CategoriesGun Reviews

Best CCW Guns: Price Categories for Any Budget

There are lots and lots of options for CCW handguns on the market. So many in fact, it almost takes the fun out of looking. I said almost because some of us like shopping for guns. It’s like walking into a candy store, only you’re not a kid and the candy is a little more expensive. So expensive in fact, you may be wondering what to buy with such a big price difference between guns.

The Ruger LCP and LCP Max are both great guns. Depending on your price range, both make good CCW weapons. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

For those who are new to this process, the difference in price may cause them to believe the cheaper guns are less reliable. Price does affect reliability, but only to a point. For example, a Kimber Micro 9 can easily run $800 – $1,000 while a Glock 43x is less than $500. This is not because Glock is less reliable than Kimber.

With the Kimber, you are paying for a little more metal, custom details, and a higher finish on that metal. A Glock has more polymer, and the finish is standard on nearly all their handguns, making the price lower. Kimbers are great reliable guns, but if I were to pick between the two in a torture test, I would go with Glock.

This means that more money may equal a nicer gun, but “nicer” will not always translate to better quality. This leaves room for confusion, but don’t worry, we have sorted through the best handgun within a specific price range. This makes it a little easier to choose a weapon based on your budget.

Best CCW Guns in the $200 – $300 Price Range

In the gun world, this is considered the dirt-cheap price range. There are a few guns even cheaper than this, but I can’t recommend any of them. My day job is in law enforcement, where I see a lot of the cheapest firearms made. These are often carried by criminals because they are so cheap. They are less than reliable.

We test-fire weapons to prove they were functioning when charging someone with illegal possession of a firearm and the cheapest ones out there often fail when we test-fire them. But the good news is there are several options with a price tag that will not hurt your eyes or your wallet. Here are the ones I would recommend:

Rock Island M200 .38 Revolver

Rock Island M200 Revolver. Best CCW guns
If you are looking for the cheapest gun you can find that is still reliable, the Rock Island M200 is a great choice and usually sells for just over $200. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

If you want the absolute cheapest gun that will hold up to some abuse and keep shooting, the Rock Island M200 is a good choice. It is a .38 special that holds six rounds in the cylinder and is single/double action. This means you can pull the hammer back before shooting or just pull the trigger while the hammer is down.

The M200 has a half-shroud 4-inch barrel and polymer combat-style grips. The packetized finish isn’t anything special, but for the price, I can live with it. The M200 retails for around $250 but I found mine on sale for $219.99. I have fired a few hundred rounds through it and never had an issue yet. Stick some HP ammo in it and you will be all set for home or self-defense.

Ruger LCP .380

For a smaller micro-sized gun for CCW, the Ruger LCP is a great option. I’m not a fan of super tiny guns, but if small and compact is your only option, try the LCP. This little .380 is compact in every way and will fit inside the waist or even your front pocket with ease. It has a 2.75-inch barrel and holds 6+1 rounds. It can be found in the $250 price range at most retailers. The LCP Max is even better because it holds more ammo, but it does cost more money and won’t fit in this price range.

Taurus G3C 9mm

The Taurus G3C is a great option if you want a semi-auto that is compact but not a micro-sized gun. The G3C is a 9mm polymer semi-auto handgun that comes with a 12-round magazine. It can be worn with an IWB or OWB holster and works great for home defense too. Because of its popularity, extra mags and holster options are easy to find. It’s a little on the bulky side for a compact weapon, but for $265 that’s easy to overlook.

Best CCW Guns in the $300-$400 Price Range

If your budget allows you to move into this price range, several more options exist. Quality gets just a little better and the finish and appearance also improve. Here are some of the best firearms you can find in the $300 – $400 price range.

Taurus GX4 9mm

The GX4 is the newest lineup of Taurus’s compact guns. This model comes with an 11-round magazine and is only one inch thick. It has a flat-faced trigger which gives it a nice look for such a cheap gun. The stainless steel reinforced polymer frame makes it light but durable.

It has a loaded chamber indicator and comes in a few color options. When I purchased mine, it came with four magazines, two were 11-round mags and two had grip extensions which increased capacity to 13. With a price tag that’s just over $300, this gun is worth the money.

Ruger Max 9

I have become a fan of the Ruger Max handguns. The Ruger Max .380 is the double-stack version of the famous Ruger LCP which is a great little gun. The Ruger Max 9 is the larger, 9mm version of the Ruger LCP Max. If you can spend about $50 more, this handgun has several advantages over the GX4 mentioned above.

First, it is slightly more compact making it easier to carry inside the waist. It has better sights (front night sight) and a removable optic plate for those who want a red dot. It also has a loaded chamber cut-out to see if it’s loaded and has a 12+1 ammo capacity. The Max-9 can be found in the $350 price range.

IWI Masada S9

IWI Masada Slim 9mm - Best CCW guns
The serrations on the front of the slide line up with the serrations on the frame which is a nice touch. The light texture on the grip is comfortable while having a clean-cut look to it. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

IWI (Israeli Weapons Industries) started producing the Masada pistol years ago. But most recently they came out with the 9mm Masada Slim which is a scaled-down version of the Masada duty pistol. It is one of my favorite compact guns and shoots like a champ. It comes with a removable optic plate that fits the Shield RMS footprint and has a magazine capacity of 13. It retails for about $375 – $400.

Best CCW Guns in the $400 – $500 Price Range

In this price range you will start to see a lot more options in the gun when it comes to quality firearms. I can’t list every good gun that falls in this range, but I will list my favorite ones for the price. Because we are falling into some of the Glock price ranges, I am mostly going to list Glocks here. It’s hard to beat a Glock when it comes to price/quality comparison, especially in this price range.

Glock 43/43x

The Glock 43 is a compact gun that is not in that micro-category, but just small enough to conceal without issue. The difference between the 43 and 43x is the 43x has a taller grip and holds a longer magazine. In fact, the 43x is the same frame as the G48, only it has a Glock 43 slide. The Glock 43 holds 6+1 rounds of ammo and the 43x holds 10+1 rounds. Either gun is a great choice, you only need to decide if you want the more extended grip or the shorter one. Both sell for around $450.00

Glock 48 9mm

Glock 48 handgun. Best CCW guns
The Glock 48 is a good choice for those who want a CCW gun that is just a little larger. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

From the side view, the Glock 48 looks like a Glock 19. The difference, however, is significant. At the same thickness as Glock 43, the G48 is much thinner than a G19. This gun is a good option for those who want a longer barrel and something close to a full-sized gun, but thinner for CCW.

The magazines are single-stack and hold 10 rounds, but aftermarket magazines are available that hold 15 rounds. This is an excellent choice if you want something a little bigger. The price comes in at $499.99, which is the higher end of our range.

Sig P365 Nitron

This is our only non-Glock pistol in this price range. Sig has always made some good shooting handguns, but their reach into the CCW world didn’t make a splash until they released the P365 line of pistols. They have that classic “Sig” look to them but are compact and slim. This is definitely not a gun I would call bulky.

The P365 holds 10 rounds in the standard magazines but extended mags are easy to find. Sig offers multiple options like a removable optic plate, a pre-installed red dot, lasers, and more. The Sig P365 again sits at the top of this price range with basic models starting at $499.

Too Many Options?

Most of the time, options are better. But sometimes options are annoying and make the decision process even harder. There isn’t a “best” gun for any category. That’s why you will find 10 different answers from 10 different experts. But I hope having a list that narrows those choices down will help. Simply find the one you like that is in your price range and go with it.

If you plan to spend more than $500, the options become even greater. Most of the full-sized big-name guns will run anywhere from $650 – $1,000. If you start getting into specific types of guns like high-end 1911s, the price will easily jump into the thousands. If you simply want a CCW gun, I would stick with something in these price ranges.

