Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Warlord Mindset

"If you get it, you get it." (Hodge Defense Systems)

This has been going across the world of BookFace lately: 

"I firmly believe that 'one second after', having an AR and a 6 pack of mags will instantly promote you to warlord of whatever zip code you are standing in.

Having a second rifle in the truck and good judgement of human character just increased your Wolfpack to two and someone can watch your six."
    - GR

Are you prepared for the day that “it” happens? Whatever “it” is, you don’t get to know in advance, but preparing your body/mind/equipment starts right now.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

EGL Custom 3 Mag VOCR

Extreme Gear Labs custom 3 Mag VOCR

"Mission Drives the Gear Train"

I identified a need in my gear pile last year. At the time, what I wanted was not available on the open market, so I went custom. Besides, if you want to have something tweaked to your needs and are going to pay for it, why not just pay to have the item built to your needs from the start? Even though he can have some slow payment to delivery times, even more so because of his Space Race involvement, Eggy from Extreme Gear Labs is still the best source for custom gear.

What I wanted, was a way to carry 3 M-4 mags, 2 pistol mag pouches Glock and M&P friendly (capable of carrying flashlights or multitools as well) and a GP pouch with loops that would allow me to hard point a holster such as the Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 – VG2. Going with EGL, I was able to do all that plus add in a STUFFIT which is my choice for a multipurpose pouch with low retention needs.

Why a chest rig for me? If you’ve read one of my first posts, you know I prefer a “battle” belt over a chest rig for training. The difference here, is that I want to be able to carry extra rifle gear and have a pistol accessible when using a backpack.

This setup in the base model is found in the EGL VOCR line, available in multiple mag variants – 3,4,5 and 6 mags. Many are familiar with the mass produced variant of the VOCR that Eggy designed called the D3CR. Due to Eggy’s involvement in the D3CR upgrades that came out in 2014, I was able to have them instituted in my VOCR.

Looking at the layout of the VOCR, it has QD buckles connecting the H harness and waist strap. This allows integration with Plate Carriers setup with the receiver QD’s if needed. On the H harness are loops that allow Chemlights or Radio wiring. The base of the VOCR are 3 single M4 mag pouches. It’s possible other types of mags would work, but as I don’t own or use over hyped peasant rifles (AK family), Galil’s, Steyer Aug’s, etc. I’m not sure on that. ON the back of the VOCR is Velcro allowing the addition of accessories. On the front from left to right, GP pouch. This I had modified with several loops that allow IWB holster loops to be hard pointed to the pouch. Currently a Raven Concealment VG2 fills that roll, but a VG1 could be tied in with paracord. In the middle is a STUFFIT which can hold pretty much anything, including a Motorola XTS series radio, Dark Angel Medical DARK insert, etc. Last are 2 pistol mag pouches. They will barely hold a Glock 22 round mag, but were designed to hold it and the standard Glock 17/22 mag or M&P magazine comfortably. 

Looking down onto rig from wearer's POV

Front view of rig,

 Showing loops and how VG2 loop will interface with it

The accessories for the VOCR/D3CR line, fit on the back using Velcro. I have the 2 M4 mag wedge and the “FBI” trauma kit hanger. Depending on my needs, is if I will run either of accessories. 

 Looking down on VOCR at 2 mag wedge on top. 

I chose 3 angles of view to show how a standard REI backpacking pack would fit when worn over both the VOCR and a Crye JPC with and without hydration bladder. Also depicted is the VOCR being worn with the 2 mag wedge installed, to show its minimal bulk.


VOCR with 2 mag wedge – no pack:

JPC - with hydration bladder:

Notice how the hydration bladder even though a small capacity model shifts the pack to one side. This would be highly uncomfortable in long term wear. 

JPC - without hydration bladder:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rifle Suppressor Thoughts

Rifle Suppressor Observations

Like many American’s, I have a Rifle Suppressor or as more commonly known, a Silencer. As this is a NFA controlled item, I did research before purchasing it. After purchasing it, and the following 9 month wait, I did some informal testing comparing it to the others I had available to me for comparison with aid of their owners.

·      Surefire FA556-212 (mine)
o   http://www.surefire.com/tactical-equipment/sound-suppressors/legacy-sound-suppressors/556-mm-223-caliber/fa556-212.html
·      AAC M4-2000 Pre MOD08
o   http://www.advanced-armament.com/M4-2000_p_409.html
·      YHM Phantom in 5.56
o   http://yhm.net/q-d-phantom-5-361.html

·      10.5” SBR’s
·      14.5” pinned uppers
·      16” uppers

Price:  These were based on MSRP cost but do not include the $200.00 NFA stamp and any NFA out of state transfer fees ($50-150).
·      Surefire: $1,300.00 plus $100 mount: $1,400.00
·      AAC: $800.00 included mount
·      YHM: $600.00 due to time, don’t remember if owner had to pay extra to get a mount, but YHM mount was about $50.00

            Suppressor mounts come into 2 main categories, with 3 subcategories.

o   Direct Thread
o   Quick Detach
§  Flash Hider
§  Muzzle Break
§  Hybrid – a little of both options.

