If you are in the market for a reasonably priced pistol case, Elite Survival Systems has several that are economical with lots of features.
Deluxe Pistol Case
The Deluxe Locking Pistol Case is large enough for what you need most, two handguns and accessories! This compact, lockable gun case is a perfect firearm bag.
Locking gun bag constructed of 1000 denier nylon
Heavy-duty, locking zippers and padlock
Two internal gun compartments with padded dividers
Center lockable bag compartment with loops for spare magazines
Additional exterior zippered pocket on this gun case with a lock.
Locking gun case available in black
Dims: 12.5″L x 7″H x 3.25″W
The case is $39.95.
Pistol Case with Pocket
This tactical case has a padded exterior pocket with loops for holding spare magazines.
Constructed of 1000 denier nylon for maximum durability
Large, fully padded exterior pocket with double-row elastic loops for single or double-column magazines
Full-perimeter zipper allows case to open flat
Lockable tactical pistol gun case with a pocket
Available in two sizes, 10.5″ x 6″ for $35.95 or 12.5″ x 8″ for $39.95.
Four Gun Pistol Pack, Range Bag
This discreet case was designed with two identical compartments, one on each side. Both can hold two handguns and contain fully-adjustable straps and loops for magazines. Each compartment on this pistol travel case has a separate accessory compartment with a padded divider inside. The accessory compartments of this multi-pistol range bag have elastic loops and Velcro pouches for magazines, ammo and accessories – as well as a mesh pouch for cleaning supplies, paperwork, etc. This pistol travel case has heavy-duty zippers and hardware and a molded rubber handle for comfort. This Elite Survival Systems four gun pistol pack holds as much gear as other packs three times its size.
Constructed of 1000 denier nylon
Heavy-duty zippers and hardware
Two identical compartments to hold two handguns each
Adjustable tie-downs and pockets for guns and accessories
Last month Springfield announced its new 15-round magazine for the highly popular Hellcat. The pistol had already made its mark as “the world’s highest-capacity micro-compact 9mm,” shipping with an 11-round and 13-round mag. Obviously, the addition of a couple more rounds to the count sounds very attractive. But if you’re like me, you’re also interested to know if the new magazine changes how the Hellcat fits and performs. And another big question for the concealed carry crowd — does the 15-round mag make the Springfield Hellcat less concealable? All good questions.
All About the New Hellcat Magazine
Here, we have compiled some articles/reviews about the 15-round mag. We will add more as we find them. The first review is a really good read by Jim Shepherd over at The Tactical Wire. You’ll be interested to find out what he learned about the differences between the 13-round and 15-round magazines after shooting just 28 rounds.
We’ve also included Travis Pike’s review—it’s quite thorough and even makes some comparisons between the Hellcat and the P365.
One thing that stands out to me between the two reviews is that both guys appreciated the additional quarter-inch that the new magazine added to the grip. It seems like just a small measurement, but as you’ll read below, it can possibly make a measurable difference in shooter performance.
At the bottom, you’ll find our original piece covering all the specs and details. Here’s what we’ve got so far about the Springfield Hellcat 15-round magazine. Enjoy!
Learning by Seeing
Jim Shepherd (Originally published on The Tactical Wire, June 1, 2021)
Everyone I know in the shooting sports agrees that when it comes to competition, having more rounds in your gun is good. More rounds mean fewer reloads, and fewer reloads, at least for mere mortals (like me), means time saved. I also realize, however, that the old adage “you can’t miss fast enough to win” is equally true.
But have you ever considered that in a personal defense scenario more rounds might mean fewer rounds needed? Today, more and more shooters are carrying smaller pistols. Smaller pistols, ordinarily have always meant fewer rounds. But having fewer rounds in the gun was viewed as a tradeoff for more comfortable and more easily concealed (smaller) guns in our concealed carry holsters.
In any emergency situation, however, more is generally regarded as better than fewer, especially when you’re talking round counts in a handgun. So, engineers went back to their CAD programs and came up with ways to increase capacities without radically changing the overall dimensions of their small guns.
As a result, we now have very small guns that carry 11, 12, even 13, rounds. Much increased capacities, but not significantly increased manageability. In fact, not everyone can get enough grip on these tiny blasters to shoot them as effectively as larger guns.
Enter the “enhanced capacity” magazine. It might not seem like a lot, but adding a slightly extended magazine to anything from S&W’s M&P Shield to Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat can make a big difference.
Being “large framed” I always elect to go with the enhanced capacity magazine as primary and leave the smaller magazine as the backup. I’m not planning on emptying either, but I’ve never intentionally gone into a situation where I’ve needed my gun, either. So, for me, more– initially- is better.
Recently, Springfield Armory announced new “higher capacity” magazines for their very successful Hellcat. The Hellcat was already available with 13+1 capacities, but this new mag adds two more rounds, enabling you to have 15+1 rounds of 9mm in a micro compact. In case you’ve not been paying attention lately, round count is sort of a big deal in the hot new micro category.
But does the enhanced capacity really bring you any benefit other than more rounds? It’s a question I thought I could only answer by testing. So, I reached out to S-A and they graciously sent me a couple of their new 15-rounders.
