CategoriesNew Gun Releases

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm

Fans of the 10mm rejoice: There’s another 10mm handgun to add to your collection! The latest addition to the 10mm world comes from Springfield Armory in the form of the XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm, a gun that technically falls under the company’s Elite line but boasts a number of additional features.

Looking for a new 10mm pistol? Springfield Armory has you covered with their new XD-M Elite OSP 10mm. (Photo credit: Springfield Armory)

Springfield Armory released details of the XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm:

The XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm combines impressive capacity with powerful performance. The 4.5″ match grade Melonite finished barrel maximizes ballistic performance, and the highly ergonomic frame houses a double-column stainless steel magazine that provides a 16-round capacity. Two magazines are included with the pistol.

As an Optical Sight Pistol (OSP), the new XD-M Elite 4.5″ 10mm features a removable seamless cover plate that reveals a mounting interface for the optic of your choice, such as the HEX Dragonfly red dot or a wide range of other popular red dot optics. This is accomplished through the use of available mounting plates. The pistol is also offered packaged with a HEX Dragonfly red dot optic.

XD-M Elite 4.5" OSP 10mm
The XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm is optics ready. (Photo credit: Springfield Armory)

The XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm pistol has an aggressively textured grip as is typical of the company’s handguns and a flared magazine well to facilitate rapid magazine changes. Guns ship from the factory with fiber optic front sights and Tactical Rack U-Dot rear sights. Other features include a forged steel slide, black polymer frame, and captive recoil system.

XD-M Elite 4.5" OSP 10mm
The Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm handgun has an aggressively textured grip and polymer frame. (Photo credit: Springfield Armory)

Steve Kramer, Vice President of Marketing for Springfield Armory, made the following statement about the latest pistol from the gun maker:

This newest addition to the XD-M Elite line of pistols gives shooters and outdoor enthusiasts a great option for a powerful and capable defensive pistol. Features like its optics capability, fully ambidextrous controls and a funneled, removable magwell make the XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm ideal for anyone serious about self-defense.

XD-M Elite 4.5" OSP 10mm
This gun has a 16 +1 capacity, which is a fantastic amount of 10mm to have on hand. (Photo credit: Springfield Armory)


  • The XD-M Elite 4.5″ OSP 10mm is equipped with a slide milled for an optic from the factory, allowing you to mount the red dot of your choice.
  • This extended and flared “short” magwell is designed to combine compact dimensions with ultra-fast reload capabilities.
  • The pistol’s magazine holds an amazing 16 rounds of 10mm for impressive self-defense firepower.


  • Caliber: 10mm
  • Capacity: 16 +1
  • Color: Black
  • Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
  • Barrel Material: Hammer Forged Steel
  • Barrel Finish: Melonite Finish
  • Twist Rate: 1 in 16
  • Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Tactical Rack U-Dot Rear
  • Frame: Black polymer
  • Height: 5.75 inches without RDS
  • Length: 7.6 inches
  • Grip Width: 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 31 ounces, empty
  • MSRP: Starts at $653.00

What do you think of using a 10mm for defensive purposes? Yay or nay? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

CategoriesNew Gun Releases

Sig Sauer Born and Raised Outdoors Rifle and Pistol

It’s important to have the right rifle and pistol combination when you’re out enjoying the great outdoors. The team at Sig Sauer knows that, and now they’re offering a pair of guns made in collaboration with Hunting Ambassadors Born and Raised Outdoors. This initial launch includes a CROSS rifle and P365 pistol that have been modified to meet the needs of serious adventurers.

This Sig Sauer CROSS rifle and P365 were made in collaboration with the team at Born and Raised Outdoors. (Photo credit: Sig Sauer)

Sig Sauer made the following announcement on social media regarding the new guns:

In collaboration with SIG Hunting Ambassadors Born and Raised Outdoors @bornandraisedoutdoors, SIG SAUER has designed a CROSS bolt-action rifle platform and P365 pistol. Both are built specifically to meet the needs of the teams’ hunting and fishing adventures. The CROSS Born and Raised features an Aluminum Arca rail, 24” 5R stainless lightweight contoured barrel, PRS style grip and stippled fore-end as well as the Born and Raised engraving on its Carbon Elite Cerakote receiver. The Born and Raised P365 pistol is designed as a backcountry equipped version of the best-selling P365, made to be simple, light and compact for easy carry while fishing, hunting or hiking. Featuring Xray3 day/night sights for low-light usage, a Cerakote Elite Carbon finish with an engraved Born and Raised Outdoors logo and a flat blade trigger, the Born and Raised Outdoors edition P365 is the perfect companion for any outdoor adventure.

Sig CROSS Born and Raised

Sig Sauer CROSS bolt-action rifle
The Sig Sauer CROSS bolt-action rifle is part of the Born and Raised Outdoors line. (Photo credit: Sig Sauer)

The Sig Sauer CROSS was designed with long-range hunters in mind and has the following features:

  • M-LOK Stippled Forend
  • Free Floating Full-Length Arca Handguard
  • 24-inch stainless steel medium contour barrel
  • Forward angle PRS style grip
  • Elite Carbon Cerakote finish
  • Chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Engraved with the “Born and Raised Outdoors” logo

Sig Born and Raised P365 Pistol

Born and Raised P365 Pistol
The Sig Sauer P365 is available with an Elite Carbon Cerakote finish and engraved with the Born and Raised Outdoors logo. (Photo credit: Sig Sauer)

The Sig Sauer P365 is meant for self-defense against human threats and has the following features:

  • XSeries P365 Grip Module with ambidextrous manual safety
  • Elite Carbon Cerakote Flat Trigger
  • Engraved Elite Carbon Cerakote slide
  • XRay3 Day/Night Sights
  • 3.1 inch barrel for maximum concealability
  • (2) 12 round steel magazines
  • Chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Engraved with the “Born and Raised Outdoors” logo

Born and Raised Outdoors made a short video announcing the guns:


Whether you’re a hardcore outdoor enthusiast interested in making long-range shots or just like shooting at 1,000 yards at the range, the Sig Sauer CROSS Born and Raised Outdoors bolt-action rifle would make a great addition to your collection.

As for the Sig Sauer P365 Born and Raised Outdoors pistol, it comes in a platform that’s proven itself to be reliable and accurate for self-defense use. Keep in mind the P365 is chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, making it a fantastic choice for defense against two-legged threats, but not quite enough to be ideal for most of the four-legged threats you’ll find in the woods. Regardless, it’s a well-made, quality gun and both firearms are backed by Sig Sauer’s respected reputation.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Travis Haley — AK Magazine Changes

What’s the secret to how to reload an AK fast? Let’s spend a few minutes with Travis Haley to hear his views on changing magazines for the AK-47. This is a short video, just over five minutes long, so it won’t take too much of your time. In the video, you’ll find some fundamental principles for efficiently changing your AK magazines. 

For those who don’t know, Travis Haley was a Recon Marine and is an accomplished instructor in firearms and tactics. Actually, that is an understatement, the man is incredibly talented.

Why do people love their AKs so much?

As we know, the AK series has become extremely popular here in America, and for good reason.  The rifles and ammo were available, at one point, for insanely reasonable prices. Now that the ammo madness has settled slightly (at the time of this writing, although who knows what tomorrow holds), 7.62x39mm ammo is once again among the least expensive of the rifle rounds. 

