CategoriesGun Reviews

The Sentry Gunnar Belt — Up Your Batman Belt

A little company called Sentry has begun producing a new battle belt they are calling the Gunnar Low Profile Operator Belt. The Gunnar Belt has a minimalistic design that offers you above-average performance. I’ve recently gotten my hands on a Gunnar belt as well as a few pouches from Sentry to adorn it. Battle belts have come a very long way in the last few years.

In 2009 I deployed to Afghanistan, and this started the great transition from big ole MTVs armored carriers to more minimalist plate carriers. Small armored carriers presented less room to mount gear.

Guys in my squad began repurposing the belts from their load-bearing vests (LBV) to battle belts. At this time, dedicated MOLLE compatible belts were not common. Since then, the industry has exploded, and belts are available, from high-end options like the Sentry belt to cheaply made-in-China crap.

Why a Batman Belt?

Before we dive into the Sentry Gunnar belt, let’s talk about belts in general. Our guys used them because they didn’t have room on their carriers for six mags, grenades, belt-fed ammo, knives, tools, and more they carried on patrol. Minimalist plate carriers simply don’t offer lots of room for mission-essential gear.

Sentry Gunnar belt with gear attached, including Phlster holster

I need an IFAK, a multitool, and obviously a katana.

Moving some gear to the belt allows you to have plenty of room for your goods. Beyond that, you’re probably going to be rocking a belt to carry a sidearm anyway, so now you have an option for your handgun and some extra gear.

Sentry Gunnar belt with ETS Mags in attached pouches.

The low profile, lightweight, and minimalist design makes the Gunnar belt different.

I’ve fallen in love with belts due to their ergonomics. Reloading a rifle, pistol, or subgun from a belt-mounted pouch feels more natural and ergonomic than reloading from the front of my armor. Retrieving other goodies, like tools, knives, and medical kits also feels more ergonomic and intuitive.

The Gunnar IFAK Solution

IFAKs, in general, work extremely well on battle belts like the Gunnar. You can remove your belt entirely with either hand and apply first aid to yourself or another. With the IFAK in front of you, you have full access to all your necessary goods. You don’t have to keep reaching rearwards to access your necessary medical gear.

Time matters when treating traumatic wounds. An IFAK in your face is easier to work with than one mounted to the side or rear of your armor. Belts, in general, are easier to don and remove, and in a rapidly moving situation, that can be extremely valuable.

Sentry Gunnar belt hanging on rifle

The Gunnar Belt is just hanging around between strings of fire.

When we had to cross rivers, we kept our gear dry by removing the belt and tossing it around our necks. Being able to quickly remove and don your gear can be quite valuable for a variety of scenarios.

Also, you don’t need to wear a plate carrier to have ammo, tools, and an IFAK on you. That’s a nice feeling in an environment that’s mostly safe but has the capability to pop off at any time.

But why the Sentry Gunnar belt?

Belts are cool. They give us Batman vibes and deliver us an accessible platform for your gear. Lots of people make tons of great belts, so you might ask, why should I choose the Sentry Gunnar belt?

First, the belt is high quality. Duh. That’s the first obvious reason. The Gunnar belt is made from high-strength nylon that’s 1.75 inches wide. It’s dummy thicc too, almost a quarter inch total.

At 1.75 inches thick, the belt provides you a minimalist platform for mounting gear. Lots of gear belts are massive in size, and that’s fine when you want to go off with a pad, awesome suspenders, and all that jazz. If you believe smaller and lighter is better, then the Gunnar gives you that. In a pinch, a minimalist battle belt can be concealed under a jacket or flannel shirt.

Even as a minimalist belt, the Gunnar features a built-in support system.

The Gunnar belt itself is covered in the hook side of hook and loop material. An internal inner belt goes through your belt loops, and you stick the Gunnar outer belt to the Gunnar inner belt. It remains supported and cannot be twisted, bent, or dropped out of place.

Sentry Gunnar belt interior support with hook and loop material.

The inner belt keeps the Gunnar belt in place without suspenders.

When attached to the inner belt, the Gunnar belt remains incredibly stable. When I draw magazines, take up an awkward position, or transition to my handgun, the Gunnar belt doesn’t move. It provides me with a very stable platform that never compromises when I need it most.

retrieving a magazine from the Sentry Gunnar belt.

My beer gut gets more in the way than anything else this belt tosses at me.

I’m able to retrieve what I need and carry on without fighting with my belt. The inner belt support also makes it easy to wear with armor. Easier and more comfortable than using suspenders to support the belt. Plus, it’s easier to remove than a suspender support belt.

The laser-cut MOLLE webbing gives you a vertical platform for accessory mounting.

A small portion up front features a horizontal mounting platform for accessories you want sideways. These fully stitched MOLLE slots provide you with webbing that’s plenty strong to handle all your gear. Including all your heavy, fully loaded magazines.

Sentry Gunnar belt laser cut Molle attachment ports

The Laser Cut Molle makes attachments easy.

Upfront, we also get the best belt buckle on the market for tactical gear belts, which is the quick-release Cobra belt buckle. This tough buckle provides you with a quick detach yet extremely secure buckle for all your gear carrying needs.

Viktos jeans with Sentry Gunnar belt featuring a Cobra buckle

You can’t beat a Cobra buckle!

Practical Application

I’ve been rocking and rolling the Sentry Gunnar belt with most of the PCCs I enjoy shooting. The pouches hold everything from Scorpion to Glock mags. I’ve run numerous ranges reviewing numerous guns. I’ve worked my reloads, used it behind cover, and sent plenty of rounds downrange using the Gunnar belt to carry my gear.

Travis Pike shooting a PCC and wearing a Sentry Gunnar belt.

My Gunnar belt has been my go-to when shooting PCCs.

It’s inherently durable.

After tugging magazine after magazine out of the pouch, you’d think the MOLLE would give at the seams or begin to loosen, yet it remains strong. It is very well stitched, and I’ve found zero weakness in it.

Tossing it on and peeling it off takes no real effort. In fact, the only thing I’d say is difficult about the whole thing is aligning the rear of the Gunnar belt with the rear of the inner belt. Sometimes it jumps the material and takes some readjustment to perfect the fit. When time is on the line, perfect alignment doesn’t really matter.

Sentry mag pouches

Pouches for Pistols, Rifles, and SMGs are also made by Sentry.

Speaking of, the belt comes in numerous sizes but is still adjustable for a refined fit. I’ve been dropping a few pounds, and I’ve made some slight adjustments to the belt to ensure the fit remains tight. You get quite a bit of room to adjust and fit the belt to your waist. Keeping it tight means keeping your stuff easy to access.

To give a real durability test, it strung it around a tree and made it support my entire body weight. It didn’t give up and drop me from the tree, which is great because I prefer my ass unbruised.

Discretion Matters

If you keep your gear light and minimalist, the belt can be concealable—concealable being a relative term. It looks bulky and won’t pass an upfront sniff test, but it will pass at a distance. The belt is small enough to get away with it, and if you choose a more discrete color than Multicam, you’ll be able to hide it a bit easier.

Sentry Gunnar belt and pouches in multicam.

Multicam is cool, but the Sentry belt comes in a wide variety of colors.

You can get your Batman on with all the gear, accessories, and goodies you could ever need for a combative situation. Heck, the minimalist size transcends just tactical use. It could be an excellent tool on a wildland fire where a fire shelter, knife, multitool, radio, water source, and more must-haves.

Belts Rule

The Gunnar belt provides users with a low profile, durable, and easy-to-use option for carrying their tactical gear. It makes things nice and accessible and provides a durable mounting platform for all your goodies.

The Gunnar from Sentry provides shooters, soldiers, and cops with an awesome, premium-grade belt for all their gear carrying needs. Check it out here, and let me know what you think about Batman belts below.

 

 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Ruger American Rifle — AR Mag-Fed Bolt Action in .223

The existence of Ruger’s AR Magazine fed bolt action American Rifle isn’t news, but this is the first one I’ve been able to review and I think it is a gun that deserves some space in your safe. This little thing is versatile, light, and accurate. If you’re looking for a .223 that isn’t an AR, this is a compelling place to start

Ruger American Rifle Ranch in .5.56, an AR-magazine fed bolt action

The Ruger American Rifle Ranch in .5.56 is an AR-magazine fed bolt action that is exceptionally versatile.

Ruger is notorious for making odd choices when it comes to magazines. Those of you with really long memories will know what I’m talking about. But they’ve been correcting many of those missteps, one by one, and this is the perfect example of Ruger getting it right.

There's still enough real estate exposed on the Ruger American Rifle to ensure rapid magazine changes.

There’s still enough real estate exposed to ensure rapid magazine changes.

Make no mistake—the reason why we all come to this rifle with such enthusiasm is precisely because of its magazine options. But this gun has more going for it. For one, it is part of Ruger’s dynamic American Rifle line.

The Ruger American Rifle

When the American Rifle debuted, it was a functional, inexpensive gun. I worked on a review of one from that first iteration and we took it out to 1000 yards with little difficulty. For a sub-$400 rifle, it performed incredibly well.

The texture is molded into the forend, and isn't as aggressive as it could be. It is slightly pebbly.

The texture is molded into the forend and isn’t as aggressive as it could be. It is slightly pebbly.

The American Rifle was positioned as an entry-level, budget-conscious gun. Their polymer stocks were simple, and often in simple colors. The barrels were thin, allowing for lighter builds. The action was simple enough, reliable, and efficient.