A word of advice: If you’re getting these new 15-rounders, consider investing in a loading device of some sort. Trust me, your thumbs will thank you. They are stiff.
After loading both mags, I headed to the range for some decidedly non-scientific testing.
What I had in mind was simple: I would take two identical targets and shoot 13 rounds into both of them at the same distance. On one, I would use the 13-round magazine and the 15-rounder on the other. Then I would compare the results.
As it turned out, those two targets were all the testing I needed to be convinced that based on my personal shooting abilities (key factor), the 15-round magazine enabled me to shoot more accurately, and faster.
That might sound pretty simple to some of you, but the simple addition of the quarter-inch or so of gripping surface as opposed to the 13-round magazine yielded measurable results.
With the 13 round target, my shots landed inside a 4×4 inch area. For me, that’s not terrible, especially since I was trying to shoot as quickly as I could reacquire the target.
Using the 15 round magazine and the same shooting pace, 13-rounds tightened into a 3×3-inch space. That’s significantly better shooting, with nothing changing except the magazine length.
A simple, 26-round test convinced me that given my hand size, plunking down another $39.95 (MSRP) per 15-round magazine would be an investment in improving my Hellcat.
Not everyone’s hand size is the same -and not every pistol (including the Hellcat) includes a selection of grip inserts to help adapt the gun to your hand. But something as simple as trying the small gun you like with different capacity magazines (if they change the grip area) can make a difference.
For me, the additional two rounds enable me to shoot more accurately and faster. In a defensive carry pistol, I don’t see how I can afford not to make that investment.
Springfield’s Latest Hellcat Magazine Gives us 15 Rounds
Travis Pike (May 22, 2021)
It’s a helluva week for Springfield to reveal a new magazine for the oh-so-famous Hellcat. Sig Sauer has announced a patent lawsuit against Springfield Armory for infringement on the Sig P365 magazine. Yet, Springfield perseveres and has released their latest magazine for the Hellcat. The Hellcat, much like the P365, is one of the few micro-compacts on the market—micro-compact seemingly being what we are calling super small 9mms with a high degree of capacity. The latest Hellcat magazine holds 15 rounds of ammunition.
The Hellcat premiered with 11 and 13 round magazines for the pistol. The 11 rounder fit flush into the Hellcat, and the 13 round variant offered you a slightly extended option. For the longest time, Sig held a slight advantage with the P365 and the availability of a 15 round magazine. Now Springfield has closed the gap between the Hellcat and the P365. Springfield’s new Hellcat magazine gives users 15 rounds of 9mm on tap.
Breaking Down the Hellcat Magazine
The key to the success behind the Hellcat and Sig’s magazine design is the way it tapers. Near the top, it’s a single stack design for the first three rounds. Below that it tapers into a double stack design. The magazine has a chrome exterior coating and witness holes from rounds 4 to 15.
At the very bottom, we predictably get an extended finger rest also coated with the adaptive grip texture that the Hellcat wears. As a dude with big hands, I always preferred the slightly extended 13 round magazine for the extra grip length, so I can appreciate the extra grip the 15 round magazine offers.
However, for concealment purposes, the 15 round magazine does get a little long. The 15 round Hellcat magazine adds an extra quarter-inch when compared to the 13 round magazine. It’s a half-inch longer than the 11 round Hellcat magazine when wearing the flush-fitting baseplate.
Like most extended magazines, the 15 round Hellcat magazine will make you choose between capacity and concealment, well, kind of. What’s the point of a super compact handgun if the handle has the same length as a Glock 19? I see Hellcat’s 15 round magazine being carried as a spare magazine.
Carrying the Hellcat with an 11 or even 13 round magazine keeps the weapon concealable, and packing an extra 15 rounds for when things go south makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to drop a magazine in a pocket and forget all about it.
Hellcat vs. Sig
I’m not making a full-on comparison of these two guns— it’s been done before. However, I want to talk about the two guns and their magazines. Specifically, I want to compare their 15 round magazines. Fifteen rounds of ammo is a ton for a subcompact, almost pocket pistol-sized gun. So who does it more efficiently?
I grabbed my standard P365 frame, a 15 round magazine, and compared it to my Hellcat and its 15 round magazine. The SIG magazines use side witness holes every five rounds, which isn’t a big deal, but I prefer the Hellcat style.
The SIG’s all-black magazines have this nasty habit of rusting. I don’t use the 15 round magazine often, but I wasn’t shocked when a good bit of rust developed on the rear of it. I store my handgun magazines together, and the P365 magazines are the only ones that consistently rust. I’ve never had any issues with rust with the Hellcat magazines.
Size-wise the Hellcat magazine provides a more efficient and slightly shorter magazine. When you measure from the top of the rear sights to the bottom of the magazine, the Sig P365 measures 5 ⅛ inches. The Hellcat measures 5 inches even.
From the bottom of the grip to the baseplate of the 15 round magazine, the Sig measures 1.25 inches. Measuring from the bottom of the grip of the Hellcat magazine to the bottom of the magazine is 1-inch. It’s a good bit shorter, and that matters if you plan to carry the gun with the magazine in place.
The Sig P365 magazines provide two points of grip to rip the magazine from the magwell if needed. The Hellcat doesn’t pack the same grip points.