Aside from the economic price, the AK is legendary for its reliability, which is usually the very first attribute cited by its fans. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m a fan and yes, I do like that reliability factor quite a bit. 

Other factors that are attractive include moderate recoil and decent stopping power from a .30 caliber cartridge (or 5.45 for the AK-74).

If the AK is popular in America, it is standard issue in Middle Eastern countries. For those who operate in that region, it’s a good idea to have an intimate knowledge of this weapons system, which is preferred by our enemies. You never know when you may have to pick up an AK as a battlefield pickup.

How can you get better and faster at changing your AK magazines?

Back to the original question, what’s the secret to reloading an AK, fast? Travis answers the question right away with the statement, “Here’s the secret: there is no secret.”

Instead, it takes deliberate practice and minimizing excessive motions that waste time. I agree. The best thing we can do is find sound techniques that work, and then practice the hell out of them. Travis advocates a couple of concepts for training:

  • Train correctly to the point where the motions are ingrained.
  • A trusting mindset, where you let your mind go and trust it to operate as needed under stress.

There there are many methods for how to load/reload the AK, the “Iraqi Reload,” the “Russian POI Reload,” and the “Thumb Reload,” to name a few. Travis likes to find the one with the least amount of steps. Again, I agree completely, being a fan of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

In keeping with this idea, he chooses the Thumb Reload method. 

Thumb Reload Method

To practice this reloading method, Travis suggests beginning with an empty magazine in the gun and one round in the chamber, with a full, spare magazine in a pouch on the side. (Obviously, this needs to happen on a shooting range). 

To begin training, Travis tells us to begin slowly and use a five-second count so the movements are not rushed, but done properly. Here are the steps:

  • Fire one round.
  • Attempt to fire another round, hearing a click on an empty chamber.
  • Do a “Static Reload” where the stock stays in the shoulder as he accesses his spare magazine on his side.
  • While holding a magazine in the left hand, thumb the release to eject the empty magazine.
  • Insert fresh magazine.
  • Charge the weapon. Travis prefers to put his hand underneath the weapon to charge it. He says it is more efficient to charge underneath, especially if you’re running optics on top of the weapon, which get in the way of your hand going over the top.
  • Now that the weapon is charged, fire the second round.
Travis Haley accessing spare magazine with left hand
Keeping the rifle stock in his shoulder, Travis Haley accesses a magazine with his left hand.
Travis Haley activates AK magazine release with thumb
Activate the magazine release with the thumb.
Travis Haley Inserts fresh AK magazine
Insert the fresh magazine.
charging AK by reaching underneath the weapon with his left hand.
Travis Haley prefers to reach underneath to grab the charging handle due to optics being mounted on top of the weapon.

From there, he instructs us to continue our deliberate practice by keeping our feet set and our focus strong.

Tactical Reload

For the tactical reload, Travis does not bring the weapon to his shoulder. He accesses the full magazine with his left hand and uses that same hand to eject the magazine from the weapon. Since this is a tactical reload and not a speed reload, he holds onto the magazine he just ejected because it still has ammo in it. And, this is not an emergency, so he is reloading at his descretion, not because the magazine is empty.

tactical reload
A tactical reload is done at the operator’s discretion.

As his practice progresses with several repetitions, Travis reduces the time — usually by about one second. Eventually, this process will become subconscious, just like any other weapon handling procedures that you practice.

Travis cautions against overextending your left arm out too far when ejecting the magazine. It is a complete waste of time and energy. The arm is extended almost straight out and then it has to come all the way back to the magazine well of the rifle, which costs valuable time.

Watch the full video:

Remember, there isn’t a secret to getting better and faster. Just hard work. Try out Travis’ deliberate practice for reloading AK magazines and let us know how it goes!

CategoriesNew Gun Releases

Apex Polymer Gen 3/4 Glock Trigger Kit

One of the easiest changes to make to your factory gun, or really any gun, is swapping out the trigger. Aftermarket triggers are widely available for a variety of guns, so there are a lot of options. If you have a Glock, you’ve probably at least considered changing the trigger, but if it’s a Gen 3 or Gen 4 it might seem like your choices are somewhat limited. That’s where Apex Tactical Specialties comes in with their Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glock trigger kit.

The Apex Tactical Specialties Polymer Action Enhancement Kit for Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks is an aftermarket trigger upgrade worth checking out. (Photo credit: Apex Tactical Specialties)

Apex Tactical Specialties released the following details regarding their Polymer Action Enhancement Kit for Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks:

Offered with a Black, FDE, Red, Purple or Blue polymer trigger body mounted to an Apex Gen 3 style trigger bar, the new kit delivers the same great performance that has made Apex the top-selling aftermarket trigger upgrade for most Glock models. When installed the kit will reduce trigger pull weight by approximately 1.0 lb., reduces pre-travel, overall and reset distance and provides a smooth uptake with a crisp trigger break.

This new kit is for use in the following Gen 3 & 4 Glock pistols: G17, G17L, G19, G22, G23, G24, G26, G27, G31, G32, G33, G34, G35, G37, G38 and G39.

Apex Tactical Specialties Polymer Action Enhancement Kit in blue.
The Apex Tactical Specialties Polymer Action Enhancement Kit is available in an array of colors, including blue. (Photo credit: Apex Tactical Specialties)

There are myriad reasons why it’s a good idea to upgrade the trigger in your Glock. Factory triggers on all guns have a tendency to be lacking when it comes to how smooth and consistent the pull is and what pull weight the manufacturer has it set for at the factory. If you want a smoother, crisper, lighter trigger, aftermarket replacements are an excellent plan.

Apex Tactical Specialties is well-known for producing good triggers and their Polymer Action Enhancement Kit promises to stand up to their history of success. The kit reduces trigger pull weight by one pound compared to the standard factory pull weight of Glocks and delivers a crisp, clean break with a short re-set. Putting an Apex Tactical Specialties trigger in your Gen 3 or Gen 4 Glock is a great way to improve trigger control and accuracy.

Apex Glock trigger kit red
The Apex Tactical Specialties Polymer Action Enhancement Kit lowers pull weight by one pound. (Photo credit: Apex Tactical Specialties)


  • Reduces trigger pull weight by approximately 1 lb.
  • Reduces trigger pre-travel, overall travel, and reset distance
  • Smooth uptake and reset
  • Crisp trigger break
  • Center-mounted pivoting safety maintains factory safety values
  • Direct drop-in replacement parts, no fitting required
  • Trigger bar finish may vary (Matte Nickel or Bright Nickel finish)
  • Same upgrades as the Action Enhancement Kit for Gen 3/4 Glock in a budget-friendly option
Apex Glock trigger kit Purple
Whatever color trigger blade you want for your Glock, Apex Tactical Specialties has you covered. (Photo credit: Apex Tactical Specialties)

Included in the Apex Glock trigger kit:

  • Apex Polymer Action Enhancement Trigger w/ Trigger Bar (Matte Nickel or Bright Nickel Finish) (1)
  • Apex Ultimate Safety Plunger for Glock (1)
  • Apex Performance Connector (1)

MSRP is $90.00.