And if you plan to spend thousands on a gun, decide what style and type of gun you want and then research those specific guns. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to buy some good self-defense ammo and a quality holster for carrying it around. Spend some time at the range and as always, enjoy carrying your new CCW handgun.

The post Best CCW Guns: Price Categories for Any Budget appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Speedo Guns — Size Matters

Summer is right around the corner. School’s out, families are taking vacations, and the temperatures are rising. The beach is a popular destination, and you ain’t strutting if you ain’t wearing a Speedo. The question is, what gun do you carry while wearing a Speedo? I’ll save our readers a picture of me in a Speedo, but as you imagine, there isn’t much room to fit a gun.

Let’s be real, Speedos are European, and Euros don’t get gun rights anyway. However, the Speedo represents a classic problem for concealed carriers. It’s the extreme of minimalist clothing that makes concealed carry tough. With that idea in mind, if you had to wear a Speedo, what gun would you carry? That’s what we are explaining today, the best Speedo guns.

North American Arms Mini Revolver

The NAA Mini Revolvers are the ultimate Speedo guns. In fact, they inspired this article. NAA maintains a story on the website about an undercover cop wearing nothing more than a Speedo. He carried an NAA Micro Revolver. These are easily the smallest repeating firearms I know of.

The NAA Mini Revolver is the smallest repeater out there.

They are five-shot mini revolvers that are the size of derringers that drop in your pocket with ease. North American Arms makes these guns in .22 Short, Long Rifles, and .22 Magnum. They are all ultra-small and easy to conceal.

Suppose I had to carry this while wearing a Speedo. I could drop it in the Speedo itself. Maybe tape it to my inner thigh or right below the waistline. It’s so small with the right pattern on my swimwear I could make it disappear.

The KelTec P32

The Keltec P32 weighs 6.6 ounces and is micro-sized for a repeating firearm. With seven in the mag and a centerfire cartridge, you get a good amount of oomph for your buck. The P32 fits in the palm of your hand. While small, the little .32 ACP cartridges are plenty comfy to shoot and easy on the hands.

Keltec P32
The P32 is super light and very affordable.

A DAO trigger requires a stiff pull to fire, but for deep concealment, that’s an advantage. The polymer frame means rust will only be a problem for the slide, but we all take good care of our guns, right? Of all the guns on this list, this is the most competent for fighting and would be my choice if violence at the beach was a regular occurrence.

How do you carry this gun in a tiny-sized bathing suit? We’ll have to be creative. I think I have one of those 32-ounce Yeti or Yeti-style cups. It’s all metal, with a lid, and I can set the gun in the cup, cover it with the lid and tote it around the beach. It won’t be the fastest draw, but it won’t be slow, either.

Trailblazer Lifecard

The Lifecard is an interesting concept. The name Card is intentional. It’s a card shape, roughly the same length, and height as a credit card. It’s a bit thicker, obviously, but still very small. The card unfolds into a single-shot 22LR or 22 Magnum gun. One shot isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. The Lifecard’s hollow grip can contain a few extra rounds for reloads.

lifecard 22lr
The Lifecard is about as simple and small as it can get.

Operation is simple, and it’s a single-action, striker-fired gun. Grab it, cock it, and pull the trigger, and it goes bang. The real strength of this gun is its ability to be disguised as nothing more than a black, vaguely card-like design. It’s concealed by its nature. It’s a close-range gun, and you only get trench sight to aim, so don’t expect to be a marksman with it.

However, you still need to carry it around, and guess what? It fits in a variety of containers. You can toss it in an Altoids tin or in an empty pack of cigarettes. Tuck your container into your waistline and enjoy the lightweight, disguised nature of your gun as you soak in that summer air.

Ideal Conceal .380 ACP

Ideal Conceal was quite controversial. They got hit from all sides when they repealed the Ideal Conceal .380 and 9mm derringers. Like the Trailblazer Lifecard, they fold up. However, since they chamber larger cartridges, they tend to be larger. Instead of looking like thick credit cards, they look like cell phones.

Ideal conceal pistol
Its non-gun shape makes it easy to disguise.

Modern smartphones, to be precise. Unfold the grip, and you have a vaguely block-shaped gun. It has minimalist sights and an optional laser for close-range shots. The design is a top-break style, and a double-action trigger makes shooting quick and easy. The .380 ACP variant offers a little less recoil and easier control.

Like the Lifecard, the Ideal Conceal’s disguise is its design. At first glance, it looks like a phone and nothing more. It doesn’t have a gun-like shape. If I had to carry it when wearing a Speedo, I’d toss it into one of those phone armbands and toss a set of wireless headphones in my ears. It’s disappeared and under the radar.

Seecamp .32 ACP

The P32 might be the lightest automatic, but the Seecamp is the overall smallest. It’s all metal and designed from the start for deep concealment. It’s smooth from front to back and even lacks sights. The gun is only .86 inches thick, 3.25 inches tall, and 4.25 inches long overall. It holds six rounds of .32 ACP.

The Seecamp LWS
The Seecamp is an OG of deep concealment.

They make a .380 variant that’s basically the same size. However, the .32 ACP has a much softer recoil, and it’s much easier to control. The .380 tries to buck out of your hand. The little .32 is pleasant to shoot. The gun has a heavy DAO trigger, and without sights, it’s really oriented more toward being a close-range fighting gun.

The little Seecamp can be carried in the same way as the P32. It fits easily in a cup. Heck, you can use an even smaller cup if that’s your bag. That’s not creative, though. What is creative is getting a cheap paperback book and carving out a hollow. The Seecamp doesn’t require a big book and stashes with ease. A book at the beach is natural, and no one will notice.

Swimwear Carry

It’s that time of the year, and for the dudes wearing Speedos, more power to you. I hope you learned a thing or two, and I hope you’re ready for whatever summer brings! Obviously, this article is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it gets the creative juices flowing for concealed carry. With that in mind, what is your deep-cover solution? If you had to wear a Speedo, which gun would you carry, and how would you carry it?

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CategoriesGun Reviews

Ruger American Rifle Magazine: How Versatile Is It?

Ruger began cranking out quality firearms in 1949. Since then, they’ve become an American icon in the firearms industry. Any company that has been in operation since 1949 must be doing some things right. Whether you’re looking for a firearm for defense, competition, target shooting, recreation, tactical, hunting, or other tasks, Ruger has you covered.

One stellar aspect of their operation is that they stand behind their products in a huge way. If you have a problem with their products, send it in and they’ll make it right. Being able to buy with confidence like that really makes a person feel warm and fuzzy about the products.

Today we’re going to review the Ruger American Rifle Magazine so you have the full low-down on it and what it can do. Here’s a hint: it can do more than some of us might anticipate. Before we get into the magazine itself, though, a word about the platforms that it’s intended for.

What Is The American Line Of Rifles?

Ruger introduced the American line of rifles and it really took off. They offer solid performance and accuracy for a very reasonable price point.

There are a few dozen rifles in this line, and they really do cover the gamut of everything you’d want to do with a bolt-action rifle. Short range, long range, hunting, target applications, you name it, there’s a rifle in there for everyone. These are all bolt-action rifles. They have detachable magazines, some of which fit flush with the bottom of the stock, while others are larger capacity and protrude from the stock. Barrel lengths vary between models, and there are many different calibers available in both long and short action.

Some rifles come equipped with Vortex rifle scopes. Stocks are in various colors, including camouflage patterns, black, and earth-tone colors. Stocks are mostly composite, but there are a few wood stocks out there.

For this article, the test rifle for the magazine is the Ruger American Predator, which was introduced in 2016. It’s representative of the line and I have access to one.

This Ruger American Predator came with a Vortex Crossfire II 4-12x scope from the factory. It’s chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and is surgically accurate. Magazines fit flush with the bottom of the receiver. (Photo: Jim Davis)

Ruger American 4-Round Magazine

This particular magazine covers five calibers: The .308 Winchester, .243 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5mm Creedmoor, and 7mm-08. All of these are short-action calibers. Honestly, I’m quite amazed that this one magazine reliably works with all of these various calibers. There’s either some serious engineering going on here, or else some sorcery!

