If you follow Black Bag Resources on Facebook, you know that on Friday nights at 10pm I use Facebook Live to run my mouth for about an hour. There's been a significant enough response to invest a little more time and effort. Additionally, I want a way to reach all you folks who don't use Facebook. There have also been numerous requests for a podcast over the years, so I'm now recording the BBRain Dump and posting them on Youtube with the help of John Willett from the Bear Arms Show. As I learn to run the software, I'll do more and invite guests on the show. I like the interactive features of Facebook Live, and I intend to keep that as part of the show no matter what other dopey ideas we experiment with. The last episode as of this writing is posted below. Please comment here, on Youtube, or on Facebook and let me know what you think or what you'd like to see!
Tony Simon and I have been friends for nearly two decades, and we talk on the phone almost every day. We share hobbies and interests and we team teach firearms courses together through our respective brands. We often discuss training methods, argue defensive tactics, and of course drool over firearms and related products. Tony is a surplus aficionado, and loves old military guns for both their historical significance and often inexpensive availability, so I wasn't surprised when I heard his enthusiasm about a new product he'd found over the summer, a Canadian manufactured chassis for the venerable SKS- one of Tony's favorites. His enthusiasm grew as he described the features of Matador Arms' Sabertooth chassis and a full length optics rail they also manufacture. While I own an obligatory SKS, I don't share Tony's enthusiasm for the rifle, so I listened with lukewarm interest. Tony wasn't discouraged and continued on with what was beginning to feel like a sales pitch until he dropped his big surprise on me: "Dude, they're sending me one to review!" My ears perked up because "free" is my favorite four letter word, and I knew I'd get to shoot this fancy chassis on Tony's rifle before he had to return it to the manufacturer. Tony lives in NJ, and his rifle wouldn't be state compliant with the chassis and requisite detachable mags installed, so I knew he'd do the build at my house in PA. He'd have to, and I was going to get my share of range time out of the deal!
A few weeks later, after one of Tony's "The 2nd is for Everyone: Diversity Shoots," he handed me the box with the chassis and optic rail. We looked it over together, and agreed that it looked like a quality piece of work. The Sabertooth chassis is designed to drag the 1940's era SKS kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Much like the EBR concept updated the M-14 to modern standards with a collapsible stock, pistol grip, and rail sections, the Sabertooth adds the same features to the SKS by allowing the attachment of an AR buffer tube and stock, AR pistol grip, and features a magazine well to assist in loading aftermarket "duckbill" magazines into the rifle. The finish on the unit Tony received was also very nice, with a MARPAT type digital woodland camouflage coating which I ribbed Tony about. "Because 'Marine Corps,' right?" Right! (In case you've never spoken to Tony for more than 30 seconds, he was in the Marine Corps, and usually mentions it within the first minute of your first conversation with him.) Tony was excited and showed me the optics rail, too. The rail had crisp cut Picatinny, just like the forearm on the chassis. We noted that they were sharp, and expected that to be a sign of precision. We discussed the required add-ons, and I volunteered a Magpul fixed stock and pistol grip I had from a previous project. We agreed that Tapco 20 round magazines were our best option for the budget we had, as well as a Tapco short vertical grip and extended magazine release. (Since then, Matador has released their own extended magazine release.) We also settled on referring to our undertaking as "Project Sabertooth" on social media, in our written reviews, and on any of the various podcasts with which Tony is involved.
The Build (Almost):
Remember when I said Tony loves his surplus guns? His affection for his SKS would be both the motivation to start the project and what nearly killed it.
Tony was on cloud nine the day he arrived at my house with his box from Matador and his rifle. We sat down with the instructions and made sure all the small parts, screws, and springs were present, as well as gathered all the tools we'd need. We disassembled Tony's Yugoslavian SKS, and set about installing the Sabertooth chassis. Everything was a snug fit, except for the handguard cap, so we used the buffer supplied by Matador. I told Tony I wasn't sure if it was secure enough, but we'd find out when we shot it. We were pleased to see that Matador included a replacement spring to tension the receiver, stock, and trigger group and carefully snipped it down to the appropriate size per the directions. We threaded on the AR receiver extension, installed the stock, and set the pistol grip block in place. I showed Tony the way it was positioned. "You'll have to remove the pistol grip and block to disassemble the rifle," I told him, "kind of a pain to add extra steps." Tony shrugged it off, stating he didn't mind and probably wouldn't break it down that far very often anyway. I installed the pistol grip and top hand guard and stepped back to look at our work. "Oh, yeeeeaaaaaaah!" was Tony's response, and we laughed. We had certainly put a new dress on the old girl, and she was looking pretty great!
Tony pulled out the Matador full length optics rail and chuckled as he read the directions. "Sucks to be you! We should have done this first, so undo all that work you just done did!" he told me, exaggerating his Virginian accent to full bumpkin. We noted that we had to remove Tony's receiver cover pin to install the optics rail, and that's when the trouble started. Tony had already bent a pin punch unsuccessfully attempting to disassemble his hand guard (we planned on getting a replacement gas tube so he wouldn't have to wreck it entirely), and went to work pulling the drift pin that secures the receiver cover pin. Obviously, it didn't work, so we did what all kitchen table gunsmiths do- we went online to look at YouTube. Tony's smile faded as video after video showed cutting the receiver cover pin to remove it.
