Friday, October 28, 2011

SIG 226 BLACKWATER (Tactical Operations) :: Review

The SIG 226 Blackwater is a branded SIG 226 Tactical Operations. I will tell you up front that I don't know a whole lot about Blackwater or Xe or whatever they are calling themselves now. This review is a look at the SIG 226 (Blackwater) Tactical Operations, not a History of Blackwater.

Cool Guy Factor
The cool factor of this pistol is off the charts! With Blackwater's symbol on the grips, slide and their name engraved across the front of the slide there is no mistaking the intended purpose of this pistol. So what is the intended purpose of this pistol? For most people this pistol will fill a spot in the safe (or ego)  and be pulled out to impress friends when needed. Make no mistake this is still a SIG 226; which means that it has proven itself as a fighting pistol of the highest degree; operating in the World's most demanding conditions.

Fit and Finish
While being embossed with Blackwater symbology the addition is not over the top. What makes the pistol stand out are it's features. The sights are a pleasure to line-up. Outfitted with SIGLITE rear night sights and a green TRUGLO front sight; your sight picture pops with emphasis on the front sight. The SIG 226 (Blackwater) Tactical Operations comes with four (4) 20 round magazines. That is enough firepower to solve a lot of issues. If you can't get away or fight your way to a bigger gun within 80 rounds of ammunition... well it sucks to be you. Even with a 20 round magazine the pistol does not look or feel awkward. The pistol is outfitted with a set of extended grip panels that also create a large magwell to ensure easy loading.

Fitted with SIG's Short Reset Trigger (SRT) the double action pull was smooth and crisp; which broke just before I expected it too (which was nice). The reset was short and tactile; with an audible click pressing the trigger offered a bit of take-up before a crisp break. I've never really felt comfortable shooting a SIG because the high bore-axis always felt awkward to me. To off-set this the SIG 226 (Blackwater) Tactical Operations has an enlarged beaver tail which allowed my grip to ride high in order to mitigate the high bore axis (or maybe it's all in my head)

I had a blast firing this pistol. My three top favorite features of the SIG 226 (Blackwater) Tactical Operations are:
  1. Green TRUGLO Front Sight
  2. Large; Generous Beavertail 
  3. 20-Round Magazine (imagine the possibilities)
Check out the Specifications:
SIG 226 Tactical Operations Specifications
Check out our Review Page for more!

In Other News :: 10/21/2011 - 10/28/2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

QSI Basic Defensive Handgun :: Training with a Real World Focus

Quorum Security, Inc. (QSI) Logo Patch
It was a beautiful October day with lots of sun that warmed up into the low 60's. I arrived at Ahlman's at 8:00AM along with five other students for the Quorum Security Inc. Basic Defensive Handgun Course. I had brought my Kimber Pro Carry 9mm with plenty of ammunition and was ready for whatever the day would throw at me.

"Unloaded Guns Scare Me"
After formal introductions of the students and instructors we delved into the safety brief. Training Director and CEO of Quorum Security Inc.; Erik Pakieser was flanked by his two instructors Gabe Stitzel and Josh Ray. Erik made sure that we were all aware that we were going to perform some techniques that make many Range Officers act like they're having a bowel movement consisting of bricks. While some of these techniques might be controversial, Erik believes that it is necessary to practice what we might have to do in a real self-defense shooting. Erik stressed that handling of firearms was an inherently dangerous act "We are dangerous people, doing dangerous things, but we will do them as safely as possible."

The safety briefing consisted of a review of the Four Basic Rules of Gun Safety:
  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Be aware of your target and what's beyond it.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and have decided to fire.
Once the safety brief was complete we stepped onto the firing line to load and conceal our pistols. Erik was adamant that our guns be loaded for the duration of the course. "People do a lot of foolish things with unloaded guns; unloaded guns scare me." Erik said. We all know the safety rule: 'Don't point your gun at anything you're not willing to destroy', but many people do not practice this. "What is the first thing someone who just shot their tv, cat, or wife say? I thought it was unloaded."

During the safety brief, Erik also showed the class where a Gunshot Wound Kit was located, and stressed who would be the primary medical officer in case of an injury, who would transport the injured person, and the location of the nearest hospital. This is often an overlooked part of a safety briefing, but was sobering reminder that what we were about to do must be taken seriously.