6.5 Creedmoor and .308 rounds in American Magazines.
The American magazines for the short action rifles can accommodate five different calibers. Seen here are the 6.5 Creedmoor (on the left) and the .308 Winchester (on right). Versatility is the name of the game here. (Photo: Jim Davis)

The magazine itself is constructed of polymer, which keeps it lightweight. Inside, there’s a steel wire spring. The follower is also polymer.

6.5 Creedmoor rounds in Ruger American magazine.
Ruger’s American detachable polymer magazine can accommodate five different calibers. Seen here is the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s lightweight and well-built! (Photo: Jim Davis)

All in all, the magazine is very light and durable. The polymer construction keeps weight down, which is an important consideration these days, especially for those who plan on toting the rifle in the field.

Magazine Catch

The front of the magazine has an integral magazine catch. The magazine is inserted into the magazine well of the stock, where it fits flush with the bottom of the stock. To extract the magazine, reach a finger into the front of the mag well and grab the tab on the release. Press the tab and the magazine is released from the stock. It works very nicely and is simple.

Magazine catch on the American magazine.
The magazine catch is built right into the magazine. It snaps into the rifle easily. (Photo: Jim Davis)

How Does The Magazine Work?

Like a champ! Reliability has been 100%. It feeds smoothly, ejects well, and inserts into the stock very easily. In short, this mag does everything that it’s advertised to do. As I said, I’m amazed that they can make a multi-caliber magazine that works so darned well. The rounds also slip into the magazine easily.

Extracting the mag from the firearm.
To extract the magazine from the Ruger American, press the catch and pull down. It easily pivots out of the receiver. (Photo: Jim Davis)


This Ruger American Rifle magazine seems to be very durable and should stand up to considerable abuse, given the polymer construction. Feeding is very smooth from these magazines. But then, given that they are Ruger factory mags, that comes as no surprise. Ruger magazines have always worked very well for me and I’ve never had a single complaint about them, for any of my Ruger rifles or pistols.

I now have a couple of magazines for my rifle, which is a good thing to have. In the event that I need or want to deliver several rounds on target in a short time frame, I can have a spare magazine pre-loaded and ready to go.

At the time of this writing, the Ruger American Multi-Caliber magazine is available for $28.99 from GunMag Warehouse. It’s a good idea to have a few of these mags on hand for your rifle. I plan on picking up a couple more.

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CategoriesGun Reviews

Scalarworks PEAK Sights: Lightweight and Professional-Grade Combat Sights

When it comes to the AR platform, the market is flooded with aftermarket iron sights. I’ve tried several flip-up iron sights and fixed sights, but none of them ever really seemed to hold up to the rigor of repeated tactical drills and rough handling. The sights always seemed to break or require frequent adjustments to reestablish zero. Shoot, even the traditional A2 sights are unwieldy and leave some to be desired. I’d all but given up until I started reading up on the Scalarworks PEAK/01 Fixed Sights. Que the fanfare.

They look great, feel great, and are a joy to use in the field. I’ll admit, they’re relatively expensive, coming in at $129 apiece. But from my experience, they’re worth every penny. It begs the question, though: are they the right iron sight system for everyone? Maybe. Probably. Let’s take a look. 

World’s Finest. And They Mean It.

Founded in 2014, Scalarworks claims that their PEAK/01 fixed sight system is the “world’s finest.” And they mean it.

The PEAK/01 sights offer the same renowned reliability of traditional AR-15 fixed iron sights with a few modern features, refined styling, and state-of-the-art engineering that make these sights the crème de la crème of aftermarket sight systems. At least in my opinion. Designed in collaboration with Larry Vickers, the sights exude quality at every angle, even before you pull them out of the package. They arrive wrapped in a vacuum-sealed plastic wrap, tucked inside an elegant, hard-sided box with a magnetic lid. Even the included Scalarworks-branded Torx bit is neatly packaged in a corrosion-proof bag. The sights feel good in the hand; smooth and durable.

The magnetic presentation box is both elegant and durable, just like the sights themselves.

Crafted of 7075-T6 billet aluminum, these suckers are light as a feather. For real. I’ve set up my 16” rifle with the front and rear PEAK/01 sights, and I barely notice a difference in weight, and that’s due to the fact that together, these sights weigh less than five ounces. In case I haven’t made my point clear, that’s lighter than any other set of iron sights currently on the market.

The rear sight features two user-selectable CNC-machined apertures: One for long-range, and one for shorter-range. A side-mounted adjustment wheel offers quick windage adjustments.

The front sight also features a tool-free adjustment wheel and boasts a non-rotating MIL-STD sight post, calibrated to the correct width for an optimal 15” sight radius, practically eliminating highlight bias for improved clarity, reduced eye fatigue, and intuitive target acquisition in the field with most AR rifles.

Scalarworks Streamlined Profile

Designed to adhere to the lines of AR-15 upper receivers, the PEAK/01 fixed sights blended in nicely with my rifle with smooth edges. No snag hazards or hangover points. Everything looked as if it were integral to the flat top rail. Think about it, smooth lines equate to snag-free performance and safe and efficient handling. That’s a hard find, even with some of the better-known sight systems out there, including the Magpul MBUS sights.

Once installed using the included hardware and Scalarworks-branded Torx bit, the sights looked more like a premium factory option than an aftermarket sight set. The rear sight is rounded to adhere to the rear of your receiver, and features a one-way install design with an open front, allowing you to simply slide the sight forward onto the flat-top rail. The front sight installs the same way with a rear-mounted one-way opening. Not only does the design make for easy installation, but it also maximizes stability when tightened down, eliminating the risk of crooked installation or bent bolts. 

 rear sight
Notice the way the rear sight follows the lines of the upper receiver. It looks less like an aftermarket sight set, and more like they’re integral to the receiver.

Zeroing and Field Testing

The PEAK/01 fixed sight system is designed to allow for tool-free adjustments — even the front sight post, which traditionally requires shooters to use an A2 sight tool. This means no more pesky A2 sight tools, screwdrivers, bits, or coins to keep up with. Instead, with a simple turn of the elevation and windage adjustment wheels, I was able to effectively zero the sights with precise adjustments in a matter of seconds. And better yet, they held true with no deviation under rapid fire. I’m not sure I could say the same for any of the other systems I’ve tried.

Scalarworks rear sight
The tool-free adjustment wheel makes for easy adjustments without inhibiting the sight’s ability to retain zero. The Scalarworks wheel system reminds me of the aperture system on an M1 Garand or M1A.
Scalarworks PEAK/01 front sight
Say goodbye to pesky A2 sight tools, screwdrivers, and spare coins. The toolless adjustment wheel makes elevation adjustments quick and easy.

Because this is my SHTF rifle, I wanted to run the sights with an optic and by themselves as a standalone sighting system. In both scenarios, the sights were easy to pick up and I was ringing steel at 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards with ease, but I preferred using them to co-witness with a red dot sight as it was more forgiving and a bit easier to acquire my target. My shots were faster, more consistent, and more accurate than when using them as a standalone system. 

When used by themselves, they were still a blast to use, but it did take a little more work to find my target and punch holes in the paper than with a red dot sight. But what that really tells me is that I just need to train more with irons. And I plan to, now that I have something a bit more reliable than previously-used systems.

After more than 500 rounds down range, the PEAK/01 sights held zero and were still safely locked in place. That’s a big win for me, as other systems I’ve used in the past required re-tightening of the mount screws or minor adjustments to the aperture or front sight post. The PEAK/01 sights required neither of those. I imagine I’ll run some drop tests in the future, but for now, I’m happy with the results.