Ruger put the innovations they’d designed for many of their more expensive rifles into the design of the American rifle. One of the best was their manufacturing. They implemented Toyota-style assembly lines and took more manufacturing and milling in-house.

Even the trigger guard on the Ruger American Rifle is polymer. But that makes for a solid, knock-around gun.

Even the trigger guard on the Ruger is polymer. But that makes for a solid, knock-around gun.

The guns coming off were ideal for ranch guns, hunting guns, truck guns…. If you needed a knock-about gun that could take a beating—one you wouldn’t have to treat like it was an heirloom in the making, the American rifle would fit the bill.

As the line evolved, Ruger expanded caliber offerings, barrel profiles, stock finishes, and added the extras like threaded barrels.

But an AR Magazine-Fed Bolt Action?

But the American Rifle worked with proprietary mags. And any true magazine aficionado knows, and we have a lot of them here at GunMag Warehouse, variety is the spice of life. We like unlimited choices, and proprietary magazines offer very little in the way of choice.

So Ruger designed the push-feed of the American Rifle to strip rounds off of an AR magazine. They retrofitted the stock to accept AR mags. The rest is bolt-action history.

This is where the magic happens. Notice how the cut-out clears the top of the mag.

This is where the magic happens. Notice how the cut-out clears the top of the mag.

 

How Does it Work?

When the bolt is closed, there’s a recess that keeps it from contacting the case of the next-available round in the magazine—basically a cut-out in the bolt that lets the shooter manipulate the up-down motions without totally dragging on top of the first brass case in the magazine.

Ruger American Rifle bolt will strip rounds off of any AR mag. That makes this one of the most versatile bolt-guns around.

Ruger’s bolt design is unique and will strip rounds off of any AR mag. That makes this one of the most versatile bolt-guns around.

As you rack the bolt, it rotates over the next round. The rotation pushes down on the round, ever so slightly.

When you draw the bolt back, it rides over the next round. One of the three lugs—the one pointing down, obviously, rides off the end of the round, which pops back up in front of that same lug. The lug then pushes the case from the rear, seating it as you lock the bolt handle back in place.

The Ruger American Rifle bolt has three lugs

The bolt has three lugs, which shortens the distance between locked and unlocked.

It isn’t all that different from how any push-feed works, really.

Here’s how it is summarized in their patent: “[…], the bolt body includes a reduced diameter middle section with specially angled/contoured surfaces in some embodiments to avoid the feed lips.

The diameter reduction and angled surfaces are minimized and restricted primarily to the middle section so that a substantially full diameter body is retained in the front and rear sections for adequate bolt support and aesthetic considerations so that the angled surfaces are not visible to the user when the bolt is closed.”

Ruger American Rifle mag-well

The mag-well is tight. This is a compromise that allows the aluminum mags and plastic mags to fit in the shortened well.

If you geek out over gun details, this patent—and all of the ones associated with the American Rifle, is a good read. It basically details how fat, two-lug bolts get hung up on feed lips, and how skinny three-lug bolts don’t have enough contact with rounds to feed correctly. The answer is Ruger’s fatter three-lug pattern with some strategically placed cutouts to relieve the stress during locking and unlocking and during the full motions of extraction and feeding.

The Hurdles of an AR Magazine-Fed Bolt Action

There is a bit of complexity, though, that Ruger has mastered. Remember the variety I mentioned earlier. Steel, aluminum, plastics of multiple densities—each produces a different width inside the mag well and chamber. As bolt-actions often have tighter tolerances than ARs, this can be a problem.

The Ruger American Rifle takes AR mags.

The Ruger American Rifle takes AR mags.

I ran a full selection of mags through. I found the polymer mags were tight going in and coming out. Anything metal fit in with more ease. Everything fed reliably, though.

The bolt can drag over the feed-lips of the magazine. A new shooter I was introducing to bolt-actions was practicing with the gun and had some complaints about the bolt not gliding in and out. It isn’t as smooth as it some actions—for sure.

I didn’t have the same experience, but that is likely because I approached bolt manipulation with more force. The action isn’t what I’d describe as delicate, and you really need to run-it-like-you-mean-it. When you do, bob’s your uncle.

Ruger American Rifle tang safety

The Ruger American has a tang safety.

One thing that is unique is the way the bolt locks open on an empty magazine. With three or four-round mags, this is hardly an issue. We can all count to four.

But on a 30 round mag, this is a solid feature. I’d say this was not quite as important as it would be on a semi-auto, but still a good feature.

Where Does this Gun Fit in the Ruger Lineup?

When I first began working with Ruger rifles, I really wanted to like the Mini-30. That seemed like an exceptionally functional truck gun. I liked it fine, but I never was happy with the magazine. The same held true for the Mini-14. It seemed to me to be a missed opportunity.

This, though, is different. This rifle is perfect. It isn’t precious, in any way. It will run off of any AR mag. From the shortest of the shorts, through the ones that would be especially absurd in a bolt-action—they all work. I like this setup, too. The heavier barrel—cut short and threaded—is really quite versatile.

The Ruger American Rifle with a Banish .223 is still exceptionally light. This is a lean set-up.

The Ruger American Rifle with a Banish .223 is still exceptionally light. This is a lean set-up.

It is loud, too–so take it to the next level and suppress it. Or invest in some really good hearing protection. Regardless, don’t stand out beside it to take pictures while someone else is shooting it–it’ll rattle your teeth loose.

Which Mags?

The mag doesn’t matter—and that’s the beauty of an AR Magazine fed bolt action. I ran some aluminum mags, and they worked exactly like they should.

Hexmags In Ruger American Rifle

Hexmags work, too. The 30 round mags are a bit long for a bolt-action, unless you shoot standing.

I also ran some polymer mags—both Hexmags and Magpul mags in 10 and 30 round capacities. They all worked exactly as I’d hoped they would.

My 14-year-old is pushing me to get a big-ass-drum mag for it, but I’m fine with 30. Unless the drum might substitute for a shooting rest, which is an angle I haven’t really considered yet.

30 round mags are standard and easy to come by. They’re also perfect for this platform—if a tad long for some shooting positions. Just like with any AR-15, you’re going to fight the magazine if you go prone or shoot from the bench.

There are 5 and 10 round mags available, and those are ideal for bellying out and getting low. In these shooting positions (and unlike with some ARs) you can use your mag as a mono-pod of sorts. Putting tension on a mag like this can be trouble for a semi-auto, but you’re in control here and you can pull off the tension on the magazine when racking the bolt, so there’s nothing to get upset about.

The Elephant in the Room

As elephants go, this one is big. Bigger than big. And maybe a bit more aggressive.

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you know there are politicians who don’t want even the most law-abiding among us to have AR-15s. They’ll attack the guns, the ammo, the accessories—even make assertions about how no “self-respecting” hunter would ever use a semi-auto for hunting. This is, they claim, only a weapon of war.

The only overt branding on the Ruger is this heel cap below the grip.

The only overt branding on the Ruger is this heel cap below the grip.

ARs remain popular, though. I realize I’m preaching to the choir. And .223 remains a viable caliber for many purposes, including hunting.

Then there are the mags. AR mags are everywhere. There are more varieties of that one style of magazine than any other in the entire history of magazines.

The Ruger American Rifle's stock and butt-pad are functional, traditional, and no-frills.

The Ruger American Rifle’s stock and butt-pad are functional, traditional, and no-frills.

Part of the appeal of the Ruger American Rifle plays on exactly that. If there were to be catastrophic legislation enacted that would infringe upon our rights, many of us would still have a lot of .223 (and possibly a large number of mags) sitting unused.

But what if the elephant in the room doesn’t materialize?

For many—and I do mean a lot of us—the Ruger is interesting because it takes AR mags. But this is a damn functional gun regardless. While the short barrel takes some of the punch out of the .223, it is still accurate at moderate distances. And it is light enough to carry all day without feeling fatigued.

I’d say this was an ideal set-up for any prepper concerned with keeping a dot-it-all gun close at hand. In those scenarios, .223 will be the easiest ammo to find.

For ranchers, this would be a solid choice for a varmint gun. Hogs, coyotes, groundhogs… this is a great bolt action to keep on the ATV or behind the seat in the truck.

 Leupold 1-6 scope

The .223 has stopping power at extended range, but I prefer to keep shots under 300 yards. The Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4 is ideal for fast, close work.

For anyone looking for a range gun for training, this one has a ton of potential. .223 is inexpensive and there are numerous ways–even in this market–to train on the cheap.

Four shots in rapid succession from 100 yards with Ruger American Rifle.

Four shots in rapid succession from 100. The first two were dead on, then the second two drifted down and out.

And then there’s the general do-it-all nature of the gun. With so many different kinds of .223 on the market (grain-weights, bullet shapes, bullet materials), this is a gun that can adapt.

Ruger American Rifle shot group from 200 yards with 55 grain 5.56.

The Ruger American from 200 yards with 55 grain 5.56.

Actually, this gun is chambered in 5.56, so there’s even more variety available. It has a 1:8 twist down the 16-inch barrel, so bullets will make two rotations before leaving the barrel. A 1:8 ratio is decent enough for light 55-grain rounds but really shines with those between 62 and 77 grains.

10 rounds fired fast, from the shoulder, at 100. The Ruger American Rifle platform is versatile.

10 rounds fired fast, from the shoulder, at 100. The Ruger American Rifle platform is versatile.

 Ruger American Rifle in .223

For a compact rifle that can shoot a wide variety of ammo from a vast array of magazines, the Ruger American Rifle in .223 delivers.

So What Will it Cost?