"Eat Your Vegetables" The Basics
The first few things we did was review the basics of marksmanship. Stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. The beginning consisted of partnered dry fire practice that progressed into live fire. Before we began live fire we reviewed drawing the pistol. Many instructors view 'drawing the pistol' as an advanced technique; "Bullshit," says Erik "I don't want the first time you draw your pistol from concealment to be the time you have to use it in a life or death situation." This was very refreshing to hear. Many ranges do not allow you to practice 'holster work' especially from concealment, but we had the unique opportunity to exhaustively experience how the equipment we selected would perform in a dynamic environment. Another 'basic' that is often overlooked is staying situationally aware of your surroundings. This should be done at all times. Erik incorporated scanning early on as it would play an important role later on.

We had a variety of pistols represented at the course. The Instructors were using Smith & Wesson M&P's and a Glock. The students were armed with a Glock 19, EAA Witness, Kimber Pro Carry, Smith & Wesson Sigma, Springfield XD and a Walther PPK. All of the pistols were chambered in 9mm with the exception of the PPK being chambered in 380ACP. About halfway through the course we performed a 'Grab Bag' exercise in which you picked up each pistol and put three shots on steel. The exercise was then repeated with intentionally induced malfunctions to demonstrate that with even a basic knowledge of firearm operation you can pick-up any pistol and run it with success.

'Tape Loops'
What is a 'Tape Loop'? Before, during and after a serious encounter where you may have had to draw or fire your pistol there are a few things you should be vocalizing without having to think about it. The first comes when you encounter an individual. This is where you try to avoid any unpleasant situation by attempting to disconnect with the subject. If they continue to put you in a position that you don't want to be in you tell them, in no uncertain terms, that you don't want them anywhere near you. This is done in a loud manner in an attempt to achieve two things; distract them and attract attention to yourself and the subject. If the subject continues to forcefully engage you (i.e. draws a weapon) that will be the end of the first 'tape loop' and the beginning of the second. After you have fired your pistol (if needed) then a third and fourth 'tape loop' for any concerned citizens and responding law enforcement takes over.
Erik introduced 'tape loops' to us as a tool to use not only in a self-defense situation but in everyday life. You may even have 'tape loops' that you use and not even know it.

Once movement was introduced into our drills we switched from paper targets to steel. Steel targets keep you accountable by giving you and everybody else an audible indication whether or not you are making hits (plus it's a lot of fun to shoot at steel) This is where the instructor to student ratio (2:1) really shined. QSI is known for having a 2:1 instructor to student ratio for most of their classes. Now we had to focus on not being a static target and keep moving even while reloading. At this time we also incorporated a 360 degree scan. This is another technique that many ranges will not let you attempt, period. Contrary to popular opinion; a 360 degree scan can be preformed with a loaded pistol safely and effectively in order to gain better situational awareness.

Our final exercise incorporated everything we had developed throughout the day. The basics (stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control), 'tape loops' and movement while staying aware of our surroundings by scanning. Once you begin moving, shooting, reloading, communicating and scanning you can easily tie yourself into a pretzel. Training is key; but crappy training is no good. Good training keeps you accountable and that is exactly what QSI's Training Division does.

Take Away
The Basic Defensive Handgun Course is a perfect complement to the standard Concealed Carry Class; in which you learn all of the legal ramifications of self defense. I enjoyed that the QSI course was directed at the civilian shooter (holster work from concealment, retention of the pistol, and 'tape rolls'). I do not use the term 'civilian' in a derogatory manner; mearly a descriptive one. Far too often I see Military/Police tactics and techniques taught to the civilian shooter when they do not share the same goals. Military and Police, for lack of a better term, are often on a 'Search and Destroy/Arrest' mission when just the opposite is the goal of the civilian; escape, evade and report. The QSI Basic Defensive Handgun Course is a breath of fresh air.
Gabe Stitzel // Caleb Oosten ( // Erik Pakieser // Josh Ray
Got Training?
Watch Quorum Security, Inc.'s Facebook Page for upcoming courses and dates. You can get a hold of Erik Pakieser by email at:

About QSI and Erik Pakieser
Quorum Security Inc. was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1992 by Erik D. Pakieser, a police officer and US Army Veteran. In 1997, the company moved to Minnesota. Our instructors have provided professional firearms and tactical training to over 10,000 students, including military, law enforcement corrections, security personnel, private companies and armed citizens. We are dedicated to becoming the "go-to" firearms training organization in the Upper Midwest.