Final Thoughts

The Scalarworks PEAK/01 aren’t cheap, but they’re incredibly sturdy and reliable, delivering incredible clarity at darn near any range. In my honest opinion, they’re probably the best iron sights out there. At the very least, they’re the best irons I’ve ever used in my 15+ years of firearms experience. And while they’re ridiculously lightweight, Scalarworks definitely didn’t skimp out on quality. They hold zero exceptionally well, they’re easy to install, and if that weren’t enough, they look fantastic! Never have I seen such fine craftsmanship in an aftermarket sight system, and if you’re in the market for American-made irons, I think you’ll agree.

Vickers himself even said, “I’m now running Scalarworks iron sights and Aimpoint Micro mounts on my BCM carbine in all of my training classes. Scalarworks Leap Mounts and Peak Sights are the current state of the art.” If they’re good enough to meet the standards of Mr. Vickers, they’re good enough for me!

The post Scalarworks PEAK Sights: Lightweight and Professional-Grade Combat Sights appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Best Defensive Shotgun Ammo Out There

The defensive shotgun used to be fairly simple. Load it up with buckshot, and you’re good to go. Times have changed, though, and our training has advanced and gotten better. Our tactics and techniques have improved, as have our ammo choices. The tactical shotgun is a very capable weapon and with a little thought, it becomes quite effective.

5. Fiocchi Defense Dynamics

If you need a good patterning defensive load that doesn’t break the bank, then the Fiocchi Defense Dynamics load is perfect for you. It’s a modern 2.75-inch 00 buckshot load that fires eight pellets at 1,325 feet per second. It’s specifically built from the ground up to be capable of home defense. The use of eight pellets ensures a consistent pattern without the 9th pellet flyer.

Budget defensive ammo doesn’t have to be crappy.

The way pellets are stacked inside a shell can affect how they pattern. When nine pellets are shoved into a 2.75-inch tube, you have a fairly high chance of a 9th pellet flyer. This flyer can be dangerous as it’s often a good way away from the rest of the pattern. Eight pellets are preferred for most defensive buckshot loads.

At 1,325 feet per second, the rounds aren’t quite low recoil but aren’t out of control, either. It’s likely due to balance and necessary to ensure they function with semi-auto shotguns without issue. The high brass is another bonus that’s tough to beat. This loads patterns nicely and delivers consistent patterns at home defense ranges. It’s cheap enough to buy in bulk and train hard with.

4. Hornady Critical Defense Triple Defense .410

I’m not a huge fan of .410 for home defense. I do feel like a rifle might be the better choice, but I still want to mention the absolutely best defensive .410 ever created and the only one I’d use for home defense. The Hornady Critical Defense Triple Defense .410 is a bit of a mix of buck and ball. Instead of mixing your typical anemic .410 slug with some buckshot, they mix a very specific slug.

410 shotgun ammo
The Triple Defense load is odd, but very effective

That slug is a .41 caliber FTX slug that’s backed by two buckshot pellets. Normally I’d scoff at such a load, but the Triple Defense loads pattern brilliantly and consistently. They are quite accurate, and within home defense ranges, they stick together fairly tightly. The .41 FTX slug hits hard and expands to provide a great big projectile to strike deep and hard.

That round has no penetration problems and consistently gets deep enough to hit something vital. If you are using .410, you are likely recoil averse. Don’t be frightened. The Hornady Critical Defense doesn’t hurt the shoulder and keeps the soft design of .410 intact.

3. Federal Force X2 12 Gauge Ammo

The Federal Force X2 ammunition was one of those things I really doubted when it appeared. I thought it was a bit of a meme and a gimmick. The X2 ammo promised to use nine pellets that had been nearly cut in half. When the pellets would hit soft targets, they would break into two pieces. The promise was twofold.

force x2 ammo
The Force X2 Ammo is odd, but highly effective if overpenetration is a concern.

First, the ammo would create 18 wound tracks instead of nine. It would act as what’s essentially a #1 buckshot load in terms of pellet delivery. When the X2 ammo broke apart, it essentially failed to maintain its weight as it penetrated and heavily limited overpenetration but would still penetrate enough to reach vital portions of the body.

While it was a big promise, it turned out to be true. Independent testing showed that the ammo lived up to its promises. Using properly calibrated gel, the pellets broke apart and reached minimal penetration with very little chance of overpenetration when aimed at the torso. The X2 ammo is a specialized home defense load, and it is made of premium components. Sadly it lacks the FltieControl wad.

2. Hornady Black

Hornady Black buckshot is my second favorite and the load I would turn to if my first choice was sold out. Hornady Black provides a full-power buckshot load made of premium components designed for self-defense roles. One of the big differences between Hornady Black and most other tactical loads is that Hornady leaned into a full-powered design. They use eight pellets moving at 1,600 feet per second.

Honrady black ammo
Hornady Black offers you the Versa-Tite wad with full power performance.

The 8-pellet design helps prevent that 9th-pellet flyer problem. The Black rounds also use the Versa-Tite wad that provides a very tight and consistent spread. This is second only to Flitecontrol loads. The Hornady Black load delivers consistently tight patterns and enthusiastic operation from semi-auto guns.

The load is incredibly reliable, and if you use a semi-auto that might be a little picky, it does lean to the fully powered side to help with reliable operation. That 1,600 FPS rating also contributes to a good bit more recoil, which is why it’s my second choice. A 1,200 FPS Black load would be a real contender for Number 1.

1. Federal Flitecontrol

Federal Flitecontrol is the best defensive shotgun ammo on the market. This load revolutionized the industry, and it changed the effective range of shotguns with buckshot. The Flitecontrol wad is the special magic to this load. This wad stays with the pellets as the shot leaves the barrel. Once the wad and pellets leave the barrel, the wad slows down drastically and lets the pellets propel downrange.

flitecontrol shotgun ammo
FliteControl is the absolute best ammo out there for defensive use.

This creates a crazy tight pattern. The old 1-inch for every yard is long gone with Flitecontrol. At 10 yards and even 15 yards, the Fltiecontrol loads create a 50-cent-sized hole in a paper target. That’s a crazy tight pattern. The benefits are total pellet accountability. This keeps you from having errant pellets striking something or someone else accidentally.

As the pellets hit the body, they continue to spread inside the body, giving that devastating shotgun effect on target. This modern load is a low recoil design for enhanced control. Typically a lower velocity does tie to a better pattern overall. The Flitecontrol load is my load of choice for home defense. It’s well worth the investment.

The Buckshot Solution

Buckshot has changed drastically in the last decade. If you work in the industry or pay attention to it, you’ve likely noticed a reemergence of the shotgun. I think this is due to a few reasons, and one of the big ones is high-quality ammo options. The range, effectiveness, consistency, and accuracy have improved greatly, and it shows.

The post The Best Defensive Shotgun Ammo Out There appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Musings on Shotgun Red Dots

Shotguns have often been left out of the conversation when it comes to sighting options. The general discussion being a bead is good enough, and it often ends there. Shotgunners certainly know that a good bead can be valuable and useful, but that doesn’t make it the end all be all. Neither are rifle sights or ghost ring sights. While both have their benefits, they all have issues in the fact that they are iron sights. Much like handguns and rifles, optics are invaluable on shotguns, and with shotguns, the discussion revolves around red dots

Red dots are only the start of the discussion, though. Today we are going to talk about a few of the musings I have about shotguns and their optics based on experimenting, shooting, and generally trying to outfit my guns to the best of my ability. 

Why red dots on a shotgun?

Shotguns have not historically needed a fancy sight system. That’s why beads have always been useful. However, things, as the man says, are a changing. We are seeing the advent and extreme popularity of loads from Federal and Hornady that are extremely tight patterning. Federal Flitecontrol, Hornady Critical Defense, and Hornady Black have changed the concept of shotguns and the name scattergun. 

Optics and shotguns are best friends.