Hellcat Magazine — Fit and Function
So does the magazine work? My previous experience with the Hellcat left me feeling confident enough that it’d work, but I needed to figure it out for myself. Loading the magazine is a feat of strength. The Sig has extra room to stretch and makes it rather easy to load.
Getting the last three rounds into the 15 round Hellcat magazine is a serious feat. I had to give my thumb a rest before I could load the final round. Holy crap, this thing is hard to load. When loaded, trying to get the magazine into the gun with the slide closed is another feat.
As much as I’d love to do a plus 1 with this magazine, I’d probably just drop the +1 into the pipe directly. Once the magazine was loaded up, I wasn’t excited to load it again. The good news is that I got to unload it the fun way.
I emptied the magazine and committed a reload with a spare 13 rounder. I let the magazine hit the dirt, and this was the first reload of many I committed to. My range area is finely tuned sand, and sandhills are not uncommon in Florida. It’s fine white sand, and it’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.
It will also disable most mechanical goodies, and magazines are simple mechanical goods. I did a dozen reloads, letting the magazine hit the sand every time. Sand infiltrated the magazine, and every time I loaded the magazine, I heard the follower grit and grind. Yet, it never failed or choked.
I completely loaded it two more times after it was exposed to sand, and it still functioned without issue. It also fed a good deal of sand into my gun, but no big problems to report.
Get Yours Now
15 rounds of 9mm provide you plenty of options to deal with nearly any threat. It’s a lot of ammunition and provides plenty of firepower for any concealed carrier. The Hellcat magazine design is rather efficient and quite reliable. I broke the gun and magazine down, and a little warm water and a rag cleaned it out, and we were back to being golden. It’s always nice to have more options than fewer. Does the 15 round Hellcat magazine appeal to you?
Would you carry in the weapon or as a spare?
Let us know below.
New Springfield Hellcat Magazine Increases Capacity to 15+1
Stephanie Kimmell (May 17, 2021)
The Springfield Hellcat has been a popular concealed carry choice since its release in the fall of 2019. In fact, the gun won several awards within the first year of its release, including 2020 Handgun of the year and Best Compact Handgun. It’s touted as the world’s highest-capacity micro-compact with a capacity of 11+1 and 13+1. And now, the Hellcat just got a nice boost. Springfield just announced a new magazine that increases the round count to 15+1 and is only slightly more than a quarter of an inch taller than the 13-round magazine.
Like the 11-round and 13-round magazines, the new Hellcat magazine body is made of stainless steel with numbered round count witness holes and a polymer follower. The extension is patterned with the same Adaptive Grip Texture as the Hellcat frame, and, though it isn’t much, that little bit of extra length offers more gripping area.
Here’s the press release straight from the company.
Springfield Armory has taken its Hellcat pistol — the smallest, highest-capacity micro-compact 9mm handgun in the world — and increased its already impressive capacity with the new 15-round Hellcat magazine. The result is a micro-sized 9mm pistol with an astounding 15+1 capacity comparable to compact and duty-sized pistols, yet in a package that is smaller than similarly configured, lower-capacity competitors.
The new magazine, which is only slightly longer than the 13-round extended version, is currently available directly from Springfield Armory with an MSRP of $39.95 and will soon be available from Springfield retailers as well. It is offered in both black and Desert FDE.
The Hellcat is available in both standard and OSP™ (Optical Sight Pistol) versions, with the latter featuring slides cut to accept the smallest micro red dot sights on the market. The micro 9mm ships with a patented 11-round magazine as well as an extended 13-round magazine, and this newest magazine will allow users to have a full 15+1 rounds of 9mm ammo ready to go.
“This magazine offers Hellcat owners the ability to increase the total capacity of their pistol by two rounds or to carry a larger 15-round mag as a back-up,” says Steve Kramer, Vice President of Marketing for Springfield Armory. “This increased capacity puts the Hellcat platform even further beyond its competitors and means users can carry with even greater confidence.”
The Hellcat has received numerous awards since its release in 2019, including the 2020 Handgun of the Year Award from the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman, the Guns & Ammo 2020 Handgun of the Year Award, Ballistic magazine’s Ballistics’ Best 2020 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Compact Handgun, the NTOA MTR Gold Award, and more.
You wear your hearing protection when you’re shooting…right? (If you don’t, we’re here to shame you into wearing it.) The options on the market are practically endless with various styles and types of hearing protection (also referred to as “ear pro”) that you can wear. Odds are high you’ve at least considered getting your hands on an electronic set. But do you know how electronic ear pro really works? Budget Tool Reviews is here to help out and drop some ear pro knowledge.
How are noise-canceling headphones different from electronic hearing protection?
Budget Tool Reviews gets pretty detailed regarding how ear pro works. Not only do they talk about sound waves and the steps the electronics go through to suppress or amplify it, they also have graphs so you can visualize it. How do they basically work?
Here’s the diagram of how noise-canceling headphones manage sound:
“Electronic hearing protection is similar [to others] but still different.”
The sound comes in, goes into a microphone, and then into an analyzer which turns down the volume (as opposed to an inverter in noise canceling headphones). When it hears a loud sound, it turns the volume to zero and stops reproducing sound through the headphones.