Erik has been working in public safety and law enforcement since 1988. His diverse background includes military police, law enforcement, corrections and professional security. His is a nationally recognized expert in counter-terrorism and has served on four different SWAT and tactical teams. In addition to his work with local, state, and federal law enforcement, Erik has also trained with private companies, including Israeli Instinctive Shooting International, Defense Training International and The Archangel Group. An 11-year veteran of the US Army and National Guard, Erik served in the 1989 Panama Invasion and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He is a Distinguished Life Member of the National Rifle Association. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Needs a Can :: Ruger MK III 22/45

I've never seen a gun more deserving of a suppressor; have you? (it's a rhetorical question) It's a Ruger MKIII 22/45. It has a Trijicon Reflex sight perched on top. It is, without a doubt, one of the most fun pistols I've had the opportunity to fire.

Click to Biggify
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Wisconsin CCW Reciprocity List Released

Photo Courtesy of
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen released a list of 25 states that have reached a reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin. The states are:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

The Attorney General's Office also released an updated 56 page Frequently Asked Questions/Answers document. It should answer almost all of your questions.

-=** UPDATE **=- 11/1/2011
Thank you to Neil ( for bringing to light that the list above is not really a "reciprocity" list, but a list of States that will be able to carry in the State of Wisconsin with their current permits.

As of right now the only State that honors Wisconsin's permit is Iowa. Please go to USACARRY's Interactive Map for more details.

Support 'Wounded Warriors' by Shooting Shotguns!

Federal Ammunition has decided to roll out another special edition shot shell in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. These shot shells have red, white and blue hulls.

Order #: TGL12U
12GA 2 3/4" 8 Shot 1 1/8 oz.

A portion of the proceeds will go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.

H/T: The Firearm Blog

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Tales of the Gun :: Uber Post

'Tales of the Gun' was a very enjoyable and informational series on The History Channel. If you get a chance you should check it out. On The Firing Lines has posted an 'Uber Post' of 23 Full Episodes. Hop on over there and check it out.
The Gun has played a critical role in History. An invention that has been praised and denounced... served hero and villain alike... and carries with it a moral responsibility. To understand the gun is to better understand History.

Tales of the Gun
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Kimber Solo vs. Ruger LC9 :: First Impressions

Top: Kimber Solo // Bottom: Ruger LC9
The Kimber Solo is one of the most anticipated Mini 9mm's. I say 'most anticipated' because even though the Solo has been on the market for almost a year it is still a pistol that is few and far between. Whereas; the Ruger LC9 is available and most importantly affordable. Let's start the side by side:

Click to Enlarge

While both pistols have a steel slide and barrel they are a bit different. The Solo uses stainless steel with a satin finish on the slide; while the LC9 uses an alloy steel with a blued finish.
The receiver of the Solo is aluminum with a KimPro II finish in contrast to the LC9's glassed-filled nylon. Both fill the hand nicely without feeling too small. The Solo is a bit shorter in the grip due to the LC9's finger ledge.

Both pistols are outfitted with fixed 3-dot sights with a nod towards the Solo for having (in my opinion) more usable (larger) sights. While I find the LC9's sights a little more tedious; they are still sights (a vast improvment of the LCP)
Left: Ruger LC9 // Right: Kimber Solo
I do prefer the LC9's trigger over the Solo's. The LC9 has a long double action pull at just over 6 pounds. The trigger is smooth and breaks consistently. It is also worth noting that the LC9 is hammer fired. In contrast the Solo is a striker fired pistol. It's trigger is factory set at 7 pounds and has a long pull as well. My only complaint about the Solo's trigger is that it feels 'squishy'. As you begin to take up slack the trigger becomes heavier then squishy and then somewhere in there it fires. This isn't a deal breaker by any means, but I would have hoped for a better trigger from Kimber.
Top: Kimber Solo // Bottom: Ruger LC9
Both pistols have a manuel safety. The Solo has a very 1911-like safety located on both the left and right sides. It operates just as a safety should; easily. The LC9's safety is smaller and a bit more difficult to actuate. Being located only on the left side of the pistol; it appeared to me to be almost an afterthought. While being very positive in its operation the LC9's safety is a market driven feature that is not out of place.
Left: Kimber Solo // Right: Ruger LC9
I have only fired the LC9 to date, so I cannot comment on how the Solo handles. What I can point to is the numerous issues the Solo seems to be plagued with; while the LC9 seems to do what any good gun should: WORK! I have no doubt that Kimber will work through the hiccups it's having and put out a fine product, but as of right now the Ruger LC9 wins this one.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beretta Nano Endurance Test :: 1000 Rounds Bone Dry

This has way better production quality than my 1000 Rounds and a Glock videos... Enjoy!

