100 rounds ready to use
- One filled loading box. 100 rounds ready to use
- Six 50 round factory boxes of .22LR. 300 rounds of reserve
That should keep those hungry 10/22 rifles satiated for the meantime, and with the Tactical Pack having an MSRP of $89.00 USD, and available from Canadian vendors such as Wanstalls Online. What do you, the readers think? Is the HC3R magazine and the corresponding Tactical Pack by HC Mags Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?
The authors of Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical have to thank Mr. Bryan Bolivar for this review of the Blue Force Gear – Vickers Combat Application Sling. We hope the readers of TPF-Online enjoy this review:
Blue Force Gear – Vickers Combat Application Sling (VCAS)
The Vickers Combat Application Sling is designed and marketed toward police, military and civilian shooters using modern, ergonomic long arms such as the AR-15 and other similar platforms. The sling is intended to provide a secure means to carry a rifle across the front of the user’s body in a hands free condition, allowing other tasks to be completed without needing to constantly hold onto the firearm.
The particular model of rifle sling chosen for this review is padded with polymer hardware. Non-padded versions are available for lower cost. Also aluminum hardware is available in both padded and non-padded versions.
It should be noted that VCAS sling comes without attachment hardware. Those in the picture above were purchased specifically for use with the reviewer’s rifle. Attachment points and methods on modern, ergonomic competitive sporting rifles vary and the user free to select what works best for them and their equipment. If the user does not want or need a quick release method of attachment, they can simply loop the straps at the ends of the sling through available fixed attachment points that are common on these rifles and attach the sling this way with no extra hardware needed. This means the purchaser is not stuck paying for attachment hardware that they won’t use.
Initial examination of the sling shows that it constructed of heavy 1 ¼ inch nylon webbing. The polymer hardware is relatively thick and is of durable construction. Obviously the aluminum hardware would be even stronger but after discussing with a college who has military experience, the polymer would likely be preferred to reduce sound when the hardware comes in contact with the rifle and other gear. Not that important to the civilian shooter but if polymer hardware is good enough for the military; it is good enough for me.
The sling has three points of adjustment to suit the rifle and user. The upper most section, attached to the rear of the rifle as well as the middle section are designed as “fixed” adjustments. These are set by the user and are not quickly adjustable.
The front section contains a quick adjustment pull handle (shown above) that allows the user to quickly lengthen (and re-shorten) the sling as needed. Following provided directions, the upper and middle sections are to be adjusted to set the overall length of the sling with the front section in the “closed” position. This allows the rifle to be securely hung across the length of the user’s torso. The front section can then be opened to allow for easier weapon manipulation such as switching to the weak side shoulder. This also facilitates moving to the prone position while maintaining the muzzle in a safe, down range direction. The adjustment method is unique in that once the position of the front section is set, it stays in place and does not move on its own. Other quick adjust slings that I have tried have proven to “have a mind of their own” when it comes to quick adjustments and simply won’t stay set.
The VCAS in “action”
Initial testing of the sling was conducted at a local rifle range and frankly my first impressions were not favorable. The sling limited rifle manipulation, magazine changes, safely adopting a prone position and utilizing a pistol with the rifle slung. For the latter point, the sling rifle hung very high with the butt resting in front of the shooters shoulder. This made extending the arms for proper pistol shooting difficult.
Further trials showed that I simply had the sling adjusted too tightly. Once the middle section was adjusted to provide more overall length the sling performed very well. Leaving sufficient slack in the sling allowed for interference free reloads and no longer obstructed pistol shooting as the rifle hung below the shooters shoulder.
Recently the VACS was “fielded” in completion at an Ontario Rifle Association Close Quarters Battle (CQB) match. Frankly, it worked flawlessly. Walking around the range with a slung rifle was effortless and left two hands free for organizational tasks such as scoring, patching of targets and even a bit of range tear down. Magazine changes were not impeded and neither was pistol shooting. Walking around the range with a 20 inch barreled AR did not result in any banged shins, knees or other anatomical regions. The quick adjust front section allowed easy adoption of the prone position while keeping the muzzle pointed directly down range.