So, graphically, what does this look like?
It depends on the sound. The input of quiet sound has a very low amplitude, so you’ll hear a boosted(or amplified) version of it. Loud sounds have much higher peaks in their sound waves, so when the computer in the ear pro detects them, it turns the volume to zero. The electronics do have a response time of about ten to fifteen milliseconds between detection of the loud sound and turning the volume to zero.
“Here’s where the confusion comes in. People think that because of the response time, that they are being exposed to loud sounds during that amount of time [but] that is not true. The amplitude is very low, it is not as high as the original sound.”
Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about active noise cancellation, electronic hearing protection, and how they compare to regular earmuffs.
What Does the Decibel Rating Mean?
According to Miracle Ear, “Hearing protection reduces the amount of sound that gets transmitted to the middle and inner ear. The amount of sound reduced, measured in decibels (dB), is called acoustic attenuation. All hearing protection should clearly indicate its attenuation level or noise reduction rating (NRR). Attenuation levels range from 0-30 dB. The best hearing protection will lower total noise exposure to below 85 dB.”
But wait, there’s more good information from the same source:
“Rifles, shotguns, and pistols can fire off sounds as loud as 140-175 dB—much higher than the 85 dB threshold considered safe for our ears.
Worried that protection will hinder your ability to hear approaching game or others’ voices? Many modern hearing protection devices can block harmful, high-decibel noise without affecting your ability to hear quieter sounds:
Electronic hearing protectors amplify quieter sounds to a safe level, but then shut off and transform into hearing protectors in the presence of loud sounds. They’re available in many styles, including earmuffs, behind-the-ear devices, and custom-molded earplugs.
Nonlinear, or level-dependent, hearing protectors allow soft-to-moderate sounds to pass through with little to no attenuation. High-decibel sounds are then reduced by means of filters or mechanical valves. (Filters are probably better, as valves may not close fast enough to protect from sudden impulse noise.”
Take care to choose well-made hearing protection from a reputable manufacturer. It doesn’t take much to permanently damage your hearing, so wear your ears even if you’re “only hunting” and “only firing one shot.”
What’s your favorite ear pro? Tell us in the comments below.
If you have a medium bit of cash lying around you may wish to check out these new 686 pants. Actually, they’re not totally new, they are an upgrade of the 686 Anything Cargo Pant. The company says they upgraded the pants with “GORE Infinium fabric with WINDSTOPPER enabling Technology, YKK Aquaguard Waterproof Zippers, stretch gusset and back yoke, 3M reflective inner taping, and a new Snap Hem Adjustment.”
Many reviewers seem to love the breathability and these were highly praised for being great in rain and wind conditions. They also mention the pockets often using happy words to describe them, because there are so many of them and they don’t make the wearer look bulky.
What makes these 686 pants stand out?
Lightweight As easy to pack as it is comfortable to wear.
Water-Resistant Designed to resist light rain and snow, which means light rain beads off and rolls off, so you stay comfortable.
Breathable Moisture from sweat vapor can easily escape through the innovative membrane, so your body’s microclimate stays balanced.
Windproof Don’t-even-need-to-worry-about-it, windproof. When an icy wind picks up and you™re miles from home, that’s exactly what you should be relying on.
Modern Fit – Made to move. A regular fit through the waist, seat and thigh with a highly articulated leg.
Men’s Gore-Tex Infinium Anything Cargo Pant Specs
GORE-TEX 2L 100% Polyester Fabric with Windstopper Technology
Princeton Tec has expanded their Modular Personal Lighting System (MPLS) lineup with the Vizz Tactical headlamp.
The MPLS has four different colors of LED for those who require something other than white light to accomplish a task. Red, blue, green, and IR are all available in one package, and all are programmable to set the user’s preferred order of illumination. Each distinct beam profile and corresponding customization is easily accessed via a large, easily located button situated on top of the light. Press, hold, or double press: one of ’em will get it done.
For ye olde white light the Vizz MPLS Tactical produces a dimmable 420-lumen white spot (making it the brightest light in the series) and also features a 50-lumen white flood for close-up tasks (also dimmable).
When not in use the Vizz Tactical – MPLS can be locked to prevent accidental turn on to prevent the 3AAA batteries from becoming drained. As with all of PTEC Professional Series headlamps, the Vizz Tactical – MPLS is waterproof (IPX7) and is equipped with regulated circuitry making it lithium battery compatible.
That’s a good feature to have whether you’re mounting the light on a tactical helmet, keeping it in your hunting gear, or throwing it in your range bag.
Princeton Tec says,
“Durable body construction and an IPX7 waterproof rating round the Vizz Tactical-MPLS out for a top-of-the-line choice in tactical lighting equipped to endure your next mission.”
Dimmable spot beam
Order programmable additional color modes: red, blue, green, and IR
Includes MPLS Headlamp mounts:
NVG Adapter Plate
Bracket mount for MOLLE and/or standard nylon headstrap
With the increase in firearms sales over the last year or so, it’s no surprise that tactical gear sales also increased, including plate carriers. So what does a SWAT plate carrier setup look like? Alex over at Iron Infidel dishes out some of his first-hand knowledge in regard to plates and plate carriers. He covers three plate carriers that he has used a lot.