Sure, they still spread, but modern wad technology has made that spread occur at much longer ranges. At 15 yards and closer, it’s typically a 50-cent-piece-sized hole in the target. You aren’t aiming a rapidly spreading load of buckshot anymore, and the extra precision offered by red dots is valuable for both modern buckshots and slugs. Even if you stick to more traditional and cheaper buckshot, a red dot is handy. 

Red dots also make aiming faster and work in all lighting environments. They promote a target focus, which is fairly natural with a shotgun. You can stare at the target through the red dot, which is extremely valuable at close range. The ability to focus on the threat allows for greater situational awareness. Red dots are a natural accessory on shotguns. 

What kind of red dots are good for shotguns? 

Red dots tend to be smaller these days, but there is still a noticeable difference between an Aimpoint Micro and a Trijicon RMR. With shotguns, you tend to want to stick to pistol-sized red dots, especially on shotguns with more traditional designs. Traditional being a tube-fed shotgun resembling an 870, 500, or Benelli. When it comes to AR or AK-type magazine-fed shotguns, the size can vary, but our focus is more on the traditional shotgun. 

Smaller red dots offer lighter-weight designs that take up fewer rails and have less demanding mounting requirements. That’s nice, but the real reason we use smaller red dots is that they are less likely to get in the way, and we don’t necessarily need a bigger red dot. We aren’t using magnifiers and don’t really need the benefits of a bigger red dot. 

Holosun 507C on shotgun
The Holosun 507C is my favorite shotgun optic.

Bigger red dots tend to get in the way when it comes to port loading over the top of the gun. When you attempt to throw a round directly into the chamber, you run into an issue where big dots sit directly over the loading port and get in the way. 

Also, when a bigger red dot spills over the top of the shotgun, it can get in the way of your side saddle. Pulling a shell out can be tricky when you keep bumping into the red dot as you reload from the side saddle. 

Finally, most pistol red dots sit rather low, and with the traditional shotgun stocks, the lower the optic, the better. It’s easier to see while maintaining a good cheek weld and getting a comfortable mount on the gun. 

What reticle design works best for a shotgun optic? 

A simple red dot works just fine, to be fair. I would prefer one that’s at least 3 MOA, and bigger can be better for the rapid-fire, close-range domination shotguns offer. Six and eight MOA dots are not too big. 

To me, the best reticle is a circle and dot, or even just a circle. Holosun’s pistol red dots with the multiple reticle system are an awesome option. The 507C, 507K, 509T, and more have a 32 MOA circle reticle, and that’s my absolute favorite for shotguns. The primary reason is that within 15 yards, I know that every pellet of my Flitecontrol load will land in that circle. 

Holosun 507K reticle
The 32 MOA reticle is perfect for patterning buckshot.

I have total pellet accountability with this reticle inside of 15 yards, which is further than the longest shot I can take inside my home. Other than that, the big reticle is easy and quick to see, and I know that as soon as I fill that big reticle with the target, I’m placing effective fire on the threat.  

Mounting Options 

The most common means to attach an optic to your shotgun will be a Picatinny rail. It’s the classic option that’s served us well for generations. It’s common and simple, and very effective. Most common pistol-sized red dots will have a low-profile rail mount that works decently. The downside to the design is that the combination of the rail mount and the rail itself will push the optic a little higher than what’s likely optimum. 

shotgun red dot with sync mount
The Sync mount is my favorite mounting system.

Picatinny works, but there are some better options. The second best option is the Scalarworks Sync mount. This mounts the optic very low on your gun and often replaces the existing rail or mounts directly to the drilled and tapped portion of your receiver. This situates the red dot quite low and makes it nice to use with traditional shotguns. 

Finally, the best overall option is a direct mount solution. This means the receiver of the gun is specifically cut for your optic’s footprint. Mossberg seems to be the only company making this a reality as of now, but it’s likely to grow in popularity. This removes the need for a mount and pushes the optic low enough that it can co-witness with your bead sight. 

red dots on shotgun
Red dots add a sting to your shotgun. Plus, they work day or night with ease.

Seeing Red

While you can probably get by perfectly fine with a bead sight, you shouldn’t have to. Red dots make shooting shotguns easier and faster, and they work in all lighting conditions. You get the precision of proper sights for longer-range shots without sacrificing close-range speed. It’s not exactly as simple as strapping any old dot on the gun, but it can be fairly easy when you put a little thought into the process. 

What do you think? Are shotgun red dots for you? Let us know below. 

The post Musings on Shotgun Red Dots appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Is 10mm for Hunting or Self-Defense?

The 10mm is picking up traction again. Some are even referring to it as a “new” round because so many gun companies are producing new models in 10mm. Considering the entire history of firearms, the 10mm is relatively new. But it was introduced back in the early 1980s.

Several gun companies produced 10mm models early on and the FBI even adopted it for a while. But the high-pressure round caused too much recoil for most practical purposes. The most popular model back in the 1980s was the “Bren Ten”, a CZ-75 style handgun. Glock made round a little more popular when it produced several models chambered in 10mm. But like many other calibers, it just couldn’t hang on.

The 10mm handgun like this Sig XTEN is gaining in popularity. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Until recently, that is. When most calibers don’t make it, they stay dead. But the 10mm was brought back to life and people began taking notice again. Glock released the G20 gen 5, Sig made the XTEN, which is a P320 in 10mm. And just about every other major gun company is now producing 10mm models. So, with all these 10mm handgun options hitting the market, it causes the curious gun browser to wonder, what is a 10mm for?

Hunting with a 10mm?

The biggest question I get from people is when this cartridge should be used. Is it better for self-defense or hunting? I’ll get the unhelpful answer out of the way first. It’s up to the shooter and what they need from a gun. There, that’s the neutral answer because some gun experts will say the 10mm is perfect for self-defense and some will say, nah!

There isn’t much debate, however, when it comes to hunting with a 10mm handgun. It’s a powerful round that is adequate for just about any beast you encounter in the woods. I have heard numerous stories of people shooting bears and dropping them instantly. In a few cases, the bear was charging the hunter when they shot in self-defense. This makes the gun perfect for hikers, campers, and anyone who lives near the mountains or large wooded areas.

Hunting with a 10mm handgun.
Hunting with a handgun is much different than with a rifle. It can be challenging and rewarding. The 10mm is a great caliber for the job. (Photo: Anna Mosher)

The cartridge is picking up steam across the country, but it has been a popular choice in Alaska for years because of the power it harnesses when fired. Hunting with a handgun is a whole new ballgame in the hunting world. You must get closer and be more accurate with a gun that is not stabilized like a rifle is against your shoulder. But when you are within the effective range of the 10mm, it’s a great hunting round.

Because it is becoming more popular, the 10mm is earning its regular place on the ammo shelves. This means more options to pick from. Hornady makes a 135gr MonoFlex round that is reported to be a great hunting round. If you want more knockdown, you can go up to a 220-grain bullet too.

Self-Defense With a 10mm

This is the topic most debated with this cartridge. Some have the belief that larger, more powerful bullets are better for self-defense. I think this is true within reason. On the other side of the fence, people argue that a 10mm has too much kick for self-defense. With high recoil, it would be hard to shoot fast and stay on target.

And in most self-defense incidents, shooting faster is a necessity. The other issue besides the powerful cartridge is the size of the gun. Most 10mm handguns are on the larger side. This makes it difficult to conceal, and heavy to lug around all day. Another thing to consider is the cost of ammo.

Sig Elite 10mm ammo.
This is a big, powerful round. There are plenty of options for self-defense rounds like this Sig Elite HP ammo. (Photo: Jason Mosher)

If you carry a gun for self-defense, it’s best to train on a regular basis. This requires ammo and ammo is not cheap, but 10mm ammo is expensive. So how much are you prepared to spend on ammo for training? You will feel like you’re buying gold-plated bullets.