If you can find one these days, in this market, MSRP is $549. There are bolt-actions that sell for less, and some in .223, but few with the functionality of this version. In a standard market (kind of like 2018/2019), this would have come in well under that MSRP.

 

 

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. David is a former backcountry guide in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area who was a college professor for 20 years. He ultimately left behind the academy for a more practical profession in the firearms industry and was (among other editorial positions) the Managing Editor for a nascent Mag Life blog. In that Higginbotham helped establish The Maglife’s tone and secure its early success. Though he went on to an even more practical firearms industry profession still, he continues to contribute articles and op-eds as time and life allow.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Review: Devil Dog Arms 10mm 1911

In the world of firearms, it seems like gun owners fall into one of two categories when it comes to the 1911 platform: love or hate. It’s true there’s some neutrality out there but in general, it does appear as though those who love guns either become addicted to the 1911 or see it as an outdated and rather pointless gun. Here’s the thing: the 1911 is a useful platform with multiple safeties that’s now available in a variety of calibers. Learning to run one — well — is a worthy undertaking. And when it comes to suggestions for a modern 1911 to try your trigger finger at, we do have a suggestion: the Devil Dog Arms (DDA) 10mm 1911. Read on to find out why.

Devil Dog Arms 10mm 1911 with threaded barrel

The DDA 10mm 1911 with a threaded barrel. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Because, 1911s

Something you might not know about 1911 history is that we can trace its roots back to the Spanish-American War (that means back into the late 1800s). The United States did win the war and when all was said and done they decided to claim the Philippines. No sooner had they done so than the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo decided to declare independence, triggering another war, the Philippine-American War.

Here we can fast-forward to the Moros, Muslim southern Filipinos who felt the incursion by the United States was an immediate threat to their 600-year battle for religious autonomy. This is where we got the Moro Rebellion, part of the Philippine-American War.

Moro Rebellion

During the Moro Rebellion in the early 1900s, the US Army discovered their 38 Long Colt revolvers were all but useless which lead to the creation of the 1911. (Photo: historical archives)

The Moros had a fundamentalist faction known as the juramentado (translation “one who takes an oath”). That faction was zealous and honor-bound to murder Christians, meaning the Americans had to go. But they weren’t just zealous, they were incredibly tough fighters—fighters amped up on opiates so they’d be even more fearless and numb to pain.

During their attempts to squash the Moro Rebellion the US Army found out the Colt New Army 1892 chambered in .38 Long Colt they were using wasn’t up to the task. Some cartridge details: the .38 Long Colt was a black powder cartridge dating back to 1875. Its case length was 1.031 inches and bullet diameter was 0.361 inches. The best way to describe it would be as an anemic cartridge. The muzzle velocity of a 150-grain round was 777 feet-per-second and the muzzle energy was 201 foot-pounds. Sounds like they needed something better, right?

This all caught the attention of Colonel Louis Anatole LaGarde, the man you may know for his part in the Thompson-LaGarde Report. Yes, the report that decided .45 ACP was the best-suited handgun cartridge at that time. That led to the 1907 US Army Pistol Trials which included a long list of handgun features the US Army required for their new pistol. The rest is basically 1911 history.

Decades would pass before the 10mm would be created and even more time passed before it became a cartridge seen as compatible with the 1911. This brings us to the current day with Devil Dog Arms launching their 10mm-chambered 1911 complete with a threaded barrel. A lot of history and knowledge backs the DDA 10mm 1911 and the end result is, in this writer’s opinion, fantastic.

DDA 10mm 1911 Specifications

10mm 1911 Devil Dog Arms print on slide

Devil Dog Arms’ 10mm 1911 is made with fantastic attention to detail. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

The DDA 10mm 1911 is a solidly-built Government-sized pistol chambered in 10mm with a capacity of 8 +1. It weighs in at 36.8 ounces, empty, and has a heat-treated 4140 steel frame and 4140 bar stock stainless steel slide. Having some weight on a 10mm is always a good idea and Devil Dog Arms accomplished it in such a way that it has elegant-yet-durable lines with good balance rather than a heavy, unbalanced design.

Oversized, angled serrations at the front and rear of the pistol allow the shooter to manipulate the slide from either end. Side note: if you do choose to rack the slide from the front, take care to do so properly, avoiding covering any portion of the muzzle with your hand. The slide itself has a custom flat-top design with a black oxide finish to reduce glare and cut the risk of snags on the drawstroke.

Perhaps one of the greatest features of the DDA 10mm 1911 is its barrel. The barrel is 5.0-inches in length and made from domestic 416 stainless steel. It’s designed to last thanks to being heat-treated, double-stress relieved, and button-rifled. The twist rate is 1:16 LH for superior accuracy. This review model also has a threaded barrel, an excellent addition since it means you can add a suppressor with no need for aftermarket parts.

threaded barrel on 10mm 1911

The threaded barrel makes it easy to add a suppressor while the red fiber optic front sight contrasts nicely with the blacked-out rear adjustable sight. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

The gun’s 4140 stainless steel frame has a rounded trigger guard and an accessory rail ahead of the guard. Adding a light or laser – or both – to that rail is a good idea whether you’re using your DDA pistol for self-defense or hunting. Aggressively textured NBD grips made by the manufacturer give the shooter a firm grip even with sweaty hands.

NBD grip Devil Dog Arms

DDA NBD grip panels are aggressively textured for a sure grip even with wet hands. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Factory sights on the DDA 10mm 1911 are a fixed red fiber optic front sight and adjustable blacked-out rear sight. Other features include 22 LPI front strap checkering and a generously sized beavertail grip safety. The gun ships with two 8-round magazines and a hardshell case.

Range Time

This is a pistol that fit my hands beautifully right out of the box. At the time I reviewed it, I had a stack of other review pistols and this gun quickly became a favorite. The ammunition I used for this review and for some handgun hunting included Federal Premium Personal Defense Punch 10mm 200-grain JHP, Federal Premium Personal Defense 10mm 180-grain Hydra-Shok, Inceptor Preferred Defense 10mm 90 grain ARX, and Hornady 10mm 180-grain XTP.

Testing took place both from the bench and firing offhand. Shooting from the bench at a distance of 25 yards the average five-shot group size was 2.7 inches; shooting offhand at 10 yards the average five-shot group size was 1.3 inches. The best group shooting from that distance offhand was nailed by Inceptor’s lightweight frangibles with a group size of 0.99 inches. This was, of course, untimed shooting at a leisurely pace. Switching things up to rapid-fire, the groups remained small. Suffice to say this is a precise pistol.

The trigger of the pistol is a three-hole skeletonized design. Using my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge to find the average of ten measurements the trigger measured 3 pounds, 8 ounces. It does have an adjustable reset screw. The trigger has a clean break and brief reset, making it easy to run at faster speeds with no problems whatsoever. This is a good factory trigger. Zero complaints.

Devil Dog Arms 10mm 1911 skeletonized three-hole trigger.

The DDA 1Omm 1911 has a skeletonized three-hole trigger with a clean break and short reset. (Photo: Katherine Ainsworth Stevens)

Safeties on the gun are the expected grip safety and external thumb safety. Controls such as the magazine release and slide lock are textured for easier use.

Something worth mentioning about this 1911 is its barrel bushing, which is rock-solid. Wiggling and shifting of a bushing can affect accuracy, not to mention that it bears testament to the overall quality of a 1911. The DDA 10mm 1911 has good fitment of all its parts. It’s a well-made gun and it is clear that attention was paid to design and detail.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a 10mm 1911 this Devil Dog Arms model is definitely worth serious consideration. This is a cartridge that’s great for self-defense and also fully capable of handgun hunting use for everything from coyotes to deer.

As with any gun, you should be familiar with the penetration of the load you intend to use for self-defense which is one of many reasons I’m a fan of frangibles. Sinterfire and Inceptor both make defensive frangible rounds well-suited to self-defense that negate much of the over-penetration concern.

Yes, this gun might be too large for you to carry concealed using your usual methods but you can always use a cover garment rather than using an Inside the WaistBand holster. There’s always open carry, too, depending on where you live.

This is a reliable, precise, quality 1911 chambered in what happens to be my favorite handgun cartridge. Devil Dog Arms did a stellar job. 10/10 recommended.

 

Devil Dog Arms 10mm 1911 Specifications

 

Manufacturer: Devil Dog Arms

Model: DDA 10mm 1911

Caliber: 10mm

Capacity: 8 +1

Size: Government

Action: Semi-Automatic

Trigger: Single-Stage, Skeletonized, Adjustable

Slide: 4140 Steel

Barrel Length: 5.0 inches

Barrel Material: 416 Stainless Steel

Twist Rate: 1:16 LH

Sights: Rear Adjustable, Fixed Red Fiber Optic Front Sight

Overall Length: 8.75-inches

Width: 1.37-inches

Weight: 36.8 ounces, empty

Finish: Matte Black Oxide

Features: Threaded Barrel

Ships With: Two 8-round Magazines, Hard Case

MSRP: $1,299.00 *with threaded barrel

 

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 Return of the US Palm AK30 Magazines

The world released a small tear the day US Palm closed their doors. 2017 was a rough year for all of us. American-made AK stuff had a long history of kinda sucking. US Palm came around and changed that with their furniture, magazines, and more. It sucked when they shuttered their doors, but Century Arms recently revived the brand. I approached this with cautious optimism. Can Century Arms keep the reputation US Palm built? Well, I got my hands on the banana clip edition of the US Palm AK30 Magazine.

US Palm AK30 magazine, banana mag

Hungry? I got a banana for you!