CategoriesGun Reviews

.22-.250 Remington: 8 Reasons to Love It

There are a lot of great hunting cartridges out there; chamberings for every type of game. Most of us can’t afford to buy a rifle for every specific game animal we pursue, so, we look for cartridges that can fill more than one role. I’m currently looking to strike a balance between something that’s big enough to take an elk but small enough for whitetail deer, and that’s where the video linked below comes in. YouTube’s Backfire channel fills us in on a very popular, very versatile hunting round: the .22-.250 Remington, which he says is “By far, one of my favorite cartridges.” 

I’ve watched his channel for a while, but I still don’t know his name. Maybe that’s intentional or maybe I just missed that one, but either way, I’ll just call him “Backfire.” Dude, if you ever read this, feel free to hit me up and I’ll change it if you want.

The .22-.250 Remington: Reasons to Love It
The .22-.250 Remington is versatile and powerful beyond its size.

Anyway, Backfire helpfully organizes his discussion into specific topics, so we’ll just follow right along:

Reasons to Love the .22-.250 Remington 

1. Spot Your Impact

Thanks to the relatively low recoil of the .22-250, it’s possible to see where your shot hits, which is a big deal. Backfire notes that if you’re shooting stuff like 30.06, .308, or 6.5 PRC the recoil is enough to keep you from seeing the impact through the scope, which has enormous benefit for training people to shoot, especially kids. It’s also valuable for hunters, though you always prefer to hit with that first shot. Seeing where the bullet actually lands, instead of a puff of dust, is a good thing.

The .22-.250 Remington: Reasons to Love It cartridge comparison
Though it’s the biggest of this bunch, the .22-.250 still shoots soft enough to see your shots land. (

2. Versatility

“It’s not very often that you see a cartridge that’s absolutely ideal for knocking out a squirrel and a deer.” The .22-.250 can do that and everything in between. It’s primarily used as a varmint round, especially on coyotes, but can and does take deer and antelope.

The round’s designation comes from the fact that it’s a .22 caliber bullet in a necked down .250 Savage casing. It has enough powder volume to drive that heavier .25 caliber bullet. That allows a wide range of bullet weights, from ultra-high velocity 35-grain projectiles to 65-grain loads suitable for larger game.

.22-.250 Remington cartridge comparison
(L) .22-.250 cartridge alongside the .250 Savage it was derived from. (R) .22-.250 Remington, .223 Remington, and .220 Swift (shooting times/

Backfire says he doesn’t use .22-.250 for deer, but not because he thinks it unethical or underpowered for the job. It’s simply that he sees no reason to. He has rifles chambered in larger calibers that aren’t too much for him to shoot well, so there’s no advantage to his choosing a smaller bullet. “It’s not how tiny can I go and still do the job,” he says, “It’s how big can I go and still shoot as accurately as possible.”

3. Laser-Like Trajectory

Backfire shows us a target he shot from 85, 185, and 285 yards. He held on the same point of aim and the bullet only dropped 5.2 inches. He notes the advantage of that kind of performance for a hunter. If you’re hunting coyotes on the move, you likely don’t have time to check their range, and it wouldn’t hold up anyway. Being able to fire out to nearly 300 yards with essentially the same hold is a big deal.

 .22-.250 Remington bullet drop
The .22-.250 only dropped 5.2 inches between 85, 185, and 285 yards, giving it a 5 to 6-inch “maximum point-blank range” to almost 300 yards.

This is an example of “maximum point-blank range,” where you have a vertical range, in this case, five or six inches, in which you can be certain of hitting your target without adjusting the point of aim. He notes that this method “Makes you look like a better shooter than you are in a dynamic situation.”

.22-.250 Remington maximum point-blank range
The approximate “maximum point-blank range” of the .22-.250 Remington cartridge at 285 yards.

4. Rifle Availability

The .22-.250’s popularity is reflected by the fact that most rifle manufacturers chamber for it. We all have rifle preferences and it’s nice that, if we want a .22-.250, we can likely find one we like with no trouble.

He also notes that the last two years have made him more aware of ammo availability and the wisdom of choosing rifles and calibers that are as readily available as possible. With the current political and economic situation, there’s no guarantee that the outlook for ammo prices and availability will stabilize anytime soon. The more versatile you are, the better.

5. Up to 4,500 FPS

Yep, you read that right. Backfire notes that the typical hunting cartridge fires its projectile at 2,700 to 2,900 feet per second. A normal, run-of-the-mill 55 grain .22-.250 runs in the neighborhood of 3,500. Hornady Superformance has a 35-grain load that tops out around 4,500 feet per second. That is absolutely scorching. With a 200-yard zero, that load would have four inches of drop at 300 yards.

He then shows footage of what a .22-.250 will do to a watermelon at 50 yards. I’m not sure which load he uses, but the results were spectacular. You should watch it.

slaying a watermelon at 50 yards
The .22-.250 slaying a watermelon at 50 yards. You should watch it.

6. 500 Yard Dash

The wind drift of the .22-.250 is low because it travels so fast, thus spending less time in the air. Again, I’m not sure which load he is referring to, but the .22-.250 travels 500 yards in just 0.57 seconds, making it the 19th fastest cartridge of the 82 that Backfire tracks. For reference, the .308 Winchester travels 500 yards in 0.69 seconds.

list of fastest cartridges to 500 yards
The .22-.250 is among the fastest hunting cartridges out there.

7. Decent Barrel Life

Backfire says that super-fast cartridges usually turn him off because there’s almost always a drawback. Usually, the energy needed to drive that bullet trashes your shoulder and/or burns out the barrel. The .22-.250 does neither. The recoil is more than manageable, and the average barrel lifespan is 2,000 to 3,000 rounds, comparable to the best cartridges out there. He attributes that to the small caliber and very light bullet weights.

8. It’s the Ultimate Coyote Hunter

The .22-.250 is “Probably the deadliest coyote cartridge in existence,” he says. The cartridge started as a wildcat from the .250 Savage in the 1920s and 1930s and was very popular. Similar cartridges came out under names like “.22 Varminter.” The cartridge was commercialized in the 1960s as the .22-.250 Remington.

The .22-.250 Remington is “probably the deadliest coyote cartridge in existence.”

Because it’s been around for so long and is so well-suited to coyote hunting, Backfire guesses it has taken more coyotes than any other cartridge. He does allow that the .223 Remington may be right there because of the round’s ubiquity thanks to the popularity of the AR-15, but among “Real coyote hunters, it’s probably the .22-.250 hands down.”

What do you think?

Is the .22-.250 Remington all that? I have to say, it looks like something I’d like to have in my arsenal. We don’t get many coyotes in the Appalachians but there are more every year. Who knows, maybe I’ll spend part of my retirement keeping coyotes away from the livestock with a .22-.250. Let us know your thoughts on this supremely versatile cartridge in the comments. As always, happy shooting, y’all.


CategoriesGun Reviews

ATI Mil-Sport 6mm ARC Rifle

American Tactical Imports recently released a new 6mm ARC rifle (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) called the Mil Sport. They lent me a sample to try out, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

6mm ARC rifle from ATI (right side).

6mm ARC Rifle Cartridge

This relatively new round came about in 2020 from Hornady Manufacturing. It is essentially a 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm or 0.243”. It is a highly accurate, low recoil cartridge and the bullet maintains a velocity exceeding 1000 feet per second beyond 1000 yards.

To chamber an AR in 6mm ARC, all one needs to do is replace the barrel, bolt, and magazine. The bolt and magazine are compatible with 6.5 Grendel.

6mm ARC Rifle left side
ATI 6mm ARC rifle from the left side.