Even though I bring up the recoil on the 10mm, I don’t want to sound like it’s an unbearable round to shoot. It kicks a little more than a .45 ACP. That’s not so bad that it’s impossible to shoot, but some will struggle with it. This is the part where it depends on the shooter. Those who shoot a .45 regularly may not notice much of a difference. Others, however, will not like the kick that comes with the hotter self-defense rounds. But if you can control the recoil and don’t mind spending the extra money, a 10mm could work for self-defense.

Who makes a 10mm handgun?

Just about everybody. Highpoint is even producing a 10mm handgun. And no, I don’t own one, I just saw it in the gun store. I won’t get into the quality of various handguns here, but I have serious questions about a 10mm handgun in the $200 range. For those who like 1911, you are in luck. The number of 1911s offered in 10mm is growing. Here are some of the 1911s chambered in 10mm that I like:

  • Springfield Armory: TRP Operator
  • Ruger: SR1911 Target
  • Colt: Delta Elite
  • Rock Island: Ultra FS
  • Kimber: Eclipse
Sig XTEN 10mm handgun.
Because of the renewed interest in the cartridge, companies are starting to produce more options for the consumer. (Photo: Jason Mosher)

If you want a semi-auto 10mm, you will have even more options. Because more people are taking an interest in the 10mm, new models are being announced constantly. Here are some that have caught my eye:

  • Springfield Armory: Elite
  • Smith & Wesson: M&P M2.0
  • Sig Sauer: P320 XTEN
  • FN: 510 Tactical
  • Glock: G20SF


When it comes to self-defense, there are several factors to consider. The size of the gun, holster options, price, and the type of self-defense. Keeping a larger caliber handgun in the car for certain events makes sense. I would carry a 10mm for self-defense when hiking, camping, or going anywhere else where animals are a threat. As far as the ballistics go, a 10mm comes with a punch.

It has the power and there is a lot of defense ammunition available. This leaves me with the same opinion as every other self-defense caliber. If the caliber you choose will stop a threat, you can shoot it accurately, and ammo companies make defense ammunition for it, it will work. There’s a wide range of defense calibers out there and opinions on each one vary all over the board.

I have .380 pistols and 10mm pistols. I can see the pros and cons of each one so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all caliber. We have choices, and we can choose more than one. If you have or plan to buy a 10mm, it will be great for hunting, and if you want to use it for self-defense, it will work for that too.

The post Is 10mm for Hunting or Self-Defense? appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Guns We Miss: The Colt Pocket Positive

Though we live in a golden age of fine firearms covering a broader spectrum of needs than ever, there are guns no longer in production that we miss. Let’s begin the Guns We Miss series with one that is little remembered today, the Colt Pocket Positive .32 revolver.

Colt Pocket positive revolver.

Why pick that one? The choice is surprisingly timely. In 2023, when this is written, the 9mm semiautomatic pistol has gone from being seen as a “weak sister” as little as 20 years ago to the dominant choice of both America’s police and its armed citizens, on the theory that modern ammunition has made it just as effective as larger caliber handguns. As the gun experts of yesteryear age and experience arthritis and loss of physical strength, less powerful handguns with lighter recoil are more appreciated. Some experts are now even comfortable carrying .22s. We’ve seen the .32 Magnum come and (almost) go, and its more powerful sibling the .327 Magnum hang on tenaciously, selling enough to keep them in production. Revolvers themselves are undergoing something of a renaissance in popularity.

A Brief History

The Pocket Positive lasted from 1905 to 1940. Mine in the lead photo is marked “.32 Police CTG” on the barrel, probably because gun companies have historically been reluctant to stamp competitors’ names on their guns. The cartridge it’s chambered for was the .32 Smith & Wesson Long. A time came when Colt convinced some ammo makers to produce that cartridge with a flat-tipped lead bullet instead of the usual round nose, and call it the .32 Colt New Police. Later Colt .32 revolvers would in fact be marked “.32 NP.”

The Pocket Positive was the improved version of the Colt New Pocket in the same caliber, of which some 30,000 were manufactured between 1893 and 1905. The primary improvement in the Pocket Positive gave it its name: Colt’s “Positive” internal safety design that made it drop safe, and characterized the more popular Police Positive in .32 and .38 caliber, introduced in 1905 also. The Pocket Positive externally was a much better-looking gun than its predecessor, with what became a Colt signature feature — a round cylinder release latch replacing the cheap, rickety-looking flat latch on the New Pocket — and a streamlined trigger guard that flowed more pleasingly into the rest of the frame.

The Pocket Positive was a true .32 frame. In barrel lengths of 2”, 2.5”, and 3” with an occasional longer one, the 2.5” seems to have been the most popular. If you look at the accompanying photos, the gun has the proportions of a K-frame S&W or D-frame Colt Detective Special with a three-inch barre … but the barrel on that Pocket Positive is 2.5”.  It seems in keeping with a gun that’s roughly one-sixth the size of its much more popular big brother, the Colt Detective Special, and is distinctly smaller than the super-popular J-frame Smith & Wesson.

J. Edgar Hoover was known to carry a Pocket Positive daily, nickel plated with a 2” barrel and grips of either ivory or pearl (reports differ). Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. carried one while playing a private detective on the old TV series “77 Sunset Strip.” Real-life gun and knife expert David Steele told me he frequently carried a Pocket Positive in “non-permissive environments.”

Massad Ayoob shooting the Colt Pocket Positive
The Pocket Positive appears tiny in the hands of an average size adult male.

Shooting the Pocket Positive

Despite a barrel five-eighths of an inch longer than today’s J-frame S&Ws, the Pocket Positive hides better in a pocket holster. Its small, rounded grip makes it quick to grab from there. The pinky finger tucks comfortably under the butt when firing. My specimen has the exquisitely smooth hand-honed action that was standard in its day, a tribute to the skills of the people who built firearms in the “Gun Valley” of Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts back then.

Female shooting the Colt Pocket Positive
Pocket Positive appears proportional, fired by a 5’ tall female shooter.

The sights suck, of course, a sadder hallmark of handguns of that period. The rear is a tiny V-notch cut into the top of the frame, and the round front sight presents an itty-bitty knife blade to the aiming eye of the shooter.  While this does allow someone with sharp eyesight to proverbially “draw a fine bead,” it takes time, and time is seldom generous to people who need defensive firearms for their actual intended purpose.  At close range, it works better to take a “StressPoint Index.” That is, letting the whole front sight sit atop the notch as you aim.

Loading the revolver,
Terrible tiny sights were common during the period of Pocket Positive’s manufacture. Here it’s being loaded with Federal .32 Long wadcutters.

Recoil is pleasantly mild. Unfortunately, that’s because .32 Long ammunition is unpleasantly anemic. For years, the standard round was a 98-grain round nose lead bullet at a nominal 780 feet per second and generating only 130 foot-pounds of energy. The second most commonly encountered round is the target wadcutter, spec’d by Magtech at 682 foot-seconds and 102 foot-pounds and by Fiocchi at 100 grains, 730 fps, and 118 ME. These unimpressive stats are made worse when you consider the still lesser velocity from the short barrels of this type of revolver.

Colt Pocket Positie with a selection of ammo
The range of ammo choices for .32 Long.

If I was to carry one of these for self-defense, I’d load it with the wadcutters. Even on the two-dimensional cardboard target, the full wadcutter .32 slug cuts a larger hole than the puckered entry produced by the old round-nose .38 Special lead bullet, which was notorious for creating puckered, icepick-like wounds that would mortally wound opponents but not necessarily stop them. Buffalo Bore makes a 115-grain hard cast flat-nose bullet at 800 foot-seconds and a 100-grain full wadcutter at 900, but those strike me as better suited for larger .32 Long revolvers than the relatively delicate old Pocket Positive.

Pocket positive and S&W 340 M&P with two different types of ammo
Note that Pocket Positive is smaller than J-frame S&W 340 M&P, but .32 wadcutter makes a larger entry hole than the round nose .38 Special.

Potential for Reintroduction?