US Palm produced the first American AK magazine that mixed both polymer and metal in the design. Since the AK30 magazines came to be, companies like Xtech and Magpul have released their polymer and metal-infused magazines. US Palm magazines have an exciting history. The founder of the company was inspired by the Tango Down ARC magazine and its waffle pattern. He approached Tango Down and formed a partnership to produce the AK30 magazines.

What Made the US Palm AK30 Mags Different?

In short order, the US Palm AK30 mags became the standard to which the rest of the American AK market had to live up to. Century’s revival of the brand was smart enough not to change the design to save a few bucks.

US Palm waffled the outside of the magazine, giving it an unbeatable grip texture and rigid reinforcement. The waffle-like design was chosen because it adds strength and rigidity to the magazine.

US Palm AK30 magazine, yellow with waffle texture

The Waffle texture adds rigidity to the design.

Tango Down invented the ARC magazine to be the toughest magazine ever made. They did so by making the magazine effectively a one-piece design. The US Palm magazine retains the same idea. There is never a reason to take it apart, and doing so is rather difficult.

So how do you clean it?

Well, you sink it in hot, soapy water and drain it out the top. Place that bad boy upside down and let it dry. US Palm placed several holes in the follower to allow easy drainage, and they wrote those cleaning instructions themselves.

US Palm AK30 magazine follower drain holes for cleaning

This follower allows you to drain water after cleaning the magazine.

The Cage

Next, they incorporate a metal cage molded into the top of the magazine. AK mags are traditionally made of metal, and AKs are designed to function with metal on metal contact. The metal cage in the top of the AK30 magazines provides steel locking lugs that allow positive metal on metal contact. Polymer in these areas can be weak and can break under stress.

Travis Pike aiming AK with US Palm yellow AK30 magazine.

The included steel cage lends strength to the magazine.

Steel though? Steel is good, reliable, and strong. That metal cage ensures the polymer AK30 magazine is just as tough as any steel magazine. US Palm invented the American metal/polymer hybrid magazine, and it’s good to see Century retain this design, even if it drives the price of the magazine upward. These are professional-grade magazines designed for demanding customers.

Professional Grade Yellow?

Okay, just because it’s a professional-grade magazine doesn’t mean it’s a professional-looking magazine. I’m a professional writer, but I’m also typing this in my boxers, so looks can be deceiving. My model is a special edition ‘Banana clip’ Century has made as a bit of joke.

If you are the super-serious type, have no worries, the AK30 mags come in black and FDE as well. However, if the Banana clip gives you a laugh, check it out and join us in the world of fun and sun.

AK30 with US Palm banana clip

The US Palm AK30 fed reliably over hundreds of rounds.

Anywho, the big question you might have is, “Does it work?” US Palm magazines were famously reliable, superbly well made, and set standards we all look to. I understand that once new ownership and new management come in, we should be cautious. Hopefully, you come to places like The Mag Life to get the lowdown on what works and what doesn’t.

I filled my AK30 with the classic Wolf ammo most AK users frequent. This steel-cased stuff fills the mag of countless AKs and shouldn’t be an issue for a well-made magazine. The friction-free follower glides smoothly downward with each round, and the magazines never feel difficult to load.

Training behind cover, AK30, US Palm banana magazines

I try to get a little actual training in when reviewing stuff, so here I’m trying to use cover.

After I squeezed in 30 rounds, I popped the magazine in my test AK, a PSA GF3 model. Popping the magazine in the gun revealed a very tight fit. A tight fit isn’t a bad thing. I find tight fighting magazines are often easier to remove, especially on Battlefield 4 style speed reloads. You just have to make your drive that magazine into place on the reload.

Hitting the Range

How does it function under fire? Well, surprisingly well. I broke testing down into 5 phases.

Phase 1

This was a simple slow fire test with thirty rounds of ammunition. I used this time to ensure the rifle was properly zeroed and to see if the magazine can do the most basic of shooting.

Results: It functioned flawlessly. Not that I’m surprised, but there were zero issues. My rifle’s irons are zeroed and I’m ready to rock and roll.

Phase 2

Let’s do some speed reloads. For the first set, the US Palm AK30 will be empty in the gun and will be cast out! It will hit the ground, and I’ll reset and do it again twenty times.

speed reload with US Palm AK30 magazines

Let the bodies hit the floor, am I right?

Phase 3

Reloads once more, but this time I’ll be using the US Palm AK30 to eject an empty AK mag, then load and fire the weapon twice. No cleaning will be conducted between Phase 2 and 3. Again, we’ll repeat this test thirty times with 60 rounds total.

Results – The reloads hit the wet and sandy ground of my range over and over. I got pretty sick of speed reloads and got complacent enough to rap my knuckles. Even after a bit of a beating and some sand exposure the magazine never failed to feed.

AK30 speed reload with US Palm magazine

Suck it, magazine.

Phase 4

Let’s add a little stress to the AK30. First set into a prone position with the magazine acting as a monopod and fire ten rounds. Then press the magazine against a barrier causing forward pressure, and fire ten rounds. Finally, place the magazine in front of a barrier and pull the magazine rearward, creating rearward pressure. Fire ten rounds once more.

Results: No amount of top, rearward, and forward pressure caused a malfunction in the magazine.

AK30 with US Palm magazine and Cloud Defensive weapon light.

Keep shooting, and shooting, and shooting.

Phase 5

The final phase is the long-term test. I’m currently testing the PSA AK, and I like to be efficient. So in my PSA AK test, I’ve exclusively used the US Palm AK30. Long-term testing involves 300 rounds of Steel cased world and 100 rounds of brass cased Sellier and Bellot. Total round count was 520 rounds.

Results: I wish I had more ammo, to be honest. In 520 rounds I had zero malfunctions, even no ammo-related malfunctions presented themselves.

Is The New US Palm AK30 Magazine Good to Go?

The AK30 proved to be issue-free over my testing. I tried my hardest to beat it up, beat it down, toss it in the sand and feed it average steel-cased AK fodder. While some may be turned off by this color, keep in mind this is a special edition and we got all the tactical colors you can handle. These days it seems like we have more high-quality AK magazines than we have high-quality AKs, and now we’ve got one more.

 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Viktos Johnny Combat Boots — A World Ahead

Boots. Every man, woman, and child should have a good pair of boots. As a real American, I own several, and my latest comes from Viktos in the form of the Johnny Combat boots. Specifically, the black multi-cam variant that gives me a stylish look combined with a practical set of boots. Multi-cam black is rather hipstery, but as the resident tactical hipster, I accept that fully. So how did I review the Johnny Combat boots? Well, I freaking walked in ’em, duh.

Reviewing the Johnny Combat Boots

I got these bad boys in the middle of March and hit the ground running. Well, walking mostly. I was heading to South Carolina for the Gathering event, so I strapped the boots on and jumped on it. Like most gun events, you are on your feet, shuffling from event to event on the shoelace express.

Unlike other events, this one was held outside in the foothills, so lots of up and down, with a hefty dose of bad weather. I faced hills, mud, and lots of clay during this thing.

It presented a good chance to ‘break’ the boots in. As I type this, I hit my hundredth mile wearing the boots with several days of 3 to 5-mile hikes under my belt.

Viktos Johnny Combat Boots, multicam

Multicam gets all the love.

For me, rest days involve a long morning walk with a weight vest on. The pace varies on my mood. It’s often faster than your grandma but nowhere near as easy.

Beyond that, I’ve worn them on my quest to be big and fit. The Johnny Combat boots aren’t designed for sprinting, weights, flipping tires, or box jumps, but how else would I know if they work in dynamic movements? I pushed these boots to the edge because I needed to see if they function as good as they look.

I can recreate Fallujah in my backyard, but I still put these bad boys through the wringer.

What I Found Out

The break-in period was anything but. I brought a spare pair of shoes in case the break-in was rough on my feet. My sensitive self didn’t want to deal with blisters and cramping feet at a media event. I never changed out of the Johnny Combat boots. These things never hurt my feet or caused much discomfort.

As far as a break-in goes, the Johnny Combat boots have gotten more comfortable over time, but they never hurt me in the first place. Within that week, in which I walked 18 miles, I would say they had softened up and broken in a bit.

Viktos Johnny Combat boots review

Comfort was always great with the Johnny Combat boots.

Today, on my hundredth mile, I’ve walked a total of 7.73 miles, including a five-mile hike and then my regular around-the-house stuff. Wearing the Johnny Combat boots the entire time, I never felt a single hot spot or blister. It was perfectly comfortable.

When facing down the elements, I also had zero issues. From the cold rain, wind, and mud to the dry spring of Florida, there is nothing that brought shame upon the name. Viktos builds the boots to be inherently water-resistant. While I haven’t tried to go swimming in the Johnny Combat Boots, I’ve struggled through the mud, walked through puddles, and knee-high wet grass. The whole time my beautiful feet remained dry and warm.

Bringing the Heat

Are they jungle boots? Cold weather boots? Well, they are neither. More like a three-season boot or a Florida boot. If I lived up north and faced snow, I might want something heavier; in my weather, they don’t present an issue. Even in the heat, which has climbed to the low 90s this week, the boots are never hot.

They are light enough to breathe and breathe well. In South Carolina, it was rather cold. Colder than I like for my Marches, and again, my feet never felt cold. In the actual desert or in the tundra, I might want something specific, but for the regular world, they’re perfect.

Viktos Johnny Combat boots and ruck sack

These boots are made for walking… and well..isn’t that what all boots are made for?