Beretta Nano Fun Facts:
  • The Nano was designed, developed, and completely manufactured here in the USA
  • The Nano's slide is machined from a solid billet of steel
  • The way the Nano releases the striker, it gets smoother every time you pull the trigger
  • The Nano's sub-chassis is stainless steel
  • The Nano is uniquely engineered with a reversible, ambidextrous magazine release
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Carrying Firearms in a Vehicle

A good video from Rob Pincus of the Personal Defense Network concerning the carry of firearms while in a vehicle. He seems to favor off body carry; specifically using the Blackhawk! Serpa Quick Disconnect system. I typically use an in the waistband holster tucked between the seats. How do you carry in a vehicle?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ares Armor EFFIN-A Comp Review

Patriot36 gives us a rundown on how the Ares Armor EFFIN-A Comp works and how effective it is. The biggest takeaway for me was noticing how 'tunable' the compensator appears to be. Patriot36 touches on this and explains why during the 'range' video. Between the two videos you're looking at a total of about 27 minutes, but it kept my attention all the way through. Thank you to Patriot36 for the comprehensive review!

H/T: Predator BDU Blog

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trijicon SRS Announcement :: Gear Scout

Trijicon SRS (Sealed Reflex Sight)
Trijicon's new entry into the Red Dot market looks pretty promising. Military Times Gear Scout's Rob Curtis has all the details.

SRS (Sealed Reflex Sight)
    • 1.75 MOA red dot
    • 38mm objective lens- The SRS has a huge viewing window, nearly eliminating the tube effect
    • Runs for 3 years on an average setting and uses the solar panel to power the optic in place of the AA battery when in sunlight
    • Automatic plus 10 individual brightness settings for the red dot, 1-3 are night vision compatible
    • Sealed, ruggedized case
    • No tools needed- sighting adjustments can be made with a shell case and the Bobro self-adjusting mount snaps into place with a locking lever
    • 3.75 inches long

No word yet on MSRP and best guess on release date is February 2012.

Left: Aimpoint CompM4 // Center: Trijicon SRS // Right: EoTech 553
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'Improved' ACR revealed at AUSA :: Soldier Systems

Improved ACR :: Photo Courtesy of Soldier Systems

Amongst the improvements:
  • Accepts any Mil-Spec pistol grip
  • Redesigned rail
  • 1.8 lbs. lighter
  • Removed folding stock (retained collapsible function)
  • Quick Change barrel redesign (removed 'forks' supply spanner wrench)
Good luck with that! Soldier Systems also reports that Remington Defense will be supplying the Army's Individual Carbine solicitation with this redesigned ACR.

For more pics head over to Soldier Systems!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

The "NEW" Browning A5

Top: Mossy Oak Duck Blind // Middle: Hunter // Bottom: Stalker
"The Maxus is pure lightning, and you can't have lightning with out thunder. Bring the thunder."
You mean you can't have thunder without lightning, right? Anyways....

Nice video, good production value, and okay use of high-speed cameras; over-all... meh, but you know what's really missing? Details on the operating system. A big pain in the ass for a lot of shooters was remembering how the damn friction ring stack was assembled for different loads. In order for the A5 to cycle a certain load effectively you had to shuffle the friction rings. Most people, not realizing this, just assumed that their gun liked certain loads better than others.
Browning A5 Friction Rings w/ Assembly Chart
I understand the "New" A5 is still going to be recoil-operated utilizing the Browning Kinematic Drive, but what about those damn friction rings? Are they still present and do I (the end user) have to pull out the manual every time I switch to a different load? These are important questions! Our technology has progressed beyond the original 1898 design. But I could be totally wrong; like they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

All of that aside, I do think Browning will find moderate success with the reintroduction of the A5. Delivery is expected by Spring 2012. Specifications and MSRP's below.

Click for Largification
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"They're coming..." :: Hornady Ammunition

Hornady's new promo is alluding to something just out of our view. Could it be Hornady Branded Zombie Ammo? In late September the picture below started circulating which many came to believe was a fake (photoshop or clever fan). I guess we will find out more on October 14th.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

idIRt : Awesome or Awesomer?

If you have spent time in our Nation's Armed Forces you have most likely been exposed to a Cyalume product. ChemLights are used in countless activities:
  • Marking IED's
  • Illuminating pop-up targets for night fire
  • Crazy rave dancing after a successful mission
  • Communication after the failure of comms.
Others may know them by 'glow sticks', but this post isn't about a lame chemical activated luminescent tube of varying lengths. This post is about their new product dubbed 'idIRt'.

idIRt is a dirt-like substance that consists of two parts. Once the two parts are mixed the product is activated. Once activated it glows within the IR (inferred) spectrum of light. Being completely invisible to the unaided human eye; this product can be dispersed around an area of interest where a suspect may pass. Once you detain the suspect you can break-out your night vision and confirm that the individual passed through your targeted area. Awesome!