ATI Mil Sport

The rifle from ATI has all the trappings of a tactical AR when you take it out of the box. An MLOK compatible free-float handguard, 5-position buttstock, etc. The barrel is 18” and the rail is 15” in length. The thread pattern on the barrel is 5/8 x 24,” and it is recommended to use a .30 caliber or higher suppressor on this one.

Comparing the .223 and 6mm ARC cartridge
Comparing the cartridges.

ATI builds an excellent rifle, and the Mil-Sport is no exception. I have watched this company grow and change over the years and am convinced that they put out a great product at a reasonable price.

I was seeing a lot of potential in this one.

Optimizing the Mil-Sport

Over the past two decades, the AR platform has become like the Chevy Small Block of rifles. You can literally build your rifle to suit your needs from the ground up or modify it to how you want it if you don’t care for the factory options.

6mm ARC Rifle before pic
ATI Mil Sport 6mm ARC Rifle.

ATI builds a good basic rifle, but I wanted to make a few modifications for long-range shooting.

For a free float rail, I went with a carbon fiber one from Tacstar. You simply remove the existing rail, and this one clamps over the barrel nut. It’s rugged, lightweight, and has MLOK slots and a forward sight rail. The concern was to eliminate mirage when shooting long distances in the Nevada desert. This hand guard keeps the rifle extremely cool while shooting.

As for a stock, I installed a Magpul PRS Lite. This is a simple precision rifle stock that mounts over a traditional receiver extension used on most ARs on the market today. You don’t need to switch to a rifle-length buffer tube or use some proprietary tube. It is 8 ounces lighter than the PRS Gen 3 and has the right amount of adjustment needed in a precision stock.

Another Magpul product I went with on this build was one of their new MLOK bipods.

Installation and Configuration

Installation took about two to three minutes. It’s all about getting the nuts in the proper position on the MLOK slot and then torquing it to about 35 inch-pounds.

Depending on your shooting position, the large locking knob beneath the folded legs allows you to pan and tilt. The legs fold down when you pull on them, and they will remain locked until you hit the release button at the top of each leg. They are adjustable to 7 different heights, between 6 to 10 inches.

Much sturdier than I anticipated, you essentially have the frame of an aluminum bipod covered in a shell of Magpul’s seemingly indestructible polymer goodness.


Probably the most essential accessory on a rifle like this is the choice of an optic. This is dependent upon your usage of the rifle. You can go ultimate long range, something more suitable for hunting, or a little bit of both.


6mm ARC Rifle barrel forward
6mm ARC Rifle with its barrel forward


The Bushnell Elite 4500 4-16×50 Riflescope is an enhanced hunting riflescope with fully multicoated lenses. It is resistant to dirt, dust, fog, water, and most importantly, mirage. Rugged and lightweight, it is a perfect complement to the ATI Mil-Sport. The image quality is superb. It is hard anodized for corrosion resistance. The Fast-Focus eyepiece grants the shooter a super-fast reticle acquisition and clarity.

I mounted it in a 30mm cantilever mount from Wheeler that adds an additional 20 MOA for long-range shooting.

Lastly, I removed the A2-type flash hider and installed a Banish 30 suppressor from This can is an entirely serviceable modular suppressor rated up to 300 Weatherby Magnum. Out of the box, it is 9” in length with eight keyed baffles but can be shortened by 2” with six baffles if you need to run it shorter.

Constructed of a titanium alloy, it weighs 13 ounces full length and 10 ounces in the short configuration.

The incredible thing about this can is that it is entirely user serviceable, and the individual baffles can be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, by hand, or in a tumbler. The keyed and indexed baffles make reassembly a snap.

6mm ARC Rifle from the side


At the range with the 6mm ARC Rifle Round

Hornady was good enough to send some ammo. This was one of the major hurdles we had in getting this review completed, as all the stores are out of anything in new calibers, such as the 6mm ARC.

Let’s take a look at the round for a minute.

6mm ARC Rifle Cartridge Review

When I first saw a 6mm ARC rifle cartridge, it reminded me of a 6mm BR or a 7mm BR. These were old-time Bench Rest rounds developed 50-60 years ago. They were made from 308 NATO or 30-06 cases, cut down and necked down for a 6mm or 7mm projectile. They’re relatively the same size, and those rounds were powerhouses in their day. I had always thought that 7mm BR would make an excellent caliber for an AR. However, the much larger case diameter could have been a problem.

Those rounds were amazingly accurate in a bolt-action rifle or in the case of the 7mm BR, a single-shot Remington XP-100 pistol. What killed them was that they were wildcats that went mainstream to a degree but never caught on outside of dedicated precision shooters.

The 6mm ARC rifle cartridge has the full support of Hornady and is being used by a clandestine US military unit for its long-range power and accuracy. Plus, its ballistics look very promising for hunting. Despite that, I’ve seen a few pundits who should know better do nothing but complain about it. They make comparisons to rounds like the 243 Winchester and say it uses the same bullet. If you see these arguments brought up, the person is either trolling or is utterly clueless about the round’s mission and purpose.

Due to the length, 6mm ARC rifle rounds will not fit in a standard AR. Some manufacturers offer those chamberings in their AR10s, but that rifle is bigger and heavier, as is the ammo load out. There was a military reason behind this design.

Range Results

My first time out was at 200 yards, and my five-shot group measured just under an inch long and less than half an inch wide. I repeated this feat a few more times, but I wanted to see what it could do at long range.

6mm ARC rifle target group
Five-shot target group. 


One of my local ranges has a steel barrel at 1000 yards. Over the years, I’ve rung the barrel with 338 Lapua, 50 BMG, 7.62 NATO, and 6.5 Creedmoor. This may have been the smallest cartridge I have ever put to that task.

The first 9 out of ten cartridges hit that barrel with authority. One of them either missed completely, or the acoustics of firing suppressed supersonic rounds threw me off, but I did not hear the impact. Still, 9 out of 10 at that range was not too bad.

Final thoughts

There are very few AR rounds that I love. 5.56 NATO, 450 Bushmaster, 300 Blackout, 458 SOCCOM, and even 22 LR are my favorites. I liked the 6mm ARC rifle cartridge so much that I’m considering looking into its parent cartridge, the 6.5 Grendel.

The Mil-Sport from ATI offers this exciting new cartridge in an accurate, affordable rifle. It’s an AR, which means you can tinker with it until your heart is content. The furniture, trigger, bolt catch, magazine release, optics, and everything else on the rifle can be replaced with one to your liking. ATI makes some outstanding rifles, and this is one of them. It’s a great way to get into this new round for under $1000.

  • Make: American Tactical Inc
  • Model: Mil-Sport Carbine
  • Type: Semi-Auto
  • Caliber: 6mm ARC
  • Finish: Black phosphate
  • Sight: No Sights
  • Barrel Length: 18”
  • Overall length:33”
  • Twist rate: 1:7.5”
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • Trigger pull: 4 pounds
  • MSRP: $899.99

6mm ARC cartridge comparison

CategoriesGun Reviews

Colt’s Stunning Combat Elite Government 1911

One of the most complex writing tasks any serious gun review writer can face is a firearm with a venerable reputation for performance. Colt, even under its new corporate structure, makes guns that work and the Combat Elite is no exception. This is a fine example of a factory 1911 from the company that defined the standard for factory 1911s.