Viktos installed a very aggressive tread pattern into the bottom of the Johnny Combat boot. It really digs into the earth and soaks it in. Climbing up and down those South Carolina hills coated with rain and wet clay didn’t slow me down. I didn’t slip and fall, which is a feat for my clumsy ass.

Viktos Johnny Combat boots - soles

The tread is impressive and provides you a good, stable platform for climbing hills, hiking, and life living.

Putting Work In With the Johnny Combat Boots

I live in the absolute middle of nowhere. I am surrounded by jungle with a thin dirt road as my only access to the world. That thin dirt road is my hiking trail, and depending on the weather, it is covered in either moon dust or the slickest mud imaginable. I’ve dealt with both in the last month and I’ve yet to trip over my own feet.

On tire box jumps, I never slipped and ate dirt either. Doing walking lunges and farmer’s carries also proved that I could keep my feet on the ground without tripping or rolling an ankle. Not to mention side lunges, goblet squats, and burpees were all completed without issue.

kettlebell lift

These aren’t designed as gym shoes, but a workout proved to be a great way to test them.

The Johnny Combat boots make carrying a heavy load comfortable too. A wide forefoot allows for foot splay under a heavy load. It doesn’t cause the sides of my feet to aggressively rub the boots and challenge my callouses to a fight.

Speaking of Tripping

The week before my first deployment to Afghanistan, we did a three-mile hump to do a final BZO on our weapons and optics. Somewhere on the way back, I rolled an ankle and got a fracture. I then deployed and just taped it up and went on business as usual. Since then, I’ve had a weak ankle and I tend to roll it often.

The Johnny Combat boots are a bit of a weird size that doesn’t conform to the norms of low, mid, and high. Instead, they go up six inches on the ankle and, when tied tight, provide a ton of support to the ankle. It’s almost cast like in its support. Rolling an ankle hasn’t happened yet, and it doesn’t seem to be an option.

Johnny Combat boot anke support

The mid-length-ish height provided excellent ankle support.

That being said, I had enough mobility to run sprints (or what my fat ass calls sprints) and flex my footwork around a heavy bag. You certainly feel the tread dig in when doing both. The Johnny Combat boots aren’t too heavy either, so it doesn’t feel like you’re hauling boat anchors. I’m not gonna run in them by choice, but if I had to, these would work.

The slightly lower cut offers a lot of mobility mixed with a lot of stability. It’s an excellent compromise between mobility and stability, and my weak ankle appreciates it.

Tactical Hipster Approved

The Johnny Combat boots and I have some miles in. Happy miles, good miles, miles I wouldn’t trade for anything. They are a rock-solid set of boots that are supportive, offer good mobility, support, and are nice for most weather conditions.

Box Jump exercise

Box jumps suck, but the Johnny Combat Boots don’t.

They also look good! The black Multicam looks excellent, although it likely doesn’t offer me much actual camouflage. Honestly, I plan to wash them after this review. All the clay, sand, and pollen has given them a unique color of filth, and I didn’t pick black Multicam not to show it off.

Check out the Johnny Combat boots and the other gear at Viktos.

Buy your mags at GunMag Warehouse!

 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Jericho Pistol — Israel’s All-Steel CZ 75

The Israelis and their domestic firearms production has made some seriously awesome contributions to the world of firearms. We got the Uzi, the Galil, the Tavor, and of course, the Jericho series of handguns. Unlike the other aforementioned firearms, I feel the Jericho series of handguns is nowhere near as respected or as appreciated. Admittedly, the Jericho pistol series does what most middle eastern and Eastern European handgun manufacturers do and just copy the CZ 75.

IWI Jericho pistol

Sleek, sexy, and dangerous looking. Oddly enough in film and media the IWI Jericho pistol is often used by the bad guys.

Well, kind of. The Jericho came from the year 1990 and has been imported under various other names. This includes the Uzi Eagle, the Desert Eagle, the Baby Eagle, and obviously as the Jericho. Israeli Weapon Industries tried to cash in on the popularity of the Uzi and Desert Eagle titles. The Jericho does have a passing resemblance to the Desert Eagle with the triangular muzzle end. Other than that and the fact they are both semi-auto handguns, the two guns have nothing in common.

What’s a Jericho?

Israeli’s Jericho pistol is a service pistol. A gun designed for military and police use primarily, but like most guns, it can be regulated to concealed carry by the dedicated. My particular model is the all-metal variant, stamped Desert Eagle Pistol, and is a 9mm variant. It features a Picatinny rail, a DA/SA action, and a slide-mounted safety.

IWI Jericho Pistol that resembles Desert Eagle.

The Jericho has the shark-like front end that resembles the Desert Eagle just a bit.

There are tons of variants of the Jericho pistol. This includes polymer frame models, various calibers, including the now-extinct proprietary .41 AE. Safeties have varied between frame- and slide-mounted designs. Most modern variants sport rails, but early models did not. Jerichos also come in full-size, compact, and subcompact sizes.

Narrowing exactly what the Jericho is, is tough to do. Too many varieties that vary widely, under a wide variety of names, make it tough to say these specific features make the gun a Jericho. There are many Jerichos, but this one is mine.

Run it Down

My big, hefty Jericho pistol weighs a stunning 2.8 pounds unloaded. It’s a hefty girl, like one of those body-positive types that occupy Instagram. I like all metal guns, and I don’t mind heft by any means. The Jericho is easily one of the heaviest 9mm service pistols I’ve ever handled. It’s heavier than the Glock 17, the Beretta M9, the S&W 4506, and 1911 Government models. Heck, it’s even heavier than the CZ75B.

IWI Jericho pistol with CZ 75 magazine

The Jericho utilizes CZ 75 magazines, which are robust, well made, affordable, and plentiful.

This full-sized beast chambers the 9mm round and, as a CZ 75 clone, luckily utilizes CZ 75 magazines. People love Glock magazines, but they should appreciate CZ 75 mags. These magazines are extremely common, well made, and affordable in varying capacities.

I typically prefer decockers over safeties, and when I have to deal with safeties, I prefer frame mounted. Some Jerichos use a frame-mounted safety, but mine does not. Luckily, since this is a clone of the CZ 75, the slide is super short, and the slide-mounted safety is easy to access with just the thumb. The safety is also a decocker, so there is no lock and cocked carry with my Jericho variant.

Gives You Wings

The safety does act like wings on the slide. Since it’s so small, there is very little slide to grab. The safety adds a little extra grip material for slingshotting this bad bay into action. The slide release/slide lock is my very favorite. Mostly because my sausage thumbs do not pin it down and render it useless, it’s also my favorite because it’s massive and very easy to hit and send the slide roaring home.

slide mounted safety

The slide-mounted safety acts as wings to grip the teeny tiny slide oh so much better.

A huge beavertail at the rear end protects the webbing of your hand and allows you to choke up nice and tight on the gun. Combine that with the hefty weight and the low slide mass, and you get a very comfortable shooting gun, but more on that later.

slide release

Look at this slide release. It’s massive and easy to activate.

IWI fit simple rubber grips to the gun, but they are interchangeable. Plenty of wood, metal, and polymer options exist. Heck, you can even get the grip Spike used on his Jericho from Cowboy Bebop.

….But How Does the Jericho Pistol Shoot?

Like a kitten, it shoots and handles like a kitten. Saying recoil is minimal doesn’t properly describe how this gun handles. It’s super soft and easy to control. You’ll experience very little muzzle rise. All that weight, that high grip, and that low slide mass results in a very easy-to-control firearm. This gun, alongside my CZ 75B, are my favorites for new shooters.

Once a new shooter moves past a 22LR handgun, the CZ75 and Jericho give them a soft shooting centerfire handgun. It takes some of the scary out of the act of shooting a gun and gives them something with a little more oomph than a 22LR.

Desert Eagle stamp on slide

Look closely and you can see the Desert Eagle markings on my Jericho.

The trigger is very much OK. It’s a contradiction in many ways. The double-action trigger pull gives your finger a workout. It’s extremely heavy and long, although I’ll give credit where credit is due and say it is smooth. The single-action trigger provides a much better experience. It has a slight take up, and then a short ball, and Boom—the gun fires.

It gets an OK rating because, well, a rough double-action trigger combined with a great single action makes an OK overall trigger. The big spurred hammer is easy to cock manually, and single action is how I suggest you chase the dragon with this one.

IWI Jericho pistol double action, single action

A DA/SA design gives you a heavy freaking trigger for the first, but a very light and crisp trigger for the single-action design.

When I compare my CZ 75B to my Jericho, I’d say that the CZ 75B has a better double-action trigger but a worse single action. Although, the CZ 75B still has a very nice single-action trigger.

Heavy Is Good

Heavy is reliable, heavy is capable, and the Jericho pistol is all that. It’s quite reliable and chews through the worst ammo I have on hand to include Winchester Forged. Winchester’s Forged ammo is made by the dwarves Tula fired for QC issues.

IWI Jericho pistol

I really need some of those Spike special Cowboy Bebop grips.

It even shoots crappy ammunition straight. My 50 yard 10-inch gong test was easily passed with the Jericho… well, as long as I used the single-action trigger. The double-action proved itself capable enough to hit headshots at 20 yards. I think with lots of double-action-only practice, I could get better at it, but I’m not there yet.

IWI Jericho pistol

The Jericho is a striking pistol that gives you excellent ergonomics and accuracy.

When you steal a little from the CZ 75 series, you better steal the ergonomics. Luckily, the Jericho possesses those same fantastic ergos. The grip slides into the hand and feels like it’s meant to be there. The curves and humps provide a glove-like fit and make the weapon quite comfortable to hold and shoot.

