It’s that time again. You know, June, when all the stores start putting up their Christmas decorations! Just kidding, it’s November, so you saw all the holiday hubbub start months ago. Whenever you choose to start the celebrating, it’s time to start thinking about gift lists.
Here are a few items that are on ours.
While I’ll always claim to be young and virile at heart, my eyes aren’t keeping up. Traditional small, black, iron sights are getting less and less fast (that’s my less painful way of saying ‘slow’) for me with each passing year. I’ve always like the XS Big Dot sights for their raw speed. That huge round dot leaps into view and quickly lines up with a shallow V in the back for super-fast sight picture development. While I’ve never had a problem with loss of precision against targets at rational distances, some people want the more precise capabilities of traditional notch and post sights.
Enter the brand new F8 Sights. Like the sights that probably came on your pistol, they have a steel rear notch-style design paired with a steel post up front. However, there are a couple of big differences. The sight post and dot in the front are big — about 30% larger than the factory ones on the Sig P320 I’ve been testing. The front dot uses a huge orange circle that’s made with luminescent paint. If you’re transitioning from outside to inside, the temporary glow provides high visibility until you’re “inside enough” for the center Tritium dot to become visible. In other words, it’s really bright in bright, transitional, or dark environments using the combination of bright orange color, luminescent paint, and Tritium. The rear sight is a notch with rounded bottom corners that subtly direct your focus to the top corners. That aids precision and speed. The rear sight has a single Tritium dot under the notch for fast alignment without potential confusion from three similar dots in your view.
I really, really like these and intend to put them on all my pistols. So how well are these being received? They launched weeks ago but there was such overwhelming demand that the company had to catch up on production. They should be available again in early December. Depending on when you read this, they’ll be available soon for Sigs, Springfield Armory XD family, Glocks, and Smith & Wesson M&P family handguns. If you feel so inclined, help me bug the XS folks to make these for my 1911s.
The Blue Force Gear folks seem to have a knack for inventing supremely useful stuff. I already have a pile of their Dual Pistol Belt Pouches. These handy magazine carriers are soft and stretchy, so they not only conform to your body but hold any size of magazine from small caliber single-stack to double-stack .45 ACP. Now, the company offers a belt-mounted trauma kit that packs life-saving gear into an amazingly small footprint.
About the size of a “Plus” iPhone (but thicker), the basic version includes a hemostatic dressing to aid clotting, four-inch trauma dressing, medical tape, a TK4 compression tourniquet, and medical gloves. The advanced kit packs additional supplies into the same package. That adds a chest seal, decompression needle, and nasopharyngeal airway to treat chest wounds.
While most aren’t likely to need a kit like this to survive a gunshot wound, the odds that you’ll be the first on the scene of an accident at some point are near 100% so preparation will pay off one way or another. You can already guess what my New Year’s Resolution is, right? A good class to learn how to use it.
MSRP: $129 (Basic), $200 (Advanced)
My overall favorite hearing protection solution is the Etymotic GunSport. They are electronic but internal. They are one-size-fits-all, but ones that actually fit. They offer fantastic sound quality for hearing normal range commands and conversation, yet they carry a 25dB noise reduction rating.
Here’s why I like them so much. They are an in-ear solution so there is zero interference with rifle or shotgun stocks, hats, shooting glasses, or anything else you might strap onto your head. If you shoot in the warmer months, there’s no bulky object around your ears to generate gallons of sweat. They’re so comfortable that you can wear them all day long. I’ve done this at numerous classes and training events, not even remembering to take them off during the lunch break. Once you find the right fit amongst the six different types and sizes of ear adapters, you’ll forget you have them on. I’ve found that I prefer the foam ones. They offer a great seal against noise and don’t irritate my ears. There are two sizes of foam and four types of rubber and silicone plugs.
The electronic function has two modes. In blast mode, they block dangerous sound volumes from doing through the circuitry to your ear yet allow normal and natural conversation. There’s also a hearing enhancement mode that amplifies ambient sound up to 5x while still suppressing the big noise. That’s handy for hunting or stalking Ninjas.
Bottom line? Custom in-ear solutions are mega expensive – usually in the four-digit price range. For $299 you can get most of the same benefit with the GSP 15s.
This 3/8-inch steel target has quickly become my favorite. It’s an IPSC silhouette-shaped plate, but made to 1/2 scale. That makes it about 15 inches tall and nine inches wide. I can’t tell you why, but I like it far, far better than any size of round target. Maybe it’s a visibility thing, or perhaps it’s because of it’s more realistic profile for training purpose. I just don’t know, but it’s fun.
This one is rated for rifle or pistol use provided you follow the company’s caliber and distance guidelines. While the target is cool, what really makes it shine are the mounting options. It hangs on a spring-loaded mount that sits on a 2×4 board or steel T-post. The spring action not only helps absorb some of the bullet impact and direct the fragments straight down, but it also makes the target move a little when hit, so you hear and see the results of your shot. You get some of the benefits of a plate rack with falling targets without the hassle of having to reset them after every hit.
I’ve been testing two mounts for this. The T-post hanger fits onto a standard fence post that you drive into the ground. You can find them at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Tractor supply and they’re cheap and easy to replace. The other approach uses a wide steel base and a 2×4 segment that you cut to your desired length to determine the height of the target. I like these better because they’re more stable.
The real fun, and training value, for these is to get several and scatter them down range at different positions. The setups come apart for quick and easy transportation.
MSRP: $55 plus base and mount accessories.
The hardest thing to conceal when carrying inside the waistband is the grip. Usually, it tends to poke outward. At best, when you lean forward from the waist, it protrudes and presses against your shirt or cover garment showing that something is in there.
The folks at Clinger Holsters have figured out how to minimize that problem. They use a combination of leather and Kydex but in a completely different manner than what you might expect. Most hybrid holsters use leather for a back panel and a Kydex shell to form the holster pocket. With the No Print Wonder, the shell is made of Kydex, but the leather is used as a hinge that draws the handgun closer to your body.
Here’s how it works. The rear belt clip is directly attached to the Kydex shell with a small piece of inflexible Kydex. The front belt clip is attached to the Kydex shell with a leather flap, forming a movable hinge. When you insert the rig, the rear clip is solid and anchored while the front clip can move around the curve of your body independent of the holster pocket. That keeps the grip of the handgun (which is above the rear clip) close to your body. The front belt mount does not pull the grip away from your body as a traditional IWB holster does. The result is that the gun grip wraps around the contour of your body and is tucked in very close. So, it’s less visible, and even when you lean forward, the grip doesn’t stick out nearly so much. This simple design tweak makes a huge difference. I carry a full-sized Springfield Armory 1911 TRP and a Sig Sauer P229 in two different No Print Wonder holsters, and they work great. You can easily conceal the big 1911 with it’s tall grip inside the waistband.