Modern materials should allow for a .32 revolver exactly this diminutive size, but chambered for .32 Magnum or even .327. Yes, it would need a longer cylinder, but with a true 2” barrel instead of the 2.5” so commonly seen on the Pocket Positive wouldn’t be any longer overall. Recoil would be much snappier, of course, but compact neoprene grips of the right shape would go far toward mitigating that.

Today’s .32s, .32 Mags, and .327s are built J-frame size. A manufacturer would have to start with a new frame size to shrink those down to Pocket Positive dimensions. Would a one-sixth-smaller gun have that much appeal? With neither .32 Mag nor .327 having set the world on fire, and polymer autos being the order of the day, would a manufacturer invest as much as it would take to reanimate the Pocket Positive concept? Or would making an ultra-light version in .32 Long be enough, in light of current trends toward less powerful handguns?

The post Guns We Miss: The Colt Pocket Positive appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Steiner Military Marine 7×50 Binoculars: See Anything, Anywhere

If you’re an outdoorsman of any kind, a regular at the range, or just like a helping hand when it comes to seeing what can be too far for the human eyes, then binoculars are always an essential. However, it’s important to have the right specifications for your hobby as well as be able to withstand the test of time and a beating. If you’re anything like me, you dabble between several outdoor activities, so versatility is a requirement for a lot of gear. Recently I got to try out the Steiner Military Marine 7×50 binoculars, and they delivered. 


Steiner’s packaging for their binoculars, inside holding the binoculars, a carrying case, neck strap, and a lens wipe. (Photo credit: Grace Stevens)

Steiner delivers some powerful binoculars. These measure at 7×50, with a field of view of 302 yards at 1000 feet. But, to the average Joe, these numbers may not stand out. So let’s break it down. 

The ‘7’ is the magnification, meaning objects will be seven times larger using binoculars. The magnification being higher isn’t always the goal, as it can lessen the field of view (FOV). The FOV is based on how much of the picture you’d see at 1000 yards. Steiner’s Military Marine binoculars have a FOV of 302 yards (which isn’t too narrow or wide, it’s a great middle-ground). Overall, the magnification and FOV on these are great for general, unspecialized use (example: birdwatchers may want specific features for their hobby). 

The ‘50’ denotes the size of the objective lens in millimeters. Now, this can be a number that some may seek at a higher number because the bigger the lens, the more light can be taken in, therefore the better the picture. 50mm lenses are pretty big, especially for general use, creating a bright and clear picture. This can be great for multiple environments, including low-light settings which can pose an issue to some kinds of binoculars. 

These binoculars are really light given how strong they are. They sit at about 2½ pounds and are 6”x8”x12”. They fit comfortably in your hands without straining to keep hold due to size or weight. Even with my own smaller hands, I didn’t really struggle — and it’s important to note that I have run into that being an issue before, so it was a relief not to struggle with these. 

The eye relief is 20.2mm, which is how far the binoculars can be before your FOV lessens. If you wear glasses, having eye relief higher than about 15mm is best, so Steiner delivers a great choice for those who will wear their glasses in the field. Though I don’t need my glasses 24/7, I can vouch for this as I tested them both ways.


man in the woods
I feel like I could take these binoculars anywhere, they’re great for just about everything. [Photo credit: Grace Stevens]

When it comes to versatility, these binoculars are a great option. They’re up for the challenge of most environments. Resistant to up to 11 Gs of impact, the Makrolon housing is made of polycarbonate and NBR Long Life rubber. It’s even waterproof, so these binoculars can take a beating and will likely make it out just fine. 

Steiner also provides a camo carrying case making it easy to take these binoculars anywhere. If you need them readily available or would like to further protect them from falling during extended use, Steiner also provides a simple neck strap for the user to loop on. 

Keeping your lenses clear is so important but sometimes taking lens covers on and off can be tiring. However, with these binoculars, it’s not as big of a hassle. The objective lens covers are attached with a swiveling button, making it easy to flip them down in a pinch and then put them back on without digging for loose covers. The eyecup cover is loose, but in one piece it’s no problem to keep track of, especially since when you’re active on the field you probably won’t need those as much as the objective lens covers. 

Following moving objects is no problem either with the Sports-Auto Focus System. This allows you to adjust the eyepieces individually and keep that quality focus in check while you use it. So, when animals move unpredictably you don’t have to wrestle with the focus. 


Man looking through binoculars in the woods
It was so nice to have these binoculars on our camping trip. We got to see plenty of wildlife through the trees. [Photo credit: Grace Stevens]

I took these on a weekend camping trip and they were a perfect addition. Carrying them was easy and comfortable using the provided carrying case. It was nice to set the strap and forget it as I carried it cross-body on my hip. Hiking in the Oklahoma mountains, I took a rougher trail which took a bit more agility and rock climbing, and they never really got in my way. Cross-body bags can drive me nuts as I find they slide down my shoulder a lot, but I didn’t have an issue with that this time. Likely that was attributable to the size and style of the strap and being able to adjust it as tight or as loose as I need.  

These binoculars came in particularly handy when we wanted to observe wildlife. I saw several deer, hawks, and smaller birds on our hike. We even got to catch pictures of a hawk and its nest using the binoculars against my phone camera, which isn’t exactly what the human eye would see for several reasons but still shows some of the power these hold. 

These are great for hunting, too. I really had no problem following the deer I saw with my binoculars even as they ran up the mountain away from us. The same goes for the birds we saw; it was easy to find and follow them as they flew. The images I saw were clear as day. 

Hawk flying over nest seen through optic lens..
Here you can see a hawk flying over its nest. This photo is taken with an iPhone through a single lens. It’s not identical to what I saw, but nonetheless, we got a great view of the hawks. [Photo credit: Grace Stevens]

The binoculars came in handy when it got darker, too. The combination of the overcast weather and the sun already going down made me concerned about being able to use them. Lo and behold, they worked just fine for a while before it was too dark for even the eye to see well. 

The Steiner binoculars will now be staying in my car or on my person anytime I go hiking. They’re handy to have especially when you never know when you may want to use them. Driving through the countryside of Texas, there are plenty of hogs, coyotes, and deer throughout the year off in the fields that are a great sight. 

Steiner’s 7×50 binoculars will also be a must-have for my hunting trips for the same reason. They’re not too heavy to carry around and can easily take some tumbling in the woods worst-case scenario. It’s good not having to be concerned about a surprise rainstorm ruining them, either. 

The range is a great place to take these binoculars as well. Everyone needs a reliable set handy to check downrange during target shooting. And, if you don’t already take some with you, consider it. They can make your life a lot easier, especially when zeroing a scope. 


Steiner offers the Heritage warranty with their binoculars. This is a lifetime deal where Steiner assures they can repair the product for free within reason. If it’s cosmetic, intentional damage, loss, or theft, it’s not covered. But if your binoculars break they’ll get you fixed up in no time. You don’t even need a receipt or proof of warranty. Plus, it is still in effect for future owners if you were to pass them down or sell them. In theory, these binoculars could easily be handed down between generations and kept in the same high quality for quite a while. It’s important to note this covers several of their products but this warranty specifically applies in the US and Canada on products made since 2014. 


man holding binoculars with both hands, squatted to the ground
The Steiner binoculars have a great grip and feel. [Photo credit: Grace Stevens]

Steiner’s Military Marine 7×50 binoculars were great to use. The only downside is the price is a little steep, but you truly get your money’s worth (especially with the lifetime warranty). If you spend a lot of time outdoors hiking, shooting, or hunting, I recommend these to cover multiple areas of interest. Who doesn’t need a reliable set of binoculars that you can take anywhere to do anything? 

The post Steiner Military Marine 7×50 Binoculars: See Anything, Anywhere appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Streamlight MacroStream USB Flashlight: Too Good Not To Have!

Flashlights are sort of like potato chips, in that most people can’t have just one. We might even go so far as to say that they’re addicting. Especially for the tactical crowd, who typically seem to go on lengthy tangents down those rabbit holes.