You can reach the controls without changing your grip. Swapping mags, disengaging the safety, and sending the slide flying home are all very easy to accomplish. IWI knocked it out with the Jericho and kept the features that made the CZ 75B such a legendary gun.

IWI Jericho pistol

This gun has taken an absolute beating but keeps on kicking.

Ping Pow Pew

Why the gun industry clamors over the latest Glock but ignores the awesomeness that is the Jericho series befuddles me. The Jericho doesn’t pull punches and delivers a very capable fighting pistol outfitted with fantastic ergonomics, excellent accuracy, and brilliant reliability. Plus, if you ever run out of ammunition, you can beat someone to death with it.

 

 

 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Sig Romeo1Pro — Sig’s Latest Duty Ready Red Dot

I can’t keep track of Sig’s new releases. They seem to have a constant stream of new guns, optics, suppressors, P320 grip modules, and optics coming out. One of the latest is the successor to the Romeo1, the Romeo1Pro. Sig gave the Romeo1 a few upgrades that most duty and serious competition shooters demand.

What exactly did Sig change about the full-size Romeo1? Well, let’s dive in.

Romeo1Pro vs. Romeo1

In a world where we already have the Romeo1, you might be asking what the point of the Romeo1Pro is? The Romeo1Pro provides a noticeable difference in performance and outclasses the Romeo1 everywhere but the price.

The Romeo1 packed 5,000 hours of battery life, and the Romeo1Pro quadruples that with 20,000 hours. Plus, the Pro model utilizes a new point-source emitter to provide a much brighter dot than the Romeo1. Both offer ten daylight brightness settings, but the Pro gives you two-night vision settings.

Sig Sauer P320 with Romeo1Pro red dot sight

Wanna be faster? More Accurate? Increase your potential range? Get a red dot on your handgun.

The Romeo1Pro weighs .02 ounces more. It’s slightly longer but also slightly thinner. The difference is fractions of an inch, so it’s hardly noticeable. The Romeo1Pro also comes with a big stainless steel shield that adds a hefty layer of protection to the optic. It adds some weight and bulk but is completely optional. I’ll rarely say no to an extra layer of protection.

The Romeo1Pro Broken Down

If window size matters, then you’re gonna love the size of the Romeo1Pro window. It’s 30mms and massive in design. It’s seriously huge and wide. It fills your vision, and to me, a big window makes the dot easier to find if you goof your presentation.

Sig Romeo1Pro red dot sight 3MOA dot visible through sight window

The 3 MOA dot is highly visible and very easy to see.

Shooters can choose between 3 MOA or 6 MOA reticles, and the optic comes in black or FDE. As a heads up, the Romeo1Pro does not fit Romeo1 mounts. Sig infused the MOTAC system into the Romeo1Pro.

Sig Romeo1Pro red dot sight 30mm window

A 30mm Window gives you an easy-to-find dot.

This motion-detecting technology will automatically shut the dot down after it sits stationary for two minutes. The dot will fire back to life as soon as it detects movement. Movement can be as little as the vibration of a car. The lens has a very visible blue tint.

To the Range with The Romeo1Pro

I had a Sig AXG who needed an optic to fill that slot. What better choice for a Sig pistol than a Sig optic? As you’d expect, the Sig Romeo1Pro dropped on the AXG without issue. The footprint changed between the Romeo1 and Romeo1Pro. Sig moved to the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro footprint, which makes sense when you consider the Army’s new M17 is cut for the DPP.

The Romeo1Pro will fit on SIG M17 and M18 pistols, all Pro-Cut pistols, and X series guns. The AXG fits the Pro-cut series guns and makes mounting the optic quick and easy. SIG also includes a tool to make zeroing the optic very easy. The tool can also store a spare battery, which is also very handy.

Sig Romeo1Pro top loading battery

A top-loading battery provides easy access to the optic and makes it easy to swap batteries.

The turrets feature Sig’s new TruHold Lockless Zeroing System. The TruHold system uses twin adjustment springs that ensure you keep your zero for round after round and for bump after bump. The turrets have a handy little reference line for making adjustments. If you use the line, you can visually see each adjustment.

That’s kind of handy when wearing hearing protection on a range with multiple shooters. You don’t have to rely on hearing and feeling the click to see what adjustments you’re making. It’s a smart design that makes zeroing quick and easy. I’m using the 3 MOA variant, and a 6 MOA version is also available.

Sig P320 muzzle flash in the daylight

Capturing muzzle flash in the daylight is a real hassle.

While zeroing, I messed with the brightness settings. The big steel shroud does make it a little harder to reach the buttons, which is annoying. The dots provide a very tactile and audible click with each press. That fancy new emitter and that bright blue tint provide a super bright red dot. The highest setting is too bright, even for high noon in Florida.

Hitting Steel

My wonderful wife provided me with an awesome set of steel targets. They consist of a 25% IPSC target, an 8-inch gong, a 6-inch gong, and a teeny tiny 4-inch gong. I can’t resist not trying to shoot all four targets as fast as possible.

steel targets

Oh hey little buddy, how you doing?

With the Romeo1Pro in place, I cleared the rack on my first try. After that, I put the 3 MOA dot on the little 4-inch gong, and at 15 yards, I was able to keep that piece of steel rocking and rolling. With iron sights, I’d hardly be able to even see the small gong, much less hit it.

steel targets

Ouch, sorry I shot you.

To keep the lead and steel warfighting, I stepped back all the way to 50 yards. At this range, I wasn’t ready to kill my ego trying to hit the 4-inch gong, but I would light up the IPSC and 8-inch gong. I went ten for ten on these moderate-sized steel targets. The Romeo1Pro features a super clear and crisp red dot that makes it easy to see against the steel targets.

I went for the 6-inch gong, and while it was a good bit smaller, I could still decimate the gong. I had to shoot a little slower and let the target stop rocking a bit, but I could still go five for five with it.

Sig Sauer Romeo1Pro red dot sight on P320 pistol

A Sig on a Sig, what’s not to love.

Again, the red dot makes this relatively easy. Handgun red dots like the Romeo1Pro allow you to utilize the true potential of your handgun. They take you well beyond what your iron sights are capable of.

As a Dot

3 MOA sits on the small side of red dots for a handgun. Many would probably prefer a dot this small on a long gun, and the 6 MOA variant on a handgun. With that being said, the bright dot design and the clear lenses of the Romeo1Pro provide a reticle that’s plenty easy to see.

Sig Romeo1Pro steel hood, control buttons

The steel hood provides excellent protection to the optic but makes the buttons tough to reach.

Even when it comes to fast shooting, the dot never flickers or fails. Switching between targets results in no reticle blur, and the circle stays circular. It also never flutters between shots, which poorly made dots often do. It can be somewhat unnoticeable if you do not specifically look for it. I tried some hot +P defensive loads, and I couldn’t get it to flicker with those either.

With a target focus, getting the dot on target takes almost zero effort. I can pop that bad boy up and get it on targets, both big and small, with ease. I ran a few snapshot drills with headshots with zero issues. The dot was also easy to find. As long as my presentation wasn’t garbage, my poor targets suffered from it.

Durability Testing

Sig claims the hood adds an extreme level of durability to the optic, so I went and tested that out. I threw the Sig AXG, equipped with the Romeo1Pro.

Sig RomeoPro1 durability test throw.

Catch!

I just threw it away from me several times. Then I dropped it three times, once on each side and once on top.

Sig Romeo1Pro durability test drop

Sorry Romeo, but I had to drop you…more than once.

I then tested it to see if it held zero. I wasn’t surprised when it did because these tosses and drops didn’t even scratch the finish. Sig also brags about the RomeoPro1 having an IPX7 rating, so I dropped it in a Tupperware container full of water for 30 minutes.

Sig RomeoPro1 red dot sight submerged in water for waterproof testing.

Let’s see exactly how waterproof this little Sig optic can be.

When I finally pulled the Romeo1Pro out, I found a fully functioning red dot. As I type this, it’s sitting in the dish rack drying off.

Sig AXG with Romeo1Pro red dot sight drying in dishrack after being submerged in water for waterproof testing.

The things I do for you people. They mostly drive my wife crazy.

In Living Color

The SIG Romeo1Pro red dot provides shooters with a full-sized mini red dot. This big honking red dot provides shooters with a massive window, a very bright and very clear dot. It’s easy to use with excellent controls and is very easy to zero. You can go smaller for concealed carry purposes, but for home defense and competition use, the Romeo1Pro presents a much better option than the original Romeo1.

Sig AXG with Romeo1Pro red dot

Optics are all the rage these days. What do you think? Let us know below.

It’s a very capable red dot that stands up to the rigors of heavy use and stands with the big boys of the optics world as a competent contender for your handgun.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

SIG P220 West German Made- Swiss Engineered

It’s 1975, and you’re the Swiss Military. Your sidearm is the fantastic Sig P210, but boy, oh boy, is it starting to show its age. The P210 utilizes a single action only system, sports a long 5-inch barrel, and has been kicking around since 1949. You need a new service pistol, and your favorite Swiss Arms maker has you covered with their new Pistole 75, aka the Sig Sauer P220.

The Mighty P220

Unlike your previous pistol, the P220 incorporates a modern double-action / single-action setup that eschews a manual safety. The first shot delivers a long double-action trigger that requires a very intentional press to discharge. Subsequent shots utilize a much lighter and shorter single-action trigger pull. Sig fitted a decocker to the pistol in the best place possible to return the gun to double-action after the party is over.