Tony's Yugo is all matching and original, except for a broken firing pin he replaced, and he wasn't about to take a Dremel tool to anything when he was certain "no permanent modifications" were necessary. You and I both know it's just a cheap part that can easily be replaced, but Tony wasn't having it and decided that we'd just review the chassis as best we could without the optics rail. "Besides, we have to get a gas tube anyway, so there's no reason to rush this," he told me.
Having given up on the rail, we reinstalled the chassis and took it outside so Tony could get some photos. He took some table top shots, then asked me to get a few of him holding and shouldering the rifle. I held the camera up, he raised the rifle, and immediately dropped it back down. He was smiling, but it wasn't a happy smile. "Sight it," he said, handing me the rifle. I did, and immediately saw the problem- I couldn't line up the sights at all. The receiver cover on the SKS sits above the stock, so your face lines up behind it and your eye in line with the sights. With the Matador Sabertooth chassis, the whole rifle sits lower in the chassis so that the stock is in line with the top of the receiver cover and your eye is above the rear sight. That means you can't possibly align your eye with the rear sight and front sight. The optic rail requires removing the rear sight, so you're dedicated to your optic at that point. You NEED the optic rail to mount a red dot or scope, otherwise you have now way to aim at all. We didn't realize that until it was all assembled. After expressing our frustration and disappointment with language unfit for print, I asked Tony what he was going to do. "Unless you're willing to give up your rifle, we're done here." he responded. I told Tony that this was his project, and I was specific about what my expectations were if I was going to commit one of my guns. He nodded and said he would reach out to his contact at Matador for suggestions on how to proceed. We disassembled the rifle and chassis, carefully repackaged the parts, and put Tony's rifle back together. It had taken us all afternoon, and Tony was going home disappointed.
The Build, Round 2:
A gentlemen doesn't kiss and tell, so I won't go into all the details, but Tony called me a few days later. "Dust off your SKS. You're up." Unfortunately with our schedules, it would be several weeks before we could get together to make a second attempt at Project Sabertooth.
It was November when we finally got together for the project again. Just as before, we rounded up all the parts and my tools, including a Dremel tool this time, and went out to the garage. We laid out our work and disassembled my Romanian SKS. Parodying a popular internet meme, "everybody wants to be a gangster until it's time to do some gangster s***," I winked at Tony and told him "everybody wants to be a gun writer until it's time to chop up your SKS," and unceremoniously zipped off the receiver cover pin with the Dremel!
We still managed to assemble then disassemble and reassemble the kit because I was over confident and didn't follow the directions, but the build went together fairly easily. We noticed that my Romanian clunker fit the handguards tighter than Tony's Yugo, and the spring we had cut the first time was fortunately the right length to work with my rifle as well. I added the stock, an OD Green Command Arms Accessories pistol grip to better color match than the black Magpul MOE grip we used the first time, and the Tapco vertical grip and mag release. Matador's instructions say to remove the bayonet, but I was able to keep mine due to it's shorter "paratrooper" length not interfering with the hand guard. It took about 20 minutes, now that we weren't over analyzing every detail and fighting stuck parts.
Tony took more photos, and we got our tactical fondle on with the built up rifle. We practiced aiming and changing mags, and agreed that the Sabertooth's mag well makes a huge difference in improving mag insertion. We discussed optics, and I decided that instead of buying anything, I'd give up a Bushnell TRS-25 from an AR pistol build for Project Sabertooth. Unfortunately for Tony, we ran out of time and couldn't get to the range that day, but Project Sabertooth was assembled and we had photos and a basic feel for the kit to post and discuss on social media. Things were finally moving along.
A few weeks later, I took Project Sabertooth to the range. Unfortunately, Tony wasn't available, but I had my good friend Brent "Doc" Schoenfeldt with me, and he's an avid shooter in his own right with SWAT experience under his belt. Doc's got plenty of time on the various ARs he's built, several AKs, and various other models in his collection, but his total experience with the SKS was limited to one range trip where he shot Tony's Yugo.
There was snow on the ground and it was cold and raining, but we were happy to run drills with a pair of custom 1911s Doc built as well as our ARs. We were well warmed up when I brought out Project Sabertooth. Doc was already familiar with the backstory, and was eager to get his hands on it. I installed the Bushnell TRS-25 there at the range, and joked that I'd need at least a few rounds to get it zeroed on the 35 yard range we were using. I brought a few hundred round of Tulammo FMJ and we started loading it into the Tapco 20 round magazines. We noticed right away that the magazines were having feeding issues. The springs or followers were sticking, preventing the rounds from pushing up. We worked on the mags for a bit to get them to loosen up, settling on the fact that they seemed to work when loaded to less than 15 rounds. Once we were satisfied that the mags would feed the rifle, I seated one and took aim at the steel plate 25 yards away.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and that first round hit dead center on the steel plate without having to make any adjustments on the Bushnell! Doc and I had a good laugh at my good fortune, and I spent the next few magazines piling rounds on top of the original mark on Doc's plate. Doc took the rifle from me and did the same with boring regularity and ease.