The top of the slide on the Combat Elite is non-reflective. Note the Novak sites—ideal for EDC.

Saying anything that hasn’t been said thousands of times before will be complicated.

To this end, I think I can empathize with the engineers at Colt. The Combat Elite must have begun with one of those board-room discussions where someone in either sales or marketing, or both, asked for something new in a 1911. I can hear it now—”We need something new!”

Colt Pony logo
The old pony, still rampaging after more than a century.

New. The standard single-action semi-auto in its basic 5″ form is about as old as guns get these days. The only handguns currently in production that could remotely compare are the Single Action Army revolvers (also made by Colt). So how do you take something so familiar to your customers and change it in a way that would make it new?

Combat Elite laser cut logo
The Combat Elite’s logo is laser cut.

It all comes down to looks.

Colt’s Combat Elite Government 1911 has a very distinctive finish. While most of the features are a step up from what you’d find on a bog-standard 1911A1 build, the first thing that you’ll notice is its two-tone finish.

And that finish is superb. It is electric. The ion-bond PVD finish on the curved surface has been sanded off of the flats, revealing the stainless below, and it provides a black/silver contrast that is really mesmerizing.

Colt Elite Combat 1911 two-tone finish, up close
The color contrast provides a solid visual reference for the controls, too.

As a student of steel, I’m still not 100% confident I can speak to the finishing technique. I don’t believe the steel flats are brushed free of their finish, as the brush fibers would be too hard to control.

My assumption is that the high spots, such as they are, might be sanded on a 2 x 72 grinder with a fine belt. The finish shows really fine directional scratches, and—if done on a flat platen—it could allow for the control needed to cut such crisp lines.

Colt Combat Elite 1911 contrasting colors
The contrast of colors is very well executed.

Either way, the finish is exceptional—really clean, perfectly executed, and flashy. I say flashy. It is meant to be looked at, but I don’t find it to be as ostentatious as some guns with chrome finishes or gold controls.

Novak Night Fision front blade
Novak Night Fision. A long, low front blade with a glowing dot.

But what makes this a Combat Elite?

Naming products is really complex. I’ve been involved in the process with both guns and accessories, and it is damn near impossible to get good names to pass through the trademark protections process. So companies often end up going with names they already have protected, and I’m guessing that’s the case here, too.

Night Fision ramped rear sight
The ramped rear sight, as many do, misses the boat for me. I’d rather have a ledge than a ramp, even on a carry gun.

There’s nothing about the look of this particular gun that speaks to combat. Colt has made some fighting 1911s—the originals, of course, but a lot of the single-actions with refined features are still in favor by those who want protective finishes, enhanced controls, and more functional sights. But this is a gun that is meant to be seen, not one that’s easily camouflaged.

Combat Elite Extras

Maybe after your eyes have adjusted to the glare of the finish, you’ll see some more Combat Elite features. This is a series, after all. In .45 ACP, or 9mm; Defender, Commander, and Govt.—they all have a couple of things in common.

Colt Combat Elite 1911 hammer
The Combat Elite’s hammer won’t bite.

The controls are oversized. From the skeletonized hammer to the thumb safety, and the beavertail grip safety… they’re all what you would expect from a 1911 built for practical carry.

These are series 80 guns, so they have the mechanical firing pin block. This only falls when the trigger is pulled. A series 80 gun provides an extra measure of safety in the event of an accidental strike on the hammer (which sits right up on the firing pin when the hammer is down).

Colt Combat Elite 1911 45 firing pin
The Combat Elite, and all of the models in the series, are series 80 guns and are drop safe.

Carrying a 1911 with a round in the chamber and the hammer down is a bad idea, but that’s hard to communicate. That’s why we have the series 80 guns now.

Back on track… There’s one element of the Combat Elite that has to be felt. The checkering on the front strap is intense: 25 lines per inch. This gives a sharp and uncompromising grip surface. My 15-year-old, whose hands aren’t as calloused as mine, claims they draw blood. I love the grip texture. And the G10 grips are useful, too. All told, this gun shoots like a well-built carry gun.

Colt Combat Elite 1911 45 grip checkering
That checkering. This is a glorious piece of work.

Shooting the Combat Elite

target headshots from 25 yards
Running headshots from the holster at 25 feet. Rock-solid results.

The 5″ 1911 is my personal favorite for OWB EDC. I’ve carried these guns off and on for more than a decade now. While I’m not carrying one concealed much anymore, I still respect its potential. The 1911 earned its place in history, for sure.

shot group at 25 yards
From 25 yards, with a second more for aiming to reflect the practical distance.

Accuracy from the Combat Elite is respectable. I’m more concerned with practical speed, and this single-action checks those boxes.

Colt Combat Elite 1911 45 steel magazine follower
The Combat Elite comes with an 8-round mag. You’ll want more.

The aggressive grip texture helps with the speed of follow-up shots. The controls are big enough to be almost instinctively deactivated during the draw. And even the top of the slide, which has been left black, cuts that glare.

Colt 45 Auto 8-round stainless magazine baseplate
The stainless mags are solid and well marked.

So how much?

The Combat Elite Government is not cheap. No Colt 1911s are, either in their build or their pricing. This one has an MSRP of $1399.

Colt Combat Elite 1911 45 G10 grips
G10 grips and incredible checkering add to the ease of control.

Is it worth it? The quality of this build speaks volumes. My gut tells me the two-tone finish is going to polarize buyers, though, with the love-it and hate-it crowds being pretty far apart.



CategoriesGun Reviews

Smith & Wesson CSX — New Kid On The Block

A few weeks back while at the local gun store, I spied something in the case that I wasn’t familiar with. It had the Smith & Wesson logo on it, but I’ll confess that I wasn’t able to identify the pistol. I asked to check it out and discovered that it was their CSX model, which stands for Chiefs Special X. Then the surprise — it is single action! Wait, what is this sorcery?! Who makes a new single-action micro-9mm that will hold 12+1 rounds??? Well…no one other than S&W. Suffice it to say, I took that little Smith & Wesson CSX home.

The author with the very compact CSX from S&W. The letters on the shirt (V4CR) stand for Veterans For Child Rescue, a very worthy organization run by former Navy SEAL Craig “Sawman” Sawyer. They rescue children who have been kidnapped in the child sex trafficking market.

Get a grip, man!

But wait, there’s more! It’s also an aluminum alloy frame! Things were getting interesting with this little pistol. And the grip — oh, the grip! It is seriously comfortable! S&W clearly took major pains to get the grip right. The front and back strap both have portions that are polymer embedded into the aluminum and that feel like sandpaper, which gives a ridiculously secure grip on the pistol. This thing isn’t going anywhere when you fire it, that’s for certain. Those grips marry your hand to the pistol, period.

I’m jumping ahead here a bit, but I want to interject that, during the range session, the sandpaper-like grip sections did somewhat abrade my hand. I won’t piss and moan about it because they did precisely what they were designed to do, which is anchor this pistol into the hand. As a disclaimer, I don’t have the soft, supple hands of someone who pushes papers all day long — I work outside in the elements with my hands, and they are relatively rough. So yeah, these grips are not messing around, they’re the real deal. If your hands are wet or slippery, these grips are going to bite into your skin and stay put!

Smith & Wesson CSX grip is like sandpaper on the front and backstraps
The CSX’s grip is like sandpaper (front and backstraps) and will not slip in your grip! With two interchangeable backstraps to choose from, it’s among the most comfortable grips available.