Alex initially started out with the First Spear plate carrier, then went to the Crye JPC, and currently is using the featherweight UARM carrier. He’s quick to point out that all industry-leading plates and carriers are good and your choice boils down to your intended use and function needs.
Alex wants a carrier that is large enough to hold his necessary attachments (he covers those later) without being too cumbersome or intrusive to his movements. Obviously, your own needs will determine if you need one that’s bigger or lighter than what he currently uses.
With the UARM carrier, he actually received it as a sample a few months ago but has used it enough to give a good review. The only real aspect of the carrier that he didn’t try out was the heat signature reduction from the fabric. Regardless, he’s pretty happy with it.
Let’s get into the specifics of the carrier, shall we?
The UARM uses laser-cut Cordura fabric, similar to what you’ll find on the First Spear Strandhogg. The UARM website states that it has NIR, the near-infrared fabric to help reduce the heat signature of the wearer. On the bottom front of the carrier, there is no molle. They set it up that way so you can personalize the carrier for your needs — one carrier, different plates, and pouches.
The carrier has rock-tube detachments at the shoulders and cummerbund points. This is handy for the initial fitting of the carrier and for getting it on and off more quickly so you don’t have to worry about resizing. Alex states that he likes it better than Velcro closures for the ease of getting it off and on, especially in a circumstance of injury or incapacitation.
The shoulder straps are thinner than other brands he’s seen. This is important because if you have too much padding at the shoulder it can mess with the shouldering of the rifle, pushing it off the shoulder pocket and reducing your ability to minimize the recoil of the rifle.
Clearly, the most important part of the carrier is the plates.
Alex uses the HESCO L210 plates that are single curve polyurethane plates, designed to stop most rounds. He does say that they are not Level 3 or 4 plates only in that they didn’t go through special testing to show they would stop an M80 round. According to him, the plates will stop green tip and other penetrating rounds, up to six rounds of 5.56 or 7.62.
He does stress the importance of proper plate placement within the carrier, covering the vital organs in your chest. You want your plates to be fitted properly to cover the area between your nipples and extend from your collar bone to your belly button. You also want to make sure your back plate is level with your front plate to ensure you’re using them correctly.
To round things out, Alex quickly goes through the accessories he has on his plate carrier setup. He uses HSGI double stack TACO pouches (never has a carrier without them). His side support shoulder has a push to talk with the cord running to the cummerbund that has his radio and handcuff pouches. The back of the carrier has a grab handle and Hailey Strategic flat-pack, that a buddy would have to access for him.
To recap, all industry-leading carriers are good, and you have to find one that fits your needs and test it. Don’t forget to properly place your plates in the carrier to cover your vital organs both from the front and the back. Finally, get the chest rig that fits your function and can accommodate all your needs, because the cool one you find in a video might be all wrong for you.
Let’s talk red dots. Specifically, let’s talk about the differences between an open and enclosed red dot optic. Red dot optics come in lots of configurations and designs with various colors, reticles, and designs that range from tubular to square, and most importantly, today, we are talking open and enclosed optics. We’ll cover the benefits of each design as well as the downsides and where they fit most appropriately in the world of defensive, duty, and competitive firearms.
Open Vs. Enclosed Optics
Let’s define open and enclosed optics before we dive too deep into the subject. Open optics in the world of red dots refer to the lack of a hood over the emitter. These are most popular with handguns. Optics like the Holosun 507C, the Sig ROMEO1PRO, and Trijicon RMR all have open emitters.
Open emitter optics are not just dedicated to handgun optics, but some rifle optics feature an open emitter. Notably, the Holosun HS510C sports an open design and is intended for long guns.
Enclosed optics feature an enclosed emitter that utilizes a hood-like system and an additional lens. This protects the emitter and ensures nothing can come between your lens and emitter. The closed emitters are more common with rifles, and optics like the Holosun 512C, AEMs, Sig Romeo5, and Aimpoint series all use enclosed emitters.
Enclosed optics might be more popular with long guns, but pistol-sized optics exist. The Holosun 509T, Aimpoint ACRO, and Sig ROMEO2 all utilize some form of the enclosed emitter. These ultra-small optics can be readily and reliably used on long guns.
Today we will be using a variety of optics to compare and contrast the benefits and downsides of enclosed and open optics. I’ll be using the Holosun HS510C, a long gun-oriented red dot optic that utilizes an open emitter. Besides it, I will use the Holosun 507C as a mini red dot with an open emitter.
For enclosed red dot optics, we will compare the HS512C and the Holosun 509T. The 512C is a long gun optic, and the 509T is a micro-sized optic.
Benefits of an Open Optic
Let’s talk about the main benefits an open emitter optic offers over an enclosed optic. The lack of a hood and second piece of glass cuts weight a fair bit between open and enclosed optics. For example, the HS510C is approximately ten percent lighter than the 512C. For rifle optics, this isn’t a big deal but notable.
On handguns, no one wants a boat anchor as a weapon. The difference in weight between the 507C and the 509T is .22 ounces. That’s not much, but it does provide a clear difference between the optics.