H/T: Soldier Systems

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MGI Buffer Video Response Contest :: WIN a Hydra Rifle!

MGI Military has announced their 'The Bad, Bold, and MGI Buffer Video Response Contest'. One grand-prize winner will receive a MGI Hydra Modular Weapon! If you haven't seen this rifle yet you need to check them out. They offer an quick swap barrel and mag well system to change caliber; while keeping all the familiar features of an AR-15.

Some of you may remember our review of the MGI Rate and Recoil Reducing Buffer. As I mention in the review the buffer was designed from the ground-up for the Hydra Weapon System, so that as you swap calibers you wouldn't have to swap buffers to achieve consistent and reliable cycling.

Want to win? The video below has all the details!

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Guy on a Buffalo

The other day I told my wife that I wanted to move to Alaska. In a vain attempt to bring me back to reality she asked, "What would you do? There's no guarantee you'd find a job." I told her that I would be the 'Guy on a Buffalo'. She looked at me with a confused expression until I showed her the following:

Believe it or not; she said no.

H/T: Everyday No Days Off

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Ruger LCP vs. S&W Bodyguard 380 :: First Impressions

Top: S&W Bodyguard // Bottom: Ruger LCP
This is a long overdue and an often requested comparison as of late. Both of these pistols are a fantastic choice as a deep concealment everyday carry. I will not waste your time with the argument whether .380ACP is a sufficient round for carry. The effectiveness of the 380 is well documented and there will always be 'haters'. At the end of the day it is better to have some sort of firearm than none at all. "A firearm is a tool that if needed, and not present, may never be needed again." Let's get down to business.

The Ruger LCP and S&W Bodyguard are both hammer fired DOA (Double Action Only) guns. Both have a long but smooth (+/-) 6.5 lbs. trigger. While firing the guns I found that I had to consciously let out the trigger completly to reset it. This may not be a problem for many people but I am use to shooting pistols with a short trigger reset (1911/Glock) and it took a bit of trigger time with the pistols before I was working the trigger as I should.

You only need to hold the two pistols in your hand to notice a difference in size and weight. The LCP weighs in at 9.4oz. against the Bodyguard's 11.8oz. The increase in weight comes from the Bodyguard's larger frame. The larger frame allows you to gain a couple features that will be covered below. The other dimensions are pretty close and will not write them out for you to read. I have supplied you with the specification chart for each pistol below (click to enlarge). The biggest gain with the larger frame is an improved grip. I felt like the Bodyguard was easier to handle than the LCP while firing.

Ruger LCP Specifications

S&W Bodyguard
As mentioned above the S&W Bodyguard's larger frame allows for some additional features over the Ruger LCP. The Bodyguard has a working slide lock; which will lock the slide to the rear on an empty magazine. You many also use the slide lock lever to release the slide as well. Another feature over the LCP is the manual safety. While I personally don't belief a manual safety is needed for this particular pistol (which is difficult to actuate) many people are feature driven buyers and will buy the Bodyguard only because it has a manual safety. The Bodyguard is also adorned with larger (usable) sights. They are driftable for point-of-impact shift and will inevitably be followed by after-market sights (night sights, etc.). Another feature the Bodyguard touts is its integrated Insight laser. The laser has two modes; constant on and strobe. The laser is activated by depressing (hard) a tiny gray button on either side of frame in front of the trigger guard.

Top: S&W Bodyguard // Bottom: Ruger LCP
In stark comparison the Ruger LCP has none of the Bodyguard's features. It has no manual safety (which I prefer) or working slide lock. A slide lock is present but must be operated manually (which prompts me to ask why one is present at all). The standard LCP comes without a laser but there are several aftermarket options for you laser lovers out there. The two most popular offerings are the Crimson Trace Laser Guard LG-431 and the LaserLyte CK-AMF, both weight in at about 1/4oz. The sights on the LCP are a simple rear notch and fixed front post. While being harder to acquire they are lower profile and seem to clear a pocket holster a bit smoother. Many will argue that sights on these small pistols are secondary to 'point shooting' which is enhanced with the use of a (easily deployed) laser. Regardless of current group think; sights on firearms, especially on tiny pocket guns, will always be judged.

Left: Ruger LCP // Right: S&W Bodyguard
In the end the best pistol for you will be the one that fits you best. Some of you want a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) pistol with no frills (but is feature upgradable), while others will want a feature rich pistol right out of the box. For the former the Ruger LCP is for you; the S&W Bodyguard is for the latter. What I can tell you for certain is that you will be happy with either pistol.

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