To add to the goodness, the CSX comes with two grips, a Large and a Small. They can be changed out by pushing a small detent inside the base of the grip (a tool is included, although a punch works better). I tried both grips and the standard grip feels pretty good to me. They both are excellent in my medium-sized hands. I can tell you that the detent on my pistol is extremely stiff and it took considerable pressure to push it in enough to change out the grips, though I expect over time it will loosen up.

The Trigger

I’ve read a lot about the Smith & Wesson CSX (even before I bought it). I’ve also watched many videos, and they ALL have one thing in common: mention of the trigger. To be more specific, this trigger has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than a screaming, yowling chimpanzee that has been set on fire with napalm!

There seems to be what is referred to as a “false reset”, and it is causing tribulations in the gun world. Yes, I can feel it in my pistol when I let the trigger partway out. There is a small, subtle “click” that might lead some folks to believe that the trigger has reset and that they can touch off another round. However, it doesn’t work like that. On mine, you have to basically let the trigger all the way out before it resets with a positive click.

In short, there’s a little click followed by a big click. If you want the reset, go with the big click.

Is this a big deal? Not for me! The trigger reset, in my book, isn’t something I’m realistically going to be able to use in a real gunfight, should I ever be involved in one. Mind you, I have been in lethal force encounters during my career, and the amount of adrenaline that gets dumped into a person’s system is, in my opinion, going to negate any normal person’s ability to shoot using the reset. If you’re able to do it, you are a far better combatant than I am.

For a single action, the trigger is somewhat heavier than I expected. If you happen to be expecting a competition-grade, glass-rod-breaking trigger like you’d find on a competition 1911, then you will be sorely disappointed. It’s not on this pistol. Most people report a trigger pull of just under six pounds on the Smith & Wesson CSX, which isn’t necessarily heavy, but it certainly is not light.

There is a small (very short) amount of take-up, followed by a wall, and then a clean break. The face of the trigger also has a Glock-type safety lever, which, to be honest, does not bother me, as it is not in the way and really doesn’t affect the pull at all. Personally, I’m okay with another safety on the pistol, so it’s all good.

The trigger is also straight and flat-faced, which is a feature that adds to the comfort. As can be seen in the photo, there is a Glock-like trigger safety on the front of the trigger, which causes no issues whatsoever.

Smith & Wesson CSX slide release, mag release, and trigger closeup
A closeup of the trigger reveals that it is flat-faced and includes a safety that closely resembles what Glock pioneered so many decades ago. It’s comfortable and works well.


By this time, you’ve likely noticed some features that resemble the 1911, namely the metal construction, the single action, and the bobbed and skeletonized hammer. Another feature is the manual thumb safety, which is akin to that of the 1911. It is also ambidextrous, which is another plus. It flicks on and off with an audible click and offers a bit of resistance, which I’d classify as perfect—not too hard, not too easy. There’s a detent that controls how hard it goes on and off, and Smith got it perfectly right.

If I had my druthers, I’d probably have made the safety just ever so slightly larger, but that’s just my taste. It works perfectly as they made it. Upon drawing, the thumb can easily flick the safety off with no trouble, so it works as intended. The shooter’s thumb does not have to stretch or reach, the safety is right there, perfectly accessible.

Smith & Wesson CSX safety lever
Here we see the Smith & Wesson CSX safety lever, which is very similar to a 1911. I wish it were slightly larger, but it works well for the task and offers just the right amount of tension. The magazine release and slide release are also visible and placed perfectly. Note the skeletonized hammer.

Another plus is the fact that the slide can be worked while the safety is on, so the pistol can be loaded or unloaded in a safe condition.

The slide releases (there is one on each side) are also ambidextrous and I can reach them with my thumb without having to shift my grip much. But since I’m a “grab the slide and rack it” kind of guy, I normally don’t use the slide releases. Still, it’s nice that they are there, just in case one of my hands is out of commission. It’s worth noting, too, that the slide releases are positioned so that it’s unlikely that you’ll activate them during a string of fire, even if you prefer to shoot with a thumbs-forward grip. On some pistols, this is an issue, but not on the Smith & Wesson CSX.

Smith & Wesson CSX slide release and safety
The slide releases and safeties are ambidextrous. Another plus is that the pistol can be fired without a magazine in place. Also, note that the rear edge of the ejection port is chamfered and melted so that it does not drag when being holstered. It’s this attention to detail that sets this pistol apart in many ways. Also note the large, external extractor.

Smith elected to use an extractor that is external and large, which seems to point toward confident extraction of spent casings.

Although the magazine release is not ambidextrous, it can very easily be switched to either side by taking out a screw. It’s mounted from the factory on the left side, but they include a spare one for the right side for people who are wrong-handed. The face of the mag release has the same rough texture as the front and back straps, ensuring that the skin will not slip on it.

The guide rod is also constructed of metal, which will undoubtedly please many users.


Somehow, S&W managed to design this pistol so 12 rounds can be stuffed into the handle, and of course, one in the chamber. Don’t ask me how, because although the grip is hand-filling, it’s not large. The 12-round magazine has a sleeve device that slides and fills the gap between the baseplate and the handle of the pistol when in use. It does that job well enough, but the fact that it slides around is a pain, and if a magazine is carried in the pocket (which I do), this piece is going to slide all over the place, or completely slide off.

The 10-round magazine fits flush with the butt of the handle and my pinkie finger hangs in space below the grip when it is in use. When the 12-rounder is used, my pinkie has a place to land (which I like). Honestly, I’m not sure why S&W went this route; I think they should have simply made it a 12-shooter because the extra length of that 12-round magazine is only about 1/4 inch or so, and the space saved with the 10-rounder really doesn’t contribute to the pistol’s concealability, in my opinion.

That 1/4 inch does, however, give most people a place to park that pinkie, which we all seem to like. And for that, we also gain two more rounds. So I’ll be shopping for some 12-round spare magazines at GunMag Warehouse. Basically, I think they shouldn’t even bother with the 10-round magazine except in states that prohibit anything over ten rounds.

The entire pistol, including magazines, is finished in Armornite, which is all black and quite attractive. It’s flat black, but sports just the least bit of gloss and looks great, adding corrosion resistance. This finish actually permeates the metal so that, even if the finish appears to be wearing off, it’s still protecting the metal.

Smith & Wesson CSX Technical Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 10+1, 12+1
  • Length: 6.1 inches
  • Barrel: 3.1 inches
  • Action: Single Action
  • Weight: 19.5 ounces


Both front and rear sights are metal (kudos for that) and of the 3-dot variety. Nothing to write home about, pretty standard, but they function just fine and are dovetailed into the receiver. For the progressive shooters, there is no place to mount a red dot sight at this time, nor is there a rail for mounting lasers, lights, and such. This is a minimalist, super-compact pistol.

Smith & Wesson CSX sights
The sights are pretty standard, metallic 3-dot type. Note the high thumb position – if the author grips the pistol like this, the slide will contact the inside of his thumb. Not a huge deal, just something to be aware of.

As mentioned, the sights are metal and their shape allows them to be used to cock the pistol if necessary using a belt, the sole of a shoe, or another hard surface such as a curb or table edge.