Tony Takes a Turn
I was nearly finished writing up this article, and something was eating at me. Tony started this project and was certainly passionate about it, but never had the opportunity to really enjoy the fruits of our labor. Tony needed to shoot Project Sabertooth. Tony had used the Heritage Guild in Easton to do a hands on evaluation with another rifle recently, and, as their range is only 15 minutes from my house, I suggested he meet me there in two days.
I brought the rifle, three magazines, and a few boxes of ammo. Tony brought his stock Yugo for comparison. As if he wasn't familiar with it enough, Tony ran a few rounds through his SKS, while I loaded mags for Project Sabertooth. I explained the issues I'd experienced with the mags, and Tony looked them over. It took a few rounds (and a little lubrication on the bolt), but once Project Sabertooth started running smooth, Tony was smiling from ear to ear. "Oh, this is great," he commented, referencing the rail and optic. He brought the rifle to low ready, then snapped it up and fired a controlled pair. He repeated the exercise a few times until the mag ran dry, and offered me a turn. I glanced over my shoulder at Tony as I picked up the rifle, executed a mag load and charged the action using a technique polpular with AK shooters. "Niiiiiiice," Tony chuckled, recognizing that I was demonstrating Project Sabertooth was now as "high speed" as other more modern rifles. I ran through a few rounds before putting Tony back on the gun, and he burned through a few more boxes of 7.62. We wrapped up another project I've been working on, spoke with staff about Tony's upcoming events, and went back to my house to debrief.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The chassis: We put a few hundred rounds through the rifle, shooting from standing, kneeling, and prone, and the Sabertooth chassis was comfortable in all three positions. Tony and I are both over six feet tall, so the long fixed stock was comfortable for both of us, but Doc is shorter and said he would prefer a collapsible stock, specifically the Mission First Tactical Minimalist stock (Doc's hints aren't subtle), to allow adjustment for his smaller stature. This is of course a possibility, only requiring a swap of the buffer tube and stock. I expressed concerns over the gap between the pistol grip and trigger guard, but it proved to be a non issue, and Tony commented that it allows for actuating the SKS safety lever. The rails are sharp and the accessories we mounted stayed secure through several hundred rounds of fire. I recommend rail covers, and I'd like to see Matador offer a QD socket somewhere either on the rails or elsewhere on the chassis. I thought the front of the chassis had moved at one point, but upon closer inspection it was an illusion due to the shape of the hand guard cap. The chassis stayed put, which is no small feat for a drop in accessory for any surplus firearm, especially one with as many variants as the SKS. We all agreed that the rifle felt heavier with the Sabertooth installed, but the minor added weight only served to tame an already reasonable recoil. The pairing of the straight recoiling SKS with the improved ergonomics of the chassis and increased weight make shooting a Sabertooth equipped SKS a real joy. Similarly, we all agreed that the Sabertooth's magwell made loading detachable magazines significantly faster and easier than compared to a traditional stock. This was hands down the most dramatic difference in the manual of arms for all three of us, and we all agreed that it makes the chassis worth the price of admission.
The optic rail mount: Again, we chose the Bushnell TRS-25 for our Project Sabertooth and it sits on Matador's rail at a perfect height without the riser. The consensus was that this is the highlight of the build. Shooting the SKS with a modern optic is fantastic, and the Matador rail does an excellent job of providing a long, straight, flat, and consistent platform for the optic of your choice. Cutting the receiver cover pin is only an issue to absolute purists like Tony, and replacement parts are cheap and plentiful should you lose your sense and decide to get rid of the Matador rail.
Accessories: The only thing worth noting here is that the detachable magazine is always the weak link in any firearm that uses them. This case was no exception, but once we got our Tapco 20 round magazines broken in (and kept the rifle properly lubricated), everything worked flawlessly. Tony and I have spoken about getting a few test magazines from other manufacturers, and we will follow up with a review on those after running them in Project Sabertooth.
Opinions: All three reviewers agreed that the Matador Sabertooth chassis and full length optics rail are well worth the asking price and made significant improvements to the SKS in ergonomics, functionality, and shootability. They are easy to install, and the chassis allows you to customize as you see fit with the plethora of AR stocks and pistol grips on the market. We all agreed that adding an optic was our favorite "new" feature on the SKS for the pure ease of use and enjoyment in shooting. Second favorite was the improved ease and speed of changing magazines thanks to the Sabertooth's magwell. Over all, we struggled to find anything to complain about, and any complaints we had were minor and not deal breakers or really worth mentioning.