As you’d imagine, the open optics are smaller in general than the enclosed optics. The dimensional differences are few, but a smaller optic tends to be a less obtrusive optic. The lack of a hood and a second lens does provide some benefits worth noting.
First, the lack of a hood does help open up your peripheral vision a slight bit. With rifles, it can be easier to get a compromised view through the optic in awkward situations. This can be slightly more appealing when you are shooting from awkward positions behind cover.
Open emitter optics also grant you a clearer overall view. The lack of a second lens helps keep things nice and clear. A single lens provides less distortion, and it’s a nice clear view through optics like the HS510C.
Finally, a lot of open optics tend to be cheaper than enclosed optics. For example, the Trijicon RMR is cheaper than the Aimpoint Acro series, but both are duty-grade optics.
Benefits of an Enclosed Optic
Red dot optics work via an emitter casting a red dot onto the lens in front of it. It’s very simple, and all you really need is a single lens. However, with a hood and second lens, anything that gets between the emitter and the lens can cause the optic to fail and eliminate your reticle from appearing on the lens.
This could be rain, dust, snow, and whatever else you might run into in the big wide world of unpredictable environments. A drop of rain on the emitter can cause your reticle to spatter and starburst. With no reticle, an optic is quite useless. With an enclosed optic, this is not an issue at all.
The emitter remains protected by the hood and second lens. This level of protection ensures the highest level of reliability. Nothing can stop you, and you shoot in the rain, snow, and sleet without complaint.
That’s one of the few benefits of this design, but it’s remarkably important for duty use and when loves are on the line.
That’s the most significant benefit, but the enclosed pistol optic does offer one advantage over opened. The enclosed design forces you to look through the optic and allows you to find the dot a bit easier. It’s a minor advantage and really only applies to new pistol red dot shooters. Once you figure out proper presentation, then the enclosed optic does offer that advantage.
Which for What?
When choosing an optic, you have to consider a few things.
•What weapon is it being mounted to? •What size do you need? •Which manufacturer provides the features you want? •What’s its purpose? Purpose is where the biggest difference between the open and enclosed optics appears.
On handguns, your choice of miniature red dot isn’t nearly as important as on a long gun. Concealed carriers have a handy dandy garment and holster to protect the emitter. Soldiers rarely use handguns, and the biggest difference would be apparent for police. We’ve seen military, and police forces utilize optics like the open Trijicon RMR without issue for years. You’re unlikely to run into problems, but if you want the best and most reliable optic, then an enclosed emitter is the way to go.
With long guns meant for duty, it’s all about the enclosed optic. These rifles are slung to your body and exposed to everything. The enclosed optic provides more durability and reliability in any situation. That makes it tough to justify an open optic on a duty rifle.
For home defense and competition, an open optic works fine. For home defense, it’s not likely to be exposed to the elements, and competition doesn’t have the same risks as duty use. In fact, optics like the HS510C have become quite popular for competitive use in PCC divisions. The clear lens and great peripheral vision often make finding those small PCC targets fast and easy.
Open the Door or Close it
The presence of an open or enclosed emitter is a small but important detail. Considerations like durability, mounting options, clarity, and beyond also need to be considered. It’s plenty easy to make crappy optics in open and enclosed variants; however, once you’ve narrowed down who makes good red dot optics and who doesn’t, then you can start considering whether to go enclosed or open.
Which do you prefer? Let us know below and let us know why.
The venerable AK is one of the most recognizable rifles on the planet. There are so many that you’ll find them in every corner of all three worlds —first, second, and third—as a much-adored go-to for both military and personal protection. Because they are so popular, every gun maker out there makes some sort of straight AK or AK lookalike to satisfy the huge demand. Palmetto State Armory is no exception.
As reviewer Garand Thumb points out in the video below, the new PSA AK-103 may not be a pure AK-103, but it’s pretty darn close—close enough that non-die-hard enthusiasts might not know or care about the differences.
Tip to butt, what is this gun, from a shooter’s perspective?
To start, it has a pretty typical modern AK-100 series muzzle brake, “These muzzle brakes are very, very effective at controlling AK recoil. You can see in the video, this weapon does not really dance around and that is pretty cool, given the fact that it is launching a 7.62 x 39 round.”
Thumb points out that a lot of muzzle flash and concussion come with this particular muzzle brake, so he recommends the use of a suppressor for low-light situations.
As for the barrel, Thumb says, “Palmetto State Armory has done a lot of very incredible things in the AK world, and the barrel is absolutely one of them.” The cold hammer-forged barrel is made by Fabrique National made specifically for this gun. “What an incredible barrel to include on a very cheap gun.”
The PSA AK-103 has typical AK-100 series furniture, which can easily be switched out for modern furniture. It comes with your typical AK iron sights and they are very well constructed, there’s no canting.
One of the amazing things about the AK-103 is the forged parts like the front trunnion, carrier, and bolt which makes the rifle more reliable and longer-lasting. It’s got a typical AK magazine release and takes various AK magazines including Bulgarian and Magpul mags.
Thumb says the safety is incredible, “The thing that always annoys me with AKs is how terrible the safeties are. So, by having the enhanced safety on the PSA, one—that’s awesome. And two, it’s very easy to manipulate.”