A note about use of this and other two point slings. The selected attachment points at the front and rear of the rifle were generally on the side closest to the shooter. This allows the tension of the sling to hold the rifle flat against the body. Attachment at more conventional bottom of rifle points would tend to cause the rifle to tip over when slung and perhaps end up with the rifle hanging in an upside down orientation.
Further, the sling was wrapped over the strong side shoulder and under the weak side one, so that when the rifle is left to hang, it does so in a generally muzzle down direction so that bystanders are not swept by the muzzle.
Other uses of the VCAS
While targeted at modern style semi-automatic long arms, the VCAS would be an effective for hunting arms as well. By establishing attachment points on the side of the rifle, any style can be slung in the same fashion. For hunters negotiating think brush and climbing difficult terrain, this sling configuration will allow two hands to remain free while walking and maintain the rifle in an easy to reach position should game appear suddenly and a quick reaction is the difference between meat in the freezer and a tale of one that got away.
Further, by changing the method of adjustment, the quick adjust front section could be set such that tightening it “locks” the rifle to the shooters body, keeping it even more tightly secured to the shooters chest and or enabling it to be switch to lay across the hunters back and locked when “out of the way carry” is needed.
Retailing at $62.99 at One Shot Tactical Supply, the Blue Force Gear VCAS padded sling is not going to be the lowest cost option for a two point sling, but it is a quality piece of kit that does what it intends and does it well. The non-padded version retails for $52.99 while the option of aluminum hardware adds $20.00 to the cost of either version. The quick adjust front portion sets the VCAS apart from many other offerings and is a very useful feature. Based on the overall quality of the slings construction I am sure this piece of kit is going to last for years to come.
As the reviewer I purchased this sling with my own cash as a means to try it out after hearing lots of hype. I figured I can always sell it for a small loss if I didn’t like it. Well, this particular VCAS sling is NOT for sale. I think that sums up my impression of this sling most effectively.
Again, thanks to Bryan Bolivar for his submission on the BFG – VCAS. For the readers notes, One Shot Tactical Supply is located in Trenton, Ontario and also has an online presence. As always it is up to our readers to determine if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical for themselves.
Back in January, an event occurred, which the author has been privileged in attending now for the sixth year in a row. The event consists of a single day of practical hands on experiences for media and then four days of talking to an ungodly number of individuals whom are representative of the entire world for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Of course this equates to the 2012 SHOT Show which is the largest venue of its kind anywhere in the world.
The Monday, January 16th, the temperature outdoors was quite decent and the sky was cloud-free which made Media Day, once again a fine day to go and play with some of the newest firearms and related products which are currently or soon to be available for the commercial markets. Optics, ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns, stocks, and a host of other items were available to over 1200 media individuals to experience first hand the products available. Some items truly stood out for the author and the number one item memorable experience was cranking the handle of Colt’s reproduction 1877 Gatling Gun. 20 rounds of 45/70 Government, flew by and seemed effortless as you turned the handle of this beautiful reproduction of history. High quality prototype 308 Winchester chambered bull-pup rifles, custom machined .50 BMG projectiles, the Slide Fire stock, are just a couple of the items that were experienced by the huge crowd of media types.
For the next four days the actual trade show ensued once again at the Sands Convention center. Over 1600 companies were there with in excess of 36,000 people coming to interact with them brought the total attendees to more than 61,000 people over four days. Stunning, especially when you consider that representatives from all 50 states were there as well as representation from more than 100 countries.
TPF will not go into the thousands of products that were displayed and showcased as there are multitudes of other websites and writers whom dwell on the little nuances. There were however an extreme multitude of famous and mentionable people in attendance or in some cases, on display at SHOT Show 2012. As usual the legends and successful masters of shooting disciplines were present, as well as TV sensations both past and present. Lou Ferrigno, was seen repeatedly examining various products as a guest of Barrett Firearms; as well, several participants of the TV Show Top Shot Season 4 were discovering the huge industry on display at SHOT Show 2012. Further highlights of celebrity fanfare was the feature appearances by the crew of Red Jacket Firearms from the TV show, Sons of Guns, and many others.