In discussing the build with others, the question repeatedly came up as to whether or not Tony and I felt it was worth adding another $260 for the chassis and $90 for the optics rail PLUS the other parts necessary to finish the build. Tony and I agreed, that yes it is, but that is ultimately up to the end user. Some people might not see the value in buying a $400 (current local price at the time of this writing) surplus SKS then adding another $400 in parts and accessories compared to purchasing another rifle in the same caliber. Other collectors who bought their SKS for $99 back in the 90's might have an "extra" rifle they feel like turning into an awesome project gun. The other idea is that some people may face legislative issues that preclude them from owning other modern rifles, but they can update their SKS without running afoul of restrictions. I think the last scenario is one where the Matador chassis and rail make the most sense to prospective customers.
Regardless of the reason you choose the Matador Sabertooth chassis and Matador Full Length Optics Rail Mount, you are sure to end with an impressively updated and more capable rifle using these excellent components.
One of the products I get the most questions on is body armor. I just want to briefly cover some of those questions and answers here to hopefully save some time and give you a reference to use later.
Before I start, I would like to remind my readers that, much like the best way to survive a gunfight is to not get into one, the best way to survive a hit is to not take one. I'll go ahead and state the obvious- Avoid getting shot if you can, and rely on your armor only as an absolute last resort. There are still serious injuries involved even with the protection body armor affords.
The first question up, "what do the ratings mean, and what level do I need?" The ratings come from the National Institute of Justice or NIJ and are applied as a standard for testing requirements for armor based on the types of rounds the armor is expected to stop. Generally speaking, the ratings are as follows, with some exceptions (NIJ info may be found here):
Type IIA: 9mm; 40S&W
Type II: 9mm; .357 Magnum
Type IIIA: .357SIG; .44 Magnum
Type III: Rifle (7.62 NATO)
Type IV: Armor Piercing Rifle (.30 caliber AP)
Also referred to as "level," the "type" is expected to stop the cartridges listed as well as cartridges less powerful. Also note, NIJ does not include Level III+ (3+), as this is an industry standard developed by armor manufacturers in response to certain issues with Level III, which I'll discuss later. Again, generally speaking, Types IIA, II, and IIIA are usually "soft armor" consisting of materials like kevlar or other fibers that are flexible but capable of "catching" a bullet to prevent penetration by dispersing the kinetic energy across the face of the material. This is what most people think of when discussing "bullet proof vests" and are the type most commonly worn under clothing and by Law Enforcement. Types III and IV are generally "hard plates" made of materials like steel, ceramic, and most recently high density polyethylene. The military designation SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) or hard plate is more commonly worn in a plate carrier over clothing and is often a supplement to soft armor. Hard plates are obviously not flexible and as such are shaped to provide specific limited protection by only covering vital organs like the heart and lungs. The majority of armor requests I get have been for hard plates, either as a stand alone system for Private Military Contractors and concerned citizens, or as "active shooter rigs" for Law Enforcement to supplement their soft armor.
The second common question is, "what is the benefit of steel vs ceramic?" Let's break down the pros and cons of each material.
Steel is quickly becoming a favorite among civilians/citizens looking to put together an armor package. Reasons for wanting armor include general preparedness, employment needs/hazards, preparing for civil unrest/rioting, etc.
Steel is a great choice due to it's comparatively low cost and extremely high durability. Quality steel armor can be found for as low as $100 per plate. Steel plates are exceptionally strong and will not be damaged or compromised by dropping them. It is more likely that dropping a steel plate will damage the floor it hits. Generally, steel plates do very well at being "multiple hit capable" with little to no back face deformation, and there are no shortage of videos on the internet of "torture tests" where steel plates withstand hundreds of rounds within their respective ratings.
The downsides to steel are weight, mitigating energy/velocity, and fragmentation/spall. Steel plates are comparatively heavy, and and average 10" by 12" shooter's cut plate is about 8 lbs. That means you're carrying 16 lbs of armor to get basic front and back coverage, plus the weight of the carrier, additional side plates, and your other gear. In my experience using steel plate armor, it doesn't give the impression of being so heavy because it is very close to your body, but I notice I fatigue far more quickly with the extra weight.
Another downside to steel is in the way it stops the round. Other materials "catch" the round by dispersing or absorbing the kinetic energy of the traveling bullet. Steel does not, which means two things. First, the energy has to go somewhere, and that energy can be transferred to your body causing a shockwave to move through the liquid in such a way that it can cause injury. The most common solution is to pair the plates with either soft armor or non newtonian pads designed to absorb the energy, both of which add to the cost of the system. Ths leads us to the other way the energy is dispersed, which is fragmentation and spall. Since the round does not decelerate but rather stops suddnely, there is risk of the projectile bouncing off, ricocheting, or spalling into unprotected body parts like your face. This can cause serious injury or potentially be fatal if the deflected round goes up enters under your chin or strikes major blood vessels in the neck, or if it goes down could strike major blood vessels in your lower limbs or abdomen. Should the round fragment on impact, the pieces may pose similar risk of injury. These risks are mitigated by coating the steel plate (which also prevents corrosion and preserves the integrity of the plate) with materials capable of containing the spall and fragmentation, again adding to the cost of the system. It is worth noting that I always strongly recommend customers get the additional coating offered by manufacturers on the strike face of the plate.