We’ve already discussed the Armornite finish, but I want to talk about the overall finish of the pistol a bit further. It is seriously nice! The ejection port is chamfered so that it doesn’t catch on the holster as you’re holstering, and is nicely done. In the same vein, the front of the slide is beveled for the same reason and will aid in holstering. All edges on the pistol are beautifully melted so that there are no sharp edges to catch on anything, including the shooter’s skin.

Smith & Wesson CSX muzzle
Notice the rounded, melted edges, which make holstering easier. A few decades ago, this feature would have been considered custom work, but now comes standard on many pistols.

The front cocking serrations facilitate press checks, which is a nice aspect, and are not abrasive, but they do offer a great grip. The rear serrations have the same qualities, but the very last serration on either side sticks out further than the others to form wings, which gives a little extra purchase when cocking.

Smith & Wesson CSX At The Range

Eagerly, I hit the range with the little CSX to see how it would act.

S&W CSX with range gear
Several types of ammunition were tested in S&W’s new CSX Micro-9mm.

Not surprisingly, the micro-9 was a little snappy with the recoil, but I’d say not anything beyond what I expected. Although it let you know it was going off, the muzzle flip wasn’t bad at all and the sights returned to the target very quickly. I believe the felt recoil was largely a factor of the aluminum frame, which transmits energy as opposed to the Polymer pistols that we’re so often used to. You see, Polymer frames have a certain amount of flex when they’re fired, which helps to mitigate some of that recoil. To be honest, the recoil of this fairly small pistol was a bit less than I had anticipated.

Smith & Wesson CSX with range gear and boxes of ammunition
The Smith & Wesson CSX acquitted itself quite well at the range. On top of performing great, it also looks really good! It proved 100% reliable with a few types of ammo, including Blazer Brass, Remington Range, and Federal HST Hydra Shock Tactical. Recoil was not excessive.

As for accuracy, the CSX is pretty darn good for such a little pistol. I shot a group at 15 yards that went into just over one inch, and that was in the first magazine that I had fired through the pistol. At 25 yards, groups did open up (obviously), but it’s still adequate for hitting a silhouette target. With that said, my eyesight these days (I’m a FOG — Fat, Old Guy) is the limiting factor, and the pistol will shoot better than I can wield it.

Smith & Wesson CSX target group from 15 yards

I decided to run a few simple drills with the CSX to see how it handled. Drawing from concealment, I fired two controlled rounds as quickly as I accurately could. Amazingly, I got some of the most accurate shooting of the day by shooting rapidly like this. Don’t ask me how, but that’s how it went — this pistol handles very well at speed.

Rapid fire target group from 10 yards with Smith & Wesson CSX
Rapid-fire proved to be no problem for the little Smith & Wesson CSX. This is a reduced size target, not full size.

A bit more about the trigger — it really is not bad at all, despite what many reviews on the interwebs are claiming. Although it’s a little on the heavier side for a single action, it functioned great on the range. And personally, for a defensive handgun, I don’t mind a trigger that is on the heavier side. Though I don’t have a trigger gauge to measure it with, most people report that the trigger pull is in the 5.5 pound-ish range. As it is, I believe the trigger contributed to the accuracy I was able to achieve on target.

Smith & Wesson CSX

There were no stoppages of any kind on the range, and I used a few different brands of ammunition: Blazer Brass, Remington Range, and Federal Hydra Shock Tactical (HST) +P. All functioned perfectly. The HST, despite being +P, was not noticeably snappier.

Slide Bite

A few folks with larger hands have reported receiving some slide bite on the web of their hand when firing the CSX. I don’t have large hands at all, but I managed to get some slide bite of my own. My problem is that I like to shoot with a very high thumb position, and having that thumb up there caused the slide to come into contact with the skin of the base of my thumb. Simply put, I need to shoot this pistol a little differently, and it’s not the pistol’s fault — it’s mine.

That’s one thing about firearms and other equipment that I’ve noticed with people: often, it’s not really the fault of the equipment, but rather the user who then blames the equipment and decides it has to be modified, removed, or scrapped.

I think people need to shift their thinking and realize that they need to invest the time to get to know the equipment and train with it to eliminate the problems in many cases. While it’s true that certain parts may need to be replaced, it’s not always the case. We see it with triggers all the time — people claim that because a trigger isn’t two pounds, it’s garbage and needs to be replaced because there’s no way they can achieve accuracy with such a piece of junk.

To many of those people, I think to myself, “No, you just suck at shooting and you need to practice and master that piece of gear.” Investing hundreds more dollars in the firearm is not likely to solve their problem, (although once they spend the money, they’re often convinced that now they are good to go). Bottom line: you cannot purchase skills.


As I write this, there aren’t a plethora of holsters available for the Smith & Wesson CSX. Apparently, it’s still new enough that many makers haven’t geared up for it. I did manage to purchase one from DeSantis Holsters. I began using DeSantis back in the early 1990s when I began carrying pistols concealed. Over the years, I’ve used some excellent holsters from them and even have one or two from that time period that are still functional (although quite worn).

For the Smith & Wesson CSX, I opted for the DeSantis “Inside Heat” holster, which is an inside the waistband (IWB) model that I carry in the appendix position. It’s constructed of heavy, thick, stiff leather that maintains its shape very well. Around the mouth of the holster, it has a band that reinforces the opening and helps to keep the mouth of the holster from closing, which enhances holstering.

Within a day or so, the draw from the holster became much smoother and easier as I practiced drawing the CSX. In fact, I was amazed at how well and quickly the holster smoothed out.

Inside Heat Desantis HOlster
DeSantis Holsters Inside Heat is a very sturdy holster with thick, stiff leather construction and a hardy clip.
Inside Heat DeSantis Holster
Here on the front of the holster, we can see the band that reinforces the mouth of the holster, keeping it open even when in the waistband of the pants. This is a very comfortable holster that does not dig into the skin when I bend over.
Smith & Wesson CSX, DeSantis Inside Heat holster, Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA, and SpyderCo Native knife.
The DeSantis Inside Heat IWB holster is very high quality. Here, the pocket clip can be seen. The flashlight is the Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA. The knife is a Spyderco Native.

After carrying Kydex holsters for quite a while now inside the waistband, it’s refreshing to be carrying in leather again, for a few reasons. First, the handgun’s finish isn’t getting scratched up by Kydex. Second, the leather is a bit more forgiving and not as hard as the Kydex. The Kydex tends to jam into the skin when I bend over, which the leather does not do. This holster is surprisingly comfortable! An added bonus is the fact that it is made in the USA.

 DeSantis  IWB holster
The holster keeps the pistol tucked into the belly nicely. The CSX is really nice to carry; not heavy, and yet very solid feeling. The short grip is a huge advantage for concealment.

In Conclusion

Smith & Wesson’s new CSX delivers as promised. It’s light, has an extremely secure, comfortable grip, and is 100% reliable. The little pistol looks great and has a durable finish. Accuracy is more than adequate for the assigned role. It’s pleasingly concealable.

If I had a magic wand in hand and could ask for any wish to improve this pistol, it would be this: make it double-action/single-action with the option of carrying cocked and locked. I feel just a smidgen more comfortable carrying a pistol in my waistband when it has a heavier first-round trigger pull. I realize that, to some out there in the audience, I’m speaking heresy and there are those who will call for me to be burned at the stake for it, but there it is. Not a huge deal, and certainly not a deal-breaker; just a wish. As it is, I’m going to carry it cocked and locked, especially in situations where I want or need a very small pistol.