Sig P220

When the Swiss needed a new service handgun Sig had a new option for them, the P220.

Almost half an inch of barrel has been shaved off to make the pistol a bit more compact than the P210, and the P220 is four ounces lighter than the old warhorse. The Sig P210 utilized a Petter Browning system, but the P220 would be the first gun to use the new Sig Sauer system. This closed the need to license the Petter system and resulted in a more modern and robust pistol design. Like the P210, the P220 utilized a 9mm cartridge and a single stack magazine.

Sig P220 .45 ACP

America loves our 45 ACP and even the Swiss-Germans acknowledged it.

Even though the P220 is more compact than the P210, it’s still a massive gun. It tips the scales at 30 ounces, is 7.7 inches long, 5.5 inches tall, and 1.5 inches wide. Trust me, it fills your hand well, and even my big hands are challenged by it. If I ran out of ammo, I could beat you to death with it.

The Sig Sauer System

The Sig Sauer system locks the barrel and slide together using an enlarged breech section on the barrel, locking into the ejection port. Most Sig pistols utilize this system, as do many other modern pistols. The Sig Sauer system creates an easier to manufacture pistol that’s more reliable and accurate than previous designs.

Sig P220

The Decocker makes it easy to decock the gun to double action mode.

Besides being the first pistol to use the Sig Sauer system, the P220 was the first Sig Sauer pistol. Prior to the P220, you had Sig and J.P. Sauer and Sons. Both made excellent firearms, but the Swiss are notoriously fickle among exporting firearms. J.P. Sauer, a German company, was capable of producing and exporting pistols to the international market.

Since then, Sig Sauer has become one of the biggest names in not only handguns but rifles, optics, suppressors, and squad support weapons.

The West German Sig P220

J.P. Sauer and Sons were German, and if you know anything about history, you know that in 1975 the Berlin wall separated Germany into West and East. David Hasselhoff had yet to take that commie wall down. This leads to the famous West German markings on Sig Sauer Pistols.

My P220 wears the famed marking. Are the West German P220s better than the standard models? There is some debate among Sig fanboys. I can’t speak from experience, but someone once told me, “A modern Sig is likely a pretty good gun, but I know a West German Sig is a good gun.”

Sig Sauer P220 in .45 ACP

The P220 is massive. It’s a huge gun that verges on 1911 size. 

The Pistole 75 variant of the P220 came in 9mm, which was the caliber Europe chose for their warfighting pistols. When Sauer imported the guns into the United States, they offered 9mm variants, followed by 45 ACP variants. This was the late 70s and early 80s. We loved our freakin’ 45 ACP.

Sig P220 slide release

The slide release started a tradition with Sig pistols. Mainly making it almost impossible not to pin down.

Sauer worked with Browning to import these pistols, and they were labeled the Browning BDA. No to be confused with the other Browning BDA pistol. These early pistols utilize the very European heel magazine release. After 1980 we saw imports wearing the standard push-button magazine release.

My Little West German Sig

Our sample here came after the Browning days and wore the SIGARMS stamp for import. This is also a 45 ACP model, which is seemingly the easiest to find. After the P225 and P226, Sig P220s in 9mm weren’t a big seller and 45 ACP remained as an alternative to the 1911. 45 ACP guys seem to love guns with low capacities and heavyweights.

Sig P220 in .45 ACP

The P220 does have a very striking appearance. Mine has been to hell and back more than once.

Lord knows how many hands this P220 passed through before it came my way. The old stamped steel slide has lost most of its original finish. It looks rough, and the old night sights are dead. However, the old dog still has some bite in it.

Sig Sauer P220

The Sig P220 is what brought Sig and Sauer together.

An extremely smooth trigger delivers a wonderful double-action and single-action trigger pull. I imagine thousands upon thousands of trigger pulls have honed the trigger to an extremely smooth pull. The long double-action trigger rolls rearward like a finely done revolver trigger.

Sig Sauer P220 in .45 ACP

The P220 provided the Swiss a modern fighting implement.

Staging the trigger during your double-action pull is possible. You can hold the hammer almost entirely cocked and ensure you have a good sight picture before finishing the trigger pull. The single-action offers a little take-up and what barely qualifies as a wall before breaking and firing. A short reset ensures the trigger is ready to rock and roll again quite quickly.

Dispensing 45 ACP

Like the trigger, the slide is well worn. It’s broken in and allows for a smooth pull that feels like the slide is on ball bearings. It glides rearward with ease. The decocker and magazine release are well-honed and both easy to use.

Surprisingly, the gun offers a high level of reliability. It looks beat up but still eats, shoots, and ejects consistently with a wide variety of ammunition types. Even modern 180-grain JHPs have no issues feeding through this old fighting pistol. Heck, even crappy steel-cased stuff doesn’t provide any issues with the gun.

Sig P220 single stack magazine

The Sig P220 magazine gives you a single stack with limited capacity. 8 to 10 rounds are all you get.

I love shooting this gun. It delivers an excellent experience with every trigger pull. The outstanding trigger pull in single action makes it easy to deliver accurate fire at various ranges. I tickled myself, hitting a small 4-inch gong at 20 yards trying to clear the deck. Hearing those big 45 ACP rounds hitting steel warms my heart.

Those Swiss German built one helluva gun.

But….

Much like the Government size 1911, the P220 wears the badge of being obsolescent. It weighs a ton and doesn’t offer the capacity to justify the weight or size of the gun.

Sig P220 and Sig AXG

The Sig P220 with its great-grandson the SIG AXG.

Sadly warhorses like this are getting harder and harder to find, at least with the West German stamp. It’s an interesting piece of history from a curious time. Not only is it a product of its time as a handgun, but it’s marked appropriately as such. The world has since moved beyond a split Germany, beyond widespread communism, and beyond single stack boat anchors.

Sig Sauer P220 and P320 steel frames

Sig loves its steel frames, in both 1975 and 2021.

Although of those three, the only one worth visiting is the single-stack boat anchors. The P220 helped make Sig Sauer the company it is today. The descendants of the P220 make up a beloved line of pistols with a long history of service. The P220 brought together a Swiss and German company that now makes America’s newest service pistol and America’s favorite concealed carry pistol. The P220 is the butterfly effect that’s pushed Sig Sauer to the mainstream.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

CategoriesGun Reviews

MPiKM East German AK Review: Vickers Tactical Channel

In the video below, the Vickers Tactical Channel reviews the rare MPiKM, the East German AK. This is a fascinating look at a unique rifle that just might be the only one of its kind in the entire United States.

A Rare Find

Larry Vickers says he found this rifle at Century Arms. Apparently, it had been found sitting on a pallet in Croatia in the back of a warehouse. There is evidence of rust and pitting on its exterior but according to Vickers, the internals are brand new and untouched, never having been fired. In fact, when Vickers fires the rifle on this video it’s the first time the rifle has ever been shot.

 

How the East German AK Differs from Russian AKs

Larry Vickers with MPiKM East German AK

Vickers explains that the MPiKM differs from the Soviet AKM mostly in aesthetics. (Photo credit: Vickers Tactical Channel)

 

 

The MPiKM is actually quite similar to the Soviet AKM you all know and love. Vickers describes the aesthetic differences:

 

“The main thing that sets it apart is the furniture…other than that it’s almost identical. Brown plastic furniture here is kind of a classic sign. When you see that, certainly it’s East German furniture and very possibly an East German firearm. [It’s] what Wilkinson called a lizard-skin buttstock back in the day; I don’t know why but that’s always stuck with me. It’s actually more of a pebble-grain finish. Pistol grip is brown plastic with checkered panels, front, and rear.

 

Now, moving up you have a plastic cover on the gas tube, but the handguard is Bakelite, you can tell by the look. And, the earlier ones were wood because clearly, the brown plastic did not work out real well for handguard material. Other than that…largely laid out like a Soviet AKM.”

That First Shot

Larry Vickers with MPiKM East German AK

Vickers fires the first shots ever through his MPiKM. (Photo credit: Vickers Tactical Channel)

Vickers ran Sellier and Bellot ammunition through his MPiKM for its first shots ever. Of course, he ran it full-auto, because why wouldn’t you? In his hands, the rifle looks like a smooth, flat-shooting gun. It appears to cycle flawlessly in semi-auto and full-auto.

 

Build Your Own

internals of the MPiKM East German AK.

A closer look at the internals of Vickers’ MPiKM. (Photo credit: Vickers Tactical Channel)

The MPiKM featured in this video review by Larry Vickers is one of a kind; you’re not going to find another factory, unfired MPiKM on the market. What you will find, though, are parts, kits, and reproductions.

As Vicker said, the major differences in this model are aesthetic, which makes it simpler to create your own reproduction MPiKM. Plus one of the best parts of building your own rifle is getting the opportunity to learn how it works and why for yourself. Being a well-rounded AK owner is always a good thing. And remember, a well-made magazine is vital to your build because magazines are the first part to fail.

If you prefer a modernized build, check out these upgrade ideas for the AKM. You can never have too many guns.

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

Sig Romeo-MSR Tortured, Fried, Frozen, and Shot.

Sig Sauer is producing a wide variety of products these days. Back when I was a kid, Sig made the P series all-metal pistols, and that was it! These days they make everything from pistol braces to optics. One of their lowest price point optics is the SIG Romeo-MSR. The Romeo5 used to be the budget optic, but somehow Sig brought out an even lower cost optic in the MSR. The question we have to ask ourselves is this, is the Sig Romeo MSR worth a damn? Well, let’s torture one!