How about quality?
How does this compare to other AKs out there? According to Thumb, after over 3,000 rounds, the rifle has held together just fine, with no pins walking out or other design/build issues. The gas block and system have held up perfectly with zero issues. Overall, he says, the build quality has been outstanding.
As far as accuracy over the long haul, Thumb says the cold-forged barrel resisted serious deflection after heating up, allowing for tight groupings even on faraway targets.
The PSA AK-103 may not be a pure AK, but it’s still a ton of fun and just as potent as its original Russian daddy.
So how much are you shelling out for this Cold War beauty? The fixed stock version will run you about $899 rubles, sorry, dollars, while the folding stock version kicks it up to around $1,000. Compared to other AKs out there, that’s a pretty sweet price point.
To the naked eye, you’d never know this wasn’t an authentic AK. Shooting it won’t give away its secret either.
Check out all the rest of his comments in the video. Afterward, check out our selection of AK mags and accessories.
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David Workman is an avid gun guy, a contributing writer to several major gun publications, and the author of Absolute Authority. A logophile since way back, Workman is a quickdraw punslinger and NRA RSO and Certified Pistol Instructor. He helps train new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as practicable. “Real-world shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
What is an HSGI Taco? Well, it is an expandible universal mag pouch designed for versatility, incorporating a number of features that make it unlike any other magazine pouch on the market. This includes using a combination of shock cord, polymer brackets, and heavy-duty nylon to construct a rugged, expandable magazine pouch. The unique HSGI Taco design makes these pouches incredibly useful and here, we’ve gathered the seven best ways to use them.
Originally published August 2020.
1. Magazines… DUH
HSGI Tacos are magazine pouches so guess what? They hold magazines. In fact, these are some of the best magazine pouches on the market. They expand and contract to meet your magazine’s carrying needs.
The pistol magazine Tacos seemingly fit nearly every pistol magazine you can toss at them This includes your favorites like Glock and 1911s, and expands into CZ, FN,Ruger, and so on and so forth. The only pistol magazines it would seemingly have issues with are ultra-short pocket pistol magazines. If you need something to carry a wide variety of magazines then the HSGI Taco mags are hard to beat.
HSGI taco double mag pouch with rifle mags.
FN mag pouch.
Glock magazine pouch.
Tools is a good term for things that are tactical, but not exactly magazines. HSGI Taco pouches are expandable and this allows for uses beyond simply stashing magazines. The Taco universal mag pouch is a great way to carry a variety of useful tools.
The pistol magazine pouches are excellent for carrying flashlights, and even larger knives. This includes my butterfly knife, the Lucha, as well as OTF knives for quick and easy access.
The rifle Tacos can carry CAT Tourniquets and even multi-tools. The Tacos can hold it all.
Battle belt loadout with HSGI tacos.
3. Uhmmm Can Kinda Hold a Flask
I’m not gonna say I went around my house trying to see what I could fit in a Taco universal mag pouch. I’m also not going to say I didn’t do that.
With that in mind, if you try hard enough and really try and squeeze it in a flask will kinda, sorta fit into a rifle Taco. Now, I’m not saying a flask is a tactical necessity, but I’m not going to say it’s not. From cleaning wounds to calming nerves, anything over 40 proof can be pretty handy. You can also set fires, loosen up sources, and you can even clean with it. It’s handy, and not just a problem some people think I have.
4. Tacos for Tacos?
A problem I admittedly have is Tacos. Not HSGI Tacos, but real Tacos. A quick look at my waistline will tell you I love Tacos. Imagine if you will. You hit the range, the field, or perform a mission and you get snacky. Your stomach is growling and in that situation, a PMAG isn’t going to help you.
A supreme soft taco most assuredly will. HSGI Tacos have no issues fitting actual tacos should the need arise.
5. Oh, and a Ton of Snap Bracelets
You got a bunch of kids you barely like? Well, a great way to get back at them for bein’ children is to hit them with an off-brand snap bracelet. You see, off-brand snap bracelets more than often than not don’t snap very well. You can hurt them a good bit with these dollar store snap bracelets. If you have to disperse a birthday party’s worth of children the HSGI Pistol Taco magazine pouch can fit a ton of Snap Bracelets in it. You can disperse them at the cyclic rate.
6. Candy, Too
Let’s say you drop off all those snap bracelets and now you got an empty Taco pouch. Well, you are at a birthday party so you might as well start stealing all the candy. You’d be pleasantly surprised by how much candy you can squeeze into a pair of Tacos. Like, way more than you think. Enough to allow a dentist to purchase a new Benz.
Found this on Insta: apparently @brandon__rich throws licorice in his HSGI Taco universal mag pouch when he’s at Alliance Police Training.
7. Can Hold One of those Tall, Girly Beer Cans
I totally didn’t just shove this last one in here last minute because my girlfriend likes Spritzers and Leinenkugels. However, the rifle Taco easily fits the tall, weird can, and makes it quite convenient to wash down that Taco you’re carrying around.
Tacos for Days
HSGI Tacos mag pouches are excellent pieces of gear. These things are well made, easy to use, and perfect for a wide variety of tasks. While GunMag Warehouse may be known for selling tons and tons of magazines we also sell you the means to carry them. And the means to carry a Taco.