A short, incomplete listing of well known people who attended Shot Show:
- R. Lee Ermey
- Les Stroud
- Bear Grylls
- Ted Nugent
- Troy & Jacob Landry
- Larry Vickers
- The SeAL team/cast from the movie “Acts of Valor”
- An nearly every known professional shooter, Outdoor TV series hosts, etc…
TPF isn’t going to go into the huge details about what was present and what new products were available for the US market. Suffice to say that the author would be able to write a short novella of several tens of thousands of words showing the various new non-firearm products, let alone new guns. We will however keep you, the reader, abreast of any products which these manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, graciously provide to TPF-Online for review.
Much of the excitement and great moments at the SHOT Show is when the author met so many other Canadians on happenstance, Mrs. Page from Packing Pink, Mr. Krete from The Gun Centre, Mr. Hansen from Freedom Ventures, Mr. Muir from Lever Arms, Mr. Ruston from Tactical Products Canada, and a host of others representing Canadian businesses. Many thanks are to be given to these individuals and companies for attending and creating the contracts and arrangements which continue to supply our Canada market with firearms and related products.
If you are ever able to go, TPF-Online recommends that you do so and experience the multi-billion dollar industry which is partially displayed at SHOT Show. And recall that this is just a PARTIAL display as there are many many other businesses and manufacturers who are not in attendance. A great example is FWB, or Feinwerkbau, one of the oldest and most renowned Olympic class firearms makers, wasn’t present yet again in this year’s SHOT Show.
This years SHOT Show was executed even better than last year and once again, anyone coming should bring a couple pairs of walking shoes to explore and experience the whole event and all booths. However, be forewarned that should you attend, plan your visits to the booths they would have roughly a minute for visiting each booth, and when you consider the sheer scale of the show, much of that time can be walking from booth to booth. There are many displays and extra events which can eat up several minutes of time, such as watching professional shooters show their skills, lining up to get autographs and pictures with celebrities, as well as hands on experience with the multitudes of firearms accessories and outdoor gear.
The 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the largest event of it’s type in the world and TPF can guarantee that should you ever attend this event, every single product displayed at the show will be Practical, Tactical, or Fantasical.
A small example of how you can spend your time talking to one of the many representatives of companies in attendance. Presenting Angus Hobdell, who has been shooting CZ products since 1986 and a member of Team CZ-USA since 2003. In 2012, he is still a great competitor and 100% behind promoting CZ-USA.
On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA, many thanks Mr. Hobdell for your time and efforts.
As an added bonus, over the next few days and weeks, TPF will be releasing small video clips from many of the top action shooters in regards to the shooting sports and tips for improving your abilities. So stay tuned!
Mistakenly, many people associate the AR in the referenced image above as “Assault Rifle”. Which is incorrect as it stands for the originating company of the design, Armalite. The AR-15 is the Armalite, model 15, a gas impingement operated semi-automatic rifle. Usually chambered in or 5.56x45mm or .223 Remington, the AR-15 and its more military based brethren, the M16/M4, is utilized across the globe by armed forces and civilians alike. In fact in the USA it has become one of the most popular hunting rifles ever produced. Modular and with such a huge following, the AR-15 is the test bench for almost ANY conversion kit, optics, stocks, and aesthetic modifications created by manufacturers and hobbyists in North America.Samson Manufacturing has been producing reputable forearm guards and other machine components for various platforms for several years and in 2009 decided to come branch out into the market. What is being reviewed by TPF is the result of several years of development and in fact, at the first SHOT Show (2009) where this product was introduced, TPF was not allowed to take any images of it. Fast forward another year and TPF obtained a production version of this new tool.
Now before any tool details are written about, there was one driving factor with this products design. The tool MUST stay with the gun. However with the huge plethora of aftermarket accessories and such, the question was where and how to attach this tool to the AR platform with minimal protrusions and attachments to the firearm itself. There was a single spot that met this requirement and minimized the space claim by such a tool. The grip. With this in mind and now a set space claim to work in, Samson Manufacturing began the design and subsequent production of the Field Survivor. This tool was design to be unobtrusive when stored, and extremely helpful with some of the most common maintenance tasks associated with the AR-15/M16/M4 platform.