Cartridge velocity is also a concern when choosing steel plates. Velocity trumps steel, and a caliber otherwise within the rating of the plate may penetrate at higher than normal velocities. For example, Type III steel plate are rated to withstand up to a .308 (7.62 NATO), and subsequently are expected to perform well against .223/5.56. However, it was found that Type III plates were only stopping those 5.56 rounds up to roughly 2700 feet per second. Commonly available ammo doing more than that was penetrating, so manufacturers developed what they called "III+" which has been able to stop 5.56 rounds doing more than 3000 fps. Again note that this is a manufacturer/industry rating and not one from NIJ. It is my understanding that NIJ only recognizes meeting/exceeding the Type III standard but does not specify or recognize the Type III+ rating. (This is based on the documentation I am aware of. If you find otherwise, please contact me and I'll update the article.)
Ceramic armor is generally lighter and somewhat thicker than steel. The US military has used ceramic SAPI plates for many years with good results, and there are now several manufacturers producing plates available to the public. Ceramic plates run from Type III to Type IV ratings and are considered multiple hit capable. They don't stand up to hundreds of rounds like steel, but do well at stopping more than 3 rounds but usually are compromised after 8-10. The ceramic plate catches the round by crushing in front of the bullet which decelerates the projectile but also destroys the material. Ceramic plates are also more expensive, with quality offerings costing $400 or more. Newer manufacturers are working that price down, but only very recently. The biggest issue I have with ceramic plates is their durability. Dropping a ceramic plate can crush a corner or crack the plate in a way that is not immediately apparent, compromising it's ballistic capability. Second hand plates should be examined carefully and x-rayed if possible before use. Easily damaging an expensive piece of equipment is especially concerning if there is no agency supply chain or if you are personally paying for that equipment.
The newest plate material is high density polyethylene. Polyethylene is one of the most common plastics, and the plates are laminated layers of the material shaped for use as armor. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT! Based on what I've seen from this type of plate so far, there are zero positives. The manufacturer claims that the plates are significantly lighter than steel, but my concern is how this material performs. First, as of this writing, it is my understanding that the manufacturer does not yet have NIJ certification.
The plates are known to delaminate at 160 degrees, which means there is a serious risk of the layers separating if left in a hot vehicle, for example. That's a very serious problem for a Law Enforcement Officer who might keep these as an Active Shooter rig in the trunk of their patrol car.
Take a look at the photo: these are screenshots from the manufacturer's advertisements. They show two extremely concerning issues. The first is massive back face deformation. Yes, the round is kept from penetrating, but not by much. The second issue is the condition of the clay media behind the plate. The clay is used to represent the tissue behind the plate, because it shows exactly what kind of energy transfer/shockwave takes place. That appears to be a six inch wide and three inch deep cavity created by the impact, which is far more severe than that found with steel armor. I showed these photos to a friend and customer who is also an ER and Trauma doctor with SWAT experience. He confirmed my suspicion that this represents severe trauma that could damage or even rupture organs: the end result being fatal or nearly fatal.
I have access to this brand, but based on my concerns I refuse to sell this product until all of these issues are resolved. Until then, I'm advising everyone to steer clear of this product.
It probably comes as no surprise that the majority of the armor I sell is steel plates. They are cost effective, robust, and offer good protection despite the drawback of their weight. If you listened to The Bear Arms Show back in May, I discussed a potential recall from AR500 Armor. That is now a full recall as described. Due to those issues, combined with extremely long lead times and AR500 losing my orders, I've decided to stop dealing with them. I spoke with Spartan Armor Systems, and they offer a great line of products at competitive prices with much shorter lead times. I look forward to improving my customers' experience with Spartan.
Hopefully this not-so-brief rundown helped answer some questions. If not, feel free to contact me using the "Contact Us" link above.
There's been a bunch of exciting new developments since my last post in May. We've got a few new lines available to BBR customers. Whether you're following for firearms, outdoor gear, or personal defense, I'm confident there's something new for you!
First up is CampMaid. I first saw their products over a year ago, and I was really impressed with the versatility they brought to the humble Dutch oven. It took a while, but they are now available through BlackBagResources.com. We've focused on two items in particular- the 12 in Dutch oven and the four piece kit, which encompasses the rest of the line. The kit includes the charcoal holder, lid lifter, kickstand, and quick grill. By arranging the tools in different configurations, you can use your Dutch oven as a grill, smoker, pizza oven, skillet, or a zero footprint Dutch oven. The parts are all sturdy and well built, and best of all, brilliantly designed. Check out the video below, or stop by and ask for a demonstration.
Next up is Gun Tote'n Mamas.