HSGI tacos on Slim Grip padded belt.
HSGI Taco mag pouches in LE Blue.
MultiCam Black HSGI Taco mag pouches.
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.
Before we jump into a discussion of M9 magazines, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a Beretta fan. Ironically, my love of the brand began with a Taurus—a PT92—that was used as a prop in the 1996 Baz Luhrman Romeo and Juliet film. Such a kickass take on the classic–the gas station gunfight alone was worth the price of admission.
The second gun I ever bought was a decommissioned 92FS from a police department. And over the years, I’ve owned several. The fanciest was a stainless 92 that I had rebuilt by Wilson Combat into a 92G — the greatest of all 92 variants. That remains one of my favorite guns of all time, but I gave it away to a friend who felt even more love for it than I did.
As far as handling goes, the Beretta 92FS is easy to control.
I regularly carried a 92 for years—right up until I bought a Sig P226.
The 92FS, or in this case a gun that’s stamped M9, is still a rock star. And it remains in my range rotation.
When I bought this gun, it came with a couple of weedy magazines. The 92FS is not a small gun, and the grip is absurdly large by contemporary standards (thanks to the screw-on grip plates). 13 round magazines in this gun feel oddly insulting to the M9’s legacy. Yet they exist. And I think there might be some lingering mag capacity laws out there that make the 10 round, and 13 round, and even 15 round magazines worth knowing about.
But I like the 20s. More on that in a moment.
I may have more time behind the trigger of an M9 than I do any other handgun.
Shooting the 92FS
Beretta builds a solid pistol. The reason I liked the Wilson upgrade—and the P226, too—is that the traditional safety lever functions as a decocker. As I’m not one for external, manual, slide, or frame-mounted safeties, this makes shooting both of these guns that much faster for me.
It shoots flat. This shot is of my 13-year-old shooting it.
And the 92FS flies. The balance of the frame’s weight with the skeletonized slide works well for me. I can hold it down very flat, even with +P 9mm. This is a gun that I can run fast, and a gun that I can run accurately.
This is the same gun in my hands. That brass is hardly ejected and I’m 100% back on target.
The balance of the M9 continues to impress me. I’ve been carrying the P226 for a while now, but sometimes I think I should put the old Beretta back in the daily rotation as my go-to full-sized pistol.
This is about all the muzzle rise I get, even one-handed.
But what about the M9 magazines?
As soon as I picked up this gun, I knew I’d need some new mags. The 15 round mag isn’t bad—but there’s so much more room in there. They even have to stamp the steel in on the sides to keep the capacity limited.
The equivalent of a dowel in a shotgun’s tubular magazine.
The 20 round mags are the sweet spot for me. The increase in capacity doesn’t change the balance, and I’ve yet to have a mag malfunction on me.
For me, the winner is the 20 round mag from Mec Gar. I really like the bumper, and I’ve used these in this gun for more than three years now with no hiccups. Mec-Gar makes solid mags (and often mags the mags that are sold with guns as “factory” mags).
The heavy bumper on the end of the Mec-Gar Plus 2 adds a touch more length to the M9’s grip.
15 rounds, 20, and 30. I love the increase in capacity with these.
Beretta also makes 20 round mags. These are not as compact as the Mec-Gar but are still good mags. The middle mag in the image above is a 20 round mag. It protrudes from the grip by more than an inch, so has a collar that extends down over the baseplate. This is a bit of insurance—the last thing you want is for the rounds to exit the wrong in of the magazine.
Bigger M9 magazines?
The 30 round Beretta factory mag is a serious upgrade to the M9’s capacity.
The really long dudes are Beretta 30 round mags. These are extendo-long. 30 rounds add a bit of weight to the bottom of a 92, but not so much that the gun isn’t manageable.
The 30-round M9 magazines are great for the range. Carrying them is awkward, of course, but this isn’t really a magazine built for EDC or even duty. But if you hate reloading on the range, this is the mag for you.
As you stack these mags with cartridges, the springs can get stiff.
As the fine print on the GMW pages note—these mags will fit more than the M9. Any of the Berettas—the 92FS, 92D, 92F, 92G, 92 Brigadier, 92 Elite/EliteIA/Elite II, 90-Two in 9mm, 92 Billenium, 92 Combat Combo, 92 Stock, 92 Vertec, 92 Type L (Inox, Carry), even the CX-4 Storm (with 92FS adapter). The same design has been in use now for many years, and will likely pull forward into new designs. It works well—why monkey with it?
Some followers help close up the body of the mag. Others leave a small gap where range garbage can get it.
You can’t really go wrong.
All of the M9 magazines that I’ve seen are steel. There are stainless bodies, but they’re very rare. Much more common is the powder-coated steel, or the blued bodies.
Sig P226 mags have the mag-catch much higher on the magazine body—but they’re still easy to confuse.
And don’t get confused with the multitude of other mags that are built off of similar designs. I have numerous unmarked mags for my Sig P226 that look almost identical. Many are even made by the same companies. The only visible difference is the mag-catch location, and I often have to check both in guns, just to remember which is which.
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.