What is very interesting is the sheer number of tools and features which the Field Survivor tool incorporates into its design. nearly every surface, part and bit of this tool is usable for some sort of measurement, adjustment, action to help maintain your AR platform. The FS-001 being reviewed by TPF fits standard A2 grips and Hogue AR15 Rev B grips. The Field Survivor, which is to be referred to as FS hereafter, has two main components. The end cap and the main body. The end cap is the scalloped portion which is visible when installed into the storage position in the grip. Affixed with a #8-32 stud, spinning the end cap either compresses the retaining o-ring, which expands outwards and creates a secure clamp inside the grip. By spinning the end cap in the opposite direction, the o-ring is relaxed and allows the tool to slide easily from the grip. The FS has a total of four (4) tool arms and a few removable components stored with the tool.
Here is a basic rundown on the features and components of the FS for the AR15/M4/M16 family of firearms. TPF will start with the removable component parts first and work around the tool to document all the features of this tool.
- End Cap: Besides retaining the FS in the grip the end cap has several extra features. With scalloped edges the end cap functions as an impact device when the FS is properly stored in the grip of the firearm. A built-in 1/2″ hex pattern allows for the tightening of some nuts on several accessory and scope mount devices. There are provisions for securing two firing pin retaining cotter pins. The two straight slots are for use on metallic magazine feed lips for modifying their shape. The #8-32 stud allows for some Otis products to be attached but is meant to be used in conjunction with the included cleaning cable for swabbing the barrel.
- Broken Shell Extractor: Included with the FS is a broken shell extractor. This extractor has two additional functions in addition to the obvious one. Used in conjunction with the pull cable (see next tool component/feature), the shell extractor doubles as a handle for pulling a bore brush through the barrel of the firearm. Almost as after thought, a spare extractor pin can be stored inside the cavity of the 2 piece broken shell extractor.
- Detachable Pull Cable: Normally stored within the tool body, this 23″ long steel cable has a loop on one end and a female #8-32 end on the other. The threaded end is for attaching and pulling bore brushes through the barrel, whereas the loop side is for running patches through the barrel.
- Lube Ampule: Included in the field survivor is a small metal ampule (container) which has plastic tapered plugs on either end. It is designed to hold a small amount of lubricant to allow for a single application of lube to essential components.
- Sight Adjustment Arm: This sectioned cylindrical tool has 3 prongs which correspond to an A2 front sight for adjustment. the arm also includes a small straight cutout for fine metallic magazine feed lip adjustments. The secondary purpose of this arm is to store the broken shell extractor when within the grip of the rifle.
- The Otis Attachment Arm: This arm is literally a pivot with an #8-32 thread in it to mount the bore brush. Other attachments can be inserted into this spot, but doing such may make grip storage impossible due to space constraints.
- The Hook/Screwdriver Arm: An interesting multiple usage arm, which has a very robust thickness and apparent strength is home to a short straight screwdriver blade and a small hook like feature which can be used to remove firing pin cotter pins from the bolt carrier group. The interesting feature however is the width and machined strip along the edges of this tool arm with crate a Go/No Go gauge for metallic magazines and allow for instant field checking of suspect magazines.
- The Scraper Arm: Another hefty arm, this scraper has edges along both long sides and opposing scrapers on the tip, in fact it reminded the author of cutters used on milling machines. Sharp and made of steel, care needs to be followed when used on the aluminum alloy of the AR15/M4/M16 platform. This arm also houses the lube ampule very securely as it forces the ampule’s plugs to seal via mechanical tension.
- The FS Body: How is this even a tool after all the other components and functions may come across the minds of many. The profile of the body, on the side which mounts the sight tool, shows the proper curvature of feed lips for metallic magazines and a small line shows a very basic “No-Go” limit with a small line show on the curve.
The Field Survivor is compact and masses approximately 100 grams (3.5oz). No sleeve or sheath is offered as the tool itself is designed specifically for installation to a firearms’ grip. The FS-001 reviewed, and all AR platform versions are dedicated for 5.56mm/.223 chambers as that it the primary calibre for the rifle.