Breaking Down the Sig Romeo-MSR

The Sig Romeo-MSR presents you with the most basic of red dots. It comes with a 1.41 M193 skeletonized riser, is powered by a CR1632 battery, packs 20K hours of battery life, and gives you a 2 MOA red dot reticle. It’s very simple, but surprisingly you get ten daylight settings and two-night vision settings.

The turret that controls the brightness level is stiff as hell, but it seems to loosen up the more it’s used. It’s all very simple and efficient. You don’t have to be super fancy when it comes to red dot optics, and the Sig Romeo-MSR keeps things basic to drive down the price and provide a high-quality optic at less than $150.

Sig Romeo MSR

The EPC served as the testing platform for our torture test.

I zeroed it and did a little shooting with my Aero Precision EPC. I wanted to get to know the optic a bit. Take it on a date, get some drinks, become friendly with it before I showed it to my dungeon. If I wanted to see the optic fail, I needed to know how it worked and to have a basic baseline for the optic. I found mounting, zeroing, and shooting to be easy with the Romeo-MSR. This isn’t a full review, but I did find the Romeo-MSR to excel in the basics of being a red dot sight.

I could hit my target, and I could see the dot in all lighting conditions, and had zero issues mounting or zeroing it.

Let’s Mess the Romeo-MSR Up

Let’s go gentle at first; really, take our time introducing the SIG Romeo-MSR to its brutal but inevitable fate. I loaded up my Blackwater Sentry 12 shotgun with some full-powered buckshot. It’s a 1300 FPS Rio load that throws back some serious recoil in a pump-action shotgun. I didn’t re-zero the gun to the shotgun.

Blackwater Sentry 12 shotgun with Sig Romeo-MSR red dot sight

Can a shotgun’s recoil knock the zero off?

I just wanted to see if the recoil could toss the zero off. I notated that I mounted the optic between my T8 and T4 slots on my EPC. I spent to next 20 minutes blasting through this cheap, crappy buckshot, and my shoulder felt the pain. After ten mags worth of buckshot, I popped the Romeo-MSR off and plopped it back onto my EPC.

The zero remained perfect.

What About a 308 Pistol?

Let’s try something with a little more ass to do it. I grab my Springfield AR-10 pistol. It sports a very short barrel, and the stubby little bastard is basically a battle ax. It jumps, bucks, and recoils, but holy crap, it’s fun to shoot. With that much recoil, I thought it might be a fun contender to see if the Romeo-MSR maintains itself.

Springfield SAINT AR-10 pistol with Sig Romeo-MSR red dot sight

Let’s se ehow the MSR holds zero after 50 rounds of 308 on an AR 10 pistol.

I loaded up a few 20 round mags and the Magpul D50 and let loose with it. I zeroed it first, but after that, it was all about rapid-fire drills. We hit all the classics like the Mozambique drill, the VTAC 1-5 drill, Snap Drills, and Box drills. All requiring you to fire fast and firing fast with a 308 caliber semi-automatic pistol isn’t exactly easy, but holy crap, is it fun.

Saint Victor with Sig Romeo MSR red dot sight

The Saint Victor harmed the optic nigh.

Of course, I also did a 20 round mag dump. It wasn’t my ammo, so I didn’t mind wasting it. At the end of the day, I backed off to 100 yards, took a stable benched position, and took aim at a 10-inch rifle gong. I heard the song of my people, and its instruments are lead and steel. The Romeo-MSR held zero without issue.

(Holy crap, did that handguard heat up, though.)

Drop Test

Alright, so it survived the recoil of both a shotgun and 308 caliber pistol. Not a big deal, but also not bad for a budget optic. It’s not too surprising when an optic this affordable loses zero when faced when lots of recoil in a short period of time. I was out of 308, so I tacked the Sig Romeo-MSR back to the EPC, re-zeroed it, and notated what rail sections it occupied. It wasn’t going to stay there for long.

ASP red training gun with Sig Romeo MSR - drop testing for durability

Watch it fall and suffer!

I popped it off the EPC and tacked it on to an ASP Red Gun. Specifically an HK 416 red dot with plenty of in-spec optic rails. I took that mother trucker and threw it! I tossed it across my driveway, then dropped it from shoulder height. I did both a dozen times. I tried my hardest to drop and throw the gun at a variety of angles.

The Romeo-MSR bounced, thudded, and skirted across the ground. After that, I popped the Romeo-MSR off the red gun and placed it back on the EPC. I put it on the exact section of rail I zeroed it on. I loaded a few 9mm pills into the EPC and let it go. It held zero without issue.

ASP red training gun with Sig Romeo-MSR, drop tested for durability

Excuse the dad wear, it was leg day and I’m a nerd. However, the Romeo-MSR took all the falls and throws I tossed at it.

Outside of some basic scrapes and dirt, the Romeo-MSR remained untouched. Nothing was broken, cracked, or challenged. At this point, I was quite impressed by this little budget optic. I won’t lie; I wanted it to break. I wanted to find the stress point that would make this thing crack. Recoil and drop tests didn’t do it, so what about water?

Going for a Swim

The Romeo-MSR brags about an IPX7 rating. This means it can be submerged. I did just that, in my wife’s nice Tupperware. I learned two things. One, there is such a thing as nice Tupperware, and two, the Romeo-MSR can swim! Well, it can sit its ass in water for half an hour.

Sig Romeo-MSR submerged in water in tupperware container for waterproof testing.

Let’s take the MSR for a Swim.

I dunked it, let it sit, and carried on with my business. My alarm went off thirty minutes later, and I retrieved the potentially waterlogged optic. The Sig Romeo-MSR worked without issue even after its bath.

The Heat Gun Vs. the Romeo-MSR

Remember when people discovered that Eotech had a zero-drift when the optic got too hot? Well, that inspired me to grab my heat gun and give the Romeo-MSR a little warm-up. I couldn’t find operating temperatures from Sig, so I used the operating temperatures of Aimpoint. Aimpoint makes a much more expensive optic than the MSR, so it seemed to be a high standard to meet.

thermal drift heat test using a heat gun on Sig Romeo-MSR red dot sight

Let’s see those temperatures rise…to Aimpoint standards.

Aimpoint says their optic works up to 160 degrees, so I wanted to heat the MSR up to 160 degrees and see what happened. I propped the gun and optic up and rotated the heat gun around the optics hitting all three sides.

Heat testing Sig Romeo MSR red dot at 168.4 degrees F.

My Romeo-MSR- has a fever.

I periodically used a digital thermometer to check the pulse of the Romeo-MSR. I hit 160 to 168 on three sides of the optic. I let it cool for a few minutes as I reloaded the EPC. I sighted in on a 6-inch gong, dead center, and missed.

Yep, all three shots flung to the right of the gong. It wasn’t just me. I grabbed the zero target I used previously and fired two groups of three rounds. Both groups hit to the right of my initial zero.

Example of thermal shift of Sig Romeo-MSR after exposure to high temperatures.

Red was my first group, green my shots post zero, and blue was the zero divergence from the heat gun.

This photo illustrates the zero drift. The red group was my initial shots fired while zeroing, the green group was my gun zeroed, and the blue groups were after the heat gun applied pressure to it. A quick rotation of the windage turret dialed it right back to zero.

Freezer Test

If I heated it up, I had to try it against the ice, right? Well, I didn’t have the capability to drive the temperature down to -40 degrees. I could freeze it, though! I tossed it into a zip-lock bag and threw it in the not-nice Tupperware, and let it freeze completely.

Freezer test on Sig Romeo-MSR red dot sight.

Can ice kill it?

I went to bed, had a great night, and woke up the next morning. At this point, I fully expected it to be off, dead, and gone. I pulled out the frozen optic, and through the glass, I could see that it was still functioning, still on, and ready to work. So I made coffee and defrosted the thing.

Sig Romeo MSR red dot sight still working when frozen inside a chunk of ice.

Look closely, you can see that frozen bastard still working.

Guess what? That mother trucker still works. Not only that but there was no noticeable zero shift when I reattached it to the EPC and hit the range.

Is It Bulletproof?

I wanted to break the Romeo-MSR through conventional means or as close as I can get to conventional means. I couldn’t, so guess what? I’m going to shoot it. With a shotgun. Specifically with birdshot. I backed off to 15 yards, set the optic up on a box, and let it have it.

Is the Sig Romeo MSR bulletproof?

I’m trying to kill it, I really am.

Seeing my enemy fly off of its cardboard perch as birdshot impacted it brought a feeling of joy to my heart. That had to kill it, right? No way it still works.

Sig Romeo-MSR after being shot

I shot it, and it still works and holds zero.

I skipped down to the range, fished the Romeo-MSR out of the dirt, and peered through it. That little red dot teased and touted me, insulting me without words. It still worked. I put it on the EPC and tested it’s zero.

broken lens of Sig Romeo MSR after being shot

So I broke the glass, but couldn’t kill the optic.

It held freaking zero. The rear lens cracked and broke, and the outside of the optic had pellet impacts all over it. But it held zero and still functioned. Sorcery, SIG Sorcery.

Sig Romeo MSR shot from box.

A load of birdshot took it right off its perch.

I’m Done

I’m done; I give up. This thing is literally bulletproof. It’s an optic that costs less than $150, and the only thing all my abuse did was make it lose zero via heat. Even then, the zero was lost, but not that bad. It wasn’t a big enough shift to makes its way off a B8 target. Sig’s little Romeo-MSR might be the most durable budget optic on the market.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

X
Add to cart