At the time of this writing, I was able to score one for $529 at my local gunshop (I bought mine, S&W did not give me this one). All in all, if you’re looking for a very concealable pistol for concealed carry, the Smith & Wesson CSX will fill the bill as well as you could possibly expect. This one is a keeper!



CategoriesNew Gun Releases

SIG Sauer RomeoZero Pro Red Dot Sight

It used to be that seeing a red dot sight on the firing line in a handgun class was the exception rather than the rule. But those days have passed. Today, it’s extremely common for gun owners to put red dots on their carry and range guns. Red dots aren’t just for hunters or competition shooters anymore. Many gun makers are delving into the red dot market, including Sig Sauer, a respected firearms manufacturer whose years of experience go into designing quality optics. Their latest is the Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro.

The Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro is the latest red dot sight from the gun maker. (Photo credit: Sig Sauer)

Sig Sauer made the following statement regarding the RomeoZero Pro:

This new full-size reflex optic features a large 30mm aspherical lens made of scratch-resistant glass, offering unmatched clarity and a distortion-free sight picture when compared to competitors. The ROMEOZero-PRO features a proprietary carbon-infused polymer housing with a reinforced lens protection area making it incredibly durable while delivering significant drop and impact protection. It also comes with a hardened steel protective shroud for even greater protection and durability. The ROMEOZero-PRO is available with either a 10 MOA red dot or the versatile new circle/dot reticle. The new T.A.P. (Touch-Activated Programming) technology gives the user the ability to change brightness with just a tap on the optic.  All rear surfaces of the housing have anti-reflection grooves molded in, including the backup rear sight notch which is marked with Grade A Swiss SuperLuminova pigment for visibility in dark environments.  And just like our smaller ROMEOZero and ROMEOZero-ELITE models, the new ROMEOZero-PRO is fully assembled in the U.S.A. in our state-of-art facility in Oregon.

Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro red dot sight
Thinking about making the transition from irons to a red dot sight? Check out the Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro. (Photo credit: SIG Sauer)

The RomeoZero Pro from Sig Sauer is designed to be rugged and resistant to the bumps and scrapes that come standard with serious training. It has an overall length of 1.83 inches, a height of 1.09 inches, and a weight of 0.5 ounces. Features include eight daytime settings, 1 MOA adjustment increments, and Sig’s 5-year warranty. The optic runs on one CR1632 battery. According to the manufacturer, runtime on a single battery can be as great as 20,000 hours.

Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro
Want a durable, rugged red dot sight? Try the Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro. (Photo credit: SIG Sauer)

Features include:

  • Rear backup sight notch filled with Grade A Swiss SuperLuminova for low light conditions
  • T.A.P. (Touch Activated Programming) and button-activated brightness and reticle selection mode
  • Carbon infused weapons-grade ultralight polymer housing for increased shock and drop protection
  • Fits the Romeo2/Pro Mounting Footprint
  • Aspherical glass lens with zero distortion
  • Circle/dot or 10 MOA emitter options with 8 daylight brightness settings
  • Up to 20,000 hours of runtime
  • Structurally enhanced steel shroud for added protection
  • Assembled in the USA
Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro footprint
The Sig Sauer RomeoZero Pro has a footprint compatible with the Romeo02. (Photo credit: Sig Sauer)

MSRP starts at $245.99. Variations include a 2 MOA, 3 MOA, and 10 MOA red dot. Overall dimensions remain the same regardless of dot size.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you’ve seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master’s Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.
CategoriesGun Reviews

The Henry Long Ranger Express: A Half MOA Lever Gun?

Man, I love me some lever action rifles. I expect I’ve mentioned that before in other articles. But they aren’t exactly cutting-edge designs. My favorite deer rifle is a damn-nice 1963 Marlin 336, but I’d never expect precision accuracy from it. Well, in the video linked below, Pat RMG [YouTube channel] takes the new updated Henry Long Ranger Express to the range and gets some surprising results.

A half MOA lever gun? Come on, man…

The Henry Long Ranger Express

Henry has been building lever guns since 1860 and they’ve gotten pretty good at it. The Long Ranger Express is brand new, and like the original Long Ranger, Henry claims it delivers “bolt action performance with the speed of a lever action.” The gun features a six-lug rotary bolt, aerospace aluminum construction, a free-floated barrel, and a five-round detachable box magazine instead of the more traditional tube mag. The gun is chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO and the barrel twist rate is 1:9.

Henry Long Ranger Express; Half MOA Lever Gun
Henry looks to have brought lever action design into the 21st Century.

The Range of the Future

Pat decided to investigate those claims and puts the Long Ranger Express to the test at a state-of-the-art electronic range in Tennessee. The range uses sensors to measure velocity and provides the shooter with hit data on an X and Y axis in real-time via a tablet at the shooting station. It totally eliminates the need to manually set and check targets, which can affect the breathing of a precision shooter. “Once you settle in at the table,” Pat says, “you’re settled in, and you can lay this on the bags and just go ahead and go to work.”

Henry Long Ranger Express; Half MOA Lever Gun state of the art range
Now THAT’S a range!

Precision Also Means Finding the Right Ammo

Pat tried several different ammo brands and loads before hitting the sweet spot. He zeroed the Henry at 50 yards with some 55 grain reloads, which gave him consistent, repeatable groups.

He then moved to some 55 grain Tula, with less than stellar results. Pat says accurate hits at 200 yards were “impossible” with the Tula. He got similar results by just “slapping the trigger” and not worrying about his breathing. But to be fair, you kind of know what you’re getting with Tula.

Henry Long Ranger Express ammo
Pat cycled through lots of ammo choices. He wasn’t impressed by the Tula.

Winchester White Box was next, yielding about 1.5 MOA at 300 yards. He got about the same performance from PMC X-Tac and Hornady Superformance 75 grain match. He was still looking for the right load when he decided to take a break and let the gun cool off. By that time, he was getting heat mirages off the suppressor.

The Magic Bullet

When he got back from his break, Pat went to some Hornady Match 75 grain boat-tailed hollow points (different from the previous Hornady ammo). He took the Henry out to 300 yards and the Hornady Match delivered a 0.48 MOA group. “The cool thing about this electronic, is you can’t freaking lie.” The rifle and ammo “got together and made absolute magic. Half MOA at 300 yards? I’m pretty freaking impressed. “

Henry Long Ranger Express Lever Gun 0.48 MOA at 300 yards
With the right ammo, the Henry delivered a 0.48 MOA group at 300 yards.

Pat says he didn’t expect the Henry to be that accurate, especially with a 400 buck 9x scope on it. “Maybe I had a really good day,” he says. He considered putting a more powerful scope on the gun to really study his shot and push the rifle, but decided he got good enough results to leave it.

Hornady MATCH 223 Rem 75 gr BTHP
The Magic Bullet.

More to Come

Pat bought a year’s membership at the range (I don’t even want to know what that cost) and says the Henry will go back for more. He also says, “I’ll probably sell my soul for more of this Hornady Match.” He might have to because that stuff ain’t cheap.

Henry Long Ranger Express at the range
Pat promises more on the Long Ranger Express at the uptown range.

What do you think? Has Henry brought the lever gun into the 21st Century? Do Pat’s initial results interest you in giving the Long Ranger a try? Let us know in the comments. Happy precision shooting, y’all.


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