There are also 3 other variations of the Field Survivor available and all have slightly differing components and features which are specific to their associated rifle platforms. The FS-002 functions in Magpul MAID/MOE grips, but is otherwise similar to the reviewed FS-001. The FS-003 is made specifically for the AK-47 and as such will most likely not see much demand in Canada. The final version currently available is the FS-004, which caters to STAG/CMMG piston driven AR platforms and sacrifices the scraper arm for a gas piston wrench.
The family of Samson Field survivors are available for purchase from such places as DS Tactical in British Columbia. The FS-001 as reviewed by TPF retails for $156.99 CDN.
Samson Manufacturing Corporation’s Field Survivor (FS-001)? Is it Tactical, Practical or Fantastical?
TPF’s Definition File: Bubba’d – A firearm which has been altered/modified from its original configuration, usually in a crude, unprofessional manner. Most common modification for such firearms are to have a cut down, sporterized stock which do not look professional. Mainly used in reference to older military bolt action rifles which no longer are “true to original design”.
Canada is home to literally hundreds of thousands of Lee Enfields and other classic military rifles which more often than not have been “Bubba’d”. Most military rifles in the World Wars did not have provisions for mounting any form of optics and those that were had armourers who took select rifles aside and reworked them into being able to accept a scope mount. While nearly all modern manufactured rifles have provisions for attaching scope mounts with factory included mounting holes, older rifles, such as the Lee Enfield have no such option. Many of these common Canadian rifles have indeed been “Bubba’d” by the amateur DIY (Do It Yourself) handyman and other than the sporterizing of a stock, the next most common modification is the installation of a drill and tapped aftermarket scope mount. There is a reason why firearms enthusiasts use gunsmiths for much of their customizing work, because a competent gunsmith has the proper tools, patience, and reputation to uphold in order to successfully complete a high-quality permanent alteration. Yes anyone with a hand drill and a set of taps can create and mount a scope mount, but how precise is it? Most gunsmiths have layout tools, dial gauges to ensure proper placement, and various precision machining equipment to ensure high quality work.
Enter S & K Scope Mounts, a company started in 1964 with a desire to provide mounts for specialty niche firearms market. That niche involved the plentiful, older military rifles and way of attaching and securing scope mounts with minimal efforts and no permanent alterations. S & K have an enormous listing of former military firearms which are able to have an “Insta-Mount” installed, be it a to mount optics in a standard mounting position (beside/over bolt) or a scout mount position (forward of bolt/on barrel). All available mounts are custom manufactured for each specific model of rifle and are generally available with an integrated weaver rail or provisions for S&K’s proprietary scope rings which will be metioned later in this write-up.
Some of the types of rifles which S&K manufacture Insta-Mounts for:
- M-1 CARBINE
- LEE ENFIELD #4 Mark 1 or 2 #5 British Enfield Eddystone
- 1917 ENFIELD P14 or P17
- #1 MK III LEE ENFIELD #7
- 1903 SPRINGFIELD
- M-1A /M14
- M-1 GARAND
- RUGER MINI-14
- 1898 30-40 KRAG & NORW
- GERMAN M-43, G-43
- LARGE RING MAUSER 8mm, Yugo 48, 98K, Argentine, Turkish, Braz 7mm (Rec dia. 1.400)
- SMALL RING MAUSER Swedish, 93,94,95,96,633,640,M38,Spanish (Rec dia. 1.3)
- JAP. ARISAKA 7.7
- HK-91 & HK-93
- SKS TYPE 56
- WINCHESTER 94
- MAS 49/56
- 98K – MAUSER SCOUT
- 1891 ARGENTINE MAUSER SCOUT
- BUDAPEST M95 MAUSER SCOUT
- CARL GUSTAF MAUSER SCOUT
- Finnish Mosin Nagant M-39
- Finnish 1891 – Also Russian 1891, Dragoon, M24, M27, M28 Scout
- MOSIN NAGANT 91/30 & 91/59 Scout
- MOSIN NAGANT M44 SCOUT
Installation methods are usually straight forward with the removal of original iron sight hardware, and replaced with a drop in, machined scope mount which is tensioned into secure position. This means that there if the user of an S&K Insta-Mount were to keep all the original parts, he could return the firearm into it’s original form without leaving tapped holes and such which would destroy the historic accuracy of the firearm. TPF was , the able to acquire several different versions of these scope mounts for some of the rifles owned by members of the Canadian firearms community.