Women's concealed carry bags have been on the market for years, but they were always pretty plain and with very limited options. Gun Tote'n Mamas finally brought some style and fashion sense to women who choose to defend themselves with a firearm. Manufactured with top quality materials, and laid out to function both right or left handed, Gun Tote'n Mamas handbags and purses don't look like the old, frumpy bags sold in the back of gun magazines. Is it weird that I'm excited about purses? Maybe. But I'm ok with that as long as I get to bring my customers awesome products!
We're still working out the details, but expect Gun Tote'n Mamas to be available via special order in the coming weeks.
The most recent addition is Tetra Gun.
I just met with Steve from Tetra a few hours ago to place an opening order. Tetra is best known for their outstanding cleaning chemicals, and that's where I've chosen to focus. Their cleaning kits, rods, and tools are also excellent quality, and will be added soon. Starting tomorrow, customers will be able to order Tetra Gun's impressive Fluoropolymer based lubricants, grease, and cleansers to get the most out of your firearms. Tetra doesn't rely on fancy marketing or an implied Tier 1 military unit endorsement, they present science. Plain and simple, Tetra products are designed for firearms from the start. They boast the broadest temperature operating range on the market, and that translates to reliable functioning for your firearm. Tetra products are also "skin safe" which means they don't penetrate your skin, pulling harmful lead and particulates into your bloodstream, so you don't need surgical gloves to clean your firearms.
On a side note, Steve is one of those reps who has been involved in what seems like every aspect of the firearms industry. He knows his stuff forwards and backwards, and he's made the very generous offer to come out to BBR events to teach, share his knowledge and experience, and maybe even demonstrate some Tetra products.
Being hailed as the "SureFire Killer," the new Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 2 is Streamlight's attempt to bring to market an inexpensive alternative to SureFire's weapon mounted lights that can deliver similar features. The Rail Mount 2 is, as it's name suggests, a rail mounted weapon light that features 625 lumens from a C4 LED on it's highest setting. Double clicking the tail switch or included remote switch from the "off" position will activate strobe mode. The light can be activated momentarily as well, similar to other lights in this class. Utilizing Steamlight's "Ten Tap" programming, users may set the light to High Only, Low/High intensity, or High/Strobe. The Rail Mount 2 is powered by 2 CR123 Lithium batteries, again, common to lights of this type, and mounts via a knurled thumb knob which is also cut so it may be tightened with a large screw driver or coin. The Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 2 is surprisingly light at only 5 ounces with the batteries included in the package.
I was thoroughly impressed by the light for its price. I was also pleased to find that Streamlight includes all the necessary accessories with the light- batteries, remote switch, rail mount clips for the remote switch, and zip ties and double sided tape to make sure it all stays put. The light is certainly bright enough to cast out to 300 yards, but the low setting allows for indoor use without "washout" or "whiteout" from excessive brightness. It comes factory set at High/Strobe, but I suspect Law Enforcement users will prefer the Low/High option for indoor/outdoor use to avoid the issues I just mentioned. I will admit that I am partial to Streamlight products over Surefire, partly because of the lower price point and partly because I've seen several Surefire lights fail during classes. I can't justify the price for a light that isn't any more reliable. I would prefer the option to use a rechargeable battery, but Streamlight advises only using standard Lithium batteries in the Rail Mount 2.
Overall, the Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 2 is a solid light. I currently have one mounted on a demo rifle for customers to check out and fondle. Be sure to ask about it the next time you find BBR at a trade show or event and see for yourself.
Streamlight's product info sheet can be found here.
Order the Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 2 from Black Bag Resources here.
Black Bag Resources is now officially the first sponsor of the Bear Arms Show! After recording our interview with John Willett, the host of the show, we decided to jump in and support his efforts to educate listeners on all things relating to the Second Amendment. John and his brother Mike have done a great job so far and have a great program. John also is the mastermind behind NJ SafeCon, New Jersey's first progun educational conference. New episodes air weekly, and guests range from activists, to trainers, to lawyers. John really covers the gambit of NJ issues as well as national gun rights in a fun and entertaining manner.
Check out the Bear Arms show app in the Google Play Store, or go to www.BearArmsShow.com to listen! Be sure to check out Episode 34 with Sean Fisher from Black Bag Resources!
My sponsored paintball teams will probably tell you this is long over due, but Black Bag Resources is now a Valken Dealer. This means BBR customers have access to the full line of Valken products and brands (including Valken Tactical/Airsoft, Valken Air, and Valken Outdoor) and Valken distributed brands like Ninja, Crossfire, Guerilla Air, Planet Eclipse, Dye, and many more!
We're working hard to add products to the webstore as quickly as we can, but if you can't find what you're looking for, just email Sean@BlackBagResources.com for a quote.
The universal truth is that we all think we're smarter than the next guy. Unfortunately, we're wrong. The best among us is still human and therefor fallible. Please read the following with that in mind, and don't be too quick to pass judgement on where the subject of the story went wrong. Take this as a teachable moment and learn from it.