I prefer to use flash hiders for my rifles. Some people do not have that option due to living in Communist states. For a 100% of the time suppressed rifle, a muzzle break is ideal. It allows the break to absorb the majority of the blast from your muzzle, instead of the suppressor. When you’ve made a $600-1300 investment plus the wait time for a suppressor, having something absorb the blast that you can replace for $50-100, is a nice option.

Another factor that I looked at in selecting a Surefire can, was the quality and selection of their mounts over the other options from AAC and YHM. I had seen a few YHM Phantom mounts “fracture” and open up in low round count guns. I already had a AAC Blackout non mounting flash hider and while it worked to hide flash, the ting was slightly annoying. Would the ting matter if your shooting? No. But it’s a little annoying thing. The Surefire mount I went with is a closed end flash hider. In use while waiting on the Tax Stamp approval, I shot the flash hider mount on 10.5” SBR a lot. I noticed the flash removal was on par to my eyes with the 14.5” blackout equipped upper I had. The surprising factor was how well the Surefire flash hider functioned to reduce recoil. I hate muzzle breaks on social guns for many reasons, primarily being blast. I noticed almost no blast from the Surefire flash hider while it controlled recoil extremely well.

As someone who has one suppressor but more than one gun to use it on, I went with the option that works for the “not always suppressed” role, a flash hider.

Sound Levels:

Each can is tested by the manufacture of said can and given a decibel rating. In the suppressor world, some manufacturers are open about test factors – environmental, weapons used on, ammunition types, decibel meter placement, etc. Some are not. Based on the information I found at the time, all the manufactures of the three suppressors where claiming sound levels within 6 or so decibel range.

For the purpose of my informal testing, I didn’t worry about the actual decilbe reading as I did not have a decibel meter available to me. What mattered, was the sound to the user and sound to those around me. For the testing we shot at night so that the other participants would not know the rifle/suppressor being shot. Yes, extensive safety measures were in place.

Based on this testing, when compared on similar barrel lengths using a magazine of the same type of ammunition, the shooter couldn’t tell the sound difference, nor could the people down range/next to the shooter. If there is a decibel difference, it was not noticeable.

Recently I tested side by side on 14.5” pinned guns my “old” Surefire can next to the new SOCOM series replacement for it. Again, no difference to the shooters in decibles.

POI/POA shift:

Each manufacture will tell you what their POI/POA shift is when putting the suppressor on the gun. At the time, Surefire was making the claim to having the least POI shift, but you had to pay attention to realize testing was being done on a Remington 700 bolt gun, not the AR-15 rifle everyone uses. With that I looked around online for information on various end user tests and found that Surefire seemed to have the least shift in POI.

Upon receiving the Surefire suppressor, I did test the shift. I don’t recall the initial test on a 10.5 SBR, but it was like 1” by 2” down and left. On a 14.5” gun it’s about 1.5” right.  During my informal testing, I noticed that there was more POI shift on the longer barrel guns – with both AAC and Surefire cans. More weight longer out on the barrel, surprise, will cause the barrel to flex more. A benefit to minimal POI shift is if you don’t have time to re zero your gun when you place the suppressor on it, a center mass shot is still very doable inside of a 5.56’s effective range of 400 yards.

New tech: OSS, SilencerCO Saker, Gemtech ONE.

I don’t have any hands on time as of yet with the various new takes and tech coming out now, but find them interesting. Time will tell if they work.


Looking for a rifle suppressor there are many options. When I bought mine, a lot less than today. I would still say look at the option of long term durability rating, muzzle device options and POI shift. Price is not relevant as you will buy it and not get to play with it or train with it for quite a while. Getting a can and being disappointed with it, not a good thing when you can’t take it back to swap out.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness

Crossfit. Gym Jones. Military Athlete. Combat Conditioning. RAW, MARSOC Prep: What do they all have in common? They all work in some fashion to be functional for survival of every day life with a focus on making you stronger. Certain programming sets will set you up for more Military/Law Enforcement specific fitness, others, general fitness.

What is functional fitness? This was best defined by the author/blogger “John Mosby” as:
“Physical conditioning training is only functional if it fulfills one simple performance criteria: will it help you improve your ability to do what you need to be able to do, for the duration of how long you need to be able to do, it on demand. If not, it's not functional fitness, it's... Retarded."