For this installment of TPF, we install the Weaver style Insta-Mount for a Lee Enfield Mark 4, No 1 Rifle. S&K does not use castings or extrusions or lesser materials for their products, instead they opt to minimize costs by using inexpensive packaging. Quoting S&K, “After all, do you want a nice package or do you want the best scope mount available?” Within the simple packaging of the scope mount was a serious looking piece of steel that was machined very nicely, all required mounting hardware, and a simple but thorough page of instructions. The mount, three screws and a wedge nut. It was time to begin.
As per instructions the original rear sight was removed and the two small slotted screws were used to install the mount in the existing receiver holes. This is were a small snag occurred. On installation of the angled nut and the retaining screw, it was found that once installed, the bolt could not be installed due to interference between the bolt head and the bottom of the angled nut. The angled nut was removed, the bolt installed, and then the angled nut was re-installed to complete the installation of the S&K scope mount for the Lee Enfield. TPF tested the functionality of the bolt and found zero binding issues so the conclusion was that it will not effect usage of the rifle at all, but if bolt removal is desired, the S&K Enfield mount needs to have the wedge nut removed to do so. Maybe it was just a quirk or build up of tolerances in the specific rifle or a slight variation between a Mk 4 & Mk 5 Enfield, but for most people who use Enfields for hunting or other occasional shooting endeavours, it will be installed for years if not decades before even considering removal for any reason.
With the slight glitch, it was less than 15 minutes from the receiver without the rear sight to having the S&K scope mount fully installed and torqued into position. After which the entire package was completed via a set of weaver rings topped off with a typical Bushnell scope was put into position. Total time elapsed was under 30 minutes using nothing but a flat screwdriver and an allen key. The S&K scope mount appears very secure, rigidly mounted and very robust in design. This specific mount featured a weaver pattern ring mounting system which is very widely used. Another option available is a proprietary style of scope ring mounts which were the start of the company. These “SKulptured Bases” as well as corresponding “Smooth and Kontoured Rings” are machined entirely from a blank of steel and because S&K claims that these are the world’s strongest scope mounts; they are guaranteed for life (beyond deliberate destruction).
How much are gun-smithing fees to have your rifle drilled and tapped and the cost of a set of scope mounts? Are there even scope mounts available for your old military rifle? This is where S&K shines as they are dedicated for quality, simplicity and drill and tap free designs.
S&K’s Insta-Mount for the Lee Enfield Mk 4 & Mk5, as reviewed by TPF, is available directly from S&K at an MSRP of $65.00 USD. As always it is up to the readers to determine if S&K Insta-Mounts for ex-military rifles are Tactical, Practical or Fantastical!
S&K’s Contact information:
Phone: (814) 489-3091
Toll Free: (800) 578-9862
Addendum: TPF will be reviewing more S&K scope mounts in the future, with some other common ex-military rifles available in Canada as well as utilizing their S&K proprietary rings.
Advanced Technology International (ATI) has been making aftermarket accessories for many years. Especially in the market of plastic/polymer aftermarket stocks for all sorts of classic military rifles such as SKS’, Enfields, and Mosin Nagants. They also dabbled into the tactical aftermarket for shotguns with top folding stocks as well as collapsing stocks that were based on those used on AR15/M16 Carbines. Not content with the tactical aftermarket for popular shotgun brands, ATI decided to venture a product which can be used in the casual hunting market. A very much adjustable stock replacement set for common shotgun models. That product line is known as the Akita Adjustable Stock and currently are manufactured to be mounted on the following varieties of Shotguns.
- Mossberg 500/535/590/835, 12 Gauge
- Maverick 88, 12 Gauge
- Winchester 1200/1300/SXP, 12 Gauge
- Remington 870, 12 Gauge (& Norinco Clones)
- Ithaca 37, 12 & 20 Gauge
- CZ 712, 12 Gauge
The CZ 712 version can currently only order the adjustable butt stock portion, the other listed shotguns are covered with the basic Akita sets. However newer Mossberg’s & Mavericks (post 2006) cannot use the Akita forend due to action bars being molded into the forend tube).