A very good friend of mine came to the house recently for a social event. I could see he was out of sorts, and I chalked it up to some family issues I knew he was having, an elder relative nearing the end. He pulled me aside and said, "I need to talk to you. Alone. Now." I didn't know what was up, but I knew my original assessment had been wrong.
We went outside and he hit me with, "Dude, I f***ed up." He went on to explain that earlier that morning he had been in bed with his wife talking. They'd had breakfast and were back up stairs, chatting. He decided to take his defensive handgun out and clean it. He wasn't entirely focused on what he was doing, and didn't realize just how distracted he was until he fired a single round into the closet in his master bedroom. He immediately put the handgun down and checked to make sure no one was injured. Everyone was indeed fine, but he'd just had the dreaded Negligent Discharge, or ND.
A Negligent Discharge is any time a person accidentally or unintentionally fires a firearm. It's the quickest way to get kicked out of a firearms class or range, and it carries the stigma of being the worst kind of operator error when it comes to firearms.
Let me be perfectly clear. My friend is no idiot. He's an intelligent guy with loads of good firearms training and experience, but he did violate some of the basic safety rules and that resulted in a ND. He asked that I not share his name, but he did want the story told for the benefit of educating others. I'll treat it as a teachable moment.
Let's review the NRA's 3 Basic Safety Rules:
1. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
3. Always keep the firearm unloaded until you're ready to use it.
So, where did he go wrong? Where did he go right?
Rule #1. Safe direction: This is the most important rule and it proved to be his saving grace. Because he maintained a safe muzzle direction, when the ND happened, damage was minimal. He's got some sheetrock to patch, but no one was injured and the bullet never got farther than his closet. The closet is in an unoccupied corner of the house, so there was no risk to anyone else in the house. There are both interior and exterior walls there to stop the round, preventing it from exiting the house, so this ND did not end in tragedy.
Rule #3. Keep the gun unloaded: Yes, I know I'm jumping the order, but I'm following how it happened, not how the rules are taught. He was distracted and not paying full attention to what he was doing. Obviously, this handgun is stored loaded for defensive purposes, but he didn't follow a proper unloading procedure. In my classes, I cover cleaning, maintenance, and storage of firearms. One of the things I always touch on is removing live ammo from the area any time you clean or work on your guns. Do your unload procedure, put the ammo away, double check the gun is unloaded, then start cleaning or working on it. My friend unloaded his Springfield XD, or so he thought, and went to decock it (as he does with his Glock) by pulling the trigger.
Which brings us to Rule #2. Finger off the trigger: Another point I touch on in my classes is this- You might get away with breaking one rule, but if you break two or more, an accident is extremely likely. So, having failed to focus on what he was doing and failing to properly unload the gun, he pulled the trigger. BANG! Negligent Discharge.
Here's where he did the absolute best thing possible- he put the gun down. It has been shown that you are most likely to have a second ND immediately after your first ND. Why is that? You're confused. "That wasn't supposed to happen!" And your brain is trying to process what you did wrong. The natural thought process is to retrace your steps, but in this case you're immediately going back down the path that just led to disaster. Put it down. Take a breath. Process what just happened with empty hands.
This is where my friend fortunately stopped making mistakes. He put the gun down, checked himself and his wife, and made sure the bullet had not exited the house. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
He told me the next thing that happened was an overwhelming sense of guilt. "I just f***ed up. I'm an idiot. I can't have guns anymore. I have to get rid of all of them. How could this happen? How could I screw up this bad?" Obviously, his wife was shaken and going through her own emotional roller coaster. And as he told me, she didn't hold back her feelings either!
By the time he got to me, he'd carefully unloaded the gun and locked it back up. He was still pretty shaken and upset with himself. We walked through the events and errors, and by the end of the conversation, he had some more clarity, but wasn't feeling much better. I told him that was good. He should feel bad, guilty, upset, etc. because it means he cares and doesn't want to repeat the mistake. If he hadn't been feeling so bad, it would mean he didn't care. Not caring would surely lead to another ND, and maybe the next one wouldn't end so neatly. He nodded, and I convinced him to go back inside.
In the NRA courses I teach, we discuss the difference between ignorance and negligence. Ignorance is not knowing the rules, and negligence is knowing them but not following them. Complacency in this case was a form of negligence that led to a Negligent Discharge. Don't assume that just because you've done it "a million times before" you're doing it right. The casual attitude of "I know what I'm doing" or "it won't happen to me" because "I'm too smart to make those mistakes" are what lead to violating, even unintentionally violating, the 3 Basic Rules.
If you haven't taken a NRA Basic or NRA First Steps class, or if you haven't had any formal training in several years, I encourage you to take one of these courses with a qualified NRA certified Firearms Instructor in your area. In addition to the great marksmanship training, there is a lot of safety information and training included. It's a great way to brush up, and it might just help you prevent an incident like the one described above.
This article is submitted by Tony Simon of Simon Says Train. Tony is a NRA certified Firearms Instructor and political activist from New Jersey. He can be seen on his various social media outlets as well as the Firearms Radio Network podcasts. Contact Tony HERE.