Functional Fitness will have buzz words you will hear that will be outside the normal weightlifting lingo, and the non fitness oriented worlds’ lingo.  I will use some of these terms throughout the post:

·      WOD – Workout Of the Day
·      Movement – Anything done on the workout. Weightlifting, Calisthenics, Gymnastics, etc.
·      Bodyweight Movement – anything done with only bodyweight – push ups, air squats, pull ups, etc.
·      1RM – 1 Rep Max
·      PR – Personal Record

I used to do the stereotypical “Monday is Chest day, Tuesday is arms day, Wednesday is Leg Day (Frequently skipped by the weak girly men in the world), Thursday is Back Day, Friday is something else day” workout plan. What I found was that I was spending anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours at the gym each day, which left me with no time to do any running, which is a personal relaxation tool. I noticed that yes, I did slowly get stronger on the typical workout routines, but that I didn’t have the same endurance nor did I have time for this important thing called life.

For a while, my goal was to switch to a “Functional Fitness” style workout routine and finally had no choice when my local gym shut down over 2 years ago. A co-worker agreed to set up a garage gym at his place and we bought equipment for it. Kettle Bells, Bumper plates from Rouge, squat rack, bar bells and some dumb bells. I quickly found that this was all I needed to do basic Functional oriented workouts.

In January of 2013 I had the opportunity to receive some basic coaching in Olympic style lifting from a couple, who had become close family friends. This helped greatly focus my workouts with more lifts being applied, and mostly proper form. A garage gym will allow you to slack off on form because nobody is there all the time to critique your form. This is a negative to a garage gym, but one you can work around by attending coaching sessions as well as videoing your lifts for critique. The form matters, not the weight or reps. The family friends would send us their WOD each day allowing us to have no choice but to do the assigned movements each day. This helped stop me from picking my workouts based on the movements I liked or was good at and skipping those I needed to work on.

As I progressed from a beginner, to more “experienced” with the WOD’s I realized my body was getting rapidly stronger. The WOD’s shifted from beginner level to more difficult. 
Example Beginner:
·      For Time:
·      21 Pullups (with or without rubber band assistance for those needing assistance)
·      21 Kettle Bell Swings (53# is usually the minimum men’s weight and 35# the women’s)
·      Run 400 meters

Example Current:
·      10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Front Squat. 
o   Work towards your 1RM if not set a new one.
·      Then
·      5 Rounds for time:
o   7 Muscle Ups
o   21 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls at 95#s.

There is a huge fitness level difference in what is required to push through the beginner level one and be on your back afterwards and sore for the next two days, and 12 months later doing the Second example and walk out the door a little sore and exhausted but ready to go to work.

Can you do “functional fitness” workouts when you do not have access to Kettlebells, Olympic Lifting Bumpers and Bars, Squat Rack, etc? Yes. You won’t get as much strength improvement out of it necessarily, but by being creative and utilizing your environment and what junk is lying around your house/yard/shop, you can find some weight to lift. To do pull ups, you can spend $20.00 at Home Depot and build a frame for a piece of scrap metal tubing to do pull ups from. Used large tires – tractor or semi-truck size – can be used for tire flips or attach a rope to them and do tire drags. Use of sand bags for one handed snatches or carries as well as weighted squats. Also you can do ruck marches or “rucking.” Plenty of resources available on that online.

I really have noticed the benefit from changing workout styles in the more physically demanding aspects of life. Especially telling was an incident where what was supposed to be a 6 mile trip in full kit (30-40#’s) turned into a 13.2 mile desert walkabout. Interestingly, those who do functional fitness styled workouts, were fine and kept going during this. Those who did the bodybuilding Arnold/Weider stuff, sucking wind and needing breaks frequently. A trip to the Harvard of Gunfighting, DARC, sure showed the benefits. There fellow students who did some variant of functional fitness, all were kicking butt thanks to a more intense training regimen as found in Functional Fitness.

How does one measure the results of their “functional fitness?” There are many ways to do this. Tracking the 1RM on various lifts, finish times in running to overall times for so called “benchmark” workouts (Fran, Murph, Grace, etc.). There is also the ultimate test of being able to do perform on demand. I found that Mosby put it well when he described this:
“It doesn’t matter how big your biceps are, or how fast you can run 26.2 miles; if you can’t get your self and your gear to the fight, under physically challenging conditions; and engage the enemy with well aimed rifle fire, then you are fundamentally, functionally useless.”

Hopefully all of my readers as well as myself will never have to run the performance on demand test, but if you do, you better be able to perform. It could be your life, the life of a family member or the life of an innocent victim.

For more reading:
Crossfit: http://www.crossfit.com/
Crossfit Football: http://crossfitfootball.com/
Ranger Athlete Warrior – RAW: https://www.google.com/#q=ranger+athlete+warrior