The Akita reviewed by TPF is Model AHS0100, which contains both buttstock and forearm and can and will be used to change-up the author’s Mossberg 500 from an old-fashioned tactical version to a more dual purpose shotgun. The current Mossberg 500 stared life as a typical 28″ version complete with wood buttstock and forend, which has for the last several years been outfitted with an older ATI set of furniture. However, all components have been kept as those at TPF are pack rats in regards to firearms related items. The only complaint the author had with the old system was that there was no adjustment for the comb of the stock. The design put the stock’s collapsing tube to such a high elevation that the author could not line up the beads with the top of the receiver. Later versions came with a wedge which allowed for the whole buttstock to be shifted downwards on assembly.
The common version of the Akita comes with multiple mounting components which allow for component mounting on a variety of receivers and action bars/forend. Thankfully the instructions provided with the Akita are simple and clear, so that nearly all shotgun owners should be able to do the conversion themselves. The Akita stock has a four position extendable length of pull that has a range between 315mm to 365mm (12-3/8″ to 14-3/8″) and is simply operated by pressing up on the recessed lever and pulling or pushing the tail end of the stock to one of the four desired lengths before releasing the lever to lock it into place. The buttstock itself includes a sling swivel stud and a decent looking recoil pad. Included on the rear stock is an adjustable cheek rest which has nearly 13mm (1/2″) of variation, and is modified by removal of two cover plugs and the corresponding screws underneath them (one on each side). Adjustment is done by pulling the rest backwards it unlocks the check piece from the adjustment grooves and then the piece is elevated to a more ideal height. Re-install the screws and replace the cover plugs. All done. This specific build required that the cheek piece remained at the factory preset which equates to the lowest possible elevation.
As an individual who has had much experience mechanically and with machines, the entire process for converting to the Akita was very simple. On top of the brand adaptors for the buttstock and the additional spacers/mounts for the forend, the Akita kit also included a sheet metal key/wrench to use on the forend retaining nut. HOWEVER! There were two areas which the author can see as being problematic for the DIY individual.
- First was the actual mounting of the rear stock to the receiver. In order to install the stock you need to remove the butt place/recoil pad, then remove the adjustment lock, and slide off the back portion of the collapsing stock to expose the mounting area for the remaining front portion of the stock. Now up to this point the efforts to disassemble and prep are very simple to do. At this point a socket on an extension must be used and is less simple in trying to align, install and torque the stock retaining bolt into the receiver. I needed to shim inside my socket to ensure the bolt did not slide back into the socket during line up and initial threading into the receiver. Second, the angle which the bolt resides during tightening is not straight and requires a very small universal or flexible extension. The author used a 1/4″ socket driver with a 6″ flex extension to install and torque the bolt. Re-assembly of the components was as simple as the initial removal.
- The second trouble spot was the installation of the forend components onto the action bar assembly. While installation of the rear portion of the forearm was easy, putting in the front portion required some small tapping with a hammer to ensure that the adaptor was fully seated. Not really an issue, but when everything else goes so smoothly…
The biggest concern now is that the author will need to relearn how to shoot without a pistol grip stock, but that is a challenge being looked forwards to. Since obtaining this product from ATI in the spring of 2010, some design changes have occurred. (Yes, TPF has stockpiling items for reviewing, many months in advance. Some are still waiing on a firearm to mount on…) A newer, more absorbing recoil pad has been included as part of the Akita Stock and there are over a dozen varieties of colouration/camouflage available as of the time of this posting.
The reviewed Akita Adjustable Hunting Stock/Forend Kit in black is available from Brownells at a MSRP of $159.99 USD, with the camouflage having an MSRP of $179.99 USD. Canadian retailers like Ellwood Epps and Al Simmons are among the many Canadian gun stores where the Akita can be ordered in all options.
Advanced Technology International’s Akita Adjustable Hunting Stock – Practical, Tactical or Fanstastical?