Anyone who happens to be “into” flashlights will be familiar with the name Streamlight. Since 1973, they’ve been bringing us lighting tools. Initially, they started out with only six employees, but that has grown to approximately 240 employees today.

Based in Pennsylvania, they are known for quality products that do not cost an arm and a leg and that are durable, while giving high performance. Known as a “hands-on” company, employees are active in many varied pursuits, and these experiences lend expertise when they’re developing and testing lights. For example, many Streamlight employees go through firefighter training and are hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts. These folks know what we need in the field!

Today we’re going to take a close-up look at the Streamlight MacroStream USB Flashlight. What’s so great about it? We’re going to let you know!

Rechargeable Batteries — The New Wave!

Having to constantly replace and purchase batteries is a real drag and can become pretty costly for those of us who use lights frequently. I personally use my lights multiple times per day. They are an irreplaceable part of my wardrobe. With the innovation of rechargeable batteries, flashlights have benefitted immensely. No longer do we have to constantly buy and replace batteries. The cost savings can be significant for many of us.

The MacroStream comes with a USB charger cable, or you can use the one from your phone. (Photo: Jim Davis)

A Caveat

While I am a zealous fanatic about my love for rechargeable lights, there is one minor downside. It might not affect everyone, but I’ll throw it out there anyway.

The issue can occur if we exhaust the charge in one of our rechargeable lights. That light must now be plugged in to recharge, presumably until it is fully charged. During that charging time, the light is out of commission. As such, the user probably should have a backup light source to fall back on. For most of us, that means buying multiple lights. That gives us an excuse to go out and buy more lights, which most people will happily do.

Is this a huge issue? It depends upon what we’re using our light for. If it’s law enforcement or Search And Rescue, it could be a huge deal. In such instances, having a backup is absolutely paramount. Those who plan ahead will most definitely have extra lights.

For lights that are just EDC-type items around the house, this shouldn’t be a huge issue, as it’s easy enough to have a spare light around the house.

Despite small inconveniences, the rechargeable nature of lights with their cost savings will still be wildly welcomed by most people.

Streamlight MacroStream USB Specs

The length of the MacroStream is 4.5 inches (11.43 Centimeters) and it weighs 2.2 ounces (62.37 grams). In short, it’s a small, lightweight light that easily clips inside a pocket. As far as compactness and ease of carry are concerned, they got this one right.

There is an internal, lithium-ion battery in the light. The body of the light is constructed of anodized, machined aluminum. The lens is polycarbonate. I’ve not had any issues with the lens scratching.

The light is tested to one-meter impact resistance. The aircraft aluminum body is protected by a Mil-Spec Type II anodized finish that gives it a nice, flat black appearance.

The LED light source is immune to shock and features a 30,000 run time.

A USB charging cord is included with the light. Or you can use any of the dozen or so charger cables that are likely around your home, leftovers from years of cell phones.

The switch for the light is a rubber-coated tail switch. The first push of the switch gets the user 500 lumens (2,000 candelas), while the second push gets us 50 lumens. At either setting, if you push the switch all the way in, it clicks and stays on (Constant On). If you don’t push it until it clicks, the light turns off as soon as pressure is released from the switch (Momentary On). This is, to me, the perfect way to set up a switch.

Tail cap switch.
The tail cap switch is easy to find in the dark and in emergencies. It works well for Momentary On or Constant On functions. (Photo: Jim Davis)

For a defensive or tactical light, in my opinion, the only way to go is the push button tail switch. The thumb automatically goes straight to the tail to activate it, and there’s no blind searching for the switch in the dark. The Momentary On aspect is also perfect; if pressure is released, the light goes off. These are both mandatory requirements for me in a tactical/defensive light.

A twist of the tail switch can lock the light out so it won’t be activated accidentally.

Run Times

  • At the 500-lumen setting, the light runs for two hours.
  • At the 50-lumen setting, the light runs for eight hours.
  • Internal lithium-ion battery charges in four hours.

How To Charge the Streamlight Macrostream USB 

Speaking of charging the light, it’s a unique process. Pull the head of the light forward, and a metal sleeve slides forward to expose the charging port. Plug in the charger cable. A red charge indicator light indicates that the unit is charging, while a green one indicates that it is fully charged.

After it’s charged, just push the sleeve back down toward the light, and it seals again, making the unit water-resistant. The light is rated for IPX-4 water resistance, which protects from splashing water, regardless of the direction.

The Streamlight MacroStream Clip

The clip on the Streamlight MacroStream USB is stellar, in that it allows you to carry the light with the head either up or down, which offers versatility. I personally like to carry my lights with the tail cap in the upward position in my pocket because I find the light is in a good position to activate the tail cap switch as soon as I draw it.

Streamlight MacroStream clip
The Streamlight MacroStream clip can carry the light either bezel up or down and is sturdy. It can also clip easily to the bill of a hat. The MacroSTream is light and compact. (Photo: Jim Davis)

One convenient aspect is that the MacroStream can be clipped onto the bill of a ball cap for hands-free operation. The light doesn’t weigh much and won’t drag the hat down on the user’s head, so this method works extremely well. On top of that, the clip can be affixed to any number of other pieces of gear, including pack straps and such. I’ve found this clip to be extremely durable, which is another huge plus. I don’t have to be concerned with it bending or breaking off.

Finally, the clip is removable, should the user decide to take it off.

What’s the range for this light?

Set at 500 lumens, the range of the MacroStream is listed at 90 meters, while at 50 lumens, it is 30 meters.

A little more about the beam. It has a main, focused throw that reaches out nicely. Then it has a wide flood, which helps light up the surrounding area. I like the flood because it helps illuminate objects or threats that might be nearby in the periphery. All in all, it’s a good beam that works well for many tasks.


In my opinion, this light is good for tactical, self-defense, and EDC (Everyday Carry) use. For tactical/self-defense, I like the fact that the first setting gets me the highest light output. If I’m trying to illuminate or blind a threat, I want that high setting right now, not later on. Having it as the primary setting is smart.

MacroStream, Spyderco PM2, Glock 43X.
Streamlight’s MacroStream offers a bright output. It makes a nice part of an EDC package, including a Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and a Glock 43X. (Photo: Jim Davis)

The fact that there is a lower setting (50 lumens) is great for EDC when we don’t necessarily need blinding light. Plus, it saves the battery, giving us many hours of light.

Will this light blind an attacker? Absolutely. Sure, there are brighter lights out there, but this one brings a lot to the table: it’s rechargeable and has two very sensible light outputs. It’s solidly constructed, as well. In an emergency, this light could be used to strike an attacker, as it’s built solidly enough.

One of the best aspects is that it is simple to use! There are just two settings, as opposed to other lights, some of which have a half-dozen different settings. Often, simple is better.

For navigating around the house or outside, the lower power setting works great, as it gives enough light to see up close, but won’t blast the eyes with night-vision-killing lumens.

MacroStream in hand.
The tail cap switch is fast into action. The light is also stout enough to be used as a striking device. (Photo: Jim Davis)

To Summarize

Streamlight’s MacroStream USB checks off a lot of the boxes for many of us. It has two very useful power levels that cover defensive, tactical, Search And Rescue, and EDC functions, among others.

The rechargeable aspect of it saves us from going broke purchasing fresh batteries, so there’s a real economical aspect to it. And talking about economics, there’s the price, which, at the time of this writing, happens to be $57.99.

It’s a durable light as well and will stand up to an impressive amount of abuse.

This light covers a lot of bases for a very reasonable price point. It comes from a company that stands behind its products with a limited lifetime warranty. I have to say, the Streamlight MacroStream USB is one of the better buys on the market, considering what you get for the money. You need one. 

The post Streamlight MacroStream USB Flashlight: Too Good Not To Have! appeared first on The Mag Life.

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