We all remember the “Bring Back Our Girls” photo with First Lady Michelle Obama that became the example of the uselessness of social networking activism without action. “Our girls” still aren't back! Sadly in the firearms community we also suffer from #hashtavism; this is when gun owners think posting memes and “liking” a post is supporting the Second Amendment. I read a post on a firearms related page that stated if you didn't join the NRA you were part of the gun control problem. It got a lot of support from NRA members but a loud minority of posts were from people that hated the NRA for a variety of reasons, but at no point did the anti-NRA posters say they were a member of a different pro-2A organization. I don't feel it is necessary to be a NRA member to be a 2A advocate, even though I am a NRA recruiter, I do believe it takes more than posts on social media to fight for our civil right to keep and bear arms.
The NRA has 2 different sides, (the NRA and the NRA-ILA) and they operate independently of each other.
The NRA has firearms safety classes and education, firearms training, donates to various clubs and organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, supports police training and donates money to ranges around the country. This is where NRA membership dues and donations are used.
The NRA-ILA is the Institute for Legislative Action it is a different organization with a different budget. NRA membership money and donations don't go to the NRA-ILA, because it is a lobbying organization. This is the part of the NRA with which some people seem to have a problem. NRA membership dues have nothing to do with this organization.
If the NRA-ILA and its work bothers you join another pro-2A group. Find one whose ideals you agree with, but join a group. As individuals we can write legislators, but we don't file lawsuits against local, state, and the federal government. As individuals we don't organize funds, provide lawyers, or get media spotlights put on cases of governmental abuse against gun owners.
Join a state or local organization of your choice, or start your own pro2A group if you feel none of the larger groups have your interest in mind. In New Jersey we have NJ2AS (New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society). They are a grassroots group that has started a recall attempt to rid New Jersey of the anti-gun president of the state senate. The ANJRPC (Assoc. of New Jersey Pistol and Rifle Clubs) has it's own program that is sending towns that don't comply with state laws in approving Firearms ID cards and pistol purchasing permits letters informing them that they are breaking the law. They are going to take these towns and cities to court where they will have to explain to a judge why they can't seem to comply with state laws.
There are great groups like SAF (Second Amendment Foundation) which has two dozen pro 2A court cases going at any one time.They were involved in U.S. Supreme Court cases D.C. Vs Heller and McDonald vs Chicago. Those two cases are the most important rulings in modern times regarding the right to bear arms. They could use your donations or you can join for $15 a year.
If you believe that the NRA-ILA compromises our rights away you can join the Gun Owner's of America. GOA's membership is $20 a year. They were called “ the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington” by Ron Paul.
Lastly there is the JPFO (Jew for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership). Despite its name, this group is open to all people regardless of religion. This group also feels that the NRA-ILA is too willing to compromise on the 2nd Amendment, they are ardently against gun control. If you feel this group is more in line with your thinking you can be a member for $25 a year. There are pro-RTKBA (Right To Keep and Bear Arms) groups and organizations large and small in every state and they could all use your time and/or money to fight anti gunners inside and outside of our government.
Posting pro gun memes, pictures of you and your guns, sharing post/videos, calling yourself a sheepdog, or joining pro2A FaceBook groups doesn't make you a 2nd amendment activist, it makes you a 2nd amendment beneficiary. If all you do is cheer or criticize from the sidelines you are not helping the cause you claim to support. The existing groups that are fighting for our rights could use your help both with your time and your money. If you don't like any of the groups that you have found, you think the existing groups don't represent you, or you think that you can do better, then start your own organization. The entire point of advocacy can be summed up in one phrase.
DON'T TALK ABOUT IT, BE ABOUT IT!
The new 2015 BBR T-shirts are coming soon! We're using new, lighter materials to provide more "performance based" shirts. Customers told us they wanted better wicking and moisture control than our 100% cotton shirts were providing. They're still tagless for comfort, and there will be more designs coming later. Here are the first two:
The new 2015 BBR Shirts are coming soon! This year's 2015 "Bagman" shirt pays homage to the Silent Professional. Whether he's the CIA field agent, the executive protection specialist, or the contract intelligence officer, he knows that loose lips sink ships. He's seen it all, and he could tell you stories. But he won't!
Our classic bag man is carrying Top Secret documents and telling you everything you need to know- absolutely nothing!
This year's 2015 Drone Operator shirt pays tribute to the unsung heroes behind the controls of one of our nation's most controversial pieces of equipment. With a semi humorous approach to a very serious line of work, the 2015 BBR Drone Operator shirt features a combination of arcade video game and movie poster styling sure to impress any critic.
Inspired by classic "invader" video games and 80's era pilot movies, the Drone Operator shirt is perfect for UAV hobbyists too!
Order either of these awesome new shirts from the Black Bag Resources online store! You'll also be the first to see them at ION 2015 at Skirmish. Both shirts are on sale now, and every BBR shirt is a limited production run. Once they're gone, they're gone for good!
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